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.

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.