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Wednesday 26 January 2011

Bodegas Palacio Glorioso Reserva Rioja 2005

One issue with having limited experience of a particular variety is that you are not really familiar with a stylistic interpretation.  That said, I can only call out a particular wine as I see it.

I picked this up as a nod to a good wine drinking buddy, The Wine Punter, who had recently had returned from a sojourn around North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula with a love for the Rioja.

This 100% Tempranillo Reserva opens to a dusty, earthy nose that is a little flat rather than the expectations of fullsome fruit that I had expected.  There was a little dark fruit present with a background shroud of oak.  On the palate, the dark fruit represents itself, along with a vein of oak that was wrapped up with some smoky/ charry notes.  It was delivered with a silken finish that was further expressed with some fine tannins and a resurrection of the gentle spice.

Look, it was OK.  It wasn't overwhelming me, frying my bacon, flicking my switch -you know?.  I had to look hard for some of these notes.  My over-riding opinion was that it was just a little 'flat'.

A duff bottle perhaps?  At $30 I'm not inclined to revisit.

Price: $29.95
Closure: Cork

Konrad Marlborough Grüner Veltliner 2010

My interest in Grüner was aroused through a bit of an online debate about it, combined with its apparent scarcity.  For I am aware of only two wineries in Australia produce  Grüner Veltliner, or GV as it is often known, and that is Lark Hill Winery and Hahndorf Hill.  In its home of Austria it is rather more common, accounting for 32% of all plantings, some 17,000 hectares - compared to less than 50 in Australia.

Further, another interesting point about this wine, is that is not mentioned on either the winery website or that of the Australian agent.  In one of those further twists, showing what a small world it is, the agent's website was designed by Blue Pebble - the company founded by Brad Paton of Wineweek.  Small world indeed.

So to the wine, rather simple in its construction - or my interpretation of it is - therein lies the beauty.  A dominant aroma of of peach and apricot on the palate - a little like an Arneis in that respect; a savoury, textural, minerality in the mouth follows.  It is not particularly mouth filling, but there is a good lingering hit of pepper that hangs there and fades pleasantly to a conclusion.  As a first introduction to the variety, very enjoyable.  

I think it a variety we shall see more of over the next 3-5 years as the number of wineries taking on plantings increases.

Source: Retail, Cru Bar Cellars
Price: $30
Closure: Screwcap
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Tuesday 25 January 2011

Mike Press Wines Dinner

A distinguished 42 year career working for some of Australia's biggest names (Penfolds, Seppelts, Krondorf), Chief Winemaker for Mildara Blass, Jimmy Watson winner...some pretty impressive stuff, thus an opportunity to taste Mike's range of wines including verticals of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon wasn't to be turned down.

Thoughts of retiring to the Adelaide Hills on 85 acres, 30 of which Mike and Judy planted in 1998 with Shiraz (10), Cabernet (10), Merlot (5) and Pinot Noir (5) plus a further 30 (20 Merlot and Chardonnay 10) the following year, the intent was to grow premium grapes and on-sell to South Australian wineries.

A downturn in grape prices led to the decision to make the wine themselves, with a conscious decision to price to what they had expected to receive for the grapes plus a small margin.  That decision, plus a sales strategy of selling direct and through selected retailers only, has led to a growing number of fans.  This blog is one of them.  It was the profile-raising work of Tyson Stelzer and Matthew Jukes, and their influential, and now sorely missed missed (for it is now longer published) annual publication Taste, that brought MP Wines to my attention.

I didn't take any notes of own on the night, preferring to enjoy the wines.  Instead when Mike and Tyson introduced the Shiraz and Cabernet flights I took the time to record some of their words.

2005 Shiraz: 2-3 years left in it, 100% American Oak and become a bit refined in its old age.
2006 Shiraz: A different wine, Mike wasn't sure why.  Developing into a lovely elegant European styled Shiraz.  Will go a long way.
2007 Shiraz: Fuller than previous years, lovely sweet wood - uses American Oak and lots of it.
2008 Shiraz: a hot year (15.5% on the label), out of a miserable year this was salvaged, will last the least of the Shiraz.
2009 Shiraz: Developing now and showing glimpses of how it will become.  Elegant, beautiful tannins, a wine with much potential.  Look at it in 5 years time.

Mike fielded some questions from the floor, one of which was on the extensive use of American Oak, Mike's response received a warm response: "American Oak suits Shiraz, I'm a product of Shiraz and Penfolds"

My notes on the Cabernets are less detailed than the Shiraz.  Being the 2nd flight of the night, I cannot think why that may be...

Tyson was of the firm opinion that the "Cabernet is the star variety here" and emphasised that Mike's wines are from his own fruit off a single vineyard.  On the 2009 Cabernet it was offered that "to really appreciate what this wine's about, cellar it, look at in 5-10 years time.  Treat it like a serious, expensive wine". 

That the Cabernet is available direct for $167 per dozen, delivered, makes this a tempting proposition.  A few retailers still have the Shiraz available for around $150 a case plus delivery.  Do it, you know you want to.

Price: $80
Closure: About midnight.

Thursday 20 January 2011

The Bobby Dazzler Shiraz

The Wife has not been too impressed with some of my recent purchases.  Attempting to rectify this, I enquired what her favourite wines were: "Grange and Two Hands Ares" she answered.  Hmm, $550 and about $270 per bottle respectively.

Deep down knowing she is a fan of the fruit bomb I picked up a bottle of this.  A touch of violet on the nose that adds an additional layer to some red-belly black fruits - you know what I mean. There is also a slightly earthen, leathery edge to it too that leads into the palate where a simple presentation of the aforementioned fruit is delivered.

The wine finishes up with a hit of mocha and chocolate, fading to a burst of warmth.  The wine concludes with a trail of generous spice disappearing towards the back of the throat.

Summary, an easy going - yet well constructed - South Australian red.  The wine is made by Ben Riggs - of Mr Riggs, Penny's Hill and Pertaringa fame.  You could do far worse for a sub-$20 glugger.

Source: Retail, Spiros Toowong
Price: $16 ish
Closure: Screwcap

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Wednesday 19 January 2011

Allies 2009 Stone Axe Vineyard Heathcote Shiraz

After a number of years working on the restaurant scene, Barney Flanders (front of house) and David Chapman (in the kitchen) came together to turn their thoughts to wine.  Study at CSU for Barney, vintage experience across the Mornington, Yarra and overseas, and the collaborative effort yields Allies.  The pair own no vineyards, instead purchasing through lease arrangements.

This wine is from Allies' lower tier offering, they also make top end releases under the Garagiste label.

The Stone Axe opens with an expressive bouquet of fruits, blackberry and plum are significant.  The palate sees a reinforcement of that fruit, it's quite a concentrated full fruit flavour that leads to the finish where a lick of licorice, more akin to the cough candy sweets my mother used to keep in her coat pocket, trails off to its conclusion. 

Source: Retail, Spiros Toowong
Price: $23.99
Closure: Screwcap
Website: (as at 19/01/2011 under construction)

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Moppity Vineyards Reserve Shiraz 2008

From some of the oldest vines in the region, Jason Brown has crafted this exquisite wine.  The presence of a small amount of co-fermented Viognier can be detected with the slight lifted aromatics as you approach the wine.

Entry shows an incredibly silken earthen mouthfeel; a gentle burst of warmth on entry presents itself to fade quickly, delivering concentrated dark berry fruit and supporting spice.  The wine feels incredibly delicate, a nod to the excellent care and winemaking.  

The finish is of some length, with a sublime peppery drive permeating through the palate with very fine tannins concluding this excellent drinking experience.

Source: Retail, McGuire's The Paddo
Price: $59.99 (online price)
Closure: Screwcap

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Monday 17 January 2011

Moppity Vineyards Lock & Key Shiraz 2009

One of my early goals with respect to setting up this blog was to establish what my thing 'is' in relation to the wine I drink.  I so often feel like a kid in a candy store when I go into a wine store: there's so much on offer, so many things I want to try.

This blog is an attempt to try and make sense of some of that.  To refine my palate, and define my preferences.

I've read somewhere that owner/ winemaker Jason Brown describes the style of Shiraz he's trying to make as "Barossa meets the Grampians"; and indeed commented on my write-up of the 2008 that "For me, Hilltops shiraz is a hybrid of Barossa and Grampians. The '08 leans towards Barossa with some really nice richness while the '09 moves closer to Grampians/Great Western".  I can see where Jason is coming from having looked at both wines now.

The wine leads with quite meaty and peppery aromas.  However it is on the palate that makes this wine stand out.  It has quite a meaty entry, some adjectives will not do it justice, there's a hint of brambly fruit, but...more than that it has an expressiveness in the mouth that belies its price.  I detected a bit of dark chocolate on the back palate, but it was more about the the fullness, the power and structure for me.

The finish sees the conclusion of a consistent core of spice that runs throughout and the delivery of some moderate/ fine tannins that give a pleasant coating to the mouth.

In summary, this is an exquisite wine.  Ignore the price, this wine would deliver at something double that.  Instead see this wine for the quality within.  One recommendation, give it some time in the decanter, or at the least give it a double decant.

Oh, and the relevance of the opening paragraph?  It is this style of wine that is "doing it for me" at the present.

Source: Retail
Price: $15 (online price)
Closure: Screwcap

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Saturday 15 January 2011

Witches Falls Winery

With the recent floods, many people are looking to support Queensland producers to try and provide consumer led economic support through these difficult times.  The Australian Wine Community has been brilliant in coming together to raise funds, led by Tyson Stelzer. Consumers can also assist with supporting local producers directly - of all goods, not just wine - both in the local community through farmers' markets, bottle shops and also Cellar Doors.

I had the fortune to visit the Mount Tamborine based Cellar Door of Witches Falls Winery (Twitter @TheWineryWitch) .  Whilst the CD is Mount Tamborine based, on the Gold Coast hinterland, in the main Witches Falls gets its fruit from contract-grown supplies from the Granite Belt.  It also has a small estate planting of Durif - a quite appropriate planting for the area given the rainfall it receives.

Witches Falls is a Halliday four star rated winery - if you pay much credence to that - with an impressive portfolio across red and white wines.  As with any subjective matter, the best thing to do is try them out for yourself.

Witches Falls also has an excellent members' club, with good discounts on CD prices  - prices quoted here are member's prices - and, impressively,  a free case for every 36 bottles purchased.

2010 Fiano, $16: Very 'green' tasting wine, excellent crispness on both the nose and on the palate; excellent lingering finish.

2008 Wooded Chardonnay, $16: Heavy oak on the nose; pineapple, peach and nectarine through the palate.  One for the wood-ophiles who live by the 'Now Wood, No Good' mantra.

2005 Riesling, $16: Showing good development on the nose with some kerosene and toasty notes.  The palate delivers an impressive citrus burst and some tangy acidity on the finish.  Excellent value for $16 (members price).

2009 Wild Ferment Viognier, $23: Hints of honeydew melon and pear deliver a delicate lingering palate.  Quite a subtle Viognier, a good introduction to the variety.

2009 Wild Ferment Chardonnay, $16: More my kind of chardonnay.  A bouquet of Melon and vanilla, the oak here supporting the fruit, not dominating.  Toasty oak in the palate that delivers a long and lingering finish.

2010 Saignee Granite Belt, $16: Saignee, from the French 'to bleed' reflects the style of winemaking for this Rose.  made from 100% Syrah grapes.  The aroma is of fruits of forest that also deliver through to the palate.  Chill down and enjoy.

2009 Wild Ferment Grenache, $23: More a lightly chilled style.  Dark cherry and a hint of molasses/ toffee on the nose.  The finish delivers some pepper and general All Spice.  Serve lightly chilled with friends and a barbecue!

2007 Syrah, $20: Aroma of Cassis lead to an extremely silken palate; fine tannins support a touch of spice on the finish to lead you home.  Well crafted, beautiful medium bodied style with a bit of structure.

2008 Granite Belt Merlot, $20: Hints of plum and cherry on the lead in that deliver spice.  Some fine tannins leave you a little something to remember the wine by in the finish.

2007 Granite Belt Cabernet Sauvignon, $20: Plenty of blackcurrant notes both on the nose and in the generous presence on the palate.  There is some good length and fine drying tannins.  Would reward further cellaring.

I've been to Witches Falls on two occasions now.  Each visit has been has been a rewarding experience and I have come home a few bottles heavier.  This is a serious winery, I would sincerely taking the time to visit the area, combining it with some of the other craft producers in the area.

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Wednesday 5 January 2011

Union Bank Bon Vivant Rosé 2009

Very little information available on this wine.  It was received as a sample for the Rosé Wine Revolution and appears is custom made for Orange food and wine hub, Union Bank.  An email enquiry to them has yielded little in the way of a response, so I'll post this up anyway.

Salmon red in colour, nothing out of the ordinary compared to other Rosés I have looked at.  On the nose, immediate hints of strawberry leading me to think Pinot Noir is a prime component in terms of its winemaking.

I tried this over two days, initially it was showing good balance in the mid palate leading to a crisp finish.  However on the second day, there was more of a pronounced confected strawberry and the palate was a real fruit salad mix.  On that second showing it did take me back to my youth and the fruit salad I mentioned earlier was more akin to the Fruit Salad confectionery of my youth - penny chews we used to call them. 

All up a simple easy going wine.  Perfect chilled down, barbecue on and accompanying a range of food.  Good living indeed.

Source: Sample
Price: $18
Closure: Screwcap 

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Hoddles Creek Estate Chardonnay 2005

I've little frame of reference for Aussie Chardonnay.  I don't subscribe to the "Anything But Chardonnay" group, preferring to think of Aussie Beautiful Chardonnay instead.  That said, this wine is exactly how I like Chardonnay to be.

Aroma of varietal stonefruit: peach and nectarine; a touch of grapefruit and some good quality lightly toasted oak present.  The palate takes things to another level.  The oak is present again, supporting the fruit to deliver a taut, slightly minerally, driven wine.  It thrusts back towards the back plate and a finish that delivers more toasty, spicy oak and the fruit that was present on the nose.

A seriously good wine - the best thing is it still available from Bocaccio, and at only $24.99 is a steal.  I've single bottles of the 2006 and 2007 too and I'm really looking forward to seeing how those look.

Source: Retail, Boccacio Cellars
Price: $24.99
Closure: Screwcap

Monday 3 January 2011

Patina Rosé 2008

It may not be a bed of roses, but this one has certainly been fuelled by many a glass.

I've been very impressed by the Rosé wines coming out of Orange and indeed it is a destination on my radar.  

I was first introduced to the wines of Patina via their Sticky Tea Riesling and also have sampled their Cabernet Sauvignon.  I've been most impressed all up.  This is a blend of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a splash of Cabernet Franc - the latter providing some additional depth. Very little residual sugar, 3g/l, there is some sweetness from the ripe fruit.

The aroma offers savoury notes with background berry fruits.  The palate shows a slight creaminess on entry, leading to a big mid-palate: filling the mouth with some spice, savoury notes and a slight earthen note.

The finish is big, dry and lengthy.  The aforementioned spice lingers in the mouth.  An excellent representation of the savoury, dry style.  Another impressive offering from Orange.

Source: Sample
Price: $18
Closure: Screwcap

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Sunday 2 January 2011

Poonawatta Estate "The Eden" Eden Valley Riesling 2009

Happy New Year all.....I first tasted this back at a Purple Palate event in November.  For me it was the standout wine of the night, some claim given that this was an event focussing solely on wines from the Barossa region - a region I have a real fondness for be the produce red, white or edible.

The viticulture is interesting, being a single vineyard of approximately five acres, hand planted, the first vines were planted in 1972, with planting completed in 1978.  It is an elevated site, providing a slightly cooler environment.  Its is at an elevation of 1394 feet / 425 metres, one of the higher vineyards in the region.  Generally speaking for every 100 feet increase in altitude, a 0.6 degree celsius drop in temperature occurs - making this a cool region. According to the winery 'site, the vineyard sits on "shallow sandy loam on gravel subsoil over schist bedrock, providing a well drained and moderately stressful growing environment".

The wine itself offers aromas of lemon, a slight waxiness along with an edgier minerality.  The palate is a gentle mix of citrus: lime cordial and lemon sherbet.  Altogether there is a balanced acidity to it.  The finish isn't lengthy, the acid gentle.  Again there is more of the minerality present in the form of a slight flinty edge.  Whilst I mention the minerality here, I consider this a 'softer' wine than other Eden Valley Rieslings - mainly due to gentler acid on the finish.    

Altogether a very interesting wine, very well made.  Offers immediate pleasure now and possible improvement with short term cellaring, maybe 5 years at most.

Source: Retail, Purple Palate
Price: $27
Closure: Screwcap

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