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Friday 31 December 2010

Cabernet Merlot by Brad 2008

Perception can be a dangerous thing.  I have this image of "Brad" (based purely on his twitter stream) as a cool, surf riding dude who, whilst often falling foul of his partner Becky, manages to knock out some top notch well packaged wines in his spare time.  When he is not seeing off Great White Sharks at the local beach that is.

I really like wines like this.  Very good easy drinking.  The nose speaks to me more of the Merlot side of things: plummy, mulberry, jammy Merlot notes with a hint of tobacco.  The palate a medium bodied mix of blackcurrant and chocolate.  

It's a perfect segue to a slightly dusty finish; cedar, spice and fine dry tannins that speak of the Cabernet part of the deal.  Not excessively lengthy, but good get-around-a-table drinking.

Source: Gift
Price: $18ish
Closure: Screwcap

Karra Yerta Eden Valley Riesling 2006

A wine tasting fail.

Before I explain myself, I must say that this is nigh the perfect Australian Riesling: a greenish hue to a core of gold.

Now, I opened this one night and just shared a glass with the good lady, taking some new Riedels she had gifted me for a spin.  I didn't take any notes, thinking I would revisit the following day.

However, on revisiting the following lunch time, I found that it had lost a little of its edge on the palate.  Thus this note is a combination of memory and the notes I took on day 2.

The aroma is typical varietal lime. delicate apple blossom juxtaposed against a harder crunchy edge.  Entry, as I remember it, showed more of that steely crunch and some granny smith apple.  The finish was a good lengthy acid.  The aroma stayed with the wine over the two days, the palate showing a little more apple and a little citrus edge.  It was really the finish and back palate that had lost it for me.  

I'm disappointed, really with myself, as this was a brilliant wine the first night.  In retrospect, that is what matters I imagine - the fact that I had shared a god wine with a loved one.

One for now I would say rather than lengthy cellaring.

Source: Cellar Door at Collective Barossa
Price: $25
Closure: Screwcap

Thursday 30 December 2010

David Franz Old Redemption x.o.

I love wine stories.  David Franz Lehmann is one of the sons of Barossan legend Peter Lehmann.  David has had a rather interesting career; graphic designer being one of them and this shows in the beautiful packaging that all his wines are renowned for.  The beauty doesn't stop on the outside of the bottle.

This is the perfect Christmas wine for me in so far as I don't actually like Christmas Pudding - this a brilliant liquid substitute.  Much paler than I was expecting - but then I suppose you would say it was tawny. 

The immediate aroma is of raisins and candided fruit; the palate caramel, cinnamon and Christmas Pudding itself.  It has a treacly silken mouthfeel.  Top stuff.

Price: $37.99
Closure: Diam

Teusner Avatar 2005

I opened this for my wife the day after Boxing Day, she was looking for something "good" and knowing her fondness for Barossan beauties, I pulled this number out.

This was a perfect example of how a good decant can help a slightly older wine shake off its cobwebs and really show itself off to its true strengths.

Initially it was earthen aromas with a background of sweet Barossan fruit, the palate a mix of stewed red fruits on the palate.  The finish was spicy, more specifically a quatre-epice mix; it was spice that lingered.

Once it had opened up though the palate changed,  the spice settling down for some vanilla and coconutty oak coming through; the finish altogether much more gentle.

Source: Retail, Grand Central Cellars
Price: $40
Closure: Cork

Dutschke Gods Hill Road Four Vineyards 2005 Shiraz

Suffice to say I'd never really known what "funkiness" was in wines, or more specifically what a writer was referring to when it was referenced in a tasting note.

On Christmas Day my wife and I cracked a Witches Falls 2006 Syrah (see previous post) and the immediate aroma was of sulphur.  The following day, Boxing Day, I opened this wine and experienced the same thing.  Through further research I found a useful website which offered some background on understanding how the "funky" aroma can present itself.  Useful reading indeed for me as a wine student.

Once I'd decanted this wine and given it a good 20-30 minutes, it settled down.  Vanilla on immediate entry followed by some warmth/ spice.  In the mouth, smooth and plummy; the finish all spice and fruit coming through.

Source: Retail, Purple Palate
Price: $?
Closure: Screwcap

Sunday 26 December 2010

Christmas Day Wines Round-Up

Being a 1 grand Pom (10 pounds adjusted for inflation and about the cost of a flight these days), I find it hard to discard the need to have a full on roast dinner for Christmas.

That said, eating in our household is all about over-catering and focussing on Boxing Day where we eat Boxing Day Pie - a pie made from left over Christmas dinner ingredients.  Not to be missed.

Here's a round-up of the wine consumed round our way.

Parker Estate Terra Rossa First Growth Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
In my limited experience of tasting, I love Coonawarra Cabernet - I really feel I can taste the lovely Terra Rossa soil.  This is no exception.  A lovely heady aroma of beautiful brambly red fruits and quality oak - that wonderful cedary cigar box aroma.  On the palate the oak gives a fine spice on the fore palate that expresses itself as a drying finish with fine tannins.  More black fruits on the follow through.  A winemakers' wine, could easily live for another 5-10 years.

Peter Lehmann The Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz 2001 (Disgorged 2008)
Plummy richness on the nose, the quality of the fruit shining through already.  On the palate, chocolate - with a generous mix of fruit coming through again.  The finish is yeasty, not quite the 'biscuity' finish of a good champagne.  Again, more plummy notes, earthen on the extreme length.

Witches Falls 2006 Granite Belt Syrah
Immediate aroma is highly reductive, sulphur and a tad of cordite (I love the smell of cordite in the morning!).  It settled down after about 20-30 minutes to present a coffee-ish note.  On the palate, plummy spice on a medium body.  The finish shows more of that spice to the end.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Ashton Hills Vineyard 2008 Pinot Noir Estate

I had the privilege of participating in what I termed a "Cultural Exchange" with Chris Plummer of the Australian Wine Journal.  Chris had commented on one of my previous posts, for a rather unmemorable wine, that he had been yearning to try some Queensland for a while now.  My end of the deal a Robert Channon Verdelho, in return I receive this.  Chris wins.

First up, I tasted this far too young, but like a small child, when you are gifted something so exciting, you want to open it.  Initially it was very closed wine and only really opened up after an hour or two in the decanter, but it really settled down on Day 2.

Aromas of dark cherry and some meats lead to a gentle spice on the palate.  Over time, as the wine opened up, it also presented earthy, meaty, savoury notes that had me earning for some charcuterie.  Initially, the finish presented some Kalamata Olive, but this soon made way for more of that gentle spice - possibly a sign from some good quality oak treatment.

This is, without doubt, a well crafted wine.  A premier example of Australian Pinot - this example even winning "Best Pinot Noir' at the Australian Cool Climate Wine Show.  I'm certain drinking now didn't do it justice.  This is #aplus booze, and winemaker Stephen George a master craftsman.

Source: Gift
Price: $40
Closure: Screwcap

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Rabbit Ranch 2008 Pinot Noir

I believe this wine has the dubious honour of being the first non-Australian wine posted up on the site.  I'm not waging my own one-man "All for One Wine" campaign, it is more a reflection on my budget and the fact that in the main buy my own wines.

Typical Central Otago darker style Pinot Noir, think plum coloured as opposed to the raspberry tinged hues of Pinot Noir.  But there the similarity ends for me.  It is actually lighter in style than colour would depict, very much drink now.  Typical red cherry and a smidge of spice on entry, very gentle, fruit driven.  No real length to speak of, minimal tannin.  Very much a drinker and works well with food.

Price: $34.99 RRP, $20 on special.
Closure: Screwcap

Sunday 12 December 2010

Teusner Salsa Rosé 2009

"Spicy, seductive and alluring..." leads the intro on the back of the bottle.  I probably need not write any more of this offering from Teusner in the Barossa Valley.

Teusner are a winery that have really engaged social media, to the point where their daily weather briefing is eagerly anticipated by fellow members of the Barossa Valley wine community and punters alike.  From a personal perspective, I feel such a sense of attachment to the Teusner that I would eagerly seek out any new release of theirs.  It helps that the guys are consistently on the money with their releases from within an impressive portfolio.

This Rosé is predominantly crafted from Mataro and Grenache, two staples of the Teusner stable.  The aroma is a perfect lead in: soft and delicate.  In the mouth, there's a hint of creaminess that morphs into a touch of spice toward the back palate.  Its an interesting balance, there's some sweetness but you wouldn't say it is sweet.  It is the finish that wins; savoury, spicy - it will be excellent with food and it is most likely to accompany a touch of Avocado salsa tonight, its flavours dancing their way across my palate.

Source: Sample
Price: $18
Closure: Screwcap

Logan Hannah Rosé 2010

Another wine received for the Rosé Revolution.

Made from Shiraz (60%), Cabernet Franc (20%) and Pinot Noir (20%), the Hannah offers delicate aromas of Strawberry and Raspberry.  Having been perusing some cook books, prior to tasting, in preparation for some Christmas drinks my wife and I are hosting, I was minded that the colour of the wine is very similar to baked rhubarb, of which there is a touch on the palate.

Cranberry adds some savoury dryness in the mouth, and a touch of orange zest fills out the palate with some additional depth.  This leads to a citrus finish and a beautiful tart dryness.

You have to salute winemaker Peter Logan's taste in women for "Hannah" was made specifically for his wedding day.  A fantastic Rosé from a vintage that was challenging for the viticulturist.

Source: Sample
Price: $22
Closure: Screwcap

Domaine Lucci 2010 Wildman Pinot Noir

Domaine Lucci and Anton van Klopper seem to have a profound affect on me.  I'd never heard of either until about early November 2010, then in one of those strange moments of synchronicity, I came across Mr Klopper, or the fruits of his labours about four times in as many days.

I have the Qwoff Boys to thank for at least two of these introductions. Firstly by way of his introduction in Max Allen's "The Future Makers" and then also by virtue of their Road to Vino Episode "Lunch With Lucy".  Watching this video of Andre and Justin tasting with Anton a) made me sickingly jealous and b) made me have to sit down and stop what I was doing otherwise I would risk fainting.  This was one of those head-spinny moments where I was just enthralled at the approach, or some may say lack of, to winemaking this guy had.  I was simply in a daze.  I had to get me some of those wines!

Around the same time, the Winefront, reviewed two wines from the stable.  If I wasn't hooked before, I was now.

This is only the second wine that I have tried from the hands of Anton van Klopper.  Jumping to conclusions quickly, I consider that these are very challenging wines, in the sense that they have challenged me as a consumer.  The first of their wines I tried was a Pinot Gris.  It was red.  The individual who allowed me to sample this wine asked of me what my thoughts were when I was thinking of Pinot Gris.  Red most certainly was not one of them.  Challenging I say.

This wine is clearly a Pinot Noir.  It smells of varietal cherries and raspberries.  But take a look at it, and its not your typical light, shiny, nigh transparent, red Pinot Noir.  There's almost a brown tinge to it.  Not the brickish tinge of an aged Pinot, this is something altogether more earthen.  Then I start to think, its a 2010 - is this how young Pinot's are?  I have no other frame of reference.  I'll have to take it as I see it.

In the mouth, it's warm, some earthiness, tight - again not at all like Pinot's I have tasted before - which admittedly is pretty much exclusively new world.

The finish has spice in the roof of the mouth and this leads through to the back palate; this wine had me hooked.  It is good shit, if I may be as vulgar as to say.

Although the bottle was finished, I carried on drinking it mentally.  The slight earthiness, the raspberry and cherry could have me thinking it was a Grenache.  No, its definitely Pinot Noir.  Even now I am thinking about it.

Whichever way you approach it, this is seriously good booze.  If you want a Pinot Noir to drink, yes this ticks all the right boxes.  If you want a Pinot Noir that will engage you, maybe make you think, look at what's in the glass repeatedly, then this is your man.

Source: Retail
Price: $35
Closure: Diam with Wax Seal
Retailer: Spiros Toowong

Thursday 9 December 2010

KT & The Falcon 2009 Peglidis Watervale Riesling

I really like single vineyard wines, I just feel they have a bit more of a story to tell with the ability to point to a block of vines and a patch and say "this is from where I came".  To that end its a shame when a winery doesn't back up that story with having an up to date website.

The aroma provides hallmark Watervale Riesling fruit: varietal apple and citrus, particularly the familiar lime.  However it is on the palate that the wine shines. Spritz on entry and tongue tingling acidity.  As you allow the wine to float around the mouth there's some familiar slatey minerality.  

This is hard to describe, but do try it and I'm sure you'll understand where I am trying to come from.  Toward the finish, a touch more spritz, good acid and a reappearance of some of the quality fruit shining through.  All up, a very smart dry Riesling.

Source: Retail
Price: $30-$35
Closure: Screwcap
Retailer: Spiros Toowong

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Vinteloper Wines 2010 McLaren Vale Rosé

I've had the good fortune to meet winemaker David Bowley and to try a number of wines from his portfolio.  I have disclose that I am a fan of his work. 

What most impresses me is David's passion in letting the fruit shine through in his wines.  As David states on his website: "all wines are made with minimal intervention and primitive techniques to allow texture & unique expression".

A good barometer for any wine's quality in my household is my wife.  Whilst I'm the one who tries to analyse a wine and makes attempts to express how I find it, my wife pays a wine the ultimate compliment in emptying her glass quickly and refilling it.  She paid this wine that compliment.

This wine is made form 96% Shiraz with 2% of Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Grenache added.  Other technical specs are 7-10 g/L residual sugar, with pH at 3.25 and a total acidity (TA) of 6.6.  A fairly balanced, not overtly sweet wine.

The wine itself offers an gentle aromas of berry fruit: strawberry and cranberry for me.  However it is on the palate that the wine shone through.  On entry, some immediate savoury notes with a slight creamy mouthfeel.  I felt the wine was fullest at the fore of the palate; more of that cranberry dryness present.  There was some length, with a dry finish and a gentle touch of what I would consider spice - possibly white pepper.

Overall a good balanced wine.  Not sweet, nor excessively dry.  A good wine in harmony with itself.

Closure: Screwcap
Price: $21 per bottle from website

Tuesday 7 December 2010

2010 Swinging Bridge Rosé

Swinging Bridge Vineyard was first planted in 1995, with initial plantings of Shiraz and Chardonnay. Located to the South of Canonwindra (which I've learned is pronounced Canoundra) in the Central Ranges of NSW. This wine came to me via David Cumming at Define Wine.

Whilst the Rosé Wine Revolution was about the pale dry style, the colour of a number of Rosés caused a fair bit of debate, with some fairly forthright views held as to whether colour actually mattered. For me, I think not. A wine's colour would not necessarily lead me to a purchase decision or otherwise. That said, the Rosé Wine Revolution was intended to champion the paler style, but it would appear that a number of 'brighter' styles were up for consideration.

To this wine, a Rosé more on the reddish spectrum, appearing vibrant in the glass. Its nose offers definite hints of strawberry - but then I am sure that most Rosés have a hint of strawberry on the nose.

This particular wine is made, predominantly from Cabernet Sauvignon, with a touch of Merlot. This contributes to a good crisp finish on the palate. The thing I am most surprised about is that on second tasting, this wine wasn't as sweet as I first remembered. It is the second tasting from which I am drawing these notes.

I think this goes to show how environmental factors can alter the properties of a wine quite significantly.  Admittedly when I first tried it, I was a little under the weather. It was tried alongside a number of other wines and accompanied with some home made pizzas - quite possibly the ingredients on the pizzas accentuating some sweetness on the palate.

So, in summary, the wine offers a good gentle aroma which, in the mouth, manifests itself as a gentle crisp Rosé with some length there. It doesn't dominate the palate and would lend itself as a great accompaniment to a light summer meal or the great Aussie BBQ.

Source: Sample
Closure: Screwcap
Price: $18

Sparrow & Vine 2010 Eden Valley Grenache Rosé

The Grenache for this Rosé is from Noel Doecke's vineyard in Gawler Park Road, not too far from Angaston I am informed.  It's made by Wayne Ahrens, the proprietor of Smallfry Wines, and is made to specification for Brendan Hilferty who many may know on Twitter as @thewinepoint.  Whilst that is Brendan's day job and the one that pays the bills, this Rosé is the first release from a side-project of Brendan's.  Sparrow & Vine are also on twitter: @sparrowandvine.

The fruit for this wine was picked specifically for Rosé in late February at 11 baume.  The intent was to produce a lower alcohol style but the wild yeast got a little excited and took it too around 13% alcohol.  In addition to the Grenache, there is a little Alicante Bouchet present which lends a brighter colour to the wine.

I really enjoyed this wine on the night.  Raspberries, cranberry and a touch of raspberry on the nose = the Grenache fruit showing through there for me.  In the mouth, textural with quite  broad sensation.  What I mean is it fills the mouth a little more than other wines I have tasted.  There's more cranberry and raspberry on the palate that morphs into a gentle finish.  Its not incredibly lengthy, breadth rather than depth in this one.

I like it.  A great food wine.  Dry, textural, slight savoury notes.  An impressive debut.

Source: Sample
Closure: Screwcap
Price: $20

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Cirillo 1850 Old Vine 2010 Grenache Rosé

A good friend of mine, he masquerades as TwoGlassTaste on Twitter, stocks some of Cirillo's wine via his own website He was generous to bring this around as part of the RoseRev festivities (or the Toowong Revolutionary Planning Council as I started to think of it).

The first thing about this wine: a beautiful bright fuschia pink. Its a dark wine, I've seen lighter coloured Pinot Noir. Its colour pleases me, nay invites me to drink.

The aroma shows cranberry; touches of raspberry and cherry. These aromas manifest themselves into the palate, however it is the wine's dryness that has me. Its deliciously dry and this gives the wine some length too and renders a little tannin. Incredible finish. In short, if this isn't already clear, I like it.

Source: Sample
Closure: Screwcap
Price: $20 (approx.)

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Grown Pinot Noir Rosé 2010

Feeling a touch under the weather in the lead up to the Rosé revolution left me a little unsure as to how my palate was going to hold up to a significant tasting - more importantly, could I do the wines justice?

Rosé to me just speaks of Summer. The perfect accompaniment to many of the dishes we associate with the same season: Oysters, Salmon. The latter a perfect segue into the colour of this wine, a delightful pure salmon pink.

On the nose fresh and vibrant with a touch of summer Strawberry coming through. In the mouth, its a light wine - not overly dominating with fruit, there is a gentle hint. Rather it is the finish that makes this wine. It has a gentle persistence that effectively fills the back palate and holds for some time. It concludes with a gentle bitterness, that morphs into a touch of spice.

Source: Sample
Closure: Screwcap
Price: $25

Wednesday 24 November 2010

McWilliam's Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2005

The Mount Pleasant "Lizzy" typically offers excellent drinking for a wine that has been winery aged for four years. However "Lizzy" has caused much discussion amongst wine folk of late, for McWilliam's has released an Elizabeth branded wine as a young 'un - a 2010 Elizabeth.

Further, for many of the pro reviewers, it appeared that this wine, the 2005, had skipped a release cycle and hasn't been highly visible on retailers' shelves nor been sent for review. Thus, when I spied it in the fridge of a local retailer, I jumped at the chance to give it a go.

Typical golden hue with a green edge, as expected for a Semillon with a little age. Aromas of lemon - compared to the predominant lime on the 2006, toast and a slight waxiness. It appeared a lot fresher than the 2006, despite that additional year in bottle.

On the palate, there was plenty of varietal citrus, but that was about it. Some acidity to the back palate; more of the toasty notes were present and the acidity present did build to a pleasant finish.

Source: Retail (Spiros, Paddington)
Closure: Screwcap
Price: $18 retail (can normally be found around $13 in 1st/ Dan's)

Monday 22 November 2010

Call Out The Instigators: The Rosé Revolution

The Rose Revolution is nearly here!  On Tuesday 30th November wine lovers across the world will unite physically and virtually to share in the revolution aimed at increasing awarenes of pale, dry textural Rosé wine.

To help you get involved, the website has a graphical representation of where events are happening.  Do yourself a favour, get yourself along to an event at your local wine bar and bottle shop. Viva La Revolution

Sunday 21 November 2010

2009 Moppity Vineyards Estate Shiraz

It was this wine that first brought Moppity Wines to my attention.  An excellent review on the Winefront had me yearning to find some.  Jason Brown, proprietor and winemaker, was gracious enough to point me in the direction of some stockists in the Brisbane area.

However, it was the 2008 Lock & Key Shiraz that first passed my lips, and in a quest to find some of the 2009 - on a recommendation from Jason - of that same wine, I chanced upon the Estate version at McGuire's Cellar in Paddington, Brisbane.

I love a good bottle shop.  I often remark that a good bottle shop is like a library. Full of gems you're possibly aware of - classics - and new releases from the latest rising stars.  A place where you could spend hours browsing, not to mention mentally buying and tasting - for although I may have A+ tastes, a young family to look after leaves me with a Z- budget.

As ever I digress.  I tasted the wine over two days, decanting it as I typically do.  Initially I was picking up what I thought were aromas of roasted meats, more appropriately the juices that you'd get from a roasting tin.  However given time, an altogether more delicate fragrance revealed itself - the result of some co-fermented Viognier.

On the palate, the initial thought was of pepper.  Indeed I was thinking of a dish from Jamie Oliver's Italy, which is a Pepper Stew.  The wine felt incredibly silken, yet gentle tannins were present, dissolving into a pleasant peppery warmth.  This is an incredibly well constructed wine - but I do caution that it either needs a good decant, or if you can cellar and truly appreciate its charms.  I may have a Z- budget, but this wine satisfies my A+ tastes without breaking the bank.

Source: Retail
Cost: $23
Closure: Screwcap
Winery Website:

Thursday 18 November 2010

Zema Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

If there were such a thing as a BYOFaves... family tree, then there would be a direct link between this blog and Zema Estate. In a previous post I wrote of some shared great times and of some great wines that were introduced to me as a result of a Wine Without BS dinner held in South Australia. Present at that dinner was none other than Zema Estate winemaker Greg Clayfield.

At the recent Brisbane Good Food and Wine Show, I had the pleasure of bumping into, self-titled, Zema spruiker Karen Ronning who kindly took me through the range of Zema wines on offer, gifting me a bottle of this wine.

I'm a fan. The wine's aroma opens to a blend of beautiful red fruit, cedar, a slight dusty mark and a pleasant hit of mint as a final note. On entry, there's a touch of spice that opens up around the palate, morphing into a gentle spicy oak; the mid-palate expands to deliver typical Cabernet varietal notes of mocha, cedar and spice.

The finish shows a touch of warmth, not to the point of distraction. Rather, it complements some fine to moderate tannins that suggest that some cellaring time would benefit.

It was a winner in our household and there surely can be no greater compliment than an empty bottle at the end of an evening.

Source: Gift/ Sample
Cost: $25-28
Closure: Screwcap
Winery Website:

Tuesday 16 November 2010

De Bortoli Windy Peak Yarra Valley Dry Rosé 2010

Revolutions start for a variety of reasons: ideology, challenging the orthodox view, seizing a moment when a groundswell of opinion carries an idea forward. It could be said that the Rosé Wine Revolution is about all three of those; or it could just be about promoting a great style of wine that hasn't been too prominent in Australia.

The Rosé Wine Revolution is being championed by one of Australia's First Families of Wine, De Bortoli. It is therefore fitting that my own revolution starts off with a Dry Rosé from their Windy Peak range.

This wine represents the sum of its constituent parts. Visually it is an off-pink, veering towards a touch of peach. Its aroma is taken from the Pinto Noir it is, in part made from, offering a hint of strawberry. I'm often reminded of boiled sweets I used to get as a youngster called "Strawberries and Cream", and there is a touch of that confectionery strawberry here.

In the mouth, the wine speaks of its Grenache and a touch of fruit from the Sangiovese. Savoury notes are at the fore, leading into a dry slightly bitter finish, but not an unpleasant one.

A great kick-off for the Revolution! You too can get involved, invite some friends over, share some Rosé - remembering its the pale, dry style that's being promoted. If you're active on the social networking site Twitter, share your experiences, using the hashtag #roserev - but most importantly, enjoy it.

Source: Gift
Cost: $13 (approx.)
Closure: Screwcap

Friday 12 November 2010

Sirromet Seven Scenes Finito Rosso NV

Purchased on a visit to Sirromet's Mount Countain Cellar Door and Winery with in-laws. Whatever your views on Queensland's wine industry, Sirromet's CD is a worthy tourist destination. The grounds are well kept, the CD a pleasant environment and Lurleen's restaurant is an excellent dining proposition.

The wine is a tawny brown colour wine with a fairly bitter hint of black strap molasses on the nose. It wasn't great, slightly chilled it offers treacle on the palate.

According to the winery, it is "a rich and soft wine, is a rare combination from six vintages. The wine displays hints of oak as it is aged in oak for a year with the addition of fresh spirit on re-blending".

Well there you go. Sorry If I don't appear particularly enthused, it's because I wasn't. Questioning myself as to why I bought it.

Source: Cellar Door
Closure: Screwcap
Price: About $20 (375ml)

Thursday 11 November 2010

Tamburlaine Hunter Valley 2007 Member's Reserve Verdelho

In researching the winery, I was surprised to learn that they are Australia's largest producer of organic wines. I had to revisit to see if this was a recent accreditation, but no there on the bottle, discreetly, was the word organic. It leads you to think that organic production is more a philosophy than a sales gimmick.

The wine's aroma speaks of stone fruits, a touch of lychee and typical varietal fruit salad. The second glass revealed the Grapefruit - casually lounging around in the background.

On the palate there was a touch of vanilla - and why wouldn't there be - grape. However it was the wine's finish that really made the wine: a pleasant acidity that gently dissolves through to the back palate.

A great Verdelho that paired well with a Spinach and Yellow Spit Pea curry.

Source: Gift
Retail: $29 (CD price for current release)

Wednesday 10 November 2010



If anyone is out there, reading/ following...I'd be grateful if you have feedback.
* If you're familiar with the wines mentioned, do they convey how you found the wines?
* If you're not familiar with the wines, do you get a 'feel' for them?

Wine is probably one of the most subjective 'things' out there, but also one that generates much opinion, comment and debate.

I would be most grateful if anyone has any feedback. Constructive feedback can only make me a better wine student.


Monday 8 November 2010

Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2006

Many consider Semillon to be the Hunter Valley's signature variety. I'm not going to argue with this viewpoint, there are many far more informed than I, and I'm certainly starting to enjoy what the region has to offer as I take myself on this vinous journey.

Mount Pleasant's Elizabeth Semillon is traditionally released as a four year old wine - as is the case here. However, starting in 2010 it appears that McWilliam's - the owner of Mount Pleasant - is going to start releasing Elizabeth with a dual-release strategy. At the recent Brisbane Good Food and Wine Show, a helpful McWilliam's employee advised that the 2010 Elizabeth recently released is not intended to substitute the traditional 4 year old. In addition, he advised the young release contains approximately 10% Sauvignon Blanc.

So to this wine, and before I attempt to convey how I saw it, I must say it went well with my wife and some lazy Sunday fish and chips. The aroma is almost Riesling like, a little touch of lime cordial that I didn't really catch in the palate. The fore-palate itself had tantalising glimpses of acidity that morphed into typical varietal tart lemon notes.

The most interesting aspect for me was the finish: the acidity started to get taken through the back palate - it stayed with me for a short while, then simply fell away. If the flavours had held for longer it would have been an altogether more memorable wine.

I had a second glass a day later, whilst I caught that initial lime on the nose, the other characteristics referred to above were missing.

Source: Retail
Price: about $13

Thursday 4 November 2010

Moppity Vineyards Lock and Key Shiraz Shiraz 2008

The 'stain' of having convict ancestry was something not many folks spoke of in the early and mid parts of the last century.  Not so for Moppity owner Jason Brown who embraces his 2nd fleet convict lineage, paying tribute to humble beginnings with his Lock and Key range.

The range features single vineyard wines,  from mature, low-yielding vines and represents extraordinary value.  It is also the the range routinely credited as providing a financial lifeline for the Brown's when, like many winemakers, they faced some financial struggles.

To the wine.  Initial pepper as the wine enters the palate; lingering with gentle spice.  Rounded with generous red fruits present too.  For me it presents itself as typical of the region.  It's a great wine that holds you, the spice - while it lingers - is gentle.  Certainly not a confronting style, it is very enjoyable.  Can be drunk now, but will reward with further time in bottle.     

Source: Retail
Price: $14.99 RRP

Friday 29 October 2010

Couple of Quick Tastings

Popped into the brilliant Purple Palate {} in Brisbane.

The guys put on regular tastings toward the back of the store, dispensed from the Enomatic. There were a couple of standouts for me: 

Riorret The Abbey Pinot Noir 2008
Made by De Bortoli Chief Steve Webber, the wine displayed typical aromas of ripe cherry; an incredible lightness both in the glass and on the palate. Retails around $33 - an incredibly well constructed wine.

Somerset Hill Merlot 2008
Exhibited some typical plum fruit on the nose, yet there the varietal typicality ended for me. It was no bad thing. In the glass it was quite dark, an almost brackish note around the edge; in the mouth I was picking baked pie - more the aroma of the caramel from atop and apple pie. I could be talking out of my arse - descriptors aside, the main thing was it was divine. And that's what matters most.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

An Ode to Riesling

One thing I failed to mention from last  week's outpouring of love for the Rizza, were a couple of ditties that were penned in its honour. 

The first was from myself:

With your acid, length and line;
With your flavours of citrus: lemon & lime;
Oh #Riesling what you mean to me;
Perfectly refreshing summery.

The second came from Angela Clifford of New Zealand's Greystone Wines:

Day's been long, road is dusty, my pouring arm has gone quite rusty.
What 2 drink, don't dilly-dally, try a #Riesling from #waiparavalley

Gotta love the passion. 

Saturday 9 October 2010


A road trip from Melbourne to the Barossa Valley in early 2009 introduced two grape varieties that had, until then, not been at the forefront of my mind: Grenache and Riesling.

My fondness for Grenache has already been documented in an earlier post in support of International Grenache Day. This is Riesling's turn in the spotlight.

Living in Queensland, there comes a certain point in the year where drinking a good red becomes rather unpalatable, and thoughts turn to a nice white or a good Rose. Increasingly for me, that means Riesling.

In the week just gone, there has been much love, debate and thought about Riesling on the social networking site Twitter. In my opinion it all started with a tweet from Mount barked, WA based Galafrey wines asking "where are all the Riesling fans out there?". And really from there it spiralled. Many of the twitterati became involved in the toing and froing - really highlighting the interactivity on twitter, especially its ability to transcend borders: state or national.

The upshot of all this is that it was proposed to have a Riesling tweetup, where folks get together - online - at a set date/ time and basically share a virtual drink, share their thoughts, views and notes on what they're drinking.

It's part fun, part profile raising, part driving sales. But the fundamental point - to me - is that it would be about the Riesling varietal.

Riesling in Australia
To take the story further, I stuck my oar into a Twitter debate about whether Riesling or Chardonnay was the 'better' variety. Such online luminaries as Brad and Danny from Wineweek, Ben Moroney, Monty James, Nigel Wadsworth, and Gourmet Traveller contributor Andrew Graham, were involved.

Out of this, the biggest thing I learned - or the biggest surprise to me - was that Riesling only accounted for approx 4.6% of white grape varieties in 2008 (Source: James Halliday Australian Wine Companion 2010 Edition p48).

To me, for a grape with such a reputation, and a grape fairly well acknowledged as one of Australia's eminent varietals, this was quite surprising. As an aside, crush figures were dominated by Chardonnay, accounting for about 50% of white total. Now I may have somewhat naively seen the grape harvest, and consequently wine production, as something that goes into those lovely bottles we see lining the racks and shelves in our favourite merchants and retailers. I somewhat tend to forget bulk wines, casks etc as I don't really 'participate' in that end of the market. Still 4.6% of harvest tonnage did surprise.

Historical Figures
It wasn't always this way. In the 2010 Wine Companion, Halliday comments: "...going back a further 10 years to 1980, bottled wine sale of Riesling, exceeded those of all other white wines combined".

Whilst that figure reflects sales, logically the planting and crush figures would be similarly reflected. How things change.

And hopefully with the increased focus on the Riesling variety, it will have its day again.

Saturday 11 September 2010

International Grenache Day - 24th September

It was a little like the girl at school you know of, but have never spoken to. Your paths have crossed on a few occasions, how could they not? But you’d never plucked up the courage to talk.  She wasn’t one of the girls in the “cool-kids” group, but is certainly attractive. Maybe, to you, she was a late bloomer.

Then, an introduction through some mutual friends leads to you hitting it off. It leaves you wondering why you had never been truly acquainted until now. You try and meet regularly, you develop a fondness.

I am talking about Grenache. The chance encounter I refer to was a road trip around some of Australia’s southern states, Melbourne to Adelaide with stays in McLaren Vale and the Barossa.  Yes, Grenache and I had met before. We had enjoyed the company of each other. Was I truly aware of her existence? Probably not. Shiraz would most likely find herself on the way home with me after a visit to the bottle shop.

And now Grenache is starting to get the attention it deserves – I’ll drop the feminine form for Grenache from here. International Grenache Day is to be held on the 24th September. A series of events will take place on this day – chosen to coincide with the first Grenache symposium. The tag line for the event is to “put Grenache in its rightful place on the wine map”. Some have criticised focussed on Grenache as a varietal – petulantly considering it “stupid”, nigh in the manner of a teen spurned by a peer. Each to their own.

Events can be formal, or otherwise. Grab some Grenache, some friends, have a “tweet-up” (remember to use the hash-tag #Grenache). But most of all, as wine is intended, enjoy.

I shall be participating, and at this early juncture have plans to grab something Aussie - ideally a Teusner to support their efforts at supporting this event, a Garnacha and a Grenache dominant Rhone blend; to represent Grenache in its many guises, outfits and representations.

Monday 6 September 2010

Black Pearl Epicure: Exclusive Hand Picked Wines

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a tasting of some exclusive French imports. The wines haven't been seen in Australia as yet and are being imported by the The One Hundred Wine label on behalf on well known Brisbane providores Black Pearl Epicure.

My first thought, maybe naively, when it comes to French wines is "expensive". Thus I was very impressed by the quality on offer at what I consider reasonable prices.

These are the stand out wines from the evening for me, for the full range, please refer to the link above behind the One Hundred Wine label - even better snaffle yourself a few of these gems!

NV Pierre Moncuit Delos Brut Grand Cru
This was the second Champagne tasted on the night - and yes this can genuinely be called that, hailing from what many consider the most prestigious village in Champagne: Mesnil-sur-Oger.

A non-vintage champagne, yet all the fruit hails from a single growing year, it has an incredible finish. The length is amazing, with a complexity that lingers long after the final drop glides the back of the throat. A bargain at $65.

2007 Domaine Grand Veneur Lirac
This was the fifth wine tasted on the night. It had been decanted for around an hour, allowing some of the fruit to shine through.

Pleasant savoury aromas on the nose, with spice on the palette. There's some length in the finish and moderate herbal tannins. Some may consider it a bruiser at 15% but it works, at $35 this is an impressive GSM (50/35/15% in that order).

2007 Domain Les Aphillanthes, 'Cuvee Des Galets' Cotes du Rhone
Another classic Rhone GSM (60/20/20%). The nose showed some savory characteristics, with a faint whiff of Anise. The palate showed typical fruit profile, with plenty of blackcurrant. The finish lingered and chewy, grippy tannins stayed in the mouth. This is a 10 year cellaring proposition and at $33, to me, is a bargain. I was fortunate enough to take the remnants of the bottle home to share with the wife the following day; it was even better then, the aromas had integrated further, showing balance and structure - giving hints of its cellaribility.

2008 Domaine Vincent Paris Saint Joseph
This was the star of the night. Despite being a Northern Rhone Shiraz, it was almost Burgundian in its aroma profile. In the mouth, gentle tannins were present, with a beautiful lingering finish.

Only 200 cases made, this another wine for the cellar. It can be consumed young, but is nigh on essential to decant to appreciate it. A snip at $40.

I consider myself very fortunate to have been invited to this event. The host was Richard Gardiner. Richard is a friend of the importers, but is also well known in Brisbane for running the blog Food Bling - a down to earth, unpretentious look at Brisbane growing food scene.

On the wines, again I was very impressed at the quality available at the price points. One of the other attendees, Lincoln Scott of grapescott, stated this was as they were coming direct, not via negociants. The wines are a very good introduction to France, either now, or even better as cellarworthy propositions.

Friday 3 September 2010

Samuel's Gorge Tasting

To me Twitter has been a fantastic way of hooking into the Australian wine community, enabling me to connect with local scribes, wineries and distributors.

It was through said medium that I learn that renowned McLaren Vale producer Samuel's Gorge is coming to Brisbane on the 9th September to conduct a public tasting at the Grand Central Hotel on Ann Street - immediately in front of Central Station.

There appears to be little in the way of official information on either the winery or venue websites.

My sole introduction to Samuel's Gorge was at the BYO Favs and Pizza Dinner (see post of the same name). However, suffice to say my recollections of that wine are such that this tasting is a must-attend event for me.

Thursday 2 September 2010

A Couple of Stickies

My good wife sneakily arranged to take me to dinner recently, even going as far as to deceive me by arrange for some friends to look after our daughter.

I'm not complaining mind. The destination was a local restaurant where we have eaten on a few occasions previous: Two Small Rooms.

As ever, the food was sublime. Good quality fare, probably best placed in the 'bistro' category. Its name gives you an indication of its size - it is two small rooms: well staffed, a good seasonal menu with quality ingredients, a decent wine list featuring imports and Australian wines - plus you can BYO.

Our meal was wonderful, I'm not going to wax lyrical over it, it was an occasion shared with my wife.

What I do want to share is a couple of dessert wines that were available by the glass.

2003 Grande Maison Cuvee du Chateau Monbazillac
A delightful honeyed, candied fruit sweetie with a pale golden colour; the familiar unctuous presence in the glass. Paired wonderfully with a Bitter Chocolate Tart, Yogurt Gelato and Pistachio Nuts.

2006 Passito di Pantelleria Pellegrino Sicily
Made by the Pellegrino of San Pellegrino fancy water fame, and made from (IIRC) drying out and then vinifying Sicilian Zibibbo Muscat grapes. A delightful pale colour, none of the overt sweetness of Moscato that I have tasted previously, orange blossom and apricot present on the palette.

Sunday 29 August 2010

Wine and Friends

There is something rather warming in being able to share a bottle of something with friends. It doesn't necessarily have to be something special; some cheap sparkles to celebrate a birthday, a chilled Rose at a BBQ, a bottle of that great Shiraz from your holiday to the Hunter - each has a place, a moment and an opportunity to introduce friends to a part of you.

So it was that I invited some friends over on Saturday night to partake in the consumption of a few choice drops. Dinner was included too and a starter of some chilli and garlic olives, mettwurst, a ovely fresh ciabatta placed in the centre of the table and offered with some prosciutto, fresh buffalo mozzarella and pesto was a great way to kick start appetites and introduce the first wine.

Australia's Gift to the World of Wine?
Sparkling red wine, to me, is something uniquely Australian. It was first introduced to me in the UK and quickly became a staple at Christmas with roast Turkey. There is something so wrong, et also so right with it. Served in a champagne flute, the mousse is there, yet it has a ribena like hue to it, a deep garnet colour. The wine in question a Majella Sparkling Shiraz disgorged in 2005.

Many bag the sparkling red, some even finding it a little cringeworthy. Not here. It often has a place in my glass/ fridge/ cellar. This particular example in question had the right colour attributes for me, the flavour profile was balanced too - a little sweetness to get the evening underway. It did not last long and was soon followed by a Meadowbank Henry James Pinot Noir from Tasmania's Coal River. Excellent fine tannins, delicate fruit profile without the 'elevated' profile of some Pinot Noir. An excellent follow on from the sparkles!

Main Course
Two delightful individuals of the Brisbane food and wine scene, Ryn and Cordie, who I have had the privilege of sharing a glass or three with (see BYO Favs & Pizza), have self-published a book that demystifies the pairing of food and wine. Not just a 'dry' volume on the subject, it is also a beautifully presented cookbook. From it, I opted to prepare the slow cooked Moroccan beef checks.

My own version wasn't entirely faithful to the recipe. For no reason other than I failed to read the recipe beforehand and realise that it recommended cooking for eight hours in a slow cooking. I had neither eight hours or a slow cooker, so a four hour hob braise it was. I managed to quell the minor panic at around the 2.5 hour mark when the cheeks were not that soft, a small temperature adjustment, and an hour and a half later they were falling apart. The other adjustment made was to serve the beef cheeks with Quinoa rather than the recommended Cous Cous - an adjustment necessary due to one of the guest's being wheat intolerant.

The cheeks just melted, the presence of the orange zest was a pleasant addition - giving the savoury flavours and juice a welcome sweet boost.

The beef cheeks were paired with initially with a Hunter Valley Ivanhoe Parker Reg 2007 Shiraz. Now, if memory serves me correctly, 2007 was not a stellar vintage for Hunter reds. That said, this particular wine did nothing to offend. it didn't stand out either. Subdued is probably my best descriptor. No bad thing, it didn't have the sweetness the beef cheeks possibly called for, but there was a pleasant fruit profile and a pleasant balance.

The Ivanhoe, however, was slightly overshadowed by what followed: Cirillo 2007 1850 Grenache. This one is made from the oldest Grenache vines currently in production. There are apparently some older vines in Spain but I believe they are not in a good state. A colleague of mine is in a great position as an online stockist of the Cirillo portfolio. A relationship I one day hope to exploit, either with a future visit to the Barossa or some other point in the future.

Having tasted a previous vintage, my main memory of this wine was a real 'earthiness'. It was this that I was expecting again, however it wasn't present. There were some fine tannins present and a pleasant lingering finish. But none of that earthiness. I'll have to revisit this and pay more attention (this evening was about friends and the sharing of wine, not necessarily for over analysis).

The meal, but not the evening, was finished with a selection of cheeses from the Rosalie Deli. I tried to balance the selection: a French Brie, Maleny Camembert, English Stilton and a young Victorian Chevre.

The presence of the cheese at the table causes me some trouble. I had taken the time to decant a Castagna Genesis 2005 Syrah and wanted my guests to experience this wonderful wine. I was scared that the cheese - in particular the Stilton - would kill the experience of the Genesis. Alas it was a battle I lost, the guests tucking in to the cheese with abandon.

I managed to refrain from doing so until I had a good pour of the Castagna. A beautiful crafted wine: incredible structure, length, a delicacy and my over-riding memory of the wine is delicate violets. I particularly wanted to share this wine as it one that has really turned my head in the Australian wine stakes. I happily hold my hand up and say that my origins in wine consumption are in the sunshine in a bottle club and that sweet, oaked profile is one I still enjoy. The Castagna to me is the total opposite of that and it has really opened my mind to what else is out there. I digress.

To Close
There was still some life left in the crowd. A bottle of Peter Lehmann The King Port was retrieved. The cork was the first challenge, crumbling, disintegrating and some of it appearing in the bottle. We overcame this, and the sediment through the use of a fine mesh tea strainer and pouring funnel. Possibly not the best approach, but let's just say it was pragmatic and delivered a fine structured port that closed the evening off perfectly.

I love evenings like this and am fortunate to be able to share them with friends. The only downside is the fuzzy head the next morning, the eager 7 month old daughter, but even then her infectious smile can see me through.