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Sunday 26 February 2012

Ridgemill Estate Monastrell Tempranillo 2009

A 2:1 blend of Monastrell (note the use of the Spanish name for the grape variety - one of only about four wineries I know of in Australia that do so) and Tempranillo.

The Tempranillo on the nose providing attractive, bright pippy-fruit aromatics; the Monastrell black-fruited depth - a suggestion of tapenade and a little oak. Rather concentrated, in the glass its a black mass with a vibrant rim.

Entry, smooth, spice immediately starts to build.  A little short in the mouth, the wine's energy instead going into the finish.  Acid adds extra length, carrying the black fruits with a final liquorice twist. 89/90 - Good

Source: Swapsies
Price: $25
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap

David Franz Benjamin's Promise Shiraz 2004

Been on a bit of a Barossa kick of late. Having previously sampled the delights of a Peter Lehmann Eight Songs 2004, I thought I'd skip a Lehmann generation and sample in the delights of this offering from David Franz.

So, spicy coffee-ish oak with a backdrop of juicy fruit - sounds Barossan. But the palate delivers rich, ripe flavors that effortlessly glide down. More of those coffee-notes that build and build through to the finish. Tannins, ultra-fine that coat your mouth and teeth.

It's one of those seductive wines that has you coming back for more.

Beautiful packaging on the outer, glorious juice within.

Source: Retail, Purple Palate
Price: $38
Closure: Cork

Saturday 25 February 2012

Yelland & Papps Divine Grenache 2009

Australia has fantastic old vine resources.  Certainly amongst Grenache, Shiraz, Cabernet and Mataro (see my note on the Y&P Dvine Mataro here) it can lay claim to having the oldest vines of the type in the world.

So, this example, from vines 130 years of age, has been shown the respect due to it.  The fruit has been allowed to shine, 'fruity' is often seen as a pejorative when it comes to Australian wine - and big thanks to a well regarded wine writer for that thought - yet when it comes to fruit of this calibre, it would be an insult to do anything else but let it sing.

Only 700 produced, spends 24 months in 100% French oak - 10% of which is new - thirteen days on skins, bottled unfiltered, and then spends 12 months in bottle.  Quite simply: divine.

Some detection of oak on initial viewing, and along with a hint of Grenache's boiled lolly, that soon dissipates with time in glass.  In the mouth, the wine presents itself as one of substance: smooth, viscous, a good mouth-feel, black-fruited and somewhat tarry.  Depth, intensity, and complexity.

Tannins on the finish are soft and plush - not that the varietal is noted for its tannin - and the depth carries through and continues to the wines not inconsiderable conclusion.  93 - Very Good

Source: Sample
Price: $75
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Chateau de Sours Bordeaux Rosé 2010

Chateau de Sours is located near Libourne and Pomerol, sitting atop a limestone plateau providing free-draining soils.  With a heritage stretching back 200 years, wines such as this are leading a resurgence of interest for Bordeaux Rosé.

Delicate berry perfume, a hint of strawberries and cream.  Entry shows a wine somewhat light-on, there's textural interest, but it works as a rather easy drinking and lightly fruited style - pairing rather nicely with a small goods tray.  Dry - naturally - with spice through the finish, which adds further interest through length.  90 - Good

Source: Tasting
Price: $26.99
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap

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[Updated at 14:21 25/02/2012 to include a 'score']

Thursday 23 February 2012

Murray Street Vineyards Black Label Mataro 2010

Aromatically complex, akin to driving up a mountain pass, something different greeting you at each turn: chocolate coated black cherries, a baked crumble of red and black fruits; then the savoury elements - coffee compounds, beef consomme, Bovril, a faint whiff of violet.

Smooth on entry, showing itself to be a wine of substance - palate weight filling the mouth; shape across the palate - a tarry, black fruited core concluding with the now familiar liquorice of Mataro.

There's length too, slowly fading to a conclusion, showing moderate tannin, Szechuan spice and resurgent black fruit.  92 - Very Good.

Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Saturday 18 February 2012

Natural Selection Theory: Tom Shobbrook

A timing error on my part meant I had a limited amount of time at the recent Natural Selection Theory tasting held at Spring Brisbane.  I'd previously tasted some of Anton Van Klopper's Domaine Lucci and Lucy Margaux wines, as I had James Erskine's Jauma wines, so for this short opportunity I opted to focus on tasting a few of the wines of Tom Shobbrook (pictured).

A bit about Tom: a Barossa boy, Tom spent 6 years at a leading biodynamic Tuscan Estate - Riecine - before returning in 2007 to his parent's property in Seppeltsfield.  On his return, Tom gained some additional experience working for the Kleins at Ngeringa.  He's now working towards conversion to biodynamic practices on his parents property and that which he owns around Ebenezer.

Eden Valley Riesling 2011: split 40% across tank and 60% in 4-5 year old old oak.  Has the soft florals of the vintage and the lime of the region.  Back end delivers a real citrus burst with requisite mineral and pebble.  The magic happens with fantastic racy length and presence.  Will age tremendously with great acid structure. 93 - Very Good. $35-40

Didi Giallo Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010: whatever you think Sauvignon Blanc is like, throw those thoughts out of your head.  This is not like that at all (it's nice for a start).  I thought it to be a good Pinot Gris initially.  Honeyed pears, floral, spicy.  Real subtle nuances - full and smooth.   Magical.  95 - Outstanding.  $45

Shobbrook 2011 Nouveau Mourvédre: You'll most likely be a little surprised by the spritz on opening this - a little undissolved CO2 is left in the wine on bottling.  Made in a real drink-now style, it's just a beautiful expression of fruit.  Cherry fruity, rounded mouth-feel - yet there's complexity in there, surprising for a young wine.  Some good chalky tanning completes the picture. 91 - Very Good.  $22

Tom is a captivating individual.  Some will have issue with the winemaking techniques that some of the collective employ, but one thing is certain: the wines have an inherent challenging quality about them, and the Natural Selection Theory collective are a group akin to the 19th century artistic sets.  Urging each other on, challenging themselves to make better wine, constantly pushing the envelope.  For that I admire them.

Monday 13 February 2012

Taylor's Winemaker's Project Vermentino 2011

Love the concept: allow your winemaker(s) to play with the varietals they want to, and in the manner they wish.  Push themselves and the boundaries of conventional winemaking, but also telling that story via the little booklet that comes with the wine.  

Grower is certified organic but this wine doesn't state that it is.  Regardless, beautifully fresh aromatics: pear, grapefruit and a hint of honeydew melon.  It's lively, fresh, zippy and zesty - excellent acidic approach through to the wine's conclusion.  Feint sea mineral at the back end, moderate length.  Dangerously drinkable.  89 - Good (could quite happily give an additional point for the story telling too). 

Source: Sample
Price: $22
Alcohol: 10.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Sunday 12 February 2012

Chapel Hill Mourvèdre 2010

On this journey I've often wondered what is Australia's best region for Mataro, or the best region for making wines in the style of Bandol.  I think if I were a Mataro vine, I'd be quite happy facing into the Western sun, with a view out towards the Gulf of St Vincent as these vines do.  

From a 20 year old block near to the Victory Hotel at the bottom of Sellick's Hill, this 2010 release is the second from Chapel Hill.  From the hands of Michael Fragos, a Willunga boy at heart.  I read in a profile on Fragos, from Gourmet Traveller in 2008, that he's a man intent on being in-tune with the vines from which the fruit comes, a man hell-bent on making wines with balance and inherent drinkability. 

Quite vivid in the glass, the wine has a vibrancy to it, more than just a hue, or a purple rim, it's positively radiant.  A fantastic perfume greets you on approach, black forest fruits, blueberries, violets and kirsch.  Good Mataro can be like a joy ride, offering thrills and pleasure with every turn - as with this wine, stick your nose in and come back with something else each time you look.

Upon entry it reveals itself to be effortlessly smooth, the flow into the mouth shows the liquorice elements oft found in good examples of the varietal, further supported by smooth chocolate character.  There's excellent persistence exhibited, silken tannin, its a wine of drive and length.

Fantastic wine.  It seems at odds to not even talk of the 15% alcohol, yet it was barely noticeable.  The balance sought, achieved.  92 - Very Good

Source: Sample
Price: $30 
Alcohol: 15%
Closure: Screwcap

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[This post was edited at 13:40 on 12/02/2012 to reference the Gourmet Traveller article featuring a profile on Michael Fragos]

Friday 10 February 2012

Domaine La Sarabande Faugéres 2010

Faugéres is an AOC in the Languedoc appellation, in France's South West corner, inland and roughly equidistant between Montpellier and Carcassone.  The majority of its 2,100 hectares are at relative altitude (often greater than 250m/ 800 feet) and planted on Schist rock - excellent for moisture and heat retention, indeed winemakers in the region say that ripening occurs overnight.

A review of the 2009 of this wine over at Dave Brookes' excellent Vinofreakism piqued my interest in the wine.  Turns out it's made by an Aussie - Paul Gordon and his wife Isla.  Big props to Smashing Bottles for importing it and to the Wine Experience for stocking it.

Pronounced red fruit aromatics from the Grenache: distinct cherry, moving towards plum.  New world it certainly isn't, there's a lovely savoury herbal edge to the wine with a nod to a charcuterie plate.  The palate has this lovely fulsomeness to it - entry is smooth - some structure from the Syrah.  The savoury edge is carried through the core of the wine: earthen, forest floor a hint of mushroom.  Damn fine finish, of good length.  91 - Very Good

Source: Retail, The Wine Experience
Price: $38
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: DIAM

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[This blog was edited at 07:35 on  12/02/2012 to reflect that Faugéres is an AOC within the Languedoc appellation]

Thursday 9 February 2012

Golden Grove Mourvédre 2009

On 2nd February, I had the pleasure of joining James McIlwain of Southern Cross Wines on 4BCs Wine Time segment.  Wine Time is a fortnightly segment on 4BC Commercial Radio that James hosts.  On this particular show, James and I spoke about Project Mataro and the Swirl, Sniff, Spit tasting group I am part of.  We tasted two wines on air that evening, the Flaxman Wines 2009 Mataro and this, the Golden Grove Mourvédre 2009 from Queensland's Granite Belt.  This is a guest post from James.

My recent introduction to the joy of a good Mourvèdre via Project Mataro was coupled with a very impressive visit to the Granite Belt recently. The joys of the Strange Bird varieties produced by a passionate number of wineries in our own backyard cool climate region has really opened up some new experiences for me.

One such winery is the 4.5 James Halliday rated Golden Grove. With vines planted in the 1970’s, the Italian heritage of the Costanzo family shines through with a range of European favourites (e.g. Durif, Barbera, Vermentino et al).  But I was out to track down the 2009 Mourvedre. 

In a recent tasting with another Australian example (labelled Mataro,) this wine held true to it flavour profile. Lighter in style than its Barossa cousin it still displayed deep purple in the glass with a fine dark rim, the earthy nose reminded me of the funkiness I like in good French Pinots (and miss in some Australian ones).
Savoury black fruit, spice and pepper were backed up by strong tannins that had been subtly tamed by the new French oak.  A hint of molasses in the finish.
This wine could only improve with a few years in the cellar.

Source: Cellar Door
Price: $28
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap

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Taylor's Jaraman Margaret River and Clare Valley Chardonnay 2011

More expensive wine of the 3 Taylor's Chardonnay reviewed (the 80 Acres and Estate Chardonnay can be found before this).  The better 'made' wine. Grapefruit and peach on show; mealy with some oak that pops it's head up. Shows some length, with a decent driving line of citrus. Good clip of acid in there too.  88 - Good

Source Sample
Price: $24.95
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap

Taylor's Clare Valley Chardonnay 2010

More up my street, and of the three Taylor's Chardonnay reviewed - the one I went back to (the 80 Acres and Jaraman follow).  Toasty, nutty, marzipan aromatics. Some work in the form of battonage provides a creamy feel.  Stone fruit and melon support the wine on the palate. Nutty, showing some complexity. Good finish, some length. 87 - Average

Source: Sample
Price: $18.95
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Taylor's 80 Acres Chardonnay 2011

Taylor's 80 Acres range is 100% Carbon Neutral.  This is the first of three Taylor's Chardonnays reviewed.  (The 2010 Estate Clare Valley and 2011 Jaraman Chardonnay follow).  Of non-regional definition, this wine offers simple lemon and grapefruit aromatics afore some sharp acids. In the mouth pithy grapefruit; the finish somewhat short, sharp and rather bitter. 85 - Average

Source: Sample
Price: $13.95
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap

Sunday 5 February 2012

Flaxman Wines 2009 Mataro

Project Mataro and this wine share a common link in their source of inspiration.  Col Sheppard and his wife Fiona purchased a small vineyard overlooking Flaxman's Valley.  Vintage experience with Murray Street led to Col making his own wines.  This Mataro of Col's was inspired by Andrew Seppelt's own efforts and Project Mataro was spurred on by Andrew's own love of Mataro (subscription required).

From vines approximately 30 years old off of the Bethany Road, in the Bethany sub-region.  Just 60 dozen made, all in old French oak, some 3-4 years old.  Dense colour with a vibrant purple rim.  Black fruit, furtive kirsch and secondarily some vanilla and latent coffee.

Smooth entry before a hit of sausage,spice and black pepper commence building up on the tongue.  tannin is present: fine grained, building in the mouth, the pitch reaching a crescendo to the roof of the mouth.  A fitting finale, with a final flourish of liquorice.  93 - Very Good

Source: GFWS
Price: $30
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

flaxman mataro 2009 reviews, Flaxman Valley Mataro, Barossa Mataro, Barossa Valley Mataro

Nepenthe Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Pretty polarising varietal is Sauvignon Blanc.  Rather maligned amongst the wine-erati, but guzzled by the gallon with a certain type of consumer group.  The latter would certainly like this effort from the 2011 vintage.

Regional hallmarks of goosebery, lychee and passion fruit.  General troppo-fruit and sweet as.  Entry shows some furtive mineral, a hard edge to the wine.  Glimpses of stonefruit, a background floral note - but still the sweetness was rather overt for my - and that is the thing here - liking.  Its conclusion shows some pronounced acid afore a rather truncated finish.  85 - Average

Source: Sample
Price: $19.99 RRP
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap

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