I can only recall having tasted Wendouree wines twice before – at a Langton’s/Wine Australia tasting four or five years ago in London and with some friends in Clare a couple of years ago. Of course Wendouree is in Clare – I remember driving past its entrance, with a forbidding sign that discouraged visits. The wine drunk in Clare – I forget which one – was very raisiny.
It was a rare privilege, then, to taste 14 Wendouree wines back to 1989 courtesy of those nice people at Find Wine. There were strong family resemblances between all the wines, which is not to suggest that the winemaking is heavy-handed; rather, it is to suggest that the vineyards have a particular character.
On the whole, I found the wines fleshy rather than extracted, with palpitating acidity and that distinctive Clare mintiness. The tannins were usually sociable – only the 1990 and 1998 Cabernet/Malbec and 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon seemed tougher than the rest, as hard as frozen ground. There was none of the raisiness that I found before, either, though the 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon was close to it.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about these wines was that they were all still going strong. Even the 1989 Shiraz/Mataro is good for at least another five years.
I will be in South Australia in December (hurrah!) and, despite that gruff sign, I hope to visit Wendouree.