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Australia ♯3

The perfect day…

First official part of the trip of the tour and all pretense of work has evaporated. Four hours tasting wine on board a carbon fibre, 3,000hp, hydrofoiling superyacht put paid to it. How lucky? Yes, very. Very. Thank you again Wine Australia.

I did learn some a history though. The yacht belongs to Robert Oateley. Back in ’69 they started the famous and highly successful Rosemount Wines. Twenty eight years ago they brought the first set of Masters of Wine out to Australia for a visit thereby kick starting the ‘80’s Australia wine boon. In 2001 he sold Rosemount to Southcorp for I suspect a rather large sum; hence the yacht. In fact, yachts. There are several more, 5 times winners of the Sydney Hobart race in fact, no mean feat.

But wine clearly had a pull on Robert because with his son Sandy they are back with a new venture called Robert Oatley Vineyard. These are wines we tasted today. The aim is to make approachable wines that are classics of their type but for drinking and enjoying rather than showing off or going to extremes.

The Robert Oatley brand has no single geographic base, instead covering the best areas across the whole country. For each wine the best location for the style is selected. So there is a Mornington Peninsular Pinot Noir, a McLaren Shiraz, a Margaret River Riesling etc. In a way the perfect start to an Australian wine tour, as one brand showed several of the classic styles the country is famous for. There is a big Margaret River focus for the top level of single vineyard wines.

The wines are made by Larry Cherubino and there is a big production centre (and 1000 acre vineyard) in Mudgee with other facilities in Yarra, McLaren and Margaret River. We tasted about a dozen of the wines and the technical ability really shows through. They absolutely achieved the mission statement; drinkable, enjoyable, with clean, clear, fruit.

Highlights for me were these wines:
• Margaret River Riesling – really light and floral nose, great clean pure refreshing palate, a real delicacy and poise.
• Mudgee Chardonnay – hooray a ripe chardonnay with butter and tasty vanilla; not overdone but not ashamed to be ripe and rich either.
• Finistere Great Southern Shiraz – really North Rhone in style, restrained aromatic and elegant but still with plenty of power, cocoa and spice.

No yachts tomorrow but a bus or two and off to the Orange region, a couple of hours drive North from Sydney.

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Australia ♯2

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