Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Vinosphere 2019

There was an enormous number of wines on tasting at this very large event. I have a principle to report on good and poor wines when I attend such tastings, but I must make an exception this time. I tasted too many wines to report on them all. It would be very laborious. I will, on this occasion, mention the wines that stood out for me across the four brackets I tasted them in.

In white wines, I was impressed by two Tasmanian Chardonnays. One was the 2018 Pooley Butcher's Hill Chardonnay from the Coal River. The fruit used to go into Penfold's Yattarna. This is an elegant wine, quite big flavoured, with peach, cashew, and cream flavours coming to the fore. The wine has enough drive to keep interesting, despite the big mouthfeel. The 2016 Dawson James Chardonnay could not have been more different. From a cool vintage, this wine is Chablis-like, with citrus and apple flavours and a slightly green tinge. The acidity is nicely keeping the fruit in check.

The two best Pinot Noirs were of very high standard. You would not expect anything less from Bass Phillip. The 2017 Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir has great depth of cherry fruit, but is a little closed right now. When the fruit wakes up, it will blend with the very silky tannins to an elegant style with a long finish. Less known is Levantine Hill from the Yarra Valley. I was most impressed with the 2015 Levantine Hill Colleen's Paddock Pinot Noir. Mushroom flavours dominate the dark cherry flavours in this brooding and harmonious wine. The finish goes on and on. I was not familiar with this producer, but it is worth seeking out. As an aside, both wines are fastidiously made, and you will have to pay for it.

The third category were Italian varieties. Sangiovese was not well represented, and the Nebbiolos from Piedmont were from what I would call second tier producers. There was one Barolo I liked very much, the 2015 Mauro Molino Barolo Gallinotto. This is the family vineyard in Berri, not far from La Morra. Being in the Northern part of Piedmont, you expect a more fragrant wine, and this is what you get. The fruit intensity is good (2015 was a warm vintage), but the highlight is the generous and expanding mouthfeel, not unlike a very good Burgundy. And I need to put the 2017 Jasper Hill Georgia's Paddock Nebbiolo in this category. This is the first time I rate an Australian Italian varietal wine on the same level as the outstanding Italian wines, but Ron Laughton has been at this for quite a long time. This is good Nebbiolo. Rose petals and lifted aromas on the nose, an elegant mouthfeel, and a smooth finish. Nothing is out of place here, the tannins not too strong.

In the icon category, I tasted wines from Clonakilla, Castagna and Jasper Hill. Lately, I have  not enjoyed the stylistic development of the Clonakilla flagship wine. The 2017 Clonakilla Shiraz/Viognier is quite soft, with the Viognier coming through quite strongly. The wine has silky tannins and great length, but a bit feminine for me. The 2015 Castagna Genesis Syrah is also quite a soft wine, but it has dark fruit flavours at its core, and a smooth finish. The wine of the night, just edging out the Pinots, was the 2017 Jasper Hill Emily's Paddock Shiraz. The Georgia's Paddock is the more voluptuous wine, and often the favorite. But the Emily's had layers and layers of fruit, and a leathery character on top of it. This made for a mysterious flavour, very elegant and long.   

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