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Sunday 17 July 2011

UK Wines - Part 1

I'm currently on holiday in the UK for a friend's wedding. I'm using it as an opportunity to catch up on - primarily - some old word wines. I'm going to try pop some notes up from those wines tasted on my travels - drinking permitting.

Benjamin Darnault Picpoul de Pinet 2010 12.5% £9.99
A new variety for me, an introduction I'm glad I've made  Pleasantly aromatic - apple and melon - crisp, almost zesty. Minerality through finish, generous acidic backbone, pleasantly dry.

Campo Viejo Rioja Crianza 2007 13.5% £5.24
Raspberry and cherry aroma, dusty earthiness. Silken and smooth, fruit (berry) finish, spicy.

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2006 13.5%
More refined than the Crianza. Baking spices, depth, cigar box.  Silken, smooth palate flowing through to a moderately lengthy spice laden finish.

Yalumba FDR1A Shiraz Cabernet 2006 14% £20.75
Distinctly Cabernet aroma: leafy, dusty, cedary. Through the middle it delivers both plushness and power, the Shiraz adding oomph to the Cabernet's structure. Unmistakably Australian, deliciously divine.
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Sunday 10 July 2011

Bella Riva King Valley Pinot Grigio Vermentino 2010

I looked on with a mixture of envy and curiosity at Steve Webber and Leanne De Bortoli's tweets of their recent Southern European adventure.  Curious to see what down the line influence this trip may have on the wines coming out of the De Bortoli stable.  

Little did I know that in 1994 they had planted some 'Mediterranean' varieties up in the King Valley.  The first results from those plantings are the 2009 Sangiovese Merlot and this Pinot Grigio/ Vermentino blend released under the Bella Riva label (Beautiful Riverbank).

Gentle aromas waft out of the glass, pear and some light citrus.  The wine smells fresh, redolent of a clean Spring day.  Through the palate, the wine is clipped and crisp with good textural mouthfeel.  The wine sees regular lees stirring to develop that complexity - imparting a slight nuttiness too -  along with 20% cask fermentation.  Through the finish, some minerality is exhibited along with generous acid to give some length.  Eminently drinkable.  

Whilst I saw this as a better 'made' wine, I too enjoyed the rustic charm of the Sangiovese Merlot.  Different beasts the pair of them, that said they share an easy going drinkability and pair well with a range of foods. 

Source: Sample
Price: $18
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap

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Saturday 9 July 2011

Jauma 'Abig' Blewitt Springs Dry Grown Grenache 2010

James Erskine is pretty well known in wine circles: 2009 Gourmet Traveller Australian Sommelier of the Year, founder of the South Australian chapter of Sommeliers Australia, Len Evans scholar, flautist with the Natural Selection Theory.  And to that list add winemaker. 

Blewitt Springs is an unofficial sub-region of McLaren Vale.  Only 22 cases made, this Grenache is harvested from a Westerly facing aspect of the vineyard.  'Abig' is German for evening, a reference to the setting sun the vineyard faces.

All ferments are wild; no sulphur, enzymes or fining agents, acids or tannins are added. The wine is not filtered and a minimal addition of sulphur at bottling to give the wine some chance of survival.  Not much luck round these parts.

Rich, ripe aromas; black and dark fruits.  Intense fore palate, with a meaty - nigh leathery -feel to it.  Almost paradoxically the wine then takes on a smoothness through the middle, exhibiting a creaminess.

The finish shows depth, it's persistent for sure.  There's a touch of spice, some liquorice root.  Good balance, it wears its alcohol well. 

Source: Retail, The Wine Emporium
Price: $?
Alcohol: 14.8%
Closure: Diam with Wax Seal 

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Tuesday 5 July 2011

Cellar Key Technology - Capel Vale Regional Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

This wine was sent as a sample to showcase Cellar Key Technology utilising QR codes placed onto a neck tag.  As such, I'll look at the QR code first with a note on the wine to follow.

I'm a bit of a gadget geek so QR codes appeal - coupled with the fact that I love a good story, the Cellar Key technology is right up my alley.  Easy to use, it requires a scanner of some kind - you can download any number for free from your app store of choice - to read and interpret the URL (QR codes don't have to be URLs, but it is in this case and are most commonly) that is embedded into the black square that looks a little like the 'snow' from television sets of yesteryear!

Scanning the QR code takes the user to a web page specifically designed to render on a smartphone. The 'explore' button provides some nice background info on the winery, their wines and the winemaker - a little insight into from whence the wine came; Food Match is a home-made Pork Chipolata Cassoulet.

The 'Tasting Notes' provides a slightly more descriptive note than typically seen on a bottle, with Winemaking Notes and Wine Production Stats following.

All good so far.  However it is with the 'Vintage Notes' and 'Reviews' that I have some issue.  The vintage note is fairly generic, only mentioning 2009 in the last sentence.  Of the reviews, 3 are provided: two of which (James Halliday's) is for the 2008 version of the wine as is that from The Winefront.  Jeremy Oliver is quoted for 2009.  

Overall its a useful piece of technology that has the ability to provide the consumer with more detail on the wine and a small window into the winery, winemaking and winemaker.  Nice touch - but then is that the inner Geek in me? 

Capel Vale Regional Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Oh yes, and the wine.  Typically Margaret River in its aromatic profile: herbal tomato leaf, cassis and a cedary note.  Full bodied, coffeish oak with a supporting mulberry and plum fruit.  The finish lingers; firm, grippy tannins and a pleasant aftertaste.  Tasted over two days, I actually preferred it on the second.  Offers good regionality for the price.  I would actually be a bit more generous that the wineries cellaring window of 2-4 years and push that out to 4-6.

Source: Sample
Price: $24.95
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap

[This item was edited at 13:06 on 06/07/2011 to correct the Alcohol % on the wine]

Yangarra Mourvèdre 2009

I'm not one who's into fashion, yet I am enjoying an explosion of single variety Mataros.  On the name, those familiar with the variety will also be aware that it goes by the name Mourvèdre (as with this wine), Monastrell (its Spanish guise) or more familiarly as Mataro in Australia.

On its many synonyms, I've seen Oz Clarke write: "the name Mourvèdre is supplanting that of Mataro in Australia as demand for old vine fruit soars. Aficionados reckon that if you call it Mataro, you don't take it seriously".  Oh really.

It's generally regarded that the best examples come from older vines.  It's not the easiest variety to work with, being said "to like its face in the sun and its feet in the water" generally indicating a preference for Southerly aspects on clay.

So, to my surprise this wine comes off of a 2 acre block planted in 1998: plummy, blackcurrant, leathery and inky in colour and aroma.  Through the middle, a touch of creamy oak.  

The winery were helpful in explaining that their small block is on sandy ironstone - well drained - stressing the vines and forcing them down in search of the water Mataro (my preferred name) loves.  Careful management - cropping at around 2 tonnes/acre - to ensure ripeness and deliver the intensity of this wine's finish.  Spicy, rich, intense; some chewy tannin in the mix too.

What I like about Mataro, is that - possibly like me - it's quite simple.  A good team player, yet also in the right circumstances it broods, it growls, it delivers.  And this wine shows incredible balance - a consistent element of Yangarra wines.  Overall the parts work.

Source: Retail
Price: $32
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

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[This item was edited at 13:06 on 06/07/2011 to correct the geology of the site from Sandy Gravel to Sandy Ironstone]

Monday 4 July 2011

BK Wines - Hand Made

UK Wine Scribe Jamie Goode penned this paragraph in a post on his site Wine Anorak:
"Fine wine isn’t about the rather depressing trading-room scenario of en primeur classed growth Claret. It’s about talented people making great wine from great terroirs. There are lots of them, these days, all around the world. I just want them to get the credit they deserve."

The last two sentences resonated with me whilst I was thinking about the wines I had tasted at The Wine Emporium in Brisbane.  It's fair to say they struck a chord.  These wines are all the more impressive for their volumes - 1,000 cases total production - and the fact that each wine is a single vineyard wine.  All the more surprising then that they come in at no more than a shade over $30.   

Rose Collage 2010 - 40 Cases - 12.8% - $21
Saignee from the Pinot Noir, a clear wine with some Pinot added back for colour - and its unmistakably in that pale, dry European image .  Fermented in barrel with wild yeast, unequivocally Pinot Noir.  Strawberry aromas abound.  Crisp, clean and light on the palate - more strawberry - bone dry finish.  One for the revolutionaries. 

Rosetta Pinot Gris 2010 - 180 Cases - 13.5% - $25
Twelve months in oak, 9 months of battonage to develop complexity.  Picked off the same vineyard that BK makes a Pinot Grigio from, but 3 weeks later.  Aroma yields texture and minerality.  The palate shows the texture that was being sought with the wine layered across the tongue.  Through the finish, minerality, completely dry; pretty good finish and length.

Ma Fleur Chardonnay Picadilly Valley 2010 - 180 Cases - 14% - $33
9 months battonage, 50% new oak with the wine at the top of the tank going into the older oak, the wine at the bottom - with solids - going into the newer oak to clean up the sulphur.  Topped up regularly, every 1-2 weeks.  Aroma shows pretty florals, touch of that new oak and some varietal citrus.  The palate: layered with some background toasty almond presenting itself.  The finish: driving minerality, a fair explosion of flavour, with length, persistent length.

Jean Bernard Syrah 2009 - 180 Cases - 13.5% - $33
On twitter today, Mike Bennie was lamenting inappropriate use of the label Syrah.  When I first saw Mike's tweets I immediately thought of this wine, and how it more than doffs its cap toward the Northern Rhone.  For a start look at the alcohol.  Yet, more than that: aromas of earth, leather; the smooth, medium-full bodied palate provides further stylistic sign-posting   BK did allude to trying to make a wine in the Cote-Rotie style (minus the Viognier allowable in that appellation).  Love and care go into this wine: hand harvested, de-stemmed without breaking the fruit.  The intent is to seek finesse, lower alcohol and a wine that is soft and long.  As BK puts it: "approachable from the first to the last glass"

You can see BK talking about this wine and his other Syrah, Cult, over at my good friend The Wine Punter's site.  

Excellent quality, excellent price point.  Just revisit those two sentences referred to earlier on to capture the essence of BK Wines.