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Monday 26 September 2011

Tempus Two Verdelho 2011

Verdelho is of Portuguese origin, closely associated with the island of Madeira where it also lends its name to a style of wine. Madeira and Australia are about the only places it's made in any notable volume. One explanation for its popularity in Australia is its suitability for pairing with a range of Asian and Asian influenced foods.

That doesn't quite explain why it has a history dating back to the early 18th century when the first record of its importation, by the Australian Agricultural Company, is known.

Growth is quite recent with crush figures of 1,366 tonnes in 1990 increasing to 14,000 tonnes in 2010 [source: ABS], that said this is down from 26,000 tonnes in 2004.

Verdelho seems to excel in the Hunter Valley, where warm conditions and careful handling can produce lean and minerally wines, with yields kept low and made in a dry style.

This author's namesake, the much more qualified Jancis MW snobbishly (IMO) writes of it: "it is a tradesman like variety, liking warmth, yielding well but not prodigiously, and producing a wine which epitomises its working-class background".

This example shows varietal tropical fruit aromas of guava and passionfruit, with some lighter honeysuckle present too.   

Easy drinking, in the mouth there's an initial fullness of expression, but the progression is then to a linear wine with good acid framed by some light mineral and tangy citrus. All up, for $15 pretty well done.

Source: Sample
Price: $15
Alcohol: 13.2%
Closure: Screwcap

[This page was edited at 18:00 on 26/09/2011 as the vintage was 2011]

Sunday 25 September 2011

McLaren Vale - Cadenzia Initiative

An introduction to Rowland Short of Maximus Wines led to a tasting group I am involved with, Swirl Sniff Spit, being given the opportunity to taste 'n' tweet about the McLaren Vale Cadenzia wines.  The Swirl Sniff Spit Grenache tasting was in support of International Grenache day which was on Friday 23rd September 2011.

A Cadenza in musical terms is an improvised piece, played as a solo and often allowing for virtuoso display.  A Cadenzia is a Grenache based, or Grenache dominant wine from a McLaren Vale initiative to showcase this wonderous grape variety.  An aim of the initiative is to further increase the awareness of McLaren Vale and of the Grenache variety that excels in this region.  

“Cadenzia is an impassioned improvisation played by a virtuoso soloist towards the end of a musical performance. Cadenzia is made in celebration of the winemakers opportunity after vintage, to blend an exceptional McLaren Vale wine around the Grenache variety.”
      PETER FRASER, Yangarra Winemaker

d'Arenberg Cadenzia GSM 2009
A Chester Osborn shirt of a blend in that there's also some Viognier and Roussanne in the wine for added colour and aromatics.  The Grenache is from the Derelict Vineyard Grenache - good pedigree. 

The wine itself shows good aromatics.  There's the prerequisite dark and red berries in the mix, plenty of spice.  It has good intensity, but is actually rounded.  Showing balance and structure; intensity aided by some cherry in there.  Ticks the right boxes.
Maximus Cadenzia GSM 2009
A more savoury beast than the d'Arenberg.  Charcuterie and meat along with the good fruit of raspberries.  The palate shows some good presence of fruit wound together, and carried by, some tannin.

All up it's juicy, rich, fruit laden, spicy - how many more adjectives, or superlatives can I come up with?  But the savoury element for me mark this out from your average fruit bomb.  Very good drinking to be had.  A new label for me, one I'm glad I've made the acquaintance of.

Yangarra Cadenzia GSM 2010
Yangarra wines for me have a little something else, depth and intensity.  I'm a big fan of their Mataro and whether some fruit from that block makes it into this wine I don't know, but there is that extra depth here.  Intense typical Grenach introduction, raspberry, and pepper; the aromas work well for me.

In the mouth there's a fair whack of fruit delivered, along with some spicier elements such as star anise and allspice.  The tannin is soft and works well with the wine delivering a good lingering finish.

Oliver's Taranga Cadenzia Grenache 2009
Good perfume on this, supplementy some earthier savoury elements.  Typical berry and black fruit flavours with some chewy chocolate to back it up. 
 Some bright acid supplements the tannin, possibly outplaying it.  Less plush and juicy than some of the others tasted, but don't let this detract you.  Otherwise it is an excellent wine. 

Samuel's Gorge Cadenzia Grenache 2009
I've been on record before that I like the wines of Justin McNamee - I wasn't so taken with the 2008 - this 2009 is a brilliant riposte to me.  Hallmark attractive perfume, some nutty oak a segue to the jucier and spice of Grenache. Under the hood its altogether a little darker, the black fruit side showing through. 

At the back end, there's some good texture, paving the way to a spice driven finish with some good tannin for extra interest.  Very good wine.

Dog Ridge Cadenzia Grenache Shiraz 2009
Dense, rich and ripe.  That is not a perjorative statement.  Whilst this is first and foremost a Grenache, it is aided and abetted by its Shiraz side-kick,  Plenty of black fruit, indeed in the glass it's a lot darker than those that went before it. 
There's Grenache aromatics of the quite jooby sort, the raspberry notes of certain boiled sweets.  Then the palate shows this lovely interplay between the Grenache and Shiraz: the juicy fruit and spice with some strawberry and raspberry.  Very morish, your glass (or bottle) won't last long.

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Saturday 24 September 2011

Yalumba FDW[7c] Chardonnay 2008

OK, let's get this out of the way: this is mighty fine Chardonnay - a Fine Dry White!  If you want to read on, please do so. 

This wine is classy, it is elegant.  I sat up straight in its presence.  It's that kind of wine.  That said, apparently previous vintages (this is its third) are even better, 2008 was a tough year in them Hills.  I'm not sure how better is possible. 

It shows clear aromas from barrel fermentation - a technique with a resultant hazelnutty, nougat sense to it.  There's a touch of honeysuckle, some stonefruit - white peach - and delicate citrus.  Added interest comes in the form of good textural feel from the regular - every 2 weeks or so from the completion of ferment - bâtonage over 9 months.  Mealy almond completes the picture, carrying a good nutty finish, delivering some length accentuated by some minerally acid. 

Yalumba doesn't divulge how much of this is made, but i'd hazard it's around 450-500 cases, given it comes from about 20 barriques.  Seriously, this is impressive - it's this style of Chardonnay that is at the vanguard of the varieties renaissance within Australia.  Winemaker Teresa Heuzenroeder's name is not one I was previously familiar with - one to keep an eye out for.

Source: Gift, The Wine Punter 
Price: $29.95
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Friday 23 September 2011

Yann Chave "Le Rouvre" Crozes-Hermitage 2009

From a tiny single-vineyard, 'Le Rouvre' is from Domaine Yann Chave, whose parents started out in Croze-Hermitage in 1970 with 1 hectare planted.  Roll forward to 1996, when Yann finishes his military duties and takes the family business in a more quality oriented direction, come 2007 the family has some 20 hectares under vine.

The first thing you notice about this wine is the vivid colour, it could stain the glass, it will certainly stain your teeth. Dark fruit, florals, cola and black pepper leap out of the glass.  The palate: incredibly smooth, silken - barrel ageing adding detail to the wine; medium bodied. There's a touch of black earth, lovely rich spice, raspy tannin that coats the mouth and works with the spice to provide an exemplary finish. 

Those based in Australia and keen to try this wine can obtain it through the Prince Wine Store ($60).  When I saw this wine in the UK, the name was familiar, and on returning home I realised I had tasted the 2007 (not written up) at the Plumm Wine Glass tasting where I had the pleasure of the Vincent Paris Le Geynale Cornas (also available at the Prince Wine Store). 

Price: 18.47 GBP
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Cork

Plunkett Fowles Stone Dwellers Museum Release Riesling 2004

A 27 degree weekend, and a lack of Riesling in the fridge, prompted a visit to my local bottle store - a good independent that often stocks some liquid curios.

"The Strathbogie Ranges are inland, cool and elevated and are characterised by ancient granite boulders. The soil in the Strathbogie Ranges is typically sandy clay loam overlying orange clays of varying depths. The mean January temperature is 19.15c and the average annual rainfall in our family vineyards is 700 mm (28 inches)." 

At 3.5 g/L RS a good dry Riesling.  Upon opening a clear honeyed nose presented itself to the fore, with some accompanying citrus and a hint of background kero, as befits the age.  Released as a 5 year old in 2009, two years around the traps shows a wine still quite fresh on the palate.  Entry shows some light citrus, tropicals - cumquat, lychee - along with a touch of mineral.  

The finish is quite raspy, by that it's meant a a feint gingery note. Length moderate.  Beyond the encouraging aroma, I wasn't entirely enamoured with this wine.  I certainly wouldn't think it will improve any further, drinkers may derive some pleasure for a year or two at best. 

Source: Retail, Spiros Toowong
Price: $27
Alcohol: 12%
Closure: Cork

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Tempus Two Copper Series GSM 2010

Tempus Two are a Pokolbin, Hunter Valley, based winery. This intent of this wine stylistically, is borne of the Rhone, made of Barossa fruit.

Aromatics nod more toward the savoury than the sweetness of fruit: plum, a hint of dark chocolate, some background earthiness, even a slight sanguine metallic element.  Entry shows a wine quite full and rich; voluminous - it almost swells in the mouth, subsequently delivering some red berry concentration.

Its finish shows fine tannin, length is considered providing a good memory of the wine through some lingering spice.  All up a decent wine, in balance - not bad drinking at $20.

Source: Sample
Price: $19.99
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap

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Saturday 3 September 2011

Highland Heritage Estate Pinot Noir 2009

The d'Aquino Group is a vertically integrated group with interests across the wine industry including winemaking, contract winemaking, blending, bottling and distilling. Part of that interest includes Highland Heritage Estate - just 3kms east of Orange NSW.

A 250 acre estate planted to 40 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Riesling, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The bottle image shown is of the 2008, with the most recent release the wine has been bottled in a more appropriate Burgundy bottle.  The wine: typical Pinot aromas, cherry to the fore with some background sweetness present.  Carries the intensity of aroma often seen in higher altitude Pinot. 

The body of the wine lacked a little of the complexity of other examples, but I wager that it compensates with the intensity of flavour.  The finish is persistent, a touch of tannin, minimal acid to speak of and a hint of oak even witnessed. 

Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: ?
Closure: Screwcap