Hollick house a rare Coonawarra winery/restaurant of modern charm.
Previous to some current selections, I was never a huge fan of Hollick's wine. First, their magnificent 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon turned me on, and now a 2006 Cabernet Merlot of theirs has also grabbed my interest in the right way. Both wines are complete packages. they handsomely display levels of natural balance and elegance which many in the region miss. I'll definitely be paying closer attention to Hollick in the future. That bizarre abnormality in their range, a pinot noir, was unavailable at the Roadshow, not that I actually like it. The representative told me it was because the pinot is now more Mount Gambier than Coonawarra, and the Roadshow IS a Coonawarra event. Hollick are also starting to make some interesting wines from Wrattonbully, which are well worth checking out. The 2006 Shiraz especially.
Hollick Cabernet Merlot 2006 Shows lightly floral aromas of dark plum and violet with a whiff of menthol. Very classy, medium-bodied palate drives with good penetration and length to its dark fruit flavours. Nice tannins. Another 06 success of Hollick. 92
Hollick Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Scented with lovely, fresh, nutty, cedar/mocha and walnut oak, over restrained minty blackcurrants and game meats. Medium bodied, concentrated and classy. Natural, savoury palate contains a fine balance of nutty cedar/vanilla oak, evenly ripened small berry fruits and creamy tannin. Long finish with persistent notes of bright fruit. 94
There are a few things I strongly recognise Katnook Estate for; some good, some not so good. Let's start with the good. Their cellar door is one of the more interesting experiences out there. It's set up kinda like a cocktail bar, with a high bench and black leather bar stools for tasters, it successfully creates a more relaxed, sit down feel, alongside complementary chocolate. I love it in an intriguing way - provided not everyone else starts doing it. It's one of those things which could only work in a quiet, isolated region like Coonawarra. Secondly, I tend to really enjoy Katnook's Sauvignon Blanc. It's easily Coonawarra's best and probably up with the best in South Australia, albeit in a different (yet still unoaked) style. As for the not so good, I associate Katnook with bearing some of the heaviest oaked wines in Australia. A couple of vintages ago their flagship wines were seeing up to 38 months in oak, a trend winemaker Tim told me was being reversed. But having said that the current release Prodigy and Odyssey still see 30-36 months oak treatment (or was it 24-30 months?). I wonder what Andrew Jefford thinks about that! I must thank winemaker Tim for generously pulling out bottles of the $100 pair of Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon and Prodigy Shiraz, which weren't 'officially' available for tasting. Thanks Tim! He also informs me the financial situation under Spanish group Freixenet is fine.
Katnook Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Nice, clean nose with hints of gooseberry fruits, herb, grass and citrus. Very clean, gentle palate shows no offensiveness whatsoever in a pleasing, consumer friendly style. Refreshing acids apparent. 89
Katnook Estate Merlot 2006 Red plum, cherry and vanilla oak aromas. Juicy fruit flavours with sour edges, finishes clean and pleasant. Touch of leafiness evident. 88
Katnook Estate Prodigy Shiraz 2005 Deep, dense colour. Unsurprisingly very oaked nose with savoury fruit undercarriage. Bit of bottle stink apparent. Medium bodied palate shows evenly ripened fruit but it's absolutely covered in lightly spicy cedar/vanilla oak. Finishes with soft creamy tannin. Overall quite a good 2005 Coonawarra shiraz but it is $100. 90
Katnook Estate Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Dark, dense colour. Heavily oaked nose with dark currant fruit undertones. Concentrated fruit and olive flavours give way to a dry, woody finish with a lingering note of rich chocolate. Quite a nice wine, with more fruit/oak integration than the younger Prodigy. I wonder how they develop over time. 92
It was good to see Leconfield chief winemaker Paul Gordon in attendance at this event. He was probably the most interesting character of the evening - he reminded me of an old cricket coach I had. I'd love to see more of him in Leconfield's wine, whatever that means. Significantly undervalued, Leconfield's Cabernet Sauvignon has easily been one of the most consistent cabernet sauvignons coming out of Coonawarra from what have been some fairly difficult recent seasons. The 2007 is no exception. The merlot can also be good. 2004 was great, 2005 not so great, 2006 pretty good. So when I saw the 2008 here (notice the even year trend) I had high hopes, but unfortunately it didn't quite match expectations for me. I must also mention Tim Knappstein's son who works behind the Leconfield cellar door in McLaren vale; he's easily one of the best around!
Leconfield Merlot 2008 Lightly fragrant, sweet fruit nose. More light-medium bodied palate, with more sweet, ripe fruit. It finishes dry and seems to be a bit thin throughout. 86
Leconfield Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Nice, elegant, deep nose with savoury tones. Well fruited yet not overdone. Good, even ripeness. Rather sophisticated, medium-bodied palate extends with good penetration and length. Finishes delightfully fine and dry with a framework of powdery tannins. A good 07. 93
One of the more interesting conversations I had during the night was with Lindemans rep Charles, a charming man who shares many of my views on Foster's (interesting yet frankly honest views as an employee Charles!). The Lindemans' Coonawarra wines look relatively sound, if a little uninspiring, considering they all retail around the $50+ mark. It'll be interesting to see how this brand develops, along with the other Foster's Coonawarra brands (other than Wynns), now that some of their key vineyards have been placed on the market for 'leasing'. Personally I'm disappointed that Foster's bring Lindemans but not Mildara to the Coonawarra Roadshow. I've really liked Mildara's wines lately, especially given their price. It appears Mildara's Coonawarra wines are headed in the right direction, even if its brand direction is somewhat uncertain. Maybe next year?
Lindemans St George 2006 Cabernet sauvignon. Deep, settled nose with red/blackcurrant fruits and toasty chocolate oak seems somewhat closed. Fractionally awkward tannins frame a palate which is a bit thin on fruit intensity and depth. Might come together better with time, but I wouldn't take the $50 bet. 89
Lindemans Pyrus 2006 Cabernet blend. Rather elegant, dark fruited nose with sweet vanilla/mocha oak. Medium-bodied and balanced, with good winemaking polish, but doesn't do anything too interesting either. 88
Lindemans Limestone Ridge 2006 Shiraz/cabernet. Presents a good nose with true depth to its dark, currant fruit tones and minty chocolate oak. Pleasingly rich but elegant palate leads into a long, fine and dry finish, which gets tighter as it goes. 92