Simple palates, Seriously

February 2009 Archive

22nd February 2009: Casual Italians
A great accompaniment to our bbq'd chops and lamb rosemary sausages on a warm summer's day by the lake, causal Italians are the drink of choice at a time of faltering sales of big price-tagged wines mirroring the growth charts of the world economies.  Even attempts at moderately discounting pre-arrivals haven't swayed the average wine consumer and Australian merchants should be sweating the difficult times ahead with yet another drought-affected vintage in Victoria and South Australia (where January rainfall was 0.4mm!).

Pasquale Pelissero is a boutique operation located in Neive, Barbaresco and produces ~1200 cases off 4 hectares of vineyard. From it's first release in 1974, this family owned winery has passed from father to daughter and persists in its organic philosophy while maintaining an ever increasing quality slope in their wines.

Pasquale Pelissero Dolcetto d'Alba Crosa 2007
$20. Fruity aromas, primarily dark cherry with a touch of spice, rich red fruit flavours on the pallet backed by ripe tannins. There is a moderate level of acidity in this one, offering it a 'crisp' edge and the fruit flavours manage to keep it together going into the finish. Best served slightly chilled. 88/100. Tasted Feb 2009.

Pasquale Pelissero Barbaresco Bricco San Giuliano 2005
$50. This is a simple, straight-forward drink with sweet, red cherry perfume tagging onto a similarly vibrant red fruit core. There is good balance of the rich fruit with dry and smoky tannins. This is certainly one to cellar, but I'm not sure when it will reveal it's true self; more importantly, how much fruit will be left by then? Let's give it 5 years. 91/100. Tasted Feb 2009.

Pico Maccario is located in Mombaruzzo, Piedmont and the Rose Shield is held aloft by by brothers Pico and Vitaliana Maccario who inherited a healthy 70 hectares of vineyard from their grandfather. Pico oversees the winemaking duties while also dedicated to the modernisation of the operation, continual expansion and the study of new and old clones. This is the largest sole ownership in the region and boasts 55 hectares of Barbera.

Maccario 'Lavignone' Barbera d'Asti 2006
$30. From 5-year old vines, this light and simple drink has a nose of Japanese cherry blossom tea, with clean, pure fruit flavours packed into a medium-bodied texture. A decent level of acidity holds it together, there are no layers to wrap yourself into. What you taste is what you get. 88/100. Tasted Feb 2009.

Maccario 'Tre Roveri' Barbera d'Asti 2004
$40. From 60-year old vines and aged for 12months in French oak barrels of varying size. This is on a completely different level to the Lavignone. There is an added dimension, aromas of dark red fruit, rose talc powder, cherry oak-like liquor. Quite high in acidity which holds the pure fruit flavours together without the tannins taking off any shine on the finish. Very good quality for this price, nice with grilled herb chicken. 91-92/100. Tasted Feb 2009.

23rd February 2009: Southern Egyptians, Pyramid Valley (New Zealand)
European summer sun-baked Americans slashing through acres of Marlborough vineyards and producing articulate wines showcasing the concept of terroir. Mike Weersing has even thrown up a challenge to the fuller-styled Hunters by offering a lovely single-block Semillon dripping in style and personality. An establishment that has earned praise from Jancis Robinson MW and Matt Kramer (WS), this is certainly one to keep on eye on, although at their current price tags, more value can be sought elsewhere.

Pyramid Valley Kerner Pinot Blanc 2007, Marlborough NZ
$45-55. Cropped at 3.8 tonnes/acre, this 550 case production is from a small site in the Waihopai Valley. Hand-picked and whole bunch pressed, this underwent fermentation by indigenous yeasts for 13months in old French barriques and puncheons. Pale gold in colour, nose of candied orange, clove and baked apricot with a touch of burn. Rich fruit, fleshy and rounded on the tongue to finish, an off-dry wine. Nice. 89/100.

Pyramid Valley Hille Semillon 2007, Marlborough NZ
$45-55. 450 cases produced. From the stony soils of the Brancott Valley, this was cropped to 3.2 tonnes/acre and hand-picked over 4 passes. Whole bunch pressed, 13 months of fermentation by indigenous yeasts in 50% new French oak 500 litre puncheons. 95% Semillon with 5% sauvignon blanc. Straw yellow, nose of fresh herbs, chervil, fennel, preserved lemon. Persistent flavours of lemon curd. 89+/100.

Pyramid Valley Orton Gewurztraminer 2007, Hawkes Bay NZ
$50-60. 230 cases produced. 30-year old vines on a 1 acre heavy clay site yielding 3 tonnes of fruit that were sadly uprooted after this final vintage. Whole bunch pressed, 7 months of indigenous yeast fermentation in 20% new French oak. Broad, expansive notes of rose musk and cardamom, a moderate 14% alc and a touch lower in acidity renders this lean on flavours. 88/100.

Pyramid Valley Eaton Family Pinot Noir 2007, Marlborough NZ
$80-95. 850 cases produced. From the dense clay soils of the Omaka Valley, close planted on a steep North facing slope and cropped at 2.4 tonnes/acre. Hand-picked, 85% destemmed, initial 5-7 days of soak followed by 27 day cuvaison. 15 months on lees in 33% new French barriques. Light ruby colour, notes of cherry and nutmeg spice but low on fruit and light-weight tannins. 14.2% alc. The last of this label as the site has been sold off. 87/100.

Pyramid Valley Calvert Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007, Central Otago NZ
$85-100. 140 cases produced. A biodynamic site in Bannockburn sitting on schist and quartz sand that produced only 0.7 tonnes/acre due to poor weather at flowering. 85% destemmed, 5-6 days of soak and 27 cuvaison. 15 months on lees in 33% new French barriques and bottled unfined and unfiltered on the winter equinox June 2008. Darker than the Eaton PN, ruby with a shade of black with blackberry, blackcurrant and iris. Rounded fruit core in the mouth, quite layered, primarily black fruit, ripe blackcurrant and a touch of black pepper. 91-92/100.

Pyramid Valley Angel Flower Pinot Noir 2006, North Canterbury NZ
$125-150. 60 cases produced. A 1.7 acre clay-limestone, east facing site with 6-year old vines cropped at 1 tonne/acre. 100% destemmed, 20 months on lees in 33% new French barriques. An odd colour, earthy swill with a shade of ruby. Nose of red currants, musky spice, smoke and wild fur. Deep flavours of wild red fruit and toasted spice stirred into an earthy brew. Held together delicately despite the robust characteristics. Would present a decent challenge to the top 1er crus of Burgundy. 93-94/100.

Pyramid Valley Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2006, North Canterbury NZ
$125-150. 30 cases produced. 1.5 acres of 6-year old vines, north facing on denser, shallower clay-limestone soils less in clay and active lime than the Angel Flower. Made in the same way as the Angel Flower to bring out the differences of the two wines. Dark ruby colour, light touch of cherry, perfumed wood and raspberry. A red fruit core with sweet spice that persists with a touch of tannins to prop it up during the soft, lingering finish. 92/100.

Pyramid Valley Riverbrook Riesling 2007, Marlborough NZ
$40-50. 280 cases produced. Cropped at 3.5 tonnes/acre, vines planted on silt-bound gravel site were hand-picked in 2 passes to obtain fruit of different ripeness. 85% was clean, small berry, loose bunches which were fermented nearly dry. The remaining 15% was late-picked to allow the growth of noble rot. 9 months of dry fermentation and 13 months ferment for the botrytis-affected fruit. Relatively low in alcohol, 12.5% with 20g/L of residual sugar. Very faint, white gold-like colour, notes of pink guava, pineapple and a hint of oil. Light and not luscious, slightly dry and a good accompaniment to fresh figs. 88/100.

Pyramid Valley Lebecca Riesling 2007, Marlborough NZ
$40-50. 350 cases produced. Vines planted in deep, silted gravel ground in Rapaura, cropped at 3.7 tonnes/acre. Ripe clean golden fruit not affected by botrytis. Hand-picked and whole bunch pressed, with light settling. Fermentation ended at 5 months and allowed to sit on lees for a further 8 months. 11% alc with 34g/L residual sugar. Pale white gold in colour, floral notes mingled with pear, apple and waxy talc. Sweet, yet balanced with light fresh fruit flavours and a pleasing finish. 90/100.

Six Gates Majnun Shiraz 2006, Barossa

$23, 1000 cases produced. The 2006 release is a great improvement over the inaugural 2004. Fruit sourced from Patch 4 of the Six Gates vineyard underwent open ferment followed by 26 months in oak. A deep, black ruby colour, good dark spice and plum aromas with a touch of menthol. A balanced fruit load with the fruit and peppery flavours smoothening out very well, backed by robust toasty tannins. This should develop nicely over the next 3-5 years, and will be interesting to follow-up. 91/100. Tasted Oct 08.

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