Paringa Estate &
Thursday 31st May 2007
Not the brightest day to be driving into the
Mornington Peninsula, but it had to be done. I managed to visit the two main
wineries in my mind, a bite at Merrick's general store, hop off at the
chocolate makers just a couple of units from Merricks. It was disappointing
to find out that the Red Hill Cheese Co. only opens on Fri, Sat and Sundays
A quick drive-in through the Red Hill Brewery to pick up their Hops
bottle (seasonal), but their Stout will be available in 3 months as I was
told it's only brewed in winter.
2005 Riesling ($15): The 3rd estate release
from 16-yr-old vines off the Callanans Rd vineyard. Tank fermented, the wine
has retained a lot of its original ripe fruitiness and unadulterated acidity.
Very fragrant, floral and light lemon with a hint of kerosene. Palate of
citrus fruits, crisp acidity, flavours go on and on. Can't get any better
value for money! 91+/100
2006 Estate Pinot Gris ($20): Aroma of pear, high level of malo, with
apple flavours and finishing shortly with clear acidity. 89/100
2005 Peninsula Chardonnay ($18): Blend of fruits from several
vineyards around the area. Fruity aromas of citrus and stone fruit,
nectarine. Palate has similar characteristics. Good acidity. 90-91/100
2005 Estate Chardonnay ($35): A notch up from the Peninsula version,
clean citrus and stone fruit flavours but with a slight creamy nut flavour.
Aftertaste stays for awhile with malolactic acid. Will definitely improve
with age. 92-93/100
2004 Peninsula Pinot Noir ($25): Dark cherry notes with dark fruit
flavours. Very very young, with the tannins coming straight across. 89/100
2006 Estate Pinot Noir ($55): Only bottled 2.5 months ago, but cellar
door has started to release it as the 05s have sold out. Notes of dark
cherry with the new oak showing significantly. Savoury flavour on top of
dark fruits. Revisit in 5 years. 91/100
2004 Peninsula Shiraz ($25): Nose of ripe blackberry (mulberry?)
fruit. Taste is clearly a cool climate shiraz, lacking in the warm heat
typical to so many other VIC shirazes. Medium-bodied with plum flavours and
a hint of pepper. Soft tannins. 88/100
2005 Estate Shiraz ($50): 3% viognier added, but I don't understand
why. I got no hint of the viognier aromatics that should be present.
Co-fermented, aged for 15 months in new and 1 year old French oak. Plum
flavours. Drinkable. 88/100
Stonier is located
right next to Merrick's General Store, perfect location to have your
lunch/tea before or after a visit to their cellar door. The uncovered
walkway didn't protect us from the rain, but it was nicely warm beyond the
huge cellar doors.
2004 Stonier Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay ($28): Fruity, slightly
dry on the palate.
2005 Stonier Chardonnay ($23): fruit from 10 year old vines, 80%
fermented in 3-4yr old French oak, 20% in steel vats. High malolactic
flavour, very fruity, but the acid levels might be on the slightly higher
2005 Stonier Reserve Chardonnay ($39): fruit from 21 year old vines,
fermented in brand new, or 1-2 yr old French oak. Very aromatic, notes of
ripe melon?. Fragrant and good lingering aftertaste.
2005 Stonier Pinot Noir ($24): young vines into old oak, hence a very
herby young and tight nose. Structure is lean, cherry. Drink over 2-3 years.
2005 Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir ($45): old vines (planted 1982) into
new oak, small portion whole bunch fermented. Tannins are very high now,
quite dry and harsh. Retaste after 4-5 years.
The 2004 single vineyard Pinots have sold out - KBS vineyard and the
Windmill vineyard ($55 each). The 2004 KBS vineyard chardonnay is still
available for $55 too.
Hanabishi: Monday 28th & Thursday 31st May 2007
can easily walk past Hanabishi without giving it a second thought. Located
near a Subway, chinese takeaway and pizzaria, this restaurant at 187 Kings
St is easy to miss. From the dark aqua green signboard displaying only its
name in simple font to to choice of dark interior fittings and dimmed
lighting, the unassuming and simplistic exterior does well to hide unique
japanese cuisine of good quality and offering excellent QPR (with
Tuna, Kingfish, Salmon, Swordfish - 4x nigri, 3x tuna sushi rolls, 4x3
sashimi. Fish was served at the perfect temperature, not like it was
straight out of the fridge. Texture was firm and thick. Sushi rolls were
more fish, less rice; ditto for the nigri.
Tempura: batter was perfect, light in colour as well as oiliness.
Agedashi tofu: oh my god! How can fried tofu be this light and soft
on the inside, with such a thin and crisp outer layer! Dish of the night.
Gyusahi: Raw beef slices cut to abotu 1mm thickness, with a tiny
splash of soy-based sauce.
Shirauo: white bait fish, our first serve was bad - had a strip of
plastic inside.. sent back, got a new batch, good and light. (We weren't
charged for this dish eventually)
Sugiita yaki: Patagonian toothfish, wrapped in dried bamboo leaf with
mushroom and baked/grilled to perfection. Exotic fishy smell and creamy
texture of the meat, texture of the meat was vaguely similar to snowfish.
$146 for 3 ppl.
Sashimi ($34): same 4 types of fish served as before, slices were
slightly more chilled than previously. Still great stuff!
California rolls: spanner crab meat with avocado and cucumber. The
rich creamy texture of the avocado goes perfectly with the light nature of
the crab meat, uplifted by the fresh cucumber.
Agedashi tofu: had to have this again.
Soft shell crab ($17): 3 half pieces of crab. There was abit of
residual oil on the palate, but the frying was close to perfect.
Salmon skin salad: A generous serve of crisp salmon skin with a mix
of salad leaves.
Bamboo-grilled barramundi ($39): overnight seasoned de-boned barra
wrapped in fresh bamboo leaf and sealed in a case of packed salt, then
baked. Aroma of light soy enhanced by the bamboo leaf, meat was perfectly
soft whilst retaining it's compact texture. Dish of the night.
Tempura udon ($20): I've got gripes about this solely because of the
price. The soup was light and clear, no hint of excessive flavours. Udon was
supple, and the 2 tempura prawns were great. But for $20, you'd be better
off trying some other dish. It's more of a $15 dish in my mind.
$168 for 3 ppl.
Dinner @ 312 Drummond: Tuesday 29th May 2007
7 course degustation $95 per person, $55 for paired
wines. Located at the junction of Faraday St (Brunetti's) and Drummond,
across the street from the Lygon Crt Safeway carpark. Heard good reviews
about the place and food. Decor was nice, nothing too fancy. 2 levels of
dining. Overall impression was good, food wasn't too bad either, and
certainly not as refined as Vue de Monde (but what can you expect for dinner
at half the cost of VdM). For the price and 2 hats, I think the Court House
might be a better go. 15.5/20
Clair de Lune
oyster, with Goya sherry (Portugal)
An excellent opener, the oyster was well marinated with good subtle flavours
and this was washed down well with the cleansing effect of the sherry. 8/10
for the oyster.
chicken & prawn, with Freeman (NSW) white blend of (I forgot..)
This was a terrible dish! The prawn was not fresh, the shell had dark
blotches and the head had a powdery feel typical of less-than-acceptable
quality. I'm not sure the combination of chicken and prawn works at all.
The wine was aromatic but had a poor aftertaste. 86/100
Kingfish, crab &
cuttlefish salad, with Leo Buring 1999 Eden? Valley Reisling
There was too much flavour going on in this dish, which was served with
pernot dressing separately, but the dressing was totally unnecessary in the
confusion of sauces. 5.5/10
The aged reisling was good, with the typical notes of petroleum. 91/100
pigeon, foie gras cigar & chocolate sauce on green lentil and pea base, with
Chinon 2003? Cabernet Franc
2 cuts of pigeon were served, a good breast fillet but a less than
satisfactory thigh. The breast fillet was perfectly juicey and soft, and
matched very well with the chocolate sauce. 6.5/10
The Chinon had earthy, mild herby notes and was a good match for the pigeon.
However, not much fruit to talk about. 87/100
Seared Wagyu beef
rump with truffled pearl barley & sauteed mushrooms, with Mt Langhi Ghiran
2004 Nowhere Creek Shiraz
The rump was slow cooked to perfection, just a slight layer of brown on the
outside, uniform deep purple middle. Pair excellently with the barley
The shiraz was too young and tannic. It's fruity with notes of plum, but
lack any solid character. 88/100
Note: I mentioned the wine didn't go well with the dish, and the waitress
said that this wasn't the originally intended pairing, but the intended
Barolos kept turning up corked (3 out of 4), so they had to ditch that case
and make a substitute.
St Agur with
poached quince, toasted walnuts & pain d'epics, with Carmes de Rieussec 2004
The blue went very well with the quince. No complaints there. 7/10
But to pair something that strong with a light sauternes?! that's just
attempting the silly. I'm not sure whether the decision was an insult to the
cheese or the wine. If I were harsher, I'd say both. The 04 is way too young
and light to be served now. It had the expected honeyed aromas with almond
Note: I did mention that the Carmes was too young to be served now, and
that I thought either the 02s or 03s would be a better match, and the
waitress asked me 'Are you in the industry?' My reply, 'No, I just drink
with vodka granita and poached rhubarb (Palate cleanser)
Chiboust is like creamy ice-cream. Rhubarb was a substitute for fresh
raspberries. Very nice. 7/10
with parsnip cream, malt milk chocolate parfait & tarragon, with Bress 2006
Nice way to finish before a pot of tea. Would've been nice if served with
thick, piping hot coffee. 7.5/10
The Bress was a nice light clarified butter colour, sweet mix of Reisling,
Muller, and gewurztraminer.88-89/100
Saturday 26th May 2007
Dan Standish and Jaysen Collins were at Cloudwine
showing off their Massena releases. Great stuff as usual, the Eleventh Hour
Shiraz-Viognier and the Howling Dog Durif were standouts. They also had the
Moonlight Run and Barbera on tasting and they went down very well. Their
bottles range from $20-30+, excellent value for money, smooth drinks with
layer upon layer of flavour.
tasting at PWS:
Henri Gouges Nuits St-Georges les Chaignots 2004 1er ($105-125):
Elegant, light nose of morning damp earth, combined with nice light
fruitiness and a good lengthed aftertaste. 90-91/100
Henri Gouges Nuits St-Georges Vaucrains 2004 1er ($150-180):
Burghound says this is a big wine, but I thought this wasn't big or rich
enough. Had a higher tannin/acid structure and a sappy dry palate. Very
tight at the moment. 90/100
Denis Mortet Bourgogne Rouge 2004 ($50-60): Narrow and tight, but
Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin Mes Cing Terriors 2004 ($115-135): Elegant
but less ripe, earthy notes with broad, expansive sweetness that leaves a
tingle on the palate. Good long finish. 92-93/100
Violot Guillemard Pommard Derriere St Jean 2004 1er ($100-120):
Complex wine with earthy notes mingled with perfumed, dark berries. Touch of
mineral and gamey smells. Well-blanced, softer flavours, smooth tannins and
a long finish. 92/100
Wednesday 23rd May 2007
Spinifex 2005 Shiraz Viognier, Eden Valley
$45 from Cloudwine, I'll compare this to the Indigene when I get the
chance to, since Cloudwine South Melbourne has sold out of both. Maybe
Randall's still has stocks. Anyway.. I didn't buy this last year, but I
had the many other wines that Peter Schell brings out under this label.
95% shiraz, 5% viognier. Notes of blueberry (muffin?), abit of cold,
freshly crushed mint leaves, dark chocolate undertones. Very subtle
gentle nose, none of the exotic overpowering sweetness or what I term
'bottled mistakes' that other similar blends have presented as.
Light-medium bodied wine, fruity, fresh flavours. Maybe drinking this
too soon.. should revisit in about 4 years. (89-90)
Tuesday 22nd May 2007
Tscharke 2004 'The Curse' Zinfandel, Barossa Valley
$30 from Cloudwine, an incredible 16.1% alcohol, Damien's vision for the
tscharke line is to make wines with tradition European grape varieties
grown in SA conditions and made in a Barossan-style. An excellent
piece crafted here, perhaps rivalling US Zin's in terms of QPR. Notes of
cinnamon, raspberry and slight white pepper undertones. Fruity and spicy
flavours combine with sweet cinnamon pastry. Light bodied wine which
left me wondering where all the alcohol was due to the absence of the
typical alcohol heat. Pleasant aftertaste. 89/100.
Retasted the next day: Glorious aromas of white flowers (liliums?),
almost like walking into a cold room at the nursery, coupled with
savoury strawberries. The pepperiness has blown off. Still no sign of
the high alcohol. More noticeable, velvety tannins have emerged.
Tscharke 2005 'Only Son' Tempranillo, Barossa Valley
$22 from Cloudwine. At a mere 14.4% alcohol, notes of light soy sauce
with fridge cooled, freshly washed dark cherries. Medium-bodied wine
with a spicey finish and a good permeating aftertaste. 88-89/100.
Saturday 19th May 2007
Tasting at Prince Wine Store:
Domaine Ostertag Riesling Muenchberg 2004 ($72-85): A biodynamic
operation, this wine is a blend of 5 villages and fermented in barrels used
for pinot blanc, gris and noir. Golden clarified butter colour, notes of
pineapple and slight botrytis. At 14.2% alcohol, it is rich, but slightly
fat in my opinion, with a dry finish with petroleum pineapple (if there's
such a thing). Has potential to develop as it is clearly a youthful wine
that is tight and can open improve, probably in another 4-5 years. 89/100.
Hochkirch Riesling 2006, Henty region, South West Victoria ($23-27):
Another biodynamic venture, this 12.7% has a soft, sweet nose with clean,
ripe pear flavours. Very forward and fruity styled, has a good aftertaste.
Good quaffer at this price. 88/100.
Mt Langi Ghiran Riesling 2006 ($17-20): Weak nose, not much
aromatics, acidity abit on the high side to suit the flvours of poached
stone fruit (white fruit/peach?). 13.5%. 87/100.
Mt Langi Ghiran Shiraz 2004 ($45-55): after skipping the 2003
vintage, the Ghiran shiraz is back. Subdued and carpeted perfume, it's an
okay drink. 88-89/100.
Kiltynane Pinot Noir 2005 ($35.70-42): Yarra valley product from
vines planted in 2000, this is the second vintage of yet another biodynamic
practice (is everyone just skimping on insecticide and fertilizer?). This is
a blend of several clones which are kept separate and fermented for a year
in french oak before blending. Nose of earth and sweet spice, with an
earthy, green herby taste. It's an okay drink.
Montgomery Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 ($25-29.50): Margaret River
product made at the Moss Wood station. Blend of 85% cabernet sauvignon, 11%
malbec and 4% petit verdot, this light wine spent 17months in french oak
(30% new), but doesn't reek of vanillin. Can definitely see the malbec
showing through with the soft ripe tannins. Minty spice on the nose and
taste. Another okay drink.
Thursday 17th May 2007
Booked for dinner at 312 Drummond in 2 weeks. Added
some wines, mainly on the
Barossa Valley Coalsack Shiraz
for this creation of Jaysen Collins & Dan Standish was sourced from the
Southern family vineyard who have their roots firmly in Barossan history.
Aged in old french barrels, it presents as a pure embodiment of the fruit
and straight-forward wine making style. Notes of wild strawberry and white
summer flower, the 15.0% alcohol is completely masked by the aromatic nature,
almost akin to a grenache style. Light-medium bodied wine has clear
raspberry flavours with subtle tannins mingled in-between the simple
chewiness. For $22-4, a very nice drink! 92/100. Tasted 29/04/07.
Tuesday 15th May 2007
Kalleske and Clonakilla mailers arrived today
containing some eye-catchers. Kalleske has their first vintage port, the JMK
shiraz VP @ $25 per 375ml bottle (6x$144, 12x$276). According to the Autumn
newsletter, grapes were harvested over 7 days to give the level of
complexity and further enhanced by fortification with a mix of new and old
brandy spirit. This was followed by 2 years of maturation in seasoned
hogsheads. The description is one of "anise, clove, violets, marzipan and
plum" with [a luscious, rich and full-bodied palate with deep intensity].
Given the brothers' track record, and especially wtih Troy's ever-growing
reputation, I would say that this is a safe bet for the curious,
particularly those who don't really go for ports (myself included with
certain exceptions of course). I'll probably try to get a bottle to start
off. Also released are the 2005 Johann Georg (1 bottle limit) and Old Vine
Grenache (2 bottles limit) at $45 and $100 respectively. Both are
no-brainers, pick up as much as you can and drink over the next decade and
beyond. Most of the 05 shirazes have been big on fruit with generous aromas
to boot, and I would certainly expect no less from this Johann Georg. I
recently had the 2003 which was nothing but beautiful. I'm playing the
dangerous game of predicting how good a wine is before I even try it, but I
have yet to be disappointed with Kalleske (apart from the Clarry's red which
I think is simply abit light for my palate). Speaking of which, the Clarry's
red is $20 per and the white $16 per. Their late harvest Lorraine Semillon
is $11 per 375ml. Clonakilla is a funny one, because it's arguably the best
viognier (2006 $45, no price hike despite the horror 2007 vintage due to
frost destruction) producer in Australia, so close to a Condrieu, yet not
quite a Condrieu. It is good, but for $45, I'd rather get a shiraz. There is
the usual list, 06 Semillon Sauv Blanc $18 per, 06 Riesling $22 per, 06
Hilltops shiraz $25 per and 05 Ballinderry (Bordeaux blend - Cab Sauv, Cab
Franc and Merlot) $30 per. There is also 05 Shiraz Viognier offered as
a magnum @ $150. According to the description of the mailer, 07 volumes will
be down 80% for viognier and down more than 90% for the shiraz viognier
blend. However, fruit is good so if you want to dream of getting your hands
on some in 2009, then you better start getting your good orders in right now
and muscle your way to the front of the queue. News of a straight syrah,
which will be released in Spring 2008 alongside the 07 shiraz viognier.
Seriously, Tim Kirk does fantastic stuff, albeit pricey, so if you can
afford it (and I can't for now) load up!
Saturday May 12th 2007
Couple of tastings this week from a very good 2006
vintage in New Zealand. Craggy Range from the Hawkes Bay area and Lawson's
Dry Hill from the Malborough region. I had a late start, so avoided the
sauvignon blancs.. just a random taste here and there..
Craggy Range Les Beaux Cailloux Chardonny 2005 $63.75: Good balance
of acidity and buttery notes. 89/100.
Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Sophia 2005 $59.50: Mainly merlot,
generous velvet tannins with notes of sweet red fruit. 89-91/100.
Craggy Range Syrah Le Sol 2005 $72: Firm tannins and good fruit,
finishing with a subtle aftertaste. 91-92/100.
Lawson's Dry Hills Gewurztraminer 2006 $19.55: Rich nose of rose
petals, sweet white peach, lychee?, with a hint of spice to top. 92/100.
Lawson's Dry Hills Pinot Gris 2006 $19.55: made as a firm dry style,
notes of poached pear, baked apple crumble, clove?. 92/100.
and a few other ones available:
Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir 2005 $55: from the Nelson district, dark
cherry with mild, light tannins and a decent aftertaste. 90/100
Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir 2006 $25.50: the second tier pinot, the
main one retails for ~$68, obvious notes of red fruit but a bit too light on
the palate for my liking, I thought this could have more pizzaz. 89/100
Friday May 4th 2007
Yes, we're finally into the month of May, when days
grow short and the rains herald time to celebrate with fatty meats and rich
drink (any excuse would suffice really).. I got up early to receive my
delivery of Wagyu beef eye fillet and Kurobuta pork belly from
Wangara Poultry &
Game Co.! That's 3kg of beef and 4kg of pork of mouth-watering,
saliva-inducing, palate-coating fatty meat!!! This Security Foods Wagyu if
from 500 day grain fed beef, nice firm and consistent meat, great-looking
marbling and based on my immediate attempt and a quick seared fillet, very
juicy and succulent in the middle. The slab of Kurobuta pork belly was
simply divine! Firm texture, swinging the thing could certainly slap the
teeth out of anyone. From half a side, it came with a rack of ribs which
will serve me as a rich soup. I worked through both pieces (I knew
dissection skills would come in handy outside of normal working purposes!)
and deep froze away a fair amount. I've got 2 beef fillets being confit'd
up, marinating 24hours in the fridge with salt, rosemary and thyme.. while I
pan-fried up a pork fillet with fresh cloves of garlic and baby garlic
sprouts.. and I've thrown in a butter-seared lobster tail on chilli'd
fusilli tris for the heck of it..
lobster tail on fusilli tris with swiss brown mushrooms and tuscan cabbage