Monday, 31 March 2014

Meerea Park Alexander Munro Shiraz 2009

This is like a pull back car; all charged up and ready to be unleashed.

Time is the key with this baby. It was quite tight on day one and opened up beautifully day two and again on the third day. Earthy with black fruits with good oak presence. The fruit drives through powerfully leaving soft and supple tannins.

Already having five years under its belt and a long life ahead, I wouldn't be touching this for another few. Be sure to decant too, there's a bit of grit in there.

A worthy investment for the future.

Who: Meerea Park
What: Shiraz (13% alc)
Where: Hunter Valley
When: 2009
How much: $70

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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Robert Channon Wines Pinot Gris 2013

A top drop which is very well priced.

Paler appearance compared to other Pinot Gris, there's a mouth filling minerally texture with a delicate and lingering spice length.

Well made with soft acid being the key here. Slight honey, pear and some apricot highlights deliver a wine ideal for matching with pan fried fish. For me it was salmon.

Yes please thank you very much!

Who: Robert Channon Wines
What: Pinot Gris (14% alc)
Where: Granite Belt
When: 2013
How: $19.50

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Symphony Hill Pinot Gris 2013

An attractive looking Pinot Gris in the glass with a slight bronze tinge to the appearance.

Pear skin and some gentle stone fruit aromas lead to a wine with slight honey and a subtle lick of spice. The softer side of this wine is appealing though the middle of the palate does appear to have a minor case of Missing In Action. As the spice rolls back through this void is removed.

In all, a good drink.

Who: Symphony Hill Wines
What: Pinot Gris (12.6% alc)
Where: Granite Belt
When: 2013
How: $25

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Friday Drinks on Radio 4BC 28 March - #QldWineWeek

Queensland Wine Week is about supporting the Queensland Wine industry and getting some of the best Queensland wines into people's mouths. Get involved in the numerous events or use #QldWineWeek when chatting on social media.

Check here for a list of retailers and events including supporting restaurants and bars

My bargains this week:
Clovely Estate Verdelho $15: Fresh with tropical fruit highlights. A wine which suits our climate. Have with seafood or Asian foods. Readily available. 

Mason Shiraz 2012:  This just won Champion Mainstream Wine at the 2013 Qld Wine awards. It tastes like a $30 bottle and it’s a bargain for around $20. Available from Bulimba Cellars or Wine Experience Rosalie.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Twisted Gum Shiraz Cabernet 2010

Good pizza wine this.

Three things strike me straight up here...a quick waft of raspberries then blackberries followed by black pepper. Medium bodied though I'd prefer the fruit to have a little more guts.

A finish which is long and lingers nicely.

Who: Twisted Gum Wines
What: Shiraz Cabernet (14% alc)
Where: Granite Belt
When: 2010
How: $30

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Yelland & Papps Second Take Grenache 2013

Lie me down and feed this to me with an eye dropper. Drop by drop. Soooo good!!

There's so much to love about this wine and perhaps words cannot capture the pure essence of what is delivered but I'll try.

The label is simple yet attractive. I won't bore you with the technical details, just absorb the picture at right. Perhaps the whole bunch thing is the clincher here for me delivering a wine which is not clean nor pristine but full of character and spunk.

Characters of red jube lollies, raspberry, earthiness and peppery spice roll seamlessly about, but it's the textural difference in this Grenache which sets it apart.

This is the second take on the Second Take. The first release of this label last year was mightily impressive and this has superseded that.

Would I buy it, hell yeah!

Who: Yelland & Papps
What: Grenache (14% alc)
Where: Barossa
When: 2013
How much: $40

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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Symphony Hill Family Reserve Verdelho 2013

A whiff of this and I'm picturing palms, pools and sunshine. Very tropical and the pineapple and passion fruit on offer confirms that.

Deliciously fresh with the spice character Verdelho brings with it washing through to the end. I certainly enjoyed it.

The back label says, " enjoyed lazing in a hammock overlooking the ocean whilst being fed prawns by your lover." Fair enough. Best I head out and get a hammock.

Who: Symphony Hill Wines
What: Verdelho (13% alc)
Where: Granite Belt
When: 2013
How: $25

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Twisted Gum Pink Moscato 2013

Tim Coelli at Twisted Gum sells out of this gear year after year and it's easy to see how. Turkish delight, strawberries... Just simple drinking, sweet guzzle juice.

Talking to a few of the locals, winemaker Andy Williams is known as the "Moscato King" on the Granite Belt. Perhaps he just knows what the ladies like because that is the demographic going ga ga for this.

It fits the market specs ideally and only being 6.5% alcohol, it doesn't touch the sides on the way down. Those who don't drink a lot of wine would appreciate this, as would those with a sweet tooth. Expensive for a Moscato in my opinion ($25), but clearly that counts for little if 2050 bottles are selling out quickly each year.

Chill it, grab a straw, kick the feet up.

Share with friends and a big smile.

Who: Twisted Gum Wines
What: Moscato (6.5% alc)
Where: Granite Belt
When: 2013
How: $25

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Symphony Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013

You can see Sauvignon Blanc fans going silly over this.

It's fresh and aromatic. Bright and vibrant.

Tropical fruit, green melon, green apple are all there. The boxes seem ticked off even before tipping it in your mouth.

The freshness and vibrancy doesn't punch though on the palate for me though. Fruit weight is there but the characters pull up short and have almost a watery like presence.

I'm not big on Sauvignon Blanc and this didn't really engage me overall.

Who: Symphony Hill Wines
What: Sauvignon Blanc (12.6% alc)
Where: Granite Belt
When: 2013
How: $25

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Monday, 24 March 2014

Ballandean Estate "Messing About" Saperavi 2012

This is Ballandean Estate's first Saperavi release, and damn, what a mighty fine entrance it has made.

An attractive deep purple appearance with fresh aromas of forest fruit and berry basket.

A mouth filling wine delivering juicy fruit which is balanced and engaging.

Yum yum and yum! Definitely in my top five Granite Belt wines at the moment.

A great match with red meat.

Who: Ballandean Estate
What: Saperavi (15% alc)
Where: Granite Belt, Queensland
When: 2012
How much: $42

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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Meerea Park Alexander Munro Chardonnay 2013

Alexander Munro is the flagship label for Meerea Park.

This Chardonnay is sourced from a single vineyard of only 1.5 hectares with 40 year old vines.

You are greeted with a creamy, butterscotch and hazelnut aromas which flow onto a full and soft palate. There's a delicious complexity which is the result of whole bunches used during fermentation. Good fruit lift balanced nicely by acid and oak. That nutty character lurks in the background.

Still young, and although a good drop now, a couple of years in a dark place will further enhance the wine.

Although showing well, not necessarily a wine I would lean towards.

Who: Meerea Park
What: Chardonnay (13.5% alc)
Where: Hunter Valley
When: 2013
How much: $40

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Friday Drinks on Radio 4BC 21 March - Riverina

In this week's edition we discussed the Riverina wine region in southern NSW which produces 15% of Australia's wine and produces some excellent table wine bargains.

Check out the Private Bin range from Calabria Family Wines which were mentioned.

Bargains this week:
Westend 3 Bridges Durif - $25
De Bortoli Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon -$14

Click here to listen in (only works on PCs)

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Mawson's Cape Denison Sauvignon Blanc 2013

An easy drinking Sauvignon Blanc but nothing to make me want to scream from the rooftops.

Tropical fruit and green melon are the highlights. Fresh and soft in the mouth with some fruit weight and a good length.

It's a fair drink but not something I'd aim for. I can see the crowd pleasing appeal it does have however. I'd prefer this to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

The price point fits.

Who: Mawson's
What: Sauvignon Blanc (11.5% alc)
Where: Wrattonbully
When: 2013
How much: $16

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Mawson's The Vickers Chardonnay 2013

Of the three Mawson's samples I received, this Chardonnay is certainly my preferred release. There's no question about its approachability. A good expression of the variety which is fresh and inviting.

Some French oak has been used and has had minimal impact allowing the wine to retain and express it's freshness. Think melons and white peach. Good fruit and palate weight. Not overly flavoursome but does the job.

Share at a weekend BBQ or with a lazy midweek meal.

Who: Mawson's
What: Chardonnay (12.5% alc)
Where: Limestone Coast
When: 2013
How much: $16

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Pepperilly Estate Chardonnay 2012

Pepperilly Estate is 150m above sea level overlooking Bunbury and the Ferguson Valley in Western Australia. The vineyard was planted in 1999 on loam soils over granite.

I wasn't that fussed on the label. It doesn't have the jump off the shelf appeal.

The contents however are a different story. The words persistent, soft and delicate immediately spring to mind. This is a wine which lets the fruit sing. Nicely balanced, the characters of an attractive melony Chardonnay are captured. Some textural interest but a little more fruit punch would easily raise its status. Oak is in check without stealing the limelight.

A very good drop and decent value.

Who: Pepperilly Estate
What: Chardonnay (12.8% alc)
Where: Ferguson Valley
When: 2012
How much: $24

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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Calabria Family Wines Private Bin Nero d'Avola 2013

I've only had a handful of Australian Nero d'Avola wines and all have been very different. They have spanned from the mind blowing aromatic types to savoury styles.

This wine from is certainly in the savoury mould. Buckets of cherries and dried Mediterranean herbs stand head and shoulders above all here. There's a splash of raspberry lift too. The fruit is soft and the finish is a little drying. It's hard to put the glass down I must admit due to the ease with which it slips down.

Deliciously affordable too. Another Calabria bargain!

Who: Calabria Family Wines
What: Nero d'Avola (14.5% alc)
Where: Riverina
When: 2013
How much: $15

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Some Young Punks Monsters Attack Riesling 2012

The crew at Some Young Punks have a knack for producing eye catching labels. Here's another and I like it. Oh, and the contents is pretty damn good too.
A Riesling made with whole bunches, some portions of which were fermented with wild yeast. Some old oak was also used. If sweet Riesling is your thing, the 22g/L of residual sugar in this would be right up your alley.

There's some minerality, a squeeze of lemon and some pear characters. A talc like finish wraps it up.

A glass or two would do the trick for me as an aperitif.

Who: Some Young Punks
What: Riesling (10.9% alc)
Where: Clare Valley
When: 2012
How: $22

Monday, 17 March 2014

Calabria Family Wines Private Bin Saint Macaire 2013

A variety I have never seen before which is refreshing in many respects. I dare say most wine drinkers have never seen the variety either. A blind tasting of sorts with the label in full view.

Two hectares of the variety were planted in 1983 just outside the township of Beelbangera with the initial intention for the fruit to be used in fortified wines due to its dark colour. A late ripening variety, the first table wine was made from the fruit in 2003.

What's it like?

Dark fruits, plummy, there's a mellow side matched by some masculine grunt. A nicely balanced wine that fills the mouth with generous flavours. Some grip from plump, chewy tannins.

I'm thinking roast beef, beef pie... beef beef beef would go nicely.

I'd happily pop it into my shopping basket. And for $15, why not?

Who: Calabria Family Wines
What: Saint Macaire (13.5% alc)
Where: Riverina
When: 2013
How much: $15

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Ballandean Estate Fiano 2013

This is Ballandean Estate's second vintage of Fiano. The 2012 was impressive and this is better again.

The Messing About range is the label reserved for alternate varieties.

A touch of apricot nectar, pear and textured tropical fruits. An unmistakable honey character adds to the delicious fruit on offer finishing with a generous length. And that's the difference between this 2013 and the 2012. The fruit here delivers more aromatically and on the palate.

Perfect for chicken dishes.

Don't wait, drink now!

Who: Ballandean Estate
What: Fiano (13.2% alc)
Where: Granite Belt, Queensland
When: 2013
How much: $26

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Friday Drinks on Radio 4BC 14 March - Cider

The topic last Friday was something a little different. To mix it up we had a chat about Cider.
I spoke about how it's made and the difference between "Real Cider" and those made from concentrates which make up over 50% of the market.

My picks this week are:
Napoleone Apple and Pear Cider from the Yarra Valley - around $15 for a pack available from Drinx outlets.
Hills Cider Company (apple and pear) from Adelaide Hills - also around $15 and is readily available.
One of my faves is St Ronans from the Yarra Valley. This Pear Cider (apple is also produced) is fermented in the bottle (750mL) and you can grab it for around $28 at Craft Wine Store.

Click here to listen in

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Barambah First Grid Verdelho 2013

This is Verdelho not as you know it. A much maligned variety for various reasons, but this example could change that.

Some pressings and solids have been used to give this a little kick, and damn, it has worked a treat.

Textural, vibrant and refreshing. Think a dash of lemon, green mango and even some dried pineapple.  Some typical Verdelho spice on finish with a good length. The palate weight was the attractive feature for me. Certainly not the squeaky clean type most Verdelhos deliver.

Would I buy it? Yes!

Available at the cellar door, online and at Brisbane's Cru Bar and Thynne Road Cafe Morningside.

Who: Barambah Wines
What: Verdelho (13.5% alc)
Where: South Burnett, Queensland
When: 2013
How: $21

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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Friday Drinks on Radio 4BC 7 March - Semillon

Last week on Brisbane's 4BC radio I spoke about a wine variety with an identity crisis. That wine variety is Semillon. Once referred to as Hunter Riesling, in recent times the variety has stood up and made a name for itself.

My bargain tips this week:
Meera Park Hell Hole Semillon 2013 - $22.50
Thomas Wines Braemore Semillon 2013 - $28

Listen in here (only on PCs not mobile devices)

Twisted Gum Chardonnay 2011

This is my first look at Twisted Gum, a small winery from the Granite Belt situated 900 metres above sea level. All fruit is dry grown and hand picked. Only 1150 bottles of this Chardonnay were produced.

Being an unwooded Chardonnay I was expecting fresh aromas first up. Instead I was fed a good whiff of nutty type aromas which I didn't mind.

A good refreshing drop. Just simple easy drinking without the bells and whistles Chardonnay purists may be looking for. There are green melon and white peach highlights, but the fruit hits the wall and doesn't flow through. It's all front and mid palate focused, a victim of a wet vintage. But easy drinking wines like this are popular with the punters nonetheless.

On the weekend I popped into Stanthorpe's Apple and Grape festival. One thing I noted was the sheer number of Twisted Gum Chardonnay bottles on the tables and in bags carried around. This is a ringing endorsement particularly as those attending had at least 12 local wine stands to choose from. An ideal setting for an easy drinking drop in the sun listening to live music and catching up with friends.

Available online and at the cellar door.

Who: Twisted Gum Wines
What: Chardonnay (12.2% alc)
Where: Granite Belt
When: 2011
How: $20

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Monday, 10 March 2014

Vintage 2014 Project

After two years of making wine on a micro level in my garage, the time had come to get serious. With my wingman Darrell, it was game on.

Shiraz was the weapon of choice for my 2014 vintage. The fruit comes from Ballandean on Queensland's Granite Belt 2.5-3 hours south west of Brisbane. Four hundred kilograms of dry grown fruit were hand picked from 40 year old vines which were in very good condition. If anything, the berries were starting to bag up a little.

The fruit was hand loaded into the crush leaving 25% whole bunches. These whole bunches were all pushed to the bottom of the bin. Within twenty minutes of the crushed fruit sitting in the bin, wild fermentation began to take place. Nice! This was inoculated with Clos yeast and a dash of French oak dust was added. The cap will be plunged three times a day by hand.

After fermentation is complete, the wine will be pressed off into a 15 year old American oak barrel. My plan is for the fruit to be the hero with minimal oak influence and the barrel simply being a vessel to house it.

Around Easter time (early to mid April), the wine will be racked off and the barrel cleaned out. The barrel will then be refilled and will sit for six months.

I aim to bottle the wine in October.

Stay tuned for updates and analysis!

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Domain Day "S" Saperavi 2008

Only 200 dozen were produced of this Georgian variety.

I don't often get the chance to see many Saperavi wines so when I was able to taste three alongside each other, I certainly took the opportunity.

Of the three, this didn't show well at all. It was jammy and porty. The palate was bulky, raisiny and hot. Cooked maybe a better term.

The fruit was warm in the mouth and lingered with a grippy drying tannin structure.

Not to my liking.

Who: Domain Day
What: Saperavi (13% alc)
Where: Barossa
When: 2008
How much: $35

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Friday, 7 March 2014

Ballandean Estate Opera Block Cabernet Merlot 2012

There is lots to like here. It's juicy, flavoursome and so easy to kick back with.

Sealed under ProCork, winemaker Dylan Rhymer has researched and trialled various closures for nine years concluding Ballandean Estate wines have less spoilage and reductiveness under cork.

Blackberry and blackcurrants, the palate is wonderfully coated. A spice tickle lingers on the finish leaving soft tannins to follow. Classy stuff.

A very good wine and one worth seeking out.

Who: Ballandean Estate
What: Cabernet Merlot (14.5% alc)
Where: Granite Belt
When: 2012
How: $28

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Wednesday, 5 March 2014

De Bortoli Windy Peak Heathcote Shiraz 2012

Bloody impressive this.

There's plenty here to keep you interested. Dark fruit, gentle peppery spice, and soft texture to name a few. Some savoury characters and subtle oak add to the package which finishes long. Yum! Lip smacking good indeed.

The Windy Peak range is synonymous for value and this Shiraz certainly fits in perfectly. For $15, get a few and share with a big piece of red meat.

Who: De Bortoli
What: Shiraz (14.5% alc)
Where: Heathcote
When: 2012
How much: $15

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Monday, 3 March 2014

Calabria Family Wines Pinot Bianco 2012

I was pretty happy with this. Actually I was very happy!

There is plenty of textural interest which rolls into a super long finish. In the middle of all that there is impressive fruit highlighted by creaminess and melon characters which coat the palate generously.

These Calabria Family Wines are fabulous and once again priced humbly at $15. Gotta be happy with that.

Who: Calabria Family Wines
What: Pinot Bianco (13% alc)
Where: Riverina
When: 2012
How much: $15

Toolangi Chardonnay 2011

Made at Yering Station and Oakridge, the fruit was hand picked from Toolangi's Dixon Creek vineyard. The wine was aged in old French oak barriques.

A good Chardonnay which captures stone fruit and nutty characters with some gentle oak present too. Respectable palate weight but the fruit just doesn't wash through as much as I'd like. A greasy like texture lingers.

Have with roasted or barbequed chicken.

Who: Toolangi Wines
What: Chardonnay (13% alc)
Where: Yarra Valley
When: 2011
How: $25