Wine review — Taylors, Madfish, Howard Park and Balnaves

Taylors Estate $15–$19

  • Clare Valley Shiraz 2008
  • Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2009

Taylors built its reputation on bold red styles from its very large Clare Valley Estate. The wines are notably more refined these days, though probably less cellar worthy. But nothing wrong with that if you’re after flavour and drinkability now. The shiraz is generous and soft – clearly a warm-climate style, but not over the top in the tannin, oak or alcohol departments. The cabernet is clearly varietal with ripe, blackcurrant-like flavour and a solid but not too firm structure. The pinot noir, from the Adelaide Hills, is a decent drink but doesn’t really capture the excitement of the variety.

Madfish ‘Sideways’ Margaret River Chardonnay 2009 $18–$20
Howard Park Great Southern Chardonnay 2009 $34–$38

For flavours that grow in interest as you sip through a bottle, tip out the sauvignon and head for modern chardonnay like these gems from Howard Park. They’re as fresh and zesty as any dry white but come with the subtle patina of flavours and textures derived from oak fermentation and maturation. In ‘Sideways’ this is very subtle indeed, mostly textural – it’s a simply delicious, fine-boned wine, built on bright fresh nectarine-like varietal flavour. Howard Park 2009 steps up in flavour intensity and interest – an exceptionally fine and taut but generous chardonnay, showing the more citrus-like end of the varietal flavour spectrum.

Balnaves of Coonawarra

  • The Blend 2008 $19
  • Cabernet Merlot 2008 $24
  • Shiraz 2008 $24

Balnaves, located at the cooler, southern end of Coonawarra, originally grew grapes for local wineries. In1990 the family created the Balnaves brand, having the wine made off site until the mid nineties. After building a winery in the mid nineties they hired former Wynns winemaker Pete Bissell. The wines show real polish – beautifully made and with ripe berry flavours at the core. ‘The Blend’, a mainly cabernet sauvignon and merlot blend is solid and flavoursome in a Coonawarra way. The slightly more expensive Cabernet Merlot shows brighter fruit and finer, more elegant tannin structure. And the Shiraz show ripe berry flavours tinged with varietal peppery notes and assertive, firm finish.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010