New Releases from Down Under: Zonte’s Footstep, 3 Sisters & A Brother, and Wakefield

A Wakefield Vineyard

Kangaroo Among the Vines (Wakefield)

Zonte’s Footstep

ART AU Zonte LabelZonte’s Footstep was established in 2003 in Langhorne Creek, located on the Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide. We recently met up with Brad Rey, Director and Winemaker, to taste several of their new releases. Brad studied studied winemaking at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales. The US importer is Artisans & Vines.

Zonte’s 2016 Excalibur Sauvignon Blanc Fleurieu Peninsula ($20) 89 This Australian Sauvignon Blanc bears more resemblance to California than New Zealand in its lush citrus and tropical fruit that runs from the first whiff of the glass to a lingering finish. In between, there’s flavorful grapefruit with a touch of lime zest and crisp acidity. A perfect wine for sipping well-chilled on a hot summer day, or any other time. Brad does two picks to get the right combination of acidity and ripe flavor.  Zonte’s 2014 Lake Doctor Shiraz ($20) Langhorne Creek ($20) 89 Offering a fresh, dark plum and berry nose, the Lake Doctor Shiraz offers a soft attack and abundant fruit on a smooth palate. It’s ripe but not over-ripe with nice dark berry, licorice, and black olive flavors and a slowly mounting spicenss. Co-fermented with about 2% Viognier and matured in used oak, mostly French.  Zonte’s 2015 Chocolate Factory Shiraz McClaren Vale ($20) 90 Stylistically different from the Lake Doctor Shiraz, the Chocolate Factory is fresher with more red fruit and a beautiful firm but refined structure. It has a silky milk chocolate mouthfeel and appealing cherry conpote and crushed plum flavors. But don’t expect the charred oak flavors that most wines carrying the name “chocolate” have. This wine is much more subtle, and better.  Zonte’s 2014 Canto di Lago Sangiovese/Barbera Fleurieu Peninsula ($20) 91 This wine takes the prize for originality and for success in harnessing the Sangiovese grape, which rarely does well outside its native Tuscany. Perhaps it’s the Brunello clone that makes a difference here. This 55/45 blend of Sangiovese and Barbera offers that tell tale red cherry Sangiovese character along with a touch of Tuscan underbrush combined with Barbera’s bright acidity. The result is a fresh, flavorful red-fruited wine that packed with flavor. It’s very firm finish makes this a wine for food, pasta or pizza, preferably. Zonte’s 2015 Avalon Tree Cabernet ($20) 91 Our favorite of the tasting. This 85/15 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo offers blackberry, plum, spice box, and just a touch of eucalyptus mint. It’s densely flavored, firmly structured, and has an amazing long, richly extracted finish. Superb Value.

3 Sisters and a Brother

ART AU 3 Sisters LabelEd Schilds started this winery, taking over the small family farm at age 16 and adding to it over time. Today the Schilds family has 450 acres of vineyard, the largest family-owned vineyard in the Barossa Valley. They traditionally sold all the fruit but beginning in 1998 started making their own wine and now use about half their grape production for their own production. Scott Hazeldine is the winemaker. We recently tasted two wines from the Schild’s 3 Sisters and a Brother line with Casey Mohr, CEO. The US importer is Artisans & Vines.

2015 Shiraz Barossa Valley ($18) 90 Offering a very attractive perfume of black raspberry, cracked pepper, and a hint of cassis, this is a most appealing, popularly priced Shiraz. It has a lovely, fleshy texture, dark berries, and a hint of garden herbs on a nicely structured palate. Matured 12 months in French and American oak, about 20% new.

2015 GSM Red Blend ($18) 89 An easy drinking GSM that includes about 40 percent 80 year old bush vine Grenache in the mix. It shows pleasing flavors of dark red fruit on a peppery, ripe tasting palate.

 

Wakefield

ART Wakefield LogoWakefield (Taylor’s) is a family owned and operated winery that has been in operation for three generations.  It was founded over 40 years ago by Bill Taylor, a Clare Valley wine merchant, and he is still actively involved in its management. Wakefield owns some 178 ha in Claire Valley and today is one of Australia’s largest wineries. Its operations are governed by a philosophy of making high quality Old World style estate wines using New World winemaking practices. Bill’s grandson Mitchell Taylor leads the winemaking at Wakefield. We’ve tasted the Wakefield wines several times over the years with consistently positive impressions. The US importer is Seaview.

Wakefield 2016 Riesling Clare Valley ($17) 89   This is a crisp, very dry Riesling from Australia’s premiere Riesling region.with light apple and lemon-lime citrus flavors. It’s a sharply focused wine with the characteristic dry finish and bright acidity. Wakefield 2016 St. Andrews Riesling Clare Valley ($40) 92 The St. Andrews is also bone dry, but it’s also densely flavored with notes of zesty citrus, dried stone fruit, roasted almond, and herbal tea. It finishes extra long with superb, lingering, rich extract. Delicious! Wakefield 2015 Pinot Gris Clare Valley ($17) 88 The Pinot Gris is pleasant drinking with light citrus flavors and bright acidity. Served well chilled it’s a perfect aperitif at the end of a hot summer day. Wakefield 2015 Jaraman Shiraz South Australia ($30) 90 The Jaraman Shiraz is a blend of fruit from two regions, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale. The wine shows dark berry fruit with attractive spice notes. It has a savory character that makes it a good pairing for beef or lamb dishes. Wakeman 2014 Merlot Clare Valley ($17) 89 The Merlot is flavorful with fresh red plum notes and a hint of wet autumn leaves with fine tannins and a lingering, earthy finish. Better with food than not but also a good sipping wine for those who want a little character with their fruit.

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