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Monday 31 October 2011

Nepenthe Tempranillo 2010

Great aromatics that contrast between bright, perky, perty blueberry and raspberry, with roasted coffee and woody notes.  It's pleasingly aromatic and inviting.

Entry shows some good bright acid with a re-emergence of the fruity notes mentioned.  Medium bodied and rather slurpable, from entry through to the finish - which is moderately lengthy - showing balance and soft tannin for immediate pleasure.

Off of vines planted in 1998, the first Tempranillo vines in the Hills.  I hadn't had much luck with an earlier foray into the variety.  This wine is the exception to those, deserving of the honours emblazoned across its front.

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

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Sunday 30 October 2011

Tempus Two Cabernet Merlot 2010

Distinctive packaging, approachability, showcasing regional and varietal strengths are some of Tempus Two's brand values.

This wine is from the 'varietal' series and offers good aromatics from both grape varieties: some good cigar box from the Cabernet and berry fruit goodness from the Merlot - think plums, blueberries here.  

It's soft, rounded and fairly supply.  Good easy drinking style.  A little short on the finish - but at $15 this can be forgiven.  There's some tannin for interest, and a further glimpse of the fruit characteristics seen throughout.  

Offers easy going drinkability - great introduction to this classic blend.

Source: Sample
Price: $14.99
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap

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Friday 28 October 2011

Dutschke St Jakobi 2009

I was given the opportunity to try this wine by the guys at Barossa HQ, a fantastic online wine room - and similar in concept to the Adelaide Hills Wine Room - where you can engage in live wine and food tastings.  It's all about the conversation and getting individuals engaged with the region.

A single vineyard wine and at $35 represents excellent value.  Fruit comes from a 6 acre, 32 row block planted in 1975 by Wayne Dutschke's "Uncle Ken".  In 2009, it was picked on two separate occasions to enable a cross-spectrum of Shiraz flavours to be obtained and then racked into a range of new and old French and American oak.  

Lyndoch is at the Southern, flatter end of the Barossa Valley.  Elevation is roughly around the 180m mark.  Ripening typically occurs earlier here, and the resulting wines tend to be ripe and lush without being overtly big.

That said, this '09 St Jakobi shows aromas that are typically present of wines from fruit off of the block.  It's fairly black and tarry, showing savoury and intoxicating aromatics.  The wood is present, invitingly so.  It's spicy on the palate, showing dark and rich Christmas pudding fruits.  

Spice carries through the finish and shows the typical hallmark St Jakobi characters of smoky and spicy plum.  Excellent drinking now, or pop some away for a few years and be further rewarded.

Source: Sample
Price: $35 RRP
Alcohol: 14.8%
Closure: Screwcap

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BK Wines Nouveau Syrah 2011

I'm going to attempt to get two notes up today.  Two wines made by producers I really respect, two wines from different vintages, two single vineyard wines from sites about 30 KMs apart, two wines that are the anti-thesis of each other.  And two wines that I really enjoyed for two very different reasons.

This is the first.  A wine not planned, a consequence of the troublesome 2011 vintage in parts of Australia.  A wine from an individual confident in his own abilities and not afraid to push himself and challenge the perceptions of Australian wines and winemaking.

The fruit is from Gumeracha.  100% whole berry, it spends 20 days on skins and is warmed through malo.  Sees no wood at all and is sent straight to bottle.  Aromatically smells like a primary ferment.  It's all juicy berry aromatics, bubble gum - it's BK's ode to Booj.  It reminded me a little of Dutschke's Cab Mac, but more on that producer in the next post.

In the mouth, there's more of the same.  It's soft, rounded and fruity - slightly under-ripe raspberry; you get the picture.  The finish sees a little spice, some white pepper.  It's damn enjoyable, a back deck kind of wine.  You could even chill it down some, and at this alcohol is a great lunchtime quaffer.  That's not a pejorative statement.

Source: Tasting
Price: $23
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap

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Thursday 27 October 2011

Majella Riesling 2009

From a region renowned for its Cabernet comes this pale, pretty, delicate Riesling of breadth and mineral-laden depth.

Florals on the nose, some apple blossom aromatics and a faint whiff on some kero.  Entry shows some stony zing! The minerality radiating, providing textural breadth; the finish delicacy again, yet persistently so.  The minerality continues (did I mention the minerality?), showing a quartzy touch that tantalises the tongue and roof of the mouth. There's length, refreshing, fulfilling balanced length.  Bring on the Rizza say I. 

Very happy given that I asked for the Rosé when I originally place the order and this was sent instead.  Good price given the enjoyment factor.  Why is Riesling so undervalued?

Source: Winery
Price: $16-17
Alcohol: 12%
Closure: Screwcap

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Tuesday 25 October 2011

Taylor's Jaraman Shiraz 2009

I used to drink a fair bit of Taylor's in the UK - somewhat unknowingly as it was under the Wakefield brand.  Taylor's is one of Australia's First Families of Wine, and its Jaraman label represents those wines made with a cross-regional composition.  This being 80% Clare and 20% McLaren Vale fruit.  

Black and brooding, the wine spends a fair bit of time in oak - 12 months, all American, 10% new, 80% 1-3 years old (can only assume the remaining 10% is 3+ years).  

The oak is evident on the nose, along with some coffee-mocha and plum.  Entry shows a wine that's medium-full bodied, certainly not thick and syrupy like some you encounter.  Further fruit encountered on the palate: cherry, red berries and a touch of cassis.

The finish is decent too, some residual oak and vanilla an initial entrée to further red fruit; a touch of warmth at the back of the throat a little noticeable - a product of its vintage - but not distracting.  All up fair persistence of flavour - a continuance of some tannic presence.  An all round easy drinker.  

You'll certainly find this wine cheaper than its RRP and its often a feature on many by the glass wine lists.  You could do much worse than overlook this.

Source: Sample
Price: $30 RRP
Alcohol: 14.9%
Closure: Screwcap

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Two Sisters Pinot Noir 2006

Opened this for the Rugby World Cup Final - it was the only Kiwi wine in the house - and it proved rather an apt  metaphor for the All Blacks that night.

Whilst, ultimately, the wine delivered, it lacked the finesse and fluidity of some of its peers. Solid, sturdy - but not particularly inspiring.  As I say, a bit like the All Blacks in that final.

Jooby, juicy aromas on the nose.  Fairly big and extracted.  Medium bodied, lacks depth.  The finish showing warmth and spice.  Don't get me wrong, it was perfectly drinkable - and do just that, drink rather than pontificate and muse. 

Source: Retail, Champion Liquor
Price: $30 RRP
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap

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Sunday 23 October 2011

Pattes Loup Chablis 2009

This is how I expect French organic growers and wine-producers to look.  Especially ones that oversee a label called Pattes Loup (Wolf's Paw).

It was on the basis of this gentleman's photo that I wanted to buy the wine - that it was talked up by the retailer added to the requirement to buy.

Farmed organically, hand picked and fermented in stainless steel and 700 litre concrete eggs.  It is this that gives the wine the incredible texture and richness on the palate.  On approach the wine offers a hint of cashew nuttiness, a suggestion of rich buttery pastry, but it's on the palate where it abounds with citrus.  In the mouth it feels dense and loaded, it is not over-bearing. 

The 2nd phase palate loads up on acid - in a soaring movement - electrifying and enlivening the mouth.  The finish shows some clean mineral layers leaving the mouth with a fantastic record of what had come before.

If you have the opportunity to try this wine, do so.  In fact - get your credit card and place an order with Eurocentric Wines.  Those in the know reckon that Thomas Pico's reputation is on a deservedly upward trajectory and future wine prices are likely to follow suit.

Source: Retail, The Wine Emporium
Price: $39.95 RRP
Alcohol: ?
Closure: Cork, wax sealed

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Thursday 20 October 2011

Semillon Tasting

A tasting group I am involved with - Swirl, Sniff, Spit - organised a Semillon tasting that sought to demonstrate the diversity of styles that can be found with the Semillon grape. Brief tasting notes that follow represent the range of wines shown on the night. 

Bracket 1 - Sparkling
Bimbadgen, Hunter Valley, NV
Ripe, citrus fresh, easy going ability to drink now.  Good aromatics, with some tang.  A quaffer - get it down you.

St Agouant, 1999 'Blanc des Blancs'
Over ten years on lees gives the wine smooth and creamy texture and mouthfeel, Balanced with good acid structure and fine aroma. 

Bracket 2 - Young Semillon
Murray Street Vineyards Semillon 2010
Excellent value for $20.  Showing some developmental attributes, but this was all about fresh citrus and lemon curd on the night.  Wanted a plate of calamari to accompany this. Suspect it has some life ahead of it too.

Scarborough Wine Green Label
Good value too.  Made more in a 'savvy' style, exhibiting youthful and fresh attributes. Herbaceous, grassy and a hint of lime.  Crisp 'n' crunchy too. 

Bracket 3 - South Burnet, QLD
Barambah First Grid 2008
Offered to Swirl, Sniff, Spit on the understanding that it was in the 'hole' and needed some further developmental time to show its best.  A slight slatey note with some pickle characters and asparagus.  

Clovely Estate Left Field Semillon 2006
Showing lovely toasty and age characters as befits the age.  Good length and honeyed notes.  Top drawer and a perfect segue to Bracket 4. 

Bracket 4 - Aged Semillon
Meerea Park Alexander Munro 2005
Layered, complex.  Still showing citrus toward the back end and a creaminess through the middle.  Plenty in reserve: you think the wine is done when it kicks into 2nd gear.  Had me in raptures on the night.  Table wine of the night for me.

Peter Lehmann Margaret 2005
More bling than a rude boy rap artist this wine.  Classic Barossa warmer climate profile. Still showing some texture and fruit in its profile.  Classy and elegant. 

Bracket 5 - Off-Dry and Barrel Ferment
Thomas Wines 6 Degrees Semillon
Enticingly aromatic and shows its good dose of extra sugar in an approachable way.  Nice shape approaching its conclusion.  Reminiscent of crushed 'love hearts' for those familiar with those sweets/ lollies.

Juniper Estate Semillon 2008
Barrel fermentation provides interesting aromatics and a touch of funk from some indigenous yeasts.  Toasty, a touch of herb.  The palate comes across a bit flinty, with a hint of mineral.  More than one comment on the night that there were some similarities to Chardonnay. 

Bracket 6 - Stickie & Sweeties
Punt Road Venda 2010 Botrytis Semillon
Honeyed aromas, delicate citrus and mandarin.  Lovely unctuous texture in the mouth. Where's the cheese?

De Bortoli Black Noble
Basically Noble One from a Solera.  A barrique of Noble One is held back each year and added into the Solera.  Started out in 1979, average age of 18 years.  Since 2003 has been 100% Semillon (prior to that some PX was included).  Caramelised toffee, raisins, coffee, chocolate.  Need I say more?  I don't do Xmas pud - this will be my liquid substitute this year.

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Wednesday 19 October 2011

Hahndorf Hill Grüner Veltliner 2011

Patrick Haddock may think he pioneered the marketing slogans for Hahndorf Hill releases, but those 60s folksters Simon & Garfunkel were singing the virtues of Grüner Veltliner before Mr Pom was even drinking from a bottle!

"Slow down, you move too fast, 
you've got to make the morning last
Just kickin' down the cobble-stones, 

lookin' for fun and feelin' GrüVe"

Hahndorf Hill first released a Grüner in 2010, and along with Lark Hill, Stoney Rise and K1 represent Australia's current producers of the variety.

Much more than a target for witty slogans, Hahndorf Hill have adopted the role of incubator and mentor for the variety in the Adelaide Hills, disseminating plant material around the region - enabling it to become recognised as its leading light.

This wine itself offers a pretty approach, florals, some crisp green apple and blossom, peach and white pepper.  It does not, to me, smell as it tastes.  Entry shows a slight minerally 'crunch' to the wine, offering up texture and a pulsing introduction to the acid of the wine.

The finish is dry, exhibiting a 'glacial' purity; fresh, driving and clean.  Greater than the sum of its different parts, this went rather well with a Mee Goreng in these quarters.  Seeing as Larry Jacobs doesn't, I'll take my hat off to him for a sterling wine.

Source: Sample
Price: $28
Alcohol: 12%
Closure: Screwcap

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Monday 17 October 2011

The Colonial Estate Emissaire Reserve Riesling 2008

This is good shit.

A little backstory: The Colonial Estate had/has holdings across Australia, the US and in Bordeaux.  Despite some good reviews (this received 95 points from Lord Halliday of the Wine Companion) the general consensus was that high RRPs on the wines for new entrants was a little ambitious - this fellow was $33 on 1st release.  

Consequently they were then offered through Get Wines Direct at significantly lower prices.  From memory the GWD advertisement stated the winery was in liquidation, yet the website remain fully functional. 

To the wine itself.  Careful handling, hand picking and sorting, cool transportation from the Eden Valley to the winery operations in the Barossa Valley.  At 3 years it still shows youth and vibrancy.  Lime marmalade, a touch of custard apple.  The palate introduces minerally lemon acid that races through the mouth: pulsing, thrusting, cutting, probing - wave after relentless wave through the roof of the mouth. 

It is this that makes it for me.  And once that is all done, it fades to a gentle finish...gliding to a halt.  You'd figure this will go another 10-15 years.Source: Get Wines Direct

Price: $33 RRP 
Alcohol: 11.5%
Closure: Screwcap

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Sunday 16 October 2011

Jean-Luc Colombo Les Gravières 2008 Crozes-Hermitage

UK scribe Jamie Goode has produced an excellent series of blog posts on the Northern Rhone, it was post #4 that brought this wine to my attention.

Jean-Luc Colombo apparently has a reputation for aversion to change in the wines he makes in Cornas, yet he's a somewhat different beast in Crozes-Hermitage, introducing innovative methods in the 40 year old vineyards this wine comes from and throughout the production process. 

Somewhat fruitier in style than I was expecting, black cherry and blackcurrant offered up with background supporting elements of tapenade and plum.  The medium bodied palate quickly makes way for generous amounts of spice.  Moderate tannins carry the spice further, defining the finish.

All up a bright, attractive medium bodied wine.  The finish, quite memorable.  That said I preferred the Yann Chave recently written up here to this.  The price differential on that wine enabling some extra work in the winery to bring the quality up further. 

Source: Retail, Waitrose (UK Supermarket)
Price: $13.99
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Cork

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Friday 14 October 2011

A Spot of Solo Dining

A blog post by friend Keira McIntosh - The Super Taster - on solo dining, inspired me to have a decent meal out whilst up in Townsville on a short business trip.  My host for the evening was Salt Cellar, self-billed as "Palmer Street's premier wine bar and restaurant" and in all fairness they are right.

My entree was a Ninth Island Pinot Noir 2010 (this website is about wine after all) paired with Maple Glazed Pork Belly, served with pear quinoa, tonka bean cream and sticky balsamic.  Some hastily sought advice from twitter identified this Tassy Pinot Noir (though incorrectly labelled from the Yarra Valley) as possibly the best option. 

Somewhat muted aromatics: sour cherry and a hint of balsamic that matched the pork.  Light chewy tannin - a good foil for the delicate pork. 

The quinoa had a nuttiness I mistook for a sesame snap (it was low-light)! The finish offered more sour cherry. All up rather simple, safe choice that paired well with the pork belly.  

For main course I opted for a Georges Debouef Chiroubles 2009.  From one of the higher sites in Beaujolais, this wine had an ethereal quality to it.  A soft aroma - if you can smell soft.  Juicy strawberry, cassis and redcurrant aromas.  Yes, I could smell it's delicate nature. 

The palate showed excellent harmony.  An incredible lightness followed by some perky acid and then a slight tannic grip to ensure that the mouth is well placed to handle the Confit Duck.  This wine is available in Australia for about $23. Try Cloud Wine

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Tuesday 11 October 2011

Best's Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz 2010

There are some wineries operating today that are a living connection to the origins of the Australian wine industry.  Founded in 1866 and stronger than ever, Best's Bin 1 is the entry level Shiraz, an excellent introduction to the winery and regional style.

Hallmark aromatics of red and black fruits provide an introduction, a hint of background menthol, damp coffee grounds and the cool climate flag-bearer white pepper.  Each time I went back to the wine it seemed to offer more.

The aromas provided a perfect segue to a medium bodied spice laden palate, again with an elegant perfume - think crushed Parma Violets - carrying through to a good drying and spicy finish. 

Source: Prize
Price: $25 (online from winery)
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

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Friday 7 October 2011

McLean's Farmgate Shiraz Cabernet 2003

"Big" Bob McLean was made a Baron of the Barossa in 2011 and I've heard it told that he had been offered inclusion previously, but such is the mark of the man, he didn't feel that his inclusion was worthy.

From those who know, I get the impression that a little bit of "Big" Bob is shown in his wines.  Fruit drawn from the Barossa (sub-region beginning with K I feel I can't mention) and the Eden Valley (Cabernet).  At 8 years of age this wine is still showing generous fruit interwoven with some rather more fragrant violet, and the integration of oak, mocha and chocolate.

Entry shows a silken wine, more chocolate, not necessarily a full wine on the palate, somewhat truncated.  But this is more than made up for it with some generous mouth-filling spice, concentration and carried finish.  Big, but balanced.  Eminently drinkable.

Source: Vinomofo
Price: $40 RRP 
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Cork

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Monday 3 October 2011

Rymill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

I like it when someone has done the hard work of cellaring a wine for you, and what a little beaut this one is.  Struck me as Bordeaux-esque, now I'm not prone to comparing other (particularly old world) regions to those in Australia, but this did strike me as more akin to Bordeaux than Coonawarra.  That could be the age and integration as much as a lack of mint/ eucalyptus, in addition to having been fortunate to taste some good Bordeaux recently.

On opening a heady concoction of cassis, cedary oak, a hint of chocolate and even some background florals.  The aromas combine to flutter intoxicatingly around your nostrils.

Entry shows a dusty wine, before more of that chocolate and oak makes a reappearance.  The finish is dry, some nice light twiggy tannin in this medium bodied number.  All up, it's balanced, structure and offers itself up rather elegantly.  Not necessarily sure it will go much longer, over a few hours of opening it started to lose a little vitality - if you're blessed to have some, simply open and enjoy.

Source: ?
Price: $?
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Pro-cork

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Sunday 2 October 2011

Hand Crafted by Geoff Hardy Shiraz Viognier 2008

There's gold in them hills and K1 winery by Geoff Hardy turns out some liquid gems.  This, a Shiraz Viognier, showing the lifted aromatics of the Viognier in the foreground with some background 'meat', pepper and earth.

It's smooth and silken on entry before an initial hit of sweet black and red fruits hit you, leading to a touch of cola.  The wine demonstrates this interesting, almost in turns, balance of sweet and then savoury tastes.

The finish further shows smooth integrated spice, very fine tannins and a hint of resurgent cola.  All up good drinking.  No idea what it cost, I engaged in some playground 'swaps' with a colleague at work.  Can't recall what he got in return.

Source: Swapsies!
Price: $18
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

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[This post was edited at 12:28 on 04/10/2011 to include a price, bottle image and update the winery website to]

Vinteloper Pinot Gris 2010

With just 65 cases made, it comes as no surprise that this wine is now sadly sold out ex-winery.  Vinteloper is David Bowley, a gent I consider a mate, a winemaker I consider a great talent - as his recent nomination for the Young Gun of Wine testifies.

I first tasted this wine back at a Vinteloper dinner in May 2011.  What impressed me then was the minerality found in the wine.On second taste, I was relieved to see this hadn't gone away.  

The fruit for this wine comes from a vineyard located 11KMs from the coast in the heart of the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula.  The soil, a deep gravelly clay loam, is considered by David to be the wine's foundation - good wine is made in the vineyard.

A fragrant bouquet of the usual suspects: apple, pear, even a touch of brazil nut (i know, i know); entry shows an initial hit of spice before the aforementioned minerality kicks in.  

Good texture in the wine results in broad appeal across the palate.  The finish is crisp, fresh and bone dry - a mere 1.2 G/L residual sugar. 

Source: Winery
Price: $27
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap 

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