Thursday, November 28, 2019

By Farr Farrside Pinot Noir

The 2012 By Farr Farrside Pinot Noir at first blush has everything an excellent Pinot Noir should have; black cherry fruit, quite intense; an overall savoury character with forest floor notes; smooth tannins, and acidity which cuts through on the finish. However, if we were talking clothes, I would describe this wine as a onesie. It comes in one on the palate, lacking layers which can add so much to Pinot Noir. Still, this is a good wine.

Score: 93/+

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Three Cabernets, Three Continents

Three very good Cabernets from Australia, France and the US were tasted blind, in this order, as it turned out.

The 2012 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon showed intense blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, cedary notes and spice. It has great purity and elegance. There is sufficient acidity to drive the flavours to a long finish, rounded out by silky tannins. A very good wine, which will unfold its complexity over time (96 points).

The 2015 Chateau Pichon Longueville Lalande is perhaps a bit out of character, reflecting the warm Bordeaux vintage. The primary fruit flavours are similar to the Moss Wood, but the mouthfeel of the wine is totally different. This is a bigger wine, ripe and round. It is a little sweet on the finish. Most thought this was the Napa wine (94 points).

A wine enthusiast said: That’s a juvenile Pichon Lalande there!  I didn’t know it was legal to drink one that young. I enjoyed this.

The 2013 Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain was the wine of the night for everybody. Apart from the black fruit flavours, blueberry and lavender add interest. The highlight is how the wine is framed. The flavours are intense and ripe, yet tight at the same time. The firm tannins create a well integrated package. Another unexpected highlight is the lift on the very long finish (97 points).

Cabernet Sauvignon has lately been a bit neglected as a variety. This tasting showed this should not be the case, when well made. Hail the king of grapes!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz

The 2010 Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz is not a pleasant wine to drink. The blackberry and plum flavoured fruit has good intensity, but there is a harshness accompanying this fruit. The wine feels industrial, made without love and care. On the back palate, the harshness finally takes over. This is not a well balanced wine. In a good vintage like 2010, it should not be this way.

After being open for some time, the balance is shifting somewhat to a gentler overall mouthfeel. Therefore the range in my score.

Score: 86-89/- 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

A Range of Rhône

Rhône wines should really attract more interest in Australia, given the strong showing of Shiraz and Grenache in this country. Comparisons are interesting for many reasons; Grenache on its own is virtually not bottled in France, and the Shiraz styles vary in different Northern Rhône subregions. In a recent tasting, I could look at four quite different wines from the Rhône.

The 2014 Pierre Gaillard Clos de Cuminaille from St. Joseph has a fascinating flavour profile. This is a light and fresh wine, with red fruits, earth, leather, spice and herbs creating a lifted blend, almost like a Pinot Noir. It has length, too. The only disappointment after such a nice taste is the lack of tannins (94 points).

Quite different was the second wine, a 2016 Domaine Santa Duc Habemus Papam Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This is a much bigger wine with dark fruits on the palate and a lush texture. The tannins are firm, and the slightly confected finish gives the Grenache component, otherwise not so obvious, away (93 points).

The third wine was from Cornas, a 2009 Matthieu Barret Domaine du Coulet Billes Rotres. This was a dark fruited wine, 100% Shiraz. There was a lot of pepper on the nose and palate, lavender and sweet honey notes made for an intriguing taste. Overall, this wine was very intense and I thought it was slightly hot, although the quoted alcohol was not especially high (92 points). 

The final wine was the 2015 Bernard Faurie Hermitage (white cap). This is a rare wine, made in small volumes from arguably the best subregion, Hermitage, and a blend of two vineyards. This is quite a delicate wine at this stage whose complexity will only unfold over time.  Violets and delicate raspberry flavours show upfront, but one can detect licorice and meaty notes underneath. Finesse is the dominant theme (95 points).

Four Rhône wines, four completely different expressions. There is a lot of complexity in this long region. This tasting suggests it is worth unpacking. 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Henschke Mt Edelstone

At a time when I could still run polls on this blog, Henschke Mt Edelstone was voted Australia's best Shiraz by my readers (I believe I excluded Grange and Hill of Grace at the time). It is an iconic wine, and I value the Henschkes have not changed the label in over 50 years.

Having said this, there is significant vintage variation in this wine. How does the 2009 Henschke Mt Edelstone shape up after 10 years? It was a transition vintage between the drought years of 2007 and 2008, and the near perfect vintages of 2010 and 2012.

The nose of the wine is very strong, with blackcurrant and forest and spice aromas. On the palate, the wine is a little different. Chocolate flavours lead to a sweet and slightly warm mouthfeel. I cannot detect the usual typical eucalypt flavours in this wine. This is still an elegant wine, with a structure intact, despite its ripeness, but the wine lacks detail and ultimately interest. It should drink well for a few more years.

Score: 93/+

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Ruggabellus Timaeus

Ruggabellus is one of a few 'new wave' producers in the Barossa Valley. Abel Gibson, the son of Rob, started off in a garage and decided to produce a trio of Southern Rhone inspired wines, each leading with either Shiraz, Grenache or Mataro. The inclusion of whole bunches is a major signature of these wines.

I reviewed the 2010 Ruggabellus Timaeus, which is Grenache lead, with mixed feelings in 2012. Seven years later, I can report that this wine has matured well and is a much better wine today. The structural elements of the Mataro are much more prominent now. This wine is dark fruited on the front palate, and the  more confected flavours of the Grenache shine through a bit later. But to be clear, there is no sweetness in this wine; it is savoury. The firm tannins give a solid structure to the wine, and the alcohol is a pleasant 13.6%. I am happy to drink a second glass of this, even though the finish is a bit nondescript.

Drinking probably best right now and in the next two years with perfect cellaring.

Score: 93/++  

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Cirillo 1850 Grenache

Marco Cirillo is a Grenache specialist. This is no wonder, as he sits on this sandy plot of close to 170 year old Grenache bush vines in Vine Vale. The terroir is reflected in the 2012 Cirillo 1850 Grenache. There is a hint of raspberry fruit, but savoury notes dominate in this 7 year old wine. This is a fragrant, feminine wine. The texture is lush, but in a restraint sort of way. This wine is at peace with itself, and so was I as I was looking to a second glass of this harmonious wine.

This brand is my favorite Australian Shiraz and this tasting did nothing to change my mind.

Score: 96/+++