Sunday, January 31, 2021

Kilikanoon Attunga 1865 Shiraz

 The Kilikanoon business has a strong commercial orientation, and while there is nothing wrong with it, in fact it is necessary to an extent, obviously, I have never been drawn to its wines. However, a few years ago, I was given its flagship Attunga 1865 Shiraz from Clare Valley.

The 2010 Kilikanoon Attunga 1865 Shiraz from a special plot of old vines is full-bodied, with a core of concentrated ripe plum flavours, lifted by some eucalypt, typical of Clare. I am generally not a big fan of eucalypt or minty notes, but in this case it is moderate and serves to lighten up the plum core. This Shiraz is a big wine, but the fruit is balanced by lively acidity. While this is a ripe wine, it is interesting to me that there is a certain poise which I find comes with very old vines. The finish is long, but a little harsh. Despite what the label says, this wine expresses more power than elegance, but not in an extreme way. It will appeal to some people more than to me.

Score: 95/+ 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Tyrrell's Belford Semillon

The 2014 Tyrrell’s Belford Semillon was the perfect wine  on a 38 degree Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) day. This Semillon comes from an isolated vineyard in the Hunter Valley with sandy soil and surrounded by trees. It is unusual in the stable of Tyrrell’s  Semillons. The flavours and texture are similar to Chablis, not the more common closeness to Riesling.

Thi wine, from a great vintage, has excellent energy and drive. Lime flavours and minerality dominate on the palate. This wine is still very fresh and will only mellow around year 12, I think. So far, there are only primary fruit characteristics on the palate. The wine is perhaps a little bit raw, but I liked it a lot, in particular the penetrating finish.

Score: 94/+++

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Grosset Polish Hill Riesling

How refreshing is this 2012 Grosset Polish Hill. For those who are used to German Riesling, this is quite different. The style of this wine is austere. The acidity is high, and accentuates the piercing and intense citrus flavous of this wine. This wine is still young, but some almond and shy toasty flavours are starting to emerge. The energy of this wine is exemplary, with a medium to long finish.

I think the most interesting point to drink this wine at would be five years from now. It will easily go another ten years.

Score: 95/+++


Saturday, January 23, 2021

Giacomo Conterno Barolo Francia

 For a special occasion, I opened a bottle of the oldest Barolo in my cellar from the legendary Giacomo Conterno.

The 1997 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Francia had a high shoulder and look at the cork! Fresh like a daisy and came out like a two year old. 

1997 in Piedmont was similar to 1982 in Bordeaux. This warm vintage put Nebbiolo on the international map. At the time, new approaches were tried in Piedmont, but not by Conterno. His maceration period was 30 days or so, the barrels large.

In 2020, this is a mature wine. The wine still has some freshness on the nose, but on the palate, the primary fruit is almost gone. There are tea leaves, a bit of dark cherry, cedar and tobacco. But Conterno was never about the fruit, and the structure is still strong. The very long dry and silky finish gives this wine its quality.

Score: 94/++

Monday, January 18, 2021

Three Outstanding European White Wines

 In a recent tasting of examples of 8 different white wine varieties, three wines stood out. The move in Germany to designate some sites with GG (Grosses Gewächs), and imposing some regulations for these, has clearly been successful. The example in this tasting was the 2015 A. Christmann Koenigsbacher IDIG GG Riesling. 

From a warm vintage, this wine is now showing some age, but also complexity which has generally not been seen say, a decade ago. This is an aromatic and rich wine, with a blend of citrus and honey flavours. A little sweetness is kept in check by unobtrusive acidity. This is a very balanced wine from a producer who can't do wrong.

Score: 95/+++

The second wine was the 2013 Louis Jadot, 1er cru, Meursault Genevrières.

The tasting was blind, but it was immediately clear this was a Burgundy Chardonnay due to the obvious oak treatment of this wine. As a result, the wine was creamy with some toast on the palate, but at the same time, the wine showed pineapple fruit and minerality. This is quite an intense wine with a long and persistent finish.

Score: 94/+++

The third wine was a Chenin Blanc from the Loire. The Loire Valley is quite complex, with different subregions and varieties. This example came from Savennières, specifically the famous Coulée de Serrant vineyard of Nicolas Joly. This 17ha 'monopole' has been planted by Cistercian monks in the 12th century originally, and still includes old vines on ungrafted rootstock.

The 2011 Nicolas Joly Coulée de Serrant Chenin Blanc is based on biodynamic vineyard management. It is a dry version of Chenin Blanc and shows an array of flavours: lemon, apple, herbs, ginger, walnut, and perhaps sherry. I sometimes struggle with the 'salad' of flavours in Chenin, but this is a balanced wine of very good maturity.

Score: 94/++


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Two Spanish Beauties


Spanish wines have never received the accolades of Italian wines. However, they can be very delicious and unique. I recently tasted two impressive examples.

The 2004 Cune Gran Reserva Imperial would be difficult to source now, but if it is on offer somewhere, do not hesitate. This Rioja Tempranillo is intense on the nose. It is dark fruited, with some herbal overtones. This is a smooth and balanced wine, full bodied, yet with a certain lightness on the palate. This is an elegant wine, at peace with itself.

Score: 95/+++

The 2014 Clos Mogador Manyetes from Priorat is a blend of predominantly Grenache, Carignan and Shiraz. This is quite a different style from the Rioja. This wine is still quite fresh. The flavours are difficult to pin down. The palate is concentrated and tightly knit. There is raspberry, blackberry, licorice. It is complex. But the wine is not so much fruit orientated. Minerality and some saltiness are strong and wound up in balanced acidity. With all this, it is a polished wine.

Score: 94/+++

Friday, January 15, 2021

Highland Heritage Riesling

 Highland Heritage from Orange is new to me. The 2019 Highland Heritage Riesling has done quite well on the show circuit.

The colour of the wine is golden with a green tinge, medium intensity. The bouquet jumps from the glass with floral and citrus aromas, big for a cool climate Riesling.

There is quite a bit going on on the palate. Fruity citrus flavours, floral notes, a hint of sweetness. This is a well made wine with just enough acidity to deliver balance. However, the mouthfeel is round, bordering on flabby. Many people may like this. There is also a hint of alcohol (12.1%) on the finish. Personally, I would have preferred this wine to be 1% lower in alcohol.

Score: 90/0

Monday, January 11, 2021

My Favourite Barossa Wineries

 I have been reflecting how my favourite Barossa wineries have been changing over time. It is a bit like companies on the stock exchange, except in this case it is not market capitalisation that drives it, but a combination of changing winemaking styles, new entrants, and a changing palate on my part. So here it goes:

10 years ago*

1) Henschke

2) Torbreck

3) Rockford

4) Kalleske

5) Spinifex

And today:**

1) The Standish Wine company

2) Henschke

3) Spinifex

4) Sami-Odi

5) Head

Any comments?

* Penfolds is excluded as a multi region blender

** Eperosa could perhaps be in the current list, but I have not tasted it enough

Friday, January 8, 2021

Sami-Odi Shiraz

 I assume 'Odi' does not relate to odd, but it could. The two unusual features are the shape of the bottle, a bit like an old Roman wine vessel,

and the fact that this wine is a blend of three vintages, a bit like what is being done in Champagne. I reviewed the Sami-Odi The Little Wine #4 a while ago, but it is worth another review.

The fruit comes from the highly regarded Hoffmann vineyard in the Northern Barossa, where ironstone soil reigns supreme, and the temperatures are high. The two main vintage components come from 2013 and 2014. There is no surprise this is a full-bodied wine then. However, it is surprising that this wine is quite elegant while delivering a big mouthfeel. Blackberry, ripe plum, and black olive produce an intense core, but there is enough drive to make this wine delicious to drink. This wine has a smooth and long finish, backed by dry tannins, with the slightest hint of alcohol.

I must say I am not a big fan of this three year blending, given that the Hoffmann vineyard is very special and can deliver terroir and vintage specific results. Having said this, Sami-Odi produces a single vineyard wine from Hoffmann as well.

I drank this wine some time ago, but now, after 6-7 years it is more rounded and integrated. This is a modern take on a ripe Barossa wine, which I can recommend whole-heartedly.

Anyone had any experience with this producer? 

Score: 94/+++


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Hans Herzog Pinot Gris

 There are not many exciting Pinot Gris outside of France and maybe Italy. But there is this guy in Marlborough, New Zealand who is an exception. Coming from Switzerland, it is not surprising that there is this attention to detail, in this vineyard of many varieties. In a way, Herzog reminds me of Domaine A in Tasmania, the other Swiss influenced winery in Asia/Pacific, now owned by MONA's David Walsh. The wines are totally different, but the focus on quality is very similar.

The Herzog winery is organic and this 2017 Herzog Pinot Gris is made in a modern style, with an extended period spent on skins. As a result, the colour is orange/pink, of medium depth.

This has created more intensity on the palate, with flavours of apricot, melon and almonds. There is great purity in this wine. There is a hint of sweetness and honey on the back palate, but the finish is refreshing. This is quite a delicious wine.

Score: 93/++ 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Penfolds Grange

 The third wine in this trio of indulgence was Grange, of course. I was tempted to open a 2010 as well, the last vintage I bought of this wine. However, I felt this would not have been near its peak yet, so I decided for a 1998 Penfolds Grange. This wine had been recorked at the recorking clinic in 2016. This is a terrific service by Penfolds. First, the wine is opened to check on its quality. Then a couple of thimbles of new wine (in this case Grange 2010) get added to the wine. As a result, there is a threefold benefit: a new cork, very high shoulder, and a bit of refreshment, if you like). 

Note the very high shoulder of this 22 years old wine

The 1998 Grange performed very much as expected. I previously described Grange built like a skyscraper; the structure is wide and long. This makes the wine unique and instantly recognizable. Blood plum, blackberry, mocca, and meaty flavours dominate the layered profile.

This is a big and ripe wine, but it is smooth just the same. The tannins are coarse, but balanced by the massive fruit weight, and supported by enough acidity to keep the wine lively. The finish is huge, almost moving back up the throat (I have not experienced this before). Thankfully, the wine is not hot on the finish. The dominant feature of this wine is power, with elegance playing a support role. In the last 10 years, there has been a gradual shift to more elegance.

This 1998 Grange is still fresh and will live well for at least another 15 years.

Score: 97/+++