An Australian Wine Blog

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

d'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2010


An excellent cellar-worthy prospect here. Gains in stature with time and air; unfurling, stretching and bulking up. If you approach now, please do so with a good decant.

Plum and black fruit, a dusting of dark cocoa powder with sweet oak perfume. Shows good weight on entry, with violets and plums adding to the package.

Touch of char in the middle, a chalky rub of tannin. Big and grunty, excellent length of flavour. Will be long lived. 93

Tasted on: Sunday 7th December, a Root to Flower day 
Source: Sample
Price: $65
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.darenberg.com.au/

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

Monday, 29 December 2014

Thoughts on Fourteen

I'm not normally one for taking on end of year reviews. But 2014 was a funny fucker. A year of highs, lows, of love and loss.


Mornington Glory
In my little wine world, 2014 started with a trip to the Mornington Peninsula. A trip with a good bunch of wine lovers, each of us coming at wine from different angles. There's nothing of my own work to refer you back to as a recap. 

I freely admit I struggled. I enjoyed the wines. Initially. But my palate couldn't hold up to the demands placed on it from the rigours of extensive tasting. Everything started to taste brutally tannic to me. I couldn't do anything justice. I questioned myself more than I did the wines. 

Queensland Wine Week
From little things, big things grew. A wonderful celebration of Queensland wine. An opportunity to get wine from my adopted home into the mouths of many. Sadly, personal circumstances prevented my full participation. However, my own personal highlight was being able to lead a coach load of folks to the Granite Belt region and introduce them to the people and their products. Here's a little video we made of that day.

Serious Consequences AKA Orange-gate
It was also the year in which Australian wine continued the ascent up its own arse. The wine region of Orange in New South Wales took umbrage at the increasing reference to white wines made from extended skin contact as 'orange' wines. I can understand their point from a legal perspective, understand their desire to protect their GI designation. 

However I'm not sure that people really confuse the two. Have a chuckle at the absurdity in this piece by Max Allen, and if you're still confused about skin contact wines, then Mike Bennie sets the record straight here


QWA
I peered into the dark underbelly of the Australia wine show system. This was not Four Corners exposé, rather I volunteered for 3 days as a steward. The system is somewhat at odds with my own tasting regime, where wines are - more often than not - tasted on their own, with and without food, over an extended period.

It was an insight, but more than that it was about camaraderie, of working within your team and supporting your tasting panel.

Of Loss
In 2014 the wine world lost a very unique voice, Jeremy Pringle. Jeremy was someone I looked up to. From my very early forays in and around the world of wine, Jeremy's Wine Will Eat Itself website was a great resource for identifying wines that were of interest to my own growing fascination with wine (and an acknowledgement must go here to Jeremy's friend Keira for keeping the website - and Jeremy's legacy - going. Salut!)

Never one to shy away from criticism, he was a critic in the true sense, but his talent and palate were more than a match for that combative temperament. The wine world is poorer for his loss, and I know many who mourn the loss of friendship.

Wine Cannibalism
And of course Jeremy was right you know. Towards the end of August 2014, it seemed that wine actually would eat itself. An article by Huon Hooke caused uproar. He didn't seem to articulate himself that well and - in my opinion - came out of the affair looking rather out of touch and old fashioned. There were some excellent opinion pieces in response, one that stood out for me was from Tom Hogan (yes, there may be some inferene of bias here, I quite like 'trendy-piss' and would consider Hogan a mate, insofar as my yardstick for a term is "someone I've had a beer with" - no accusations of fence-sitting here).

Whilst neither of the key 'gate' episodes (it's still mandatory to add 'gate' to anything that sets the twittersphere alight isn't it?) - being Orange-gate and Somm-gate - involved me personally, they did leave a slight sour taste in my mouth. Again, questioning my own participation in the small corner of the world in which I sit. 

What next?
As with most things, the good outweighs the bad. I'd still like to get out 'there' more, wherever that may be. Yes, there are plans. There always are.

As with many things it's about balance. Balancing the different roles I play: father, husband, amateur wine hack and somewhere amongst all that there's a full time job to hold down. 

Here's to 2015 then eh?

You can follow me on twitter if you so desire: http://twitter.com/TheVinsomniac

Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyard Chardonnay 2013

Delicate citrus offers itself up, a little grilled nectarine smokiness, toasted almond and nougat.

A sucker punch of tangy, nippy grapefruit acidity has your palate reeling after a delicate intro. A focussed line of acid riven through the wine. 

A little phenolic rub, gentle finish, long on flavour. Concludes with a little gin 'n' tonic freshness and mineral - could have just been me. Much to like here. 92

Tasted on: Saturday 6th December, a Root day
Source: Sample
Price: $30
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.leeuwinestate.com.au/

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

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Willow Bridge Estate 'G1-10' Chardonnay 2013

I'm not entirely sure what a G1-10 is. An internet search for the same reveals anything ranging from an environmental protection law to musical instruments through to a French autoroute.

In this guise, we have fine Chardonnay from Western Australia's Geographe wine region.

Made pretty much in the en vogue style: hand-picked with whole bunch inclusion and wild yeast ferments. Sexy. Pull your nose in to make the acquaintance of the smooth skinned flesh of nectarine with a touch of fresh citrus; oak here is a bit player, lending a toasty touch to proceedings.

Stonefruit, melon, minerally with citrus acid; it feels open and loose, yet the citrus acidity provides line and focus on the palate. Leading to generous length, carrying all with it in a final flourish. Give it an extra year and it will really be singing. 93+

Tasted on: Saturday 6th December, a Root day
Source: Sample
Price: $30
Alcohol: 12.9%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.willowbridge.com.au

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

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Tapanappa Foggy Hill Pinot Noir 2012

Bold wine on show here, touches of liqueur, with sappy notes suggestive of the inclusion of some stems. This is fine Pinot.

Carries weight, depth and breadth - big and balanced with hints of sweet oak. Still needs a little time to settle into itself, a bit like the teenager that has shot up in stature.

Silken, fine tannin - you just simply cannot escape that depth of flavour that haunts and follows with an impressive. 94

Tasted on: Friday 5th December, a Fruit to Root day
Source: Sample
Price: $51
Alcohol: 14.2%
Closure: Cork
Website: https://tapanappa.com.au

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

Shaw & Smith Pinot Noir 2013


Subtle red fruit, it's a low 12.5% alcohol, by way of cherry and macerated strawberry. Residual spice and creamy vanilla from the oak on display.

Medium bodied, sour cherries - firm, yet with a balancing acidic freshness. Tannin is faint, in balance with the wine overall. Has a bold finish of flavour - but overall is easy to drink. 91 

Tasted on: Friday 5th December, a Fruit to Root day 
Source: Sample
Price: $45
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.shawandsmith.com/

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

Friday, 26 December 2014

Hither & Yon Nero d'Avola 2014


Nero lives up to its name here, with an inky darkness emanating from the glass. Seems 2014 was a strong year too (admittedly from a low sample set).

Red and black fruits and something - I wrote at the time - like hanging your head over a pan of sizzling pork and fennel snags. Delightful herbal and spice notes too.

Plump entry - cushioned and soft on the tongue - depth and spice kick-in, a fine rub of tannin. More licorice and fennel seed spice mops up at the back. So delicious, so moreish. Grand drinking for something that can be had for a shade over 20 beans. 91

Tasted on: Sunday 30th November, a Flower day 
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 13.8%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.hitherandyon.com.au/

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

Thursday, 25 December 2014

O'Leary Walker Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Clare Cabernet when on song, can simply be beautiful. It may not carry the gravitas of some more traditional regions, or possess the same structure, but for around $20 here we have a compelling drinking proposition.

Such an attractive introduction: menthol, red fruit, choc-mint, touch of bay leaf. So fresh and vibrant.

Medium bodied, red fruit freshness, acidity too; segues to a little cherry and black compote, easy tannin - fine, veering towards a little powdery.

Good length - flavour, body and - in its own way - a little structure. 92

Tasted on: Saturday 29th November, a Flower day
Source: Sample
Price: $22
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://olearywalkerwines.com/

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

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Hither & Yon Muscat Blanc 2014

Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains - to give it its full name - is somewhat of a vineyard parental legend. Robinson et al, in their magnum opus "Wine Grapes", cite Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains as "the progenitors of at least fourteen grape varieties that are currently cultivated to make wine".

Musky, the merest hints of passionfruit, mango with a touch of citrus rind - not especially bold aromatics.

Refreshing, drying - somewhat faint lemon and lime, veering to saline/ briny characteristics with a touch of chalky pucker. Enjoyable for sure. 89

Tasted on: Monday 24th November, a Leaf to Fruit day
Source: Sample
Price: $20
Alcohol: 11.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.hitherandyon.com.au/

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

Monday, 22 December 2014

Pertaringa Two Gentlemen GSM 2013

The two gents in question are Pertaringa founders Geoff Hardy and Ian Leask. Whilst Geoff is now the sole proprietor of the Pertaringa, the acknowledgement of their partnership via this wine remains as a lasting tribute.

Red fruits, sweet accents, woody spice. A little oak, creamy vanilla and an aromatic that reminded me somehow of candles (having worked in a candle factory).

Soft, cushioned entry - gentle extraction here - redskins and raspberry on show. Soft, powdery tannin with a touch of woody spice that lingers. A little savoury twist via fennel tops rounds the wine out.

Good length, another excellent example of Grenache from the 2013 vintage. 91

Tasted on: Saturday 22nd November, a Flower to Leaf day
Source: Sample
Price: $22
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.pertaringa.com.au/

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

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Andrew Seppelt Wines Sérine 2012

Andrew Seppelt, formerly winemaker - and partner - at Murray Street Vineyards, has long had his own label producing wines made from Barossan stalwarts such as the Shiraz and Riesling (Eden Valley).

Sometimes a wine poses too good a story to simply limit it to a brief tasting note and associated score.

The Wine in Question
Closed initially, opening and unfurling to reveal a floral perfume, a sweet perfume showing touches of red fruit - specifically suggestions of cherry and perhaps stonefruit.

Lithe, supple and juicy - initially appears to lack a little weight and depth (from what you may be used to from the region). Black fruit shows toward the back palate, a little acidity present to freshen. With some time and air brown spice adds to the package, the wine adds a bit of weight , fleshing out  little. Reasonable length. 90

Waiting for the Sérine's (sic) call - what's in a name?
Faujas de Saint-Fond(1) considered Serine to be a distinct variety to the Syrah, writing back in the 18th century, a mere 7 years prior to white settlement of Australia through the arrival of the first fleet.

There's some debate as to whether Sérine is actually just a clone of Syrah, or indeed is a separate variety. Andrew Seppelt's own keyboard wanderings led him to the work(2) of a young Canadian winemaker called Hunter Kangas. Kangas states how most published sources claim it as a synonym, or as a clone; AWRI Emeritus Fellow Peter Dry responded to myself, via an enquiry put to him through a third party: "It is a synonym of Syrah, mainly used in Cote-Rotie."

Physically it's different: “small olive-like berries and an elongated rachis compared to Syrah” (the rachis being the central stem that connects the grapes, to form a 'bunch', and connects the 'bunch' to the vine). Indeed, reading Kangas' article, it suggests it is the Sérine that gave the Côte-Rôtie its 'bacon fat' character. 

Susceptibility to disease, along with lower yields, saw it fall out of favour - being replaced with more commercial clones available from nurseries. But everything old often becomes new again. It may appear that Sérine could well have it's time on the roasted slope once again.

Tasted on: Wednesday 19th November, a Root day
Source: Gift
Price: $25
Alcohol: 14.9%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.andrewseppelt.com/

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

Sources of information:
1) Wine Grapes, Robinson et al; P1023
2) "Finding Sérine: The Rediscovery of Côte-Rôtie’s Forgotten Grape", PalatePress.com

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Kaesler Palomino 2013


Palomino, the principal grape variety used in Sherry production.

Here, off of 50+ year old vines from the Barossa, the Palomino has been crafted into a table wine.

Fresh, offering citrus, lemon sherbet, touch of herb and sea spray. Acidity is sharp - unusual for a variety not know for its acid, or ability to retain what it has - briny, with a touch of citrus freshness.

Does enliven the palate and wake the taste buds, concluding with a shell-like bitterness. Good aperitif, chill and make its acquaintance with some seafood. 89

Tasted on: Monday 24th November, a Leaf to Fruit day 
Source: Retail, Cru Bar & Cellars
Price: $18
Alcohol: 12%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://kaesler.com.au/

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

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Topper's Mountain Bricolage Blanc 2013

Curious blend, a partner to the Red Earth Child - interestingly bricolage means DIY, or "construction made of whatever materials are at hand; something created from a variety of available things". Appropriately here we have a mix of Chardonnay (60%), Gewürztraminer (20%), Petit Manseng (10%) and Sauvignon Blanc (10%).

Gewürz takes the lead here: rose, musk and turkish delight 'softness'; pear, mashed banana, a little honeyed note back it up.

Textured, a little honeyed, gentle phenolics with a good carry of flavour. Has a presence - nicely weighted - and balanced, not necessarily overtly dominated by any of its constituent parts. Tart citrus offered up toward the back palate.

On a decent length, finish is OK, but for me, it's more about the mid-weight and textural presence. 90

Tasted on: Friday 14th November, a Leaf day
Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 13.1%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://toppers.com.au/

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

Monday, 15 December 2014

Mitchell Harris Sabre 2011


I had the pleasure of tasting this sparkler (from that vintage) whilst the good lady was putting up the Christmas tree, an occasion that heralds - for our family, as no doubt it does many - the start of the festive season. 

A 60/40 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that spent 3yrs on lees. Fresh, all butter croissant; autolysis derived top notes - baked goods - the yeasty goodness of an oven fresh loaf; a touch of quince with baking spice. 

Fine with a quartz-mineral, a driving acid that propels the wine on. And on. Delivers a lingering citrus derived freshness that simply has you yearning for more. 94 

Tasted on: Sunday 30th November, a Flower day
Source: Sample
Price: $40
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Cork
Website: http://mitchellharris.com.au/

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

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013


The house style on show here: intoxicating pull of black fruits - the aromas have me, pulling me in like the smell of a new lover.

Earthy, ferrous, mix of black fruit and oak with a touch of kalamata olive. The finish see dusty, powdery - nigh chalky - tannin. One last sniff, yes. 92

Tasted on: Thursday 13th November, a Leaf day 
Source: Sample
Price: $30
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.chapelhillwine.com.au/

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

Chapel Hill Parsons Nose Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

An oh-so-attractive black fruit leaps from the glass here, pure damson and mulberry - makes me want to place my head in a vatful and 'motorboat' with it. 

My own proclivities aside, the palate here is somewhat at odds against that playful, inviting aroma - cushioned entry, before you get to chew on a chocolate coated licorice root. Concludes with a touch of fine tannin, on a good length. Touch and go a point higher. 89

Tasted on: Thursday 13th November, a Leaf day 
Source: Sample
Price: $16
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.chapelhillwine.com.au/

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

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Leaping Lizard Cabernet Merlot 2012

Much preferred this over the Shiraz out of the same portfolio. 

Plum, oak/mocha, cassis and blackcurrant - in short a very attractive co-variety introduction here.

Flow-on to the palate, firm and drying tannin - a wine that offers balance, integrity and decent length. 86/7

Tasted on: Thursday 13th November, a Leaf day 
Source: Sample
Price: $15
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://leapinglizard.com.au/

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

Leaping Lizard Shiraz 2012


Attractive mix of fruit, a waft of vanilla, veering to a little mocha.

Smooth entry, touch of blackcurrant pastille that moves to an unattractive back bite. Reasonable length, composition not quite pulling together for me. 84

Tasted on: Thursday 13th November, a Leaf day 
Source: Sample
Price: $15
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://leapinglizard.com.au/

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

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Angullong Fossil Hill Shiraz Viognier 2013

Possesses a vibrancy, a pretty good lure when in glass. The attraction doesn't end there. A harmonious mix of fruit supported by a frame of oak.

Oak, plums, nutty hints on the palate; a powdery coating of tannin. Length adds further allure, tannin holding a good line. give it a couple of years and cellar for up to ten. Very good example. 92

Tasted on: Thursday 13th November, a Leaf day
Source: Sample
Price: $24
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.angullong.com.au/

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