Wine Review — Saltram Mamre Brook, Wolf Blass & Metala

Saltram Mamre Brook Barossa Shiraz 2004 $18–$26
On a day trip to Foster’s main winery in the Barossa recently 2004 vintage showed great class across several of the company’s brands and regions – Saltram Barossa, Metala Langhorne Creek, Wolf Blass Langhorne Creek, Barossa and McLaren Vale, Annie’s Lane Clare Valley and Mildara Coonawarra. This buoyant, plush, silky shiraz with its pleasant overlay of oak really hit the spot and ought to drink well for the next five or six years at least. It’s from the Eastern side of the Barossa, where the Saltram historical connections lie, and made by Nigel Dolan whose father, Bryan, made wine at Saltram from the late 1940s.

Wolf Blass Grey Label Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 about $35
Caroline Dunn makes the Wolf Blass wines these days, drawing on traditional fruit sources, but bringing out varietal purity more strikingly than in the older Wolf Blass wines. It was a toss up between Grey Label McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 and this distinctive Langhorne Creek Cabernet for top spot in my tasting notes. For sheer individuality, though, the cabernet wins as it shows vivid varietal character, overlaid with an intriguing regional character, variously described as ‘peppermint’, ‘eucalypt’ and ‘choc-mint’ – the latter being favoured by Caroline. The shiraz, too, shows pure varietal flavour with the Vale’s distinctive savouriness.

Metala Original Plantings Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2004 about $58
This column recently featured a couple of Brothers In Arms wines, made by the Adams family, owners of the Metala vineyard. Foster’s, however, owns the Metala trademark and releases two reds under the label, both sourced from the vineyard. The huge-value Metala White label Shiraz Cabernet ($14–$20) goes back to 1932, though it adopted the vineyard name only in 1959. Original Plantings Shiraz, the flagship, comes, as the name suggests, from the oldest vines on the block, planted in 1891 and 1894. There was none made in 2003 or 2006. But, as if to compensate, 2004 is stunning. It’s ripe and plumy, generous and silky, with a real depth of fruit and matching tannin – a wine that’ll evolve for decades.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007