For comments  and contributions   E-mail to:       

© John Farren

Meeting 393 - -"Wines from the Deakin Aand Katnook Estates in Australia"

Friday 22nd April 2016     Neville Hall, Waltham St Lawrence 

Speakers:  Will Willis and Duncan Ross  

       It is always a delight to have Duncan Ross from Berkmann Wine Cellars to talk to us. But this time he left most of the chat to his colleague, Will Willis, who is the International Wine Development Director for the Deakin and Katnook Estates. As an introduction to the two estates Duncan provided us beforehand with some background information:

       Deakin Estate is a substantial family-owned vineyard and winery located in the Mildura region of north-west Victoria. The property was purchased in 1967 and named in honour of Alfred Deakin, a former Australian Prime Minister who pioneered irrigation in this arid region. Fed by the mighty Murray River, Mildura continues to produce high-quality citrus fruit, olives, almonds ... and grapes. The fruit from Deakin Estate's 350 hectares of vineyards was sold off until 1980, when the winery was built. This allows the best grapes to stay in-house, yielding a range of delicious, stylish, value-for-money wines.

       Katnook Estate's winemaking history stretches back to 1896, when Coonawarra's second vintage was made in the Katnook woolshed by Scottish immigrant John Riddoch. In 1971, the Yunghanns family purchased Katnook and the first vines were planted soon after, with the first vintages of fruit sold to neighbouring wineries. In 1980, the first wines were made under Katnook Estate label. The multi-award winning Wayne Stehbens has made the wines since that first vintage, possibly making him Australia's longest serving employed winemaker.

        The wines proved to be greatly appreciated with none scoring less that 7 and over half scoring 8 and above. The aperitif got us in the mood as an easy drinking clean and fruity starter. The DE Sauvignon Blanc was a very pale green with classic nettles nose with a hint of peppermint. Grapes were picked at night and fermented cool. The viognier which folllowed proved very popular - not quite the fairly intense tropical fruit nose of a viognier but good fruit, fresh and clean on the palate. The final white, a Chardonnay from the Katnook Estate got a mixed response.

        In general, all the reds moved up a gear with only the DE Shiraz scoring less than 8. Surprising pale in colour for a shiraz, it had good balance with some tannin but obviously meant to be drunk failrly young. By contrast the Katnook Founder's Merlot was a deep cherry colour, had a prunes and spicy nose and was very full with stone fruit and raisins on the palate. Neverless it was made to be drunk young also.The KE Shiraz - 16 months in barrel- was deeply coloured a strong plum nose and was full, nicely balanced, long on the finish and generally one to keep for some time. The KE cabernet had a nose of fresh raspberry - mostly 24 months in oak with some being kept for 36 months - very full fruit and needed some time yet to reach its full potential.It fully deserved its high score. Finally we tasted the 'top of the range' KE Odyssey Cabernet. 22 months in oak had averthing, spicey mature plum nose, so much fruit it had a hint of sweetness, generally perfect. It will certainly go on for a number of years yet.

       Charlotte came up with her usual excellent food. The Steak Pie cried out for seconds and the interesting vegetable side dishes added to a very moreish main meal. The pear and polenta pie didn't lie idle on the plate for long either. Thank you Charlotte.

The Wines
Aperitif: Deakin Estate Brut Chardonnay/Pinot Noir 10.12 7 *
(1)Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015 7.78 7
(2) Deakin Estate Viognier 2015 7.78 8
(3) Katnook Estate, Founder's Block Chardonnay 2014 11.14 7+ *
(4) Deakin Estate Shiraz 2015 7.78 7
(5) Katnook Estate, Founder's Block Merlot 2012 11.14 8
(6) Katnook Estate Shiraz 18.64 8+
(7)Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 18.64 8+
(8) Katnook Estate, Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 45.52 9+

* Average of a wide range of scores!