I do this blog for fun, the wines here are some of the very few I can be bothered to write up, the cream has risen.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Flametree "Frank" Tempranillo 2012

This wine was only available from cellar door and wine club. Shame that as it's pretty good.I'm only posting about it in case someone is thinking of joining their wine club and wants an example of the club only wines.

Lotsa blue fruit is what this is built on, despite them using red grapes. Somewhat spicy but more like mace than the usual pepper, and of course nutmeg with that, but I'm not sure I want to call it a savoury wine as that blue fruit is pretty forward. The body is medium full, and the finish lingers suitably long with a hint of dried herbs.

Let's call it a Rec stick a + on it, and say that it's one of the better Temps I've had recently, and the Mayford was one of those recents.

If I had a more empty cellar I would probably join the club.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

SC Pannell Tempranillo Touriga 2013

The label is red, but this is more of a black wine. Tempranillo Touriga? Seriously? We do blends down here? Without Shiraz???

I don't know if it's chicken or egg, but more and more these kinds of wines are catching my attention, and satisfying my desire for something beyond the fruit driven Shazza that's been a staple for so long.

This wine is a mouthful, with great structure and character. I can smell the Tempranillo clearly, and it's that self assured Temp, not the wishy-washy type. I'm trying to come up with some good flavour descriptors because this is a really nice wine and really deserves your attention, but it's Thursday night and I'm not able to channel my inner Phil.

So, bloody good drop, savoury, wants something seared with it, or when you have it you'll want to sear something, but you'll get distracted and char what should be seared, and not care, and pour more, and all in all it will be a good evening. (this was not my evening, well except for wanting to sear something)


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Summer is Sangiovese Season

Tonight the said Sangio is the La Curio 2013.

Slight chill, bout 10C in the bottle, by the time it hits the glass it's probably closer to 14, so pretty much perfect. You know you've chilled it too much if there is a bit of condensation on your glass, but that is a problem that takes mere minutes to rectify on a hot day.

Roses, rosemary flowers and freshly crushed thyme on the nose, whilst the palate has vibrant red cherries and a touch of tarragon. Medium body but with obvious fine and firm tannins, and a nice acid finish, with no eye quivering tartness.

A very good wine with most summer foods, including freshly caught garfish encrusted in crushed fennel seeds, parmesan, and polenta, with a dash of curried goat powder (because I had leftovers and it had the pepper and cardamom I wanted).


PS. my thoughts are with the Adelaide Hills folk tonight, several friends and family affected by the fires, but we hope things will be ok in the end with the stupendous help of the emergency services.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


[dek-uh-duh ns]


1. moral degeneration or decay; turpitude.
2. unrestrained or excessive self-indulgence.
3. possibly both of the above due to drinking 10 vintages of iconic wines.....twice in one night

I had an early Xmas present when I was invited to join Roger Pike of Marius Wines, and Mark and Anna Day of Koltz Wines, to taste the fermented fruits of the last 10 years of their labours. Of course I said yes, and before I could worry that somehow my 'expert' opinion would be needed, I was informed that the Drinkster, Philip White, would also be joining us.

It seems Roger and Mark had been talking, and probably drinking, and had this wild and crazy idea to compare their wines for the last 10 years. When I say compare, I mean the vintages of their own wines, since we are talking about two quite different styles of Shiraz. Both of them are flagship wines with many years of accolades, but just as a refresher...

Mark and Anna make the Koltz Pagan, a wine based on the Italian amarone style. I won't go into that too much here, or this will end up as a book. Basically the grapes are harvested slightly earlier than most Shiraz in the Vale to preserve a bit more acid, which is needed because then they are dried for a number of weeks, then crushed and fermented. This results in wines that are extremely powerful in fruit flavours but also with great balance and complexity. The kind of complexity that late picked fruit bombs can never come close to.

Roger makes the Marius Symphony, a straight Shiraz. I used to write reviews on it, you can search back if you're interested, but I'm not reviewing it anymore cos too many of you buggers bought it, and now I have to fight for an allocation. Full bodied and savoury, it is quite different to the Pagan in style.

To make it clear what we are talking about, here's some pictures, which would be worth considerably more than 1000 words. Please click for larger versions.

There was no 2006 Symphony, so the 2006 Symposium subbed in, and the Marius vineyard threw a wobbly in 2009 so no wines were released. The 2013 is not released and had only been in bottle a coupla weeks.

Pagan started in 2003 and the 2012 is the last that has been bottled at this time.

I did take notes, and I was driving, so they are possibly good notes. However, I had this clever idea, rather than trying to read my hand writing, I could ask the winemakers what their thoughts were. So I posed a few questions, and Mark and Roger were kind enough to answer. I caught Mark with laryngitis and luckily it inspired verbosity. My questions/comments are in italics;

You've obviously tasted all your wines many times before, was there anything you thought was new in the nature of the individual wines when tasting the wine with such a large vertical? -
this could be new aromas/flavours, or progression of secondary characters, or structure that wasn't obvious without the comparison

Roger: Not really. The only real surprise was the freshness and vibrancy of the 2007, which was a difficult drought vintage.

Mark: Interesting point re secondary characters and evolution. I think what I found quite interesting is that even the older wines are really only just starting to show mature characters. It always surprises me how well and slowly they age. The 2003 was a real experiment and probably a little too out there, but from the 2004 I think the similarities within the differences is very reassuring. The technique seems to provide some consistency regardless of vintage and even variety.
Ten years ago, when you made that first wine in this series, did you have an expectation of that wine at 10 years old? And if you did - clearly you'd be happy how it turned out - but is the wine as you expected?

Roger: I didn't have enough to go on to have an expectation, but I probably hoped that it would turn out like it has. (Note, the first Marius Shiraz was 2000, but the first Symphony was 2004)

Mark: Expectations were not really considered when we did the first wine in 2003. I had worked 5 vintages in Valpolicella and had loved the amarone wines, and we thought to try and produce something similar with Shiraz here in Australia. I knew that amarone aged well when well made, but to be honest had not thought that far. I am happy with the way the style has evolved because I think the wines have some amarone character, despite the varietal and regional differences.

In my opinion, the 2007 and 2011 wines, in particular, shared a lot in common between the two wineries, despite the very different styles, vineyards and wine-making techniques. Nobody is going to taste a Symphony and mistake it for a Pagan, but what is your feelings comparing between the two wineries in those vintages?

Roger: Yes, that was surprising, almost a revelation. The similarity of the character of the wines was most evident from those two difficult and most extreme vintages. What really surprised me was the similarities between the wines from all the vintages. Despite different wine styles, different vineyards and even different sub regions the vintage shone through.

Mark: It was amazing how the vintages characteristics with some vintages were consistent across two different vineyards, style and makers. We often think that the drying process removes a lot of the vintage variability but clearly it does not do so absolutely, and this is probably a good answer to your previous question re things that surprised me. Vintage variability is somewhat maintained in the drying process. Another reason for this I think is that they are both single vineyard and both Roger and I are fairly non interventionist in our winemaking style ( drying process aside ). 

... and also on the "difficult" vintages in direct comparison of 10 years of your own wines? 

Roger: That's a difficult question. I think that the 2007 and 2011 look a little different from the other wines, but not in a negative sense, just simply a little different.
Mark: Again there is some reflection of the difficult vintages. 2005 was a massive vintage as is the 2005 Pagan and 2011 is a little restrained, probably because we had to shorten drying time.

My view is whilst your wines are very consistent in quality, they are surprisingly individual in character. If you agree, is that something you try to achieve, or is it rolling with what the vineyard gives you? 

Roger: It is what the vineyard gives me, every year is different.

Mark: We do try and get consistency and a overall style which reflects the Pagan. Within the differences I think the aroma/nose always shows some consistency and suggestion of the amarone style. As with any single vineyard wine I think it is important to be true to the 3 factors - vintage, vineyard and style. This tends to maintain similarities from year to year but hopefully allows the scope to reflect vintage. I think that showed with both Symphony and Pagan. I thought Rogers wines showed great stylistic consistency but also vintage variation.

I have my own personal favourites, apart from 2012 which clearly is a vintage that will appeal to the broadest palate range, but is there another stand out you wish you could have kept/made more of?

Roger: Another difficult question. Making more is a fantasy (Symphony is a single vineyard wine), but I wish I had kept a dozen or two more of all of them.

Mark: Consistent favourite for me is the 2006 but I also like the 2007 and 2012. The 2003 will always be a sentimental favourite as it was the first and the funkiest.

Is there anything you learned from this that will affect how you make your wine over the next 10 years? 

Roger: No. I just hope that I can make these wines for another ten years.

Mark: I am always thinking about tweaking the style and continue to drink good amarone at any chance I get, and to look at the evolution of the style and the different styles made by different producers and vineyards. You have to be careful though, that you don’t take away what it is that people like about your wine. Probably safer to create a new wine. I would like to look at a more reserved elegant style with lower alcohol and RS if I did do a new wine. In a sense this is what we do with Wizard.

Other thoughts?
Mark: It is interesting making this style in the present market space as there has been a push to lower alcohols and more subtle wines. I also love savoury, subtle wines relying less on primary fruit and more on balance and structure. The Pagan however is based on a style of wine that traditionally has high alcohol but I believe it has its place and with good winemaking it is balanced and avoids being ‘hot’. I suppose I learnt again that I love this style, it has its place and I will continue to make it.


I hope to post my notes at some point, but this article is already fairly long. However, let me give you the tip that the 2012 Pagan is simply sensational, and probably my favourite Pagan...or was it the 06? Possibly the 09 or 11...

I had better also mention something about the 2013 Symphony, so here's my notes:
Very young (bottled 5 weeks), but showing great balance at this time. Very full bodied and has a richness and power unlike the other Symphonys, possibly because of it's youth. Superb length. Will not be seriously ready to drink for a very long time, but that would not stop me from trying in a year or so.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Eccolo Sangiovese 2012

We typically have home made pizza on Friday nights, so I thought I'd open this Sangiovese, seeing how both have Italian origins. My wife made hamburgers, of course.

This is not really a hamburger wine.

Then again, I was told by Mark and Anna Day, who make the Italian Amarone-style Koltz Pagan, that some of their customers paired that beast with fish and chips. I applaud their decision to not decide between the two, and telling the pairing gods to go jump. Pagans all around.

Mark and Anna also make this wine. I'd explain why they call it Eccolo and not Koltz, but I forgot to ask, and who cares anyway. What I do know, is there is also an Eccolo Sagrantino, and Eccolo Garganega (clearly named by someone who had a mouthful of it at the time), and all three of 'em come from the Adelaide Hills. They are all bloody good, thus clearly the choice of vineyard locations was spot on.

Back to the Sangio. First sip, I'm thinking "this is very nice", then about 15 seconds later the flavour really wells up and I'm now thinking "bloody hell this is good!". There really isn't very many wines that do that. Savoury? Yeah, of course, but it's the lively fruit that you really notice. It's fairly full bodied but light on it's feet. I reckon I could drink a fair bit over summer, and autumn, and spring. I'm saving winter for Pagan rituals.

I'm having a hard time scoring it, I feel I may be swayed by how incredibly nice the winemakers are. I also happen to know Mr. P. White has already reviewed this recently, and what if I score it higher? I try to be a hard marker, I don't like to trump everyone else's points, I have more hair on my head than me eyebrows after all. Right, I'm going with Highly Recommended+, so probably a 93/94 on the White scale.

P.S. Actually, it went really well with the hamburger. So now I've got a bottle of 2012 Pagan (incredible wine!) just waiting for some fush & chups.

P.P.S. Apparently PW thinks it's a 92++, he's probably been into the vodka again, but he'll be correct in a few more years.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Burge Family Winemakers Mourvedre Grenache 2010

Let's be clear here, we are talking about wine made by the Barossan Burge who still makes all his own wine, and his name is Rick. The other Burge winemaker is Grant, they are cousins and their wineries are close, but their wines have far less in common than the winery name might lead you to erroneously assume.

Rick makes his wines in a quite refined somewhat old world style. Of course he's making them with good Aussie new world fruit, so we get the best of both worlds.

There's a lovely balance and poise to this wine. It's one of those slurpers that you try to roll around on the back of your tongue for a few milliseconds more, just to make sure you've got all the good stuff coating yer buds. And then you suck on the insides of your cheeks because you don't have any taste buds there. After that you lick yer gums, for obvious reasons.

As a bit of a Mourvedre fan, I'm rather pleased to say it's a little different to every other Mataro I've met, but in an interesting way. Perhaps it's mis-labelled and it's got Monastrell in it instead?

As not much of a Grenache fan, I'm also very pleased to say there ain't no raspberries in here. This Rick fellow seems to know his vines.

Savoury yet fruit driven, voluptuously slinky, balanced and with a long future should the cork gods be on your side. Roughly 60/40 dry grown Mourv and Grenache, that lived in old oak for 22 months.
Highly Recommended++ and *****

Slight rant on the cork, I hate them, a lot. However, Rick is one of the few who at least attempt to replace wines with the same vintage should you suffer cork problems, which is extremely rare - replacing with same vintage I mean, cork problems are by nature unpredictable. They do keep a decent amount of museum stock, which is not a bad way to buy some well aged wines, especially their Draycott Shiraz.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

La Curio The Dandy Shiraz 2012

In theory, I've done the wrong thing. This is nothing unusual, of course, there would be a large number of times this week. Ask my wife for a list if you need more information.

This wine has only been bottled a few weeks, and when I bought it, I even had the sense to ask Adam Hooper when it should be ready to drink. Adam is the winemaker, and hence his opinion on the matter should be considered as good advice. He said maybe 3 weeks. So, I waited a 6 days.

I had tried the wine previously at a tasting with some friends from the Australian Wine Tasting Group, though their name suggests they possibly could be wine snobs, they are actually just unrepentant alcoholics who read somewhere that wine can make you live longer, and are now testing the theory for themselves. On that previous tasting I was the driver, and I've never done well doing notes from sip and spit, probably because the spitting part distresses me too much.

Anyway, all of the wines I tried that day from La Curio impressed me, and at the time I thought the 2012 Dandy might well be my bargain of the year, if only I could swallow a bit more. Now, on the few times I think I am right I kinda want to know ASAP that I really am right, even if it's only in my own mind (see para 1).

So, it turns out that whilst I was possibly wrong in opening the wine too soon, I reckon I was correct in saying this is my wine bargain of the year at least in the sub-$25 bracket.

A beautiful complex fruit driven nose with classic McVale spices and 'erbs, plus there's also a bit of late afternoon summer's day, where the sea breeze has kicked in, wafting Nanna's almost cooked roast* aromatics out on to the porch, and strangely even a bit of Grandad's new fangled tractor can be detected - I assume the breeze went past the tractor parked in the hayshed on the way through to the kitchen.

The body is voluptuous with some muscle supporting those curves, ie. fine and firm tannins. A long finish and lovely balance completes the cast.

This is a glass-gets-empty-fast wine, so I'm going to give it a Highly Recommended++ and *****.

I stuck a ++ on the end there more to indicate that it will age well, but this is such a vibrant delicious wine as a 2 year old that I'd encourage people to drink it young as well.

* my Nanna ever did a magnificent roast. I miss all about her, but her great cooking, learned as an early 1900's farmer's wife, made lifetime memories. Grandad used to plow the farm with a team of horses in the early days, but he saw the value of a tractor, even if he missed power napping going home because the horses knew the way, and the 30yo tractor never did manage to learn it.