After attending Wild Rice’s excellent production of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, we headed down to Hobart’s City Hall to listen to Haitian-American composer and violinist DBR, Elan Vytal aka Dj Scientific, and the queen of Haitian song, Emeline Michel. Our friend James couldn’t believe his luck when the bar at the venue was selling Domaine A’s Stoney Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 for $35 a bottle. The wine is actually a classic Bordeaux blend with 4% cabernet franc, 4% merlot and 2% petit verdot. It is a deliciously aromatic, finely structured wine with a wonderfully long finish. Yet another great example of how Tasmania is excelling at making cool-climate, elegant European-style reds!
Domaine A has established a very strong reputation for its Bordeaux blends. James Halliday described the Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 as by far the best [cabernet sauvignon] in Tasmania, and here’s the Decanter’s Andrew Jefford’s reaction to an earlier vintage of the Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon:
This wine gave me the shock of my tasting-note life on May 12th 2005, when Andrew Caillard brought 114 wines from the Langtons Classification pool over to the UK and served them blind. This was my pick of the Cabernets and Cabernet blends (I gave it half a point more than Cullens Cab-Merlot), yet it was so different to the rest of its peers.
As the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown explained, since Domaine A’s Swiss born Peter Althaus first started making wine in Tasmania in 1990, he has produced “cabernet blends as though they were French classified growths.”(Wine Advocate # 189 June 2010)
Shortly after emigrating from Europe, Peter and wife Ruth purchased the Stoney Vineyard, a one acre block in the picturesque Coal River Valley about 20 minutes out of Hobart. The area is positioned at a similar latitude to the wine regions of Germany and France, and Peter realised that the sloping vineyard’s north, north-easterly aspect, with its high degree of natural UV light and cool nights, offered perfect conditions for slow ripening varieties like cabernet sauvignon. Today Domain A has 11.5 hectares of vineyards planted to 75% Bordeaux red varietals (mainly cabernet sauvignon), 15% pinot noir and around 5% sauvignon blanc.
The Domaine A Stoney Vineyard 2004 that we enjoyed at City Hall is actually Domaine A’s second label. Perhaps not in the same class as the Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, but a bargain at $26 from the winery.
In celebration of Domaine A’s 20th anniversary last year, Peter organised a tasting of his line-up for Paul Henry, the former general manager of The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation. Here’s an excerpt from Paul’s tasing notes:
Above all, Domaine A displays the very essence of all great wine estates — that vintages are surely different, but that site expression is a consistent thread that should run through all house releases.
Recent tastings show this most profoundly across the range of 2004 reds – Cabernets from Stoney Vineyard and Domaine A, as well as Domaine A Merlot, all showing an unmistakable gene pool, or thumbprint, that reflect house style, regional typicality and delicate varietal expression.
The most compelling of these wines is currently perhaps the most modest (a relative term, I know!) — the 2004 Stoney Vineyard Cabernet. I have never been a fan of wine notes that contain shopping lists of ingredients, but this wine confidently displays aromatic tea leaf, gentle cassis tones and some dusty, bitter chocolate and cocoa powder-textured tannin. Absolutely brilliant wine, and with $28 in my pocket I wouldn’t buy anything else from anywhere else!
Photo Credit: A+ Australian wine: a great tasting today, Jamie Goode’s Wine Blog, 19 January 2011, Tasmania is worth watching: wine quality is on the up. Really excited by the wines from Domaine A, and in particular the lovely, beautifully defined Cabernet Sauvignon. Cool labels, too.