Tasting at MONA Hobart: Moorilla Wines
A while ago I posted some brief notes from a trip to Moorilla Wines, based out of Tasmania’s (and Australia’s) premier contemporary art museum, MONA. I felt, though, that reading those notes didn’t do justice to the big achievement of these wines. I didn’t post any scores for that write-up, and didn’t go into enough depth about the wines to do them justice. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into these wines, and a fair slab of experimentation. They tend to try things with their precious juice that others might not. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I guess that’s MONA and Moorilla – wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Winemaker Conor van der Reest has been making the wines at Moorilla for a number of years now, and the wines have definitely got a definition and scope to match his vision for them. I hope you find these notes interesting, and give some of these wines a try – you’ll be talking about the wines, or their labels designs, or the gallery, long after. Without further time wasting, here are my reviews of their wines that I tasted last week. Reviews for the 2014 Praxis Sparkling Riesling and the 2009 Muse Extra Brut Methode Traditionelle can be found here.
The Cloth Label Red label - artisan wine at its best
Muse Extra Brut Rosé 2009
Salmon pink in colour. The nose shows dry candy, dry rocks, and some dry spice and something like cloves. Despite the dryness, it’s not a complete desert. There are lifted red flowers on the nose too, making it all seem rather delicate. Tasting the wine there’s nice notes of strawberry, and some spice like star anise. There’s soft brioche and other complex flavours that I can’t put a finger on. It’s got a solid fruit quality, without being outstanding, but I do believe this is better than the Extra Brut Methode Traditionelle 2009. Aperitif, for sure, and I don’t think it would stand up to food. But who needs that anyway.
Praxis Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Pale gold translucent in colour, fermented in stainless steel. Subtle tropical notes in here, a smidgeon grassy, but subtle and refrained are the watch words. It’s not whacking you in the face with tropical pizzazz, like some lay-wearing idiot. On the palate, there are tropical passionfruit notes, pure fruit and gentle acid. Somewhat palate-coating in its texture, and a very good effort for what is supposedly the lesser of the two Moorilla labels.
Muse Sauvignon 2013
As you’d expect, deeper and richer in colour and hue than the previous. Aromas of oak nuttiness on the nose. I would say this is sterner and stronger in balance and texture than the previous, biscuity, with dried peaches on the base layer. There is white flesh fruit here and some rough texture to give it an edge. I think it’s a very good drink, and Moorilla recommend it with goat’s cheese, fresh tomatoes and herbs.
Muse Chardonnay 2012
I'm told no malolactic fermentation here – they’re trying to keep it rather unadulterated methinks. 2012, as I’ve said before and is generally known, was a cracker year in Tasmania. This wine makes the most of it. Oak presence makes itself felt, but the overall lifted aromas on the nose make the wine really sing. It does have a honey aroma in there too, but the other characters are so subtle as to completely blend in. Grainy, latent power in the mouth, this wine is particularly good. Stonefruits, peach, mango skin kick around. Actually, they don’t kick, they wash. Go for it, with all you’ve got in your wallet!
Praxis Pinot Noir 2013
A pale red raspberry colour. Four months in oak makes it slightly complex in nose and taste. Clear and bright cherry on the nose follows through on the palate, with grainy but slightly round tannins make it a smooth wine. A touch rough around the edges but would make great weekly drinking.
Muse Pinot Noir 2012
Sixteen months in oak, a rich red cherry colour. Cherry and stemmy-ness on the nose, leafiness with subtle smoke wrapping it up. Latent power on the palate, just like the Muse Chardonnay. Very youthful, needs more (more, more) time to unfold. Round, chocolatey tannins bring home the quality of this offering.
The Cloth Label 'Late Disgorged' Label
The Cloth Label Series – a special tribute to 50 years of winemaking at Moorilla, made up of a Late Disgorged Sparkling, and a field blended red and white.
Cloth Label Late-Disgorged 2004
Again an extra brut sparkling, I begin to feel that Moorilla’s sparklings could benefit from extra dosage. Either that, or it’s just me. This has a huge thwhack of leatherwood honey on the nose. Apparently there are leatherwood trees in the vicinity of where these grapes grow. I can smell practically nothing else. There is vanillin, though, and hints of caramel. The palate thankfully diverges from the leatherwood smell, with red apple and red apple skins, fibrous pears, and a clear direction from attack to finish. I get none of the complexity I expect of a ‘Late-Disgorged’ sparkling, especially considering the competition in this segment from Tasmanian sparkling. My fellow tasters saw more in this than I did, and that is the caveat - all palates are different, but I didn't catch on to this.
Cloth Label White 2012
A blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewürtztraminer, and Pinot Noir. This wine is a friend-friendly, food wine that needs company and a good meal with it. It’s a lustrous gold colour, and smells of round, rich stonefruits. On the palate there are hints of citrus, dry earth, stewy flavours and a ménage of fruits. A killer wine and worth a good, decent swig between friends.
Cloth Label Red 2012
A blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, with Riesling thrown in. This has a super artisanal feel about it, like it had been made by a small family. Deep garnet red in colour, and smells of fragrant skins and fruit. It’s a different proposition to any Moorilla reds. Warm and hearty juice on the palate, tannins under control, and alcohol holding a complementary presence in the middle. Recommended, absolutely.
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