Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eden Valley vs the Adelaide Hills: 2011 Henschke Julius Riesling vs the 2011 Henschke Lenswood Green's Vineyard Riesling



Henschke’s own notes indicate that these two Rieslings will age for 20 years. I’m a fan of such a confident statement, but is it a knowing confidence or more a positive optimism?

I lined these two wines up on a Friday night and tasted them over 4 nights. Each wine got better over that period of time. With the Green's Vineyard, I'd suggest the 20 year call is a tad optimistic, however the Julius is an absolute standout, and should age beautifully.

2011 Lenswood Green’s Vineyard Riesling (Adelaide Hills) – RRP: $25 - this is an enjoyable riesling that will drink very well with fish and chips over the next couple of summers, and should age reasonably well also. It’s quite broad through the palate, but is underpinned by prominent acidity, and strong citrus flavours that push through a good finish. It improved nicely over a few days. 3.5 stars +


2011 Julius Eden Valley Riesling – RRP: $33 - On the 4th night this wine was drinking absolutely beautifully, and certainly lends credence to the 20 year cellaring claim. Tasting it next to the Lenswood, it was clear that this was the superior wine, presenting a much more refined and elegant Riesling. It has a classic Eden Valley nose of lime, apple blossom, bath salts and slate. The same flavours flow along the palate in a very linear, refined manner, underpinned by a beautiful unforced acidity. Detail and persistence are there in spades. A special for the cellar. 4.5 stars

The price difference between these two wine is a reflection in the difference in quality between the grapes that go into these two wines, and it sits well with me. The Lenswood is very good, but with a bit more money you get a world class Riesling in the Julius. The wines also fit nicely within my overall impression of Riesling from the two different regions. Adelaide Hills riesling is often very good, but rarely great, while Eden Valley, in my opinion, produces Australia's greatest expressions of this noble grape.


Red

Monday, November 21, 2011

2011 Lark Hill Gruner Veltliner (Canberra District)



As an emerging variety here in Australia, it is interesting to contemplate where Gruner Veltliner might be in 10 years time. It finds greatness in Austria. Can it do the same in Australia?

Given the well documented struggles of Riesling to gain mass appeal in Australia, despite being arguably the noblest of white grapes, I find it hard to conceive of Gruner Veltliner, with its Riesling like characteristics, gaining broad market acceptance. Nevertheless, in the hands of committed, small producers like Lark Hill, I can see the variety gaining a loyal following. Moreover, given their impressive first few efforts with this variety, there’s every chance that with some vine age, Lark Hill will end up producing some truly memorable Gruner Veltliner.

I really like the length and texture of this wine. It drives nicely through the palate, showing some fruit richness through a long finish, all the while providing a lovely sense of minerally grip. It tastes of lime, melon, hints of white pepper, and an interesting celery/vegetal note. Others may find that celery note a touch confronting, but it appealed to me. The acidity, balance and length of this wine are excellent, and suggest it should age well. A very good wine.



Rated:


ABV: 12%
RRP: $40
Website: http://www.larkhillwine.com.au/


Red

Thursday, November 17, 2011

RedtoBrown Wine News Exclusive: Barack Obama Endorses WBMwinemagazine’s #Top100WineTweeters Concept

November 17, 2011 - 8:51PM.

President Obama casts a friendly eye over the media throng in Canberra

Canberra: US President Barack Obama last night surprisingly endorsed WBM Wine Magazine’s concept of a Top 100 Australian wine tweeters list. Obama, who last night was attending a parliamentary dinner hosted by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard was candid with RedtoBrown reporters when asked about the list. “I love the idea and love Australian wine. In fact, I have known about Australian wine for some time now. My Grandmother would bring home bottles of Aussie wine like Lindeman’s Bin 65 when I lived in Hawaii. She would sit on the porch drinking a glass while I dreamed of change the USA could believe in. I hold those memories dear, and to this day my aides keep me abreast of all the developments in the Australian wine industry”.



Obama is famous for harnessing the power of social media, and as such, is well-versed in assessing the merits of the WBM Wine Magazine’s Top 100 Tweeters concept. In between slices of Australian lamb, washed down with Coonawarra cabernet, Obama praised the WMB Wine Magazine initiative.

“The concept of a top 100 list on Twitter is fresh, untried - I mean, who has seen a top 100, top 20, top 5 list on Twitter in the last 5 years?. It channels and promotes all the positive elements of new media – narcissism, sycophancy, self-absorption, vested interest to gain more exposure and increase company/winery revenue – I like it”.

Obama also stated he was an interested observer of the #Top100WineTweeters hashtag conversation that was occurring when he landed in Canberra on Wednesday afternoon. “I saw people discussing the top 100 list while I was on my way to Parliament House and it brought back memories of when I was trying to make a name for myself in the cut-throat Chicago political system. I liked the chutzpah of the tweeters – largely industry reps and wineries - nominating their friends to be on the list and the others who openly stated their tactics for being placed on the list. Blatant and singular self-promotion once worked for me at a local Democrat Convention, so it all brought a smile to my face”.


Obama was non-commital when asked if he had ever attempted the ‘Mollydooker Shake’
Obama was so positive about the Top100 Wine Tweeters idea that he feared news of the list may overshadow the announcement of a new joint facility in Darwin. “Posting 2500 US Marines in Darwin is big news, but the potential of this list to influence the wine world may put my announcement in the shade – yet another example of the intelligent and original use of social media tools”.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard refused to be put on the record when questioned by RedtoBrown, though it was noted that she was slowly making her way through a bottle of Victorian cool climate Syrah on the night.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2010 Hoddles Creek Estate Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley)

I’m an unabashed fan of this winery, and loved the barrel samples I tasted of this wine last year - http://redtobrownwinereview.blogspot.com/2010/07/hoddles-creek-estate-2010-vintage.html

So with that positive bias disclosed, the 2010 edition of Hoddles Creek Pinot Noir is a beauty.

With some air the bouquet becomes increasingly expressive and sexy. Lovely aromas of cherry, sap, spice, along with a touch of stalkiness. To drink there is drive and persistence to this wine. Flavours of sour cherry, rose petal, spice, and a hint of bitterness are delivered with beautiful palate weight and fine tannins. The finish doesn’t waver. The word that keeps coming up in my notes on this wine is moreish. It’s a serious, structured wine that will undoubtedly age well, and yet with a bit of air its more than drinkable now, and that moreishness makes it difficult to keep your hands off.

At $20, this Pinot Noir has no peer in Australia in my opinion. 4 stars

Rated:


RRP: $20
ABV: 13.2%
Website: http://www.hoddlescreekestate.com.au/


Red

Thursday, November 10, 2011

2009 Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay (Margaret River)



Drinking this wine left me with a feeling of being unfulfilled.

To explain, Cullen’s Kevin John Chardonnay has been one of Australia’s most lauded Chardonnays over the past few years. Almost without fail, reviews from critics are glowing and scores are very high. Given the wonderful quality of Australian Chardonnay generally this is no mean feat.

This wine is also aiming high, being one of Australia’s most expensive Chardonnays at an RRP of $105 a bottle.

Finally 2009 was for most producers a fantastic vintage in the Margaret River. Cullen winemaker, Vanya Cullen, has labelled it the “Mozart vintage” with all the white and red wines being in perfect harmony and balance.

So when it came time to celebrate my recent completion of my Masters degree, and the meal was going to be a chicken dish, this was the wine I decided that I wanted to splurge on. Given the price, the reputation, and vintage, I hoped the wine would give me one of those wonderful wine vinous experiences.

The wine starts off with tropical, pineapple aromas that soon blow off to reveal a classic Chardonnay nose that’s mealy, nutty, and creamy along with strong grapefruit notes. There is complexity here no question. The palate finds a lovely balance between the generosity of its beautiful fruit and a refined line of flavour, and pushes through to a long, savoury finish. Lovely acidity and a nice bit of texture complete an impressive wine. The one issue I had was that the spicy oak seemed to sit somewhat apart from the fruit on the back palate, though I can see this integrating with time.

I drank it over two days. I decanted it. I drank it both slightly chilled and also at room temperature. I tried to do the wine justice. In the end, the impression I came away with is that this is a quality Chardonnay in need of some more time to come together. Unfortunately, however, at no point over the two days did it surge to greatness or give me that “wow” moment.

The time that this wine will spend in people’s cellars may well make a fool of this tasting note and score, but for mine this 09 Kevin John Chardonnay is a fraction off the greatness that the combination of price, reputation, and vintage implies. A very good wine but I wanted more. 4 stars +

Rated:
+

RRP: $105
ABV: 13.5%
Website: http://www.cullenwines.com.au/


Red

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Face-Off - 1998 Tarrawarra Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley)

Introduction (Red): The ageability of Australian Pinot Noir is something that continues to impress me, and I think it’s only a story that’s going to build as an increasing number of our Pinots sail into their second and even third decades.

My first experience with aged Tarrawarra Pinot Noir was the 2001, which I had earlier in the year at a Tarrawarra dinner hosted in Sydney, and in amongst some fantastic competition it was my wine of the night. It was a seductive Pinot right in the groove with plenty of years in front of it.

Red: The 1998 is perhaps not quite at the level of the 2001, but is still a very good wine and drinking very well at 13 years of age. Funnily enough it reminded me a bit of aged Hunter Shiraz, or put another way, it reminded me that aged Hunter Shiraz starts to look like Pinot.

A lovely aged nose of cherry, pot pourri, caramel oak, and leather. It still has some lovely fruit on the front palate, but then very quickly moves to more secondary notes including earth, tobacco, and sour cherry. It’s finishes with good length and there’s still some fine tannin in support. It’s eminently drinkable and fantastic with food. It could be cellared for a few more years, but I think it’s more or less at its aged peak now.

Brown: I echo Red's comments about the 2001 Tarrawarra Pinot - it was a standout wine on the night of the tasting. Given our mutual enthusiasm for that wine, I was interested to see how the 1998 compared.

Bottle variation may have been at play with my sample, but I did not pick up the same level of fruit on the palate. The nose of the wine I tasted was quite complex, and a definite strength: Primary fruit had given way to somewhat aged characteristics, including wild mushroom, moist earth/soil, forest floor, with a subtle liqueur cherry scent.
On the front palate and to a lesser extent, the mid palate, there was some nice black cherry, all spice, leather and earthiness. The back palate was a bit disjointed, with slightly astringent acidity and possibly alcohol heat at the finish.

Given how alluring the nose of this wine was, I would suggest for this particular bottle it may have been at its peak a few years earlier when the fruit would be more prominent/ in balance at the finish. Still, it settled down with more air, and was a solid wine.

Closing Comments (Brown)  It is promising that Tarrawarra wine maker Clare Halloran managed to produce a Pinot that has survived 13 years (when many of its vintage/era could have fallen over after 4 years). The quality of the 2001 Tarrawarra adds further weight to the opening introduction from Red about the increasing age-worthiness of Australian Pinot. While I would be surprised to see an Australian Pinot emphatically reach its 30th year, I find it increasingly difficult to rule it out based on this teenager from 1998.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

2008 Juniper Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River)

I’ve written previously how I think Juniper Estate is moving into the upper echelon of Margaret River Cabernet, and that at $45, recent vintages of this wine will come to be viewed as relative bargains given time - http://redtobrownwinereview.blogspot.com/2010/10/juniper-estate.html

A bottle of the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon I had over a few days just reinforced this view. A blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 1.5% Petit Verdot that spent 18 months in French Oak, 50% of which was new.

Within the context of Margaret River Cabernet, this is medium bodied and elegant. It’s a beautifully structured wine that is keeping its cards close to its chest at the moment, but the latent complexity is there. Over 3 days it revealed flavours of blackcurrant, chocolate oak, spice, pencil shavings, gravel, tobacco, and earth. These flavours are moulded by fine, yet mouth filling tannins, and a lovely acidity. The wine stretched out over time to provide a wonderfully persistent and savoury finish. If I can resist I’ll wait until 2018 before opening my next bottle. 4.5 Stars

Rated:


RRP: $45
ABV: 14.5%
Website: http://www.juniperestate.com.au/


Red
 
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