Simple pallets, Seriously

July 2007 Archive

Saturday 28th July 2007
James Halliday was at PWS to sign his newly released wine companion 2008 edition. Tasting list indicated 10 wines, but the 02 Grange and 05 Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay were not on tasting, and the 05 Punch Close Pinot had finished halfway through the session (only 2 bottles allocated for tasting). For the heck of it, I'll indicate JH's scores too.
Crawford River 2006 Riesling: pre-arrival price $30, wow.. an aussie riesling that I quite fancied?! Clear nose of lime with a splash of apple. Luscious flavours that are well-balanced, and not too acidic. Good finish with a touch of fizz. One of the better buys within this price range for this varietal. 90-92/100. JH - 96
Tyrrell's 2001 Vat 1 Semillon: $38-45, My notes read as 'OK. It's a drink.' I had this and the Vat47 awhile back at the Melb Good Food & Wine Show, and I guess my opinion hasn't changed since, so I don't think it's me; it's the drink. There's nothing offensive about it, but there's nothing outstanding that does it for me. 88-89/100. JH - 96
Moorooduc 2005 Wild Yeast Chardonnay: $50-60, woah! talk about a pricey chard! Nose of heated butter that's just showing a touch of brown. But I think this could do with a touch more acidity as it's rather flat on the finish and back palate. 88/100. JH - 96
Yarra Yarra 2005 Syrah Viognier: 55-65, Very nice, soft nose which clearly shows viognier integration. Good structure, but thrown off by youthful and raw tannins. 88/100. JH - 96
Hewitson 2005 Private Cellar Shiraz Mourvedre: $60-75, Nice drink, brooding nose, obvious mourvedre, good flavours and rich in finish. But for that price? can do better. 89/100. JH - 97
Balnaves 2005 The Tally: $80-95, had this at the previous tasting + had the 04 last night. Skipped it.
Morris Premium Liqueur Muscat NV: $50-60, Good as always, light nose but rich lush flavours packed into a thick syrupy texture. 96/100. JH - 97
Pick of the list: Crawford River 2006 Riesling.

It was then round the corner to Cloudwine where there was some low-cost wines on the table. Funny thing how just last week Brandon was mentioning how the Mountain Goat Old Surefoot stout gets snapped up fast by astute followers before a wave of hunters start asking for it. There was a lady enquiring about them while the last2 bottles that I bought last week were right at my feet.
Enfield 2006 Pinot Noir: $24, from the Kellybrook vineyard located in the Yarra Valley. $13.0%, nose of light cherry-flavoured cough syrup, light feel on the mouth with weak finish. Not much going on, money is better off elsewhere. 85/100.
Wignalls 2005 Pinot Noir: $32, from the Albany region, much better than the Enfield, 14.5%, good colour with firm fruity flavours. But I'm not too keen on this price tag. 88/100. JH - 94
Creed 2004 The Pretty Miss: $20, blend of shiraz, cab franc and viognier, barossa valley. Nice nose of summer white flowers, good fruity mouth, the cab franc adds an extra complexity that is welcome. According to the notes, parcels were individually fermented and oaked before blending several months prior to bottling. 89/100.
Creed 2005 Shiraz Viognier: $24, 3% viognier, open fermented, basket pressed, matured in mix of old and new french oak. Sweet confectionary smell mixed with hint of leather. Aromatic, but yet very subtle. Quite flavoursome, but tannins are a touch too much for my liking. Worth keeping over 5-7 years just to see how it develops (no qualms for this price!) 89/100.
Epsilon 2006 Shiraz: $19, made by the Massena guys, very interesting nose, almost of faint rose petals? Not bad with a dry firm tannic finish. Again, for this price, just get a couple of bottles and take your time with them. 88-89/100.
Pick of the list: Creed 2004 The Pretty Miss.

My notes were rather vague from the Northern Rhone tastings at Randall's. NOT because of the volume consumed by then (there was lots of spitting! honest!), but more coz I was scribbling whilst balancing the sheet of paper and the glass.
Albert Belle 'les terres blanches' Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 2004: $36-38, mix of marsaane rousanne, 13.0%. Nice clear colour, good structure, well balance of acidity and minerality. 88/100.
Albert Belle Hermitage Blanc 2004: $130 - $140, nice sweet smell, reminds me of morning forest. Crisp and fresh, light minerality. 91/100.
Albert Belle les Pierrelles Crozes-Hermitage Rouge 2005: $36-40, 100% shiraz, nice light nose, good fruit with youthful tannins and abit of bark towards the end? 90/100.
Albert Belle "Louis Belle" Crozes-Hermitage Rouge 2005: $45-50, 100% shiraz from older vines and exposed to a touch of  younger oak. Smooth and elegant, crystal clear red fruit. 92+/100.
Domaine Patrick Jasmin Cote Rotie 2005: $110-120, 92% shiraz, 8% viognier, from single staked vines cropped at 2tonnes/acre. Vines average 6 bunches of fruit, which are pruned by half upon varignon (changing of colour). CLASSIC Cote Rotie style, exotic spice on the nose, initially almost a touch of sweet durian? Light, vibrant with youthful tannins. Will go for 10-15 years. 93-94/100.
(Eric & Joel) Durant St-Joseph "Les Coteaux" 2005: $47-55, savoury chicken soup initially? red fruit, youthful tannins, but a touch too much right now? 89/100.
Durand Cornas "Premices" 2005: $58-68, simple, approachable wine with cherry flavours and earthy red fruit. 90/100.
Segries Clos de l'Hermitage 2005: $45-49, shiraz/mourvedre/grenache. This wine has an interesting background to it. The vineyard is on a chateau owned by former F1 racer, Jean Aloisi. Plantings are exactly 1/3 for each variety, and is leased out to Segries. Light and elegant, plenty of sweet and primary fruit showing with chewy tannins. 90/100.
Durant Super Cornas "Empreintes" (Imprint) 2005: $85-99, nose has a carpet-y velvety feel, lots of primary red fruit. 90/100.
Durand St-Joseph "Lautaret" 2005: $58-68, YOUNG YOUNG YOUNG! light bodied drink with loads of red fruit, but over-whelmed by tannins right now. Do not touch for 3-4 years. 90/100.
Domaine Belle Hermitage Rouge 2004: from the climat of "Murets" with vines dating back to the 60's. cropped at 1.8tonnes/acre, 100% shiraz, 60% new oak for about 22 months. Nose of light chicken essence with ginseng, great clear red fruit with subtle tannins. 94/100.
Vincent Paris Cornas "Granite 30" 2005: $63-68, Nice nose of liquorice and spice, rich and clear flavours of black fruit. This is great stuff! Very well-balanced drink. 92-94/100.
Vincent Paris Cornas "Granite 60" 2005: $89-96, vines at located on a steep slope called "Mazards" of only 1ha, 60 and 90 year old vines. 30% stems. 100% shiraz. More subdued than the 30, Rich, chewy tannins. Will cellar for longer than the 30. 91-92/100.
Vincent Paris Elixyrah NV: $74-88, rare botrytis shiraz at only 11%. wonderful colour, sweet primary grape flavours, very pleasant. From the 2002 vintage, picked at 29 beaume!! more like a shiraz TBA, luscious but abit too simple for the price? 95+/100.
Pick of the list: Jasmin Cote Rotie 2005.

Friday 27th July 2007
FINALLY! The long overdue Melbourne off-line for the auswine forumers was held at Abla's on Elgin St to a good turnout sans a couple of bottles (notably the lack of the anticipated Noble One to finish off the night!). Dinner was the $45 banquet which was decent considering no corkage charge. The lamb kababs was a touch salty though.. anyway, here's the list of wines (mention to MarkS for diligently keeping a record of the wines through the night. Comments are my personal take on the wines.

Savaterre Chardonnay 2004 - light, stingy nose paired with a tight lean structure. 85-6/100.

Mount Mary Triolet 1998 - Hmmm interesting... guessed Old World, clearly wrong.. minerality showing through. Would never have guessed Yarra. But doesn't rock my boat. 87/100.

Gibson Sparkling Merlot - Nice and full on the mouth, with the right touch of fizz. Would've done better colder. 88/100

Eileen Hardy Shiraz 1991 - I'm immensely grateful to Prester for his most generous contribution to the evening! Wow! A lesson in the virtues of good cellaring. Velvety nose, smooth and mellow in the mouth. Tannins and fruit have fully integrated. Probably tipping down it's peak now. Drink up. 92/100.

Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz 2004 - I didn't drink this as I've had it previously.

Springvale Pinot 2005 - very light, too primary and hasn't got much going. 84/100

Silverwood Pinot 2005 - took a punt on this, good call by Brandon. $29, from the Mornington Peninsula. This one got it on the nose, nothing too spectacular but pleasing nonetheless. Good red fruity flavours, balanced level of tannins. Won't score this one coz I brought it to the dinner. Could be priced better though.

Schwarz Thiele Rd Grenache 2005 - the second wine I brought, $29. Aromatic nose, very approachable. Clearly notes of red fruit, primary and forward. What you see is what you get.

Barossa Valley Estate E&E Shiraz 2002 - hmmm this has got an impressive nose, but lots of primary fruit flavours, maybe underextracted? Certainly has got a fair level of tannins which should integrate over the next 5 years. However,  I felt the finish was rather muted. 88-89/100.

Charles Melton Shiraz 2002 - I didn't get to try this one.

Balnaves The Tally 2004 - having tried the 05 not too long ago, the 04 was no let up. Basically most 2004 Coonawarra will be good, but this is right up amongst the best of the lot! Lovely aromatic nose that's tucked away, impressive balance of fruit and tannins. 94/100.

Penfolds St Henri 1980 - Wowzers! I don't even know where I was when this vintage was harvested! Might have been in hawaii or seaworld at the time of bottling! Cork stained halfway, flat initially, not much going on, but started to open up in the glass. No obvious fruitiness was left, only earthy organic notes. This has seen better days. 86/100.

Campbells The Barkly Durif 1998 - I'm sure I had this, but I can't remember what it was like.

Seppelt DP63 Show Muscat (375 ml) - wow.. nice. smooth. light nose but rich flavours. 92/100.

WOTN votes evenly split between the Eileen Hardy 1991 and The Tally 2004. I voted for the 91 Eileen Hardy, partly for the experience of a well-aged shiraz. Next offline has been suggested to be a Barossa vs. Rutherglen theme.

Thursday 26th July 2007
A couple of past bottles that I had a few weeks back, but hadn't gotten round to writing up. Camera and computer are having interface issues, making uploading the photos a hassled process.

Kalleske 2005 Old Vine Grenache: ~$50, limited to 2 bottles per mail order. Once again, the Kalleske guys haven't failed to impress. Handpicked fruit from a single vineyard planted down in 1935 was open fermented and gently basket-pressed followed by 2 years in seasoned oak hogsheads, giving a complex and graciously aromatic 15.5% drink. My first sniff took me back to the beautiful 2003 Johann Georg. Dark dense purple colour, sweet nose of hot white blossoms with intense dark red fruit with a dash of white pepper. An intense fruity flavour that's clean, well structured with a long aftertaste. Confidently have the other bottle in 5 years and anticipate the smile. 94/100.

Joe Czerwinski who is tasting director and senior editor with Wine Enthusiast Magazine was travelling through Melbourne and we downed some chicken satays and calamari rings with a couple of James Squires pints. Before the fat arse chook parmas at the Metropolitan Hotel, we had a Torbreck 2004 Descendent and the Ojai 1996 (below). Joe generously left a Siduri which I opened a couple of weeks later.

Ojai 1996 Syrah Bien Nacido
Blackish-purple in colour, a compact nose of cassis and bacon fat. Satisfyingly rich and opulent in the mouth, smooth flowing with no jarring edges to it. Considering it already has 11 years of age to it, it's no wonder that this is elegantly balanced and drinking very well right now. Can this go any further? I don't know.. I sense it's already peaking and now's the time to drink up! 92-93/100

The Ojai vineyard is located in Santa Barbara, CA and run by Adam Tolmach. They also release whites and pinot noir.

Siduri 2000 Pinot Noir Gary's Vineyard
Dark coloured, with notes of earthy cherry. Stocked with fruit flavours that linger in the mid-back palate. However, a blunted finish with a touch of unfavourable tannins that disrupts the smoothness one should expect in pinot noir. 88/100

Siduri is one from Diana Krall's winelist, located in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey, CA. They apparently have a broad range but with limited production.

Saturday 21st July 2007
Several interesting offerings today, PWS with a cheapy French mix followed by two good-valued reds at Cloudwine.
Monmousseau Vouvray Blanc 2005: $20, from the Loire Valley. Apple and beeswax on the nose, Rich, medium-bodied wine with an off-dry palate with citrusy pear flavours. Delicious, rich drink which would be great with fresh crisp cold prawn salad. 89/100.
Guiot Costieres de Nimes 2004: $20, a shiraz grenache blend at 13.5%, notes of dark fruit and herbs, medium-bodied joocey wine but lacks character. 86-88/100.
Domaine de la Citadelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2004: $20, made from fruit from the 'Le Castellet' portion of the vineyard, subdued blackberry, presence of oaky tannins imparts a dry-ish finish. 85-86/100.
Chateau de Cedre Cahors 'Heritage' 2005: $23-27, Malbec, notes of red fruit with a touch of eucalypt. 84-86/100.
Lillet Blanc: $30-35.  This is an aperitif from the village of Podensac which James Bond fans would be familiar with if choosing the emulate their screen hero as it's the key ingredient for the 'Vesper' featuring in Casino Royale. Made since the 19th century, standing at only 17%, this is traditionally served over ice and with a slice of orange, matching the light, smooth texture which carries a clear orange flavour.
Eric Bordelet Sydre 'Brut Tradition' NV Apple Cider: $17-20, Eric Bordelet was a sommelier at a 3 Michelin star restaurant who adopted a 'wine based approach to cider'. Notes indicate he was 'encouraged' by the famous Didier Dagueneau whom I doubt had much input into the making process. A very delicious drink at only 4%, certainly a perfect drink to start off any long evening.
Cooper Burns 2004 Shiraz, Barossa Valley: $25 at Cloudwine, Chris thinks this is similar to Rockford? Matured in French and American oak, the latter characteristics showing very clearly towards the finish. Dark fruit on the nose, medium-bodied wine with flavours of dark red berries. Spicy finish but a little short on the end. 88/100.
Galli Estate 2005 Heathcote Shiraz: est. release price up to $20, big liquorice nose straight after opening the bottle with a lot of primary fruit showing. After awhile, the liquorice has settled down and a sweet, minty blackcurrent nose appears. Good value for money, this one. 88-89/100.

Saturday 7th July 2007
Tasted some blends at PWS, advertised as 'Super premium merlot and cabernet'. There were the 2005 Craggy Range Gimblett Merlot and the Sophia, both of which I thought were displaying some imbalance of acidity and alcohol. I wouldn't be in any rush to try them, but I'd like to re-taste them in another 6 months. I haven't tasted enough NZ 05s to comment but I've heard that in general, the even years have been good to NZ wines. Tasted side-by-side were the 2005 Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot and the 2004 Moss Wood Cab Sauvignon. In reality, both are blends including malbec, cab franc and petit verdot. Having fractions of the other grapes certainly adds a distinct and enjoyable complexity to the wines compared to their earlier 'pure' releases. I enjoyed both, although I'd say the Moss Wood is more accessible now, but the Cullen intrigues me more and would develop into a better drink many years from now. No doubt the different vintage conditions had much to do with this. Would be interesting to compare the 05 Cullen with this 05 Moss Wood. The 5th wine on tasting was the 2005 Balnaves Tally which is a straight Cab Sauv and felt too bold right after the previous cab blends. But it was a good big-flavoured drink and very enjoyable.
Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Merlot 2005: $38-45, 86% merlot, 14% cabernet franc. Very pure and fragrant nose of violets, some soft oak. Harsh sharp attack of acid, velvet palate, dark berry flavours but the weight on the mouth feels a tad too light. Aftertaste fades off rather quickly. 88/100.
Craggy Range Sophia 2005: $60-70, 62% merlot, 34% cabernet franc, 4% cabernet sauvignon. Dense nose, notes of dark chocolate, but a sense that it's abit too fat. Velvet palate, oaky and dry, aftertaste is weaker than initial nose would suggest this drink to be and the overall feel of alcohol is on the high side. The 2004 was much better. 89?/100.
Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2005: $80-95, 74% cab sauv, 16% merlot, 5% malbec, 4% cab franc, 1% petit verdot. Nose of light violets, cedar, dark fruit with hints of red berries. Medium-full bodied, smooth and fresh texture with layer upon layer of fruity flavours and chalky tannins (which aren't offensive). This is the first WA wine that I've been excited about in a LONG time. Brilliant effort boasting an elegant structure with sophisticated aromatics. Certainly a keeper, dare I say 15+ years? 92+/100.
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2004: $90-110, cab sauv blended with cab franc, petit verdot and merlot (% unknown to me, probably available somewhere online). A nose on par with the Cullen, waft of creme de cassis, cedar and violets (recurring smell of the day?), the addition of other grape varietals makes this a deeply complex wine, with neat layers of pure clean fruit flavours. A frank drink ready to go right now, but would be great many years from now. 92/100.
Balnaves The Tally 2005: $80-95, straight Cab Sauv. Typical cab with a herbish nose, big and balanced. 90/100.


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