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Monday 28 February 2011

Mirabella Vineyards Shiraz 2009

Opened up quite reductive - a slight sulphurous aroma that can mask fruit characteristics -  at first, but some time in glass shook off that cloak.

Aromas of freshly milled pepper and some pencil shaving cedary oak are immediately apparent.  Entry delivers the peppery aromas on the palate and this rapidly fills the fore palate.  Its pleasingly spicy wine, yet not in the sense of warmth.

The finish is decent too, of moderate length with some fine tannin present.  In summary I consider this a well put together wine - decent for $16.  There's little in the way of complexity, but it integrates nicely and settles with some time in glass.

Source: Sample
Price: $16 RRP
ABV: 14.8%
Closure: Screwcap

Sunday 27 February 2011

Open That Bottle Night Dinner

The Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) concept was created by two US journalists back in 1998.  The idea being simply to gather some friends and share some special bottles of wine (special being a phrase open to interpretation by the host).  The concept lost some momentum with the departure from Wall Street by the two in question.  Fast forward to Australia in 2011 where, with the blessing of the concepts founders, Liz O'Connell and Trish Barry resurrected the concept to ensure it doesn't die. 

Never one to shy away from a damn good excuse to get some friends together and share in some good quality booze, I invited some friends for my own OTBN dinner.  Here's a summary of what we consumed.

Grilled Goat's Cheese Salad paired with a Seppelt 2008 Jaluka Chardonnay and then followed by a Clonokilla 2008 Viognier.

Gordon Ramsay's Rump of New Season Lamb with Lentils paired with Morande 2005 Gran Riserva Merlot; Wendouree Cabernet Malbec 1995; Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz; and Jed Limited Release 2006 Malbec

Ganache chocolate pots with Clementine Zest paired with Witches Falls 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Botrytis.

Cheese Course
Selection of cheeses paired with Witches Falls Granite Belt Classic Tawny.

Medium bodied with lots of upfront cranial pressure, moderate finish that matches well with some Nurofen.

Seppelt Jaluka Chardonnay 2008

This was the only wine that I took any notes for from those consumed at the Open That Bottle Night dinner I hosted.  For no other other reason than I snuck a sneaky glass whilst cooking!

I bought this wine along with the 2007 vintage back in 2009, it has remained in my fridge since that time - some 18 months.

It opens with aromas of peach and nectarine, strong stone fruit definition generally.  In the mouth, there's some good quality oak, but not in the buttery 'fat' sense, its actually quite a lean mealy, nutty kind of wine and this shows in the dry, acidic finish.  

You get the sense that it could actually improve a little further over 2-3 years.  It paired well with a gorgeous grilled goat's cheese salad (but more of that when I post about my OTBN dinner).

Source: Retail, McGuire's Cellars
Price: $18 (from memory)
Closure: Screwcap

Friday 25 February 2011

Massena Tasting, Bar Barossa, Brisbane

I'm often guilty of attending tastings more for the people present as much for the wines available on taste.  That statement might also be subtext for "I enjoy the wines too much".  

I liked the cut of the jib of this Jaysen Collins fellow.  Together with business partner, Dan Standish, the two have crafted some excellent wines that you wouldn't exactly call out as from your standard Barossan moulds.  

The Surly Muse 2009 Viognier
Rhone influenced.  They wanted to make a wine that wasn't confined to what the Barossa was about.  Typically the wine is picked over two periods: the first pick is around 10 baume, the wine sits on lees, ferments naturally, the second pick about 4 weeks later.  Not your typical Apricotty Viognier.  Exhibited grassy, herby notes but with pronounced crispness and acidity.

2008 Barbera
Made with 40/50% whole bunch action, basket pressed then it' into the tank for secondary fermentation.  Not filtered, it effectively does so itself.  The wine was low in tannin, lean and acidic with lots of bright fruit expression on its mid-weight palate.

2010 Primitivo
The cuttings from this wine came from Puglia in Italy's south.  Again its a fairly natural wine in that it sees no oak treatment.  Up front there is plenty of pure fruit expression which is supplemented by some back end spice.  It was commented on the night that you can literally taste the ferment.

2008 Moonlight Run GSM (with some Cinsault so its a GSMC 55/25/15/5%)
Seen as the 'heart of Massena' for it was the wine first made.  Spends 18-20m in old oak to age the wine rather than to lend the oak to it.  Opens with aromas of Raspberry, cornichon and some pepper.  Good balance in the palate and a savoury finish in contrast to its sweeter beginnings.

2008 11th Hour Shiraz
Name is derived from Jason and Dan's 11th hour rescue of some 60 year old vines that were getting pulled.  The wine itself is now made from vines ranging from 30-120 years old.  Good Barossan Shiraz with plenty of chocolately notes and dark brooding masses of fruit; concluding with some good tannin.

2008 Howling Dog Durif
Lower in tannin than I was expecting for a Durif/ Petite Sirah.  Jaysen advised that extended time on skins leads to the tannins coming down naturally with no need for chemical intervention.  Dark almost porty notes with dried fruit presence.  Some tannin, but as mentioned less than expected.

2007 The Looting Duke Shiraz
Named after Napoleon's 2nd General, Massena - a looter and pillager by all accounts. Total production of 100 cases.  The wine was borne from 2 rows of Durif and a block of Shiraz that looked a bit different.  The two were co-fermented to produce this typical Shiraz of structured fruit with increased tannin at the back end

La Curio The Nubile Grenache Shiraz 2008

The first time I tried this wine, some 6 months or so ago, my over-riding memory was of a Raspberry coulis like aroma.  I'm glad to see that having attempted a rather more analytical look that my memory of this wine hasn't failed me.

This Grenache dominant (70%) wine shows dominant aromas of Raspberry, Strawberry supported by a somewhat gentler Rose water.

In the mouth, the wine is incredibly smooth bodied, supported by generous proportions of the aforementioned fruit; some depth is provided by the Shiraz (30%).  The wine concludes with a lick of peppery tannin and the tail showing some oak presence.

Source: Retail, Spiros Toowong
Price: $25
Closure: Cork

Wednesday 23 February 2011

2009 Tim Gramp Clare Valley Watervale Riesling

So as the Summer of Riesling draws to an end, this was my own nod to the celebration of The Wine That Everybody Loves, But Nobody Buys.

Aromas of lime sorbet, bath salts, a softer almost honeyed note - in short a Riesling. The palate delivers strong lime flavours, more of that honeyed note - almost a touch creamy - then some steely minerality. The finish is on a good dry length, there's acid but its not overtly acidic.

In summary, it's a good- not a great - Rizza that ticks all the right boxes. It's refreshing, has some interest on the palate and sufficient length to maintain that interest.

Source: Retail, Mayerling Cellars
Price: $8.25 ($99 per doz.)
Closure: Screwcap

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Barolo Tasting at Il Centro, Brisbane

Way back when, when I had a gem of an idea to get together with some friends and drink some good booze and post them up on this site, one of the styles of wine I had in mind was Barolo.

Thanks to a bit of networking on the social networking site Twitter, and a bit of a cheeky self-invitational, I found myself at top-tier eatery Il Centro along with Jim McIlwain, Keira McIntosh and Lachlan McIntosh.  

Much respect and heartfelt thanks must go to Il Centro Sommelier Shawn Gomes for his hospitality and sharing this experience with us.

Vinea Marson 2007
Sour cherrys, soft palate, yielding to mouth coating tannin (which Barolo doesn't?)

Patrizi Barolo 2006
Earthy, farmyard characteristics on the nose. Sour earthen characteristics with typical mouth coating tannin.

Sansilvestro Barbaresco 2007
From a warmer year. Typically more approachable younger. Fennel, aniseed aroma. Brackish appearance.

Fontanablanca Langhe Nebbiolo 2008
Cherry aromas, flatter mid palate and less tannin present than previous styles.

Cordero Monfalleto & Enrico VI
The standout here was the Enrico VI which Twoglasstaste called out as "a symphony with three movements".

Domaine Lucci Natural Red 2010

First up, apologies for the dodgy bottle image.  Yet I also think it resonates with the lo-fi nature of the wine.  Apparently one 500L barrel made, and done so entirely without the use of electrical equipment or machinery.

The aroma delivers a plummy, earthen brooding aroma.  It doesn't give much away to what lies within.  In the mouth its fresh, it tastes 'bright' on entry (if you can taste brightness) but then it yields to plummy, brambly notes that give hint of its Merlot origins.

To me it is that freshness that defines the wine for me.  More so than the decent lick of tannin that accompanies the finish. 

Tasted over two days, it lost some of its vitality on the second (as I would expect given it is free from additives and preservatives - that expectation may be wrong).  I would also suspect that Anton Van Klopper that the wine wasn't consumed in one sitting - read more about Mr Van Klopper's approach and views to winemaking at my good friend The Wine Punter's site.

Source: Retail, The Wine Emporium
Price: $20
Closure: Diam with Wax Seal

Monday 21 February 2011

Mirabella Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010

Five generations of history in wine has culminated in the production of "wines that are the very best and affordable to all".  This particular example is a Single Vineyard wine drawn from 80 year old vines.

The wine opens with grassy herbaceous aromas typical of Sauvignon Blanc with some lifted citrus aromatics from the supporting Semillon.  The palate delivers varietal tart citrus, providing some thrusting acidity.

The acid in turn provides some breadth: filling the cheeks and lingering in a pleasant manner

In summary this wine delivers what it aims too: quality at a good price.  Varietally correct; the constituent parts are harmonious and in balance with each other.  Recommendation is to chill down and pair with seafood or a summer salad.

Source: Sample
Price: $15
Alcohol: 12% 
Closure: Screwcap

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Domaine Lucci Red 2008

I'm off to a Domaine Lucci tasting/ Biodynamic masterclass with Anton Van Klopper this coming Thursday.  I believe the full portfolio of wines will be available for tasting.  Regardless of the format, I am very keen to hear Mr Van Klopper's thoughts and to try the single vineyard wines.

This 'Red' is a blend of four varieties.  Unspecified, there's certainly some Shiraz and Grenache in here, likely to be Mataro and no idea on the fourth.

The wine opens with a real sweet jammy mass and some brambly fruit in amongst it.  It's incredibly smooth, medium-bodied.  There's spice in there - white pepper and star anise.

Its finish is interesting: gentle, mouth-coating tannins and with this acidic hit running through the core.  Very good quality wine for the price, even if its composition is a little vague.

Source: Retail, Spiros Toowong
Price: $18
Closure: Diam

Monday 14 February 2011

De Bortoli Riesling Kabinett 2010

I'm loving what De Bortoli is doing at the minute.  They seem to be at the cutting edge of many good vinous happenings in Australia at present.  To me its like a three engined beast, purring perfectly on all of its many cylinders.

De Bortoli Chief Winemaker Steve Webber is widely regarded for establishing an excellent culture of innovation.  Sarah Fagan, Winemaker with responsibility for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Grigio and Riesling - worked the 2009 vintage in the Rheingau, at Weingut Josef Leitz.  Fagan is on the record as calling out Germany as a vintage experience destination for its attention to detail.  With the limited experience I have with Riesling and the Kabinett style, I can only comment that this is an excellent quality wine.

It opens with aromas of peach, pear and apple - seemingly in turn.  The entry brings some textural crunch of the said apple and pear.  It struck me as a wine of some substance, filling the mouth.  A sweet burst hits the roof of the mouth then morphs into a glorious acidic hit.  

The wine has a finish that envelopes and fills the back of the mouth, delivering some excellent persistent length.  Each time I went back to it, it presented another dimension.

In the Gourmet Traveller article where I gleaned some of the info here, there's a telling comment from Fagan: "I think Australia has focused too much on acid, not balance, in Riesling. I’d like to see a little more generosity.” And if that means leaving a little residual sugar, that’s okay."  A little RS there is, and that too is OK with me.

Source: Retail, Cru Bar
Price: $24
Closure: Screwcap

Thursday 10 February 2011

Symphony Hill Tempranillo 2007

Opens brightly with a fruit laden profile; raspberry and a touch of violet, with some supporting oak and slight earthen note.  Little presence in the palate, leading to drying tannins and a hint of cloves. 

It delivered little beyond this except a fairly lengthy finish, which then faded......

Source: Retail, The Wine Emporium
Price: $23
Closure: Screwcap

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Thomas Wines Sweetwater Shiraz 2006

Andrew "Thommo" Thomas is a McLaren Vale boy who now calls the Hunter Valley home, specialising in Semillon and Shiraz it is only the latter that I have had the pleasure of passing between my lips.

Boy, this wine is a beaut.  The lead in is at once fruit laden, a heady presentation of aroma juxtasposed against a solid background of some creamy notes.

The palate is where the magic happens: beautifully integrated fruit profile.  It's rich, warm (not warmth) - a baked fruit pudding with a tail of spice.  There's structure, its amazingly crafted, and good length.  The finish shows a hint of cola, not in the sweet treacly sense, but the almost coffee-ish cedary touch.  Going back to the fruit pudding, there's also a hint of slight-caramelised brown sugar on the top with a touch of cinnamon.

Man alive it is good.  It has me on the night tweeting that it was "a parcel of silken, structured sexiness".  You beauty.

Source: Retail, Stewart's Wine Co.
Price: $29.99 (sale) 
Closure: Cork

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Bathe Wines Moscato 2010

Moscato always strikes me as a 'fun' wine.  This particular example from new kid on the block Bathe Wines is a blend of Orange Muscat, White Frontenac and a dash of Chardonnay.  

Pale straw in colour, the aroma is redolent of a bellini, lovely peach on the nose.  Entry brings youthful spritz onto the tongue that transforms into more of the peach.

Leading to the finish, more of the sparkly spritz re-presents itself to its natural conclusion.

In short: simple, fun and refreshing.

Source: Sample
Price: $18
Closure: Screwcap

Monday 7 February 2011

Riesling: The Wine Everyone Loves But Nobody Buys*

This was originally meant to appear in a local wine newsletter.  That didn't happen so I thought I'd use it for my own benefit.  The brief was 300 words on a wine related topic that could appeal to both consumers and those in the wine community.
 - ~ -
Yes, Riesling, the sweet German white - favoured tipple of Aunts the world over during the 70’s. The same wine that many, in and around the wine trade, wax lyrical over. And the same wine that isn’t really sweet at all

The Australian wine community is doing some wonderful things with the Riesling grape: the wonderful aromatic Rieslings of the Canberra region such as Capital Wines “The Whip”, Clonakilla Riesling and Nick O’Leary Riesling; or the soft lime presence typical in many Eden Valley Rieslings such as Pewsey Vale; or the lifted floral bouquet so renowned in Clare Valley Watervale Rieslings such as Grosset Watervale or Vinteloper Watervale Riesling.

Each of these regions is doing its own thing, contributing to the Australian Riesling story, bringing Riesling back into the spotlight after it conceded top billing to Chardonnay in the 80’s. For “going 1980, bottled wine sales of Riesling, exceeded those of all other white wines combined” (source: James Halliday Wine Companion 2010).

Riesling will have its day in the spotlight again, but it is up to us as consumers to challenge our perceptions of the varietal. To me, the Riesling being produced in Australia is suited to so many aspects of our lifestyle. Riesling is wonderful when young, fresh and fine with many exhibiting great acidity - a perfect accompaniment to the Asian, modern Australian, or fusion cuisine so prevalent.

Riesling also has the ability to age, developing wonderful complex characteristics. As a varietal it is said that no other white wine can produce such a variety of styles.

So next time you’re in your local wine store or merchant, do yourself a favour, give the Sauvignon Blanc a wide berth and head for the rocket-shaped bottle of a great Australian Rizza!

* Thanks to David Bowley of Vinteloper for the title and inspiration.

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Friday 4 February 2011

Australian Wine Trade Flood Relief Raffle

Well respected Queensland wine scribe Tyson Stelzer, with the generous support of the Australian wine community, has put together an amazing raffle to raise funds for those hit by recent tragedies.

The prize lists reads like a who's who of the Australian Wine Community.  The aim is to try and raise over $1m through sales of raffle tickets.

Tickets are $30 each and can be purchased via, the prize tally is approximately $240,000 worth of wine over 200 prize lots. 

Do it!  Be in for a chance to win some awesome wine AND help raise funds for a good cause.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Quattro Mano Duende 2009

Beautiful label.  Reminds me of Portuguese tiling, a country where I spent many a summer as a youth.  Sadly I wasn't quite into wine in the manner which I am now, so I never got the opportunity to sample some of its vinous goodnesss.

The wine is a blend of what I would consider Iberian grapes: Touriga (37%), Tinta Amarela (22%), Tinta Cão (22%) and Cinsault (19%).  It is borne of the Barossa, but you wouldn't really know it.

The aroma has a slight plummy note that gives a hint of the medium bodied wine within.  The palate sees more of the same, good mixed fruit, it gave me the impression of a baked fruit pudding.  It really didn't strike me as Barossan at all.

The wine concludes with more of the same, it is just a really consistent fruit driven wine with a touch of spice in there somewhere, minimal, not borne of oak.

It isn't a complex wine that will blow you away, or a cerebral wine that will challenge, rather it is a fairly simple wine whose fruit driven charms are likely to delight.  For me, its good to see something like this coming out of the Barossa, an effective blend from some lesser known varietals.

Source: Retail, Spiros Toowong
Price: $22
Closure: Screwcap