Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SC Pannell Grenache

Stephen Pannell just won his second Jimmy Watson for an Adelaide Hills Syrah. This was the first time a Jimmy Watson went to the Adelaide Hills. Otherwise, Stephen's wines hail from McLaren Vale. His wines tend to be fresh, not overripe, but what happens when they age?

The 2006 SC Pannell Grenache has an attractive flavour profile. Oak is in the background, fruit dominates, but it tends to show some restraint. There is no Grenache sweetness in this wine. Red plum dominates, and there is blackberry as well. The tannins are smooth. I enjoyed the mouthfeel of the wine and the structure is certainly holding up well after eight years.

This is a pleasant and pretty wine to drink. No doubt it is well made, and the screw cap has kept it alive. Yet, something is missing. This is a wine where 2+2=4, but it lacks personality.

Score: 93/++  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Spinifex Rose

I tasted seven Roses on Saturday. There were clearly two styles. One was a pale coloured wine in a savoury style with fruit flavour playing second fiddle, whereas the second style had stronger colour and more emphesis on fruit, without being sweet. My favorite from these wines was the 2014 Spinifex Rose. It belongs clearly in the first category.

The colour of this wine is more orange than pink. Skin impact would have been minimal. The wine is based on Rhone varieties, with Grenache being dominant, but there is none of the bubblegum flavour this variety sometimes displays. This Spinifex is a smart wine. It is restrained, but has intensity, and at 12.5% alcohol is a relatively easy drinking style. It accompanied a Japanese meal for me last night and worked very well. I am looking forward to drinking more of it this summer.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Tahbilk Marsanne

You are looking for a light wine to drink in summer. Are you tired of grassy and sweet New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, or slightly fruity Riesling? What about the poor fruit in unoaked Chardonnay? Or too much oak in oaked Chardonnay? Okay, I am not describing a premium scenario here, but a $20/bottle often has these problems.

Why not try something different? Tahbilk has a long tradition with Marsanne and quality aged vines. The 2014 Tahbilk Marsanne is an attractive proposition. This wine is crisp and has a focus on texture, rather than fruit, with an underlying minerality showing on the palate. This profile is perfect for supporting food, such as salads or fish.

This Marsanne is well made and could be cellared, but I recommend to drink it while fresh and zesty.

Score: 88/++

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spinifex Indigene

It is good to be back drinking Australian wine. I have reviewed the 2005 Spinifex Indigene before, but it is interesting to follow the aging process of this wine, made by a winemaker who wants to make fresh and vibrant wines, after nine years.

This Shiraz/Mataro blend is quite moreish. It is a savoury and quite well integrated wine, with flesh from the Shiraz and a tannic expression of the Mataro both contributing in a balanced fashion. Blueberry and mulberry fruit flavours dominate, on the structure of firm, but mellowed tannins. The wine has a long finish and has definitely gotten better with age. It is drinking very well now - a very modern and profound expression of Barossa Rhone varieties.

Score: 95/+++

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Cradle Of Wine

It has been a little quiet on this blog recently. This is because I am currently travelling around the Black Sea. Wine is believed to have originated from Mesopotamia, or what is today eastern Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, maybe 6000 years ago. I  tasted wines in Turkey and Georgia. Both countries have a bewildering array of indigenous grapes, more than 500 in each country. Not all are made into wine.

I was generally impressed with Turkish wines. Maybe they will go the way southern Italian wines have gone or even Greek varieties are going, although it will require a fair bit of investment. I enjoyed a white wine variety called Emir from Central Anatolia. This is a light, dry wine, with green apple and citrus flavours, minerality and an acidic finish. A well known red variety is Kalecik Karasi. Wines from this variety are medium bodied and quite elegant, similar to Tempranillo, I find. I was more impressed with Öküzgözü, another variety from Anatolia. This variety is often blended with Bogazkere. The idea is the same as with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends. Öküzgözü is a large grape, which produces a soft and elegant flavour, Bogazkere provides dark colour, body and tannins. Turasan is a producer I enjoyed. Another appealing wine was a Shiraz-Bogazkere blend from Sarafin.  I rate the wines mentioned 86-89 points and  good value for money.

In Georgia I tried a white wine called Rkatsiteli. This grape variety has been planted in Georgia for more than 5000 years and was widely planted in Russia as well. Apparently some is grown in the US and Australia. The wine I tried was quite Chablis like, with citrus flavours and a flinty, acidic finish. The red wine was Khvanchkara, regarded as a high-end wine. It is quite a sweet wine, tasting of raspberries and bubble gum. This takes some getting used to.

Overall, I found it very enjoyable to delve into wines which are very different from what we are used to. These wines are quite unique, and I hope some wineries will manage to achieve wider international distribution (which the Turkish wines need, as the dominant Muslim population does not drink wine).