Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chateau Labarde

2009 and 2010 are the years, when it is really worth while to try cheaper Bordeaux wines. The 2009 Chateau Labarde is such an example. I have never heard of this Chateau, but was pleasantly surprised. The wine is not complex, but shows pretty fruit and enough weight to fill the mouth with its redcurrant, plum and raspberry flavours. The wine is from the Haut-Medoc, bordering the Margeaux district. It consists of 61% Merlot and 39% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Merlot features clearly shine through here. The wine is dominated by its fruit flavours, but it is not sweet. The finish is neither long nor tannic.

This wine is a pleasant food wine. I cannot score it overly high, as the structure is basic, but on a personal level, it gave me a lot of enjoyment.

Score: 88/++

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Yealands Estate Gruener Veltiner

This 2012 Yealands Estate Gruener Veltiner is a curious wine. Yes, there are some pear flavours, but they are dominated by the grassy flavours typical for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is quite bland, I am missing the spices normally shown by this variety. The wine is clean and fresh, but not very varietal.

Score: 85/-

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kalleske Clarry's

This GSM is always a good value wine. The 2009 Kalleske Clarry's is of high quality. This blend is dominated by Grenache (55%) and Shiraz (38%), all coming from Estate fruit. Mulberry, raspberry and plum flavours dominate on the palate. The fruit shows depth and intensity and is balanced by savoury characteristics. No lolly wine, this one. The acidity freshens the quite dense and alcoholic fruit leading to a satisfying finish. The wine may be too big for some, but it is quite balanced. I would not keep it for long, though,

Score: 91/++

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Honestly, have you ever had your socks blown off by a Tempranillo? - Me neither. Below is an assessment of a few Spanish ones currently available in Australia, with an Australian one thrown in.

The 2010 Artadi Rioja Alvesa is not unattractive. This medium bodied wine is fresh and vibrant. It tastes of black cherry and has balanced acidity on the finish (90 points).

The 2011 Mt. Majura Tempranillo from the Canberra area has a flatter mouthfeel and is quite simple. There are earthy flavours and the acidity is quite noticable (87 points).

The 2009 Pesquera Tinto from Ribera del Duero is quite different. This wine is based on old vines, and it exhibits a rich and rustic feel. There are earthy characters and fine tannins leading to a long finish (90 points).

The 2009 Cillar de Silos Estate Tempranillo, also from Ribera del Duero, is more modern. The wine is elegant and fairly light, but has good length on the palate (89 points).

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Henschke New Ultra Premium Releases

It is not often that you see a better trio of new releases than this. And I am making sure in this assessment that I am not influenced by the fact that they were presented at a dinner at Quay Restaurant or that I won a rare magnum of Tappa Pass Shiraz (pictured).

But before I get to this, I would like to report on the 2012 Henschke Croft Chardonnay. The grapes for this wine come from the Henschke's Lenswood Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills. Not many people know that these grapes are the oldest Chardonnay grapes in the Adelaide Hills, planted in the early 80s. The wine is wild yeast fermented and quite full flavoured. It is a clean and elegant wine with a lot of complexity, showing pear and white nectarine, as well as some nutty flavours. There is good acidity on the silky finish. This is a classy wine - a real surprise.

Score: 93/++

Then on to the main game. The 2009 Henschke Mount Edelstone jumps out of the glass with a rich bouquet of sage and black pepper spice. There are many descriptions of this wine, so what is special? The palate is fine, with layers of plum, blackberry and peppers, yet strong at the same time. I like a wine with paradox. The finish is long, on the base of silky tannins. The best ever?

Score: 96/+++

The 2009 Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon is 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc and 6% Merlot.  The Cabernet Sauvignon clearly dominates. The complex palate oozes blackberries, violets and cigar box flavours. The outstanding feature? The extremely dry and dusty tannins underlying a ripe fruit intensity. This wine cries out for meat protein.

Score: 96/+++

Hill of Grace reminds me of Morocco, every time - the Grand Place in Marrakesh. It is the exotic spices in this wine.The 2008 Henschke Hill of Grace is a terrific example of this. No other wine in Australia has this scent and flavour - a real treasure. If we would loose these 150 year old vines, we would have to wait 150 years before we get them back. Think about that. Different soil structures in this vineyard contribute to the complexity of this wine. The paradox of this wine: This wine feels lighter on the palate than the Mount Edelstone, yet it is more intense. The tannins are ripe, yet soft and fine. Everything comes together in a balanced, elegant finish.  One of the most exciting Australian wines I have ever tasted.

Score: 98/+++

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Most Popular Posts Over Last 13 Months

As my blog is approaching 50,000 page views, I thought I might list the most popular posts over the past year. It might surprise you.

1) Glaetzer-Dixon Shiraz, Jimmy Watson winner
2) Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon
3) Superstar Shiraz Tasting
4) How long to age Australian wine
5) Cullen vs. Moss Wood
6) French Value Wines
7) Craggy Range Le Sol
8) Rockford Cabernet Sauvignon
9) Felton Road Pinot Noir
10) Clonakilla New Releases

This is not a bad list, I think. It shows you have an interest in high quality wines. Cabernet is as present as Shiraz, and two New Zealanders got onto the list. Most wines in this list are expensive, but you were also interested in French value. No white wine made it, but Leeuwin Chardonnay came close.

I am off to a Henschke dinner tonight, where Hill of Grace will be poured. The resulting post might make the list in the future, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Big (Slightly Modified) Barossa

I  tasted four Shiraz wines from the northern areas of the Barossa, where red brown earth reigns supreme. There is no doubt that ripeness and alcohol levels have been paired back a little in recent years, but this has not changed the characteristic flavour and structure profile of these wines.

The 2010 Kaesler Old Vine Shiraz is an attractive wine. Blackberry fruit dominates, the wine is very smooth and it finishes with fine tannins.

Score: 94/++

The 2010 First Drop Fat of the Land Ebenezer wine is a little bolder. Fruit flavours are similar, but there is more complexity on the palate. The tannins are more muscular and there is quite a lot of oak on the palate. This wine needs time.

Score: 93/+

The 2009 Peter Lehmann 1885 Vineyard Shiraz is only made in special years. This wine sits between the last two in terms of body weight. It has slightly minty flavours. The tannins are finely grained, but the wine lacks some mouthfeel expected of such a wine. The finish is long.

Score: 92/0

The 2010 Hentley Farm The Beast is full bodied, showing rich black and red fruit. This wine has the best colour of these four, intense yet vibrant. The wine has a strong structure pointing to a long life. The tannins are ripe and show some softness.

Score: 94/++

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Thousand Candles (sneak pre-release preview)

Thousand Candles is a large new project in the Yarra Valley. It created quite a storm as a result of the amount of  (Chinese) money put into the venture, the very dense planting, the lavish opening last year, and the $100 per bottle price for a new and unproven release. The talented William Downie is the winemaker. Last year's first wine was a 2011 Shiraz. It received mixed reviews at best: a strange choice to open with given the price point. I did not try this wine.

However, I had the opportunity to taste the first offering this year, the 2012 Thousand Candles Pinot Noir. The wine is not yet released. The colour is purple, not overly bright. The flavour on the front palate is black cherry, but the overall profile is of a savoury wine. The wine lacks fruit density and tastes a bit metallic. On the other hand, it has a long expanding finish.

Overall, I was disappointed. Not only does the wine not justify its price, but it would not be in my front row of $30-40 per bottle Pinots.

Score: 88/--

PS: Has anyone counted the number of candles on the label? Are there 1000?