McLaren Vale Wines – Marienberg and Fern Hill Estate

Marienberg Cellar Door

The Marienberg Cellar Door has just re-opened after refurbishment of the adjacent restaurant.  They have also moved the cellar door location onto the McLaren Vale Main Street.  This looked like a smart move as previously the outlet was around the corner on Chalk Hill Road.

I was looking forward to visiting the newest cellar door in the area, but that emotion was soon changed to “what am I doing here”.  The cellar door is at the end of the restaurant and it looked like the dumping ground for the items needed to get away from the bar.  There was dirty dishes and generally just stuff all around.  Once directed to use the top of a wine barrel I was then treated to open bottles of wines that had no more than their stelvin caps on – no looking after the wine with oxygen removal options or wine shields.  This made me wonder how long the wines were open and how fresh was the wine.  You can see my comments below are not very complementary and I must say that I found my worst McLaren Vale cellar door.

2008 Marienberg Unwooded Chardonnay ($A16)

Straight away the wine showed aged chemical characters that were unpleasant.

2009 Fern Hill Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($A16)

All the typical flavors of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – strong passionfruit and gooseberry aromas plus passionfruit flavours with an acidic citrus finish.  The wine will probably sell well but for me – why have an overseas wine when we need to support the Australian wine industry.

2009 Marinberg Sauvignon Blanc Semillon ($A16)

Not good – closed aromas with flavors that would be a mixture of cats pee with tropical juice.  No way.

2008 Fern Hill Estate Viognier ($A16)

Toasty, bitter oxidized aromas and flavors.  Again, I could not drink this.

2005 Fern Hill Estate Adelaide Hills Merlot ($A16)

The aromas started with some good mulberry fruit and has a smokiness on the finish.  The flavors were dominated by fruit sweetness, smokey oak and some nice acid on the finish.  There was a slight bitterness that drew you away from the wine – the alcohol on this wine was not high so the bitterness would be seen as a fault in the wine.

2006 Marineberg Cabernet Merlot ($A16)

I could not get any aromas from this wine, even though the bottle had been open before I arrived.  The expected black fruits were here with a dusty tannin finish but nothing else.  There was no lingering effect on the palate – once you have swallowed the wine there is no sensation left.  Yet again, I cannot see why anybody would want to drink this.

2008 Fernhill Estate Adelaide Hills Cabernet Sauvignon ($A16)

Aromas were black fruits with a meaty undertone that was concerning.  Classical blackcurrent and cigar box characters with good acid levels and a strong finish.  Clean and basic but not inspiring.

2005 Marinberg Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($A22)

This is down right nasty – porty and oxidised so just not right.  I cannot believe this is classified as a Reserve wine.  Keep your money.

2007 Fern Hill Estate McLaren Vale Shiraz ($A16)

This was easily the best wine here – the aromas were hints of plum with lots of vanilla (from the American oak).  The flavors here was real fruit sweetness with some American oak sweetness as well.  The use of oak was much better here and the finish had a slight bitterness that was probably due to high alcohol levels.  Drink this with something fatty (to take the edge away from the bitterness) such as bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes).

2006 Marinberg Reserve Shiraz ($A22)

This was Ok but not as good as the above Shiraz.  Here was a wine that had lots of plums and oak integration.  It has fair components but just not inspiring enough for me to part with  my money.

2004 The Clifton McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon ($A39)

This wine is just nasty – cannot believe this wine is marketed as a premium wine.  Porty and oxidized like a number of the other red wines.

About Lonely Grape

Passionate about wine - particularly McLaren Vale wines. Check out my blog on different winery reviews and my wine sales web site
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2 Responses to McLaren Vale Wines – Marienberg and Fern Hill Estate

  1. Shane,

    Thanks for the review mate, I know where your coming from with the reviews, but could you be so kind in coming in and expressing your thoughts with my Mum (Carmel Sullivan) and her parnter ( Roger Andrews).

    Im not sure if you know this but Mberg and FHill are owned by a company called Wine National. Mberg and FHill used to be one of the top wines from Mclaren Vale ( With Wayne Thomas steering the FHill wine brand)

    If you would like to drop in some time and let us know of your thoughts so we can then take this information to WIne National, as we want this Cellar Door to be a icon for Mclaren Vale with the lime stone cottage’s history and also the wine’s history.


    Rick Sullivan

  2. warry says:

    we were fortunate to purchase a bottle of your marienberg sav/blanc semillion it was supberb and compares with marlborough vicars choice cheers and keep up the quality

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