Showing posts with label Rutherglen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rutherglen. Show all posts

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Australia's First Families of Wine - a family snapshot

Australia's First Families of Wine - a family snapshot

The 12 family members + next generation. Photo from AFFW website
'1200 years of wine industry experience'.

That was the brief for an event held in Sydney recently, an event that brought together the principals from 12 of (arguably) Australia's most important family owned (established) wineries, with the combined wine industry experience from those principals over 1200 years.

Whichever way you look at it that is an impressive statistic, a powerful statistic that suggests that this group has the potential - if they can coordinate things effectively - to change the view of Australian wine internationally.

The way these 12 wineries (and wine families) can do this is not just by presenting their wines, but by presenting their personalities. Amongst these 12 families there are enough characters, enough stories and enough divergent viewpoints to be able to convince even the most sceptical wine critic that Australian wineries have something to offer.

At this particular event the emphasis was as much on the stories (and the wines), as it was on another trump card that these producers have to offer - the clever 'generation next' that will be following in the principals footsteps. These 'next genners' - the children that will be taking over from their parents -  are as good representatives as their parents are, presenting contemporary views and contemporary wines to help reinforce their belief that the future of Australian wine is family wineries.

With the quality of wines on offer at this particular event, there was no doubting that this is a pretty compelling notion too...

The Wines

I tried my best to both listen out for choice quotes whilst tasting the wines but the wines largely won. Limited notes in italics. Notes are largely as written on the day.

Howard Park Riesling 2006 (Great Southern)
Geoff Burch - 'From a very cool season in the region'.
Gentle lime toast. Gentle. Soft sort of wine on the palate in a ripe mould. Flash of late acidity. Does the generous style very well with just a smidgen of added acidity. Rather tasty. 17.7/20 92/100

Mcwilliams Mt Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2005 (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Phil Ryan on just how hard the Lovedale site is - 'Lovedale used to be an airstrip used in the second world war'. 'The land is so poor that rabbits carried lunch boxes'
Classic sort of nose. Green fruit meets soft toasty bottle oak but with a very primary green apple punch. Lots of latent power for a riper style. Big fruit and intensity sits underneath. Serious lemon/lime sherbet power. Sherbety edge something of a ripe year note. Length is outstanding - it just goes on and on. Long and bristling with acidity. Maybe added? Is it too bulky? Very generous in its mould but backs it up. 18.5/20 94/100

Tyrrells Vat 47 Chardonnay 2005 (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Big glass really helps this. Has quite a deal of rough oak but also that lovely banana pie sort of Vat 47 style. Ballsy and powerful but perhaps a bit gruff. Alcoholic too. Retains acidity but gritty citrus acid. Will need quite a while to really come together. Powerful beast though. 17.3/20 90/100
Brown Bros Patricia Merlot 2004 (Pyrenees & Beechworth, Vic)
Ross Bown, on regional characers 'The Pyrenees and Beechworth have both been identified for their great Merlot capabilities.'
Certainly the least wine in this lineup. Mint/eucalypt aplenty. Slightly stewed perhaps, choc mint and tannins. Structured but also a bit stewed for mine, the fruit missing in action. 15.8/20 86/100

Hello birth year wine!
Taylor's St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 (Clare Valley, SA)
Mitchell Taylor, on the history of Clare Cabernet 'Inspired by Mouton Rothschild, the Taylor's were first ridiculed for planting Cabernet. The 1973 was the first wine and won two trophies across the country'.
Looks spicy and leafy and correct. Lovely cedar nose. Defined. Open. Clare mint. Seriously minty palate has richness to match those tannins. Nice mid palate (as Mitchell looks for). Lovely generosity but contained, with sweetness. Rough, blocky tannins. Workmanlike but very real. Excellent Clare Cab. 18/20 93/100

Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 1981 (Nagambie Lakes, Goulburn Valley, Victoria)
Apparently this Alistair Purbrick made a contract with his father that this wine wouldn't make it past it's 10th birthday. He won a 1930s penny on that reputation and still has it to this day.
Brown ruby colour. Clear edges. Fully developed baked earth nose. Not much fruit left but would have been a rather tannic sort of a beast in its youth. Treacle and dirt. Nice richness still left and seriously dry, dirt stuck to the top of your mouth tannins. Still pleasurable, perhaps because its a birth year wine? 16.8/20 89/100

D'arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2005 (McLaren Vale, SA)
Chester Osborn - '2005 was a red year, not a dark fruit year' Chester Osborn
So much sweetness here. Sweetness of oak, sweetness of fruit. Probably too much oak? All mid palate. I feel this to be a bit big and overt and overly dense for mine but also a little condensed. Quite forward too. Not strictly my favoured style but it deserved acclaim for its power. 16.5/20 88/100

Yalumba Reserve Cabernet Shiraz 2002 (Barossa, SA)
Robert Hill Smith MW 'Shiraz used to fill in the Cabernet donut. The beauty here is the persistance'
Eucalypt. Lots of eucalypt, regal cedary Cab underneath if minty. Dry and spirity sort of palate. Is this the best bottle? Looks structured and superbly tannic but also too minty? Very backwards. I don't think this was a representative bottle. Classy but odd. 17/20 90/100++

Jim Barry Armagh Shiraz 2006 (Clare Valley, SA)
Peter Barry 'Straight people don't have the same complexity as those who are curved'... 'Armagh is surprisingly the first vineyard to ripen'... '3 weeks on skins needed'.
Super powered nose. Liquid treacle. Volatile. Incredibly sweet and luscious, a wine of ridiculous concentration and sweetness and alcohol, but it has this caramel, liquid treacle Viscosity. It feels... Right. There is such caramel sweetness but also much loveliness of liquid blackberry. A wine of whiskey like spirit but still has a place. I love that blackness.  18.6/20 94/100

Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 2005 (Eden Valley, SA)
An early, warm and quick vintage for Henschke.
Woah. Intrigue. Fennel and spice. Much fennel. Mint and blackberry and meat too. Super intriguing nose. Just a smidgen raisined. Real graphite character to it. Minty, black jube and subliminal gravelly sort of character. Just a fraction warm? Super complex expression though. Love the cuts of mint through the middle. Has presence. Superb wine. 18.7/20 95/100

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2006 (Riverina, NSW)
Marmalade. Orange juice. Dark colours too. Such intense sweetness! Anything but Sauternes. Sugar juice. Nice but a simple wine. Overtly sweet.
16.7/20 89/100

Campbells Merchant Prince Muscat NV (Rutherglen, Vic)
Ahhh. Like coming home. Super intense caramel coffee mocha fruit. Wonderous intensity and freshness. Very chocolatey and super sweet but with such viscosity. Lingers with a thick grained sort of chocolatey palate. Wonderful. Best I have seen it looking too. 19.3/20 97/100

Generation Next

McWilliams Leontine Chardonnay 2011 (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Super reductive and fresh nose. Looks to have spent plenty of time in tank. Slightly sawdusty oak is not super attractive but the nutty palate and lemony acidity makes this tight and intriguing. Just bottled and fresh as the acidity and milky textural oak is very attractive. Wonderful step forward for Mcwilliams Chardonnay and serious intrigue. 18/20 93/100

Henschke Giles Pinot Noir 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)
Lovely bright cherry fruit. Bright strawberry nose. Lots of glossy cherry. Super ripe-ish and glossy but slightly warm and unyielding palate, finished bitter. Phenolic ripeness isn't quite even there but very juicy. 17.5/20 91/100

Yalumba Paradox Shiraz 2010 (Northern Barossa Valley, SA)
Chocolatey and glossy fruit. Super polished. Super polished and tight palate has rich flavours but just a little too much alcohol. Such a glossy berried wine that should come together nicely in time. It looks a little odd now but time should be kind.. 17.2/20 90/100+

Campbells Sparkling Shiraz (Rutherglen, Vic)
Has a big black, choc bullet heart with big alcohol but plenty of richness, molten fruit. Thick and black and bitter and unctuous. There is a place for this sort of wine. Super bitter choc finish. Yum. 17.7/92

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Drinks: Dönnhoff, Ata Rangi, Raogna, Morris

Christmas Drinks: Dönnhoff, Ata Rangi, Roagna, Morris

Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett 2007 (Nahe, Germany) 8.5%
It's still surprising (to me) how polarising off dry rizzas can be, particularly given the similar residual sweetness levels of many more popular wine styles (such as cheap sparkling whites). I was just a little worried that this might have been too sweet for my family though (who don't typically like them 'fruity') but with honey ham it just worked. Win.

The wine itself is still bursting with sulphur though, with lemon and grapefruit layers peeking out from underneath. In fact, even after 6 hours in the glass (an errant glass not finished earlier) and the sulphur still hasn't blown off, which is a quibble (I quibble even at Christmas). Luckily the juice underneath is absolutely first rate then, with a creamy, nervy line of grapefruit, mineral and lemon fruit, the grainy, citrus richness of residual sugar woven through the prominent acidity to make for a snaking, complex and finely balanced wine of finesse and style. Yummo.

Lovely off dry Riesling of proper form and structure this. Very good. 17.9/93

Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2009 (Martinborough, NZ) 13.5%
I'd rate this up in my top handful of NZ Chardonnays, sitting just below Neudorf and Kumeu River in my personal favourites. This 2009 is a seriously good release too. Another win.

It's always a 'big wine' is the Craighall, so it's probably not going to be for everyone (my ABC subscribing mum was no fan. 'I just don't like Chardonnay') yet I'm absolutely down with the style.

That weight is announced from the outset, the nose flush with peach and grapefruit, spicy vanillan oak and a real suggestion of ripe fruit.

The palate starts off quite lean, but gathers steam as it moves along, moving through citrus, thickened cream oak, and orange, the acidity a thick vein that holds this richness together. The overall effect is just a lovely, full flavoured mouthful of Chardonnay goodness in a 'this is how new world Chardonnay should taste like' form. Yes. 18.4/94

Contrada Rampante 2008 (Sicily, Italy) 15%
Horribly corked. 'Are you sure that it's wine' corked. Sigh. Fail.

Raogna Pajé 2003 (Barbaresco, Italy) 13.5%
Not corked (sigh of relief). In the zone actually. Old school, rustic, oxidative (but clean) Barbaresco that is just begging for red meat. Begging. Yum.

It smells it's age, does this red, which actually means nothing in Nebbiolo terms, but worth noting in passing perhaps. It's a nose of Nebbiolo goodness though, full of iron, and blood and dirt and metal filings and roasted meat. All secondary, all very un-fruit like, but with enough freshness to carry everything off. If anything it's just a fraction roasted, as befitting the very warm vintage, though again not heavy.

The main feature of the palate too is classical Neb tannins - dry, long, grainy, tea leaf tannins. It's those tannins that have you coming back, as they are delightfully firm, long and serious. I'm not totally taken by the rest of the palate, which is just a fraction overripe and carrying the nuttiness that cooked fruit carries (and is evident in plenty of 08 South Australian reds), but the wine viewed as a complete package is still tasty, especially when drunk with said red meats.

Good stuff, if just off great. 17.3/90

Morris Old Premium (Rare) Tokay NV (Rutherglen, Vic) 18%
Forget dessert wine (ok, so maybe I did) this is THE way to finish off an Australian Christmas lunch. In fact, we should all pledge to all drink this stuff at the finish of every boozy lunch. (That's it, I'm starting a website...)

The Morris fortified style is typically a richer, sweeter one compared to some neighbours, which makes for seriously opulent wines. Suffice to say that I like opulent (even if I think that Chambers has the edge in overall quality stakes and Campbells makes a better Tokay) which is why I like this wine. Alot.

Typically volatile on the nose (it's part of the style, not a distraction), it smells quite oaky, with a dark chocolate and coffee edge that is very alluring, if quite sweet. A swimsuit model wine if ever there was one. Happily, welcomingly, typically, the palate is all choc-coffee liquid fruitcake, rich and heady, if not quite as petite and 'varietal' as some other Rutherglen Tokays. It's a big, warming mouthful of deliciousness, with that long long long long palate that the magic of Rutherglen Tokay and Muscat shows to distinction.

The end result? It's just yum. A big, sweet and full Tokay, full of heart and sweetness, if not quite as nuanced as some others from the region. But I'm nitpicking, and nitpicking over something that is absolutely world class in the quality stakes. 18.7/95

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Tasting the Superstars - Mini verticals of Mouton, Rousseau etc

For all the criticisms levelled at the wine industry, it's nothing if not generous.

This tasting was put on by Domaine Wine Shippers, one of the more renowned importers of French wine into Australia, with the likes of DRC, Raveneau, Billecart & Bouchard in their portfolio, not to mention the likes of local stars Clarendon Hills, Meerea Park & Yarra Yering.

Every year they hold a two day tastefest which brings together many of these producers in the auspices of their annual trade day. Every year its one of the few trade tastings that are not to be missed, if purely for the range of interesting imports opened. Every year I naturally oblige.

As usual with these style of events, the tasting is done in a flurry, whilst attempting to talk to winemakers and take notes, all at once. So apologies for the occasionally vague tasting note. I'll happily retaste the top wines (if given the opportunity), just to nail it.

A few of the notable highlights (and also one lowlight - see Clarendon Hills)

Australian Whites

Fraser Gallop Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Clean, grassy and classy Sem Sauv if rather simple. Fresh & drinkable, if lacking in some density. Good. 17.2

Yarra Yering Chardonnay 2007
Quite obvious wood but also quite typically creamy and oxidative with the typical flor like characters that can make or break this wine. Nice length and quite distinctive stuff, 17.7

Australian (and one Kiwi) Reds

Clarendon Hills
The prices are exorbitant, the range of single vineyard wines confusing and ever changing. The wines however are often absolutely remarkable things of impact & world class quality. Pity that Roman Bratasiuk himself is the man behind it, for both times (including this tasting) I have met him, he has almost gone out of his way to be rude and brusque.
Thankfully his son is much more accomodating...

Clarendon Hills 'Kangarilla' Grenache 2007
Lollies, boysenberry and raspberry ripple. Quite exotic smelling and rather attractive, if hugely ripe. Big tannins and extract, but also showcases the old vine fruit particularly well. Excellent stuff. 18.3

Maude Pinot Noir 2008
Loved the 2007, this seems just a bit more simple. Sappy & notably ripe nose with a glacé fruit character to it that is almost tipping over into jamminess. Very pretty soft palate is silken & slinky, if lacking the thrust for high marks. Good. 17.4

Stanton & Killeen Shiraz Durif 2007
Big & cuddly, with obvious oak all over it ,but also with a very appealing chocolatey texture. Great value too. 17.0

Stanton & Killeen 'The Prince' 2008
Produced from Portuguese varieties. Exotic, tangy perfume with redcurrant and cranberries. Sour palate with unforced, proper tannins and a smack of alcohol to finish. Unusual and interesting, if slightly awkward wine. High marks for individuality regardless. 17.5

Stanton & Killeen Durif 2006
Oaky, chocolatey & textural Durif with superpowered raspberry fruit. Unquestionably powerful and sure to develop well, but with a rather bizarre porty aftertaste. Interesting wine that I really think deserves a retaste. 16.5 +/-

Stanton & Killeen Vintage Port 2000
Unusual to say so, but this is the most Portuguese Australian port I have ever had. Powerfully raisined and black berry flavours, with lots of sinew, but no burn. Rather, this just feels like a rather hefty table wine. I really quite enjoyed this. 18


Billecart Salmon 'Nicholas Francois Billecart' 1998
I've not tasted this before, so I had to do a double take after tasting it. Absolutely top shelf Champagne (and not surprising once I caught a glimpse of the RRP - $220+). Lifted full & creamy nose shows obvious bottle age with honeyed overtones. A very creamy, rich and quite full style, but also with a properly dry palate, making for a very rewarding drink. Really long & complex. Excellent. 18.5

Really enjoyed these, particularly the 07's. Right up my alley (hence the high scores)

Josmeyer 'Hengst' Gewurtztraminer Grand Cru 2007
Both fresh & opulent with excellent definition. Nose shows crisp typically lychee & spicy fruit driven nose and just a hint of barrel, leading to a very dry, but rewardingly long palate with proper acid to finish. Lovely textural Gewurtz with time to go. 18.0+

Josmeyer 'Brand' Gewurtztraminer Grand Cru 2007
Less opulent & gewurtzy than the Hengst, with a long, dry & quite tropical palate, finishing with 'wow' grip and power. World class gewurtz. 18.5

Josmeyer 'Brand' Riesling Grand Cru 2007
Lovely pretty nose. Fresh & perfumed. But the palate is hardcore! Spicy, grippy and macho even. Such a spicy Rizza! Love it. 18.5+

Josmeyer 'Hengst' Riesling Grand Cru 2007
Drier and more stony, lemony wine with just a twinge of rubber. Again great acidity, but this seemed awkward compared to the rest of the range. 17

Josmeyer 'Brand' Pinot Gris Grand Cru 2007
I know which Josmeyer vineyard is my favourite! Brand me! Lightly peachy with understated power & intense apricotty fruit, this was such a juicy and impressive Pinot Gris of real concentration. Perhaps the best Pinot Gris I have had this year. 17.9

Josmeyer 'Hengst' Vendange Tardive Riesling 1995
Impressive curio. Bright yellow, Berocca wee coloured even. Nose is just a little bit funky with developed marmalade fruit. Palate mixed the sweetness of the late picked fruit with dry acidity, making for a palate that is actually rather refreshing. Interesting and tasty. 18

White Burgundy

Domaine Laroche Les Clos Chablis 2005
Kimmeredgian cream & a bit of flab on the nose. Fat, classically proportioned but ultimately blunt palate. Straw bottle age character showing here that I never enjoy in Chablis. Waste of good grapes really, though it's still a fair drink. Just could be much better given the vineyard and vintage. 16.5

Ballot Millot Mersault 'Charmes' 1er Cru 2005
Wooded nose, really heavily oaked but still perfectly formed, the palate showing beautiful Mersault fruit, just with poorly formed wood over the top. Could well integrate in time, hence the quite positive score. 17+

Ballot Millot Mersault 'Charmes' 1er Cru 2004
Nice to try this after the 2005, this is creamier with more fruit and more layers to the palate, boding well for the future of the 05. Nose is again very attractive, with the fig & whipped cream character of really good white Burgundy, palate though is lean & falls away dramatically. Extra points for the nose though. 16.8

Bouchard Mersault 'les Gouttes d'Or' 1er Cru 2004
Another 04 and another lovely nose let down by a slightly disappointing palate. A continuing theme in 04 white Burgs (though with some exceptions). Beautiful nose. Freshly whipped cream with a nutty, long and earthy palate. Truffled cream. Still falls away at the finish. 17.6-

Bouchard Mersault 'les Gouttes d'Or' 1er Cru 2006
Tighter & showing more wood on both the nose and the palate. In fact I have written in my notes book 'spitting wood chips, but should be good with age'. Score reflects this. 17.4++

Bouchard Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2004
Formic & wood on the nose, leading to a very sour, backward palate. Excellent acidity, simply excellent, long & gritty, with a dose of oak on the tail. Long termer! 18+++

Red Burgundy

Bouchard Beaune Greves 'Vigne de l'Enfant Jesus' 1er Cru 2006
Ah the baby Jesus, always my favourite Bouchard red. Beautiful, full & aromatic nose, with deep fleshy red fruit and justs a touch of animale. Serious extract on the palate with astringent, proper seed (grape) tannin. Just a big angular at present but much to like for the future. 17.8+

Bouchard Beaune Greves 'Vigne de l'Enfant Jesus' 1er Cru 2001
Just a bit of tawny, treacle like decay on the nose. Bacony palate still retains the core of modern red fruit, with some meatiness growing in there too. Good drinker now, but is drying out. 17.2

Bouchard Le Corton Grand Cru 2006
Very full & chunky nose, with a very big, firm & un-burgundian palate. Awkward, though time may well resolve it. 16.0++

Bouchard Le Corton Grand Cru 2001
Never liked this wine and neither of these helped. This was simply hard & beefy, with an inelegant palate that is drying out. Dry red. 15.5

Confuron Cotetidot Vosne Romanee 'Les Suchots' 1er Cru 2006
A wine for the structuralist (me, me!). Tolerance of leafiness and stems required. Beautiful black tea & dark red fruits. Formidable tannins. Seriously firm, but still so fresh! Impressive. 18.1

Confuron Cotetidot Vosne Romanee 'Les Suchots' 1er Cru 2004
Pea & Ham soup. Unusual, but unmistakably freaky. Hammy and lacking the freshness of the 06, but still with some attraction. 16.8

Mongeard Mugneret Nuits St Georges 'Les Boudots' 1er Cru 2006
Black fruit on a really hard and brackish palate. Black fruit and heaps of tannins. Very serious indeed. I quite liked this. Future. 17.7+

Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2006
I was amazed at how much of a step up this was. Put simply, this is one of the finest wines I have had this year. I am just going to reprint my tasting note as it is written in my tasting book. Whilst it lacks detail, the emotion says it all.
'Stunning strawberry fruit fragrance. Beautiful textured masterpiece of a palate. So beautiful, feminine & rich & sexy. My God. 19.3'

Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2005
The 06 was all about seduction, this 05 is all about structure. Sappier, gamier, harder, darker and much more backward than the 06, with red licorice replacing the strawberry fruit. So much more oak and truly lethal tannins. Very serious. Long termer. Stick this in the cellar and drink the 06 now. 18.2++

Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2003
Bigger, more volatile & riper. Licoricey nose, but more gruff and soupy too. Redcurrant fruit carries through onto the palate, but so does fire and alcohol heat. Structured tannins to finish. Lesser of the three, but still a good wine. 17.8+


Pauillac de Chateau Latour 2004
Very rich & full black fruited style with a forward, Cab dominant nose. Fleshy, lightly minty chocolatey palate. Fleshy and quite fat, I'd drink (significantly cheaper) Margaret River Cabs over this, though its unquestionably from good bloodlines. 17.0

Mouton Rothschild 2005
Vinfanticide. Deep & quite dark red in colour with cedar and sweet chocolate on the nose, combined with just a smidgen of Bordeaux gamey-ness. Very full, smooth dark black fruit that is polished to perfection. Excellent tannin. It's all rather restrained actually, indicating the absolute youth of this wine. Score will only go up as its showing very little of what it may become. 18.5+

Mouton Rothschild 2004
Quite sweet, open, black & full fruited. Spicy tea leaves and dark fruit that is just a bit underwhelming through the middle, but finishes with such excellent tannic structure that I still felt quite positive about this wine. 17.8++

Mouton Rothschild 2003
Quite advanced already, but still utterly plush and full and showy. Nice perfumed, but the palate is dull and somewhat caramelised. Tannins are similarly missing in action. Only ok really. 16.8