Saturday, 28 February 2009

Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2006

Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2006 (Margaret River, WA)
$30, Screwcap
Winery Website

If there ever was a prize for consistency in the Australian wine industry, like a wine merit award, then surely Voyager Estate must be up there with a chance. Across the board the wines show varietal character, regionality and depth, all at entirely reasonable prices, making the sort of wine styles that I personally enjoy. Complement this with an excellent cellar door experience, including arguably Margaret River's best winery restaurant, and you have a definitive recipe for success.

So the release of this wine then was something to look forward to - from a brilliant (for whites), chilly Chardonnay vintage in MR and following the delicious 05 Voyager Chardonnay, this had already had runs on the board in my world. However, whats in the bottle is quite a departure from previous releases...

Very light yellow in colour, the nose is very closed with integrated, high end French oak mingling with a bit of yeast work to inflect the nose with a buttered sao character - a personality trait that I think I've noticed in previous vintages of this wine. I quite like it actually, but I dig a little Sao action (with real butter, cheddar & gherkins please) and enjoy the solid richness it injects into this wine. Still its a very closed and backwards nose.

The palate then is also very tight with citrussy high acid, grapefruit and a side serve of citrus, all bundled up in the acidity, with little dips of honeysuckle just poking through onto the tail. In truth the palate is a little lean and mean at present, with real grapefruit power in there down deep, but with such awkwardness that I didn't even really enjoy the wine. Great power and potential, no immediacy.

So the score that follows then is more a measure of the structure (hence the double +) not as a drink now. Notably I saw that the alcohol was 13.4% on this, which just reinforces that this is one serious wine with serious ageing pretensions. Buy some, bury it away in a cold dark cellar and return to civilisation in a few years time. 17.5++

Friday, 27 February 2009

Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough, NZ)
$16, screwcap
Winery Website

Its surprising to say so, given the brands profile only a few years ago, but it feels like the Babich name has slipped out of the Australian market in recent times. Where did it go? Did they concentrate on other markets? I can't even recall if I have ever had a Babich wine that moves me for that matter.

Anyhow, this has a green & very pale colour leading to a kiwifruit, passionfruit & musk nose. The palate is green & slightly sour, finishing with slightly dull acidity. Its a simple, dry and quite conventional Marlborough Sauv that's definitely commercial, but not a bad drink all the same. Fairly priced too. 16.8

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Sydney Wine Show - Tasting the wines (reds)

(Please start here it makes more sense)

Following on from the whites, this is my roundup of the reds.

The highlights
- Giant Steps delicious (already) 08 Pinots.
- Anything red with a Paringa Estate label. 10 wines entered, 5 trophies garnered. Enough said.
- Everything with a Meerea Park label - the Hunter's wunderkind
- Peter Lehmann Stonewell & Mentor (as usual)
- Yalumba's Signature & Reserve. You don't even need to taste them. Just buy.


Sparkling


Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz 2004
The vinous enigma. Where did you go, Seppelt Show? Rumours swirl that multiple vintages were poured down the sink due to brett issues. Even this class scored lowly with the comments 'some wines with brettanomyces' - making it sound like brett sits next to cork taint as a wine super villain. Watch out everyone, there's some brett! Cue screaming winemakers....
So it was a great opportunity then to try this wine. A veritable pup when you think about it (remember the 1994 was the current release only 2 or 3 years back) and showing its youth and potential. Slightly flat, sweet berry, mocha and yes kinda bretty nose, but with the most amazing, deep, chewy palate. It screams out for about a decade of bottle age and if it ever (please Seppelt) sees the light of day I'd happily buy one. 17.6++


Pinot Noir


Dalrymple Pinot Noir 2007
Someone has been to the deli! Hammy, stalky nose, meaty but quite delicate palate. I quite like it, but I love spicy Sausage Pizzas too. Coming back to this by accident a second time it seemed much less meaty. 17.6

Giant Steps Gladysdale Pinot Noir 2008
Not quite up to the Tarraford quality (below) but another fragrant winner of a wine. Bright, sweet red fruit nose, lovely fleshy, sappy palate that is easy drinking but with real Pinosity. Good. 18

Giant Steps Tarraford Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008
Great Pinot. Spot on. Lovely, cherry, sappy & red fruit nose. Its already delicious. So smooth, meaty and perfumed. I really like the lightness here - its so drinkable and perfect. Will get better too. 18.6

Oakridge Pinot Noir 2008
Ridiculously young. Simple, confected but pretty with all the elements there, including strong acidity. Not much of a drink now though. 16.0++

Paringa Estate Pinot Noir 2007
Trophy Winner (Best Pinot). Delicious. Stems, red fruit, cherries etc. Mornington Pinot done well. Beautiful, clear, pristine fruit, no oak, high acid. Real Pinot. 18.7

Paringa Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2007
Bigger, oakier and surprisingly more Eucalyptusy than the Estate Pinot, overt red fruit leads to a lovely, hedonistically rich palate that happily screams it Mornington origins. Very good already, will be even better. 18.7

Pipers Brook Estate Pinot Noir 2007
Big, raw, rhubarb & extract style. Quite harsh and tannic palate. Should improve dramatically, but hard work at present. 15.5+

Seville Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2007
Meaty, peppery, charcuterie nose with red fruit dipped in smoke. Yes its slightly smoky, no its not ruined, just unique. Try before you buy stuff then. 16.5

Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir 2007
The Stonier Reserve style is almost unmistakable. Always slightly bretty and intense, but also quite a satisfying mouthful of Pinot. Notably this had a slightly tawny colour. Smoky, spicy nose, firm, bulky palate of depth. Good wine, needs time, 17.6+

Stonier Windmill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006
Starts really well with a lovely nose of real fleshy cherry Pinot fruit and a hint of stalk. But after that things go awry with a bizarre, angular and peanutty palate that ruins everything. Dud bottle perhaps? But the nose was great! 15

Tomich Hill Pinot Noir 2007
Quite a disappointment really. Simple red fruit nose, simple red fruit meets rhubarb palate. Thins out towards the end, finishes sourly. Nope. 14.8


GSM Blends


Annies Lane Coppertrail GSM 2006

Slightly hollow, overripe and meaty nose, dull oaky palate. No definition, not enough freshness. 14.9

Langmeil 3 Gardens GSM 2006
Another lacking 06 GSM. Fruity nose but simple & drawn palate. Lacks real depth. 14.8

Shiraz Blends


Amberley Shiraz Viognier 2007
Trophy winner (Best Shiraz Viognier). All that is bad about Australian Shiraz Viognier. Bright purple red in colour. Overtly apricotty nose. Sickly sweet, obvious Shirognier characters throughout and obvious blunt acidity. Glycerous, sweet rubbish. 14.0

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Seventy Six Shiraz Cabernet 2007
Trophy Winner (Best Red, Commercial Classes 8-11). Its would be easy to sacrifice this wine on the tall poppy altar and be done with it. But I tried to be objective here, put aside any prejudices, preconceptions, all of it.

Bright, simple choccy fruit nose. Sweet, one dimensional palate. Sour finish. thin. No.
Nice nose in amongst a brace of average commercial wines won this simple commercial wine its trophy. 15


Shiraz


Bests Bin 0 Shiraz 2006
Spicy, oak drenched nose sweetly oaked palate is mono dimensional and simple. Not a patch on the awe inspiring 04 and 05. What happened in 06 in the Grampians? The 06 Seppelts were similarly underwhelming... 16.0+

Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz 2006
This reminds me quite alot of the glossy 2004 vintage that whilst impressive in its youth has gone all wobbly since. Tight, quite oaky black fruit nose underpinned by meaty savoury Hunter fruit. Mid weight and quite drinkable but really only for the Hunterista. 17.2

Cape Mentelle Shiraz 2007
Any Viognier in here? Perhaps its just the vineyard fruit aromatics (which didn't seem Shirognierish before). Maybe its just my painful Viognier radar, which seeks out Viognier in red wines and then I can't enjoy them. On that note, I'd like to come clean about a niggling issue. I hate Australian Shiraz Viognier. I hate it. I hate what they are doing to Shiraz. Australian Shiraz is rich, soft textural and purple enough, it doesn't need any f**king Viognier. Especially the already aromatic cool climate stuff, and particularly, with no exception, does Barossa Shiraz need or deserve the addition of Viognier. Clonakilla and a small handful of others can pull it off, but everyone else please stop immediately.

There, I've finished. Back to the Cape Mentelle. Its a lifted pepper and plum style in a mid weight form that seems to lack some intensity and misses that nice meaty style of previous vintages. Not a fan, though its still drinkable. 15.1

Chalkers Crossing Shiraz 2005
Absolutely festooned with medals and a gold medal winner here, this sadly did nothing for me. A distinctive roasted fruit nose that is now showing as a distinctive Hilltops character, leading on to a strangely nutty, savoury & slightly dried out and raisined palate that was distinctive but not all that appealing. Somebody liked it though. 15.5

Château Reynella No.1 Cellar Shiraz 2004
Huuuggge bottle, festooned with medals, all designed for maximum impact. Tight, sweetly vanilla oak (this would have literally spent years in oak no doubt) nose with just a hint of brett, leading to a big, old fashioned, slightly brutish palate. Will cellar impressively well, lets hope that the oak integrates. I tasted this and the wine below on different days but no doubting the similarity. 17.4+

Château Reynella Shiraz 2006
Trophy Winner (Best Dry Red 2yrs & Older). Big, old school Mclaren Vale Shiraz. mint chocolate oak and serious, dry red intensity. Crammed with semi sweet, dense fruit, chocolate oak. Slightly tough, surly but saved by the sweet fruit. A roughie with a heart of gold then. 17.4+

Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz 2006
Sweetly raisined palate, hugely tannic and very sweet with great intensity, but also a little unconvincing in its delivery. Again oppressively oaky. 16.0

Hardys Eileen Hardy Shiraz 2004
Peppery, meaty red fruit style that tastes much more complete and surprisingly medium bodied after the other wines (mainly 06's) tasted around it. This was much softer and just a little lacking in intensity (and on the finish) but a reasonable drink all the same. 16.9

Kalleske Greenock Shiraz 2007
Sweetly juicy, spicy black pepper nose with lushly sweet and intense red fruits on the palate. Mono dimensional and very young but also very attractive indeed. 17.8+

Langmeil Orphan Block Shiraz 2006
Spicy nose, unbelievable sweet palate. Unctuous fruit driven palate with real density. Perhaps just a little too sweet but attractive enough. 17

Meerea Park Alexander Munro Shiraz 2007
Purple colour, very tight nose but so bright ripe and delicious. The palate is very smooth with that old fashioned Hunter svelte medium bodied palate. Glorious future ahead. Brilliance. 18.6+

Mt Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz 2004
Trophy Winner (Best Red Wine Aged Vintages). Big, firm and chocolatey, with a real glycerol drenched, almost Viognier touched palate. Sadly it all goes downhill at the finish. Angry, rude alcohol swamps whatever resembles the second half of the wine. Another hot & disappointing
Langi. 14.9

Mt Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz 2006
Reading over my notes this got an almost identical note score and description as the 04. Suffice to say, I'm no Langi fan. 14.8

Olivers Taranga Shiraz 2005
Sweet formic nose, rich warm & chocolatey palate. I think I gave this only a passing glance, but it struck me as good, simple but not quite superstar material. 17

Orlando Centenary Hill Shiraz 2004
Sweetly peppermint nose, almost like some Coonawarra fruit snuck into this (which it didn't or if it did, only 15% worth). Surprisingly mid weight and quite drinkable. 17

Paringa Estate Reserve Shiraz 2006
Fragrant, meaty peppery red berry Shiraz in a classic cool climate Aussie Shiraz style. Lovely medium bodied palate, a flash of ham and nice complexity. Another winner from Paringa. 18.5

Paringa Estate Reserve Shiraz 2007
Immediately richer & oakier than the 06 its quite a big full and rich wine that feels oak dominated and a little ripe and full at present. Should improve with time in the bottle. 17.1+

Paringa Estate Shiraz 2006
Multiple Trophy Winner (Best Shiraz, Red of Show, Wine of Show ). A little dull on the nose which showed dominating of chocolatey oak, a flash of pepper and some pink roast lamb. Lovely ripe full flavoured palate, but its just a little ripe, simple and boring. 17.1

Paxton Jones Block Shiraz 2005
Really liked this and I'm a very big fan of this label. Sweet berry fruit with chocolatey oak in a lovely modern McLaren Vale frameset. Tight and very pure flow of red fruit. So sweetly pure & delicious. 18.2+

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2005
Not a patch on the 04. Sweet oaky & powerful Penfolds nose, nutty & extremely tannic palate. Too me its just a little hot and heavy, but there is potential in there for more love with age. 17+

Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 2004
Lovely stuff that will only get better. Rich and ripely generous with milk chocolate oak & lightly perfumed dark fruit. What I like the most here is that its actually quite understated and linear, with a gentleness and understated power that is classically Barossan and will stead it well for the future. Will be buying some of this. 18++


Cabernet Blends


Chain of Ponds Cachet Cabernet Merlot 2002
Gold Medal winner. Maturing but still fresh palate leading to quite green and astringent palate that falls away at the finish. No 14.8

Gralyn Cabernet Shiraz 2007
Huge. Massively oak and dense. OTT but there is also a certain attraction in the style - hedonism plus. I'd even say there is some Wilyabrup red soil richness here. Impressive, but also quite ridiculous. 17.0+

Peter Lehmann Mentor 2005
Another great release under this label. Polished blackberry & black jube nose the palate has a lovely femininity and balance to it that I really like. Linear. Another tick for Peter Lehmann here. 18.5+

Wolf Blass Black Label 2004
Dark chocolate nose that is surprisingly moderate in its intensity. Peppermint, dark chocolate and HUGE tannins. Again OTT but still attractive. 17.5

Wolf Blass Black Label 2006
Big dark chocolate nose. Smells distinctively Langhorney (or is that just the oak talking) with that choc spearmint dry power that made this wine famous. Hugely, hugely oaky, stupidly tannic & chewy. Will need years before it all integrates, but its still a caricature of a wine. May not ever be drinkable. 16.3

Yalumba Signature 2005
Drink much Signature? Like the style? If you answer yes to either question then this is a no brainer. Bold, solid blackberry & chocolate oak nose, palate is cuddly ripe, fully oaked and smooth, but backed by a robust structure that should see this into its second decade with ease. Buy with confidence. 18.5+

Yalumba The Reserve 2004
Wonderful stuff (gold medal winner here). Very tight and very polished. Creamy oak is a little too dominant right now, but the purity and quality of the fruit and supportive winemaking are hard to ignore. Just perfectly balanced. Buy this. 18.7+


Cabernet Sauvignon


Brands Patrons Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Simple, slightly chocolatey tight nose. One dimensional slightly sour palate but finishes with some alcohol heat. Disjointed disappointment. 15.5

Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Herbaceous nose with both under and overripe characters, nice intensity to the palate which is ripe but slightly unbalanced. More attention in the vineyard required here. 15.8

Coldstream Hills Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
I'll be first to admit that this needed more than a casual sip. It needs dinner and a movie, or dinner at least, before it will show you its goodies. Leafy, distinctively cool climate nose (a relief in amongst some of these oaky brutes) with a light, semi sweet, slightly sour, high acid palate thats quite polished. Interim rating only. 17.6

D'Arenberg Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Muted nose has some weird cabbagey overtones. Quite thin palate. Confusing underripe palate elements. Underripe Cabernet..from D'Arenberg....in McLaren Vale??? 15

Elderton Ashmead Cabernet 2006
Whilst not in the same league as the positively seductive 04 and good followup 05, there is no doubting the appeal here. Lovely soft blackberry fruit, heaps of well integrated oak that makes for the most smooth and beautifully plush palate that you just know will win this wine friends. Will be even better in about 3 years time. 17.6+

Fermoy Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Formic, sweet oak nose with none of the weediness that can dog the Fermoy reds. Rather its crammed with black Margaret River fruit and mouthfuls of toasted chocolate oak. Good, but too bloody oaky to be great. 16.9

Grant Burge Shadrach Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Much more impressive than the Meshach of the same vintage sweet oak/fruit amalgam of a nose, in that 'many yrs in oak' Barossan style. Shares alot with the Ashmead above, but with a drier palate and less hedonistic plushness. Good. 17+

Gralyn Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Massive nose. Ridiculously intense. Formic, chocolatey OTT oak oak and more oak. Surprisingly enough, underneath it all is actually an impressive wine - if you love the ultra polished, super smooth and rich new world style, its hard to go past this seamless wine. 17.8

Houghton Gladstones Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
I'm a little torn here. On one hand I really appreciate this style and can see a good future ahead. On the other hand, the amount of oak (and glass, another stupidly large bottle) is altogether irritating. This wine is literally crammed with fruit oak and tannins. Thankfully it lacks the absolute obviousness of the Gralyn but at this point in time its no more attractive.
In conclusion I'm going to fall on this wines side, but please don't touch it any time soon. 17.8+

Langmeil Blacksmith Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Solid blackberry & choc coconut nose, soft round & friendly palate. Big in that Barossan Cabernet way. Nice, dependable, drinkable. 17.5

Lenton Brae Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Gold Medal winner. Nicely regional nose with spicy black fruit and tannins that build pace as it goes. The palate itself wasn't oaky but the finish was, but that was the only distraction from what is a very good wine. 17.7

Ringbolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Trophy Winner (Best Cabernet). Eucalypt, mildly herbaceous, black fruit on the ripe nose. It smells like Southern Margaret River fruit to me (at a guess). Really rich dark fruit palate, intense and quite alcoholic. Lacks a little delicacy but will improve with time in the cellar. 17+

Sandalford Prendiville Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Lovely herbaceous MR regional cassis, dark chocolate and red soil richness. Sour, meaty slightly bretty palate but backed by good structure. Future plus. 17.5+

Tahbilk Eric Stevens Purbrick Cabernet 2006
Understandably backward, this is such a pup - the tannins, the balance, its all there in that understated Tahbilk way, it just needs a decade to come out! 17++

Wynns Block 88 Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
The latest instalment of the single vineyard Wynns Cabernet range (ala last years Messenger). Tight, slightly muted nose that gradually unfurls cassisy red fruit that is just so typically delicious and Coonawarran (if thats even a word). Real red soil derived style. Great tannins. Long future. 18.3+

Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Much more backward than the Block 88, this is built for the long haul. Closed nose with whispers of cassis, little Cabernet berries and cigars poking through. Palate is very linear and outstandingly fresh. Another good JR. 18++


Fortified


Seppeltsfield Fortified Shiraz 2005
Good to see a good Aussie vintage port in the mix. This is a reasonable example, quite sweet & rich with good vibrancy. It may not make really old bones but its nicely fresh and drinkable. Good. 17+

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Singlefile Estate Shiraz 2007

Singlefile Estate Shiraz 2007 (Denmark, WA)
$33, Screwcap
Winery Website

Out of all the samples that cross the desk, I look forward to wines like this the most. Smaller operations, with established vineyards and a real driving sense of passion behind the wines & the winemaking. These Singlefile wines are more slickly packaged and marketed than many (which is good to see, however I'm a little wary of wines that are sold on marketing hype and are light on with the detail) with the core of 20 yr old vine fruit serving to make this convincing.

A perfumed, plum sauce and star anise nose with hints of Shirognier-ish black fruit pastels. The palate is subtly flavoured, with pepper, spicy integrated oak and more purple fruit. Besides some back palate bitterness the fresh mid weight palate makes for an appreciably elegant & pleasurable drink. At just 13.4% alcohol it tastes balanced and perfectly ripe - which just reminds me how we much we need more 13.4% Australian Shiraz. 17+

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle Brut NV

Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle NV (Champagne, France)
$160, Cork
Winery Website

This comes in a rather extravagant, skinny necked, classic Champagne bottle, but the actual labelling itself hardly befits the price tag - a rather daggy, simple, plasticy paper label. A sign of what's to come perhaps?

I'm a little conscious lately that I seem to be handing out quite negative reviews more than good ones. Am I getting jaded? Whatever is the case, this wine left me absolutely underwhelmed. A light yellow colour, with subdued citrus and lightly underplayed yeast characters, its a pretty and soft nose. The palate is soft, light and lacks focus, the acid a soft & only gives a late fillip in amongst the hidden talc & lemon, the finish watery and lacking in definition.

No intensity and not alot of promise, with noticeable deadening dosage, this tastes like an average non vintage and not a premium cuvee. Indeed plenty of Aussie cuvees, at half the price (like the 01 Arras) would comfortably put this away. Buy yourself two bottles of this bargain Drappier instead . 16.8

Tempus Two Pewter Label Vine Vale Shiraz 2006

Tempus Two Vine Vale Shiraz 2006 (Barossa, SA)
$28, Cork
Winery Website

The labelling is as sexy as ever - truly eye catching and looking like a smooth, black wine spaceship. Again however the juice in the bottle lets the whole package down.

Volatile, tarry and just a little meaty on the quite lean nose, the palate is raw, cooked and oaky, with bitter oak tannins to finish and no decent fruit to speak of. Another dud. 14.5

Another very worthy bushfire relief initiative from the wine industry

Winemaking trio roll out $135K fundraiser for CFA Victoria

Media release, February 23, 2009

An En Primeur/futures fundraising offer initiated and created by John Ellis (Bellvale Wines), Tom Carson (Serrat and Yabby Lake) and David Bicknell (Oakridge Wines). Barrels from Mercurey and Francois Freres, packaging from C-Pak, screwcaps from Alcan, labels from Graphix and design work from Tucker Design.

2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir – En Primeur
Delivery April 2010
$300 per six pack, including delivery anywhere in Australia
450 six packs available
Please note: ALL proceeds from this offer will go to the CFA!


It has been a harrowing and moving time. Every Australian has been reminded of the extraordinary fragility and capricious nature of our unique and beautiful landscape. The scale and force of the Victorian bushfire disaster has brought an equal and opposite reaction of individual courage, generosity of spirit and remarkable selflessness. Fundraising events throughout the country are now in full swing to help provide much-needed financial aid to the fire-affected communities in Victoria.

When fully subscribed this special primeur offer of 2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir will raise $135,000 for the Country Fire Authority Victoria (CFA). This frontline volunteer fire-fighting organisation has astonished the Australian community (and the world) with its superb operational skill, dedication and bravery. These proceeds will go towards helping the CFA re-equip and prepare for the next bushfire season.

A CFA Region 13 unit came to winemaker Tom Carson and partner Nadege Sune’s rescue on Black Saturday. Their Serrat Vineyard lies in the heart of the Yarra Valley near Healesville. A change in wind direction pushed the Maroondah fire line through the vineyard, its sheer ferocity burning the vines, melting the drip irrigation lines and destroying the shed and tractor. It is still difficult to know exactly at this stage, but up to a half of the eight-year-old vineyard has been razed. The entire crop has been lost. Although their garden was burned to the ground, the house has survived intact and the family are safe. ‘Although we are living in a scene of devastation, we are extremely lucky. There are many poor people who have lost everything, including their lives.’

John Ellis, an ex US Navy/Pan Am/Qantas pilot, part-time nurseryman and general optimist, established his Bellvale Vineyard at Berry’s Creek near Leongatha in Gippsland ten years ago. Curiously, he was one of the pioneering vignerons of Long Island, New York during the 1970s. He would tend his vines on his brief breaks from the gruelling US Europe flight schedules. In the end he gave it up because ‘the winemaking was so hopeless’ and opened a nursery instead. The Bellvale venture is a personal obsession and the intent is to make great pinot noir. Ellis has picked up plenty of advice along the way from some of Victoria’s top pinot noir specialists including Tom Carson of Yabby Lake and David Bicknell of Oakridge. On hearing of Tom Caron’s plight, he immediately offered five tonnes of fruit from his Bellvale vineyard. John Ellis says ‘You give your heart and soul to this business. It is a terrible thing to lose a vineyard or a crop.’

Tom Carson accepted the offer but felt that five tonnes was too much and too generous. David Bicknell suggested that the remaining three tonnes of the Bellvale donation could be made into a fundraising wine for the CFA and gifted Oakridge’s winemaking facilities in spite of his own parlous state. With no cellar door and a scorched crop the outlook is grim to say the least. Bicknell and Carson rallied their contacts. Within a few hours they were promised barrels from Mercurey and François Frères, packaging from C-Pak, screwcaps from Alcan, labels from Graphix and design work from Tucker Design. David Bicknell says ‘these are all people we have known and worked with for years. Everything has been donated. All the funds raised from selling this wine will go to the CFA.’

Bellvale’s north-facing 25-acre pinot noir vineyard lies on volcanic loams and surrounded by huge old oak trees and elms. Only 20 kilometres from the sea, the vineyard enjoys the moderating effect of onshore breezes. Ellis is hugely committed to growing outstanding pinot noir. On paper this is going to be a very special wine. Although the Yarra Valley is experiencing one of the most challenging vintages ever, Gippsland has escaped the dreadful fires and the extreme weather. John Ellis is quite excited about the forthcoming vintage. ‘Our pinot noir has a big canopy this year to help synchronise and achieve optimum flavour development, tannin ripeness and sugar accumulation. The increased leaf area has also shaded the fruit brilliantly well. This will be a very good vintage for us. Tom will have some great fruit to play with.’

The 2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir will be a reserve style wine made along classical Burgundian lines. Tom Carson is one of Australia’s great contemporary pinot noir winemakers. He is the man behind the reputation of Yering Station Reserve Pinot Noir, Yabby Lake Pinot Noir and the micro-label Serrat Pinot Noir. David Bicknell, is also highly credentialed and one of the most intuitive winemakers of his generation. His Oakridge wines are widely acclaimed. Both winemakers achieved dux at the rigorous Len Evans Tutorial. This is a powerful winemaking team representing the very best of Australia’s talent pool.

The plan is to have wine industry friends to handpick the fruit. The parcels will be trucked up overnight. Typically the fruit will be de-stemmed and gently crushed into open fermenters for a 3–4 day cold soak. During vinification the fermenting must will be hand-plunged up to three times per day. After seven days post ferment maceration, the wine will be pressed off into the donated barrels (roughly 25% to 30% new oak) for around one year of aging before bottling in March and ready for dispatch in April.

2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir will be a very classical Victorian Pinot Noir with plenty of ripe plum/berry/red cherry aromas and underlying spicy oak. The palate will be generous and textured with ripe plum/red cherry flavours, spicy/vanillin oak, slinky loose-knit tannins and plenty of flavour length. It is expected that this wine will develop in bottle and age gracefully for at least six or seven years. It is hoped that the wine will be enjoyed with family and friends.

The 2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir is a fundraising tribute to all the volunteers and great people involved in the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. The wine is named in honour of the bushfire unit that worked tirelessly and bravely in protecting the houses and vineyards of the Yarra Valley during the dreadful days of February 2009. The wine will be sensational!

Interested buyers can purchase the 2009 Region 13 Pinot Noir through Langton’s website. Non-members can access the wine at www.langtons.com.au/promo (your promotional code to enter is: ‘Langton’). Alternatively, call Langton’s on 03 9428 4499 or email langtons@langtons.com.au for more information.

At $300 for a six pack of wine, it represents a really great opportunity to further help raise funds for Victoria’s devastated regions. Please support this worthwhile fundraising effort!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Heymann Lowenstein Schieferterrasen Riesling 2007

Weingut Heymann Lowenstein Schieferterrasen Riesling 2007 (Mosel, Germany)
$45, Screwcap
Winery Website

Is this the antithesis to modern Australian Riesling? Oxidative handling, deep colours and intensely ripe flavours make this seem more Alsatian (or Alsacian, i always get confused) than the gently off dry Kabinett styles we normally see. This is certainly an interesting wine, lets put it that way, then again with a vineyard site like the one above, wines that push the boundaries should be expected...

Full, golden yellow colour, the nose has ripe apricot, even botrytisy (without the mouldy funk) richness that is more Viognier than Riesling, though impressively concentrated and still quite fresh. The palate is rich, spicy & almost Gewurtzy with back palate grip to match the musky, full & complex palate.

At first this seems simply to big to be drinkable, like many Aussie Viogniers can be, yet there is some undeniable softness and delicacy to the finish that makes this quite an enjoyable, if somewhat OTT, drink. I like it, but geez its a long way from pristine Eden Valley Rizza's (and where to from here on the development stakes? Drink sooner rather than later me thinks). 18

Chateau Brane Cantenac Rouge & Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc 2005

Drunk on Saturday, these two from Bordeaux actually show up the conundrum when scoring wine. Do you allocate a score based on how a wines drinking right now, or do you include potential?

I have always stuck to the former and let the addition of a '+' or so on the end indicate the potential for the score to increase over time. However, this got me thinking - is the '+' really doing the wine justice? Or am I just giving it a seal of cellaring surety? A '+' could mean just about anything in truth...

I've always believed that great wines are great from the word go, but not everything follows that rule. Pinot maybe, Riesling sure, but Cabernet? Probably not and definitely not in the case of the second wine below.

Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc 2005
Its sad to say, but I have never had a 'good' white Bordeaux. Looking at the prices of the better examples I can't say that will be changing in a hurry either. I am however a massive fan of the style (Cape Mentelle's Wallcliffe SBS, for example, is a wine I consistently enjoy) so its something to look forward to experiencing.

This wine however is nothing to get excited about. Quite rich and cheesy, with lemon, custard and cheddar on the nose & surprisingly obvious oak sitting on top of the fruit. Its doesn't taste like new oak as such, but it still sticks out. The palate is quite lean, dry and refreshing but that cheesiness just becomes annoying after a while. 16.5

Chateau Brane Cantenac Rouge 2005
At the $150 asking price this is actually pretty fair value, particularly given the structure and style on offer here. Bay leaf, a hint of old cupboard, cedar and a smidgen of sappy red fruit on the nose which leads to a dense, dry and deeply tannic palate with the flavours largely wrapped in the back end. The whole wine does feel quite vibrant however, the tannins of the long, fruit derived variety.

Impressively structured and very tight it feels like a long term wine, but at present it gives very little away - not one skerrick of immediacy here, the potential largely hidden. The net result is that its not much of a drink at the moment and unless you are familiar with the style and how it will change in the bottle, I think very few would enjoy it (I'm not familiar with the wine either. I'm lucky to have tried a few similar wines both young and old, otherwise I'd probably struggle to understand it and write the wine off all together).

So, in conclusion, I think this is a top wine to buy and stick away for a decade, but there is no love yet. The score then is a middle ground - two ambiguous '+'s on the end to signal serious potential, and a good (but not great) score to indicate the current state of affairs.17.5++

Friday, 20 February 2009

Sydney Wine Show - Tasting the wines (whites)

Following on from here, these are my tasting notes from the Public and Exhibitors tasting at the 2009 Sydney Wine Show - where every one of the 2,300 odd wines in the show was available for tasting (a full list of the wines here).

From two days of tasting wine, at wine show speed (ie no time to ponder) the 100 odd wines here (broken down into reds and whites) are a very meagre representation of what was on offer. I could have spent the days tasting just Shiraz and Cabernet (and very, very good ones at that) and notched up 200+ wines. Instead I took a ruthless approach and went for the wines that I either a)like and wanted to try new/other vintages or b)am just plain interested in. So below is a large swathe of notes on Riesling, Sem, Hunter stuff & pinots....

As for grand generalisations I found the young Shiraz and red classes quite unenjoyable - quite a few off balance 07 South Australian reds, middling Barossan, Hunter & Margaret River 06's and overoaked blockbusters. You could also safely a add or subtract a point off the scores depending on how much patience you have (many wines tasted where 2 yrs old at most) and how grumpy you are. I was particularly surly by the end of the second day after drinking far too many free beers at the Trophy Lunch and then following it up with a million vodkas at the Casino. Still got up and tasted for 5 hours on Day 2 though. Commitment plus.

I've broken the tasting notes into reds and whites mainly due to size (I'll put a link in here when I post the reds)

As you will see I've also separated the notes by variety and also put them in alphabetical order for simplicity. Multiple vintages of the same wine go from oldest to youngest. I apologise in advance for some of the attenuated notes and lack of detail.

Finally, I would like to reinforce just how good Hunter Semillon can be. I counted at least 4 examples that I think could represent Australia in the white wine world, they are simply that good, competing with Montrachets, TBAs, Gruners, Sauternes etc as the great white wines of the world. Plus they will live forever, are low in alcohol and are distinctly Australian. What more do we need?


Sparkling


Hardys Arras 2002
Tasted halfway through day two, I struggled to do this justice. Suffice to say it tastes like the goods - crisper than the 01, I think it will get even better with age. 18.0+



Riesling


Annie's Lane Coppertrail Riesling 2008
Disappointing. Pure & crisp but all too simple. Lacks expression, intensity & fruit. 16.9

Capel Vale Whispering Hill Riesling 2008
Larry Cherubino's Whispering Hill Riesling 08 was a standout tried last yr, so interesting to see how Capel Vale's version stacks up. Light, floral, bath salt nose thats very attractive and pretty. The palate is nicely soft and rich with sweet fruit that moves into the spicy apricot flavour realm. A soft finish with underplayed natural acidity finishes it off. Very pretty if just slightly flabby. 18.3

Heggies Riesling 2004
Distinctly Eden lime & slate nose. Open knit, lightly toasty, gracefully ageing but lacking the intensity of the Contours.

Heggies Riesling 2008
Lovely typically slatey, regional nose, leading to a bright, tight and quite intense palate. Classic Eden Riesling. 18.5

Leasingham Classic Clare Riesling 2008
Crisp talc nose. Long, tight, slightly spritzy palate of lime juice, real freshness and length. Classic stuff. 18.0

Leo Buring Tasmanian Riesling 2008
Cut grass & lemon nose that is quite Germanic in its grapefruit & melon cool clime style. Palate is pure and long, but somehow missing something. Almost great. 17.4

Pewsey Vale Contours Riesling 2004
Interestingly I actually preferred the 04 Heggies Riesling, but I think this will overtake it in time. Ripe and quite advanced nose, nicely intense acidity though. Good not amazing but the acid is there. 17.0+

Pewsey Vale Contours Riesling 2005
Tasted after the 06 this was noticeable toastier and open knit on the nose. Definitely a riper, fleshier vintage, but this also seemed slightly flabby after the 06. Could be an awkward stage.17.2+

Pewsey Vale Contours Riesling 2006
In the groove (already). Just lightly toasty on the nose, just beginning to develop. Brilliantly powerful, limey palate. Dense, linear. Already great. 18.4+

Pikes Traditionale Riesling 2008
Somewhat toasty already on the nose, leading to its trademark limey palate. Its brightly acidic but still a little too developed compared to its peers. 16.5

Pipers Brook Riesling 2008
Gee its been a while since I tried some Pipers Brook gear and I've been really missing out. This has a softly spicy, floral nose that leads on to a just sweet palate of real freshness and lovely style. Great stuff.18.1

Wilson Vineyard Polish Hill Riesling 2008
Did they have a rough time up around Polish Hill River in 08? I still have mixed feelings about the 08 Grosset Polish Hill (though the other bottle might come good) and both this and the Pikes seem quite forward and flat. A nothing, just limey and teensy tiny toasty nose with a rather bland, 'no mans land' palate with quite blunt acidity. 15.


Sauvignon Blanc


Clairault Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Much more MR in shape this was tasted directly after the Logan and suffered as a result. Sour lemongrass nose with just a bit of pea like development, the palate is slightly sour, but clearly varietal. Its good but needs some Sem to flesh it out. 17.2

Dalrymple Sauvignon Blanc 2008
My first Vino lok! I rather like them. They are actual quite basic in design - a glass stopper with a rubber seal. This one had a screwcap looking metal cap over the end. I think the glass stopper alone would be the goer -it looks pretty sophisticated. Anyway, the wine is also pretty smart too. Fine, subtly aromatic nose thats nice and pristine, if slightly de-Savvied in character. The palate is similarly clean & crisp with a textural element that I reckon comes from some yeast & barrel work. Whatever they did, it worked a treat and this quite French style is very drinkable. If you hate the overt Logan style, then this would be the perfect drink. Go Tassie again! 18.2

Logan Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Trophy winner (Best Sauvignon Blanc) and very impressive. Bursting with clear, grassy, pristine aromatics in the herbaceous, slightly citrussy and less overtly tropical Orange style. The palate is cleverly dry and perfectly delineated with herbs, woody notes and general definition. If you dig aromatic Savvies then this is an excellent example. 18.7


Semillon


Brokenwood Stanleigh Park Semillon 2007
Muted nose, grassy & crisply acidic, grassy linear palate. Excellent structure & grapefruity dry, but just a little backward and awkward right now. 17.6

Mcwilliams Mt Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2003
Cork. Slightly volatile, honeyed nose. Creamy fat developing around the mid palate. Nice but I want more crispness. 17.3

Mcwilliams Mt Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2005
Firstly, I am a Vat 1 man, Lovedale comes second in my world. Very green colour. Green apple, custard development. Palate is just a little toasty & quite fleshy, but the tail end is almost bluntly acidic. In a bit of a developmental mid station. 16.5++

Mcwilliams Mt Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2008
A masochistic move trying this at such a young age. Very green, quite grassy & really just a bucketful of appley acid. Forget for five yrs, then revisit for proper score. 16.0++

Meerea Park Alexander Munro Semillon 2004
This followed the wine below (and was narrowly beaten by it). I think in time the scores will be reversed, but for the moment its a fair assessment. Much more lemony & traditional than the Terracotta on the nose, with some hay & dried grass Sem aged characters too. The palate is long, but with much more to give, slightly awkward but at the same time there is that glint of absolute greatness.

Meerea Park Terracotta Semillon 2004
Truly brilliant. Big, overt, mildly toasty nose in a quite expressive frameset. Layered, quite classic palate of bewildering complexity. More red than green apples. Such balance & perfection! We need more wines like this. 19.1

Thomas Braemore Semillon 2004
Nice to try one of Andrew Thomas's Sem's with some age on it. Big, intense, medium toast & lime nose, high acid, intense dry palate. A bit big for the present but real potential plus. 17.7+

Tyrrells Belford Semillon 2008
Carries a bit of the Stevens runny cheese (see 08 Tyrrells Stevens Semillon below) but backed up with more typical Granny Smith fruit. Very tight, very primary palate. Needs years. 17.1++

Tyrrells HVD Semillon 2004
Trophy winner (Best White Wine over Premium Classes, Previous Vintage and Older). I am not much of a fan of the 04 vintage Tyrrells Sems - they just seem a little dull. Quite green nose but the toast sits on top. Peas, grass & more - its still good Sem, but there is a soapy element here that ruins it. 16.3

Tyrrells Stevens Semillon 2005
Stuck. Neither primary, nor developed, just nothing right now. Nothing nose, nothing palate. Craving time. 16.0++

Tyrrells Stevens Semillon 2008
The 08 Tyrrells sems showed up very strangely here. This had a very unusual soft runny Brie character throughout, after that it was surprisingly big, broad and generous. Did someone stick Chardy into the Sem bottle? Sulphur? What's going on here? 15.5

Tyrrells Vat 1 Semillon 1999
A slightly creamy, whipped butter on citrus nose. The palate has creamy Chardonnay like richness, but with a citrus backbone - toasty generosity meets green apple acidity. It's like what you have always wanted a Chardonnay to be like, but drier, greener and much more linear in its structure. Fantastic stuff. 18.9

Tyrrells Vat 1 Semillon 2005
Another worthy trophy winner (Two trophies: Best Semillon & White Wine of Show). I am so glad to have some of this in the cellar - its delicious. Glowing colour, a full, just toasty nose, the palate shows sour limes, granny smiths and some toasty richness. Its a mere toddler, but gee its full and delicious Hunter Sem. Pure brilliance. 18.9

Vasse Felix Semillon 2008
Grassy, tinned pea nose, bright, ultra clean palate, late hit of subtle vanilla oak. Its quite a complete and delicious wine. I really like this cleverly oak influenced, pristinely fruit driven style - it just works. 18.0


Other White Varietals


Bay of Fires Pinot Gris 2008
Very light green fruit nose, palate is light, primary and almost a little washed out. Great acidity but I'd be waiting to see where it goes. 16.5+

Pipers Brook Gewürztraminer 2008
Lightly aromatic (compared to so many Gewurtz's) the palate is well poised and nicely spicy with quite graceful, subtle flavours. Commendably good. 17.5

Pipers Brook Pinot Gris 2008
Not a bad effort for this varietal. Soapy nose, moderately rich, textural palate with some surprising creamy oak/yeast work on the palate. Bit of barrel work? Anyway its a pretty drinkable wine. 17.1

Tahbilk 1827 vines Marsanne 1999
I think this really suffered being put into this sort of lineup - it just looked exposed and chubby, like a naked fat bloke accidentally locked out of his apartment.
Honey & beeswax nose, nicely intense but quite broad honeycomb palate. Lacks a little freshness but still interesting (would be twice the wine if under screwcap). 16.9

Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2007
I think I would score this higher with food. Apricot skin varietal Viognier nose, big, broad and quite dense musky palate. Vanillan oak very cleverly integrated into the mid palate. Nice but just a little hot & syrupy. 17.4


White Blends


Cape Mentelle Wallcliffe SBS 2007
Tasted after the 2008 below and clearly showing the vintage characteristics. Lovely aromatic spicy nose with herbaceousness on lemon lime ripe fruit. Much more creamy, tropical fruity, open knit and richer than the 2008 but also appreciably generous and more complex. Really tasty. 18.5


Cape Mentelle Wallcliffe SBS 2008
Geez I love this style. When done well it's got nearly everything you want in a dry white and this is a boomer.
Delicious nose of herbs, white pepper and vanilla with citrus in support. The palate is perfectly judged, very tight, cleverly worked & just plain yum with real refreshment and texture. Very well handled oak. Bravo! 18.7


Houghtons Museum White Classic 2002
An interesting wine, but all together too chunky. Rich, ripe yellow fruit & honey nose. Palate is big & broad with distinctive citrus & custard apple fruit. Intriguing nonetheless. 16.9


Chardonnay

Clairault Estate Chardonnay 2006
Trophy winner (Best exhibit in named vineyard class). Big dense & chewy. Oaky nose & rather oak dominated palate. Too much sawdusty oak for me. 16.8

Lenton Brae Chardonnay 2006
Mealy but quite subtle Chardonnay, oaky mid palate but tightens up on the finish. Needs a year, but attractive (& ok value) in the meantime. 17.4

Seppelt Drumborg Chardonnay 2007
Very tight, minerally Chardonnay, just touched by oak. Subdued at present but I like the mineral characters underpinning the wine. 17.0+

Stonier KBS Chardonnay 2006
Complex, worked, lees stirred/barrel ferment/everything bar the kitchen sink nose, leesy, cheesy rich palate. Its all big and winey and somehow pretty tasty, but not for everyone. 17.8

Tyrrells Vat 47 Chardonnay 2004
Predictably great. Slightly flat, neutral nose, lovely rich just honeyed palate & the trademark Vat 47 acidity. So sprightly and vat 47ish. A hit for the Hunterista. 18


Sweet Whites


De Bortoli Deen Bortrytis Semillon 2006
Trophy Winner (Best Sweet White) Another bargain under this label. Apricot & honey nose of medium intensity (definitely 'Noble One Lite') with the Bortrytis element quite nicely handled. Palate is suitably toffeed, rich & typically nice, without becoming too heavy. Good stuff. 17.8

Mcguigan Bin 9000 Semillon 2008

Mcguigan Bin 9000 Semillon 2008 (Hunter Valley, SA)
Screwcap, $12
Winery Website

I've seen this around the traps for under $10 a bottle of late & I have appreciated past vintages, which inspired me to promote this from the 'eventually' tasting sample pile to the 'let's do it' tasting desk (In truth its a tasting corner of the desk. I wish I had the luxury of a specially designated tasting desk. Perhaps it could have one of those table mounted screwpulls on the end and a deep sink to prevent spitting splashbacks).

The wine itself is water green with some dissolved CO2 in the glass. The nose is sherbety & chalky, backed by lemon & lightly grassy fruit, leading to a green, sour, lime juice drenched palate. It's very simple and just a little prickly in its palate profile, but inoffensive and very crisp. Not bad for under a tenner though. 15.8

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Leasingham Bin 61 Shiraz 2005

Leasingham Bin 61 Shiraz 2005 (Clare Valley, SA)
Cork, $25
Winery Website

This has already picked up 3 trophies and I think its pretty easy to see why - its a show pony (at least on the nose).

Bright purple tinged red colour, the nose is big, ripe & roasted with liqueur cherries & coffee bean oak. Unsurprisingly, it shares alot with the 03 Taylors St Andrews Shiraz on the nose, but with more freshness and less oak. The palate seems to be closing down - there is a hit of very ripe sweet fruit, but after that it shuts shop, with some somewhat oak derived tannins to finish. What escapes is syrupy, overripe and not all that attractive, but only time will tell whether it can come out as a drinkable red. If its anything like the 1998 then history will be kind, but if it follows the 03 St Andrews, then ignominy awaits. 16.0

Wineries on the move

Just a quick note here about a news item that caught my eye.

As Fosters and Constellation Australia proceed to sell anything not bolted down, its good to hear that at least some of the 'assets' (How a very old vine Mclaren Vale vineyard can be classed merely as an asset is beyond me) have gone to a new home.

West Cape Howe wines, based in Denmark, Western Australia, has snapped up the old (well its not actually old, its pretty new and contemporary) Goundrey winery & a significant proportion of the vineyards. Under the stewardship of Gavin Berry (ex Plantagenet) the already promising WCH label has continued to pump out very fairly priced, approachable and regionally distinctive whites and reds from WA's Great Southern. I was actually at the current (very small) West Cape Howe cellar door this New Years Eve past and liked the very simple, friendly wines and even friendlier staff. Their Tempranillo in particular is a real bargain (and holds promise for this variety in the South West)

So good luck to West Cape Howe in their new digs!

More info here

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Teusner Avatar GSM 2005

Teusner Avatar GSM 2005 (Barossa, SA)
Cork, $28

A wine who's reputation proceeds it, 0f particular note is the interesting winemaking on show here - it's old school, yet cleverly so, with all the components co fermented, everything relying on the juice, rather than new oak to tell the story. I like that blend of old and new - its what the Barossa does best.

A mid red colour, this has dried herbs, cherry, a waft of VA and tomato paste on the slightly forward savoury nose. There is even a hint of saddle, though its more winey than bretty. The palate is medium bodied, pleasurably soft and somewhat evolved, with spicy old oak the only influence, the rest derived from integrated, maturing fruit. It feels like a pair of favourite jeans - worn in all the right places and comfortable from the get go, yet without losing its style.

Suffice to say its one very drinkable, enjoyable, medium bodied drink and its all the better for it. It probably won't seduce you with its intensity and some will be looking for more primary fruit freshness (I'd like to see it in a screwcap too because I'm a stelvinista or even a vino-loker: now they are pretty sexy too) but I'd drink a ton more of this than so many heavier Barossan reds. 18.0

Monday, 16 February 2009

Australian Wine Trade Bushfire Raffle

I know that many have already given generously to the cause, but now you can give money and win a whole heap of great prizes!

Australian Wine Trade Bushfire Raffle

http://www.winestar.com.au/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20182

The events of the past week have touched all Australians and hit home hard for the wine industry with the tragic death of Rob Davey (of Rob Davey Wine Merchants) his wife and two young daughters. A number of wineries in Victoria have also suffered significant property and stock losses. The Australian Wine Trade responds with generous donations from wineries big and small, including many affected as well as a number of key online retailers that have supported the cause. All that remains is for people to buy tickets and spread the word. I appreciate many of you have already given to the cause, but if you can find it in your heart to give a little more, and maybe even win some great wines, please do.

- Tickets are $25 each

- Proceeds to go to the Australian Red Cross - Victorian Bushfire Appeal 2009.

- Raffle runs Tuesday Feb 17th - Wednesday March 11th

- Raffle to be drawn Friday, March 13th. Details TBA

Raffle Prizes

1st Prize - ($25,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Mt Billy Antiquity 2004 - (Retail Value $600) - Mt Billy Wines
1 dozen Meerea Park Hell Hole Shiraz - (Retail Value $600) - Meerea Park Wines
1 six pack Dalwhinnie Eagle Series Shiraz 2004 - (Retail Value $1200) - Dalwhinnie Wines
1 dozen Mixed Burgundy Wines - Lester Jesberg
1 six pack Salon 1997 - (Retail Value $3600) - JHL Wines
1 double magnum 2006 Yarra Yering Dry Red No.1 - (Retail Value $500) - Wine-Ark
1 dozen Woodlands Reserve Cabernet Merlot “Margaret” 2006 - (Retail Value $540) - Woodlands Wines
1 three pack of Teusner Astral Series Moppa Mataro 2006 (Retail Value $300) - Teusner Wines
1 three pack of Teusner Astral Series FG Shiraz 2006 (Retail Value $390) - Teusner Wines
1 dozen Brook Eden Pinot Noir (Retail Value $408) - Brook Eden Vineyard, Tasmania
1 dozen Elio Altare Barolo La Morra 2003 - (Retail Value $1500) - Arquilla Bulk Trading
1 dozen Castello Banfi Sant’Antimo Rosso Excelsus 2003 - (Retail Value $1000) - Arquilla Bulk Trading
1 dozen Petaluma Coonawarra - (Retail Value $800) - Petaluma
1 dozen Saveterre Wines - (Retail Value $840) - Saveterre
1 x 6000ml Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz Imperial 1996 (Retail value $1000+) - Peter Lehmann Wines
1 dozen Cullen Mangan 2007 (Retail value $486) - Cullen Wines
1 six pack (in wood) Domaine A 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon - (Retail value $600) - Domaine A
1 six pack Two Hands Ares 2007 - (Retail value $1080) - Two Hands Wines
1 dozen Von Buhl Dry Riesling 2007 (Retail value $330) - Bibendum Wines
1 dozen Mac Forbes Hugh Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Retail value $480) - Mac Forbes Wines
1 bottle Penfolds Grange 2001 - (Retail Value $500) - Murray Almond
1 dozen Hillcrest Premium Pinot Noir - (Retail Value $660) - Hillcrest Vineyards
1 six pack of Premium Imported Wines - Negociants Australia
1 bottle Wild Duck Creek, Duck Muck 2000 - (Retail Value $400) - Jane Quick, MARC Fine Wines London
1 dozen Wonga Estate The Fugue 2006 - (Retail value $900) - Wonga Estate Wines
2 dozen Mixed Mollydooker (Boxer, Two Left, Blue Eyed Boy, Enchanted Path, Carnival of Love - (Retail value $1170) - Mollydooker
1 dozen Tatiarra Cambrian Shiraz - (Retail Value $480) - Domaines Tatiarra
1 dozen Tatiarra Culled Barrel Shiraz - (Retail Value $300) - Domaines Tatiarra
1 dozen Billecart-Salmon Brut Non Vintage - (Retail Value $1000+) - Domaine Wine Shippers
1 dozen Fox Gordon Eight Uncles Shiraz 2005 - (Retail Value $300) - Fox Gordon
The New James Halliday Wine Atlas (Retail Value $80) - Hardie Grant Books
1 double Memberships to VisitVineyards.com (Retail Value $168) - VisitVineyards.com
An Annual Subscriptions to The Wine Front - The Wine Front

2nd Prize - (Over $10,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Mt Billy Antiquity 2004 - (Retail Value $600) - Mt Billy Wines
1 dozen Hoddles Creek Chardonnay 2008 (Retail Value $240) - Hoddles Creek
1 dozen JaJa Barossa Shiraz 2004 - (Retail Value $360) - JaJa Wine Co
1 dozen Meerea Park Hell Hole Shiraz - (Retail Value $600) - Meerea Park Wines
1 dozen Woodlands Reserve Cabernet Merlot “Margaret” 2006 - (Retail Value $540) - Woodlands Wines
1 three pack of Teusner Astral Series Moppa Mataro 2006 (Retail Value $300) - Teusner Wines
1 three pack of Teusner Astral Series FG Shiraz 2006 (Retail Value $390) - Teusner Wines
1 dozen Brook Eden Pinot Noir (Retail Value $408) - Brook Eden Vineyard, Tasmania
1 dozen Burge Family Drycott Shiraz 2005 - (Retail Value $600) - Burge Family and Arquilla Bulk Trading
1 dozen Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Pomino Benefizio 2006 - (Retail Value $800) - Arquilla Bulk Trading
1 dozen De Bortoli Noble One 375ml (Retail Value $360 ) - De Bortoli Wines
1 six pack De Bortoli Melba - (Retail Value $360 ) - De Bortoli Wines
3 magnums Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 1500ml 2002 (Retail value $500+) - Peter Lehmann Wines
1 dozen Cullen Mangan 2007 (Retail value $486) - Cullen Wines
1 dozen Mac Forbes Hugh Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Retail value $480) - Mac Forbes Wines
1 dozen Spinifex 'Esprit' 2007 (Retail value $360) - Spinifex Wines
1 dozen Hillcrest Premium Pinot Noir - (Retail Value $660) - Hillcrest Vineyards
1 dozen Mixed Pinot Noir - Steven Naughton, Pinot NOW
1 dozen Petaluma Chardonnay - (Retail Value $480) - Petaluma
1 dozen Wonga Estate Heathcote Shiraz 2006 - (Retail value $720) - Wonga Estate Wines
1 dozen Chateau du Gaby Fronsac 1999 (Retail value $420) - Ce Soir Wine
1 dozen Robert Weil QBA Dry Riesling 2007 (Retail value $620) - Bibendum Wines
1 double Memberships to VisitVineyards.com (Retail Value $168) - VisitVineyards.com
The New James Halliday Wine Atlas (Retail Value $80) - Hardie Grant Books
An Annual Subscriptions to The Wine Front - The Wine Front

3rd Prize - (Over $5,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Mt Billy Antiquity 2004 - (Retail Value $600) - Mt Billy Wines
1 dozen Fonthill Silk McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 - (Retail Value $300) - Fonthill Wines
1 dozen Hoddles Pinot Noir 2007 - (Retail Value $240) - Boccaccio Cellars
1 dozen Fonthill Clare Valley Riesling 2008 - (Retail Value $240) - Fonthill Wines
1 dozen Galli Estate Artigiano block 2 Heathcote Shiraz 2006 - (Retail Value $330) - Galli Estate
4 magnums 1500ml Wither Hills Chardonnay 2005 - (Retail Value $160) - Wither Hills, NZ
1 dozen Galli Estate Artigiano 07 Sunbury Chardonnay - (Retail Value $330) - Galli Estate
1 Methuselah 6000ml Terra Felix Shiraz 2003 - Terra Felix and RW&S Wine
1 dozen Hay Shed Hill Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008 - (Retail Value $240) - Hay Shed Hill
3 magnums Peter Lehmann Eight Songs Shiraz 1500ml 2002 - (Retail value $200+) - Peter Lehmann Wines
1 dozen Wonga Estate Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2008 - (Retail value $420) - Wonga Estate Wines
1 dozen Wonga Estate Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2006 - (Retail value $420) - Wonga Estate Wines
1 dozen Mac Forbes Hugh Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Retail value $480) - Mac Forbes Wines
1 dozen Spinifex 'Papillon' 2008 (Retail value $ 270) - Spinifex Wines
1 dozen Mixed Pinot Noir - Steven Naughton, Pinot NOW
1 double Memberships to VisitVineyards.com (Retail Value $168) - VisitVineyards.com
The New James Halliday Wine Atlas (Retail Value $80) - Hardie Grant Books
An Annual Subscriptions to The Wine Front - The Wine Front

4th Prize - (Over $2,500 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Mt Billy Antiquity 2004 - (Retail Value $600) - Mt Billy Wines
1 dozen Whitsend Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - (Retail Value $300) - Whitsend Estate
1 dozen Wickhams Pinot Noir 2008 - (Retail Value $180) - Boccaccio Cellars
1 dozen Premium Wine - (Retail Value $300) - Strathmore Cellars
1 dozen Hay Shed Hill Shiraz Tempranillo 2007 - (Retail Value $240) - Hay Shed Hill
1 dozen Elderton Barossa Shiraz 2006- (Retail Value $330) - Elderton Wines
1 six pack Woodlands Reserve Cabernet Merlot “Margaret” 2006 - (Retail Value $270) - Woodlands Wines
1 dozen Mike Press Shiraz 2009 - when released in July) (Retail Value $150) - Mike Press Wines
1 dozen Fonthill Clare Valley Riesling 2008 - (Retail Value $240) - Fonthill Wines
1 double Memberships to VisitVineyards.com (Retail Value $168) - VisitVineyards.com
An Annual Subscriptions to The Wine Front - The Wine Front

5th Prize - (Over $2,000 approximate retail value)
1 magnum Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 - (Retail value $180) - Domaine A
1 six pack Domaine A Merlot 2004 - (Retail value $480) - Domaine A
1 dozen Von Buhl Dry Riesling 2007 (Retail value $330) - Bibendum Wines
1 dozen Robert Weil QBA Dry Riesling 2007 (Retail value $625) - Bibendum Wines
1 dozen Greenstone Shiraz 2007 (Retail value $360) - Bibendum Wines
1 dozen Cigale GMS 2007 (Retail value $ 270) - Spinifex Wines
1 double Memberships to VisitVineyards.com (Retail Value $168) - VisitVineyards.com
An Annual Subscriptions to The Wine Front - The Wine Front

6th Prize - (Over $1,800 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Premium Wine - (Retail Value $300) - WineStar
1 dozen Mike Press Mixed Trophy Winning 2005 Reds - (Retail Value $150) - Mike Press Wines
1 dozen Whitsend Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - (Retail Value $300) - Whitsend Estate
1 dozen Mike Press Shiraz 2009 - when released in July) (Retail Value $150) - Mike Press Wines
1 dozen Kaesler Bogan Shiraz 2006 - (Retail Value $720) - Kaesler Wines
1 dozen Illalangi Wines (Retail value $120) - Illalangi
1 dozen NZ Sauvignon Blanc - (Retail Value $120 ) - John Travaglini & Tony Weir, Prospect Wines
1 double Memberships to VisitVineyards.com (Retail Value $168) - VisitVineyards.com
An Annual Subscriptions to The Wine Front - The Wine Front

7th Prize - (Over $1,500 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Whitsend Shiraz Viognier 2006 - (Retail Value $300) - Whitsend Estate
1 dozen Mike Press Shiraz 2009 - when released in July) (Retail Value $150) - Mike Press Wines
1 dozen Kaesler Bogan Shiraz 2006 - (Retail Value $720) - Kaesler Wines
1 dozen Premium Wine - (Retail Value $300) - Frontier Wines
1 dozen NZ Sauvignon Blanc - (Retail Value $120 ) - John Travaglini & Tony Weir, Prospect Wines
An Annual Subscriptions to The Wine Front - The Wine Front

8th Prize - (Over $1,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Mike Press Shiraz 2009 - when released in July) (Retail Value $150) - Mike Press Wines
1 dozen NZ Sauvignon Blanc - (Retail Value $120 ) - John Travaglini & Tony Weir, Prospect Wines
1 six pack Mt Toolleen Barossa & Heathcote Shiraz - (Retail Value $190) - Mt Toolleen
1 dozen Wine by Brad Cabernet Merlot (Retail value $220) - Wine by Brad Wines
1 dozen Swings & Roundabouts Chardonnay 2008 (Retail value $228) - Swings & Roundabouts Wines
1 dozen Illalangi Wines (Retail value $120) - Illalangi
An Annual Subscriptions to The Wine Front - The Wine Front

9th Prize - (Over $1,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen NZ Sauvignon Blanc - (Retail Value $120 ) - John Travaglini & Tony Weir, Prospect Wines
1 dozen Pyren Block E Shiraz (Retail value $340) - Pyren Vineyard
1 dozen St Johns Road Blood & Courage - (Retail value $300) - St Johns Road Wines
1 dozen Clockwork Margaret River Cab Merlot (Retail value $180) - Oakover Wines
1 dozen Ceravolo Estate Wine (Retail value $200+) - Ceravolo Estate
An Annual Subscriptions to The Wine Front - The Wine Front

10th Prize - (Over $1,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Mike Press Shiraz 2009 - when released in July) (Retail Value $150) - Mike Press Wines
1 dozen NZ Sauvignon Blanc - (Retail Value $120 ) - John Travaglini & Tony Weir, Prospect Wines
1 dozen Flametree Margaret River - (Retail Value $300 ) - Flametree Wines
1 six pack Swings & Roundabouts Single Vineyard Creekview Shiraz Viognier 2004 (Retail value $174) - Swings & Roundabouts Wines
1 dozen Wine by Brad Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (Retail value $220) - Wine by Brad Wines
An Annual Subscriptions to The Wine Front - The Wine Front

11th Prize - ($1,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen St Hallett Faith Shiraz - (Retail Value $210) - Fine Wine Partners/St Hallett
1 dozen Winter Creek The Old Barossa Blend Grenache Shiraz 2005 - (Retail Value $300) - Winter Creek Wines
1 dozen Spinifex 'Lola' 2008 (Retail value $240) - Spinifex Wines
1 dozen Delatite Riesling 2006 (Retail value $ 300+) - Delatite Winery
An Annual Subscription to Winewise Magazine - Winewise

12th Prize - ($1,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Winter Creek Barossa Shiraz 2004 - (Retail Value $360) - Winter Creek Wines
1 dozen Opo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Retail Value $141) - Nicks Wine Merchants
1 dozen Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Retail Value $150) - Nicks Wine Merchants
1 dozen Journeys End Ascent Shiraz 2004 (Retail Value $330) - Nicks Wine Merchants
An Annual Subscription to Winewise Magazine - Winewise

13th Prize - ($1,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc (Retail value $275) - Twelve Bottles Wine Distributors
1 dozen Astrolabe Pinot Gris (Retail value $275) - Twelve Bottles Wine Distributors
1 dozen Stumpy Gully Merlot 2006 (Retail Value $300) - Stumpy Gully Vineyard
1 dozen Stumpy Gully Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Retail Value $240) - Stumpy Gully Vineyard
An Annual Subscription to Winewise Magazine - Winewise

14th Prize - ($1,000 approximate retail value)
1 case Rolling Chardonnay Magnums (Retail Value $240) from Cumulus Wines & Platinum Liquor
1 dozen Coates Organically Grown McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 - (Retail Value $420) - Coates Wines
1 dozen Winter Creek The Old Barossa Blend Grenache Shiraz 2005 - (Retail Value $300) - Winter Creek Wines
An Annual Subscription to Winewise Magazine - Winewise

15th Prize - ($1,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Mac Forbes Hugh Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Retail value $480) - Mac Forbes Wines
1 dozen St Hallett Faith Shiraz - (Retail Value $210) - Fine Wine Partners/St Hallett
1 dozen Kanta Riesling (Retail value $300) - East End Cellars
An Annual Subscription to Winewise Magazine - Winewise

16th Prize - ($1,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Greenstone Shiraz 2007 (Retail value $360) - Bibendum Wines
1 dozen Reillys Wines - (Retail Value $300) - Reillys Wines
3 magnums Peter Lehmann Mentor 2002 1500ml (Retail value $200+) - Peter Lehmann Wines

17th Prize - ($1,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Radford Riesling 2008 (Retail value $300) - Radford Wines
1 dozen Mixed Ralph Fowler Wines - Ralph Fowler
1 dozen Pyren Block E Shiraz (Retail value $340) - Pyren Vineyard

18th Prize - ($1,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen david Franz NV Larrikin II (2005 bottling) (Retail Value $480) - David Franz Lehmann Wines
1 dozen david Franz POP wine: episode 1 (06 Cab Sauv Shiraz Grenache) - (Retail Value $550) - David Franz Lehmann Wines

19th Prize - ($1,000 approximate retail value)
1 dozen david Franz nicole sparkling cabernet shiraz nv- 2008 disgorge (Retail Value $575) - David Franz Lehmann Wines
1 dozen Marius Symphony 2005 - (Retail Value $420) - Marius Wines

20th Prize - ($900 approximate retail value)
1 x Spiegelau Vino Grande 24 pce boxed set (Retail Value $280) - Spiegelau Glassware
1 x Spiegelau Vino Grande 5 pce boxed set (Retail Value $110) - Spiegelau Glassware
1 X Spiegelau Chateau Magnum decanter (Retail Value $150) - Spiegelau Glassware
Lunch for 2 at De Bortoli Yarra Valley Restaurant (Retail Value $360 ) - De Bortoli Wines

21st Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

22nd Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

23rd Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

24th Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

25th Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

26th Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

27th Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

28th Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

29th Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

30th Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

31st Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

32nd Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

33rd Prize - ($400 approximate retail value)
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards
1 dozen Kurtz Family Boundary Row GSM 2005 - (Retail value $200) - Kurtz Family Vineyards

Kudos to all the wineries and everyone involved - many are typically smaller, high quality family operations that have put their hand deep into their own pockets.

The selfless Aussie spirit is alive and well in our wine trade!

A non winning treatise on Verdelho

This article was submitted for this years GT Wine New Wine Writer Award which sadly I did not win. Rereading this again now I think its just too frivolous and not convincing enough....

Next time Gadget, Next time....

'Verdelho - Our alternative variety?

In every wine region you are bound to find one. Whether it’s in the backyard of an enthusiastic local, or a trial plot in the vineyard of a known name, it’s hard to ignore them. From MargaretRiver to Mudgee, from the Tamar to Mt Tamborine, the movement to varieties beyond Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet et al is gaining pace.

Thanks to an increasing awareness of global grape varieties, advances in viticulture and some switched on local grape nurseries, the spread of ‘the alternates’ are offering the wine producer (and drinker) a diversity never experienced before.

But, in all honesty, that’s all old news.

The Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show celebrated its eighth year in full existence in 2008. The Chalmers Grape Nursery can now sell you 50+ alternative varieties, spanning everything from Greco di Tufo to Saperavi. In fact, if you aren’t experimenting with some sort of unpronounceable variety in your vineyard, you’re obviously missing out.

But in the rush to embrace these alien grape varieties, in a quest for ‘newness’ and in a bid to stay up with the latest Tempranillo trend, are we forgetting our own historically ‘alternative’ varieties? Have we followed the trap that the Italians fell into of adopting the ‘international varieties’- Cabernet, Merlot and the like, at the expense of our own unique wines? Admittedly, we have no interestingly named indigenous varieties like the Sicilians, but what we do have is an impressively long viticultural history and some seriously old vines. Better still, we have more than just the internationals, we’ve got……Verdelho.

Yes Verdelho, described by Jancis Robinson MW as ‘a tradesman-like variety, liking warmth, yielding well but not prodigiously, and producing a wine which epitomizes its working-class background. and often derided by winemakers as a ‘wine for the punters’. The thing with Verdelho though is that, well, it’s ours. Aside from its importance in the backbone of classic Madeira and a smattering of similarly named European whites that it may or may not be interchangeable with (a peril of the alternative variety – many pseudonyms), Verdelho is uniquely Australian. It’s as Aussie as Russell Crowe, if he’d been born in Portugal (in which case he would be called ‘Crowe de Russell’ according to my online translation).

Beyond the derision however, some heavyweight wine heads think that Verdelho might be our greatest grape variety. In 1861, the man credited as the father of McLaren Vale’s wine industry, Dr Alexander Kelly, proclaimed Verdelho as ‘the best white wine grape’ in Australia. Other notable supporters include Karl Stockhausen, Geoff Hardy and even Sir William Macarthur, who described the grape in 1844 as ‘the most valuable grape for wine we have hitherto proved in the colony’ going on to detail the wine as ‘rich and generous, evidently capable of being kept for a great number of years’.

To further reinforce Verdelho’s suitability, we only need to look at its actual viticultural attributes – it loves heat (finding a natural home in the Swan & Hunter Valleys) and will retain its acidity even when fully ripe, is high yielding, resistant to disease (thanks to its thick skins) and, perhaps most importantly, is particularly drought resistant.


As water (and access to water rights) becomes such a prevailing issue in our dry brown land, why then are we not embracing varieties like Verdelho? Finding more drought tolerant grape varieties is an issue that the entire industry is facing at this very moment, with initial successes with some Mediterranean varieties such as Assyrtiko & Fiano, yet simultaneously ignoring old Verdelho.

Finally, we can’t ignore the fact that Verdelho can and will produce extremely approachable, drinkable wines. Capable of spanning the whole spectrum from the early picked, more herbaceous & crisp style (perfect competition for Kiwi Savvy) right through to the unctuous, tropical, full flavoured, golden Chardonnay weight style. Thanks to its aforementioned thick skinned personality, Verdelho also has a welcome phenolic grip on the finish that would scare the pants off any chubby Viognier.

So the question is - why aren’t we getting on the bandwagon to celebrate Verdelho? We love our working class heroes to conquer the world and the humble Verdelho might be just the pick – if the blandness of Pinot Grigio can become such a worldwide fad, then why can’t Verdelho?

The problem perhaps is that few wine producers have given more than a cursory glance to the V man. With a popularity that peaked in the mid 90’s and a reputation for solid performance, but few glimpses of glory, the quest to make super premium Verdelho has never eventuated.

For inspiration however, Verdelho producers need only look at Domaines Ott. Domaines Ott is a Provence producer that has reinvented the Rosé, taking an absolute quality approach to a wine style that has been largely associated with sweet pink lolly water. The vintages of Domaines Ott Rosé are serious, well structured wines, yet retain the absolute drinkability that Rosé is renowned for.

Admittedly Rosé’s global popularity has never been higher, so the market demand is there, but who’s not to say that a few high quality Verdelho’s can’t follow the lead of say, Albarino or Arneis, and become the next fad variety?

Perhaps the real crux of this issue is that Australian wine seems to be being left behind. Exports are down, our image is taking a hammering on the global stage, our wines are perceived as being industrial. The time for reinvention is here. Much like the Italians reaffirmation of its love affair with indigenous varieties, the time is ripe to focus on varieties that we can call our own. Just like Russell Crowe.
'

Taylors Jaraman Shiraz 2006

Taylors Jaraman Shiraz 2006 (Clare valley & McLaren Vale, SA)
Screwcap, $28


The ugly duckling of the Taylors range, this Jaraman has had a facelift - as you can see by the picture, its got some brand new packaging (which I quite like). The wine itself is not quite there yet, though I think plenty will appreciate the style.

Deep, dark, dense red maroon colour, you can fairly guess this wines intention from the outset - lashings of everything. The nose is dominated by rich chocolate bounty oak - If you dig the smell of oak barrels and that lovely sweet smell, you'll like this. Its an open knit nose with lots of density, the jammy fruit simmering below the oaky surface. Suitably, the palate is quite tight, toasty & oaky with rich, very ripe red fruit that is dense, sweet and quite cumbersome. Oak tannins heavily influence the finish and minutes later I can still taste the oak. It will open up, but what then? The oak should integrate for sure, but will it be a better wine or will it just fall over..

So I have to admit that I find this style of wine near undrinkable. Too dense, heavy, oaky & blunt. However I also know of heaps of people will absolutely piss their pants over this sort of sweetly rich, mega ripe, fruit & oak doused beasty. I'd recommend following your own palate preferences here. 15.5

2009 Sydney Wine Show: Results

Wine Shows - forever the whipping boy of Australia's fine wine media (and sometimes rightly so), they serve to highlight, in true agricultural fashion, the 'best of the breed'. The challenge is that due to wines absolutely subjective and emotionally charged personality, what construes as the 'best of the breed' to one person is cats piss to another. Unlike, say, Dog judging, where the performances can be measured with a well defined scale, trying to pin down the personality of a wine is a much more challenging prospect - hence the huge variance in scores.

Still, the best shows, with the best judges, served by the best terms of reference, do uncover some very nice wines. Just like this years Sydney Wine Show.

I spent Friday and Saturday tasting my way through over 100 wines from in amongst the 2,300 on offer (including some great brandies, though I was just too wrecked to do them justice. That and I don't like Brandy). I'll be posting the 100 odd notes up, including most of the trophy winners, when I can manage to transcribe the scrawl.

In the interim, here are the Trophy results: (Full results here)

2009 Macquarie Group Sydney Royal Wine Show

Note: Results for each trophy are displayed as follows: Award, Catalogue Number, Exhibitor, Exhibit, Vintage

WINE: SPECIAL PRIZES

THE LIQUORLAND PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by Liquorland, to the Exhibitor of the best Commercial White Wine entered in Classes 1 to 5.

Winner 19 XANADU WINES PTY LTD MARGARET RIVER WA 6285
NEXT OF KIN XANADU CHARDONNAY v. 2008

THE HANAMINNO PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by Mr Michael Arnott and Family, to the Exhibitor of the best Sweet White Wine in Class 6.

Winner 18 DE BORTOLI WINES BILBUL NSW 2680
DEEN DE BORTOLI BOTRYTIS SEMILLON v. 2006

THE BERT BEAR MEMORIAL PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by the First Thursday Luncheon Club, to the Exhibitor of the best Young White Wine entered in Classes 35, 40 to 43.

Winner 2 ANGULLONG VINEYARD ORANGE NSW 2800
ANGULLONG SAUVIGNON BLANC v. 2008

THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL SYDNEY PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, to the Exhibitor of the best White Wine exhibited in the Premium Classes, Previous Vintage and Older (Classes 36, 40 to 43 and 48).

Winner 44 TYRRELL'S VINEYARDS PTY LTD POKOLBIN NSW 2320
TYRRELLS HVD SEMILLON v. 2004

THE DOUGLAS LAMB PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by the Family and Friends of the late Douglas Lamb, to the Exhibitor of the best Varietal Wine, Riesling, Dry Style entered in Class 24.

Winner 8 HELM WINES MURRUMBATEMAN NSW 2582
HELM CLASSIC DRY RIESLING v. 2008

THE RAS OF NSW ANNUAL PRIZE FOR BEST SEMILLON A trophy, presented by the RAS of NSW, to the Exhibitor of the best Varietal Wine, Semillon entered in Class 26.

Winner 35 TYRRELL'S VINEYARDS PTY LTD POKOLBIN NSW 2320
TYRRELLS VAT 1 SEMILLON v. 2005

THE RAS OF NSW ANNUAL PRIZE FOR BEST CHARDONNAY A trophy, presented by the RAS of NSW, to the Exhibitor of the best Varietal Wine, Chardonnay entered in Classes 19, 20 and 31.

Winner 12 CAPE MENTELLE MARGARET RIVER WA 6285
CAPE MENTELLE CHARDONNAY v. 2007

THE RAS OF NSW ANNUAL PRIZE FOR BEST SAUVIGNON BLANC A trophy, presented by the RAS of NSW, to the Exhibitor of the best Varietal Wine, Sauvignon Blanc entered in Class 25.

Winner 28 LOGAN WINES PTY LTD MUDGEE NSW 2850
LOGAN SAUVIGNON BLANC v. 2008

THE FIRST ESTATE WINE MERCHANTS PERENNIAL TROPHY. Donated by First Estate Wine Merchants, for the best White Wine of the Show with a recommended retail price not exceeding $15 retail per bottle as sold in single bottles.

Winner 2 ANGULLONG VINEYARD ORANGE NSW 2800
ANGULLONG SAUVIGNON BLANC v. 2008

THE ALBERT CHAN MEMORIAL PRIZE. Donated by Friends of the late Albert Chan, to the Exhibitor of the best White Wine in the Show.

Winner 35 TYRRELL'S VINEYARDS PTY LTD POKOLBIN NSW 2320
TYRRELLS VAT 1 SEMILLON v. 2005

THE DR HENRY JOHN LINDEMAN MEMORIAL PERPETUAL PRIZE. Donated by Lindeman (Holdings) Limited, to the Exhibitor of the best White Wine exhibited in the Premium and Aged Vintage Classes (Classes 58 to 61).

Winner 7 PETER LEHMANN WINES TANUNDA SA 5352
WIGAN RIESLING v. 2003

THE WINE COMMUNICATORS OF AUSTRALIA PERPETUAL TROPHY. Formerly known as the Wine Press Club of NSW Perpetual Trophy was donated by The Wine Press Club of NSW, to the Exhibitor of the best Dry Red Wine in the Commercial Classes (Classes 8 to 11).

Winner 40 PENFOLDS WINES PTY LTD NURIOOTPA SA 5355
PENFOLDS KOONUNGA HILL SEVENTY SIX SHIRAZ CABERNET SAUVIGNON v. 2007

THE JOHN SWANN PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, to the Exhibitor of the best Dry Red Wine, two years and older, exhibited in the Premium Classes (44 to 47 and 49 to 51).

Winner 1 CHATEAU REYNELLA REYNELLA SA 5161
CHATEAU REYNELLA SHIRAZ v. 2006

THE LESLIE KEMENY MEMORIAL PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by Kemeny's Food and Liquor, to the Exhibitor of the best Previous Vintage (2007) Red Wine exhibited in the Premium Classes 37 to 39, 44 to 47.

Winner 2 STARVEDOG LANE REYNELLA SA 5161
STARVEDOG LANE SHIRAZ VIOGNIER v. 2007

THE RUDY KOMON MEMORIAL PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by Mrs Ruth Komon, to the Exhibitor of the best Shiraz/Viognier from Classes 22 and 33.

Winner 15 AMBERLEY ESTATE REYNELLA SA 5161
AMBERLEY SHIRAZ VIOGNIER v. 2007

THE GEOFFREY CRUNDALL PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by Geoffrey Crundall Cellars, to the Exhibitor of the best Varietal Wine, Pinot Noir from Class 29.

Winner 23 PARINGA ESTATE (AUST) PTY LTD RED HILL SOUTH VIC 3937
PARINGA ESTATE ESTATE PINOT NOIR v. 2007

THE DAN MURPHY'S PERENNIAL TROPHY. Donated by Dan Murphy's, to the Exhibitor of the best Varietal Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon from Classes 23 and 34.

Winner 24 THE YALUMBA WINE COMPANY ANGASTON SA 5353
RINGBOLT MARGARET RIVER CABERNET SAUVIGNON v. 2007

THE LIQUOR MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA PERENNIAL TROPHY. Donated by The Liquor Merchants Association of Australia, to the Exhibitor of the best Varietal Wine, Shiraz from Classes 21 and 32.

Winner 29 PARINGA ESTATE (AUST) PTY LTD RED HILL SOUTH VIC 3937
PARINGA ESTATE ESTATE SHIRAZ v. 2006

THE DR GILBERT PHILLIPS MEMORIAL PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by the Wine Society, to the Exhibitor of the best Red Wine in the Show.

Winner 29 PARINGA ESTATE (AUST) PTY LTD RED HILL SOUTH VIC 3937
PARINGA ESTATE ESTATE SHIRAZ v. 2006

THE THEO AND HELEN KAREDIS PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by Theo's Liquor Markets, to the Exhibitor of the best Red Wine in Aged Vintage Classes (62 to 64).

Winner 10 MOUNT LANGI GHIRAN PTY LTD ARARAT VIC 3377
MOUNT LANGI GHIRAN "LANGI" SHIRAZ v. 2004

THE AUSTRALIAN WINE AND BRANDY CORPORATION PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, to the Exhibitor of the Best Red Wine, not exceeding $20 retail per bottle as sold in single bottles.

Winner 14 LAKE BREEZE WINES LANGHORNE CREEK SA 5255
BULLANT SHIRAZ v. 2007

THE RESTAURANT AND CATERING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by the Restaurant and Catering Association of NSW, to the Exhibitor of the best Wine exhibited by a Small Producer in Named Vineyard Classes 65 to 72.

Winner 30 CLAIRAULT WINES DUNSBOROUGH WA 6281
CLAIRAULT ESTATE CHARDONNAY v. 2006

THE RAS OF NSW ANNUAL PRIZE FOR BEST EXHIBIT IN THE NAMED VINEYARD SECTION Presented by the RAS of NSW in 2009 to the Exhibitor of the best Named Vineyard exhibited in Classes 65 to 72.

Winner 36 PARINGA ESTATE (AUST) PTY LTD RED HILL SOUTH VIC 3937
PARINGA ESTATE RESERVE SHIRAZ v. 2007

THE THORP TROPHY. Donated by the late Mr G M Thorp, to the Exhibitor of the best Sparkling White Wine of the Show from Classes 12 and 52.

Winner 14 B SEPPELT & SONS LTD NURIOOTPA SA 5355
SEPPELT SALINGER v. 2005

THE J C M FORNACHON MEMORIAL PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by the late Rudy Komon, to the Exhibitor of the best Sherry, Fino Style, exhibited in the Commercial Class 14 and the Premium Class 54.

Winner 1 SEPPELTSFIELD WINES PTY LTD SEPPELTSFIELD VIA NURIOOTPA SA 5355
SEPPELTSFIELD FLORA FINO v.

THE JOURNALISTS' CLUB TROPHY Donated by the Journalists' Club, to the Exhibitor of the best Port exhibited in the Commercial Classes 18 and the Premium Classes 56 and 57.

Winner 5 MC WILLIAM'S WINES PTY LTD HANWOOD NSW 2680
SHOW TAWNY

THE JJ MCWILLIAM MEMORIAL PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by McWilliam’s Wines Pty Ltd, to the Exhibitor of the best Brandy exhibited in Classes 73 and 74.

Winner 3 HARDYS REYNELLA SA 5161
HARDYS SHOW BRANDY v.

THE JONES, STEAINS AND WALLER PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by A W & A Pardey, to the Exhibitor gaining the highest number of points in the Varietal Wine Classes (Classes 19 to 34).

Winner 24 THE YALUMBA WINE COMPANY ANGASTON SA 5353
N v. 2007

THE LEO BURING MEMORIAL PERPETUAL TROPHY. Established by the RAS of NSW from a sum bequeathed to the RAS by the late Leo Buring, to the Exhibitor gaining the highest number of points in Premium White Wine Classes, Current Vintage Classes 35 & 40 to 43.

Winner 41 TYRRELL'S VINEYARDS PTY LTD POKOLBIN NSW 2320

THE HARRY DAVIES MEMORIAL PERPETUAL TROPHY. Donated by the late Mrs D C Davies in memory of her husband, to the Exhibitor gaining the highest number of points in the Aged Vintage Wine Classes 58 to 64.

Winner 1 MC WILLIAM'S WINES PTY LTD HANWOOD NSW 2680

THE MCCARTHY SHIELD. Donated by J McCarthy and Co Pty Ltd, to the Most Successful Exhibitor in the Wines and Brandy Section from Classes 1 to 18, 35 to 64, 73 and 74.

Winner 2 MC WILLIAM'S WINES PTY LTD HANWOOD NSW 2680

MACQUARIE GROUP PERPETUAL TROPHY. The Macquarie Group Perpetual Trophy, formerly known as the Macquarie Bank Perpetual Trophy, was donated by Macquarie and first presented in 1996. Awarded to the Exhibitor of the best Wine of the Show.

Winner 29 PARINGA ESTATE (AUST) PTY LTD RED HILL SOUTH VIC 3937
PARINGA ESTATE ESTATE SHIRAZ v. 2006

THE FINE WINE PARTNERS PERPETUAL TROPHY. Presented by Fine Wine Partners, a joint venture between Tucker Seabrook & Lion Nathan Wine Group, to the Exhibitor of the Best Show Wine exhibited at major State Wine Shows in the 12 months preceding judging.

Winner 1 FOSTERS GROUP (2008 WREST POINT ROYAL HOBART INTERNATIONAL WINE SHOW)
COLDSTREAM RESERVE CHARDONNAY v. 2006