Running With Bulls, Howard Park & Chapel Hill

The really big issue that holds the most danger for the Australian wine industry will be the health lobby and anti-alcohol brigade continuing to gain strength while the wine industry remains ineffectual (hope I’m wrong about that). There is new thinking in the UK that the recommended units are ineffective as hardly anyone can remember them. The new thinking is “two plus two”: no more than two drinks a day and two days a week alcohol free. Maybe the Australian industry should go proactive along these lines rather than weakly say, “we support the recommended daily intake as directed by government”.


One assumes all in the wine industry are in agreement on the idea that drinking alcohol to excess is not good for health and that excessive consumption can contribute to violence and traffic accidents. Reading the ‘Health Statistics for US Adults: National Health Interview Survey 2010’ table we note that 50.9 per cent of American adults (over 18) are classed as regular drinkers. A regular drinker is one who drinks at least 12 drinks a year. One a month and you are a regular; that makes me a full-on lushe, to use the American expression.


Apparently the South African wine Constantia is enjoying a boost due to being mentioned in the second volume of the Shades of Grey trilogy by EL James. It’s a wine that is featured on the menu of a masked ball and people are re-creating the menu, or, if visiting South Africa, turning up at the vineyard. I think this is wonderful news; the vineyard is getting sales and one of the greatest wine styles in the world is gaining better recognition. Will any of this rub off on Australian muscat?


Though the book puts the wine in the setting of a banquet, accompanying sugar-crusted walnut chiffon candied figs, sabayon sauce and maple ice-cream, I think it better sipped from your partner’s navel.


Running With Bulls Wrattonbully Tempranillo 2012 Running With Bulls Wrattonbully Tempranillo 2012:
This red is earthy on the nose and an easy journey across the palate. The real flavour forms in the mouth after the wine is swallowed; the aftertaste is very long and interesting. 93 points and worth its $24.
Running With Bulls Barossa Tempranillo 2011

Running With Bulls Barossa Tempranillo 2011:

I found the nose dull nose but the wine was richer across the palate, however not as interesting as the Wrattonbully wine. The extra year in age didn’t seem to give much extra flavour. It’s an OK red wine but there are plenty more I would go for at $24. 89 points.

Running With Bulls South Australia Vermentino 2011 Running With Bulls South Australia Vermentino 2011:
The more vermentino I taste and drink, the more I’m convinced it really is suited to Australia. As yet, I’m favoring the McLaren Vale as the best region but it’s early days and this could well change. This is a sound wine, well made, with interesting, even intriguing, flavours. 91 points and OK value at $20.
Howard Park Abercrombie Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Howard Park ‘Abercrombie’ Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon 2010:

As well as making (overall) fantastic wine, Howard Park often sends out older vintages for me to compare with the latest release. It’s a brave move as vines age, winemakers change and therefore so does style. It makes you wonder: are the good old days really that good?  This younger wine has a wonderful nose that has a complexity of dark fruit and some form of spice. On the palate it’s incredibly soft on the upper level but, like a swan, there is a lot going on underneath. The notes put the drinking window from now to 2016, which isn’t a long time but I think a correct one. 95 points and pushing Australian price parameters at $110, but on the world stage if you bring Bordeaux and California into the equation it’s a very fair price, and worth it.



Barefoot Bottle

Howard Park Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 1996:

This was the older comparison wine sent by Howard Park. The Abercrombie name was added in 2005. This wine has the stinky nose of tobacco, dust and second-hand bookshops that older wines exhibit. It benefits from decanting but not for long, just long enough to air the wine: in the decanter and then in the glass. As with all older wine, the nose changes as it’s consumed and that is a pleasure, soft across the palate with all those old leather characters that one expects. However, the question arises: is it good? Yes it is, but drinking older wine is different from drinking younger wine and the palate and mind set need to adjust accordingly. This has repaid the keeping and shows the worth of putting wine away to mature, but old wine is not for everybody. Points are not an issue and as it’s not for sale and so price doesn’t come into it.

Chapel Hill Parsons Nose McLaren Vale Shiraz 2011

Chapel Hill ‘Parson’s Nose’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2011:

This wine is as smooth as a Parsons patter, it lifts the soul and settles the spirit. Tasty stuff. McVale all the way through - 93 points and good value at $16.

Chapel Hill The Vicar McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009

Chapel Hill ‘The Vicar’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009:

All velvet and opulence, smooth and very sensuous, wine that glides gracefully across the palate. It’s like a beautiful woman walking across a room: all heads turn towards her and should she smile it lifts the spirit. What interests me is this is a $75 wine and one would assume it would age 10-plus years, but it seems so together now. The winemaker is Michael Fragos and I asked for his opinion. “I am really excited the way this wine has grown into its frame and is building layers of complexity, which is exactly the reason we decided to release the 2010 Vicar before it,” he said “There is still plenty of tannin and flavour in the wine to continue this progression for 10 years plus.” It is a good wine and it will keep but should the top be removed tonight the drinker will be rewarded. 96 points now, more to come as it continues its development, and it really is worth the money.


Tony Keys