Thursday, November 19, 2020

Vietti Barolo Castiglione

 Vietti used to be a family business of mid-prized, high quality wines, in particular Barbera and Barolo. It was equally famous for its bright fruit and flower labels. Elena Vietti was very proud of them. Then, in 2016, the American Krause Holdings bought the business, while the family stayed involved. It very successfully lifted the prices of the single vineyard Barolos dramatically, while at the same time pricing the blended entry level Castiglione attractively. So now the winery is regarded as an absolute top producer. I am not sure if this is because of a quality or price lift.

In any case, I am reviewing an older wine here, the 2010 Vietti Barolo Castiglione. Like many producers with a number of great vineyards, Vietti produces single vineyard wines, and then uses 'surplus' fruit for a blend. The Castiglione is a blend of five vineyards, mainly from villages in the middle of the Barolo region. In 2010, the quality difference to the single vineyard wines was not large, and the attraction was to capture different terroir elements, such as elegance and power in one wine.

This wine shows some ageing, both in the colour, as well as on the nose, where tar and dried herb notes rise from the glass. On the palate, red berry flavours, dried cut flowers, mushroom, and anise build an intriguing flavour mix. More prominent, though, is the texture in this wine, soft and silky, building an elegant wine with typical firm and dry tannins on the finish. 

This wine is good drinking now, but will show well for another five years.

Score: 93/++  

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Mount Mary Réflexion

A few years ago, Mount Mary did something bold. Mount Mary is one of a few Australian wineries which only wants to produce super premium quality at super premium prices. Then it was decided to bring out a new wine, a seldom done straight Cabernet Franc, and at half or less the usual price point. Risky, trashing the brand? Let's find out.

The 2017 Mount Mary Réflexion from relatively young vines has a ruby colour of medium intensity. It is fruity on the nose, with aromas of violets.

On the palate, varietal raspberry and red currant flavours stand out. They are not sweet, and accompanied by spices, cedar and acidity. There is good energy, driving this medium-bodied wine down the palate.

This wine is a perfectly serious red wine for the summer months. The tannins are quite light, and overall this wine delivers finesse with quite a persistent finish.

The Réflexion stands separate in a crowded Australian wine market, and this can only be a good thing.

Score: 94/++

Friday, November 13, 2020

Felton Road Riesling

When you think about Riesling, you think about Germany, of course. You may also think about Austria and Australia, but New Zealand? And if the producer is Felton Road, you think about their Pinot Noir. Yet it can produce world-class Riesling as well.


The 2017 Felton Road Dry Riesling is such an example. Lemon citrus, green apple, five spice, and oyster shell create a great flavour mix, supported by pronounced minerality. The key is how precise and steely this wine is, before it leads to a long, long finish.

This wine is still young, and will easily live for 10 years or more from now - for those who prefer some brioche and toasty flavours.

Score: 94/+++

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A. Rodda Willow Lake Chardonnay

It took me a while to like this label, but I do now. It so starkly depicts the hard work in the vineyard. Why not?

The 2018 A. Rodda Willow Lake Chardonnay is a worthy successor to the excellent 2017 (reviewed on this blog). The colour is green-golden, but not as pale as a Riesling I opened at the same time.

Citrus, green apple, and some warmth from passionfruit delivers complexity and good fruit weight. The wine has great drive due to its acidic backbone. It is more long than broad in the mouth, but I would not describe it as linear.

This is an excellent modern Chardonnay.

Score: 95/+++

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Dalwhinnie Moonambel Shiraz

The Dalwhinnie vineyard is situated at the end of a valley, in a natural amphitheater. It is one of the top three most picturesque vineyards in Australia. Lately, this outstanding winery has been swimming under the radar. It may change in the future, as the Fogerty Group bought the winery a few months ago.

I always enjoyed their Shiraz, because it is not as big as a South Australian monster, but fuller-bodied than most cool climate Shirazes.   

The 2012 Dalwhinnie Moonambel Shiraz delivers concentrated plum and blackberry fruit. This is a medium- to full-bodied wine at an attractive 13% alcohol level. Black pepper and some earthy notes combine to an elegant mouthfeel, but the key feature are the silky, yet firm tannins. This is a very smart wine which delivers a long smooth finish leaving a black fruited and peppery aftertaste. I enjoyed this a lot.

Score: 96/+++