Recently we hosted an open day at the Arlewood vineyard and in preparation for that we grabbed some 40 wines from the museum stock to assess for tasting and sale.
Cellar Door Manager Paris and I lined up the selection of whites and reds, some going back to 1994.
There was an expectation that the reds would be the standouts...
The 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon was a Gold Medal winner at the Melbourne Wineshow, the 2001 Cabernet Merlot - a Goldy at the Margaret River show, the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Best Red’ in Brisbane... so plenty to be excited about for these older reds.
The whites were always going to be more challenging.
At Arlewood we switched to screwcap closures ‘Stelvin’ with all wines from the 2002 vintage on. Pulling the corks on the 94-01 wines was tricky, and I didn’t hold much hope for the wine condition (we had a bad cork experience with the 2000 Chardonnay that saw us destroy 200 dozen for excessive cork fault).
I chose Semillon and Chardonnay as the 2 whites we would show for the Open Day tasting.
The 94, 96, and 98 Semillons were buggered. 01, 02, 03, and 05 were nice wines. We went to oak maturation in 01 and it showed in the structure and texture of the wine.
The Chardonnays were a true reflection of our wine journey, from 2000 to 2005 getting leaner on the palate and more lifted aromatics as we went.
But the wine that defied the odds, and was the standout, was the 1999 Semillon. This wine was made by (then) young gun winemaker Glenn Goodall (now chief winemaker at Xanadu). Even though it was bottled under cork, it retained its colour and a freshness - not normally associated with an 18 year old Margaret River white wine. It made me lament even further the loss of 'wine fashion' for Semillon. But it did invigorate me to consider making another straight varietal Semillon from the 2017 vintage.
To the reds…..
As you might expect, much more consistent across the full range, with the 100% Cabernets leading the way.
Presenting our 2001 Pinot Noir (we only made 2 vintages before we abandoned the project) wasn’t as bad as it ought have been…..2001 was such a good vintage for any red grape.
As acclaimed as the 2001 vintage was, the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon was my personal favourite. A more gentle expression with lovely aromatics, persistent depth of flavour, and soft tannins. Very unctuous for a 15 year old Margaret River red.
40 old wines opened (>10 years old), 10 discarded, 20 interesting and still very drinkable, 10 classics.
And a special mention of the La Bratta wines we tasted. These are multi varietal wines with excessive oak and winemaking. Going back to the first vintages, 2007 for the Rosso and 2013 for the Bianco, we are opening up a whole new chapter for Arlewood wines and winemaking here.
Stay posted for a big and exciting 2017.