Tuesday 27 December 2011

Yalumba The Signature 2004

Yalumba's The Signature label represents the best fruit from the vintage. This wine is absolute class and elegance from a cracking Barossa 2004 vintage.

A blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon and 46% Shiraz, the wine was aged for 22 months in French, American and Hungarian oak.

Super deep purple in colour, aromas of chocolate, blueberries and dark fruits leap from the glass with a touch of vanilla.

The nose follows through to the palate of dark berries, chocolate and vanilla - this is flavour country! Lovely texture - smooth as a silk, with lovely warmth and persistence coupled with subtle oak. Damn this is good!

The finish is super long and fine. A gem of a drop that will have you standing and applauding.

Bleasdale Sparkling Shiraz NV

A bottle of this has been a welcome guest for the last few years at our Christmas gatherings and it screams out for the turkey to partner it.

Deep in colour, it has a plummy and cherry nose with a little confectionery characteristic. The palate is full of fleshy, lip smacking goodness with chocolate, deep plum and cassis flavours. The mouth feel is fantastic and the slight confectionery characteristic reappears adding a fraction of sweetness on the palate which makes this an excellent sparkling wine at the price point. A non-vintage style, I'm yet to be disappointed by this wine and very confident in saying I don't think I ever will be.

Serve chilled and with a big smile. Seriously good gear for the money!

Monday 26 December 2011

Leo Buring "Leonay" Watervale Riesling 2005

A very tidy example of great aged Riesling. Although an '05, I felt it was perhaps a little further on than that, and gee it drinks well.

Straw in colour with a slight greenish hue, laced with bounds of lemony, citrus goodness on the nose. The fruit and acid have married together nicely resulting in a delicious wine with flavours of textured lemon and toasty elegance.

Finish is clean and persistent leaving a touch of spice and a mouthful of happiness.

An impeccable aperitif!

McWilliams Mt Pleasant Verdelho 2011

Verdelho is a perfect option for a warm summer's day.

This Verdelho is a simple, no nonsense style providing a pleasant (no pun intended) nose of tropical and stone fruit. The palate is clean with a zippy edge. The acid is firm but not harsh.

A clean and crisp finish which calls out for seafood.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Fox Gordon Princess Fiano 2010

I recently saw this wine in a bottle shop for $14, and that is value you cannot pass up. So I seized a few, and what a treat it is. You'd be happy paying double and still be satisfied.

The nose is a powerful mix of floral characteristics and fruit. Lemons and lemon curd up front but lurking in the background is an attractive perfume of stonefruits, pear and green herbs.

On the palate you are met with an enticing creaminess and well rounded profile. The stonefruit nose follows through here and is accompanied by tropical fruit with great length and persistence.

A tremendous wine for the summer months.

Friday 23 December 2011

Clovely Estate Left Field Barbera 2008

I grabbed this little number to accompany me for an Italian dinner. And being an Italian grape, no surprises it matched the food splendidly.

Barbera can be categorised as Nebbiolo's little brother. Nebbiolo has all the spunk and personality, whilst Barbera is settled, composed and does what a good little brother should.

The "Left Field" bracket is the label alternate varieties fall under at Clovely. Others in the range include Semillon, Pinot Gris, Nebbiolo, GSM, Petit Verdot, Botrytis Semillon, and Liqueur Cabernet Sauvignon to name a few.

The fruit is grown in the South Burnett region in Queensland which has a similar climate to the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, that is, cool nights and warm days.

Stewed dark fruit colour in the glass, it has a capturing nose of plums and boot polish of all things. The palate is delicately smooth with loads of fruit, some chocolate with little acid and tannin. The back label suggests hints of tomato leaf, and after some time in the glass, the wine maker was spot on as this became more distinct.

A simple and very approachable wine, this Barbera is a great introduction to those beginning their red wine experience, or for those looking for a great pizza and pasta wine. Tick!

Thursday 22 December 2011

Toolangi Estate Pinot Noir 2006

The fruit for this wine comes from vineyards at Dixon Creek in the Yarra Valley. There is no winery nor cellar door to greet you, and the wines are generally made at Yering Station. Toolangi wines are sold at the Yarra Valley Dairy which upon my last visit there, showcase numerous smaller wineries and poses as a mini "cellar door" for them. Get stuck into some very yummy cheeses while there too. Hmmm, Goat's cheese...!

A tremendous wine which oozes quality and class and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a Pinot with five years already on it. Splash it into a decanter and give a good swirl and enjoy the fruits of this magnificent piece of work.

A lightish colour in the glass, shaping up with a ruby appearance. Strawberries and raspberries jump out at you. There is a little forest floor characteristic that sits behind with a smidge of clove and spice, even a mushroomy touch. The palate is met with some of the strawberry and raspberry notes whilst also adding a lovely stewed cherry. A lovely little spice element but I warm to the savoury aspect of the wine. Very enjoyable indeed, finished off with soft tannins which were a little drying.

This is Pinot Noir my friends at a cracking price! And with five years on it, best you get yourself amongst it.

Monday 19 December 2011

Stonier Pinot Noir 2010

Coming from the brilliant cool climate region of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, this Stonier Pinot is laced with class and drinkability.

Light and bright ruby colour in the glass, it presents a nose of cherries, a whiff of raspberries and a tad of earthiness. All these characteristics are wound beautifully together and follow through to a generous palate. The flavours become more complex as time goes on and the earthiness becomes more prominent. Long length and soft tannins seal the deal. Fabulous!

Many Mornington Peninsula Pinot's are well above the $30 mark, so grabbing this between $20-25 is value for money and then some.

Friday 9 December 2011

Capel Vale Regional Series Shiraz 2008

The Regional Series represents two consistent things for me - great value and well made wines.

The Shiraz is once again a shining light. Coming from Mount Barker within the Great Southern region of Western Australia, the 2008 even gave me the impression is was a little further on than the three years it already had under the belt.

Brightish cherry colour in the glass, the fruit is full and delish. Gorgeous rounded flavours on the palate which finishes smooth and long. A trendy savoury touch added to the experience.
The wine is a tiny step back from the spice you get with some Shiraz wines, but this trait adds to the wine's appeal.

Yum and yum!

d'Arenberg The Stump Jump GSM 2009

To get a decent GSM for a tenner or less is not easy but the The Stump Jump GSM is always extraordinary value.

These guys turn out brilliant wines at all price points (and some very creative labels).

Nose of earthiness, plums and a dash of spice. Juicy dark fruits on a medium palate with a good splinter or two of oak thrown in. The spice is gentle but enough to boot you along with the package rounded off by soft tannins.

A super easy drinking wine. You definitely get value for money. Bargain deluxe! Enjoy

Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay 2010

The Y Series has always represented good quality at a bargain price. It is one of the brands you can reliably get off the shelf and know you won't be let down regardless of vintage.

A fresh and simple style. The nose is laced with nectarine and stone fruit characters. The nectarine flows onto a clean medium palate. A crisp refreshing finish.

You can often get change back from $10 and with such quality for that price, happy days!

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Briar Ridge Cellar Reserve Orange Chardonnay 2008

Great little wine this from a Hunter winery with some vineyards in Orange.

Golden appearance with a good whiff of mango, peach, and some sweet vanillin oak. The oak sucks me right in and the back label reveals the wine sits in one year old French (14% abv).

A generous palate of fruit - the mango comes back at you gently and a hit of grapefruit evident, as are the stone fruits. The package is wrapped up nicely by the oak - thanks very much barrel ferment! Long persistent finish.

If oak ain't your thing, this isn't what you are after. But then again, the oak is not overpowering either.

I liked it!

Barambah Vineyard Selection Shiraz 2009

Barambah is situated in the South Burnett region in Queensland, roughly two and a half hours drive north west of Brisbane. The company has 7 hectares under vine including Chardonnay, Semillon, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon which were planted in 1995. Master of Wine Peter Scudmore-Smith is the man in charge bringing these wines together.

This is a wine which would be a good intro to those who fear shiraz. It still possesses many of the typical shiraz characteristics, but is lighter than you would expect. I made some comparisons to a heavy type pinot in some respects, but as my drinking companion described it, it's a feminine type shiraz - which is the opposite end to some of those massive shiraz wines you could become aquainted with from the Barossa and beyond. She was right.

Immediately on the nose it's lighter. Dark cherries and berries throw down the welcome mat (13.5% abv). The wine hits the front palate and crawls through with some spice and blackberry flavours. A touch of French oak sits behind the fruit with good tannins rounding off. $18.

Monday 5 December 2011

Brown Brothers Prosecco NV

A terrific party starter for less than $15!

Non-vintage from the King Valley, light straw appearance with a faint green edge.

Palate is fresh with pear, some apple and a slip of lemon sherbert. Crisp and dry. A delight indeed. Long finish ties up a pretty tidy drop.

Serve as an aperitif or just find an excuse to indulge in a glass or two! Enjoy.

Smallfry Red Blend 2009

As the name suggests, this is a small winery tipping out some excellent wines from the Barossa and surrounding areas. Having had several of their reds and whites, these wines are consistently good.

This red blend is a fruit salad of sorts - Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro, Carignan and Cinsault. The latter two add a wonderful dimension to the wine both on the palate and nose.

There is something for everyone in this one. Sweetness from the grenache, spice from the mataro, a delicate softness on entry balanced by a rustic harder edge. I really enjoyed what was on offer.

Medium purple in the glass, a nose of some cherry, jubes but also some delicious plummy hints. The palate followed through from the nose beautifully. Wonderful texture, juicy fruit and well balanced. There was an inviting softness but also a harder edge giving it some good punch too. Smooth tannins on a super long finish.

Over two days there was an evident warmth which at no stage was a turn off, but only screamed out for a cold night by the fire or a hearty meal.

I picked this up for a ridiculous $18 - what a bargain. A great drop all round!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

First Drop Mothers Milk Shiraz 2010

Massive gobfuls of awesomeness! There is no better way to describe this wine. The label is trendy and grabs your attention from the outset.

It's so easy to drink that you'll be licking your lips for more.

The Greenock fruit spends fifteen months in predominantly old French Oak (95%) with a smidge of  old American oak. The wine was made for the fruit to leap out of the glass. And man, it does that and then some (14.5% abv).

Dark appearance, a nose of dark cherries, black fruits, and some chocolate greet you. The palate is juicey deluxe, full and moreish. Good acid balance and soft, supple tannins on a long finish.

For around the $25 mark, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Deen DeBortoli Vat 8 Shiraz 2008

Talk about value. This wine can often be seen around the $10 mark and it drinks better than that for sure.

The fruit is drawn from a range of vineyards: Limestone Coast, McLaren Vale, King Valley and Heathcote.

A medium bodied red (14.5% abv), the wine is deep purple in the glass. A massive nose of blackfruits, plums, and a snip of cloves. Great depth.

Upfront on the palate is where the action happens, but the mid and back palate dissolve a little too quickly for my liking. Plummy and chocolatey to finish with fine tannins.

Impressive for the price point.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Witches Falls Wild Ferment Viognier 2010

After a recent trip to the Cellar Door, this was one of the wines in my kit bag to take home. It caught the eye on tasting and caught my attention even more having a closer look at it.

The fruit comes from Boyland, and as you are right now, I said, "Where the hell is that!"

Boyland is at the bottom of Mt Tambourine to the west. As you can see on the map at right, it's not far from Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. Some fruit for other wines in the range are sourced from surrounding areas too such as the Fiano, but the majority comes from the Granite Belt.

The label explanation states, "Indigenous yeast, some juice solids, and barrel fermentation..." After doing some investigation I found out about this process of using "juice solids". It's a method used with Chardonnay and Viognier where during cold settling preferment, the juice is either rough racked or early racked to take some solid fruit bits that come with the juice. The technical part of this means that certain nutrients are provided to the yeast as well as polysaccharides which alter and soften the mouthfeel. The critical part is that the solids:juice ratio must be right or the ferment will go nuts resulting in a slippery mouthfeel.
Props to my winemaker mate Nick for his expert advice!

And the wine... this was the second release of the Wild Ferment Viognier. It was 100% wild ferment in new and old French oak (13.7% abv) for four to five months. I looked at this wine over two days and I really enjoyed it, but you could be mistaken in thinking it comes across a little as a Chardonnay. I'd be interested lining it up against some other Viognier and Chardonnay and seeing where the average punter would place it. After the second day however, the Viognier characteristics came to the fore, but without the usual apricot.

Light golden in colour, a nose of lemons with pears a jab of honey.  All quite distinct, well I thought so anyway. The pear was more prominant on the second day for sure. The barrel ferment has added a lovely nutty and toasty element to the palate. It's full and rich and hangs around for ages. Wonderful length! A gentle warmth in the mouth adds a point of difference which appealed. Up there in price ($28), but worth a look.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Bent Road Estate Semillon 2010

I smashed this lip smacking goodness from the Granite Belt with a seafood platter. A perfect partner it was.

Semillon has always done well on the Granite Belt and this is another example. The wine is purely organic. A couple of goats roamed the property up until a few months ago when they were moved on. Tragic story that, but Glen has nearly got over it :) Chooks have replaced them and they wander freely between the vines - as does the wild venison which keeps the freezer full.

The fruit is great and the wine is clean with lovely citrus and lemon aromas. A smidge of apricot too on a well balanced palate. Scrumptious acid tying it all together which leans to an easy drinking style. There's enough there though to kick the wine along for a few years yet, but hey, why wait?

A very tidy piece of work and worth getting your hands on. Perfect for a lazy hot day - and there are plenty of those coming up!!

Teusner "Joshua" GMS 2009

I've always been a fan of the wines from Teusner and can't say I've ever had a bad one. All wines are made well and they have some serious yum factor.

The Joshua 2009 (14.5% abv) is a brilliant example of fruit speaking loudly and proudly. A Grenache (65%) Mataro (25%) and Shiraz blend, the unique thing here is that there is no oak influence in the wine. That's right, no oak! The same wine is made for its sibling "Avatar", but the difference is that it is oaked. If you ever get the chance to put the same vintage side by side, do it! It really showcases the influence of oak in wine. Either way, the Joshua and Avatar are great in their own right.

Some warmth in the mouth, but this was a result of me having no patience and needing to get my laughing gear around it. The wine settled nicely in the decanter producing sumptuous amounts of juicy fruit. There's a touch of sweetness which moves to a mouthful of earthy characteristics and a touch of spice. A finish of pepper, cherry and a bit of plum was heightened by the need to take another sip. No need to age this one, just get into it. Another winner!!

Thursday 17 November 2011

Riesling Night @SwirlSniffSpit Tuesday 15 November

The monthly gathering of Brisvegas' Swirlers, Sniffers and Spitters was again a magnificent evening. The focus was Riesling, and wow, what a line up!

One of the great things about these gatherings is the diverse range of wines presented, but also, the diverse number of people being brought together through their love of wine.

We covered Australia's east coast to west coast, warm climate to cool. A few Germans even made the list, and according to @breebos, "The sexiest vineyards in the world!"

Knappstein Handpicked Clare Valley 2011: I had a look at the 2009 recently http://tiny.cc/26ty6 and this wine sadly is not a patch on it. This latest vintage had some lemony notes on the sniff, but was short on flavour and lacked some punch.
Petaluma Hanlin Hill Clare Valley 2010: Nice fuller mouth feel and an extra year in the bottle has been a plus. Limes and citrus on the nose which follow through to the palate. Good acid. A nicely balanced wine. Tick!
Karra Yerta Eden Valley 2010:  Sometimes the best things are kept simple... Limes and minerality. Clean, crisp, and steely. Yum!!!

Karra Yerta Eden Valley 2005: The difference on the nose between these Karra Yerta wines was amazing. The '10 was clean and fresh, whereas the '05 was similar to the 06 http://tiny.cc/7jmud and had a massive kerosene hit. Wonderful toasty characteristics on a palate with so much gas left in the tank thanks to a good acid profile. It's best years are ahead of it. A clear winner for me here!

A visit to the cooler climate of Canberra and @breebos made the call that this region could potentially be Australia's best Riesling producing region. Have a look at these and you'll understand why...
Capital Wines "The Whip" Canberra District 2011: Crunchy apple, good acid backbone which will sit pretty for many years. Palate had more depth than nose. Tidy finish. Delish!
Lark Hill Canberra District 2011: I really liked the aroma of the nose here. Some touches of white pepper. Crisp and nicely balanced. A delight!
These two were very impressive!!

Bests Great Western Grampians 2011: Very easy to see why this wine is so popular. Very approachable and easy drinking. A little more sweetness than others thus far on the night. Floral, apples with good length. Damn fine.

The Story Henty 2011: A most unique wine on the sniff. Grassy, herbs, lemons. Clearly a point of difference which makes it stand out. Once again, good acid balance and length.

Two very different styles of Riesling here. The Estate is made in the traditional method as we know it, whereas the Artisan is made very much like some Chardonnay - barrel ferment, wild yeasts, time on lees. The first time I have come across this style in a Riesling which made me very curious!  
Xabregas Estate Great Southern 2011: Off dry style. Clean and crisp. A easy drinking style made well.

Xabregas Artisan Great Southern 2010: Crisp and dry. An amazing celebration of flavour on the palate. Once again, a point of difference which separated the punters on preferences between the two. Something I reckon I can easily go back to. Very enjoyable.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Karra Yerta Eden Valley Riesling 2006

Karra Yerta, like many small businesses, are doing it tough at the moment.  Some wise words shared here by Marie, the owner of Karra Yerta: http://tiny.cc/0il4r

So, rather than sit back and do nothing, I took up the $99 challenge. Challenge not in the least!!! $99 for 6 wines is an absolute bargain! Particularly when it has bottle age on its side and the product is of great quality.
My six arrived a few days ago, a mix of two 06 Riesling, two 07 Riesling, one 06 Shiraz Cabernet and one 07 Shiraz Cabernet.
After a few hours in the fridge curiosity got the best of me, and damn, I wasn't disappointed. The Eden Valley 06 Riesling (12% abv) had a good whiff of kerosene on the nose. I was rubbing my hands together with glee! A palate with good textured minerality, some steely elements, and river stones. Good acid which was in balance, but enough to suggest there was plenty of years left in this bad boy. Super long finish, I was pretty happy, and that was only day one.
I came back to it 24 hours on and the nose had developed some wonderful lemony, citrus peel notes. The palate had released itself a little more too. A terrific drop and I'm looking forward to what the 2007 has to offer!

Printhie Sauvignon Blanc 2010

This wine highlights two things - how good Australian Sauvignon Blanc is, and what a great wine region Orange is.

Sauvignon Blanc has gone through its boom stage, but lately, many reports are suggesting that Australians are now shifting their focus from it back to Riesling and Chardonnay. Much of this focus has been the saturation of the market from our New Zealand friends and our local wines are not getting the cudos they deserve. Admittedly, Sauvignon Blanc has not been my most preferred white, but here is a reason why you should consider having another look at it.

The fruit comes from four vineyards at altitudes of 800m (25%), 900m (50%), with the remainder from 1010m.

Lovely aromas of tropical fruit, with a palate that is clean and fresh. Crisp apples are distinct on the palate (Lady Williams to be exact - well in my humble opinion anyway!). Acid is well balanced and the finish is long and refreshing (12.5% abv). Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon drop, which was precisely when I got amongst it.

Great value. Great drop!

Bent Road Verdelho 2008

Verdelho is very much seen as a "drink now" variety, but this little number from Bent Road shows that a little bit of age won't do the wine any harm. If anything, its added to the complexity which makes the wine even more enjoyable.
Well made in small batches with the emphasis on the fruit to come to the fore. Some Verdelho is stripped bare of its varietal characteristics but this expression of Verdelho demonstrates what can be achieved.
Plenty of tropical fruit aromas on the nose, the wine presents itself on the lighter side of golden. The palate is nicely rounded with some aged Semillon characteristics noticeable. Finish is clean and leaves you yearning for the next sip. At $18, this is a great example of the varying styles of Granite Belt Verdelho, yet also showcases its suitability to the Queensland climate and lifestyle.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Good Food & Wine Show Brisbane 2011

On the weekend I meandered around the Brisbane Good Food & Wine Show with @thewinepunter.

The crowd was huge and the good folk of Brisvegas were having a  ball. Some excellent wines on tasting and the "Secret Stash" was a winner on more than one occasion!

The day kicked off with a visit to Riedel Australia's stand and a chat with Mark. We got talking about decanting and how it brings the wine to life. I posed the question about wine aerators and Mark's comments were very interesting to hear, "Younger wines benefit from aerators because it is the same process as a decanter. Older wines get bashed around too much from them as the molecular structure is effected and torn apart too quickly. In the end, they are a toy that speeds up the process too much which can have drastic effects on the wine."
The discussion moved to decanting, "Allowing the wine to move allows it to start to breath. Letting it sit still in a bottle does nothing. To see the true benefits of decanting, you need to do it side by side. That is, taste the wine prior to decanting and then afterwards. An old bottle of wine needs no more than two hours in a decanter. Leaving the wine for longer periods over exposes it and it will begin to decline rapidly."
Thanks to Mark for his time and sharing his extensive knowledge. He even kicked in a Riedel glass for us both to use as we tasted our afternoon away. Riedel is clearly a popular weapon amongst the people and it gave us much street cred. We had some great discussions with the locals about how the glass makes the experience even more enjoyable. And needless to say, there were times when I could easily tell those around that my stem was bigger than theirs :)

Mission one was to get through some white wines before moving to reds. We got into the mood with some cider. Nepolean apple and pear cider from the Punt Road winery in the Yarra were spectacular. Clean, crisp, and seriously gluggable. A very encouraging way to start off the day.

A look at Taylor's Jarraman Riesling 2011 really caught the eye. Clean, rich palate with a lovely minerality and length. Very different to the Taylor's St Andrew's 2011 which was more slatey with an acid finish.

The Granite Belt precinct was a thriving metropolis. The sheer number of people bouncing off the other's shoulder to get a swig of some of Queensland's finest was most impressive to see, and a credit to all who have continued to build the reputation of the region. Some absolute belters included the Ocean View Estate Viognier and the Raven's Croft Chardonnay 2009.

The Ocean View Estate Viognier 2011 came from a shady and cool vintage which picked up some acid and peachy and apricot characteristics. Some nice grip on the back of the palate to finish up. The previous night Thomas and Kate picked up a Qld Tourism Award. Well done guys and thanks for the chat!
The Raven's Croft Chardonnay 2009 was deliciously moreish with some gorgeous vanilla flavours coming right through the palate. A yummy creaminess to tidy up was very well received. This was the first of the "Secret Stashes" unleashed to us for the afternoon and we weren't disappointed!

Oliver's Taranga was the next stop and the Fiano 2011 was a cracker. Crispy pear with lemons and a minerally edge. The Vermentino 2011 was also refreshing and crisp. Good acid too in this zesty little number.

The last of the great whites we came across came from O'Leary Walker wines. Their two Rieslings, Watervale and Polish Hill, are completely different, yet so good. The Watervale 2011 keeps giving with generous lashings of lime and mineral characteristics, whilst the Polish Hill 2011 from only 9km down the road is more steely and tight.
It was here we washed out the glasses and turned our attention to reds. The O'Leary Walker Reserve Clare Valley Shiraz 2006 set the bar ridiculously high. Great fruit and depth. Gentle spice, chocolate with a nice hint of oak. Smooth polished tannins - this was a delight. Secret Stash number two was an outright outstanding effort. Thanks to Sue for her entertaining discussion as well!

Back to Oliver's Taranga and the HJ Reserve Shiraz 2008 was pulled out from under the counter. A big red with some sweetness, subtle spice and juicy fruit. Finish was long and smooth. What a treat! A big thanks to Brioni and Nicky for their time and the chat.

I was impressed with the reds from Moppity Vineyards from the Hilltops. Their Estate Shiraz 2009 was deep in colour with a lovely nose of violets, cloves, and a smokey bacon characteristic from the oak. Very impressive stuff and a ripper of a bargain at $25. The Reserve Shiraz 2008 was gentler, and the addition of some Viognier contributed to this. The nose of the Estate appealed a little more to me, but the palate characteristics were better in the Reserve. All in all, great wines and a great guy behind them - thanks for the chat Jason!

Murray Street Vineyards from the Barossa is a very smart operation headed by Andrew Seppelt and his wife Vanessa. Their wines are well made and terrific value. Having previously looked at their Semillon and Cabernet, it was time to check out their The Barossa 2008. A blend of Shiraz, Grenache, Mouvedre and a touch of Cinsault, it has a deep colour, inviting oak, and an earthiness which sits at the back, coaxing you back for more. After grabbing a Riesling and The Barossa for the bag, Andrew says, "You better have some of this before you go." The Secret Stash came out, and BOOM, the winner for the day was produced. The Sophia 2008 had a brilliant perfumed nose. Soft and supple, this Shiraz with a lick of Viognier jumped to the wine of the day. Absolutely sensational!!

The last great wine of the day was Pyramids Road Mourvedre 2010. From the Granite Belt, this wine is a limited release with only 120 dozen made. Super dark fruit, cherries, and savoury notes. Minimal oak and beautiful grippy tannins to seal the deal. The wine is made deliberately with minimal influence to have the fruit characteristics take centre stage, and they do. A ripper of a wine.

The show is a great experience for the novice and experienced alike. Talking to many of the reps and winemakers, they were all impressed how well Brisbanites take to the show. But in the end, the fact so many great wineries, small and large, come to showcase their best work, it is a treat. Quite simply, unlike our southern friends, wineries are not on our doorstep - except on a day like this. A big shout out to all the wineries who attend and support this great event, not only giving themselves great exposure, but also the consumer.


Friday 4 November 2011

Brokenwood Forest Edge Chardonnay 2009

With my first whiff of this, I knew I was onto a winner. All the things I love in a chardonnay have come together in a very tidy package. Hand picked, bunch pressed, wild ferment, 80% new French oak. Oh yeah!
The fruit comes the Forest Edge vineyard in Orange which was planted in 1998. The last few wines I've had from Orange have not let me down either.

A touch off golden, the oak influence in the wine was obvious in the glass. A nose of tropical fruits, toasty oak and a whack of vanilla.
The palate was delish! Juicy fruit flavours with a moreish apricot thing going on. It would start off easy but then the complexity develops nicely with wonderful sensations bouncing around (13.5% abv). From tropical fruit, to apricots, it then went to juicy mango and finally the oak component chimes in leaving a long finish. Lip smacking goodness.

This was a treat. Giddy up!

Monday 31 October 2011

Briar Ridge Pinot Chardonnay 2009

I've always been a fan of this drop, but the 2009 (11.5% abv) seems a little light on compared to previous vintages.
Don't get me wrong, there is much to enjoy, but the depth and structure just doesn't hit the spot as those from previous experiences.
The Pinot (70%) comes from Mt Canobolas, Orange and the Chardonnay comes from the Hunter.
In the glass it was much clearer than previous which took me by surprise. Some biscuity characteristics peeking through a whiff of citrus. The palate is clean, fresh and crisp. The mid-palate dissolves all too quickly but a nice after taste lingers on the back palate.
You could easily destroy a bottle of this in no time.

Monday 24 October 2011

Summit Estate The Pinnacle White 2010

Summit Estate is a Queensland winery on the Granite Belt which has 17 hectares of fruit. Some most intriguing wine blends are thrown together here. On first inspection one can't help but to raise the eyebrows, but the blending has been done very well and all blends work seamlessly. The wine maker is of Argentine decent and learnt the craft in Spain, and she brings a vast array of experiences and knowledge which are show cased in her work.

This wine is a blend of three varieties - Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. It's not a common blend seen here in Australia, but is a common blend particularly in France. This example shows the fruit all comes together nicely to create a wine which tantalises the senses.

Marsanne usually plays second fiddle to viognier in many French blends but not in this case, and the reverse works well.

Barrel fermented, the oak influence is obvious on the nose. Toasty characteristics present on a dense, rounded palate along with a nutty persistence. Fruit is full and firm with a long lingering finish.

Knappstein Hand Picked Riesling 2009

I bought six of these and have struggled to keep to the original plan and leave some aside for a few years. They so good I just keep going back to them.
Clare Valley fruit and hand picked to retain the best fruit characteristics, for less than $20 it is a great buy.

Aromas of citrus, lime and lemon, the palate is steely, clean, crisp with a solid mineral backbone. For the two years I have kept some, it has developed nicely and will continue to do so for a few years yet.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Semillon Night @Swirlsniffspit Tuesday 18 October

Semillon was shown in all forms from sparkling, to fresh, to bottle aged to delectable dessert wines. Some notes from this fabulous night....

St Agounant Blanc de Blanc 1999. Spends an amazing 10 years on lees which adds a wonderful depth and complexity. Made in the same style as Champagne. Soft, supple and well textured.

Bimbagen NV Clean and fresh. Touch of citrus on the nose. Very much a drink now style.

Young Semillon
Scarborough Green Label Hunter Valley 2011. Clean with crisp, crunchy acid. Needs food I reckon.

Murray Street Vineyard Barossa Valley 2010. I was pretty keen on this. I was ready to take a leaf out of the @thewinepunter 's book and make the early call of "the wine of the night!".
Clear development already taking shape. Lovely mouth feel and texture. Soft citrus, honey and some melon characteristics. All this for $20... Time to go shopping!
Queensland Semillon
Both of the Queensland wines came from the South Burnett region which is 2.5-3 hours north west of Brisbane. The climate is similar to the Hunter Valley - warm days and cool nights. Not surprisingly, semillon has performed well here for many years too.

Clovely Estate Left Field 2006. Bottle age has been it's friend developing some lovely toasty characteristics. Softer mid palate but lovely length. Very nice.

Barambah First Grid 2008. Needs some time to settle. Acid kick dominant at present. Has potential.

Aged Semillon
Peter Lehmann Margaret, Barossa Valley 2005. This was devine. Texture and fruit superb. Lemon curd is what I was getting. Powers through to the very end. A beauty!

Meerea Park Alexander Munro 2005. A very attractive lemony/lime thing going on here. The acid was prominent and crawls back onto the palate when you think it's gone. More time needed but will be a crowd pleaser hands down in years to come.

Dessert Wines
Punt Road Botrytis Semillon Yarra Valley 2010. Oh I love this drop and I was salivating more than Pavlov's dogs when I saw this on the list.
All elements in sync here. Man it's good! There's citrus and honey, jammy mandarin. Acid beautifully balanced. Drink with caution, or you'll guzzle it too quickly!!!

De Bortoli Black Noble. The best things need little introduction. Chocolate, nutty characters. Lucious length. This is brilliant deluxe, and then some! Be wary, it's addictive.

Monday 17 October 2011

Greenstone Monastrell 2008

Having been to Heathcote earlier this year, my eyes were opened up to the wonders of this region. This is another example of how impressive this little pocket of the world is.

Greenstone is a winery I have read and heard much about and I was fortunate enough to stumble across this last week ($32) when searching for something in the bottle shop to wash down our Italian at the restaurant next door.

Monastrell has a few guises and is also known as Mataro or Mourvedre.

A nose of rich dark fruits with some herby characteristics. There were earthy tones too which followed through to the palate. Excellent length which developed in complexity over the thirty minute period it was open. Extended time in a decanter will further enhance it no question. There was some gorgeous spice on the palate which was rounded off by some juicy tannins. Acid came more to the fore as time went on too and tickled the palate gently.

A beautiful food match and I walked away impressed. Serious yum factor!

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Pewsey Vale Riesling 2011

I couldn't get enough of this little number. Maybe because it was a warm day and I was a little parched, or perhaps it was so easy to keep sipping away at it. Either way, very impressive.

Looks great in the glass with a pale straw appearance, I thought the nose was tight but it seemed to relax as time went on. Lovely aromas of lemons, some apple and even a whisker of pear.

Clean, crisp and fresh characteristics on the palate really defined this wine (12.5% abv). All elements tie in nicely together which has resulted in a very tidy piece of work, and the price for this quality is nothing less than phenomenal.

Add this to the Summer of Riesling list!!

Wednesday 5 October 2011

A Semsational night!

Last night a Semsational gathering took place at Era Bistro in Brisbane to celebrate all things Semsational about Semillon. And not just any old Semillon, Hunter Semillon.

The event was matched by others around the country showcasing 2011 Hunter Semillon at it's best with the aim to remove the perception that Semillon needs bottle age for it to be at its best. Winemaker Andrew Thomas was present (great to have you there mate!) and shared his views on a variety he is very passionate about, and the proof is in his Braemore Semillon.

The samples shared were:
Scarborough Green Label 2011
Tempus Two 2011
DeIuliis Semillon 2011
Thomas Wines Braemore 2011
McGuigan Bin 9000 2011
Allandale Reserve Single Vineyard 2011
Briar Ridge Dairy Hill 2011
Bimbadgen Estate 2011
Tower Estate 2011
Glandore Elliot Semillon 2011
Brokenwood 2011
Peppertree Tallawanta 2011
First Creek 2011
Tyrrell’s Vat 1 2011
Tulloch Wines 2011
Saddlers Creek 2011
The night was a winner opening the eyes of many to the goodness of Hunter Semillon. The wines presented a great cross section in terms of quality, acid and price point to name a few. Whilst the same names seemed to be thrown around as the "best", some questions were also being posed about the price of one or two, or should it be said, overprice.

My top picks from the night were...
Thomas Wines Braemore: Clean and crisp. This is wicked. Serious kick arse stuff. The nose is uplifting and vibrant. Fantastic finish with all elements in sync. Oh yeah!

Briar Ridge Dairy Hill: Length man. Length. This wine just keeps giving. Great nose of lemons. Texture is super with great acid balance. The wine hums along nicely. Yep yep!

Tyrrell's Vat 1: Very tidy number. Seamless from top to toe and oozes class. No surprises here. Zippy and zesty. Delicious and then some!

Notable mentions:
Tower Estate: Fresh and clean with a sturdy profile and finish.

Bimbagen: Loved the texture of this wine. Lemons with tangy acidity. Finishes beautifully.

Value Pick:
Tulloch: Punches above it's weight and stood up to the others well - and only chases $16! Zesty and very glugable. Smash it with seafood.