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: Balnaves of Coonawarra

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Balnaves of Coonawarra

www.balnaves.com.au

Main Road, Coonwarra, 5263

Cellar Door: Mon - Fri (9-5), weekends (12-5)

Ph: (08) 8737 2946

balnaves

The Balnaves established their family-run vineyard in 1975. The first wines were made on a contract basis at a neighbouring winery in 1990 and in 1995 they made the almost inevitable decision to construct our own winery.

A new 600 tonne winery was built and in operation for the 1996 vintage. The "bell tower" on the winery acts as a local beacon for visitors as well as offering an excellent panorama over the Coonawarra Vineyards.

The principal variety planted is Cabernet Sauvignon, which accounts for 70% of the area whilst the addition of Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Chardonnay make up the total vineyard area of 58 hectares.

Under chief winemaker, Peter Bissell, Balnaves has emerged as one of the region’s premier producers. Peter, with both biochemistry and Roseworthy oenology degrees, has worked in St.Emilion, Pomerol and Bordeaux in France, as well as being the chief winemaker at Wynns. 

The Shiraz and the premium ‘The Tally’ Cabernet Sauvignon are highly regarded by many wine judges (and us at genxywines) and Chardonnay was the Trophy winner at the 2004 Limestone Coast Wine Show.

inside
Inside the cellar door (photos: genxywines)
Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

New reviews

Balnaves The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Purchased: Not ($95)

Drink: 2030+

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2016, floral and intense core of cassis and blueberry with violet and spearmint notes, tight and concentrated palate shows seaweed and slate aspects, toasty and spicy cedar/vanilla oak for the long haul as are the firm, savoury tannins (*****?

Balnaves Shiraz 2013

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2016, deeply coloured and  glossy mulberry and black cherry with lavender floors and  black pepper notes, juicy and medium-full bodied palate with sweet cedar/vanilla oak (***1/2)

Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Purchased: Not ($32)

Drink: 2027+

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2015, a strong vintage, highly perfumed blackcurrant essence and blackberry with seaweed, vuolet and light mint notes, powerful and medium-full bodied with matching toasty vanilla/cedar/chocolate and dusty, savoury tannins (*****)

Balnaves Cabernet Merlot 2013

Purchased: Not ($32)

Drink: 2024

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2015, this time the blend is 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Merlot, perfumed cassis and mulberry with mint and olive notes, medium-full bodied and linear palate with underlying graphite minerality and dusty tannins, spicy mocha/cedarvanilla oak (****)

Balnaves Chardonnay 2013

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2015, quite perfumed, waxy and developed white peach, melon and lemon curd with mealy and yeasty lees complexity, balanced toasty cinnamon oak and succulent orange peel acidity (***1/2)

Balnaves The Blend 2012

Purchased: Not ($22)

Drink: 2021

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2014, this time the blend is 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, vibrant and brightly flavoured, succulent core of blackberry, cassis and cranberry with green olive and violet notes, long and medium-full bodied palate underpinned with grainy tannins and some dark chocolate on the finish (****1/2)

Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Purchased: Not ($39)

Drink: 2022+

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2013, briary and intense showing intense blueberry and blackcurrant pastille with mint leaf, seaweed and violet notes, the medium-full bodied palate is long and evenly ripened without the tarriness of the 2009, lingering chalky tannins and assertive toasty vanilla-cedar French oak, choc-mint finish (****1/2)

Balnaves The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Purchased: Not ($90)

Drink: 2025+

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2013, aromatic and intense with the long post ferment maceration, firmish and concentrated blueberry and blackcurrant with cola, spear-mint, seaweed and violet notes, slaty minerality, fairly overt and toasty cedar/spicy French oak, linear and fine grained but mouth-filling tannins, some dark chocolate on the finish (****1/2)

Balnaves Chardonnay 2012

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2013, barrel fermented, rich and creamy melon, kiwifruit and lemon curd with flint and yeasty lees notes, vibrant grapefruit acidity , spicy and toasty hazelnut-vanilla oak and dusty phenolics, good line and length (****)

Balnaves The Blend 2010

Purchased: Not ($19)

Drink: 2018+

(GXY) Tasting:  Aug 2012, savoury blend of 53% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, medium bodied cassis and cranberry with liquorice and menthol notes, a little fleshier than normal reflecting the higher Merlot content, tightly knit spine of dusty tannins with creamy mocha-cedar seasoned oak (****)

Balnaves Chardonnay 2011

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting:  Aug 2012, barrel fermented melon and peach with savoury lees and flint notes, creamy with fine talcy minerality, zesty lemony acids underpin the palate, spicy and toasty almond-vanilla oak, fresher and racier than recent releases but still early developing (***1/2)

Balnaves The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Purchased: Not ($90)

Drink: 2021+

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2011, perfumed, dusty, deep set and harmoniously ripened blueberry, plum and blackcurrant with cola, mint and violet notes, richer than the 2008 but not jammy or over-extracted, slaty minerality, spicy and toasty cedar/chocolate French oak, lingering fine grained but drying tannins, the strongest vintage of this Coonawarra flagship since 2004 (*****)

Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Purchased: Not ($37)

Drink: 2023+

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2011, a big, briary and powerful example showing intense plum, blueberry and blackcurrant pastille with mint leaf, leather and violet notes, slightly jammy and tarry with persistent chalky tannins and assertive toasty vanilla-cedar French oak (****)

Balnaves Cabernet Merlot 2009

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2011, blend of 72% Cabernet and 28% Merlot, generous blackberry and blackcurrant with mint leaf, violet and olive notes, smooth, earthy and medium-full bodied palate has some vegetal aspects, firm chassis of powdery tannins with cedar/vanilla/dark chocolate oak (***1/2)

Balnaves Chardonnay 2010

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2011, barrel fermented melon, peach and nougat, creamy with fine talcy minerality, undercurrent of zesty lemony acids, assertive toasty almond-vanilla oak (***)

Balnaves The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Purchased: Not ($90)

Drink: 2020+

(GXY) Tasting: July 2010, perfumed, dense and intense core of minerally blackcurrant, blueberry and redcurrant fruit with violet, cedar and mint notes, the palate has depth, complexity and well judged full physiological ripeness missing from the last couple of vintages, savoury, long tannic and acid backbone encircled by the spicy cedar/chocolate French oak, a welcome return to the top rung of Australian Cabernet (*****)

Balnaves The Blend 2008

Purchased: Cellar Door ($20)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: July 2010, medium-full bodied blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc, cassis and blueberry with a burst of spicy redcurrant on the mid-palate presumably from the Merlot, however, the overall impression is quite dry (in a good Bordeaux sort of way), tightly knit dusty tannins with creamy mocha-cedar oak (****)

Balnaves Shiraz 2008

Purchased: Not ($24)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: July 2010, perfumed, silky, meaty and a little tarry on the entry but still quite dry, blueberry and blackberry with lavender and mint motes alongside the toasty brown spices, medium-full bodied palate shows some slightly uneven ripeness, firm tannic structure and quality French oak, despite some minor flaws it is looking more like some of the new wave of attractive Northern Rhone-style Shiraz releases from southern Victoria than traditional Coonawarra releases, a kinder vintage might lead to something exceptional (****)

Balnaves The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Purchased: Not ($90)

Drink: 2017+

(GXY) Tasting: July 2010, concentrated blackcurrant, blackberry and redcurrant with violet, cedar and menthol notes, the palate shows some slightly uneven ripeness but has pleasing iodine minerality and better fruit depth than the 2006 vintage I tasted alongside this, lively acid backbone, cedar/chocolate oak and a framework of fine-grained, savoury tannic astringency, obviously this is a long cellaring wine although not its greatest vintage (****)

Balnaves Sparkling Cabernet NV

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: Dec 2009, blended from 8 vintages of reserve wines with five months on yeast lees, soft and beautifully poised and long with blackcurrant, blackberry and raspberry with enough of the earthy and savoury Coonawarra character coming through to lift this above most sparkling reds, lingering chalky acids finish with cola and mocha nuances (****)

Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Purchased: Prince Wine Store, St. Kilda ($37)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2009, tightly wound core of cassis and redcurrant showing violet and mint notes, the medium-full bodied palate is earthy and savoury, fairly overt cedar-vanilla-mocha oak, fairly firm acidity and persistent dusty tannins (****)

Balnaves The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Purchased: Not ($80)

Drink: 2021

(GXY) Tasting: June 2008, just released, dense but well defined core of blackberry and blackcurrant flavours with dark olive, dried herb and menthol notes, the slightly enevenly ripe palate is driven by the fruit intensity with well judged support from the integrated toasty cedar-vanilla oak and a bit of dark chocolate, velvet smooth mint-herbal finish, balanced tannins with enormous persistence (****)

Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: June 2008, another warm vintage which produced ripe blackcurrant and plum with some fruitcake notes, deep and bright core of fruit although it seems to have some hard edges, earthy with cigar box and cedar oak and a bit of mocha coffee on the finish, lingering powdery tannins, well made but not the greatest vintage (***1/2)

Balnaves Shiraz 2005

Purchased: Not ($24)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2007, appealing blackcurrant, dark plums with liquorice and chocolate notes, medium-full bodied palate is quite spicy but well defined with clove, cinnamon and black pepper features, chocolate-cedar oaking shows a touch of cigar box, fine grained tannins, well handled spicy oak, great length and balance (****1/2)

Balnaves The Blend 2005

Purchased: Not ($22)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Aug 2007, Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot/ Cabernet Franc blend, cassis and dark plum and raspberry with pervasive mint/menthol aromas, smooth and savoury Cabernet dominated palate with the Merlot adding texture, well integrated cedary vanilla oak with a touch of cigar box, fine grained powdery tannins (***1/2)

Balnaves The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Purchased: Not ($80)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: July 2007, rich and intense ripe blackberry and blackcurrant flavours with dark olive, dried herb and menthol notes, complex deep set palate is framed with well integrated smoky cedar-vanilla oak, velvet smooth mint-herbal finish, balanced tannins, harmonious with enormous length but not quite the finesse of the 2004 (****1/2)

Balnaves Balnaves The Blend 2004

Purchased: Not ($22)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: November 2006, Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot/ Cabernet Franc blend, cassis and stewed plum and menthol aromas, generous sweet and savoury Cabernet dominated palate with some sour green edges, well integrated cedary vanilla oak, firm tannins, seems to be a blend of over-ripe Merlot with some slightly green edged Cabernet that doesn’t quite mask the failings of the other (***)

Balnaves Cabernet Merlot 2002

Purchased: Not ($29)

Drink: 2010

(GXY) Tasting: November 2006, Cabernet dominated blend, plum and cassis with a hint of red cherry and liquorice, sweet light-medium bodied palate, well handled cedar-vanilla oak and firm tannic spine (***1/2)

Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Purchased: Not ($29)

Drink: 2009

(GXY) Tasting: November 2006, blackcurrant and red currant with mint/menthol aromas, herbal and savoury palate with some leafy features without getting too green-edged like many from that cool vintage, austere but good balance, sweet cedary oak handling, firm grainy tannins, quite drinkable now but should develop for a couple more years (***)

Balnaves The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Purchased: Not ($80)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: June 2006, pre-release tasting, opulent blackberry and red currant flavours with dark olive notes, multi-layered palate is framed with well integrated cedar-vanilla oak and silky mint-herbal finish, while quite drinkable this is one to cellar for a decade to reach its peak, seems at this stage to be as good as the much praised 2001 vintage, expensive but it is a regional benchmark (*****)

Balnaves Chardonnay 2004

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2008

(GXY) Tasting: June 2006, rich aromatic nose showing nectarine, citrus and butterscotch flavours with a hint of caramel, long and tangy peachy palate shows melon and quince features and toasty oak, combination of good fruit and wine craft shows what is possible for this variety in a region more known for its reds (****1/2)

Balnaves Shiraz 2004

Purchased: Not ($24)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: June 2006, bouquet of dark plums and cassis with pepper, herb and chocolate notes, palate is quite sweet but deep set with cool climate pepper features, chocolate-cedar oaking with firm but not obstrusive tannins, doesn’t have the sappiness of the 2002 vintage, good value for those who can’t afford The Tally (****)