Simple palates, Seriously

October 2009 Archive

5th October 2009
I was rather hesitant when it came to deciding whether to order the new releases of Greenock Creek. The scars haven't quite healed in my throat from the harsh alcohols from the 2005 releases, and the 2006 releases weren't a step in the right direction for me. However, I decided to take a punt after 1) my rather tipsy Biochemistry lecturer, upon approaching me in a chatty manner at a tasting event at the university club, mentioned that he was on friendly terms with the Waughs, and 2) Philip White's notes indicated a step down on the alcohol ladder without the wines being diluted out.

Greenock Creek Wines Seven Acre Shiraz 2007
$48, 1 bottle per customer, ordered direct from winery. The 2007 release is ONLY an unbelievable 14.0% alc! That's baby milk formula in comparison to the previous two vintages. The alcohol content has taken a massive tumble compared to the previous 2 vintages (2006: 18%, 2005: ~16%). The 2007 turned out to be a welcome pleasure. I sniffed without frying my olfactory epithelium, and drank without fixing my throat. Black, inky purple in colour, an intense cold steely sensation, predominantly blackberries with a splash of black cherry conserve with hot purple flowers after a summer shower. The flavour profile is equally satisfying with sweet oolong tea, cherry pits, blood plum skins and prunes. Perhaps because it's just so young, the only knock I have about this right now is the even, consistent core of tannins which was a touch too dry for my liking. However, they come out swinging right away and don't hide behind the rich fruit flavours. This is a robust wine and the tannins should smoothen out over 5-7 years, by which time this will be a ripe whopper to swig! Drink 2014 - 2029. 92-93/100. Tasted October 2009.

9th October 2009

Greenock Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
$38, 3 bottle limit direct from winery. I'm not too sure about the quality of this 2007 release. It was certainly much more palatable for me compared to the 2006 and 2005 releases, but I have to express my reservations. The dark ruby colour was accompanied by an intense perfumed core of berries and what I'd call it close to expressing a gin-like profile (juniper fruit). I also got the sensation of looking out into the shadows cast by leafy bushes on a late warm summer evening. For some reason, this is old-school to the point of having an element of reduction. The cabernet sauvignon has re-visited the lower realms of alcohol, weighing in at 13.5% which is 3% lower than the 2006s. I feel the tannins are craving for too much attention and this was a distraction to me, but their prominence suggests to me that this wine will stand up well over time. This might get ticks of approval from some, but not me. Drink 7-10 years. 88/100. Tasted October 2009.

12th October 2009

Clos Saint-Jean Chateauneuf du Pape 2007
$89. Dark ruby, this gives you a sensation that is a cross between rich dark berry sorbet and the swirly texture of Jalna's forest berry yogurt. The added layers of smoky plum and toasty figs gives a sexy element to this dense and concentrated wine that can be enjoyed over the next 10+ years. 92/100. Tasted October 2009.

Clos Saint-Jean has provided me many moments of drinking joy with consistent quality from the entry level CdP to the top-class Combes des Fous and Deus Ex Machina since 2003. There has been a gradual yet noticeable price rise in its price but also extends to the more popular CdPs being imported into Melbourne. Note that CdPs can be purchased for about half the price in the USA, and the chronic beating the greenback has received over recent months makes buying and drinking the lovely 2007 CdPs across the Atlantic Ocean understandably sensible.

31st October 2009
I had the pleasure of tasting through a line-up of Puriri Hills with winemaker Judy Fowler and Australian distributer Mark Ovens as they passed through Melbourne. The tasting was held in the backroom at La Vita Buona (I didn't even know this place existed) which is where they erect that artificial looking Christmas tree each year in October... The Puriri Hills winery is located just south of Auckland and their 15 acre vineyard is planted with the Bordeaux varietals Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere. Initially, the Carmenere vines were thought to be Cabernet Franc. In 2004, the new winery came into being and a new approach to wine making ensued. Also, note that the 2005s have sold out but 2004s are still available. This winery has quietly crept towards 'cult' status with 3 primary labels Estate, Reserve and Pope and their latest 2005 releases are already sold out, picking up Bob Campbell's approval along the way.

Puriri Hills Reserve 2002
$72. This well-rounded wine is a blend that contains approx. 50% Merlot with an almost equal proportion of Carmenere (42%). It has robust aromatics of dark red berries, forest floor and warm earth. Drink this over the next 5 years. 89/100. Tasted Sept 2009.

Puriri Hills Estate 2003
$40. You can sense the wine trying to tell the story of a difficult vintage, and indeed there was a major dry spell in 2003. This is a blend of merlot, carmenere and cabernet franc. It's more restrained and the weight of the blackcurrant fruit is much lighter, but it remains focussed and not all over the shop. Drink up now. 88/100. Tasted Sept 2009.

Puriri Hills Estate 2004
$55. The first real blend of all five varietals - merlot 67%, carmenere 3%, cab franc 11%, cab sauv 15% and malbec 4%. The first time the newly planted Cabernet Sauvignon vines were used in blending. A young wine that welcomes with open arms, offering warm berries, spiced plum that is well balanced by a well-architected tannin structure. 89/100. Tasted Sept 2009.

Puriri Hills Reserve 2004
$100. A vibrant wine blended from merlot 36%, carmenere 46%, cab franc 11% and malbec 7%. Anise and spicy dark blackberry on the nose with a sensation of warm summer red earth. A very fine structure reflecting an elegant nature, this has depth and intensity but in a feminine way. There is a tingle of robust tannins which dissipate very nicely to finish. Keep 10-12 years. 91/100. Tasted Sept 09.

Puriri Hills Estate 2005
$60. This appears to be closed at the moment, a blend of merlot 63%, cab franc 11%, cab sauv 17% and malbec 9%. Warm plum and ripe berry flavours gives the impression is this a Hulk-ed up Burgundy. A touch of savouriness too. An excellent entry level wine for the impressive 2005 vintage. 89/100. Drink next 7-10 years. Tasted Sept 2009.

Puriri Hills Reserve 2005

Puriri Hills Pope 2005
$225. Pieced together only in the best of years. This is still in its infancy with the oak currently dominating and overpowering the supple fruit load. Notes of dark fruit, pudding and fine dark chocolate powder. This should come together over the next  5-7 years and by that time, the dense core of black plum and blackberry fruit should impress with robust, grippy tannins in support. A well-balanced wine with good structure and an elegant finish. If you are desperate for Right Bank wines but can't afford the price tag, then this would be suitable alternative. Drink 2012 - 2022. 92-93/100. Tasted Sept 09.

Puriri Hills Estate 2006
$50. Merlot 49%, cab franc 12%, cab sauv 29% and malbec 10%. Too young to be enjoyed to its fullest potential at the moment. After a good swirl in the decanter, it did start to open up. Cherry, splash of fresh, young berries and a touch of white pepper in this one, with light tannins offering a good balance to the overall feel of this wine. A slight knock is that the finish was a little hollow, but this deserves more time. 88/100. Tasted Sept 2009.

Puriri Hills Reserve 2006
$90. 53% merlot, 33% carmenere and 14$ cab franc. A step up in terms of aromatics compared to the Estate. There's the sensation of warm earth, that weighty wafts you get in the spring forest and fresh cherry. Rich flavours of fleshy fruit with a vibrant finish. Young, drink 2014 - 2021. 91/100. Tasted Sept 2009.

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