Saturday, June 30, 2018

Casa Fresci Ragazzi Nebbiolo

Casa Fresci is one of the leading Nebbiolo producers in Australia. The 2013 Casa Fresci Ragazzi Nebbiolo is a good example of its style.

This wine delivers a good expression of the typicality of Nebbiolo. This wine shows a bit more open fruit, and the tannins are less severe than its Italian counterparts. Yet the tannins are certainly there, and they are dry and firm. This wine was very approachable when young and will not last as long as good Italian Barolo, but at five years of age it is still lively and fresh.

Sour cherry is the dominant fruit flavour. This Nebbiolo is not super complex, but quite elegant. It offers an attractive mouthfeel from beginning to end. It is a pleasure to drink and very affordable.

Score: 93/+++ 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Australia vs. France Shiraz

Australia narrowly lost the soccer match, but it narrowly won this Shiraz comparison. Here are the wines by country and order of score:

2016 Giaconda Warner Shiraz: ripe plum fruit, not caked, depth and elegance, balanced, dry finish (95 pts)

2016 Bests Bin O Shiraz: lush, pretty and elegant, mixed berry fruit, some spice, medium weight (93 pts)

2015 Yeringberg Shiraz: blueberry and cherry, elegant and balanced, great structure, the lifted Viognier character detracts from the beautiful Shiraz fruit (93 pts)

2016 SC Pannell Adelaide Hills Syrah: superbly pretty blue fruits, soft, vibrant (92 pts)

2014 Craiglee Shiraz: blue fruit, some eucalypt, licorice, quite fruity, smooth finish (91 pts)

The French wines were from the Northern Rhone at more or less the same price points.

2015 Ogier Cote Rotie Village: dark fruit, licorice, energetic, good balance, firm finish (94 pts)

2015 Yann Chave Crozes Hermitage La Rouvre: well rounded, pretty, a bit fruity, straightforward finish (92 pts)

2015 Ogier La Rosine Syrah: balanced blackberry fruit and olive and smoky savoury notes, firm tannins (92 pts)

2015 Pierre Gaillard St Joseph: quite big, blue fruited, very spicy, very Victorian (91 pts)

2016 Maxime Graillot Domaine Des Lises Crozes Hermitage: good fruit and energy, but quite slim with a flat mouthfeel, smooth finish (90 pts)

There was as much difference between the Australian Shirazes as between the Australian and French wines.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Frescobaldi CastelGiocondo Brunello

The 2010 Frescobaldi CastelGiocondo Brunello has the appealing mix of black cherry, mocca and earth, typical of Brunello. However, the mouthfeel is a bit flat and the acidity level is too high in comparison to fruit and tannins (and I had it with Italian food). This is a somewhat disappointing effort for the esteemed 2010 vintage of Montalcino.

Score: 90/-

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Domaine Buisson-Battault

Meursault is one of the most famous and prestigious regions for Chardonnay in the world. Interestingly, this subregion of Burgundy does not include any grand cru vineyards; however, there are a number of 1er cru vineyards, as shown on the map below.The Chardonnays of Meursault are known for being big, sometimes buttery, and built predominantly with new oak. As such, they are geared to the American palate and Robert Parker reviews. Does this reflect the terroir, which the Burgundians are so obsessed about? It is questionable, given the wines from Puligny-Montrachet are totally different and not far away.

The wines of Domaine Buisson-Battault are made in a more traditional way, with only 20% new oak applied. They are not the most fashionable nor the most expensive, and I was looking forward to taste four of the wines from the warm 2015 vintage.

The 2015 Buisson-Battault Meursault Vielles Vignes is quite a light wine, in the apple spectrum, a bit juicy and not much drive. Having said this, the dry extract lingers attractively on the palate (90 pts). The 1er Cru Porusots (see map) has much more depth and fruit concentration. It is also in the apple spectrum. The wine is more complex with its toasty flavours and fleshiness. The finish is smooth (94 pts). The 1er Cru Gouttes dÓr is broader, with less definition and the fruit is more exotic (peach) (91 pts). The 1er Cru Genevrieres comes from a rockier vineyard, and this translates into the wine. It is fresh, not a big wine, with apple and pear flavours, and good energy. There is minerality and a sour edge on the finish (94 pts).

This tasting raises as many questions as it answers. The wines are much lighter and fresher than the vintage and location would suggest. The 1er cru wines are all different, but how well do they reflect the terroir? I think the Genevrieres does - not sure about the others. In all cases, the winemaker influence is significant.   

Monday, June 11, 2018

1990 Penfolds Grange - 100 points

Most Shiraz is best drunk at 7 years of age. The 1990 Penfolds Grange was great at 5 years, and won the Wine Spectator wine of the year. It was even better at 15 years, when most fine wine starts to deteriorate. I opened a bottle yesterday, and at 28 ears of age, it is even better now.

When the wine arrived on my table, in a decanter, the bouquet was overwhelming. Complex flavours of ripe squashed black fruits emanated from the decanter. The nose was incredibly intense, yet still very lively. This wine, which by the way had a very high shoulder in the bottle, has not yet reached its peak.

The layers and layers of fruit explode on the palate. This wine has power, but also finesse. A lot has been written about its flavours. I cannot add to it. What I should say is that the wine is as impactful on the front-, mid-, and back-palate, and the finish lasts and lasts. It is one of a handful of wines the taste of which I will remember for years to come.

Grange has its detractors and not everybody likes this style, but you have to be in awe of the uniqueness of this wine.

Score: 100/+++    

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Caillard Mataro

Andrew Caillard is a man of many talents: reviewer of fine wines, auctioneer, Master of Wine. He also paints the colourful labels for his side project, wines from the Barossa Valley.
Mataro in the Barossa is mainly used as a component of the GSM wines, but this 2012 Caillard Mataro is 100% Mataro or Mourvedre. The Mataro grape tends to be quite tannic, and is used as a counter-point in its savoury and earthy character to the often jammy Shiraz.

This wine is full-bodied, with ripe plum and cassis flavours. This is a big, concentrated wine, quite smooth and lush on the front palate with good energy; more savoury on the back palate. The finish is a bit thick and not very differentiated - the problem with this grape variety, because it needs to fully ripen. Having said this, the wine is well made and a good example of Mataro.

Score: 92/+

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Red Wine Bargain Of The Year

The bargain of the year is from Burgundy? It is from 2015? Yes, it is. It is not only a vintage with stratospheric prices for exceptional wines. This exceptional vintage has allowed some producers to focus on high quality grapes and still generate higher volume. Domaine Chanson is owned by Bollinger and this is what they do very well.

The 2015 Domaine Chanson Le Bourgogne Pinot Noir includes grapes from across Burgundy. The colour of the wine is bright red with alluring rose petals on the nose. Intense red cherry flavours hit the palate with great purity and charm. This is an elegant wine which delivers a great mouthfeel and drive to the back palate. The wine has a strong backbone of acidity and firm tannins kick in on the dry and savoury finish. This is a wine of beauty and great drinkability. And the price? A$30 per bottle. You can enjoy this wine now or cellar for 5 years.

Score: 94/+++

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Another Medal

You sometimes wonder who the people are who can reward blogs and award medals. But in any case, my blog has been included in a list of Australia's top 10. Here is the list