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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Inkwell Wines

Inkwell Wines is a very small boutique winery in McLaren Vale. It's one of the passions of Dudley Brown who despite having a seppo accent, is actually an Aussie and a very nice guy indeed. He is a single vineyard kinda guy right down to using wild yeast and making sure it's his own wild yeast that's doing the ferment. Wild yeasts are by nature unpredictable, but he doesn't mind that as it's character he's after.

At this stage much of his Shiraz fruit is going to Chapel Hill's Vicar, which has won numerous awards. But more about the Shiraz in a bit.

It is because he originally hailed from the US that I wanted to track him down and try his Zinfandel. I figured a Yank should be able to make a good Zin in Australia, if anyone can. Dudley planted his Zinfandel a few years back, and when he did he picked the meanest bit of ground he could find for it to see if he could tame the difficult to grow vine. His success was mixed in that he was right that it was a hard bit of ground and so had a bugger of a time getting it to grow in one patch. Various amounts and types of poo eventually solved the problem. Dudley thinks if you only grow Shiraz you're a wimp.

The 2009 vintage weather was even nastier than the ground with a horrible hot spell wiping out a lot of the fruit, and the wine came out lighter than a classic Zin so he called it a Primitivo, which is the Italian version made from this grape. This wine immediately has you thinking of spiced cherries, it's light in colour but not light in the mouth, with very fine tannins. I reckon fore go the traditional xmas cherries and have a bottle of this instead. We got a barrel preview of the 2010 Zin as well, and it's something to look forward to for sure.

Dudley also gave us a preview of the bottled but as yet available 2008 Inkwell Shiraz as he thinks it needs to gestate a little bit longer. He is aiming to make wines that are going to go 10 years, at least, and a wine with enough structure to do that can be rather daunting when in it's formative years.

This wine is a tad sneaky, with the first sip I'm thinking oh yes it's full bodied alright, good fruit, and as you might expect from a wine planning to last a while, the tannins are still a tad grippy in the poor young thing. Then another sip, and the taste buds looked over at the gums, and the gums metaphorically winked back whilst daring the tongue to resist licking them. The tongue joined the Borg.

This wine is big, but it's like an elephant in a tutu. Thing is, I reckon that this Pachyderm can dance like Baryshnikov, it's just that it's going to take a few years before it's actually graceful.

I'm going to hold out and save my rating until it's released, but if you'll take my advice you'll keep an eye out for that day.

Dudley is very passionate about the Vale, and deserves a bloody big pat on the back for fighting for it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Madeleines Musque Chardonnay 2009

Gah a white! Well, I was planning on having some freshly shelled prawns and it just seemed the right choice.

I'm pretty hard to please with Chardonnay because, as I've ranted before, I like the big old style. Briefly, whilst this is not an old style, this is probably the best Chard I've had this year, and well ahead of all but one or two others, which to be fair had some age.

Quality stuff.

(Chris, can you make a special barrel next year just for me and the other die hards that won't give up on the big ones?)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Longwood 2007 Shiraz (cleanskin)

I opened a bottle of this on Friday, and about 3/4 of it got consumed. I put the lid back on and proceded to have a weekend of too much xmas cheer. Tonight I found the 1/4 bottle.

Impressively, the wine is noticably better tonight. The fresh bottle has plenty of yummy fruit but a very slightly bitter finish which I suspect is from the ample tannins, and also has somewhat noticable acid. All good things for cellaring, and nothing that stopped me enjoying it Friday.

But tonight after very extended breathing it's all come together so well. The fruit is more complex, the tannins are more subdued, and even the acid has softened beautifully.

Phil, the winemaker, hints this may live forever. I reckon he may be right.

Not sure how much, if any, is left. Highly Recommended for cellaring and ****.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lazy Ballerina 2008 Shiraz

James Hook, the winemaker at Lazy B makes two Shiraz, a straight and a Shiraz Viognier. This is the wine with only red grapes, and it's the one I prefer. My wife disagrees with me.

This wine is just lovely, the sort where the glass seems to empty itself, and far too quickly - I keep looking for the Nac Mac Feegles stealing me wine.

Nice plum purple-crimson, with a nose that makes you smile as though you know some private joke, though in my case I probably just look like a grinning idiot. But I reckon the joke's on anyone who hasn't tried this wine.

Quite fine tannins, just grippy enough to keep the flavour on your tongue and hint that it's got some years ahead of it yet. Really nice fruit that has you licking your gums because your taste buds tell you that is a good idea, and they're right. The acid integration is just so smooth that I reckon Rob Thomas was having a glass of this at some point and had an epiphany. Balanced, classy and yum.

Highly Recommended and ****

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Madeleines Primitivo 2008

This is somewhat of a new variety in the Australian scene, where Primitivo has it's roots in Italy and is a close DNA sibling of Zinfandel. Both are probably originally cloned from a parent vine in Croatia.

I opened this about 3 hours before dinner to decant. Early tasting at that time it had some green stalks, and bit of sulpher to blow off. The acid was fairly noticable with a slight raspberry tang. It improved a fair bit after breathing.

Drank most of it with dinner, a Moroccan Beef Tagine, and it was an excellent match. The wine coped with the strong spices well, and the lower than Shiraz fruit sweetness was a bonus with such rich food.

Finishing a glass after dinner, the black fruits were more obvious, as too the floral aromas. Tannins firm but not too dry. One of my guests guessed it was a BV shiraz, and I can see why given some of the 2007 Shiraz we've had lately with their imposing tannins, but this one is a bit of an individual and the best Primitivo/Zinfandel I've had in Australia, though sadly that group is small for now.

Rated as Highly Recommended, particularly with food.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Big Chardonnay - The Red Drinker's White, R.I.P

Summer is coming soon to Adelaide, and I'm here in Broome at the moment which is reminding me a cool white on a hot night is a good thing. The trouble is I'm really not much of a white fan, they are generally quite acidic without any strong fruit to offset that for my palate.

Dear Winemaker,
I used to enjoy the truly big Aussie Chardonnay, the type with the kitchen sink thrown at it, not picked too early, buttery malolactic ferment, considerable time on lees, and a fair whack of oak resulting in a full flavour white. I say 'used to' because they seem to be dead, gone, forgotten. At least by winemakers.

I appreciate that acidic bland Sav Blanc has been on a growth spurt lately, but did you really need to completely abandon lovers of  truly big Aussie Chard? Is there any sense in all of you moving all of your Chard production to the new 'compete with SB' acidic style Chard? Did you not consider big whites to be a taste bud stepping stone to developing an interest in reds?

The funny thing is one producer didn't and Giaconda gets $150 a bottle for their Chard simply because it is truly big, and Parker in the US loves em big.

So, here's my challenge, if any winemaker thinks they still make a big old fashioned Aussie chard, send me a bottle and if it really truly is big I'll sing your praises for a year, at least, not to mention buying a few cases, probably every year, for life. Because I'm tired of buying promises not kept.

I somehow think I'm more likely to see a Thylacine this summer. The madmen killed that off to make room for other things too.

In the meantime I'm also wondering why there are so few sparkling reds out there, it's another market segment mostly being ignored right now.

Thank Baccus for the golden one known as aged Reisling this summer.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tim Smith MGS 2009

As I said on twitter, you know a wine is good when you've finished you first glass, (which you've poured to review), and not a word written yet.

(10 minutes later...second glass)

I seem to be having trouble describing this wine.

Ok, so I'm getting the typical Grenache red fruit aromas but there's a level of complexity added by the Mataro which is hard to describe, and therefore I'll throw out words like cedar, tobacco and old socks. I'm admitting right here to stealing the term 'old socks', it's what a friend uses when she can't describe a certain aroma. We reckon she means the kind of smell that Silton has, though somewhat more subtle in wines usually.

The flavour is savoury and spicy, but not peppery. The fruit is definitely there but slightly hanging back like the cute girl who hasn't worked out she's cute yet. The oak is hiding behind the cute girl. The tannins can't seem to decide what they want to do for me; at first I decided they're a bit clingy, then next taste I reckon they're just self assured, but quite frankly they're clearly female tannins cos they have me quite confused yet wanting more of whatever they want to give. 

There's probably a long lingering finish, but I seem to take another sip before the previous one fades.

Drink it with beef burgundy. I did.

Highly recommended. Very cellarable, 10 years at least.

* No MGS was harmed in the making of the boeuf bourguignon, though a pitiful wretch from Moppa Rd redeemed himself.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Karrawirra Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008

Another one from the Glug Shiraz dozen packs (mostly sold out now) this wine is pretty decent. Typical fruity Barossa Shiraz, a bit on the rustic side with somewhat coarse tannins but otherwise balanced with the oak, acid, and fruit. A bit of a simple fruit driven wine at this time, but a good gusty red overall.

Don't know that I can see the $16 they want outside of the tasting pack but if you can get on special it's good quaffer. I reckon I like it slightly more than the Bin 221 and 222 which sell for more individually, and it would certainly improve with a coupla years cellaring to soften the tannins.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sons of Eden Kennedy GSM 2008

The Grenache is obvious on the nose with it's red fruit aromas but I reckon I can smell the hayshed from the orchard too. I found there was quite a spicey zing on the tongue well before I swallowed. A long peppery finish with the fruit showing through, before fading into a bantam-weight fight between the tannins and the acid, with no clear winner by the end of the bout.

A very good food wine as my butter chicken with a hint of chilli would attest to, if it could speak. And if it does speak, pray you're not in hearing range.

Recommended, but it's sold out at cellar door so I'm clearly not the only one who liked it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Old Moppa Road Shiraz 2008

Horrible stuff. No idea what Glug were thinking when including this in their mixed tasting dozens, but this makes cask wine look good.

To be fair, most of the Shiraz pack was indeed quite good value, this one was an aberration. And lets be honest, you need a few cooking reds and it's offset by the Teusner and Wheatsheaf which are well above par.

Marius Wines

I didn't know Roman Generals have beards, but apparently some do, and perhaps this is why Roger Pike has named his winery Marius Wines. He did sort of look like a Roman General himself standing there on his balcony, overseeing his legionnaires who were arrayed down the hill in precise columns looking up at him. Unfortunately the persona of ruthless leadership was slightly marred by Roger's smiling eyes. I'm pretty sure even bewhiskered Roman Generals don't smile.

Thankfully Roger kept his own moobs hidden

If Roger was the General, then the fellow alongside him, an imposing bloke with a human skull hanging from his ear, must be the Praetor's assassin. Luckily, despite his lobe manifesting a headhunter's trophy, it turns out whilst he actually might like to assassinate a colourbond loving local politician or two, that Philip is a rather jovial bloke and excellent company to taste wines with. He also grows French truffles in his pocket, which he generously shares.

We were also introduced to a fellow who wanted to be called Mandingo, but as he was not black I can only assume he meant Man-Dingo, perhaps a kind of native Australian werewolf, and I think the scraggly chin hair supported that theory. We found out that he was actually from the local council and was the 'wine spitting police' - apparently it's required. Bloody councils!

The Legionnaires, with McLaren Vale in the background. (Looking to the northwest)

I was going to descriptively review the wines but it's already been said far better than I can and it's better if I just tell you that I agree with almost everything said by Philip of truffles about the Simpatico, Symphony and Symposium. The only thing I disagree with is the scores since I'd add at least 1 point more for each of them, and probably 2 points for the Symposium.

On a more personal impression of the wines I found all of them to have a unique herbal bouquet, that I had to check several times wasn't coming from the garden or Philip's truffle, but really it was much more of an earthy herb aroma like someone in another room was bruising up some oregano, thyme and spices ready for an Italian stew - they weren't though, it really was the wine.

At first I preferred the Simpatico to it's slightly more expensive brother the Symphony, and no that isn't my wallet talking, it's more that Simpatico is a slightly simpler wine and easier on the brain when trying to understand what you're tasting. By the end of the glass of Symphony, Gilligan's brain had finally decided that whilst Mary Anne Simpatico would keep you happy most of the time, it was Ginger Symphony who was going to make your life a lot more interesting.

But Ginger didn't have to compete with the Spanish Queen. The Symposium is fabulous stuff, and frankly later I was a little concerned that the quantity of good wine and good company enjoyed by that point might have influenced my opinion. So I just had to have a bottle with dinner later and it was even better, probably because it had been decanted and breathed longer. I haven't been able to get it out of my head for days. Don't tell me Missus but I think I'm in love with a Spanish Queen.

And then sometimes the good days just get better. Roger gave us a taste of his new baby direct from it's wooden womb, the 2010 Shiraz. Phenomenal stuff. Philip was a tad concerned that an early sunset would be the result of this 'black hole in a glass' sucking all the light from the Vale. ManDingo just wished he were as black.

And then the best days can have a surprise ending. For some reason Roger decided we should try his new unreleased wine; End Play. Actually the reason was made clear when I let him use my alcohol breath tester and he registered 0.340 (Philip was somewhat behind with only 0.188 but apparently he wakes up at 0.100 and has a highly active liver). What's in End Play? Roger won't say, but I will tell you what's in it - all the bloody good stuff!

Roger laughing that most mortals would be dead at this point.
If you're not on Marius Wine's mailing list then hopefully you're in the queue behind me somewhere. If you're on the list or in front of me in the queue, then have you considered the health of your liver?


Vini Vidi Bibi - we came, we saw, we drank

Update: 2008 vintage wines have been released.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kangarilla Road Wines


I have been very lax over recent years in the number of trips to McLaren Vale, especially seeing how it's under 45 minutes away from me.  Even worse I had set a pattern of visiting the same wineries each trip, so whilst initially I was planning on going to Kays I decided to delay that slightly and head somewhere new.

Kangarilla Road is one of the main roads leading east out of MV centre, but Kangarilla Road Wines is about 8km out past McLaren Flat where you're almost starting to get into the more hilly area of the Vale. A nice area and so amazingly green this year.
I tried to get a bit of the angel's share - no luck

We were warmly welcomed, which of course is typical of MV wineries, but so were the kids which is nice. A large array of reds was lined up before us, but it was the Zinfandel I was here to try, so imagine my excitement when I get told there are two Zinfandels! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We started with the 2009 Sangiovese, and whilst I'm not a huge fan of this grape - I made my own Sangiovese one year and I think I've been swayed against it by that - this one had nice spicy cherries, medium body and light tannins, with a slight acid zing to end. No doubt a great food wine.

The 2007 Primitivo is actually the 'other' Zinfandel, as it's from a slightly cooler region vineyard and is made in the Italian style with less skin contact it's a slightly lighter and more spicy style Zin. I picked up an almost blue cheese aroma but in a very pleasant way, I wondered later about that and found this. Looking at the light colour of the Primitivo I expected it to be light to medium bodied, I was very wrong. This wine is like Bruce Lee, looks scrawny but packs a wallop. Thing is though, it's not a big jammy wine but simply mouth filling and satisfying.

I almost skipped the 2008 Cab Sav, I'm not a fan of young ones, but it's very good. Earthy still, but rich and smooth with a very good finish. I'm still wondering why I didn't buy any, but it's ok my friends did and thus I can drink theirs until I get my own.

The 2008 Shiraz I wasn't expecting anything special as I'd already read a review elsewhere, and whilst I will not repeat that review, the summary was it 'needs time'. That review was Jul 2010 and I didn't expect 3 months was 'time', clearly it was. This is a now a very good wine, lovely balance, and just a real pleasure to drink. We had this later with dinner and it continued to impress us all against another well rated Shiraz. The winery's notes are spot on so I won't add my own. Highly recommended.

The Devil's Whisker's Shiraz 2007 is co-fermented with Viogner, the tasting notes confirmed it but it was fairly clear on the impressive nose. I was ever so slightly less impressed with this over the 2008, it is a very good wine still and it's probably just personal taste and aging making me put the 08 in front right now.

Then to the 2008 Zinfandel. I think I was expecting it to be more like I remember California Zins and it's not. What I mean is it's not how I remember them, but there's a good chance this is exactly like those and my memory is at fault. Again, like the Primitivo, it's big in the mouth and nice complex flavours, more red fruits than black, with a nice spicy finish. I liked it.

Unlike some wineries, Kangarilla Rd let you taste their super premium wine, this being the 2007 Q Shiraz, though as this is new to the stable they might be aiming to get a following. This is clearly the best wine there. The fruit was apparently sourced from the Paxton Quandong vineyard (but I see no comparison between this and the 2009 Paxton Quandong). Excellent balance and designed to cellar for a considerable time. I was determined not to like this too much as I can't afford to drink it.

The view north

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Barossa Valley Estates E-Bass 2006

2006? Really? In that case I reckon cellar to about 2026. This has got so much life! And what's more, I opened this baby 24 hours ago.

It's not all that often that I fall in love with a wine with one quick taste, but as soon as I'd taken one whiff of this I knew it was going to be good. For me, some wines have an indescribable quality, and when we English speakers find the right description totally baffling we resort to French and say je nes sais quoi which clearly means the French don't have a word for it either! Thus I call it: YUM.

This wine is yum, pure and simple. And the best part is it's excellent value at $18 a bottle in a case of 6, delivered from the cellar door.

Actually I lie, the really best part is, have this with a semi spicey beef marsala and you will have a crisis in your mouth. But just in case you think the curry altered my perception, tonight is my second bottle in the last week and it went just as well with more simple flavoured beef and fetta meatballs.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Morris 2004 Rutherglen Durif

Very dense lava red, with the colour only showing in the thinnest part of the meniscus (my pretentious* word of the day). Nice earthy and fruity nose that tells you that you're about to have rather happy taste buds.

A quaff of this and I find myself almost chewing the wine, it's fabulously mouth filling. Fairly dry firm tannins that keep the fruit on the tongue for a long time, then the acid starts to become noticeable to keep the palate fresh. A brilliant food wine for gutsy meals.

Why am I reviewing a 2004 wine when there is a 2005 and 2007 release? Because if you're fast and clever you might pick this one up as a cleanskin for a very good price.

* unless pretentious is a pretentious word itself

Max Allen Interview

I've not read his new book, Future Makers: Australian Wines For The 21St Century, but I did catch his interview on the ABC's Bush Telegraph program on Oct 10th. If you missed it, catch up with it here. The MP3 podcast can be found more directly here. There's some interesting stuff on his views about climate change and wine.

Not the first time I've heard about that either, with large French wine companies buying up South England land to prep for climate change. Pity they haven't heard that one side effect might be to make England cooler due to the gulf stream changing or even stopping according to some.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Knappstein Sparkling Shiraz NV

From the Clare region, apparently these vines have a bit of a weird history, originally they were low yield dry grown Shiraz, and then turned into Chardonnay by grafting in 1980, and finally were turned back into Shiraz in 1996.

I empathise with those vines, having once been known to partake of a full bodied Aussie Chardy, I now find myself drinking Sparkling Shiraz much more often when needing a wine for warmer days.

Popping the cork made me very glad I had decided to hold onto it as the pressure was rather extreme, not only would it put someone's eye out, it'd probably knock their bloody head right off!

The fizz was too much initially, and I'm not sure if this is primed intentionally high or someone got carried away, but initial taste was just far too overwhelmed by the carbonation, leaving the wine very one dimensional and bland.

Let the fizz die a bit though and it's far more interesting. Not at all sweet, which is a huge bonus, and something the cheapies do so badly - trying to overcome carbonation bitterness with excess sweetness. Instead, with the Knappy (sorry, couldn't resist) we have a very more-ish wine with a nice balance of fruit and dryness. There's almost an oily texture that gives it an added complexity due the acid blending in well.

I think it's quite overpriced at $22 CD, but do some searching, perhaps on an auction site and you can probably find it for under $15 right now and it's good value then.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chateau Leamon Bendigo Shiraz 2008

Vanillan oak and fruit with an earthy/grassy undertone gives this a great nose. The colour is a slighty translucent crimson. The body is medium, with a smooth blending of pepper, fruit and tannins leading to a decently long spicey finish with very balanced acid.

I'd personally like a tad more body and fruit as the nose promises much more than the palate delivers, but this went particularly well with a baked vegie bolognese.

Reasonable VFM if you can get it under $18.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How I Review

It might help people decide if my reviews have value if I give an insight to my tasting.

Firstly, I don't sip and spit. There is nothing wrong with that, but it does require a very trained palate to pick up everything in a short time. Instead I taste by drinking the wine, which I feel is how most people are going to enjoy the wine anyway. Additionally I think there is something extra you get from a wine only if you swallow a decent mouthful.

Secondly, I am usually tasting before, during, and after food. If I feel a wine changes character with food, or noticeably goes well with food, I will mention that in the review.

In tasting all wines I am usually also taking my wife's opinion into account. There are a few reasons for that, none of which have to do with who wears the pants in the family. She does however have a very good nose, and back in the cork days she could pick up TCA before the foil came off the bottle (I may be exaggerating slightly, but not much). Plus it's always good to have a second opinion, especially from one with whom you've shared countless wines.

A few of my reviews also include opinions of friends, and I intend to make that clearer in future reviews when I have had opinions from others.

I'm going to try to avoid coming up with a score as I don't think wine is a competition sport, and variety is the reason we should drink wine, but if I don't think it's worth buying or vice versa, I will try to be clear about it.

Hidden Talent McLaren Vale Shiraz Edition #1

The HTW website reviews this as big, rich and jammy, but I beg to differ somewhat. Yes it is fruit driven, but I wouldn't really call it big or jammy, at least as far as McLaren Vale Shiraz goes. They then go on to claim balance, and that's a pretty fair assessment.

The nose makes it pretty clear that you're about to taste some black fruits, and that you'll bloody well love em. It's fairly full bodied though not too chewy, with impressively smooth tannins giving just the right amount of dryness with no real astringency.  A slightly sweet mid palate of blackberry, plum, and cherry mixed with some 85% cocoa dark chocolate. The acid is indeed nicely balanced and only just barely becomes noticeable right at the end of the long finish.

I've been pretty pleased with the HTW tasting notes, though they were a wee bit off with this one to me, and to be fair 'big' and 'jammy' could be considered relative terms. It's actually rather refreshing to read honest tasting notes from a retailer, and though wine is subjective, sometimes I wonder what wine (or how many) they were tasting when they wrote them. I do hope Mr. Howland can keep that up.

A quality MV Shiraz this one, and good value. Tell ya what though, give this one about 2+ years for the fruit to back off a little and I reckon it could be special, which is pretty nice for a 'cleanskin'.

BTW it's 14.5%.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hidden Talent Great Southern Shiraz 2007 Edition #1

This is my first bottle of any Hidden Talent Wine. It's funny, I'm completely lacking a gambling gene, but the lure of a 'bargain' overwhelms that, except that whilst I have a cheap streak it doesn't extend to my palate. However, I had a positive mini review from a 3rd party I trusted to be unbiased and who appreciates fine wines, therefore I considered this less of a gamble than buying a labelled wine which I hadn't tasted myself.

Though this is a 'cleanskin', the bottles do have the HTW label on them which is nice as it saves me getting the paint pen out. The website doesn't say it, but the label says this weighs in at 14.5%.

I didn't decant this, and though I gave it a few mins in the glass to let the volatiles out, with my first smell and taste I got hit by an excess of sulphur, so my advice is definitely let this one breathe a bit. But to be fair I am quite sensitive to SO2.

So, after some air for 30 mins, it's got a subtle mixed spice aroma of cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. It's somewhat medium bodied which is typical for the region, but the spices hit the tongue even before you swallow, and what I really like was it's not a pepper spice a la Heathcote. This is not to say I don't like pepper in my Shiraz since I most certainly do, but variety is the spice of...ah, anyway...the finish is long, balanced and complex with a few plums also saying hello, and most appreciably the acid is present but not standing out like a sore thumb. The wine continued to improve as it breathed for 3 hours, and it coped just fine with a seared T-Bone basted with peri peri and soy.

If HTW can keep sourcing wines as good as this, they should do well. Definitely recommended.

The only thing I didn't like was not knowing who the talent is, so in case the winemaker reads this: yum!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chris Ringland CR Shiraz 2008

I had planned to just review the wine, but I think I'm going to digress quite a lot here so bear with me if you just want to know what the wine is like.

I've had a number of bottles of this wine, and before I start I confess to being a sucker and heathen for huge wines. It started many years ago and David Noon is the culprit with his "Burgundy", which was hilariously misnamed as there was no Pinot with miles of it and it was 16% or there abouts. That wine just screamed "wake up" to my taste buds, and I've never been the same since.

Now there's been a ton of chat I've been reading lately about high alcohol wines, here, here and here for example. And before I finish linking, this one is a very interesting read if you're a James May type. Now my take is that alcohol is irrelevant if the winemaker can balance it, ie. my dry Shiraz should not taste like a vintage port, but I am definitely happy to have variety in my Shiraz styles and terroir can take a flying leap in this case.

Back to the CR Shiraz, at 16.5% this is clearly on the upper scale of alcohol by volume, and when I opened it tonight the alcohol was masking almost all the fruit aromas. But knowing this wine fairly well I was surprised by this, and then the light went on, it's finally spring here and the wine's temperature is 24C now. Previously I'd tried this wine at sub-20­C and it was definitely a better wine when cooler, so the actual tasting temperature may be even more critical for higher alc/vol wines.

So, to the tasting. It's probably as huge as they come.

I'm kinda tempted to stop there, but in a bit more detail, it's got loads of fruit, so many I can't even begin to name them, but plenty of dry tannins to offset that. It is fairly low on perceptible acid but I like that as the alcohol and tannins are providing enough zing on their own.

Don't have this with fish, probably not even Tuna. Actually, don't drink it in summer either.

I love it. Not all will.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Teusner The Dog Strangler Mataro 2008

I thought I'd bought the 2009, but apparently my eyesight is worse than I thought.

This wine is a real chameleon at the moment.

I opened it to decant 4 hours before dinner and had a taste. It was quite green, acidic and pretty uninteresting at that time.

Dinner was started late, so we didn't get to it for 5 hours, and wow did it change in that time. The initial bite had dropped a lot and was now showing minty spices, slightly tart cherries and leather with a peppermint finish.

A great food wine for sure with it's zingy flavours, though we did try it both with and without. I'd love to try this again in 10 years.

Bird In Hand Merlot 2007

A fairly delicate Merlot, smooth and almost creamy, but with a fairly thin mouthfeel despite it's 14.5% alc/vol. There's nothing wrong with it but it didn't exactly have me rushing back to the decanter. I suspect it suffers from it's 2007 vintage quite a lot.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Moredsir's Theory Of Wine

1. Wine is a drink to please the drinker, nobody else.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Goat Square Barossa Valley Shiraz Grenache Mataro 2006

Here is the last of my Glug self selected quaffer tasting pack.

Quite a dark cherry red. This is actually fairly smooth with a nice full mouthfeel. Fruit is mellow, but has some interesting flavours due to the blend. Slight spiciness, and a decent finish with very light acid and not much dryness. Somewhat suprising that it has as much body as it does since there is not really much fruit, and the tannins are very mild.

I'd describe it as a full bodied medium flavoured quaffer. Glug describe it as a blend that Shiraz drinkers would like, but I reckon it'd also suit the Merlot fans. Decent value at $8. Enjoyed much more than the Garagiste MGS.

Garagiste Barossa Valley Mataro Grenache Shiraz 2007

A Glug distributed wine again. I had some high hopes for this as it's main fruit is Mourvedre (Mataro), and I really want to see this variety used more, preferably on it's own.

Unfortunately this one just isn't up to the value for money of the other Glugs I've tried. It's a bit thin, lacks any real fruit, not exactly smooth, and well it's just kinda disappointing.* I paid $8 so I don't expect too much, but I'd be asking for a refund if I'd paid the $15.99 Glug are saying it's reduced from.

I've reviewed this alongside Glug's Goat Square Barossa Valley Shiraz Grenache Mataro 2006, check out that review here.

* please read my followup comment on this

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hawker Brothers 2008 Reserve Malbec

Malbec, so under appreciated as a grape in Aussieland. This one is from the Clare Valley and part of the Glug tasting pack I self selected recently.

A relatively dark cherry red colour. The nose has nice spiced fruit and a very subtle undertone of fresh cut hay. Though this being spring it may be the pollen affecting me.

Quite smooth on the tongue, the fruit is restrained but is having a nice dance with the spices who are slightly shy but friendly. The finish is fairly dry with just a hint of acid.

I would love a bit more of the distinctive Malbec flavours to be here but still a very pleasant wine,  especially for the $8 I paid.

(please read my followup comment on this)

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Wheatsheaf Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008

Bah, I was just about to write a review and I thought I'd check what the distributor had to say about it on their website, only to find out it's all gone! I'd bought this one looking for a quality quaffer to stop me dipping into my 'needs more time' cellar stocks.

Right, well to let you all know what you missed out on then.

Decanted for an hour, which is something I am trying to do as much as I can these days, and would recommend for all wines.

Lovely satsuma plum colour. Rich nose and the alcohol (15.5%) subtlely just letting me know it's there.  Typical Barossa black fruit and dark chocolate flavours, but enough tannin and acid to keep the fruit in check and give a lingering, dry and yet full flavoured finish.

I'd recommend it, if there was any left to buy! Despite buying as a quaffer I think I'm going to hide a bottle of this away for 5 years, and then probably kick myself some more when I decide I really should have bought a full case.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chris Ringland Ebenezer Shiraz 06

Huge is the word that comes to mind.

This wine is going to be too big for many, I can accept that. But it's simply magnificent to me, and strangely my wife agrees with me. Her exact words to my question "what ya think?" was "it's really good, lots of fruit but the dryness offsets that, it's really balanced".

I've seen these wines referred to as fruit bombs, and I get the idea that the fruit is more noticeable than in many other wines but I don't see it as overpowering all the other flavours. If you drink lighter Shiraz with less fruit flavours, lets say a Heathcote Shiraz, then I guess the fruit in this is going to seem really in your face. That fruit of course decreases over time, and I expect this wine was designed to age.

This review is more of a tasting note for those who have the 06 already since the 07 and 08 have been released and stocks of 06 will be extremely rare. If you do have the 06, don't open it yet as I believe it's got at least 10 years left.

Chocolate, black cherries and mint. I highly recommend you leave this one all to me

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seppeltsfield 1998 Unlabelled Vintage Port.... err VP

I've been meaning to post about this one for a while because right now it's a fabulous bargain.

First thing is, this is not remotely sweet like the far more common tawny port..er fortified. Seppelts have always been brilliant innovators when it comes to fortifieds, and this is no exception.

I mean it's got Touriga in it! What's that doing in an Australian fortified? Can't make the Portugese too happy after they made us give up the 'port' name, and now we try to steal one of their port grape varieties!

How Seppeltsfield describe their show vintage also applies to this wine: Seppeltsfield aim to make a Vintage Fortified that is drier and more refined than the traditional Australian style with an intensity of flavour derived from fruit quality rather than high Baume.

I could waffle on here about flavours and stuff, but really, if the idea of a drier fortified with oodles of flavour appeals then you'd like this. Note that they are 375ml bottles, cork sealed.

Wirruna Estate Durif 2005

Durif Grapes - courtesy Wirruna Estate
 
Picked this up on a whim as I'm sometimes in the mood for something a bit different in a red but with still some meat to chew on. This is the JW Family Reserve, though I think it's pretty much time wineries retire the reserve name as it's horribly overused now days.

Colour is a sangria red and not really all that dense for a Durif. Nose is black cherries and quite pleasant.

Fruit is quite restrained but the black berry fruits are there. The body is medium. There's some acid on the finish which unfortunately isn't balanced by the fruit. A reasonably dry finish with no specific flavours really lingering on the tongue.

Considering I picked this up for around $10 it's reasonable value.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gemtree Uncut Shiraz 2008

Dark, almost black, maroon red. Earthy bouquet showing early.

Slight acid, medium berry fruit, with a slightly dry tart finish.

Think this one needs to breathe a bit more....

Going excellent with a non chilli butter chicken, the acid level is perfect for that. The bouquet never really showed much of anything more, and I'd really like more fruit from a McLaren Vale shiraz. If you like Cab Savs you'd probably like this one.

Bought this for $17 and I'd say priced about right at that. But having said that, I'd like to see how it is in 5 years, too much acid and tannin for me right now.

PS. Finally bit the bullet, on Twitter now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cooper Burns 2007 Shiraz

RBG tipped me off about this wine, to paraphrase, 2007 was a hard vintage, but you wouldn't know it trying this (too young) wine.

It's big, rich, fruity, but quite balanced right now. The only 'problem' I have with it is that it's got an unusual nose (smell/bouquet) and I can't quite describe it. My wife is saying liquorice with mint, but she's wrong. Ok, apparently not wrong since that defies some laws or something but, it's not what my nose says.

Highly recommended wine, and btw Booze Bros have it for a pretty decent price right now. And no I am not getting any kickback from them.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why More Red Sir?

Many red wine drinkers would have picked up on "More Red Sir" as a play on the name of the grape variety Mourvedre. Sometimes known in South Australia as Mataro.

This grape is extremely rarely used to make a straight varietal in Australia, but can often be found in blends. One such common Australian blend is GSM, which historically is a French Rhone style made from Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre.

I've only ever had one straight Mourvedre, but I thought it a fabulous variety on it's own and rather under rated.

I intend for this blog to be about wines and related topics that are perhaps a bit like Mourvedre - somewhat unknown, but hopefully interesting.