Sunday, October 30, 2016

Salomon Undhof Riesling

The world of Riesling is incredibly varied and rich: from dry to sweet, from lean to full-bodied and so on. Austria produces some outstanding examples, and they are quite unique.

Today I am tasting the 2013 Salomon Undhof  Kögl Riesling. The vineyard is located in the Krems region, one of the best in Austria. The vines are grown on southern slopes, consisting of thin chalk layers above crystalline schist.

This is quite a full-flavoured wine, but it is never fruity. Ripe citrus flavours dominate. The wine is quite complex on the palate, with peach, passionfruit, and green olive notes adding to the picture. The mouthfeel is very satisfying, based on the nicely balanced structure. The acidity is non-intrusive, but builds a strong backbone to the wine. Minerality comes through on the dry and lasting finish.

Score: 94/+++

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Toolangi Emanai

What to do with Viognier? Blending it with Shiraz does not require many grapes, as anything over 5% would dominate the aroma and change Shiraz too much. Bottling it on its own? This is most certainly commercial disaster.

The owners of Toolangi have come up with an interesting idea. The 2015 Toolangi Emanai is a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier, co-fermented. The fruit comes from the Dixon Creek vineyard in the Yarra Valley. The Chardonnay is low cropped and hand harvested. The result is a high quality quaffer. The Viognier adds a bit of an exotic flavour to the Chardonnay. The wine is clean and crisp, with green apple, pear flavours and mild spices. This is a dry wine, with a remarkable mouthfeel for the price. The finish is a bit broad, but this is a bit nitpicking for a wine below $20 per bottle.

I highly recommend this for everyday drinking.

Score: 90/+++

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir

There are not many Pinot Noirs coming out of Western Australia. It has been suggested all remaining Pinot Noir grapes in Margaret River should be ripped out, as it is too hot. The Great Southern region has a different story, however. Here it is cooler, and it rains more, and there is some elevation.
The Mount Barrow vineyard is the highest vineyard in elevation at 380 meters altitude, and it is south facing - a very different proposition from Margaret River.

The 2009 Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir is medium-bodied. Raspberry and forest berry flavours dance on the palate. However, savoury notes of forest floor dominate this smooth and soft wine. This wine has a lovely texture, a good line, and silky tannins, sliding along the tongue beautifully.

Score: 95/+++ 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tscharke 'The Master' Montepulciano

Montepulciano is a confusing word. It refers on the one hand to the Montepulciano sub-region of Tuscany, on the other to a red grape variety, mainly grown south of Tuscany. In the Barossa Valley, a number of winemakers have become concerned about the impact of climate change and rising temperatures, on the quality of Shiraz and Grenache. Some have started to look for varieties which supposedly can stand the heat better. Tempranillo and Montepulciano are two front runners.

Damien Tscharke pursues a two-pronged strategy with the release of traditional Rhône varieties on the one hand, and alternative varieties on the other. I am drinking the 2009 Tscharke 'The Master' Montepulciano. The fruit is nice, but a bit one-dimensional. The wine is quite lean on the finish, and a bit alcoholic (15%).

I am not sure this is the answer to higher temperatures in the Barossa, although one would have to be patient and think in long time frames. Another approach, though, surely, is to pick Shiraz earlier. This variety can ripen in shorter time.

Score: 89/0 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Spinifex Bête Noir Shiraz

It has been a long time between drinks, so to speak. Sorry about that.

Today, I am reviewing Spinifex's only 100% Shiraz. Peter Schell is the master blender of the Barossa, blending up to about 10 varieties into certain wines. He is reported to have once said: "Before I make a traditional Barossa Shiraz, I am going to shoot myself." No surprise than that his Shiraz is called 'Black Beast'. Should he shoot himself?

The 2009 Spinifex Bête Noir is a full-bodied wine, with very concentrated fruit, but there is also freshness in the wine. Plum and lifted blueberry flavours dominate. This wine has a big mouthfeel, yet it is elegant and smooth as well. The tannins are graceful and well integrated. The finish is pleasant, maybe not as precise as it could have been, with a whiff of alcohol coming through.

Should Peter Schell shoot himself? Well, you would not mistake this wine for a cool climate Shiraz. However, it has a vibrancy which the 'Big Barossa' often lacks. I think he just got away with it.

This is a profound wine in a modern style, which should please many.

Score: 95/+++