Saturday April 29th
Bottles have been few and far between in the recent times. However, the
weekend rains heralded a trickle of purple grog but certainly not a signal
for the opening of floodgates.
2004 Epsilon Barossa Valley Coalsack Shiraz: Fruit for this creation
of Jaysen Collins & Dan Standish was sourced from the Southern family
vineyard who have their roots firmly in Barossan history. Aged in old french
barrels, it presents as a pure embodiment of the fruit and straight-forward
wine making style. Notes of wild strawberry and white summer flower, the 15%
alcohol is completely masked by the aromatic nature, almost akin to a
grenache style. Light-medium bodied wine has clear raspberry flavours with
subtle tannins mingled inbetween the simple chewiness. For $22-4, a very
nice drink! 92/100
Monday April 9th 2007: I wouldn't drink that (Part 4) - David Franz & Dave
Upon Jason's call,
and after a lunchbreak at Thorne-Clarke, we called upon the small 1-man
operation of David Franz (Peter Lehmann's son, and David's old school chum).
David has his air-conditioned shed right next to his home somewhere between
Veritas and Langmeil, and is thoroughly involved in churning out ~1500 cases
each year. Most of the grapes come from surrounding vineyards, with some
grenache from Schwarz. Accompanied by Westy, Georgie and
sunnies-chewing Frank, David was in the midst of his daily flushes through
of some Cab crushes as we pulled up. The juice is sucked from the bottom,
through a -10 chiller, and evenly sprayed over the top layers of fruit. No
guesses whose fault it is if this year's stuff doesn't come out as clean as
David produces 4
wines, but the majority is destined for the foreign market. We opened with
the 2004 Rose while we were dirtying out hands helping out with the flush
throughs. This is not your usual light-styled rose (good to compare this
with the Epsilon Rose) and is not a simple drink. Building on a balanced
structure are layer upon layer of different amoras and flavours, finishing
with a semi-dryish aftertaste. And no wonder, as David tells us that this
blend originates from a parcel that used to be a nursery block, hence the
multiple varietals. The almost exact full list of what goes into the bottle
is hand printed onto the bottle for those who have the fortune of checking
this unique beauty out. Very nice, eye opening style. Retails for $21, 92+.
Next came three
reds, and note that these will be/are the latest releases despite being 01s
as they are left in bottle for a period before hitting the shelves for $42.
(Notes are as scant as you see them here, we were having too much fun
chatting and pushing vats around)
2001 Cab Sauv/Shiraz: Slight herbiness of CS, melds very well with the
flavours of shiraz. medium bodied wine.
2001 Benjamin shiraz:
2002 shiraz: medium bodied shiraz.
There is also a 50 yr old tawny port (base material from Peter Lehmann's and
is topped up every 3 years or so) Rich raisiny nose, spicey feel on the
mouth. But I feel it abit lacking on the finish, 88-89.
From one Dave to
another, our final destination was to me, the best looking cellar door in
the Barossa (and arguably the best top-end wines), Torbreck. No
introductions needed, Scott was at the counter, Dave at the window, let's
get into the wines!
2006 Viognier (new
release): 100% viognier, very close to a true condrieu style, good pallet,
strong but not excessively overwhelming. Chinese black chicken soup. Good
nose. Velvety texture. $48.50, 89-90.
2006 Saignee: 100% mataro, spent 9 months in old french oak. Light rusty red
colour, rubbery nose? Savoury red fruit. Good and warm aftertaste but abit
hollow? $23.50, 89.
2006 Juveniles: 60% grenache, 20% shiraz, 20% mataro: unwooded, hence the
chewy tannins, great for this light rhone style. $25, 92+.
2004 Steading: same % constituents as the Juveniles, but spends 24mths in
6-8 year old barrels. Good balance, across mid-back palate, more supple and
textured than Juveniles. Tannin levels very well blanced. $37.50, 92+.
2006 Woodcutters: 100% shiraz, just bottled, tight tannic structure. Good
nose, subtle aftertaste. $18.50, 90.
2005 Struie: 100% shiraz sourced from the Barossa and 30% Eden Valley. Great
structure and good firm tannins! $48.50, 94.
2005 The Gask (new release): 100% shiraz from a single Eden Valley vineyard,
typical of a cool climate shiraz, spicey, a savoury nose, fresh mouthful of
fruit and reminiscent of a little bit of cab sauv. Firm tannins, great
length. $75, 94-96.
2004 The Celts: 100% shiraz, sees 2 years of new oak. Good balance of
tannins and alcohol, nice nose of fruits, plum, not entirely overpowering.
Finish ~20-30sec. Excellent. Better than previous vintage. Cellar door-only,
2004 Factor: bit more tannic than previous years which is expected for a new
release. Elegant, fine feel to the palate, taste-wise almost as good as the
2002. $125, 94-96.
2005 Descendant: great fragrence, tight tannic structure, not fully
integrated yet? $125, 94-96.
2004 RunRig: the 5% viognier show off abit too much for me, besides that,
all else is normal for this most perfect drink, the usual good feel it
brings to me as it's flavours consume my mouth, and leaves me amazed during
the 30-40sec aftertaste. $225, 97.
2004 Pict: 100% mataro in 2years new french oak. Rhone flavours, slight
gamey notes. tobacco (light) taste, tannins slightly higher? light to medium
bodied wine. Good overall balance but lacks a solid palate in my mind.
about RP and the 'new' guy Jay Miller (my idol for his indulgences in foie
gras), they'll be down for tastings in June. Last year, Dave flew into DC
the day before the tasting with RP (held at his favourite restaurant - the
one with soft shell crabs) over ~1hr, which is followed by a 3hr lunch.
Wines are double decanted as well as straight out of the bottle.
Monday April 9th 2007: I wouldn't drink that (Part 3) - Jason Schwarz
(Schwarz Wine Co.)
(Portions of the
following have been snipped, refer to link to
3 for the full text)
2006 Thiele Rd
Grenache Ė Aromatic! Bit tight and acidic presently, but will be good! 94+
2006 [destination unknown] Cabernet Sauvignon Ė slight herbiness, good
2006 [destination unknown] Mouverde Ė exotic flavours, would be interesting
if this was blended with the cab sauv.
from Schiller block Ė good stuff, acidity slight high at the moment hence
the more robust flavours across the palate.
2006 Nitchke Block Shiraz Ė tannic, fresh structure
Blend of 3 blocks of
shiraz [destination unknown] Ė most exciting shiraz
of the day! Fruity, straight down the palate, lovely! Would like to see this
bottled on its own. 95+
2007 grenache Ė raw and bland.. not a fantastic year.
Nitchke Block Shiraz
2007 cabernet sauvignon Ė tight, more greenish than the 06.
Saturday April 7th 2007:
I wouldnít drink that (Part 2)
- Damien Tscharke & Domenic Torzi
(Portions of the
following have been snipped, refer to link to
Part 2 for the full text)
lunch in Tanunda and a quick stopover at Langmeil,
we were due at Damien Tscharkeís tin shack which, oddly enough, I was
actually driving past when I first called Damien last september. I had no
idea that the non-descript aluminium building was the non-existent cellar
door before the Two Hands turn-off that I had been looking out for or the
fruitcake liquidator workshop as Iím inclined to call it from now on because
of my opinion that the Glaymond Landlace is masticated fruitcake in a
bottle. Also previously, I didnít know that he was THE Damien of Damien
Tscharke since last names werenít all that important back then and I was
only searching him out due to my curiosity and interest in the Glaymond
line; but I know better now. So obviously, as if the name wasnít a dead
giveaway already, the Tscharke line originates from the same whiz and is
worked for varietals not commonly associated with the Barossa, such as
Albarino, Zinfandal and Montepulciano. Damienís work area is an impressive
area resembling a storage facility, with the main processing space in the
front half, and the barrels and tanks behind. No time wasting here! It was
straight to the back for some barrel tastings.
2005?6 Cab Sauv (is this going towards the As If?) Dark purple colour, with
rich aromas and layers of flavours buried which I have no doubt will be
shaken out of their shackles with age. Clean presence in the mouth with a
neat structure of silky tannins, balanced acidity and alcohol. 92/100
2005 Distinction Reserve Shiraz Ė Only 2 weeks in the bottle and at a
staggering 16.8%? alcohol, itís amazing how sheer opulence can be
amalgamated into a perfumed silky stocking of elegance, and held together in
a body as tight as shiraz as has been achieved in this 2005 shiraz. Dark
dense purple colour with a red edge, thereís a subtle mesh of blueberry,
spicy chocolate roast. Silky texture, with compact tannins leaves the mouth
bursting with flavours, concentrating on the front and mid palate, finishing
with an aftertaste that goes for 20secs. This is the one to prove all who
hold the stereotypic impression that barossan shirazes are ungainly
lumbering alcoholic giants. Damien envisages this wine to be the epitome of
all he has produced so far and as close as possible to the perfect wine in
his mind. Heíll also be having 12 of these stashed in his personal museum
collection to show his son what a perfect drink is. Hence, itís a downright
shame that most of this is bound for the foreign market. I donít know what
this is retailing for, but heck, when he thinks itís that good, Iím having
me a dozen out the backdoor! 97+/100
VP 2007 Made from the nacional variety that goes into official Portugal
ports and still in the metal vats after having just been brandy-fied, the
2007 VP will spend 5 years before seeing the light of day. Damien has the
view that 2-3 years is simply too short a time for vintage ports to be
bottle and that the extended period of time this spends sitting, even in
bottle, will only serve to enhance its characteristics. I was amazed at how
pleasantly drinkable this infant is! Only 2 weeks old and still existing as
a dark purple tarry broth, perfumed aromas wafted from the glass accompanied
by a strong balanced see-saw of brooding flavours. 94-96/100
is a personable, stocky guy with Italian blood, and my first
experience with him was nothing but positive when he offered to send me two
bottles of the 03 and 04 Frost Dodger Shiraz following a less than
flattering personal opinion of an 03. I thought Iíd mention that he posts
every now and then on a local South Australian wine forum in case anyone
would like to communicate with him.
Domenic dabbles with the Torzi Matthews, Old Plains and Longhops lines,
some/all of which are available for tasting at the valleytastings? outlet in
Angaston. In addition, he also does three levels of olive oils Ė green and
young (fresh peppery flavours), older olives with a bit more roundedness to
the mouth and a batch made from 180 year old trees (I have yet to taste
this, but itís one to get surely!). We were asked if we had drank through the Longhop
line and after I replied that I was familiar with the Frost Dodger stuff,
Domenic very kindly offered us three bottles: the Longhop Old Vine Reserve,
Longhop Grenache Reserve and the Old Plains Power of One to have over
Saturday April 7th 2007:
I wouldnít drink that (Part 1) - Schild Estate &
(Portions of the
following have been snipped, refer to link to
Part 1 for the full text)
Estate in a corner of Lyndock opens early, and thatís where we stopped first
since Rockford and Glaetzer were closed (the latter is only because theyíre
completely sold out at the moment, is Ben even in town now?). Schild Estate
has ample parking space, a trellised frontage and a modernesque cellar door
with merchandise in a corner. The 2006 Frontignac was lean and stingy with
its ripe pear and floral smells 89/100. The 2006 GMS was fragrant, with a
nose of carpeted red berries trailing into a light and peppery aftertaste
89/100. The 2005 merlot was interesting with silky tannins and mulberries
91/100, but the 03 Cab Sauv was too herby for my liking with a distinct
aroma of tomato and sweet capsicum 88/100. The 2005 Shiraz was too weak,
maybe the weakest character of any 05 shirazes Iíve had so far 86/100, and
the 2005 Ben Schild reserve had too much fruitiness to it, making it too
sweet and forthcoming, hence masking any undertones or tannins that might
have been there NR. Still, their range goes from $14 - $35, so I suppose for
a casual drink, I can see people picking up some of their stuff. Iím in no
Needing an immediate, severe pick-me-up, I dialed up Dan Standish who
promptly crushed my world by forgetting about our appointment. Geez man!
Youíve got to make it up to me by allocating a case each of the upcoming
Shiraz and Relic. But Dan was nice enough to get us in touch with Jaysen
Collins who is his partner in crime at Massena, so we were off down a bumpy
dirt trail onto an ex-Torbreck facility (05 Factor barrels still on-site).
There arenít any vineyards around the property, just brownish grass plains
and the occasional wandering flock of sheep. Jaysen holds a great cheery
smile under the what-was-once-white cap and he walked us through the open
vats sitting next to their basket presses, which we peered into, and were
excited to see actual grapes and not just a swarm of bees and flies. Jaysen
pointed out that they pick on ripeness and not on baume, which essentially
meant that their fruit were on vines for longer than the bigger companies
which panicked and started harvest 3-4 weeks earlier. Theyíre developing the
two-room stone building into a cellar door (Iím sure the only decent bit of
furniture in the form of a round wood table will feature prominently) and
certainly look forward to revisiting when itís completed later this year.
Jaysen and Dan muck their fingers in Massena and the lower-priced Epsilon
line without too much handholding or double dipping since each is confident
enough of the othersí unquestionable ability and sense of direction.
We had a pour of the 2007 Viognier from Adelaide Hills which was my first
experience with fresh pressed juice. It had a cloudy, murky appearance,
looking remarkably like that bottle of fresh apple juice that you forgot on
the balcony after a week of hot sun. But this was fantastic stuff! The juice
was really sweet (unadulterated grape juice), crisp, fresh and very
aromatic. 92/100 We then tried some Greenock Viognier which had just gone
through a chiller. Very nice too, and had a cleaner look since it had been
given some extra time to settle down. We then had some 2007 shiraz out of
the chillers which takes them to about 0ļC; pretty raw stuff (remember that
milk glass that you didnít wash?) but an undeniable structure and flavours
were starting to build up.
On to the barrels for some of the 2006 fruit that would go into the Massena
lines. The Kalleske Grenache was a beauty, firm structure to go along with
solid tannins and acidity. Jaysen reached into a vat containing a very
interesting durif/viognier blend - in my opinion, an experiment certainly
worth giving a go. I think shiraz/viognier blends are being done to death,
but durif is an alternative that imparts the big tannins and dryness so if
you have a strong fruity viognier (or using a higher percentage in the
blend), it could definitely work together. Iím definitely in it for some of
this once it hits the shelves. (90-92)/100
Went back into the stone cottage for some Massena 2005 The Eleventh Hour
and Epsilon 2006 Rose. The
Massena 11th Hour had a blood red crimson hue and
exuded notes of earthy raspberry. It had a silky texture with broad sweeping
flavours, and the residue made me salivate as the secondary flavours of
roasted chocolate started kicking in. 94-96/100
The Epsilon Rose is made in a bigger style than the usual summer roses.
Lots of fruity flavours with a firm dry aftertaste, and the current winter
sunshine would be the perfect backdrop for busting a bottle of this!
Making space in the
cellar (Part 2)
A lot of sediment in the bottle. Dark raspberry concentrate colour, nose
of vanillin oak and spice with abit of alcohol burn. Velvety texture,
lean structure with tannins concentrated tot hemiddle back of the
palate. Bit of spicey tinge on tip of tongue. Aftertaste lacking
somewhat, hollow taste of the end. Lacks character. 88/100
there's nothing noteworthy left.
5th April 2007 aka
making space in the cellar
Not much of a start to April, but two bottles to
start of a weekend of grape juicing down in SA. I'll be going through the
Barossa and McLaren Vale, visiting various vineyards and winemakers.
The Kay Bros Hillside is the second tier shiraz to the Block 6. The 2003
exudes notes of toasty american oak. Slightly on the stronger side of
medium bodied, with 15% alcohol, it has a good structure with no nasty
tannins and is a chewy drink. 92/100
The 2004 Turkey Flat Shiraz is a sweet new car in a bottle! Notes of
sweet blackberries slip from the glass with a distinct smell of leather.
Full-bodied, it has a robust character with silky tannins and a good
lengthed aftertaste. 94/100