Sunday, June 30, 2019

Woodlands 'Alex' Cabernet Sauvignon

Woodlands is a good producer, and its vineyards sit on prime terroir in Margaret River. I have previously pronounced it as the worst developer of brands and labels in Australia, but I will not dwell on it this time.

The 2011 Woodlands 'Alex' Cabernet Sauvignon is a beautiful wine. It has a delicious core of black and blue fruits. The mouthfeel experiences a battle between this pure fruit and its dry tannins. The overall impression is one of elegance and balance which carries on to the fresh (still!) finish.

Score: 95/+++

Thursday, June 27, 2019

E. Pira Barolo Cannubi Vineyard

The third wine in this series of full-bodied reds is the 2008 E. Pira Chiara Boschis Barolo Cannubi from arguably Piedmont's most famous vineyard. This is a balanced wine, but totally different from the previous two - the result of a different variety (Nebbiolo) and terroir.


The fruit is largely red cherry, simpler on the palate perhaps than is the case with the previous two wines, but on the nose, rose petals and complex aromatics create an enticing aroma. The tannins are strong, but well rounded, and the wine finishes very dry.

This wine needs protein. I paired it with lamb sausage, which was perfect. The wine drinks very well now, but will remain at this level, maybe increase some savoury notes, over the next 5+ years. 

Score: 95/+++

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Rockford Basket Press

If you are asked to name a wine which represents everything that is good about Barossa Shiraz, many would mention Rockford Basket Press. The 2010 is an excellent example.

This is a full-bodied wine. Blackberry, plum, mulberry and mocca flavours fill the mouth. The complexity of flavours is well balanced by smartly applied oak. The wine has energy despite its ripeness. The tannins are surprisingly fine, and really reveal themselves only on the long finish.

How would this wine compare with the Pontet-Canet I reviewed a few days ago? Both great wines, but I would give the Basket Press a slight edge. This is a more generous wine, without feeling too big.

Score: 96/+++

Friday, June 21, 2019

Chateau Pontet-Canet

The 2005 Chateau Pontet-Canet is as full-bodied as they come from Bordeaux. It is only now coming into its own. I last reviewed this wine in 2011, when I said it was too early to drink. I now feel it has entered its maturing phase and is starting to drink well. Yes, you have to be patient with good Bordeaux and need a cellar.

Blackcurrant, plum and cassis flavours deliver a big mouthfeel. Elegance is emerging from under its oak frame. There is no gap on the mid-palate (as many Cabernets have). Firm tannins deliver a solid structure, and the finish is long.

This wine shows many aspects of new world wine. It would have been out of place in Bordeaux in the last century, but warmer vintages and changed winemaking have blurred the boundary, so obvious 20-30 years ago.

If the classification was redone today, this biodynamic estate would at least be 2nd growth. Prices tend to reflect this, but this wine is still a bargain compared with the 1st growth wines.

Score: 95/++ 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The World Of Sake


When in Japan, you are likely to drink sake. Yet most people have no clue what to order and how to distinguish different types. I participated in a structured tasting of the Kyoto Insider Sake Experience It was an excellent introduction. You learn about the different dimensions, for example the importance of water (20 litres are needed for 1kg of rice), the different grains of rice, different polishing levels, added alcohol or not, different sweetness and different acidity. There are now also nonpasteurised and non diluted sakes, a bit similar to natural wines. These cannot easily be exported, as they need to be fresh and chilled. The presentation given was clear and well structured.

There are some surprises. For example, less polished rice does not lead to inferior sake. It just means there are more proteins and minerals in the drink, whereas the more polished ones are of pure starch, leading to more delicate and fruity sake, which the Japanese prefer. I liked the less polished sakes, the  Junmais, for their rice taste and complexity. So did my host.

The different sakes are tasted on their own, and then with food. The differences are striking and the pairings illuminating.

This was an excellent experience, which I can highly recommend. I will now order sake in a much more informed way.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Primaterra Primitivo

The 2017 Primaterra Primitivo (Zinfandel for you American folks) is from Puglia, Primitivo’s birthplace, I think. This is a full-bodied wine, yet easy drinking, not heavy. The flavours are of plum and black cherry, lifted by firm acidity. The wine has a sweet core, and licorice and savoury notes on the back palate. It is pleasant to drink, with a straightforward finish.

This wine is less bold and in your face than many American Zinfandels and incredibly good value.

Score: 89/++