Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kooyong Ferrous Pinot Noir

I would not attempt to keep an Aussie Pinot Noir for 7 to 8 years from too many producers, but I thought Kooyong's style might deliver a good outcome for a mature Pinot Noir.

The 2003 Kooyong Ferrous Pinot Noir, from a single block, starts off with black cherry fruit, which is quickly overtaken by earthy flavours and strong minerality. The 'Ferrous' name seems very appropriate. The wine finishes fairly long with dry tannins. This is a seriously savoury wine.

This Pinot Noir has held up fairly well, but there is not enough happening to make it a really exciting wine.

Score: 92/+

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Penfolds RWT Shiraz

I wanted a wine drinking treat last night, and it worked. I had the 1998 Penfolds RWT Shiraz. In contrast to other Penfolds wines, this wine has only fruit from the Barossa, and it is fashioned in French oak.

The fruit is quite concentrated and dense, tasting of blackberry and plum. There are also quite strong espresso and mocca flavours, whereas the oak is very much in the background. Although this is a big wine, it has an elegant texture. There are lighter blueberry flavours on the finish. The wine has great length and is not sweet, largely due to the firm, but quite finely-grained dry tannins.

This RWT is a serious, almost perfect Shiraz. How does it compare with Grange? It does not have quite the complexity of flavours and perhaps not quite the same mouthfeel, but on the other hand is very balanced and more elegant. I liked this a lot.

The wine is drinking very well at 12 years and will go quite a bit longer. I do not expect any improvement from here, though.

Score: 97/+++

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Orlando St. Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon

The St. Hugo is a bit of an unsung hero these days. You certainly would not call a wine St. Hugo today, but my experience yesterday was very satisfying. I had the 2001 Orlando St. Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wine displays the hallmarks of Cabernet and of the Terra Rossa. It has an excellent tannin structure, and a blackcurrant fruit core which carries easily across the mid palate and delivers good balance on the finish. The wine may not be elegant enough to excel on its own, but is a great accompaniment to any serious meat dish.

With St. Hugo you know what you get, and the 2001 is drinking at its peak now. I really enjoyed it.

Score: 92/++

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Kalleske Rosina

No doubt, Kalleske owns one of the great vineyard complexes in Australia. The Grenache fruit in this 2009 Kalleske Rosina Rose is pure and very tasty. There is quite a lot to like in this wine, for example the low alcohol level of 12.5%. This makes it a nice drink for summer (if we had one) lunch.

My problem with it is that it is a little sweet. This is hard to avoid with Grenache unless the grapes are picked really early like Spinifex does. A blend would probably have added some complexity and more savoury characteristics to this wine, which otherwise is well made.

Score: 89/+

Yering Station Shiraz/Viognier Reserve

Yering Station was one of the first to fashion this blend. This 2003 Yering Station Shiraz/Viognier Reserve should be perfect drinking now. However, it comes from a time when 'Reserve' often meant very ripe fruit. And so it is in this case. The Viognier does the heavy lifting, but the Shiraz fruit is just dead: too ripe, too sweet. As a result, the wine is not well integrated and balanced and the taste not very exciting.

Score: 86/--

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Felton Road Pinot Noir

I have been drinking Felton Road for a number of years. The wines I had over the last couple of days are quite rare, therefore there is not much point reviewing them in detail, but a couple of general points may be of interest.

The first wine I had was the 2004 Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir. The Block 5 is generally regarded as the pinnacle of the Felton Road stable. It is the darkest, most concentrated of their Pinots. But is this what Pinot is about? This wine has lost a lot of its fruit, but there is some residual sweetness amongst the now dominating secondary characteristics. You can taste the silky tannins, but the finish is not very long - an overcooked Pinot Noir, in my opinion (92 points).

In contrast, the 2004 Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir still has a vibrant colour. The wine is not heavy, but rather ethereal. It tastes of fresh strawberries, with some forest floor underneath, and the wine has a long aftertaste, supported by understated acidity. This is a classic Pinot profile (94 points).

As I have found on other occasions, my preferred Felton Road Pinot Noir is Block 3.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cool Climate Shiraz

A few weeks ago, I participated in a tasting of a number of Shirazes, which I think is worth reporting on. Two Canberra Shirazes were pitted against two from Victoria.

Shiraz from Canberra seems to be the flavour of the month, stemming from the high quality and success of the Clonakilla Shiraz/Viognier. However, in this tasting, the Victorian wines proved superior. This was not only my view.

The Canberra wines were the 2008 Tyrrell's Canberra Shiraz and the 2009 Collector Marked Tree Red. My notes on the Tyrell's are not detailed, but it was the weakest wine of the four which were compared (90 points). The Collector wine is highly acclaimed and rewarded. It tastes of blood plum and spice and has nice balance and acidity. However, I found it lacked some backbone on the finish (92 points). This is a wine which delivers good value for money, but it would struggle against wines twice the price, in my view.

The 2009 Giaconda McClay Road Shiraz was most intriguing. Giaconda declassified the single-vineyard Shirazes of this year and put all the fruit into this second tier label. The wine tastes of plum, but very fresh, silky throughout, and with very fine spices. It has good balance and a dry finish. I was impressed by the complexity of flavours and the texture of this wine (94 points).

The other Victorian wine was the 2007 Mt. Langi Ghiran Shiraz. This wine has gone from strength to strength lately, and the 2007 is no exception. It has cool climate freshness, and the sweet fruit is accompanied by white pepper and some eucalypt flavours. A very smooth wine (94 points).

All these wines are obviously very young, but they are modern wines which could be enjoyed already. I think the Giaconda will improve with time and be the most interesting in a few years.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir

How much does the expectation of drinking a particular wine creep into its evaluation, either as a reinforcement (this cannot be bad) or as a hurdle to overcome (this should be brilliant)? I was thinking this, as I was drinking the 2007 Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir to see out the old year.

This wine shot to the top of Australian Pinot Noirs by reputation in just a few years. The wine I was having was fine, but not exceptional. It tasted somewhat fruity and did not have the linear purity I was expecting. The wine was not bad, and it was certainly not a fruit bomb, but it lacked overall structure. There was some silkiness in the tannins, which provided a pleasant finish, but I was disappointed with what is Bindi's top wine, even taking account of the not so great 2007 vintage.

Score: 91/0