Thursday, September 23, 2021

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz

 The 2012 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz is a powerhouse. Intense aromas of blackberry and mocca rise from the glass.

On the palate, blackcurrant, plum and blackberry flavours blend the typicity of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz together in a seamless way. This wine is full-bodied, as you would expect, and quite dense, almost impenetrable, more than in other vintages. The tannins are firm and match the fruit weight. The wine is in balance and very long on the finish.

At 9 years, this wine still is a baby. It has at least a couple of decades to go.

Score: 95/++

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Casal Figueira António Vital

 When I visited the Douro Valley in Portugal four years ago, I was also impressed with a number of white wines, in particular from vineyards at more than 500m elevation. Having access to these wines is close to impossible in Australia. So when I had a chance to buy some Portuguese white wine, I went for it. The 2019 Casal Figueira António is, however, from vineyards near Lisbon, 200-450m in altitude.

António Carvalho saved the Vital variety there. The limestone plots carry bush wines of 70-100+ years of age. The viticulture is biodynamic.

Tasting the wine, the first thing that you notice is the freshness and cleanness of the wine. Passionfruit and melon are detectable on the palate, but this wine is more textural. Really, the flavour is quite subdued and forward. The acidity makes this wine very refreshing. This is a summer wine quaffer.

Score: 87/0

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Four In Hand Barossa Shiraz


The 2015 Four In Hand Barossa Shiraz, from a warm vintage, tastes of plum, plum, plum with a bit of mocca in the background. It is quite smooth to begin with, with an overwhelming sweet core. Then it turns into a hot and alcoholic finish. 

I was contemplating if I simply did not like this wine or if it was not well made. Well, it is not well made, in my view; not in balance, overripe. Robert Parker has retired a little while ago.

Score: 86/-- 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay

 It is not easy, and also not necessary, to say something new about the iconic Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay. That is, unless one opens an older bottle. This is not often talked about. Chardonnay in general does not age well beyond 7 years in Australia. This is a review of the 2011 Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay. 2011 was a poor vintage for red wines in most of Australia. White wines fared a little better. However in Western Australia, vintage conditions were excellent.

The painting for this wine is a little whimsical, but there is nothing whimsical about the content. Citrus and grapefruit still dominate, the vanilla from the new oak is woven in well. There is a hint of honey now, but the wine is still fresh and fruit focused. The fresh acidity drives the great line in this wine. It is perhaps not the most complex Leeuwin, but the long finish is very satisfying.

Score: 95/+++

Monday, September 13, 2021

Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon

 When an upstart won best Cabernet Sauvignon and best red wine at the Margaret River wine show in 2013, it created quite a stir. And eyebrows were really raised when this wine was released at three times the price of the Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon or Cullen Diana Madeline. This was of course Cloudburst. It certainly had 'bursted' on the scene. Maybe Will Berliner, the American owner, thought this was still cheap by Napa Valley standards. It has since become clear that something very special was happening here. The vines are still young, but they are grown on an unspoiled piece of land near the ocean. It has never seen any pesticides. Instead the care by Will Berliner is exceptional. This is a review of the 2011 Cloudburst Cabernet Sauvignon.

Only the name on the front, and the back rather translucent

The nose is very intense and perfumed with pure dark fruit aromas. 

On the palate, blackberry rather than blackcurrant opens up, mulberry and black olive flavours take over. The flavours of this elegant and smooth wine are quite layered, revealing new nuances as one ponders the wine. The wine is full-bodied, but not at all fat, with 13.2% alc. There is good fruit weight and great purity. The wine to me feels more like a first class Merlot. It is powerful, but also light-footed. The tannins are very silky. This wine is still a baby, with a beautiful long finish on fine tannins.

So what about the price? Well, it is actually cheaper that Cullen's Vanya or equal to the Tom Cullity by Vasse Felix. Another way to look at it: would you rather drink a bottle of this or two/three bottles of the Cullen Diana Madeline or the Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon? Not sure on an ongoing basis, but I suggest you try a bottle once. Why? This wine is different. It feels very complex and accomplished, yet as the vines are young, it has a different vibrancy to the other wines. 

Score: 96/+++

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Huber Vision


The 2020 Huber Vision Grüner Veltliner comes from an organic vineyard in the small Traisental, near the Danube, maybe 100km west of Vienna. This is Grüner Veltliner country.

The colour of the wine is surprisingly intense, golden green. On the nose, apple and peach flavours rise from the glass.

On the palate, green apple, and citrus flavours hit the front with some spice, not pepper, quite mild. Yellow peach flavours take over down the palate. This wine has a fairly big mouthfeel. It is a little fruity and surprisingly rich for this variety. There is a hint of minerality on the finish. Overall, the wine is well made, but lacks some definition. 

It is interesting what is happening here. 2020 was a warm vintage. As a result, the wine is broader and lacks some acidity. A very knowledgeable friend of mine remarked that Grüner Veltliner has more trouble coping with warm weather than Riesling, which can still deliver balanced acidity in these conditions.

Score: 89/0 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Domaine des Croix Beaune Les Cents Vignes

 It is not easy to buy a high quality red Burgundy at a reasonable price. As I mentioned a number of times before, producer selection is just as or even more critical than terroir. The 2015 Domaine des Croix Beaune 1er cru Les Cents Vignes was attractive to me for a number of reasons: good vintage, 1er cru, 50 to 70 year old vines. The vineyard is close to Beaune, below the well known Les Bressandes,  on the valley floor.

Note: No alcohol level on the label, neither on the back

Red and black cherry, some blue fruits attack the palate. The fruit is quite fresh and pure, but is quickly overwhelmed by quite sharp tannins, leaving the mid-palate a bit hollow. As a result, the wine is not totally balanced and the finish a little harsh. It is surprising, as the year and location should have developed generous fruit. This is not a bad wine by any means, but not quite what I had hoped for.

Score: 90/+


Saturday, September 4, 2021

What To (Eventually) Do With Your Wine Cellar

 There comes a time when you need to decide what to do with your wine cellar. It is easy if your child or children are interested. They will be delighted to inherit your bottles. But what if you have no children or they express no interest in your wine?

There are then essentially two options. Option 1 is to at some point sell the cellar to an auction house or retailer who acquires wine cellars. It is a little sad though, if you move from 100 to 0, or say 5, in one foul swoop.

Option 2 is to reduce the cellar while still buying wine. This is how you do it. Say, you consume on average 20 bottles per month. If you are then disciplined enough to buy just one case per month, you reduce your cellar by 100 bottles per year. Instead of buying one case, you may decide to buy 2 6-packs or 3 bottles of four different wines. This still allows you to keep up with a lot of variety if you wish. And you may decide to buy better quality.

In this way, I have reduced my wine cellar from 1500 to 700 bottles in the last eight years. When I get to 200 or 300 bottles, I need to work out how to still have aged wine. Maybe buy at auction from time to time.

Any thoughts?


Thursday, September 2, 2021

What Is An Ethereal Wine?

 The definition of 'ethereal' is 'extremely delicate and light in a way that seems not to be of this world'. This does not quite capture when a wine is spoken of as ethereal. When applied to wine, ethereal means light and delicate, often silky, but also intense. It is a descriptor of the texture of the wine. A long lifting finish (peacock's tail) also adds to a wine being ethereal, as the flavours seem to sail into a very pleasant oblivion. The grape variety which can express this best is Pinot Noir. Barolo is sometimes described as etherial, but strong tannins often break the spell.

I was reflecting on this as I drank a bottle of the 2013 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir. It expresses this texture and finish perfectly (97 points).   

Friday, August 27, 2021

Wendouree Shiraz

 Every serious drinker of Australian wine should drink a bottle of Wendouree Shiraz at least once. It is a true icon of the rise of Australian still wine production during the last 50 years. In some ways, it is an old fashioned wine, with power rated higher than elegance, but subtle changes have been made over the last 15 years, in particular to make the wine more attractive for earlier consumption. The 2010 Wendouree Shiraz, reviewed here, even comes screw capped.

This wine opens up with concentrated fruit, blackberry and dark plum flavours. It is a full-bodied wine, of course. What stands out on the palate, is the purity of fruit from this excellent vintage. Then the palate gets hit by a wall of firm and coarse tannins. On the finish, they are mashed with the intensity of the fruit.

Score: 94/0

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Seppeltsfield Great Terraced Vineyard Grenache

 When I did my field research in the Barossa close to 10 years ago, I marveled at the old Shiraz and Grenache vineyards of Seppeltsfield. At the time, the Shiraz vineyards were leased to Fosters, later Treasury Wine Estates, I believe. The Grenache went into fortified wines, still. A few years later, a series of still wines of Shiraz were launched, with moderate success. The business changed ownership, and now Seppeltsfield has released a series of premium Shiraz and Grenache. I have not tried the Shirazes yet. They seem quite full-bodied and ripe. However, a few days ago I tasted the 2020 Seppeltsfield Great Terraced Vineyard Grenache.

The vineyard is very close to the Torbreck Les Amis vineyard. It was originally planted in 1855, and replanted from 100 years later. I am not sure what you make of the label. Blue does not work for me on wine bottles.

The first thing to say is that if you plan to drink this wine soon (which I would not recommend), decant the wine for at least two hours, and leave some for day two.

The wine presents many different fruit flavours on the palate; raspberry, but mostly dark fruits like blackberry and mulberry. There are savoury notes, in particular licorice and graphite, as well as spice. This is a moorish, full-bodied wine with a lot of complexity. At the same time, it has the typical brightness and vibrancy of Grenache. The tannins are dry and hold a firm grip on the wine's structure.

This is an attractive ripe and powerful Grenache with a long finish. The components have not quite come together just yet, but I have no doubt they will in two to three years.

Score: 95/++ 


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

5 Underrated Red Wine Varieties of Australia


To create a bit of variety, I am publishing a guest post by Natasha K of Just Wines  

 Over the years, Australia has established itself as a wine-producing country around the world. Without any doubt, it produces tonnes of wine on a daily basis which has made people of the country consume it in a similar way. However, this has made some categories of wines quite popular over others. Wine varieties like Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc have been recognised as the ‘Superstars of the Wine industry’. They certainly have those qualities but there are some other great grape varieties too which are equally flavourful yet less recognised.

 Today, let’s know about five underrated red wine varieties of Australia that deserve their due.


 Australia’s interpretation of this wine that is thought to have originated in Spain is by its blueberry and plum characteristics. A meaty, rustic and full-bodied red variety, it has many different names. This earthy and rustic wine grew popular in Australia in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale region after a decline in the 1980s. The grape’s natural, full-bodied character grows well in Australia’s warm climate and rich soil.


 Tempranillo found a second home in Australia after hailing from Spain. It became a great match with the diet and climate of the country. A medium to full-bodied wine that quite conveniently balances earthy and fruity flavours like cherry, leather, plum and cedar. When oaked, one can expect to get some spicy and vanilla flavours too. If you like Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, you will find Tempranillo as a great option.


 Grown in warm and cool regions in Australia like Margaret River, McLaren Vale, Rutherglen, Hunter Valley, Orange, Mudgee, and Swan Hill, Malbec can be your favourite wine if you are fond of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. This medium to full-bodied wine boasts of bold fruit characters and has an easy-drinking style. Flaunting an intense purple colour with deep mulberry tones and a magenta-tinged colour around the rim, it emanates lifted dark berry and raspberry aromas along with subtle spice and mocha overtones.

 Nerello Mascalese

 Originally from Sicily, Nerello Mascalese was brought to Australia by the Chalmers family in the late 90s. Ever since then, it has been seen as a very promising grape for Australian vineyards. Wines made from Nerello Mascalese are usually quite structured with high acidity and fairly grippy tannins features.

Often characterised by red berry fruits, wild strawberries and cherries in a sour spectrum along with woodsy herbs, dried florals and minerals. Nerello Mascalese is a late-ripening variety, and most vines are trained in the traditional bush-vine training method.

 Petit Verdot

 The potential for this grape variety has been recognised by Australian winemakers. Famous regions like  Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek are excelling in this style. On the other hand, wine regions such as Perricoota, Murray Darling and Hunter Valley have their location characteristics to offer to the Australian Petit Verdot. A late-ripening bold grape variety, it is rich in dark fruits. Black cherry, violet, plum, sage and lilac notes are common. A full-bodied structure wine, it has strong and firm tannins and spices that emerge due to the small berries and thick skin of this variety. If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre and Zinfandel, you will love this style.

 Give these intriguing and flavourful wines a try from the comfort of your home, for example by looking up Just Wines.