Monday, July 21, 2014

William Downie Gippsland Pinot Noir

William Downie's Gippsland Pinot Noir is perhaps the most difficult to 'classify'. The Yarra Valley Pinot Noir typically displays strawberry flavours and is quite ethereal. The one from the Mornington Peninsula tastes of black cherry. And the Gippsland one sits somewhere in-between. It is often the most complex, and most interesting, taking nothing away from the other two, though.

The 2008 William Downie Gippsland Pinot Noir ticks all the right boxes. It has an outstanding texture. I am experiencing  a silky and  ultra smooth mouthfeel all the way. The fruit flavours are strawberry and red cherry. The wine has a long and persistent finish. This is one of the best Australian Pinot Noirs. It is world class.

Score: 96/+++

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chateau Fombrauge

In many ways, the 2009 Chateau Fombrauge is a similar wine to the Chateau Villars, reviewed before. It has the same grape variety mix, it is from the right bank, and the flavour profile is similar. However, this wine hails from St. Emilion, one of the two prestigious regions there. Therefore it is twice as expensive ($70 per bottle).  Black plum flavours come to the fore a bit more than in the Villars. Overall, the frame of the wine is bigger, with stronger oak and alcohol influences. This wine needs to settle down a bit more and requires further cellaring in order to soften on the palate.

Score: 93/+

Friday, July 18, 2014

Chateau Villars

I have reviewed the 2009 Chateau Villars in an overview on Bordeaux before, but as it is such a good find, and I drank it again last night, I thought it is worth while to write a separate note.

This Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend is from Fronsac, one of the less prestigious subregions on the right bank of Bordeaux. But in 2009, everybody could make a good wine, and this is certainly one. The wine has a deep ruby colour. It is medium to full-bodied with a medium fruit intensity. This means it is possible to enjoy the wine now. The blackcurrant and black cherry flavours are very expressive, supported by spice and vanilla flavours from oak. Firm tannins provide a good structure for this wine leading to a long finish. I enjoyed the mouthfeel of this wine, although it is not elegant-perfect. This is a great value buy from an expensive vintage.

Score: 93/++

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gatt Barossa Shiraz

I was born in Germany. So I must congratulate the German soccer team.They have started to change their style of football about 10 years ago and now play, in my humble opinion, the most entertaining and fluent style of football in Europe. The match against Brazil at this world cup will remain unforgettable.

However, this is a blog about wine. 20 years ago, I had the ambition of collection every 'good' wine made in Australia. This became more and more unrealistic, as the number of wineries exploded and quality rose across the board. So then you can either pick more or less randomly or try to hone in on special regions to understand them in more detail.. I did the latter, which is why you find that most of the Shirazes I collect (and review) come from the Barossa, Cabernet Sauvignon from Western Australia, and Pinot Noir from Victoria.

I came across the 2010 Gatt Barossa Shiraz at a wine show and got a bottle given. I tried the wine yesterday and must say I seriously disliked it. It had all the aspects of what Barossa wines often get criticised for. It is very alcoholic, the fruit is one-dimensional, as it is overripe, and the finish is harsh. No charm in this wine, just a bomb. Thank goodness, not all Barossa wines are like this. Now, this wine has collected a number of gold medals at wine shows, I believe in Australia as well as Europe. Simply because the wine has fruit intensity? I regard these wine shows as deeply flawed, and I can only hope you never pick a wine because of the number of medals on the bottle.

Score: 82/---

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kosta Browne Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

The 2008 Kosta Browne Russian River Valley Pinot Noir opens up beautifully. The nose consists of intense red and black cherry flavours. These continue on the palate. The wine is quite soft and smooth, despite the deep cherry and plum flavours. They open up more and more towards the back palate. The expanding and long finish is held together by silky and velvety tannins. This wine has an excellent texture, fruit flavours and acids are well balanced. - A perfect example of a new world Pinot Noir.

Score: 96/+++

Yalumba Lyndoch Singe Vineyard Shiraz

Something very strange happened. I drank this 2005 Yalumba Fromm Vineyard Shiraz one day after the Sophia reported upon in my last post. The flavour and structure profiles were very similar despite different geographies and grape varieties. This wine comes from a vineyard on the border between Lyndoch and Gomersal in the Barossa Valley. The wine tastes of lush black fruits, cherry and plum.It is ripe, but not jammy. The tannins are very subtle now. The wine is balanced and well made, but needs to be drunk now.

Score: 91/+

Friday, July 11, 2014

Craggy Range Sophia

Sophia is a Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend and therefore Craggy Range's take on the right bank Bordeaux wines.The 2007 Craggy Range Sophia still displays a ruby colour with deep intensity. This medium to full-bodied wine has attractive blueberry and blackberry notes on the nose and it starts like that on the palate. The wine has developed quite a lot since I tasted it in 2009. This is a wine that should be drunk now. It is nicely balanced, but the fruit intensity starts to drop off at the back palate.

Score: 92/++

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Grosset Polish Hill Riesling

The Grosset Polish Hill Riesling is by many seen as Australia's best Riesling, certainly its most age-worthy. Today, I opened a 2006 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling to see and taste how it has developed. I was in for a surprise, but not a shock, really.

The colour of this wine (under screw cap) is still pale lemon. There is not much development noticeable at all. And on the palate, the wine is as steely as ever. It has lost the austereness of its early years, but the character is still lime and minerality. I detect no toasty notes at all. The structure is completely in tact, with acidity and fruit in perfect harmony. This is a well made wine in the dry Clare Valley style, and my only criticism is that there is not an awful lot going on in the glass.

Score: 94/++

Friday, July 4, 2014

Yalumba Single Vineyard Shiraz

Many producers in the Barossa Valley have experimented for ten years or so with single vineyard wines. Most of these are produced in small volumes, often only available at cellar door, and quite expensive.

Over the years, I picked up some of these to learn about the Barossa subregions. Today I opened a 2005 Yalumba Swingbridge Vineyard Shiraz from Craneford, Eden Valley. The Eden Valley is one half of the Barossa, with the neighbouring Baossa Valley being the other half. The 90 year old vines of this vinyard are planted at an altitude of 400m and are expected to deliver some cooler climate characteristics. The wine does not disappoint.

The bouquet delivers scents of higher altitude Shiraz: violets and fragrant aromas. On the palate, blueberry flavours dominate, but there are also blackberry fruits and sweetness on the mid-palate. The wine is finely structured with soft tannins, which are not very noticeable on the palate, but strong enough to hold up the wine for close to ten years. The mouthfeel drops a bit on the finish, but the vibrancy of the fruit wins out overall.

You will not be able to find this particular wine, I suggest, but it might be worth while to track down similar wines.

Score: 93/+++

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Dalwhinnie Shiraz

Dalwhinnie Shiraz is one of the few wines I buy every vintage of. I drink them at about eight years of age, when primary and secondary characteristics blend together. Yesterday I opened the 2005 Dalwhinnie Shiraz. I was slightly worried because of the drought conditions in that year.

And sure, some of the typical characteristics were there: the blackberry and mulberry flavours and the silky tannins. This is the impact of the special terroir. But the drought is very noticable as well. The fruit is very ripe and tastes somewhat dead rather than fresh and vibrant. The wine is not totally balanced. The earthy and meaty flavours include some sharpness. I still think this is a good wine, but not a great one.

Score: 91/0

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Comeback For Cabernet/Shiraz?

Cabernet/Shiraz is Australia's signature blend. It works well. The structure of Cabernet is filled out by fleshy Shiraz. I think this would be a far more popular blend if regulation would allow it in the old world countries, for example in the Bordeaux or Rhone regions. However, over the last 20 years, this blend lost its importance in Australia, as the desire for pure varietal wines took over. Some companies have stuck with this blend, for example Yalumba. However, I detect new interest in it recently.

Tahbilk, who released the first estate grown Cabernet/Shiraz in 1972 has just reintroduced the blend with the 2010 Tahbilk Old Vines Cabernet Shiraz. The wine has a slightly fruity core of plum and blackcurrant. Vanilla from oak is quite noticeable, too. The wine is well balanced and flows seamless down the palate. This full-bodied wine produces a pleasant mouthfeel, which is not overpowering. It finishes with firm tannins.

Score: 91/+

A different beast is the 2010 Son of Eden Pumpa from Eden Valley. A super full-bodied wine with black fruit characters, this wine is jammy and it has chocolate on the palate as well. The wine is well made, but I find it too full-on. The fruit is from young vines and the wine is not expensive, but I cannot drink more than one glass.

Score: 87/-

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2010 Bordeaux from St. Emilion

The 2010s from St. Emilion are not easy to taste right now. These Merlot/Cabernet Franc wines are very tannic, with high acidity. The fruit is concentrated and will dominate oak and tannins over time, but as a general rule, they will need many years before being a good drink. I tasted a number of Grand Crus which are quite reasonably priced.

Chateau La Confession shows very dark colour. The concentrated flavours are of dark berries with a good length on the palate and  firm tannins (93 points). I found Chateau La Serre less appealing. The flavours were similar, but the wine a little harsh and not as well balanced (90 points). The Clos l'Oratoire was a softer and more open wine. It was different from the rest and could be drunk earlier, say in a year or two. The palate was very Merlot-like, but with good intensity. There were spicy and earthy flavours as well (93 points). Chateau Saint Georges Cote Pavie was more in line with the first two wines, but displayed less depth of flavour (91 points). Chateau La Dominique was the most closed wine of all. It will probably last the longest, but I found the acidity in this wine too much (92 points).

The verdict: 2010 Clos l'Oratoire for early drinking and the 2010 Chateau La Confession to put away.