Wednesday 31 August 2011

Clovely Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

With the thought of Cabernet Day lurking (Thursday 1 September), last weekend I thought I would have a look at one.

Clovely Estate is a Queensland winery situated in the South Burnett which is a 2.5-3 hour drive from Brisbane heading north west. The South Burnett is not to be confused with the Granite Belt which is 2.5-3 hours heading south west from Brisbane,  and the two are very different regions.
Surrounding towns in the area include Murgon and Kingaroy. Immediately many people assume that wine cannot be made in that country, but it's quite the opposite. The area has many similarities to the Hunter Valley in fact - cool nights and warm days. The soil type is limestone over basalt, making it not overly fertile and excellent drainage. Both are perfect attributes for viticulture.

The Reserve range at Clovely is only released in a good year, one that will uphold the standards of the winery. Most years a Reserve Shiraz, Reserve Chardonnay and Reserve Verdelho is produced, but the Reserve Cabernet has not been as consistent due to varying weather and vintage conditions.

Some double pruned fruit is used in this wine. What is double pruning I hear you ask? Double pruning has become increasingly popular in the South Burnett and I have since noticed some southern wineries applying the technique. Essentially, the vines are pruned twice each year rather than once. The second pruning occurs in summer essentially removing the first crop and forcing the vines to produce a second smaller but more concentrated crop. A very labour intensive process, but the final product produces spectacular results and complexities in the wine. This wine is no exception. The Reserve Shiraz has a double pruned component to it but the flagship wine of Clovely is the Double Pruned Shiraz ($60) which is an absolute spanker!! This wine is 100% double pruned fruit.

With all that background, let's get into this wine!

The fruit is a powerful black in the glass. The nose is intense and rich. The French oak is prominent, of which the wine is sat in for 18 months. Vanillin and dark berries along with a gentle spice. Mouth feel is full (13.5% abv) and soft tannins seal the deal beautifully. A wonderful wine (well priced too at $28) which will have you gob smacked it was a Queenslander. Well worth hunting it down.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Two Hands Brave Faces GSM 2010

A great mate of mine has been beating the drum about these blokes for sometime. He is particularly partial to the Gnarly Dudes Shiraz. So he lobs up with the Brave Faces under his wing and a cheeky grin on his face, still beating the drum! We ripped the cap off and into the decanter it went.

What a absolute belter! A Grenache (74%) Shiraz (15%) Mataro (11%) blend from the Barossa (14.3% abv) which spent 14 months in French Oak.

Black fruit with a nose of forest floor, herbs, cherries and raspberries. There is a sweetness from the Grenache, but what strikes me is how it sits on the palate. You know when you get a piece of chocolate and let it sit on your tongue and it fills your mouth with a silky smooth, rounded fullness of flavour? Yeah. That's what's happening here. Finish is long and damn good. Not a drop left in the bottle.
Quality gear for around the $22 mark. It drinks very well for a 2010 and medium term cellaring potential.

A super drop worth having a look at. And after being wowed by this little number, I might have to get my mate back to have a look at that Gnarly Dudes Shiraz.

Turkey Flat Butcher's Block SGM 2009

This was my first crack at a Turkey Flat wine for years, and if the rest of the range is indicative of this, I'll be banging on the door again for sure!

A Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre blend with percentages of 55/35/10 respectively pumping out 14.5% abv. Eighteen months of French oak has done the trick.
The nose was brilliant! Stewed fruit, leather, some spice, cherries and earthiness. I could have whiffed this all night to be honest. The fruit was funky, firm, juicy with some sweetness. Tasty as!  Tannins were ripe and juicy too, with an elegant soft finish. The label suggests cellaring from 5-10 years. After giving this a hit, I don't think I could have the patience to hold out that long. Better still, I grabbed it for a steal just under $18. Get amongst it people

Friday 26 August 2011

David Hook Merlot 2009

I first came across David Hook wines on a Hunter Valley trip many years ago. The wines were all in top shape and the service provided by Gai that day was first class. She's a mighty host and I recommend you pop in a see her.

The fruit for the wines predominantly come from Belford which is on the northern side of the Hunter Valley.

This Hunter Valley Merlot (12% abv) comes from the Black Creek vineyard. It jumps from the glass, it's nose is bright and inviting. The fruit is an impressive dark purple. Oak is obvious but not the star. Some acid present and palate is full. The acid softened the longer it sat. I did like the warmth this wine exudes, probably as it complimented the food well too. Good grippy tannins makes you yearn for more. Only short term cellaring for this one.
A tidy piece of work from a tidy Hunter operator.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Swirl Sniff Spit 16 August - Cabernet Sauvignon night!

Cabernet night at Swirl Sniff Spit - Era Bistro 16 August 2011
Another brilliant night and a superb line up of wines. Some belters and even a rabbit pulled out of a hat!
Some wines which caught the eye...

Yalumba Menzies 2007 - Coonawarra. Smooth as silk. Superb drinking. Comment was made, "Menzies has never failed me." Nickos was right. The best was saved til last :)

Murray Street Vineyards - Barossa. Top fruit, spice and oak. Finish is loooong and sensational! Not on the list, but special guest winemaker Andrew pulled this one out. Did I say sensational?

Dalwhinnie Moonambel Cabernet 2008 - Grampians. Seductive nose. Palate weight spot on. Smidge of mint. Elegance!

Wise Lot 80 2009 - Margaret River. Great example of the region. Super nose of oaky goodness. Black fruits. Wonderful mouth feel. Yum.

Bent Road 2005 - Granite Belt. Poor soils. Dynamite used to clear site before planting for crying out loud! Juicy fruit, savoury. Soft, long finish. Giddy up!

Blue Pyrenees 2009 - Stood up to many of the more expensive types well - under $20. Very approachable, simple bottle of deliciousness!

A brilliant night - great company and great wines. Thanks to the @swirlsniffspit crew and @erabistro!

Next month.....Grenache!

Monday 15 August 2011

Sub 10ners

The monthly get together for our local wine crew was on Friday night. These nights are generally themed to a particular variety or region which is a great opportunity to see what's going around and what people are keen to share. Friday's theme was slightly different however. The challenge thrown out there was to bring your best wine for under $10!

Many labels crossed my mind when I was considering my contribution. Would I be crafty and buy a dozen of something from the myriad of online auction sites for a mere nine bucks? Perhaps I could be the life of the party with a cask. No chance! I even cast my mind back about 12 months when I dug a Wyndham Estate  Bin 444 1998 out of my cellar. How this wine escaped me for that long I don't know, however, I even recall picking it up for a neat $9.99. Plenty of sunsets have passed since that day but two things that haven't changed are the price and quality. I still recall the nose on this wine blowing me away and the colour and texture were superb - all this for a sub 10ner!

Back to are a few of the better wines we had a look at:
Tyrrell's Old Winery Verdelho 2010. Hunter Valley fruit. Lovely tropical fruit on the nose. Colour was light golden. Palate refreshing with touch of spice and honey, pineapple notes. Finish was crisp but hard due to acid.

Rosemount Show Reserve Shiraz 2005. This was heavily discounted last year by Dan Murphy's and one of the crew pounced! He loves this wine and it's not hard to see why. This is a great representation of McLaren Vale for a smidge of the price. Dark fruit and palate length superb. Plums, chocolate. Juicy tannins. A great representation of the Vale and a ripper for the money. Bang for buck!

Angove Long Row Shiraz 2008. This was an absolute belter! A beauty! Not a complex wine by any stretch, but it's simplicity is the clincher. Good colour with black fruits, pleasant touch of spice, pepper and a hint of toasty oak. Tannins are simple and smooth. 15% abv but you wouldn't know. This ticks all the boxes and appeared to be the favoured wine on the night. A comment was passed that you'd pay double and still be happy. Well I paid $8 and I can't tell you to give it a crack yourself, I just insist!

Wyndham Estate 555 2009. This is a well balanced wine and man, you wouldn't think it would be $9. Blackcurrants, smooth, dusty like tannins. The fruit on the palate was more dense than the Angove Shiraz, but it had a rustic elegance to it. Always a reliable label and an easy go-to wine. Yum!

Friday 12 August 2011

Rymill Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

With @swirlsniffspit approaching next Tuesday night, I thought I'd get warmed up with a Cabernet from Coonawarra ($25-30).
I tipped it into the decanter and let it sit for an hour before having a look. The colour was impressive. Red and black fruit, dark crimson hue. The nose was typical Cabernet with all the usual suspects - capsicum, snow pea, whiff of oak.
Full bodied (abv 13.5%) and initially on the palate, the acid was prominent. Over the hour or so I looked at this wine it softened slightly. The front of the palate was kicking along here with the back clean. A touch of spice was a welcome characteristic. The tannins were interesting. Gripping, firm, and they too settled over time.
Two words to describe this wine at this stage would be "tight" and "firm". The wine continued to open up and improve, and there are definitely plenty of days left for this one in the cellar. Easy to 2015 in my humble opinion. I've left some in the bottle and it'll be interesting to see how it goes another day on.

And one day on....BOOM! This is the Cabernet I was looking for! A completely different wine. All elements in balance. Nose was inviting and rich. Palate was full of blackberry and plum characters. Finish was long and dangerously delicious. Absolutely spectacular.

Hard to believe there was such a contrast between the two, but no complaints with the end result.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Arras Grand Vintage 2003

This is a smashing bottle and excellent example of Australian Pinot Chard, coming from Tasmania who produce many stellar examples.

Medium straw appearance and a wonderfully fine bead. The palate is a delicate mix of creamy, biscuity goodness. Almonds are prominant too.
It sits in the palate beautifully and is seamless from start to finish due to its great acid structure.
The finish is super long lasting and urges another sip.
I have read much about winemaker Ed Carr and his ability to produce cracking sparkling wines. The proof is here. This is clearly the best Australian Sparkling I have had the pleasure of sharing. Nectar!
On the shelf it sells for $55-$65, which in my opinion, is an excellent option compared to some of the French Champagnes offered at that mark.