Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Cheap Sav Blanc from Marlborough can be like playing with a loaded gun.

Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011

This wine sharp acidity before moving into candied passionfruit territory and then falling flat on its face. The middle of the wine is far too sweet, while the wine generally lacks balance.

Alcohol: 13.5%
Price: $13
Rated: 76
Drink: Now

d'Arenberg Stump Jump GSM 2010

d'Arenberg Stump Jump GSM 2010






Alcohol: 14.4%
Price: $10
Rated: 85!! absolute bargain
Drink: Now - 2015

Felton Road Chardonnay 2010

When Chardonnay is good it can blow your mind with complexity and ease of flavours.  Blair Walter crafts some of the best Pinot Noir that I have tasted yet this is the first time I have touched his Chardonnay.

Felton Road Chardonnay 2010

What you get here is an elegant wine with plenty of muscle under the hood. The wine has a little spritz on opening but that soon blows off to reveal pears, spring flowers and orange peel encapsulated in caramelised nuts and glazed grapefruit.  For a wine that is so young I can already feel the beauty within as the flavour copulate with my taste buds. I know that sounds like a weird word to use in a tasting note but I enjoyed this so much I couldn't think of any other word that fit better.

Alcohol: 14%
Price: $45
Rated: 92 ++
Drink: 2014 - 2023
Importer: Red & White

Felton Road Bannockburn Chardonnay

Tiberio Pecorino IGT 2009

I was given this a little while ago and I thought I should have a crack.  It is made from a winery that has deep roots in Italiy and want to do everything to maintain the distinctiveness of the region and country.  Now the Pecorino vine has been extinct for sometime now but when the team at Tiberio were investigating their terrain they found a few of these and then began a rejuvenation and replanting process.

Tiberio IGT Pecorino 2009

This wine tastes exotic and unique yet has something familiar about it but I just can't put my finger on it. The wine starts with peaches poached in vanilla beans and topped with wild nuts.   I can imagine myself eating a bowl of this lovely food then being attacked by a haystack and covered in citrus.  I did get a faint hint of cheese on the back palate or that could be my mind playing tricks on me. The texture takes it to a new dimension as there is a gylcerol mouthfeel to the wine  with an extremely long palate that all end in a vibrant finish. If you want to try something beautiful and unique, try this.

Alcohol: 14%
Price: $35
Rated: 89
Drink: Now - 2015
Importer: Bottega Rotolo

Mollydooker Carnival of Love 2010

In the winter of 2009 McLaren Vale experienced normal rainfalls, from a historical perspective, but due to the on going draught in '07, '08 and start of '09 most people would say that the heavens opened up. The ongoing trend of early budburst, flowering and veraison continued for the start of the 2010 vintage but it was the mild rains during December and January followed by mild temperatures that allowed flavours to develop slowly while still maintaining high levels of natural acidity.   This all meant that McLaren Vale experienced the best vintage in a long time. Some have even gone on to say that it is the best vintage since the season of 1996 or 1991.  

Mollydooker Carnival of Love 2010

Big, big, big is the first thing that comes to mind with this hulk of a wine.  The palate explodes with sweet notes of blueberry pie, cassis and cherry jam mixed with bourbon and spice.  While the creamy texture and velvety mouthfeel are inviting, the level of sweetness and heat from the alcohol, were a little too high for top marks.  These two components combined with masses of sweet oak suggested to me that this wine would score brilliantly at a larger tasting.  

Alcohol: 15.5%
Price: $90
Rated: 86
Drink: Now as he will make another one next year.



Monday, 27 February 2012

Woodlands Chardonnay 2012

Andrew Watson from Woodlands explained that "Today marks the last day of Chardonnay for Woodlands Vintage 2012.  Crops appear to be similar to last year - Woodlands was just under 7 tonnes per hectare, whilst the region generally has been returning around the 10 tonnes per hectare.  This increased crop may explain the lower sugar levels this vintage - most wineries have been reported picking fruit at 12.5% maximum, rather than higher levels being easily reached in other vintages.  Natural acidity looks ideal, and there was no disease reported either - it looks to be another classic Chardonnay vintage for Margaret River.

Our Chloe was picked yesterday - one half crushed and the other whole bunch pressed.  Disaster was averted when the forklift broke down with one press loaded to go - many thanks to the boys at Mako forklift servicing!

Once the juice settles it's time to think about yeast - with all the yeast around (wild, cultured and otherwise) a mystery message appeared on our whiteboard yesterday."





Woodlands joining vintage diary

Woodlands is one of the oldest vineyards in the Wilyabrup sub-region of Margaret River. They first started making wine in the late 70s but prominence came in 1981 with their first release of the Andrew Cabernet. Due to family commitments the Woodlands brand stopped for sometime but they have truly burst back onto the market. Two years ago I drank copious amounts of their Margaret River Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc Merlot blend which are both highly drinkable and sophisticated wines at ridiculously low prices.


Chardonnay Vineyard 2012

I went out to have a look at the Chardonnay vineyard today to see how it is progressing.


The vineyard is under nets as the bird life loves a good berry or two.


Crops are down this year.


To just under 2 tonne per acre.

But the bunches look great with low baume (9.2) and slow flavour development.

Mollydooker Enchanted Path 2010

In the U.S. Mollydooker is the third most recognised Australian wine brand after Yellow Tail and Penfolds.  They are starting to focus on the Australian market which I think is a positive move in terms of sustainable sales figures. It is my opinion that spreading the sales over many different markets results in consistent sales year in year out.  It also allows for one market to fall over without the business falling over the following year.

Mollydooker Enchanted Path 2010

When sparky says you should shake this wine before consuming it he is definitely on to something. In fact I recommend that you decant this for 6 hours before taking the plunge as the american oak is a little too much to start with.  My god that oak is sexy though as it imparts a vanilla marshmallow component. On the palate there is liquor blackcurrants and dried blackberries in abundance mixed with burnt chocolate and licorice  rolled in those tasty marshmallows.  The palate feels thick from the oak treatment and the length is pulled long by the oak.  While I like this wine less oak would have been better. You really need to drink this is the heart of winter with the biggest piece of meat you can find.  I'm thinking a dinosaur stuffed with a cow, stuffed with an emu.

Alcohol: 16%
Price: $90
Rated: 88
Drink: Now

Meadowbank Vineyard Hit by Bushfire

Meadowbank Vineyards, in the Derwent Valley, experienced a devastating event over the weekend as a bushfire wipeout much of their vines and infrastructure.  Luckily no one was hurt but 50 sheep died in the flames.  As a result Meadowbank will not make any wine from the 2012 vintage.  My thoughts go to the Ellis's and I hope that they can salvage something during this extremely difficult time.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Stefano Lubiana Vintage Almost Underway.

The international team of winemakers headed by Stefano Lubiana are almost under way with their vintage expected to commence in about 2 weeks.

Stefano had this to say 'Vintage is still a couple of weeks away. Last week-end we experienced warm (mid-30s) but the cool spell we've had during the past two weeks has set us back to a more normal vintage start (whatever that means) rather than being early, which was how it looked a month ago.  The vineyard is only partly netted at present.'





Sagrantino Vineyard

I went down to the vineyard that I am taking my Sagrantino fruit from last Friday, just to check how it was progressing.


The vineyard looks immaculate. 


But doesn't crop very high.


That could be a result of the root stock restricting the development. 


This root stock only produces 1 1/2 tonne to the acre.


And at the moment the seeds are still green. 

Chapel Hill Mourvedre 2010

The growing season for 2010 in the Vales was divine and one that I will personally be loading up on.  The Mataro, Monastrell or Mourvedre grape variety is one of the last to ripen and is perfectly suited to the warmer regions such as the Vales. In general this variety is high in tannin and can be wild in the flavour spectrum.

Chapel Hill Mourvedre 2010

This wine starts out with a huge dose of exotic Asian spices before a little smokiness comes through.  They are then joined by red-fruits that have been rolled in dirt. These flavours work their magic as they dance around on my tongue but it is the armada of tannins that really takes up the enjoyment level.  The tannins permeate and coat my mouth yet they aren't over bearing in any way. It is the sort of wine that is a conundrum in that the flavours are bold in your mouth but they hold some sort of elegance as they slip down my throat. In fact the whole package is rather inviting and enjoyable.

Alcohol: 15%
Price: $35
Rated: 88
Drink: Now - 2020

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Grant Burge Blanc de Noir NV

Grant Burge is an institution in the Barossa, who makes old school reds of character and style. This is the first time I have seen this label but it is not the first time I have drunk Burge's bubbles.

Grant Burge Blanc de Noir NV

Right out of the bottle there are these sweet strawberry notes which is something that I find rather inviting.  On the palate they come across as a sort of candied style of strawberry mixed with crème fraiche and lemon curd. The first thing that comes to mind when I taste this wine is that it would be perfect to drink in the morning for a birthday celebration. What didn't do it for me was the length of the flavours. Short.

Alcohol: 12.5%
Price: $27
Rated: 83
Drink: Now

Greenock Creek Cabernet 2003

Greenock Creek Cabernet 2003

I was served this blind and asked for variety, region and year. I picked mataro, due the high tannin content, Barossa and 05. So I was a fare bit off but I should have known it was Cabernet as there is a huge hole in the mid palate of this wine.  The flavours of red-fruits, chocolate mud-cake, sugar coated violets and chilli flakes are rather nice attacking the front palate on entry. Once these flavours move along my tongue they disappear but then re-emerge on the back palate. The chalky tannins are a different beast as they grab a hold of your private parts and shake them like they have never been shaken before. I like this wine but it is the alcohol that invades my emotional state during the whole experience that puts me off a bit.

Alcohol: 15.5%
Price: $38
Rated: 86
Drink: This winter

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Whistling Eagle Viognier 2009

Viognier has a air of mystery around it since the history of the grape is steeped in intrigue.  The story that I want to believe goes something like this.  On a dark night a ship from the Rhone river was loaded with Shiraz vines, but due to the darkness a few viognier vines slipped in, which were to be transported to Beaujolais for planting to be established in that region but the ship was boarded by the local pirates in Condrieu.  I really like how these mischievous lot planted out the stolen vines and began producing wines. I guess they needed something to drink.

Whistling Eagle Viognier 2009

I normally hate this grape variety as it can be so obvious and one dimensional. This version is a lot more restrained and vibrant which makes for so much more fun.  The palate opens with apricot blossom and a valentines day bouquet of flowers before some grated fresh ginger and orange peel comes tumbling in.  These flavours bobble between lightness and richness on my tongue which makes me think.  Its the sort of cerebral wine which could wow a wine nerd or dazzle someone that hadn't tried wine before. What gets my juices flowing is the textural component in the mid palate.  It is like being twirled by Christopher Dean of Torvill and Dean on the ice at the Olympics.  Marvellous!

Alcohol: 14%
Price: $30
Rated: 87
Drink: 2013 - 2017

Whistling Eagle Viognier 2008

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Jacobs Creek Grenache Shiraz 2010

Jacobs Creek the winery takes it's name from the creek that weaves its way through the Barosssa ranges down to the North Para river. In 1997 the winery along with the Barossa catchment council commenced a rejuvenation of the creek. So far they have removed all non-indigenous flora and established a replanting program to reinvigorate the area and the wild life.

Jacobs Creek Grenache Shiraz 2010

Lifted dark spiced fruits bombastically emerge from the bottle.  While I say bombastically it would be more appropriately to give reference to the house of pain song 'jump around' as the flavours of raspberry skittles, spice and earth ridden tar play havoc with my buoyant taste buds.  These flavours never get above medium body, which is nice to see, while the tannins are light and chalky providing an element of intellectual seduction.  For a wine that sits under 10 bucks this over delivers in spades.

Alcohol: 13.5%
Price: $9
Rated: 85
Drink: Now - 2015

Brokenwood Semillon picked and crushed 2012

I spoke to Celie Assef two days ago regarding the state of the vintage in the Hunter and her words were  'wet!'. I like how she says it so succinctly. The semillon came in before the deluge and this is what they looked like.


I love the look of these 1/2 tonne picking bins


Just look at the juice running out of the crusher. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Moorooduc Estate McIntyre Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009

The Mornington Peninsula wine region could be regarded as being in its infancy yet the average price you will pay for a bottle of Pinot Noir is rather high. How could this be? One reason is that due to the close proximity to Melbourne, there is an influx of wealthy tourists that arrive each week-end to bask is all the glory that the peninsula provides.  Another reason could be that while many of the plantings of vines aren't that old the region is producing some of the most exciting wines in Australia. Moorooduc Estate was established in 1981 with plantings occurring from 1983.  The success of the wineries comes from their first vineyard, The McIntyre Vineyard, which supplies fruit for their top and second tier wines.  

Moorooduc Estate Pinot Noir 2009

There are lovely aromas of raspberries, strawberries and cherry lipstick swirling their was out of my glass and while they are light in weight, they are also inviting in nature.  As I sit with this wine I can feel some dirty earthy characters mixed with cinnamon and spice moving into the edges of my psyche as if trying to say hello without intruding.  Now I take my first sip. Wow this is not what I was expecting. All those beautiful and pretty flavours have vanished, leaving tartness and acid.  It is like the police have come and taken them away.

Alcohol: 14%
Price: $35
Rated: 83
Drink: Only if the flavours come back

Brokenwood Vintage Diary 2012

'If this report was written last week then the talk would have been about sunshine and perfect weather. However a slow moving High sitting west off Tasmania has brought on humid drizzly rain for the Australia Day week. La Nina is still at work. The winter of 2010 saw more consistent rain than previous years with each month from April 2010 getting above 60mm and June just on 120mm. Rain in the last 3 months was 310mm so quite a wet spring and start to the growing season. Unlike 2010 it was spread out and we were able to keep up the spray program. Warm, dry weather followed through Xmas and into the New Year but thankfully not the 40-45C days of 2011. All the Brokenwood vineyards are in excellent condition with the Graveyard Vineyard having at least two sweeps of fruit thinning. The Cricket Pitch Semillon has already been picked. Cowra has had a wet spring, ending with the same rainfall as the Hunter Valley and this has continued into January. Orange is up in rainfall and in both regions the  vineyards are looking first class. In contrast the Indigo Vineyard at Beechworth for the last 3 months recorded 185mm, thankfully way down on the same period in 2010 when the vineyard had 470mm. Fruit thinning has been necessary on some blocks and the Indigo Vineyard guys have the place in perfect nick.' Iain Riggs

Monday, 20 February 2012

2 Locked in for a diary of the vintage

Two, Brokenwood and Stefano Lubiana, wineries have locked themselves in for a vintage diary. This is most exciting as I think there will be a difference between these vintages.

Keep putting forward suggestions for the remaining states and I will see what I can do.

Brokenwood make some of the most prestiges wines from the Hunter Valley. Every bottle of old Graveyard Shiraz or any of their semillons that I've had have been brilliant.  The Graveyard looks especially stunning after the 10 year mark so if you have any just leave them alone.

Stefano Lubiana runs his estate bio-dynamically in one of the prettiest parts of Tasmania.  Tasmania has to be considered at the cutting edge of cool climate wine regions which makes for risky business in the wine industry yet some how Stefano turns out beautifully crafted and exquisite wines each year.