Monday, March 28, 2011


- Adelaide Hills, SA
- $28-$32
- Cork (Diam)
- 13.8%alc

You'd have to be blind to unknowingly walk past the artfully labelled pinots of Lucy Margaux Vineyards at your local independent. Like others, I was tempted by curiosity the first time I gazed upon these bottles; however, with scant information (no back labels) I didn't know where to start. So, it was the words of Tim Cohen; "whatever you do, do not 'not' buy this wine - 98pts', that steered me towards the Domaine Lucci.

From first sniff there's an attractive statement of character emanating from the Domaine Lucci, which isn't exactly typical of Adelaide Hills pinot noir. There's sweet-edged scents of redcurrant and rhubarb expressed with lively appeal, as well as rather compelling, savoury notes of yeast and tomato stalk joined by more a familiar undertone of dark cherry. Its fragrance is vivid, interesting and different, but the show goes on. The unusually varietal palate may be straight forward in pinot texture, structure and progression, but it drinks with ease, thanks to clean balance and intriguing flavour. I can't help but think of thinned-out tomato sauce and beetroot, graced by a leafy suggestion of stalk - somewhat red and vegetal really. Structurally, it shows a moderately dry caress, leaning towards stringy, lithe, unforced acids that drive with ample zip through the finish, before it leaves the mouth feeling clean and refreshed, with that initial tomato stalk/beetroot note returning to wrap things up.

ü For a $30, 1 year old Adelaide Hills pinot noir; I'm gushingly intrigued. It probably isn't everyone's cup of tea though. I wonder if the Lucy Margaux wines represent similar value for money... Drink to 2014.
90 points


Pictured on the left is Wickhams Road 2010 Gippsland Pinot Noir,
and on the right is the 2010 Domaine Lucci Pinot Noir.


- Gippsland, VIC
- $16-$18
- Screwcap
- 12.5%alc

With fruit sourced from key Victorian regions such as the Yarra Valley, Gippsland and the Mornington Peninusla, Franco D'Anna's regional Wickhams Road wines sit happily at the classy end of cheap Australian pinot noir.

Although somewhat idiosyncratic, the 2010 Gippsland Pinot Noir does prove attractively varietal for $16. It shows a prominent stalky/sappy accent on the nose, with faintly musky red cherries and strawberries providing the underlying fruit punch. Taking into account its price, 12 year old vineyard source and a slightly lean nose, the Wickhams Road is ably textured and supple in the mouth, with a smoothly controlled extension of cherry flavours aided by a hint of white pepper emerging in its soft, lengthy finish, which also produces a more complex, savoury and tart note that just dissipates in a watered down fashion towards the end. There's not a huge impression of tight, drying structure (remember the price!) but its genuine length makes up for it.

ü Wickham Road's 2010 Gippsland is pretty good value for a $16 pinot noir really, but I am surprised by how much time and air it required to come together and truly show top form (3-4 hours in the decanter). A touch more bottle age might even be on the cards... Drink 2012-2014.
88 points

Friday, March 25, 2011


I've had Alan Young's 'Australian Wines & Wineries' in my collection for years now. The image here, shows just how well its dust cover's worked. Published in 1983, it presents a relatively comprehensive look at Australia's wine scene of the time, albeit significantly less detailed and comprehensive than James Halliday's 1985 'The Australian Wine Compendium'.

Much of the information in 'Australian Wines and Wineries' appears unsurprisingly outdated now, but my favourite extract from Young's book, written in the age of cork domination, still sounds relevant today.

On page 188, when discussing wine service, under the heading of 'When Dining Out', Alan writes:-

'If, as diner/host, you are paying full price for a meal (rather than receiving it at no cost) you should expect - and demand - the following services at any good establishment:-
9. Opportunity to taste the poured wine carefully. If not satisfied, do not accept. Pouring is in any case a ridiculous charade, and this is the quickest way to stop it.'

I like it. On many occasions, when I've been presented a 'taste' of (screwcapped) wine when dining out, the (unspoken) thought that comes into my mind runs something along the lines of; "Hmm. This Coonawarra cabernet smells like it needs at least another hour in a decanter. But in an hour I'm going to be eating your coconut mango ice cream, so you better pour up now. So what was the point of that?" However, the words that come out of my mouth are; "Yes, fine..."

But then, on the following page (189), as if to reiterate how some things have changed over the years, Alan writes with further reference to restaurants:-

'A first class establishment will have a wide selection of domestic and imported wines of various vintages, e.g. Penfolds Hermitage, Wolf Blass Grey and Black Labels, Yalumba Signature Series, the grand crus of both Burgundy and Bordeaux. They will not offer current vintage dry reds on their wine list.'


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $24-$30
- Screwcap
- 14.7%alc

I think it would be safe to say d'Arenberg is Australia's champion of grenache. Don't be surprised if one day, a super premium, single varietal grenache emerges from the brand with the distinctive red stripe.

Combining 50% grenache with 45% shiraz and 5% mourvedre, d'Arenberg's 2009 Cadenzia smells beautifully set in the glass. Expect to find a deep, soft and evenly ripened fragrance of plums, earth, blueberries, raspberries and cinnamon, expressed with fruit attention, thanks to a considerate touch of chocolate/mocha oak (10 months in used French and American) imparting no more than an edge. The palate shows a plushly flavoured, bright array of its components, with a moderately juicy imprint of sour-edged plum and cherry flavours smoothed over by regional chocolate notes and levelled by earth, before a touch of mourvedre's rustic tickle accompanies the wine into a refreshingly sour-edged yet grippy climax. An effortless, lithe structure coasts through the finish, providing true palate extension courtesy of ultra-slick, racy acids and an extremely fine cut of coarse tannin.

ü+ The 2009 Cadenzia is a real wine drinker's red. Delicious and hard to fault, it disappears before your very eyes, although its smooth and seamless balance of bright varietal fruits should see it age with grace. Drink to 2017.
91 points

Thursday, March 24, 2011


- Langhorne Creek, SA
- $12-$21
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

Bleasdale are perhaps the only Australian winery willing to tackle the Argentinians head on, in the game of larger scale, single-varietal sun-drenched malbec. Although Bleasdale's previous release (2008-86pts) strayed too far into ripe, jammy, basic BBQ red territory, over the years they've proven more than capable of delivering genuinely varietal malbec under the right conditions, at a very competitive price.

Bleasdale's 2009 does present a faint floral scent common to malbec, but its nose is more defined by ripe, jammy accents, with a raisin-like, meaty dark fruit component touched by some rather smoky secondhand oak. Opening with medium-weight and a marginal suppleness, the palate slides quickly into the same spectrum as the nose, revealing slightly baked, astringent dark fruit and earth characters coated in smoky oak, before finishing quite mineral, rough and rustic, in a spiky and drying fashion which isn't exactly elegant, but it could be worse.

X Although far from perfect, Bleasdale's 2008 was still a juicy, easy drinking quaffer of a malbec. Unfortunately, the rougher and edgier 2009 has taken things a slight step backwards. Let's hope 2010 sees a return to form for Bleasdale's occasionally excellent malbec, which hasn't exactly been a consistent performer lately. Drink to 2014.
85 points

Monday, March 21, 2011


- Eden Valley, SA
- $25
- Screwcap
- 12.5%alc

If there's such a thing as a blogger's favourite, then Karra Yerta Riesling may well be it. Messrs Coldrey, Graham and Pringle have had more good things to say about this wine than Eddie McGuire at a Nathan Buckley testimonial.

Quite simply, Karra Yerta's Riesling reflects a special vineyard that's clearly planted to the right variety. Made from 80 year old vines, it's elegantly scented with a classically austere fragrance of pebbles, mineral and chalk, given a perfumed lift by limey florals as well as a pinch of pear for good measure. On the palate however, it speaks volumes, by pumping an incredibly sumptuous depth of pure and youthful Eden Valley riesling flavour, honouring the amount of time its vineyard source has spent tapping into Mother Earth. It's utterly pristine and borderline transparent in the clarity of its saturated mineral and white pear flavour, but like a lot of the region's top 2010s, it thrusts into gear on a very long, wickedly limey finish, peppering the mouth with nuances of chalk and glistening acids which penetrate with searing precision. The whole package is remarkably well defined.

ü+ Distributors, sommeliers and independent retailers should take note; Karra Yerta's is as fine an impression of 2010 Eden Valley riesling as I've had. Drink to 2025.
95 points


- Yarra Valley, VIC
- $20-$29
- Screwcap
- 13.0%alc

Despite being caught up in the crazed existence of corporate ownership, Yarra Burn's winemaking team has hardly skipped a beat. A lot of the focus may lean towards Ed Carr and the sparkling wines, but Mark O'Callaghan's done a great job lately with Yarra Burn's white label chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon in particular.

The aromatic delicacy expected of 1 year old Yarra Valley chardonnay is evident in Yarra Burn's 2010. Clean and simple, green apple and grapefruit citrus aromas reside in the glass, but its most pleasing feature at the moment may be a light barrel-ferment derived note of white nougat and yeast, which is given an admirable zing by its sharper lemony edge. Essentially mimicking the nose, its palate is very clear and perhaps a bit bland right now, although it is well balanced, not to mention blessed by a lovely richness of flavour which becomes more leesy as it progresses, with a particularly soft yet bright acidity providing good palate extension. The fruit character here is notably lean, or restrained even, so bottle aged development is encouraged.

ü Hmm. Texture, length, acid; check. Fruit flavour... more please. Here we have one of those wines which just seems to lack that something special, although there is clearly nothing wrong with it. I'm possibly being a bit tough here, because there are many other Yarra Valley chardonnays out there cut from the same mould, which just seem better. It is fairly priced though, if perhaps released a little too early for me. Drink 2012-2015.
90 points

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


- King Valley, VIC
- $32-$36
- Crown Seal
- 11.5%alc

Dal Zotto's L'Immigrante is arguably Australia's finest achievement to date with the Italian inspired sparkling wine, prosecco. For the more budget conscious, Dal Zotto now also make a deliciously fresh and foamy, apple and pear laden Pucino Prosecco NV (90pts) for around $20.

As to be expected of the label, there's a bit more interest in here than other Australian prosecco. It shows a balance of sweet and savoury on the nose, opening to a clean scent of Amaretto entwined with white pears and flowers, but it's on the palate that the L'Immigrante really shines. Beautifully soft and foamy on entry, it literally breaks through with wonderful length and a linear tightness, gripping and directing the wine in a multitude of directions whilst providing spectacular shape. Within its shapely confines lie a delightfully fresh array of mineral and slate infused white-flesh fruit flavours, which finish very dry yet savoury and funky, with a lingering note of sweet biscuit passed over by particularly crisp citric acids. Conclusively, it's absolutely delicious and downright flawless within its nature.

ü+ Previously I've seen prosecco as a style best suited to bolstering and diversifying Australia's $20 sparkling class, but now, I think it's capable of much, much more. More please! Drink to 2013.
93 points

Monday, March 14, 2011


(Malbec/Petit Verdot/Merlot)
- Margaret River, WA
- $45
- Screwcap
- 12.5%alc

Cullen's red Mangan is one of those unique, ultra-special Australian wines that makes me wonder; 'why aren't there more wines like this in Australia?' Grown at the bio-dynamically managed Mangan vineyard at Wilyabrup, the 2009 is a magnificently styled blend of malbec (63%), petit verdot (27%) and merlot (10%), aged in predominantly used French oak for 12 months.

Perfumed and floral in a charmingly graceful manner, Cullen's 2009 Mangan puts up an airy, spicy whiff of violets underpinned by a right bag of crushed berries; both black and purple. Despite its gentle facade the wine reveals further, abundant aromatic suggestions, courtesy of a savoury interweaving of earthy tones, vanilla oak and dried leaves, with the latter reflecting something browner, earthier and less sharp than the Margaret River's typical green. Its gentle nature flows through to the palate, which is barely medium in weight yet wonderfully soft, supple and blessed with the under-spoken yet attractive presence of a passing princess. It's packed with an effortless, unforced movement of blackberries, plums and mulberries touched by spicy cedar and underlined by damp soils, with a hint of merlot derived olive to emerge, but the way it travels down the palate, with flawless progression, is a real highlight, and one which wouldn't be possible were it not for an ultra-fine, lithe structure laid in place by particularly clean, natural acids and svelte tannins.

ü+ Yet another new-age Australian wine for the rest of the world to wake up to. Cullen's 2009 Mangan is not heavy; it's beautiful in its suppleness and structural elements, and I know it may be an over used term, but it seems a truly natural, unforced wine. Drink to 2021.
94 points

Sunday, March 13, 2011


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $25-$40
- Screwcap
- 14.5%alc

You gotta give credit to Chapel Hill. In a region where shiraz is boss and grenache, sangiovese and tempranillo are emerging as future stars, Chapel Hill has bravely come forward saying; 'hey, we're giving good old-fashioned McLaren Vale cabernet a serious shot'. Carefully avoiding over-ripeness has been a real key to Chapel Hill's recent success with the variety.

In what is usually a battle between regional strength and varietal character within McLaren Vale cabernet, (hot) seasonal variation may just have won out here, but this open and generous cabernet expresses all 3 elements with well conceived integration and undoubted drinkability. It's deeply scented with dark plums, olives and touches of meat, revealing very rich, ripe cabernet fruits joined by a classy fragrance of lightly smoky, chocolate/coffee oak. Essentially, the ripe fruits and splendid chocolatey tones translate into an ultimately big, smooth, rich and satisfying palate, which is just too big, smooth and rich to be truly exceptional. Its red plum, cassis and sour-edged black cherry flavours are entrenched in a sumptuously creamed texture and pushed long by smooth vanilla oak, enduring notes of olive and an equally smooth, polished cut of velvety tannins, but it takes time to show true dryness and grip. However, at no stage does the wine appear over-ripe and it's certainly a pleasure to drink.

ü A top effort from a difficult season for McLaren Vale cabernet (this wine was picked late Feb/early Mar) which only underlines Chapel Hill's progress with the style. The 2008 is a real crowd pleasing Aussie red, devoid of the excessive ripeness found in so many McLaren Vale cabernets that year. It's a nice wine, but not a great cabernet. Drink to 2018.
90 points

Friday, March 11, 2011


- Frankland River, WA
- $24-$33
- Screwcap (Stelvin-Lux)
- 12.5%alc

With their collection of uniquely styled, individual vineyard rieslings having performed exceptionally well across recent years, Frankland Estate has confidently risen to the cream of Australia's riesling crop. The organically grown Isolation Ridge could be the best of a terrific bunch.

Steely, tight and lean on the nose, the 2010 Isolation Ridge appears not just incredibly savoury by Australian riesling standards, but also methodically crafted with technical precision. There are stony aromas of quartz and minerals in addition to flinty edges underpinned by lime juice, giving a general impression of dryness, which the palate delivers in spades alongside some very persistent fruit. From start to finish, the palate travels through a layered assortment of landscapes. Beginning with pure reflections of lime juice, crisp apples and spritzy/stony minerals, it moves with an expansive wave of powdery, chalky acids and limey undercurrents, becoming longer and stronger as it marches deep into the mouth, before finally finishing with a mouth-puckering, side-splitting acidic intensity that no lover of Australian riesling could resist. Its length and structure are top class.

ü+ Intense and vibrant (so says the back label), it feels like this riesling has just used my mouth as some kind of well choreographed dance floor. Spectacular stuff. Drink to 2022.
95 points

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Just a few notes here from my mid-week trip to what could be McLaren Vale's most popular cellar door, d'Arenberg.

Two things stood out to me on the visit. Firstly, the level of service seems to get better and better every time I return to d'Arenberg, so kudos to the cellar door staff. The second thing that really caught my attention, was the presence of d'Arenberg labelled underwear, hung from the rafters above the tasting bench. The last time I tasted wine to look up and see men's jocks, I can't recall.

Essentially, the underwear is black Bonds underpants, for him and her, with d'Arenberg wine labels printed onto them (the square labels from the 'cheaper' wines, not the long ones from the icon wines). Underwear labels included 'Love Grass Shiraz' for women, as well as 'Lucky Lizard Chardonnay' (selling well I hear) for men and 'Dry Dam Riesling' (not selling so well) also for men. Really, the possibilities for underpants paired with d'Arenberg labels are near endless; Feral Fox, Derelict Vineyard, Hermit Crab and Last Ditch are just some, but our favourite suggestion was The Noble Wrinkled. We were told to keep our mouths shut before the marketing team got any more ideas....... ;)

The underwear is clearly another idea from a winery that must never run out of things to do. My apologies for failing to take any photos.

d'Arenberg tasting notes are posted below

d'Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne 2009 ($20) Light, yet appropriately varietal nose of honeysuckle, rose petals and stonefruit kernel. The palate is packed with ripe fruit flavour, making it smooth but also a bit short and simple. 87

d'Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne 2003 Toast and mango aromas, showing fruit, development and life. Its palate has gained much in the way of richness, as well as a honeyed stonefruit-like character, but despite the stylistic alterations gained through bottle age, I didn't really consider it much better than the 2009. 88

d'Arenberg The Lucky Lizard Chardonnay 2008 ($25) Adelaide Hills. Rather bold, with big lashings of toasty popcorn oak and ripe nectarine present in both nose and the palate. There's a finish marked by tangy acids, but it needs to to be longer and more refreshing for what it is. Challenging year really. 87

d'Arenberg The Last Ditch Viognier 2008 ($20) Adelaide Hills/McLaren Vale. I first tasted this wine over a year ago (no 2009 was made, all blended away)and have had it several times since then, loving it every time. Beck calls it; "the viognier that tastes like good chardonnay". The youthful gleam of its fruit has settled down a bit since my last encounter, as it seems to be a bit more oaky, with restrained, leaner viognier fruit apparent, but it altogether seems more savoury and enticing. The palate is showing some real elegance now (within the viognier spectrum of course), with a wonderful integration of fruit, oak and texture. For the third time in as many visits to d'Arenberg, I came home with one of these. It's probably the best white wine I can recall having from d'Arenberg. (possible re-review soon, although I might give it a few more years for interest) 92

d'Arenberg The Feral Fox Pinot Noir 2009 ($30) Adelaide Hills. I actually like where d'Arenberg went with this the last two years, particularly in 2007, but I'm not sure about this. It's feral by name and feral by nature; manky and funky, with a confectionery-like fruit nose and an unusually medicinal palate. Not for me. 84

d'Arenberg d'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache 2007 ($18) Interesting to see this under cork at the cellar door, since my cellar-log tells me I have a 2004 and 2006, both under screwcap. The wine shows the dark-fruited meaty ripeness expected of the season, with abundant plums and what smells more like softer American, or older oak. The smooth and simple palate tastes significantly more shiraz like than grenache, with a peppering of sour-edged fruits and acid rounding out the finish in agreeable style. An easy quaffer, although the 2008 is already out now. 88

d'Arenberg The Cadenzia Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2009 ($25) Its beautiful nose smells bright yet perfectly measured and controlled, with a right procession of evenly ripened berry fruits playing across the colour wheel. Likewise, the palate was wonderful; bright, smooth, seamless and long, expressed with effortless style and fruit focus. Alongside another GSM, this was definitely one of the standouts of the day. (full review soon) 92

d'Arenberg The Wild Pixie Shiraz Roussanne 2008 ($29) I didn't mind this a year ago, but was a little less impressed on this occasion. It seemed to be the results of either a dash too much roussanne, or a little too much hang time on the shiraz. It shows ripe, dark and gamy shiraz fruit given a bright, almost viognier-like floral note on the nose, as well as a similarly composed fuzzy apricot skin-like feel to the palate. It's relatively bright, ripe, rich and soft, making for an agreeable BBQ wine if anything, which is probably its intention. 89

d'Arenberg The Galvo Garage Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Petit Verdot Cabernet Franc 2007 ($29) Usually one of my favourite wines in d'Arenberg's portfolio, but I think the tricky vintage has played its toll here, in the way of some ripe, jujube-like fruit aromas paired with lashings of mint, but it doesn't seem even or harmonious really. The palate shows more ripeness than I'd like from the label, and although it's concentrated, essence-like and pleasing in the medium/medium-full weight range, it seems a bit soupy. It is long though, but the finish ends once again; ripe. Essentially it's very drinkable, but it could be better (2004 was great - 92pts). 88

d'Arenberg The Sticks and Stones Tempranillo Grenache Shiraz 2005 ($29) Showing some varnishy, gamy-like notes to the nose, in what could be signs of age, but it also could signify a typically rustic d'Arenberg approach to an intrinsic blend. The palate however, looks surprisingly good and youthful, thanks to a medium-bodied elegance and leanness brought out by a rather firm acid/tannin structure considering its age, season and varietal make-up. 89

d'Arenberg The Ironstone Pressings Grenahce Shiraz Mourvedre 2007 ($60) Wonderful, almost floral nose that has a complex combination of sweet and savoury, the bright and the rustic, with notes of game, blueberry and very restrained, well handled, smooth vanilla oak. It smells great and evenly ripened for a 2007, and just goes to show grenache may have handled the conditions as well as any variety in McLaren Vale that year. The palate is savoury but deep, with delicious juicy fruit flavour framed by more than enough firm, powdery tannins to suggest a good stint in the cellar would be more than beneficial. Could be better than the 2006. 94

d'Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($60) Big cabernet nose. Big black fruit. It's ripe but deep with a touch of vanilla/cedar oak almost adding fragrant freshness. It's a big, mouthfilling McLaren Vale cabernet with the region's expected mid-palate depth and the season's anticipated ripeness, but it certainly contains the length and structure to pull it off. Very well made for the season. 91

d'Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 A real contrast to the '07. It smells more elegant yet thinner and leaner, with leaves scattered throughout red plums and maybe a touch of spicy cedar oak. There's relatively savoury red fruits woven throughout its medium-bodied palate, which is more elegant and framed by dusty tannins, but it seems stuck in a bad place perhaps, and in need of another 3-5 years for my tastes. 90

d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2007 ($60) Currants, chocolate/vanilla oak and plums; it's ripe and a bit of a bruiser but it's ok. In the mouth however, it seems classic Dead Arm, in a riper sense, with a medium/medium-full bodied expression of deep, rustic dark fruits finished off by very firm tannins and true length. Although lacking the polish of the top years, it would appear d'Arenberg's done quite well with their premier reds from 2007. 92

d'Arenberg The Sump Jump Sticky Chardonnay 2008 ($11) Simple in every sense, yet effective for what it is. It's perhaps a bit thin in its sweet stonefruit character, but it's light and fresh enough. It would be interesting to see how this would hold up over a glass, but I don't really want to find out myself. The sample will do just fine thanks. 87

d'Arenberg The Noble Wrinkled Riesling 2010 ($20) Following the very successful 2008 comes this wine smelling of sweet freshness in a glass. It's floral, light and musky, with citrus and lychees, altogether showing more character than many Australian dessert rieslings, albeit at a very early stage of development. There's good, tangy and lively acidity to frame and refresh the palate, which might be a bit thin at the moment, but time in the bottle could see it flesh out. 90

d'Arenberg The Noble Prankster Chardonnay Semillon 2010 ($20) Burnt toffee, creme brulee and stonefruits on the nose, with a relatively soft, sweet palate blessed by enough lemon tart-like acids to make it a refreshing, easy drinking style. 89

d'Arenberg The Noble Mud Pie Viognier Pinot Gris Marsanne 2008 ($20) Weird nose, which I couldn't quite put my finger on, but the best I could come up with was herbal. Similarly, the palate also seems unusual and is fractionally disjointed. 85

Monday, March 7, 2011


- South Australia
- $7-$15
- Screwcap
- 13.0%alc

To coincide with a new set of graphically superior labels, Yalumba has seemingly increased the standard throughout the Y-Series range. The 2010 Pinot Grigio could be the pick of the range right now, with a steady flow of positive reviews coming in from the likes of Wine Will Eat Itself, Good Drop and Winsor's Choice.

There's a typically restrained yet well defined fragrance of oily pear skins within Yalumba's 2010 Grigio, backed by a touch of tropical fruit resembling paw paw. Its nose is pleasingly expressive for the style and truly belies its price tag, while the palate comes forth with flavour in an ultimately clean, disciplined and rather soft manner, making it all so easy to drink. Squeaky clean flavours of white pear cider and lemon tinged grapes adorn the movement, before the wine reveals some unexpected class in a finish that emerges with a minor nutty accent fizzed up by a finely honed in, minutely phenolic yet convincingly soft and refreshing acidity.

ü+ Clean and simple; yet brilliant value, to the point where it could embarrass some makers of Australian gris/grigio. If Yalumba can mass produce $10 grigio like this, then why are there so many examples out there for 2, or even 3 times as much, that aren't as good? It's obviously another big tick towards what's going on down at Angaston. Drink now.
89 points


Flathead ceviche, served in a martini glass

Sunday, March 6, 2011


- Riverina, NSW
- $12-$22
- Cork
- 11.0%alc

Throughout 2007 I was smitten with the value for money offered by Gramp's 2004 Botrytis Semillon. My notes indicate I awarded it 94 points in April that year, while my cellar says I was happy enough to tuck some away. Fortunately, Gramp's more recent releases have continued the form set by the 2004 (2006-92pts, 2008-91pts), while the label's switch to screwcaps should only increase consumer confidence in its ability to age.

Now a glorious deep bronze/amber colour, this 7 year old dessert wine slowly unfolds a scent of honey biscuits with both sweet and savoury suggestions, as well as a pungent, rubbery aroma of ultra-ripe nectarines and melons parted by an additional note of honey ice cream. It's quite deep and richly scented, seemingly revealing an extra degree of honeyed goodness every time you stick your nose in. The palate follows suit with an incredibly full, rich and luscious presence of honeyed stonefruit flavours, which may have been exaggerated by a few years bottle age, but it pushes on with length and smoothness. A persistent toasty oak extract lingers underneath a faintly tart coverage of brisk acids; exciting the finish, before both these elements are overawed by a powerful wave of sweet stonefruit flavour that surges to the end.

ü+ Gramp's 2004 Botrytis Semillon is smooth, rich and in no way short of impact, but it's long and refreshing enough to pull it off. I'm so glad I have one left....... for now. Drink now.
94 points

Saturday, March 5, 2011


- Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
- $27
- Screwcap
- 11.5%alc

The spectacular shiraz and semillon of Andrew Thomas may be held in the highest regard by Sydney wine freaks, but many of Adelaide's parochial drinkers would barely of passed a thought to them (sadly). In contrast to the Hunter Valley's other iconic semillons; Vat 1, Lovedale and ILR, Thomas's stunning Braemore Vineyard Semillon is typically released the year of its vintage; and of that, it's proved extremely successful.

A constricting tightness defines the 2010 Braemore's scent. Without much in the way of exuberance, it touches upon savoury suggestions of mineral and quartz, given a sharp lift by a spicy ping of grapefruit and lemon zest, which eventually penetrate right to the nasal passage's roof. In the mouth it's beautifully formed and cleaner than Singapore Zoo's toilet. Other than mineral and ripe lime, no other flavour descriptor comes to mind really; such is its clear expression of primary Hunter semillon, however, it's superbly poised and pristine, with an utterly spotless progression of plush, medium-weighted textures driven along by a minutely spritzy yet perfectly placed acid structure that reveals further traces of citrus and chalk.

ü+ The 2010 Braemore is about as youthful and aromatically shy as any Hunter semillon I've had lately. It's still perfectly formed and refreshingly addictive right now, but its real beauty won't take shape for some years yet. Drink 2015-2025.
93 points

Tuesday, March 1, 2011



"We have noticed that the 2009 'The Sabre' Pinot Noir may throw a deposit in the bottle, which resembles a few small, red coloured matchsticks.

The deposit is tartrate with some red pigment from the wine and is in no way harmful.

It is a result of the gentle handling with minimum intervention that the wine has had during storage and maturation, as it was not cold (tartrate) stabilised and only minimally filtered."