An Australian Wine Blog

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Cook's Lot Chardonnay 2012

Showed well as the fourth Chardonnay in a bracket of four.  

Aromatically intriguing, leading with orange rind, lemon and honeydew - an alluring aroma.

Fairly loaded on the palate too: honeysuckle, some oak presence and then backed up with zest and mineral. Nice crisp acids, drops a little short - still pretty smart in my book. 90 - Good

Tasted on: Thursday 21st March, a Flower Day
Source: Sample
Price: $20
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.cookslot.com.au

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Montalto Pennon Hill Chardonnay 2012

Image for 2011 Chardonnay
Fresh, slightly herbal with some basil character initially, follows with more typical honeydew melon.


Melon and stonefruit flow on the palate, some oak presence here too: provides structure and gives a little charry presence.

Finishes pleasantly dry, fair bit of life here, zip, zing and verve. Happily consume this. 91 - Very Good

Tasted on: Thursday 21st March, a Flower Day
Source: Sample
Price: $23
Alcohol:13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://montalto.com.au

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The Collection Margaret River Chardonnay 2009

Easy integrated stonefruit with unobtrusive oak, citrus-lemon-meal and a hint of banana interplay on the nose.

Lemon creme, oak and mineral - good quality fruit character coming through here. Finishes with with a balance of acid and mineral quality, not the greatest of length. 89 - Good

Tasted on: Thursday 21st March, a Flower Day
Source: Sample
Price: $20
Alcohol: 13.4%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://vinedrops.com.au/the-collection

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Bimbadgen Estate Chardonnay 2011

Shows a bit of barrel ferment character on the nose with hints of almond and meal. 

Textural and creamy on the palate, fairly neutral flavour profile - shows a little hint of citrus. If you like it clean and linear then this may be for you. 86 - Average

Tasted on: Thursday 21st March, a Flower Day
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.bimbadgen.com.au

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Friday, 22 March 2013

Hahndorf Hill 'Zsa Zsa' Zweigelt 2012

"Oh, Dahlink, you look absolutely fabulous."

A good pink, nigh fuschia. Musky, rose and florals, hint of lolly and melon here. Touch of texture: dryness and phenolics.

Quite tart, there's some citrus acidity, gives a little length. It's moderate length, backed up by the texture - which I'd quite happily see more of -  and red fruits.

Tasted alongside a little roasted capsicum and goat's cheese pasta. 90 - Good

Tasted on: Thursday 21st March, a Flower Day
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.hahndorfhillwinery.com.au

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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Grant Burge Wines: Icon Releases

Had the pleasure of meeting Grant and Helen Burge at the Brisbane release for their Icon series. In addition, the event marked the unofficial release of the new sparkling from the winery, the Helene.

2004 Helene Sparkling
Named after Grant's Tasmanian born wife Helen, and indeed the Apple Isle is the source of the fruit for the wine. Opens, appropriately, with hints of apple, blossom and citrus. Fairly delicate aromatics given the 9 years on lees. Palate shows complexity, nicely developed autolysis character and finishes long and minerally. (92)


2009 Abednego, $79.95
Made in good years, production is in the 350-500 case territory. Fruit comes off vines 100+ years and all at a maximum yield of 1-2 t/acre. 

Fairly delicate aromatic approach, good perfume of rose, and florals. A little spice up front on the palate, very fine - silken almost - with chalky tannins approaching the mid/ back palate. Backed up with good fruit character, generous length. (93) 

2008 Shadrach, $94.95
Fruit for this Cabernet is sourced from two sites: Corraton Park (75%) at an elevation of about 500m, and the remainder from Cameron Vale, slightly lower elevation with vines around the 40 year mark.

Opens with choc-mint character leading, slight dusty profile backed up with small red berrys. Dusty/ grainy tannin, chocolate, spice and layered texture - backing up with a little mint. Drying finish, gives length and richness.  All French oak here, 60% new and the balance 2 year old. (92)

Meshach
Meshach, of course, along with Shadrach and Abednego are recorded in Daniel and are known for their devotion, and for the fact that they were saved by divine intervention from being burned alive.

Well the Grant Burge Meshach was so named after Grant Burge's Grandfather, Meshach William Burge. The name in the context of the wine serves as a nod to longevity for Meshach Burge was 99 years at the time of his passing. It was good to see this longevity in the glass and not just rely on the word. 

2008 Meshach, $189
Dense, rich, plummy with a hint of licorice in there. Oak shows itself, the power of the fruit holding it, working with it. It's powerful, concentrated and in the mouth a fair gobful of spice builds toward the back palate. Exemplary length, lasting some good 50-60 seconds. Infanticide to even approach now. (95)

2004 Meshach
Still yielding a good deal of primary fruit character, a testament to the fruit's quality. Elegant, finesse - settled into itself a little - opening up. Still shows that drying tannin character, cassis/ black fruits and pepper present. Finish shows chalky tannin, pepper and is rich and mouth filling (94).

2001 Meshach
Included to show where the youth of the '08 may go, if the buyer has the patience to cellar well. Leathery, dried earth - beautiful savoury qualities. Elegant and balanced, stil some florals and a little dried herb present. Menthol and a little choc-mint present too. Still struck me as fresh. Life ahead of it - demonstrating the true value of cellaring. (94)       

Tasted on:Thursday 21st March, a Flower Day
Source: Tasting
Website: http://www.grantburgewines.com.au Follow me: http://twitter.com/TheVinsomniac

Queensland Wine Week: 1st-8th April 2013

This is not an official event, but rather a personal initiative I plan to undertake on the above dates. Simply put, for the specified period I plan to drink and blog about Queensland wines. Not a Queenslander by birth, but I do consider it my 'State of Origin' and do enjoy exploring its liquid outputs.

I'll be raiding the cellar, visiting some of Brisbane's fine independent retailers and possibly even using the Easter long weekend as a good excuse to get up to the Granite Belt. I'll be looking to showcase some of the great examples coming out of the state.

For those of you who might want to 'play' along, a quick scout of some of Brisbane's retailers has shown that most stock wines from the fair state. I shall update this as I find more, and feel free to leave a comment for any others you know of.


Grand Central Cellars
Witches Falls
Robert Channon   

Stewart's Wine Co.
Witches Falls
Golden Grove

Wine @ Era
Raven's Croft
Mason Wines

Wine Experience 
Robert Channon
Ravens croft
Pyramid's Road
Hidden Creek
Tobin 
Mason
Summit Estate

In addition to those Brisbane retailers listed above, there's the Clovely Estate City Cellar Door in Red Hill and those in the South Burnett of course have the Taste South Burnett outlet.

Would love to hear from anyone else who may be inspired to follow along at home.


Follow the action on twitter: http://twitter.com/TheVinsomniac and #QLDWineWeek

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Ducks in a Row Straight Up Mataro 2010

"Straight up now tell me do you really want to love me forever oh oh oh..."

I sometimes struggle to recall what I did last week, yet can recall inane lyrics to 80s pop songs with ease...go figure.

Christmas cake, damp and most, flecked with a little spice. Heady, inviting - comforting, a bonus as the night's draw in.

Smooth and silken, juicy, kirsch and plum, a little dark chocolate in the mix too. Fine tannin adds volume, a little width and contributes to a finish of moderate length, a length driven by a combination of that tannin backed up with that inherent juiciness. 91 - Good

Tasted on: Wednesday 20th March, a Flower Day
Source: Retail, Craft Red Hill
Price: $25
Alcohol: 145%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://ducksinarow.com.au/

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Domaine Tournon Mathilda Heathcote Shiraz 2010

Australian winery owned in its entirety by Rhone Ranger Michel Chapoutier. 

Damn good value here, hedgerow and bramble interwoven with red fruit. Medium bodied, juicy - a mix of fruit, spice and a little tar. 

Easy going, maybe a little too laid back - if i can really quibble? - finishes clean with a slight gummy character. 89 - Good  

Tasted on: Monday 11th March, a Flower Day
Source: Retail
Price: $15
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.mchapoutieraustralia.com/content/domaine-tournon-0

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Monday, 18 March 2013

The Lane Vineyard Block 1A Chardonnay 2012

Composed. It’s how I thought of this wine: meal, faint stonefruit, citrus and a suggestion of apple. Nothing shouts, its words are measured and purposeful. 

In the mouth it’s steely, citrus edged, well structured with some gentle shape to the wine. Good length and intensity on the finish - just felt it could do with speaking up a little louder. 90 – Good 

Tasted on: Thursday 7th March, a Fruit Day
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.thelane.com.au/

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Alkoomi Frankland River Riesling 2011

Frankland River is pretty well isolated, even in Australian terms. Cool climate, influenced by the Southern Ocean, providing good growing conditions.


This Riesling shows preserved lemons, bath salts, sherbet and suggestions of tropical fruit. Good acid structure, presenting itself early on with citrus weaving its merry way through the palate. Some drying texture offers a counter-point to the acid. Fine on the finish with hallmark elegance and good length.91 - Good

Tasted on: Tuesday 5th March
Source: Sample
Price: $18
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://alkoomiwines.com.au

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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Ridgemill Estate - Eloise: A Sparkling Debut

"You don't win medals for making Rosé" could well become winemaker Pete McGlashan's equivalent to Homer Simpson's "You don't win friends with salad". 


The Winemaker
As large as life, an affable bloke, McGlashan isn't afraid to share his opinions, and whilst he may not get everything right, in my opinion he is one of the few Granite Belt winemakers to try and reach out, to attempt to engage with an audience. 

Largely through twitter, an increasingly prevalent communications channel, especially for a region quite remote from its largest city, and also from the wider Australian wine community.  I think the region needs it.




The Wines  
The thing is McGlashan, and Ridgemill Estate, did win a medal for their 2012 Estate Rosé (87- Average, $18, 13%) - a wine showing soft berry aromatics, and even hints of gremolata.  Fresh, strawberries dominating the palate, a little spice and phenolics.

The portfolio also includes their premium Black Dog range, only made in better vintages. The 2007 Black Dog Cabernet (90 - Good, $25, 13.5%) shows varietal character of cedar, plum with hints of lavendar, coming across as fresh and elegant. 

Perfect for the coming cooler months, an open fire and bit of stew in the pot, is the 2009 Cabernet Malbec (89 - Good, $30, 13.5%) shows character from each constituent component, black fruits and tarry with hints of licorice, slightly smokey.

This post's eponymous wine, the Eloise (88 - Good, $30) is a good first effort. In a region where few wineries make their own sparkler, Eloise is an aperitif style, in youth it shows some bready character with citrus, and a good clean finish. With subsequent disgorgements you'll be looking to see some toasty complexity to emerge.  

The Winery - A bit of History...
The Ridgemill Estate brand came into being with the purchase of the Emerald winery in September 2004 by current owner, Martin Cooper. Studying engineering in Melbourne in the late 60s/ early 70s, Cooper earned extra money by working and living on a vineyard, including a couple of vintages with Yeringberg at Coldstream in the Yarra Valley.

Ridgemill's first vintage was in 2005, at the time the vineyard was planted to Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and Tempranillo.  Over time Saperavi has been added, Lagrein too - but since swapped out for Verdelho - and Viognier.  Recently Grenache has been added with two rows grafted over, along with 2 rows of Malbec.

The Region - Strange Birds
I've often wanted to know what is seen as the Granite Belt's signature variety.  The Strange Bird initiative is one that McGlashan had a hand in creating, along with fellow winemaker Jim Barnes of Hidden Creek.  The premise is to celebrate the region's diversity through championing the varieties that are less well known.

But I've often had a nagging question about the region: What is its signature variety? And maybe the Strange Bird is it. Celebrated for the slightly unusual.

For Ridgemill I think that will become Chardonnay (not reviewed here). Ridgemill Chardonnay has shown an evolution in style over the last five years. Both Martin Cooper and winemaker McGlashan stated this was where they see the direction of the variety going for them. Not exactly a strange bird, but possibly showing some pedigree as per its name.
  
The Road Ahead
I speak generally about the region here, perception is a funny thing, but often reality. I see the region as at a bit of a crossroads. Quality is on the up, wineries and their wines are gaining some recognition. 

In addition to that nagging question above, there exists a perception of expectation. We come to certain points of the year when certain regional figureheads - and I stress I speak generally here - tout how well their wines are showing and how they should be supported by the on and off trade.

Expectation can only lead to disappointment. People buy from people, and regardless of how well your wines are showing - whether in a local setting or in any other regional, capital city or state show - you've got to work hard to sell your product.

That crossroads: stay as a largely boutique producer, selling 80% of product to cellar door and mailing list, or look to reach out to consumers and trade buyers. And do so consistently. 

Source: The Vinsomniac was a guest of Ridgemill Estate at the launch of their Eloise Sparkling wine.

Website: http://ridgemillestate.com/
 

You can follow Ridgemill Estate on twitter here: twitter.com/ridgemillestate  or you can follow me: http://twitter.com/TheVinsomniac

d'Arenberg Peppermint Paddock NV Sparkling Chambourcin

Chambourcin, the butt of a few jokes in wine circles, a hybrid variety with a high resistance to fungal disease, making it suited to regions with higher humidity levels. Some say that is so planted in some places as it is the only variety that can be.

Here this NV sparkling has resulted in a plum juice purple wine, vibrant in the glass with notes of lavender, violets and a little herbal twang.

Crunchy, lively mineral edge in the mouth before the onset of blue fruits. Fairly drying, the berry compote and basic texture give a little shape. 89 - Good 
 
Tasted on: Tuesday 5th March, Leaf Day
Source: Sample
Price: $32
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Cork
Website: http://www.darenberg.com.au/

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Yelland & Papps Devote Shiraz Roussanne 2011

"Altogether all too drinkable" quipped my wife. Not sure I need say more than that.

Elegant, perfumed, with accented/ higher notes on the berry fruit spectrum. The Roussanne - a white variety and constituting 15% of the wine - seems to have provided a leg up to the wine. It's very fluid, an easy wine to drink and like, not simple though.

Black fruited with with a spicy/ black pepper line through it, carries a dark undercurrent. Fresh, delicious acid freshness on the back palate, excellent length. 93 - Very Good  

Tasted on: Wednesday 27th February, a Fruit Day
Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://yellandandpapps.com

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Rolling Sparkling Pinot Grigio Chardonnay 2012

Wouldn't immediately have thought of these two varieties as companions, but interesting bed fellows they make. 

It worked for me. Shows a good deal of fruit on the nose, pear and stonefruit, Hints of of bread character, imbued with a little zest.

Fairly drying palate, good length and acidity, finishes well. Quite happily polished off the remainder too. 87/88 - Average/ Good

Tasted on: Thursday 28th February, a Root Day
Source: Sample
Price: $19
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Cork
Website: http://www.cumuluswines.com.au

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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Running With The Bulls Wrattonbully Tempranillo 2012

"The drinker waggled his little finger at him and smiled at us with his eyes. Then he bit the stream off sharp, made a quick lift with the wine bag and lowered it down to the owner. He winked at us. The owner shook the wineskin sadly." ~ Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

It's a little like that. Easy to consume, a delight to share in a moment, even if the moment can be fleeting for it's highly consumable. Has a generous perfume with its blue and black fruits, a wee suggestion of coffee sitting in front.

Smooth, a silken scarf of a wine with a little tartness to it, accompanied by a dark, slightly dusty, twiggy, spiced up element. Good length here, a combination of a little tannin and flavour. 92 - Very Good   

Tasted on: Saturday 2nd March, a Flower Day
Source: Sample
Price: $24
Alcohol:14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: n/a

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Sunday, 3 March 2013

Te Whare Ra Gewürztraminer 2010

Low-input, small scale producer based in the Marlborough sub-region of Renwick. Some of the earliest plantings within the Marlborough region can be found here, and the vines for this Gewürz date from 1979.

Fairly exotic aromatics: turkish delight and rose, a hint of marzipan in the mix. Softer fruit elements by way of some tropicals: lychee, a hint of citrus.

Luscious and layered, textured on entry. Ginger, spice - gives persistence, power and concentration of flavour. Hints of orange oil present on the palate too.

Finishes in a similar manner: luscious, persistent and with a touch of weight. 92 - Very Good 
 
Tasted on: Monday 25th February, a Fruit Day
Source:Retail, Stewart's Wine Co
Price: $35
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.twrwines.co.nz/

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