Petaluma showcased its new Yellow Label releases and a couple of older wines on a recent Zoom tasting and our Australian wine lover and editor at large Roger Jones takes time out of his culinary escapades to rule over these wines. Accolade eschewed the customary miniature sample bottles and instead sent Roger, and other wine experts, full bottles plus one magnum of an aged museum release. Petaluma chief winemaker Mike Mudge led proceedings with his usual banter and the wines themselves were on very fine form.
“Older vintages of Coonawarra have been known to have Shiraz as part of the blend, but now it is purely a classic Bordeaux Blend,” writes Jones.
Petaluma has been quite an elitist winery since its beginnings in the Adelaide Hills in 1976 when it was founded by the great Brian Croser, a visionary in the fact of him being the first Australian to specifically plant grape varieties in the regions that were best suited for them. That vision carries on until this day with Riesling being planted in Clare, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Coonawarra and Chardonnay and Shiraz in the Adelaide Hills.
The Zoom tasting was hosted by senior winemaker Mike Mudge, Adelaide born and bred and an old hand at Petaluma having been there for 30 years, including having been made the sparkling winemaker under Croser back in 2000, before moving up the chain to the top.
Unusual for the new breed of virtual tastings with mini sample bottles being the norm, this tasting was classic Aussie with magnums and bottles dispatched to the tasters.
The wines are like most of Accolade’s global premium brands all on allocation, with Majestic taking stock of most of these in the UK, with the exception of the older museum vintages that are placed without a penalty charge in fine wine shops such as Harrods, and the Croser NV Sparkling being pushed out to premium groceries in the UK in the next six months.
Bright fresh forward, apples and peaches on the nose, delicate strawberry on the palate with a fine refreshing spritz; fresh roasted cashews with a fresh zingy berry finish. This is an easy-pleasing sparkling that hits the sweet spot. Bollinger’s earlier investment back in 1995 definitely shows in the quality that can be achieved with Australian Non Vintage sparkling wine (Philglas & Swiggot RRP £18.99).
Hanlin Hill Riesling 2020, Clare Valley
Petaluma bought this plot in 1980, the vines following the natural contours of the vineyard based in the Clare Valley at Hanlin Hill Vineyard. Slate soils help give the wine those rich limey flavours and high natural acidity. Whole bunch pressed and hand picked, there is an unique “Grand Cru Muscat” nose to this wine that follows on the palate with clementine and fresh lime curd. Fresh, forward and simply glows in the glass with apple blossom perfume, with a lovely fresh crisp acidity on the finish. Drink it now or wait a decade. (Majestic RRP £25.99 or £22.99 mixed 6).
Adelaide Hills has the coolest climate and highest elevation wine region in South Australia, and is the home of the Piccadilly Valley vineyards for Petaluma’s range of Chardonnay, Petaluma also sources its Shiraz in the hills, but on the western escapement of Mount Baker where the warmer days and cooler nights are perfect for elegant Shiraz.
Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay, 2019
Hand picked and de-stemmed with just 35% new oak, there is an elegant, flinty tone from the sandstone, with notes of pink grapefruit and then luscious stone fruit. There is an exciting perfume to the wine with a butterscotch forwardness, then pink grapefruit, hints of cedar and vanilla spice, creamy finish with a delicate acidity. After a while it opens up giving a lovely bright freshness, and yellow peaches. (Majestic £28.99 or £24.99 for mixed 6).
Petaluma B&V Vineyard, Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2018
Named after Bob and Verner Symons who planted the vineyard in 1992, this is now the fourth vintage under Petaluma. 100% French oak barrels 43% new and 57% shaved barrels.
Liquorice and red fruited nose, with a touch of farmyard, and cedar. On the palate there is still tannins and charcoal-grilled red peppers, white berries and fresh red berries trying to come through, touch of espresso then a luxurious blueberry, purple rainbow giving a beautiful, balanced, light Shiraz that is so easy to drink. (RRP £32.99 or £27.99 for 6 from Majestic).
The next two wines are sourced from the landmark Evans Vineyard in Coonawarra, originally planted in 1968 with its unique Terra Rossa soil, layered above limestone.
Petaluma Evans Vineyard, Coonawarra 2015
Lovely perfumed nose of violets and hung bacon, hints of dark berries on the palate there is a savoury delicate mid-palate with restrained but juicy fruit, cedar, spices, fine cigar, plummy, blackcurrants; enticing, this is a wonderfully controlled wine with elegant tannins – evolving perfectly. Older vintages have been known to have Shiraz as part of the blend, but now it is purely a classic Bordeaux Blend. Originally owned by Len Evans, Coonawarra offers a drier spectrum for this style, with a marked dark plum flavour. Cabernet Sauvignon 85% Merlot 15%. Bottled in 2017, 100% French oak, 80% of which is new. (Harrods RRP £37.99).
Petaluma Evans Vineyard, Coonawarra 2008 (magnum)
Delicate, cocoa, smooth, silky, fresh dark berries, cherries, bilberries, long and seductive, there is a lovely freshness to this 2008 magnum, with a lovely balance between earthiness and ripe, silky cassis. The addition of Shiraz certainly has given a lift to this wine and is a delight to drink currently, and for its age and quality it’s a real bargain selling at the equivalent of less than £50 a bottle in Harrods where Petaluma currently has a bespoke display. Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Merlot 31%, Shiraz 9%. (Harrods RRP £99.99).