Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Future's Bright, The Future's Orange*

The Orange region first came to my attention when, for a while, it appeared I might be posted to West Wyalong, NSW - a mere 220KMs from the town of orange.

Being a diligent, and often thirsty, sort I did my homework.  Starting to sample the wines of Orange.  The move never transpired, but the awareness of the Orange GI did.

The Orange GI is fairly unique in Australia in that it is defined by height above sea-level, and at a minimum of 600m is Australia's highest altitude wine region.

The team at Taste Orange brought some of the Orange producers on a roadshow and visited Brisbane on 21st June.  My time was limited, there were more producers than I could get round too, but here are a few standouts from the tasting. 

Orange Mountain 2009 Chardonnay, $25, 13.5% 
No malolactic fermentation, minimal lees contact.  Resultant wine gives some good biting back acid.  Up front: varietal stonefruit and some toasty oak present from the 60% of new oak.  The remainder is 1-2 years old.  Good cellaring prospect, 5-10 years at a conservative estimate. 

Mayfield Vineyard/ Iceley Road
2008 Mayfield Riesling,$28, %12.5
From a vineyard located at 920m; atop rocky and stony soil, minimal topsoil comes this Riesling exhibiting generous minerality.  This wine is made from the free run juice, imparting a feeling of delicacy coupled with the minerality.

2009 Icely Road Riesling, $19.99, %12.2
This comes from fruit off of the same vineyard as the Mayfield Riesling, the wine coming from the second pressing.  Slightly more floral and fuller in the mouth; an element of sweetness too.

2007 Mayfield Chardonnay, $30, %13.3
This wine sees 30% new oak, imparting a light creamyfeel to the mouth.  Good persistent acidity, generous minerality along with varietal almond and grapefruit character 

Printhie Wines 2010 Mount Canobolas Collection Sauvignon Blanc, $35, %13
Barrel fermented in 4-5 year old imparts some funk on the nose, depth and interest on the palate.  Textural with crispness and acidity on the finish. 

Ross Hill Cabernet Franc 2009, $40, %14.5
This wine had been on my "must taste" list for a while.  Joyously fragrant, with a lovely minty touch.  The palate: light, pippy blackcurranty goodness.  Powerful, balanced.  A pleasure to behold. 



* For the origins of this slogan, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_UK#History

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Bella Riva King Valley Sangiovese Merlot 2009

Like with a blossoming romance, this wine revealed more of itself to me over time.  Initially plummy, savoury aromas following through to a medium bodied savoury palate.  The finish, drying with rustic tannin.

It called out for food, Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is its recommended pairing.  Me? I opted for a sweet potato and bean cannelloni.  Was it the food, or over time did the wine develop a touch of a stewed tomato note?

There are some wines that you can throw all manner of descriptors at, sometimes - for me - a simple scenario based descriptor suffices.  This is not a complex wine, it's rustic and demands food.  I think of it as a wine for the back deck, a wine for friends and large shared plates.

Source: Sample
Price: $18.99
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://bellariva.com.au/

Hoddles Creek Estate Chardonnay 2010

I'd previously only tried the 2005 offering from Hoddles but do have a 2006 and 2007 to look forward too.  Having tasted this wine, I wanted to open a Chablis to compare it to.  A dose of manflu put paid to that and has delayed the posting of this note.  

Whilst this nose has a faint nod to some stonefruit, some background mealy almond and even a touch of pear, the intense minerality driving through the middle places the wine upon a pedestal for me.  

Some grapefruit supports the middle, yet gives way to length.  A good punch of acid had me in raptures.  This is quality wine and a steal at sub-$20.  Whilst it drinks beautifully now, it will easily reward those patient enough to cellar, 7-8 years I recall seeing winemaker Franco d'Anna suggest.

Source: Gift
Price: $18.99
Alcohol: 13.2%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.hoddlescreekestate.com.au/

MDV Eden Valley Grenache 2008

It's interesting to note that the winemaker calls this wine "the Pinot of the Barossa" for, as a Grenache, it is rather light and perfumed - akin indeed to a Pinot.

On the nose, initially quite an intense perfume.  Grenache varietal aromas - that I went looking for, and this shows one of the downsides to knowing the varietal combined with limited tasting experience - a touch of prune, leather and polish.

Medium bodied, fruit drive palate.  Some maraschino cherry and a touch of boiled sweet.  The wine saw new French oak for only 9 months, allowing the fruit to shine.

The finish, showing a touch of spice, barely any tannin to speak of.  Savoury notes on conclusion, dare I say even a touch of mushroom.  Interesting pleasurable wine off of vines over 100 years old.  The vineyard is now leased by Richard Sheedy of Glen Eldon.

Lacks the intensity of other old vine Grenache, but that's what stands it out against others. Easy, pleasurable drinking offered.

Source: Retail
Price: $40 RRP
Alcohol: 15%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://michaeldatta.com/

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Grove Estate Shiraz Viognier 2010

For the techs amongst you: 8 day ferment in two tonne open fermenters, 20% whole bunch Shiraz; plunged 3-4 times per day - Shiraz and Viognier together - straight out of the fermenters into barrel.  Mostly hogsheads, 100% French oak, of which 30% is new, across a range of Coopers.

The wine, familiar aromatic lift of Apricot and violets from the 6% - 100% whole bunch - Viognier - added on top of the Shiraz.  I initially served this too cold, suppressing these gentle aromas - instead bringing out some pan juices, and an almost charry aroma.

Entry, whilst smooth, isn't the same silken scarf as the 2009.  And you start to see things a little differently.  The 2010 exhibits the same fruit laden body of the '09, 20% whole bunch Shiraz  assists to keep this fruit up; yet there's also greater depth to the wine.  Things have been turned up a notch over the previous vintage.

The finish, long.  Persistent, peppery finish - the hallmark of cooler climate Shiraz.  A touch of tannin presents itself early on, nigh chalky.

Over two days the wine shifted a little, giving an indication of some mid-term cellaring potential.  The body showed greater depth.  Losing a little of the primary fruit character, there was this intensity, a blackness, some old leather.  The pepper had pared back a notch, yet still a persistent, intense finish.

A great follow up to the 2009, but for the drinker some time to open up is rewarded.  For the patient individual with the wherewithal to cellar, 5-7 years at a possible conservative estimate would be richly rewarded.

Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.groveestate.com.au/

Mike Press Adelaide Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Mike Press represents fantastic value - $150 per dozen anyone?  Well, when you can find the wines that is.  I managed to bag some Shiraz before they sold out and swapped a bottle with a colleague who had bought some of the Cabernet.

Undeniably Cabernet with its leafy, chocolately aroma.  But I was troubled initially by some play-doh like, vanilla oak - though this did improve with some time.

The palate; blackcurrant, cherry and more chocolate.  Quite restrained in the mouth, medium bodied.  Good flow of tannin through the finish.  Just give it a little time to appreciate it.

Source: Swapsies
Price: $150/ Doz.
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.mikepresswines.com.au/

Domaine Vincent Paris La Geynale Cornas 2009

I'm a relative newcomer to Cornas.  Limited budget and limited tasting experience have denied me the pleasures until now.  Although the few experiences I have had leave me fearing I'm now like the teenager who has worked out it is not just for pissing out of, if you catch my analogy.

Vincent Paris purchased 'Le Gaynale' site off of an Uncle, 2007 was his first vintage off of the site, although he has been making wine in the region since 1997.  Apparently he's a young winemaker and seems set to challenge the established pro's such as August Clape for the mantle of top dawg.

This wine exudes black, concentrated, leathery, meaty aromas.  There's a faint nod to some blackberry fruit; but it's more about the savoury here.  Earthen, savoury characters through the palate and dry, twiggy mouth filling tannin.  It's not really a wine for drinking now.

This wine was part of a line-up at an informal dinner with Plumm GM John Pfister, in which we were looking at wines in different styles of glasses.  Some wth the wines known, some blind.  I commented on the night that this Cornas was made with some Syrah grapes, but it was mostly made with crushed up rocks from its granitic soils - I loved it.

Source: Leftovers from a Tasting
Price: $139
Alcohol: 145
Closure: Cork (of course)
Website: Importer

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cornas 2009 + paris,  cornas wines, cornas northern rhone, cornas north rhone, cornas rone

Monday, 6 June 2011

Murray Street Vineyards Mataro 2004

What I like about an example of Mataro more than a few years old, is that you know the winemaker has an appreciation of the grape and is somewhat ahead of the current trend for producing straight varietal wines.

This example, at 7 years old, is from 50 year old(ish) vines in the Dorrien sub-region (it doesn't appear on my map but appears to be around where the North Para river runs across the Seppeltsfield Road).  

The aroma displays the typical black cherry, damp coffee grounds and the earthen aromas of Mataro that I am loving.  It struck me somewhat like a dense chocolate loaf, you move beyond the sweet confectionery chocolate aromas to this altogether more heady, earthen note.

Entry shows the wine to be smooth, yet there's a fullness and textural element as the wine spreads across the palate.  It exhibits more black fruit and a slight tarriness.  Moving through the finish, there's a slight note of warmth - not harsh, more in the sense of a radiating warmth.

But it's the persistence and intensity of finish that make the wine stand out.  I suggest it is drinking well now.  On day 2, still pleasant, it was showing a somewhat creamier finish - my preference is for that long, driving and filling conclusion.  That will ultimately come down to preference, 

Source: Sample
Price: $40 (Available as a museum release)
Alcohol: 15%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.murraystreet.com.au/

Vietti Tasting – Luca Currado

As I embark on this journey and pursue my liquid education, there are occasions where I am fortunate enough to come across wines that make you weep.  And then there are those moments when you come across wines that make your nipsy shrink by their sheer dazzling beauty and brilliance.  To find such wines with a storyteller as charismatic as Luca Currado is a truly enlightening experience. 

Roero Arneis DOCG 2009 (approx. $50)
A historical point first: Luca’s father apparently was the first to make this style of Arneis first back in 1967.  Previously it had been blended up with leftover Nebbiolo.  The intent was to make a Mosel style wine with 8-10 g/l RS but it came out dry.  Beautiful aromatics: peach, delicate blossom.  Arneis has 10 times the Glycerol of normal whites and it shows in the luscious texture and slippery feel. 

Dolcetto d’Alba Tre Vigne DOC 2009 (approx $40)
Made from 100% Dolcetto (meaning “little sweet one”); fruit laden – exhibiting fresh dark fruit aromas.  

Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne DOC 2008 (approx $45)
Luca is a fierce proponent of Barbera and related how – at his bidding – a Grand Cru Barolo site was replanted with Barbera without his father’s knowledge.  Luca regaled how with the site in question you could produce anything – even bananas.  Suffice to say he was sprung by his father – but his work was done.  He considers this wine as representing Vietti – the consumer’s first impression of Vietti.  Exhibiting this beautiful plum and cherry aroma.  In the mouth: lithe, supple, ethereal.  The finish is persistent, the wine has this incredible balance.  

Bracket Two
Perbacco Nebbiolo Langhe DOC 2007 (approx. $60)
Incidentally Perbacco means something loosely translating to “oh my gosh”.  Beautiful aromatics: dark aromas, almost charry, roasty with hint of bitumen.  Slavonian Oak for neutrality.  Big, concentrated and drying.  Nicey nice. 

Perbacco Nebbiolo Langhe DOC 2008 (approx. $60)
Dark notes again, yet lighter in body – almost a floral element compared to the 2007.  Still firm, tannin present – but less so (in context of Nebbiolo) than 2007.  

Barolo Castiglione DOCG 2006 (approx $150)
The best barrels of Castiglione make it into this wine, the rest is effectively declassified  and makes up the Perbacco.  Luca commented that its not your regular Barolo.  that said, it was beautiful with an aniseed aroma.  Lively – almost alive.  Errol Flynn like length – if you catch my drift.  Slight marzipan/ almond note detected on the finish. 

Barolo Castiglione DOCG 2007 ($approx $150)
Very concentrated, very drying.  Tobacco and leather dominate – yet there is still some red fruit character present.  Lucas stated that he is seeking finesse and elegance, and doesn't want it to be too massive.  I was probably weeping by this point.  Yet there were another four wines to come. 

Bracket Three
Barolo Rocche Castiglione Falletto DOCG 2007 (approx. $280)
Aromas abound, the usual suspects: chocolate, cherry.  But the body is almost velvet like, complimented by soft, round tannin.  I’m not sure I can do this justice. 

Barolo Brunate La Morra DOCG 2007 (approx. $280)
As Luca describes it: the Angelina Jolie.  Dark cherry and a touch of floral notes.  Punch through the middle – wow! Dry, raspy and oh so persistent tannin.

Barolo Lazzarito Serralunga d’Alba DOCG 2007 (approx. $280)
Described as a “more nervous” The body exhibiting more fruit than the previous two – less intense.  Exhibits pepper through the finish, the finish incredibly drying tannin.  In the context of the above, less concentrated, amongst mere mortals it would stand on the shoulders of giants.  

Barolo Riserva Villero Castiglione Falletto DOCG 2004 (approx. $500)
Luca described this as an “emotional wine”. A riserva has only been made 6 times in the last 30 years.  A wine, not for today -  a wine of heritage.  A wine to drink with your children, or grandchildren.  Incredible depth and intensity of aroma.  Balsamic vinegar, tobacco, leather, dried flowers.  My lord – I could go on.  The body: rich, elegant.  Such depth.  It’s like a silken scarf,  tannin is measured; definite, firm and persistent – yet refined.  Think Don Draper delivering his best sales pitch, delivering a trademark one-liner.