These six selections were chosen for December 2005.
2002 Craneford Wines, Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Craneford was founded in 1978 and subsequently sold three times until purchased by the current winemaker John Zilm. John moved the winery to his home town where he also started a café in the building. He attempts to produce wines with more balance by having less alcohol and using less wood. This wine is 100% Shiraz aged in 85% French and 15% American oak. Medium-garnet in color. Lightly aromatic, mature nose. Very round, blackberry, and leather on the palate with very, very fine tannins. Excellent drinking for now.
2004 Jip Jip Rocks, Shiraz, Limestone Coast
The Bryson family has been involved in agriculture in Southern Australia for 150 years. They have long realized the potential of the Limestone Coast in producing good quality Shiraz. They established the Jip Jip Rocks vineyard in the early 1990s. They aim for good integration of fruit flavors and oak. This wine is 100% Shiraz. A rather dark, purple wine with a nose of meaty blackberries. Bright round fruit on the palate with good grip and acidity. To be drunk now rather than cellared. Open one to two hours before drinking.
2002 Killibinbin, Blend, Langhorne Creek
Killibinbin Wines entered the market in 1997 by producing 400 cases of Langhorne Creek Shiraz. The wine sold out in six weeks thus launching the careers of the founders Wayne Anderson and Liz Banks. The wines are styled to be balanced and fruit forward. The grapes are sourced from parcels in Langhorne Creek then sent north to the Barossa Valley for production. This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Shiraz aged in new and used American and French oak for 12 months. Ruby in color with black fruit on the nose. Medium to full-bodied, chunky, and rich it makes for fine drinking now. It would be interesting to compare with 2002 Bleasdale Frank Potts which is also from Langhorne Creek.
2002 Koonowla, Shiraz, Clare Valley
Koonowla was established for farming and grazing in the 1830s by Colonel Barker. It was sold to John Tothill in 1892 who subsequently planted vines and built a commercial winery, making it one of the six original wineries in Clare Valley. A fire destroyed both the stock and cellars causing Koonowla to slowly switch to profitable grain and wool production. In 1991 Andrew and Booie Michael purchased the winery, restored the winery, and planted new vines. This wine is 100% Shiraz aged 18 months in 50% American and 50% French oak.
Quinta Vale do Marie, Lot No. 1 Reserve Port, Duoro
Christiano van Zeller is the former owner and director of the famous Quinta do Noval estate. He is now bottling ports under the medieval spelling of his family name, De Zellaer. This month’s selection is sourced from his own vineyards in Quinta Vale da Mina and Quinta Vale Dona Maria. All of his ports are foot trodden in lagares. This wine is a blend of Tinta Amarela, Rufete, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional, and Sousão aged in wood vats for 24 months. Aromatic, medium-bodied, with a charming slightly hot finish. Will throw sediment. Open 24 hours ahead then consume within a further 48 hours.
2003 Reilly’s Wines, Old Bushvine Grenache-Shiraz, Clare Valley
Reilly’s Wines was started as a hobby of winemaker Justin Ardill in 1993. The winery is named after Hugh Reilly, a shoemaker from Ireland who arrived at Clare Valley in 1856. He promptly built a stone cottage which today is used as the cellar store. The Grenache grapes are sourced from the 1919 block of bushvines. The Shiraz grapes are sourced from the Watervale Ridge Vineyard planted in 1999. This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Shiraz aged in 75% American and 25% French oak for 15 months. Aromatic red berries on the nose. Medium to full-bodied, with sweet cherry flavors. Wonderful to drink now.