Thursday, July 29, 2021

Coriole Lloyd Reserve Shiraz

 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.

Today's Magnum is the 2005 Coriole Lloyd Reserve Shiraz, one of their flagship wines. This is a full-bodied, quite ripe wine. Plum flavours are accompanied by light leather and smoke, but the dominant sensation is black pepper. The texture of the wine is a bit rustic. This is a traditional South Australian Shiraz. The structure is still balanced after 16 years, with firm tannins leading to a smoky finish.

Score: 91/+


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Henschke Tappa Pass Shiraz

 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.

The grapes of this wine are sourced from three vineyards in Tappa Pass and Light Pass. They are reasonably mature, up to 70 years old. Light Pass vineyards are on sandy soil, Tappa Pass likely clay and red brown earth, but at higher altitude, like a semi-Eden Valley.

These attributes are present in this wine. The fruit is very pure and aromatic. The palate is a bit overwhelmed by fruitiness with flavours of blackberry and mulberry. This is a full-bodied wine, but it has good energy. The wine is a bit forward. The tannins are firm, and the wine has a medium length finish.

I guess you get what you pay for, which in Henschke's case, is always a premium price.

Score: 92/+ 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Why (Almost) Everybody Loves Wine

 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

Giovanni Rosso Serra Barolo

 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.

The limestone shines through on the pathways

Anyway, this wine was sheer delight. In my mind, the best Barolo shows the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon, and the aromatics of Pinot Noir. This wine did just that. It was very aromatic on the nose, with rose petal, red cherry, and mushroom aromas.

On the palate, the wine was very lifted, with red cherry fruit dominant. This is quite a light-footed wine, yet complex, with great minerality - unusual for Serralunga. You could almost take the flavours and energy for a Pinot Noir, except for the very dry and chalky tannins. Beauty in the glass!

Score: 96/+++   

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Two Hunter Valley Beauties

The top echelon of red wine producers in the Hunter Valley consists of Tyrrell's, Mount Pleasant, and Brokenwood. But they do not have it all their own way. Some newer wineries are issuing a challenge. I recently tasted two outstanding examples from the excellent 2014 vintage.

The 2014 Thomas Wines Kiss Shiraz is the lead Shiraz by Andrew Thomas, and the 2014 Silkman Reserve Shiraz is of the same caliber. If you drink these wines side by side, you are first struck by the similarities. These are typical Hunter Valley wines: not South Australian blockbusters, nor spicy cool climate wines. The wines are full-bodied, yet fresh and elegant, with silky tannins. Now to the (subtle) differences. 

The Silkman Shiraz is slightly more aromatic on the nose. Blood plum flavours develop with poise. This is a more female expression of Shiraz, with fine acidity, some pepper, and a long finish.

Score: 95/+++

The Thomas 'Kiss' is a little bigger, ripe plum, a bit more masculine, with sweeter chocolate flavours from the core, but not like a South Australian wine on these dimensions. A very round wine, still energetic, with a bigger mouthfeel and finish.

Score: 95/+++ 



Saturday, July 10, 2021

Elderton Command Shiraz

 Elderton's flagship wine comes from the old vines of the home block next to the winery.

The 2012 Elderton Command Shiraz, at nine years of age, shows a purple colour with a slight orange tinge, indicating some development. This is a full-bodied wine, with blackberry, blueberry and black olive flavours still dominating. The wine has mellowed somewhat, and the mouthfeel is quite elegant, with fine grained tannins caressing the mouth.

This wine is a typical high quality Barossa Shiraz. It is not shy, nor over the top. This is quite satisfying, but it is also a bit middle of the road, like a comfy limousine.

Score: 93/++

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Oakridge Henk Chardonnay

 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.

So the back label is partly covering the front label. This was not spotted as bottles were moved onto the pallets? Anyway, what is in the bottle is what counts.

White peach, passionfruit, and citrus deliver an attractive flavour mix of this 2019 Oakridge Henk Chardonnay. There is great purity and precision in this wine, backed by fine acidity. You do not normally find this at this price point. The crispness and minerality speak of the vineyard, which is on red volcanic soil at the higher altitude of Woori Yallock in the Yarra Valley. The finish is medium long.

Highly recommended.

Score: 93/+++ 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Kosta Browne Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir

 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?)

This eight year old 2013 Kosta Browne Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir, from one of their key vineyards in the Russian River district, is still fruit driven, with a firm acidic backbone. The wine is fresh, with dark cherry, kirsch and raspberry flavours. Its elegance and smoothness delivers a near perfect new world example of Pinot Noir, with good minerality, saline notes, fine tannins and excellent high quality oak integration.

This Pinot Noir delivers the right mix of filling the mouth while providing enough drive and energy. Therefore, this is not really a Shiraz drinker's Pinot Noir despite the full mouthfeel. One aspect which is missing, however, are any significant savoury notes. I would have expected this after eight years - and this wine was under cork. Still, this should not detract from a very enjoyable experience.

Score: 95/+++  

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Benjamin Leroux 1er Cru Clos de la Cave des Ducs

 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.

This vineyard is a small plot right next to the village of Volnay. This is more obvious in the next picture. It is biodynamically farmed.

It is not often talked about, but many producers rip out older vines, say at 50 years of age, to increase yield. Well, Benjamin Leroux, the Wunderkind of Burgundy, has kept the old vines.

I must say, Volnay is not my favourite subregion for red Burgundy, as you often need to help the wine out of the glass, but the warm 2015 is different. So, on to the 2015 Benjamin Leroux 1er cru Clos de la Cave des Ducs. There is about 60% wholebunch in this wine.

This is a picture book Pinot Noir. It is medium-bodied, very pretty and perfumed. The wine is red fruited, elegant, silky, with great length. Forest floor and mushroom flavours add to complexity. The stars aligned.

If you are intrigued and would like to buy this wine, good luck to you!

Score: 95/+++