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Friday 29 April 2011

Summit Estate Alto The Spanish Collection 2008

A wine born in Spain, of Granite Belt fruit from an Argentinean winemaker.  Paola Cabezas-Rhymer is not your typical Stanthorpe resident, check out her naked self on the Summit Estate home page for a start.  

Yet with over a dozen vintages in a decade including time with French winemaker Jacques Lurton under her belt, it was the Summit Estate 2008 wines that had none other than James Halliday saying ""Made me sit up and take notice in no uncertain fashion". 

A blend of Monastrell (Mataro), Garnacha (Grenache), Shyra (Catalan for Shiraz; James Halliday calls it as Austrian for the same), Tempranillo, Cabernet and Tannat.  The component parts are all there.  Black fruits, sour cherry - quite a brooding savoury nose; a touch of tar even.

Yet its the mellifluous body that had me in raptures.  It's balanced, smooth, medium bodied.  A meld of savoury with fruit presence.  Smooth fine tannins, a touch of good acid in harmony and good driving length.  Enjoy this blend for the fusion of the Varietals.

Source: Retail, Stewart's The Barracks
Price: $29.99
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap

[Edited at 11:16 on the 16/11/2011 to show that it also contains some Tannat]

Friday 22 April 2011

Peter Lehmann Eight Songs Shiraz 2004

The first cellar door I visited in the Barossa was PLW - great CD, more like a boutique hotel and conference centre than some cellar doors, but the legend behind the name and man makes it a must see in my book.

Everything I like about Barossan Shiraz - and this is a blend of Marananga and Light Pass fruit.  Nigh the perfect wine for Easter. Aromas of chocolate and plump juicy berry fruit invade your nasal passage. In the mouth: unctuous.  Mocha, integrated oak, plush - like sinking into a mocha scented pillow - the wine sinks into you.

Some fine tannin present, a touch of spice and a giving length.  Well balanced, gloriously giving and it just got better over the (frighteningly short) duration it was open for.

Source: Winery
Price: $40
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Cork

Eden Road "The Long Road" Shiraz 2009

A mix of fruit from selected Canberra and Hilltops vineyards.  Loving the work coming out of Hilltops.

Meaty, juicy and peppery aroma as I have come to expect from this cool climate region.  Medium bodied, smooth on entry.  Some cola on the palate, checked acids, structure and some 'nuttiness' in there too.

The finish shows peppery and spicy length to over-deliver at this price point.  Give it a decant, and enjoy it over time.

Source: Retail, Era Bottle Shop
Price: $22
Alcohol: 14.1%
Closure: Screwcap

Samuel's Gorge "Cadenzia" Grenache 2008

In a rather uneventful sales career sales post-university, one of the things instilled in me was that people buy from people.  Get your product right, build relationships, and by and large folks will buy from you.

So, I like the work of Justin McNamee, thus I bought this wine.  But it challenged me somewhat. On opening, the wine showed varietal McLaren Vale Grenache notes - a heady perfume, raspberry, jooby aromas, quince -  and on day two I was picking up some sea spray notes too.  Smooth on entry, good interest in the mouth, some rustic texture.

It was the warmth on the finish - a product of the 2008 vintage - dominating the palate that troubled me.  Though it did settle over the second day to deliver some cola, liquorice and mouth coating firm tannin.

Source: Retail, Stewart's Wine Co
Price: $35 (RRP)
Alcohol: 14.4%
Closure: Cork

Saturday 16 April 2011

Blue Poles Reserve Merlot 2007

The remainder of this bottle was kindly donated to me by Mark Gifford - proprietor, winemaker, wit, orator, dashing host - after attending a Blue Poles get together in Brisbane.

So the wine was consumed when it had already been opened in excess of 24 hours - gives a hint to its longevity there.  Aromas of tobacco, a touch of gum, savoury earthy notes primarily - yet even over the short duration that I had the wine it also exhibited some good berry fruit.  It's of medium weight, well structured, its parts in harmony.

Tannins: firm and fine, the finish showing a touch of spice.  Exemplary Merlot from a winemaker who knows where he wants it to be and sells his wines typically when they are there.

You'd do well to sign yourself up to the Blue Poles mailing list - this way you'll not only get access to wines earlier, but also receive Mark's monthly newsletter: brilliant, insightful, educational.

Source: Donated from the Winemaker
Price: $35
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap

Majella Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Tough vintage 2007, with frost wiping out about 1/2 the fruit; the quality of the fruit that remained was apparently high - but yields decimated.

So from that, Majella have managed to craft a comely cabernet exhibit typical cassis, cedar and plum on the nose.  Yet it is also redolent of Coonawarra, you can almost sense that Terra Rossa soil.  The palate shows an incredibly light mouthfeel, rendering as quite a thin medium bodied wine.

Tannins are fine and deliver well into a decent lengthy finish; whilst the length is good there is a slight raw edge - some green capsicum - to it on initial opening.  This shakes off over a 24 hours, the palate showing more primary fruit and allowing some classy oak to shine through on the finish.

Majella have managed to craft a decent wine from a tough year.  Coonawarra fans would have stuck by them and everyone no doubt would have heralded the well received 2008 vintage.  To see where this wine was around 2 years ago, visit Chris Plummer's Australian Wine Journal (where I borrowed the bottle image from :).

Source: Winery
Price: $33
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Follow me:

Golden Grove Estate Granite Belt Durif 2008

Reductive on first opening, it eventually shook off its sulphurous cloak to reveal a black, brooding liquid, displaying some minty notes.  A creosote coated mint Tim Tam (waifer theen meent anyone?) springs too mind.

Given that, I was quite surprised to find it quite pleasantly medium bodied.  There's a touch more mint on the finish, but nowhere near as much brutish tannin - which is what I expect from Durif.  It was a even a touch porty. 

I've not had Durif for a while - so I'd be keen to try this again but maybe at CD and discuss with the winery, or even look at another Durif from the region.

Source: Retail, The Wine Experience
Price: $20
Alcohol: 15.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Newton Forrest Estate Cornerstone Hawkes Bay 2000

People have an emotional attachment to wine, possibly more so than any other beverage - and I am excluding other forms of dependency with that statement.  With this in mind, is it possible to maintain objectivity about a particular wine when so much of you can be wrapped up in it's purchase and ultimately enjoyment?

I write this for, this wine, has a special place for me. The 2001 vintage was enjoyed as part of a special dinner at Gantley's just outside Queenstown whilst in Honeymoon. 

Whilst a different vintage - buyers error, relying on memory when purchasing at auction rather than written record - the enjoyment factor was still incredible. Again shared with my wife, this time at home, marking our 5th anniversary.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (46%), Merlot (33%) and Merlot (21%); the intoxicating perfume just invites you in: chocolate, plum, some dark berry fruit and a faint edge of tobacco.

Time has been kind to the wine, a faint glimpse of oak remains and works into a smooth bodied palate.  There's none of the primacy of youth now; it's all gorgeous, smooth and integrated.  The finish shows extraordinarily silken tannin, and a length that belies the delicate flavour at its conclusion.  More please.   

Source: Auction, Langton's
Price: $?
Alcohol: 13.6% 
Closure: Cork

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Kirrihill Tullymore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Received as a sample from new online market entrant WineXpress, this single vineyard Cabernet from the rather benign - compared to previous years -  2009 Clare Valley vintage, and Halliday 5 star winery, Kirrihill.

Opening with blackcurrant, violets, a touch of mint with a cedary edge; the Cabernet demonstrates a a well layered palate.  There's more rounded fruit presence through the middle, a touch of integrated oak, supplemented by some generous spice which lingers to the finish.

Tannins are firm and grippy, furthering adding to the length.  You'd expect them to settle over time, and whilst approachable from the off, they did indeed integrate over two days.  You'd be happy that it would offer medium term cellaring, 4-7 years I'd say.  Good price for a Single Vineyard wine.

Source: Sample
Price: $16.95
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Sunday 10 April 2011

Vine Drops The Collection Margaret River Shiraz 2008

I also write these reviews  up on the wine community site The Grape Hunter and it was through one of their tasting panel reviews that I was introduced to this wine.

I've met Vine Drops proprietor Nelson da Silva before at a Spitbucket session in Sydney - I didn't know he oversaw the crafting of such fine wine.  Vine Drops is a Négociant, in that it neither grows the grapes nor makes the products itself, instead overseeing the selection of wines to bring the best of regions and vintages to wine lovers.

From the off it has cooler climate notes leaping out of the glass: pepper, oodles of quality fruit shining through and initially a touch of dried herb that is present when first open.  Over two days,  the wine - if nothing else - improves, the fruit impressing even further.

In the mouth the wine is smooth, with a vein of penetrating peppery spice through to the finish.  It struck me as resembling a cool climate Shiraz; there's some brambly blackcurrant thrown in to the mix in the middle too.

Overall it melds together to deliver a slightly tannic and dark centred mass driving through the core.  Excellent delivery for the price.

Source: Sample
Price: $20
Alcohol: 13.6%
Closure: Screwcap

De Bortoli Murphy's Vineyard Semillon 2004

I've got a backlog of notes to write up, the dual consequence of having a small child teething, turning me to booze and denying me the opportunity to write up the notes.

This bottle was purchased on a little family break up at Rainbow Beach from the colonial inspired Rainbow Beach Hotel - a rather pleasant find in a small coastal resort town.

A good seal on the cap liner caused the wine to open with a slight pop.  Slightly reductive, this soon shook away to greet you with a burst of lime and a touch of sweet syrup - the kind you get in tinned fruit.

On the palate, no real dominant flavour, it's balanced in the mouth: fresh, crisp and clean - drinking easily and concluding with a good punch of acid.  Still a couple of years left in it I would say - in line with cellaring guidelines on the bottle. 

Source: Retail, Rainbow Beach Hotel
Price: $35
Alcohol: 12%
Closure: Screwcap

Thursday 7 April 2011

Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2007

The Aylward family founded Kooyong down on the Mornington Peninsula before selling up to Port Phillip Estate. With the proceeds from sale they created Kooyong.

They produce two Pinots, this - a standard entry named after the 8th at the golf club - and the 'Aylward' which I believe is from the same vineyard, the Aylward cropped at 1 tonne per Acre.

An arborial inspired interplay with heady aromas composed of fruits of the forest and a touch of forest floor.  A couple of years post-release, the wine is showing some early tinges of development.

Smooth, silken body; sublime fruit quality in check and balance with itself.  Finish carries through on a fair length concluding with a touch of mushroom.

Source: Retail, The Wine Emporium
Price: $40
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Diam

Saturday 2 April 2011

Deisen Grenache 2005

Halliday's not a fan.  I can see why, but wine is more than what is purely just in the glass.  It's about stories, memories, set and setting - terroir of the mind or some such.  And for these reasons, I am.

Deisen wines were first brought to my attention as one part of a fantastic dinner with some dear friends at Appelation in the Barossa valley in 2009.  Beautiful labels too are also a draw, and stories abound with regard to vignerons Sabine Deisen and partner Les.  Stories of the Deisen fruit going into Rockford's basket press and also to John Duval; of old vines being pulled up as part of the vine pull and Robert O'Callaghan not getting to Sabine in time to prevent this, for he knew of the quality of the fruit; of re-planting vines at Rocky's encouragement, asking Wayne Dutschke to make the wines for her, for him to encourage and mentor her through learning to do it herself (thanks Campbell Mattinson for that last one).

It's not just a liquid in a glass, but ultimately that's what the Punter is buying.  So, at 6 years old this one is showing secondary development, the brackish hue around the edge, moving away from the gloss of youth.

Aromas of dusty earth, dried herb; gone is the primary fruit of youth.  The palate shows an unexpected lightness, there's a faint touch of red berry flavours - raspberry - and some cola cube, but it is the wine's smoothness that draws you in only to be somewhat overshadowed by the alcohol and spice on the finished.

It's not particularly balanced, not or is it over bearing (if you're used to such things).  I like to think that it is a product of its place: a sponge that soaked up that Barossan sun and placed it into the grapes from which this came.

Source: Retail, Grand Central Cellars
Price: $37 (RRP when released)
Alcohol: 15.5%
Closure: Cork


I recently had the great pleasure of attending a Gamay 'tweetup' organised by David & Wendy Lloyd of the Mornington Pensinsula's Eldridge Estate.

David has 6 rows of Gamay on his estate, and indeed this represents a fair whack of the circa 20 tonnes of Gamay produced in Australia.  In 2010, David experimented with a couple of styles of Gamay, and the purpose of the tweetup was to garner some opinion on preference of the styles he had created.

First up, we were treated to David's 2008 and 2009 Gamay; the former funky, incredibly smooth, slurpable with a background hit of the red berry fruits familiar to many, the latter again some inviting funk on the nose but stalky, sappy notes driving through the palate - a touch firmer than the 2008 with some good spice coming through the tail. 

2010 Whole Berry Gamay
Made, as the sub-title indicates, with 100% whole berry - so no stem action at all. Maceration Carbonique - where fermentation is allowed to commence primarily inside the berry - is a hallmark of Gamay/ Beaujolais production.  This example exhibited that berry fruit on the nose, with incredible balance in the palate - incredibly smooth again, eminently drinkable. 

2010 75% Whole Bunch Gamay
Sees 75% whole bunch action - who would have guessed - stalks, stems everything.  Sappy, funky aromas; balance, texture and interest through the palate and onto spice at the back end.   

2010 50/50% Gamay and Pinot Noir
A blend and resulting wine of its constituent parts.  For me it was neither a Pinot or a Gamay and whilst it was easily consumed I felt it was neither here, nor there.  For Gamay, the whole berry and whole bunch were far more interesting; for a Pinot there are many other varieties on the Mornington to enjoy - just my opinion. 

There were some interesting thoughts/ tweets on the night.  Not least the incisive thought of Jeremy Pringle who commented, I hope he doesn't mind we quoting: "Happy to see lots of feedback for @ at  Still hope DL makes the wine he thinks is best."; host Alan Hunter - certified Sommelier at e'cco - who commented that for him the whole bunch didn't speak of the Mornington, nor of the variety.  I'm inclined to concur.

That said, I did prefer the whole bunch - I found the stalkier, weightier nose and palate more interesting.  However, if intending to drink Gamay, I'm not sure I would expect this; the whole berry Gamay was more evocative of the variety.  Just my thoughts - well it is my blog. 

Final Word
I cannot thank David enough for inviting me to participate in this opportunity; likewise thanks to hosts Alan Hunter and Annetta Grant of e'cco; and finally fellow Brisbane attendees Peter Scudamore-Smith MW and Rebecca Hope for sharing the experience (and charcuterie plate ;).