Saturday, 30 June 2012

Pattes Loup AC Chablis 2010

This picture made me buy the 2009 version of this wine.  The fact it was so damn good had me chomping at the bit to try and find the 2010 version.

Has some of the familiar lemon creme pastry elements to it, flaked almonds, wheaty-mealy note with some honeyed parsnip.

The palate sees a briny, oyster shell note familiar to Chablis.  Weightier than I recall, fulsome, a hint of mineral - pebble.  Acid is good, not the rapier like thrust of many  Chablis.  Gone is the soaring secondary movement of the '09, instead replaced by greater depth, harmony -  well pitched .

My final memory is of honey and lemon, a perfect tincture as the wine slides down the back palate.  93 - Very Good

Source: Retail, Cru Bar
Price: $40
Alcohol: ?
Closure: Cork, wax seal

Friday, 29 June 2012

Les Courtilles Cotes du Rhone 2010

Les Courtilles ('the courtyards') was founded in 1997.  It's a lovely fresh, modern take on the classic Cote Du Rhone style - what we in Australia generally know as a GSM, and in this case its a 48/ 44/ 8 blend of those three bad boys.

Attractive on approach, a red and black-fruited mix, kirsch, some violets and a hint of the classic wild herb, hawthorn and hedgerow mix so appealing.

More of the same on the palate, initially tannins can seem a little aggressive and powerful, but they do seem to tame quickly - or you get used to them.  

It shows a touch of silk 'n' steel, the old iron fist in a velvet glove, the tannin prominent, they mouthfeel quite lush.  Concludes with a spicy twist.  I could drink a fair bit of this, and at the price you can too without breaking the bank.  92 - Very Good



Source: Sample
Price: $19
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2011

Entry level Viognier from Australia's pioneer of the variety, Yalumba.  On the nose good honey and honesyuckle with a suggestive soapy - Starlight soap beckoning you in.  Textural mouthfeel, yes it's a little slapped on, unctuous, syrupy, full on mouth-feel.  By no means is it overdone, the texture here is interesting and a great counter-point to the pickled ginger note on the back end.

Acid is a little elevated, a tide to carry the added spice on the finish for further interest.  Matters conclude with a waxy feel - all up clean and interesting.  Smart for supposed entry level.  89 - Good.

Source: Sample
Price: $14.95 RRP
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Yelland & Papps Devote Grenache 2010

"Your will to speak clearly
Exposed too much
Unsung once too often
Could not rub off"
~ Helmet, Unsung

Grenache is another unsung hero of the Australian wine industry.  But it's making a little resurgence thanks to producers like self-confessed Grenache freaks Yelland and Papps.

Sometimes when you're reaching into the spot where you keep your liquid treasures, you want something comforting.  Such was my requirement when looking for something to crack open on a damp Brisbane Winter's evening.

It was comforting alright.   A comfort that comes in a spicy and savoury form.  A comfort of fruit, cola-hints and able supporting oak.  A comfort derived of coffee note and licorice; intriguing...alluring.


One for the grown-ups with its dark fruited depth, spice and pepper.   Layered, guided by good acid and structured, it's a joyous mix on the palate of fruit, florals, oh so more-ish licorice edged joy bound up with an easy to settle into style.  92 - Very Good

Source: Sample
Price: $32
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Chapel Hill 'The Chosen' Gorge Block Chardonnay 2011

Aromatic allure, delicate grapefruit with pithy lemon citrus invite you in.  Go back and there's more, it's a snippet of a conversation at first you don't understand, then you process it and the picture is a little clearer.

A nice segue onto the palate where detail presents itself: battonage and barrel work self-evident with a fuller mouthfeel.  Toasty, spicy oak toward the mid/ back palate, there's acid - noticeable, not prominent.  It's less about line and length, more detail and depth. Pretty impressive.  91 - Very Good

Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap

Chateau Maris La Touge Syrah 2009

Another cracker of an import from the guys at Pure Fine Wines, and another savoury wonder from the Languedoc that ticks many a box for me.  In fact, the winemaker at Chateau Maris is none other than Benjamin Darnault, of the eponymous Picpoul-de-Pinet so lauded on these pages.

Opens with a jumbly jam of brambly fruits, earthen with hints of moccha chocalata (ya ya), yet with time the savoury elements come to the fore: woody, spicy rustic - with fruit flecks adding to the composition.

The palate shows a wine fulsome, eighty, savoury.  Pitch of acid on a good length, channeling grainy/ gravelly tannin to an excellent conclusion.  Enjoyed seeing how this morphed over time.  92+ - Very Good

Source: Retail, Wine Experience
Price: $28
Alcohol: 14.9%
Closure: Cork

Monday, 25 June 2012

Boireann Tannat 2011

This wine raised more questions for me than it provided answers.  It was the first Tannat that Peter Stark of Boireann has made since 2005, vintages in between variously lost to frost or hail damage, or made in such minute quantities that use for blending is the only option.

It makes me question whether it's the right variety for the region? Boireann are the only winery I know of there releasing a varietal Tannat, Summit use it in blends. Boireann are on one of the higher points in the region, and one of the coldest too.

2011 was a tough year on the Granite Belt, it was the year that saw widespread flooding across much of South East Queensland.  A year in which for once hail or frost weren't a problem, a year in which Peter Stark managed to commercially release a Tannat at 13.5%.

Initially quite muted aromatically, seemingly hard and unripe, yet give it some time and the Tannat character does get a chance to shine through, for that cloak to remove itself.  Dried leaf litter, dried earth, the savoury edges imbued with some lifted floral and blackcurrant nuances.

Medium bodied, slight herbal and savoury notes; the hallmark tannins are there, yet the wine seems elegant.  Juicy to boot - the regional DNA for many a Granite Belt wine, hints of violet, good acid balance.  Length a little lacking for me, and for me a requirement for what I look for in stand-out examples of a Tannat.  That said, from the challenge of a tough vintage, Peter Stark has fashioned a reasonable Tannat.  88 - Good

Source: Cellar Door
Price: $35
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap

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[This post was edited at 18:37 on 25/6/2012 to correct the fact that the last Tannat made was 2005 and not 2002]

Sunday, 24 June 2012

TeAro Estate 'Charred Door' Shiraz 2008

Go visit the TeAro website for the story behind the name, or even better help yourself to half dozen whilst there and take a walk through history with the 'timeline' printed on the bottom of the label.

Initially quite dark and shut down, brambly and briary with hints of pepper flecked fruit being stole a glimpse of.  Give it a little time and it really opens up: black fruit, generous acid - yet not distracting; hints of soy, cold espresso and clove-spice high notes in the mix.

Tannin is fine grained, delivering exemplary length.  Time and patience will be squarely rewarded here, for by day two it was smooth textured, polished and integrated - albeit with a lovely savoury edge to proceedings.  92 - Very Good.

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

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Phi 2008 Pinot Noir

"PHI (pronounced /f/ FEE in English), the twenty-first letter of the Greek alphabet, 
symbolised perfect balance, harmony and divine proportion."

Hand harvested, hand-sorted, hand de-stemmed to a 9 tonne open-fermenter = love in my opinion.

At 4 years of age the colour is still fresh, the wine exhibits excellent pinosity: earthen, suggestions of mulch with sweet floral accents.  A playful tug-of-war between sweet and savoury.

Velveteen entry, spice-tinged, tannin works with the spice coated velour scarf to create exquisite length.  On and on it goes, relentless - like a nagging wife thought I - yet delivering so much pleasure.  

To speak only of the savoury and spice elements would be to fail to do justice to the sense of fruit also delivered too.  Regardless of how you see this particular wine playing out, know this: it is a wine of inherent charm, balance and beauty.  94 - Outstanding

Price: $55
Alcohol:13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://phiwines.com.au

Follow me: http://twitter.com/TheVinsomniac

Te Aro Estate Joker's Grin 2008

A good example of the blend working, for the component parts to each have their say and to deliver a wine of fair value and good drinking.

Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot (41/ 41/ 18% respectively) together offer juicy berry aromatics firmly in the black spectrum.  Clean and straightforward from the off, over time each constituent part gets the opportunity to speak their lines a little further: leafy Cabernet, rounder mouthfeel from the Merlot and good spicy length from Shiraz.

All up fair generosity, a hint of peppery spice  adding to some length and providing a little detail.  Easy drinking and rather more-ish in that classic soft, fruit-driven generous style.  89 - Good  

Source: Sample
Price: $20
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Brendon Keys: BK Wines

BK Wines is Brendon and Kirsty Keys.  BK Wines is a brand to watch, Brendon a winemaker whose star is rising.

Pre-conception is a funny thing.  Look at this photo on the left, when I first came across this photo from this article, all I saw were the tattoos.

I've written some posts about Brendon's wines before on this blog, titled 'Hand Made' and 'Still Hand Made'.  The tattoos were just a prop, the lack of them on the winemaker when I first met him somewhat disarming.  

I've met Brendon over a few tastings, would consider him a mate - in so far as my yardstick for application of such a term is: "would I or have I had a beer with this person?" -  yet trust in my judgement enough to know that it's not just mateship that has me compelled to write about his wines.

A Bit of History
Beyond the label 'winemaker' Brendon is a Dad, a DJ, previously a Chef.  Born across the ditch, a love of "bright, spicy Shiraz" brought Brendon to work vintage in McLaren Vale with Wirra Wirra in 2003.  

After getting a little disenchanted with big, high alcohol reds Brendon worked in  California and from there was asked to oversee the set-up of a new winery in Argentina - the question begs, when are we to see a BK Wines Malbec?  With Kirsty struggling to find work as a Nurse in Argentina the decision was made to move back to NZ, but a love for Australia and its reds lured them both back to Adelaide.

A Bit About the Wines
I may be guessing here, but Brendon's only philosophy appears to be "make the best wine possible, with the best fruit available".  As every winemaker should, he drinks well, and from a broad 'church' of wines - yet without being bound by dogma.  For want of a label, you might say 'new French' but that's now - and more about the future later.

BK Summer Series 2011 Rosé: hints of tangerine and cranberry, but forget the fruit it's really about the gorgeous texture and weight on the palate, beautiful crisp dryness.
BK Summer Series 2011 Pinot Grigio: "you have a glass of Grigio whilst you're looking for a wine to drink" quips BK.  Typically fresh with hints of lemon/ lime pithyness.

BK Summer Series Nouveau Syrah 2011: No oak - resulting in a soft, rounded and fruity - slightly under-ripe raspberry - wine.  The finish seeing a little spice, some white pepper. Damn enjoyable, a back deck kind of wine.

2011 One Ball Chardonnay: Yet another wine that gives a two fingered salute to the "2011's a shit vintage" brigade.  Minerally, chablis-esque, porn-star length - if I may be so crude about such a thing of beauty.

Skin 'n' Bones 2011 Pinot Noir: 256 days on skins, maybe necessity being the mother of invention with this one?  It's 100% whole berry, hand de-stemmed through the funnel.  Bone dry, and tannic - lots of lovely drying tannin.

Gower 2011 Pinot Noir: 50 dozen made, good ripe tannin to boot, and oh such glorious lenght and staying power.  'Burgundian' if I may be as bold to make such a claim?  One too much, this is from a new vineyard BK has secured access to.

What's to Come?
So whilst there may not be a Malbec in the immediate future, BK did speak of a Tannat, Gewurztraminer and Savagnin in the pipeline.  

As for the latter of those varieties, it will be interesting to see from where inspiration is drawn.  I pondered this as we sat drinking the wines of Jacques Puffeney from the Jura, including a very oxidatively handled Savagnin.  I don't have the answer, that remains to be seen.  

The BK brand is set to expand beyond the current 1200 cases.  Certainly one to watch, a star on the rise; the confident, but unassuming, Brendon Keys a talent burning bright.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Cascabel Monastrell 2009

Caveat: this was a leftover sample from tasting in the trade so I'm not entirely sure how long it had been open for when I got my mitts on it.

Only one of about four producers in Australia that I know of using the Monastrell name.  Duncan Ferguson and Susana Fernandez have set up home in the Southern end of McLaren Vale, predominantly focusing on 'Rhone' and Spanish varieties - the latter being the home of Susana, and the likely source of the choice of the Spanish name for this variety.

Cured meats on opening, clearly in the savoury mould with spice and wild herb stating their case in the aromatic profile.  Delicate on entry, ethereal, a supple wine - gently fruited with the merest suggestion of red/ black berry fruits.  Generous rustic tannin, generous length with a slight bitter, black tinged, twiggy note.  Very enjoyable even if just for the contrast shown with the lightness against the tannin. 90 - Good.

Source: Leftover sample from trade
Price: $42
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Elderton Ode to Lorraine 2008

Caveat: this was a leftover sample from tasting in the trade so I'm not entirely sure how long it had been open for when I got my mitts on it.

Lorraine is the mother of Elderton proprietors, the Ashmead brothers Allister and Cameron.   A blend of the best portions of wine made each year: 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Shiraz and a touch of Merlot (8%).  Generous, fruitsome wine with hints of coffee/ mocha and Casis.  Smooth, plush, more blackcurrant/ cassis in the body, a hint of spice.  

Tannin is fine with supporting black pepper.  Generous spice-flecked, comfortable finish.  Saw another review that stated, for all this wine's quality it lacked a bit of x-factor.  My own thought was similar, thinking it rather "missionary" in its positioning.  Yeh it has some spice, but all up it's just too clean and comfortable.  Score? 90 - Good

Source: Leftover sample from trade
Price: $50
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Radford Eden Valley Biodynamically Grown Riesling 2010

Caveat: this was a leftover sample from tasting in the trade so I'm not necessarily sure how long it had been open for when I got my mitts on it.
 
I tried this twice, once at room temperature when it was suggestive of a touch of oxidative handling with some brown apple supplemented by cut flower.  Chill it down a little and lime, rind, honey and a nod towards to a developmental note came to the fore.

Fuller, broader palate - indicative of some barrel work possibly - not your rapier like, cut and thrust Rizza, this has a fair amount of power to it.  A touch of spice.  Exquisite length.   Power - did I mention that?  93 - Very Good


Source: Leftover sample from trade

Price: $40 (CD price)
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure:Vin Lok

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Langmeil 'The Resurrection' Mataro 2010

"I am the resurrection and I am the light"
~ The Stone Roses, I Am The Resurrection 

From vines just reaching puberty, 10-15 years old and from Keyneton and Williamstown - the Barossa's Southern end.  

Didn't get much fruit from this dark, sullen beast.  Initially woody, earthy - a hint of cigar even.  More about the savoury.  The palate showed more dark, almost christmas cake and Jamaican ginger spice elements. Clean and smooth, the spice envelopes the palate, reaching a peak it held and sustained.  

Yet it didn't move on from there, I personally would have liked a little more support by way of fruit.  I preferred it on day one, by day two and three it became a little one dimensional, monosyllabic in its construct.

That said, on day one it was in a groove.  The finish was defined by the black natured spice, yet at its conclusion the wine was punctuated by a little violet-tinged, herbal twist.  A nice twist indeed. 88 - Good

Source: Sample
Price: $40
Alcohol: 15.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Murray Street Vineyards Black Label Marsanne 2011

What Jerry McGuire really wanted to say in the film of the same name was: "show me the texture" and he'd have no doubt been talking about blends or varietal wines made from "White Rhone" grape varieties.  This Marsanne from the Barossa's Murray Street Vineyards is one such example that will challenge the fruit-ophiles and score a win for team texture.

A slight honeyed note, with some honeysuckle, delicate florals, toasted pine nut and a hint of flaked almond.  Clean profile in the mouth, good acid with a hint of spiced pear.  I just love the textural nuttiness on these kind of wines.

Comes with good length, combination of acid and texture, working in unison, weaving their magic to deliver.  Match with Moroccan chicken tagine.  88 - Good.
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 11.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Friday, 8 June 2012

A.Retief Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011

A blend of 70% Canberra Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Hilltops Semillon.  A good Bordeaux blanc style, barrel work evident on the nose, supporting peach, honeydew melon, with fresh accents of lemon.  All up, a good intro.

Clean entry, feathered textural feel - by which the wine spreads across the palate - good texture.  Touch of weight too, acid channeling the wine, inducing salivation.  Clean, fresh, more-ish - a wine I readily went back to.  Great with some simple grilled fish.  89 - Good.

Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Bimbadgen NV Sparkling

Wafting out of the glass comes a citrus tinged note, lemon sherbet pervading the nasal passage.  Lively, sweet - very sweet - sherbet palate with the joy and spritz of youth.

Refreshing and inoffensive.  You'll have to like it on the sweet side, but armed with this knowledge, dive in head-first.  86 - Average

Source: Sample
Price: $16
Alcohol: 12%
Closure: Cork

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Geddes Experimental Mataro 2010

On opening, this was like Spinal Tap meets Metallica's 'Black Album' - all black, and peppery with szechuan spice, twisty licorice, pepper, black molasses.  Yet like hardcore fans of the latter band with that offering, you could possibly be disappointed for it didn't seem to go on from there.

It promised much, yet didn't deliver what it had initially indicated it would do.  Day 1 it was a dark fruited mix with hints of tar and licorice. The palate was slick, schmick, doffing its bowler hat to Grenache with some hints of juicy, gummy fruit - ably supported by some fine drying tannin.

Beyond that it retreated into itself.  It held up over 4 days, just a shade of its former promise.  88 - Good It's good, just drink on day one.
Source: Gift
Price: $?
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

d'Arenberg Twentyeight Road Mourvédre 2004

At 8 years of age this 'Fleurieu' Mourvédre from d'Arenberg, comprising 60% McLaren Vale fruit and 40% Langhorne Creek, is looking pretty good.  Still throwing some hallmark Mataro fruit character: sour cherry and heady plum.  Coupled with secondary character that comes with age, darker black olive tapenade, old wood, some damp earthen character and cured meats.

Entry shows a wine smooth, yet also fairly solid, it has a touch of weight to it, ably supported by raspy, sandy tannin.  Spice is evident, pepper and cinnamon betwixt some red fruit character - the classic battle you often see with Mataro, the tussle betwen fruit and savoury/ spice characteristics.

Fantastic length, the core of spice wrapped around a conveyor belt of tannin.  There's still some lift left in it, 3-4 years in the cellar perhaps, if opened you'd want to consume it straight away.  Available as a cellar release from d'Arenberg and select retailers, under cork - the Gods were on-side this time.  91 - Very Good


Source: Sample
Price: $40
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Cork

Monday, 4 June 2012

Yalumba Organic Viognier 2011

Opened a couple of Viognier from Yalumba - Australia's pre-eminent, and pioneering, Viognier producer.  Here's the first note: on opening smells a little like a ferment kicking off with CO2 and bready, yeasty character.  Give little time - and you'll see a little creamy, honeyed citrus, suggestions of flaked almond too.

There's little in the way of overt Apricot that Viognier is often so redolent of - a background suggestion perhaps, with a little marzipan.

It's clean, honey and honeysuckle, good acid - suggestion of floral.  Little by way of textural interest.  the finish carries a hint of phenolic, raspy ginger.  Enjoy now. 87 - Good
Source: Sample
Price: $18.95 RRP
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.yalumba.com

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Clovely Estate 'Left Field' Barbera 2010

Clovely Estate is Queensland's largest producer.  Based out of the South Burnett, they are also one of a handful of wineries to open - and succssfully maintain - a city based Cellar Door.  Their 'Left Field' range, showcases slightly more alternative grape varieties - such as this Barbera.

Barbera has its home in Piedmont - 'foot of the mountain' - in Italy's North-West, although it is widely planted elsewhere in Italy.  Can be either young, fruity and cherry fresh; alternatively it can show up as dark and serious.

This example is black in colour, a contrast to the bright, vibrant juicy - nigh polished cherry - aroma from within.  A clean, juicy, soft and rounded palate.  It's fresh with good acidity - as expected from the variety - perfect for cutting through rich tomato based sauces, or pairing well with pizza.  There's a lovely little aniseed twist on the end too.

Generous peak of acid at the conclusion, if a little short on length - one for enjoyment now.  That said the acid likely to soften over time and allow for some complexity to develop, suggest 3-5 years.  Enjoy.  88 - Good

Source: Cellar Door
Price: $20
Alcohol: 14.2%
Closure: Screwcap