Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Tigress Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV

An uncomplicated yet delicious sparkling from the cool of north of Tasmania.

Some good citrus flavours with a touch of meringue creaminess in this Non Vintage blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Dry, medium bodied and very approachable. The length is impressive and it is certainly not hard to put the glass back up to your lips.

I've seen it priced at the higher end of $20-$30 range which doesn't give you value with similar products available for that price, in my opinion. At the lower end though, it's a bargain!

Who: Tigress (Bay of Fires)
What: Pinot Noir Chardonnay
Where: Tasmania (Northern)
When: Non-Vintage
How: $20-30


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Qwine Vintage 2012 - making my first wine!

Saturday 11 February, I ventured out to the South Burnett region in Queensland with the purpose of picking fruit to make my first wine. The drive is roughly 3 hours from Brisbane, heading north to Gympie and then west inland to Goomeri and then to Moffatdale.

For a absolute wine lover, words cannot express the feeling of accomplishment of being able to get filthy in your own grapes and having 50L of your own sitting in a couple of vats! There was a little bit of fist pumping after a long day and finishing up at 11:15pm!

The majority of fruit picked was Shiraz with a small parcel of Grenache. With this I decided to make a 100% Shiraz and a co-fermented Shiraz (90%) and Grenache (10%) blend.

Baume levels were tested after picking and came to 12.8. I then returned to Brivegas with 69.6 kgs of fruit to begin the process of making wine. All the fruit was destemmed by hand and crushed by hand. The foot trod method was attempted but I figured a hand crush would do the job a little more efficiently - and quickly. The must was poured into the vat and then grape skins were placed in my hand press - aka fly screen! I then gave the fruit a gentle squeeze through the fly screen to maximise the fruit. The skins were then tipped into the vat and the process repeated. And did I repeat that process!

Approximately 25L of each was put in the vats and a long day was put to bed. The morning saw the yeast prepared and added to the fruit. Quantities of DAP (dissolved in 100mL of water) and acid were also added. An addition of Tannin was mixed through once a day for four days - only 1.25g per 25L vat.

The yeast was humming along for 6 days and then began to slow down. It was decided on Day 7 of fermentation to press the skins off. After pressing off I was left with about 17 L of each wine. The garage floor looked like a murder scene...

Here are some pictures documenting this epic journey which enabled me to live the dream! Many thanks to my great friends Luke from Clovely Estate and Nick from Barambah who made this all possible. Your support and advice has been tremendous!

I was fortunate to get Luke to have a look at the wine before Malo and I was very proud when he said my wines had Umami! He added he'd be pleased to have 10 000L of this stuff in his winery. Some massive fist pumps were going on at that moment!

So to this point, we await the completion of Malolactic Fermentation before adding French Oak chips.

"Loving the journey!"

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Ridgemill Estate "Pedigree" Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache 2008

Recent discussions with Ridgemill's winemaker Peter McGlashan on Twitter made me get a little thirsty. This discussion had me reminiscing about a visit to his cellar door on the Granite Belt last year.

Ridgemill is on the Granite Belt, a two and a half to three hour drive south west from Brisbane. The winery is situated ten minutes from Stanthorpe and a couple of kilometres off the main highway. A beautiful setting welcomes you as you drive up to the cellar door passing gorgeous accommodation on the right side.

So to cure my itch I pulled out this drop which is a fav from Peter's stable.

The blend of Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache is represented in percentages of 60/30/10 respectively, and sat in a mix of new and old French and American for twelve months.

A stewed dark cherry colour in the glass, the nose picks up a good whiff of dark berries with some savoury, floral spice.
The palate is deliciously filling and rounded with flavours developing more so over the two hours it was open. Dark fruits and plums fill the palate wrapped up in a neat spice. The Granite soil is evident in the fruit leaving you with a yummy moreish finish.

Still plenty of time left in this bad boy, and will match hearty meat dishes beautifully.

Who: Ridgemill Estate http://ridgemillestate.com/
What: Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache (SMG) 14% abv
Where: Granite Belt, Queensland
When: 2008
How: $18

Follow them: www.twitter.com/ridgemillestate & www.twitter.com/Granitegravels 
Follow me: www.twitter.com/QWine

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Barambah First Grid Unwooded Chardonnay 2009

Barambah has some of the oldest vines in the South Burnett region in Queensland which is situated a three hour drive north west of Brisbane.

The climate is similar to that of the Hunter Valley in NSW with cool nights and warm days. A recent visit in early February proved this correct as a thick dew and some fog greeted me as I rose in the early morning, and by 8am, the temperature was nearly 30 degrees Celsius.

A combination of free run juice (50%) solids (40%) and pressings (10%) were used to bring this wine together.

The appearance in the glass is deceptive leaving one to safely assume the light golden colour is a wooded chardonnay - this is definitely not the case. There is not even a splinter in it!

The nose is a wonderful array of stonefruits and a smidge of rock melon lining up with a serve of lemon preserve and lemon meringue. These flavours flow through nicely to the palate but it's the texture here which indulged my senses. Many Unwooded Chardonnay's are "clean and fresh" but this wine expresses more personality with a texture which is developed from lees stirring post fermentation. A well integrated creaminess adds another level to the palate.

A long lingering finish completed a respectable effort from this producer, and for $19, it falls well within good value territory.

Who: Barambah http://www.barambah.com.au/
What: First Grid Unwooded Chardonnay (13% abv)
Where: South Burnett, Queensland
When: 2009
How: $19

Friday, 17 February 2012

Saddlers Creek "Bluegrass" Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

A most impressive expression of Cabernet Sauvignon right here!

Saddler's Creek is nestled near the Mt View corner of the Hunter Valley. Some great wines coming out of here and they have a loyal wine club membership to back this up.

Fruit for their wines not only comes from the Hunter, but is also sourced from McLaren Vale, Wrattonbully and Langhorne Creek, which is where the fruit for this wine comes from.

This Cabernet Sauvignon is the bigger ballsy type steering away from the herbal styles. The fruit is dark in the glass with an equally impressive hue.

A wonderful nose of dark fruits and cedary oak is seductive. The oak sit behind the fruit nicely. There is a hint of fruit sweetness there too.

The palate is delicate and soft with the fruit powering away. A minute fraction of fruit sweetness is not a detractor. Superb length and super fine, supple tannins round off a neat piece of work.

This 2004 vintage was taken from my cellar and the 2008 are currently available in some independent stores as well as through a large chain store. The wine is well priced and for around $30 you will not be disappointed. Grab one for now and another to put to sleep for a few years.

Who: Saddler's Creek http://saddlerscreek.com/
What: Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5% abv)
Where: Langhorne Creek
When: 2004
How: $30

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

It's been a while since I've had a Wolf Blass wine and man was I impressed with this little number.

The  2010 Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon is a bargain for the money. Fruit is sourced from all over South Australia with the majority contributed coming from the Limestone Coast and Langhorne Creek.

Lovely dark purple fruit with a nose of plums and blackcurrant which are distinct.

The palate was richer than I expected and continued to improve over the hour is was open. The nose flowed on the palate nicely which also impressed for this little bargain. Oak was noticeable and tied in well.

Soft on the finish which lingered well to savour what had come before. This was punching above its weight.

I've seen this wine discounted heavily and it is well worth a look for a cheeky quaffer.

What: Cabernet Sauvignon (13.8% abv)
Where: Limestone Coast, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Barossa, Clare & Adelaide Hills
When: 2010
How much: $10-15

Monday, 13 February 2012

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling 2005

This Riesling has aged nicely. A lovely golden colour in the glass is followed up with a nose of lemons and limes.

Margaret River is not your typical region for Riesling, however this drop always excells.

The palate is filled will citrus flavours backed up by a good core of minerality and clean acid. The wine possesses a great fruit intensity coupled with a delicate softness leaving a delicious finish and length.

A very satisfying drop which can be picked up at some big chain liquor stores for around $20.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Moondah Brook Verdelho 2010

A good wine for a hot day. The price is right too! I have seen this heavily discounted just below $10 which represents even more reasons to give it a go.

The fruit comes predominantly from the Swan Valley with some from Pemberton as well.

Tropical fruit and passionfruit jump out of the glass. The palate is clean and crisp with flavours of pineapple and citrus. Good fruit weight and acid culminating in a very easy drinking and approachable wine with good length.

Why drink imported Sauvignon Blanc when we have varieties like this on our doorstep? For around the $10, it's definitely worth a look.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Munari Schoolhouse Red 2006

Munari is a small winery in the Heathcote region. The wines come from a family operation with emphasis on quality hand made wines. Their wines can be found in boutique bottleshops particularly in Victoria as well restaurants in the same state.

I picked this up at the cellar door which is a tiny little cottage room which oozes the old colonial history which is clearly evident driving up the main street of the town, a short drive down the highway.

Something which really strikes me about Heathcote is the typical bush setting where eucalypt trees line and overhang the roads. The eucalypt characteristic is also evident in many of the wines.

This Schoolhouse Red is an ever changing blend, this 2006 vintage comprises of Malbec (63%), Merlot (27%) and Shiraz (10%)

A striking and impressive colour, the wine is captivating from the outset. Super dark and inky, a powerful nose of stewed plums entwined with some chocolate notes (14% abv).

The palate is a fistful of deliciousness. Super juicy with blackcurrant flavours leaping to the fore. Good fruit which is mouth filling. The finish is super long and lasts for more than a minute leaving some grippy tannin.

A wine to suit hearty food and a little winery worth checking out if in the area.

Friday, 3 February 2012

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2002

As I sipped away sharing this beauty, my companion so wonderfully described, "This is nectar of the Gods." And he was so right.

When any discussion about "stickies" or dessert wines takes place, the De Bortoli Noble One is not far from the conversation and has been recognised for many a vintage as the hero of Botrytis in this country.

The colour was amber, almost like an Indian Pale Ale. Wow! The nose was a seductive mix of honey, mandarins, and apricot nectar. Once it hits the palate, you are in heaven, as all the traits from the nose follow through. Delicately smooth with a thick syrup of goodness layering your mouth. The finish is super long with gorgeous sweetness.

From nose to finish this wine is a pure delight.

The bottle shared was the 750mL and has a price tag nearing $50. The same wine is also available in the 375mL.

Regardless of vintage, you will be immersed in the beauty of Noble One and walk away immensely satisfied.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Heathcote Estate Grenache Noir 2006

Plenty to like here, including the label of this wine. Simple yet effective.

Not many Grenache wines are coming out of Heathcote and this stacked up to those from other regions, specifically those in the Barossa.

The name - Grenache Noir - comes from the Old World, where today we simply refer to the variety as Grenache.

Cold soaking took place for four days and enhanced the colour of the fruit wonderfully, with the wine kept on skins for another week producing a medium bodied wine.

The earthiness on the nose struck me first, and this is a typical Heathcote trait, followed by cherries, raspberries and blackberry. All these characteristics flow smoothly onto a delicate and moreish palate which finishes up with fine tannins and lip smacking length.

Clearly another example here why Heathcote is demanding more respect with such quality.