Thursday, May 27, 2021

Mount Mary Quintet

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.

The 2004 Mount Mary Quintet shows the strengths and weaknesses of this label all in one. Firstly, the wine is still in good form, which is a relief, as it is under cork.

The wine is red fruited, very pretty and smooth. There are some earthy notes here as well. At first blush, it actually has similarities with the Lafite. But on the mid and back palate it starts to wear a little thin. The structure holds up to a decent finish, but the mouthfeel not as much. 

And this is the issue with Cabernet from the Yarra Valley. I am in the camp with those who say this region is Pinot Noir territory as far as red wine is concerned. Having said this, this Mount Mary Quintet does a pretty good job. 

Score: 94/++

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?

2004 is perhaps not a stellar Bordeaux vintage, but this wine showed extremely well. The nose was super aromatic and complex. On the palate, pure black and blue fruits, as well as black olive, lead to a harmonious mouthfeel. This is a soft, elegant, and velvety wine, in typical Lafiiite style. Earthy notes add interest. Most of all, this is a wine totally at peace with itself. Superb!  

Score: 97/+++

Monday, May 24, 2021

Hawke's Bay Premium Tasting

 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.

The top three wines, in my and the other tasters opinion, were the 2010 Craggy Range 'Le Sol', the sensational 2018 Tony Bish Zen Chardonnay, and the 2014 Craggy Range 'Sophia'

The Tony Bish Zen is unusual in that it is matured in a French oak egg, or Ovum. This gives quite a lot of oak exposure. Not surprisingly, therefore, is the golden colour and the fuller bodied flavour of this wine. There was depth in the yellow peach fruit, and complex nutty flavours added to the rich texture. At the same time, there was a lightness on the finish - intriguing (96 points).

Le Sol is arguably the most credentialed Syrah from New Zealand.This 2010 Le Sol showed very layered red and black fruit flavours and was more generous than the other very peppery Syrahs (see below). This is a very balanced wine with a sweet core, and overall quite a big mouthfeel (96 points).

I reported on the Sophia a few posts back, so no notes here.

I rated the next set of wines all 94 points. The 2017 Blanc Canvas 'Element' Syrah is properly named. The elements must have rattled the vines a lot. This is probably the most peppery wine I have ever tasted. The cracked black pepper was so strong, it overshadowed everything else. It is a medium weight wine with dark fruit and bacon flavours and quite a tannic finish. It gets this good rating for personality.

The 2016 Bilancia La Collina Syrah, with part fruit coming from the Gimblett Gravels, and part from south of Hastings, is also quite peppery. This is a more balanced and elegant wine, partly due to the 2% Viognier. The musky notes are interesting; the finish is long.

The second Craggy Range 'Le Sol' was from 2014. The colour was very inky. This wine was quite closed, may have entered a dormant phase. It had a slightly eucalypt character, with peppery flavours and licorice also present.

Finally, the 2019 Te Mata Coleraine. Cassis was dominant, and we felt the wine had a bit of a vegetal character. The highlight were the very fine and dusty tannins. This wine had outstanding reviews by a number of professional reviewers. At this tasting, it suffered a bit from being last and a bit rushed. It was also quite young by comparison. But 100 points? No, it is not a perfect wine.

The final two wines were the 2014 Te Mata Awatea, Coleraine's little brother. It is a lighter wine, with mint and peppery notes and a bit of a gap on the mid palate. It was quite enjoyable, but was put up against outstanding opposition (93 points).

The first wine was the 2019 Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay. It comes from a coastal site. The nose was quite floral, and we were in fact not sure if we were looking at a Chardonnay here (all wines were tasted blind). The wine was quite light on the palate, with an attractive texture - a flinty wine with melon flavours and saline notes (92 points).  


Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Standish Wine Company Andelmonde

 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.

Andelmonde, ok?

The old vines are grown on sandy soil in Light Pass, near the winery. Given this, as you would expect, the wine has a beautiful aromatic bouquet, like walking through a steaming wet forest.

On the palate, the wine is mostly red fruited, showing blueberry as well. This wine is very intense, and the flavours are pure and deep. This is an elegant wine on a big frame. The aromatics engulf the mouth in a harmonious and full blooded manner. The firm and a little heavy tannins lead to a long finish.

This excellent wine does not quite sing like the Barolos from a few days ago; and in 2018, The Standish Wines are more layered. 

It was a good contest, and I am looking forward to a 2016 Barolo vs. 2018 Standish comparison in a few years time.

Score: 95/+++  

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Email Notifications

 Some of you are receiving email notifications when I post a new review. Google has decided to stop this service from either June or July. I am sorry, but I cannot do anything about this.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

2010 Barolos

 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.

The first fascinating fact was that these two wines were almost indistinguishable in aroma and flavour. This was very surprising to me, as the Mauro Molino wine is a single vineyard wine from La Morra, located in the North of Barolo and known for more fragrant wines, whereas the Via Nuova is a blend of seven vineyards from Barolo, Monforte and Serralunga in the South. This may speak to the fact that over time distinguishing features disappear to a degree.

To the wines: Both wines were floral and aromatic, with rose petal and cherry flavours, black olive and some earthy notes. They were super elegant and smooth, with excellent fine tannin management. You could describe these wines as feminine, but they had persistent power as well, with the Chiara Boschis wine delivering a slightly bigger mouthfeel, as one would expect. The finish of both wines was very long.

I was particularly surprised by the quality of the Mauro Molino wine, a producer who trades more at the value end (as far as Barolos are concerned). These wines will go for many years to come, but why wait, given the complex, yet refreshing and elegant, and complete drinking experience right now. 

Score (both wines): 97/+++

Monday, May 3, 2021

Hoddles Creek Estate Chardonnay

 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.

The 2020 Hoddles Creek Chardonnay is a little richer and broader than previous vintages. The citrus, white peach, and slight hazelnut flavours fill out the mouth a bit more. This is not a bad thing, as the presence of lively acidity balances the fruit out well.

This wine is terrific value for money, due to the excellent cost control of this winery. It has been suggested to age this wine a little bit, and it makes some sense, but unfortunately, I will not manage to do that.

Score: 92/+++


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Cornas and Hermitage

In a recent tasting of red wines from the Northern Rhône, two high quality wines each from Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, and Cornas were pitted against each other. The assumption was that Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage would be the superior appellations. However, this is not how it turned out. Cornas provided very high quality and matched it with Hermitage.


The top Cornas wine was the 2010 Domaine Vincent Paris 60 Granit. This Syrah comes from 90 year old vines on steep granite slopes. It is matured in 100% old oak. This is a feminine, but powerful wine with elegant blue fruit flavours (95 points).

The 2013 Auguste Clape Cornas was almost as good. The flavour profile was interesting, although not very pure. Orange peel, musky notes, vegetable, and black pepper deliver a complex mouthfeel. There is some minerality on the back palate, too, before this wine finishes very dry (94 points). 

The top wine, however, came from Hermitage. It was the 2005 Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage. It is a blend from 14 parcels of on average 50 year old vines. This is a full-bodied beast. Smoky flavours add to the blackberries. There is a bit of barnyard here, too. The tannins are impressive and the finish very long (96 points).