Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Robert Oatley: Affordable Wines From Classic Australian Regions

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

Are you still buying those generic Australian wines with “Southeastern Australia” on the labels? You know what I’m talking about: Little Penguin Chardonnay, Rosemount Estate Cab or — gasp! — even Yellow Tail Shiraz?

If you are, that’s fine. Every wine drinker starts somewhere. But if you’re looking to deepen your experience with Australian wine, and you still don’t want to spend a lot of money, there are other Aussie options. There are plenty of wines that taste like, well, wine, as opposed to factory-churned Kool-Aid.

One producer of such wines is Robert Oatley Vineyards, who produces a wide range of value-driven, fan-friendly wines from vineyards across Australia. Founder Robert Oatley is the man behind Rosemount Estate, the Australian wine behemoth whose diamond label bottles can be found anywhere in America. It seems Robert is taking a more focused approach with this effort; he’s sourcing quality grapes from classic Australian appellations, instead of relying on multi-regional blends. The result is a line of distinctive and affordable wines that are representative of their respective regions.

Robert Oatley Vineyards is run by Robert’s son, Sandy Oatley, and Larry Cherubino, of Cherubino Winery, directs the winemaking. They describe their wines as “authentically Australian wines intentionally suited to the American palate.”

I’m not sure exactly what that means, but my American palate enjoyed these wines quite a bit. And the prices are very attractive.

2012 Robert Oatley Chardonnay Wild Oats - Australia, New South Wales, Central Ranges, Mudgee
SRP: $15
Aromas of apricot, lemon and orange peel. Creamy, buttery, but lively with acid, grapefruit peel, minerals, lots of tangy lemons. I get some papaya, apricot jam and sweet honey, nervy acid and minerals balance it out. Great value for the money. (87 points)
2012 Robert Oatley Chardonnay Signature Series - Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
Nose of lemon curd, daisies, honeycomb, lime, river rocks. On the palate, this is crisp, clean and tangy, only 13% alcohol. The apricot, green apple and lime play well together, and I enjoy the floral, perfumed aspects. Unassuming, lovely stuff, especially for the price. (88 points)

2013 Robert Oatley Riesling Signature Series - Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Great Southern
SRP: $17
Light yellow color. Lots of white peach, green pear and lime, some honey and minerals. Tangy acid on the palate, but not austere, with a wonderfully creamy texture. Apricot, green apples and lime juice, all fresh and lively, along with honeyed tea and chalk accents. Dry, crisp, lively, an impressive Aussie Riesling. (88 points)

2012 Robert Oatley Shiraz Signature Series - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
SRP: $20
Dark purple color. Aromas of black cherries, plums, sweet vanilla and earth. Open on the palate, with a stylish, juicy approach. Blackberries and black cherry jam mixes in with cinnamon and teriyaki notes. Fleshy but not overripe or hot. (87 points)

2011 Robert Oatley Shiraz Wild Oats - Australia, New South Wales, Central Ranges, Mudgee
SRP: $14
Bright cherry colored. Smells of raspberries and spice tea, some tobacco. Fresh and juicy on the palate, surprisingly tangy, with flavors of roses and clove accenting the red berry fruit. Surprisingly pleasant, especially for the price. (86 points)

2012 Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Series - Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
SRP: $20
Medium ruby color. Spicy aromas mix with blueberry, vanilla and loamy soil. Firm tannins, smooth acid, a plush mouthfeel. Tangy black currants and juicy blueberries are backed up by notes of mocha, charcoal, cigar smoke and eucalyptus. Drinking well now but could hold for a few years. Very good for the price. (88 points)

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