Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2013 Montalto Estate and Pennon Hill Pinot Noir


More quality Pinot Noir from Simon Black and the team from Montalto. 2013 was a superb vintage for them, as displayed by the wines below.
2013 Montalto Estate Pinot Noir
Strawberry, vanilla musk nose, Luscious, silky ripe strawberry, red and black cherry fruit and mixed spice, finishes with an intense, long flavour flurry backed by clean natural acidity. Powerful and flavoursome yet with a lovely balance. Vibrant fruit, flavour, balance and length make this a very typically moreish wine.

RRP: $48
ABV: 13.6%
Rating: 93pts + (crowd pleaser)

2013 Montalto Pennon Hill Pinot Noir
Fresh, soft, vibrant and savoury red-black cherry fruit, hints of raspberry, vanilla and dried mixed herbs. Juicy red fruit at the front, framed strongly in the middle by stalky, savoury notes. Earthy and spicy, though fruit-forward, refreshing and flavoursome. Very approachable. A wine getting better each vintage.

RRP: $30
ABV: 13.7%
Rating: 93pts


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Murdoch Hill - 2013 The Landau Syrah (Adelaide Hills)

Murdoch Hill is a relatively new name to me, but it’s a winery with a bit of history, a good family story, and importantly some exciting wines.

I visited the winery in November last year, where I was hosted by Charlie Downer, the family patriarch, and his son Andrew who looks after the marketing for the winery. The farm has been run by the Downer family since the 1930s, with cattle one of the mainstays till the present day. Vines were planted in 1998, and for a number of years the wine was made offsite.

The site itself is a gently sloping one, with soil types varying between blocks. It is predominantly sandy loam of red clays, with varying levels of quartz, ironstone and schist metamorphic rock. The Red varieties are typically planted on the hardy shallow soils, and the Chardonnay and Sauvignon on the more fertile richer soils

2012 marked a significant turning point for Murdoch Hill with the return home of winemaker Michael Downer (Andrew’s brother). Michael had worked at a number of wineries both in Australia and overseas, including Shaw & Smith in the Adelaide Hills, Vietti in Piedmont, and Bests in the Grampians. He evidently learnt a thing or two during that time, for the range of wines that he has produced from the 2013 and 2014 vintages are very impressive.

Highlights include the 2013 Cronberry Shiraz, a cracking entry level wine, that finds that great balance between ripe fruit and elegance. The 2014 The Surrey Pinot Meunier is a unique, delicious, and highly drinkable wine.

Perhaps my favourite wine, however, is the 2013 Landau Syrah - the fruit for this wine comes off a part of the vineyard heavy with Ironstone. The grapes are hand tended and picked, before undergoing ferment with 50% whole bunch and then being aged in old french oak. It opens with a seductive nose, with the whole bunch seemingly having contributed to a berry perfume tinged with pepper and meatiness. To drink it is loose knit and medium bodied but displays perfectly ripe fruit. It’s underpinned by an unforced and integrated acidity and finishes with impressive length. So drinkable, but will be better again in a few years time.

Rated: 4 Stars +
RRP: $50
ABV: 13%
Closure: Diam
Drink: 2015-2020+


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2013 Lark Hill Sangiovese

I always associate Lark Hill with top quality Gruner Veltliner and my personal favourite of theirs, Viognier (amongst others). However, this Sangiovese is a pleasant surprise. A proudly biodynamic winery, Chris Carpenter and family at Lark Hill manage to deliver consistently high quality wines across their diverse range.

The 2013 Sangiovese has an initial herbal, tobacco nose that blows off with air, with a palate of juicy black fruit, sweet at the front, transitioning to savoury on the finish. Loose knit structurally, light-medium bodied and texturally slippery. Minimal tannin. Finishes savoury and refreshing.  
A light-medium bodied wine screaming out for early drinking alongside range of summery dishes (BBQ meats, Pizza, tapas, etc).

RRP: $30
ABV: 13.0%
Rating: 88 pts

Friday, January 30, 2015

2013 Montalto Estate SingleVineyard releases

Simon Black and the team at Montalto Estate are in the middle of an ambitious expansion process. In the last few years, Simon and the Montalto crew have released a series of single site wines to reflect the different types of terroir in their Mornington Peninsula vineyards. Following a tour of the winery and an intimate barrel tasting of earlier vintages back in 2013, it was clear that the team at Montalto were on the right track, and after a few days on the tasting bench, their new release 2013 single vineyard wines confirm this assessment.

2013 Montalto Estate Tuerong Block Pinot Noir
Some fresh red and black fruits on the nose, mixed with fruit cake spice and vanilla.

Initially shows juicy, primary red/black cherry and a bit of strawberry fruit, opening up with darker blackberry and sour cherry with some more air.

Over the course of 3 days on the tasting bench, the Tuerong became more brooding and complex, developing earthier and stalky flavours in the mid palate, and increased savouriness on the finish.

Should develop along these lines in the next 2-3 years, but is drinking well now

RRP: $65
Rating: 93pts+ nice journey ahead

2013 Montalto Estate Merricks Block Pinot Noir
Juicy fresh red fruit, varietal; strawberry and red cherry, backed by vanilla. Fresh black cherry and plum on the palate, brooding yet light on its feet. A flavoursome Pinot Noir that has nice intensity and power, yet is well structured, with nicely balanced acidity.

ABV: 13.7% 
RRP: $65
Rating: 92pts 

2013 Montalto Estate Main Ridge Pinot Noir
Fresh and flavoursome dark cherry and blue plum, supported by a decent amount of vanilla oak on the nose. A bit of stalkyness and liqueur cherry on the mid palate. Overall, on opening a ripe, fresh and juicy Pinot, enriched by some seductive oak.

ABV: 13.7%
RRP: $65
Rating: 91pts (did not taste on subsequent days)

2013 Montalto Estate The Eleven Chardonnay
On opening (double decanted) the wine was quite lean and clean in texture, yet with a powerful smoky, toasty oak, cashew and citrus nose.

On day two the wine was in a great groove – elegantly integrated oak, cashew, grapefruit, white and yellow nectarine, enlivened by unobtrusive acidity.
The Eleven is not going to blow you away with overplayed flavour (in a good way), nor is it a chardonnay in need of a figurative big square meal. Happy medium and a win-win. Given how this evolved on opening, give it a good decant to draw the best out of it, or put it down for a few years as it is an elegant yet sumptuous chardonnay.

ABV: 12.9% 
RRP: $55
Rating: 93+ (91 on opening, though improved markedly on the tasting bench over the next few days)

Overall, a premium range of wines from a winemaker and high quality winery hitting their straps.

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