Saturday, December 12, 2009


The Joseph experience continues to be one of the best cellar doors in Australia. Other than the magnificent wines, some of this country's most original, unique and daring, Joseph also offers a wonderful sit down tasting in their extremely modern, almost 21st Century cocktail lounge-like room, complete with transparent red plastic chairs and mirror balls. They also throw in samples of their award winning extra virgin olive oil (perhaps South Australia's most recognisable?) with fresh bread and hard cheese, all free of charge of course. To add to this, Mark, whom I've long believed to be the region's best cellar door hand, recently stamped this fact home by winning the award of McLaren Vale's best cellar door hand, taking with him a trip to a global wine region of his choice (where else but Italy would a Primo man go?).

Basically Primo Estate is a must do for anyone heading to McLaren Vale, especially for lovers of fine wine.

The Joseph range of wines is one of Australia's best. You certainly couldn't accuse any of their wines of being boring styles with no character. Thanks to Mark's generosity the full range (and then a little treat) were available for tasting. All of the wines are quite unique to one and other, while still retaining the hallmarks of quality wine; perfume, texture, character, length, structure, shape, the ability to pair with food and of course longevity.

I was extremely impressed by the three 2007 McLaren Vale reds I tasted from that very challenging season. The Moda just straddles with confidence, almost irrespective of season, while the Angel Gully certainly is a riper, juicier style, it carries it off with wondrous depth and impact, without showing any over ripe or dead fruit character. The cellar door only 2007 Primo Zamberlan (Cabernet/Sangiovese) was also a delight, sitting comfortably within the confines of ripeness.

Over the last few seasons though, the highlight of the Joseph range for me has been the Nebbiolo, a noble Italian grape quickly gaining a loyal following here in Australia. The 2006 was on the tasting list, but a quick chat to Mark about the 2007, and all of a sudden there it was in the decanter, then sitting side by side with the 06 in front of me! (it was also Mark's first tasting). Both wines are exceptional. The 2006 looking even better than when I last tasted it in October 2008. Joseph's Nebbiolo rates right up there in the top handful of Australian wines the fine wine drinking world needs to know about. It's all about savoury elegance, texture, subtlety and perfume. It's wonderfully complex too, complemented by a very deceptive tannic backbone which suggests good ageing potential. It couldn't be much further away from some of the misconceived ideas about Australian reds. I highly recommend any serious drinker of Australian wine hunt one down.

Even though this is Australian Wine Journal I'll quickly make a mention of a 2008 Venetian sourced Garganega which is also available at cellar door. No tasting notes here but well worth seeking out ($25) for those who enjoy a smooth, textural driven and refreshing white.

Tasting notes are posted below.

Primo Estate La Biondina Colombard 2009 ($15)
I reviewed this back in August on this site (86pts) but I think it's looking a little better, smoother and cleaner now, if still a little one dimensional in character. 87

Primo Estate Zamberlan Cabernet Sangiovese 2007 ($28)
Cellar door only. A wonderful wine which gets grape skins from the Moda washed through in the making process, adding further depth and richness. Showing superb aromatics not just for its price but also its season, it reveals a fresh, leafy expression of vivid cassis, raspberry and chocolate oak notes in a very lively and stylish manner. Given its making the palate is surprisingly settled and elegant, presenting a nice mix of medium-bodied berry fruits framed by drying tannin. A truly synergistic blend. 92

Joseph d'Elena Pinot Grigio 2009 ($25)
The Joseph Grigio is all about restrained elegance and texture, which I think the 08 missed out on a bit, but the 09 has come bouncing back with fine form. It has a crunchy pear dominant nose with further citrus pith aromas. The palate has fantastic texture, very luscious and creamy for grigio, with a tightly concentrated, long, fresh and elegant flavour profile drawn out by lemony acids. A fine return to form for one of South Australia's most important grigio labels. (full review soon) 92

Joseph Nebbiolo 2006 ($75)
Lifted, minty, cherry, strawberry, stalk and game nose. Despite having spent 24 months in French oak barriques its oak is perfectly integrated. Light-medium bodied, its palate is very fresh and supple, with a long, savoury/gamey finish drawn out by very soft, sensuous tannins. 93

Joseph Nebbiolo 2007 ($75)
Spearmint shines through on a very musky, meaty nose with a strong perfume of cherries, strawberries and rose petals. Once again any indication of French oak is perfectly integrated and harmonious - superb winemaking. Contains a stronger, firmer, rather more tannic palate than the 06, with a longer, drier finish and slightly astringent, sour edged red berry fruit flavours apparent at this very youthful stage. A compellingly lean and elegant wine. (full review soon) 94

Joseph Angel Gully Shiraz 2007 ($65)
Darkly stained, vibrant colour. Deep, rich and dark fruited nose with a touch of smoky chocolate oak. Its palate is very full and luscious, with a velvet-like texture underscored by a faint juicy undercarriage and silky tannin. Nothing over ripe or overdone, thanks to those wonderful Clarendon vines. 93

Joseph Moda Cabernet Merlot 2007 ($65)
Typically extravagant, with a luscious, rich fragrance of plums, berries, currants and dark chocolate aromas, with just a hint of leafy/herbal quality adding interest. Its smooth, rich, heavy and immense palate is dark fruited and meaty, yet ably supported by outstanding length and sandy tannins. Another stellar effort from the 07 vintage from Joseph. 94

Joseph Sparkling Red 2009 disgorgement ($70)
Classic Joseph dusty, savoury, leathery nose of redcurrant and cherry fruits. It contains a very smooth, rich mid-palate marked by a dry, leafy finish. It's well balanced, elegant and medium-bodied, but just lacks the kick of the greatest Josephs. 92

Joseph LaMaglia Botrytis Riesling Traminer 2008 ($25)
A real 'smells of sunshine' style. Botrytis influenced citrus, white nectarine and marmalade aromas, with a full, rich, concentrated and satisfying palate trailed by a penetrating finish and a framework of clean, uplifting acidity. Perfectly sweet. No 2009 will be made. 93


  1. Thanks for the article CP. Just wish I lived closer to these places...the Granite Belt does not have quite the same appeal...! :) TC

  2. I love the setup of that winery. It's just so stylish and well presented...almost Rundle Street! Great wines too.


  3. Ah yes it's very true Tim - the best aspects of living in Adelaide are the close proximity of several world class wine regions (a lot of the population isn't aware of this but I count my blessings everyday!) and the world's prettiest cricket ground. Wait a minute, scratch that last one......;)

  4. Yes you're quite right JC. I honestly didn't think much of the Joseph/Primo cellar door when I first walked in there a few years ago (aesthetically speaking), like their wines it certainly is a very bold and daring design; initially too modern for my tastes. Yet, after about half a dozen visits, it's now starting to win me over.

    I took a friend of mine who is into amateur photography on the weekend - he loved the place! So many photo opportunities, he made me look at it in a new sense.

    Chris P