Sunday, August 29, 2010
- McLaren Vale, SA
The Derelict Vineyard is the reserve-level single varietal grenache from Australia's leading practitioner of the variety; d'Arenberg. The 2006 Derelict Vineyard (93pts) was a bright, meaty, complex and perfectly regional grenache ideally set for the cellar.
Softly scented with a bright, floral fragrance of cranberries, violets, cherries and sweet cedar, this fruit focused grenache also reveals underlying hints of muddy, earthy tones with a sweet expression of cinnamon spice. Essentially light-medium in weight, its truly supple palate presents a genuinely subtle, calming mouthfeel beset with savoury suggestions of soft red fruits and light spice, which are marked by beautifully lithe, regional sour-edged acids holding together a very soft tannin structure. Stylistically, it's one of those grenaches that bares more than a passing resemblance to pinot noir.
ü Charmingly soft, supple and very approachable (with adequate aeration), The Derelict Vineyard provides an intriguing contrast to its cheaper stablemate from 2007; The Custodian Grenache (91pts), which I found firmly structured, rustic and in need of a stint in the cellar. Take your pick... Drink to 2014
Saturday, August 28, 2010
- Victoria/Southern Australia
Although it's no longer the pinnacle of Australia's sparkling white wine class as it once was, Seppelt's Salinger remains a beacon of consistency and quality in my eyes. However, I can't say the new packaging appeals to my senses.
Presenting a fine combination of racy bead with genuine foam and lace, the 2006 Salinger opens to a lively scent of sweet pastry overlying white flower, grapefruit and mineral aromas with funky meaty/cherry aspects imparted by its pinot noir component. It's foamy in the mouth, with a rich, chewy mid-section that announces sparkling mineral, grapefruit and butterscotch flavours. Its grapefruit and mineral nuances become more pronounced as the wine evolves towards a slightly bitter-edged, steely climax underlined by a lingering tone of yeast.
ü A pleasingly fresh, mineral-accented Salinger with enough overall balance to suggest it'll develop further richness and complexity over the next few years. Drink to 2014.
The Salinger drive of Seppelt's vast underground wine storage facility. Constructed in the 1860's by out of work gold miners, these mould-lined underground droves stretch for kilometres beneath Seppelt's Great Western winery. The average temperature in the cellar is nearly a constant 15 degrees, with a 1 degree fluctuation between the hottest summer day and the coldest winter night. This consistent ambient temperature makes Seppelt's facility ideal for long term wine storage.
Friday, August 27, 2010
- Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
As fantastic as it is to hear names like pinot gris, savagnin, vermentino and gruner veltliner mentioned as potential John Wilkes Booths to sauvignon blanc's Abraham Lincoln, I can't help but feel that stylistically, the ideal grapes for the job have been residing in our vineyards for some time now. One early release, unwooded white that competes at the right price is Brokenwood's Semillon; a wine whose consistency and quality over the last decade or two puts practically every Australian sauvignon blanc to shame.
Perhaps lacking its customary aromatic lift, Brokenwood's 2009 presents a vaguely funky, subdued fruit nose of melon, white fruits and citrus graced by a savoury suggestion of light spice. Opening with surprisingly concentrated and rich, yet clean varietal qualities, the palate drives home a great length of lightly spiced lemon and lime citrus notes, before its zippy finish firmly lays down a vivid, dry extract of sour-citric acidity over persisting undertones of dried tobacco leaf flavour.
ü+ A change in direction from some of Brokenwood's taut, fragant and grassier offerings, this long, agreeable wine possesses more richness than I anticipated. It's a good one though. Drink to 2016.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
A wintry sun setting over the Hackney Rd vineyard adjacent Adelaide's National Wine Centre
I had the pleasure of attending a four course dinner last night, matched to Wynns wines and hosted by Wynns winemaker Sue Hodder, all for the measly sum of $70. There's plenty of good value there, especially as the glasses were topped up frequently and readily!
The highlight of the night for me would've been the appearance of Sue Hodder herself, who was only too willing to talk personally with her fans. Sue is clearly a determined, focused winemaker, who's ready to move forward with the times whilst staying true to the factors that won her success in the first place. Previously I've discussed how I enjoy sensing terroir, or the natural environment, in finished wines, but also, I respect those wines that are able to appropriately reflect the hand of their maker as well. For me, Wynns' wines sum up Sue's personality pretty well, whilst, of course, remaining true to the ideals of Coonawarra's regional expression. Wynns' wines are beautifully measured, cleverly constructed, well tended to in both vineyard and winery, and they exceed where others fail. A large part of this comes from the deep, rational thinking employed by the winemaking team, which gets reflected in the consistent quality of Wynns products. A smart winemaker with smart wines and vision, Sue Hodder is certainly a valuable asset to Treasury Wine Estates, and one which they can ill afford to lose (nor viticulturist Allen Jenkins for that matter).
STARTER: Yellowglen Vintage Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2008
The classic Foster's throw in?
COURSE 1: Wynns Riesling 2009
Cherry tomato mousse, mushroom fluff, basil infused oil
Like others, Sue Hodder is of the belief that sauvignon blanc will be a passing phase and that riesling will be there to pick up the slack when it passes. Wynns Riesling is intended to be an every day wine, of the quaffing variety, with a price to suit. Personally I don't believe the 2009 vintage is one of Wynns' better rieslings. It shows fairly simple, candied lemon flavours with a sweet and sour acidity that makes it fairly plausible to the quaffing crowd but not much else.
Essentially served in a shot glass, the mousse was light and tasty, if a bit overpowered by its basil infusion. Not sure where my mushroom fluff fluffed off to though.
COURSE 2: Wynns Chardonnay 2010
16 hour pork shoulder, jus de rotis, almond crushed baby fennel, mint and apple salad
It's unusual for Wynns to release their chardonnay so early, and unfortunately, I think the decision shone through to what seems like a slightly unsettled wine at this early stage. Initially, it revealed a pleasingly smooth texture and a nicely refined melon fruit profile, but it seemed to finish a bit angular and awkward. Hopefully, 3-6 months might see these issues fade out.
The pork shoulder was clearly the gastronomic highlight of the night. Slow cooked to perfection, it had a soft, fall-apart-in-your-mouth type texture that was to die for, with a lovely strip of fatty goodness laid across the top and smatterings of gentle fennel flavour emanating throughout. Delicious!
COURSE 3: Wynns Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 and Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Roasted lamb rump, glace de viande, creamed potato, pickled beetroot, winter vegetables
Unfortunately, the 2006 was my least favourite of Wynns recent Black Label Cabernet Sauvignons. Making matters even worse was that the wine was just cracked and poured, no aerating whatsoever. After sitting in the glass for about 20 minutes, as well as being frantically swirled, it began to reveal an unusually closed palate with black fruited/olive characters, which still displayed the same hardness I recall in the wine some 2 years ago. I think it needs another 6-8 years at least.
Fortunately, the Riddoch was decanted, which lead to a much more pleasing representation from first sniff. It was vibrant, vividly fruited and considerately oaked, with a wonderfully rich, deep core of flavour that persisted long into the aftertaste alongside the firm, grippy and practically aggressive tannins that trademarked so many 2006s. I still really like this wine (there's an older, separate review under Cabernet in the sidebar). No John Riddoch was made from 2007, same as the Michael Shiraz, which was a wise decision frankly. This is despite my belief that the Black Label was one of the region's better wines from that difficult year.
The lamb was nice, not great, but I felt it was overshadowed by its excellent sides. The cute little melon-balled vegetables, the potato and the pickled beetroot lifted the dish to a point where the lamb was never going to take it alone.
COURSE 4: Wynns V&A Lane Cabernet Shiraz 2008 and Wynns V&A Lane Shiraz 2008
King Island smoked cheddar, caraway and black sesame lavosh
A few points to make about the V&A wines. Firstly, unlike some of Wynns' other recent limited release wines, these are not individual vineyard wines, they merely come from Coonawarra's V&A sub-region, which is a central part of the red strip that Sue Hodder intends on highlighting in coming years. Secondly, under the right conditions, Wynns intend on releasing these wines every year, or at least semi-regularly. Finally, sat next to each other, it's downright obvious how different the two wines are. It's amazing what a good splash of Coonawarra cabernet can do!
The V&A Cabernet Shiraz displays the lovely bright fruit profile which adorns so many Coonawarra 08s, but with an incredible length of natural, firm and powerful tannins, which in a structural sense reminded me slightly of Wynns 2004 Johnson's Block Cab Shiraz. The 2008 V&A Cabernet Shiraz will be a very long lived wine. Clearly; seamlessly blending cabernet with shiraz is one of Sue Hodder's less recognised talents. I'd love to see more.
The V&A Shiraz was an unexpected contrast to its sibling in many ways, but primarily, it was all about texture, or mouthfeel. Sue told me of someone who had likened the wine to being pinot-like, and while I personally wouldn't quite go that far, I knew exactly where she was coming from. Medium, or even light-medium bodied, the palate was silky and supple, but still with a rich concentration of ripe berry fruit flavours expressed at its core. Of course, Coonawarra's classic white pepper note was there in attendance, as well as the maker's length and the season's brightness. It's a great wine.
I'm not sure why so many people look at Coonawarra shiraz with disdain. Personally, I think the Coonawarra style is a more faithful representation of the grape's true nature than some of South Australia's higher profile shiraz districts. A point which makes more sense if you also consider Victoria's Grampians to be Australia's truest and most faithful terroir for shiraz.
In conclusion it was a wonderful night, but I must mention one gripe, which seems to be repeating itself across high-end dinner services right across Adelaide. Apart from the John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon, none of the wines were decanted properly. The Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon and both V&A wines were just cracked and poured with immediacy, giving off huge whiffs of 'bottle stink' or 'twiggy aromas' (thanks Sean ;). This sort of service is a big no-no in my view, especially when dealing with young, gutsy wines of such powerful, dry and tannic proportions. You'd think the National Wine Centre would have a few decanters, or perhaps even some wine aerators lying around somewhere?
- Coonawarra, SA
It seems Sue Hodder and the winemaking team at Wynns can't put a foot wrong at the moment. The company's recent releases of Shiraz, Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, Michael Shiraz and John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon are all performing at, or close to all-time highs, while a smartly timed collection of limited release, individual vineyard Wynns reds have added further glory to an already brilliant bunch.
Glowingly coloured, Wynns' 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon reveals a fresh, genuinely ripened and varietal nose loaded with minty/leafy scents of plushly fruited dark plums and small red and black berries, with a fragrant tone of clean cedar oak considerately woven through. With layers of silky flavour the palate displays extra degrees of elegance and composure than typical for the label, as it unravels a stylishly medium-bodied, long, bright and even expression of fresh, regional berry fruits tightly knit with vanilla/cedar oak and a polished measure of fine, powdery tannins. Balance is spot on.
ü+ Another stunning red from Wynns Coonawarra Estate; the 2008 is as good as any Black Label Cabernet Sauvignons I've had this century. Drink to 2026.
Monday, August 23, 2010
(Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Shiraz)- Pyrenees, VIC
- Screwcap (Stelvin-Lux)
Established in 1963 by French liquor icon Remy Martin, Blue Pyrenees (formerly Chateau Remy) was originally set up with intentions of brandy production, before shifting its focus to sparkling wines (when brandy fell out of favour with Australian palates), and then finally onto table wine. Today, with French ownership long gone, Blue Pyrenees' flagship is the Estate Red.
Combining cabernet sauvignon (51%) with merlot (35%) and shiraz (14%), the 2006 Estate Red announces a radiant, minty perfume of cassis, plum and blueberry aromas lifted by notes of red licorice, polished cedar/vanilla oak and eucalyptus leaf. Smooth and juicy yet deliciously fine-grained throughout, its palate packs a vividly fruited presence of explosive flavour backed by a firm coverage of slightly coarse, yet well ripened tannins. It finishes long with excellent balance, focus and vitality; revealing rich, persistent flavours defined by suggestions of spearmint, raw cedar and a slight sour-edged meatiness.
ü+ Blue Pyrenees has worked hard to re-establish themselves amongst Victoria's top echelon, a point exemplified by this beautifully composed, deliciously ripened and well made red blend. Watch this space. Drink to 2021.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
- Nagambie Lakes, VIC
Tahbilk is rightfully recognised as a standout producer of firm, rustic, long living reds and superlative marsanne, but I also see them as one of Australia's best makers of good, cheap viognier. The 2007 release (91pts) was a reserved, surprisingly complex and bell-clear viognier of considerable finesse.
Light-mid yellow, Tahbilk's 2009 displays a slightly flinty, more savoury varietal fragrance of grilled nuts, apricot kernel, cloves and melon in a reserved style devoid of viognier's overt, apricoty showiness; however, it does reveal a warm hint of spirit. Quite broad and brassy, its oily-textured palate presents nuances of apricot syrup and clove flavour, but it finishes somewhat short and flat, lacking the extensive influence of bright acidity to enhance both length and freshness.
O Acceptable yet uninspiring, the 2009 Viognier is far from the pick of Tahbilk's current releases. Drink to 2011.
Friday, August 20, 2010
- Rutherglen, VIC
I'm not usually one to harp on about $65 wines being good value for money, but in the case of the Morris Old Premium Liqueur Tokay (the one with the black tin), I'd have no hesitation in saying it's genuinely undervalued at that price. In all respects, Morris' flagship release of tokay is about as good as the style gets.
The Old Premium presents itself as a glorious dark brown colour with a touch of olive-green and even a tinge of yellow to the rim, before opening to deep, heady scents of burnt toffee and choc-caramel, with the appropriate aged rancio/nutty characters complemented by further suggestions of black olive and dried, dark green tea-leaf. On the palate it's pure hedonistic joy, as it reveals an almost exoteric expression of intense thickness, depth and lusciousness. Its extravagantly rich flavours literally swirl around the mouth like dense waves, marrying a perfectly harmonious, complex blend of pronounced sweetness with savoury (nuts), dry (tea) and even sour (acid) character that's difficult to describe in words, but it certainly finishes extraordinarily long and fresh, imparting deeply stained, lasting impressions of burnt toffee, roasted nuts and clean spirit with a hint of granulated coffee.
ü+ An utterly, utterly magnificent drink no matter how you look at it. Every serious drinker of Australian wine should consume at least one bottle of this in their life. It's tokay-fection. Drink now.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
- Southern Tasmania
Stefano Lubiana's certainly achieved a rare vein of consistent form with his recent Primavera Pinot Noirs (2005-91pts, 2006-91pts, 2007-92pts and 2008-92pts), but perhaps of more interest, is how this wine just seems to get better every year.
Reflecting aromatic harmony and poise, the 2009 Primavera opens to a wonderfully floral bouquet laced with cleanly fruited scents of lightly spiced cherries, pink strawberries and smooth vanilla oak with a stalky/earthy aspect. Its deliciously approachable palate is supple and juicy, with a vibrant array of youthful, satiny pinot characters in the small red berry/plum fruit spectrum graced by an airy touch of spice. Structurally it's a shade softer than some Primaveras, but it makes up for this minor discrepancy with a persistent core of rich, ripe berry and vanilla flavours outlined by a faint, yet even coverage of ticklish tannins. Altogether, it just urges you to go another glass.
ü+ Stefano Lubiana's 2009 Primavera is a consummate early drinking pinot noir, which exudes true beauty and balance through fine craftsmanship in both winery and vineyard. It scores highly for sheer drinkability. Drink to 2014.
Monday, August 16, 2010
(Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec/Petit Verdot)- Bendigo, VIC
Although their profile may be significantly smaller than some of their direct competitors, Water Wheel's position as a leading producer of high quality Australian quaffing reds remains undoubted. The classic Bendigo traits of rich, generous flavours and bountiful depth are the descriptors for which Water Wheel has become synonymous, but on occasion these wines can also display true cellaring potential.
Ripe and fractionally jammy, Water Wheel's shiraz dominant Memsie (70%) shows meaty plum and red cherry aromas backed by notes of white pepper, cinnamon and seasoned oak. Entering with a sumptuous explosion of vibrant, juicy fruit, its fruit forward and sweet edged palate announces a myriad of bright forest berry flavours with a soft, refreshingly acidic structure marked by quiet tannins, a deft touch of light spice, and a lingering sour-edged meatiness to finish.
ü For me, Water Wheel's reds tend to fall into two categories; brilliantly quaffable or surprisingly age-worthy. The brightly flavoured and uncomplicated 2007 Memsie certainly falls into the former. Drink to 2012.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
- Coonawarra, SA
There's much to respect about Campbell Mattinson and Gary Walsh choosing Yalumba's 2008 Cigar as their 'Wine of the Year' for the 2010/11 Big Red Wine Book. By selecting a wine which is; a) affordable, and b) readily available to the masses, the boys have done a great justice to ALL drinkers of Australian reds. Go on, buy some, you know you can!
Polished and even, this deeply scented Coonawarra cabernet reveals heady aromas of blackberries, dark cherries, blueberries and crushed leaves with clean chocolate/cedar oak in an uplifting, perfumed and faintly floral style. Medium to full in weight, its plushly fruited palate delivers an even persistence of simultaneously dry and silken characters, which finish positively long with a wonderfully sensuous extract of fine-grained and dusty, silky tannins underpinned by a note of graphite.
ü+ There's certainly been something special going on at the Menzies winery lately and this wine only further underlines Yalumba's progress. It's perfectly harmonious and affordable; great now or later. Drink to 2018.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
- Yarra Valley, VIC
Shelmerdine is a proud family wine business with a long standing connection to Victorian wine. Fruit for their own label is sourced from key vineyards in both Heathcote and the Yarra Valley, with Shelmerdine's highly regarded Lusatia Park vineyard in the Upper Yarra (est. 1985) providing the fruit for this 2008 Chardonnay.
Clean and nutty, its captivating bouquet presents a stylish marriage of mineral infused white nectarine, white flower and grapefruit aromas with a delightful tone of winemaker derived brioche. Its cool, classy palate takes purity and refinement to another level, with an almost water-like expression of white pear flavours driven along by a creamy, leesy undercarriage, spotless acidity and persisting mineral qualities.
ü+ Shelmerdine's 2008 is about as far away from the old stereotype of big, fat, bold and oaky Australian chardonnay as you can get. Deliciously pure in an extremely drinkable way. Drink to 2013.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
- Riverland/Barossa Valley, SA
- Cork (Capsule)
As both a regular on Adelaide's city streets and a drinker of wine, I can't help but notice the recurrence of empty wine bottles littered throughout the urban environment. Dumped bottles of Penfolds Club Tawny are as common as any in Adelaide, but I'm unsure if its presence is an indication of brand preference amongst Adelaide's sidewalk swillers, or perhaps even sneaky Foster's advertising:) (make that Treasury Wine Estate's now).
Mid-dark brown, this sweetly scented, mass-produced tawny opens to a straight forward note of fruitcake with suggestions of marzipan and a gentle, warming whiff of alcohol. Displaying lightish, honeyed fig and raisin flavours, its simple palate does finish with lingering nuances of varnish and sticky, sugared nuts and dates, but its rather short length of fruit is somewhat overcome by balanced, clean acids and a well restrained alcoholic warmth.
ü Drink of the huddled masses. If faced with the less than desirable circumstances, I'd probably give in to its guilty pleasures too. It tastes much better out of a glass than straight out the bottle though (I know, I tried!) and yes, I disposed of it correctly. Drink now.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
- Clare Valley, SA
The majority of Clare's flag bearing reds may come from shiraz, but for my money the region's best cabernet loses nothing by comparison (particularly at the lower price points). Kirin's Knappstein recently showed what good, affordable Clare cabernet's capable of, with their charmingly balanced, dry and rustic Cabernet Merlot from the handy 2006 vintage (91pts).
Combining 70% cabernet sauvignon with 30% merlot, Knappstein's 2008 announces a clear, regional whiff of eucalyptus overlying meaty, slightly porty aromas of redcurrants, dark plum and menthol with an older influence of chocolate oak adding polish. Youthfully bright, its medium-bodied palate reveals a surprisingly composed yet ripe, syrup-like expression of sweet, small black and red berry fruit flavours. A drying extract of approachable, fine-grained tannins balances the finish, as it leaves the mouth in a pleasingly focused, long manner with contrasting notes of sweet fruit and dried gumleaf lingering into the aftertaste.
O A sweetly fruited yet dry Clare cabernet blend, which possesses much more structure and composure than one might expect from a 2008. It's another good result from this improving label. Drink to 2011-2016.
Monday, August 9, 2010
I've previously discussed my favourite Adelaide wine retailer in this blog; The Ed at Mitcham, so it's only fair I now make mention of my other favourite Adelaide wine retailer; Melbourne Street Fine Wine Cellars at North Adelaide (pictured). Other than the typical good service, knowledgeable staff, wide range and fair pricing, what I love about Melbourne Street Fine Wine is the generous free tastings held every thursday and saturday, which happily cover the full length of Australia's wine regions and sometimes beyond. On this occasion, the tasting bench belonged to the Yarra Valley's Coldstream Hills.
The name Coldstream Hills always gets linked to its founder James Halliday, who, although no longer chief winemaker (that honour now belongs to the very capable Andrew Fleming), remains a consultant to the brand.
Alongside St Huberts and Yarra Ridge (which is certainly a brand in the process of 'rationalisation', check here), Coldstream Hills is one of three Yarra Valley brands presently owned by liquor giant Foster's, but rather unquestionably, Coldstream Hills gets the primary focus. It's probably a smart move that Foster's look after this brand (especially given their treatment of some of Australia's other iconic brands), because the catchphrase; 'Coldstream Hills: the winery founded by James Halliday and ruined by Foster's' is never going to be a good look for the liquor giant's public image. Let's hope Coldstream Hills continues to be a Yarra benchmark of affordability and reliability for some time to come.
As to be expected with the brand, the current Coldstream Hills wines all look in fairly good shape given the confines of their respective vintages, with the exception of a disappointing 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Even though the 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir and 2007 Reserve Chardonnay were unavailable for tasting (both sold out), both 2006 releases of Reserve Shiraz and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon were impressive, and well priced in comparison to other premium Yarra reds. I'm also liking what this winery is doing with their sparkling white.
Having spoken to the company representative, the verdict on the winery's 2009 reds has yet to be decided (due to smoke taint concerns) and won't be until the individual wines themselves have completed the maturation process, although the 2009 Chardonnay has already been released.
Coldstream Hills tasting notes posted below
Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2006 ($31.90) I really liked the 2004 of this (92pts) and the 2006 is quite a charming fizzer as well. Its tight, sparkling grapefruit and white bread nose precedes a tight, mineral and brisk palate with a savoury hint of yeasty, bready notes resonating through its long finish with an accompaniment of refreshing citric acids. Not as rich and character laden as the 2004 just yet, but good nonetheless. 90
Coldstream Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ($25.90) Had a bottle of this a few months back which didn't totally enthrall me, and this tasting didn't either. Its nose reveals barrel ferment/cashew nut tones alongside simple grapefruit and lemon citrus, with a palate that's framed by crunchy acidity, but it seems slightly awkward and in need of more vitality. To its credit it's still going though, but maybe only just. 88
Coldstream Hills Chardonnay 2009 ($28.90) This label hasn't really impressed me since the beautiful 2005 (92pts), and the 2009 didn't do it for me either. On the nose there's strong butter/vanilla oak with pungent, creamy melons, peaches and nectarine, and although it seems all in place it does seem a bit forward. The palate however, is a touch flat and lacking true freshness, as its vibrancy of fruit doesn't carry all the way to the finish, which itself seems a tad rough and drying. 86
Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2008 ($28.90) Fragrant, spicy plum fruit nose with nice touches of savoury cherry. The palate is quite sumptuous, fullish and juicy, whilst being pleasingly composed and savoury for the most part. It finishes with a nice, drying cut of prickly tannins meshed with spice. Best Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir since 2005 (93pts) for me. 91
Coldstream Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($28.90) Unconvincing, stewed rhubarb and currant nose. Palate is quite jammy (not a characteristic I like in cabernet), rather loose and lacking the conviction, elegance, tightness and firmness expected of a good Yarra Valley cabernet. Quite a let down. 86
Coldstream Hills Reserve Shiraz 2006 ($38.90) Showed a fair bit of 'bottle stink' on first whiff but with air and a jolly good swirl it settled to become a savoury, elegant and fine smelling Yarra shiraz with aromas of blackcurrants, dark plums, light white pepper and chocolate/vanilla/cedar oak. Its palate is medium-bodied yet beautifully silky and juicy, with a good influence of dry, powdery tannins punctuating the finish. 93
Coldstream Hills Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($55.90) Wonderful, deep nose scented with gumleaf, menthol, rich dark fruits and polished chocolate/vanilla/mocha oak with a hint of varnish. Its smooth palate is medium-full, sumptuous yet equally structured and tight. It's well balanced throughout, with a pleasing, lingering fruit sweetness defining the finish. A great Yarra cabernet without an astronomical price tag. 94
Friday, August 6, 2010
- Coal River Valley, TAS
Southern Tasmania's Domaine A make some of the most spectacular wines you'll find from the Apple Isle. Although they're best known for a fabulously unique cabernet sauvignon, Domaine A also make one of Australia's finest (wooded) sauvignon blancs and a superlative pinot noir. These wines may be difficult to find (just 385 dozen of the 2006 Pinot Noir made) but by all accounts they're well worth the effort.
Dark and deeply coloured, the 2006 Domaine A opens up to herbal, meaty and dark fruited aromas with complex, underlying notes of menthol, caramel and fragrant vanilla oak adding freshness and intrigue. On the palate it's pure pinot, with a soft, supple, delicate core of leathery dark cherries and spiced game meats expressed with exceptional fragility and a coating of toasty black truffle-like oak. It finishes very fine, long and truly dry, with a tight structural outline combining lithe, zippy acidity with a dry, dusty tannic backbone that intensifies in waves.
ü+ Successfully marrying complex flavours and aromas with understated feel and classic, assertive structure; this is a wonderful, true enthusiasts pinot noir. Great cellaring potential. Drink to 2016.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
- Eden Valley, SA
2010 rieslings are starting to flow freely now and as usual Heggies is among the first cabs off the rank. Heggies' Riesling experienced an earlier, more compressed vintage this year compared to last (2010 harvest dates: March 2-6, 2009 harvest dates: March 12-28), but admittedly, the 2009 (90pts) wasn't one of my favourites. For interest, my favourite recent Heggies; the 2005 (95pts), was harvested between March 26th and April 1st that year.
Brightly scented and faintly musky, the 2010 Heggies presents classically floral, green apple, white pear and lime aromas with a minor suggestion of tropical fruit. Its spotless palate reveals the label's typical clarity but delivers its mouthfilling lemon/lime citrus and crisp apple flavours in a slightly more luscious fashion than usual. There's a touch of austerity interspersed through powdery, zingy citric acids in its finish, but it's contradicted and restrained somewhat by lingering, saturated fruit flavours underpinned by a lovely note of wet stone.
ü+ The 2010 is a more sumptuous, saturated Heggies Riesling with all of its regional traits still gladly in attendance. Drink to 2018.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
- Riverina, NSW
New South Wales' inland Riverina district produces several benchmark expressions of Australian botrytis semillon. Apart from the obvious selection of De Bortoli's ever popular Noble One, McWilliam's also make a Riverina sticky that's worth a look for those in search of something different.
Showing a deep, rich golden-brown colour, the 2007 Morning Light opens to an equally rich nose scented with burnt toffee, apricots and marzipan with an assertive influence of vanilla oak evident throughout. On the palate it's also very rich, forward and unctuous, with a thick, lusciously set expression of honey, ripe stonefruit and marmalade flavour that enters with conviction. However, the finish lacks classic shape and freshness, as its fairly impressive length is drawn out more by enduring burnt toffee and dried apricot notes than clean, refreshing acidity, but it still makes for a very enjoyable, luscious dessert wine to be consumed over the shorter term.
ü McWilliam's 2007 Morning Light is a good sticky but if you have the money I'd opt for the 2007 Noble One instead, or if you don't have the money I'd go for the 2006 Gramps. Both of those should be more commonplace than this wine as well. Drink to 2012.