Monday, 29 June 2009

Wellington Riesling 2005

Wellington Riesling 2005 (Tasmania)
$16.50, Screwcap, 12.5%
Winery Website

I've had the mother of all head colds over the past 5 days, with my brain attempting to escape from behind my eyes at regular intervals. I have attempted to ward off said cold with plenty of beer, but it doesn't seem to have done all that good. Strangely though, my sense of smell (and taste) is still intact, and both tell me that this is pretty fine indeed for the dollars.

Golden yellow in colour, the nose has straw, toast & butter, mixed with a bit of dusty bottle age. On the palate its a bit chubby and rounded, with a flow of sweet golden buttercup fruit, yet its all a deception, for the acid at the finish is briskly cool climate and almost metallic in its power.

The whole package is hardly mindblowing, but it is a nicely weighted and quite delicate wine that is very easy to like. At the $16.50 cellar door price, its a bargain. 16.8

Thursday, 25 June 2009

BEER: Harviestoun Old Engine Oil

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil (Ava, Scotland) 5.5%
3 for $11 at my local Vintage Cellars

'Viscous, chocolatey, bitter'

The above line sits at the bottom of the Harviestoun label and, unlike lots of marketing guff, it is such a succinct description of this delicious dark beer. Whats more, at this chilly (for Sydney) time of year, the lovely, rich and hearty flavours of the 'Old Engine Oil' seem to take on an extra air of significance - I just want to come and drink this. It's like being a kid again, where I have to finish off my veges to get dessert. This beer is my dessert.

I think part of the appeal here is absolutely personal, and is really centred upon the rich, almost dairy like texture. The connection for me is that I am a massive fan of dairy. Milk, cream, cheese, yoghurt, even humble butter - all of it tastes special to me. Perhaps in a past life I was a dairy farmer, or a frustrated lactose intolerant chef. Whatever, I love dairy, and my body seems to thrive on the stuff. For extra significane, desides dairy, I also love dark chocolate. The good 70% Cocoa kind, of the style that balances both bitterness and sweetness perfectly.
Two peices of Lindt Excellence 70% Dark, accompanied by a glass of unhomogenised Organic Cows milk, is literally my daily nightcap & a favourite part of my routine.

The Harviestoun then is, flavour wise, all to familiar and right. Rich, heavily roasted malt, in a style that many breweries do well (Southwark & Coopers Extra Stout in Australia particularly so) but few do with such balance. This beer avoids the burnt coffee like flavours of some Stouts, instead moving towards a more caramelised, leaner palate that has you wanting to drink more than just a glass. That aforementioned creaminess comes through on the palate, giving generosity and viscosity, almost as if vanilla beans where also thrown into this brew. But to counter the cream, along comes the bitter chocolate, straightening up the broad creaminess and keep it all well toned and refreshing.

To tell you the truth, I think many people would just accept this as a lovely, rich, dark weather beer, but to me, it tastes like a lovingly familiar, almost custom built, amalgamation of some of my favourite flavours, packaged up in very accessible way.

Printhie Shiraz 2007

Printhie Shiraz 2007 (Orange, NSW)
$17, Screwcap, 14%
Winery Website

Orange and Shiraz. Do they really go together? I'm just not sure - such a frosty, cool climate doesn't seem like the right place to be growing Shiraz, and so far no wine has served to change that opinion. Actually, Orange doesn't seem to have 'picked' its varieties yet, aside from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay that is. Regardless, this is quite a friendly wine to be drunk, not contemplated.

Lovely colour on this. Its bright purple, really purple considering there is no Viognier. It even smells purple - like purple grape Hubba Bubba (though without the confected sweetness).
The nose is quite floral and light, with pulpy, sweet berry, raspberries and said grape Hubba Bubba lifted sweetness.

The palate is also slightly candied, light and very much in the 'easy fruit mould' with squished berry sweetness and some sticky acidity on the back palate. It's easy to like, if a bit mono dimensional and simple, the light to medium bodied palate all about ripe grape juice.

In the end, I personally could drink this quite easily, but I find it a little too sweet and juicy for real excitement. 16.0

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Heemskerk Coal River Valley Riesling 2007

Heemskerk Coal River Valley Riesling 2007 (Coal River, Tas)
Screwcap, $40, 12.5%

Winery Website

Well done Fosters. The reborn Heemskerk range continues to impress me - excellent packaging & interesting wines. Congratulations are due to someone within Fosters for the entire Heemskerk project. This Riesling is of particular interest, with some background barrel work ala an Alsatian model making for a more complex mouthful of wine.

In the glass, its positively frothy, with dissolved CO2 lining the bottom of the glass. Did someone put Prosecco into my glass by mistake? Colourwise, its a very light green straw yellow & looking very youthful indeed.

On the nose its dry, slightly yeasty and sherbety, with lemon and just a hint of toast. Oh and some Granny Smiths in there too. The palate starts gently, with soft, lemony buttercup fruit, mixed with a splash of vanilla for texture. Its a sneaky palate, building slowly towards a notably dry and citrussy back end, tending lean and light through the tail, the creamy green apple goodness finishing everything off.

Overall its a very pleasant Riesling that tastes unforced and dry, if a bit light on the flavour intensity for my palate. Still, I like the citrussy acidity and the general shape here and can see a few years doing this wine more favours. 16.9+

Monday, 22 June 2009

Wolf Blass Gold Label Riesling 2008

Wolf Blass Gold Label Riesling 2008 (Clare & Eden Valley, SA)
$20, Screwcap, 11.5%

Winery Website

Of all the Wolf Blass wines, this stands out as the most consistent wine quality wise. That could be because of my Riesling preferences, but I also think that the talented hand of Wendy Stuckey helps.

Quite a glowing yellow colour, the nose shows lemon, a little toast, and then more lemon, with just a twinge of rubber. Very much in the forward, riper Clare 08 Riesling style.
No surprise then that the palate shows creamy, ripe lemon fruit with quite generous mid palate flavour. It tastes sweet, even though its absolutely dry, which I quite like. The wine then finishes in the renowned Clare Eden Riesling manner - with bucketloads of citrussy acidity.

Ultimately there is a lot to like here, even though its rather forward in its initial profile. I'd like to see this again in 2 years time, by which time the flesh would have caught up with the structure. 16.8+

Friday, 19 June 2009

Fox Creek recent releases

It's been quite a while since I've had the pleasure of a Fox Creek wines so it was good to have a very small catchup here. Personally, I like the Reserve Cabernet best, which sadly wasn't tasted today.

Fox Creek Chardonnay 2008 (Mclaren Vale, SA)
Proving that Mclaren Vale is more than just big reds, this was actually quite tasty - slightly withdrawn from what I expected, sitting in the pineapple and grapefruit spectrum, with a quite dry and crisp palate. Its a reasonably straight forward Chardonnay, but its got polish, balance and no trace of overripeness in sight. 16.9

Fox Creek Duet Cabernet Merlot 2006 (Mclaren Vale, SA)
A newish addition to the range (at least I haven't tried it before) this is all Mclaren Vale and quite drinkable, if a bit of a victim of the vintage. Mulberry, spice, moccha & something a bit twiggy on the nose, the palate shows a bit of the 2006 vintage heat, but the blackcurrant fruit is still up to the task. Tasty, simple & recognisably Mclaren Vale stuff at a fair price. 16.4

Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz 2005 (Mclaren Vale, SA)
The only thing that challenges this wine is excess - too much alcohol, oak and extract are the only constraints on this wines success, at least in my book. Thankfully it doesn't dip too far in any direction this time around, but I'm still reminded why I haven't got any of this in the cellar - its just not my style of wine.
It starts with a nose that has a trace of animale, nutty gameyness to it. Low level brett perhaps, but its not intrusive, though you could argue its a bit of a threat to the purity.
No flow onto the palate however, which is unmistakeably Fox Creek Shiraz - absolutely saturated with extract, it flows with quite raw, powerful plum and meat flavours, finishing with chewy tannins that are of both the oak and fruit variety. The length is, again, lingering, with the chew hanging around long after the liquid has gone. Lots to enjoy then for lovers of raw power, so sure to satisfy the Fox Creek drinker.
For me its perhaps a bit ungainly, overripe and that gameyness I can only see getting stronger, however, ultimately, I don't think I'm the target market here, so you should keep that in mind with the score. 17

Roll up for the greatest sale on Earth!

The Rural Services Company, Landmark Australia, have released today the full list of properties to be sold by Fosters as part of their restructuring.

Suffice to say that amongst this list lie some splendid properties that, if the market were different, would be snaffled on the open market almost immediately.

The full list is below (from

South Australia
  1. Clare
    • Clare Estate
  2. Eden Valley
    • Roeslers
    • Matthews Road
  3. Adelaide Hills
    • Partalunga
  4. Mclaren Vale
    • Roscor
    • Tamar
    • Blewitt Springs
  5. Langhorne Creek
    • Langhorne Creek-Blass*
  6. Padthaway
    • Lindemans Padthaway*
    • Padthaway Blass* - Garretts
    • Padthaway Blass* - Gales & Tolleys
  7. Wrattonbully
    • Duck Pond
    • Schultz
    • Guthries
  8. Coonawarra
    • Cluny
    • Robertsons Well
    • Glenroy
    • Kirribilli
New South Wales
  1. Hunter Valley
    • Denman Vineyard and Winery
    • Roxburgh
    • Yarrawa
  2. Mudgee
    • Cumbandry
    • Hill of Gold
    • Mountain Blue
  3. South Western Slopes
    • Tumbarumba
    • Tumblong
  4. Sunraysia
    • Yankabilly
  1. Sunraysia
    • Lake Cullulleraine
  2. Glenrowan
    • Baileys of Glenrowan
  3. Pyrenees
    • Glenlofty
  4. Yarra Valley
    • Racecourse
*Property name not included in sale

Looking closely at this list, it is the backbone of several brands that are up on the chopping block, which fits closely with the long term Fosters strategy of retaining brands, but relieving itself of the burden of vineyard ownership and maintenance.

From a fiscal point of view, this makes perfect sense - sell capital intensive, low return assets and simultaneously put long term grape leases down to buy the fruit back, effectively changing the business structure from a vertically integrated organisation that operates as bother grower and producer, into a focused production and marketing unit.

In reality, I would argue that this sort of sale is a considerably risky strategy that, given Fosters poor management of its wine division in recent years, could ultimately kill off the credibility of many famous brands (and in the process destroy their worth) at least to fickle fine wine lovers (which always trickles down to the mass market eventually).

It could, of course, also provide a much needed injection of funds, whilst streamlining the whole Fosters wine operation, ultimately leading to a much healthier long term prognosis for what is now our largest wine producer.

Personally, I can only see the danger here, as I believe that to make great wine you have to know and love your vineyards - not sell them off and buy the contracted grapes back again. Admittedly, in amongst the sale are vineyards that seem to have lost their marketability - such as Roxburgh in the Upper Hunter or Lindemans in Padthaway, but that is more a reflection of the brands associated with it, not the grapes that are grown in them. Similarly, the vineyards in Sunraysia and some of the 'non core' vineyards seem like natural selloffs (wasn't Racecourse the vineyard in the Hunter that was under Phylloxera threat, or at least across the road from the vineyard that got Phylloxera?).

However, in amongst the listings there are some assets that are rather questionable sales - notably, Baileys of Glenrowan, an operation that seemed to be getting back to some sort of peak, and also the Blass vineyard at Langhorne Creek - the backbone of several Jimmy Watson Trophies if I am not mistaken. It is here that Fosters are cutting it fine.

Regardless of what I think, amongst this Fosters Fire Sale there are some quality vineyards, and I only hope that they go to a happier, more supportive home. In recent years, several former Fosters operations have parted ways and rediscovered success - witness the buyback of Tulloch by the Tulloch family, or the reinvention of Hungerford Hill as examples. Lets hope that Baileys in particular can follow a similar route.

Suffice to say, this sale will change the dynamic of Fosters quite appreciably, for good or for bad, and at least on paper it makes reasonable sense. The question is whether this sort of quite short term thinking will actually be good for the business in the long run. I remain unconvinced.

NEWS: 2009 Australian Wine Grape Crush - plenty of juice still

In a surprise result, the Australian crush this year will still top over 1.71MT, which is only slightly below the long term average and still, arguably, over 500,000 tonnes more than required.

So much for the surplus drying up - the 'wine lake' is still filling up.

More here

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Angoves & Turkey Flat 2006 reds

Angoves Nine Vines Tempranillo Shiraz 2007 (South Australia)
$14, Screwcap, 13.5%
Winery Website

Flicking through the latest Big Red Wine Book, I noted this got a 90/100, which is a rather fine achievement for a wine that can be found for around $10 (when on special). Personally, I also have plenty of time for Angoves wines - simple, top value products, produced by a smart, family run operation. As is often the case in the wine industry, it is the small to medium sized family operations that produce the finest wine, and no exception here.

The Nine Vines Tempranillo Shiraz smells ripe, simple and rather sweet on the nose - indeed it shows as typically Riverland sweet & heavy cropped. But nestled in there is a whiff of volatility & a splash of meaty flavour that hints at the interest below.

The palate too is loaded with sweet grape juice - almost Hubba Bubba like in its grapey (but not residual) sweetness. Again, its rescued by some gritty seriousness, with a bit of 'chew' on the back end injecting this with some appeal beyond simple fruitiness. The Tempranillo also delivers leather/beef savouriness that neatly slots in below the Hubba Bubba to make things more interesting.

Ultimately, this is a sweet fruit driven red, with plenty of appeal, at a realistic price. My score does not reflect the drinkability. 15.0

Turkey Flat 2006 reds

Personally, I find the 2006 Barossan reds to be a pretty varied lot, with the wines generally lacking the power of 2005 or the grace of the 2004. That's a gross generalisation sure, but it fairly wraps up my overall opinion. The Turkey Flat wines seem to mirror that view, presenting as drinkable, if unremarkable wines. Stating that though, perhaps time will be kind to these quite mild mannered drinks?

Turkey Flat Grenache 2006
Weighing in at 15% alcohol this vintage, and I'm not convinced if it has worked in this wines favour. The nose is rather fresh and fruit, with very ripe, almost-jam, Raspberry driven nose. There is also a hint of strain on the nose, a note of overripeness that only gets stronger as the wine sits in the glass. The palate similarly starts off quite pretty and berry laden, before becoming all cumbersome and awkward, the almost vegetal strain showing through & the acidity jarring the finish.

Ultimately, this comes across as a wine that was the product of a hard year, the mixed messages of ripe fruit and clumsy hardness not doing too much for the complete package. It's still drinkable, but it just doesn't quite sit as it should. 15.4

Turkey Flat Butchers Block SGM 2006
Line priced with the straight Grenache, this was a more complete wine, if not quite satisfying. The darker colour of this, when placed next to the Grenache, is immediately noticeable - Shiraz doing its thing - the nose carries the same strained berry fruitiness of the Grenache, but with more chocolatey plums.

Like the Grenache however, the palate is slightly jarring, with the berry flavours intermingled with some more obvious sweet coconutty oak & an extra edge of heaviness. The purity of the straight Grenache is lost and replaced with some soupy, ripeness-for-ripeness sake, palate richness.

I'm thinking this will be a better wine in a year or so, but there is a high chance it's only going to get fatter. Another somewhat average wine. 15.5

Turkey Flat Shiraz 2006
Interesting that this is still bottled under cork, when the rest of the wines are in Screwcap - a rather backward attitude (in my opinion), but one held by many winemakers (then again, what do I know).

I think that this might be in a bit of a developmental hole, as the nose gives away almost nothing, just the odd lick of chocolate syrup & a faint whiff of dusty berries. The palate is dark, long & ripe, with blackberry, fruit cake and raspberry coulis. It again finishes slightly chewy and bitter, with a slightly horsey nudge in there too.

I like the length and palate structure, but I'm not overly taken with the wine as a whole - its in a bit of a transformation stage I think, yet my score reflects how it tastes right now. 16.5+

Monday, 15 June 2009

Two Clairault 2003 Cabernets

Clairault have had some considerable successes of late, notably at the Decanter World Wine Awards & International Wine Challenge.

Tasting recent vintages the success is of little surprise - the quality has been on an exponential curve. Interesting then to go back a few vintages and see how some older wines are travelling.

Clairault Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (Margaret River, WA)
$20, Screwcap, 14%
Winery Website

It's only a budget wine in the Clairault range, but it comes from a very good Margaret River vintage, and it looks to have held up reasonably well, if a little dried out. Bricking slightly at the rim, the nose is maturing, leafy, with dried roasted meats, all edged in volatility. It smells like a 6 year old wine, with its slight leatheryness, but it hasn't lost its varietal and regional identity

The palate has blackcurrant and dried muscadelle pruneyness, with good leafy black fruit flavours. The problem is the back end is losing its charm, finishing hard and slightly astringent, some raw oak tannins propping up the finish.

Not bad, but hardly moving wine, of mid weight and still some drinking appeal. 15.8

Clairault Estate Cabernet Merlot 2003 (Margaret River, WA)
$30, Screwcap, 14%
Winery Website

Much denser than the straight Cabernet, this is dark and inky in colour, though it doesn't feel anymore extractive than the standard Cabernet. Smells of cedar, smoke & bacon, the nose is maturing and slightly sappy, if lacking a little freshness. The palate is still very firm and dry, with gritty tannins and acid rising up on the finish.

The structure here is spot on, but the fruit lacks the vitality to keep up. Not a bad wine, to be consumed with something meaty over the next year or so. 16.7
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Thursday, 11 June 2009

Te Mata Range

Sometimes, quite rarely if truth be told, when you stick your nose into a glass of wine, you don't smell grape juice, you smell brilliance. It doesn't happen anywhere near as much as I'd like, but when it does, it reaffirms why wine is such glorious stuff. That smell of vinousity, of terroir, of a sense of place, of varietal purity, of fruit clarity, of depth, of structural promise - its what sets wine apart as the ultimate foodstuff.

Last night I had that experience, and it occurred more than once, when tasting the Te Mata range - a highly lauded set of wines, from top shelf vintages, that are crafted in a dry, intense, aromatic, structured style that I find, quite simply, find exciting. The sort of wines that you can simply drink, but simultaneously break out in fits of rapture about how f**king good it is.

As you can see below, the highlights, as per usual with me, are the Bordeaux styles, with the Syrah's sitting in relative mediocrity. I concluded that this situation is probably due to my personal preferences & tastes, and as such the scores below should be adapted according to whether you call yourself a Syrah or Cabernet man/woman.

Regardless of your tastes, the Awatea and the Coleraine below are incredibly worthy, high quality wines that are easily comparable to those of well regarded Bordeaux producers, at a smidgen of the price. Buy with confidence.

Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2008 ($33)
A fully barrel fermented style, I must admit to a certain bias here - I love this style. Cleverly oaked Sauv & blends appeal as the near ideal palate cleansing white, combining texture with dryness and coupled with real aromatic zing.

This suitably won me over then from the nose alone, sitting comfortably with all the characteristics that appeal to me. Lemon, cream, green, herbal, fennel like aromas and even a touch of spinach on the nose, its herbaceous, yet also hinting at generosity, straddling greeness and the just enough roundness on the edges. Simply put, its a spot on nose, full of aromatic x factor, with all sorts of interesting herbal nuances & enough hidden to beguile.

The palate simply reinforced the nose, with a sour, long & structured style that was highlighted by touches of dry, super fine vanilla oak. It all finishes with vanilla etched, rocky dryness, the punch of cool Savvy signing it all off. Complex and a near perfect, dry, clean white, I found this to be truly excellent stuff. 18.7

Te Mata Woodthorpe Chardonnay 2007 ($22)
A step down in the range and it felt like quite a big step down in absolute quality. Very green in colour, this has a quite fat and spicy oak nose, matched to a rich nougatty palate that is generous but just a little too obvious. The whole package is carried by an edge of high quality winemaking which bumped the score up, but otherwise this remains as a simply good (and excellent value) Chardonnay. 17-

Te Mata Woodthorpe Syrah 2005 ($22)
The only hiccup in the range. Somewhat of a tired nose, advanced & smoky (and opened by Peter himself, so I doubt it was a bad bottle) this tasted cheap & a little thin, with its best days well behind it. Dry, ungenerous palate helps very little. 15.8-

Te Mata Bullnose Syrah 2007 ($48)
Obviously far too young, I couldn't really see the appeal here, and I'm sure I have liked it much more in previous vintages. Needs some time to settle me thinks. Perfumed, aromatic Syrah nose. Quite big vanillan oak muscling in on their too. Closed, grainy palate with quite long tannins, but little too love. Just a little unwieldy at present. Leave it alone. 17+

Te Mata Awatea Cabernet Merlot 2007 ($40)
Brilliant. The first sniff is just Cabernet blend glory - all currants and blackberries, the aromas of dark little berries with thick skins, just full of concentrated perfume, including nuances of leather, mens aftershave and voilets - all the classic Cabernet tickboxes. Its an opulent nose, that simply smells... absolutely perfect. I often find the Awatea more appealing on release, with this aromatic wine definitely the more easily seductive drink on the night.

The palate then is suitably dry, with cloves, spice & black fruit, the tannins drying the whole palate down, reminding not to get too carried away just yet, for the best is yet to come. It tastes long, lean, balanced and perfectly right, everything in its right place. Beautiful wine, I'd drink this whilst you wait for the wine below to mature, but with plenty of time to stop and enjoy the ride. 18.7

Te Mata Coleraine Cabernet Merlot 2007 ($80)
Giving depth new meaning, this dry, powerful red is, quite simply, a stunning wine. If I had a child born in 07, I would be eagerly stashing a case of this in the cellar to drink over the next 25 years - its simply that good. After the quite open Awatea this was almost a rude shock in its dry, razor sharp, graphite, rocks and black leafy fruit nose, smelling deep, dark and endless, like a big black pit with no bottom in site. The palate is so tannic, yet at the same time so perfectly generous, that it had me thinking of Barossan reds - like a Barossan Cabernet actually, with that almost limitless intensity and extract, but built in a style more akin to Margaret River in its balance and restraint.

Ultimately, its a muscular, beautiful, near perfect Bordeaux blend that would easily compete with many similar Bordeaux reds at far more inflated prices and seeminly buily to live for eternity. I would happily drink it by the magnum load.

Just buy some. All cool climate Cabernet fans should. 19

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Printhie Shiraz Viognier 2007

Printhie Shiraz Viognier 2007 (Orange, NSW)
$22, Screwcap, 13.5%
Winery Website

NSW has the barest handful of cool climate wine regions, with few showing the promise of chilly Orange. Noted for its high altitude (for Australia) vineyards, the white wines of Orange continue to impress, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot in particular. I'm still not convinced, however, that Orange is the right place to be growing Shiraz, as there is still not enough convincing, high quality examples coming from Orange (as yet). Regardless, this is a very drinkable example at an entirely fair price.

A purple/ruby/mulberry red in colour, the nose shows quite obvious sweet Viognier characters, mingling with cool climate Shiraz to come up with a meaty, vanilla & rhubarb nose. The palate has a sweet, chocolate & slightly stewed palate, with a savoury, chewy back end & some good richness. Thankfully it steps away from the apricotty sweetness that mars many Shirogniers.

All I could think about here was eating meaty pizza - something with salami, olives and plenty of cheese. This wines is that sort of savoury, medium bodied style that the Rhone does so well, with the abundant palate acidity making it a succesful drink. The price also fits the Friday night Pizza mould very well. (*making myself hungry as I type*). 17.2
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Thursday, 4 June 2009

Team Live updates

As mentioned earlier in the week, this weekend my team and I (Team will be competing in the Mountain Designs Geoquest 48hr Race, run out of Forster on the NSW North Coast.

During the event, live updates of how we are going, what position we are, photos and general race notes will be on the Geoquest Live site . There is a chance that our lovely support team will provide some photos and updates, but I'm not sure of the internet access in the depths of Barrington Tops.
We've setup a blog site in the meantime for our team updates -

Will report back once the race is run regardless (at which point the drinking reports shall also resume their frequency).

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz 2007

Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz 2007 (Mclaren vale, SA)
$40, Screwcap, 15.5%
Winery Website

In truth, this bottle is probably wasted on me - I'm just very unlikely to appreciate it. The alcohol, the extreme youth, the caricature of a style, the stupendous ripeness, it all cumulatively goes against everything that I enjoy in wine. Still, I tried my utmost to be objective, but it was hard not to rant....

Black in colour. It is actually black. The edges are dark red, but otherwise its purpley black.
Initially it smelled quite lush - rich oak & really deep dark fruit. But after a couple of hours in the glass it fell apart. Now (opened for 4 hours) it smells like dead fruit. Dead, strained, picked way too late & already fading. Burnt fruitcake, prunes, burnt things. With a swirl out comes some blackberries & raspberry jam. No freshness though. To be honest, I don't even want to drink it.

The palate is thankfully not as soul destroying as the nose. Its undoubtedly overripe, but at least it tastes firm, jammy & wine-ish, with overcooked fig paste & black fruits on the palate. The finish is confected, harsh & the tannins taste not quite right, but at least its recognisable as wine. Surprisingly, the alcohol doesnt destroy the finish, the aftertaste just tasting prunish and wrong.

In the end, I was going to just label this as an abomination that should never have been released and been done with it. But that's ignoring the nuances underneath. Ultimately, its just a very ripe Shiraz from a challenging year, built in a style that I just don't like. Subjectively I hate the stuff, objectively its just an average wine. Either way its not a wine I could ever recommend. 13.8

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Goundrey Reserve Riesling 2008

Goundrey Reserve Riesling 2008 (Mt Barker, WA)
$25, Screwcap, 12.5%
Winery Website

A gold medal winner at the WA Wine Show last year in what would have been a very tough class (all those delicious 08 Great Southern Rieslings). As soon as I 'did the twist' and got the first waft of Rieslingy goodness, I just knew this was a winner. Good Riesling just has that affect - its so piercingly pure and direct, especially from the Granitic soils of Mt Barker, that it renders other grape varieties as also-rans.

Green, watery green in colour, it looks like very bright, green water, very young & just settling for a long life ahead. The nose has talc, lemon & stones, all smelling fragrant & is longingly deep, like a lemon lime edged waterfall on a stony creekbed, its that pure & utterly Rieslingish. Just the teensiest bit of age entering on the nose too (which is doing this wine no disservice).
The palate follows with a tight, Lime Margarita & lemon juice palate that has wonderful acidic grip, the palate moving from searing dryness to limey intensity and back to acidity again.

All up its a wonderfully intense, direct Riesling in the beautifully powerful mould that Mt Barker does so well - Pretty, but powerful. This was 'tasted' as opposed to 'drunk' and it was rather a challenge to spit out.

Wonderful stuff. 18.8

It just got even harder...

Just to make life even tougher for our wine companies, the exchange rate goes back up again.,25197,25572914-5013404,00.html

Interesting the note ' The glut to slowly dwindle'.
I'd suggest the glut is still building, not dwindling.


Team - From left to right - Andrew Graham (me), Tsalina Phang, Luke Su, Andrew O'Brien. In background you can also see our racing skis - Force Field & Big Blue


Whilst not wading through wine samples of verticals of classified growths (A daily occurrence :)), I manage to sneak in a bit of sport. One of my sports of choice is Adventure Racing - a foolhardy pursuit, involving multiple disciplines and often spread over several days, further heightened by the challenges of navigation, through wild environs & in increasingly remote places.

Its been called the greatest sport on earth (though every sport seems to claim that tag) and suffice to say I'm a believer...

So anyway, the June long weekend annually hosts one of the biggest (& most challenging) events on the Australian Adventure Racing Calendar - The Mountain Designs Geoquest 48hr race. Set in a different location every year (usually somewhere on the NSW North Coast), it pits teams of 4 against the elements for 48 nonstop hours (though the winners come in closer to 30 hours), combining mountain biking, running/trekking & kayaking plus assorted random disciplines (this year it is rafting - including building the raft) & all with intensive navigation required.

In 2009 the race is based in Forster, on the NSW mid north coast, with teams expected to make their way to the beautiful Barrington Tops during the race, but with skant other details given until maps are handed out 15 hrs before the race starts. The race is supported, with each team having a small posse of support crew to help both transport gear from transition to transition & also to facilitate the removal of wet booties at 4am at some random transition point in the middle of the bush. Outside of transitions however, teams are absolutely on their own, guided only by a topographical map and a compass.

Practising Raft Building (and we are still afloat!).

Racing Geoquest has become a semi annual event for our group of friends, with a few of my teammates this year notching up their third time around in one capacity or another. Three of us have raced together before and have good results before, with a second placing in the Red Yeti 36hr Race a few years ago, but otherwise this will be our first Geoquest with this lineup.
Suffice to say we are under no illusions as to how well we will go, but are keen to crack the 45 hours mark and come in feeling good.

As you can imagine, Adventure Racing is an obscenely expensive sport, with an entry cost of hundreds of dollars a person, coupled with the stupid amounts of high tech ultra light gear, bikes, lights, jackets, kayaks & liquid food required. In this fashion, many teams get corporate sponsorships to help pay for (at least) the entry costs, or approach appropriate companies to access reduced prices on gear & nutrition.

This year our team is sponsored by me, or at least In return for the naming rights for the team, I negotiated to give the team Stickers. They asked for money, tubs of Heed & new Linebreaks and I explained to them that they would only get 'good' items if we started winning and/or if the website was rebuilt into an online gambling site. Luckily the stickers look really good so the team is happy (or at least they have no better option at this stage).

So this weekend (race starts early am Sat 6th June, finishes Monday 8th June) if you have a quiet moment, do check out the Geoquest website and follow the prompts to the live site (I'll post the live site URL later in the week) so you can watch our progress through the race, read the live commentary & check out the pictures.

As the late Big Kev would say, I'm Excited.

Our team bio pic incorporating half of the awesome sticker design

Monday, 1 June 2009

Frogmore Creek Chardonnay 2006

Frogmore Creek Chardonnay 2006 (SETasmania)
$32, Screwcap, 14%
Winery Website

After a horribly reduced and average bottle of the Pinot last week (my first dud under a screwcap in some time), it was nice to get the planets realigned with a good bottle of the Frogmore Creek Chardonnay.

Like some sort of wine mystic, I see good things for this label in the future, particularly now with the movement to organic viticulture.

But back to the wine then. On the nose its tight, citrussy and sprinkled with oats, spicy oak mingling with rather cold climate fruit in a fresh and cool sort of dry fashion. Its reasonably austere on the nose actually, with no flesh, but just acidity poking through. It follows then that the quite lean and restrained palate is built for age, the fruit flavours sitting behind a veil of very fine vanilla oak and plenty of acidity, with sweet alcohol cleaning up the tail. Aside from some white peach fruit flavour, there isnt much to grab onto as yet on the palate, aside from acidity and a little oak induced astringency.

It's quality, drinkable wine no doubt, yet it just needs a year or so to come together, from whence it could be well impressive. 17+