Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spinifex La Maline Shiraz

After some disappointments with Shiraz from the supposedly great 2010 vintage, I have been rewarded with the 2010 Spinifex La Maline Shiraz.




This wine is smooth and simply delicious. It is medium weight and elegant. Blueberry and blackberry flavours sit on top of silky and dry tannins, well integrated. This wine used to be a Shiraz/Viognier, and the flavour profile suggests a small component of Viognier is still in this wine. The mouthfeel is perhaps a little lean, but preferable to the overblown and overripe wines I tasted lately from this vintage. This wine has an excellent balance and a very satisfying finish.

Peter Schell has a knack of finding great fruit at reasonable prices for his wines. Vineyard location is important to him (often the higher slopes on the Eastern ridge), but the sources can vary from year to year. He is not wedded to a single vineyard terroir, but prefers to blend to his style of wine. By the way, 'maline' means 'clever'.

Score: 95/+++ 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Vieux Télégraphe Piedlong

As I am waiting for the apparently amazing 2015 Rhône wines, I thought I might wet my appetite with a wine from one of my favorite producers, Vieux Télégraphe. The 2012 vintage was generally not great in France, with the exception of the Rhône. Therefore I was looking forward to the 2012 Vieux Télégraphe Piedlong.



Daniel Brunier, the half owner and winemaker, is a serious and intelligent man. He is modest and not interested in wine fashion trends. His objective is to make authentic wines speaking of the soil the grapes are grown on (I know this sounds like a platitude these days, but it is true in his case.)

The Piedlong comes from the heart of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, just north of the village, from a vineyard with heavy clay and many rocks or pebbles. This wine is full-bodied, with raspberry and blackberry flavours. It is basically dark fruited. Despite the Grenache dominance,  it is a savoury wine showing a lot of minerality and some leanness. The wine is fresh and elegant and has good length.

I liked this wine a lot.

Score: 92/+++

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ariel Dealcoholized Chardonnay

The other day I went into a large liquor store to try to find a low alcohol (5-6%) dry wine. This of course is difficult, as low alcohol means not all sugar has been fermented. The search was unsuccessful. I then saw the isle with non-alcohol wine. I had never tried one, so I thought it is time to select such a 'wine'.

Most attractive seemed to be this Chardonnay from Ariel, based in California. If you look carefully at the picture, you notice that the bottle is still half full. But alas! I did not drink the other half. This wine is disgusting! I expected to taste perhaps grape juice, but this 'wine' tastes of apple juice, a bad slightly overripe one, and is full of sugar. If I had had a magnifying glass, I could have found this out from the back label, but it was hard to read and also to interpret.

There is no point drinking this. Buy a good fruit juice for a third of the price instead.

Score: <70 p="">



Monday, August 14, 2017

Hewitson The Mad Hatter Shiraz

Let me start this review with a sweeping statement: Generally speaking I prefer Barossa Shiraz to McLaren Vale Shiraz. Why? I think the Barossa fruit flavour profile is more complex. McLaren Vale is often pure plum (can be beautiful), whereas Barossa can be plum, blackberry, blueberry, mulberry. I thought I put this out there.

I was reminded of this when I tasted the 2006 Hewitson Mad Hatter Shiraz. This wine shows intense

plum flavours. It is quite a ripe and dense wine. It has been matured for 21 months in new French oak, and you notice the generous lashings of oak on the palate. It is distracting. The tannins are soft and the finish somewhat short.

This wine could have been structured much better.

Score: 86/-

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hoddles Creek 1er Yarra Valley Chardonnay


The '1er' in the name is supposed to create an association with Burgundy, I guess. After drinking the 2014 Hoddles Creek 1er Yarra Valley Chardonnay, I would say this is well justified.

Citrus, grapefruit and orange peel flavours create complexity on the palate. Oak is there, but lightly handled. Acidity weaves through the palate. This wine has drive and is long rather than broad, but it is not a lean wine.

This wine is a great, thoroughly modern packaged Chardonnay.

Score: 95/++

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Aurora Vineyard Syrah

The Aurora Vineyard sits in a great spot in Bendigo, Central Otago. It has been a bit of a side project for its owners, and despite good success and medals, they decided to sell the grapes to Woolworths for a little while. However, wine is available at retail again, according to the website.



The wine I am reviewing today is from the earlier period, the 2007 Aurora Vineyard Syrah. As the name suggests, this is a Shiraz made in the cool climate style. The wine is medium-bodied and still quite fresh. Flavours of blackberry, forest berries and green peppercorn hit the palate, but fan out a bit towards the back palate. Fine grained tannins are strong enough to maintain a balanced structure.

Score: 92/++

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Chiara Boschis E Pira Via Nuova

Chiara Boschis has been an important personality in Piedmont, since she became the winemaker at E. Pira in 1990. Via Nuova is one of her two single vineyard Barolos, made from the Terlo vineyard south of the village of Barolo.

The 2008 Chiara Boschis Via Nuova is quite austere, with dried flowers and red and black cherry flavours. It is an elegant wine, quite long on the back palate, but a little lean, which is accentuated by the dry tannins of this wine.

Score: 93/++   

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Points Festival

Wednesday night, James Halliday released his 2018 Australian Wine Companion, yes 2018! I have written about this before, but I cannot help myself to address this again. As expected, the points awarded have been higher than ever before. 94 points is now a bad result.

Mr. Halliday defends himself by saying Australian wine is now of better quality and relativity has been maintained. The wine of the year is Henschke's Hill of Grace at 99 points (no guts for 100?), and many unexceptional wines have received 96 and 97 points. What kind of relativity is this?

Over the last 48 hours, I have received many emails from different wineries, listing the high points they have been awarded. So this is how it works: wineries are happy because of their high points, they provide free advertising for Mr. Halliday, he sells more books. Bingo! I find this point-less, and very dis-appointing, because Mr. Halliday and his tasters write some good notes, which will remain un-noticed.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Jasper Hill Georgia's Paddock

I have recently been disappointed with high alcohol wines from the Barossa. It seems that Jasper Hill gets full-bodied wines right.

The 2008 Jasper Hill Georgia's Paddock is a full-bodied, powerful wine. The concentrated redcurrant and earthy flavours are still fresh and have drive down the palate with a bit of lift towards the finish. The tannins are firm and the finish is long. This is a solid winter wine.

Score: 93/+++

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chateau Clerc Milon


There are a number of lessons in drinking the 2003 Chateau Clerc Milon. The first is about the vintage. When it came out, it was hailed as a top vintage for the last ten years, then the 2005s arrived, and when the 2009s and 2010s were released, 2003 was almost forgotten. Yet, there were many generous and elegant wines produced from this vintage, and this is one of them.

The second issue is about ageing Bordeaux wines. I remember drinking this wine some years ago. The tannins seemed harsh, and the wine not well balanced. Now at 14 years, this is a very harmonious wine. A decent Bordeaux should be cellared for at least 10 years, a top wine for 15 to 20 years minimum. To be frank, it is a waste of money if you don't do this. Also decanting is important. I did not do this on this occasion, but the wine was better on the second day after opening.

Blackberry flavours dominate above a mocca background. The wine is not overly complex, but smooth and elegant, with soft tannins providing a rounded finish.

Score: 93/+++