I commented on the impact of Magnum bottles under cork in my last post. But what about when the closure is a screw cap? To find out, I opened a 2007 Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon Magnum.
Sunday, August 1, 2021
Thursday, July 29, 2021
We do not drink enough wines from Magnum. Somehow the reduced ratio of cork exposure to wine volume, when compared with the standard bottle, can deliver magic. It is clear that wines age longer in Magnums. I guess there are two reasons for the relative unpopularity. One is that a couple would not normally finish a Magnum bottle in one session. It is therefore seen as a party drink. However, wine in Magnums will keep for two to three days minimum without problems, even with a simple stopper. The other reason is that Magnums in Australia cost more than double the standard bottle, largely because of low scale and high glass bottle prices. However, European Magnums are often priced just double the standard bottle. I am not sure how the taste comparison goes with Magnums under screw cap.
Thursday, July 22, 2021
I have been told today is Shiraz day. One website says it is domestic Shiraz day, another it is international Shiraz day. Who cares? What does it even mean? In any case, I tasted the 2015 Henschke Tappa Pass Shiraz with the objective to identify what happens, when you 'downgrade' from Mt. Edelstone for price reasons.
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Wine or grapes are the most complex agricultural product on earth. The variety of flavours based on chemical compounds is not matched by any other product. The impact of climate, altitude, rainfall, soil and other environmental factors, as well as the human factor is profound. This means that many interests of wine consumers can be satisfied by some kind of wine. Here is a list for red wine drinkers.
1) Red wine is for consumers who enjoy berry flavours. Many different fruits can be tasted in red wine, from red fruits such as strawberry, red cherry, raspberry, boysenberry to dark fruits, such as blueberry, black cherry, mulberry, blackberry. People who enjoy these elements like to drink young wine.
2) Then there are people who enjoy the secondary flavours, such as tobacco, leather, nuts, earthy notes, and meat. These are more pronounced in aged wines.
3) Another group of consumers enjoy big and ripe reds, often with high alcohol levels. Typical examples would be Barossa Shiraz or Napa Valley Cabernet.
4) A further group is less focused on the flavours of wine, but more how it feels in the mouth. Is this a 'wide' wine or a wine with a more precise, linear feel. For these consumers, the structure of the wine is most important.
5) The last group I want to mention look for hedonistic or 'emotional' wines. By definition, it is hard to say what characterizes these wines. They are simply delicious and evoke pleasure in the consumer.
All these differences can be had in red wine. It is an exciting world to explore.
Monday, July 19, 2021
My blog just passed 500,000 views. This is pretty amazing and was never expected. I would like to use this milestone to thank everybody for showing an interest in my posts, many over a long period of time. I would like to thank those particularly who have posted comments, such as Colin and kr1. This makes the blog more lively and interesting. I know it takes time, but I would encourage all readers to write back if you feel like it.
Thursday, July 15, 2021
As I opened the 2012 Giovanni Rosso Serra Barolo last night, I had moderate expectations. The producer is not thought to be in the top echelon of Piedmont; 2012, while a good vintage, is overshadowed by 2010 and 2013; and the Serra vineyard is not a top terroir. In fact of the seven producers who take fruit from there, only Giovanni Rosso makes a single vineyard wine. This is somewhat perplexing. The vineyard is situated about 1km south of Serralunga, south-east facing, at good altitude, with limestone soil.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Elderton's flagship wine comes from the old vines of the home block next to the winery.
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
It is time to look at value, after quite a few reviews of pricey wines. This one is worth your while checking out, but let us first look at the label. You do not see this every day.
Monday, July 5, 2021
It is still Independence Day in the US. Therefore, I have decided to drink and review a US wine, even though it is not available in the rest of the world. I have been a collector of Kosta Browne wines for many years, as an example of excellent American Pinot Noir. I have stopped buying these wines, however, as since the takeover by Duckhorn, prices have been lifted by over 150%. (This is an unfortunate story we all face: we discover a good wine, enjoy it, and then prices get raised to 'crazy' levels, and we have to look for the next thing; Hill of Grace, Mt. Edelstone, anyone?)
Thursday, July 1, 2021
This is likely to be my last post on Burgundy for a little while. Monopoles (a vineyard completely owned or controlled by one producer) are rare in Burgundy. They are precious, because the producer can really influence the vineyard management. If you only own a couple of rows, your neighbour's decisions will have an influence on your own parcel.
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
In my post on the white wines of Corton, I emphasized how important it is to look at the producer, not just the terroir in Burgundy. As an example, the Domaine Ponsot Corton Bressandes is about US $400 per bottle, the Domaine Poisot Corton Bressandes can be had for about US $100 (and there is only one letter difference in the name, haha).
Another terroir and vineyard focussed region is Piedmont. Yesterday, I came across a detailed analysis of the famous Rocche dell'Annunziata vineyard in La Morra. This vineyard is shared between 9 producers. Here are the prices of some of them for their bottles, from high to low.
Roberto Voerzio, US $280
Paolo Scavino $180
Renato Ratti $125
Mauro Veglio $80
Aurelio Settimo $53 (largest vineyard holdings)
Rocche Costamagna $45
The vineyard has special characteristics; attractive aromatics and elegance. But within this, there are significant differences between producers. And in the case of Piedmont, I suggest 75% of the price differences are explained by quality, 25% by positioning, marketing, and scarcity. In the case of Burgundy, it may be the reverse, as it would normally be by 'cult' producers, for example Screaming Eagle, Bryant Family, or Colgin in the US.
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Those who have followed my blog for some time will know I am quite partial to Barolo. You would also know that I have been a bit sceptical about the enthusiastic embrace of so called ‘alternative varieties’ in Australia (mainly Italian varieties, white and red). This is not because I don’t think it is a worthwhile pursuit. It is just that it is likely that these efforts will take quite some time to reach the quality levels of the leading overseas examples. Enter the 2017 Jasper Hill Nebbiolo.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
The Pinot Noirs of Corton are grown in the mid to lower parts of the hill, mostly east facing, on red marl, limestone, and iron infused soils. These are the only grand cru wines of the Côte de Beaune. The pricing, generally speaking, is much more attractive than grand cru wines of the Côte de Nuits. The larger vineyards, as shown in the map below, are the better known grand cru.
Six wines from different producers, age, and vineyards were tasted, discussed here in the order of tasting. If wines are sourced from a single vineyard, its name may be appended to the designation ' Corton'.
Monday, June 21, 2021
It is hard for wineries to differentiate themselves. There are so many competitors! However, I wish the differentiation would occur in the bottle, not with the bottle. The demijohns of Fraser McKinley are not easy to store, but let's get to the wine.
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Burgundy is widely regarded as the most complex wine region in the world. However, all you have to initially understand are three principles about its structure. One, it is vineyard based (as opposed to winery based). Two, there are distinct subregions, displaying quite distinct characteristics. Three, there is a hierarchy of wines, starting from grand cru and going down. What makes it complicated for non French people is the labelling, but let us just ignore this here.
However, within Burgundy, there is one region which is really complicated, and this is the Hill of Corton. The following map shows its terroir. As can be seen, vineyards can point in all directions other than North. There are also major differences in altitude.
Corton is the largest grand cru area in Burgundy. The white wines are mostly labelled Corton-Charlemagne. I will review three of those wines here. The first is the 2010 Louis Jadot Domaine des Héritiers Corton-Charlemagne.
Sunday, June 13, 2021
Margaux is the largest subregion of the left bank of Bordeaux wines. It is quite diverse with many different soil profiles. The wines, still dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, have a higher percentage of Merlot in them than the other left bank wines. Margaux is known for more aromatic wines than any other wines from Bordeaux. This puts them in good stead as the climate warms.
This is a review of the 2010 Château Prieuré-Lichine. I once had a memorable lunch at this property and have enjoyed their wines.
Thursday, June 10, 2021
For a special occasion, I pulled my second last bottle of Hill of Grace from the cellar (I do not buy this wine at the current price point any more). It is a 2010 Henschke Hill of Grace.
Friday, June 4, 2021
The first dilemma has to do with our professional wine writers and influencers. Many of them are Masters of Wine or Master Sommeliers. In order to achieve these accolades, you have to taste widely, which means mainly northern hemisphere wines. There is nothing wrong with that, but it means these palates are geared towards such wines. As a result, they do not value higher alcohol, higher fruit weight wines as highly. As an example,they love Syrah, but not Shiraz - you know what I mean. However, the sun kissed South Australian wines are unique in the world. The low alcohol wines, by contrast, get lost in similar wines from all over the world. The issue here is drinkability. In the same way in which grand cru Burgundy is about power and elegance at the same time, South Australian wines need to aim for the same. But let's not give up on the unique positioning some of our wines can enjoy.
The second issue is about climate change. No doubt it happens. Cooler regions, such as Tasmania, the Macedon Ranges and the Southern Highlands in NSW are now attractive new locations. More controversial is the switch to varieties which can deal better with hot climate, for example Southern Italian varieties such as Montepulciano and Aglianico. They can produce decent wine, but there is no evidence in Europe that they can reach the heights of Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz. Touriga Nacional from Portugal would be my pick in this context So what about the adaptability of key varieties, such as Shiraz and Chardonnay? They grow in many different environments. Would earlier picking prevent overripeness and still deliver complex wines?
So let's hope people do not forget where our competitive advantage lies, and let's be open to different approaches to climate change.
Thursday, June 3, 2021
I grew up during a time when the Beatles and the Rolling-Stones split the teenagers. The good kids loved the Beatles, the bad kids loved the Rolling-Stones. There was no crossover. I feel it is a bit like that with the two icons of Australian Shiraz, Hill of Grace and Grange. Who is the good guy here? Maybe it is a bit different: Hill of Grace is single vineyard, Grange is blended. Grange is about power and fruit weight, Hill of Grace more about grace? This post is about a rare opportunity to taste four Hill of Grace wines, all more than 20 years old.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Beechworth is not an Australian wine region which is top of mind. It also used to be equated with Giaconda, and that was it. However, a number of other wineries have delivered first class wines from there for many years. These days, it deserves to be called a region. I recently tasted two outstanding wines from there.
The first was the 2019 Savaterre Chardonnay. In contrast to Giaconda, which can sometimes come across as a little overworked, this wine was made with minimal impact. It starts with the granite soil, not so common in Australia. Natural yeast used for fermentation. Flavours include citrus, white and yellow peach, and pear. This wine has a great line and energy. There is balanced minerality on the back palate, before the long finish. This is a more complex Chardonnay than most in this country without compromising its elegant mouthfeel.
The second was the 2006 Castagna Genesis Syrah.
Thursday, May 27, 2021
The legendary Yarra Valley Cabernet Blend, how would it hold up against the Lafite-Rothschild, previously reviewed? A bit unfair, why? It is one of Australia's leading wines.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
This 2004 Lafite-Rothschild was a most unusual bottle. Please look at the label. The left part is clearly missing. The owner checked with the Château, and they confirmed they used a faulty label run. Tasting the wine, it was immediately clear this is not a fake bottle. How bizarre! Would this fault increase the bottle value, similar to some faulty stamps, or reduce it?
Monday, May 24, 2021
Hawke's Bay is the oldest NZ wine region, yet it is not nearly as prominent as Central Otago, Marlborough or Martinborough. A recent tasting of some of its best wines demonstrated that it deserves much better. The region is best known for Chardonnay, Syrah, and Cabernet blends. The wines tasted are shown in the picture below.
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Following on from the stunning 2010 Barolos I tasted a few days ago, I wanted to see if an Australian Shiraz could match it with them. From one of my favourite Australian producers, I found a 2012 Standish Wine Company Andelmonde in my cellar.
Saturday, May 15, 2021
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Currently, there is a lot of hype about the 2016 vintage in Barolo. And there seems no doubt it is a good vintage. But let us not forget there has been a string of great vintages there in the last 15 years. As I discovered last week, a couple of wines from 2010 provide sensational drinking right now. These wines were the 2010 Mauro Molino Bricco Luciani and the 2010 E. Pira Chiara Boschis Via Nuova.
Monday, May 3, 2021
Hoddles Creek Chardonnay is probably my favorite go-to Chardonnay for everyday drinking. I must not call it a quaffer. It is much better than that.
Sunday, May 2, 2021
Friday, April 30, 2021
Chateau Musar is the leading wine company of Lebanon. The other day, I had the opportunity to try another red wine from Lebanon at an Arabian dinner. This was the 2014 Chateau Oumsiyat Jaspe Red. I know no background of this wine.
Friday, April 23, 2021
The second astonishing Hermitage Blanc wine I tasted on the night mentioned a few posts below was the 1991 Chapoutier de L’Orée Ermitage. It was the first year this Marsanne was made. It comes from the lower parts of the famous hill, with the vines grown on alluvial soil.
Thursday, April 22, 2021
I drink a fair bit of Kosta Browne Pinot Noir from California, but normally do not report on it, as it is mailing list only, and not many would have a chance to try it. But this wine was really quite special.
Monday, April 19, 2021
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Saturday, April 10, 2021
There is no need to show the label. It is as boring as all Penfolds labels. But I did not expect the disappointment this 2010 Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon was providing on taste.
There is good fruit concentration in this wine, but the blackcurrant flavours are quite dried out. What remains very present are the vanilla notes from the American oak. As a result, the mouthfeel is really dull. The tannins are firm and dry leading to quite a piercing finish. If you are looking for a graceful Cabernet, look elsewhere.
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Monday, April 5, 2021
I remember 15 years ago or so I attended a vertical tasting of Emily's Paddock, going back a further 20 years. The old wines were beautiful with their noses of leather and savoury flavours. I have not had this brand for a long time, so I was curious when I pulled this 2012 Jasper Hill Emily's Paddock from the cellar, how it would compare to my memories.
Friday, April 2, 2021
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Sunday, March 28, 2021
I normally review wines from my cellar or new releases I chose to taste. But sometimes I receive samples or people bring a bottle. This is such an instance.
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Saturday, March 20, 2021
It is not often you come across a new winery in Australia which is outstanding. It just happened to me. This winery is Swinney. Maybe because it is located at Frankland River, WA, it took a while for me to notice.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Pinot Gris/Grigio has gone the way of Sauvignon Blanc to some extent: large scale production, not much focus on typicity or special quality attributes. It is positioned as a summer wine, not many questions will be asked.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
How do you photograph a label with writing around almost half the bottle? I tried something a little different. Not very professional, but quite psychedelic, don't you think?