Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Rise Single Vineyard Clare Valley Grenache 2013

Rise Single Vineyard Clare Valley Grenache 2013


Another day, another quality Australian Grenache.

This wine comes from a a plot planted in the Armagh sub-district not far from the Clare township. On that note, why isn't there more Clare Grenache?

Anyway, this looked the best on day two when the oak integrated into the fruit more. Happily, it's quite a medium eight wine, cut with raspberry fruit, a dash of creamed barley sugar fruit and oak and with plenty of spicy meatiness in there too. Well handled and really quite delicious with nary any heat and a soft, creamy finish.

Nice wine, sure to look even better when the oak integrates even more. Very well priced too. Thumbs up from me.

Details: 14.5%, Screwcap, $25
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2016-2022
Score: 17.8/20, 92/100+
Would I buy it? Yes. But I wouldn't drink this for another 12 months at least.
Buy online: Wine Selectors, Rise website

Schwarz Wine Co. Barossa Shiraz 2013

Schwarz Wine Co. Barossa Shiraz 2013



'I see your Schwarz is as big as mine!'

Ah Spaceballs, you never grow old (with apologies to Jason Schwarz).

Speaking of, this Schwarz Shiraz is a youthful number too. All the Schwarz reds look just-bottled actually, built in a rich and oaky style that is immediately easygoing.

A blend of 86% Shiraz 14% Mataro, this is inky purple in colour and dripping with sweet purple fruit and sweet vanilla oak, served with and a licorice side salad. It's very rich, milk chocolate oaky and very sweet, the generosity a real feature point.

Going to be a very popular wine this, though just too much about sweetness (oak and fruit, not sugar) to seduce me.

Details: 14.2%, Screwcap, $30
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2016-2025
Score: 17.5/20, 91/100
Would I buy it? Not quite. I'd recommend it though.
Buy online: Schwarz wine co

Ten Minutes by Tractor McCutcheon Chardonnay 2012

Ten Minutes by Tractor McCutcheon Chardonnay 2012


Complexity. That's the appeal of this 10X Chardonnay. In fact, that's the appeal of all the Ten Minutes by Tractor wines, which have a level of detail that suggests mastery.

The '12 Ten Minutes by Tractor Chardonnays are generally thicker than some other vintages, with the warm vintage more suited to Pinot than Chardonnay. Still, that extra warmth translates into even more weight than normal, the style bold and full.

This McCutcheon looks particularly forward, a golden yellow beast heavy with Golden Gaytime caramel yeasty richness, some gumball sulphides and a whole lot of overripe nectarine fruit. I can't stress enough the complexity here - it's almost too complex, with mealy, gumball sulphide complexity. The tangy and slightly warm palate is heavily worked - perhaps too much so, but long and so layered.

A wonderful 'big' wine, if just teetering on the edge of too much...

Details: 13.5%, Screwcap, $65
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2015-2017
Score: 18.3/20, 93/100
Would I buy it? I think 2 glasses would be about enough.
Buy online: Ten Minutes by Tractor website

Monday, 27 April 2015

Grant Burge Hillcot Barossa Merlot 2012

Grant Burge Hillcot Barossa Merlot 2012


This has always been a quiet star of the Grant Burge range (Grant has grown Merlot in the Barossa for 30+ years, so maybe not that quiet), and I think in this vintage it outmarks its Shiraz equivalent. the Miamba Shiraz.

Historically drawn from the Hillcot vineyard, but I'm not sure this is a single vineyard wine anymore. Still, this mid red coloured red sits with very solid, thick red plum flavours, milk chocolate oak and a grippy, drying, tart finish.

Every way the thick cut, meat-and-three-veg Barossa Merlot, this will satisfy many. It's laden with oak and oak tannins, and anything but subtle, yet the ideologically old school style has charm and depth - especially for the sub $20 price it can be picked up for.

Details: 14%, Screwcap, $24.75
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2015-2022
Score: 17.7/20, 92/100
Would I buy it? Not quite, but I know many who would.
Buy online: Dan Murphys, Wine Online, Grant Burge website



Singlefile Philip Adrian Frankland River Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Singlefile Philip Adrian Frankland River Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

An advertisement for the challenge of young Cabernet, this is clearly reaching for the quality stars, though doesn't convince (yet). Drawn from the Riversdale Vineyard in Frankland River, this was hand picked, cold-soaked for 10 days and spends 15 months in barrel.

I kept waiting for it to step up, but it looked awfully shy, minty and reserved - skinny and backward, the tannins (and alcohol) a key feature but not supported by the palate weight (yet). For all my disappointment, however, there is clear class here and time should be very kind. No fun drinking now though.

Details: 14.5%, Screwcap, $80
Tasted: April 2015 (tasting)
Best drinking: 2020-2035
Score: 17/20, 90/100+
Would I buy it? Not at the moment
Buy online: Singlefile website

Another good Aussie Grenache: Willunga 100 The Tithing McLaren Vale Grenache 2010

Willunga 100 The Tithing McLaren Vale Grenache 2010



It's so great to see Grenache on the up lately. Maybe that's just my own perception, but still, things are looking more Grenache-y everyday.

This McLaren Vale Grenache is another goodun'. The flagship for Willunga 100, it comes off the old bush vines of the Yeenunga Vineyard at Seaview. Oak is mainly old, though with a little of new oak as part of the mix.

Ruby with just a hint of orange, the extra edge of bottle age has undoubtedly helped make this more complex, the redcurrant fruit receding a little but supplanted with charcoal and game meats. There's a great Grenache tang here, and even though it's just a bit warm and a little dried fruity around the edges, there is a real sense of 'rightness' (right spot, right vines, right wine) about it, with that cranberry and baked earth Vale Grenache seems unencumbered by oak or excess extract.

Good stuff.

Details: 14.5%, Screwcap, $40
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2015-2027
Score: 18/20, 93/100
Would I buy it? I'd definitely choose this off a list.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Alkoomi Frankland River Chardonnay 2013

Alkoomi Frankland River Chardonnay 2013


Ah Alkoomi. Although the reds and Riesling get the lion's share of the attention, the Chardonnay can be a surprise performer. This 'Black Label' Chardonnay comes from the oldest estate grown Chardonnay on the Alkoomi property (which was first planted way back in 1971).

Straw yellow in colour, this shows nutty oak, a little sulphide gumball and some yeasty fullness. It's a surprisingly complex nose really - a modern, substantial nose. Underneath, the lean, clean palate is just a little briskly drawn but there is a genuine intensity of flavour, a nod to old vines in the right spot.

For the dollars this is genuinely satisfying. Given another 12 months it's going to be even more delicious. Easily recommended.

Details: 12.8%, Screwcap, $24
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2016-2022
Score: 17.7/20, 92/100+
Would I buy it? Yes. Off a list this would be a natural choice. Great value too.
Buy online: Alkoomi Website





Delicious basic Corvina from Tenuta Sant'Antonio

Tenuta Sant'Antonio Scaia Corvina 2012


Simple Valpolicella, when done right, can be a delicious wine. An underrated delicious wine, that is such an enjoyable drink because it's not pretentious. Indeed Valpolicella doesn't even pretend to be serious, just a good drink. I often think of Valpol as sitting in that same band as good village Beaujolais, or Moscato or basic AC Chablis. All affordable, affable, utterly drinkable wines.

The only challenge for Valpolicella is the encroaching push of Amarone, which is now the major quality focus for many Valpol producers and has pushed the elegant, non-dried fruit wines out of the way.

With this Scaia we see what can be done. 100% Corvina, off young vines and fermented in stainless steel, it has a beauty to it that is genuinely enticing, all lucid cherry spice and a silky smooth palate. It's almost like a low acid, silky Barbera (but more red than black fruits) and with lovely fine tannins.

Primary, simple and delightful. I'm still trying to hunt down where it is available locally, but if this was a $20ish wine it would be a no-brainer.

Details: 13%, Cork
Tasted: April 2015 (tasting)
Best drinking: 2015-2018
Score: 17/20, 90/100
Would I buy it? Depends on the price. If cheap enough - absolutely.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Bordeaux 2010: An IMW mega tasting of 20+ top Bordeaux

Bordeaux 2010: An IMW mega tasting of 20+ top Bordeaux


Tasting young Cabernet is hard.

Actually, it's not technically hard at all, just unfun. Sure, you can recognise potential, and the great wines do look great. But on the whole, there isn't much pleasure in young serious, structured Cabernet.

And you don't get more serious (and youthful tasting) Cabernet than 2010 Bordeaux.

On Sunday, the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) brought their annual Bordeaux tasting to Sydney, with the 2010 vintage this year's focus. 

Unlike the equivalent annual London Bordeaux tasting, this IMW event sadly didn't feature any first growths (though d'Yquem was there). Still, the range of wines open was comprehensive, with a raft of super seconds and plenty of other leading lights covered off.

Unsurprisingly, the alcohol excesses of the right bank worked against many of the wines, and sadly the Pomerols on show didn't show as well as expected. Yet on the whole this lineup showed the high standard of the '10 vintage nicely. Lots of glory, just don't drink 'em now.

I must say that this was one of the key Bordeaux tastings of the year (particularly as we don't get to see many decent Bordeaux events here in the colonies), and well worth the $130 ticket price. Love to do the same thing, with the same wines, in a decade!

The wines


These were tasted at a stand-up even on Sunday night. I went back to some of the wines a few times (for calibration), but they are still impressions rather than rigorous, 'I drank half the bottle' style comprehensive notes.

A further note - I'm not sure about the provenance of some of these bottles. There is an (unfortunate) history of poor storage for many wines into Australia, with stories abounding of even the finest wines shipped in unrefrigerated containers and then kept in less than ideal warehouses locally. Variability is a given...

Notes are as written on the night. They're brief, I know. So many of these scores will change with more time in bottle - and I scored hard...

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Still the one: Coriole Sangiovese 2013

Coriole Sangiovese 2013

Coriole continues to set the benchmark for affordable Sangiovese in Australia, with no other producer coming close to the consistency.

This is a good, ripe vintage for Coriole Sangio too. Dark ruby red, it immediately smells of Sangiovese and McLaren Vale - sunshine, forest berries, biltong, leather and currants. All the good things. It tastes ripe and there's a little red fruit glycerol sweetness before bitter, thick cut tannins.

Genuine, real and flavoursome Sangiovese in an open knit and riper styler (for Coriole) but packed with flavour. Really good.

Details: 14%, Screwcap, $25
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2015-2025
Score: 17.7/20, 92/100
Would I buy it: 2-3 glasses would be about right
Buy online: Different Drop (AUS), Coriole website

Monday, 20 April 2015

Dodgy Bros. DODG Vino Sangiovese 2014

Dodgy Bros. DODG Vino Sangiovese 2014

This is Wes 'Dodgy' Pearson's fun taken on a joven Sangiovese, complete with cheeky name and all. 30% whole bunches, sourced from Blewitt Springs with 13% Merlot from other parts of the Vale. It's more like a plaything than an ultra serious wine, but that's the charm.

Mid red with cherry red edges. It smells and tastes juicy, primary and light, with fresh fruit and dried fruit all at once. Raspberry jam aplenty, the palate is juicy, unadorned with oak and finished off with light tannins - careful handling for sure.

Fun simple drink.

Details: 13.5%, Screwcap, $22
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2015-2018
Score: 16.5/20, 88/100
Would I buy a bottle? I'd drink half a bottle out of tumblers while eating quesadillas. Just because.
Buy online: Dodgy Bros. website

Schwarz Wine Co. GSM 2013

Schwarz Wine Co. GSM 2013


If you like 'em round, ripe and oak-rich (makes me think of Sir Mix-alot), then Schwarz is a natural go-to.

A blend of 54% Grenache, 26% Shiraz and 20% Mataro, though it is more 'Barossa Valley red' than GSM.

Purple red. A lifted and floral, quite pretty nose, with some cranberry and stuffing too. It's very primary and juicy, with light purple fruit and some cranberry bitterness. Oak is just a little overt here, but it's certainly a nice wine - creamy and rich and smooth to complement the pretty red fruit.

Lots of pleasure here. Not wildly defined as yet, but that will come in time. Important plus signs.

Details: 14.2%, Screwcap, $28
Tasted: April 2015 (sample).
Best drinking: 2015-2027
Score: 17.5/20, 91/100+
Would I buy it? A glass or two for now. More in time.
Buy online: Dan Murphys, Schwarz website

Between Five Bells H-Cote Red 2013

Between Five Bells H-Cote Red 2013


'For no other reason than to be delicious.'

That's the Between Five Bells catchcry, and one that I never grow tired of. Why else would you make wine than for it to be delicious? Moreso, there are way too many wines out there that are just too serious to be ever be delicious.

Anyway, this typically quirky blend of Nero D'Avola, Chardonnay, Riesling, Negroamaro is certainly quirky and charming.

Medium red, it smells undergrowthy, though with that classic black jelly jube Nero edge. It smells a bit skinny and weird actually, but the palate itself makes up for it, loaded with black jubey generous fruit, the result a quite satisfying little wine.

Not ultra-serious, but certainly fulfils the deliciousness quotient.

Details: 13%, Cork
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2015-2020
Score:16.8/20, 89/100
Would I buy it? I'd share a bottle.
Buy online:

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Stoneleigh Latitude Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013

Stoneleigh Latitude Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013

This is normally an easy pick from the Stoneleigh range. Hope this is an odd bottle.

Smoky cherry nose. Quite a leafy edge really - undergrowth ahoy. There's a real bitter streak through the middle too, an astringency that is really quite unexpected, the wine finishing with a green note.

Not a great amount of pleasure here.

Details: 14%, Screwcap, $27.99
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2015-2020
Score: 15/20, 81/100
Would I buy it? Not on this showing


Friday, 17 April 2015

Angullong Orange Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Angullong Orange Sauvignon Blanc 2014


There's an extra level of quality about these '14 Angullong whites. Almost as if winemaker Jon Reynolds has gained a new grasp of how to use the fruit. 

Green straw in colour this is particularly aromatic juice - aromatic yeasts doing their stuff to give melon, guava and tropical fruit. The palate is sharp edged, but there's a smoky line too, almost as if this has seen some barrel time (which it hasn't to my knowledge).

A simple style but a refreshing one, this juicy wine is better-than-average stuff. 

Details: 12.5%, Screwcap, $19
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2015-2016
Score: 17/20, 90/100
Would I buy it? A glass would do.
Buy online: Angullong website

Bargain Yarra Shiraz from Punt Road

Punt Road Yarra Valley Shiraz 2013



I've always thought of Punt Road as a Pinot and Chardonnay specialist largely.

Judging by this you can add Shiraz to that list.

Mid red with ruby edges, there's a fragrance here that suggests a quick run in with some Viognier. Might just be an impression though as not listed. Certainly some floral fragrance though, over quince paste fruit and a dash of smallgoods. What I like here is just how defined it is with fine, elegant red fruited flavours, gentle acidity and just a little white pepper spiciness. Vibrant and rather well balanced really.

I really didn't expect this to be so damn good. It's just a little light for really high scores, but gee this takes some beating in the mid weight Yarra Shiraz stakes.

Good stuff. Well priced too.

Details: 13%, Screwcap, $29
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Drink: 2015-2023
Score: 18/20, 93/100
Would I buy it? I'd knock off half a bottle or more without even trying.
Buy online: Auscellardoor, Punt Road website

Thursday, 16 April 2015

De Bortoli Bella Riva King Valley Sangiovese 2012

De Bortoli Bella Riva King Valley Sangiovese 2012

Light ruby red. There's a weird, plasticy edge to the confected and thin nose. Over filtered? Thin, red fruit palate has a little spice but otherwise no flavour to speak of. Gee I hope this is a bad bottle as it tastes like a $10 wine.

Details: 13.5%, Screwcap, $20
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: 2015-2018
Score: 14.5/20, 78/100
Would I buy it? No.
Buy online: De Bortoli

The new and improved (?!) Lindemans St George Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Lindemans St George Cabernet Sauvignon 2013



Like the new packaging? I put this picture out on twitter today and most of the feedback was negative. I think it's ok, though it doesn't actually improve anything - the label isn't the problem.

What do you think?

This release is all arms and legs too. Deep red, there's clearly warm year ripe fruit on the nose and palate, a thickness and warmth, topped off with sweet coconutty oak too. There's that classic St George tannic edge underneath, but there is almost a swing too far to something ripe and modern and meaty, away from the more leafy classic St George style.

Look, it's going to get better but little cohesion between warm, almost spirity alcohol, coconut oak and dry tannins at the moment. I couldn't drink it, but I'm cutting it some slack as there is promise underneath and its clearly way too young. Still...

Details: 14%, Screwcap
Tasted: April 2015, Tasting
Best drinking: 2017-2028+
Score: 16.8/20, 89/100+
Would I buy it? No.
Buy online: Not available as yet (that I can find)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Voyager Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014

Voyager Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014



There's now a photo of founder Michael Wright on the back of this Voyager Estate bottle, along with a nice vista of the estate. Good work.

This smells like classic WA SBS too. A green straw colour, the nose is full of grassy lemon Sauv aromatics that jump out of the glass. The palate starts off with grassy lemon juiciness too, slightly tart but very fresh, the sharp edged tempered with a hint of fatter ripeness too, clearly showing both ripe and underripe fruit.

Crisp, varietal and long, it's a classic WA SBS in its lines, if just too tart and jagged to be really enjoyable - I never quite got into its angular finish.

Details: 13%, Screwcap, $24
Tasted: April 2015 (sample)
Best drinking: Late 2015-2017
Score: 16.7/20, 89/100
Would I buy it? Not quite.
Buy online: Auscellardoor

Pizzini King Valley Pinot Grigio 2014

Pizzini King Valley Pinot Grigio 2014



Pizzini's white continue to impress, particularly the aromatics.

This is right in the groove. Lean, but not mean, driven by cleansing, real acidity and a little white flowers and white peach fruit. Love the delicate touch and really quite pure, alpine flavours.

Good, simple, delicately balanced, enjoyable drink. Recommended.

Details: 12.1%, Screwcap, $21
Tasted: April 2015 (sample bottle)
Best drinking: 2015-2016
Score: 17.5/20, 91/100
Would I buy it? If I saw this on a wine list I'd jump. It's just what you'd want in a simple Grigio.
Buy online: Dan Murphys, First Choice, Pizzini website