Sunday, October 31, 2010


- Clare Valley, SA
- $40-$47
- Cork
- 13.0%alc

An air of mystery surrounds the front label of this sparkling shiraz, which mentions neither maker nor its region of origin. There is however, a hint on the back label as to where the wine might originate; 'Made from the grapes of dry grown, low yielding vines averaging 70 years of age with nearly half planted in 1893.' Followers of Stephen George should be familiar with the site in question.

A strong whiff of licorice casts its presence throughout this freshly scented 2002 Sparkling Shiraz, with deeper notes of currants, black plums and shoe polish lifted by a resonant fragrance of heady, smoky oak imparted from its 4 years of maturation in old oak. Fans of sparkling reds will love its palate, which is dark and menacing, long and rich, with a wonderful combination of slowly maturing shiraz flavours graced by a slight, dry herbal thread from the cool vintage. Its liqueur dosage makes a cola-like announcement as the wine penetrates, but it's completely counter-attacked by a powerful, dry tannic influence and a tickly effervescence, which combine to command its long finish of saturated flavour.

ü+ Given the excellent vintage conditions, Stephen George has produced the finest sparkling red I've had from his stable. At 8 years of age, it's only just starting to reveal its considerable potential. Drink to 2018.
94 points

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


- Macedon Ranges, VIC
- $47-$56
- Cork (Vintage dated Diam)
- 13.0%alc

Bindi is now justifiably recognised as one of the top two or three makers of pinot noir in Australia. The Composition is Bindi's third pinot noir label, which, I'm sure, is a wine many makers would be happy having as their reserve release.

The 2009 Composition has an aroma which appears tight and somewhat closed at first, yet it possesses enough depth and intrigue to invite the nose in deeper for further inspection. It smells clever and concise, with white pepper notes strung throughout cherries and fine cedar oak, suggesting a composed and youthful pinot with its best years ahead. Its medium-bodied palate bares the fine, svelte, silky texture which has become Bindi's hallmark, by revealing a satiny caress similar to the 2008 wine, but that's where the similarities largely end, because this pinot's packed with more dark cherry, earth and light spice characters than its red berry-flavoured predecessor. It's also longer and finer to finish, as its symmetrical balance of fine tannins and slick acid emanate towards tightly defined vanishing points with the discipline of a marching band.

ü+ A fine, textural pinot with more than enough svelte structure to see it mature for some time yet. As the Block K vineyard matures, I'll continue to watch this wine with keen interest. Drink to 2017.
93 points


- Northern Tasmania
- $15-$23
- Screwcap
- 12.5%alc

A recent VC catalogue brought a smile to my face when I read the text describing Josef Chromy's 2009 Pepik Pinot Noir; "Varietal personality and drinkability make this a contender for best Tassie Pinot." Now that's an optimistic pitch for one of the cheapest Tasmanian pinot noirs around!

For $18 Josef Chromy's 2009 Pepik captures the perfumed, musky features of pinot noir well. Its cherry and strawberry aromas do veer slightly towards the confectionery side, but elements of cinnamon sugar, spearmint and even stalk help keep things interesting, whilst directing the fragrance well away from souped-up rosé territory. The palate is relatively light in weight and not as sweetly pitched as the nose, as its varietally correct flavour profile suggests more dark, brandied cherries and sap with a greenish note of tomato stalk to finish. Unfortunately, like many sub-$20 pinots, there are several aspects which let the palate down. It's texturally uninspiring and fairly short on length and depth of fruit, while it finishes a little green-edged and dirty with a gritty resistance, however, it's nowhere near as hard as some pinots within its price bracket.

O At $15 bulk-buy this is worth a 'pepik' for someone in search of a house/quaffing pinot. Just don't expect anything more than a basic varietal expression. Drink to 2013.
87 points

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


- Clare Valley, SA
- $16-$26
- Cork
- 14.0%alc

The richness and generosity of Australian shiraz has always made it a popular choice for our country's sparkling red producers. Over the years I've drunk sparkling reds made from grapes such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, sangiovese, tempranillo, durif and chambourcin, but the very best wines seem to always come from shiraz.

From word-go Knappstein's Sparkling Shiraz appears ripe, ready and fruity, as its bouquet sprays an attractive perfume of dried lavender and eucalyptus over aromas of mulberries, plums and berries, with creamy cedar oak playing its part. In a charmingly simple way, it's fresh, appealing and even somewhat regional. The medium-weight of the palate makes it very approachable, as does its freshly packed arrangement of rich red and black varietal fruit flavours, but depending on your stance it's either marred or elevated by an assured sweetness which takes on the guise of cherry brandy. Smart acidity frames the wine with trusty oak and a dry effervescence, while a lingering note of Black Forest cake completes the picture.

ü Right now Knappstein's Sparkling Shiraz displays the sweet, fresh, fruity characters of a sparkling red destined for broad appeal, but put it away for a year or two, and watch it settle into wine better set for the more discerning drinker. Drink to 2014 (just be aware it's non-vintage).
89 points

Monday, October 25, 2010


- Barossa Valley, SA
- $14-$21
- Screwcap
- 12.5%alc

Winemakers Peter and Michael Scholz produce their single vineyard semillon from vines planted in 1936 at Light Pass in the northern Barossa Valley. To encourage complexity of style, French oak fermentation is employed in the making process, while a period of bottle ageing (around 4 years at release) helps bring out semillon's much desired secondary characteristics.

Unsurprisingly, this 5 year old Barossa semillon is no shy schoolgirl on the nose, as its well developed and defined aromas of toast and wood are joined by what seems to be a nutty barrel ferment note. All-up its fragrance is quite dry and savoury, with only fleeting undertones of lemon citrus/lime marmalade evident. To begin, the palate is a bit sharp, flat and viscous, with the same woody/savoury features (development, not oak) as the nose making a statement, but its initial stagnancy is transformed; brought into life if you will, by a zippy, limey, commanding acidity which asserts itself in electrifying fashion, leaving a lingering note of tobacco behind. However, its authoritative balance of components does seem a tad disjointed. Whether time will improve this situation is something I can't foresee.

ü Due to my recently increased expectations of Barossa semillon (thanks to Peter Lehmann, St Hallett, Rockford, Burge Family et al.), I've possibly been a bit picky with this note, because for a $15 snap of bottle-aged Barossa semillon the 2005 Willows Vineyard hits its mission statement perfectly. It's mature and complex in a truly varietal sense, yet still agreeably fresh and zesty. Drink to 2012.
90 points

Sunday, October 24, 2010


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $32
- Screwcap (Stelvin-Lux)
- 13.0%alc

In addition to their regional 'standards' of shiraz, grenache and shiraz cabernet, Oliver's Taranga also release a limited selection of new varietals under the Small Batch label. Just 1821 bottles of their French oak matured tempranillo were made from 2009.

One of my only concerns with early examples of McLaren Vale tempranillo is that they're often more strongly regional than varietal, however, Oliver's Taranga's 2009 shows a plethora of heady varietal and ripe regional aromas. It reveals a sweet, earthy fragrance lifted by floral notes of rose petal and light spice, underneath which resides some tarry, raisined fruit, cherries and chocolate with a whiff of cured meat. There's good length of flavour to its full-medium bodied palate, as well as lithe structure, a faintly prickly finish and a pleasingly concentrated texture that toes the line between syrupy and velvety, but I just can't get past its high level of ripeness expressed through rich, dark, meaty fruit flavours. Although these characters are held in check enough (by length, texture and structure) to be enjoyable, it still lacks the brightness of fruit to suggest a decent stint in the cellar would be of benefit.

O A smooth, rich and ready to drink tempranillo whose ripe regional characteristics hinder its true varietal expression somewhat. Those who don't mind a bit of ripeness in their wines should love this, especially with a hearty beef burger. Drink to 2014.
89 points

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I recently reviewed Pirramimma's 2010 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. Although the wine wasn't particularly suited to my tastes, I could tell there would be a market for it out there somewhere. Thanks to Grays Online, who supplied two sample bottles, I had the opportunity to pass a bottle onto someone whose tastes might more appreciate the Late Harvest Savvy style. Enter my friend of 6 years Shane, a 23 year old whisky and coke drinker who if forced to lean towards wine, would favour a moscato. Shane's enthusiasm for the complementary bottle of wine lead him to take a note on it, which I've posted below. (click on the image to enlarge).
To say the least I'm exceptionally impressed with the range of descriptors Shane has used to describe the wine, in what is his first ever tasting note, but perhaps most of all I'm glad he enjoyed it. His frank honesty is wonderfully refreshing to me. I like the line; "overall definatly a shane wine', because I for one believe there are more 'Shanes' out there drinking wine than there are 'Chris Plummers'. Shanes of the wine drinking world rejoice; Pirramimma's 2010 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc is a great little drop!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


- Clare Valley, SA
- $28-$36
- Screwcap
- 11.5%alc

After two straight 'failed' attempts, 2010 marks the first vintage of Grosset's Off-dry Riesling. The new label is inspired by Grosset's intentions of expanding his own range, which, as Jeff puts it himself, can be done in any of three ways; ' working with new varieties, blending old varieties, or doing new things with old varieties'. Obviously, Grosset's Off-dry Riesling represents the third of these methods.

On first inspection Grosset's Off-dry riesling reveals a floral perfume in true regional style, but its lemon/lime citrus notes, which often dominate Watervale riesling, are held in a tidy balance alongside aromas of lavender, slate and perhaps even light spice. Although there may be a suggestion of tinned pineapple in the bouquet, there's absolutely nothing sugary sweet or overtly musky. Its much talked about 16g/l of residual sugar provides a persisting softness and luscious thread to its tinned pineapple, mineral and apple cider flavours, without pushing even remotely towards cloying territory (to be expected really). Like Grosset's other 2010 rieslings, the acidity really sings a show-stealing song, by directing a long, tangy pineapple-like structure that clings to its sweet-edged riesling fruit with real zip and authority. For a wine labelled as Off-dry, it ends particularly taut and crisp, with ensuing grip applied to a very long finish.

ü+ Given the credentials of the maker, it shouldn't come as a surprise that this is the best off-dry riesling I've had from either Clare or the Eden Valley. Its smart balance of residual sweetness and acidity provides a great platform for the future of off-dry styles in both regions. Drink to 2020.
93 points

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


- Clare Valley, SA
- $39-$56
- Screwcap
- 13.0%alc

Of all the wines now ranked 'Exceptional' by Langton's, I personally believe Grosset's Polish Hill to be the most consistent performer of the lot. Picking a favourite vintage of Grosset's icon is merely a matter of personal taste, as year in year out it never fails to impress.

The 2010 Polish Hill is notably softer and rounder on the nose than its 2010 Springvale stablemate, and although it lacks the sharp intensity of its Watervale sibling, it's still complemented by an attractively deep, perhaps more composed fragrance of pear, peach blossom, minerals and slate with a lime juice note that shows a hint of citric spritz. As romantically indicative of springtime as the fragrance is, it's completely overshadowed by a palate whose picture perfect composition of rich texture, spectacular acid structure and near infinite length lets loose a thrilling ride of great impact. White pear, slate, mineral and citrus nuances define its flavour profile well, but its domineering length, drawn out by a potent, mouth-watering acidity whose intensity washes in and out like waves crashing on a beach, is what sets this wine apart. To finish it's very austere and limey, but there's also a vivid touch of fizzy sherbet that keeps the vitality kicking till the end.

ü+ I recall Jeffrey Grosset telling me he was 'happy' with his 2010 rieslings. Forget that humble opinion, I'm borderline orgasmic over them. Drink to 2026.
97 points

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


- Clare Valley, SA
- $31-$50
- Screwcap
- 13.0%alc

As an unashamed follower of Jeffrey Grosset, I was delighted to hear both his Springvale and Polish Hill Rieslings were promoted in the latest Langton's Classification. Grosset's Rieslings may sell for less than half the price of other wines ranked 'Exceptional' and 'Outstanding' by Langton's, but their place among such elite company is completely justified.

There's a brightness that shines from the glass of Grosset's Springvale, suggesting clean yet sharp, faintly floral aromas of bath salts, mineral, green apple and talc; and of course, the obligatory lemon/lime tones, which in 2010 draws a fragrant line equally between these two citric descriptors. On the palate it drops a fullness of weight, power and richness that some might liken to its brother wine, but it doesn't just drop on entry; it pushes on relentlessly through the mouth, with a bracing surge of mineral-bitten lemon and white pear flavours bonded by the welcomed physicality of a tightening, lengthening extract of somewhat sour-edged, zippy, almost fizzy acids that leave the mouth feeling dry, impressed and dying for more. It's seemingly fuller and richer than some Springvales, but its balancing structure and length pay homage to the pedigree.

ü+ Once again it seems Mr Grosset can do no wrong with dry riesling. If Australia was riesling, I'd want Jeffrey to be Prime Minister. Drink to 2022.
96 points

Monday, October 18, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010


- Macedon Ranges, VIC
- $35-46
- Cork (Vintage dated Diam)
- 13.5%alc

When the name Bindi arises, or the Macedon Ranges for that matter, most drinkers immediately cast their minds to pinot noir, but both this maker and the region are equally as capable of delivering spectacular Australian chardonnay.

Finding the odorous middle-ground between tightly restrained and rich, Bindi's 2009 Composition Chardonnay is at once sharply aromatic and smoothly scented, as its peach and butterscotch-like oak aromas provide the underlying smoothness to an initial lift of precisely fragrant mineral, grapefruit and dry wheatmeal notes. The most prominent feature of the palate is a rebelling, youthful, tangy citric acidity, which imposes itself when it cuts into the mouth's cornices, ensconcing within it a medium-bodied assortment of melon and minerals with both sweet and savoury suggestions. It could be considered a bit brassy, but the optimist inside me likens it to being more like watered down liquid gold. Length is a plus, as is its shape.

ü The cutting, shapely acids that define this wine suggest it should hold together for a few more years yet, which is when I'd recommend its consumption. Better then than now though. A keeper. Drink 2013-2016.
91 points

Friday, October 15, 2010


From word-go I was impressed with the set up of Winestate's 'Wine of the Year' tasting. The National Wine Centre's main function room is a large, spacious, clean and modern room perfect for such events, which really, one should expect given the venue's name. Over 400+ wines were arranged around the edges of the room, with a single bottle of each, set up in the 'pour yourself' format (no sales or marketing people) and perfectly ordered in a counter-clockwise fashion from the right of the room's entranceway; from sparkling whites to light whites to fuller whites to light reds to heavy reds and so on.

Unfortunately what this meant for me was, that, as I was tasting my way around the room in an orderly manner from the right-hand side, most other consumers were heading left in a direction pointed straight at all the night's big blockbuster names. So as I was sampling sparkling whites, semillon and pinot gris, others were helping themselves to full glasses of flagship shiraz, pinot noir and chardonnay, to enjoy with the complementary cheese plates. Obviously, numerous icons which were on the tasting list, were absent by the time I worked my way around to the reds. Still, if you pay the $60 door charge to enter such an event, you might as well drink whatever the hell you want, when you want I reckon!

The most disappointing result of this outcome was that when I arrived at the pinot noir table, of the 30 or so wines that remained, only 1 was Australian (Giant Steps' 2008 Sexton) with the rest being from NZ. The regularity of Kiwi pinots at events such as this in Australia is an issue I'll probably have to cover another time...

Anyway, after having said all this, I did still get to taste some fantastic wines (particularly early in the night), so here are my tasting notes. My favourite aspect of the tasting was the lack of dominance of South Australian wines (which is rare in Adelaide). So as you'll see from my notes, I did get to taste a good cross section of Australia's wines, stretching right across our country's regions (and yes, even into Queensland!).

And one final thing; a big THANK YOU to the illustrious Andrew Graham for sending the tickets down to Adelaide; cheers mate!


Clover Hill 2005 Pipers River, TAS. Back in form with a very fresh, sweet white bread, white nectarine, grapefruit and white nougat nose. White and sweet, fresh and nice. Palate shows some tartish, zingy citric acids of great intensity, which wrap around its proud, mouthfilling flavour and creamy texture. Best since '01. 91

Jansz Late Disgorged Cuvee 2002 Northern Tasmania. One of the night's real highlights. Very inviting nose; crisp white bread/brioche and grapefruit. Touch of honey, superb freshness and vitality for its age. Its creamy white flower flavours are driven by a distinctive line of zingy grapefruit-like acids to great effect. Tight and fresh. Exceptional bead and effervescence. I'll be hunting some down for sure. 95

Tyrrell's Vat 1 Semillon 2004 Lower Hunter Valley, NSW. Another of the night's highlights. Big, zingy ping of lively citrus aromas uplifted by toast and lime. Great intensity. Its palate is deceptively smooth, buttery and round on entry, with a very clean and clear, youthful flavour profile. Assertive, chiselled, crystalline acidity to finish. In a line-up like this it's easy to see why Vat 1 amasses more medals than an Australian swim team at the Commonwealth games. 95

Peter Lehmann Margaret Semillon 2005 Barossa Valley, SA. More pungent, rubbery/melon aromas than usual, with lashings of honeyed/waxy development. Rich, ripe, round palate with softer, creamier acids than the first 3 Margarets. It's not the label's best wine but it's still a good shorter term drinker, and of course, a damn fine Barossa semillon. 92

Spring Vale Pinot Gris 2010 East Coast Tasmania. Beautiful, very clean pear skin and white apple nose. It's a big gris in the mouth, with smooth, rich and mouthfilling flavours framed by slightly, somewhat chunky broad acids. If the acids were just a fraction more entwined it would rate even higher from me, because I was smitten with its aroma profile. 89

Seppelt Drumborg Riesling 2010 Henty, VIC. Wine of the night for me. It's youthful on the nose, yet sheer riesling perfume. Exceptionally clean white flower, mineral and wet pebble nose with a touch of citrus blossom more evident on my second sampling at the end of the night. Superb. The palate is all about length, clarity and persistence, with an almost never-ending length. Spectacular shape and austerity as well. 96

Howard Park Museum Release Riesling 2006 Great Southern, WA. I didn't even know Howard Park made a Museum Release Riesling, but as I loved the '06 several years ago (95pts), here's probably a good place to start. Shows some creamy, buttery character on the nose with lemon cake and lime marmalade. Still very fresh. A good side-splitting acidity hits its straps alongside youthful lemon/mineral/grapefruit flavours. Will live for some time yet. 95

Leo Buring Mature Release Watervale Leonay Riesling 2005 Clare Valley, SA. Intense flinty fragrance with restrained varietal citrus fruits beneath. Showing some signs of adolescence, with a touch of smoothness to its acidity and kero notes to finish, but still relatively primary up front. I'd give it another 2-5 years to balance. 90

McGuigan Shortlist Riesling 2004 Eden Valley, SA. Normally the sort of thing I'd look past (especially given the rather ubiquitous labelling) but I've read some good things so I thought I'd dive in. Slightly developed colour, and the most developed (and oldest) of the 3 older rieslings mentioned here, but also the one that's closest to its peak. It has pronounced features of toast, lime, flint and kero, with a rather oily, viscous palate that happily ends with tight, grippy acids. Ready to enjoy now. 92

Sirromet Seven Scenes Chardonnay 2009 Granite Belt, QLD. I just couldn't resist my first opportunity to sample Queensland wine in over 2 years, but apparently I was the only one, as the level of wine in the bottle I picked up was up to the thread. Sweet vanilla oak and burnt toffee, almost confection/bubble gum-like to the nose, with ripe scents of paw-paw and fig, yet still, it's quite attractive and open. Palate disappoints with a round, forward expression that lacks refreshing acidity and structure. Even then, I hope it's not another 2 years before I supple upon another Queensland vino. Sigh. 85

Toolangi Estate Chardonnay 2006 Yarra Valley, VIC. Straight up toffee nose. Bold, brassy palate finishes rather dry and awkward. I expected more. 86

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 Yarra Valley, VIC. Very clean, classic cool-climate refinement to mineral, white nectarine, grapefruit and fresh oak. Precise balance. Smooth, spotless and stylish, its clean, juicy palate finishes with an emerging hint of funky fruit and leesy/yeasty notes. A wonderful Yarra chardonnay at a great price too. 93

Plantagenet Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Mount Barker, WA. I've long believed Plantagenet to be a spectacular maker of Western Australian shiraz, but a much less consistent producer of cabernet sauvignon. After the '07 cabernet, my opinion remains the same. Its nose is very unconvincing, there's an element of savoury earth, but some stewy fruit lies beneath and it's a bit pongy at that. The palate is smooth and syrupy, a bit hollow, but an improvement in integration over the nose. Slightly dry/green edged to finish. 88

Peccavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Margaret River, WA. My first Peccavi Cabernet Sauvignon after I have enjoyed their chardonnay previously, but now, I'm not sure which variety the winery does better. It has wonderful minty/herbal/leafy accents to its dusty forest berry fruits and charry oak. Top regional expression. Its palate is medium weight, luscious, fresh and elegantly balanced with a silky texture. A bit more length and structure would've really set things flying here, but it still finishes with wonderfully persistent minty/berry flavours. Although this was my pick of the night's reds, I hear the 2008 is even better...94

Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Margaret River, WA. Intense nose. Powerful, uplifting leafy/herbal aromas overlie clean berry fruits and a touch of tobacco. Its palate is smooth and rich to begin but very dry and prickly to finish, with a chalky tannin extract. Shows pleasing mocha/ground coffee-like oak. Much better than the '07, now why haven't I bought any of this yet? 92

Flametree Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Margaret River, WA. Strong, perfumed, fragrant toasty chocolate oak smothers its dark plum and cassis aromas somewhat, alongside a hint of menthol. All-up its regional expression is nowhere near as clear as the previous 2 wines mentioned. Shows a smooth, rich, ultra-ripe and concentrated Margaret River cabernet palate. It's a bit of a bruiser really, ending warm with touches of currant and ripe tannins. 88

d'Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 McLaren Vale, SA. Surprisingly fragrant and even for the vintage, with classy cedar/vanilla oak notes talking alongside mint and pastille blackcurrants. Slightly jammy and essence-like, medium-bodied palate finishes very long and dry with a mouthfilling climax. A good surprise. 91

Bowen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Coonawarra, SA. Distinctly different aroma to what I've come to expect from this maker lately. It displays more mint than anticipated, with bright red/black berries and vanilla oak. The palate lets me down though, by dropping away quite fast and then revealing dehydrated aspects. 86

Blue Pyrenees Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Pyrenees, VIC. I finally got myself around to trying this show winner. Very rich and ripe (not over) juicy fruit nose, with abundant fruit and oak. A real crowd pleasing style. It contains smooth and dark, almost creamy blackcurrant and dark plum flavours with a beautifully precise, drying finish tightened up by fine tannins, but I detect a faint hint of rawness that prevents this from being a near-perfect all-rounder cabernet. 91

Blue Pyrenees Estate Reserve Shiraz 2006 Pyrenees, VIC. Nice whiff of regional mint/eucalypt, probably more eucalypt, with red plums and black berries. In fact it's a good regional expression throughout. It's rather richly flavoured, ripe and weighty, with vanilla/cedar oak, fine-grained tannins and dry eucalyptus notes combining to deliver a satisfyingly dry finish. It's particularly smooth, polished and well made, but a bit more rustic 'edginess' would've made it outstanding. 91

Feet First Shiraz 2008 Frankland River, WA. A Winestae 5 star wine. Gritty, gravelly nose beset with earth and damp soils overlying redcurrant/red plum and vanilla. Barely medium in weight with prickly tannins, its palate just lacks concentration and conviction. 88

Warrenmang Estate Shiraz 2007 Pyrenees, VIC. Warm nose. Rich, ripe fruit and menthol with touches of baked fruit/fruitcake. Thick and treacle-like, its concentrated palate shows a touch of tar to its dark fruit, but manages to handle its richness and alcoholic warmth to some extent. 90

Fox Creek Short Row Shiraz 2008 McLaren Vale, SA. Well composed nose for this hot season. No dead fruit but plenty of regional quality in the way of dark berry and plum fruits with vanilla/chocolate oak and perhaps even a touch of cinnamon. Smooth, rich and ripe palate is pleasingly aided by vanilla oak, but a hint of ultra-ripe currant flavour robs it of a little length. It still drinks well, and Fox Creek fans (like me) could finally have something to look forward to....89

Tyrrell's Vat 8 Shiraz 2007 Lower Hunter Valley, NSW. Pleasing regional earth and pencil shavings-like nose to juicy plum fruits. It's a very elegant, clean Hunter style with great persistence of even flavour, showing savoury accents to earthy/meaty red fruits and a hint of spice to finish. It seems a very natural wine and one that's all too easy to drink. 92

Howard Park Scotsdale Shiraz 2008 Great Southern, WA. Lifted jujube/berry fruit nose announces itself in a riper Great Southern style, but it's more even than some recent outings from this label. Its elegant, silky palate ends with a tickly line of faint tannins and drying, raw cedar oak. Not bad. 90

Capel Vale Shiraz 2008 Mount Barker, WA. Vanilla oak and dark plum nose. Smooth and ripe, but somewhat hollow and short. Ends slightly awkward, tart and raw. 87


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $3.25
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

The back label of Jorgensen Hill's 2008 Shiraz, a label previously unknown to me, reads; 'Two winemakers, one vision... the collaboration between master blender, Peter Jorgensen and negociant, Chris Hill combines the best small batch winemaking with the artistry and expression of skillful blending.'

The cheap pricing of Jorgensen Hill's 2008 Shiraz is reflected in a bizarre, sickly sweet nose of sugary plum stew and commercial-grade dark grape juice, the product of which seems both incomplete and unfaithful to its regional/varietal make-up. Very hollow and devoid of mid-palate depth, its challenging (to the drinker) palate lacks brightness of fruit and genuine flavour throughout, finishing thin and soupy without genuine structure.

X If this were a TV show it would be experiencing technical difficulties, when really, it never should've aired in the first place. Drink now.
77 points


- Clare Valley, SA
- $4-$6
- Screwcap
- 12.0%alc

When pitching wine to the sub-$10 market distinctive regionality can be a key card to hold, especially if the regional/varietal combination happens to be the Clare Valley and riesling.

Clare Valley Estate's 2009 Defender of the Faith Riesling is slightly one dimensional yet expressive and varietal on the nose, with a fairly brassy fragrance of lemon zest and lime which doesn't inspire, but it also doesn't offend. Leaving the fresher lemony accents of the nose behind, its broad palate pushes an even simpler announcement of pure lime juice flavour with a finish that shows more lime pith-like elements and a tangy acidity. It's a riesling that drinks better and crisper when it's quite cold, so you can happily drink it straight out the fridge.

O There's an apprehensive voice inside my head saying; "I want more freshness, purity, powdery acids and lift", but there's also a more content voice saying; "just look at its worth..." Drink to 2012.
85 points

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


- Margaret River, WA
- $35
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

The Blue Poles winery was first brought to my attention by Australian wine bloggers, the majority of whom sing glowing praise when discussing Blue Poles merlot-based wines in particular. Judging by the exceptional standard of Blue Poles' 2007 Reserve Merlot, there's absolutely nothing wrong with taking the odd tip from wine bloggers! :)

Forget ripe, juicy, plump, jammy fruit; this fine merlot instantly displays a thrilling mix of true varietal and regional character by expressing a somewhat rustic, charry bouquet of olive and cherry with a fresh and fragrant tone of raw cedar/mocha oak. For Australian merlot it's very distinctive, masculine, complex, savoury and downright compelling to behold. The medium-full bodied palate shows an extravagantly silky texture, whose effortless velvet-like feel pushes back the boundaries of what I'd expect from a young Margaret River merlot. This sensuous nature flows to the wine's extremities, going beyond its ripe yet composed cherry, plum, gravelly earth and toasty mocha oak flavours to beautify a harmonious acid/tannin structure, which contradicts itself through masked strength and beguiling sensitivity. To finish, it leaves a long standing impression of warm, melted chocolate flavour not too unlike that of top shelf McLaren Vale shiraz.

ü+ In every respect this a gloriously sensuous and deeply fruited merlot of real character. Sensational. Drink to 2019.
94 points


- Yarra Valley, VIC
- $21-$34
- Screwcap
- 14.5%alc

Sitting behind Coldstream Hills yet well in front of the potentially troubled Yarra Ridge, St Huberts is Treasury Wine Estate's (Foster's) second Yarra Valley based label. My pick of St Huberts' collection is typically the cabernet sauvignon; a wine that reliably reflects Yarra Valley style and elegance, and usually more so than Coldstream Hills' cabernet.

The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is 'pretty' in the true Yarra Valley style, yet its most pronounced aromatic feature is a strong, woody, masculine whiff of cigar-box, cedar and dried leaf notes that contribute a clear sense of varietal definition to its pastille blackcurrant and black plum-skin fragrance, without veering too far into cabernet's greener aspects. With medium weight and silky elegance the palate slides in with charming etiquette, but this initial cruise forces itself home with real authority. Its deliciously dry, dusty and sour-edged cranberry, blackcurrant and cedar oak flavours become drier, dustier, more savoury and more sour-edged with penetration, as the wine marches to a fine-grained finish of spectacular length and growing complexity. Although strong to finish, its tannic influence is absconded somewhat by persisting sour-edged acids and exquisite length of full fruit flavour.

ü+ Forget the big brand association, just close your eyes, decant (maybe not in that order), sniff and drink; this is a winner in any sense. It holds its own very well in a competitive market full of smart, $25 Australian cabernets from the excellent 2008 vintage. Drink 2013-2023.
93 points

Thursday, October 7, 2010


- Riverina, NSW
- $14-$22
- Screwcap
- 9.0%alc

Orlando's Gramp's label produces one of Australia's most satisfying botrytis semillons in a style that's more than comparable to De Bortoli's Noble One. The Gramp's is practically as widespread as Australia's benchmark 'sticky' and even easier on the hip pocket, which makes me wonder why it isn't more commonplace on restaurant wine lists (we tend to get Woodstock's Sweet White as the Noble One 'alternative' in Adelaide).

This low-alcohol botrytis semillon shows off a pungent, funky aroma, and although it's difficult to pinpoint with adjectives I can't help but think of a rubber ball covered in a honey/marmalade blend and punctured by bark chips and crushed nuts, lying in a baking summer sun. Much to my pleasure the palate is far more recognisable. Rich and luscious, it oozes the length and depth of juicy, fresh stonefruit, marmalade and candied citrus flavours that typify the label when young, with a warm yet refreshing, sticky acidity that directs and cleanses the finish alongside further suggestions of stonefruit and glucose.

ü+ Another pleasingly rich and refreshing dessert wine from Gramp's which achieves everything you'd want for the price. Just think fun, sun, and perhaps even a bit of the burnt and the bizarre. Drink to 2013.
91 points


- Adelaide Hills, SA
- $4.84
- Screwcap
- 11.0%alc

The words 'Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc' don't exactly jump out to me as a style of Australian wine I'd usually buy, but I can see its maker's intentions of combining 2 relatively popular styles (at cellar doors and with younger drinkers) to create a wine able to appease the masses. If the style appeals to you and you shop at Grays Online, the price here is probably quite fair.

The first thing to strike me about Pirramimma's Late Harvest savvy is the presence of some lightly varietal aromatics; lychees, pineapples and a slight vegetal influence state its grape of origin, however, these tones are partnered by a funky/sweaty edge and a moscato-like grapey/musky element. Unfortunately, the palate disappoints from word-go with the main culprits being a lack of true flavour or refreshment. It reveals a sweet, simple expression of white grape juice flavour with candied/musky edges and a relatively soft acidity that does spike a fraction, and that's pretty much where the story ends.

X Thanks to online wine auctioning this should be attractively priced for the everyday wine market. It's just a shame that late harvest Adelaide Hills sauvignon blanc is far from the type of wine I'd drink every day. Drink now.
84 points