Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2011 Sorrenberg Chardonnay (Beechworth)

Sorrenberg produce near enough my favourite Australian Chardonnay. I was particularly interested, however, to see what the 2011 looked like, given that it was a very cold and wet vintage in Beechworth. Langton’s have described it as an “awful vintage” in Beechworth, while two of the leading producers, Castagna and Savaterre, have produced little if any wine from 2011.

Of course, one of my learnings over the years is that from so-called awful vintages come some stunning wines occasionally. While most wineries in a region may struggle in a given vintage, there are often a couple of wineries that have not only been very diligent in the vineyard during a tough season, but have also had a bit of luck in terms of avoiding the worst of the conditions that their neighbours down the road experienced. I’d suggest this has what happened with Sorrenberg as they have produced yet another superb Chardonnay.

This is not to say the vintage hasn’t left its mark, for in relative terms it has less fruit volume and more prominent acidity than previous years, but it’s still first and foremost a Sorrenberg Chardonnay. Winemaker Barry Morey always puts his Chardonnay through 100% malolactic fermentation, a decent percentage of new oak, as well as some less stirring. The key thing with this type of treatment, however, is that the fruit from Sorrenberg is always up to the task. The 2011 has some lovely creamy cashew notes, along with some stone fruit flavours, but this generosity and creaminess is offset by the steely lime juice streak that runs its long length, and a quartz-like minerality. Over the course of 3 days it came together beautifully, with the fruit fleshing out and integrating with the acidity. It’s another beautiful Chardonnay from Sorrenberg, but definitely one that you need to leave in the cellar for the next couple of years. Of course there's the rub, for Sorrenberg is one of the few Australian Chardonnay producers still using cork. Cellaring their wine means running the Chardonnay cork lottery, something I’m typically loathe to do, but I make an occasional exception, and Sorrenberg is one of them.


RRP: $50
ABV: 13.0%
Drink: 2015-2021+
Closure: Cork


Friday, April 19, 2013

Face-Off: 2009 Pardas Collita Roja (Penedes, Spain)

Red: I’d never heard of Sumoll as a grape variety until I tried this wine. It’s imported by Tony Plowman at 120 ML (, and as a point of disclosure I should note that he is a friend from back in my high school days.

Sumoll is indigenous to the Penedes region near Barcelona, and apparently has been a largely forgotten variety, and indeed has been at risk of becoming extinct. Evidently it makes an unremarkable wine if not treated with due care and love in the vineyard. Based on their range of wines, however, it appears as if Pardas are trying to keep these indigenous varieties alive and show what they’re capable of when given some TLC in the vineyard.

The 2009 Collita Roja is 85% Sumoll, 15% Marselan. Organic vineyard practices, handpicked fruit, aged in French oak, 15% of which is new.

The first noticeable thing is its translucent colour. It looks like a lighter Pinot or Gamay. Then to smell it has an expressive nose of cherry, florals, and some positive oak input. To drink the thing that immediately stands out is the acidity, which is prominent, yet appealing within a light to medium bodied frame. There are some lovely flavours here with bright red fruits, and hints of liquorice, spicy cedar, and then an earthiness that provides a savoury finish. That acidity and earthiness add a distinct sense of texture to the wine. Really enjoyable drinking and certainly a point of difference wine. Should age well too. 92 pts

Brown: Interesting wine. Sexy and intriguing nose of dark cherry and turned earth (oak assisted?). Primarily cherry fruit, with a portion of it laced with liqueur cherry. Some subtle liquorice on the palate. Medium bodied and has the colour and appearance of a new world Pinot Noir. Tannins are subtle. Cleansing acid and pleasant minerality kick-in from the mid palate to the finish. Lovely nose, nice upfront fruit, clean and taut acid finish. Food wine. 90pts+ (+= would go well with a wide range of cuisines).

RRP: Not sure but the LUC is $31
Closure: Cork
ABV: 13.9%


Sunday, April 14, 2013

1993 Petaluma Coonawarra Cabernet Merlot (Coonawarra)

This was courtesy of my aunty and uncle in Canberra, while I was down there last week. They have a fantastic cellar, which includes Semillons and Rieslings from the 70s. While there we opened a ’76 Leo Buring Riesling, but sadly, while drinkable, it was well past its best.

The 1993 Petaluma Coonawarra, however, is certainly not past it, and indeed is drinking very well right now. At twenty years of age there’s still plenty of beautiful blackcurrant fruit, along with sweet cedar, and just a hint of eucalypt. There’s a lovely earthiness that runs its length and sees it finish long and savoury. The acidity and tannins are there if you go looking for them, but they are perfectly folded into the wine at this stage. I’d suggest it’s at its peak now, though it should still age gracefully over the next 5-10 years, cork permitting. Simply put it’s a lovely aged Coonawarra Cabernet and the kind of wine I love drinking.

Drink: 2013-2018

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Face Off: 2012 Yelland and Papps Devote Roussanne and Second Take Roussanne

''From Yelland and Papps comes two different takes on 2012 Barossa Valley Roussanne:  The Devote and the Second Take. Three weeks ago, RedtoBrown put both bottles through their paces in a good old ‘Face-Off:’

2012 Yelland and Papps Devote Roussanne
Brown: Fruit taken from 10 year old vines, barrel fermented, matured in French oak (22% new) and racked from barrel.
A nose with subtle, understated aromas of apple and citrus with an oak-derived nuttiness. Texturally quite creamy and nutty - a sprinkle of cashew and almonds.
Relatively restrained fruit (white nectarine, citrus and a touch of pear) is framed by subtly spiced nougat oak.  The finish includes pleasant lemon-pith notes, more spice and clean acidity.
Should flesh out with age, and has a solid frame for when the wine develops further in the cellar. Versatile food wine – with rich seafood, or chicken cooked several ways. 91pts

Red: This is currently quite an austere, dry white wine that would go well with some fresh seafood. There is some intensity to the citrus fruit and a touch of creaminess, but apart from that, this Roussanne is keeping everything close to its chest at the moment. The structure, however, is undoubtedly there.   The oak spice sits a touch apart from the fruit at the moment, though this should come together in the next year or so. The acidity is persistent yet unobtrusive, while the length of finish is very good. A quality Roussanne that requires a couple of years in the cellar before it drinks at its best. 90+pts
ABV: 13%
RRP: $35

2012 Yelland and Papps Second Take Roussanne
Brown: Yelland and Papps have taken a small batch of Roussanne intended for their Devote range and given it the ‘Second Take’ treatment – wild yeast ferment and lees stirred in barrel with 10% new French oak and then bottled unfiltered.
Firstly, there is no point serving this blind with its Devote partner in Roussanne crime to try and guess which one is which – the cloudy, freshly squeezed apple juice colour and look gives the game away. On the nose, the freshly cut apple, pear and spice, matched with subtle supporting oak are an appealing combination. Lemon pith and citrus fruit on the palate combined with a round, slippery texture adds to the overall appeal.
This is a yeasty, slightly funky wine, yet approachable and moreish. Served cold, it would be perfect in the warmer months in Sydney (or right now, given the lovely sunny autumn weather). The type of wine you want several glasses of. 92+pts

Red: In contrast to the Devote, the Second Take is great drinking now, and while it may age well, there’s certainly no vinicide in opening a bottle today. It’s a cloudy wine, though that shouldn’t stop anyone drinking it, as I think there’s enjoyment here for everyone from the everyday drinker right through to the “full cloud” wine geek. It opens with an expressive and appealing nose of apples, with hints of citrus and pear. In the drinking of this wine there is lovely fruit intensity as those flavours of apple and citrus flowing through onto the palate. More than that though there is genuine complexity here, and a great sense of texture. Yeastiness, spice, some bitter pith, lovely acidity, and a kind of graininess all contribute to this. Much drinking enjoyment here and a real point of difference. A great addition to the Yelland & Papps stable. 92pts 
ABV: 13%

Brown: In summary, bravo to Yelland and Papps for their new ‘Second Take’ range of wines. ‘New world wine in an old world way’ is the mantra, and for many punters out there it is one that will resonate in the minds and on the palate. Love the labelling and the general vibe of this series of wines. The Second Take Roussanne is arguably natural wine without any of the hyperbole or vitriol. When you also consider the Devote Roussanne, as well as the positive impact of the Roussanne in their Devote Shiraz Roussanne (review not yet posted) it reveals that Yelland and Papps are onto a good thing with this variety.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

2012 Montalto Pennon Hill Pinot Grigio (Mornington Peninsula)

I’m really enjoying this Pinot Grigio . . . words I rarely say, but words I nevertheless found myself saying while drinking this wine. To further confound the natural order of things I found myself preferring it to Montalto’s 2012 Pennon Hill Chardonnay. At this point I asked my wife to take my temperature, but apparently nothing was amiss and this is just a really good Pinot Grigio.

Yes it tastes of pears and apples, but it’s in no way sweet or overt, and instead I kept thinking that this is a Riesling lover's Grigio. It’s great with seafood. It’s minerally and textural and has the kind of cleansing acidity I like. It finishes with good length and overall has a lovely sense of balance. Clean lines but a real quality to it. It got better over the course of a few days as well.


RRP: $25
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2013-2018


Monday, April 1, 2013

Downfall of a Cult Californian Winery . . . Bob Returns

A couple of years since our favourite Californian winery ripped up its Cabernet vines in order to prepare for life after Robert Parker, the team is taking the winery owner through the vineyard changes . . .

For the original Downfall of a Cult Californian Winery video, please see below

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