Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2004 Crawford River Riesling (Henty)


While this Riesling mightn’t quite have the reputation of Grosset, for a number of Riesling lovers in this country the Crawford River is numero uno. My experience with Crawford River until this wine had been limited to the 2010, which didn’t blow me away, but then is generally not considered the most representative of vintages.

So what of the 2004? When you taste the fresh, yet developed characters of this 8 year old Riesling, I find it mind boggling to see the number of Northern hemisphere Rieslings that still remain under cork. More than a decade of evidence of the superiority of screwcap, and winemakers still want to submit one of the great wines for ageing to the vagaries of cork.

To the wine. Bright acidity and amazing freshness as an 8 year old. Classic riesling citrus fruit has developed a nice richness and is accompanied by toasty, kerosene notes. A streak of earthy minerality adds uniqueness and texture. A very good Riesling that is drinking beautifully now and for the next few years.

The question I was looking to answer is whether the 2004 is a benchmark Australian Riesling? It’s a quality Riesling, but not quite at the top of the tree for mine. Whether 2004 is considered one of the better vintages or not, I’m not sure. Perhaps it will be third wine lucky when I next try a Crawford River.



Rated:
 
 
 
RRP: $50
ABV: 12.0%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.crawfordriverwines.com/
 
 
Red

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2009 Thomas Motel Block Shiraz

I have tasted two bottles of the 09 Motel Block – one during a fantastic Hunter Valley taste and tweet event in 2011, and this bottle. Both have been robust, powerful renditions of Hunter Shiraz.

The Motel Block is one of the single vineyard wines from Hunter Valley wine making maestro, Andrew Thomas. Drawn from a dry grown, 2.8ha vineyard planted in 1967,  the nose is dark, brooding with quality sweet cedar oak, dark chocolate and some sweet roasted fennel, while on the palate, there are robust black fruits. With air and time in the decanter, the wine mellowed out to reveal more red fruits, yet with an earthy Hunter vibe. Aniseed and allspice become more prominent once opened and the wine freshened up further over time.

Unlike some warm climate wines, the Motel Block has powerful fruit on the palate, though refreshing acid on the finish: a wine that has oak, fruit and natural acid in fine balance. Should age nicely and mellow in old age.

Rating: 94
RRP: $45
ABV: 14.5%
Website: www.thomaswines.com.au


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2008 Houghton Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon (Frankland River)


An historic Australian winery, producing a Cabernet named after one of the legends of Australian wine, from one of Australia’s grand cru’s. The Houghton Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon from the Justin Vineyard appeals to my love of history, love of Cabernet, and a desire to see Australia produce great wines from great sites.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear what the future of this iconic wine is. Houghton (Accolade wines) will no longer lease the Justin Vineyard. Instead it is now being leased by Robert Oatley and overseen by Larry Cherubino. Apparently Houghton will still look to take the same parcels of fruit from the 80 hectare vineyard for this wine, but in losing control it undoubtedly casts some doubt as to the quality of fruit that will grace Jack Mann. As such, for those that find this wine as compelling as I do, and are willing to fork out the cash for it, it’s probably worth snapping this and the next couple of vintages up (I think the last vintage they had control was 2011).

The first time I tried the 2008 was at a tasting 18 months ago, and I was blown away by the quality of the wine. Drinking it a few weeks back, it seemed to have closed down somewhat, though the quality was still evident.

This is a wine that doesn’t lack for fruit or power. A beautiful depth of blackcurrant fruit is complimented by cabernet leafiness, some eucalypt, and a hint of earthiness. Oak is present but of high quality. There is plenty of latent complexity here, but it's not really strutting its stuff just at the moment. Fine but persistent tannins. Great length. Not for now, but to be had as a 10 year old, and then for many years after. 4 Stars ++

Rated:
++


RRP: $110 (can be found around the traps for about $85)
ABV: 14%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.houghton-wines.com/



Red

Friday, July 20, 2012

2010 Yelland & Papps Devote Old Vine Grenache (Barossa Valley)


If Ochota Barrels and Cradle of Hills have been new and exciting Grenache discoveries for me, then Yelland & Papps is a return to a trusted favourite. Year in and year out, good vintage or otherwise, their Devote Grenache is a quality offering. I had the 2007 the other day and it was drinking beautifully.

The 2010 Devote has a quiet confidence to it. It’s not overt or obvious, and I was initially a tad underwhelmed, but its balance and persistence grew on me. Medium-bodied yet increasingly expressive over a few days, it’s ultimately very moreish. Sweet berries, spice, tar, and aniseed. Very versatile with food and lovely to drink now, but everything is there to suggest that this will reward cellaring. It started at 3.5 Stars but convinced me of its quality in the end. Very nice wine. 4 Stars.

Rated:
'


RRP: $32
ABV: 14%
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2014-2020
Website: http://www.yellandandpapps.com/
 
Red

Sunday, July 15, 2012

2010 Cradle of Hills GMS - Route du Bonheur (Mclaren Vale)



The next in a line of very good Grenache or Grenache based wines I’ve had from the 2010 vintage in South Australia.

Before they sent this wine, I wasn’t really familiar with Cradle of Hills. They’re well and truly on my radar now though. This is a cracking Grenache blend, and very good value at an $RRP of $25.

Baked earth and cherry ripe. Lovely spice. Grenache juiciness yet with drying tannin. For my tastes it has a pitch perfect balance between richness and restraint. Good drive through the mid-palate before finishing with excellent length. This wine is eminently drinkable with a bit of air, but undoubtedly has the structure and complexity to age nicely over the next five years and beyond. Impressive.








Rated:



RRP: $25
ABV: 14.5%
Closure: screwcap


Red



Monday, July 9, 2012

2010 Ochota Barrels Fugazi Vineyard Grenache (Mclaren Vale)


There’s a lot of beautiful Grenache from the 2010 vintage in South Australia and this bottle from Ochota Barrels is for mine, pretty much at the top of the tree. It rivals the wonderful 2010 Head Old Vine Grenache from the Barossa, and I’m thinking these two wines would constitute a great Face-off in a few years time.

This wine is the product of a vineyard of 63 year-old dry grown bush vines. Evidently it produces some wonderful fruit. If there is truth to the notion that Grenache is the warm-climate Pinot Noir, then it is writ large with this wine. There’s no confection or heat here, and it has that unique sense of being both light, yet intense.

This Grenache is beautifully perfumed. Aromas of bright cherry, smoky undergrowth, and a hint of stalkiness. On the palate you are greeted by beautiful pure fruit before the wine becomes increasingly savoury and complex through to a long finish. While the stalk influence is evident, it’s in no way distracting, and is in fact an entirely positive element to this wine for the perfume, texture and complexity it brings to bear. By day 3 the wine had completely integrated and was singing. Do this Grenache justice by giving it a couple of years in the cellar first, and then savour this wonderful wine. 4.5 Stars




Rating:



RRP: $35
ABV: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2014-2020


Red


Monday, July 2, 2012

2009 Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico


What Chianti Classico often lacks in wow factor, it normally more than makes up for with its unforced charm and versatility with food. The 2009 Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico (how's that for alliteration) is a good example of this.
It's lovely to smell with notes of ripe cherry and flowers. To drink, it offers just a bit more than a medium-bodied frame, with an unexpected generosity and creaminess for a Chianti Classico, before it reverts to type through the back palate with sour cherry, drying tannin, and a lovely hint of bitterness. It drank increasingly well over 3 days, and while it’s good to go now with some time in the decanter, I’d suggest it will be at its best in another 3-4 years. Lovely wine. 3.5 Stars +






Rated:
+


ABV: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2012-2020


Red


 
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