Monday 30 September 2013

Pizzini Prosecco 2013

Prosecco is an Italian variety which has boomed in the King Valley.

For those who like fizz, this is definitely worth a look. It is not very dry as Pinot Noir Chardonnay sparklings can be and it calls out to wine lovers with a softer palate, "Pick me! Pick me!".

Presented well with a crown seal, a slight aroma of spring field flowers, lemons and freshly cut apples. Crisp and very refreshing with lemons and citrusy flavours leaving a clean and dry (but not too dry)finish.

Well balanced, a very enjoyable and approachable drop. I shared this with some friends and everyone loved it. A big tick!

Widely available. Step outside the square and give it a go.

Who: Pizzini
What: Prosecco (12% alc)
Where: King Valley
When: 2013
How: $19.50

St Ronan's Apple Cider

This is real cider folks! Method Traditionelle Apple Cider. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

The brains behind St Ronan's are two great mates Troy Jones and Eric Driessen. Their goal was to create cider which was different to everything in the market place and this they have achieved.

St Ronan's is going from strength to strength with their cider which also comes in kegs and is poured in various venues in the Melbourne CBD including Brother Burger and Cider House.

A perfect aperitif with the acid balanced nicely enabling food to be partnered easily. A golden appearance not too dissimilar to a lager, it is still a little cloudy. The only addition made was some sulphur and yeast (of course!). No acid, concentrate, no water and no tannins thrown in. 100% real cider.

Pure and cleansing, it tastes like, well, freshly cut apples! Not too hard on the fizz, the fruit sits and lingers for a while with a little yeasty finish. Bloody good and very refreshing.

Serve icy cold and be taken to cider heaven.

Who: St Ronan's Cider
What: Apple Cider (8% alc)
Where: Yarra Valley
How: $27 (750mL)

DiGiorgio Family Wines Frank White 2012

This wine reminds me of those times you want a simple wine to kick back with. Not complex. No thinking needed at all. So easy to throw back and very enjoyable.

For $13, this does the job well. Very well in fact. Clean and crisp, there is a zesty character to it too.

An early harvest wine which is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (61%), Chardonnay (26%) and Semillon (13%) all grown in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia.

Lychee, gooseberry, and pineapple beat the drum. Flavoursome and then some.

Sitting on the beach, fish and chips in hand, a glass of this in the easy road to a smile. Sip sip and it's gone. A bargain!

Who: DiGiorgio Family Wines
What: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon (11.5% alc)
Where: Limestone Coast
When: 2012
How: $13

Payten & Jones Browne's Block Pinot Noir 2012

Payten & Jones has slowly evolved from their debut vintage in 2006. Over that time they have been very specific to identify particular vineyards and parcels of fruit to give a true representation of place.

Behn Payten (winemaker at Punt Road) and Troy Jones are the brains behind the label. Chatting with Troy, it is hard not to be enthused by their philosophy and will to succeed. He goes on to say, "We have simple philosophies in relation to the vineyard and winery…. Less is more…. We practice sustainable viticulture, with a ‘hands off’ approach to wine making. We want the site to come to life. We don’t want to change what the vineyard gives us, or take away form the site. We want it to shine. We want each of our wines to reflect that specific patch of dirt from where it came, so no filtering or fining, oak use is to complex not to overwhelm and we only add a little hit of sulfur just before we bottle."

Only two puncheons were used to make this Pinot Noir yielding only 150 dozen. The fascinating thing about this wine is the fruit comes from a 39 year old vineyard in Kilmore. Yep. Kilmore! Interestingly enough, Kilmore has no GI and doesn't fall under any of the known wine regions.

To put it out there, I thought this Pinot was tremendous! I do like Pinot with a little more guts than finesse and this fits the bill perfectly. It's as though it's Justin Bieber dressed up as Mr T. That is, modern and hip with some grunt factor.

Eight months in old oak with 10% whole bunches used, it has produced a wine with ballsy characters of earth, black olive, freshly kicked up forest mulch and savoury highlights.

The fruit washes through the mouth smoothly and there is some warmth to follow. Tannins are soft. And just as you think all is done, like a wave, the savoury character washes from the back through the mouth.

I loved it and if you are in for something a little left of centre, definitely stick it on your list.

Jones says duck pancakes to match, and I agree. I'm even thinking Venison would go well too.

Available predominately in Victoria at numerous restaurants and good independent retailers with availability creeping into NSW and QLD, or contact Troy Jones via email.

Who: Payten & Jones
What: Pinot Noir (13% alc)
Where: Kilmore
When: 2012
How: $40

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Cirillo Estate Wines 1850 Vines Grenache Rosé 2011

Winemaker Marco Cirillo has made this Rosé in an Italian style which retains its acid to be a more food friendly style of wine. What else would you expect from an Italian winemaker?

The skins were left in contact with the must for four days and pumped over once a day. The result here is a darker cherry and ruby appearance. Natural yeasts were used during the  fermentation process.

I've always preferred Grenache as my fruit of choice in Rosé and this ticks that box very well. There is some fruit sweetness but this is also balanced by the dry finish. Raspberries steal the show with some slight black pepper aromas. The acid sits perfectly and the wine can be easily consumed with food or on its own. Goal achieved!

Many Rosé wines are made for the "drink now" time frame and with a little age, Cirillo's want to hold this 2011 back has worked treat. Enjoy now or up to another three years.

So very slurpable and perfect for that icy cold drink during a summer BBQ by the pool. A bargain for $20!

Who: Cirillo Estate Wines
What: Grenache (12% alc)
Where: Barossa
When: 2011
How: $20

Drayton's Family Wines Chardonnay 2012

A well priced and good value Hunter Valley Chardonnay.

The whiff of buttered toast reminded me of breakfast time. Nectarine and cashew aromas followed. Lifted and not heavy. A neat start.

The wine fills the mouth well with an attractive palate warmth. Not too heavily oaked, but the oak is still thereabouts. The lingering cashew nuttiness a highlight. Those who shy from oaked Chardonnay may not jump on board with this.

A good drop and I'd be happy to indulge in a glass or two.

Who: Drayton's Family Wines
What: Chardonnay (12.5% alc)
Where: Hunter Valley
When: 2012
How: $20

Sunday 22 September 2013

DiGiorgio Family Wines Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

I did a double take after having a look at this wine. Not only was I impressed with what was in the glass, I nearly fell off my stool when I realised this was only $23.

In my head I thought this would pass as a $35 wine easy, and I'd pay that without batting an eyelid. But when I realised the price, whoa!

Big juicy fruit is served up. Blueberries, some blackberry, casis, olives and a smattering of the old eucalypt trait courtesy of the Coonawarra.

Quite soft and engaging, the flavours keep giving. Voluptuous tannins entice another snip. The wine spent 30 months in French oak in a mix of new, one, two and older barrels. A soft touch of well integrated oak evident.

Ready to drink now with a few years of age already under its belt or it will cellar comfortably for ten.

I certainly would buy this wine. No question.

Who: DiGiorgio Family Wines
What: Cabernet Sauvignon (14% alc)
Where: Coonawarra
When: 2009
How: $23

DiGiorgio Family Wines Kongorong Riesling 2012

The fruit for this wine comes from Kongorong which is just south of Coonawarra in the very south of South Australia.

Red apple peel, lemon zest and citrus flower aromas move to palate which is quite textural. There is almost like an unwooded Chardonnay type mouthfeel. The red apple and slight lemon zest reappear and linger nicely.

An easy drinking wine, but not a varietal type Riesling for me.

Who: DiGiorgio Family Wines
What: Riesling (11.5% alc)
Where: Coonawarra
When: 2012
How: $19

DiGiorgio Family Wines Tempranillo 2012

A very good Tempranillo which deserves to be smashed with some yummy food.

Juicy sour cherries in abundance with a savoury edge which includes sage and dried herbs. I really liked what this offers and it is most certainly a wine craving food. A splattering of eucalypt came through after time in the glass. Not something you'd expect with Tempranillo, but considering the fruit comes from Coonawarra, a surprise no more.

A little drying on the finish with a good length, I'd happily buy a bottle.

Ribs, tapas, pizza...happy days!

Who: DiGiorgio Family Wines
What: Tempranillo (13.5% alc)
Where: Coonawarra
When: 2012
How: $23

Thursday 19 September 2013

DiGiorgio Family Wines "Lucindale" Chardonnay 2012

A whiff of this reminds me of the summer fruit bowl stacked with fresh stonefruit. There is plenty of tropical aromas here too as is freshly cut apple.

Flavours seem a little too concentrated for my liking and the finish dry.

Not me.

Who: Di Giorgio Family Wines
What: Chardonnay (13.5% alc)
Where: Limestone Coast
When: 2012
How: $18

Cirillo Estate Wines Old Vine 1850 Grenache 2008

This is all class!
Coming from vines planted just prior to 1850, this wine is spectacular.

Deliciously soft and super smooth, it is bursting with character. Old leather, the humming of gentle peppery spice, some damp earth and lots of savoury goodness.

The fruit is handled delicately during the winemaking process and that delicate trait is clearly transferred to the texture. Along with lashings of well integrated integrated oak, a drying and super long length finish this wine off perfectly.

A worthy purchase for a special occasion. You won't be disappointed.

Grab it to saviour now or cellar easily for the next decade.

Available at good independent bottle shops and also nationally through a large chain discount store.

Who: Cirillo Estate Wines
What: Grenache (14.7% alc)
Where: Barossa
When: 2008
How: $55

Cook's Lot Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Orange probably produces some of the best Sauvignon Blanc fruit in the country - well so I think anyway. I'm not a huge Sauvignon Blanc fan but I do like what this region has to offer.

Front and centre, here is another example. Duncan Cook continues to pump out good juice at the bargain price of $20.

This Sauvignon Blanc is passionfruit and pineapple city. Flavours hang on to the front of the palate and acid is certainly in check. None of the greeny, cat's piss sameness which floods the market from NZ. This is purely fruit driven delivering deliciously dangerous drinking.

Clean and fresh flavours with some cut herb highlights. Most definitely the tropical characters steal the show. Crisp with balanced acidity. Yum and yum.

It is hard not to keep topping up the glass. Rip in!

Who: Cooks Lot Wines
What: Sauvignon Blanc (12.5% alc)
Where: Orange
When: 2013
How: $20

Thursday 12 September 2013

Cirillo Estate Wines "The Vincent" Grenache 2011

Coming from 80 year old Barossa vines, this is a very decent single vineyard drop.

An alluring nose of roses, cranberry and raspberry. There is a jam scroll sweetness to it initially and gentle oak gives the fruit a little cuddle.

First up I did think the wine was light and uneventful but within half an hour to an hour it hit its straps. How wrong was I. Pepperiness, layers of spice and red earth. I was impressed with how well it came together with a breath of air thrown into it.

Super length which was soft and moreish.

A top deal for the money and it is available through a discount chain outlet for around $20.

Never had a Grenache? This is a handy place to start.

Who: Cirillo Estate Wines
What: Grenache (13.5% alc)
Where: Barossa
When: 2011
How: $22

Bimbadgen Moscato NV

Sweet tooth? Wine ain't your thing? This could bring you round.

Wines like these aren't for analysis, they are simply to be enjoyed with lots of fun a frivolity.

Not normally my style of wine, the time was right, the mood was right, and damn, I needed a frosty cold glass of something. This tastes like grapes (grab a handful from the supermarket and you'll know what I mean), has a florally aroma, has bubbles and is pink...all you need to know in that respect.

I like the presentation of the bottle with a crown seal. Rip this off and drop a straw in. With only 3.6 drinks in the bottle, it's hard not to chug back. I poured a glass on a ridiculously hot afternoon and it was gone in no time. There was no complaint from those I shared it with either who also generally shy away from this style of wine.

Worth a look for that hot summer time BBQ. Even better, handy for the driver to sip away at.

Who: Bimbadgen
What: Moscato (6% alc)
Where: Hunter Valley
When: NV
How: $18

Cook's Lot Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

A reasonable Cabernet which didn't really get me excited which is a first for a Cook's Lot wine. I've generally really liked their style of wines and the vibrancy they deliver.

Food helped the wine chill out a little more, and for a easy dish of spag bol, pizza or even a steak, this is a neat fit.

Roasted capsicum, black fruits and barbequed steak aromas. Some good oak complimented by spicy blackcurrant flavours on the palate. Tannins were grippy and grainy.

After time in the glass the wine softened nicely, and although slips down easy, it just didn't have any X factor for me.

Who: Cooks Lot Wines
What: Cabernet Sauvignon (13.5% alc)
Where: Orange
When: 2012
How: $20

Friday 6 September 2013

Tellurian Wines Mourvedre 2011

A sexy little piece of work. Not a gut busting or big and juicy Mourvedre, just a wine with drinkability to caress your insides.

The wine developed nicely over a few days. A whiff of Allen's raspberry lollies sucked me in day one. This freshness shifted to dried leaf litter, earthiness, cured meat and even a hint of eucalypt on day three.

Plenty of white pepper in the mouth and the fifteen months in French oak has done its thing well. I found the whole savoury aspect quite attractive. A forever length which just keeps hanging on and super smooth to finish. Nice!

Have with slow roasted lamb and cellar for up to eight years.

For $34, it is certainly worth a look. Check the website for availability.

Who: Tellurian
What: Mourvedre (14.1% alc)
Where: Heathcote
When: 2011
How: $34

Drayton's Family Wines Semillon 2010

I like where this wine is going. Something to tuck away for a few more years as I believe it has age potential written all over it.

Already some development evident, there are plenty of lemon and lemon rind flavours, some honey characters and a bit of toast. Acid is high, underripe apple like, and this is what I believe will see it through.

Still good to drink now though but have some pan fried oily fish at hand to combat the acid. I had mine topped with fetta and cherry tomatoes, happy days!

Who: Drayton's Family Wines
What: Semillon (11.5% alc)
Where: Hunter Valley
When: 2010
How: $30

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Valere Riesling 2012

Dom Valentine is a cool dude. I met him on a recent trip to Victoria's Yarra Valley being lucky enough to spend a few hours with him over lunch, some barrel tastings and a few beers at the pub. His energy, passion for his job, and love of the Fremantle Dockers are all infectious (don't judge him on that last one!). He makes some red hot booze too.

Employed as the assistant winemaker at Oakridge, Valentine's passion for Riesling was born with time spent in Germany working for Weingut Josef Leitz and Georg Breuer in the Rheingau region. He needed a side project Riesling and the Valere was born.

The Yarra is not seen as Riesling country but Valentine has sourced some fruit to fulfill his need. This 2012 is his second vintage with the fruit coming from a west facing single block vineyard near Healesville. Alluvial and Granite soils with a small clay content make up this 30 year old vineyard from which three tonnes were hand picked. Handled with much care, the fruit was whole bunch pressed with the juice divided between 75% stainless steel and 25% to an old French oak puncheon.

And the wine...damn! So easy to drink it almost appears to evaporate from the glass. I brought a couple of bottles back from the Yarra promising Dom I would leave one to cellar for five years. Well, umm...they're all gone!

You see, I love Riesling. But some of my great friends I hang around with from time to time don't and they have been blinded by preconceptions that all  Rieslings are sweet and rubbish. Rightio...challenge accepted.

A spring time lunch with some pork on the rotisserie, I slipped some of my last bottle into a few glasses and handed it out. I was back in the kitchen getting lunch organised before the I could hear, "What's this?" Bingo! The Valere Riesling hit the mark and the comment may as well have been, "(Insert expletive here) this is good!" Within seconds a top up was demanded.

How's it taste? Citrus flower aromas. Some typical fresh Riesling lemon characters wrapped up by a texture which coats the palate delightfully. No doubt the time in old French oak has done its bit here. Not a Riesling high in acid nor slatey or minerally. Very good fruit which is delicate. A touch of cloudy apply juice like flavour wraps it up with an ever so slight chalky finish. Refill please!

Only 200 dozen produced, Dom Valentine sells and markets the wine himself with a push towards restaurants in Victoria, though it is available in some independent retailers.

Jump in and get some. Trust me!

Who: Crisp Wines
What: Riesling (12.1% alc)
Where: Yarra Valley
When: 2012
How: $27

Meerea Park Alexander Munro Chardonnay 2011

This just feels good in your mouth. You can comfortably sit back and indulge yourself here.

Forty year old low yielding vines contribute to this single vineyard wine.

Dried pineapple, peachy, melted butter, a little spice... the flavours are coated on thick. Some creaminess adds another dimension to this well balanced wine which rolls through the mouth nicely.

There is some mouth warmth on the finish which I found pleasant.

I'd happily keep going back for more.

Medium term cellaring.

Who: Meerea Park
What: Chardonnay (13.5% alc)
Where: Hunter Valley
When: 2011
How: $35