Saturday, December 12, 2009

Margaret River Tasting

I went to a WA wine tasting the other night through work. The tasting was quality rather than quantity and was one of the best tastings I've been to this year.

The first tasting were the chardonnays which was the 06 Voyager and the 07 Moss Wood. It was a great comparison as the Moss Wood represents the best of the old school chardonnay being matured in 100% new oak and receiving 100% malolactic fermentation. The Voyager on the other hand represents the best of the new, being 50% new oak and only 15% malo. The Moss Wood really is dominated by oak, with that oily, butteriness being the lasting impression. Not to say it's not enjoyable, because it was definitely was, and there is some really good fruit supporting it. Reckon Moss Wood should stay with this style, as most other top chardonnays have moved toward being much less worked. It's great to still have a quality representative of the strongly oaked chardonnay. The Voyager's difference is immediately obvious from the lighter colour. It's a cooler, tighter wine with a much finer structure. Grapefruit, well integrated oak, and the occasional whiff of struck matchstick. Its long and you'd reckon it will age really well. Really enjoyed both, but personally preferred the Voyager.

What was fascinating was that the group I was tasting with, preferred the Moss Wood overall! Interesting result given the average punter's supposed preference for your crisper sav blanc style white. Most of the people there liked their wine but not many of them were especially knowledgeable about wine. Proves to me that a lot of the dislike of chardonnay is fashion and image, rather than taste. When presented with two chardonnays their preference was for the oakier, more buttery chardonnay. Call it Pinot Grigio and it would sell like hotcakes!

We then tried two Pinot Noirs. A 2007 Picardy Pinot from Pemberton and the 2007 Moss Wood Pinot. The Moss Wood was a pretty good result for a Margaret River Pinot, but was a touch confectionary and flabby, and highlights how certain varieties ultimately don't work with certain regions. The Picardy on the other hand was a really nice pinot that had a beautiful nose of red fruits and a very nice, tight structure. Some nice tannins for a Pinot and good length. Will definitely age. Had never had a Pemberton, let alone a Picardy Pinot, but I reckon it's a region/variety combination I might start looking out for.

We then moved onto the cabernets, and the two on offer were the 07 Vasse Felix Cab Sav, and the 04 Voyager Cab Merlot. I've been lucky enough to try the Voyager a few times previously and each time it's been beautiful. This tasting was no different. It will age very well but it is already drinking beautifully. In the best way it has some sweetness to it, with some chocolate notes. Long with understated tannins. Would love to see what this wine is like in 10 years time. The interesting thing was that the Vasse Felix sitting next to it lost nothing to the Voyager (in my opinion anyway). Just a straight cab sav so it gave me more classic MR 'gravel' love on the nose than did the Voyager, and had more noticeable structure and tannins. Quality fruit and had some minerality to it as well. Reckon it has at least 10 years of ageing in front of it, and possibly a lot longer. Both were beautiful Margaret River Cabernets, but were also distinctly different.

Margaret River is close to being my favourite wine region in Australia, and this tasting did nothing to undermine that view.


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