Monday, May 27, 2013

Head Wines

Alex Head is an exciting new talent in the Barossa. A bit like Spinifex, he likes to fashion vibrant and refreshing wines, with fruit intensity a minor consideration. This works well in years with a lot of sunshine, but in rainy and cool years, the wines can be a bit thin. As a result, this showing of seven current Rhone varieties was a bit disappointing.

2012 Head Red GSM: intense raspberry fruit, fairly forward but good length, opens up on  finish (90 points).

2012 Head Red Shiraz: plum and red kirsch flavours, grapes picked very early, strong acidity (88 points).

2011 Head Contrarian: slowly fermented, quite savoury, but not enough mouthfeel (89 points).

2011 Head Old Vines Grenache: a thin and quite earthy wine (86 points).

2012 Head Old Vines Grenache: light style, fresh and elegant with some backbone (92 points).

2011 Head Blonde: From a vineyard in Stonewell, this has good fruit and broadens out nicely. However, does the wine have the structure to age? I doubt it (88 points).

2011 Head Brunette: From the Moppa vineyard, this wine is quite fresh and forward, plum on the palate, and fine tannins on the finish (90 points).

Personally, I am looking forward to the 2012 Blonde and Brunette, which will come out in September.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Invivo Sauvignon Blanc

Remember the ABC (anything but Chardonnay) movement? Pretty dead these days. In my view, it does not pay to be dogmatic when it comes to wine. Sauvignon Blanc does not have a great image among 'serious wine drinkers', and I admit it is not my favourite grape variety: one dimensional, in your face, boring etc. But to completely ignore it is at your own peril.

 Invivo is a relatively new organic winery from Marlborough. Its 2012 Invivo Sauvignon Blanc is a beautiful wine. It displays the expected gooseberry and citrus flavours on the palate, but the wine is not harsh, rather gentle, with a rich mouthfeel, yet fresh. It has a smooth and lifted finish. Altogether, this is an attractive package which goes particularly well with sushi.

Score: 90/++

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pepperilly Wines

There are still many new wineries trying to make it in Australia and quite a few deserve a chance. From Western Australia comes Pepperilly, no it is not from Margaret River nor the Great Southern. Pepperilly is based in the Ferguson Valley, overlooking Bunbury i.e. north of Margaret River.

I recently tasted two of their wines. the 2010 Pepperilly Purple Patch is a GSM, with a very dominant Grenache component, maybe a bit too much. The flavours are very clean, with raspberry dominating. The Shiraz provides some darker flavours on the back palate. The wine has fine tannins on the finish. Overall, this is a well made wine; it is pretty, quite feminine. The high 14.5% alcohol is not noticable, which points to sufficiently intense fruit.

Score: 91/+

The 2011 Pepperilly Rose looks quite French, with its pale pink colour. It is based on Cabernet and Shiraz. Again, the flavours are very clean and crisp. I find the wine a little sweet and to me it is - all the prejudices coming out here - a ladies wine.

Score: 89/0

How much value is in the label? Well, these wines look very stylish and at less than $20 per bottle, they represent excellent value.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Three Barossa Icons, More Than 10 Years On

I drank three Barossa Icon wines over the last few days. There is always doubt to what extent these Shiraz based, and often high alcohol wines can go the distance. Well, the answer is clear: the well-made ones can.

The 2002 Wolf Blass Black Label is a blend of predominantly Barossa Shiraz and Barossa and Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. Blueberry, blackberry and plum flavours are still strong and dominating a well balanced structure. Oak is still quite noticable. The tannins have softened and are quite silky now, and the long finish is fruity, but not sweet. The wine has medium to full bodied weight, quite pleasant, and it is a good time to drink this wine now, although it will last well for a few more years. This is an excellent example of the under-appreciated workings of a Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

Score: 94/++

The 2001 Henschke Mt. Edelstone has an incredibly strong and lifted bouquet of mulberry flavours. This continues onto the complex palate, where smoky and ham flavours are also present. The wine is quite peppery and elegant (more so than the other two). There is a lightness in this wine, yet it is strong at the same time, with silky tannins and a long finish This is a brilliant example of mature Australian Shiraz. Again, now is a good time to drink this wine.

Score: 96/+++

The 2002 Torbreck RunRig was massive on release, and the richness, boldness, and depth of blackberry fruit is still there. The tannins are firm, and the structure of the wine is holding up well. Unfortunately, there is a taste of a bit of burnt fruit on the finish, and the wine tastes slightly hot. The wine might  mellow over the next three years and therefore improve its profile.

Score: 94/+    

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Heathcote Shiraz

Well, I am back now, with a couple of interesting reviews coming up in the next few days. This blogpost is about a tasting of most of the current Heathcote Shiraz releases which were reviewed by the Gourmet Wine Traveller Magazine. I have not had any exposure to Heathcote Shiraz in the last couple of years. Therefore it was timely to get an overview. Heathcote has a special soil, the dark red Cambrian soil. And the Shiraz is very different from its South Australian counterparts. This wine tastes predominantly of red fruit, an intense kirsch flavour.

I tasted 17 wines and in my assessment, they fall into two groups. But before I get to this, I want to highlight two producers: The 2012 Windy Peak Shiraz is $14 per bottle. This is quite a vibrant and juicy wine and great value at this price (89 points). The other, better known producer is Tar & Roses, who  produce a very serious Shiraz at $20 per bottle. Their 2010 Shiraz had excellent depth in their fruit and a finely balanced structure (91 points).

Now, the first group disappointed me, as these wines all lacked elegance. I gave these wines 88 to 91 points, they were 2010 Shadowfax One Eye, 2010 Wanted Man White Label,  2011Sanguine Estate Progeny, 2010 Ellis Wines, 2012 Windy Peak, 2010 Heathcote Estate Single Vineyard, 2010 Tar & Roses, 2009 Heathcote Winery Curagee, 2010 Bress Gold Chook, 2010 PHI Single Vineyard Syrah Grenache. The Heathcote Estate Shiraz was the best in this group.

The wines in the second group were enjoyable to drink. The 2008 Vinea Marson Syrah is an unusual wine in this group (and I have experienced this previously as well). This wine is lighter bodied, with floral flavours and very fine tannins. It would be a Burgundy drinker's favourite (93 points). The 2010 Tellurian Tranter Shiraz was more typical for the region: intense fruit characters, but not juicy, and a harmonious package (92 points). The two Sanguine wines in this bracket were jockeying for wine of the night. The 2010 Sanguine Estate Shiraz was very vibrant, and had quite a strong tannin structure, which I enjoyed more on my second tasting (93 points). The 2008 Sanguine D'Orsa Reserve Shiraz, their flagship wine, was immediately appealing. It was smooth and elegant with a long finish, but a little sweet for my taste. The 15% alcohol level would make it difficult to drink more than a glass (93 points). And finally there was the 2010 Mitchelton Shiraz, which topped the Gourmet Wine Traveller tasting. It had a good balance between sweet and savoury flavours - a harmonious wine with fine tannins, but to me it did not have enough mouthfeel and had a somewhat short finish (92 points).

Overall, I was a little disappointed. There were some strong producers missing from this tasting (Jasper Hill, Wild Duck Creek, Seppelt Mt. Ida), but if this is the best the region can offer, it cannot compare with the icons of McLaren Vale or the Barossa.       


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Penfolds Grange (no review)

I am still travelling in Europe, drinking cheap and mediocre wine. I will therefore miss the release time for the ultra-premium Penfolds wines this year. I am interested to hear from unbiased tasters,other than the major wine reviewers, what you thought of these wines, in particular the 2008 Grange, of course.

I will be back with regular reviews next week. Thank you for your patience.