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Wednesday 29 August 2012

Yelland & Papps Delight Vermentino 2012

A pleasant packaging refresh since I had a look at the 2011 release of the same.  A pleasing tactile feel to the label too.  You'll have to avail of one to get a feel for yourself.

Lemon, citrus blossom evade out of the glass - bringing you in.  The palate shows good mineral character.   It's zesty, has a bit of verve, drive and swagger to it whilst retaining a lightness.

Moreish, fresh.  Finishes good, it hangs around - lingers with a little more of the minerally resolve that makes this example more than just a wash of flavour.  89 - Good

Source: Sample
Price: $19.95
Alcohol: 12%
Closure: Screwcap

Sunday 26 August 2012

Bimbadgen Semillon 2011

Sherbety lemon, with grass, hay and a hint of buttery character.  Palate shows as lively, fresh and zesty.  Real mineral character here.  Some hint of lime brulee.

Finishes clean with mineral, lively acid and defined lemon.  Clean, but failed to really excite.

A plate of Oysters will get you going.  88 - Good

Source: Semillon
Price: $20
Alcohol: 10%
Closure: Screwcap 

Saturday 25 August 2012

Jamsheed Harem Series Mon Petite Francine 2011

Pretty controversial wine, insofar as it was denied export approval by the Australian panel that granted such.  Granted as it itself is now defunct.  You can read more on it here.

A single vineyard Cabernet Franc, showing a fair bit of funk through stalky/ stemmy/ sappy aromatics - the whole bunch character clearly shining through here.  There's black fruit, almost pastille like blackcurrant and hints of cherry.  In fact it bears at times a resemblance to cheap cola.  That's not a pejorative statement.

Medium bodied, stalky edges come through, although it is actually quite delicate and loose-knit.  Fine grained tannin, drying.  Moderate length and all up rather juicy and dare I say smashable.  89 - Good

Source: Retail, Spiros Paddington
Price: $20
Alcohol: 12%
Closure: Screwcap

Monday 20 August 2012

Benjamin Darnault Picpoul de Pinet 2011

It's back!  The new vintage of the delightful Picpoul de Pinet from Benjamin Darnault.  And the bottle image depicts exactly how I'll be consuming this stunner: by the pool-load AND by the pool.

Pretty similar to the 2010. Fresh aromatic profile with with honey, lemon, a hint of white florals.  But again, it's much more than that.

Zing, tingle; snap, crackle and pop.  It just tastes alive, exciting and this time out I see more waxy textural mouth-feel too.  A little fuller than the '10 but still with that beautiful, cut 'n' thrust, long acidic line.  Why this would not fly off of the shelves, into folks' glasses and evaporate is beyond me.  Wake up people - this is Summer .  93 - Very Good    

Source: Retail, Grand Central Cellars
Price: $23
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Friday 17 August 2012

Massena Mataro 2010

Most likely a one-off production, a lack of Grenache meaning no Moonlight Run produced in that year.

A pretty, bright, enticingly perfumed Mataro.  Still retains Mataro's typical choc-cherry-plum character, augmented by some cracked pepper.  Smells a little lighter, not bad nor good, a point of difference.

Again, lightness - yet dark fruit with a core of fruit sweetness on the palate.  A little short in the mouth, tannin coming on and the finish building with licorice.  Tannin is fine, suggestive of gentle extraction, and overall the finish is excellent with Asian spice rounding things out.  Excellent value.  91 - Very Good

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

Thursday 16 August 2012

TeAro Estate 'Pump Jack' Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Final Cabernet Sauvignon of three tasted blind.  Been very impressed with the TeAro Estate wines reviewed to date, less so with this Cabernet.  It is still well made, showing good balance, with fruit quality shining through.

Where it falls short for me is with tannin.  Or lack thereof. Of the three tasted, this was the more fruit driven with plum and cassis on approach.  It smelled sweeter, more 'polished' and indeed on entry the wine showed itself as being rather slick, smooth and fruitier.  The 100% French Oak lending an elegance.

The finish was a little cordial-like with fruit sweetness, tannins were present - just.  It was easy-going, one for drinking, not necessarily for thinking, but all up didn't do it for me as well as previous wines did.  87 - Average

Source: Sample
Price: $28
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Bremerton 'Coulthard' Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Second of three Cabernets tasted blind.  Leafy with hints of minty florals mixed with black fruit, notably cassis, dusty cassis.

Dark fruits, layered, spice and pepper - quite vibrant.  Finishes with licorice, tar and good gravelly tannin.  89 - Good

Source: Sample
Price: $22
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Attollo Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

First of 3 Aussie Cabernets tasted together, single-blind (so wines known but identities masked).  Notes pretty much as taken.

Tomato leaf, bay, rustic herbal/ bushy notes.  Speaking to me of Margaret River with a little capsicum thrown in.  Over time shows integrated chocolate and cedary notes, with the background leafiness a consistent theme.

Medium-to-full bodied, peppery-spice with mulberry and plum against some tobacco notes. Tannin is firm, emery-board grain with excellent persistence of flavour if a little mono-dimensional at this early juncture.  Good structure, will age well.

100% Organic, unfined, unfiltered with a natural ferment.  Contains 10% 2011 Cabernet Franc.  91+ - Very Good

You can read an interview with winemaker Julian Scott here.  

Source: Sample
Price: $?
Alcohol: 13.9%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: n/a

Fox Creek Vermentino 2011

Lemon with sea breeze wafting in the background.  Clean, light and fresh - a little too clean for my liking.  A tad thin, refreshing with a mere suggestion of fruit: mandarin and light apricot.

Hint of mineral and zing toward the finish, clean but not outstanding.  Minor length.  Would work chilled on a hot day.  87/ 88 - Average/ Good
Source: Sample
Price: $23
Alcohol: 11.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Flaxman Paladin Shiraz 2011

'Paladin' meaning hero or supporter and so the wine is so named to reflect the status of Shiraz in the region.

Juicy, gummy, berry-driven aroma.  In part elegant, in part playful, youthful.  Fresh and fruity with a little wilder undertone.

Juicy driven entry, edged with a little spice.  There's also the presence of a harder, stalky edge to the wine.  Drying tannin to finish.  All up, it's easy going and slurp-able - uncomplicated.  89 - Good

Source: Sample
Price: $9.99
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Sunday 12 August 2012

Merlot: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

nani gigantum humeris insidentes

The liberal licensing of such a noted phrase could apply equally to makers of the subject variety, as it could my own attempts to understand it further through tasting with a scribe and palate I consider one of the best around.

Well a man can learn in only two ways: reading and by association with smarter people than himself*.  So, keen to understand Australian Merlot a little further, I did just that.  

Merlot, another maligned grape variety, suffering from bad publicity (think the protestations of Miles "I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot" in Sideways) and possibly poor winemaking (conjecture).

In no way is the sample set below meant to be definitive.  It was a private tasting limited to some well regarded examples that I happened to have in the cellar, plus one or two others added in to the sample set to add some 'colour'.

Tobin 'Elliott' Merlot - Granite Belt - 2009 - 14%  - $35
Good aromatics, berry mix with suggestions of spice.  In the mouth, smooth yet lacking a little body; the tannin is more up front, coming early on and supported by berry fruit.  Some good savoury character within.  89 - Good

Blue Poles Reserve Merlot - Margaret River - 2008 - 14% - $35
An elegance to it that likely comes from having had a little time to settle into itself.  Bright, hints of florals, lifted sweet accents, yet with those savoury notes of tapenade that we came to see across the better examples.  Good body, with excellent firm tannin.  93 - Very Good

Blue Poles Reserve Merlot - Margaret River - 2010 - 13.2% - $35 
Interesting comparison having the '08 and '10 alongside each other.  The 2010 a little shyer, darker, more savoury.  Good sensitive oak handling here, give this fellow a little time in the decanter and it becomes more expressive - excellent fruit red fruits, brambly character start to come forward a little further.  Looking at this 24 hours later I'm liking it event more.  Good firm tannin.  Original score from tasting, with the addition of a + 93+ - Very Good.

Kyeema Vineyards Merlot - Canberra District - 2008 - 13.1% - $46
Reductive on opening, get past that and see the fine, 'polished', smooth and glossy entrance the wine makes.  Plum and red fruits abound; a peak of acid, savoury hints and the first of the wines tasted to show real spicy attributes.  Peppery, lighter tannin than seen before.  92 - Very Good

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Merlot - Yarra Valley - 2010 - 13.8% - $35
Tapenade, a herby note, with darker fruit tones than otherwise seen.  Plumper than other examples, soft, clean and smooth.  Good graphite tannin with a leafy aspect.  Not the most characterful example, but still a very good wine.  Easy drinking.  91 - Very Good

Shottesbrooke Merlot - McLaren Vale - 2010 - 14.5% - $19.99
Leafy, plummy, almost Cabernet-esque dusty note.  Fuller, sweeter on the palate, immediately followed by an astringency toward the back palate.  An over-oaked pudding. 86/ 87 - Average 

Mollydooker 'The Scooter' Merlot - McLaren Vale - 17% - $20    
Why anyone would want to make a Merlot at 17% is beyond me.  Let alone buy/ drink?  Medicinal is about as kind as I can be.  Not Rated

So there we go, notwithstanding the last couple of examples, Australian Merlot can be in a very good place.  Sweeping statements about its quality, or lack of, can be seen as rather lazy.  Like any subjective matter it partly is an issue of taste, but also of judicious selection.  Stand on the shoulders of giants, look at the best examples and see where the future could be.
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* Tweaked quote from American performer/ commentator Will Rogers

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Chateau de Cèdre 'La Cèdre' Cahors 2007

Regarded as a 'super-cuvee' for the producer, winemaking inputs are as befits the label and correspondingly flow through into the wine.

100% Malbec (appelation rules specify only a 70% minimum), hand-sorted, destemmed, and crushed, with a 40 day maceration with daily punch-downs to keep the cap and liquid in contact, for colour and tannin extraction.

Twenty months in barrel, 80% new and 20% one year old.  All of this leading up to a wine of exquisite, plush fruit (plums, damson), with hints of floral elegance set against that new oak.  Suggestion of tapenade, with a smoky, herbal mix.  Plush and concentrated.

Entry shows a wine at once velvet smooth, with creeping, drying, whole-of-mouth tannin.  Supple, long and soft.  It offers pleasurable drinking over 3-4 days of drinking, indicative of cellar-ability for another 15 years easily.  91/92 - Very Good

Source: Retail, Vaucluse Cellars
Price: $?
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Cork

TeAro Estate Tempranillo 2010

Tempranillo is an interesting beast.  Thick skinned, it ripens early, but buds neither early or late and has a relatively short-growing cycle.  Likes diurnal variation - so like many grape varieties, site is key.

I have a love/ hate relationship with Australian Tempranillo - often struggling to find something I really enjoy.  I've done so here.

Berry compote with good supporting oak leading the way here; hints of spice, cinnamon - not overt.  Firm and full-bodied, dark fruited - richly spiced on the palate.  Tannin, soft and resolved - silken almost, plush and comfortable.  Great balance of easy going charm and inherent appeal without sacrificing varietal character.  92 - Very Good

Source: Sample
Price: $30
Alcohol: 14.8%
Closure: Screwcap

Monday 6 August 2012

Toscar Monastrell 2007

Imported by Ce Soir Wine, and hailing from Spain's central eastern coast in the Alicante DO (Denominación de Origen).  And fair good value say I.

Initially on opening it was redolent of fresh cigars, settling into dark plum and morello cherry with some meaty notes, the 'gypsy' ham you often see in delicatessen.

Spicy and savoury edged, it lacks a little complexity - can be forgiven at the price - somewhat makes up for it with dry, twiggy, herbal-edged notes.  Fine, drying and long tannin - lacks other supporting qualities on the length that would make this an even more memorable wine. 88 - Good

Source: Retail, The Wine Experience
Price: $18
Closure: Screwcap
Importer Website:

Sunday 5 August 2012

Yelland & Papps Delight Vermentino 2011

Vermentino would appear to be doing rather well in Australia, for certain there are many examples being produced and one would hope this is flowing on through in sales.

It has many a quality to endear it to the consumer: light, flavoursome, lower in alcohol and generally well priced.

Opened two examples up on a warm Winter's day to compare side-by-side and this was my preference of the two.  Opening with creamy lemon, almost curd-like.  Fresh and clean as expected with the variety.  

The palate was fuller, citrus-driven and zesty.  A little shell like mineral completed the picture - generous and fresh. Could quite happily sit supping this with the coming warmer months.  90 - Good

Source: Sample
Price: $19.95
Alcohol: 11%
Closure: Screwcap

Saturday 4 August 2012

Flaxman Wines Mataro 2010

For me, a good Mataro experience starts with a glimpse into the Abyss.  A dark, swirling, complex, heady aroma; leading, tempting, inviting you in.

Cherry, chocolate, blood plum, beetroot and hints of iron and earth.  It's full bodied, a fuller mouthfeel; a dark-fruited mass, the feeling of some supporting oak, the alcohol providing revealing glimpses of itself.

It's a real sensory assault, with fennel and citrus hints thrown in the mix too.  Matters conclude with licorice and a peppery twist.  There's lots going on, there often is with good Mataro.  I first tried the Flaxman Mataro with the 2009 release, and whilst I think that wine has the edge on this, I do feel winemaker Col Sheppard has a good hand on the tiller with the variety. 92 - Very Good

Source: Sample
Price: $36.99
Closure: Screwcap

Thursday 2 August 2012

Jauma Danby Grenache Syrah 2011

Image stolen from
Rose, strawberry and raspberry.  This blend of Grenache (90%) and Syrah (10%) is highly aromatic; gentle and soft in the red fruit spectrum.  I had the pleasure of attending a tasting with the entertaining James Erksine of Jauma (Jauma is James in Spanish) who commented on this particular wine: "lightness and purity, hedonistic and aromatic".

Highly drinkable on first opening.  The palate was light and juicy with hints of cherry.  Acid showed a little high for me.  There was little by way of fruit, length or depth and it didn't look the goods on a second night open. 87/88 - Average/ Good

Source: Gift
Price: $28-30
Closure: Cork/ Wax

Waywood Wines Cabernet Sangiovese 2010

A 60/40% blend of the two varieties, co-fermented actually.  A wonderful wine to watch evolve over time.  

Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese have a somewhat natural affinity to one another, at the outset this wine was more of the latter, despite being the junior partner, a qualitative indicator.  Aromatically akin to a gentleman's study: wood, leather, hints of tobacco, tea, dried leaf matter; following up with fruit in the form of stewed plum and cherry.

In the mouth, drying tannin with bright acid toward the finish.  Savoury - twiggy almost, it started to settle into itself, evolving - fruit by virtue of rose, softer berry aromatics.  The Cabernet starts to come to the fore - leafy, plummy Cabernet with dry, raspy tannin and hints of coffee/ mocha.

There was so much going on over its short life, but I'm not sure it ever fully resolved itself in that time.  It was kind of like an awkward gangly teenager, it has much promise and I can only begin to wonder where it will actually end up. 91+ - Very Good

Source: Sample
Price: $35
Closure: Stelvin Luxe