Tuesday, March 30, 2010


- Hunter Valley, NSW
- $11-$18
- Screwcap
- 11.0%alc

On paper the Lost Block might look like an earlier drinking Tyrrell's Semillon, but if you listen to Australian wine legend James Halliday (whose name happens to appear on the bottle here), the Lost Block Semillon is capable of cellaring for up to 10 years. Although I've never drunk a 10 year old Lost Block, at $12 a bottle it's a gamble almost all of us can afford to take.

Typically pale-straw with a tinge of green, the 2009 Lost Block's very light fragrance of citrus zest, melon and herb precedes a distinctly youthful, clean palate that borders on water-like in its simplicity. There are minor indications of grassy citrus characters etched throughout its harmoniously balanced, uncomplicated light-medium bodied palate, which finishes with a soft wash of gentle acids and preserved lemon flavour.

O It's very clean and totally quaffable, but it's too polite and needs to be more expressive and character laden for the serious drinker. Having said that, I continue to believe the appropriately priced Lost Block Semillon makes an ideal entry point into the world of white wine for young drinkers. Drink to 2014.
86 points


- Coonawarra, SA
- $22-$33
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

Hollick produced one of the most pleasant surprises of Coonawarra's 2006 vintage for me, courtesy of their assertively oaked yet smooth and stylish 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (94pts). After no wine was released from the frost ravaged 2007 season (at least as far as I know), Hollick's returned with a cabernet from a vintage that's shaping up to be much more favourable for Coonawarra.

Somewhat herbal by regional standards, Hollick's 2008 shows an enlivened note of menthol sitting above its nicely ripened fragrance of blackcurrant, cherry and dark plums with toasty chocolate oak. Presenting the youthful brashness expected of such a young Coonawarra, its medium-bodied, notably dry yet rich dark berry/cherry flavours are overcome by a powdery coverage of savoury tannins and bright acids, leaving the mouth with lingering impressions of dried herb and mint through a very long, dry finish drawn out by tannic impact.

ü Very polished, regional and traditional; a little more patience will do this young wine wonders. Drink 2013-2020.
91 points

Monday, March 29, 2010


As Ernestine entered the cellar to check Walter's reaction, he realised they had finally made their first, truly sexy bottle of pinot noir.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


- Langhorne Creek, SA
- $24
- Screwcap
- 14.5%alc

At their Langhorne Creek home regional stalwarts Bremerton offer a range of cellar door only, special release wines. One of these wines is a single varietal release of the at times rustic and meaty red Rhone variety; mourvedre.

The 2008 Bremerton is a decidedly fruity, ultra-ripe, dark and plummy mourvedre, with mulberry aromas backed by a regional influence of eucalyptus and rich chocolate oak. It's very soft for the style, with an almost fluffy, yet faintly essence-like and dark fruited expression of generously flavoured cassis, violet and sour plum fruits which end with an exaggerated presence of sweet oak, that robs the wine of genuine structure to some extent. It makes perfect sense that a wine of this style would be released as a cellar door only special.

O Very soft, ripe, dark and approachable; it's a pleasant wine but much more regional than varietal in some respects, as it could've easily been Langhorne Creek shiraz. Drink to 2013.
88 points


Next stop on our brief Langhorne Creek getaway; Bremerton (photo taken October 2008). Bremerton has certainly become something of a compulsory stop for wine tasters in the Langhorne Creek region. Housed inside of a beautiful, large old building (which sits behind the one pictured) the tasting room is a historical treat that's always hosted by friendly staff. There's a variety of great light lunches available, as well as free tastings of flavoured olive oils, dukkah, dips and gourmet meats for the wine weary traveller (just don't give in to temptation and make sure you taste the wine before the chilli dips!).

On the wine side of things however, I must admit that Bremerton is another one of those wineries whose products I haven't enjoyed as much as others. Their lusciously fruited reds often display generous amounts of soft, sweet oak, leading to a very soft, immediate approachability, but I typically find they lack the savoury complexity or genuine structure of what the region is capable of. Even that most feted of Bremerton wines, the Old Adam Shiraz (whose 2006 vintage has sold out, with a May release date for the next vintage), has never really fulfilled my expectations. I also feel their red wines are marginally overpriced compared to those of nearby neighbours Lake Breeze and Bleasdale, whilst offering nothing more in the way of quality.

Having said all that it must also be said that Bremerton does have a very loyal following, and that these are just the opinions of one man.

It interested me to see Bremerton adding a pair of still chardonnays to their range for the first time from the 2008 vintage, in the way of both a standard and perhaps a rather ambitious 'Reserve Langhorne Creek Chardonnay' release. As with McLaren Vale, Clare and the Barossa, I'm a little unsure of Langhorne Creek's suitability to premium chardonnay production. I found the standard Bremerton Chardonnay to be quite typical of my expectations, but the reserve was a genuine step up in quality. I'd love to see about $7 taken off the R.R.P. of each (which funnily enough would bring them down to the price offered to Bremerton's Wine Society Members). The Australian chardonnay market is a competitive place these days, and it can't be easy coming in with a reserve release from Langhorne Creek for $32 when there are already a number of established wines from regions such as the Yarra Valley and Margaret River retailing for about $10 less.

Bremerton cellar door tasting notes are posted below

Bremerton 'Wiggy' Sparkling Chardonnay ($28) A wonderfully Australian interpretation of a Blanc de Blancs. Nutty, peachy nose with fizzy lemon sherbet notes. Its palate is creamy, round and pleasant but certainly lacks effervescent tightness. 85

Bremerton Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($17) Pungent gooseberry nose with a big hit of savvy 'sweat'. The palate is very oily and slightly flat yet framed by sour, lemony acids. It's interesting texturally if you're not adverse to oily sav blanc, but it could do with more freshness. 87

Bremerton Verdelho 2009 ($17) Presents a clean, lightly scented nose of melon fruits which could use more character, but it is indicative of the variety. The palate however, is much more interesting, with juicy fruits and a sweetish mid-palate that tightens up nicely towards a drier finish marked by hay notes. 89

Bremerton Chardonnay 2008 ($22) First release - cellar door only. Typical Langhorne Creek chardonnay nose with sweetish fruit marked by a strong whiff of fig and minimal oak. Its palate is cleaner, with more restraint to its tropical fruit character underscored by sweetish guava and fig undertones. 86

Bremerton Reserve Chardonnay 2008 ($32) First release. Immediately proclaims oak in its nose (compared to the standard release), with creamy, nutty vanilla/butter oak overlying creamed white fruits. Full and creamy, its palate shows genuine winemaker induced character, but surprises with some truly persistent length of clean, juicy fruits, all framed by soft, ripe acids. Assertively made yet well made; a surprisingly good Langhorne Creek chardonnay. 90

Bremerton 'Tamblyn' 2007 ($18) Cabernet/Shiraz/Malbec/Merlot. Soft, genuinely regional nose with eucalyptus, berry and plum fruits and vanilla oak. Soft yet vibrantly flavoured, its medium-bodied palate presents juicy fruit character ably framed by balanced sweet oak. It's a good quaffer (but aren't they supposed to be $15 or less?). 88

Bremerton Mourvedre 2008 ($24) Cellar door only. Soft, ripe, dark fruited wine in more of a richly fruited/sweetly oaked quaffing style. It's good and very drinkable, but it lacks varietal character somewhat, as it could just as easily be Langhorne Creek shiraz. (reviewed separate post). 88

Bremerton Malbec 2008 ($24) Cellar door only. I normally like Langhorne Creek Malbec, Bleasdale's in particular, but this didn't do it for me. Its nose is fair, with a stewy fruit fragrance of earth, rhubarb and raspberry, but its typically settled, vanilla oak laden palate is a bit thin and lacking structure, which it should have at this price. 85

Bremerton 'Selkirk' Shiraz 2007 ($22) Nice dark colour, with a leafy eucalypt, dark plum and mulberry nose with notes of vanilla/chocolate oak. Its simple yet approachable palate is soft and fruit forward, with ultra-ripe raspberry and currant flavours framed by sweet vanilla oak. 87

Bremerton Cabernet 2007 ($24) Cellar door only. Displays a more even nose than the shiraz, with stronger eucalypt notes overlying raspberry liqueur, cassis and sweet vanilla oak aromas. It's unsurprisingly the driest of the Bremerton reds in this price range, with a dusty framework of tannin coating its juicy, generous and ultra-ripe cabernet flavour. Typical of the vintage however, it lacks true balance and elegance. 86

Bremerton 'Reserve' Cabernet 2006 ($45) Dusty, dry, woody and savoury nose dominated by cedar tones and currant-like fruit. Its palate is concentrated almost to flatness, requiring more fullness and vibrancy of fruit, as well as a more marked expression of its lighter tannic structure. 86

Bremerton 'B.O.V.' Shiraz Cabernet 2006 ($75) Fortunately, the best wine I had all day, but for $75 it should be! Displays big, classic South Australian juicy fruit aromas of cassis and mulberry with a slight currant-like aspect, backed by chocolate/vanilla oak and that regional eucalyptus note. It possesses a very big palate, with good length of vibrant, juicy fruits and a genuine structure that's already looking very approachable at this stage. A good regional style. 92

Bremerton 'Ciel' Fortified Botrytis ($25) Served cold. Pronounced sticky date pudding aromas with notes of sultana and an oxidative, vanilla-like aspect. It's a much lighter, fresher style of fortified which is clean and easy to drink. Full of crossover appeal. 89


The delicious Mediterranean Platter and Trio of Dips from Bremerton's cellar door. The pate, sun-dried tomato, black olives and marinated octopus were real highlights.


It was a bit of a lazy day yesterday, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to head down to Langhorne Creek. The first stop on my travels was my favourite winery in the region; Lake Breeze (the picture on the right was taken back in October 2008; yesterday was much more grey and overcast, with many an overgrown vine).

Unfortunately, the string of trying vintages in the region has had its effect on Lake Breeze's red wines, which is reflected in my scores below. Given more favourable circumstances the standard release cabernet sauvignon and Bernoota blend are capable of being the best value reds in Australia. The 2004 vintage provided stellar examples (cabernet - 93pts, Bernoota - 93pts), highlighted by Bernoota winning the acclaimed Max Schubert Trophy for best red wine at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show.

Due to dwindling stocks, Lake Breeze's two reserve level wines, the 2005 Arthur's Cabernet blend ($30) and 2005 Winemaker's Selection Shiraz ($35), were unavailable for tasting. These must be two of the most undervalued reserve level reds in Australia and I had no hesitation in picking up some bottles of the Arthur's Reserve at $30. There will be a full review of the 2005 Arthur's Reserve in a future post. No Winemaker's Selection Shiraz was made in 2006 or 2007, so the next release will be a 2008.

Another aspect of Lake Breeze's cellar door that must be mentioned is the False Cape wines, sourced from South Australia's Kangaroo Island. The cool climate wines of Kangaroo Island are extremely hard to find, even in South Australia, so any opportunity to taste a bottle from this emerging region must be taken. By all accounts the region's shaping up as a good spot for cabernet-style wines, which is the variety of False Cape's top drawer release. The only False Cape wines available for tasting were a sauvignon blanc and a shiraz.

Lake Breeze cellar door tasting notes are posted below

False Cape Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($17) Kangaroo Island. Very fresh, citrus infused nose with pronounced notes of lemon, but it lacks some varietal punch. Presents a palate of restrained varietal fruit character, with slightly greenish herbal/gooseberry undertones. It's a clean and simple style but requires more length. 86

Lake Breeze Chardonnay 2008 ($17) Pungent, melon, lemon and grapefruit nose with butter oak and sweetish toffee-like aspect. The palate is sweet and simple in the warmer climate chardonnay style. It's quite approachable and certainly an acceptable quaffing style, but it could really use more balance through acid cut/refinement. 87

False Cape Ship's Graveyard Shiraz 2006 ($17) Kangaroo Island. Subdued nose with choc-raisin aromas and soft oak. Rather uninspiring, flat, overly simple and developing palate with an edgy extract of sandy tannin at the finish. 85

Lake Breeze 'Bernoota' Shiraz Cabernet 2007 ($19) 60/40. Big hit of menthol on the nose with ripe, dark fruits typical of the vintage backed by chocolate/vanilla oak. Its palate is truly regional in its softness and vibrancy, finishing with approachable, polished tannins which are more untypical of '07s. Ready to drink now. 90

Lake Breeze Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($21) Big menthol/eucalyptus, dark plum and berry fruit nose with chocolate/vanilla oak and touch of cinnamon. Its soft, dark fruited palate lacks varietal character, structure and length, but is certainly approachable and would make a good cabernet for those who aren't such a fan of cabernet's more aggressive qualities. 86

Friday, March 26, 2010


- Upper Goulburn, VIC
- $18-$29
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

From the cold reaches of Victoria's high country, Delatite produce one of Australia's most celebrated traminers. Many would agree 2008 provided a classic Dead Man's Hill Gewurztraminer (93pts), as many would also agree that 2009 provided much more adverse circumstances for Victorian growers.

Scented with a subdued whiff of lychee, the 2009 Dead Man's Hill also reveals a brassy tone of peach pastry overlying its rose oil and lime aromas, with barely a hint of musky spice evident. Compared to its predecessor it's somewhat deficient in freshness and vitality, with a rather broad, brassy and savoury palate that pushes forward slightly cooked varietal flavours (showing some lychee alongside bacon?) over a faintly oily undercarriage, trailed by enduring notes of clove, lime pith and a dry, smoky aspect. Although devoid of the excessive sweetness or phenolics sometimes associated with the variety, it also lacks a truly refreshing influence of clean acidity.

O More than likely a victim of its season. It's relatively attractive for now, but should be drunk early just to be on the safe side. Drink to 2012.
88 points

Thursday, March 25, 2010


- Tasmania
- $19-$30
- Cork
- 12.5%alc

Ninth Island is the second label of Piper's Brook; arguably Tasmania's premier winery, which itself is part of the large Belgian company Kreglinger. To be honest I've never been terribly inspired by any Ninth Island wine, but as with Piper's Brook, I've always deeply admired their wine packaging.

Beautifully presented in a heavy, squat bottle with 2 (!?) layers of foil, this non-vintage Tassie sparkling is pale-straw with fine bead and lace, unravelling a quite savoury, pinot-influenced and earthy bouquet of dry cherry and wholemeal toast backed by a tone of grapefruit. The round palate is rich and creamy upfront, announcing a similarly savoury profile to the nose, yet it is fresher and fractionally less complex. It finishes with a zingy stronghold of lemony tang and fizzy acids, but its climax is too simple, lacking the length of fruit flavour (which is overawed by tang) and regal balance required for a higher score.

O Stylistically, I consider this to be a more savoury expression of what is essentially a quaffing-style Tasmanian sparkling. Drink now.
87 points

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Here's something you don't see everyday; leading wine publication Winestate pulled over on the side of a busy inner city street, literally giving their magazines away. It was all done in promotion of a deal which sees $60 getting you a 12 month subscription to the magazine (7 issues) as well as a $60 voucher for a gourmet restaurant. It's just a shame I don't like Ristorante Auge.

I stepped aside for a couple of minutes to talk to the pictured rep, who, at a brief glance, was experiencing some difficulty giving the magazine away to Adelaide's lunchtime crowd. In fact, the poor man was even heckled by one female passer-by!


- Canberra District
- $22
- Screwcap
- 13.0%alc

Due at least in part to its perceived popularity, sauvignon blanc and its customary blending partner semillon have popped up in practically every Australian wine region conceivable, regardless of its suitability (or lack there of) to the region.

Clearly dominated by semillon on the nose, Shaw Vineyard's 2009 SSB shows aromas of citrus zest, nettle, hay and green stalk before revealing a palate that lacks both fruit character and flavour definition. It announces rather broad undertones of green bean and straw flavour, then goes on to finish quite dry and bitter-edged, with a lengthy climax pulled out by persistent semillon-derived acids, which are decidedly assertive yet just in check.

X This doesn't really play to the strengths of what the blend can achieve, but then again, I've yet to have a Canberra SSB that does. Drink now.
86 points

Monday, March 22, 2010


- Barossa Valley, SA
- $20-$29
- Screwcap
- 14.5%alc

Budding Barossa superstar Kym Teusner's already displayed a fine touch for making unoaked reds, as is ably demonstrated by his Joshua blend of old-vine grenache, mataro and shiraz. The Joshua typically represents good, simple fun, generous flavour and immediate approachability.

Straight out the bottle, even without decanting, the 2008 Joshua opens to a warm, confectionery lift of sweetly fruited plum jam, raspberry lollies and coconut ice with a more rustic, smoky note of cooked meats adding interest. Bonded by approachable acidity, the vibrant palate presents a more composed, essence-like expression of plum syrup, violets and berry compote, and although it's marginally flat and lacking in firm structure (as should be expected for the style), it finishes adequately long and clean with enduring sweet fruit undertones, making the whole experience very smooth, totally approachable and ready to drink now.

ü Simple yet attractive, sweetly fruited without being over-ripe; the 2008 Joshua is a very modern, charming example of the unoaked style. Drink to 2013.
90 points

Saturday, March 20, 2010


As Professor Norstrom pushed through the thick vegetation, the explorers had finally discovered what they'd long set out to find; a tree whose bark was made entirely from screwcaps.

Friday, March 19, 2010


- Eden Valley, SA
- $75-$135
- Cork (protruding/evenly stained right through)
- 14.0%alc

On a recent visit to the winery I noticed Henschke selling off cellar release bottles of the 1995 Mount Edelstone for $110 (current vintage $89), however, this bottle isn't one of those, it's been in my collection for some time and now sports an ominously protruding cork.

This 15 year old Mount Edelstone still holds a red hue, but even after 4 hours in the decanter it remains rather flat in aroma, presenting a somewhat nullified expression of redcurrant, sweet red cherry and licorice residing beneath a much stronger cedar component. It clearly lacks the aromatic vitality and character I expected. The palate however, is smooth, fluffy and gentle, with a surprisingly soft fullness; it combines a much more evenly balanced, if fairly simple combination of sweet red berry fruit and cedar oak. It fades out a fraction towards its finish, with a barely noticeable announcement of tannins softly touching the final climax.

O Once I got over the lack of aromatic quality, I found this wine to have a totally pleasant, soft and polite palate of very drinkable proportions. Sorry, but I feel this wine is the result of one particular, perhaps slightly off bottle, which would've drunk better about three years ago. I'm sure there will be better bottles of the '95 Mount Edelstone out there than this. Drink now.
90 points


- Rutherglen, VIC
- $14-$21
- Screwcap
- 17.5%alc

For anyone looking for an entry point into the under-rated delights of Australia's rich and luscious fortified wines, they need look no further than the Morris Liqueur Tokay. At $15 it isn't just one of my perennial favourite Australian wines, it's also an absolute bargain. Every time I see it on a wine list, the little grandfather inside of me can't help but raise a suggestive smile.

A lush golden brown colour, this Non-Vintage Tokay opens to a fragrant nose of toffee, nuts and tea supported by overtones of fruitcake character. Luxuriantly smooth and sticky, with pleasing balance, its rich palate shows a myriad of bright, ripe tokay flavours with notes of honeyed sultana and toffee in the driver's seat. Of particular note is the fine finish; clean and generously long, with just a hint of spirity warmth which doesn't dominate.

ü+ Once all the sparkling shiraz has been polished off, there might not be a more appropriate way to wind down Christmas than a bottle of Morris Liqueur Tokay. Drink now.
92 points

Case In Point Update 19-Mar-2010

Casey: Golden brown in colour, with a lovely, rich viscosity and toffee and raisins on the nose. Silky smooth over the tongue, with abundant fresh Christmas fruitcake flavour. A subtle soul warming finish. A thing I love about a good fortified wine is it's so easy to review, with its aromatic vapours and rich, full palate. Even when retiring after a delicious dinner the bold characteristics of the wine shine through.

Chris: After a fair hiatus, welcome back Casey to Australian Wine Journal! As I look over my original note for the Morris Tokay, I must say there's barely a word I'd disagree with (the golden-brown colour is decidedly translucent though). Rather fortuitously, Casey's note also matches how I feel about the wine, if apparently spelt out a bit differently. I particularly like Casey's note about its 'rich viscosity', which I feel sums up the Morris Tokay's mouthfeel and flow exceptionally well. And yes, I too love how you can pull out a fortified wine after several previous courses of food and wine, yet still genuinely appreciate its pleasures. The next Case In Point will definitely NOT be a non-vintage wine by the way. My score remains the same. 92

Thursday, March 18, 2010


- Great Southern/Perth Hills, WA
- $15-$22
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

Some sections of South Australia's wine industry would have us believe tempranillo could be the best thing to happen to our state's warmer regions since someone planted shiraz in the Barossa back in the 1800's. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, enthusiastic winemakers like Gavin Berry at West Cape Howe are going quietly about their business to prove they too can produce faithful representations of this resilient Spanish variety.

West Cape Howe's 4th release of tempranillo, the 2008, opens to ripe, heady aromas of spicy raspberry and cherry cola with tarry/meaty notes, which all sit happily above a restrained tone of older oak and a slight spirity warmth that suggests it might be a fraction higher in alcohol than its stated 14%. Pleasingly concentrated for a medium-weighted red, its darker, well conceived palate enters with smoothness but evolves with more rustic charm, translating rich nuances of dark cherry/dark plums, spicy fruitcake and cooked meats into an agreeably dry finish framed by a firm hold of savoury, prickly tannins.

ü+ This is another fine, harmoniously balanced and genuinely undervalued tempranillo from West Cape Howe, which should settle down immensely over the shorter term. It's also another huge tick for this maker's status as WA's best producer of sub-$20, multi-regional wines. Drink to 2013.
91 points

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


- Clare Valley, SA
- $16-$23
- Screwcap
- 11.0%alc

Riesling enthusiasts typically reflect on who makes Clare's best riesling outside of Grosset. For me, it's Tim Adams by a country mile. Since 2006 his Reserve Riesling has established itself as a regional benchmark of Grosset-like quality, while his standard release always offers ludicrously good value. Like all of Tim's wines, his rieslings pack the structure and intensity when young to cellar with discerning ease.

Classically scented in its citrus focused nose, Tim Adams' 2009 reveals mineral infused aromas of lemon, lime and grapefruit with a lesser suggestion of floral nuances. Fuller, juicy, concentrated and rich without being broad or overly exaggerated, its austere palate drives home a pristine mix of light, bright citrus fruits and white flowers scored by a racy cut of steely citric acids. It finishes precise, penetratingly long and shapely, with lingering juicy fruit undertones and a structure that builds gradually in Tim Adams' typical mouth-puckering style.

ü+ Magnificent. Now where's that 2009 Reserve? Drink to 2019.
95 points

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


As my infatuation with wine has grown, so too has my growing attraction to wine glassware. I'll often spend half an hour or so browsing through the glassware section at stores such as David Jones, Harris Scarfe or Wheel and Barrow, while Beck looks at the clothes (or other girl-related items), it actually gives me something constructive to do! Also, every time we dine out at a restaurant, cafe or pub, I find myself scrutinising the choice of glassware almost as much as the food, service or wine list. I love a good wine glass, and I thoroughly enjoy drinking from them.

This post is dedicated to the glassware which I use to review the wines for Australian Wine Journal.

My own personal collection of glassware numbers close to 100 now, of which, the vast majority goes largely unused. I possess about 20 or so Champagne flutes and about another 20 tasting glasses, both of which come in handy for parties or organised tastings (which I haven't organised for nearly 2 years now), there's also a fair whack of old, cheap glasses which I only still have because no one's broken them yet.

These are the glasses that I do use for Australian Wine Journal and how they're used. Basically, they're my blogging 'tools' really.

Standard Wine Tasting Glass
To be honest I don't use these much anymore. Like I previously mentioned I have about 20 of these, and it amazes me the subtle differences between almost all of them. There was a time when I'd use these for lighter, aromatic whites, but now it's dessert wines and little else, except maybe the odd fortified. I also use these for assessing the aroma of sparkling/fortified wines on the side, as I find my Champagne flutes and Port/Liqueur glasses relatively insufficient for that purpose.

Taltarni Flute
Of the ten or so different styles of Champagne flute I have, this is my favourite. I picked them up from Taltarni a few years ago, back when I was looking for an ultimate flute shape, and I love 'em. The glass is of very good quality and they're particularly delicate and fine. More recently however, I've found myself converted to the tulip shaped Champagne flutes (the type which always beat around with the big Champagne house logos emblazoned on them), so a couple of them are high on my 'to-buy' glassware list. Personally I don't use flutes for decent sparkling reds, I prefer red wine glasses.

Riedel White Tasting Glass
I drink almost all my white wines out of these. Semillon, riesling, sauvignon blanc etc all get chucked in the Riedel, as does almost all my chardonnay. As Australian chardonnay becomes finer, tighter, leaner, more elegant and mineral, I tend to use these glasses more. Personally I find the traditional Burgundy shape suits a fuller, more luscious and perhaps even worked or mature chardonnay better. I've also been known to pour the odd sparkling red in these babies. Top of my wine glass wish list is new glassware for aromatic whites. I know exactly the style I want (I'd call it the classic restaurant glass), but I've yet to find the exact style I want at the price I want.

Riedel Red Tasting Glass
By far the most used wine glass in my collection. When I bought these the sales lady told me I'd never use another glass again, and she wasn't that far off! They can reach as high as $50 retail, but you should really be able to pick one up for $20 or so, especially as numerous Australian cellar doors stock these with their logo printed on the glass. I'm happy to throw any half decent red in the Riedel (even good pinot noir) and all the top shelf stuff definitely gets poured straight in. Heavy (or typically Australian?) reds drink particularly well out of these, as do good quality sparkling reds.

Edinburgh Hotel Glass
Sorry about the plug but I'm always happy to promote The Ed; Adelaide's best pub. The Ed gives these out at their annual Great Shiraz Challenge and I'm quite glad, as they're actually very good glasses! I tend not to use these for top quality shiraz or cabernet, but I find they're great 'all-rounder' red glasses. I like lighter, softer style reds in these (even the odd white), sangiovese, merlot and cheaper blends in particular. In fact a lot of the cheaper, earlier drinking reds I review on Australian Wine Journal are drunk out of these glasses.

Yalumba 'Big Red' Glass
I'm not entirely sure what to call this beautifully shaped glass, but I do know I bought it from Yalumba, where they use them for their heavier reds at the cellar door. They were sold to me as full-bodied red glasses yet I bought them with dessert wines in mind. I still use these for fortifieds and stickies, but increasingly I'm using them for heavier reds, cabernet styles in particular. Maybe it's just the thought of where I bought it from but I also like viognier out of these glasses, as well as the odd chardonnay. The occasional sparkling red too. Once again these are pretty good all-rounders. Their exaggerated, tapered and closing shape at the top makes them ideal for capturing a wine's aroma.

Stolzle Burgundy Glass
I don't use these perhaps as much as I should, I'm just a little intimidated by their sheer size. I have slightly smaller Burgundy glasses but I still prefer the Stolzles. Personally I prefer very young pinot noir out of my Riedel red glasses, but I definitely like more mature, genuine pinot noir out of these. The same goes for chardonnay, where the mature stuff gets chucked straight in the Stolzles, but the younger wines generally end up in a Riedel. Nebbiolo, with its similar aromatic, perfumed qualities, has been known to find its way into Burgundy glasses at my place too.

Port/Liqueur Glass
These attractive little glasses are what I drink fortified styles from. They're very classy, blown crystal, Italian glassware and fairly pricey considering their small stature ($18 each). I like how I can get my nose into this glass (even with a decent pour), which is something I find a lot of port/liqueur glasses lack, as many of them are no larger than a single pour, or even a shot glass with a stem.

So there you have it - the official glassware of Australian Wine Journal! As you can see I do like to vary things up a bit! As with most people's glassware collections it is a collection in evolution, but this is what I use now.

For interest I also use a Zerutti turn decanter (I'm sure many of you will know the one) but I forgot to take a photo - whoops!

Also, I'm not a big fan of those stemless, O-Series Riedel glasses. I've used them several times before and because I have small hands I find them quite ungainly, as I hold them with both hands. They make me feel like a toddler sipping Ribena from a Tommie Tippie.

Monday, March 15, 2010


- Coonawarra, SA
- $16-$25
- Screwcap
- 15.0%alc

Since the 2005 vintage I've noticed a consistent quality throughout Brand's Laira's entry level reds. Apparently some of our nation's show judges might agree with me, as announced by the numerous gold medals emblazoned on Brand's 2008 Cabernet Merlot.

Vividly coloured with purple hues, this slightly minty/leafy Coonawarra red packs a punchy presence of blackcurrant, cherry and dark plum aromas with vanilla/cedar oak, admirably reflecting both region and style for its price. Its rather syrupy palate delivers genuine length of bright fruit, with vibrant, sweetly fruited cassis, raspberry and violet flavours wrapped up by fine-grained cedar oak and a generously ripened coating of polished tannins.

ü+ I must comply with the show judges at the Royal Adelaide who awarded this top slot in the cabernet blends class; this truly is an exceptionally balanced and complete, medium-term Coonawarra blend of outstanding drinkability. Incredible value. Drink to 2016.
92 points

Friday, March 12, 2010


- Canberra District
- $80-$110
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

With a long succession of stellar vintages and a following that seems to grow inexplicably, Clonakilla's Shiraz Viognier has become a genuine threat to Grange's long held mantle of Australia's ultimate wine. Unsurprisingly the 2008, which has been available for about 6 months now, has already received rave reviews from practically every Australian critic imaginable.

Exotic, musky and floral, this vibrantly coloured young red opens gradually to a faintly meaty perfume of red cherries, raspberry, cinnamon and white pepper with a seamless measure of French vanilla oak. Medium-bodied, gloriously silky and satiny; its superlative palate achieves a level of opulent elegance some might believe unachievable with such a young Australian shiraz, as it unloads a perfectly ripened, vivid cocktail of small berry fruit flavours which are lifted by an expansive wave of carefully integrated spice notes. It finishes more savoury and agreeably firm, with a sensual tapestry of velvet-like, fine-grained, powdery tannins and a lingering impression of soft mulberry/raspberry character. It's ridiculously addictive and seems significantly more drinkable than at release.

ü+ Floral, evenly ripened, medium-bodied, soft, silky, fine-grained and long; the 2008 is a truly ethereal wine and another must-buy Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier for anyone wishing to know the full extents of what Australian shiraz can achieve. Superb. Drink to 2026.
96 points

Thursday, March 11, 2010


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $22-$31
- Cork
- 14.5%alc

McLaren Vale's Pirramimma is almost unanimously considered one of Australia's leading makers of straight petit verdot. In my opinion the 2002 was their finest achievement this century with the lesser known Bordeaux variety, which I previously rated 93 points back in August 2007.

Showing a clear whiff of fresh cedar, this 8 year old petit verdot opens to a settled, dusty and savoury bouquet of chocolate raisins and cooked meat overlying nuances of dried herb and pencil shavings. It's very silky, long and smooth, with a powdery framework set around its complex yet totally harmonious interweaving of medium-bodied red/blackcurrant, cedar, earth and dried herb flavour. Bearing the mark of true length of fruit sweetness (thank you 2002 vintage), it finishes with expansive notes of chocolate raisins and raspberry bullets touched by a moderate dryness, growing ever more compelling with every sip; just like a good mature red should.

ü+ Surprisingly complex, this wine changes unequivocally with time, air and temperature. All the same it's a great little expression of a McLaren Vale Bordeaux-style, and I've probably underestimated its cellaring life a fraction. Drink to 2012.
92 points

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $17-$25
- Screwcap
- 14.5%alc

With a string of wines that have transcended trying vintages (2005-90pts, 2006-88pts, 2007-91pts), Joe Grilli's certainly proven he has a knack for blending sangiovese with shiraz. His 2008 Il Briccone combines 85% shiraz from Primo's Clarendon and McMurtrie Road vineyards with 15% sangiovese, matured in older oak barrels for 14 months.

Youthfully coloured, the 2008 Il Briccone's rather ripe, tarry nose of plum and currant fruits is backed by hints of dark chocolate oak and tobacco. Barely medium in weight, its dark and savoury palate reveals cherry and tobacco flavours with just a touch of ultra-ripe, currant-like fruit which denies it a little length and vibrancy, however, it finishes quite aptly with fair if not astounding length, and a simple yet approachable structure underscored by a dry herbal thread.

O The 2008 isn't my pick of Primo's recent Il Briccone wines, but it's true to the Grilli mission statement in that it remains perfectly suited to Mediterranean cuisine. Drink to 2013.
88 points

Sunday, March 7, 2010


The fine art of sauvignon blanc connoisseurship

Thursday, March 4, 2010


- Macedon Ranges, VIC
- $47-$55
- Cork (Vintage dated Diam)
- 14.0%alc

Bindi is a small yet iconic producer best known for making some of Australia's very finest and fastidiously made pinot noir. In all respects they're exactly the type of winery I'd want representing Australia on the world stage.

Sourced from Bindi's Block K (established 2001) and Original (planted in 1988) vineyards, the attractively hazy, lightly shaded 2008 Composition Pinot Noir reveals a fairly straight forward varietal fragrance of red cherry and musk stick enlivened by additional notes of earth/game meats and spice. Still very youthful, its satiny palate gently caresses the mouth with the airy grace of feminine touch, presenting a quietly understated yet seamless marriage of youthful, red pinot berry fruits and savoury earth. It evolves with developing savoury characters and brisk, ultra-fine structure towards a pleasingly dry finish marked by fluffy fruit undertones.

ü Bindi's 2008 Composition is a shining example of the understated, gentle and elegant aspects of young pinot noir. It's a terrific earlier drinking pinot for those who truly appreciate the more subtle characteristics of the variety. Drink to 2014.
91 points


- Margaret River, WA
- $22-$32
- Screwcap
- 14.5%alc

It's a pleasure to see Cape Mentelle's Trinders return to its best form since 2004 (92pts). With the resources available to Cape Mentelle's winemaking team, there's absolutely no reason why the Trinders shouldn't consistently rate with Australia's best $25 cabernets.

Another classically regional effort from the 2007 Margaret River vintage, the Trinders opens to herbal aromas of dusted blackcurrants and black olive supported by a fine measure of toasty cedar oak. Its beautifully balanced and presented palate contains the elegance and structure associated with the region, delivering a perfectly ripened mix of medium-weighted, plush small black berry and dark cherry fruit flavour. A healthy coating of charry cedar oak extends the wine, with a fine-grained, powdery chassis of drying tannins gripping the very long finish with a pleasing firmness and lasting dryness.

ü+ At $22 (right now) this is the best, most affordable bottle of 2007 Margaret River cabernet I've had yet. It's great to drink a wine of such quality that's so cheap. Now, if we could just get a red vintage like that over here in South Australia....Drink to 2021.
93 points

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


- Various, AUS
- $7-$16
- Cork
- 12.0%alc

I must admit to being a little confused with the labelling of Hardys' entry level Sir James sparkling whites. Naturally, one might expect the Brut de Brut (brut referring to dry) to be drier than its Cuvee Brut sibling, however, the Cuvee Brut's back label claims it finishes in a crisp, dry style, while the Brut de Brut says it 'finishes with a refreshing natural acidity'. Fortunately there was a store attendant on hand to the point me in the direction of the drier wine, or at least as he saw it.

Displaying truly miniscule bead, this very clear-straw sparkling reveals a surprisingly yeasty, honeyed fragrance (24 months lees ageing) of grapefruit and lemon zest. Somewhat juicy, creamy and forward, its loose-knit palate lays slightly candied lemon sherbet-like acids over its grapefruit/white flower flavour, and although it doesn't tighten with any real significance, it does announce a touch of foamy fizz and some lingering bitter aspects.

O Not a bad fizz for under $10, but it doesn't really compare to the freshness or tightness of Jacob's Creek's Blanc de Blancs. Drink now.
85 points

Monday, March 1, 2010


- Hunter Valley, NSW
- $26
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

From a very traditional Australian chardonnay region winemaker James Lusby has fashioned this one year old wine with a justifiably modern yet rather minimalist approach (minimal skin contact, no lees stirring, no malolactic fermentation, no oak maturation and barrel fermentation in mostly older oak).

Surprisingly, the 2009 Pebbles Brief openly proclaims its barrel fermentation, with a deliciously clear whiff of nutty nougat underscored by more restrained notes of creamy honeydew melon, guava and spirit. Clean and inviting if a bit simple, its precisely judged palate displays a good depth of bright, juicy fruit wrapped up by quirkier cheesy/vanilla/yeasty notes, with refreshingly soft acids woven throughout its enduring tones of melon and grapefruit. Much to their credit Tintilla's managed to cram masses of flavour and character into this carefully made, low intervention chardonnay.

ü+ Without doubt the team at Tintilla Estate produce this chardonnay with a clear stylistic directive and in 2009; mission achieved. It's a standout example of barely oaked Hunter chardonnay; a true crossover wine and a happy surprise to all those who discover it. Drink to 2015.
92 points