Sunday, 31 May 2009

Hewiton Range

Below is a snapshot of the most recent releases from Dean Hewitson - a big, affable Aussie who, in the classic vernacular, could 'talk for Australia'. Suitably then, his wines are big, firm and utterly reflective of its origins. To further sweeten the deal, the prices on offer are entirely realistic - good to see.

All the wines here where good drinks, but really failed to excite in the sort of stand up tasting format they were served in. Most need a lay down in the cellar, some for extended periods, before they will truly satisfy - I found hardness all through the range. These wines also served as a reminder of a few tough vintages in the Barossa, 07 in particular a hard drought year that showed in the wines (to my tastes at least).

Hewitson 'Lulu' Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2008
I'm no fan of the 08 Adelaide Hills Savvies - many seem heat affected and overly forward, & this was no exception. This was sweaty & ripe, with advancing grassy tropical fruit that was awkward and rather bland. Not for me. 15

Hewitson 'Gun Metal' Riesling 2008
Gun Metal is the apt descriptor for this smoky & slatey Riesling. A flush of sherbet, but otherwise its so stony that its actually a hard drink right now, the raspy acidity dominating the finish. A keeper, but not for immediate consumption. In 3-5 it will be a beauty. 16+++

Hewitson 'Miss Harry' GSM 2007
Ripe curranty & grenachey. Lots of red berried Grenache jumping out of the glass, but there is also a soupyness to the fruit that comes across as forced. On the palate its got plenty of spicy red fruit & fruitcake, some polished vanilla oak at the edges, but again that hardness. A solid light to medium bodied drinker, but also suffering from the vagaries of the vintage. 16.5

Hewitson 'Ned & Henrys' Shiraz 2007
Very dense nose. Black & blue fruit, veiled behind French oak. Tight. Palate is much more open compared to the nose, with luscious warm fruit and astringent oak tannins through the middle. Still way too young. Alcohol a little obvious on the finish. Ultimately its a nice drinking wine in a ripe medium bodied mould, if a lesser, more forward vintage for this label. Should improve with bottle time regardless. 16.5++

Hewitson 'Baby Bush' Mourvedre 2006
Now we are talking. Meaty, animale hint to the licorice and blueberry nose, with smoky red fruit and real savoury flavour. This was a little light, but in this form it came across as pure and interesting. 17+

Hewitson 'Old Garden' Mourvedre 2007
Closed, malted caramel oak nose with that same soupyness I picked up in the Miss Harry. The palate though is quite attractive, with lovely leathery fruit in the cranberries & meat lovers pizza spectrum. Great intensity and savoury, spicy interest, if too young to be enjoyed as yet. Good stuff, just in need of some down time to come together. 17.5+++

Hewitson 'Old Garden' Mourvedre 2006
Far too backwards for immediate drinking. Darker, blacker than the 07. Grainy French oak is the only thing escaping. A bit of roasted beef, some dark red fruit, but otherwise its all so very elemental that its hard to judge as yet. Sneaky tannins.The score is lesser than the 07, but in time it could well be reversed. Really needs to be drunk over several days, as it didn't even budge over dinner. 17+++

Hewitson 'Old Garden' Mourvedre 2000
From another tough vintage in the Barossa (quite like 07 actually), this was interesting enough but not all that convincing a drink. Maturing, smoky nose of soil, leaf mulch & bacon bits. Palate is a little stewed and forced with a big hole in the back end. Awkward finish as acid rises up. Drinkable & solid but not overly appealing. 16

Saturday, 30 May 2009

3 Rhone gooduns

These were tasted at one of Sydney's finest imported wine meccas, the Ultimo Wine Centre. If you are ever in Sydney town, don't miss out on the Saturday tastings - always high quality interesting wines to taste, with the only challenge to walk out of there with your credit card unscathed.

Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 2007
Really quite a surprise. I've got limited experience with white Southern Rhones, but this was such a different wine to the norm - so crisp, dry and reserved. On the nose it has beeswax, honey and a whiff of lanolin & white flowers. Its very tight and unusually fragrant for a wine style that is built more on palate textures & weight than aromatics.

The palate is similarly reserved & dry, with none of the glycerol heavy weight of typical Southern Rhone whites. Indeed, this had me thinking of Chenin Blanc with its crisply honeyed flavours, the finish crisp, even if the acidity is still quite low.

Quite delicious stuff. 17.2+

Chateau Mont Redon Cotes du Rhone 2006
Bargain. Grab a bottle if you can, because for under $25 (and I've seen it in Vintage Cellars in Australia at this price) its an absolutely delicious snapshot of what makes Cotes Du Rhone great. Lovely, musky rich fruit nose, it smells sweet and modern, but also recognisably Rhonish, with is grilled meats & spice & savoury rich fruited palate. Its hardly deep and sophisticated but its so drinkable and authentic. Winner. 17.0

Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf du Pape 2006
Special wine. It takes a while to unfurl, but when it does, this has the elusive x factor 'wowness'. The nose has pepper, licorice and typical CdP hot stones, but it all sits sub surface, hinting at the cellaring future on offer here. The palate is succulent and ripe, but it all tightens up toward the end with some almost Italianate long long tannins.

Ultimately this is a classically impressive old world red, with its savoury nuances and excellent tannin structure that will only improve with cellaring time. Superb. 18.7

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Aerin's Vineyard Heathcote Shiraz 2008

Aerin's Vineyard Heathcote Shiraz 2008 (Heathcote, Vic)
$16.50, Screwcap, 14%

The back label notes that this is a Seppelt product, though Seppelt winemaker Jo Marsh is the driving force behind the label. The label really is quite attractive - it looks more like a t shirt design than a wine label. Whats in the bottle though sadly doesn't match the packaging.

It smells juicy but also quite thin and strained on the nose - sure signs of young vines/and or overcropping. Its musky and confected fruit, mainly in the blackberry and plum spectrum. On the palate its much of the same - thin, sweet & sour fruit, lacking in real concentration but utterly berryish all the same. Admittedly its very young, but it has little structure to carry it forward, rather it just falls away at the finish.

A label this attractive deserves better fruit...14

Decanter World Wine Awards - Results

This is a wrap up of the Australian Medal Winners from the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards.
Big congratulations to De Bortoli, Shingleback, Morris, Longview, Wolf Blass & Nepenthe.

Personally I think the winners here represent some very fine wines - a nice change from some wine show results. The gold medal winners in particular look very strong across the range - found myself nodding with plenty of the winners.

Find them for yourself here

Trophy Winners:
Australian Red Bordeaux Varietal over £10 Trophy - Fraser Gallop Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Australian Red Blend over £10 Trophy - Jacob's Creek Johann Shiraz Cabernet 2001
Australian Riesling over £10 Trophy - McGuigan Earth's Portrait Riesling 2003
Australian Fortified over £10 Trophy - Morris Old Premium Liqueur Muscat NV
Australian Chardonnay over £10 Trophy - Nepenthe Ithaca Chardonnay 2007
Australian Sauvignon Blanc under £10 Trophy - Nepenthe Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Australian Red Rhone Varietal under £10 Trophy - Palandri The Estates Shiraz 2007
Australian Red Rhone Varietal over £10 Trophy - Shaw & Smith Shiraz 2007
Australian Sweet over £10 Trophy - Tamar Ridge Kayena Vineyard Botrytis Riesling 2006
Australian Red Bordeaux Varietal under £10 Trophy - Tapestry Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Australian White Single Varietal over £10 Trophy - Tyrrell's Winemakers Selection Vat 1 Semillon 1998

Gold Medal Winners:
Charles Melton Nine Popes 2006
Angove's Tesco Reserve Riesling Gewurztraminer 2008
De Bortoli Estate Grown Chardonnay 2007
De Bortoli Noble One 2006
De Bortoli Reserve Release Chardonnay 2007
Evans & Tate The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz 2006
Glaetzer Amon-ra 2007
Grant Burge 20 Year Old Tawny NV
Kilikanoon Mort's Reserve Watervale Riesling 2008
Laurance Icon Cabernet 2007
Longview Devil's Elbow Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Longview Yakka Shiraz 2007
Morris Liqueur Tokay
Morris Old Premium Liqueur Tokay NV
Penfolds Reserve Bin 07A Chardonnay 2007
Peter Lehmann Wigan Riesling 2004
Seppeltsfield Cellar No 9 Rutherglen Muscat NV
Shingleback D Block Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Shingleback D Block Reserve Shiraz 2006
Shingleback The Gate Shiraz 2006
Skillogalee Single Vineyard Riesling 2008
Skillogalee Trevarrick Riesling 2008
Streicker Ironstone Block Old Vine Chardonnay 2007
Tintara Shiraz 2006
Umamu Estate Chardonnay 2006
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2007
Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 33rd Vintage 2005
Wolf Blass Gold Label Riesling 2005
Wolf Blass Platinum Label Shiraz 2006
Woody Nook Gallagher's Choice Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Yaldara 15 Year Old Tawny Port NV
Yalumba The Octavius Shiraz 2005

Monday, 25 May 2009

Mount Riley Pinot Noir 2008

Mount Riley Pinot Noir 2008 (Marlborough/Nelson, NZ)
$20, Screwcap, 13.5%

Just a quick note on this one as it was tasted rather quickly, in passing almost, so no time for a hard core, wine wankerish deconstruction, though I don't think this wine really needs one...

Bright & very light raspberry cordial in colour, it smells lightly sappy with dollops of raspberry tart and cream in a simple and fresh mould. Very youthful, juicy & particularly light, feeling freshly bottled. The palate is sweetly sappy, all juicy fruit and acid, the finish tapering off pretty quickly and lightly. It feels very easy and friendly, if way too young for consumption at this stage, with some pinosity still noticeable in amongst all that fruit. It does, however, also feel particularly pinot cordialish, with structure a distant after thought.

Best drunk in about 6 months time and for the next 2 years, this is a light and friendly Pinot that if you could find for close to $16 you would be on to a simple, recognisable as Pinot, light red of easy appeal. The score here discounts the drinkability, which is very high indeed. 16+

Friday, 22 May 2009

Seppelt Deathmatch Bout 3: Sparking Shiraz Showdown

To wrap up SW (Seppelt Week) here at AWR (Australian Wine Review) today's final bout is easily the most skewed of the lot.

In the fashion of previous bouts, today we have pitched two similar wines from the Seppelt portfolio head to head in a fight to the death. Today, its sparkling reds turn, with two bubbly fighters from the range battling it out in a lopsided vinous battle for honour and glory.

So, in the very red & bubbly corner, is the Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz 2005, a stalwart of the range that has engaged hearts and minds for many years, particularly in the absence of the heavy hitting Seppelt Show Sparkling.

It's up against it today however, with the other maroon red corner housing the new challenger to the throne, the Seppelt Silverband Sparkling Shiraz NV. Based on Grampians material of average age 6 years, this bottle is from the 2007 release & comes resplendent in the rather stylish and simple glory of a crown seal (well it looks good to me).

From the outset this is going to be a tough match for the Original to win, coming in a whole $10 lower in the RRP stakes and without even a regional designation for its fruit. Still, we love supporting the underdog and these two wines share alot: Similar alcohol (13%), similar colours and probably some similar base material. I'm not holding out much hope however....

Ding Ding! The fight begins. The first punches come from the nose of the Silverband, its aromatic licorice and earth characters smelling more mature yet simultaneously more complex and fresher than the cork sealed Original, which smells just a bit candied & dull, its rather stodgy punches not doing much for its image. The Silverband in particular smells much more like the aged Show Sparklings of yore, with that distinctive combination of redcurrant & licorice mixed with bottle aged Shiraz cedar.

Round two and the Original is looking shaky, that palate has a mushroomy funk that is neither appealing or impressive, the back end softening off to bland sweetness. It feels confected and simple, dull and barely worth its $20 price tag. In contrast, the Silverband is easily the best red wine of Seppelt Week (SW), to my tastes at least. I think it really benefits from its bottle age and its bubbles, softening the hard edges and giving that unique combination of tannins and sweet fizz that only splurgundy can do. The freshness imparted from its (perfect?) corwn seal no doubt helps. Its not hard to like that distinctive old leather & licorice seconday smell of older Aussie Shiraz, especially when coupled with well balanced dosage and sweet redcurrant fruit.

In the end then, this is a resounding win to the Silverband, which has shown the class of this wineries history with the capricious Splurgundy style. The Original just looks lifeless and overly commercial in comparison. The Silverband's classy packaging more than justifies its increased price.

The scores? 15.5 & 17.8 respectively, though at the dinner table, the age factor of the Silverband would probably propel the score even higher.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Seppelt Deathmatch Bout 2: Drumborg vs Chalambar

Following on from yesterdays Shiraz bout (here) today we have round 2 of the Seppelt wines death match - an old fashioned matchup between two likely competitors in the Seppelt range. Man on Man, Mano a mano in a head on fight to the death.

Todays bout (and it really is an unfair fight) pits the clear cut brilliance of Seppelt Drumborg Riesling 2008 vs the reliable, full flavoured Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz 2006 . These two have been selected as they have a somewhat similar RRP ($30 vs $25) but perhaps that is where the similarities stop, for the quality gap is much greater than merely the pinkish hue of a $5 note....

Before the fight begins, both sides show off their colours. On one hand, we have the green/very light straw/greenish yellow Drumborg looking very bright and fresh, vs the dense and maroon drenched red of the bulldog Chalambar.

The ref calls start and the first blows are landed here by the warm, sweetly oaked and red fruit drenched Chalambar, its powerful and quite dense nose just hinting at the power beneath. In contrast, the Drumborg is quite reticent and hangs back, its defences all clouded up in a blast of sulphur, leaving it to just put up its dukes and let nothing in. After a short spell the sulphur cloak comes off, leaving a very tight, sherbet and talc nose of crystalline purity, if edged with the first hint of toastiness.

The bell rings & its time for the second round - the palate round -. The Drumborg starts with a
flurry of fists from the its well defined, prize fighting body, attempting to use its 45 yr vineyard history to garner early dominance. Unfortunately for the Drumborg, it can't quite bring out the sucker punch, with a palate that is absolutely closed down, having moved from the freshness of youth into something slightly duller, lemony and acid driven. The acid backbone is quite special however, more Germanic blue slate than much of the rounder, limey Aussie loams its usually up against. Hence I'm predicting big things for this young fighter, with its natural abilities just needing some time to come together, moving through this post debut flat spot.

The Chalambar's response is typically assertive - big, firm flavours of dark fruits, grainy oak and a trace of meatiness that runs right through to the finish. Its a very dry style that feels hard, bulky and already starting to mature, the finish bitter and slightly metallic, rescued only by the odd whisper of caramelised fruit that escapes from all that dry extract. Its all rather unappealing at present, tasting hard, meaty, oak edged and bitter. It should improve with time, but that raw meatiness tastes like early onset development to me.

So in the end, it is the purity, structure and class of the Drumborg that wins this bout on points alone, its terroir winning easily, even if its just ticked over to a bit of an intermediate stage. The Chalambar is far too hard, raw and strained, built for the future no doubt, but also far from well balanced. Another disappointment then from the celebrated Chalambar label.

I've got to admit that the results of this fight were bound to be skewed in the Drumborg's favour, given my well known predilection towards acidity and Rieslings, and not forgetting the Drumborgs price difference. But in all honesty, I did expect more from the Chalambar: I spent my early wine wanker years drinking the mid 90's versions of this label, revelling in the bloody good value they represented. Yet recent years seem harder, more forced and less stylish than previously, similarly coinciding with a proliferation of new Seppelt Shiraz labels and a rather rocky recent history with its ownership.

The final scores in this bout where thus: 18++ for the Drumborg & 15 for the Chalambar - an aforementioned distance between the quality of the two wines that simply does not translate to price....

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Seppelt Shiraz Deathmatch - Mt Ida vs Silverband

After missing out on writing up a bottle yesterday for the Tuesday instalment of Seppelt Week (SW), its time to up the tempo. So, for the next three days it will be 2 Seppelt new releases each day, tasted side by side in an old fashioned, head to head death match.

To make things fair, I've tried to match up likely combatants, hence todays effort comes from two regional Shiraz based reds that are newish editions to the Seppelt portfolio.

In the very red corner, our first wine then is the Seppelt Mt Ida Shiraz 2005. Sourced from Heathcote fruit (though the back label is a little hazy about whether it is a single vineyard wine or not), Mt Ida is hardly a new name, but a new addition to the range now that the Mt Ida label has been swallowed up. Which reminds me, whatever happened to the Mt Helen label? I can still remember impressive mid 90's Cab blends under the green lanscape label of Mt Helen. Anyway, its a logical addition to the Seppelt Shiraz lineup.

In the (other) red corner is the Seppelt Silverband Grampians Shiraz 2006. Its another regional effort, with the 'Silverband' name referring to the Silverband Falls located in the Grampians National Park. Its again a newish addition, sitting a rung below the Mt Ida in the price scale (so up against it here perhaps), but also as a first release it has had some extra love thrown at it (reportedly).

So it starts with the colour - the Silverband is a bit more purple than the (slightly) redder Mt Ida, reflecting the age difference between the two. On the nose, the Mt Ida seems much more opulent and slightly roasted, with aromatic red fruit, pan juices & just a hint of violets. In contrast, the Silverband has stopped off at the deli, with some Rhonish sausage & Devon on the nose. Underneath this, the Silverband feels closed, sweeter & younger than the Mt Ida, but more fruit driven than the 'winey' Mt Ida. More noticeable oak on the Mt Ida nose too.

Moving on to the palate section of the fight, the Mt Ida lands the first blow, with a big left hook of grainy, slightly hard and bitter red/black fruit. This wine has a particularly dry and unyielding palate, with astringent wood tannins streaking through the finish. Its closed, backward and rather awkward to my palate, but absolutely full of ripe fruit. Raw and youthful stuff.

In response, the meaty, purple and quite slippery Silverband gets in a very sly jab to the jaw. Its a lighter punch than the Mt Ida, feeling more jubey, black fruited and soft, the hard edges of structure replaced with some more rounded and upfront flavours, that fall away towards the finish. Its much silkier through the middle, but it just feels a bit weak & youthful.

In the end, quite honestly, neither of these two put up a particularly convincing fight. The Mt Ida is so gruff, hard and wound up in structure that it is simply unpleasurable to drink now, even more so than the Benno from Monday. It will, however, improve markedly in the cellar, with the low (13.5%) alcohol and prominent tannins signifying that this wine has been built hard and dry, deliberately skewed towards cellarability. Just don't bother drinking it today.

The Silverband however is just plain average - its thin, bretty and bitter edged, lacking all of the delightful richness of the Bests or The Story Grampians wines that its competing with (Bin 1 & Grampians Shiraz respectively).

So we will notch that up as a win to the heavier weight Mt Ida Shiraz - its vineyard class and power winning out over the confusingly sour Silverband. The final scores are 17++ and 15.5.

Stay tuned for tomorrows Seppelt fight!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz 2007

Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz 2007 (Barossa, SA)
$20, Screwcap, 14.5%

Still (admirably) a single vineyard product, which is particularly impressive given this wines relative price. Well done Mr Burge.

Maroon purple in colour, like freshly crushed mulberries. Poignant colour that, for the nose is drenched in lovely, fat squishy berry flavours, with just a lick of sweet coconut oak. Plenty of volatility on the nose. Its almost got a Viognierish edge to the aromatics, that slightly peachy sweetness that seems very ripe and lifted indeed (hope no V weed* made it in here).

On the palate though, thoughts of the V shit are pushed to the peripherals, replaced by a quite sexy, if slightly raw & chewy palate of thick Barossan flavour. Its big, but also rounded, with firm flavours & a berried edge. After a little while the thoughts of Viognier creap back, courtsey of the sweet edges, but the positive impression is already made.

Good, young Barossan Shiraz. 17.0++

Wine Industry needs to shrink by 20%..immediately

Oh dear, its a very very bad time to be a wine producer (or more particularly, a wine grape grower)...

Adelaide Now article

Monday, 18 May 2009

Seppelt Benno Bendigo Shiraz 2006

It's Seppelt week here at AWR central, with a whole brace of Seppelt sample bottles to open up this week. Will endeavour to open at least one every day, so tune out now if you not a fan of the House.

Seppelt Benno Bendigo Shiraz 2006 (Bendigo, Vic)
$45, Screwcap, $14.5%

Not everyone is a fan, but I quite like the Seppelt packaging - simple, elegant, if just a teensy bit boring. Classic regardless. This Shiraz is one of the flagship wines for Seppelt Week (SW for short - acronyms are excellent) even though it doesn't convince (quite yet)

In the glass it look positively purple - bright & very youthful. The nose is very sweet and juicy, with cherry ripe and Bounty, sweet fruit and oak on the nose - its all small berries and creamy French oak, topped with VA & a bit of mint. The palate though doesn't quite live up to the lusciousness of the nose - its quite sour, dry and dominated by alcohol, backward and even a bit hard in its profile, with woody oak tannins intruding on the back palate. After a couple of hours in the glass it softens up a shade, but it still has a hardness about it that seems to detract from the drinkability, the alcohol giving it a final bludgering boot on the finish.

So my conclusion here was that this Benno may well emerge as something very fine indeed - the firm structure and briliant colour give hints of that - but at this very point in time its just hard work. Important plus signs on this one.. 16.0++

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Meerea Park Alexander Munro Cellar Release Shiraz 1998

Meerea Park Alexander Munro Cellar Release Shiraz 1998 (Hunter, NSW)
$100, Cork, 13.5%

Winery Website

This was released as a 10 yr old wine last year and the 99 is the current release. It's another smart move by the Eather boys, for this is a great way to show the oft neglected, yet legendary, ageability of Hunter Shiraz, which will often outlive Shiraz from nearly anywhere else in Australia.

Full red colour, lighter at the rim, but looking very youthful indeed, giving fair indication of this wines vigour. Earthen, caramelised nose - indeed, it smell its age - followed by red fruits and spice. Plenty of Hunter dirt on that nose, with just a whiff of field mushroom (the lovely brown ones) The palate is again slightly leathered, but its also big and berried, reflecting the warm 1998 vintage. This ripe, slightly sour youthfulness carries through onto a finish that is still tannic and unresolved, dry and long & ultimately satisfying in its slight gruffness - its 'proper' red wine in a style that the Eather's do so well. The 13.5% alcohol here also seems near perfect.

In the end this is a really very impressive, genuine Hunter Shiraz. Its dry, structure driven and unquestionably Hunterish, the sort of wine that will never be lush or immediate, and many may indeed just write it off as a bit dry and leathery. To me, however, its a great 11 year old expression of its origins & ultimately the sort of wine I like to drink. 18.0

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Penfolds Grange 2004

Penfolds Grange 2004 (South Australia)
$600, Cork, 14.3%

Now here is a challenging wine to review. The reviewers are swooning, the faithful are lining up at the Magill cellar door, even the mainstream press is giving it coverage (great to see, more please). In short, it is a 'loaded' wine: A bottle of fermented grape juice that comes so full of preconceptions, myth & mystique that actual tasting notes are redundant with reviewers serve to only agree or disagree with the greatness.

So, at first, I thought I would just not score this, to be a self righteous knob and just rattle off some descriptors and the odd opinion, before leaving a hole where the score would be at the end. But, instead, I sat there trying to work out what, if anything, was wrong with it. Approach a tasting with the idea that all wine is perfect until proven not. Its actually great fun, but also seems counter intuitive with the whole critical tasting idea. In the end, I decided that if you were to hold up a wine as the model for The Ultimate Young South Australian Shiraz, you couldn't really go wrong with this.

Purple, dark red in colour. Sweet, malted coconut oak, interwoven with really bright red fruit, like a raspberry bounty & just a smidgen of (classic for Grange) VA. Cocoa. Black fruit. Impossibly youthful. Actually, it reminds me a lot of the 2005 Moss Wood on the nose, with it's surreal, sweet youthful fruit and oak amalgam. Its a purity of fruit and well judged oak at its zenith, and its hard not too love. I think, however, that as a young wine, many European palates would find this too sweet. Leave it for a decade before serving it to the Poms then.

On the palate, well, it is drier, deeper and blacker than the sweet nose, much like 70% dark chocolate. Palate wise its red/black fruit dominant and utterly Penfoldian in its firm, quit sweet tannins. It's sweet, but so structured and balanced that it feels velvety. Velvety like Burgundy. Effortless softness that is so seductive that you don't notice the tannins, even though they hang in the background, ready to kick. I think that's called balance. And it makes this wine the hero that it's purported to be.

So in the end, in my quest to examine this wines perfection credentials, I really couldn't find much wrong with it. Perhaps its a bit too sweet, otherwise it really is a brilliant South Australian Shiraz. The only question, perhaps, is whether it is 'that much' better than the 04 St Henri. And that question is largely answered by your wallet...19.3/97

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Dr Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Auslese 2007

Dr Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Auslese 2007 (Mosel, Germany)
$45 (375ml), Cork, 7.5%
Winery Website (and read the vineyard descriptor)

What is about about wine and red soil? It seems that all the best wines come off the red stuff, whether it be the chocolatey dark red Hunter loam that brought us the classic Hunter Burgundies or the red stuff in Wilyabrup that sits underneath Moss Wood, Gralyn & Woodlands. In Coonawarra, its even got its own special 'terra rossa' nomenclature. Here, again, its the red soil that brings us the glory (following in the footsteps of another German Riesling here).

Very pale, bright yellow in colour, with no spritzig, this has a classically beautiful nose - very floral & quite enthralling in its fragrance. Its almost Gewurtz like in its terpene spiciness, with overtones of apricot skin, lavender & some creamy peach. No obvious Botrytis. Every time I stick my nose back in, something else pops out. Brilliant.

The palate is actually quite rounded and full, the acidity woven into the palate with no visible seams - quite unlike the stony soil Mosel style which is lean, dry & acidic. The palate starts off with a smidgin of fairy floss RS sugar, then it leans up a bit before the fruit hits in a turbo like rush of very ripe & mouthfilling fruit. Its very rich & hedonistic, yet the serious Auslese sugar weight is hidden behind the ripeness of the fruit - indeed, it feels so generous that the dry finish is almost a surprise.

What a wonderous wine. Its classically flavoured, red soil Auslese in a quite round and very juicy style. Yummo. Sheer brilliance. 18.7

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2007

Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2007 (Mosel, Germany)
$35, Screwcap, 7.5%
Winery Website

From a classic Mosel vineyard, in a classic year, this should be a cracker. However, Dr Loosen has also been the target of some tall poppy like allegations of slipping standards & slightly homogenised wines (particularly with the popularity of the Dr L), so I opened this with great interest.

Plenty of spritz in the glass, the colour is a very light green straw yellow. Very light indeed. The nose, once you get past the sulphur, is sharply defined & rather classic. Honey, slate, more slate & just a twinge of bath salt & honeysuckle RS - its very tight & typical of young, off dry Riesling from the formidable rocky Mosel slopes. (check out the vineyard picture below & follow the link above - interesting terroir!)

The palate starts dry before fast becoming quite typically sweet, with light, fruit tingle flavours flowing the whole length of the palate, talc flowing under the sweet juiciness. Its quite upfront and round, its sweetness very well judged, but still omnipotent - this is still, even though its marked as a 'Kabinett' style, a sweet wine. The key here is actually the perfection and balance. At no point does the sweetness become overbearing, with no botrytis to be found. Indeed the clean, perfect flow of ripe fruit is the main attraction here and minutes later I can still taste the slatey honeysuckle flavours.

The palate seems quite forward in structure, the fruit upfront and open, the acid backbone a side act & barely noticeable. Many would argue that this an early drinking wine, but that colour and freshness should provide plenty of scope for bottle evolution.

In the end I think many people will taste this and dismiss it as another off dry Mosel, but that is skipping over the purity at the core of this wine - its a quite classic & upfront off dry German Riesling of real balance. 17.5

Monday, 11 May 2009

33 Wines from across the globe

Below are the notes on 33 Mixed wines from across the globe, all sourced from a selection of the smaller wholesale wine distributors tasted at a trade tasting this evening (so stand up style, at speed, non blind).

These notes, unfortunately, are even shorter and more vague than ever, as I lost my tasting (backup) notebook. If anyone who finds a white notebook in the Wynyard (Sydney) area full of barely legible, wine stained scrawl, you'll know who it belongs too. As a result, these are more tasting impressions than full tasting notes (which is why I've also given a score range in some cases).

Interestingly, many of my favourites where all Australian. Make of that what you may...

Delamotte Brut NVCrisp, clean green apple style, with well judged structure vs generosity. Pinot dominant I believe and quite reasonable value at the $60 mark it is available for. (17.0)

Paul Bara Brut NV
Quite a disappointment, especially after the (similarly priced) Delamotte. Toasty, quite fat and blunt, with a rich & almost caramelised palate. (16.0-16.5)

Nigl 'Senftenberger Piri' Gruner Veltliner 2007Slightly severe, bone dry style with spicy pear nose & lean, varietally correct palate. Really in need of time. (16.5-16.8++)

Hirsch 'Heiligenstein' Gruner Veltliner 2007
Rich, if bland style of Gruner that felt a little mixed up in the ripeness stakes. (16.3)

Markus Molitor Guts Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2007
Simple Kabinett Trocken style with a dab of sherbety RS and clean, strong acidity. Not bad & a dry style that will appreciate bottle age. (16.5++)

Markus Molitor Guts Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2006
Rich, fuller and more complete than the Trocken above, this was a good Feinherb half dry style. Good. (16.9)

Paul Kubler Kintet 2007
A blend of Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir & Riesling. This was actually a really delicious drink, with all sorts of intriguing flavours in there. Really enjoyable, fresh style. (17.5)

Paul Kubler K Pinot Gris 2007
A really unusual Pinot Gris. Creamy, almost barrel fermented in its fattiness, this was rich and rather more Chardonnay like in palate weight, without the super ripeness of some Alsatian Pinot Gris. Pear & butterscotch. Interesting & quite delicious. (17.2-17.7)

Sottimano 'Basarin' Nebbiolo Langhe 2005
Like its broad regional status, this is a modern and very approachable take on Piedmont Nebbiolo. It's sweeter & richer than many peers, built richer & woven with softening oak, yet still with some convincing Nebbiolo tannins. Very drinkable, & quite fair value at $45. (16.3-16.9)

Sottimano 'Curra' Barbaresco 2005
Again a more modern style, this I felt took the modern route just a little too far - its not quite typical enough for my palate, too sweet and perhaps too 'new world' than it needs to be. However, the structure is assured, the sweetness may well integrate. Good, but not quite great, especially not at $100 (17)

Mauro Molino 'Gancia ' Barolo 2004
For all the previous wines modernity, this identically priced Barolo ($100) was a welcome return to typicity (which I really look forward to in Barolo). Truffles, pepper & musk - all sorts of complex nuances & really classic deep dark fruit. Delicious. Classic. (18.3)

Domaine Clos de Cazeaux 'Cuvee de la Tour de Sarrazine' Gigondas 2005
A rather peppery, meaty & slightly smoky style of Gigondas that to my palate is quite a little brackish and ill defined. Its typical of the region, but I'm no fan. (16-16.5)

Balnaves of Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
As is often the case with young Balnaves, I didn't enjoy this much at all. Moreso, this seemed overly eucalyptus dominated & awkward. Little fun at present regardless. Will get better. (16.5++)

Balnaves of Coonawarra 'The Tally' Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
If to reinforce how much the Balnaves wines need a year or two of bottle age, this was a beauty. its a absolute Goliath of a wine, it really is enormous. The question is more about when this will be at its peak - I'd be leaving it sleep for at least 6-8yrs and expect it to be going strong another decade after that... (18.3++)

Battely Syrah 2006
Sitting on the same table as the Jasper Hill wines, this seemed more Heathcote than Beechworth. Super ripe, almost pruney in its ultra ripe density, yet without feeling overtly heavy or alcoholic (much like Jasper Hills reds actually). Very polished, with just a tip of integrated Viognier in there. Excellent. (18)

Burklin Wolf Gaisbohl 'G.C.' Riesling 2007
Quite a big heavy bottle for a dry German Riesling, this was suitably a big, heavy and ripe, with a quite advanced golden colour. A bit big and unwieldy for me. (16.7-17.2)

Salomon Auslese Riesling 2006
Lovely stuff. Rich & full, this was ripe and marmaladey on the nose, but carried some remarkable acidity that helped firm everything up. Lovely mid palate zip. Winning stuff. (18)

Gottardi Blauburgunder 'Mazzon' 2006
Easily the most impressive Austrian red I've had, this was delightfully ripe and red fruited, with real classic Pinot characters, if a somewhat one dimensional palate. Very good. (17.4-17.8)
(Apparently this is actually from Northern Italy, not Austria. A cheeky typo on my tasting sheet. Good wine regardless).

Château Riotor Cotes de Provence Rouge 2007
Lovely & bright, fragrant & youthful, its fun, but Aussie GSM's have it all over this. If it was a $20 wine it would win hearts and minds all over the place, but at $30 its not got quite enough complexity or depth. (16.0)

Domaine du Grose Nore Bandol 2005
I am an unashamedly big fan of the meaty, very dry & savoury reds of Bandol & this lovely ripe wine is right up there. Really appealing to my Australian (biased) palate, with the sort of perfect ripeness we take for granted in our South Australian reds. (17.4-17.7)

Château Mont Redon CdP Rouge 2006
Lovely stuff. Bacony, smoky, Cabanossi & ripe fruits. Savoury, yet ripe palate with complexity plus. Yummo already. (17.6-17.9+)

Domaine de Villeneuve Vielles Vignes CdP Rouge 2006
Another impressive CdP, this seemed tighter than the Mont Redon, but with same classical 'pizza in a wine' meaty generosity. I actually preferred the last wine slightly more, but it was close. (17.6-17.9+)

Gerard Charvin CdR 2007
Lovely stuff in a classic, pure Rhone mould. Really bright and savoury and delicious. Great value at $38ish too. (17.5+)

Thomas Braemore Semillon 2009(Tank Sample) I've got alot of time for Andrew Thomas. Like the Eather boys, he is a no bullshit, salt of the earth Hunter winemaker with talent and access to excellent fruit. His wines, along with those of Meerea Park, sit at the forefront of the Hunter revival (a quiet revolution that I'm happy to be witnessing). This is his top Semillon and its a cracker: In 09 its riper, softer and more generous, reflecting the season, with lots of citrussy super freshness. Already delicious, this is the sort of wine that should be fed to Sauvignon Blanc drinkers, with its approachability & acid structure perfect for the 'glass with lunch' set. (18.0-18.5+)

Thomas O.C Semillon 2009
(Tank Sample) After the Braemore, this is lighter, lemony and a little less focused, but still very drinkable and again a very approachable Semillon. (17.5)

Thomas Sweetwater Shiraz 2007
Super polished, very youthful Shiraz. It feels like it only just left the barrel, with a long silky flow of ripe fruit. At this stage its dominated by French oak, but the future is promising. Lovely modern Shiraz, if a little un-Hunterish at this stage. (17.5+)

Rolf Binder Hanisch Shiraz 2006
Incredibly sweet. In fact, it reminded me of caramel fudge sauce more than wine. Simply too sweet & rich, time may fix this however. A caricature at present. (16.5+)

Lenton BraeSuch consistency! Brilliant stuff, I was really impressed by these wines.

Lenton Brae Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Sweaty, Sauvignon nose with real crisp, gooseberry & passionfruit greenish nose. Its the sort of definition that I prefer in this style. Very well judged, pristinely fresh palate. Excellent. Great value too. (18.0-18.3)

Lenton Brae Wilyabrup Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Lenton Brae's take on the Bordeaux style of oaked SSB and its a real winner. Just a lick of oak to match the absolute freshness, with the same grassy delicious aromatics & beautiful herbal palate. Brilliance. I love this style of wine. Winner (18.5)

Lenton Brae Chardonnay 2006
A little disappointed with this actually. It seemed overtaken by oak, with the absolute beauty of this wonderful year cloaked behind it. Should re-emerge, but at present, this is doesn't quite convince. (16.5+)

Lenton Brae Cabernet Merlot 2007
Leafy, perfumed and delicious, this was a very fresh style, it just needs some time for that leafiness to integrate. Lovely pure Cabernet style and perfectly balanced. (17)

Lenton Brae Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Winner. Perfectly ripe and leafy in the Margaret River style, this is savoury and beautiful - its got a bright core of blackberry fruit, but its still so medium bodied. Great mix of cool climate restraint and ripe fruit. Lovely stuff. (18)

Lenton Brae Cabernet Sauvignon 2001
Clear lineage with the above wine, its similarly leafy and balanced, in a way that cool climate Cabernet can really be. Its perhaps not going to get much better, but its a very drinkable food friendly style with again a real purity to it. I'm guessing this would be a spotless winery...(17.5)

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Top shelf Australian Pinot playoff

As the title suggests, the notes below are all on Pinot (with one sparkling interloper).
These were tasted at the 'Pinot Noir Australia' Event at Sydney's Woollahra Hotel. A well run exercise with an outstanding focus, it was an excellent opportunity to benchmark Australian Pinots with their peers (though if there had of been some wines from across the Tasman I fear they would have fairly gazumped many wines here).

As usual, these notes where taken at absolute speed, in a noisy, distraction filled environment so many are very brief indeed (you should see my notebook - it looks like it was written by a very tired 5 year old).

Kurabana Blanc De Noir 2005
I know nothing about this winery or this wine except that it is from Geelong & its listed at $27ea. It is, regardless, an excellent & rather sophisticated bubbly from this fast emerging cool climate region. Stemmy nose with strawberry Pinot notes, the palate is dry & mixes green apple crunch with some Blackberry varietal characters. I really liked the structure & drive here. Must find out more. 17.8

Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir 2007
Straight into the big guns! A distinctive lick of Macedon mint on the nose with really dominant aniseed. Nice definition and regionality. The palate lives up to expectations - its long, with a chewy midsection and tangy, quite high acidity. Real deep ethereal extras here. X Factor. Still tight & young, but still brilliant. 18.5+

Coldstream Hills Amphitheatre Pinot Noir 2006
Last time I went to Coldstream I walked away feeling a little robbed. They should have served me this. Ripe, dense, cherry red Yarra fruit - its a character that reminds me a little of Marlborough in its velvety brightness & roundness. Suffice to say, I find it a very attractive style indeed. Rich, polished & quite classic palate. Its perhaps a little smoky & almost too rich & alcoholic, but there is no doubting the quality of the fruit. Very good indeed. Crazy price though. 18

Penfolds Cellar Reserve Pinot Noir 2007
One of Gago's pet projects and an unquestionably authentic 'are you sure its a Penfolds' style ala the Cellar Reserve Sangiovese. Old oak. Meat. A very tight nose. Quite a restrained, powerful palate lurking in their, but cloaked in some serious tannins, if just a little hard & jarring. Needs time, but interesting regardless. 17.3+

Giaconda Beechworth Pinot Noir 2005
A wine in need of cellaring time. Ripe, sappy red fruit & plum nose. I have written here 'like Otago meets Mornington - fragrance meets ripeness'. The palate though is deeply structured, stalky and animale edged with much in reserve. If you have some, leave it alone. 17.4++

Bass Phillip Estate Pinot Noir 2005
Unequivocal. Real typical BP and actually genuine hard work, though you just know there is glory in there somewhere, hopefully, definitely... Hardy & quite smoky on the nose with some real whole bunch stalks & pips on the nose. It reeks of structure first, fruit second. The palate surprises in its balance, retaining generosity, though only a smidgen. Challenging drink now. 16.6++

Curly Flat Pinot Noir 2006
Lovely. Quite famine. Bright, lifted cherry fruit nose, with some eucalypt, cloves and stalks. the palate is deliciously soft & quite fruit driven, but without feeling sweet. Sexy stuff. 18.4

Bress Pinot Noir 2008
Very youthful in this lineup. Another quite licoricey nose, the palate shows soft fruit but with a minty, slightly unripe edge. Could just be a bit young and awkward however. Interesting wine that should build with time. 17.1++

Scorpo Noirien Pinot Noir 2008
A bright entry level wine of some spicy appeal. White pepper, approachable red fruit. A shade simple int this lineup, yet still good. 16.8

Scorpo Pinot Noir 2006
A very big wine indeed. Feels very dense & heavy with structure after the Noirien, almost too big. Really needs time. 17++

Scorpo Pinot Noir 2001
Just starting to dry out. Nose of bacon bits & chocolate. Its very youthful on the nose for an 8 yr old. Quite an extractive palate that feels like it is all structure, no fruit intensity. Still good. 16.8

Stoney Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004
The nose has spearmint, roast lamb & menthol. The palate is just ripe, acidic and quite firmly structured. Ultimately, to enjoy this wine, you have to be quite tolerant of a bit of spearmint - which is, ultimately, a barely ripe fruit character. In this instance I really quite enjoyed it, however if repeated I'm not so sure. Still, knowing what these wines are like, it will quite possible be a stunner in 10 years. Borderline, try before you buy stuff. 17.0

Domaine A Pinot Noir 2005
The goods. Spearmint, riper fruit & roast beef on the distinctively Domaine A nose. A very clear line with the above wine, with just a better, riper year to bring this to the fore. It's still undeniably straddles the just ripe edge, but it will also mature particularly successfully. I like it very much, but its not for everybody. 18+++

Kooyong Estate Pinot Noir 2007
A lesser wine for this very successful maker. Quite stewed & dry with a palate that feels stretched. Its still a Kooyong, no denying the style, but this was average. May well improve with time. 16.5+

'Farrside' By Farr Pinot Noir 2007
This is the new name for the By Farr Pinot and, as is often the case with Gary Farr's wines, its brilliant - one of those wines that sticks out as (the elusive) 'something special'.
Bright, red fruit Pinot nose. A very bright, opulent and open style with a quite big, dense palate of slightly herbal, pure red fruit. Impressive layers of flavour to the palate & still more in store. Great. 18.3++

Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2006
Clear similarities with the By Farr, with the same slightly mulchy, just meaty, dense palate. Again, real length & sophistication. Real Pinot, if not quite as opulent as the By Farr. 18+

Tapanappa Foggy Hill Pinot Noir 2007
Well on its way to cult status but in my books its quite a simple, young vine wine. Could change with time. Chocolatey, redcurrant & sausage nose, the palate is a little simple & sweet, but its also dry & quite tannic & reserved. Quality, but compared to the two wines above, this was, well, ordinary. 16.9

Frogmore Creek Pinot Noir 2006
Only caught a passing glance at this one. Seemed very bright & pure with nice fragrance. Might be well worth a try. NR

Scotchmans Hill Norfolk Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004
A super premium Scotchmans Pinot, this seemed overly advanced. Meaty & developing with a palate that fell away through the back end. 15.8

Curlewis Bellarine Selection Pinot Noir 2007
Good value stuff. Its a quite simple, rather ripe & chocolate oak edged style that firms up towards the back end. Light & immature, but obviously well made. Very good for the ($25) dollars. 17+

Curlewis Reserve Pinot Noir 2007
Big, red fruit nose in a luscious and pure nose. Very ripe. Delicious, sweet & decadent style that is pure & immediately pleasurable. Lovely & winning. 17.9

Springvale Pinot Noir 2006
Confected nose, slightly hard palate. Simple + short. 15.9

Port Phillip Estate Morillon Pinot Noir 2006
A quite light, feminine style that I think suffered in this lineup. A wine that really needs to be drunk at the dinner table. Pure fruit, sticky tannins, but felt just slightly weak. Drinkable, but not quite convincing in this lineup. 17.1

Lethbridge Mietta Pinot Noir 2006
Meaty, sweaty nose & a surprisingly simple palate. This taste was quite rushed, but it just felt a little slimy & hammy. Retaste required. 16

Friday, 8 May 2009

Weingut Prager Federspiel Steinriegel Riesling 2007

Weingut Prager Federspiel Steinreigel Riesling 2007 (Wachau, Austria)
$40, Cork, 12.5%
Winery Website

Geez i dig these Austrian whites. So floral, intense & crisp, with the wines showing classic, ultra cool climate structure & vitality. Apparently its absolute knife edge grape growing country climactically, but when conditions are right, the wines are truly, mouthwateringly delicious (Especially to my dry Riesling loving palate). Even this relatively 'entry level' Riesling has hints of brilliance. Pretty fine value, all things considered, too.

Lightly honeyed, slatey chalk & honeysuckle nose that is deliciously crisp and defined. The palate is taut & brimming with high acidity, the citrussy tension lingering throughout the finish. Its actually quite ripe, but you would never know with such prominent dry length, the expression of the stony, rocky soil pretty apparent here. There is just a hint of oxidative fat/stink on the back, but it doesn't particularly detract from the definition and deliciousness.

Excellent cool climate stuff that will mature for, hmmm, years, but is hard to beat already. 17.9

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Maude Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007

Maude Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007 (Central Otago, NZ)
$36, Screwcap, 14%
Winery Website

I love the smell of Central Otago Pinot. In the right vintage, from the right producer, it smells like bottled Pinot essence, with all the beautiful, slightly feral, lilting fragrances that this variety is renowned for. It's the sort of smell that it is so distinctive &, well, beautiful, that it almost qualifies as the very pinnacle of vinosity.

But, to step back for a second, Pinot Noir also smells weird. Compared to a stereotypical sweet & modern Aussie Shiraz, cool climate Pinot is from another planet - Musk, stems, skins, a hint of the farmyard & nary a familar embrace of sweet vanilla oak or plummy fruit in sight.

I can't help but think that, as a result of this inherent distinctiveness, & when coupled with its tempestous variability, Pinot Noir will never truly make the leap into major mainstream drinking. It's almost like Pinot Noir is simply too 'vinous' too 'winey' and not enough 'grape juice like' to gain absolute popularity. It will always be the sullen arty type and never the mainstream Neighbours cast member.

And its wines like this that serve as the perfect reminder.

The nose has a truckload of musky, ripe, floral redcurrant & plum sauce fruit with a meaty edge. Its the aforementioned Pinot essence, if cast in a quite light and open frameset, with all the faint animale undertones that the variety carries with it. The palate is very ripe, probably a little too ripe, but with still distinctive and delicious Pinosity to it. Its quite high in acidity, with the alcohol distracting the focus of the back end, but its still a delicious mouthful of clear Pinot fruit that shows the excellence of this vintage.

After a glass of this, all I wanted was cheese. Good aged Cheddar would go perfectly with this, again reminding of that other glorious attribute of Pinot Noir - its all round food friendliness.

Very Good. 17.7

Tulloch Verscato

Tulloch Verscato NV (Hunter Valley, NSW)
$16, Crown Seal

Like a proverbial Phoenix, the Tulloch name continues its successful family revival, with this very smart, market driven product the perfect example.

This wine is, broadly, a low alcohol, sweet, fizzy pink. In contrast to the other Moscato styles on the market, this however utilises existing strengths to good measure - full flavoured Verdelho with the addition of silkyShiraz. The end result is hardly serious, but will sell by the trailer load. Good packaging too.

The nose is actually slightly Muscaty, almost like the autosuggestion of a Moscato style has me picking up honeyed Muscat fruit. Also on the nose is fairy floss, raspberries & a suggestion of citrus. From here, the palate is very sweet & full, with green apples, strawberries & pear fruit, with actually quite good acidity. It's actually quite well balanced, with the RS kept to a point that prevents it becoming overly sweet, although its still unequivocally driven by sweet fruit.

In the end, its quite an admirably drinkable, fun and simple wine. 16.8

Friday, 1 May 2009

Two inconsistent Grant Burge wines

Really surprised by this pair - typically the Barossa is quite resilient to vintage variation. Yet the strains of two (arguably) ordinary Barossan vintages are on display here - the inconsistent 06's, the simple and ripe 07's. Still, these are two very well made wines that show supreme winemaking skill, yet the respective vintages haven't been kind.

Grant Burge Summers Chardonnay 2007 (Eden Valley & Adelaide Hills, SA)
$20, Screwcap

Quite full, golden yellow in colour, the bouquet shows a whole array of winemaking activity - stirred lees & barrel ferment notes - vanilla, butterscotch & cookie dough. This is backed by a palate full of very ripe fruit, with golden, yellow peach fruit woven throughout.

In other words, it smells like full house Chardonnay, if still elegantly framed. The palate supports this, presenting as quite dry and obviously well made, with the winemaking artifice quite well integrated into the complex, figgy palate. The alcohol stings a bit on the finish, but otherwise it finishes clean & crisp.

In the end this is a very well made, warm year Chardonnay that will appeal to lovers of the Hunteresque, big n' bold Chardy style. Personally, its not my style of wine - simply too big and ripe - but I can fully appreciate the skill involved. Can't help but feel this will fall over within a couple of years regardless. 16.8

Grant Burge Cameron Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Barossa, SA)
$20, Screwcap

The bigger surprise of the pair. The nose smells nothing like traditional Barossa Cabernet - its minty, gumleaf edged & slightly volatile, showing both ripe & unripe characters. With time in the glass, this reverts to a more leafy mint & fig jam style that smells like problems with even ripeness.

The palate is very tight & again very minty, with the limited characters that escape lacking freshness & continuing to emphasise the mixed messages of the nose.

So at this stage, I'm not a fan, though things could get better with some more time in the bottle. Really surprised at how you can produce an unripe Cabernet in the Barossa. 15.5