Monday, November 29, 2010

2010 Scarborough White Label Semillon (Hunter Valley, Sample)

The White Label is Scarborough's premium Semillon, though at $25, it gives you an idea of what a bargain Hunter Semillon generally is.

Everything is in place for this Semillon to age well, and yet as I’ve found with a number of 2010 Hunter Semillons, it has a touch more generosity than you might typically expect as this stage of youth. It has a lovely line of citrus flavour that’s underpinned by a clean, yet unobtrusive acidity. Excellent length and persistence of flavour, along with a beautiful streak of minerality.

The first half of this bottle I shared with Brown at a boozy Friday lunch at a Teppanyaki restaurant, and it was lovely with some seared tuna. The remainder of the bottle I had at home a couple of days later, at which point it had developed some nice oily, lanolin notes that point to where it will confidently head under screwcap over the next 10 years.

Quality Hunter Semillon. 4 Stars.


RRP: $25
ABV: 10.5%


Saturday, November 27, 2010

2009 Kalleske Clarry's Red - Grenache Shiraz Mataro (Barossa Valley)

Similar to many of the old vines they tend, the Kalleske family have deep roots in the Barossa. They have been growing grapes in the Greenock sub-region of the Barossa since 1853. Current grape growers and winemakers, Troy and Tony Kalleske, are the 7th generation of Kalleskes to tend their vineyards, but the 1st generation to retain Estate fruit for wine under the "Kalleske" label, as opposed to selling it off to other winemakers. Brown and I visited the winery last year, and it was a highlight amongst a week of many great experiences.

This GSM (Grenache Shiraz Mataro) is aged entirely in old oak and provides interest and complexity in a drink-now style.

It has a lovely floral nose along with red fruits and spice. When drinking it goes down very easily, perhaps dangerously so, but interest and the desire to savour the wine slowly is maintained by a nice balance between sweet and savoury flavours. It has a core of lovely rich fruit, along with aniseed and dried herbs. Good length, very good drinking, and could even be better in a couple of years time.


RRP: $18
ABV: 14.5%


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2006 Coldstream Hills Reserve Chardonnay (Cellar Door)

Not a hard job reviewing this wine - I enjoyed the 2006 Coldstream Hills Reserve Chardonnay at the cellar door a few years ago (purchasing a few while I was there) and after a couple of years developing in the bottle it has lost nothing.  The Reserve has a flavour profile I love when done well – subtle melon, just-ripe grapefruit and freshly cut white nectarine fruit flavours, nice acidity that adds freshness, all backed by toasty, cloves/spicy oak. A round creamy texture in the mid and back palate that doesn't go into malolactic overdose adds to the enjoyment. To top it all off, the wines persistence is also noteworthy (flavours lingering long enough for the next mouthful of roast chicken, oven baked fish or whatever other rich dish you chose to pair with this).
A few Sundays ago this was matched very nicely with a seasoned organic roast chicken and herb dusted vegetables roasted in goose fat.
The Coldstream Hills Reserve Chardonnay should continue to evolve for several more years (hense the +), though drinking very nicely right now.

In summary: An impressive weighty expression of Yarra Valley Chardonnay. Complexity matched with drinkability: Delicious.


RRP: $50

PS .The star (*) is for this wine being an oaked, creamy chardonnay done very well. The Yarra Valley often makes top quality chardonnay and this is an example.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2008 Fire Gully Shiraz Viognier (Margaret River, Sample)

The frustrating thing about this Shiraz Viognier is that it could have been a really nice wine. The 9% co fermented Viognier is actually in no way overpowering (as I actually find with much Australian Shiraz Viognier), and provides the wine with nice lifted aromas. The wine however, is ultimately marred by alcohol heat and bitterness.

The nose presents some lifted aromas of plum, cherry, chocolate oak and a touch of meatiness, however there is also a hint of the issues that are to come. If you rest the wine just on the front palate you get a sense of what a nice wine it could have been with many of the same tasty flavours presenting themselves very nicely. From the mid palate however, bitterness and a sense of heat becomes distracting and dominant. I gave the wine a couple of days to try and sort itself out, but it never did. I don’t mind bitterness in some wines and I’m certainly no alcohol wuss, but in both instances they are too dominant in this wine.


RRP: $24
ABV: 14.5%


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rosemount Botanicals Sauvignon Blanc infused with lemon and elderflower (NV) (Retail)

Polonius: [Aside] “Though this be madness, yet there is method in't”.
(Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 193–206)

What works on paper, has the tendency to ride on vapor
Fading into Obscurity – Sloan

Some concepts look great on paper and work perfectly in theory. Sometimes market research and focus groups can anticipate consumer trends, assisting a company/industry to make a tidy profit in the process. On other occasions all the planning, research, brainstorming and marketing spin can make no difference whatsoever to the end result (just ask the Federal Australian Labor Party).

According to the Group Managing Director of Rosemount, the Rosemount Botanicals range of white wines are ‘aimed at making wine more attractive to drinkers who previously avoided it and to wine drinkers who would not normally drink during the day’ (Link)

The Botanicals range consists of three white wines that are lightly carbonated and infused with different fruits and florals - Chardonnay with apple and cucumber; Pinot Grigio with blood orange and rosewater; and the subject of this review, Sauvignon Blanc with lemon and elderberry.

I must admit, I was intrigued to see if these wines tasted as bad as they sound (in my opinion at least). It would be hypocritical to criticise the Botanicals range and snigger from the sidelines without trying them.

The colour of the wine is almost clear – like a glass of carbonated water with a teaspoon of Bickfords lime cordial. It smells sickly sweet - lychee, gooseberry and florals. It tastes sickly, cloyingly sweet - simple, green pie apples, lychee, and sugared ripe honeydew melon flavours are followed by an unpleasant bitter lemon rind finish that not even the high residual sugar can mask. Finally, there is no pretence of structure, length or intensity. One glass was enough to get the idea, and that was a struggle.

Rosemount are promoting the Botanicals range as chic and new, the fruit and floral infusions enlivening the wine. The cynic in me would argue that no amount of spin or marketing can make this range anything more than an over-engineered 2010 version of West Coast Cooler in a pretty, Bombay Sapphire-inspired 750ml bottle. Unfortunately, stranger things have happened.

All in all, I would have to say that there is no method in the fruit and herb infused madness. Surely there are more effective ways of converting non-wine drinkers to the joys of wine – making wine and not fizzy wine cooler might be a start.


    RRP: $17.99

Bay of Fires Tasmanian Cuvee (Tasmania)

With the warmer weather and the missus being a lover of bubbles, we’ve been drinking a bit more sparkling of late. This Bay of Fires Tasmanian Cuvee is a decent sparkling but when compared to the Brown Brothers NV reviewed on this site last week, it’s clearly of lesser quality and another $10-15 more expensive.

This would go down well at a stand up event this summer with its nice red fruit flavours, along with some lovely rich, creaminess. If you’re in a bit more of a contemplative setting however, it won’t bear up quite so well with a lack of focus on the palate that is supported by less than smooth acidity. In the end a decent enough sparkling that has just enough flavour and complexity to get it over the line for 3.5 stars.


RRP: $31.50
ABV: 12.5%


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brown Brothers Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier NV (Victoria)

In Australia we’re in the habit of comparing our wines against what France has to offer. In a lot of these benchmark type tastings it seems we do very well, however, one area in which i think there is generally a big difference is Champagne vs Aussie Sparkling. Notwithstanding some pretty impressive sparkling coming out of Tasmania, Aussie sparkling often seems a touch harsh after a Champagne. That said, each wine deserves to be considered on its own terms, and when one considers that this Brown Brothers NV has an RRP of $20, it’s an impressive wine.

The thing that sets this sparkling apart from its similarly priced alternatives is balance and length. Nothing sticks out and the length of finish really is fantastic for a wine of this price. It’s dry with citrus flavours and some lovely creaminess. Not especially complex but entirely enjoyable. I ummed and ahhed between giving this 3.5 and 4 stars, but given that fantastic length, and given I'm in a parochial mood, I’m going to give it a nudge . . .


RRP: $20
ABV: 12.5%


Thursday, November 11, 2010

2009 Finca Flichman Oak Aged Roble Malbec (Argentina)

A few weeks ago (3 to be more precise) a few friends and I were at our local - only - wine bar in Randwick, Sydney. Hungry and thirsty, we wanted a relatively affordable red to go with our assorted Tapas that was on its way to the table.  I am always up for trying a new Malbec (and am heading to Argentina in February whilst heading to a mates wedding), so we settled on the 2009 Finca Flichman Aged Roble.
Aged for 4 months in oak and another 3 in the bottle prior to release, the wine was approachable from the outset without being too simple/jammy. On the palate there were soft, plush, juicy dark cherry and dark berry fruit flavours, with an earthy dark chocolate and spice finish. Oak imparted tannins were in the background, though sufficiently prominent to provide enough structure to support the juicy fruit.

This is an affordable, easy drinking, approachable and versatile wine. It will not dazzle with its complexity, though it went very well with a range of tapas dishes and would also be a nice match with a medium-rare slab of steak (is there a Malbec out there that does not?).

+ *

RRP: $15-20

PS -  + for the relative value of the wine at the wine bar, * for the fact it is a 'dinner party stress reliever' - eg: you can order two bottles of it for a table of mixed guests and not upset the wine geeks and wine neewbies

Sunday, November 7, 2010

2008 Cape Mentelle 'Trinders' Cabernet Merlot (Margaret River)

Another 08 Cape Mentelle wine, only this time it’s the Trinders Cabernet Merlot. Same score as the Chardonnay, only this wine provides more interest and appeal at this stage. In fact, looking at the note I wrote on this wine, I could just about have used the note I wrote on the 07, which was a wine I really enjoyed as well

The nose has a bit of sex appeal with some lovely integrated French oak, blackcurrant, black olive, tobacco, and touch of eucalypt. On the palate it turns decidedly dry and savoury. Its medium bodied with some chocolate, dried herbs, and a long, slightly sour finish. All of which is supported by unobtrusive acidity and fine, powdery tannins. As with the 07 it’s beautifully poised and if cellared well, should do 10 years in a canter.

Given that this can be picked up for under $25 in many places there aren't to many classier Cabernets going around for the price . . .


RRP: $32
ABV: 13.5%


Thursday, November 4, 2010

2008 Cape Mentelle Chardonnay (Margaret River)

This is undoubtedly a high quality Chardonnay and yet for me it lacked a little something in terms of either intensity or generosity.

A subtle nose of citrus, fig, and spice is followed by a palate that’s smooth, balanced, and with a nice line of flavour. It tastes of grapefruit, cloves and just a touch of creaminess before delivering a long finish. It’s just about a picture perfect rendition of modern Australian Chardonnay providing a sense of restraint and demonstrating a judicious use of oak. But that might be the problem as well in that it lacked a bit of personality or interest. Perhaps, however, I’m just drinking it a bit too young and time could very well be kind to it, as it undoubtedly has the balance to age well. I'll leave my other bottles of this in the cellar for at least a few more years.


RRP: $42
ABV: 13.0%

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