Monday, December 31, 2012

Red’s Christmas Drinks - 2012 - Jacquesson, Grosset, Marcarini, Penfolds Grange, Stanton & Killeen




Over Christmas there is normally one wine that lets you down, doesn’t look quite right on the day, or is plain stuffed because of the cork. Not this Christmas. I’m happy to report that over some suitably rich and wonderful food with my family, that the wines presented as one hit after another . . . a bit like a U2 concert.

Jacquesson Champagne No. 734 – Had this last Xmas and a year later it was just as enjoyable. Powerful, creamy, some beautiful strawberry fruit, all underpinned by an insistent acidity. 4 Stars

2009 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling – So good. Great drinking right now, but also has everything to enable you to leave in the cellar for another 10 years should you wish. Citrus, bath salts, florals, and a beautiful mineral streak. The mid palate power and length of finish is something to behold. 4.5 Stars

2004 Marcarini Barolo La Serra – The La Serra vineyard in La Morra offers some of the more approachable, early drinking Barolos, but in saying that this is a wine that at 8 years of age has many a year in front of it. Elegant and yet with an intensity of beautiful fruit. Florals, cherry, liquorice, spice, and a lovely orange note. Finishes very savoury with drying tannin. Loved drinking this. 4.5 Stars

2002 Penfolds Grange – In one sense this is quite drinkable now given the beautiful balance in the wine, but in another sense it is just a baby and it will be years before it reveals all its charms and complexity. Having decanted it for 4 hours, and then tasted it over a couple of hours, it felt like it still had only half unfurled. While there is no doubting this is of South Australian Shiraz stock, it is also particularly elegant and savoury. Berries, plums, a beautiful liquorice, coffee oak, soy, and a lovely meatiness. The balance between fruit and savouriness is bang on for my tastes. Fine tannins provide an unobtrusive yet unwilting structure. A great wine that will evolve and improve over the next 10, 20, and probably 30 years. Give it a very long decant if you are drinking it sooner. 4.5 Stars ++

Stanton and Killeen Grand Rutherglen Muscat – At times Rutherglen Muscat can be like drinking liquefied rum and raisin chocolate, but the thing that marks this Muscat out is its freshness and acidity. It’s beautifully rich and luscious, and was great with plum pudding, but is restrained and textured all the same. With an average age of 25 years there is complexity in spades with flavours of dark chocolate, caramel, molasses, coffee, leather and a lovely nuttiness. 4.5 Stars

Now for some new years eve drinking . . .

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2010 Montalto Pinot Noir – Mornington Peninsula

I am yet to taste a disappointing Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir from the 2010 vintage, and the 2010 Montalto continues that run.

The perfumed nose has sweet raspberry and red cherry fruit merged with all-spice, cloves and a hint of cinnamon sugar. On the palate there are seductive and accessible mixed red fruits (particularly at the front-mid palate) and slight stalkyness throughout. Finishes with a rush of flavour that drops-off somewhat abruptly with some lingering savoury dried mixed herb flavours. Moreish.
A Pinot Noir that should please many with its delicious and approachable  (but restrained) juicy fruit flavours balanced by textbook herbal and stalky notes.

Another impressive wine from a reliable vintage.

Score: 92pts
ABV: 14.5%
RRP: $48
Website: www.montalto.com.au

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Yelland & Papps Delight Vermentino (Barossa Valley)



Here’s a wine to help you work your way through a seafood feast this summer. There’s not really much to it in the way of complexity, but it rates highly on the enjoyment scale. Generous flavours of citrus and paw paw are balanced by an appealing briney acidity and a hint of minerality. Clean and crisp. My bottle disappeared with a fair rapidity.

Rated: 3.5 Stars

RRP: $19
ABV: 12%
Drink: 2012-2015
Closure: Screwcap



Red

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Red's Top 5 - 2012



It has been an interesting and enjoyable year in wine. Brown and I have produced an increasing amount of the satire we love doing. It’s a lot of fun to do and some of these pieces have generated what we consider to be an amazing amount of traffic to the blog. At the same time we are seemingly getting less invites to wine events, and certainly no more samples than we were getting a year ago. Maybe we are being taken less seriously because of the satire, or perhaps there are some thin-skinned people out there, but as a duo who sits outside the industry it has been an interesting trend to experience. Regardless, the satire will continue!

As with last year, the criteria remains the same: my Top 5 consists only of wines that I have sat down and tasted over at least a couple of hours and ideally over a couple of days, all with food. These are wines I have imbibed, rather than just tasted. They are not necessarily my 5 highest rated wines (though they all have scored well), but more importantly they are wines that left an impression and that I loved drinking. In no particular order -

2001 Produttori del Barbaresco Asili – Barbaresco, Italy - I’m going to single this out as my wine of the year. Supple and elegant, yet powerful and complex. Dare I say it, ethereal! It delivered an experience that was everything I want from Nebbiolo, everything I want from Barbaresco, and indeed everything I look for in great wine. Years in front of it.

2006 Marques du Murrieta Rioja Reserva – Rioja, Spain - This makes my list as it was my breakthrough wine with Rioja/tempranillo. I’ve admittedly not tried a lot of tempranillo, but that which I have had over the years generally left me pretty underwhelmed. This on the other hand had me giving out high fives. Sexy, yet serious. Succulent, yet structured. Great now, though will age well over the next 5-10 years.

2010 Ochota Barrels Fugazi Vineyard Grenache – Mclaren Vale - Simply put this is awesome Grenache. It bears testimony to the vintage, testimony to Mclaren Vale as a region for Grenache, and of course to Taras Ochota who is turning out some awesome wine. Perfumed, pure-fruited, and complex.

2010 PHI Pinot Noir – Yarra Valley - there are some superb Yarra Valley Pinots from the 2010 vintage, and this is one of the real highlights. I have high hopes that in 10 years time the bottles I have of this in my cellar will turn out to be the kind of profound Pinot people often rave about when it comes to Burgundy. Initially seductive, beautifully structured, and ultimately savoury, this is a beautiful Pinot Noir.

2011 Scott Fiano – Adelaide Hills – A wine that stood out in a blind line-up of about 40 white wines, and only got better over a few days of tasting. One of those wines that completely validates the exploration of “alternative” varieties in Australia. Lovely richness and viscosity is underpinned by a crisp acidity and a sense of minerality. It delivers a triumvirate of generosity, texture, and restraint that sets it apart from so many other white wines. Great drinking.



Red

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Our Interview with Andrew Jefford


Andrew Jefford, the renowned British wine writer, recently wrote an interesting and somewhat controversial piece on screwcaps as a closure for wine. Below is a link to that article

http://www.decanter.com/news/blogs/expert/530537/jefford-on-monday-the-total-experience

Interested and intrigued by Jefford’s views on screwcaps, as well as being keen to talk more broadly about wine with the man, the RedtoBrown team flew over to France to interview him at his abode in Languedoc.



Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by Jefford, and the conversation soon flowed over a glass of local wine and across many a wine subject, including his views on the evolution of terroir driven wines in Australia. Having talked for half an hour, we came to one of our key questions -

R2B: And Andrew now to question that everyone wants to know, what was the main point you wanted to make comparing screwcaps and corks and framing it in terms of the “total wine experience”?

Jefford: Well, first and foremost I wanted to argue against the view of many, particularly in your country Australia, that screwcaps are the superior closure and that is the end of the story. I think it’s more complicated than that, and indeed I think that cork, both in terms of what it says about a winemaker, as well as the variation that corks brings to the way a wine tastes, provides a greater and more engaged wine experience

R2B: But . . .

Jefford: Take this bottle of white burgundy here . . . a Corton Charlemagne from Bonneau du Matray. Look at that distinct yellow closure . . . so much more appealing than the uniformity of bottles under screwcap. And then! The excitement now as we open this grand cru burgundy . . . would you like a glass?

R2B: Very kind of you (thinking to ourselves hell yeah!)

                            (Look at me. I'm so much sexier than a screwcap)


Jefford: What’s this wine going to taste like? Every wine is always different, and with each day a wine evolves, but with cork the possibilities and variation are even more endless.

(Jefford then pops the cork)

And that beautiful sound of pulling the cork . . . aghhh . . . I’ve got a semi already

R2B: What?

Jefford: Nothing, nothing. Here you go. What do you think?

We collectively stick our noses into our glasses of Corton Charlemagne and our hearts sink . . . it appears to be corked. The palate only confirms the nose. Looking beyond this, the quality of the wine is undoubted, but ultimately it’s not something that can be enjoyed with that level of taint.

We politely broach the possibility with Jefford that the wine is corked . . .

Jefford: yes, sadly it is. But that’s ok. This wine has had a unique life, and we must celebrate what it has become. Like all god’s children.

R2B: But what’s to celebrate when a $150 wine is not drinkable?

Jefford: The total wine experience

R2B: The total wine experience?

Jefford: Why yes! From beginning to end. There’s the excitement when I received the sample. The mulling over when I should drink it, and whether I should taste it in amongst the other Corton Charlemagne samples I had received, or perhaps in a line up of Grand Cru samples I had received across all appellations. And then just now, the surprise and excitement I gave both myself and you when I decided to spontaneously open it!

R2B: Ok . . . and is that it? Does the total wine experience end when you pour your corked grand cru burgundy down the sink?

Jefford: No no no! There’s so much more!

R2B: Really? How so?

At this point Jefford jumped out of his seat and started doing a vinous interpretive dance . . . think bud burst as interpreted by Peter Garrett. This confusing performance continued for a little while before we were taken aback when he suddenly took off his shirt and started pouring the Corton Charlemagne over himself

Jefford: Come join me boys! The total wine experience. Oh yeah!

We started backing out of the room. We weren’t sure where this total wine experience was going, and the crazed look in Jefford’s eyes didn’t encourage us to stay around to find out

Jefford: Don’t you see! Don’t you see! Watch where the cork goes . . .

R2B: Let’s bail

Jefford: You Australian screwcap zealots! You’ll never know the total wine expeeeeeeeeriennnnce!!!!!!

Our last sight of Jefford as we hightailed it out of there was of him on his knees before a map of the vineyards of burgundy pouring the last of the Bonneau du Matray over himself . . .





Monday, December 3, 2012

2012 Tim Adams Riesling (Clare Valley)



Fantastic Riesling. It has a generosity and forwardness of flavour that does not sacrifice acidity and structure. Crackling yet generous lime juice courses through this wine. Lovely floral notes too. On the back palate it turns very dry with a savoury grapefruit finish accompanied by some chalky minerality. It takes a day or two to really open up and show all its wares, but there is enough there already that it could be your go to white wine this summer as well. Easy to review and even easier to recommend. 4 Stars + 

RRP: $20
ABV: 11.5%
Drink: 2013-2022+
Closure: Screwcap


Red

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Celebratory Champagne for my first child – Billecart Salmon - 1998 Nicolas Francois Billecart Cuvee




My wife and I welcomed our first child into the world last week. It has been an amazing time since then, and a distinct lack of sleep seems to be barely an issue when you hold a newborn in your arms (though I’m sure that will be tested once I return to work).

The celebratory Champagne I bought for the occasion was the 1998 Nicolas Francois Billecart Cuvee from Billecart Salmon. I’d perused wine shelves and websites to see what Champagne would meet the occasion. In this wine I found a great producer and cuvee from a highly regarded vintage, and importantly it weighed in at a relatively reasonable price of $140 (most rationale people wouldn’t consider $140 for a bottle of champagne reasonable, but in the realms of top quality vintage champagne it is far less than you might pay for other marques).

Opening this with my family I was very glad I made the effort to point this away from anyone in the room, as the cork hit the roof like a rocket, which in itself somehow seemed appropriate for such an occasion, and now there is a permanent mark in the roof of the Prince of Wales hospital that signifies the birth of our son.

Given all that as background, it might sound like a funny thing to say but this wine snuck up on me. It’s certainly not an overtly rich and powerful champagne that immediately grabs your attention, and as the conversation flowed around the family while gazing at the newborn I was rather distracted, and it wasn’t until I was more than halfway through my glass that it dawned on me that I was drinking a damn fine champagne. Elegant and refined, with a great purity of fruit, this champagne has plenty of complexity with flavours of brioche, citrus, and flowers. There is a savoury/saline profile that takes over from the mid-palate that makes it so drinkable and a great foil for the oysters and sashimi we had on the day. It drives through to a lengthy finish that is marked by a refreshing minerally acidity. Cork permitting this will live for many years, with all elements of the wine in perfect balance. Great Champagne. 4.5 Stars

The next act will be to look at birth year wines from the 2012 vintage . . . Eden and Clare Valley Riesling will likely be my first port of call.


Red
 
 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

2006 Canobolas Smith Alchemy (Orange, NSW)


Bordeaux varieties, and in particular anything with some Cabernet Franc in it, work well in Orange. The 2006 Alchemy from Canobolas Smith is a lovely example of this. It’s a blend of Cabernet Franc (60%) Cabernet Sauvignon (35%) and Shiraz (5%).

This is a Cabernet that is ageing nicely. There is still plenty of primary fruit, but savoury, secondary characteristics are becoming increasingly prominent. Beautiful plum and milk chocolate are paired with leafy/tobacco notes and an earthiness that became more evident over 3 days of tasting. Very moreish, this wine is underpinned by a lovely acidity, and is great with red meats. Its good to drink now but will also age gracefully over the next 5-8 years.

 
 
 
Rated:



RRP: $45
ABV: 13.7%
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2012-2020


Red

Saturday, November 17, 2012

On wine descriptors . . .



I was at a dinner with colleagues when I described a wine as smelling of tomato bush. Some of my more interested and engaged colleagues stuck their noses into the wine and picked up the same aroma. Others just thought I was being my typical wine wanker self (which I undoubtedly was!). The question that then came as to how a wine should be described. Below is an explanation and elaboration on my answer to that question (and a more sober one at that) . . .

In whatever way works for you. As long as your descriptors are a faithful interpretation of what you have tasted, I personally think there is no issue in describing a wine as simply as you want or with as much complexity and as many descriptors as you’ve uncovered. How different people react to your description or style of tasting note, is of course another question. There’s no doubt that wine can evoke flavours and aromas that are quite specific and unique. Moreover, a wine of great complexity can elicit numerous aromas and these descriptors can evolve over time. How you choose to capture and describe these elements, however, is completely up to the individual.

That’s my conclusion for those not interested in a wine-tragic debate about the nature of descriptors and tasting notes, but for those that are read on . . .

While in the Hunter Valley earlier this year, I went with my wife to the Hunter Valley Gardens. Not the kind of place I would normally volunteer to go to, but it was surprisingly good and enjoyable, and worth the visit if you are in the Hunter (and want a break from wine tasting). Anyway, one of the gardens is a rose garden that has probably 30 or 40 different roses. Walking around it, I was amazed how different the fragrance was for each different type of rose. Not only did red roses smell different from white roses, yellow roses, and from purple roses, but there are many different types of red rose, white rose etc. and a Marlena red rose smells discernibly different to a Lincoln red rose.

Anyway, this experience solidified in my mind some thoughts I’ve had for a while now on tasting notes and the descriptors that people use when describing wine. The reason my rose experience is important is that you will see plenty of tasting notes that talk about “floral” aromas, or more specific references to a wine smelling of roses for example. Now for most people, whether they be just the average wine drinker or even a professional wine critic, referencing rose-like aromas in describing a wine would appear quite specific and detailed. Some would even argue that it is wine wankery to get into that level of detail. And yet I could see a Don Burke or even your local florist easily being able to nominate a specific type of rose when smelling a Barolo or any other wine with those type of aromas.

This will be the case with many other wine descriptors. “Grassy” is a common descriptor, looking to describe aromas or tastes that equate somewhat to that of grass. Most of us as kids having eaten grass at some point, and regularly smelling grass, it would seem quite a specific, detailed, and more than adequate descriptor. However, if I’m Les Burdett, or someone else who specialises in curating lawns, ovals, golf courses etc. I’m sure grassy would be seen as a very broad term. Couch grass, Bermuda grass, Red Fescue all have different tastes and aromas.

Of course, the most infamous descriptor in wine is the term minerality. Controvesial because people debate what the source of this minerality is, as well as whether it actually an appropriate descriptor. Wine writer Philip White has argued that you need to be far more specific in describing which mineral you mean, given that there are so many minerals. Is this actually the case?

At the end of the day there is an almost infinite level of detail and complexity you could get into with any wine descriptor you choose to use. Any expert in the field of flowers, plums, tobacco, rocks, or earth could easily provide a far more detailed and arguably accurate descriptor, and each of us will have an area where we naturally can discern aromas and tastes at a more detailed level just given our life experiences and interests.

So does this behoove wine writers to become far more knowledgeable and accurate in the fields from which you draw most of your descriptors? You could do, but I think this is entirely impractical, and not necessarily desirable.

Descriptors can and should be the subject of debate and discussion when looking at a wine, however, they should never be the subject of proscriptive comment, whether it be someone critiquing a term that is supposedly too specific and fanciful, or someone decrying the lack of specificity in your descriptor. I think less is generally more when it comes to descriptors, but ultimately it’s a case of each to their own, and indeed each wine to their own.  Looking back through my own tasting notes, for some wines I have used 6 or 7 quite specific descriptors, while occasionally I have written tasting notes with not a single specific flavour or aroma descriptor (and this has been for some quality, complex wines). I come back to my original statement, which is that as long as your description is faithful to what you have tasted, it doesn’t really matter how many descriptors you use, or the level of detail that your descriptors are at. Sometimes, you don’t even have to use descriptors at all.


Red

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2010 Borgogno Langhe Nebbiolo (Piedmont, Italy)



If you are after an affordable Nebbiolo hit from Piedmont then this does the trick superbly. There have been some good noises made about the 2010 vintage and this wine would seem to bode well for the Barolo when they come out in a couple of years.

It’s worth noting upfront that there is a nutty bitterness to this wine that I find very appealing, but it may be a source of less favourable views depending on peoples tolerance for bitterness in wines. In any case once it’s had with food it becomes less evident.

It opens with a nebbiolo nose of strawberries and roses, along with hints of tar. To drink there is some nice fruit sweetness and warmth, but it remains medium-bodied and turns very dry and savoury through the finish, with said nutty bitterness in tow. Lovely liquorice and latent earth and leather add complexity. Great to drink with game meats, and works either now or anytime over the next 5 years plus. Plenty of drinking satisfaction here. 4 Stars


RRP: $30
ABV: 14.5%
Closure: Cork
Drink: 2012-2020


Red

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gruner Veltliner Face-Off: 2012 Hahndorf Hill (Adelaide Hills) vs 2012 Lark Hill (Canberra District)


A lovely dinner at the Brown household last month proved a great opportunity to try some interesting wines both single and double blind. With the recent emergence of Gruner Veltliner, and having received samples from Hahndorf Hill and Lark Hill, we thought a good way to kick off the evening would be with a Gruner Face-Off. Below are our notes and thoughts

2012 Hahndorf Hill Gruner Veltliner - $28 (Tasted Single Blind)

Red: Quite a mute nose. On the palate there is some generous citrus fruit with hints of more tropical fruits. Some nice spice and interesting herbal notes as well. Good acidity balances the fruit nicely and it finishes with decent length. Good drinking over the next few summers, and fair value at $28. 90/91pts

Postscript: I got to drink this over subsequent days and it drank very well. Lovely aromas of apple emerged, as well as an interesting rocket lettuce note. Good wine. 91 pts

Brown: Subtle tropical, floral, pear and mixed spice nose, texturally fine boned or even dilute. Nice, crisp acidity. Spiced pear and a touch of lemon/citrus on the palate. Not an intense wine, more light and fragrant when tasted. Not much discernible white pepper, though some mixed spice. More in the citrus/pear spectrum than vegetal. 90pts

Postscript: Lean but not mean. Struck me as a little closed when opened, and happy to hear it evolved in subsequent days.


2012 Lark Hill Gruner Veltliner - $40 (Tasted Single Blind)

Red: Immediately reveals a nose of pears and some more tropical fruits. The palate follows this up with some nice richness, including notes of apricot. It’s a touch oily and has some nice spice. What’s missing though is the acidity to provide balance and restraint. Finishes with ok length, and is decent drinking, but a touch too broad for mine. 87/88 pts

Postscript: Was surprised to see it revealed as the Lark Hill as it bears little resemblance to previous impressive vintages. For those that talk about embracing all the vagaries of vintage variation this wine represents an opportunity to walk the walk.

Brown: A nose of ripe pear and lycee, preserved lemon with some florals, more spice and less pepper than previous vintages. Pear, lemon and a trace of lycee once again show up on the palate, the texture is nectar-like (I jotted down mango nectar as one of my initial textural references).  The acidity is fresh and clean, but not as prominent as previous vintages, and is rounded in step with the fruit.  The minerality is calcium-like. Finishes with some spice and a bit of oiliness. 88pts

Postscript: The wine held up well over 2 days, and developed a more nuanced nose. Still, texturally different to previous Lark Hill GV's. I personally preferred the Lark Hill Viognier from the same vintage (to be reviewed soon), though given the wet vintage, this is still a solid effort. It is promising to see our Austrian new arrival can handle tough Australian conditions..

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2011 Drayton's Heritage Vines Semillon (Hunter Valley)


The thing that is appealing about a number of these Heritage Vines range of wines from Drayton's is their Hunteriness (for want of a better word). From their estate vineyard planted in the 1890s.

An appealing nose of citrus, hints of honey, and an interesting reductive tennis ball aroma. To drink there’s some nice fruit up front with an early bit of spritz , but it’s ultimately very dry, and a touch austere at this stage. There’s complexity here with some nuttiness and a minerality that emerges with time. It finishes with an assured length. The pricing is arguably ambitious for a Semillon, but there’s no doubting the quality or its uniqueness. Needs some time in the cellar.

Rated:



RRP: $60
ABV: 10.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2015-2025


Red

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2009 Nemea Driopi Classic Agiorgitiko (Greece)


Greek wines are largely unexplored territory for me, particularly the reds. Based on historical reputation you would typically try them with a bit of trepidation, but as with so many wine producing countries and regions these days, the quality of winemaking has improved markedly. And there’s no questioning this wine’s quality. It was consumed over lunch at The Apollo, an impressive Greek restaurant in Sydney, and was a great accompaniment to the food.

The region is Nemea, which is close to Corinth. The estate Driopi, and the grape variety Agiorgitiko, which is according to some, Greece’s most noble indigenous red variety. It’s medium bodied and provides the kind of drinking that one looks for at lunch. Ripe plum fruit, appealing spice, and notes of leather adding some savouriness. It’s balanced, highly drinkable, and was great with some slow-cooked lamb. If anything it lacks a bit of funk or rusticity, or something to mark it out as really unique, but there’s no denying the enjoyment here. Lovely wine.


Rated:



RRP: ? (Was $60 for a bottle in the restaurant)
ABV: 13.5%
Closure: Cork
Importer: Deja Vu Wine - www.dejavuwines.com.au


Red

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2010 Montalto Estate Chardonnay (Mornington Peninsula)


Montalto send some great information with their wine, particularly on the Mornington peninsula and the vineyards that Montalto source from. This fruit for this wine comes from the Hawkins Hill, North Face, and Pennon Hill vineyards, and has resulted in a pretty impressive Chardonnay.

It doesn’t blow you away at any point, but is undoubtedly classy. Generosity and restraint are there in equal measure. There’s a nice bit of complexity with flavours of lime, nectarine, oyster shells, and some nuttiness. Oak contributes positively throughout and it finishes with some appealing bitter pith. A nicely balanced Chardonnay that would work with either seafood or white meats, but give it a few years and it will undoubtedly build weight and generosity and move firmly into roast chicken territory.

Rated:



RRP: $39
ABV: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2012-2017
Website: www.montalto.com.au


Red

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2010 Drayton’s Heritage Vines Shiraz (Hunter Valley)


This is both quintessential and historic Hunter Shiraz. The grapes for this wine come from the “Flat” block planted in the 1890’s by William Drayton.

The wine opens up a bit funky and stinky as if to hark back to the problems Hunter Shiraz has had in the past. This element, however, blows off with some air. It's medium bodied, acid driven, and a touch rustic. It tastes of sour cherry and chocolate oak, but the flavours that really come to the fore are earth and leather. In fact those leathery notes are this wines unique calling card, while also marking it as quintessential Hunter. It improved nicely over a few days of tasting, lengthening through the finish, and I ended up bumping it up to 4 stars from an initial 3.5 Stars. It needs time in the cellar but will provide lovely Hunter drinking for many a year to come.

Rated:



RRP: $60
ABV: 14%
Drink: 2015-2025
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.draytonswines.com.au


Red

Sunday, October 14, 2012

2010 Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett (Mosel, Germany)


(Wehlener Sonnenuhr)

Wehlener Sonnenuhr is a very steep, rocky vineyard, with a very thin top soil, and apparently the purest of blue slate in the Mosel. Many of Germany's most revered Riesling producers including JJ Prum, Willi Schaefer, and of course Dr Loosen produce a wine or several wines from this site. James Halliday has written that Wehlener Sonnenuhr is his most treasure vineyard in Germany. With this history and reputation, this is the kind of wine I want to love, but at least in this instance, it falls a touch short of my expectations. Perhaps tellingly 2010 was a less than perfect vintage in the Mosel, with Dr Loosen saying that it "was marked by dramatic swings in the weather and a fitful growing season".

This is a rich, off-dry Riesling. Flavours of citrus, honey, and an interesting note of green tea ice-cream, are nicely balanced by the acidity. As the wine moves to room temperature an appealing minerality comes to the fore. This is a very nice Riesling, and it went well with a Vietnamese meal, but it never scaled any great heights. If you are partial to the off-dry style you might score it higher.

 
Rated:



RRP: $40
ABV: 7.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2012-2020


Red

Friday, October 12, 2012

Annie's Lane Copper Trail Shiraz Clare Valley 2002

One of many large labels that has taken an image and price hit in the last decade, Annie’s Lane red wines can be found in the large retail stores for under $15 these days. Regardless of this somewhat sad decline (in price point at least), the 2002 Coppertrail Shiraz is from a great vintage in South Australia, and a relatively strong era for the winery (or at least an era before the rapid, relative decline).

Out of the bottle, and after 10 years maturation the wine has a powerful nose of sweet vanilla and cedar oak, and some porty black cherry and blueberry fruit.  

The wine is full bodied and follows through from the nose with sweet blackberry, some dark plum, dark bitter chocolate and soft ripe tannins. There is a hint of bitterness on the finish, potentially showing some over and under ripe characteristics, though I would have liked to see the wine after more of a decant. Overall, a ripe and fruit-driven wine with powerful oak very much of the era. Will age further, most probably for another 5 years.


Rating: 91 Points
RRP: $40-50
ABV: 15%

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

2008 Clayfield 'Thomas Wills' Shiraz Grampians

A dark purple, blood plum-colured wine, Ripe blackberry, cherry liqueur, plum and liquorice-spice nose. Full-bodied and powerful flavours of bitter dark chocolate, ripe blackberry, plum and salted liquorice on the palate. Does not finish as sweetly as the nose would suggest. The smokey cedary oak is apparent, though not dominant.
Alcohol heat (abv listed at a hefty 15.8%) apparent, in broad balance with the hefty, ripe fruit, liquorice and chocolate flavours. Just.

A wine for those who like their Shiraz turned up to 11, even 12. Pass.

Rating: 86pts
RRP: $28-32
ABV: 15.8%
Website: www.Clayfieldwines.com

Monday, October 1, 2012

2006 Marques de Murrieta Rioja Reserva (Rioja, Spain)


When trying Rioja or Australian Tempranillo, I’ve often been left underwhelmed. That's not the case with this wine, however.

It is sexy, yet serious. Succulent, yet structured. It smells so good, with aromas of strawberries, chocolate orange, vanilla oak, tea leaves, and a lovely dustiness. To drink it is ripe yet medium bodied. There’s some nice juiciness to start before it turns very savoury, revealing a lovely liquorice and an emerging earthiness. Drying tannin shapes the wine nicely, and puts you in the mood for some barbecued meats. As a 6 year old wine, it is in the groove, but it continued to unwind and drink well over 4 days. Lots of love for this and I’ll be buying some for the cellar.





Rated:



RRP: $30
ABV: 14.0%
Closure: Cork
Drink: 2012-2020
Website: www.marquesdemurrieta.com


Red




Friday, September 28, 2012

2011 Tarrawarra Pinot Noir Rose (Yarra Valley)


Rose rarely piques my interest. I like to drink it, but it doesn’t as easily elicit notions of things like terroir and ageability . . . the things that excite me about wine, beyond just how enjoyable it is to drink . I was interested in this wine, however, before I’d even opened it as it had received both glowing and critical reviews. A polarising wine it would appear.

To drink this is a Rose that very much meets the “pale, dry, and textural” mantra that is in vogue at present. To drink there are delicate and appealing flavours of strawberry and cherry, along with a hint of cream, but it is ultimately very dry and without much in the way of fruit generosity. Evidence of the wet and challenging 2011 vintage in the Yarra comes with a bitterness on the finish that will be challenging for some. The result is a wine that will find its fans, but if you are after some generosity in your Rose then this won’t necessarily be the right wine. Decent drink and food friendly.

 
 
 
Rated:

 
 
 
RRP: $22
ABV: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2012-2014
Website: www.tarrawarra.com.au
 
 
 
Red

Saturday, September 22, 2012

2011 Yelland & Papps Delight Shiraz (Barossa Valley)



I really like the new packaging with the Yelland & Papps delight range, and to my mind it aligns well with the price point and style of wine. More importantly, they are good wines. The 2011 Shiraz especially so, given the tough, wet vintage in the Barossa.

Impressively ripe, it tastes of berries and plums, a bit of barossan tar, and spice. There's a hint of something herbal, that suggests a cooler year, but you've got to go looking for it. Not too much in the way of structure going on here, but plenty of juicy flavour, and it's so very drinkable. A wine for drinking, not thinking, and in that vein, it's damn good. Perfect barbecue red this summer.




Rated:



RRP: $20
ABV: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2012-2015

Red

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2005 Borgogno Francesco Brunate Barolo (La Morra, Piedmont)



My visit to Borgogno Francesco in 2009 remains one of my most memorable winery visits. I wrote about it in detail in a post back then - (Link). It was one of those experiences that beautifully brought together family, vineyard, and wine.

Having bought a couple of bottles of their 2005 Barolo for the cellar (I wanted to buy a case, but of course you can only bring back a few bottles into Australia), I’ve often wondered whether the wine when opened would live up to the memory. Having a great winery or cellar door visit often puts a wine in its most positive light, and I thought the Borgogno Francesco to be a beautiful wine at the time, especially at 16 Euro. But had I got caught up in the moment and overrated the wine?

No, not a bit of it. Upon first whiff, I’m back in Piedmont, looking up the hill at the Brunate cru, and chatting with Francesco over a glass of his Barolo.

Brunate is one of the great vineyards of the La Morra Commune within Barolo, and is situated on a beautiful south facing slope heading up towards the town of La Morra, a beautiful hilltop town itself. The vineyard soils are calcareous clay marl, high in magnesium, and tend to produce slightly more structured and powerful wines than that of other crus within La Morra, which is renowned for producing the most perfumed and approachable of Barolos.

The Borgogno family’s approach to making their Barolo is both a traditional and a proud one, following a process that has been repeated annually by three generations since 1930. The fruit sees a long maceration period and is aged in large format slavonian oak

The bouquet is deep and enticing, and I love it. Yes, classic aromas of tar and roses, but beyond that notes of liquorice, cherry/strawberry, tobacco, and leather. At 7 years of age it still has plenty of primary fruit on the palate, but the beautifully ripe and mouthcoating tannins, while still prominent, have softened from 3 years ago when I first tried it. Intensity and complexity in equal measure. Drinking it over a couple of days it developed a lovely earthiness too. It still has many a year in front of it. Stunning value, and a real pity that no one imports this wine into Australia. 4.5 Stars.

Rated:

 
 
 
RRP: 16 Euro at cellar door
ABV: 14.0%
Closure: Cork
Drink: 2012-2022
Website: http://cantinaborgogno.com
 

Red  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2010 Whicher Ridge Shiraz Frankland River, WA


The Whicher Ridge Shiraz was tasted over 4 days, and even at the end was dominated by its tannins. On the nose, there are blueberries, mocha, eucalyptus oil, new cedar oak and a shiny, varnished leather, on the palate  dark chocolate, blackberry, and black plum. The finish is savoury, with hints of black pepper and more dark chocolate. The wine is more intense at the back, the tannins are  prominent, mouth filling and drying, though not unripe. After 4 days the wine was still standing, the fruit holding up, and the oak less obvious. Leathery notes had dropped-off, but the tannin was still front and centre. Not sure how it will age, though I would put it in the cellar for a few years before revisiting unless you are a fan of tannin.

Rating: 88pts
ABV: 14.0%
RRP: $28

2011 Lark Hill Pinot Noir (Canberra)


What a difference a day can make. On opening this was a challenging Pinot Noir, that only a real Pinotphile might appreciate, being all sap, spice, and undergrowth. On day 2 however, some lovely strawberry/cherry fruit and sweet oak had come through to balance those savoury, spicy characters. Day 3 continued the trend, and it ended up being a joy to drink. It’s a nicely balanced Pinot that's delivers much drinking pleasure. Gives this another year or so and then enjoy.


Rated:



RRP: $30
ABV: 13.5%
Drink: 2013-2016
Closure: Screwcap


Red

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2009 Juniper Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River)


The 2009 is the third vintage in a row this wine has achieved 4.5 Stars. Of the three vintages I think the 2008 is perhaps my favourite, but it's a photo-finish with the 07 and 09. Regardless, under Mark Messenger’s guidance, Juniper Estate has moved assuredly into the very top tier of Australian Cabernet. Moreover, this wine represents decent value when compared to many of its peers.

As of now, the 09 certainly needs a good decant before it comes together. Once it does however, it provides a beautiful Margaret River Cabernet experience. It’s medium-bodied and refined, and yet delivers delicious, mouthcoating fruit. Complexity as ever is evident with these Juniper Cabernets as flavours of blackcurrant, liquorice, black olive, tobacco, and gravel come to the fore. Lovely oak is present but well enmeshed in the wine. Fine, yet persistent tannins provide just enough grip to keep a tannin lover like me happy. A long, savoury finish completes the story. This wine needs a stint in the cellar first but it is undoubtedly a great Cabernet.

Rated:



RRP: $50
ABV: 14.5%
Drink: 2015-2025
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.juniperestate.com.au


Red

Friday, August 31, 2012

2011 Whicher Ridge Riesling (Frankland River)



This is a cracking Riesling. Elegant, unobtrusive acidity mark it out as different from many of its peers.

Classic flavours of lime, grapefruit, bath salts, and after being open for a couple of days, lovely hints of honey emerge. The wine turns bone dry through the back palate, and that sense is accentuated by a beautiful river stone minerality. Great persistence of flavour completes the journey. Neil and Cathy Howard have turned out another impressive, textural white. Drink it this summer with some fresh seafood, or put in the cellar for the next decade and watch it blossom. Love it. 4 Stars +




Rated:
+


RRP: $28
ABV: 12.5%
Drink: 2012-2022


Red

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2009 Domaine Pavelot Savigny les Beaune (Burgundy)



Burgundy rarely offers value for money. At about $35-$40, however, this wine isn’t terrible in that regard.

This is quite a ripe, generous pinot noir, which is in line with what one might expect from the 2009 vintage in Burgundy. Flavours of cherry, plum, and a bit of earthiness. Some creamy oak. There is some nice grip with the tannins and it finishes with decent length. Not a lot of complexity here, but certainly enjoyable to drink.


Rated: 3.5 Stars
RRP: $35-$40
Drink: 2012-2015


Red

             
 
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