Current Issue #488

Wine Reviews:
Bekkers, Brokenwood, Koerner

The new year buzz has well and truly worn off, but there is a vinous solution. This month we’re looking at some varietals that take you away from the everyday.


2018 McLaren Vale Syrah Grenache
RRP $80

Me gusta McLaren Vale grenache. My appetite for it is insatiable and the variety is one of the undisputed stars of the fine state of South Australia. One of my favourites comes from the Bekkers stable, courtesy of gun viticulturist Toby Bekkers and his French-born winemaker wife Emmanuelle.

Toby has put in some groundwork and, after more than 20 years of sampling older Mclaren Vale grenache and blends, he reckons it is the blends of shiraz and grenache that scrub up better than the single-variety wines of shiraz with careful cellaring. Controversial, perhaps, but I reckon he could be onto something.

Toby reckons the 2018 vintage was a ‘darker’ year in McLaren Vale. This particular wine is a blend of six vineyards across the Clarendon, Seaview, Onkaparinga Hills and Blewitt Springs sub-regions of the Vale. The final blend is 64% syrah and 36% grenache.

There is a bit of whole bunch action in the wine (15% grenache and 30% syrah) which opens the wine up a little and lets some light in, landing it at the lighter end of medium-bodied in the mouthfeel stakes.

There are aromas of spicy satsuma plums, macerated summer berry fruits, ginger cake, Asian spice, purple floral notes and hints of cola and soy sauce. In the mouth the wine is light on its feet with a wonderful clarity and sense of space. Light on tannin with beautifully judged French oak. It’s quite a lovely drink.


2013 Howard Vineyard Semillon
RRP $66

Speaking of wines that cellar like absolute champions… Hunter Valley semillon. In its youth, I guess Hunter Valley semillon could be described as ‘bracing’. Picked early, low in alcohol, fairly neutral and high in acid, linear in its form with a brisk cadence across the palate. A picture of precision, it is undeniably refreshing and slakes one’s thirst, which is important stuff.

There’s also a good reason that Hunter Valley semillon is considered one of the great wine styles of the world. Pop that baby away for a few years and it blossoms into something quite special indeed; all toasty and pure, endlessly complex but still with a precision and clarity of flavour that forms a distinct thread to its rambunctious youth.  I’m a big fan of people doing the hard work for me: Brokenwood holds this wine back in its own cellars and releases it when it is beginning to sing. And sing it does.

There are still green flashes to its hue after that time in the cellar and the wine shows a remarkable, layered cascade of aromas and flavours with a very modest alcohol of 10.5%.

Classic ‘Hunna’ characters of green apple and citrus fruits with hints of herbs, candle wax, lanolin, dried hay and toast. The wine finishes savoury and long with an expansive flurry of citrus and toast notes that fade slowly into the distance. It’s drinking beautifully now, but you could safely enjoy it for the next decade. Get amongst it.


2018 Cot
RRP $35

In the words of the great Jacobim Mugatu from Zoolander: “Malbec is so hot right now.” And for good reason. It’s a red wine that is lifted and shows floral flashes. One that can take a wee chill in the fridge to take the edge off when the weather gets balmy. It’s a variety that has an envious inherent slurpabilty. These are all fine attributes. The brothers Koerner have designated this particular wine as ‘Cot’ which is a synonym for malbec, in particular those that hail from the Cahors region in southwest France where there are some 15,000 acres under vine. You’ll find many a cot gracing the wine lists of funky-assed wine bars in Paris where it is increasingly popular with those who retreat from wines of higher alcohol – those who seek out ‘vins de soif’ or ‘thirst quenchers’.

At 12.5% alcohol, we’ve got a crunchy, bouncy cot all of our own from Koerner Wines. It’s made from grapes they source from the Bass Hill vineyard in the Auburn sub-region of the Clare Valley.

A beautiful red/purple colour with aromas and flavours of juicy plum, blackcurrant pastille, sour cherry, rose petals, wet earth and baking spice. There are plenty of mulberry and red-fruited high tones. It’s at the lighter end of medium bodied and cuts a juicy, crunchy and vivid line across the palate, finishing bright with a wash of pure fruit and floral notes. It’s effortless and dangerously delicious drinking. A wine style that’s sure to “wine over” many fans.

Dave Brookes

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