Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wendouree Label

This is the Wendouree label. No mention of alcohol level. There is no back label nor information around the cork seal. Other bottles look similar. Can anybody explain this? It should not be allowed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wendouree Shiraz/Mataro

Some people would love this 2002 Wendouree Shiraz/Mataro. I think it has enormous potential, but could have been better.

Wendouree is one of these iconic wineries, and as a result it seems to be beyond criticism. However, as an independent reviewer, I feel free to not be intimidated by that.

This wine shows both components very well. There is rich and deep plum fruit from the Shiraz, and there is redcurrant and tannin structure from the Mataro, some eucalypt, too. The two elements are not well integrated, though. They stand side by side. The wine seems a bit alcoholic, too. Curiously, there is no information about the alcohol level on the label. Is this legal?

The wine has quite a long finish and has mellowed somewhat, but the best years are yet to come. This could still turn into an outstanding wine, but I am not convinced it will achieve the seamless elegance I would like to see in a blended wine. To me, the winemaking is a bit rustic and, dare I say it, outdated?

Score: 93/0

Great wine/food combinations

The Easter weekend was a very hedonistic affair, I must admit. We experienced some wonderful wine and food combinations. I did not want to get too serious, therefore took no notes, and therefore no detailed wine descriptions:

Blue-eye cod and 2005 Giaconda Aeolia - the richness of the Roussane matched the food perfectly

Apple tart and 2002 Leeuwin Chardonnay - a (surprisingly) perfect match of flavours

Leg of lamb and 1998 Cullen Cabernet/Merlot and 2001 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon - an obvious match. Both Cabernets were brilliant

Following day: Cold leg of lamb and 2006 Mount Mary Pinot Noir - the savoury flavour of the Pinot Noir enriched the dish

Eye-fillet and 1998 Katnook Cabernet Sauvignon (Magnum) - again, an obvious match, wine still showed a lot of terra rossa flavours.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon

I like to drink mature wines because of their added complexity, but often in Australia, the experience is not so good, as maturing wines get out of balance. Your safest bet would be a Cabernet Sauvignon from WA.

Therefore I was confident to open this 2001 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon, under screwcap by the way. I was not disappointed. 2001 was a pretty good vintage at Margaret River, and this wine delivers a beautiful ripe and rich fruit set of blackcurrant and mulberry. The wine is fresh and very smooth and silky. All components are balanced elegantly and velvety tannins lead to a seamless finish.

The only slight flaw: the mouthfeel was a bit fruity. I would have liked a bit more tannin and acidity on the palate. This is only a minor complaint, though, and I will be looking forward to drinking the rest of my case over the next few years.

Score: 95/++

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Shiraz

A number of the larger companies in the Barossa are putting the toe in the water in relation to wines expressing terroir. There is the terroirs series by Chateau Tanunda, Yalumba has released single vineyard wines from different sub-regions, Turkey Flat has three of those in the works, and Peter Lehmann has released wines from Light Pass and Eden Valley.

Tonight, I opened a bottle of the 2006 Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Shiraz. The wine shows quite pure and pretty plum fruit, but elas! it is difficult to detect. The wine is dominated by lashings of American oak. It tastes like vanilla ice cream. Well, a bit warmer.

Showing the specifics of different sub-regions in the Barossa is a worth while exercise, but winemaking has to be very non-interventionist for it to work. This effort masks the specific flavour and texture attributes of the Eden Valley. Maybe 2006 was early days in this effort, but it needs to get a lot better.

Score: 85/--

Kooyong Haven Pinot Noir

I cannot say that I am too familiar with the differences and intricacies of the different single vinyeard wines of Kooyong, but I like to drink one occasionally.

This 2006 Kooyong Haven Pinot Noir shows quite a strong red/purple colour. The taste is of dark cherry and secondary flavours of forest floor. I like the purity of this wine as it moves down the palate. The wine is a little bit fleshy and soft for my liking, I would have preferred a bit more acidity, but it has a peacock fan finish of sorts and is a good example of a well made Pinot Noir.

This wine drinks well now, showing good complexity, and will continue to do so for 2-3 years.

Score: 93/+

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lawson's Dry Hills Gewuerztraminer

I like Gewuerztraminer with Thai food. My choice normally is a Pipers Brook or a Delatite. Choices are very limited. Tonight I ended up with a 2008 Lawson's Dry Hills Gewuertztraminer from Marlborough. Dry it was not. My wife said she would not put this wine in a cask. It was very broad and sweet. No cut through the coconut or curry at all. This wine should be avoided. I still ended up drinking a bit, so hopefully I will not have a headache tomorrow.

This review gives me a chance to use more of the scoring scale.

Score: 75/---

Paxton Thomas Block Chardonnay

It has probably been more than ten years since I have tried a Chardonnay from McLarenVale. They used to be big and buttery, the climate simply too hot.

Paxton has adopted a biodynamic approach in the vineyard, so I thought I give the 2009 Paxton Thomas Block Chardonnay a try. This is a bigger wine than from Australia's cool climate regions, but it is not a traditional McLaren Vale Chardonnay.

The fruit is mainly white peach, quite clean, a little broad and undifferentiated. Oak is very present, but not overpowering. Too much complexity cannot be expected at this mid 20s price point.

The wine is well made, a bit bigger than a Chablis drinker would want, but a pleasant 'winter' white.

Score: 88/0

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thomas Wines Kiss Shiraz

2003 was a great year for Hunter Valley Shiraz, although the recently reviewed Alexander Munro did not live up to that reputation. This 2003 Thomas Kiss Shiraz is a revelation, however. This is a full bodied wine, showing a lot of complexity and style.

This wine tastes of dark plum, but it also shows earthy characters and a bit of mint. The fruit has softened, and the wine has a great mouthfeel with long lingering flavours and velvety tannins. It is beautifully balanced and has a very long finish.

This Kiss Shiraz is a prime example of what Hunter Valley Shiraz can achieve when the stars align - one of the most interesting Shirazes I have drunk in a while and many years in front of it.

Score: 96/+++

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eden Road Long Road Shiraz

This wine creates quite a bit of interest, because the 2008 version won the Jimmy Watson Trophy last year - in the first vintage of Eden Road, and it is their second Shiraz label. A number of firsts here, for sure.

The winery proclaims the 2009 Eden Road Long Road Shiraz is an even better wine, as they would. It is actually quite a likable wine. This is quite a feminine Shiraz from the Canberra district, a little bit fruity, and with melting soft tannins and reasonable length. You would not call this wine profound, but one can detect good fruit and winemaking skills in this wine. It is easy on the tongue and will develop some complexity in the next 2-3 years.

Another plus: the winery has chosen not to increase prices as a result of the Jimmy Watson trophy in the previous year. Another first? It is excellent value at $20/bottle.

I tasted a number of their other wines, and they were all quite appealing - a winery to watch.

Score: 91/++

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay

Hmm. The tasting of the 2008 Art Series Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay was interesting. The wine generally impresses with complexity and purity of the fruit at the same time, and an intensity along the palate from beginning to end.

Leeuwin fashions its Chardonnay always with 100% new French oak. This wine is dominated by it at this time, more so than previous vintages. My take is that the fruit is not as strong and therefore is in the background. Maybe it will change relativity over time. Others in my tasting party thought the wine was well balanced.

Score: 93-95/+

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Caillard Mataro

Mataro is not bottled often as a straight grape variety, mostly because of its quite earthy flavours and strong tannins. It is interesting to see that Andrew Caillard, of Langton's Fine Wine Auctions fame, chose it as his first wine.

There is nothing else on the front label than 2008 Caillard Mataro, well except for one of Andrew's paintings, quite pretty. The wine shows a bright red colour. It has vibrant blackberry fruit, quite fragrant and elegant. On the mid palate, the wine is a little thin, but the tannins are fine and deliver a lasting finish. This is a good wine with food, but has a little too much overt fruit on a stand-alone basis.

Good to see something different coming from the Barossa.

Score: 91/++

Friday, April 1, 2011

Meerea Park Alexander Munro

When Rhys Eather appeared on the scene in the 1990s, he blew a fresh wind of quality ambition through the Hunter. It is interesting to see how his flagship wine, the Alexander Munro Shiraz shapes up after a number of years.

The 2003 Meerea Park Alexander Munro Shiraz is full bodied, with attractive raspberry and mulberry flavours, as well as quite developed earthy secondary characteristics. This wine was not made in the traditional Hunter style, but its fruit is bigger, riper and closer to the South Australian style. I find this a pity. The velvety tannins are there in the background, but overshadowed by stronger more assertive tannins. Why make a wine which is atypical to the area?

Best time to drink is now plus two years, maybe.

Score: 90/0