This article should be read in conjunction with my article on Mollydooker’s systems.
The winery has a large number of 5 tonne open fermenters, which allow the winemakers flexibility in processing batches as small as 0.7 tonnes. Thus blending and oak treatment regimes can be flexible. These fermenters are all temperature controlled to allow a slow fermentation and thus maximize tannin extraction. When the fermenting juice gets to about 3 degrees Baume they are transferred into oak for the remainder of the fermentation. Barrels are purchased from 2 coppers and are only used in the system for 3 years and then sold to other wineries. The wine is racked off the lees when Malolactic Acid fermentation has completed.
There is an emphasis on understanding the senses evaluation of the wine and not being slaves to the Laboratory analysis. As I work in a winery Laboratory, I found this comment interesting. The only final say the Laboratory has is the level of Sulphur Dioxide in the wine.
The winery is set up for red wine production with the Verdelho (called The Violinist and ~$A25) is made at Boars Rock Winery (on Tatachilla Road) and was not tasted as part of this winery visit. They also made a Sparkling Shiraz called Goosebumps in 2006 and this wine is available for sale, however this style has been discontinued.
Apart from being smart viticulturalists and winemakers Sparky & Sarah are great at marketing. Their wines get a real mixture of reviews – either the wines are absolutely loved or they are put up as examples of over extracted and over oaked wines. On this basis I was really looking forward to this tasting so I could make up my own mind. Despite all this the winery has been successful with sales to the North American market – even at the high prices shown below. Thus if you determine success by being able to sell the wine that is made, then these guys are very successful.
Wine prices are from the current vintage being sold (combination of 2007 & 2008 wines). The Mollydooker web site has more detail about the currently available vintage wines.
Shiraz Wines (in increasing order of Fruit Weight – see my other Mollydooker Winery article for an explanation of this unique system)
2009 The Boxer (~$A25)
This wine was rated at about 65% Fruit Weight. Typical ripe Shiraz aromas of satsuma plum jam following through to the flavors of heavy/jammy fruit – the heaviness of the fruit maybe an indication of the Fruit Weight concept. The tannins were balanced with the heavy fruit.
2009 Blue Eyed Boy (~$A55)
This wine was rated at 75% Fruit Weight. Continued as with the Boxer the aromas were but jammy plums. The difference here was when you taste the wine – the sweet jammy fruit is packed with huge tannins on the finish. Tasting the wine made me feel like my teeth were coated by the wine after I spat the wine out!
2009 Carnival of Love (~$A90)
The wine was rated at 85% Fruit Weight. Previous vintages of this wine have been classified as on of the top 10 most interesting wines by Wine Spectator – so I was looking forward to this based on that type of recommendation.
The normal distinctive Shiraz aromas of plum and dark, dark fruits were there but there was an extra hint of something that took me a while to comprehend – it was toffee. Not what I expected coming from a big bold McLaren Vale Shiraz! The flavors were again driven by ripe fruit and highly toasted oak barrels (to match with the higher Fruit Weight). The tannins did not seem to be as big as the previously tasted Blue Eyed Boy – the heavier fruit was better matched with the oak (both in oak tannins and the oak charring).
It should be noted that this was was to be filtered before bottling (unlike the other wines).
2009 Velvet Glove (~$A185)
Straight away I got over ripe squishy satsuma plums on the nose – I has a Satsuma Plum tree in my backyard so this aroma brought me back to my childhood. The high alcohol was not evident on either the aroma or flavor, but there was a plethora of soft tannins – very different to the other wines tasted so far. As I mentioned on the first section on Mollydooker Wines that the flavor profile they are looking for in the grapes is licorice and up to now I had not really experienced this in the wines – well here it is. The flavors are very dense with dark fruits and licorice here in spades.
Shiraz Cabernet Blend
2009 Enchanted Path (~$A90)
This 60% Shiraz / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon wine was just blended before tasting and was rated as 90% Fruit Weight. Ripe fruit of the black kind – blackberries and some blackcurrent with hints of plum. The good old McLaren Vale mid palate shows here there is plenty here to keep one interested. I got a distinct coating of the tongue – not sure if I was getting the Fruit Weight or just the tannins doing their thing.
2009 Gigglepot (price unknown)
The wine is 50% McLaren Vale fruit and 50% Langhorne Creek fruit and was not rated for Fruit Weight at the time of the tasting. The aromas had a hint of green capsicum herbaceousness with the flavors dominated by sweet blackcurrent fruit with a licorice finish on the palate.
So after this tasting (as well as the fruit tasting) what is my verdict?
Firstly, I must say that I have only tasted vat samples that were not the final bottled wine in some cases and that I cannot make comment about the aging capacity of the wines. Secondly, I found that after tasting all the red wines my mouth had an after taste that was similar to cardboard. My understanding of this is that this aftertaste comes from the type of oak used. I found this after taste somewhat unpleasant, but made me wonder what would happen with 5 years in bottle. Based on the after taste and the relatively high prices I would give these wines a miss. However, I would like to try the Sparkling Shiraz to see how the high Fruit Weight would effect one of my favorite wine styles.