Monday, 26 July 2010

Pinot, Shiraz, Shiraz, Shiraz

Pinot, Shiraz, Shiraz, Shiraz
A few odds and ends from the tasting book, all drunk (as opposed to tasted) over the weekend.

Delamere Pinot Noir 2007
Dry, restrained, acid driven Pinot in a lovely structured style. Takes a while to build in the glass, with a sappy cranberry nose and mid weight palate. Unrivalled natural acidity. Will only build with more bottle time. Really enjoyed this. 18.3/93+

Tim Adams Shiraz 2006
A Clare Valley quiet achiever, you can't help but like the Tim Adams style.

Rich, faintly leafy and proudly fresh nose with the first twinkle of bottle age, overlaid sweet oak generosity. Polished palate too is very youthful, sweet fruited, sweet oaked and agreeably generous. Quite an overt vanillan juiciness to the whole wine, which arguably needs more tannins to really satisfy, though age will be kind. Attractive drink regardless. 17.1/90

Summerfield Shiraz 2008
This tastes like the product of  a very challenging (warm) vintage.

Showing choc mint Clare regional characters and plenty of oak on the nose, this smells like a classic, rich Summerfield Shiraz, though expensive, chocolatey oak plays a big part in the bouquet. Palate is ripe and chocolatey but seems to fall away into something of a jammy puddle by the mid palate. Short and stewed through the finish too, though certainly plenty to unveil yet. Just a fraction dried out for a Summerfield, though certainly plushly oaked, I didn't enjoy this as much as some previous vintages. 16.3/88

Mountain X Shiraz 2008
Messrs Walsh & Mattinson's soon to be 08 Canberra Shiraz, I have actually been using this to top up my own Canberra Shiraz (which is to be blind tasted tomorrow night). Each time I've had this wine it seems to be getting better, but for my tastes it's still not there yet. I still much prefer the Hunter/Yarra sourced 07 Shiraz/Pinot blend, perhaps because I am a renowned Hunterista, but I'd argue it's because this demands further bottle age to integrate.

Rhonish nose. More Rhonish than Australian in some ways, with a stemmy, floral, green pepper and game edge that is so quintessentially cool climate Shiraz. In fact it's a nose that bore some similarities to an 04 La Turque tasted earlier in the week, though with some ripe, plump red fruit underneath that is much more Australian. Palate again is quite peppery though for mine it's sitting a bit awkwardly at present, with jangly acidity and some heat through the finish. Time required, but extra points (at present) for interest. 17/90+

Friday, 23 July 2010

Riorret Merricks Grove Pinot Noir 2008

Riorret Merricks Grove Pinot Noir 2008 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Produced by Steve Webber and sourced from a vineyard in Merricks North on the Mornington Peninsula. Much is made of the natural, terroir driven style here (Riorret is terroir backwards) which is more than admirable for the price.

Ripe red fruit nose - cherries, raspberries and red plum - in a voluminous and inviting style. Palate follows with glacé cherries, raspberry and sappy acidity through the back. It's a bit light through the finish perhaps, but the bright ripeness makes for one more-ish and balanced wine. An utterly delightful wine, the bottle emptied at speed. Big recommendation from me. 17.6/92

Thomas Wines range

Thomas Wines range

I've talked before about Andrew Thomas' wines and I always look forward to catching up with Thommo himself to find out what's really been happening in the Hunter. No such luck on this occasion, but a taste of several of his new releases was a treat in itself.

The following wines were all sampled at a tasting held at North Sydney Cellars, which is one of my 'locals' (of sorts) and a liquor store well worth a visit if you are in the North Sydney area.

Thomas 'Braemore' Museum Release Semillon 2004 (Hunter Valley, NSW) $45 
In the last 18 months this has put on weight and becoming even more convincing. Good form. On the nose it shows overtones of toast alongside green apple and lemon fruit, showing both youthful and maturing Hunter Semillon characters in a fashion I very much like. Palate is bone dry, long and precise with green fruit and just a twinkle of bottle aged weight. Lovely Semillon and an excellent wine. Will live for bloody ages too. 18.5/94+

Thomas Two of a Kind Shiraz 2008 (McLaren Vale, SA 56% and Hunter Valley, NSW 44%) $25
Warm and chocolatey style with dominant French oak. Lavish and lovely French oak, but absolutely dominated by it at present. Palate is polished and flattering but just a fraction short. Should get better with more bottle age. 17.1/90+

Thomas DJV Shiraz 2007 (Hunter Valley, NSW) $30
Contains 9% Semillon
A Hunter Shiraz Semillon! Now there is an idea! Why mix half arsed, barely suitable young vine Viognier with beautiful old vine Hunter Shiraz when you can use properly acidic early picked Semillon instead!
Apparently several old hands in the Hunter commonly use early picked whites (Tyrrell's use Trebbiano) as a sort of natural acidification tool, which just sounds like practicality at its best.

In this instance the finished wine is a curious one. Plum jam Shiraz nose with a gloss of older oak and a hint of herbs, built ripe but very much in a restrained fashion. It might be the power of suggestion, but I did note a twist of citrus and green apple on the nose too - would be interested to hear if others have picked this up (no suggestion here from Julian or here from Campbell).

Palate wise it's very much a medium bodied, mid weight and elegant wine with red dirt, red fruit, a hint of old oak and mandarin acidity. Long, feline and very polished, it's actually quite hard to pin down, for it is quite different, but I rather like the form and the shape here. I could imagine drinking this very easily and it's structure suggests age will be very kind. Extra marks for interest. 18/93+

Thomas Kiss Shiraz 2007 (Hunter Valley, NSW) $65
A beast of a wine. Hugely rich and powerful nose of big vanillan & formic oak and lifted red fruit, with some Hunter rare sirloin in there too. Intensely oaky, powerful and rich, but not sweet, palate full of chocolate, cola and briar. Sour and very dry end with lots of acid. Brutal concentration, heaps of oak and a firm structure, it's actually too big and powerful to drink right now. But patience will be well rewarded. Very long termer. Buy some and stick it in the deeper, darker parts of your cellar. 17.4/91++

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Glorious German whites + old Bordeaux

Glorious German whites + old Bordeaux

Is there a finer bargain in the world of wine than off dry German Riesling?

I'd argue that few other wine styles will live as long and give as much pleasure over their lives as this most noble of wines.

Or at least I think so.

So whenever an opportunity arises to sample a few of these beauties I naturally oblige.

The following wines were tasted at one of the infamous Ultimo Wine Centre Saturday tastings, this particular Saturday was very well attended indeed...

Wittmann Estate Pinot Gris 2008 (Rheinhessen, Germany) $36
This is what Pinot Gris should taste like. It's a sweet, ripe and full style but impressively varietal - ripe pear, peach and some tropical fruit. What I like is that it's sweet but not cloying, juicy and ripe but finishing clean and dry. Lovely wine and great value for money. 17.8/92

Heymann-Löwenstein Riesling Schieferterrassen 2008 (Mosel, Germany) $55
Amazing wine. Even better than last year. Big sulphur hit on the nose which fans out to a rich, textured riot of a mouthful of guava, mango, orange. No shortage of flavour here.

But whilst there is no questioning the intensity or complexity of the wine itself, what I find admirable is that it finishes dry. Dry, long and spicy, this is one of the most entertaining white wines I have had this year. Drink it early - I can't see this getting any better - and revel in the array of flavours. 19/96

Georg Breuer Riesling Trocken Grand Cru Berg Schlossberg 2008 (Rheingau, Germany) $155
Sitting at the very opposite end of the spectrum to the Heymann-Löwenstein, this is bone dry and delightfully so. It smells, and please stop rolling your eyes, of its terroir. It smells of rocks, slate, bones and more rocks. Tastes like it too. Rocky, dry and precise with such detail and length. Long. Long long. Long long loooonnngg, with a fullness on the back palate (that will be some welcome residual sweetness). May live forever. Awesome wine. 18.6/95

Dönnhoff Riesling Spätlese Oberhäuser Brücke 2008 (Nahe, Germany) $130
Going further down the sweetness line and again a stunning instalment. Initially dry then gets sweeter and juicier, with lemon lime in a very linear, slatey line. Very fine, perfectly delineated and just such a perfect wine. Stunning. 18.8/95

Moric Blaufränkisch 2008 (Burgenland, Austria)
Yum. Double yum. Think old vine cru Beaujolais (like this) and add some spicy tartness. Lovely unforced wine with a simple, but unquestionably pure flow of red fruit, with the same ironstone like depth of good Morgon. It's not especially long, which is why the score is moderate, but it is true, clear and delicious. 17.5/92
Château Montrose 1975 (St Estephe, Bordeaux, France)
Not my favourite style of wine but I can see the appeal. Old Cabernet nose with cedar and just a hint of red fruit. Old but not tired in an elegant style. Still has some grainy tannins too. Elegant, unforced old fashioned red. Pretty even. Good. 17.5/91

Château Pichon Lalande 1975 (Pauillac, Bordeaux, France)
Quite a bit sweeter and more generous after the Montrose, but without the tannic backbone. More youthful even. Lighter and more fruit perhaps, but not quite with the same tannin refreshment as the Montrose. Still quite impressive old red. 17/90

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Alvear Pedro Ximénez Solera 1927

Alvear Pedro Ximénez Solera 1927
$50 (375ml), Cork, 16%
Source: Retail

We normally have a bottle of fortified on the counter here at Australian Wine Review HQ, with Rutherglen Muscat (Morris or Chambers) the typical favourite. But this month we've decided to go for something slightly different, with this sweet Pedro Ximénez up for a current road test.

Dark, treacle brown in colour, the nose is all dates and molasses with some slightly oxidative overtones. It smells quite youthful actually, but the colour suggests older material. It's a correct nose, though perhaps a smidgen simple. Palate is simple too, with lightly caramel richness and a decent serve of rancio. It's quite a bit lighter than a typical 'Classic' level Rutherglen Muscat, with a palate that is ultimately shorter and lacks the length of good Muscat.

Given the price ($50 a half) I was expecting much more from this - it's a simple wine that lacks the requisite flavour penetration for real satisfaction. 16.5/88

Wine: Odds and ends from the Good Food and Wine Show

Wine: Odds and ends from the Good Food and Wine Show

With the demise of the quasi annual 'Wine Australia' event, the - annual - 'Good Food and Wine Show' has taken somewhat of a lead role in the large scale domestic promotion of Australian wine, showcasing a wide range of wineries in a format that (apparently) is quite successful for the wineries involved. More importantly perhaps, the show visits Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, making it one of the only wine exhibition type shows to have a national audience, which only adds to the attraction for several of the more switched on consumer (as opposed to enthusiast) focused wineries.

So this year, like last, I spent a few hours wandering, tasting and avoiding strollers, trying to get around to some of the wineries involved. As usual, proper tasting note taking is a futile exercise in this environment, but I did write down a few vague impressions (and even more vague scores).

Zema Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 - Bugger all of this, but certainly showing few vintage ill-effects. No Family Reserve, Merlot etc in 07 so this is - by and large - the 07 flagship. Rich, chocolatey and smooth, if still hearty Coonawarra Cabernet in the unforced mould. Lots of pleasure and plenty to come. Nice wine. 17.6/92+

Zema Estate Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - To be released later this year. This is the first year that Greg Clayfield made the wine from start to finish, and I have to say that it is a step up in brightness - it's a lovely, polished and vibrant wine, if just a tad oak dominant at present. Nice tannins too. Really needs about 5 years to integrate, but I can comfortably say that this is one wine that will win friends (me included) easily. 17.8/92+

Capital Wines Kyeema Merlot 2008 - Easily the best Australian Merlot I've tried this year. Firm, mid weight, rich but dry style with proper fruit tannins and good structure. Impressive stuff. 18.3/93

Stella Bella Sauvignon Blanc 2010 - Idiosyncratic, super dry and tangy style in the very defined and herbaceous form. Superb intensity, though definitely not for everyone. Love the purity though. 17.4/91

Suckfizzle White 2006 - Another distinctive wine, this creamy oak meets herbal Sauv style shows excellent texture and richness, with no shortage of complexity. It's still a peculiar drink, but a good one at that. 17.7/92

Mcwilliams Mt Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2006 - Way too young and looking backward and awkward. Green in colour with green fruit on the nose and only the first hint of bottle age toast. Definitely a gentle year for Elizabeth, it's an awkward drink at present. Needs another 5 years in the bottle. 16.8/89++

Soul Growers 'Cellar Dweller' Cabernet and 'Slow Grown' Shiraz 2008 - New name to me but loads of promise. I'm lumping these two wines together as they are rather close in style, with the 08 vintage making them both rich, fruit cake and molasses driven wines. Unequivocally full bodied, chunky, super smooth and rich Barossa Valley reds but with such texture and depth that they really deserve more attention. In a blind lineup these would beat many a superstar twice their ($50) asking price. Label to watch.

Wirra Wirra RSW Shiraz 2007 - Good result from a very tough vintage. Bitumen, redcurrants and chocolate. No hiding the hard and dry 2007 vintage tannins but it's still a good drink. Not for the long term though. 17/90

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2008 - Unconvincing. Recognisably generous Marlborough Pinot Noir but a jumble of a palate. Ungainly acidity too. It's still a very fair Pinot Noir (which is why the score is not terrible) but this is well off the best for this label. 16/87

Pauletts Cabernet Merlot 2006 - Good stuff from the Clare. Firm, varietal and nicely intense Clare Cabernet in a good regional style. Fine value at $20. 17.3/91

Sevenhill St Ignatius Cabernet 2006 - Cooked. Hot, warm and all too heavy with a spirituous finish. Given how good this was in 2004 I was particularly disappointed with this. 15.0/84

Shingleback D Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - Followup to the Jimmy Watson winner. Lovely wine. Massively concentrated but dry and firmly structured, this is rather oak driven at present but with excellent tannins and no real excess. Lots of power and surprisingly refined. Really good Mclaren Vale Cabernet for the cellar. 18.3/93

Buller Fine Old Muscat NV - Lacking. It's a broad, hot and unconvincing Muscat with holes all through the palate. Gets an average score due to how simple and spiky this is compared to competitors. 15.5/84

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A heated exchange on the history of Margaret River whites

A heated exchange on the history of Margaret River whites

Wilyabrup, the unofficial Margaret River region, is considered to be one of the most viticulturally suitable areas in all of Western Australia, blessed with perfect soils and an ideal climate. But Wilyabrup also appears to be a local hotbed of tension, if a recent open letter is anything to go by.

Below is a copy of a letter that renowned Margaret River vigneron Mike Peterkin (of Pierro Vineyards) allegedly sent to his neighbour Bruce Tomlinson (of Lenton Brae wines) responding to comments made in a recent West Australian article. Apparently the article specifically detailed the history of Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blends in Margaret River, about which Bruce made some assertions.

As you can see the letter is well written, polite (at least initally) and mounts a strong case against some of Bruce's alleged claims. Having not read the initial article (and it doesn't appear online) I cannot comment any further, but I'm still looking forward to seeing if a public response is put out by Bruce.

Regardless of the outcome, this letter does make for interesting reading.

(Note: This was provided under the premise that it is an open letter which is why I'm publically sharing it)

Page 1. Click to view

Page 2 - click to view

Monday, 19 July 2010

BEER: Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout

Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout

Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout
Check out that label! Rad
Mountain Goat = good beer, as demonstrated again here.

For a starter, one thing that I particularly like is the sheer weight of information on the label. No bullshit, just cool geeky stuff like yeasts and ferment information. Cool. Interesting that it only comes in at 4.9% alcohol too.

The beer itself is lovely, rich, bittersweet stout built dry and warming, with cocoa powder and coffee bitternes matching to some late palate sweetness (though perhaps just a little too much dryness for me), all making for a dry and suitably intense style of rich winter stout. Handmade and tastes like it, this is good stuff, if not quite as more-ish as some of my favourites (such as the Harviestoun).

Thumbs up from me regardless.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Wine masterclass - Tapanappa vs the superstars

Wine Masterclass - Tapanappa vs the superstars

I've banged on before about the quality of the Tapanappa range, particularly the Tiers Chardonnay, and I recently had the opportunity to put this quality to the test, with Brian Croser putting on a masterclass that pitted the Tapanappa wines against some established French and Australian benchmarks.
Typically, the benchmarks chosen were all very high quality, but also purposefully picked to highlight the positive aspects of the Tapanappa range (Croser at his craftiest). Regardless, the Tapanappa range acquitted themselves well, especially the soon to be released 2009 Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot.

The wines were served in small brackets and tasted in a 'pull it apart, talk it through' masterclass format. With a room full of strong palates (and big egos) it is a fun way to taste and discuss what's in the glass. Notes are written in my stream-of-consciousness tasting note style.

Bracket 1 - Chardonnay 
Origin: 13th century cross of Gouais Blanc X Pinot Noir in Burgundy
Ripening: Early - Gladstone Group 3 (1150C - 1200C HDD)

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2007 (Margaret River, WA) 
From the 7 hectare, 30 year old Block 20. Gin Gin Clone. Very early, hot vintage.

Mealy. Tighter than the 06 on the nose at first, though it fleshes out as it warms up. Huge amount of oak on the nose - expensive French oak at that. Dense but fine and no shrinking violet. Oats, perfume and volatility too, with flicks of melon on what is a classic LEAS Chardonnay nose. Palate is rich, tight, full and hot, with loads of oak and no shortage of palate intensity. Clean, dry and crisp through the warm finish. Lots of power. Obvious Chardonnay, but in the right sort of form. Long mealy finish. Too obvious? Nah it's a proper Art Series Chardonnay! It's a very 'orange' wine. 17.8/92+

(I came back to this 10 minutes later as it warmed up)
Hot and heavy now when you come back to it. Dull, brutish and heady, if still a wonderfully powerful wine. 16.8/89

(Conclusion? Undecided. Should settle with bottle time, and live it will, but is this simply too big?)

Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay 2008 (Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, SA)
From the 4.4 hectare, 30 year old Tiers Vineyard, Mendoza and OF clones. Warm (hot) and early vintage - 1227C HDD vs 1172C HDD average.

Leaner, milky and fresh white peach nose, set very minerally, pristine and fresh but with less obvious butter than the Leeuwin, more vanilla pod. A 'white' wine. Clean and elegant if just a tad oak driven palate that is fine and tight. Restrained and long, elegant Chardonnay style. Nice wine, plenty of scope for further development in the bottle too. 18.1/93+

(Looking very clean, long and linear in this bracket).

Chanson Pere et Fils Chassagne Montrachet 'Les Chenevottes' 1er Cru 2007 (Chassagne Montrachet, Burgundy, France)
From Chanson's 1.9 hectares of the 9 hectare Les Chenevottes. 'A very good vintage' (debatable). Warm March/April and early budburst, with a cool and wet May to mid August, then a warm dry end of August, into September and through harvest.

Quite a green nose with greenish fruit and deep power simmering beneath. Slightly funky with a suggestion of rot (?). Lots of intensity, a fraction tart but a firm stony mouthful. Good wine, if looking a bit angular and not totally cohesive. Long though. Hold. 17.0/90+

(A bit funky, but solid Burgundy)

Bracket 2 - Pinot Noir 
Origin: Ancient Burgundian variety first mentioned 2000yrs ago
Ripening: Early - Gladstone Group 3 (1150 - 1200C HDD)

Kooyong Ferrous Pinot Noir 2007 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)
From the 5 hectare Ferrous Block: 14 years old, Pmmard, D4V2 and MV6 clones. Very early (earliest) vintage, warm and dry, early hail and low crops.

Lovely Mornington ripeness the initial hit. Ripe and hot. Red raspberry with some charcuterie stink. Pall of sulphur hanging over the nose. Palate is a letdown - stripped hot and hollow with mixed ripeness and some sausagey stink. Forward too. Quite a dissapointment. Obviously a hard vintage. Didn't enjoy this all that much. 16.3/87

Tapanappa Foggy Hill Pinot Noir 2008 (Fleurieu Peninsula, SA)
4 hectare close planted vineyard planted in 2003 and 2006. Dijon clones 114, 115 and 777 grafted onto rootstocks. 'Moderate' growing season up until the beginning of March, then came the heat. Harvested on 14th March. 1207C HDD compared to 1135 HDD average. Apparently the grapes had to be vigorously hand sorted to pick out the raisining.

Musk sticks and raspberry. Quite light and pretty. Palate too quite vibrant but seems just a fraction light in this context. Slightly soapy. Nice grip through the finish. Just a fraction underpowered compared to the wines around it, but still a stylish wine. 17.1/90

Domaine du Clos de Tart Grand Cru 2007 (Morey St Denis, Burgundy, France)
7.5 hectare 40 year old Monopole. Massale selection. 'A very good vintage' (even more debatable for the reds). Warm March/April and early budburst, with a cool and wet May to mid August, then a warm drydisappointment end of August, into September and through harvest.

Quite darkly coloured. Beetroot edged nose is very distinctive. Plums, bruised plums and macerated cherries. Bright and surprisingly light, it has quite a gentle character and finishes with tart acidity. Not so gentle through the finish though, with raw tannins and an almost pruney edge. Interesting wine, but again quite awkward, though it's obviously such a juvenile. $600 worth? No (what is?), but it will remain a distinctive wine that will improve with bottle age. 17.5/92+

Tappanappa Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 (Fleurieu Peninsula, SA)

4 hectare close planted vineyard planted in 2003 and 2006. Dijon clones 114, 115 and 777 grafted onto rootstocks. The heat in 2009 came just after veraison so less damaging than it was in 2008. 1135C HDD is smack on the average.

Caramel oak sheen. Much denser than the 08 on the nose. Soapy red fruit with bright raspberry lift. Pinosity plus. Ripe and quite perfumed. Polished, smooth red fruit palate has quite fine tannins and good balance. Lovely wine. 18/93

Domaine Armand Rousseau Ruchottes Chambertin 'Clos des Ruchottes' Grand Cru 2007 (Ruchottes-Chambertin, Burgundy, France)
1.1 hectare monopole of 45 year old vines in the 3.13 hectares of Ruchottes-Chambertin. 'A very good vintage' (still debatable). Warm March/April and early budburst, with a cool and wet May to mid August, then a warm dry end of August, into September and through harvest.

Merde. Stinky, but classically so. Dense nose and so much depth. Beautiful bacon and cherry, bright red fruit dark and juicy, with just a hint of herbaceousness. Spicy and shitty nose that could be/is divisive. Juicy palate is harmonious, dry and pretty but still finishing brawny and meaty. Essence of Pinot here, even from an average vintage. Firm finish too. Forgive the merde nose and it's awesome wine. 18.5/94
Bracket 3: Cabernet blends
Domaine de la Grange des Peres 2006 - Vin de pays de L'Herault, Languedoc
11 hectares of Shiraz, Mourvedre and Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted from 1992. 40% Syrah, 40% Mourvedre, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Vintage started with a wet spring, then a hot early summer. August was cool with some rain, then harvest was warm and dry until mid September when it rained, though not enough to upset the harvet. Croser called this 'the Grange of the (French) South'.
Bretty. Overwhelming bretty. Meaty, falling off the bone meat. Mouse poo too. But behind that is ripe plummy fruits and excellent fruit tannins - mouthcoating, grainy, chunky tannins. Awesome tannins. Lovely charry tannins. Brett/macrobial spoilage derails the wine though the longer it sits in the glass, becoming more dank, more rank and weird. But if you pick it in the window its an impressive wine. Rate it? I wavered from between as high as 17.8 and as low as 13. Lets settle in between and call it a 15/83
Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2006 (Wrattonbully, SA)
4 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.2 hectares of Shiraz and 0.8 hectares of Cabernet France planted in 1974. 70% Cabernet, 20% Shiraz, 10% Cabernet Franc. Very moderate year with heat summation of 1394C HDD vis the average of 1377C. 2006 was a drought year.
Lots of eucalpyt, overlaid with spearmint. Very clean, savoury and laid back style. Fine tannins are very late indeed. Long termer, in a very dusty style. Almost a waste to drink now. Eucalypt a distraction of sorts. 17.3/91++

(Croser believes that the eucalypt character is actually nothing to do with gum trees - rather it's a product of a lack of soil moisture which tends to dry out the growing plant. I've not heard of that before and would love to know more about it. Anyone have some further information/opinions?)

Chateau Lynch Bages 2006 - 5eme Cru Classe (Pauillac, Bordeaux, France)
100 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot with an aharvestverage age of 30 years. 2006 blend 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Difficult vintage but ultimately good. Cool April/May, warm and dry June/July with low crops. August damp and cool. September fine and warm, before the rains came. Sun and rain then on in. Cabernet the best of the grapes in a true claret year.

Claret style. Very dry, almost severely so with no fruit sweetness to speak of. Some may appreciate that but its not my style of red. Dried out leafiness all through the finish. Long tannins, no question there, but not flesh. Will live forever (and improve), but may never be a great wine. 16.5/88++

Cullen Diana Madeline 2005 (Margaret River, WA)
11.33 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon planted in 1971 and 0.41 hectares of Cabernet Franc and 1.28 hectares of Merlot planted in 1976. 2.5 hectares of Malbec and 5.4 hectares of Petit Verdot planted more recently. 2005 blend 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 4% Cabernet France and 1% Petit Verdot. Moderate temperatures and very dry from budburst through flowering into mid March. Rain in late March marred an otherwise perfect vintage, but enough sunshine prevailed to still make it one of the very good Margaret River vintages.
Cassis, dusy black cassis with red fruit and gravel. Real Margaret River Cabernet nose. Lovelly varietal definition and richness. Pure, wonderful regional style. Lick of eucalypt. Excellent dry tannins. A near perfect Margaret River Cabernet with freshness and power. Yum. 18.5/94
(Interesting to try this straight after the Lynch Bages. So very different wines! The Bordeaux is largely undrinkable now, the Cullen delicious. Personal preference makes this the wine I would choose, but the Lynch Bages will likely outlive the Cullen, if never really giving as much pleasure.)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Mitchell Harris Range

Mitchell Harris Range
Mitchell Harris is the project of Pyrenees winemaker John Harris, a participant in this years WFA Future Leaders Program and apparently something of a rising star in Pyrenees winemaking (currently the senior winemaker at Mount Avoca).

If these releases are anything to go by then that's an entirely justified tag. What I particularly like is the long, dry length on offer in this trio. Clever oak handling, modest alcohols and proper fruit tannins also add to the appeal. All that is really required is bottle age, as reflected in the moderate scores and profuse plus signs - cellaring styles all of them.

Oh and did I mention the prices? Tiny productions but without the usual inverse prices, these Mitchell Harris wines are deliciously well priced. But that only means they won't last long....

I've included John's comments about the wines (in italics)

Mitchell Harris Fume Sauvignon Blanc 2009
$19.95, Screwcap, 12%
Source: Sample

'Created in the Fume style, and utilising wild yeast fermentation, the aim here is to create a multi-layered Sauvignon Blanc with complexity, volume and length to complement the vibrant and tropical fruit flavours from the vineyard. Maturation in 2-4 year old French and Hungarian oak and battonage over 6 months imparts and aromatic and textural contrast to some of the more simple skinny fruit bombs flooding the Sauv Blanc market. 100 cases made.'

I quite like good oaked savvy styles, as a little well handled oak can work particularly well. Certainly provides an interesting, dry and textural wine here.

Light straw yellow in colour, this shows a fine vanillan oak etched nose with pineapple and lemon overtones. It's a nose of finesse - crisp, clear and precise. Palate is suitably crisp and lemon touched and with shades of vanillan oak and a long underplayed length. It's a palate that is lean but not ungenerous, with no shortage of natural acidity, finishing with just a hint of orange.

To my palate this needs an extra six months in the cellar to gain some weight, but no doubting the quality here - it's a textural, dry and briny Sauvignon Blanc at an excellent price. 17.8/92+

Mitchell Harris Shiraz 2008
$29.95, Screwcap, 13.5%
Source: Sample

'Picked relatively early to capture the bright, tight and spicy dark berry characters from the vine, the 2008 Shiraz retains a firmly woven core of concentrated red fruit notes. Partial wild fermentation and whole bunch fermentation adds complexity and lift, whilst the addition of 2% Viognier added at assemblage lends further aromatic buzz and finesse on the palate. 100 cases made.'

Cherry red in colour, this shows some Viognier aromatic overtones of spiced peach on the nose, with the sweet ripe juiciness of 08 on show here, with some (welcome) stemmy nuances. It's a liqueured and ripe nose with some wild musky perfume and a twinge of hammy stink. Interestingly the sweetness of the nose doesn't come through on the palate, which starts with a bright cherry fruit attack on the front palate before a full mid palate and dry, light stem tannins to finish. It's not my style of Shiraz, but I can appreciate how skillfully made and assembled this is. Should get even better with more bottle age. 17.3/91+

Mitchell Harris Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
$21.95, Screwcap, 13.5%
Source: Sample

'Frost and drought had such a big impact on yields and fruit quality across Victoria in 2007. In the Pyrenees, lighter crops of Cabernet Sauvignon yielded open bunches and tiny berries with greater concentration and depth. Again in 2007, a splash of Cabernet Franc into the blend helps accentuate the mint, spice and fine chalky tannins. 250 cases made.'

It's not in vogue at the moment, but this style of Cabernet I very much like. It really needs bottle age to show it's best, but the dry, minty and tannic Pyrenees Cabernet style is actually quite delicious with some serious red meat. Structure over fruit and all the better for it.

Smoky, spice, eucalypt and bark nose with meaty broth overtones, set very deep indeed.
Dry, meaty and gruff palate of eucalypt and spice. Chewy grip just cries out for slow cooked lamb. Love the firm structure here without losing the deep dark (fruit driven) richness. Great cellaring style for $22. 17.6/92++

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

St Hallett - the master blenders

St Hallett - the master blenders

I've always had a soft spot for St Hallett, with a 98' Faith Shiraz one of the first ever wines I purchased with a cellaring intention (which didn't last long).

So when St Hallett winemakers Stuart Blackwell (who now spends most of his time on the road spreading the word about St Hallett) and Toby Barlow were in town recently to launch the 07 Old Block I jumped at the opportunity to try the latest releases.

As part of the launch, the duo showed a selection of Shiraz barrel samples from separate blocks across the Barossa, all from the promising 09 vintage and all impressively high quality. The four batches shown come from come from a sample of some 111 different lots that St Hallett use every year.

That's a significant number for any winery, let alone one producing strictly Barossan wines. What it also means is that judicious blending is the key to St Hallett's success, which tied in nicely with the four vineyard samples on show. We even did our own little bench blends and produced something fittingly high quality...

The wines (all of which were treated the same way in the winery):

Dawkins Vineyard Shiraz 2009 (Barrel Sample)
Planted by ex-politician John Dawkins, this 15 year old vineyard has 3 acres each of Shiraz and Chardonnay on shallow loams. Given the quality of this, it will likely be released as a single vineyard wine....

Very purple in colour, it's quite floral and lifted with licorice, sinew and spice and just a hint of eucalypt. Medium bodied, rich, dark chocolate palate that is long and spicy with all sorts of spicy, deep black fruit flavours. Delicious stuff. Yum. (18.2-18.6/93-94)

Matchoss Vineyard Shiraz 2009 (Barrel Sample)
Located just near Menglers Hill with a super view (apparently). 60 year old vineyard with 'bony quartz' soils. Another possible single vineyard release. According to Toby, 2009 in the Eden Valley is going to be a '10/10 vintage'. This could be called exhibit B....

Again looking very purple. Dark, deep and ripe with prunes, dark chocolate and pepper. Effortless depth. Such a 'purple' wine. Chocolaty and sweet fruited but quite savoury in flavour. Did I mention depth? Classic Eden. Excellent stuff. (18.5-18.8/94-95)

Scholz Vineyard Shiraz 2009 (Barrel Sample)
Located in Ebenezer (vineyard website here). 5-11 year old vines with loams over red clay. Toby and Stuart both talked warmly about the fruit from this vineyard.

Pretty nose that is grapey and quite sweet, with choc-mocha oak and red fruit. Palate is notably viscous but not heavy, with a real light, savoury touch. Bright and very appealing, if just a little light. (17.6-18/92-93)

Henschke Vineyard Shiraz 2009 (Barrel Sample)
From another member of the Henschke family, this is located at Seppeltsfield and is about 13 years old.

Deep and quite robust, with very black-purple fruit, firm tannins and richness right through the finish. Grist and spice. Deep milk chocolate flavours. Classic Barossa floor Shiraz. Very tasty. (18/93)

On to the bottled wines now, and back we go to Rieslings:

St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling 2005
10.9% alcohol! Apparently this is groaning with bling, including quite a bag full of gold medals and trophies. Simply put, this is a world class Riesling in the dry, firm and slatey Eden Valley style. Europeans may poo-poo but this is such beautiful wine. Sadly sold out....

Still very green in the glass. Lemon toast, citrus rind, sherbet and slate, with a hint of Sprite. Perfectly delineated and expressive. Picture perfect nose. Lemon and toast lingers on the palate with bright citrus and lovely linear fruit, on the back it's so precise and firm, with taut acidity and more lemonade through the finish. Long and powerful. Stunning wine. 19/96

St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling 2009
The only question here is - will this mature into something as special as the 05 in 4 years time? I think it will, but time will tell.

Very green and backwards with the tiniest hint of toast. Lovely natural acid on the palate, unforced and clear. Still very much an infant of a wine. Tight and beautiful. Hold. 18.3/93+

St Hallett Gardens of Eden Shiraz 2008
Just a sly stink on the nose. Pepper and black fruit with some menthol and beefiness. Palate too is quite meaty but with sinewy black fruit and some brackish characters through the finish, which falls away just a smidgen. Attractive sweetness makes this quite drinkable but definitely felt just a smidgen awkward. 17/90

St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz 2004
I'm an Old Block man myself, but you can't deny the commercial appeal of this style. Classic rich and plush Barossan red with trademark chocolate American oak richness. It's just not my style of Barossan red.

Big American oak. Enormous overt chocolate nose with crushed ants and cocoa. Big, malty old school palate that's rich and heady. Plump, long and chocolatey finish makes this attractively drinkable, but the oak plays a big part in this wine. Too big for me. 16.8/89

St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz 2008
See notes above. Amazing consistency between the two however. Blackwell fans buy with confidence.

Oak better integrated than the 04' and this is actually quite a bit more complex on the nose. Truffley and chocolate drenched with pretty ripe red red fruit. Palate is a wall of grainy oak with sweet and sour fruit. Lots of sweet fruit and oak richness though not strictly a sweet wine. Lots of guts here. Impressive result for the vintage. 17.5/91

St Hallett Old Block Shiraz 2002
Looking quite developed and secondary, though in a favourable way. Herbal, malted choc berry liqueured wine with savoury stewed red fruit. Lots of layers on the palate which finishes notably warm, spicy and curranty. Dried fruit edges. It's an unusual, idiosyncratic wine but certainly an impressive drink. Would like to revisit this. 17.9/92

St Hallett Old Block Shiraz 2007 
Toby unashamedly called this (07) a tough vintage. Interestingly it contains one of the highest ever proportion (30%) of Eden Valley fruit in an Old Block. This is the first ever Old Block bottled in screwcap too, though bottling trials have been happening with screwcaps on Blackwell and Old Block since 2000.

Looking very Eden on the nose, with sweet musk, violets and choc bullets. Palate shows plummy liqueured fruit with coffee oak. It's layered, dry and savoury with dry tannins and sweet plummy fruit. The only challenge is the sweet and sour characters on the back end. Lots to get a hold of here and no questioning the quality, just not as obviously fine as previous vintages. 17.8/92+

Some other quick St Hallett snippets:

- The winery, in production terms, is virtually split into two. Gamekeepers Reserve is a 50,000 case brand, done in big tanks and large batches that makes up half the wineries focus. The rest of the wines are small makes, with Old Block just 900-1500 cases produced each year.
- Gamekeepers is a blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Touriga, with St Hallett now snapping up as much of the Barossan Touriga as they can, including grafting over Chardonnay vines (as you would).
- I mentioned in the review of the 09 Smallfry Grenache (here) how I found the character of good Grenache quite Pinot like. Turns out Toby Barlow agrees, with tiny amounts of an 09 old vine Grenache about to be released at cellar door that he thinks has some serious Pinot like similarities. I'm looking forward to a sample when it's released...

Granite Hills Riesling 2009

Granite Hills Riesling 2009 (Macedon, Victoria)
$20, Screwcap, 12.5%
Source: Sample

A much more balanced wine from Granite Hills and befitting the reputation.

Straw green in the glass with some dissolved CO2. Nose shows lightly honeyed citrus, lemon peel and talc with lovely floral aromatics. Nice! Palate is intensely flavoured with grapefruit, lemon and bath salts, cast long and dry. Backwards too. Lots of power and excellent natural acidity. The only thing preventing this from superstar points is a cheesy dirty character through the finish. Could be just a bit of funk though and it hardly derails the experience. Good wine. 17.8/92

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Haselgrove Bella Vigna Shiraz 2008

Haselgrove Bella Vigna Shiraz
Haselgrove Bella Vigna Shiraz 2008
$25, Screwcap, 14.5%
Source: Sample

This recently won a trophy at the International Wine Challenge for Best McLaren Vale Shiraz and Winestate Shiraz of the year 2010. Produced by the reborn Haselgrove winery, which is now back in family hands.

It's a buxom, 18 year old swimwear model of a wine - youthful, bright rounded, curvaceous and plainly attractive. The nose, like many other 08 Mclaren Vale Shiraz, is sweet smelling, with liqueured red berry fruit and choc (oak) berry milkshake characters, which would have immediately attracted the judges (I think). That sweetness is hardly a turnoff however, and especially not for young Mclaren Vale Shiraz.

The palate follows with a mouthful of flattering, plush and super smooth fruit + oak flavours in a big round ball of chocolatey goodness. Finish wise it's quite light and tannins are largely non existent.

Strictly speaking this is too sweet and oaky for very high marks, but no questioning the consumer appeal - lots of people are going to enjoy this wine. Like most 18 year olds, however, it's just a smidgen one dimensional for my tastes (at the moment at least). 17.2/90+

Sunday, 11 July 2010

BEER - Monteith's Doppelbock Winter Ale

Monteith's Doppelbock
BEER - Monteith's Doppelbock Winter Ale

I'm quite a fan of the Monteith's range, particularly given the quite modest prices and wide availability. Happy to call this another solidly drinkable instalment.

What I particularly like is that it's a true Bock (and I say that as a Bock fan) with chocolatey richness set in a slightly sweet frame. Creamy, smooth and deliciously warming, it's a drink-in-front-of-the-fire type winter beer. It's still a commercial brew, so it doesn't have the sort of complexity of flavour that the carefully filtered micro-brewery beers carry, but it's still a satisfying drink. Good stuff.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Some random Frenchies

Christian Moreau AOC Chablis 2008
Only a basic Chablis, but beautifully so. Kimmeridgian cream, oyster shells and a flinty fragrance. Upfront and unadorned by oak, with a classically dry palate. Lovely drinking now. 17.3/91

Simmonet Fevre Les Clos Chablis 2005
Briny, oaky and chubby, but also dominated by oak. Lots of power, but developing fast. Would have been nicer without the oak. 16.4/88

Christian Moreau Les Clos 2008
Top wine, though not a top vintage. It's still a beautifully formed, powerhouse of a wine with real layers of complexity. It's just that slight shortness on the finish that sets this apart from the greats. Still wish I had some of this in my cellar. 18.1/93

Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape 2007
Only 14.5% alcohol which apparently makes it quite a lightweight for 07. Already quite meaty on the nose, the story here is the wonderful sinewy palate and gritty tannins. The only question mark is whether that smoky meatiness may eventually overwhelm the fruit. Love the structure and the warm beefiness, but I'd drink it sooner rather than later. 17.8/92

Andre Brunel Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Est-Ouest 2007
Bargain. $20 and worth every cent. Juicy ripe Grenache flavours are the secret here, with meaty overtones. Simple, ripe fruit and savoury deliciousness. Hardly a serious wine but a superb drink. 16.8/89

The Wanderer Pinot Noir 2008

The Wanderer Pinot Noir 2008
$35, Screwcap, 13%
Source: Retail

The new label of Yarra Valley winemaker Andrew Marks (who works with Timo Mayer at Andrew's parents Gembrook Hill property) with this wine sourced from a single vineyard site near Tarrawarra. Judging by the quality here it's definitely a label to watch.

Like some of the very best Pinots, this is only very lightly coloured. True to the paradox, whilst it's light in colour, the structure is hardly wanting, for the acid is firm, extraction is finely balanced and power does not come cloaked in slutty fruit sweetness. Rather, this is a sinewy, strawberry and sap flavoured Pinot, with bright fruit, light flavours and no shortage of citrussy acidity. If anything it needs another year or two in the bottle to flesh out the back end, which is just a fraction tight at present. Regardless it's fine boned. restrained and artfully made Pinot with real structure and attraction. Went down well with a couple of non Pinot drinkers too. 17.9/92+

Freycinet Radenti

Freycinet Radenti 2000
$50, Cork, 12.5%
Source: Cellar Door

Freycinet Radenti 2000
60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir. 8 years on lees.

Serious stats for an Australian sparkling, and part of the reason why this works.

Surprisingly enough it's actually quite lean and svelte, even after it's 8 yrs on lees. On the nose it's very much driven by yeast development, with a nutty richness overlaying some fine lemon fruit. Palate too is dry and restrained, showing plenty of macadamia nut creaminess and surprisingly little fat - it's rich and full, no question, but not in a chubby overdeveloped form. Finish is just a bit brittle, which stops this from super high marks, yet refreshment value is still very high.

Overall this is a very solid - and still somewhat youthful - Australian sparkling with plenty of appeal. I'd like to see just a fraction more power, but that is very much a personal preference (for the more weighty style of bubbly). Good wine regardless. 17.6/91

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Bécasse Cellar Night + Grower Champagne

Bécasse Cellar Night + Grower Champagne
Inside Bécasse. Good wine list too 
I've just returned from a superb dinner at Sydney's Becasse restaurant which celebrated the launch of the new 'Bécasse Cellar Night', an evening that encourages diners to bring along a favourite bottle of wine from their cellar, with a more than reasonable corkage charge of just $15 .

The concept is mighty enticing indeed for anyone with a few bottles of wine in their cellar (like me) and the menu was fittingly impressive (included below):

Black olive biscotti with whipped goats curd

Freshly baked Bécasse smoked bacon and onion bread

Amuse bouche
Marinated tuna with chilled Mediterranean consommé and prosciutto

Confit blue eye with roasted prawns, cauliflower and salted buckwheat

Cep royale with seared scallops and caramelised veal tongue

Caramelised pork hock, forgotten vegetables and cedar smoked potatoes

Victorian cheese with sugared walnuts and fig preserve

Twice baked quince soufflé with spiced anglaise, candied orange and vanilla ice cream

To match with this special degustation fare I brought along a Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus which was simply superb Champagne. It's a blanc de blancs style with no dosage, sourced from two premier cru vineyards that are ideally situated mid slope in Vertus. Uncompromisingly dry and quite fiercely acidic at first, with air time it opens up to reveal the most powerful, firmly structured and super pure palate of superb length and flavour.

It's one of those wines where every sip seems more powerful, longer and even more impressive. $150 well spent and again reminding how fine good grower Champagne can be. Yum. 18.6/95

Monday, 5 July 2010

Mad Fish Gold Turtle Range

A newish range for Mad Fish (or Howard Park as it may), I liked these from the first sniff. Lots of flavour and plenty to like, especially at the $25 members price. Clever packaging too (You can't see the nifty tactile little bumps on the label which I quite like too).

Madfish Gold Turtle Chardonnay 2007 (Western Australia)
$30, Screwcap, 13.5%
Source: Sample

Mildly worked nose of lifted citrus, nougat and creme caramel topped off with spicy oak. Lots to grab onto there. Open, very WA and rather appealing. Medium bodied palate starts with citrus, then introduces some buttered Sao and a liberal helping of spicy french oak. Light finish and just a slice of oak tannins to finish. Lovely acid though. Good stuff. 17.5/91

Madfish Gold Turtle Pinot Noir 2009 (Great Southern, WA)
$30, Screwcap, 14%
Source: Sample

Nice bright maroon ruby colour. Some caramel oak sweetness on the nose over slightly herbal, redcurrant Pinot fruit. Light red ruby fruit palate is maybe a fraction stewed but plenty of proper meaty Pinot fruit. Slightly grainy tannins to finish. Not a bad wine if lacking elegance (though making up for this with no shortage of flavour). 16.8/89

Madfish Gold Turtle Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Margaret River, WA)
$30, Screwcap, 14.5%
Source: Sample

Ripe nose. Leafy, slightly volatile red fruit nose in the chunky end of the spectrum. Full but happily regional. Palate is marginally herbal, with rich sappy fruits and a coat of vanilla oak. Chewy finish announces the seriousness of the palate. Lots of impact through the tail. Excellent length. Really like the length here, even if the flavours aren't totally aligned yet. Potential to improve with a little bottle age too. 17.5/91+

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A pack of Kiwi's

The Kiwi's are in town at the moment, or at least they were last week, with several large-ish NZ wine functions all happening within the space of a few days.

What's more interesting though is how many wine events there are focused solely on Kiwi wines here in Sydney of late. I can't think of any region, zone or country that promotes their wines en masse as much as the New Zealand winemakers do (and do it well) and how well organised/supported such events typically are.

That's indicative perhaps of how big a market Sydney (and Melbourne for that matter) is for the wines of NZ, but their success/patronage serves to highlight just how useful well organised 'co-operative marketing' can be. I'd argue that there are plenty of Australian regions that could learn from the Kiwis approach....

The wines (all tasted at relative speed, so please forgive the occasional vagueness):

Kumeu River
NZ's best Chardonnays by a comfortable margin (though Neudorf come close). Amazing value considering the quality too.

Kumeu River Village Chardonnay 2008
A wild yeast fermented, finely oaked $20 Chardonnay? Yes please.
Serious French oak, a flick of bubblegum yeastiness on a light and sprightly nose. Rich but not fat is serious and plain extraordinary for the dollars. Buy buy buy!. 17.8/92

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2007
Step up in richness of both fruit and oak over the Village wine, this is also leaner, dry and minerally with sparkling acid through the finish. Background butterscotch overtones a real treat. Delightful wine, will get even better with age. Yum. 18.3/93+

Kumeu River Mate's Vineyard Chardonnay 2007
Dense and firm with a funky, wild yeast edge. Very fine with such chalky depth. Viscous, layered, creamy yet still finishing dry and firm. Top shelf wine. Lovely. 18.7/95

Ant Moore Pinot Gris 2009
Pleasant. Light pear, musk and a twist of gewurtz spice. Crisp, light and simple palate is fresh and inoffensive. Little excitement. 16.7/88

Wooing Tree Pinot Rose 2009
Light, refreshing and tangy with taut acid dominating the palate. Could do with a fraction more fruit sweetness. 16.4/87

Amisfield Pinot Noir 2007
Nice wine! Loosely sappy, pine tree and strawberry perfume. Sweet, rich and quite rounded palate is particularly inviting, svelte even. Slightly stewed fruit on the finish, but still lovely stuff. 18.1/93

Vynfields Pinot Noir 2008
Big, extractive and somewhat oaky style that is unwieldy and just a bit warm, but certainly full of potential. Hold. 16.9/89++

Surveyor Thomson Pinot Noir 2007
Tight nose. Dense and quite dry. Lovely round and full strawberry red fruit palate with a notably dry end. Savoury and nicely elegant for the vintage, well balanced acidity too. Stayer. Good stuff this. 18.3/93

Wooing Tree Pinot Noir 2008
Looking a fraction closed, this is again a very pretty wine with lovely red fruit on both the nose and the palate. Finishes just a little short but lots of like here. 17.5/92

Coal Pit Pinot Noir 2006
Dry. Very dry, beetroot and tomato bush nose. Firm palate needs more flesh. Still not bad. 16.5/88

Coal Pit Pinot Noir 2007
That same dry and beetroot edged nose. Tomato bush (but not the unripe, methoxypyrazine type). Some lovely exotic spicy fruit and with some nice palate cohesion. Good tannins too. Very good. 18/93

Prophets Rock Pinot Noir 2007
Very old world. Dusty, very dusty and fruit backward nose. Dense and spicy stuff, but not for drinking now. 17/90+

Two Paddocks 'Picnic Paddock' Pinot Noir 2008
Very light, pretty and fleshy style. Pulls up short on the finish but no doubting the simple charm. 16.6/89

Two Paddocks Pinot Noir 2007
Light and expressive, open strawberry flesh style. Pretty and quite gently sweet. Light finish. Easy and attractive. 17.6/91

Desert Heart Pinot Noir 2007
Surprisingly light nose. Quite round and voluptuous if just a tad showy. Finishes short. At it's absolute peak. Nice enough. 17.3/90

Ant Moore Pinot Noir 2009
Ruby coloured, citrussy nose over a sweet simple and oaky palate. Again 'pleasant' but lacks stuffing. 16.7/88

Escarpment Pinot Noir 2008
Such a step up in this lineup. Dense and seriously Pinotish on the nose, with a savoury and ripe palate of great natural balance. Should fan out with time in the bottle too. Nice wine. 18/93

Julicher Pinot Noir 2007
Funky, sausage meat and sap nose, palate has plenty of acid but finishes ultimately meaty, dirty and a fraction ungenerous. I wasn't a massive fan. 15.8/86

Mount Difficulty Long Gully Pinot Noir 2008
Top wine. Classic riper style Central Otago Pinot. Dusty, red fruit and sap nose, medium bodied and well balanced palate. Tight finish but not a super long termer. Worthy. 18.5/94

Te Awa 'Leftfield' Syrah 2009
Slimy, polished, slippery wine that is very young and juicy with plenty of simply meaty Syrah flavours. Good quaffer this. 16.8/89

Te Mata Woodthorpe Syrah 2008
Quite a light and even pretty nose is hiding plenty. Sour, firm and quite extractive palate is thus a surprise. Citrussy acid on the finish jars a fraction. Needs more bottle time. 16.9/89

Te Awa Cabernet Merlot 2007
Blunt, oaky and backward style. Wall of oak and tannins. Needs a while in the cellar but plenty to come here. 17.2/90+

Te Mata Awatea 2008
Lovely nose. Pepper, roast beef, leafiness. Lovely. Varietally true to boot. Quite oak driven at present, maybe even a bit fat, then tightens up again through the finish. Lighter tannins this vintage, but so much to like here. I'd happily drink this. 17.7/92