Friday, 29 June 2012

Peter Lehmann "Mentor" Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Devine! A cracking wine.

All elements of the wine have come together famously. Further to the point, another example of a wine from the Barossa demonstrating that Shiraz is not the only variety made very well there.

I loved the nose. A heavenly whiff of ripened dark fruits, some violets, cedary oak and even a touch of spice. I just kept coming back to it. The wine was delicious! Full with generous flavours of chocolate, blackcurrants, and the cedar and spice from the nose appeared to be humming right through it. Yum!

The finish was super long, fine and moreish. All flavours coated the palate nicely and you couldn't help but smile after each sip. For $38, this is a bargain.

This vintage is available in most good retailers and is well worth you seeking it out.

Who: Peter Lehmann http://www.peterlehmannwines.com/
What: Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5% alc)
Where: Barossa Valley
When: 2008
How: $38

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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Brash Higgins Nero d'Avola 2011

After one whiff of this you can easily see why so many are banging this drum. A most extraordinary nose, and after sharing some of this with some friends, it appeared one particuarly was about to pass out!! He was mesmerised at the array of aromas coming from the glass.

Winemaker Brad Hickey has done a fine job here and many restaurants are now lapping it up and pouring it by the glass. Why...

On skins for 210 days, the wine was Wild Fermented in an Amphora with only 114 cases made. A nose of lavender, rose water, Turkish delight, violets and even a touch of musk. Wow! The colour is lighter than some Nero's I have tasted, but the nose here is second to none. Fresh flavours of orange peel and raspberry jam leap out of the glass. It drinks similar to a Gamay. Soft and super smooth to finish. Drink now or in the next five years, and can be served with a slight chill in warmer months.

Who: Brash Higgins http://www.brashhiggins.com/
What: Nero d'Avola
Where: McLaren Vale
When: 2011
How: $37

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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Bimbadgen Sparkling Semillon NV

A sparkling with a point of difference - it's a Semillon sparkling.

Pale with a tinge of green, the nose is fresh. Some grass and citrus elements bouncing around. Citrus and almond flavours on the palate. A touch of risidual sweetness lurking around but leaves you with a dry, crisp finish.

A bit of fun, easy to drink, refreshing and well presented in a bottle with a crown seal.

Who: Bimbadgen http://www.bimbadgen.com.au/
What: Sparkling Semillon (12% alc)
Where: Hunter Valley
When: NV
How: $16

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Monday, 25 June 2012

Tobin Wines "Max" Shiraz 2010

I had the pleasure of enjoying this at a restaurant recently. We sat at the bar and ordered it sipping away. Interestingly enough, as we were led to our table some time later, a quick glance around the room netted another six of the same bottle being enjoyed by the guests that evening.  The wine list was quite comprehensive and this bottle was priced more heavily than than the $35 rrp - as you'd expect in a restaurant. Had these consumers turned a blind eye to the fact it was a Queensland wine? Had the punters chosen to indulge in something different? Or was it quite simply that Tobins are producing wine that is making people sit up and take notice?

On a recent trip to the Granite Belt I went to Tobins - only to leave empty handed on both occasions. Having heard so much about these wines I was gutted that each occasion my timing was so poor only to have a dozen beat me to the bench on one occasion, and to have a bus load to queue behind on my return visit.

When I saw this on the wine list at the restaurant, nothing was getting in my way to have a look.

A beautiful example of a cool climate Shiraz. The nose was fragrant with gentle spices and savouriness. Cinnamon and white pepper sitting behind ripe berries, blackberry all quite prominent. A medium palate with some granite texture and grit which was heightened by the rich berry fruit. The finish lingered tremendously with a fine tannin bordering on dusty.

Although most enjoyable and very approachable now, this will age well in the medium term and will definitely get better in the years to come.

Who: Tobin Wines http://www.tobinwines.com.au/
What: Shiraz (13.4% abv)
Where: Granite Belt
When: 2010
How: $35

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Taylors "St Andrews" Clare Valley Riesling 2007

A great example of an aged Riesling, and although it has only been five years, the characteristics demonstrated here tick all the boxes.

A concentrated nose of lemon curd and kerosene, even some baked apple. The palate is lush. Lemony and intense, even a snip of spice. The acid has softened considerably. Generosity plus on the palate wrapping up with a super length which lingers for what seems an eternity. Still plenty of life left in it and it can rest easy in a dark place for at least another five years.

Lick those lips!

Who: Taylors Wines http://www.taylorswines.com.au/
What: Riesling (12.9% alc)
Where: Clare Valley
When: 2007
How: $35

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Friday, 22 June 2012

Fortified Night SwirlSniffSpit 19 June 2012

We were privileged enough to indulge and have the opportunity to share in some wonderful fortified wines at Swirl Sniff Spit this week. Our taste buds were led on a journey by Julian Coldrey who did an outstanding job educating us all.

Fortified wine is some of the best aged and best value wines on the market yet it is so under appreciated by the consumer market. The age of some barrels used for blending solidifies this, particularly as Rare fortifieds as seen below use a base wine of at least 60 years of age as seen in this case.

I was keen to seek out some fortifieds with a point of difference as all these wines could easily fall into the raisin, toffee, butterscotch categories.

A few of the highlights:

The Pfeiffer Wines Rutherglen Muscat was a great start. Fresh, with aromas of orange rind and orange oil. An engaging mouth warmth and long finish. Nicely balanced and top value.

Who: Pfeiffer Wines http://www.pfeifferwinesrutherglen.com.au/
What: Muscat (18% abv)
Where: Rutherglen
When: NV
How: $20 (500 mL)
Follow them: www.twitter.com/PfeifferWines



The Morris Wines Class Liqueur Tokay had a most amazing nose of vegemite and marmite which was very distinct. A smooth palate which was moreish but the finish didn't kick on as much as I would have liked. Nonetheless, lots to like about it.

Who: Morris Wines http://www.morriswines.com.au/
What: Tokay (18% abv)
Where: Rutherglen
When: NV
How: $17 (500 mL)

The Chambers Rosewood Winery Old Vine Muscat had some oomph factor. Beautifully balanced with lip smacking depth and length. A whiff of coffee bean with great intensity and a smidge of spice. This oozes Christmas cake and left a subtle warmth in the mouth along with a delicate soft length. Yummo!

Who: Chambers Rosewood Winery http://www.chambersrosewood.com.au/
What: Muscat (18% abv)
Where: Rutherglen
When: NV
How: $65 (375 mL)
Follow them: www.twitter.com/ChambersWinery

Sublime! This Campbells Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat is without peer. Incredible viscosity and impeccable length and it would be rude not to lick out the glass in respect. Something that really stood out for me apart from the never ending length, was that there was no mouth warmth as experienced with the other wines of the evening. This a is complement of the blending but also demonstrates the age of the wine which has a base wine of at least 60 years old. Another 50 years easy left in this wine, and oh how graceful it will be then. Looking at the value component, a definite special occasion drop, but by the same token, a 60 year old table wine of this quality would easily be significantly more expensive. A special treat deluxe and easily the Wine of the Night.

Who: Campbells Wines http://www.campbellswines.com.au/
What: Muscat (18% abv)
Where: Rutherglen
When: NV
How: $125 (375 mL)

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Thursday, 21 June 2012

El Nino Tempranillo 2008

The light colour of this wine struck me immediately and even at first glance it looked like a Yarra Pinot. A closer inspection kept me on the same track with the nose being strewed strawberry, cherry and some spice. The palate was as not as big as other Tempranillos I have tasted, nor was it as dense.

Fifteen months on oak has imparted some flavour onto the palate, but nothing too over powering or dominant. Medium bodied and deceptive from inspection led to raspberry flavours, along with cherries. The distinctive spice of Tempranillo made an appearance. Patches of undergowth led to a finish that acceptable.

A wine that asked many questions and kept me intrigued throughout.

For a relatively easy entry into the world of Tempranillo, this is not a bad place to get started.

Who: Massoni Wines http://www.massoniwines.com/
What: Tempranillo (13.5% abv)
Where: Heathcote
When: 2008
How: $18

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Monday, 18 June 2012

Granite Belt Days 2012

The recent long weekend was spent on the Granite Belt, two and a half to three hours south west of Brisbane. A magical weekend spent in the company of great friends, spectacular food and some outstanding wines.

As we skipped across the Granite Belt over a few days, I often wondered what it was about these soils that delivered some great wines. Some vineyards look like a granite kitchen bench top smashed up into fine pieces with a grape vine growing out of it. Poor soils on the face of it indeed. But further to that, which variety can be hung as the flagship of the region?

Up until now, many varietals have done well on the Granite Belt but none commanding the respect as number one. Think about it - the Yarra has Pinot, Barossa Shiraz, Margaret River is synonymous with Cabernet, Hunter's king is Semillon, and the Clare Valley has Riesling. I could go on. Shiraz, Cabernet and Chardonnay all perform well here as do others, but perhaps it is Verdelho, with Tempranillo steadily gaining ground behind them as both are gaining some ascendancy.

An emerging region in many respects which is slowly breaking down the barriers that Queensland cannot produce wine. Honestly, you think of Queensland and you think of beaches and stinking hot summers washed down with a cold ale or three. What many don't realise is that the Granite Belt has some of the highest altitude vineyards in Australia with some perched just beyond 900 metres above sea level.

Like all regions, there is some tooth paste wash, to put it nicely, amongst them. Every region has them. Let's be realistic about it. But there are also some gems emerging. Classy and innovative winemakers bringing a new brand of wine to be discovered and for the punters to stand up and take note. If you haven't heard of these guys before, track them down and see what they are doing: Glen Robert (Bent Road), Peter McGlashan (Ridgemill Estate), Peter Stark (Boireann), and Thomas New (Dirty Minds Wine Co) to name a few.

I caught up with these guys and many others over the weekend. No notes on recent work in this post on Glen or Thomas, but stay tuned for future reviews.

The highlights of the weekend were:

Boireann http://www.boireannwinery.com.au/

Shiraz Viognier 2011: Shiraz and 5% Viognier co-fermented. A dirty yet attractive bouquet I thought with distinct minerality and pepper. These two characters flowed onto the palate coupled with juicy dark fruit flavours. A savoury element kicks in to add more interest with a long finish leaving a grip which will settle in the bottle in years to come. I'm a big fan! $35

Shiraz Mourvedre 2011: Shiraz adds 55% to the mix with a good dollop of spice from the Mourvedre. Very gamey and fleshy. Super length that just sits perfectly. Very nice. $30

Tannat 2011: Not too many straight Tannat wines in Australia at the moment, particularly as the last straight Tannat Peter Stark made was in 2005! A most interesting piece of work here. Tannat has thick skin, is quite phenolic and retains lots of natural acidity and all characteristics are evident here. Super dark colour with a violet perfume. Blackberries and clear savouriness dominate the palate. A good drying finish to cap off a well made wine. $35

La Cima Nebbiolo 2011: Not the best Nebbiolo Peter has put out, hence the price has been halved from previous vintages. Although, for the dollar, you still get a great deal. Light in colour, not uncommon to a Yarra Pinot in some respects. This is deceptive as the body is gutsy leaving you with a powdery tannin. 2011 wasn't a great vintage yet this was a more than acceptable effort considering. $18

Summit Estate http://www.summitestate.com.au/

Verdelho 2011: Big tropical fruit hit on the nose with zingy palate. A touch of spice to add a little extra complexity. This refreshing Verdelho is made for a warm day with a bucket of prawns. $20

Shiraz Tempranillo 2010: Inviting dark colour with gentle spice bouquet. Clear savoury characteristics with good fruit weight. Firm tannins. A very tidy wine but a little over priced. $35

Queensland Cabernet 2009: A terrific blend made very well. Thrown in the mix with Cabernet is Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Once again, a very good colour with fragrant violets prominent. Intense concentration of blackberry fruit on the palate. A big wine yet classy with a long, lingering finish. Delish! $40

Pyramids Road http://www.pyramidsroad.com.au/

Shiraz 2009: Vibrant colour. Some charred oak on the nose and a touch of vanilla from French and American oak. Good structure with enjoyable spice on a medium palate. Well made. $30

Shiraz 2011: A preview of what is to come and soon to be released. From a wet vintage, a red fruit bouquet. Lovely spice elements kicking in. The wine has only been in the bottle a week and will only get better and soften beautifully (13.5%). Leave it for 12 months and watch it shine.

Bernies Blend 2009: An ever changing blend using the best barrels of that vintage. A barrel each of Mourvedre and Cabernet, and one being a Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot/Mourvedre blend. Big dark fruit flavours. This blend works and then some! Not only does the fruit tie in nicely, but the mix of oak from the various barrels all play their part. Fleshy and gutsy with great length. Get some. $35

Bernies Blend 2011: Warren pulled out a barrel sample to share a preview. Once again, Bernies Blend is ever changing and this time in it is a 50/50 blend of Mourvedre and Shiraz. This stacks up again with raspberry bush and rose hip tea on the nose. Spice from the Mourvedre kicks in on the nose too. Dark concentrated juicey fruit on the palate. Very approachable and time will bring it together further more.

Mourvedre 2011: Only just bottled - I'm talking days and I'm pleased I was the first to have been given the privilege of having a look at it. Loads of fruit. This is on the way to a good place so let it sit for a couple of years to see its best. Lovely spice elements with some acid which will give it longevity. $30

Ridgemill Estate http://www.ridgemillestate.com/

Verdelho 2011: Slight whiff of pear along with typical tropical fruit. A cleansing fresh palate. Good acid leaving a refreshing finish. $20

Chardonnay 2011: This is some funky business. Winemaker Peter McGlashan excelling here. Wild ferment (my attention gained immediately!) with six months in oak. The wine was taken off lees to remove any buttery characteristics which may be imparted. Clever move as this is not your regular Chardonnay - the one some people steer clear of. This is funky and classy (12.8% abv). An intriguing nose of mustard seeds, oyster shell and toasted almonds. A delicious palate well weighted and the fruit leaping to the fore. Bottle age will help these flavours and characters develop further more. Lovely development in the ten minutes it sat in the glass. Fill your boots! $25

Monastrell Tempranillo 2009: Is this a mirror image of the winemaker? Big, gutsy yet very approachable. A masculine style wine here without question, a blend of Monastrell (66%) and Tempranillo (33%). A big sniff of this reveals raspberry jam on toast. A full palate which needs food. Coconut characters are subtle and a result of the new American oak used. Drying tannins to finish off. Lots to like here. $25

Shiraz 2008: Wow! A classic cool climate Shiraz with some bottle age which has kicked it along wonderfully. Great fruit and gentle spice. A soft finish and moreish length. The word elegant is a perfect descriptor. For $18 this screams value! Will now only be available to wine club members, this will commence shortly I'm told.

Shiraz 2009: A little more aromatic than the '08. Gamey and fleshy with a peppery palate. Great length and drying finish.

"The Spaniard" Tempranillo 2009: A good whiff of oak, dark cherries and herb. Minimal acid. A lovely rounded palate with juicey fruit and good length. $30

Saperavi 2012: Winemaker Peter McGlashan has a few interesting things on the go and this is one of them. Minute quantities made, only 50L! Not available for purchase at this stage but a twist of the arm may get you a sample at the Cellar Door. Bright purple colour. Lavender nose. Acid is up there but fits in well with the profile of the wine. A native varietal from Georgia which thrives in cold climates so I'd be interested to see how this vintage develops in coming years and how Saperavi performs in subsequent vintages on the Granite Belt.

Jacquez 2011: Another variety which is significantly different. Only 1000L made and is due for release in twelve months. Alcohol is up there, 14%. Big and black. Man it's dark. A touch of lavender and musk on the nose. Once it hits the palate it sticks to the front and lingers there nicely. Some juicey fruit but the remainder of the palate was cleansed quickly. I'd be interested to see where this is at in another twelve months.

Symphony Hill http://www.symphonyhill.com.au/

Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011: Asparagus on the nose. Grassy with a slip of passionfruit. Some texture for interest. I'm not a big Sauv fan but this struck a chord. Very enjoyable. $25

Reserve Verdelho 2010: A dry style Verdelho. Clear appearance. Crisp tropical fruit. Some mouth warmth. Zesty. $25

Viognier 2009: Wild ferment with two months in older oak. A bouquet of butterscotch, fleshy fruit on entry with some buttery characteristics lingering well. Not the soupy apricot nectar type of Viognier commonly found on the shelf. Very good. $30

"Danying" Cabernet 2009: Twelve months in French oak. Good colour. Blackberries and plums on the nose which run onto the palate nicely. A well weighted palate with a soft finish. Top value for $25.

Reserve Shiraz 2008: A big rich and inviting nose and is a massive leap in quality from the standard Shiraz in the range. Quite aromatic with distinct raspberry and white pepper. An impressive juicey palate finish with good tannins which could nearly be powdery. Not so sure on the price tag but still a wine worth a look. $65

Reserve Shiraz Viognier 2009: Spot on target. Inviting nose of dark fruits and berries which roll onto a generous palate. Well weighted. Viognier adds a distinct perfume and softness. I was a big fan. $45

Hidden Creek http://www.hiddencreek.com.au/

Verdelho 2010: Stand up and take note! Fresh. Clean. Good acid. Refreshing tropical fruit with good length. Yum. A no nonsense type at a top price too. $18

Chardonnay 2009: Nutty and spice on a soft yet generous palate. Good length. Not overly oaked. Well made. A Chardonnay to engage those who don't like Chardonnay. $22

Tempranillo 2009: Varietal nose. Plummy and savoury with enjoyable length. A little firmer mouthfeel but still delish. $22

Golden Grove http://www.goldengroveestate.com.au/

Semillon 2007: Deliberate aged release which has paid dividends. Lovely oak characters with some slight honey tones. Persistent finish with good acid. $20

Vermentino 2011: The second vintage of this but the first release as the previous vintage was a "trial". Only 500 cases made. Dry, pear and some minerality washing around. Delicious with tropical fruit characters and some lemon zest. Some attractive floral notes too. I really liked it. $20

Barbera 2011: Very easy drinking style. Light to medium body. Some sour cherry kicking in on a soft palate with a little mouth warmth. Load this up with a pasta dish or pizza. Happy days. $20

Nero d'Avola 2011: Inviting aromatics with more punch than some other NDVs I have had. Darker in the glass than I expected but this is the style the winemaker is pursuing. Medium bodied with raspberry and blackcurrant. Oak adds a neat dimension (13.5% abv). $22

Tempranillo 2010: Plummy, juicey and smooth. Great length and soft tannin grip. Lots to like and well made. $28

Ravens Croft http://www.ravenscroftwines.com.au/

Only the Verdelho and Pinotage are estate grown. The vineyard sits at an altitude of 930m.

Verdelho 2012: Fresh and aromatic. Tight acid. Citrus notes distinct on the palate (13.5%). Ten weeks between picking and bottling. I like it. $22

Gewurtztraminer 2010: Light musk and lychee aromatics. Touch of spice. Perfect for Thai. $25

Pinotage 2011: This is Mark's second vintage with only 600 bottles produced. Very little Pinotage is grown in Australian, whereas Pinotage is king in Mark's native South Africa, so you can see where his passion stems from. The bouquet awakens the senses. Stewed berry pudding, toffee, butterscotch and raspberry jam. Wow! A lighter palate than expected (14% abv) with soft fruit including strawberry. Grippy tannins which will soften in time but still complement the wine nicely. Well made and definitely one to keep an eye on as vintages progress. $35

A big thanks to all the wineries and winemakers for their time. I really enjoyed our discussions and your warming and welcoming hospitality.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Soul Growers Equilibrium Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2009

Big and bold. Man I loved this! And to cap it off, it is great value for money.

A blend of Shiraz (41%), Grenache (39%) and Mourvedre (20%). Basket pressed with minimal intervention, open fermented, the essence of a wine made with a careful hand is evident. This is classy stuff and if this wine could sing, it would be pumping out, "Sexy and I know it" by LMFAO.

A serious whiff of earth, concentrated dark fruits, a cheeky savoury character with good oak. From this I had the inkling I was in for a cracker of a drop and I was not disappointed. These characters neatly made an appearance on the palate too. Sleek, smooth, plentiful, and damn, it was good! Chocolate with a little spice created a generous mouth feel. This wine just keeps giving. A super smooth and lingering finish, and despite it being 15%, the alcohol was not out of whack nor was it taking centre stage.

Welcome to flavour country - value deluxe!

Who: Soul Growers http://www.soulgrowers.com/
What: Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre (15% abv)
Where: Barossa Valley
When: 2009
How: $25

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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

A day in Heathcote!

There is so much to love about Heathcote. The rolling hills, the rocks sitting in the most odd formations and places yet maintaining graceful balance, the eucalypt lined roads, and of course the wine.

Being my second trip to the region a week ago, I was keen on dropping in on another small winery or two which I had not previously experienced nor had their wines.

Stop one landed on the doorstep of McIvor Estate. Wow, what a setting! And what fabulous service and people! Upon arrival we were met by Cynthia. She introduced herself and then remembered all our names over the next hour and a half, plus the other dozen people who came and went in that time. Being the wife of the winemaker, she knew the product back to front, but it was her warming personality and charm which made this experience even more memorable. We were also introduced to the latest member of the team, Lucy the 12 week old Blue Heeler, and then walked through each wine by our host. A bonus being the side by side tasting of some previous vintages of Nebbiolo and Shiraz.

Winemaker Gary wandered in later and shared a few yarns with us. A genuine good bloke with his heart and soul in his product.
As we tasted and chatted in this most relaxed and warm setting, Cynthia also shared McIvor's estate grown Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Caramelised Balsamic. All splendidly delectable.

Walking through the wines which are all estate grown:
Marsanne Roussanne 2010: The only white wine in the line up. Typical traits of honeysuckle and lemons. Some creaminess on the palate with some good acid. Drink now. $25

Sangiovese 2009: A rustic style with a boot load of sediment suggesting no filtering. Rose petals and the usual cherry nose with a gentle whiff of spice. Palate was tight with ample fruit to support it. Chalky tannins to finish up. Tidy effort. $25

Cabernet Merlot 2008: A blend of 51% Cabernet and 49% Merlot. Impressive deep colour with a hint of mint on the nose along with some savoury characters. Chocolate on the palate. Long length with juicy tannins. $25

Shiraz 2008: Coming from a cooler year, a nose of dark concentrated fruits with admirable depth. The colour was vibrant and intense - as was the palate. Fleshy fruit wrapped up with a fine and smooth finish. Damn! Well worth the price tag. $35

Shiraz 2009: Hello Heathcote Shiraz! My goodness. And I thought the 2008 was great. Whoa! From a hot summer, the nose here was a bomb waiting to explode. More concentrated and even more depth than the '08, yet softer and more elegant. Dark chocolate, black cherries the highlights which flowed beautifully onto a full and delicious palate. Ten years left in this guy. $40

Nebbiolo 2008: A cooler vintage, produced an aromatic nose with cherries prominent. This Nebb is starting to hit its straps with the tannins softening and leaving you dry and grippy. $35

Nebbiolo 2009: Amazing the difference a year makes. The aromatics here are completely different. Some spice and black olives obvious. I liked the fruit here and the intense flavours. A lick of spice adding to the package nicely. The tannins were a lot firmer and no doubt will soften well with more bottle age. One for the bank. $35

The wines from McIvor Estate are available in some Melbourne Restaurants and small independents, so best bet is online for interstaters or Cellar Door.

McIvor left a superb impression on our travelling party, and I suggest you get yourself there if in the area. If you are organised and have a tribe of at least 8, Gary and Cynthia will light up the wood fired pizza oven. What more incentive do you need?

A quick drive to the "neighbours" at Shelmerdine was the next stop. The service wasn't a patch on Cynthia and Gary up the road, as these guys appeared more focused on the restaurant customers than the crew we had lined up at the bar.
The wines were of good quality and well made but some appeared over priced in some respects. The highlights here:
Pinot Rose 2011: The wine was barrel fermented in French oak after being whole bunched pressed (12.5% abv). Good salmon like colour with savory elements and some texture for interest. Soft and clean finish. Very approachable. Fruit from the Upper Yarra Valley. $25

Heathcote Shiraz 2008: The fruit comes from Tooborac (15%) just up the road with the remainder coming from the Willoughby Bridge vineyard to the north of Heathcote. Hand picked and thirteen months in a mix of new and one year old French oak produced a wine with cherries, spice and dark fruit on the nose. A palate of distinct savoury characters, well integrated oak, and a long finish. A bargain. $33

Heathcote "Merindoc" Single Vineyard Shiraz 2008: The flagship wine. All estate grown fruit from the Merindoc vineyard. Hand picked, basket pressed, and wild fermented. Fourteen months in French oak and bottled unfiltered. A dark crimson appearance. Concentrated fruit and earthy on the nose which follows through to the palate bringing a savoury component, dotted with gentle spice and a touch of mint. A smooth, long and supple finish. Stick this away for a few years for sure to see it at its best. The price tag doesn't ooze value though ($65), but gee it makes the Heathcote Shiraz a ripping deal.

With our stomachs calling it was off to Flynns for lunch - a very late lunch indeed, where we were greeted by winemaker Greg. As with Gary from McIvor, a warming and welcoming individual who loved to share his passion and vision for his wines. Lunch was ordered and we sipped away a range of splendid wines in the interim.

We kicked off in the tasting room before Greg ripped out the barrel thief and called us all into the winery next door for some unscripted and off the cuff barrel sampling and blending. More on that soon...


Being my second trip to Flynns, my reason for returning was made obvious very quickly. Here's why:
Viognier 2011: A gentle whiff of honey, spice and apricot. Partially barrel fermented (13.2% abv) and those creamy and buttered toast flavours are evident. Yum. $28

Verdelho 2008: Greg has moved away from the clean and fresh Verdelho many wineries pump out opting for a more complex flavour and oak integrated wine (20% in French oak for 3-4 months), and it works well. Tropical fruit still prominent on the nose but much softer. The oak integration adds some inviting texture on the palate. Creamy with an edge of freshness and gentle lingering finish. $25

MC Shiraz 2009: MC standing for multi-clone as there are four clones of Shiraz in this wine. The wine sat in 40% new American and French oak for fourteen months. Deep purple in colour, an earthy and zippy nose with a cheeky spice and a shade of mint. (That mint characteristic synonymous with Cabernet has really been jumping out of the glass on this trip from Shiraz which was impressive!) The palate is gutsy and full (14.5% abv), yet elegant and polished off nicely with tannins which are a shade away from powdery. Gee I love this drop and summarises what Heathcote Shiraz is all about!
 
At this point Greg invites us into the winery. Saddle up! His passion went into over drive as he gave us a look at the Shiraz '10 with the trusty barrel thief.

The first sneak peak was from the Upper Hill Shiraz '10. Sweetness from the American oak was obvious, along with chocolate and cherry. The oak was dominant and it was a great example of how the use if different barrels for blending really builds a wine.

A sample of the B Block Shiraz '10 was next. French oak this time with a much deeper colour and softer palate profile. Acid was good too. These two barrels will combine beautifully when blended.

Vermentino was next on the agenda. A first vintage for Flynns and Greg was excited to show where it was at. Firstly a tank sample. The wine threw out lemons and a touch of spice. Aromatics were strong with tropical fruit too. The palate was clean and refreshing. A barrel sample was then produced. Three months in oak contributed to a softer wine with creamy aromatics. Two totally different samples - yet the same wine. Some crafty blending from Greg then kicked in producing a blend in quick time. The resulting wine was outstanding! A blend of 80% tank and 20% barrel. The spice from the tank sample was levelled out creating a clean nose yet still maintaining fresh and lemony characters. Moreish deluxe can't describe the palate any better. A great profile and damn, I can't wait to see this in a bottle.

The lunch bell rang and I set off for my lamb shanks which were washed down with some MC Shiraz, and they were tremendously delicious! A big thanks to Greg and his staff for their excellent hospitality and for sharing their wines, knowledge and passion.

A magnificent day shared in some magnificent company and with brilliant wines. If you have never been to Heathcote, best you get yourself there!

McIvor Estate
Web: http://www.mcivorestate.com.au/
Follow them: www.twitter.com/McIvorEstate

Shelmerdine Vineyards
Web: http://www.shelmerdine.com.au/

Flynns Wines
Web: http://www.flynnswines.com.au/
Follow them: www.twitter.com/FlynnsWines

Follow me: www.twitter.com/Qwine

Monday, 11 June 2012

Bent Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

I last looked at this wine 12 months ago and it is continuing to grow in strength. The palate structure seems to be crying out for more time, and if you have the patience, hold out. If not, load up!

The wine was held back on release from winemaker Glen Robert, and when part of the aging is done for you, jump in and see why.

Glen's Bent Road winery is a gem tucked into the country side at Ballandean in Queensland's Granite Belt region. His operation is hands on and nothing is done without care - Glen prides himself on a well made product and the hands of his work are clearly evident here.

This Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 is the flagship of Bent Road Winery. The wine was hand picked, temperature controlled for fermentation and aged in a mix of new and used French oak.

A nose of dark chocolate, stewed dark fruit and fig are present. The palate is a bountiful mix of full flavour and a smidge of acid which says the journey ain't over for this guy just yet.

The long smooth finish is delicious with it edging on some powdery tannin grip. And when you get powdery tannin, you know it is time to sit up and take notice.

Check out his handy work on the web, or if the area, make an appointment. A great host, a passionate winemaker and fantastic wine.

Who: Bent Road Wine http://www.bentroadwine.com.au/
What: Cabernet Sauvignon (14% abv)
Where: Granite Belt
When: 2005
How: $28

Follow them: www.twitter.com/WinemakerGlen
Follow me: www.twitter.com/Qwine

Monday, 4 June 2012

Trentham "La Famiglia" Vermentino 2010

Vermentino is making some great strides in the Australian wine scene. It is a no nonsense variety and appeals to our climate wonderfully.

This effort from Trentham, on the banks of the Murray River in NSW, is a good example of how a clean and fresh wine matched with some seafood can make the perfect Sunday afternoon even better.

Get a whiff of lemons and sherbert, even a hint of minerality. The palate is clean, crisp with the lemons rolling onto the tongue nicely. A soft finish with good length.

Refreshing and well priced - what's not to like?

Who: Trentham http://www.trenthamestate.com.au/
What: Vermentino (12.5% abv)
Where: Murray River, NSW
When: 2010
How: $15

Follow them: www.twitter.com/TrenthamWinery
Follow me: www.twitter.com/Qwine