Friday 31st August 2007
Bay table was where I spent most of my evening, conversing with Edward
Donaldson, who doubles as the marketing manager of the winery and son of the
owner, Prof Ivan Donaldson (retired neurologist). This New Zealand operation
is located in Waipara on the South Island, a 30min drive north from
Christchurch past Amberley. The vineyards are protected from the
pacific ocean winds by a hill range to the east, while the hot north-western
winds are kept at bay by the Southern Alps. Winemaking and viticulture
duties are taken care of by Matthew Donaldson and his wife, and the onsite
restaurant is overseen by Edward. A family-owned and operated enterprise in
all aspects of the business. Enough talk! Time to check out the wines!
Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2006: Est. retail AUD$32. The sauv blanc
was fermented in stainless steel tanks and the semillon in oak barriques
for 9 - 10 months on lees. Light in colour with a tinge of pink, notes
of lychee, passion fruit and gooseberry. Crispy fruity flavours on the
mid palate with a touch of minerality and a satisfying aftertaste.
Pegasus Bay Riesling 2006: Light hay-yellow colour. Citrus nose
of blooming orange blossom with a subtle hint of petroleum. Sweet,
simple style with a slight touch of spritz. Well structured, bone dry
style with an orangey finish, but overall a bit dull. 88/100.
Pegasus Bay Chardonnay 2006: Did not taste.
Pegasus Bay Pinot
Noir 2005: Est. retail AUD$55. Fermented in small vats before 18 months
maturation in French oak barriques. Light earthy red colour. Forward and
direct nose of velvety red fruit with a touch of spice and oak. Dry style
with velvety tannins which are very much up front at the moment but should
settle in 3-4 years. A spicy sumptuous finish. 88/100.
Pegasus Bay Cabernet Merlot 2001: Did not taste.
Pegasus Bay 'Prima Donna' Pinot Noir 2004: AUD$85-90, the top wine
that is only produced in the right years, and by selecting the best barrels
without compromising the quality of the estate pinot. Bold nose of perfumed
sugar, white pepper and salted plum. A sharp finish, should be better but I
expected more. 91/100.
Pegasus Bay 'Maestro' Merlot Malbec 2003: Produced solely in the
warmer years and only if not compromising the estate merlot cabernet. The
2003 was only the 4th time this bottling was offered and is a classic
Bordeaux blend with 20% malbec, although previous vintages have had some cab
sauv and cab franc. Spends 3 years in barrels. Carpeted nose of purple
flowers, this is a ripe and savoury wine, medium bodied, and rich in
tannins. Broad and generous aftertaste. 91/100.
Pegasus Bay 'Aria' Late Picked Riesling 2006: Est retail AUD$40. The
late harvest to bring about the heightened concentrated flavours is done
over several trips down the rows and picking bunches with some (30%)
botrytis. Made in an Auslese style, only 7.5% alcohol. Vibrant nose of
honey-suckle and melon. Light and pleasant in the mouth. Sweet, but not
overly so. Good. 88-89/100.
Pegasus Bay 'Encore' Late Harvest Reisling 2004: Est retail AUD$40.
Grapes 'suffering' from the full extent of botrytis are picked in a single
trip down through the vines, berry by berry. Comes in at 9% with the colour
of clarified light butter. Rich nose of petroleum. Very full on the mouth,
it maintains a high level of sweetness yet stays balanced with some lean
acidity. It's supposed to be made in a TBA style, but although this is good,
the German TBAs still own the world. 92-93/100.
Pegasus Bay 'Finale' Noble Chardaonnay 2004: Est retail AUD$40.
Another bottling that is vintage dependent, noble rot affected chardonnay
concentrate is barrel fermented and spends two years in aged to add that
extra element to this sweet wine. 13.0%, deep gold yellow colour, an
incredible nose of Chinese double-boiled chicken broth with hints of walnut.
The savoury and sweet flavours meld very well without being too rich. A soft
aftertaste, leaves me wondering whether I should be expecting more. 91/100.
Thursday 30th August
There was a recent wine expo organised by the Nelson and
Winestock companies to showcase some of their portfolio to general trade,
and a 2 hour session was opened to the public although some lines were
unavailable. This was put up at the Zinc at Fed Aq, at $35 a pop but you got
a Luigi Bormioli italian glass (which I found quite ordinary, honestly).
Despite my original intentions of making it through as many labels as
possible and giving the whites a fair go, my evening was protracted to five
brands, of which two don't really count as they were end-of-the-night quick
stops. It was a decent evening, with some tables attended by the winemakers
themselves, and even though I sampled less than a tenth of what was on
offer, I made my stopovers and conversations count.
I picked up on the Spinifex label right away as I scanned through the index
of a booklet that accompanied the glass, and made an instant bee-line to the
table. I had forgotten what releases and vintages I had previously tasted,
so it was an easy decision to get through them all. Peter Schell wasn't
there, not surprising, and the pourer was just a staff of the company.
Spinifex Lola 2006: White blend of marsanne, semillon, vermentino and
grenache gris, rich fruity nose with a touch of slight butteriness. Clean
and fresh citrus flavours with no lazy edge to them in the style of an
exotic, italian summer countryside. The aftertaste is robust, finishing
quite heavily and lingers afterwards. 88/100.
Spinifex Rose 2006: Blend of grenache 56%, cinsault 36%, mataro 6%
and shiraz 6%. Dirty ferrous, light red colour matched appropriately with a
light nose of red currants. Fruity flavours and a light finish. 87/100.
Spinifex Papillon 2006: Red blend of grenache 46%, cinsault 28% and
carignan 26% produces a wine of ribena colour together with sweet, fresh
aromas of ripening black currants. The tannins are soft, and hold up very
nicely with the simple flavours of black and red currants. And the finish is
satisfying too. 90-91/100.
Spinifex Esprit 2005: Red blend, primarily grenache. Similar colour
to the Papillon but with a richer nose of red currants and mulberries.
Flavours of spicy sweet fruit which are overall more intense than the
Papillon. Once again, this well-structured drink holds the soft tannins in
balance with the fruit. 92/100.
Spinifex Indigene 2005: 55% mataro and 45% shiraz. Dark ruby/crimson
colour. Shy perfumed nose of red fruit, hint of vanillin oak and a dash of
white pepper. This medium-bodied wine bring a rich flavour onto the palate
and finishes with a wonderful aftertaste that pleasantly lingers on the
Sunday 26th August 2007
No brand has quite riled the quills of the above-average
Australian wine consumer whilst stirring the wallets of the American wine
community like Mollydooker. Sparky and Sarah
Marquis (yes, them of Marquis-Philips but I wouldn't mention that name
straight in their faces) have recently released their second vintage onto
the Australian market after opening up in the US first where 90% of their
product gets exported to. Their first vintage got the best coverage any
fledgling label could dream of, with the Carnival of Love scoring 99pts from
Robert Parker. For the 2006 vintage, they have maintained the entry levels
at AUD$23-5, introduced some mid-level wines and topped it all off with a
triple-digit costing wine. Admittedly, it took me a very long time to come
to terms with their 2005 wines. Firstly, the unrefined brutishness of their
wines is a big issue to overcome for any wine drinker, with all starting out
as sweet, dense jam stews before slowly opening up over several hours to
days. Hence the 'need' or suggested 'Mollydooker shake' which you can read
about on their
website. Secondly, if you thought the
typical New World/Australia Red/Barossa Reds were over the top 'big' wines,
well let me tell ya something, these Mollydookers take you to a whole
different universe of over-the-top.. it's almost like crossing the entire
Himalayan range on the back of a camel. Reality quickly slaps you in the
face and you wonder to yourself, how on earth did I talk myself into this?
Having experienced the 2005s, my approach to the 2006s was to give each the
recommended shake-treatment and taste over two days. I bought the bottles
from Nick's on High St, Armadale.
Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz 2006: $25, grapes sourced from
McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and Padthaway. Blackish purple in colour,
this packs 16.0% alcohol which is masked by an exotic and rich aroma of
dark black fruit. Smooth into the mouth, it's got a very dense flavour
of sweet spice and plummy fruitcake. The downside is that the aftertaste
is very blunt, disappearing rather quickly. Again, there was no overt
heat from the alcohol, and overall the 2005 was more impressionable.
Incidentally, because it's such a brute, I found it better to drink from
a broad-rimmed glass like the Reidel Cab/Merlot glasses.
Day 2: Tame light nose of violets and blackberries, but the
alcohol is starting to stand out front and centre. Hints of liquorice
amongst the plum flavours and maybe a touch of rose syrup right at the
end of it all. The aftertaste is still disappointing, lacking the oomph
that I was so looking forward to. Stick to the 2005, but I do have one
bottle put aside for the distant future as I think this should keep very
well and would be a very interesting project to revisit in 7-8 years
Mollydooker Scooter Merlot 2006: $25, grapes from Padthaway and
McLaren Vale. Straight off, this purplish-red drink which bags 15.5%
alcohol is very unfriendly, nothing on the nose but harsh alcohol
vapours. Another fruity broth, but dominated by alcohol heat. The good
thing? This isn't heat-affected cask wine. (At this point, I had
scribbled '80?' into my notes)
Day 2: Wow?! What a massive difference 24 hours has made. Clean
lovely nose of blueberries and dark cherries. The alcohol has managed to
dissipate. Silky smooth into the mouth, there is a sharp bite on the
front with plummy flavours, finished with an oaky touch. Elegant with a
weighty finish. 87-88/100.
Mollydooker Maitre D Cabernet Sauvignon 2006: $25, a mix from
Padthaway and Langhorne Creek. Savoury nose with wafts of harsh and
unfriendly alcohol. A strong liquorice flavour doesn't cover up the
strong alcohol heat that lingers. Nothing much here. (Notes scribbled
Day 2: Wow! Bursting with lush aromas of violets and plum. What a
great transformation from the day before! Silky smooth into the mouth,
good spicy plum flavours with the aftertaste lingering on the back
palate. However, still a slight touch of heat on the finish. 88/100.
Mollydooker Two Left Feet 2006: $25. A 16.0% blend of
shiraz(68%), Merlot(17%) and Cabernet Sauvignon(15%) from McLaren Vale,
Padthaway and Langhorne Creek. Did not taste on the first day. Day 2:
Such a dark drink, with notes of vanillin oak and a touch of dark
berries. Quite big in flavour, but again it doesn't seem to have it's
own personality and is quite uniform with the rest of the wines. There
is still a big issue of alcohol heat which refuses to blow away.
Mollydooker Blue Eye Boy Shiraz 2006: $50, Named after the
Marquis' son, Luke, shiraz is sourced from Padthaway, Langhorne Creek
and McLaren Vale. Did not taste on the first day. Day 2: Ouch!
All this alcohol is really starting to get on my nerves and putting me
off! It's burns your nose and engulfs the mouth, masking almost all the
flavours. I then let the wine sit in the glass for 30mins, blew into the
glass to expel the residual alcohol and managed to get a whiff of
toastiness, raspberry liquorice and a tail of rice broth. But that's
simply too much work for a drink of this price. 82-84/100.
Overall, I feel that
the 2006 Mollydookers were a waste of my money, and the unfinished bottles
will turn into rather expensive vinegar which I'm not even considering as
cooking material. Having said that, I will be keeping a bottle of The Boxer
just because I'm curious as to how it will turn out after extended
cellaring. I will maintain some optimism about the quality of the Enchanted
Path and Carnival of Love and hope to try them soon but will have to think
hard about purchasing the Velvet Glove (retails at AUD$175 from memory).
Saturday 25th August 2007
I'm writing up the 2006 Mollydookers and will cover the
Melbourne Coonawarra Roadshow soon. In the meanwhile, just a couple of
Savaterre's to get through. Nothing particularly outstanding but here goes
for what it's worth...
Savaterre Chardonnay 2005:
$65-75, Milder than the Giaconda Nantua chardonnay. Weak hint of butter on
the nose with an orange cake finish. Nice, worth a follow-up in just under a
decade's time. 89/100.
Pinot Noir 2005:
$65-75, notes of clear sweet red berries. Tannins linger on the palate and
there's a bit of fruit in there somewhere. Honestly, for the 2005 pinot
vintage, you're just better off buying entry level burgs. 87-88/100.
Wednesday 22nd August 2007
The vines of Giaconda live in a
cooler Victorian environment than their Northern counterparts in Heathcote
and Grampians. Detailed information about the vineyards, soil composition
and fermentation methods can be found on the
Giaconda Nantua 'Les Deux' 2006: $42-50. Consistently ranked amongst
the top aussie Chardonnays, the Nantua Les Deux is a blend of 93% chardonnay
and 7% roussanne from the Nantua and Warner vineyards. Barrel fermented in
30% new French oak. The blend proportions have changed from previous
vintages (starting in 2000, used to stand at 85/15%). Light off-yellow in
colour, this has a nice nose of buttery sweet fruits. The structure of this
wine is reminiscent of Old World Burgundian chardonnays as it's a mild,
softer drink with a lemony taste. The aftertaste is pleasant, and the crisp
acidity so typical of WA chardonnays is missing. 90-91/100.
Giaconda McLay Road Shiraz 2006: $34-40. Fashioned by winemaker Rick
Kinzbrunner in the style of Cotes du Rhone, Crozes Hermitage, so one should
expect a young and fresh flavoured wine. Exotic nose of sweet spices, plum
and mulberries. The palate is very pleasant, exuding ripe primary fruity
flavours with a touch of sweetness. The finish is long and satisfying, with
no overt unripe tannins coming through; however, despite all that going on,
I somehow feel that this lacks some element of depth. 91/100.
is a biodynamic vineyard in Beechworth that is reliant on wild-yeast
fermentation, having never used cultured yeast since their first vintage in
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2004: $75-90. Julian Castagna has managed to
create a explosive wine that doesn't destroy your tastebuds and throat.
Aromas of savoury violets with a dash of white pepper complement flavours of
blackberries and cedary oak. An aftertaste that goes on for quite sometime
without the alcohol heat but with a balanced touch of tannins. That said,
I'm not sure the price is the best reflection of the quality of drink you're
getting in the bottle. 90/100.
shiraz is one that comes up again and again in annual shiraz-offs. And no
wonder too! This is one line that has consistently delivered at multiple
levels. Fermentation is individually conducted in 1 tonne fermenters and the
4% viognier is co-fermented. The juice spends 21 days on skins before a
basket press, then into French barrels (25% new, various coopers) for 18
months. Bottles are left for 8 months before release, allowing the wine to
come together and show off better right from the start. You can get more
information off the Battely website.
Battely Syrah 2005: $60-70. Lovely nose, picked up primary notes of
aniseed and raspberries. Clean palate of ripe dark fruits balanced with soft
persistent tannins. The aftertaste is good, but overall this doesn't make
too much of an impression on me and doesn't warrant the price tag. I think
the 2004 is a better buy. 89/90/100.
Tuesday 21st August
Some notes from a couple of weeks ago, Stephen Pannell was in
Melbourne pouring his latest releases at PWS. I think it's a great effort on
the part of the winemaker/s to make themselves available for a chat about
their wines, it's not only good PR but an excellent opportunity for the
individual to learn more about the grapes, the particular chosen style of
wine making, the philosophy that goes behind the label and create the
rapport with the maker of a product that you enjoy on a personal level. I've
had the experience of drinking the 2004 SC Pannell shiraz and quite liked
it. An attempt to visit the SC Pannell operation in McLaren Vale over Easter
wasn't possible due to the hectic vintage schedules, but it looks like I'll
be dropping by really soon! But first, let's check out these new wines...
SC Pannell Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2007: $23.50-28. Strangely
coloured, very light in colour, more like tapwater with a yellowish tinge to
it. Lovely clear nose of white stone fruit, light on the palate with a crisp
acidic backbone. Flavoursome and good. 88/100.
SC Pannell Grenache Rose 2007: $20-24. It's not very often that you
see a rose from SA, let alone a grenache rose! This wine really stems from
Stephen's self-professed love for grenache. Medium-reddish colour with
almost a touch of deeper hue, this rose isn't just watered-down red wine.
Packs a good fruity flavour and finishes with some weight on the palate.
SC Pannell Pronto 2006: $23.50-28. This bottle was not on tasting on
the day. Notes read '95% grenache, remaining 5% of touriga and shiraz.' and
unwooded too! I'd be very interested to get my hands on a bottle of this.
SC Pannell Shiraz Grenache 2005: $45-55. Shiraz sourced from 45-year
old vines and grenache from 80-year old vines, the wine is fermented in
French oak resulting in a wonder drop that provides an education in the
strength of old vine grenache. Lovely nose of blackberries and sweet spices,
this well-constructed full-bodied drink boasts a seamless blending of the
strength of shiraz with the elegance of old grenache juice. 94/100
SC Pannell Nebbiolo 2005: $45-55. Dark ruby red colour, strong nose of
cherries that's reminiscent of some of the great Piedmont wines.
Medium-bodied wine with the tannins front and present, but they are soft and
not overpoweringly dry and sappy on the mouth. This can be cellared for a
long, long time; might be worth giving it go too! 90/100.
SC Pannell Shiraz 2005: $55-65. The 2005 shiraz is so restrained at
the moment. Dark red/purple colour, it's a very open wine which presents
itself in a straight, clear-cut manner with no hidden corners. The 2004 was
so much more open but the 2005 has a better overall structure and might even
hold up better than the 2004 over extended years of cellaring. 92/100.
Sunday 12th August 2007
I checked out the Wine House on Queensbridge St for the first
time yesterday since they had a grenache tasting from 2-4pm with a little
line on their website indicating '94 points plus'. There's the brasserie
next door, but wine bought from the store will still incur a corkage fee.
Bottle prices were okay, but you can definitely get better prices elsewhere.
A plus is that they have an impressive stock of back vintages, like a 1991
Wynn's Michael Estate for $90. There were 8 bottles on tasting, but I only
took notes for 3, and my scribbling elicited what I felt was an unnecessary
and unfriendly comment of 'ooo.. a note taker'.. Well, to each their own I
Clarendon Hills Old Vines Grenache Blewitt Springs Vineyard 1997:
$60-70. Dirty, earthy red colour. A very warm, almost Italianish nose of
black olives and herbs. Surely this is a food wine. Good fruity flavours
balanced with youthful tannins. Would pair nicely with fresh mint salad
topped with loads of rosemary, cherry tomato and old olive oil. 90/100.
Clarendon Hills Old Vines Grenache Kangarilla Vineyard 1998: $60-70.
The colour on this was more vibrant than the 97. Nose of beef stock, backed
by fresh, red fruit flavours. Good finish. Good with steak served with rich
Cirillo 1850's Grenache 2004: $40-50, old vines of course, as the
name would imply. I haven't heard or read anything about this vineyard
before. A quick search on google reads a 400 case production, located in
Light Pass, Barossa Valley and weighs in at 16.4% alcohol. Light red colour
with a tinge of earth. Perfumed nose of sautéed raspberries. Well-rounded
flavours with a good finish. I can fully appreciate the Old Vines in this
one, and it would seem underpriced for Australia's oldest grenache vines. I
wonder how the high alcohol % fit into this homely rustic wine making style.
I think it holds more potential than it's showing. 90-91/100.
Saturday 11th August
More New World stuff from North America today, specifically
Californian tipple. PWS had a Californian-themed day, and what else would
dribble California but Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. A brood range of
wines from Laurel Glen (Sonoma) famed for their Cabernet Sauvignons,
Marietta Cellars from Geyzerville with a value-for-money cheapie, Dutton
Goldfield (Russian River), Neal Family Vineyards (Howell Mountain in Napa),
Philip Togni's second wine from Spring Mountain, Lazy Creek Vineyards from
Mendocino County and quite a few from David Ramey of Sonoma. Not surprising
that most were >$50, with two edging past the $200 mark. And obviously, not
all were available for tasting.
is located in Geyserville in Sonoma County. Known for producing arguably the
most value for money low budget red, one can do little wrong with USD$10 per
bottle that receives nod after nod from Mr Parker himself. Run by Chris
Bilbro, this 1979 established family business also involves Chris' four
sons. With fruit sourced from old vineyards in Sonoma, Napa and Anderson
valleys, the wines are in a rustic style, so nothing classy refined but more
representative of homely style warmth.
Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot 43: $17-20, a non-vintage blend of
Zinfandel, Petit syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Gamay and others that is
released as a Lot series, described by RP as 'unquestionably one of the
finest bargains in the red wine marketplace'. Light red colour, floral
nose of redcurrants and light oak. 13.5%, light and refreshing, lots of
forward fruit backed by soft tannins. Very good drink! 89-90/100.
is headed by Patrick Campbell, and already got a mention here as I tasted
their Argentinean offerings earlier this month. This is their main
production, doing what Sonoma is good for - Cabernet Sauvignon, offered in
their only two labels, the Laurel Glen Cab Sauv and the Counterpoint Cab
Sauv. The Laurel Glen Cab Sauv (retail $80-95) is the top wine produced from
only the best grapes, and production numbers vary yearly.
Laurel Glen Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon 2003: $42-50, darkish red
colour, with notes of fleshy black currants and tobacco. 13.5%, very
satisfying palate of frank fruit that very balanced and not over whelming.
Tannin levels are clear and present, but again, not offensive. This
delicious one can easily last beyond 5 years and could be a long-term
is a 1998 joint venture of two pioneers of the American wine industry -
Steve Dutton and Dan Goldfield.
Dutton Ranch Russian River Chardonnay 2005: $55-65, this is made by
blending from over sixty separate vineyards located primarily in the Green
Valley appellation of the Russian River Valley. The Green Valley is unique
in that fog from the Pacific rolls in during the evening and recedes by the
morning, and that allows for moderate growing conditions which promote the
dark intense flavours in the fruit. Light gold colour, intense nose of rich
butter. Well-structured wine with lemony flavours balanced with good levels
of acidity. But I thought it was a tiny bit bland on the back. 91-92/100.
Dutton Range Russian River Zinfandel 2005: $42-50, nice darkish
colour, exotic nose of figs and sweet dates. 14.3%, well-rounded and full of
fruity flavours, tannins have integrated very well. Good length for a
Neal Family Vineyards
was established in 1998 by Mark Neal based on a wealth of experience
accumulated over 40 years and 600 vineyard blocks between Mark and his
father. Gove Celio is the winemaker with fruit sourced from various
sub-appellations including Rutherford, St Helena, Howell Mountain and Mt
Veeder. This organic setup (certification still in process) has fermentation
caves carved into the side of a hill along Howell Mountain. They produced a
lot of single vineyard Cab Sauvs, but of limited numbers 200-500 cases. The
only non-Cab wine is a Zinfandel (retail $40-45).
Neal Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004: $70-80, this blend
of nine vineyards weighs in at a hefty 15.8%. All nine lots of fruit were
fermented separately before blending, then matured for 22 months in French
oak (80% new) before bottling. Medium red colour, rich notes of black
currants and cedar wood. Medium bodied wine, just on the border of becoming
full throttle, good flavours of dark, spicy fruit with fine tannins. But the
finish was somehow not as satisfying as the drink was for me. 90-91/100.
receives a mention in Robert Parker's 'The World's Greatest Wine Estates'
and not surprisingly, the mailing list is almost impossible to get onto.
Applying his from Chateau Lascombes into blending Cabernet Sauvignon,
Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, Togni wines are very similar to the
Margaux products. Juice off the initial press goes towards a younger second
bottling - Tanbark Hill.
Philip Togni Tanbark Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2002: $90-110. The 2002
vintage wasn't too impressive according to Togni standards, and certains
lots were declassified and added to the Tanbark blend. This only served to
enhance the value and showiness of this wine. Dark ruby, purple colour, it
only contains 13.7% alcohol which is lower than the big Californian cabs.
Sweet nose of cedar wood, herbs and black currants. Good fruitiness
accompanied by velvety tannins. 94+/100.
Lazy Creek Vineyards
is located just outside the town of Philo in the Anderson Valley of
Mendocino County. The main crop is pinot noir, but also offer a
Lazy Creek Gewurztraminer 2005: $34-40, rich nose of lychee, good
dryish feel on the palate, but flat on the back. 87/100.
boasts credentials that include havign worked with Christian Moueix,
Dominus, and Rudd and Chalk Hill in Sonoma. This is his own operation based
in Healdsburg, and focuses on producing Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon as
a great series of single vineyard wines. His wines are currently exclusive
to PWS and retail for $70-250. Not cheap stuff indeed.
Ramey Napa Valley Claret 2004: $60-70. At 14.5%, has a nose of black
fruits, white chocolate and light green herb. Soft and round on the palate
with young tannins lingering on the finish. The optimal drinking window for
this should easily be in 5 years time, and could keep for 10 years.
Thursday 9th August
My first 2005 red burgundy!
I don't think the
2005 burgundy vintage needs anymore talking up. It would be safe to wager
that almost any bottle you picked up would be a very good drink, even at the
entry level bourgogne rouges. Prices naturally followed demand through the
roof, as astute buyers focussed on the either only top-notch labels or went
the way of bargain hunting and loaded up on lower prices bottles to last the
next 5 decades.
Domaine Gros Frères et Soeur
situated in Vosne-Romanée and is one of three domaines owned by the Gros
family who have been grape growers since 1830. The current owner is Bernard
Gros who owns land in Clos de Vougeot, Richebourg, Grands Echezeaux,
Vosne-Romanée and Hautes-Côtes de Nuits. This is one of the top growers in
all of Bourgogne making velvety smooth wines. Winemaking is clearly a family
trait as his sister, Anne Gros, also owns property and releases her own
labels which are highly regarded too.
Domaine Gros Frere et Soeur Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits 2005 is an
entry level wine, light weight at only 12.5%. Medium ruby colour with a
lighter tinge on the edges. There is so much fruit in the glass just
bursting to get out! Notes of red fruit with a dash of sweet spice, mixed
with earthy notes of fresh brown mushroom. Silky smooth into the mouth, lush
flavours of red fruit with low levels of soft tannins that leaves a warm
trailing aftertaste that's not tame and weak in anyway, but sufficient
enough for satisfaction. 90/100.
Thursday 9th August
Something different today, we're going to the opposite side
of the globe but still staying in the Southern hemisphere. When we mention
New World and Southern hemisphere, one mustn't' forget about the beautiful,
soft Argentinean Malbecs. Originally from the south western regions of
France, Malbec has found a perfect home environment in the high and dry
climates of Mendoza and now accounts for 70% of Argentina's wine production.
The most obvious appeal of Argentinean Malbec is the relatively low retail
prices. Influenced by a wealth of North American and French winemaking
styles, the quality has vastly improved over the cheap tasteless grog of
decades gone by, consistency is now predominant and there are a lot of wines
that present as excellent value for money.
Laurel Glen - Mendoza
- Grapes are sourced off 50 - 80 year old vines from 5 separate vineyards
sited at 800 - 1200 metres above sea level with the Andes ranges as a
backdrop. The winemaker is Patrick Campbell, owner and winemaker of Laurel
Glen located in the Sonoma region.
Laurel Glen Terra Rosa Malbec 2004: $21-25, a blend from the Perdriel,
San Carlos, La Consulta and Tupungato vineyards. 10% old vine Tempranillo
also from San Carlos for the spicy component. Average age of vineyards is 80
years old, cropped at under 2 tonnes/acre. Beautiful earthy light red in
colour. Nice gentle nose, spicy flavours with firm tannins that aren't
overwhelming, and an aftertaste that lingers on the back palate. 91/100.
Laurel Glen Vale La Pena Malbec 2004: $42-50, a single vineyard wine,
site located at an elevation of 1050m at the foot of the Andes. The
southernmost vineyard of all Mendoza is on rocky, sparse plains with winds
sweeping in from the dry, cool Patagonian scrub bush, carrying minerals
picked up by the breeze from the Patagonian desert. Deep organic dark
colour, clean flavours of black fruit and molasses. Very well-rounded wine,
with soft tannins. It left me wanting more for a finish, but I haven't had
enough malbec to offer the best opinion on this style of wine. 90-91/100.
is one of the newer and modern setups in Argentina, and is one of the
largest exporters of wine out of the country. It's located in the Agrelo
section of Lujan de Cuyo, this multi-level winery is built almost entirely
underground! Founder Mario Giadorou who passed away in 2005 founded this
business in 1997 and it's now in the hands of his son Ricardo Giadorou who
doubles as the resident winemaker.
Dolium Malbec Reserva 2003: $42-50, bright ruby colour, sweet aromas
of mulberry, red fruits and savoury oak spice. Flavours of spice and dark
chocolate, soft tannins, good balance and an aftertaste of great length.
Wednesday 8th August
Nothing noteworthy today. Got 6 bottle from Westfield Wines (WA)
- Kosovich wines. An overdue tasting note for the 2004 Pegau.
2004 Domaine du Pegau
Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee
No Cuvee da Capo in 2004, which translates to great news for Cuvee
Reservee lovers as the high quality juice got blended into the Reservee!
Opulent dark and dense purple colour, powered by a rich nose of
liquorice, spice, kirsch liquor and savoury notes. Full bodied, loaded
with flavour and rich on the palate. BUT it's not as accessible as other
2004 CdPs at the moment as the tannins that linger with the finish are
impart a slight jarring sensation on an otherwise brilliant taste. My
guess is to lay this one down for another 3-4 years. 94-96/100.
Tuesday 7th August 2007
The second vintage of McHenry Hohnen
offers an exciting lineup of tradition and new tastes to the table. David
Hohnen is the co-founder of Margaret River's famed Cape Mentelle and has
also dabbled with the hugely successful Cloudy Bay in New Zealand. McHenry
Hohnen is a venture with his brother-in-law Murray McHenry and to keep it in
the family, his daughter Fraya Hohnen is the wine maker. An impressive 18
different varietals are grown on four separate vineyards in Witchcliff,
along a south flowing and an east flowing stretches of the Margaret River.
The range comprises of the MR-associated Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot
and Cabernet Sauvignon, but also includes Marsanne, Rousanne, Grenache,
Graciano, Mataro, Shiraz and Tempranillo. I had a chance to speak to David,
and try his wines at a recent tasting conducted at PWS.
McHenry Hohnen 3 Amigos Marsanne Chardonnay Rousanne 2005: $23-28, a
trio blend, mainly Marsanne from the McLeod Creek and Calgardup Brook
vineyards, Chardonnay from Rocky Road and Rousanne from McLeod Creek.
Similar to the wine regions on the western coast of California, these
southerly located vineyards on the southern half of the MR receive the cool
ocean winds blowing in from the Great Southern Ocean. Aromas of young green
herb and white nectarine. At 13.0%, this light - medium bodied wine has firm
acidity with lean structure, and clean flavours of lemon rind and white
peach. Flavoursome, but abit on the lighter side for me, would have liked it
more if it had more going. Dry, crisp finish of a reasonable length. 89/100.
McHenry Hohnen Calgardup Chardonnay 2006: $32-38, very interesting to
note "grapes are harvested in the cool of the night", whole berry pressings
fermented by natural yeasts, partial malolactic fermentation and aging in
mainly older barrels. 12.5%, this light wine exuded notes of sweet tomato
soup, with light apple flavours and finishing with a slight tingle. 88/100.
McHenry Hohnen 3 Amigos Shiraz Grenache Mataro 2005: $23-28, a
beautiful blend of ~46% Shiraz, 26-30% Mataro and topped up with Grenache.
14.0%, light ruby colour, a whiff brings the clear savoury smell of shiraz
and the floral notes so typical of grenache. Medium bodied, dry with fine
tannins, flavours are a bit towards the muted side for me, I was expected
more based on the intriguing nose. But a good finish. 88-89/100.
McHenry Hohnen Tiger Country Tempranillo Petit Verdot Cabernet 2005:
$25.50-30, another interesting blend on offer comprised of 50% Tempranillo
from McLeod Creek, 32% Petit Verdot and the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon
both from the southern half of the MR. Some notes from a handout, and as
mentioned before, these vineyards get the cool humid ocean winds from the
Great Southern Ocean which have "an important role for ripening in the
cooler part of autumn". Vines take root on land of granite soil with medium
to low fertility, and grown on a single bi-lateral cordon with vertically
trained canopy. Notes of dark red fruit with raspberry coming across,
medium-bodied drink comes in at 14.0% and is an interesting comparison to
the 3 amigos red blend. It's a balanced drink, very simple, certainly good
to be paired with food. Maybe a bit too much oak for it's own good contained
within, but might settle in 2-3 years? 88/100.
McHenry Hohnen Rocky Road Zinfandel 2005: $32-38, vines were grown
off the original imports that came from Lodi, California (the adopted
motherland of Zinfandel). A very difficult variety to work with, and David
deserves applause for having the guts and patience to give this one a go.
Wine growing climates would be similar to the Californian coast in some
aspects. At 14.5%, glad to see it's not in the high alcohol'ed style that
emerging in the USA. Rich, dense flavours, primary fruit showing through.
Maybe a bit of a dulled finish, with a nice tingling sensation. 88-89/100.
Saturday 4th August
I decided to take a punt on the Wynns Coonawarra Black Label
Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 after multiple sources agreed that it was great value for an
under $30 bottle. I tried searching out a 2004 as a possible side by side,
but no luck. Here goes...
Estate 'Black label' Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
$22 from Randall's. 14.5%, dark dense purple colour.
Notes of cedar wood, raw tanned leather and a touch of mint. Silky
smooth into the mouth, medium bodied with dark plum flavours with rich
cigar-like characteristics. Light feel of soft tannins. Good structure
and balance, passes the standard for this price. 89-90/100.