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The wines of Charles Melton, Barossa, Australia

Krondorf Road, Tanunda, Barossa, South Australia (post: PO Box 319, Tanunda, Barossa, South Australia 5352
Phone: +61 8 8563 3606 Fax: +61 8 8563 3422
E-mail: cmw@charlesmeltonwines.com.au
Website: http://www.charlesmeltonwines.com.au 

Australia's Barossa Valley (pictured right) has seen some troubled times, most recently in the 1980s when its old vine Shiraz and Grenache wines fell out of favour and growers were even paid to rip vineyards out.

Charles Melton was one of the band of new producers who began to turn the tide in the late 1980s. He's been making wine in the Barossa since 1984. 

This is a producer I have a bit of history with: it's actually the first ever winery I visited, back in March 1996. In those days I hadn't learned to spit when tasting, so Fiona and I cycled round half a dozen wineries, getting saddle sore in the process.

The Barossa is unusual among Australian wine regions. ‘In the Barossa the land tends to be quite tightly held', explains Melton. 'There are very few lifestylers, so things don’t change that often: newcomers are often sons of old-time growers.'

Melton's wines come from 50 acres of vines, owned by some 20 growers. It's a good way of working, because he has a good relationship with his growers and has access to old vine fruit from some wonderful vineyards without the capital cost of vineyard ownership. The wines are pretty smart, with the Shiraz just shading the Nine Popes, for me.  

Rose of Virginia 2003
A bright pink colour. Fresh, juicy and ripe with lots of vivid fruit.

Nine Popes 2001
A blend of Grenache and Shiraz with just a splash of Mourvèdre. Mostly French oak for ageing. Ripe liqueur-like nose is full with a spicy edge. Lovely concentration on the palate: rich, spicy, bold and intense with dark berries. Very good/excellent 92/100  

Shiraz 2001
Ripe, tight blackfruits nose. Quite intense. Bold, spicy, intense palate with some nice spicy complexity. Very bold and tannic, this is superb. Very good/excellent 93/100

Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2000
This is normally a varietal Cabernet, but some Shiraz was added this vintage. Perfumed berry and black fruits nose which is very open. Open, rich, chunky berry fruit palate with a spicy edge. Drinking well now. Very good+ 88/100

NV Sparkling Red
A great tradition in Australia, made in the Champagne method. Unusual, rich and spicy. Slightly sweet berry fruits dominate. Will age well, apparently. Very good+ 89/100

Sotto di Ferro 2000
Mainly Pedro Ximenez, left to dry after picking. A remarkable 300–350 g/l residual sugar. Soft, sweet raisiny nose is rich and viscous. Very sweet palate has a herbal, tea-like complexity with lots of sweetness. One for the future? Very good/excellent 90/100  

see also: tasting notes of Australian wines

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