Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lerida Pinot Noir

Lerida, one of the newer wineries in the Canberra district, has a successful Shiraz/Viognier, but it is with the burgundian varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that it achieves the best results, in my view. These wines are quite European in style.

In this way, the 2007 Lerida Pinot Noir is a more serious wine than its predecessor. The emphesis is on texture, not fruit. As a result, this is a very good food wine. The cherry and savoury flavours are well integrated. The wine has quite a velvety feel, but is not plush. It has good length and a dry finish and this reasonably priced at about $30/bottle.

Score: 93/++

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I finally managed to become a follower of a number of blogs which I have read with interest from time to time. They are mentioned on my front page. So much information, so little time!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Henschke Mt. Edelstone

Yesterday, I just grabbed a random bottle from the cellar. It happened to be a 2002 Henschke Mt. Edelstone. Given this wine has done so well in the just closed poll, I thought, yes, should be a good drink at eight years of age. I then had a look at Jeremy Oliver's guide who rated the wine highly and recommends drinking from 2022. I thought this is a bit rich, over ten years from now.

I opened the bottle for 45 minutes without decanting and could not believe it. The flavours were so intense and overwhelming, clearly too early to drink. So I had a small glass and left the rest for today. Today the wine was a bit more developed, but it still tastes incredibly young. No other Mt. Edelstone I have had displays this lasting power (despite the fantastic 93 I had not long ago).

The flavours are very intense berry flavours, mainly blackberry and mulberry, dark, softer fruit. Secondary characteristics are starting to show, fresh beef and some spice as well. The oak is in the background, but provides a good backbone. The tannins are quite strong, but are captured in a penetrating finish which goes on and on.

This is clearly a great wine, but I have not marked it higher because I am just not sure how it will all blend together in 10 years.

Score: 96/+++

PS: Chris, how did you go with your '95?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Poll Created

Yes, you guessed it. Cabernet is next. Please vote as enthusiastically as you have done with Shiraz. This is easier, too. There are only three real contenders, aren't there?

The plan is to go through the major varieties and then have a vote between the winners, a bit like a virtual wine show, but with a twist. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Please vote!

Henschke Mt. Edelstone voted most admired Shiraz under $100 per bottle

The winner is very deserving, I think. For a while it looked like a draw with Penfolds St. Henri and I was contemplating how to decide. I came to the following conclusion: if you say it is safe to drink these wines from 1990 onwards, then I would give the first half of the decade to the Mt. Edelstone and the second half to the St. Henri. Mt. Edelstone would also win the comparisons in the naughties, and it would have been my winner. Rockford's Basket Press Shiraz was a clear third, also very deserving.

I found it interesting that the sometimes highly praised Victorian Shirazes did not get much of a look-in. Also, Wendouree did not do well. This may be, because it is not widely available. You voted predominantly for the full bodied Barossan style, but not the overblown and overripe ones. This makes sense to me, as these wines are truely unique in the world.

Thank you all for voting. It has been good participation. The next poll will be up soon. I bet you can guess what it will be.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Long Road/Eden Road Wines

I was interested in these wines, as they have been written up so much since the 2008 Shiraz won the Jimmy Watson Trophy last year. The wines are cool climate wines from Tumbarumba, Hilltops and Canberra. They won other awards as well. I tasted six of their current wines.

The 2009 Long Road Riesling and Long Road Sauvignon Blanc come from Canberra. The Riesling is quite light, with lime and floral flavours and a slightly earthy finish. The Sauvignon Blanc is a bit fruity, tasting of citrus and not very pungent. In fact, it tasted quite like a Semillon. Both wines have good structure, but simply not enough expression.

Score: 86/0

The 2008 Eden Road Chardonnay from Tumbarumba was probably the disappointment of this line-up. It was very lean, a bit floral as well, and green on the finish. There simply is not enough fruit to work with. Cool climate is fine, as long as the fruit gets ripe.

Score: 85/--

In contrast, the 2008 Eden Road Pinot Noir was excellent. This is a serious wine, from 16 year old vines, with quite expressive, savoury flavours. There is smoked meat on the palate as well (no, it is not bushfire). The wine has a clean, yet complex finish with well blended in tannins.

Score: 92/+

The 2008 Long Road Barbera/Nebbiolo from Hilltops is a strange wine. It is quite a forward wine, with Barbera sweetness, yet this does not work with the tannins of Nebbiolo. This wine style will need to evolve into something more serious or a lower percentage of Nebbiolo.

Score: 89/-

The 2008 Long Road Shiraz, the Jimmy Watson winner, has very appealing red and black cherry flavours. It is an opulent wine, with a fair bit of spice, as you would expect, and a good tannin structure. The wine is elegant and will benefit from 3 to 5 years cellaring. This is a good example of Hilltops Shiraz, not dissimilar to the Collector from the Canberra district, which also won a lot of accolades.

Score: 94/+

Overall, the reds impressed more than the whites. The winemaking is very good, although the winemaker is only 32 years old. The issue is fruit quality. The white wines did not quite measure up in this area, but the reds were very interesting.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Latest poll

It is great to see good participation. It is not so hard, is it? A good spread of votes, too. But you need to break the tie. Not long to go! Please do it!

Glenguin School House Block

Rather than going to the rip off event which showcases NSW wines at Hyde Park today, where you pay $5 per tasting(!) glass for wines which mostly cost between $20 - $25 per bottle, I had my fill of NSW wine last night with the 2004 Glenguin School House Block Shiraz.

You don't find classic Hunter Shiraz all that easily any more. Brokenwood and Thomas mixes the Hunter and McLaren Vale a lot, others have slipped in quality. However, this is an attractive Hunter. It tastes of mulberry and has earthy undertones. The wine has good length and velvety tannins, maybe lacking a little bit in mouthfeel.

Hunter Valley Shiraz has this unique softness, and if well made, can last a lifetime. It is a pity that many influential Australian wine scribes have such a Victoria centric viewpoint. For example, Glenguin and Mereea Park, two leading Hunter producers, are not even mentioned in Jeremy Oliver's wine guide.

Score: 93/++

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spinifex 2008 Releases

Peter Schell, the man who is Spinifex, is alleged to have said he would kill himself if he ever made a typical Barossa Shiraz. He likes to have less ripe vines, with a lot of vitality and varietal expression. In a blind tasting, you would never pick his wines as Barossan. When I tasted some of the new releases in barrel last year, I thought he may have gone too far. The grape picking was even earlier than in previous years, and acidity quite high.

However, as finished product, the wines scrape up pretty well. Let us forget about the token white wine, the Lola, and move straight to the reds.

The 2009 Spinifex Papillon is a fairly forward wine, based on Grenache. It is fruity, but has some savoury undertones. Simple, but well made.

Score: 90/+

The 2008 Spinifex Esprit, a GSM, is more serious. The Shiraz provides more depth and body. It is a lively wine, however, the finish is a bit harsher than in previous years.

Score: 91/0

The 2008 Spinifex Taureau is based on Tempranillo, blended with three other varieties. The flavour of this wine is quite interesting. The fruit is mainly redcurrant, but the taste is predominantly herbal and the finish of this light to medium bodied wine quite acidic. This wine needs a bit of time, but will be a good food wine.

Score: 91/+

The 2008 Spinifex Bete Noir is a new wine, a straight Shiraz. How did Peter manage not to blend? This wine is dark in colour, with blackcurrant and black cherry flavours. The wine shows more fruit than the other wines, but is neither big nor sweet, with a long acidic finish. A very varietal expression of Shiraz.

Score: 93/+

The 2008 Spinifex La Maline is the former Shiraz/Viognier. The fruit is more concentrated with lifted aromas and a similar finish to the last wine. I can't help it, but I don't think that these lifted aromas suit Shiraz all that well, in particular if the wine is lively anyhow.

Score: 91/-

The 2008 Spinifex Indigene is based on Mataro and Shiraz. A little bit of Grenache was added this year. The Mataro strength changes the flavour profile to more redcurrant fruit. This wine is the biggest of all (this does not mean it is big by Barossa standards), it shows more ripeness and a weightier finish.

Score: 93/+

The stable of mainly Rhone variety based wines is ever expanding. In this way, he is similar to Torbreck. But in the winemaking, the two could not be further apart. With Spinifex the emphasis is on liveliness, varietal expression and food friendliness. He has added a different perspective to Barossa winemaking and that is great. I think he needs to watch not to get too obsessed with sourcing fruit from marginal vineyards and picking it too early.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Henschke Mt. Edelstone

For a special celebration, I have been drinking, from the golden early 90s of this wine, the 1993 Henschke Mt. Edelstone. This has to be one of the great Australian wines ever. This vintage does not get much of a rating in general, but there is everything right in this wine.

The fruit is complex, with raspberries and black cherry flavours dominating. There is mocca and toffee and savoury flavours as well. The oak is seamless, but providing a great backbone after 17 years, as do the velvety tannins. This is a full bodied wine, but you can drink it easily. It has great harmony and a smooth, long finish.

A friend of mine has a fair bit of this stashed away, therefore there is not much around. If you find this wine, take your chance. It may well be one of your best drinking experiences ever.

This wine is good to drink now, but will last another five years at least, if cellared well.

No wonder this wine is in a leading position in my current poll, but we need to break the tie. I will bring the close forward by a few days, please vote if you haven't done so already.

Score: 98/+++

Monday, March 8, 2010

Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz

The Meshach is Grant Burge's flagship wine. I overlooked to include it in the current poll, but I doubt it would have been better than mid-field.

Yesterday I had the 1998 Grant Burge Meshach. The wine is very ripe and somewhat sweet, although it is starting to lose some fruit flavours and its richness. The wine is quite aromatic, as you would expect from the Lyndoch area and finishes with soft tannins. It is probably slightly past its peak, so should be drunk now.

Gunderloch Riesling Kabinett

It was interesting to compare another aged white wine with the Audrey Wilkinson I had the other day.

Gunderloch is well known for its world class Trockenbeerenauslese. In fact one of their 100 pointers provided me with one of maybe 5 drinking experiences where I can still 'taste the wine' in my memory. Yesterday, however, I had the 2001 Gunderloch Riesling Kabinett, which is their entry level wine.

What a contrast to the Wilkinson this was. The Gunderloch wine is smooth, tasting of apricot and honey, still quite fruity, but savoury characteristics as well. The wine has a bit of sweetness, never a Grossett, but good length and a fairly dry finish. It goes very well with Asian food. This is not my style of wine, but well made.

Score: 92/-

Friday, March 5, 2010

Audrey Wilkinson tasting

THESE WINES ARE ALL OVERPRICED! Just because you have a long history does not mean you produce great wine.

The Audrey Wilkinson wines are becoming more prominent in Sydney again. The 2009 Ridge Reserve Semillon was very pleasant, with good citrus fruit and balanced acidity, but why would you pay $35/bottle, if you can buy a Meerea Park, Tulloch or Braemore for less than $30? This was the first, and also the best wine.

The 2001 Museum Reserve Semillon showed a still remarkable fresh colour, but the taste was quite dull, with chemical flavours dominating instead of the honeyed flavours a well made Semillon should show at this point.

The 2006 Reserve Chardonnay was not as buttery as some from the Hunter, but the palate was still broad and somewhat one-dimensional.

Finally, the 2007 Lake Reserve Shiraz. This is a relatively simple, sweet Shiraz, which shows some of the velvety characteristics of a Hunter Shiraz, but $60 per bottle?

I would have given the 2009 Semillon 90 points while young, but the others would have achieved a maximum of 85.

Latest poll

There is some interesting voting, thank you for that. I was expecting quite a spread, as the listed wines are all good, but with quite different flavour and structure profiles. If you have not yet voted, give your favorite a tick. I would like to see the numbers go up some more. Thanks.

Penfolds New Bin Releases

One of the advantages of being a truly independent reviewer is that I have no trouble being negative when required. This does not happen often, because I review mainly wines from my cellar most of which I have tried before I bought them. But I also review some tastings. So here goes...

If you like to drink trees, go for the new bin releases from Penfolds! These are mainly 2007 wines from a challenging vintage. While most wineries have toned down their oak treatment in recent years, Penfolds have stuck to it if not increased it. My feeling, though, is that the poor 2007 fruit set made the oak stand out more.

I had the opportunity to taste these wines at least after they had been double decanted and opened for a few hours. The poor souls who tried them at some retailers who just pulled the cork! Anyway, the 2008 Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz, the 2007 Bin 407 Cabernet and the 2007 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz are all disappointing. The argument is that they are made for cellaring and they will come around. I don't think the fruit is good enough, and the oak will continue to dull the wines. I thought the Bin 389 was particularly disappointing. The 2007 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz also had a lot of oak, but there is some solid Barossa plum fruit underneath.

I will stay away from these wines and would not have scored them anywhere near 90 points.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Torbreck The Factor Shiraz

The Factor is Torbreck's biggest and most concentrated wine. Last night I had the 2001 Torbreck The Factor. This wine is not only concentrated, but really dense - like a steak. The wine is very ripe, but not too high in alcohol (14%), certainly not hot. The 2001 does not have the complexity and nuances which I believe some other years have. The good news is the wine is still very much alive despite its ripeness.

This is a style which would not please everybody. You would probably only drink a glass or two, and probably after dinner, as opposed to with food.

I would have liked to include this wine in my poll. My guess would have been it would have ended up in the middle of the pack. I could not include it, because it is over $100/bottle. As such it is overpriced.

Score: 93/0