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

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


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.


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

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

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