Chateau Tanunda – Bringing The Thunder From Down Under

Chateau Tanunda, Barossa Valley - picture courtesy of
Chateau Tanunda has been described as the birthplace of the Barossan wine industry.  The site of the first vine plantings (1840s). In 1994, it was placed on the Register Of State Heritage Places.  However, by the time its current owner, the inimitable John Geber, discovered it in 1998, it was neglected and in disrepair.   It has taken vision, passion and not a little effort and investment to return this iconic estate to its former glory. 

John has now turned his attention to the US market, evangelizing their brand and seeking feedback on their product.  I was fortunate to meet him several months ago. I found him to be a genuine and passionate guy who is proud of his brand, and genuinely interested in making it better.  Recently, I took the opportunity to review some of their offerings.  Here is a summary of my thoughts.

2012 Chateau Tanunda Dry Riesling – Pale gold in color with aromatics of feshly squeezed lime and crisp Golden Delicious apple.  On the palate, it provides a decent attack, with incisive acidity, cleansing lime, granny smith apple skin, with almost grainy saline-driven minerality. A core of pear and apple combine with lime and lemon zest to provide bitter-tinged edge to a persistent finish. Great quality and interest in a bone dry Riesling at a price point ($17) that makes it almost imperative to try. I readily give this 90 points. If all of the wines perform like this, Tanunda could be (arguably) on the path to an Aussie wine renaissance. 

2013 Chateau Tanunda Barossa Chardonnay – enthusiastic aromatics highlighted by tropical fruits, pineapple, melon, nectarine, meyer lemon, and a light chalky note. The palate is soft and round, enriched by pineapple and mango. The attack and midpalate are edged by lemon pith and baking spice – pursued by a persistent finish and decent acidity. At $16 I would give this a solid 88 points – strong effort.

2009 Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Shiraz  - it’s easy to greet an Aussie Shiraz with some preconceived notions.  Here, I tried hard to make my notes a genuine reflection of a naïve encounter with a new wine.  Opaque in color, a deep inky ruby gave rise to dusty black currant, sweet ripe dark fruit and cocoa aromatics, accompanied by an interesting note of orange zest.  Odd, you might say but there nonetheless.

On the palate, blackberry, black currant and red currant combine in a sweet ripe core edged by pepper, iodine and some salinity. Bitter cherry and a lightly dusty, tannic spine support a full-bodied palate with dense core of fruit that is gently cleansed and lifted by decent acidity.  At under $20 I gave this 89 points.  A solid wine with character and room for personal growth.

2009 Chateau Tanunda Grand Barossa Cabernet – the aromatics are ebullient! Blueberries and red currant explode from the glass, accompanied by smoke, meat and a herb-like sage / underbrush note (courtesy of the blended Cab Franc). The palate of blackberry / currant and raspberry, pepper spice, mint and dark chocolate are enveloped in a fine grained palatal texture with good acidity. The wine feels well proportioned with a persistent finish driven by dark fruit and dusty tannin.  Again, a wine worthy of 89 points at the $20 price point.

2010 Noble Baron Shiraz – I had been looking forward to this wine. Dense and opaque, crimson at the rim, blackberry and raspberry, smoke, vanilla, and spice aromatics flood the air.  The Baron displays a velvety texture on the attack, coursing with a focused stream of blackberry compote and kirsch, dark chocolate-covered acai/dried cherry. The finish is gently encased by a bitter edge of herb and decent acidity, integrated in fine-grained tannin and leather.  At $50, this earns 90 points from me – a delicious effort, still with a lot of horses under the hood.

I would pair the Noble Baron with some wood fire baked meatballs in marinara, layered over some fresh spaghetti (al dente).

All in all, I enjoyed this showing from Chateau Tanunda.  Sure, there is room for growth, development and refinement in these wines, but it looks like they are headed in the right direction.  These are wines with great value for money. I look forward to trying them in future vintages and learning how they develop.

You can catch other bottle notes and pictures on my twitter account - please drop in and follow @BruisedGrape .  Your comments are always appreciated!

Disclosure:  Media samples were provided by Banfi wines for the review process.


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