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the wines of Katnook, Coonawarra

By Tom Cannavan, 05/04

This was a tasting of a selection from the Katnook Estate portfolio. All of these are Coonawarra wines, which is one of the most prestigious regions in South Australia, and renowned for Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz in particular. The wines were presented by their UK distributor, Bibendum wines. Since I last tasted through the range of Katnook wines, the company has become part of the giant Freixenet portfolio, but stays under the guidance of a the same great winemaker, Wayne Stehbens, twice winner of the Top Jimmy Watson trophy for his wines.

Basically, wines from three ranges were on show: Riddoch, which is an intermediate level, Katnook, which are premium wine, and two wines from the "Faldo" series, endorsed by English golfer Nick Faldo. Popular, no doubt, in the dining rooms and bars of golf clubs up and down the country, I can't help wondering quite why Faldo's name on a bottle would make it sell, yet the stuff inside - particularly the lovely Sauvignon Blanc - is really rather good. Retail prices for these ranges average around £7.50, £12.50 and £8 respectively.

white

Katnook (Australia) "Faldo" Sauvingnon Blanc 2002
This has a pale green colour, and a lovely passionfruit and lime nose, with a juicy suggestion of succulence and some pungent elderflower and nettle nuances. Round and fleshy on the palate, this fairly explodes in the mouth with rich, ripe, sweet-edged fruit; bags of melon and Asian pear, and a lovely cut of citrus acidity. This is very pure and clean and has really good length. Very good indeed.
£8.45 from Bibendum, Luvians. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Katnook (Australia) Riddoch Chardonnay 2000
Pale gold, still with plenty of green. Lots of toasty, brazil nut quality, with Seville orange fruit. Quite a deep, burnished quality on the nose. Peachiness, and a hint of tropical sweetness emerges. The palate is quite creamy-bodied, with plenty of cut from citrussy fruit and a spicy background. This is really quite a fresh and elegant style, with a fleshy mid-palate and very good balance. very good indeed.
£6.99 from Bibendum. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Katnook (Australia) Chardonnay 2000
Weighing in with a hefty 14.5% alcohol this is no shrinking violet. It has a quite a deep, luscious gold colour, and the nose is buttery, rich and vegetal, with a really Burgundian feel. There is butterscotch and toast, with hints of honey and mead. Lovely palate, with a warm, toasty, buttered muffins character, masses of fruit sweetness and notes of toasted coconut. There is a layering of spice and marmalady fruit, notes of cinammon, and also a fine, tugging acidity that freshens the wine into the finish. Very elegant and rich at the same time, and excellent for current drinking.
£10.65 from Bibendum, Luvians. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

red

Katnook (Australia) "Faldo" Shiraz 2001
From a light vintage, this wine has only 12.5% alcohol, which for an Australian Shiraz is almost unthinkable. It is a dark, dense, crimson/black colour and is immediately peppery and spicy, with a real cracked black peppercorn note, an element of dusty ground ginger, and good, ripe black fruit. The palate is medium-bodied, with a cherry-skin tartness to the fruit, a deeper, more damsony note, and plenty of acidity. The tannins are quite subdued, and this is either elegant and restrained, or a bit under-powered, depending on what you look for in Shiraz. Good fruit, and decent length. Good/very good.
£8.25 from Bibendum, Luvians. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Katnook (Australia) Riddoch Cabernet/Shiraz 2000
Very dark, deep, plummy colour that is dense and solid. Big, minty, ripe cassis nose, with a nice touch of meaty quality; some gravy and meat-stock and a little rose-hip perfume. The palate is smooth and velvet-textured, and is laden with blackcurrant fruit and plenty of toasty, woody spice. There is a big seam of tannin at the core that adds savoury grip, and adequate acidity to give this balance. Good fruit again here, and a long finish.Very good indeed.
£8.35 from Bibendum. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com

Katnook (Australia) Merlot 2000
Extremely dark, dense, purple/black. Huge, slightly volatile nose, with explosively rich fruit; an almost syrupy note, with a green leafy, plum tomato component and plenty of balck fruit. The nose is quite complex, and the palat is rich and full, flooded with dense, meaty, rounded black fruits. There is damson and plum, and a slick of bittersweet dark chocolate. The tannins are fine and supple, and integrated acidity lifts and supports this into a realy long, pure finish. A lovely wine, and excellent.
£12.99 from Bibendum, Australian Wines Online. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com