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Katnook Coonawarra (Australia)

by Tom Cannavan, 11/98

This was a tasting of a selection from the Katnook Estate portfolio. All of these are Coonawarra wines, the grapes being sourced from that region, which is one of the best in Australia. The wines were presented by their UK distributor, Bibendum wines, and the tasting took place in Lux, a Glasgow restaurant. Basically, wines from 3 ranges were on show: Woolshed is their basic range, Riddoch their imtermediate level and Katnook are their premium wines. Retail prices are around £6($10), £7($11.50) and £10($16) respectively.

Riddoch Sauvingnon Blanc 1997
Fresh and full of zippy grapefruit and lychee fruit on the nose. Palate is ripe and almost candied, with more tropical fruit and decent citrus acidity to balance. Delicious and similar in style to classic New Zealand Sauvignon, but not quite so fresh.

Riddoch Chardonnay 1996
Very heavy, toasted oak nose with sweet, buttery fruit. Warm and oaky on the palate with bags of ripe tropical fruit, though there are some cool pear and apple flavours too. Good citrus acidity in the balanced finish. Commercial and very drinkable if a little too obviously oaked for my taste.

Katnook Chardonnay 1996
Much more subtly styled, though the nose is still dominated by sweet, creamy oak aromas and ripe, exotic fruit. Rich and spicy on the palate with great length and fine balance, good citrus acidity holding up the finish. A concentrated yet elegant style.

The Woolshed Cabernet/Shiraz/Merlot 1996
Very inviting mocha-coffee, cream and cough-mixture nose. Dark scents of charred oak, roasted coffee beans and black fruit. Palate is quite grippy with firm tannins and high acidity. Deep, smoky flavours of blackcurrant and burnt toast. Finish is a little astringent. Nice, commercially styled wine without being at all jammy or blowsy.

Riddoch Cabernet/Shiraz 1996
Much more high-toned, minty fruit with pure aromas of blackcurrant and pepper. Sparky flavours of dusty blueberry and crisp, tart raspberries. Deeper choclate notes too, with liquorice and vanilla bolstered by ripe tannins. Decent finish.

Katnook Merlot 1996
Plums and bitter cherries on the nose along with a cedary aspect. Structured and serious palate with plenty of dense, plummy fruit, firm tannins and good concentration. Quite tightly defined and braced by tannins and acidity, this classy wine would probably benefit from a few years cellaring. Possibly the wine of the night.

Katnook Botrytis Riesling 1996
Deep, aged, golden colour. Big nose of honey and apricot with a little minty edge. Hints of cough linctus. Warm and peachy fruit in the mouth, caramelised flavours of coffee and treacle. There is acidity, but for me it is rather warm and a tiny bit flabby.