Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2008 Gembrook Hill Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley)

I’ve written more broadly about Gembrook in a previous post, and this is their latest release Pinot Noir.

This is one of the lightest coloured Pinot Noirs I’ve seen and also one of the most impressive. It has a fragrant nose of strawberry, a hint of orange peel (a characteristic that seems to be common in Gembrook Hill wines), and a bit of stalkiness. The same flavours flow beautifully down the palate along with a bit of spice. This is a wine that will just build with age. It’s impeccably structured with a direct line and length, lovely acidity and fine tannins. Oak is beautifully integrated. If you have a few bottles of this it might be hard to keep your hands off them, but I reckon a stint in the cellar for this wine will be well rewarded.


$RRP: $48
ABV: 13%


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Coriole Masterclass – Moncur Cellars Tasting Room 3 June 2010

Coriole is a well regarded winery with decades of experience making wine based on Italian grape varieties. Given the current trend towards alternative varieties, Coriole are well-placed to take advantage of the Australian public’s increasing love of something other than the more common Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and (dare I say it) Sauvignon Blanc.
Back in June, Red to Brown was treated to a ‘Masterclass’ with Coriole wine maker/owner Mark Lloyd (go here for a review of their 2009 Sangiovese (Link)

Below are some notes brief notes on some of the other Coriole wines we tried on the evening:

2009 Fiano
Floral nose of Honeysuckle and subtle lemon/grapefruit. On the palate some more lemon/grapefruit, bees wax/honey along with a touch oiliness and spice. Nice wine that is a great point of difference to the more common whites out there (and a consistent performer for Coriole).

2007 Coriole Sagrantino
This wine was an unexpected, but pleasant surprise on the night and a variety that we are keeping a close eye on. A nice herbal nose with a bit of plum, liquorice and leather. On the palate, the Sagrantino has robust, but not overpowering tannins, black, slightly liqueur fruit and more herbs (cloves), leather and earth. Good acidity as well. A very promising muscular wine with nice tannins.

2007 Barbera
Bit of a forest floor smell on the nose, some nice macerated red berry fruit and spice supported by fine tannins. Mouth filling and juicy. A versatile food style of wine.

2007 Coriole Nebbiolo
Has the Nebbiolo light red brick colour (never judge a Neb by its colour!), and a nice spicy, floral nose. In the mouth, some liqueur cherries and some spices, framed by robust tannins.

2007 Coriole Reserve Sangiovese
Darker than the standard Sangiovese, with a nice spicy strawberry and cherry nose. In the mouth there was lovely savoury red fruit, substantial tannin and acid, and some nice earthiness. However, it is balanced nicely, finishes with good persistence and is the perfect match for numerous Italian dishes (making me hungry thinking about it).

2007 Coriole Mary Kathleen Cabernet Merlot
Deep crimson colour (a clear contrast from the Italian wines we had been tasting). Black fruits, herbs and a hint of menthol on the nose. Some dusty blackberry fruit flavours in the mouth, ripe powerful fruit but not over-sweet. Tannins were surprisingly restrained. Surprisingly elegant given the tough vintage, and a very nice wine.

2006 Coriole Lloyd Reserve Shiraz
A rich and interesting nose with bit of a barnyard smell  and a slight hint of what I would say smells like cooked salmon skin (even RedtoBrown can come up with some questionable descriptors, but that is what came to mind). The wine is a powerful one, but it is not a bruising fruit bomb – the fruit is relatively restrained and elegant though intense. The usual suspect of dark chocolate has a support role. The wine has nice intensity and persistence. A great way to end the tasting.

Many thanks to Mark Lloyd and to the Moncur Cellars crew. It was a shame we could not keep talking with Mark about the wines as the evening was very informative and enjoyable. Based on the wines on display, Coriole delivers at all price points, and even in tough vintages.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

2008 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley, Cellar Door)

Bought this wine while in the Yarra, and was consumed over several hours last night.

This is a good, varietal Pinot Noir, though the effects of a hot, difficult vintage are evident. Its bouquet smells of cherry and plum along with some hints of forest floor and meatiness. On the front palate it has a nice bit of sweet fruit but then turns largely savoury. It’s stalky, bitter and has a nice bit of spice. It has a long, sour finish that has just a bit of alcohol heat at the end.

Reckon it needs another year or two for those stalky, bitter elements to better integrate into the wine at which point i think it will drink very nicely. That touch of alcohol heat the one issue in a wine that otherwise looks like it should age well.


RRP: $30
ABV: 14.0%


I discovered half a glass left in the bottle after it had been open for 3 days. Upon drinking, sweet fruit flavours got further down the palate this time, before stalky and bitter notes took over (in a less aggressive manner than when I originally tried it). Will almost certainly be better with another year or two in the bottle.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gembrook Hill & the 2010 Vintage

Gembrook Hill is a cold location at the southernmost tip of the Yarra Valley. When arriving there last week, almost to emphasise this point, the temperature dropped suddenly as a huge gust of wind came in, and a wild ten minute storm complete with hail ensued.

While the rain continued to fall we surveyed the vineyard. At just over 300 meters, it’s one of the highest vineyards in the Yarra Valley. It sits on a nice slope over red soils that face North and East, sheltering it from the warm afternoon sun. On the vineyard Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sav Blanc are grown, with average vine age over 20 years.

The winemakers are Andrew Marks and Timo Mayer. Andrew is the son of winery owners Ian and June, and he was kind enough to take us through all their 2010 barrel samples including those of his own label, The Wanderer, the fruit for which is sourced outside the Gembrook vineyard.

Blanc de Blancs

We tasted the 2010 Chardonnay that will make the Gembrook Blanc de Blancs. It's an elegant chardonnay of lovely texture and excellent length (and as such I am harbouring hopes that Andrew and Timo might siphon a little off into a Chardonnay), and therefore I’d assume it will end up make a lovely sparkling.

Pinot Noir

The Pinot samples I had were all excellent and were in fact a great study in not only the importance of terroir but also of Pinot clones. The Gembrook sample was at the lighter end of the spectrum, but did not lack for any flavour or intensity, with beautiful savoury flavours and great structure and length. The sample for the Upper Wanderer Pinot (which is Upper Yarra but not quite as Upper as Gembrook) was a touch darker and heavier (in relative terms), while the Wanderer Pinot which is from further down in the Yarra was discernibly darker and heavier (once again in relative terms).

This effect of terroir on wine is something I always love to see but nevertheless something I have experienced before. What I hadn’t personally experienced was the difference between Pinot clones from the same site that have been handled in exactly the same way. For the Wanderer Pinot there are actually 3 different Pinot clones (combinations of letters and numbers that I can’t remember!) from the one site that will go into producing the 2010 Wanderer Pinot. All 3 clones would produce distinctly different wines if they were made separately. The clones ranged from the distinctly savoury, through to the obviously much sweeter and fruit forward. In combination I think they will produce a lovely wine.

Overall I was very impressed with the 2010 Pinot Noir barrel samples for both Gembrook and the Wanderer. In time i think they will produce savoury, complex and age worthy wines. Very encouragingly, Andrew told us about how a 1992 Gembrook Pinot was still holding up and drinking well.


Perhaps the highlight amongst the 2010 barrel samples was the Wanderer Shiraz. That it was the highlight was as much a reflection of the fact my focus was on Chardonnay and Pinot while in the Yarra. As it was I was I thought this 2010 Wanderer Shiraz may well end up being a superb wine. It had a beautiful balance between sweet and savoury flavours, and tremendous length. Really looking forward to seeing how this wine turns out.

Everyone I talked to in the Yarra was very excited about 2010, and these Gembrook and Wanderer barrel samples support the case for it being an excellent vintage.


Gembrook Hill Estate is on a unique site, where all the work is done by hand, to produce wines that are of undoubted quality and are very much an expression of their terroir. With vines of increasing maturity, assured wine making, and a great growing season, the 2010 Gembrook wines could well be something special. The 2010 Wanderer wines, though sourced from different sites, look equally impressive.

Websites: ,


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2007 Grant Burge Daly Road Shiraz Mourvedre

This is a good wine and yet I struggled with it. At $18 I’d say it’s decent value but I’d likely go for other wines at the same price.

On the nose there are some nice aromas of berry, cherry and a hint of vanilla, but this is also mixed with some herbal notes. While herbal aromas can work really well in some wines I don’t think it does so in this case. On the palate it is smooth with decent line and length. It tastes of red and black fruits, along with some nice mint chocolate and liquorice. However, it also finishes with some bitter, herbal notes. Once again I often like wines that have a slightly bitter finish, but for some reason this just doesn’t work for me.

It’s a decent wine for the price, especially in terms of the slightly more objective elements of a wine like length and balance, but the flavours of the wine just don’t work for me. Other people may well enjoy it a lot more.


RRP: $18
ABV: 14.5%


Monday, June 14, 2010

Red's Off to the Yarra Valley

Well I’ve just watched Australia get carved up 4-0 by Germany in the World Cup, but I can console myself with the fact that the missus and I are off to Melbourne and the Yarra Valley for a few days at the end of this week. This will be my first trip to the Yarra and I’m really looking forward to it. While I’ve had a reasonable amount of Yarra Valley wine over the years, it’s not a wine region that I feel especially familiar or knowledgeable about, and at present, apart from some Hoddles Creek wine, it is not very well represented in my cellar.

With many Yarra wineries having released their 08 reds, it seems from most reviews that it’s actually looking like a better than expected vintage, so I’m looking forward to trying a lot of these wines. The 2010 vintage has also had very good early reports, so it will be interesting to get a sense of exactly how these wines are shaping up.

Can’t wait til I get down there!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

1999 Seppelt St Peters Shiraz

The Grampians has come to be one of my favourite wine regions. Clayfield, Best’s, Mount Langi, and Seppelt all produce Shiraz that I love. The 1999 Seppelt St Peters just adds to this love affair, and has me very encouraged about the younger Grampians Shiraz I have in the cellar.

This wine was consumed over a superb dinner at Fix St James in Sydney.

It has a beautiful bouquet that is very much of the Grampians. Aromas of plums, earth, spice, and pepper, and I was quite happy just smelling it for a few minutes before taking my first sip. On the palate it is silky and voluptuous while not being quite full bodied. The aromas of the nose carry through on to the palate, along with a nice lick of liquorice. There is still plenty of primary fruit, and with the supporting structure and balance of the wine, I’d suggest it still has at least 5 years ahead of it, and possibly a lot longer. A lovely example of an aged Grampians Shiraz.


RRP: $60
ABV: 14.0%


Monday, June 7, 2010

Face-Off: 2009 Coriole Sangiovese (McLaren Vale)

Last Thursday, RedtoBrown braved the torrential rain in Sydney to attend a Coriole ‘Masterclass’ at the Moncur Cellars Tasting Room. The tasting was hosted by Coriole winemaker/owner Mark Lloyd. A more detailed note will be posted in upcoming days, including our impressions of the new Coriole Sagrantino.

Over the weekend, both Red and I could not resist cracking open the 2009 Sangiovese that was handed out to attendees as part of the tasting. As a result we decided to hold an impromptu ‘Face Off’.

Brown: Firstly, for anyone wondering why the 2009 Sangiovese has come out early, Mark informed the Masterclass on the night that it was due to the 2008 vintage selling out very quickly. Demand is high, and Coriole are meeting that demand!

The 2009 Sangiovese has a nose of raspberry, slight hints of strawberry and subtle vanilla that gives way to robust savoury tannins and red fruit on the palate (at the front and on the finish), chocolate and spice. There is a taught natural citric acidity that calls for food to accompany it at this stage.

I was lucky to have tasted this over three days, and by the third day, the wine was more integrated; the acid was more stable, the tannins had softened a bit and it was drinking very nicely. I would wait a few more months for it to integrate further before cracking the wine open without food, though it shines best when accompanied with a nice Italian meal anyway.

Red: This is a wine that is faithful to both the variety and the region it is from. It has quite a fragrant nose of cherry and musk, with hints of earth, spice, and vanilla. On the palate it delivers a wine that is enjoyable to drink now, and yet has the acidity and structure to be worth putting in the cellar for a few years. It tastes of sour cherry, aniseed, earth, and a bit of chocolate. It also has citrus taste that is not unappealing. It finishes savoury and sour with some nice drying tannin. Stands well on its own two feet, but was even better when complimented with some Saltimbocca Alla Romana.

PS: For an alternative take on this wine from a fan of Sangiovese, see the review on Wine Will Eat Itself run by Jeremy Pringle (and check the blog out generally – RedtoBrown are fans).

RRP: $27
ABV: 14%

Thursday, June 3, 2010

2006 Grosset Gaia (Clare Valley)

While Grosset’s Rieslings are almost universally praised, their Cabernet blend, the Gaia, has always come across to me as a bit of a polarising wine based on what I have read, or at the very least, not as highly regarded as their Rieslings. It’s funny how you can build up a view point on a wine you’ve never tried, and I certainly had with the Gaia, thinking it a bit of an overpriced wine. Having now tried the 06 Gaia, however, I reckon it’s a damn impressive wine, and viewed in context in no way over-priced.

The 2006 Gaia is a blend of 75% Cab Sav, 20% Cab Franc, and 5% Merlot.

This wine is elegant in all the right ways. It has a distinctive nose with sweet berry aromas, but also some appealing greener, herbal notes, including a hint of capsicum. On the palate it is medium-bodied and superbly balanced. It has a lovely core of rich, sweet fruit with hints of chocolate but nevertheless gives an overall impression of being savoury with some nice earthiness. Fine tannins support the smooth, long finish. Nothing overdone and everything in its right place. Loved drinking this (after a good decant), and reckon it will just get better and more complex over the next 10 years.


RRP: $58
ABV: 14%

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