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.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sellicks Hill Wines Valletta Shiraz (Grenache Mataro) 2010

Tell me this doesn't inspire you to visit Paul at the winery ladies!

This is a new release. Well, it was when I started this review. Yes, it's a 2010, and yes, that was nearly 6 years ago. Did it get lost on the way to the cellar door? Well, I'm sure there's a number of reasons but the main one is that it's now ready.

Paul was previously a fan of the way cork ages his wines, but he was not a fan of the associated problems with taint, random oxidation and their general unreliability. His eventual solution was to leave the wine to age in barrel much longer, which is an economically risky and difficult plan. It's something the big wineries simply cannot even contemplate, since whilst it results in a more developed wine it's costly to store wine and in the meantime you're not getting paid for it. However, for us consumers it means we get a wine far more developed than usual, and in the case of blended wines they can be more perfectly balanced.

This is predominantly Shiraz at 85%, with about 10% Grenache and 5% Mataro blended in for that better balance. Tasting it, I suspect most people would not pick it as anything but Shiraz. Full bodied, savoury and plush, with more complexity and sexiness than the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders explaining quantum mechanics. It's only real fault is it comes in a measly 750ml bottle, when clearly a magnum is the minimum required.

It doesn't need aging, but will reward it, and give it some air before drinking in the short term.

Rated: I love it / 96++ / Excellent
VFM *****

Monday, September 28, 2015

Koltz 2014 Estate Shiraz

I opened this just after the Pagan. A bit unfair probably, but then again it's far from out of place alongside it's older brother. I'd like to think I can taste the same vineyard, albeit different years and styles, in these wines. I'll never be sure until someone tests me with an options game, though I'm usually sitting out early anyway.

I'm actually writing this on day 2, it's not so much that the wine needed to breathe a day, but I was sure it wasn't going to hurt it, and indeed the opposite is true.

Quintessential McVale Shiraz but with a fair bit of Koltz terroir for interest. Sexy nose, cacao powdery tannin, plummy rich fruit, black olives, shiitake, and a lick of ironstone all in one glass. The length is very good, and the balance rock solid. It could use a wee bit more time in the bottle for those tannins to soften a bit more, probably 2-3 years, but the why-wait generation will find it drinkable now, and the why-hurry crew will be rewarded in 10 years.

Like The Pagan and The Wizard these Koltz Shiraz are high on the genuine VFM chart. I could easily drink it by the case load.

Rated: Highly Recommended++ / 94
Value: *****

28/09/2015 There is a current The Pagan 2013 release special which includes this wine, those slow to find this page will have missed out.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Koltz Pagan Shiraz 2013

I had a pretty much perfect introduction to the Koltz Pagan, with my first tasting being a decadent vertical, culminating in the impressive 2012. My wine enlightenment journey continues with the new 2013 release.

I do admit to initially having a little trouble getting my taste buds to understand the Amarone style. It tricks the palate, there's overtones of late picked but it's not cloyingly sweet. That's because it's actually picked a fair bit earlier than most Shiraz would be and then the grapes are dried before fermenting. This method concentrates the fruit flavours, but also captures the natural acid at the correct level.

If you were to pick more normally ripened Shiraz and use that technique, then the wine is going to lack the acid to be balanced. It's a temptation, but a mistake, to let grapes become over-ripe and shrivel on the vine,  the resultant wine so often initially starts out pretending to be rich and opulent, but actually ends up being cloyingly sweet after a while because they have very little acid left. The mistake is sometimes compounded in some wine factories when they add a few buckets of tartaric acid to counter the sweetness.

The acid in this Pagan is succulent, natural, and exceptionally well balanced with the fruit power.

There is a theory that the grapes will continue to develop and ripen even after they've been picked, and during the drying. I assume that they do not develop in the same way that they would if the vine were feeding them, and no doubt there are a lot of complex changes going on besides just drying out. Regardless of the science involved, the result is a wonderfully complex and individual wine.

There are very few wines I make mine mind up on after just a couple of small sips, but after sip #1 I felt an audible "oh wow" was required, and with sip #2 I've made the huge call that this is the best Pagan yet.

Black cherries, leather (also probably black), cedar, nutmeg, and a bunch of other good McVale stuff  combining to give a hard-to-put-the-glass-down mouth filling flavour bomb that reminds you that you've even got taste buds in the back of the throat. Full bodied yet impressively lithe and harmonious. It's only a baby but already clearly a gifted child, who will go on to become exceptional. If you can let it.

Rating: Excellent+++ / 96
Value: *****

PS. Sealed with Diam, which is far more reliable than cork.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Massena Twilight Path 2014

I was a bit unsure exactly what I should expect from a blend of Primitivo (aka Zinfandel), Mataro and Graciano. I know Zin and Shiraz are good mates, and Mataro and Shiraz are good mates, so a friend of my friend is also my friend. Graciano? Well she's Spanish, usually brings tappas to parties, and has flowers in her hair.

Quite a powerful nose of black cherries, a slice of raw ripe strawberry, fresh shiitake mushroom, a scattering of violets, all served on a Bottlebrush wood platter.

It's surprising how easily it can be to get a bottle brush platter. Firstly, you need the water company to come unblock their drain, and whilst doing that also crash into the Bottlebrush tree in front of your house. After they've fled the scene and the tree has indicated by leaning over at 45 degrees, with a split trunk, that it may fall on someone's head or car, you call the council. Three times over 3 days. They eventually send out some poor guy on a Sunday with his chainsaw to fix things. In chatting with the aforementioned chainsaw wielder you notice that Bottlebrush wood is both wonderfully aromatic and quite pretty.

A palate of intense flavours that increased the longer it was open. Vibrant flavours but not acid driven, fruits follow the nose. Silky tannins slide off the tongue and then hang around in the chops, succulent acid leads to a long but more-ish finish. There's good complexity here, the three amigos are melded but you can also taste each one, giving a layered flavour profile, which is not seamless but then that's what makes it an interesting vino.

A sipping wine this, the floral aromatics revisit from the back of your throat and the flavours linger long. Apparently it's designed to be drink now, and whilst yes you can, I have a suspicion it's only going to get better.

Recommended, 92+, price matches quality at $28 RRP

I had with Butter Chicken, which matched very well.

Bought from: Different Drop

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Marius Harvest 2015

Oh dear, I just found this in my drafts. Oh well, better late than not at all...

Sheesh, I'm getting worse. We picked months ago and I still haven't posted anything.

All'ya'all'd (I larn'd me that in the USofA) be sick of me gloating about what we drink after picking, but that won't stop me.

I picked over 2 days again this year, well more like 1.5. I'd like to say teams 1 and 2 were so brilliant than we left little for team 3, but truth is the rain gods were fickle (does that suggest goddess? /duck), and so the yield was somewhat reduced on last year.

Saying the quality was high in the Marius vineyard is a somewhat of a tautology, but it was. The wonderful thing, to me anyway, is that the grape flavours were like no other year I've tasted yet. It's subtle of course, since the Marius grapes are like no other grapes, but I expect yet again the wines to be similarly different as they were over the last 10 years (there's another post here about that somewhere).

On pick #3, we actually tried the 2015 "wine" ferment from day 1, and a week later it was pretty well finished in terms of sugar to alcohol but it will spend more time on skins until Roger thinks it's "done". Rather impressive really, clearly not going to be a featherweight, and really nice silky/rounded tannins, so I ordered a dozen.

To the tastings. I was also lazy with photos this year. You get this: 

The moral winner is the 2005 barrel sample Mataro, lost for a decade and then pops up to show how bloody good Mataro can be even when you treat it so rudely. The one on the right was not a Matarius, but a super secret sample of which I may not yet speak. The 2002 was vibrant as hell and a great wine, thankfully under screwcap and I expect will easily go another 10 years. End Play is nowhere near it's end, keep it a bit longer I reckon, though drinking very well now.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sieber Rd 2012 Ernest Shiraz

You sometimes read that a wine is a 'good food wine', but what does that really mean? I sometimes hope it's a bit like German Fastenbier, which is a strong Bock beer that is rich enough to live off during lent. Then again, perhaps it's best if I'm not tempted to try.

Perhaps it means it's only good with food? Do I need a layer of cheese coating my tongue in order to mute it's acidity? Or does it mean I should use it in my cooking? Coq au Bin 95?

Well, to me, a good food wine is one that refreshes the palate, wakes up the taste buds and melds with the food rather than competing with it. Of course, a Shiraz is unlikely to meld well with a lemon sorbet.

As you've probably guessed by now, this is a good food wine. It dances the line between refreshing the palate and satisfying it. Just when you think perhaps the acid is marginally too fresh, the resultant salivation creates a secondary wave of flavours and primes the palate for non-vinous input. It's pretty good without the food too.

Mulberry, blackberry and dash of redcurrent for fruit. Black leather, red gum and an autumn sunset for a bit of interest. Soft succulent tannins, and balanced acid in a Johanssonesque body. Made for enjoying now, and I did.

Rating: Silver / 92 / Recommended
Value: **** (Punches above it's weight)


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Whistler Hubert Irving 2012

We Aussies still haven't got our collective heads around blends. They seem to scare the masses, and so quality wines like this and Kalleske's Clarry's GSM blend sell for a lot less than they probably should. If this was a straight Shiraz we'd be paying at least $10 a bottle more and still thinking it was a bargain, because it's rare that a straight varietal is going to have as much complexity and balance.

Then again, from the winemaker's perspective they didn't risk having all their eggs in the one basket. If, for example, the Grenache (37%) happened to be a tad more acidic than desirable, you could balance that with the plusher Merlot (41%). Same deal with the Merlot perhaps lacking length, up steps the Cab (17%) to convince it to linger a bit longer. Of course it's rare that a wine doesn't need a bit more subtle flamboyance, so in struts magic Mataro (5%).

Winners are grinnners.

Slightly over medium body, suitable for pretty much any occasion. Opaque body with a dark crimson rim. Fruit forward but supported well with rounded slightly chewy tannins and just right acid. Redcurrent, blackcurrent, purple plum, a dash of miso and a sprinkle of sage. Slurpable synthesis.

Rating: Recommended/Silver/92
Value @ RRP $20 **** (Tell yer mates it's $30)

Whistler Wines Website