Middlebrook is a McLaren Vale restaurant and function center that specialises on Weddings (where the Rotunda comes into it’s own). I have been visiting the cellar door on an infrequent basis since 1986 and the inside of the function center has seen many changes for this McLaren Vale function institution.
I can still remember my first visit when I was introduced to Duris (see below) and it was just so different I was not sure about it on the first try – so I asked for another taste. Well the look from the lady working the cellar door indicated she thought this was a request of some drunk. Anyway, I did get another taste and then there was no complaints as I walked out with a case of this very unusual liqueur.
Now days the wines seem to be made to suit the catering for the masses at wedding functions ie lighter bodied and sweet wines. If this is their aim they do well – so well that a number of the wines were not available for tasting as they were in limited quantities and those remaining were reserved for future functions.
To me all I really care about is to see they keep making Duris!
N/V Cogno Brothers Cuve Brut ($A10)
A nice clean and neutral bubbly that is popular for the wedding parties that utilise the facility.
2005 Cogno Brothers “Cin Cin” Pinot Grigio ($A15)
Shows that aging of this variety does not make much sense. There were developed characters here with most of the fruit flavors almost gone. There was also a slight bitter after taste. Life is too short………
2008 Middelbrook “Contessa” Unwooded Chardonnay ($A15)
After the disappointment of the Pinot Grigio and then to be offered an unwooded Chardonnay, I started to think this was going to be a long, long tasting! Well I was wrong again. This wine showed really nice dried peach aromas (maybe some residual sulphur coming through). The flavors were peach again plus some apricot that provided an interesting textural mouthfeel. I could see why this wine was only available for functions as it would just evaporate on a hot day with a few people at a gathering.
N/V Middlebrook Ma Cheri Moscato ($A15)
As expected there was loads of grapey sweetness with some bubbles added – again a walk in start at most functions.
2008 “Cin Cin” Sangiovese ($A15)
Macerated cherries that were dropped and rolled around on the ground – if you can imagine this and add some oak tannins and this is what I was tasting. Sangiovese and value for money means a match for many menus at such a function house.
2006 Cogno Brothers Family Selection Merlot ($A15)
Mulberries and cherries in an obvious tannic mix and a dry finish. Merlot oh Merlot you are still not my style of wine.
2006 Cogno Brothers Family Selection Barbera ($A15)
This wine was all about drinking spiced fruit cake. All the aromas and flavors brought one back to this fruit cake recipe. I can see a lot of people liking this style. Matching food with this would be challenging to ensure the flavors are complimentary.
2006 Cogno Brothers Family Selection Shiraz ($A15)
So typical of a lot of Shiraz one finds around. Sweet fruit (plums & Cherries) aromas that evolve into the plum fruit that is Shiraz. The overall wine experience is a little lighter than what I would consider “normal” and again I can see a lot of people liking it for that reason. It also works well as this wine would suit many different food styles – just like the differences at a function.
2005 Joseph Cogno “Il Padrino” Cabernet Shiraz ($A20)
The aromas were closed but this does not give a clear indication of what is to come. The flavors are well balanced between black fruits, soft tannins and good acid length. Again this good old Aussie blend does good things. The wine has length but is not too heavy – again a theme for this winery.
N/V Middlebrook Duris ($A25)
Again a treat that has been bringing me back to Middlebrook Estate in McLaren Vale since 1986. A Honey Cumquot Liqueur that has great length and citrus character. The flavors start with the honey and continue onto the citrus that is the cumquot (probably best described as a mix of mandarin and lemons). There is a hint of complexity here that seems like the cumquot peel. This blend has less obvious alcohol than what I remember from previous tastings, but the overall effect is not diminished. Other than drinking it straight after a meal, my best use has been as an integrate part of the fruit mince used for the Xmas pudding and Fruit Mice Pies. I macerate the dried fruits in Duris, Brandy and fortified wines that are handy.
Wines not taste or not availiable:-
Cobbity Cooler range
Cogno Brothers Deluxe Rose (sparkling)
Cogno Brothers “Black Harvest” Sparkling Grenache
Cogno Brothers Frontignan Spaetlese
Cogno Brothers Bin 77 Fruity White
Cogno Brothers Camden Gold
Cogno Brothers La Morra Rose
Cogno Brothers Cobbitty Classic Red (sweet)
Cogno Brothers “Black Harvest” Still Grenache
Middelbrook Scenario (Viognier Chardonnay)