Sunday, 30 September 2012

Thymiopoulos Vineyards Young Vines Xinomavro 2011


Xinomavro – fancy playing that on a triple word score in Scrabble.  Hailing from Macedonia on Greece’s north, its name means ‘acidic and black’ and by jove it is.

Has a lovely radiance in the glass, and seemingly aids in the delivery of forward, upfront fruit character in the form of juniper and cherry.

Smooth and clean in the mouth with good fruit character, cherry and plums in the main.  The acid and tannin here combine to propel the wine forward further.  Finishes drying, with the tannin most evident.   
However it is testament to the quality of the wine that the fruit steps forward again for one last word.  91 – Very Good

Source: Retail, Grand Central Cellars
Price: $26
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Cork
Importer: http://www.douglaslambwines.com.au/

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

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Golden Grove Vermentino 2012


Vermentino in Australia has been largely typecast as a clean, refreshing style, suited to warmer climes and perfectly matched with seafood.  That’s largely how it is.

Then something like this comes along where the winemakers have sought to play with the variety a little, in this case using partial fermentation in barrel, to fly in the face of this prevailing type. 

Spice, florals and creamy lemon/ citrus provide the typical aromatic intro, the lead-in to a clean, fresh palate.  There it starts to deviate from the typical path, with hints of mineral providing revealing glimpses.   

Further, texture, via a fuller, richer, almost waxy feel to proceedings brings you home, carried by a good acid backbone.  A good match with seafood, yes; a clean, refreshing simple whitewash of flavour - it doesn’t have to be so. 92 – Very Good

Source: Gift
Price: $22
Alcohol: 13.9%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://goldengroveestate.com.au

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

Friday, 28 September 2012

Down to Earth Wrattonbully Sauvignon Blanc 2012


Down to Earth represents a more modern style of Sauvignon Blanc for the Terre à Terre team and the resultant wine shows typically Sauvignon Blanc aromatics with fresh tropical, bright, fruit coupled with notes of citrus and zest.

More than just aroma, further interest has been added through the employment of time on lees and the stirring thereof, building texture, resulting in good shape and feel in the mouth.  Hints of spice and mineral at its core; concludes with good length, line and fair persistence of flavour.  90 - Good

Source: Sample
Price: $26
Alcohol:13.9%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://terreaterre.com.au/

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

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Mandoleto Catarratto Sicilia 2011

Bottle image of the Mandoleto Carratto Sicilia
Lovely pale yellow colour, indicative of lemon scent within, further augmented by hints of tropical fruit, green pear and shell-accented mineral notes.

Touch of weight on the front palate, lemon and hints of cheese sit afront clean and crisp acids - touch of mineral here in the mouth too.

Clean and fresh, you instantly going for another pour on conclusion of that which went before it.  Calls gently for seafood as you relax on your terrace overlooking the coast.  89 - Good

Source: Sample
Price: $15
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://mandoleto.com.au/mandoleto

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

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz 2008

Bottle image of Fox Creek's 2008 Reserve Shiraz
Impenetrably black wine with a vibrant purple rim.  Big on flavour, it smells expensive with lashings of oak, bound up with rich, sweet black fruit and twists of licorice.  Vanillin - fruit - hints of darker spice edged-aromatics conclude matters.

Gently spiced on entry, smooth with a fuller feel - the spice builds.  There's drying tannin against the oak, pulling fruit flavour through; firmly in the big-is-best camp.

There's good fruit structure here, the wine barely shifts over three days of being opening.  You know it will age well, and you'd be looking for it to mellow with time.  92 - Very Good

Source: Sample
Price: $70
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap, Stelvin Luxe
Website: http://www.foxcreekwines.com

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

Monday, 24 September 2012

Thorn-Clarke Sandpiper Eden Valley Riesling 2011

Trust in Riesling to shake me from a little wine malaise.

Lemon, lemon sherbet, higher notes of citrus blossom with a loose framework of stony mineral.  Some underlying tropical notes complete the aromatic picture.

Juicy, fresh, hints of apple.  Feels a little looser and approachable now, than some of the tightly coiled 2011s tasted.   Acid is still noticeable, but has settled from the razor-like, teeth-achingly sharp position of around a year ago.

Finishes fresh and long - citrus a consistent theme through.  90 - Good

Source: GFWS
Price: $16
Alcohol: 12%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.thornclarkewines.com.au/

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

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Hugh Hamilton Black Blood II Shiraz 2010

Tasted at Swirl, Sniff, Spit's Scarce Earth tasting and again a day and two days later.  From a vineyard planted in 1993, off of the Mcmurtrie road and on sandy loam over alluvial river flat soils.

Dark, dense, tarry, chocolate notes against hints of plum and mulberry.  Tasted alongside the Brash Higgins SHZ 09, this came across as a sullen bruiser in comparison to the light perfume of that wine.

Tannin here was more forward too, grainy, tingly tannin.  Savoury notes weaving their way around the palate, generating a lovely persistence of flavour and feel.  It really was the exquisite tannin structure that made this wine for me, good chewy tannin.  Long, fine and drying - working with the inherent flavour of the wine.  94 - Excellent

Source: Swirl Sniff Spit Scarce Earth Tasting Leftovers
Price: $50
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.hughhamiltonwines.com.au/

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

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Brash Higgins SHZ Shiraz 2009

I've seen some interesting literary references applied to reviews of Brash Higgins wines this week.  If I were to extend the theme here, I'd be thinking Suskind's Perfume, not for any link to morality, more the reference to smell and its relationship to emotion, place and time.

Initially the wine displays an overt perfume, one I heard referenced by well-regarded scribe Jeremy Pringle as (and I hope neither he, nor the wine's proprietor mind me paraphrasing/referencing): "like a lady who had applied a little too much scent to her person".

Given time, it settles, and 24 hours later it shows choc-plum-orange notes, still fresh and fragrant, but hinting at the depth within.  More than once its perfume, did make me think of Mataro.

Dense, richly layered, with hints of choc-mint on the palate.  Opening up it shows itself to be more expressive, gravelly, grainy, with hints of herbs and violets.  Fine tannins, clean through a generous length.  92 - Very Good

Source: #ScarceEarth Tasting
Price: $37
Alcohol:14.7%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://brashhiggins.com

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

Thursday, 6 September 2012

A.Retief Botrytis Grenache 2010

Triumph over tragedy, delight over despair.  However you want to frame it, Alex Retief has fashioned a curio, a wine to have the boffs guessing.  But more than that, a downright interesting drink and a rather good pairing on a Sunday night with some 85% cocoa Green & Blacks (in my case).

Storms during vintage and the resultant humidity saw some disease pressure amongst Retief's Grenache vines in the Hilltops region.  Rather than just rejecting the fruit, Retief opted to craft a Botrytis Grenache.

Sweet, musky, rose and hints of Turkish delight.  Luscious and unctuous, the full mouth-feel of the botrytis style marks it out.  Faint hints of raspberry, but quite light.  Still, it struck me as rather delicate.  Interesting.  Really interesting.  89 - Good

Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 10%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.aretief.com.au/

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

Crittenden Los Hermanos Saludo Txakoli

Txakoli (chack-oli) is the Basque name for Petit Manseng, a grape that seems to have a slightly different interpretation depending on which side of the Pyrenees it's made.

Here we have a golden wine, hints of straw, lemon and zest; sea spray/ briny: a 'fresh' aromatic profile.  Not complex, no need - or intent I believe - for it to be.

Fresh, zing - youthful spritz that gives the illusion of texture/ minerality.   Clean - and again that word - refreshing.  Good acid profile, little length - but that's not what it's about.  To possibly understand this maybe take yourself to San Sebastian/ Donostia, and one of its many Pintxos bars.  Seek, fun and refreshment, it's really about lazy grazing, casual consumption.  89 - Good

Source: Retail, SBH Cellars
Price: $15
Alcohol: 11.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://crittendenwines.com.au/

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

Mandoleto Nero d'Avola 2011

Initially quite elegantly perfumed: lavender and blueberry, before savoury charm takes over - hints of leather, bitumen and tobacco.

Savoury tannin, graphite-mineral character and black fruits completing the equation.  A good peak peak of lively acidity shows how versatile the wine is when paired with food.  Good finish, with a mix of acid, tannin and the aforementioned savoury charm.  89 - Good

Source: Sample
Price: $13-15
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://mandoleto.com.au/mandoleto

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

Bungawarra Gewürztraminer 2011

Like myself, this wine is a happy accident.  Made by analysis on numbers, the resultant wine had a little additional RS compared to the normal house style.  It works.  A perfect foil for a little heat and spice of a good Thai.

Poached pear, delicate florals, spice - white pepper - and a little musky note.  The RS brings out a little Turkish delight and rose water on the palate.  Texturally it feels soft, that extra sweetness - but I should say it's not sweet per se - adds a little fuller aspect to the wine, whilst there is the retention of some acid.

A little short on the finish, but sufficient quality on the palate to overlook that.  89 - Good

Source: Cellar Door
Price: $16
Alcohol: 11.7%
Closure: DIAM
Website: http://www.bungawarrawines.com.au/

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

Flaxman Wines Eden Valley Riesling 2011

I wonder at what point I'll have to stop mentioning that, yes, whilst 2011 was a challenging year across much of Australia, there are some stellar wines out there.  Very much a producer driven vintage.

This example shows bruised apple, apple blossom, hints of lime - typical in many Eden Valley Rieslings - and talcum.  Lime and mineral abound on the palate.  It's very tight on opening, possibly quite challenging to the uninitiated, and complex.  Structure is excellent, with the acid flowing, defining length.  

Give it time and it does open up a little.  The lime releasing itself: intense lime cordial-esque, the powerful old vines showing their class, delivering stony, flinty minerality.  The palate broadens, no mono-dimensional linearity here. The finish shows this electrifying acid line.  Encroyable!  93 - Very Good

Source: Sample
Price: $26.99
Alcohol: 11.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.flaxmanwines.com.au/

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

TeAro Estate Sweet Petite 2011

A gentle spritz clearly evident, delivering hints of pear, under-ripe apple - further supplemented by a little apricot.  Spritzy, fresh and youthful.  Tropical fruit in the mouth - a little cloying for me personally. 

See it for what it is though: good, unpretentious fun.  But clearly aimed at those with a fondness for sweeter things in life.  Trying to qualitatively assess such a wine is both difficult and somewhat unnecessary, but still: 87 - Average

Source: Sample
Price: $20
Alcohol: 10%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.tearoestate.com/

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

Taylors Winemaker’s Project Botrytis Riesling 2011

The Taylors Winemaker’s Project is an opportunity for their winemakers to spread their wings a little.  To play with different styles, methods and techniques that push boundaries.

The rather fraught weather conditions of 2011 played their hand with this wine.  Grapes normally destined for Taylors flagship St Andrews Riesling developed botrytis cinerea, a fungi that basically removes water from the grape, leaving a higher concentration of sugar.

So, the result is an altogether aromatic profile, blossom, mandarin and peel.  It is actually quite delicate, some botrytis styles can be rather over-unctuous, this has hints of marmalade, and a creamy layered texture to it.   

Good acidity and a great finish.  Perfect for dessert, the rule of thumb is sweet with sweet, and your wine should be sweeter than the dessert served.  I’d suggest passionfruit pavlova.  92 – Very Good 

Source: Sample
Price: $22
Alcohol: 10%
Closure: Screwcap

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

BK Wines Gower Pinot Noir 2011

From the Gower Vineyard in Lenswood, planted in 1990.  A site that winemaker Brendon Keys had his eye on for some time, attempts to secure the fruit proved, well, fruitless.  That was until the challenging 2011 vintage when the approach was reversed, with the owner approaching Brendon.   Well made, it sees 20% whole bunch and 80% whole berry, spending 40 days on skins.  No additions, natural ferment, unfiltered and unfined (therefore vegan friendly), spending 12months in barrel.
In some respects this wine is the anti-thesis of the prettied up, light, bright Pinots you often see.  Somewhat serious, moodier, brooding with darker fruits – think plum and blackberry – hints of leather and old libraries.  It does get some floral lift with violets adding feint perfume. 

Medium bodied and elegant - seemingly at contrast to the aromatic introduction.  Juicy and refreshing acid with hints of mineral, wet stone.  Some fine underlying tannin provides a gentle persistence in with the mix of fruit. 91 – Very Good


Source: Retail, Grand Central Cellars
Price: $48
Alcohol:11.5%
Closure: Cork

Monday, 3 September 2012

Yelland & Papps Devote Roussanne 2011

The trick here - as with many white wines - is to not serve too cold, it masks the beautiful aroma.  In Roussanne this can show like "a refreshing herbal tea" and here it manifests itself as delicate florals, honeysuckle, honey coated flakes and gentle grassy/ straw character.

It at turns has this delicacy about it, an almost elfin like demeanour yet the plate shows weight, texture; well structured with hints of tart citrus - but by and large it's not about fruit - it's more the layered texture, complexity and nuances that appeal.

On the finish it's firm and persistent with lingering elements of florals, honey and wet stone.  Good aging potential.  Where will it go?  92 - Very Good 

Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 12.6%
Closure: Screwcap

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Tscharke 'Barossa Grounds' Marananga Grenache 2010

There are some good signs emerging from within the Australian wine industry.  Take for example the increasing focus from producers on wines with a specified notion of place.  That is wines from named locales, vineyards or on a more micro-scale from specified portions of a vineyard.

Tscharke’s Barossa Grounds collection is one such example and this Grenache hails from their Gnadenfrei (literally "Freed by Grace") vineyard in the Barossa’s Western Ridge and the Marananga sub-region.  Typically wines here can be amongst the richest in the region.  This is no exception.

Raspberry and plum, not sweet or confected, nor jammy – you can smell the high quality source material.  Inky black, a wine of depth and with earthen hints, there’s incredible pepper and spice: clove, cardamom with some sweeter notes: muscovado sugar, molasses.  It’s concentrated, possesses fantastic structure and exquisite length.   

Rich, powerful, but you need not be either to get hold of a bottle.  Though I would suggest speed is of the essence for only around 3,000 bottles are produced.  95 – Outstanding 

Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol:15%
Closure: Screwcap