Some cracking wines here from a Mega Tasting organised by two leading wine distributors: Domaine Wine Shippers & Q.E.D
Billecart Salmon NV - creamy yeasty nose, there seems to be a good balance between freshness and reserve wine in this blend, palate is dry, slightly bitter, but well balanced. Very good and a welcome return to form for this label. 18
Billecart Salmon Blanc de Blancs - Soft creamy style,with nice acidity, but surprisingly falls away at the finish. Preferred the NV brut myself. 17.9
Billecart Salmon Rose NV - Stemmy nose, intensely dry palate. Very serious style, but with no generosity. 17
Vincent D'Astree Brut NV - No nose, dry, interesting yeasty palate with pronounced yeasty development. Quite a simple style in the end. Ok only 16.9
Vincent D'Astree Brut Reserve NV - A richer creamier take than the standard Brut, this has an unusual marzipan edge to the palate, but with great length and balance. Smart & tasty, this just nudged out the Billecart mainly due to its richer, more complex palate. 18.1 (Disclosure - I am a fan of the more rich and long styles of Champagne).
Josmeyer 'Le Kottabe' Riesling 2006 - An excellent introduction to the long and textural style of Alsatian Riesling. Good value & quite fresh (something that Alsace whites sometime lack) Talc, citrus and just a fleck of butter. Yum. 17.5
Rieschsgraf von Kesselstatt
German Riesling. The very best are amazing things that successfully match Sweetness and acidity in a beautiful match. The worst are overly sweet sickly things. These two are glorious examples of the former.
Rieschsgraf von Kesselstatt Peisporter Goldtropfchen 'Kabinett' Grand Cru 2005
Its Kabinett by name, but there is still some sweetness. The key here though is just precision & texture. Long acidity with a real grunt to the palate. Development, but not in the kero & toast style of many other warmer region Rieslings, this is more in the floral, warmed up limes (bizarre, but we warm them when adding them to soda water to get more juice out them - this smells like that) style. Fantastic. 18.5
Rieschsgraf von Kesselstatt Peisporter Goldtropfchen Spatlese Grand Cru 2005
Very fine indeed. Its amazing how you don't notice the obvious sweetness when its so well matched to acidity. So long, so precise and so utterly delicious. Brilliant. 18.6
The prices are ludicrous, the range of single vineyards bewildering, but underneath it all, if you like luscious, powerful wines, then these are quite simply impressive. The notes are limited here, so I'll just list what I tried and a few impressions
'Blewitt Springs' Grenache 2006
'Onkaparinga' Grenache 2006
'Liandra' Syrah 2006
'Brookman' Syrah 2006
'Sandown' Cabernet 2006
'Brookman' Merlot 2006
I thoroughly enjoyed the two Grenache, with the Onkaparinga just winning me over with its slightly (its only slightly, these are Clarendon Hills reds after all) more subtle, darker style. Of the two Syrah, the Brookman was an obvious standout, with serious weight, power and surprising peppery spice (and actually quite drinkable considering the frightening levels alcohol and extract). The Cabernet was similarly enjoyable, with some clear varietal Cabernet characters. The only real disappointment was the Merlot - thinner, very simple and confected. I'd be grafting over those Merlot vines without hesitation.
Domaine de Chevalier 2005 - Quite long, perfumed and savoury, lovely balance and very tight, but not quite the brilliance expected. Its way too young and the balance is there though, it likely just needs time to flesh out. 18+
Man O' War Waiheke Island 'Dreadnought' Syrah 2007 - Now here is something special. Off a property at the Eastern end of Waiheke, this comes from a very specialised vineyard with multiple little plots which are picked independently. The resultant wine is dark, perfumed and spicy, with a pulpy lusciousness to the palate that is really something else. The nose throws up all sorts of spicy(star anise, five spice), peppery, meaty aromas & the palate carries real intensity but also with a softness that is particularly enticing. Unusual, attractive and very drinkable, this is definitely a label to watch. 18.6
Meerea Park XYZ Shiraz 2007 - Apparently its called XYZ as the boys couldn't think of what to call it. This is apparently an experimental wine - here is a little more about its production
'Half of the fruit parcel was crushed and de-stemmed with the remaining half crushed and left with the stems and fermented in open vats. The wine was then matured in 100% new French oak hogsheads before bottling in late July 2008.'
Suffice to say its quite an unusual wine for the Hunter, but i think its a beauty. Bright purple in colour, it hits with an immediate aroma of pulpy red fruit on the nose - its a very bright and ripe nose and quite un-Hunter in its pristine red fruit. The palate though is what wins you over here - its medium bodied and quite juicy, but with substantial deep, lingering tannins. The vanilla oak is slightly obvious, but there is no question that this will be one very long term wine. Very impressive, particularly if you like the Meerea Park style (Like me).18.8
Elgee Park Family Reserve Viognier 2005 -With some of Australia's oldest Viognier vines, this really should be up there with Australia's best in terms of Viognier, yet it never seems to hit the heights. With wines like this though I think they need a little more than a casual taste. This is a surprisingly tight and lean style that builds up a momentum of Viognier fruit characters from about mid palate onwards. Its quite withdrawn in fact, but I think that it really just needs time - something you don't can't always say about Viognier. Hold on, for I think in a few years time it could be a real surprise. 18.1
A et P de Villaine Cote Chalonnaise 'Les Clous' Bourgogne 2006- An excellent 'starter' in the world of White Burgundy, showing the nice creaminess that I always associate with the Cote Chalonnaise. Excellent acidity and nice balance, this would retail for about the $50 mark I think. 17.7
I am a massive fan of Blain Gagnard and these wines were truly quite brilliant.
Blain Gagnard Puligny Montrachet 2006 - Cream nose, extremely tight palate with just the most excellent, classic Chardonnay nose. Delicious 18.4
Blain Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 'Boudriotte' 2006 -Almost crystalline in its fruit purity, this is one very special wine. A very tight, waxy style with a creamed butter character that was oh so delicious. Glorious acid backbone. A sensational white Burgundy and worth every cent of its $125 asking price. 19
Blain Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 'Morgeot' 2006 - I think this suffered slightly after the brilliance of the Boudriotte above. The acidity here is more obvious, but so is the oak, which seems slightly more heavy handed and less integrated. I'm splitting hairs here though. 18.8
Bruno Colin Chassagne Montrachet 'La Maltrioe 2005 - Obviously a warm vintage wine, this had a woody peach nose with obvious ripeness, the palate follows with big, ripe full fruit. Tastes quite hot & harsh after the previous wine. 17
Bouchard Pere et Fils Mersault 'Les Gouttes d'Or' 2006 - A rather dense and beasty style this had a mealy, open nose with a palate that was grippy, intense and full. A broad, intensely flavoured wine, though a little obvious & forward. Love the intensity, but its almost new world in style. Crap value @ $160 18
Domaine de la Vougeraie Vougeots 'Clos du Prieure' 2003 - Definitely a product of the season, this was very big & full, but ultimately hot & dull, the palate astringent and lacking in actual fruit generosity. No. 16
Bouchard Pere et Fils Monthelie 'Les Duresses' 2005 - Stalky, yet quite open and simple. It may sort itself out in time, but its all arms and legs at the moment. Distracting heat on the back. 16.8
Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune 'Marconnets' 2005 - Lifted, volatile nose, the palate is intense yet silky in its flow of fruit, with more heat on the finish. Better, needs time. 17.3
Henri Gouges Nuits St Georges 'Les Chaignots' 2005 - Perfumed, classical red cherry Pinot nose, if in a new world mould. The palate is sour, lean and tight, building power as it goes along. It needs yrs, but real potential for the patient. 18.1
Confuron Cotetidot Nuits St Georges (Premier Cru) 2002 - Stalky nose, sour savoury palate. Its a very leafy, dark and intense palate, though with a rather hard unattractive edge. 17
Mongeard Mugneret Clos 'De Vougeot' 2004 - Classic stuff, delightful perfume, a supple and luxurious palate, though it falls away a little at the end. Really very attractive and very Pinoty. Hugely expensive though. 18.7
Stanton & Killeen Grand Rutherglen Muscat NV - Quite dissapointing actually. Expectations are high for this level of Muscat, but this was a little on the stale side and just lacks the generosity and length of the cheaper Morris Old Premium Muscat (Amongst others). Enjoyable all the same. 17.8
Sevenhill Brother John Reserve Shiraz 2004 - Thoroughly deserving of its praise. The nose is perfumed & bright with a purity of fruit that I thought had similarities to the brilliant 04 St Henri. The palate is tight, but perfectly structured, with great tannins and well judged structure. Its a relative bargain @$58. 18.6+
Castagna Adam's Rib Red 2006 - I'm not sure what went into the blend this year, but there is an almost pinoty, savoury dark cherry character to the fruit (Shiraz component?) - It's very attractive and the whole wine is savoury,unique and quite delicious. 18
Castagna Sauvage 2003 - The only let down in this lineup. Dominated by hammy, smoky aromatics and with a slightly acrid edge to the palate, this was jarring. 15
Castagna Genesis 2005 - Lovely. Viognier is discreet and well integrated, the palate is savoury, medium bodied but with a very nice meaty complexity to it all. Very well built. 18.3
Castagna Un Segreto 2005 - This is one incredibly complex dry red - the palate moves from meaty savouriness to bright red fruit to long tannins. Its a very complete wine, with real style and impressive drinkability. Very very smart. 18.8
Another case of an esteemed European producer setting up shop in New Zealand and producing wines of real distinction and interest. These are more restrained than much of their neighbours produce and I dare say they will mature far better in the cellar. I can't recommend these wines highly enough.
Hans Herzog 'Sur Lie' Sauvignon Blanc 2007 - Rich and quite tropical, its unrecognisable as Sauv - more like Pinot Gris with its richness and palate weight. Its actually quite delicious with its textural oomph. Very good. 18
Hans Herzog Pinot Gris 2007 - Firmly rooted in Alsace, this beautiful pink coloured Pinot Gris is again all about texture with a big phenolic grip on the palate. Yum. 18.1
Hans Herzog Chardonnay 2007 - I had to take a double check on this that it wasn't the Viognier, for the aromatics are wildly peachy, stone fruity and rich, the textural palate (again that textural brilliance - Top class winemaking here) is layered and beautifully balanced. Yum 18.5
Hans Herzog Pinot Noir 2006 - Clearly varietal, this restrained and elegant Pinot has a lovely, plus and earthen style to the palate that is very drinkable. Burgundy grace meets Marlborough red fruits. 18.6
Hans Herzog 'Spirit of Marlborough' Merlot Cabernet 2001 - Dry, lean and perhaps even dried out, this teeters on the edge between Bordeaux inspired savoury glory and not enough richness. Maybe it will get there in time, but its a hard drink at present. 16.9
Hans Herzog Noble Pinot Gris 2006 - I only have one word scrawled on my pad for this. Delicious! Frighteningly expensive though.
In my opinion these are amongst the finest wines in Margaret River. The reds in particular shine thanks to their perfect aspect, slope & soil. Terroir at work.
Woodlands Chardonnay 2007 - A leaner Chardy that dips its hat to a more cleaner Chablis inspired style. Great length, well built, great value. 17.8
Woodlands Reserve 'Chloe' Chardonnay 2007 - A rich, barrel fermented style, the oak is a little obvious at present, but I think this wine will just need some extra time in the bottle to come together. Leave it alone in the meantime. 18
Woodlands Cabernet Merlot 2007 - This has got to be up there as my red wine bargain of the year. Arguably too young, but every hair is in place for a long and fruitful future in the cellar. It carries the clean dark chocolate and black fruit aromatics of Margaret River Cabernet, punctuated with some blueberry Merlot. The palate is dry and it builds up momentum to the well formed tannins on the back. Buy 2 dozen, wait 2 yrs and you will have a wine that cost $20 a bottle and drinks like a $45 showpiece. 18.3
Woodlands Reserve 'Margaret' Cabernet Merlot 2006 - An unequivocal product of the cool vintage, this is leafy, sappy and refreshing, with a high acidity, leafy palate that whilst savoury, has an edge of hardness to it. 17.1
Woodlands 'Colin' Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - Know anyone with kids born in 2005? Marry in 2005? Whatever the occasion, this wine could help celebrate the 25th anniversary. Its a powerhouse of oak, tannin and structure, with monumental power, tightly bound in a grainy, classic Cabernet framework. Blisteringly good, the only worry is that it may be just that little bit too hardcore. Send it straight to the cellar and then forget about it for a decade. 19
Postcard: Hamelin Bay
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