The Wine Detective Reviews Xanadu Wines

Sarah Ahmed, The Wine Detective, is an award winning freelance wine writer, educator and wine judge based in the UK. Sarah regularly travels to Australia and, known for her expertise on Australian wines. She recently sat down and tasted through some of Xanadu’s Wines including a vertical of the flagship Reserve Chardonnay.

Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2015 (Margaret River): 100% of the fruit for this Reserve Chardonnay is from Xanadu’s oldest Chardonnay vineyard, the Lagan Estate. It was first planted in 1977 by Dr John Lagan and the Reserve Chardonnay comes from the original Chardonnay vines, planted in 1981. A little fleshier than Stevens Road, The Reserve 2015 has a lovely intensity of grapefruit, lemon, dried pear notes wed to a great backbone of acidity. It is fine, pure and long, with persistent, crunchy acidity and slate/whetstone minerality. Incisive. Current release available here.

Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2014 (Margaret River): A funkier nose and palate, though it retains a crisp, firm, pure core of grapefruit and crunchy, icing sugar dusted green apple. Savoury, nutty notes build on the finish, making for a lingering, textural finish with an undertow of slate/whetstone minerality.

Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2013 (Margaret River): Riper seeming and more developed, with creamy, baked and fresh yellow peach and nutty, praline/brown butter notes going through. The acid backbone rises on the finish – a nip and tuck of pure, juicy grapefruit.

Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River)
: Very pale, with perfumed, sweet rock melon and fleshy but succulent white peach to the palate. Subtle, complexing praline/brown butter notes emerge on the finish; lovely concentration and balance.

Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2011 (Margaret River): The vintage is strongly expressed in the 2011 Reserve’s very pale hue and tremendous drive of grapefruity acidity. It spears the palate, driving a long finish and teasing out this wine’s silky (touch of glycerol) white peach, with brown butter and praline notes. Plenty of complexity and mouthfeel, delivered with energy.

Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2010 (Margaret River): Perhaps it was this bottle, but the 2010 seemed a little vegetal (eucalyptus) and tinny (tinned yellow peach) on the palate. Markedly shorter and a little dusty on the finish.

Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2009 (Margaret River): Yellow gold, the 2009 is something of a peach-fest, with peach fuzz/peach skin and nutty kernel nuances to its fleshy, round white peach. Plenty of mid-palate satisfaction and it is holding really well, doubtless thanks to its insistent undertow of grapefruity acidity, which snaps at the heels, bringing definition and drive – a second wind – to a very persistent finish. Very good.

Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2008 (Margaret River)
: A touch of eucalyptus to the nose, but the palate shows plenty of body, with silky, brown-butter-edged white asparagus and poached white peach. While the 2009 feels like it has a few more years in it yet, this satisfying Chardonnay with a touch of warmth to the finish is at drink up stage. Enjoyable nonetheless.

Sarah also reviewed the following Xanadu wines:

Xanadu Exmoor Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2016 (Margaret River): A lively, lifted blend of 76% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Semillon with sweet elderflower cordial and balancing pyrazine notes to the nose. A crisp palate has a crunchy green apple core with riffs of apple blossom and bloom and kaffir lime leaf. A great thirst quencher with a bit more pound for pound interest than your average Sauv Blanc.

Xanadu Exmoor Chardonnay 2016 (Margaret River): Ripe melon and lemon fruit to the mid-palate with crab apple bite lending some pace to the finish; has Xanadu’s/Glenn Goodall’s hallmark levity, purity and drive.

Xanadu Estate Chardonnay 2015 (Margaret River): I selected this for a Decanter Expert’s Choice on Australian Chardonnay earlier this year and I’m still very taken with it. The 2015 Xanadu Chardonnay – 100% Gin Gin clone – is predominantly Estate grown in the Wallcliffe sub-region, with 80% of the blend being made with fruit sourced from Xanadu’s Stevens Road and Lagan Estate vineyards. It reveals icing sugar dusted green apple, dried pear and vibrant breakfast grapefruit, with well-integrated sweet vanillin and oak spice nuances. Dancing acidity makes for a vibrant finish with great levity and persistence. It was whole bunch pressed followed by 100% barrel fermentation (primary only, so no malo) and 9 months’ ageing in French oak (25% new).

Xanadu Stevens Road Chardonnay 2015 (Margaret River): Stevens Road vineyard in Wallcliffe, opposite Leeuwin Estate, was first planted in 1989 by John Brocksopp, who used to make wines here in a pocket-sized winery at the top of the hill. I well recall a visit with him in 2007. The vineyard was acquired by the Rathbone family in 2008 and, with a beautiful aspect, it is where Goodall’s boss, Darren Rathbone, has a house. Like the Estate wine, Stevens Road Chardonnay is made from 100% Gin Gin clone. Taken from the best 20 rows of Block 2 it is a fine showcase for this clone’s tight acid ‘al dente’ backbone. It is firm, focused and fresh with steely grapefruit of sorbet-like purity and sweeter lemon notes chiming in on the juicy, lip-smacking, super-long, mineral finish. Vibrant; wears its oak lightly (like the Estate Chardonnay, it spent 9 months’ ageing in French oak, 25% new).

Xanadu Exmoor Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Margaret River): Once again, from Exmoor up, the Cabernets are classy with hallmark perfume, vibrant fruit and fine tannins. Qualities which are doubtless enhanced by some 20% of the fruit undergoing a pre-fermentation cold soak and another 30% seeing extended maceration on skins for 28 days. The 2014 Exmoor is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) Cabernet Franc (9%) Petit Verdot (3%) Merlot (2%) and Malbec (1%) and spent 14 months maturation in French oak barriques (20% new). The nose and palate offer delicious complexity and finesse for the price point, with tobacco, black tea, violets and well-defined, perfumed blue fruits and blackcurrant; a firm push of acidity – an indication, perhaps of its Wallcliffe origins – extends the flavours. Nice juicy persistence.

Xanadu Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Margaret River): This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (90%) Malbec (7%) Petit Verdot (3%) really impressed me and the other panel members at a Margaret River tasting for Decanter last year. I gave it 95 points. As you would expect of the next rung up the ladder, it has more ‘bottom’ than the Exmoor and was matured for 14 months in French oak (40% new barriques). Still, the fruit vibrancy and perfume are there – a lovely melange of violets, vibrant cherry, blackcurrant, cinnamon and tobacco with fine but present powdery tannins. Just lovely.

Xanadu Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Margaret River): For the Reserve, Goodall looks primarily to northern Margaret for concentration and structure. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (90%) Cabernet Franc (5%) Malbec (5%) comes from The Timber Creek vineyard in Wilyabrup (60%), the Victory Point vineyard in Treeton (30%), with the balance coming from estate vineyards in Wallcliffe. It matured for 12 months in French oak barriques before the blend was assembled from a selection of best barrels from each batch (50% new oak). The blend was then returned to older French oak barriques for further 2 months maturation. Baritone depths of sonorous (there’s levity still), silky fruit with cassis, blueberry, black cherry and cherrystone, with savoury but lifted balsamic, cocoa, cedar and tobacco notes. Fine but plentiful cat’s fur tannins accentuate the fluidity and sheen. Super-classy; vibrantly youthful with a couple of decades under the belt.

Xanadu Stevens Stevens Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Margaret River): And it’s back to Wallcliffe – the Stevens Road vineyard – for this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Block 3. Quite Italianate with its radicchio and balsamic edged uber-juicy black cherry and currant fruit. More classic tobacco notes chime in going through. The tannins are slinky, quite ephemeral. A finely-honed Cabernet with gorgeous fruit purity and succulence vibrantly to flesh out the frame. It was aged for 16 months in French barriques (40% new).

Xanadu Stevens Road Graciano 2014 (Margaret River): The Graciano was planted in 2006. They say it’s the salt and pepper seasoning for Rioja and you can see why. This thick-skinned grape has assertive peppery lift and grip to nose and palate and an equally assertive thrust of sweet and sour (parrying, not disjointed) blue fruit, black cherry and rhubarb with a lick of cinnamon. Firm acid drive going through. It was matured for 14 months in seasoned French oak. Punchy.

Xanadu Stevens Road Graciano 2013 (Margaret River): Hmm, this vintage is more floral than spicy, in fact very perfumed. The fruit, this time black and blue, is palate staining/saturating and tangy – that tongue twisting acidity once again driving a focused palate. The tannins are silkier than the ’14.

Xanadu Stevens Road Malbec 2014 (Margaret River): Sourced from just 11 rows. A soaring nose and palate of violets bursts with juicy, slightly sour (a yoghurty tang?) black cherry and silky blueberry, with almond and cinnamon nuances. The tannins have a gentle, velvety ‘grip.’ Bergamot notes to the juicy finish add orange citrus/tea leaf lift. This complex, exuberant Malbec – very likeable – was aged for 14 months in French oak barriques (40% new) where it completed MLF. The best two barrels were selected and spent another two months in old oak for bottling.

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