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Brown Brothers (Australia)

By Tom Cannavan, 02/98

This was a tasting of a selection from the Brown brothers portfolio. I have enjoyed Brown Brothers wines in the past, and this was a pretty good selection overall. The whites were served a wee bit cold, which didn't flatter them. These notes are a little non-commital, which in itself maybe expresses how I felt about the wines: they are high quality, good, "correct" wines, but somehow don't stir the soul. At the price they have some stiff competition from Chile.

Dry Muscat 1996, £5.50
Very pale golden colour tinged green, almost clear in centre. Very powerful, floral, peachy nose with some depth and developing straw-like aromas. Quite luscious on the palate with loads of off-dry muscat fruit but good, juicy, balancing acidity. Nice spiciness in the finish with lime acidity dominating.

Semillon 1995, £7.35
Deeper, but still light golden colour. Subdued boiled sweet character on the nose. Slightly yeasty with hints of damp wool. Very dry, striking the palate with plenty of citrus fruit - grapefruit and lemon. Some crisp melon flavours too. Medium bodied, smooth but really very dry. Finish is quite difficult at this stage with cutting acidity. Too cold?

King Valley Chardonnay 1994, £7.50
Darker, more yellow colour with more depth. A little reticent on the nose at first, but developing buttery, yeasty aromas. Mostly citrus fruit on the palate. Medium bodied. Some nuances of warm spice and caramel, but plenty of lemon acidity keeping it very steely and brisk. Finish a little swamped by acidity, but decent length. Savoury, moreish, not at all flabby.

Tarrango 1997, £5.75
A Brown Brothers hybrid of Port grapes. Vibrant cherry, cough medicine colour. Incredibly high, sherbety nose full of cherry fruit and confected, parma-violet, strawberry notes. Beaujolais-like on the palate (carbonic maceration?) with bags of juicy fruit and plenty of acidity. Finish is quite sweet, with fruit re-asserting itself. Unusual.

King Valley Merlot 1995, £7.25
Very intense, vibrant, purple colour. Lovely warm, smoky nose with intensity of spice and plums. Medium bodied and creamy, with quite a lot of drying tannin, but flavours of good, ripe fruit and bitter, dark chocolate and mint. Very soft and approachable despite the tannin, finishing quite firmly.

Shiraz 1995, £7.25
Intense, purple colour. Classic shiraz nose of forest fruits and a lovely, inviting nutmeg, clove and pepper richness. Big, juicy, blackberry flavours. Autumnal. Quite tannic, with good acidity and a nice, firm finish. Good focus and plenty of spicy fruit. High alcohol and quite brawny, but not too much so and a creamy character. Very good.

Late Picked Muscat 1996, £5.50
Medium, pale golden yellow colour. Lovely muscat nose - flowery and fresh, with slightly musky notes too. Quite luscious, medium body. Sherbety, with a honeyed quality and good, generous, mellow acidity keeping it balanced and fresh. Long, fresh finish. Good.

Orange Muscat & Flora 1997, £5.25 per half bottle
Deeper golden but youthful colour. Less musky nose. Fully luscious, oily and very sweet. A real "stickie". Acidity is there too, but overall honeyed and mellow with rich, marmalade flavours. Stays quite tight in the finish.