Saturday, August 27, 2011


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $16-$24
- Screwcap (Stelvin-Lux)
- 14.9%alc

The combined efforts of Scott Collett (viticulture) and Ben Glaetzer (winemaking), Woodstock's Shiraz is one wine that's clearly capable of over delivering under the right conditions. The deliciously smooth, chocolatey, very regional 2004 (92pts) proved this point admirably, but ensuing vintages haven't been quite so kind.

Although perhaps a shade ripe and a touch high in alcohol (website says 15.4% - bottle 14.9%), the most dominant aroma within Woodtsock's 2010 is a rather blunt, constrictive whiff of biscuity, chocolatey American oak. Sitting well beneath the wood, its fruit is an ultra-ripe and dark expression of the McLaren Vale style, resembling a combination of blackberries, currants, licorice and tar, however, it's far from bright or fragrant. The palate redeems itself somewhat with a smooth, silky entry, but its initially plush red and black plum skin flavours break down towards the finish, where it shows hard, chunky, blocky aspects and a lingering suggestion of prune-like fruit. It'll probably settle down over the next 12 months but it's hardly a ringing endorsement of the potential of McLaren Vale's 2010 vintage.

O Having taken in all the fuss surrounding the promise of South Australia's 2010 vintage, I had high hopes for this wine. Unfortunately, my optimism has been shot, as Woodstock's 2010 Shiraz is little more than a simple, oaky, ultra-ripe BBQ red to be enjoyed with friends. That's where the bottom half of this bottle will end up tomorrow... Drink 2013-2016.
87 points

Friday, August 26, 2011


- Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
- $25-$39
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

One of the benefits of retailers not being bang up to date with vintages, is that you'll regularly find wines with an extra year or two bottle age, which will be all the better for it. Seeing all these delicious 2007 Hunter shirazes in Adelaide right now makes me glad to be South Australian! ;)

The 2007 Rosehill is a rather elegant and well formed Hunter shiraz, that despite taking time to open up, still proclaims the even ripeness associated with its season. It breathes gently and slowly but evenly, revealing a bouquet which is at once mature and youthful, fruity and savoury, if a fraction shy to speak. There are compressed scents of red and black berries at its core, quilted by leathery/earthy suggestions and tightly wound up by a toasty whiff of cedar/vanilla/mocha oak. Entering the palate with medium-weight, it pumps up considerably through the middle section courtesy of a juicy punch of ripe red berries and dark plums, propelling it closer to medium-full bodied territory. Underscoring its bright and flavoursome fruit is a classically savoury, dry and dusty undercarriage, which comes forth to extend the wine with great thrust alongside tastes of red licorice and seasoned pencil shavings-like oak, towards an open ended yet finely powdered finish smitten by a balancing acid act.

ü+ I think I've liked other vintages of this more, but the 2007 remains another great release from what must be one of the Hunter Valley's most reliable shiraz labels. It's amazing I paid $25 for this. Drink to 2020.
92 points

Thursday, August 25, 2011


- Mornington Peninsula, VIC
- $25-$31
- Screwcap
- 13.0%alc

The recent recipient of James Halliday's prestigious 'Winery of the Year' award, Kooyong, boasts an impeccably organised assortment of Mornington Peninsula chardonnay and pinot noir. At the more economical end of Kooyong chardonnay sits the typically clean, fruit driven Clonale, which underwent French oak fermentation (12% new oak) followed by 7 months barrel maturation in 2010.

If you contemplate what Kooyong sets out to achieve with Clonale, then the nose of the 2010 fits like a round peg into a round hole. It's nutty and spotlessly clean, with the mineral-coursed fruit aromas of grapefruit and lemon citrus typical of the wine, ably balanced by some creamy, bready lees work imparting an attractive richness into the mix. A sly hint of nutmeg also appears. These characters transfer beautifully onto the palate, which appears borderless without being loose. Creamy but far from fat, it projects a lively movement of lemons and brioche with nutty undertones down the palate with smoothness and good length of flavour, leading into a finish where refreshing softness outweighs brisk acidity and cut, making it ideal for immediate consumption.

ü Modern yes, but soft, refreshing, deliciously flavoursome and very easy to swallow. As a buy today to drink tonight chardonnay, it's about perfect. Drink to 2014.
90 points

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


- Yarra Valley, VIC
- $14-$22
- Screwcap
- 13.0%alc

It's refreshing to see a high profile name like De Bortoli treat pinot noir as a variety that's not just for the wine-educated elite, but more so, everyone. Their Windy Peak and Gulf Station labels have now justifiably become modern day pacesetters amongst Australia's large volume, modestly priced pinot noir class.

De Bortoli's fine form with pinot noir continues with the 2010 Gulf Station, which releases a bright, almost piercing fragrance of mixed cherries, strawberries, toasty oak and earth with a crack of white pepper and a sprinkle of dried herbs. It's clearly a proud overachiever, with an outstanding array of varietal scents for a wine of its price. The palate's a bit juicy, perhaps rich and wholesome for pinot noir, but it glides with the smooth, silky, seductive curves common to the style, unleashing delicious flavours of blood plums and black cherries with savoury/toasty tones as she goes. To top it all off is a beautifully balanced finish, which accentuates the wine in a drier, more savoury manner courtesy of persisting toasty/spicy qualities and a well positioned framework of prickly tannin. Like the fine 2008, a good decant emancipates this wine - so patience people!

ü+ A wonderful release which might even surpass the bloody good 2008 Gulf Station (90pts). Fans of that wine should go equally gaga over this. Drink to 2015.
91 points

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011


- Adelaide Hills, SA
- $20-$30
- Screwcap
- 12.5%alc

Like many others from South Australia, Shaw and Smith suffered an ultimately challenging 2011 vintage, battling through a cold, wet season where the line between genuine ripeness and botrytis affected grapes became a little too close for comfort. Chardonnay was hit bad and the shiraz wasn't quite up to Shaw and Smith standards, but in their own words, sauvignon blanc was the most successful variety.

Practically water clear in appearance, Shaw and Smith's 2011 displays a nose so cleanly restrained in its mineral accented tones of gooseberry, green apples and lemon zest, that it's almost icy. Smooth and easy to drink, its juicy palate is absolutely spotless and perhaps a shade concentrated, with undertones of gooseberry imparting taste to what is essentially an all-too-clean expression of varietal flavour. Barely graced by notes of citrus and kiwi fruit, its finish is soft, clean and smooth, but it lacks the briskness, backbone and definition of Shaw and Smith's best. It's a straight forward wine that asks as many questions as it answers. Is it mineral, refined and pure, or is it lacking flavour? Either way, it's a fair result given the circumstances and there's still plenty of easy drinking fun to be had here.

O Clean, clean, clean. Too clean even. It's like the preppy cousin whose hair you wanna mess up a bit. Sure, it's a stellar example of how a quaffing wine should drink, but I honestly expect more than that from Shaw and Smith. Maybe I'll revisit it in 6 months... Drink to 2012.
89 points

Saturday, August 20, 2011


- Southern Tasmania
- $25-$36
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

When it comes to sub-$30 Australian pinot noir, Stefano Lubiana's Primavera has been a model of supreme consistency for the best part of this century. If you ask me, the Primavera's reliability over the last 5 years has put a lot of Australia's other, significantly more expensive pinot noirs to shame.

Evenly pitched cherry kernels, red berries, bacon and sweet vanilla/nutty oak enrich the floral fragrance of the 2010 Primavera, which rises in the same unassuming yet keenly varietal manner as Lubiana's previous releases. Also following the label's well worn (and delicious) path is the palate, which is supple, succulent and long - very long in fact - as its smooth expression of sour-edged cherries and meats unfold deep into the mouth with a springy extract of bright acids and fair tannins, before finishing with lingering traces of rare red meats and fresh garden herbs. A seamless integration of texture, refreshing structure and penetrative length make this one stylish little pinot, no matter what the price.

ü+ Steve Lubiana's passionate toils are clearly paying off here, because the 2010 is another surefire winner from the Primavera label. It's hard to imagine how you could pack much more style or sophistication into an earlier drinking Tasmanian pinot noir than this. Drink to 2016.
92 points

Friday, August 19, 2011


- Adelaide Hills, SA
- $17-$23
- Screwcap
- 13.0%alc

Wirra Wirra's well hung approach to making affordable, ripe and meaty McLaren Vale reds has made them popular across Australia, but personally, I've found more freshness and balance in some of their recent outings with affordable Adelaide Hills whites. The 12th Man Chardonnay in particular, has provided a few pleasant surprises for me on recent trips to Wirra Wirra's cellar door.

Residing at the more pungent, rounded and openly aromatic end of Adelaide Hills sauvignon blanc, the 2011 Hiding Champion lays out sweetly fruited aromas of gooseberries, passionfruit and bananas smoothed over by cream. It's nothing overly special or unexpected but it's clean and expressive. The palate moves along a pleasingly rich thread of creamy texture, unleashing clean flavours of banana custard and crisp green apples, the latter of which merges neatly into its acid structure. Indeed it's quite round and juicy, without the exceptional tightness or focus of top end savvys, but its balancing acidity is refreshingly brisk and tangy enough to place this squarely in the realms of a very consumer friendly wine, which might just please a few others...

ü The creamy feel (balanced by acidity) is the real highlight for me here. That factor alone moves the Hiding Champion away from many of the lean, texturally uninspiring savvys clogging up the marketplace. It's an easy drinking - smash down with seafood - summertime special. Drink to 2012.
90 points

Thursday, August 18, 2011


- Eden Valley, SA
- $14-$22
- Screwcap
- 12.5%alc

Despite having had a few less than ideal experiences at tastings, my patience has finally resigned and I've decided to purchase a 2011. Given the label's impeccable track record, Pewsey Vale Riesling seemed as logical a starting point as any. The 2011 Riesling was harvested between the 23rd of March and the 8th of April. Compare that to the excellent 2008, harvested between the 25th of February and the 13th of March.

Perhaps a touch closed, Pewsey Vale's 2011 seems a bit shy at first, although with a little patience it reveals a typically clean, stony nose of lemon and apple blossom, surprisingly bolstered by a sweetish note of tinned pear. For the most part its palate is relatively open and generous, if somewhat round in sections. A juicy punch of green apples and lime juice announce the wine, which extends with good length and hints of tinned fruit, brought to life by a tongue tingling acidity reminiscent of fizzy lemon sherbet. Despite the longer ripening period benefited to the 2011, its style actually sides quite well with some of Pewsey Vale's other recent releases.

ü+ Although a bit tight on the nose and open on the palate (if anything I probably prefer my young Eden Valley rieslings the other way round), Pewsey Vale's 2011 still presents a pleasingly juicy expression of long regional flavour, with a lively wash of zippy acids kicking the wine across the line. It's easy to see why this is one of Australia's most loved whites. Nice work Louisa. Drink to 2019.
91 points

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Before this website gets caught up in the midst of reviewing a whole host of new season's wines, I thought I'd post the first of what will hopefully become an annual Australian Wine Journal Top Dozen.

To make the list, wines must've been reviewed in the 'full' Australian Wine Journal treatment -that means no samplings, tastings, restaurant/socially consumed wines or wines drunk without a tasting note - and all must've been reviewed within the past 12 months (or close to in one case) on the website.

Additionally, the Australian Wine Journal Top Dozen isn't just a simple compilation of the 12 best, or highest scoring wines I've reviewed in the past year. Of course, to be included in the dozen, wines must've been brilliant in my eyes, but they must've ticked that box at the end of the line as well - inspirational. I was looking for wines that genuinely stirred up inspiration within me at the time of drinking. Wines that made me think to myself; 'f#ck I'm glad I'm an Australian wine drinker!' The sort of wines I wanna passionately stand up for and fight alongside in a bar brawl with. The sort of wines that drag out the type of beverage related inspiration only a wine drinker could understand. Whether it be something original, eye opening, ahead of its time or even something fantastically cheap and unique, the key here is that the wines needed to be a little more than just plain outstanding.

As I look over the list, it appears I've inadvertently selected at least one wine from each of Australia's 5 major wine producing states. It just goes to show, that in the face of some pretty trying recent vintages, it doesn't matter where you look around this outstanding wine producing country - there's exceptional wine to be had everywhere!


I'm sure there might be a few traditionalists out there sneering at the thought of a bottle-fermented Australian prosecco, but if wines like Dal Zotto's 2008 L'Immigrante are the results of such labours - then bring them on I say! It's an elegantly complex, spotlessly clean, nutty and savoury sparkling wine, beautifully sculpted into place by a wonderfully linear, dry, tight backbone. If Australia's on the verge of a prosecco boom, then this is the ready made wine serious drinkers should look to.

The first time I tasted Karra Yerta's 2010 Riesling I felt it was like the Eden Valley equivalent of Grosset's Polish Hill - in other words - the dry riesling I've been waiting my entire wine drinking life for! Marie and James Linke's 2010 perfectly marries the stunning purity of regional characters Eden Valley enthusiasts seek, with sumptuous depths of flavour and texture, as well as unrelenting, penetrative structure and length. Alongside any number of spectacular wines emanating from Australia's small winery class at the moment, Karra Yerta's Riesling proves how size of production isn't really that important when it comes to making world class wines.

Okay, so we all know how brilliant Grosset's Polish Hill is, so why the inspiration? It's Jeffrey's relentless pursuit of perfection. Perhaps no other Australian winemaker comes as close to achieving perfection year in, year out, as Grosset does with his Polish Hill. But Grosset is never one to rest on his laurels. He tires away endlessly in the vineyard every year, constantly looking to improve what is already a near flawless Australian wine. The results are there to be seen in the 2010 which is classic Polish Hill - it's all about power, depth and a blisteringly dry finish of spectacular length.

As a lover of Australian chardonnay it saddens me somewhat to see so many makers moving towards an ultimately leaner, perhaps overly refined style in recent years. Australian chardonnay isn't riesling, or semillon (or Chablis for that matter) - it's chardonnay - and ideally, it should be complex, textured, rich and stylish. The best examples in this country exhibit these qualities, alongside refinement and balance, and Beechworth's Savaterre hit the nail on the head with their 2008 release. With bright, genuinely ripened chardonnay fruit complemented seamlessly by superb texture and none-too-shy, complex winemaker inputs, it's precisely the sort of wine I wanna being drinking from chardonnay when I reach for more than a fifty from my wallet.

DOMAINE A PINOT NOIR 2006 (Coal River Valley)
When I first stuck my nose into Domaine A's 2006 Pinot Noir, its combination of herbal scents and dark, meaty fruit aromas actually had me thinking of cabernet sauvignon, but once it entered my mouth, there was no doubt as to what variety I was dealing with. If feel and textural complexity are the keys to exceptional pinot noir, then Domaine A smashed it out of the ballpark with their 2006. It's supple, fragile and delicate, yet its adorably complex, darker pinot noir flavours are backed up by one of the most spectacular, expansive pinot noir structures I've ever encountered from the Island State. If you still believe Tasmania isn't capable of world class pinot noir, then check this beauty out.

Brian Croser raised a few eyebrows with his inaugural 2007 Foggy Hill, sourced from a region barely associated with top shelf Australian wine, let alone pinot noir. Then, with his follow up from 2008, Croser showed the capabilities of his special site with a wonderful release. But it's the 2009 which has really declared the winemaking legend's intentions of taking on Australia's very best exponents of the closely followed genre. With the exception of some of Ashton Hills' very best wines, I've never had a South Australian pinot noir so cleanly fruited, savoury, under spoken, beautifully made or astoundingly complex in its youth. Is it the future of South Australian pinot noir? I think so.

CULLEN MANGAN 2009 (Margaret River)
In addition to the use of a new mistral blower on the sorting table and a return to basket press, Vanya Cullen's commitment to bio-dynamic wine production has seen increased levels of subtlety, elegance and feminine charm in her premier reds, which already sat at the more subtle, elegant and feminine side of high end Australian wine anyway. The 2009 Mangan bares these qualities and displays it in a very similar fashion to its much more lauded 2008 Diana Madeline stablemate, but it does it at around half the price and without the use of the Margaret River's primary red grape; cabernet sauvignon (the Mangan is a 63/27/10 blend of malbec, petit verdot and merlot). The attractively complex characters Cullen achieves at modest alcohol levels, is, quite simply, amazing in this country. In terms of both style and varietal composition, I'd love to see more Australian reds like this.

As Australians scramble to make new wines from new varieties, there remains a number of grapes which have been sitting in our vineyards for some time, which have perhaps been overlooked. Woodlands' Reserve de la Cave Malbec is a benchmark for what can be achieved. It's simultaneously authentically varietal and deliciously Australian, with an undeniably perfumed and plush accent of deep, silky black and purple fruits driven with great direction by an extremely precise structure. Sat next to its cabernet franc sibling it's distinctly different in style, but picking a better wine between the two proved impossible for me. I'm usually a cabernet franc man too.

Woodlands' 2010 Reserve de la Cabernet Franc displays a more piercing, pristine varietal expression than the malbec, which doesn't necessarily make it any better a drinking wine on release. The combination of cabernet franc, with its green-edged, herbal perfume, and the Margaret River's Wilyabrup sub-region, which is so well known for perfumed, dark fruited, toasty/smoky, dusty cabernet, seems such a perfect fit, and it's played out to perfection in the 2010 Reserve de la Cave. There's a wonderfully elegant density to the wine as well, which of course, is drawn down the palate to great effect by the typically fine-grained and assertive structure Woodlands has become synonymous for.

There may be any number of technically better reds around Australia at the moment than Dr Brian Freeman's 2004 Secco, but in terms of ingenuity and value for money, this most unique of Australian reds stands out on a limb. It's aromatically lifted, richly textured, deeply flavoured, savoury and rather over the top for a wine of its price, but a few years bottle age have seen all of its elements sink together like a cat on a bean bag. Delicious only starts to explain it. Kudos to Freeman for planting rondinella and corvina in NSW's Hilltops region. Kudos to Freeman for blending them together. Kudos to him for being creative enough to partially dry the grapes in a prune dehydrator. Kudos to him for pulling the whole crazy experiment off, and perhaps most importantly, kudos to him for having the patience and generosity to issue a bottle aged release, without any increase in price. $30!?

With an early March heatwave spanning 15 straight days of 35+ degree heat, 2008 was hardly a classic year for Clare cabernet, but Wendouree's fine effort with their deep, beautifully ripened, supple and savoury 2008 Cabernet Malbec (achieved at under 14% alc) shows us just how important well managed old vineyards are in the most trying of circumstances. It's probably not the most sensational Wendouree of all time, but the 2008 Cabernet Malbec remains testament to what an irreplaceable resource that spectacular vineyard is.

Like the Wendouree, Joseph's 2008 Moda was hardly born out of a wonderful year for McLaren Vale cabernet, but this time, I feel Joe Grilli's freakish winemaking abilities have helped carve out a magnificent wine every bit as much as the choice of his vineyard site and its management. In fact, McLaren Vale's suffered through a few less than perfect cabernet vintages lately, but Grilli's time proven ability to make deliciously rich, hedonistically smooth, ripe and dusty cabernet merlots using the Italian Amarone method of drying grapes on racks after harvest, has once again produced a stunning take on McLaren Vale cabernet. As with Wendouree's 2008 Cabernet Malbec, I don't actually feel the 2008 Moda is one of Jospeh's very best vintages, but it still serves as a benchmark as to what can be achieved in unbelievably hot, dry seasons.

Friday, August 12, 2011


- Pipers River/Tamar Valley, TAS
- $22-$30
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

Living off my fond memories of the sublime 2005 (95pts), I still consider Pipers Brook to be Australia's best maker of spicy, musky, purely fruited gewürztraminer. Really, it's just another wine that boldly states what a perfect fit Tasmania is for the white Alsatian varieties.

There's a clean air of purity to Pipers Brook's 2009 which is particularly striking. Within it resides mineral accented scents of candied musk sticks, fresh lychees, apples, mandarin skin and white flower. To say it's pristine might be something of an understatement. The palate dances with a restrained oily viscosity but is equally as defined by its cleanliness. It's long, penetrative and precise, with a flavour profile that marries marginally juicy lychees with a clever, faintly savoury touch of sweet pastry and a clean, crisp, refreshing finish gripped nicely by white grape tannins. As a young Tasmanian traminer (from vines approaching 40 years of age) it's practically flawless, reflecting both region and variety to a tee.

ü+ Stunningly pure and brilliant. At less than $30, Pipers Brook's Gewürztraminer must be one of the most unheralded white wines in Australia. In fact, why don't I drink it more often... Drink to 2015.
94 points

Thursday, August 11, 2011


- Yarra Valley, VIC
- $45-$65
- Cork
- 14.0%alc

Judging by the labels on Coldstream Hills bottles, James Halliday isn't just something of a Richie Benaud-like figure in Australian wine, he's also a very talented photographer. Halliday's image of an airborne kangaroo on the 2001 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is an absolute beauty in my eyes. [click image for larger picture]

Still holding a faint crimson tinge to its hue, Coldstream Hills' 10 year old Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is initially pongy, mature, feral and animal-like on the nose, but a bit of decanting transforms its aroma agreeably, revealing a more stable, multi-faceted fragrance of bold plums, dates, roast meats/smoky bacon, fennel, mushroom and menthol, which admittedly, continuously blows off a fair whiff of barnyard pong. Blessed by the benefits of bottle age, its well controlled mouthfeel contradicts its rather dark, untamed scent. It's somewhat silky in a thin manner and elegantly compact at first, but then it literally blows open as it moves expansively into the mouth, unleashing a smooth and savoury array of juicy meats and dark fruits washed over by leathery tones. With its width, volume, lingering notes of choc-licorice/menthol and an ultra-fine sprinkling of the most minute, yet essential tannin, the back palate really steals the show here. It's like a 6 font exclamation mark with a 16 font dot.

O Quite meaty, pongy and showing the signs of a hot year, Coldstream Hills' 2001 Reserve doesn't exactly display the elegant characters typical of Yarra Valley cabernet, but its feel and shapely finish help refresh the palate with a synergistic groove. It's a fine example of how wines 'open up' with age. Drink to 2013.
91 points

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


- South Australia
- $7-$15
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

According to the information provided by Taylors' June media release, recent Australian market data shows the Promised Land Merlot is the fastest growing wine within its respective varietal segment between $10-$14. Additionally, the 2010 Merlot acquired a silver medal at the 2011 International Wine Challenge in London, which has been something of a happy hunting ground for large Australian wine companies lately. Now then, onto the wine.

Whether it's truly reflective of merlot or not you can decide, but the 2010 Promised Land opens gradually (yes, a bit of air helps a lot) to a predictably straight forward yet relatively pleasing fragrance for a wine of its ilk. It's bright enough, with an oaky scent of granulated coffee showing surprising appeal over its simple red cherry and plum aromas, which thankfully, rise with an additional hint of light spice, or perhaps cinnamon even. Flavoured by similar plum-like tones, its palate is agreeably medium-bodied and juicy up front, if marginally dilute to progress, but its smooth, polished edges display nothing ungainly, awkward or over ripe, although it does finish somewhat short and simple with a minor baked note to pass. However, that could be being a bit picky, because thanks to its smoothness and admirable taste, it actually drinks A-OK as a quaffer.

O Definitively simple yet inoffensive. I'm in agreement with GrapeScott on this one. The merlot is my pick of the 2010 Promised Land reds. Drink to 2013.
86 points

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


- Adelaide Hills, SA
- $45-$56
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

Stephen Pannell certainly ruffled a few industry feathers last summer with his controversial 'All For One Wine' project. Now that the dust has settled, I do hope Stephen's positive intentions didn't put anyone off his own label, because it's easily one of the most exciting brands to come out of South Australia in recent years.

Lifted by a sweet, musky fragrance of rose petals, nutmeg and cinnamon, with its ground scents laid out by leathery/tarry suggestions of cherries and orange rind, S.C. Pannell's 2007 appears a typically alluring, attractively earthy Australian nebbiolo of the simultaneously feminine and masculine style. Neither oak nor flamboyant ripeness obscures its varietal integrity (although it is perhaps a shade ripe to be exceptional), which allows the palate to gently release an understated, elegant texture, supported by the earthy, meaty, sour-edged cherry notes and the fine, firm, crunchy backbone that nebbiolo lovers obsess over. Its structure isn't actually as physically imposing as one might expect, but its tight acid/tannin balance remains bright as a spring day, pulling the wine together like a level playing field to reveal a long, rustic finish of some class, with sour-edged accents and a taste of meat providing the final impression.

ü+ I wouldn't go as far as to say S.C. Pannell's 2007 is a brilliant nebbiolo, but it is a true, artful nebbiolo, and outstanding value for money at that. Like most things nebbiolo, it's left me in a pleasant state of intrigue, basically aching for more. Drink to 2019.
92 points

Friday, August 5, 2011



- Riverina, NSW
- $19.95
- Screwcap
- 14.5%alc

Westend's 'super premium' 3 Bridges label represents some of the smartest drinking you'll find from Australia's warm inland river regions. 3 Bridges wines are inevitably constructed with more ambition, thought and effort than one would usually associate with their region of origin. Atop the range sits Westend's Durif, a wine made from a variety well known for producing charmingly rugged wines under the hot Australian sun.

Faithful to its region yet well executed, the 2009 3 Bridges Durif presents a typically ripe nose marked by plum syrup and blackcurrant scents. However, unlike many of Australia's river precinct reds, it's valiantly lifted by a floral edge, whilst a clever touch of toasty cedar/mocha oak imparts a drier quality without consuming the fruit. Its palate does a fine job of delivering dark, inky flavours backed by a mouth-filling yet controlled coverage of dry and sandy durif tannins, but regrettably, it just seems to lack richness and weight through the mid-palate. If that hole had been filled, this would've been quite the wine, because although its length of fruit does pull up a fraction short, it still finishes with rustic meaty aspects, structure and grit, like a true warm climate Australian durif should.

O As is, Westend's 2009 3 Bridges Durif is a more than competent red perfectly set for hearty red meat dishes, but were it not for a solitary flaw, it would've really launched some fireworks. Amazingly, at the end of it all, it actually presents like a more decorated wine than it is. Drink to 2017.
89 points

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


- Riverina, NSW
- $26-$35 (375ml)
- Screwcap
- 10.0%alc

Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, but it seems to be taking an age for the 2008 vintage of Australia's premier dessert wine to reach Adelaide's retail shelves. Having said that, I thought I'd return to the excellent 2007 release, a wine which I recall first drinking almost 2 years ago.

With a little more bottle age under its belt now, the 2007 Noble One presents a lovely, big and bountiful nose, which opens up layers of aromatic bliss like an unfolding spring flower. A rich symposium of fresh nectarine, dried apricot and pineapple scents reside within, with additional fragrant complexity supplied by further suggestions of raisins, burnt butter, toffee and lemon zest. Stylistically, its scent is right on the money for the label, and so is its taste. Characterised primarily by its smoothness but also by its sheer volume, the palate is at once concentrated, sticky and silky, as its perfectly precise and bright blend of stonefruit and honey flavours are pushed seamlessly down the palate by its honeyed goodness, which accentuates itself with progression, issuing a wonderfully sticky hold alongside a persisting note of brulee to finish. Of course, the essential balancing act of length and refreshing acidity is present, making this one impressive, excessive Australian dessert wine.

ü+ Nearly 2 years on from my first encounter with it and the 2007 Noble One is really starting to hit its straps. It's not exactly a surprising wine, but it's always good to know De Bortoli is still nailing a style they first nailed 25 vintages previous. Drink to 2015.
94 points


Honey and vanilla panna cotta with a simple toffee decorative

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


- Yarra Valley, VIC
- $25-$39
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

I think it'd be fair to say Australia's most interesting and progressive pinot noir comes from smaller makers, but there remains a couple of brands from within the corporate groups, most notably Accolade's Bay of Fires and Treasury Wine Estate's Coldstream Hills, who do an outstanding job of representing the other side. As little as 5 years ago I would've said Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir shone like a beacon within its marketplace, but these days, $20-$30 Australian pinot noir is an increasingly competitive crowd.

Very pretty and openly aromatic, with floral, peppery scents adorning aromas of dark cherries and plums, continental meats and spicy vanilla/cedar oak, Coldstream Hills' 2010 paints a picture of a perfumed, spicy and delightful little pinot noir, constructed beautifully within its maker's intentions. Its palate however, just seems to let the nose down initially, especially if you're an impatient drinker. At first, its dark and savoury suggestions of exotic meats and spice lack mid-palate stuffing and textural excitement, but with patience (3+ hours decanting) the wine fleshes out nicely, revealing a juicy core to connect agreeably with what is essentially a lithe, prickly outer shell of fine, crisp structure. It's quite meaty yet fresh to finish, like cabanossi pulled straight out of a fridge.

ü Practically all the elements of a good Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir are here. It just needs time, a decanter, patience, or some sort of a combination of all of the above. Drink 2012-2015.
90 points