Simple pallets, Seriously

August 2007 Archive

Friday 31st August 2007
The Pegasus 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!

Pegasus Bay 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. 90/100.

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 2007
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 tongue. 93/100.

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 time. 89/100.

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 '75-80')
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. 86-88/100.

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.
Savaterre 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 website.
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.

Castagna is a biodynamic vineyard in Beechworth that is reliant on wild-yeast fermentation, having never used cultured yeast since their first vintage in 1998.
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.

The Battely 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 2007
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. 87-88/100.
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 suppose.
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 sauce. 90/100.
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 2007
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.

Marietta Cellars 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.

Laurel Glen 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 keeper. 92-93/100.

Dutton Goldfield 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 finish. 92-93/100.

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.

Philip Togni 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 Gewurztraminer.
Lazy Creek Gewurztraminer 2005: $34-40, rich nose of lychee, good dryish feel on the palate, but flat on the back. 87/100.

David Ramey 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. 91-92/100.

Thursday 9th August 2007
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 is 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 2007
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.

Dolium 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. 90/100.

Wednesday 8th August 2007
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
AUD$102. 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 2007
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...

Wynn's Coonawarra 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.

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