These where all drunk to commiserate over the loss/celebrate the life of one of Sydney’s endangered, independent fine wine merchants. (North Shore Liquor in Cammeray, now a BWS).
It reminds me to renew the call to support the little guy – small wineries, small independent stores, small restaurants, the lot. Small business breeds innovation, feeds passions and offers much needed diversity. They deserve your patronage.
Anyway, onto the wines:
Penfolds Bin 04a Chardonnay 2004
I believe this was crafted by the talented Oliver Crawford (now at Devils Lair in WA) and its all class. Clever oak and malo in a subdued white peach style – its worked, mealy but definitely not an overt style of Chardonnay – savoury Adelaide Hills style here. Integrated and seamless palate. Will evolve well in the cellar. Very good+. 18
Coldstream Hill Reserve Chardonnay 2006
A multi award and trophy winner, though I thoughT it struggled in this company. The oak is just toO overt, sitting on top of the fruit like a shadow, blocking the purity below it. There is some genuine top class fruit in there, it may need some time to come out. At the moment I am not excited. 16.0+
Domaine A Lady A Sauvignon Blanc 2005
When they get it right, the Domaine A’s are truly brilliant wines – here is a perfect example. A fume style of oaked Savvy, apparently inspired by White Bordeaux (though its much more of a Loire style in the flesh). The nose has a touch of formic over some very fine vanilla oak, this is intertwined with herbal aromatic Savvy in a pristine, super fresh frameset – its all quite subtle, herbal & hugely fresh. The palate is a textural masterpiece, with oak infused into the lemony fruit in a perfect fashion, finishing with lemony acidity. Quite brilliant and such a beautiful, feminine wine. I had it written down as ‘pristine oaked raindrops’ 18.6
Guigal Condrieu 2005
I just couldnt muster up any excitement for this. The nose is evocative and classically Viognerish. You know the sort, apricots, peaches, really ripe fruits and spice. The palate IS interesting, layered and richly fruited, whilst also retaining some complexity. No – the problem was the heat on the back end. It burnt. The alcohol and sheer ripeness here just leaves you feeling slightly battered after finishing a glass. I really struggled to finish more than a couple of mouthfuls as I felt I was being orally assaulted. Yet I can’t deny the appeal. My score here then is fence sitting as i was quite torn. 16.8
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2005
Now this is more like it. It smells like melon and honey in the classic fashion of Margaret River Chardonnay, the fine grained French oak and quite powerful rich fruit fitting together like hand & glove. The palate is ripe and bountiful, with quite a deal of oak in with the rich fruit, yet without letting any component get out of hand. Indeed balance is a strong point. It tastes distinctly regional, well made and great. Heat on the tail is the only real drawback. Good stuff. 18.5
Kaesler Old Vine Shiraz 1999
Others found this quite bretty and short, personally I loved it. Earthen & meaty, slighty bretty nose, but the dead perfect intensity was where this shined. Perfectly ripe and powerful with this classic everlong fruit richness. Fantastic Barossa Shiraz. 18.7
Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz 2004
This suffered due to the wines around it – 12.5% alcohol, leathery, spicy and savoury. I felt it was quite disjointed on the palate too with jarring acidity. Stuck between primary fruit and secondary development, this really needs many years to sort itself out. Even then, this is not a great Graveyard. 16+
Leasingham Classic Clare Shiraz 2001
This was my contribution (from Magnum) and it was pleasing that it came up so well. I think it was voted red WOTN mainly on its suitable drinkability, though I preferred the Kaesler. It opened up minty, oaky and a little hard, with some background low level brett, but sinewy in that Clare Valley way. As it opened up the tannins and oak integrated together and everything just felt right, the palate still tight and very dry, with power and force. No Barossan softness here instead its typically Clare, with the sort of powerful, convincing flavours that bring you back time after time. A very blokey red. Good stuff. 17.7
Bests Bin 0 Shiraz 2004
Immediately alluring, oaky and very bright this felt primary, tight and fresh with a long future ahead of it. I only had a passing taste and felt it needed many years yet.
Port Phillip Rimage Syrah 2004
Shiraz that smells like Pinot. Meaty, hammy, peppery and fragrant with spicy, slightly green fruit. The palate is somewhat stewed and trying its best to be Pinot with a real softness and feminity that is alluring but also slightly disappointing all at once. Not bad, but not great either. 16.9
Stefano Lubiana Prestige Cuvee 1995
Steve Lubiana take your hat off. This is the finest Australian Sparkling that I have ever tasted. Never before in Australia have I seen such a complete wine. Fitting the winery intentions this tastes like Tasmanian Sparkling at its finest and not Champagne. Important definition that.
This underwent no malo and spent an astounding 10 years on lees. The colour could be a 1 yr old Sparkling – its green/straw yellow (on a 13 yr old Aussie bubbly) with an ultra fine, ultra persistant bead. The nose is subtle, subdued, with yeasty autolysis sublimely infused into the lemony nose. Lemons are everywhere in this wine, with just the most perfectly defined palate of citrus fruit and lemony, full acidity. The finish is long and perfectly delineated, though there is a lack of subtly on the finish that marks this as Tasmanian, not French. Its a very impressive wine and absolutely Tasmanian, but I think if you served this with a group of top French cuvee’s it would rank dead last – it doesn’t come from Chalk soils, it comes from gravel. It comes from a distinctly maritime climate as opposed to a Continental one. Terroir at its finest. The only let down? The price. $160 for this is frightening. 19.0