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Tuesday 31 May 2011

Sommeliers Australia - South American Tasting

As part of my continued palate education, I attended a Sommeliers Australia event on South American wines.  Hosted by leading importers Jim Mcilwain (Southern Cross Wines) and David Castro-Stevens (Wines of Chile), the tasting showcased classic wines from Chile and Argentina. 

Underagga T.H. Sauvignon Blanc 2009
From 4.36 hectares, 14 kilometres from the ocean and planted on coastal crack clay comes this pungent Sauvignon Blanc.  Pronounced lemon character; minerality dissolving across the back palate and a high acid backbone. 

Casas Del Bosque Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010
More in the New Zealand style with herbaceous notes, again the pungency quite prominent.  Acid showing on entry into the palate and quite an astringent finish. 

Rutini Wines Trumpeter Torrontes Mendoza 2010
Torrontes is native to Argentina.  This, my first example, is apparently atypical of the varietal.  Showing bright florals and apricot aromas, redolent of a worked Viognier.  Clean and fresh on the palate with a drying finish. 

De Martino Reserva 347 Vineyards Chadonnay 2010
Faint hints of green apple on the palate, but it is very closed.  Natural creaminess and a slight briny character on the palate.  Almond, nutty finish. 

Morande Reserva Chardonnay 2006
Slight hint of struck match, a worked style exhibiting buttered toasty notes.  Rich and buttery through the palate, there is a line of acid with over-riding toasty notes from generous oak. 

Santa Rita '120' Carmenere 2008
The 'Chilean Merlot'.  Primary fruit character of plum, light of body.  Showing some good chalky tannin with savoury spicy notes.  Good entry level Carmenere deserving of some food. 

Santa Rita Reserva Carmenere 2008
Plum and tobacco notes flow through to a medium bodied palate.  Tannins are less pronounced than the entry level 120 exhibiting themselves in a savoury drying, twiggy manner.  Final notes of chocolate on conclusion. 

William Fevre Gran Cuvee Carmenere 2004
Slightly aged style, showing more in the way of some leaf, dried herb notes.  Primacy of fruit making way for more savoury notes; drying tannins. 

Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Leafy woody aromas segue into a smooth, silken cassis body.  Structure abounds: firm, persistent tannin that fills and coats the mouth. 

Some outstanding value represented here.  I shall endeavour to add RRPs against the wines and some alcohol % figures.  Sadly missed some Malbec and Carignan.

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Monday 30 May 2011

Charles Melton Shiraz 2001

Graeme "Charlie" Melton's poor French is well documented; luckily so his ability to work with classic Rhone varietals, such as this Shiraz.

Praying to St Finbarr (poetic license here for he is the patron Saint of the Irish city of Cork) when opening this bottle, I wasn't disappointed. For,  like a fart during procreation, the romance of cork soon disappears when a bottle is corked, or should that be borked to use local vernacular.

As ever, I digress.  Beautiful black cherry and plum aromas, exhibiting some Mataro like earthy headiness.  Entry shows a silken, lithe palate: more black cherry, still showing some fruit character.

The finish: fine, powdery, chalky tannin - even a touch of twigginess.  Oh but its beauty lies in the integration of the parts, the balance shown and a long smooth finish.  Happiness.

Source: Retail, Grand Central Cellars
Price: $44 (on release)
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Cork

Hahndorf Hill "The Blueblood" Blaufränkisch 2009

Until recently I'd not had the pleasure of tasting Blaufränkisch - literally blue Frankish - and then in one of those moments of synchronicity I tasted an Austrian example and then most generously this sample from Hahndorf Hill.

I read that Blaufränkisch is so named in part because of its colour; the fränkisch part coming from a medieval attempt to classify grapes whose origins lay with the superior Fränks (fränkisch).  

I was told that it is a relative of Gamay, but have not been able to back this up other than to say that it is known as Gamé in Bulgaria. 

But enough etymology - what does it taste like I hear you ask? Spicy black cherry with a hint of coffee grounds lurking in the background.  It's brightly coloured; the palate smooth. Berries, red and black abound, textural in the mouth giving way to a good backbone of acid carrying a persistent line of spice.  Tannins are present, but not overt.  Paired well with a cauliflower and pumpkin curry.

So that's me, but the final word has to go to Pat Haddock: "Blauf Blauf, get it down your mouth!". 

Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Thursday 26 May 2011

Deisen Mataro 2005

Good to see Mataro getting some shelf space in its own right, rather than as a component of a GSM blend.  That said, the best examples come from old vines, as the Teusner crew proclaim: "A young root is just no good!".

This example from 2005 was clearly one of the early trend-setters in bringing a single variety Mataro to the party.

It smells of Black Forest gateaux, with a dark mass of black fruit at its core.  Leathery, earthy and even though it is six years old, still the presence of some good primary fruit.

Tarry notes carry through the palate where a touch of creaminess radiates out.  Good, definite and persistent finish - one of those wines where the flavour lasts long after it has slid down your throat.

Source: Retail, Grand Central Cellars
Price: $39
Alcohol: 14.5%$
Closure: Cork

Umami Alpine Valley Sangiovese 2008

Apparently Sangiovese is a highly adaptable grape, capable of changing radically, morphologically even, in terms of leaf shape, berry size etc.

Max Allen in his "The Future Makers" states that early Sangiovese was thin and boring, and that clonal selection was of high yielding Californian varietal.

This however, from eddiewinemaker, is a damn fine example.  Exotically perfumed aroma.  Smooth on entry, the fruit presents itself but it is the savoury quality that dominates. 

Good fine tannic grip, pushing through to an immensely satisfying finish.  It has complexity, like there's this battle raging between polished, refined qualities and some rustico elements.  It's balanced, it works, I enjoyed.

Source: Retail, Spiros Paddington
Price: $45
Alcohol: 13.8%
Closure: Screwcap

Sunday 15 May 2011

Pepper Tree Wrattonbully Pinot Gris 2010

The wine offers varietal correctness, with aromatic and textural interest. Fairly linear in overall profile; aromas of pear, florals - a slight perceived creaminess.  Textural, plump fruit with some spice.  

Varietal creamy, oily, unctuous palate.  of moderate length, a modicum of spice travelling a line that terminates mid-length.

Source: Someone left it in the fridge
Price: $22
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Mike Press Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2009

Ignore the price, enjoy the wine.  Find some - it's sold out ex-winery - enjoy a couple of bottles now, but enjoy it in five years time.

Beautiful perfume of sweet American Oak; mulberries, black fruits and a touch of cola.  Smooth, velvet glove-like palate.  This slides around the palate.  Acid - perfectly pitched against the presence of oak.  Mike Press is a product of Penfolds and is unashamedly a fan of the use of American oak.

The finish demonstrates a mocha-ish note, but the wine's success lies in its persistence of flavour.  It looks simply stunning over a number of days.

Source: Retail, Purvis Cellars
Price: $12.50
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap

Peppertree Coquun Shiraz 2009

A wine that benefits from some extended time in glass.  At first generous oak floods the palate and suppresses much of the goodness present.  Be patient, it's firmly rewarded.

Black cherries, touch of Cherry Ripe, primary fruit up front.  Even a detection of Cherry Cola; la-la-lola.  Medium bodied, generous clove accented spice; fine tannin balanced against good acids.

Exquisite you could say.  A keeper.  Sometimes it pays to be virtuous.

Source: Sample
Price: $45
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap

Scarborough Wine Co. 2007 Shiraz

Catching up, rather belatedly, on some enticing Hunter Shiraz received as part of the #HunterWine taste 'n' tweet in March.

Ignoring the hullabaloo that ensued in some parts around that tasting, to the subject in hand.  Garnet in colour, softer edges - exhibiting some signs of development; clear in the glass. Initially notes of tobacco, oak influence - tertiary notes.  Over 2-3 three days red berry fruits shining through.  Altogether a touch denser/ heavier than some Hunter Shiraz I'd been looking at.

That said, it was still medium bodied and showed that confident smoothness of palate that had been fairly consistent through the tasting.  Lacking a touch of acid for me - it settled into a groove over opening.  Exhibiting oak derived characteristics - it is matured in French Oak of various ages for 18 months - on the finish.  Slightly short of a length, though this is more than compensated with some integrated oak and tannin.

Source: Sample
Price: $30
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Lucy Margaux Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir 2010

Polarising wines these. Good aromatics initially present themselves - richly scented red berries, Cherry and some stalky aromas. Entry doesn't deliver what one expects from the nose: it's lighter, earthen and a touch nutty - some might say like its maker.

My personal preference would have been for there to have been a touch of primary fruit present, which for me the body was lacking. That said, the finish was persistent, driven by some good acid.

Source: Retail, The Wine Emporium
Closure: Diam
Price: $40
Alcohol: 13.8% 

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Sons of Eden Kennedy GSM 2009

From 50+ year old Grenache vines off of a Light Pass vineyard comes this GSM (45/40/15%) from Sons of Eden.

A medium bodied palate with a deftness that follows from an entry of dense, dark, black fruit aromas. The finish is savory, a touch of licorice, a burst of spice. The spice makes the finish for me: radiating out to fill the mouth, leaving a lasting memory of what came before. Gloriously morish, a snip at the price.

Source: Retail, The Wine Emporium
Price: $22
Closure: Screwcap
Alcohol: 14.5%

Monday 9 May 2011

Yangarra Estate Vineyard McLaren Vale Old Vine Grenache 2008

From vines planted in 1946 comes this Grenache from McLaren Vale. Deep intense red berry fruit - a touch of black Cherry - leads to a welcoming, buxom, big, ripe palate.

The finish: gloriously smooth, a "velvet curtain of tannin". Good acid, but it's all in check. Balanced. Impressive.

Source: Retail, The Wine Emporium
Closure: Screwcap
Alcohol: 14.8%
Price: $28