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 23, 2011

Red Wines In Summer

I was at a nice restaurant last Friday, lovely balmy evening around 25C, and we were almost al fresco sitting at the front of the premises where the doors were wide open. They had a good wine list and great food. The unfortunate thing was the Cab Sav was already warm when delivered, and only got warmer when exposed to the lovely evening air.

The crazy thing is the white wine the ladies had, and I'm not claiming whites are for ladies only (though my mate Brian might), was served chilled and with a wine bucket to keep it cool. So the restaurant took the most care of the cheaper white wine made in stainless steel and that was barely 10 months old, and left the Cab, which the winemaker had nurtured for 3 years, to stew in the warm air.

It's about time Australia realised that "room temperature" for red wine is too warm, especially in summer. A Cabernet Sauvignon, like most reds, is best served around 15C, with even 20C really being the upper limit. Pleasant temperatures for humans isn't so great for red wines.

At home this warm weather I don't stop drinking reds, they either get around 30-60 mins in the normal fridge or come from my wine fridge which is 13C. I then put it in an insulated wine bucket. I also have this little round plastic chiller brick thing that I put in the bottom that is perfectly shaped for the bucket and works better than ice would.

If you overchill your red, it will warm up in the glass anyway, possibly with help from a warm hand. I reckon that's far preferable to sticking in an ice cube, as I've heard of some desperate people doing to a too warm wine. It is after all without external means, considerably easier to warm a wine than to cool it.

The better reds for summer are Grenache, Mataro, Tempranillo, and of course blends of those, but I'd encourage you to always cool your Shiraz and Cabs back down to ~15C to have with a nice BBQ steak or ribs.

I wasn't paying for the reds last week, but I regret not asking for an ice bucket so that I could have enjoyed them as much as the food. I didn't want to seem like a wine wanker, but on the flip side I would not have hesitated to ask for an ice bucket for a Riesling in the same conditions.

There's probably a few guides out there, but I suggest 13C is about as low as you want to go, 15-16C is ideal, and 20C as mentioned before almost too warm.

Friday, December 9, 2011

McLeans Farm Mataro Shiraz 2009

I spent a couple of very educational and enjoyable hours with Bob McLean this afternoon. I had sought him out because I'd randomly picked up his 2005 Shiraz Mataro, which was drinking beautifully earlier this year.

His vineyard and cellar door are up on Mengler's Hill, which is effectively the border between the Barossa Valley and the Eden Valley. Hence he uses the term Barr-Eden to describe his vineyard's terroir, which is at an altitude of 477-510m.

His Mataro vines are the highest in the region, and surprisingly, to me at least, they are grown as bush vines, which is a method far more common to Grenache, which he also has planted there.

Bob has been experimenting since at least 2005 blending various amounts of Shiraz, Mataro and Grenache. He very generously gave me effectively a vertical tasting of those, and just in case someone has one of those extremely rare bottles I'll give a quick overview, but the main purpose was to get an idea of where the wines are headed as a style.

The 2006 was a Grenache Shiraz Mataro, possibly not with respect to percentages in that order. The wine is excellent right now. It had a tiny bit of carbonation at first, which I don't see as a fault as it blows off fairly fast, but I mention it because it does mask other flavours. Regardless it needs to breath at least 30 mins, and longer is better. It's complex, intense, balanced and downright delicious. It saw only old oak and whilst Bob felt perhaps it could have used more I didn't find it lacking. This was the best wine of the day, mostly due to it's age developed complexity and poise.

No 2007 left, so to the 2008 Mataro Shiraz (sold out) , which I think was roughly a 70/30 blend. An intense wine initially, but settled down well to show more complexity. Bob felt it a bit steely but I more thought it showed a slight touch of  raisin character from the hot vintage. Again good balance, acid in harmony with fruit intensity. Perhaps slightly sleazy but you're not always looking for a girl to take home to mum.

The current vintage is 2009 Mataro Shiraz and sans notes I'm remembering this as being 50/50. I've got a bottle of this open right now so I'll try to be a little more accurate with this one. Initially both aroma and palate somewhat closed, at least compared to the older wines, but it's had 6 hours breathing now and both have opened right up. The Mataro is quite obvious with it's chorizo sausage and olive characters dancing around with the plums of the Shiraz. But whilst both are great dancers it's more like they're doing jazz ballet rather than a tango just now, but time will bring them closer together. Tannins quite fine, the gum licking acid is highly suited to a good meal. Very classy.

I also tried the 2010 which was effectively a barrel sample and found it hard to get past the tannins at this stage, but that's often the story with Mataro, it's just not a drink young grape, hence it often being teamed with Grenache. However I tasted enough to want to seek it out again next year.

The 2009 gets a Highly Recommended++ and **** especially given the very low production.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sieber Road 2009 GSM

It smelt bloody good pouring it in the decanter, and 2 hours later it smells even better in my glass.

I'm not a huge fan of Grenache, but the Frenchies in Rhone got it right when they blended it with Shiraz and Mourvedre. This is luscious and slurpable. Not sure whether to lick my chops or suck on the glass.

I really like all these Sieber Road wines, and I sometimes wonder whether I've been swayed to buying them by the very affable Val Sieber. Then again, when I enjoy them this much I don't really care.

This is everything I want in a slightly lighter weight wine for summer drinking, it's red fruit dominant but there's some black and blue too, tannins not too challenging for a warm evening, and just the right amount of acid for food or sipping slightly chilled (about 15C).

Recommended and ****, particularly good value in dozens from their website or cellar door.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Marius Simpatico Shiraz 2008

I've talked about this wine before but never really done a tasting note. That's largely because Philip White, Gary Walsh and James Halliday have already given it glowing reviews, so what can I add?

Well, I'm not a professional reviewer, I am a customer, so perhaps other potential customers might appreciate that point of view.

Simpo 08, as my case of this is labelled, is almost 4 years old now, and it's been interesting to try this wine over the last 8 months or so. When I first tried it in March what stood out to me was a savoury character that I associate with Schwarzwälder Schinken, or Black Forest ham in English. This is not to say that it's the most forward characteristic of the wine, but that it is the unusual overtone that makes this different to your typical plum, chocolate and licorice McLaren Vale Shiraz. That is to say, it's a strong hint of the complexity of this wine.

Tonight I still picked up on that aroma but it's slightly different now, it's a bit more like a xmas dinner. There is still the ham, and of course some fresh cherries and blackberries, but I can also smell the spices in the family recipe (obligatory but very much looked forward to) xmas pudding.

The other thing about this wine is that the bloody thing vanishes from your glass too quickly. It's like being a kid opening xmas presents as fast as you can tear off the paper, there's a head rush, you're in the moment, and then, the moment is over. The bottle is empty. Too soon Executus!

So, let me check if all the clever buggers previously noted above missed anything I need to tell you about this wine...hmm, nope they've pretty much nailed it between them. Actually, there is one thing they haven't actually said clearly enough - you really should get some of this!

Scoring or rating this wine is in many ways rather limiting. It is a wine of such character and singularity that even it's brother Symphony is but a fraternal twin with promise. Excellent and *****

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kimbolton Brad's Block Montepulciano 2008

This is the full Monty.

Sorry, couldn't resist, but it's true. Montepulciano is not exactly commonly available in Australia, and much more rarely is it grown here. There are barely more than a handful of winemakers putting it on their labels at this time.

Montepulciano in Australia is often seen in wines from Abruzzi, as Montepulciano d'Abruzzo of which you might have come across the $10 Gran Sasso. So let me first say this Aussie version is fairly different in style to that one which is somewhat lighter.

Aromas of leather, mushroom and cigar box. On the palate it's full bodied with blackberries, cherries and kalamata olives. The tannins whilst substantial are not dry or grippy owing to excellent balance with the almost crisp acidity.

This is a savory wine, a food wine, and a wine that makes you think about it. Top marks for being fairly different and thoroughly suited to a slight chill for dinners in summer.

Rated Highly Recommended and ****, though I am somewhat swayed to that score because I think this is worth seeking out simply for it's difference.

Available from the The Winehouse, Langhorne Creek, whom I link because there is a retailer with a similar name.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Warrabilla Reserve Durif 2009

It's not normally Warrabilla red weather in late November, but it's a chilly 16 this evenin' and will get down to 14C. So I thought I'd take the opportunity to enjoy this before summer sets in.

Often when I watch a movie, even if I enjoy it, I feel like I'm there sitting in a cinema watching a movie. I'm just a voyeur. Sometimes though, the movie really drags me in and I feel a part of the story. I jump in my seat, lean forward, tense up and sometimes even get emotional. I come out of the cinema feeling like I just experienced what happened in the movie.

This Warrabilla Durif is not just a mix of aromas and flavours, it's an experience.

I've re-written this blog about five times now, because this wine is so hard to describe. Normally you'd describe a wine by referring to other flavours and aromas, those that the reader will likely have personal knowledge of. But with this wine, unless you know the Warrabilla style, and how it applies to Durif, I reckon I'd sound like a fool. Whitey would nail it though, he'd have gunpowder and black snakes in it, and he'd makes sense to you.

So, who cares what the reviewers say, go see this movie for yourself and experience it first hand. Better yet, take the ride at Warrabilla World, it's in 3D, surround sound and the seats vibrate and tilt - or they will after a few glasses. Buy the Blu-Ray too, you'll want to watch this over the next 10 years or so.

Rated Excellent and *****

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lazy Ballerina Shiraz 2009

I opened a bottle of this a little while ago, took some notes, intended to write them up here, and then lost them. It's not unusual for me to lose things, but this time I feel it was Freudian - I needed an excuse to open another bottle.

This wine is also a reminder to me why I don't review wines unless I can spend time with them. I tried this at cellar door, and it was clearly a very good wine but it didn't blow me away as much as the 2008 did at the same time last year. Apparently my taste buds hadn't quite woken up at cellar door. They're wide awake now.

Magnificent colour pouring into the decanter, almost iridescent purple and crimson. Loving this colour is probably Freudian too. Growing up, we had a plum tree in the backyard, and at least one time I recall my brother and I having a plum fight. We spent quite some time hosing off the plums before Mum and Dad got home, which is a shame really because the house looked brilliant with purple polka dots.

Fabulous nose. Red cherries, blueberries, a hint of fennel and lurking around in the background is something dark and wicked. You know how when you're at a party with loud music and you're trying to talk to some lady who isn't your lady and you have to lean in quite close to them to yell in their ear (for guys I just yell louder). Well, sometimes they smell quite nice, wickedly nice. I think they've been dabbing LazyB Shiraz behind their ears instead of perfume.

I don't think my wife reads this blog. You'll know if she does when the posts stop suddenly.

The flavours are complex. It's like being in your car at a train crossing, waiting as a freight train goes past. You sit there trying to read the graffiti on each carriage, but just as you've almost worked out what the word was, another one appears. And then another. Quite a lot more follow. So please forgive my failed taste buds if they can't get beyond "yum".

Tannins fine and velvety but they really need more time yet. Acid perfectly matches that though. This wine will age well, so unlike me try to hide it away for 2-3 years, but get enough you can drink it for a lot more years than that.

James Hook, the winemaker, told me he gets almost ill with apprehension when he releases a new wine. Clearly it's not because he fears the wine's quality, but just because he cares so much about what he's created. I love that.

Rated Excellent++ and ****.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chris Ringland 2009 CR Shiraz

When last I'd tried a CR Shiraz it was the 2008 and at that time I'd not yet discovered the magnificent Warrabilla reds, so I declared that wine to be about as big as they get. Well that wasn't true, though perhaps most of the Warrabillas I've tried aren't all that much bigger. This 2009 though, is even more on par with them in intensity, though not on overall balance.

This CR wine won't age as well as the Warrabillas do, and I suspect Mr. Ringland would be fine with that, he's kept the acid fairly much in the background and the tannins are pretty soft really. It makes for a great drink now wine (where now really means winter), but since I'm having lamb roast tonight I chilled the bugger slightly and I am loving it. Having said that, I do reckon 4-5 years is fine, it's just not likely to go 10.

I asked my wife to guess the alcohol, and remember it is slightly chilled, and 15% was the guess. It's actually 16.8%, which is kinda crazy in some ways, but it works for me. I've had 15% wines that taste and smell hotter. There's a fruit intensity I get that is not mixed with alcohol heat, and my tastebuds absolutely love it.

This is a wine that some will hate, and I can understand their point of view. But I love both AC/DC and Mozart, and I don't see why I can't also enjoy this and a 10 year old Clare Riesling. Perhaps not on the same night.

Better than the 08 and much better than the 07, but probably not as good as the 06 thought that's a guess as I only tried the 06 at five years old.

No rating on this one, it's too polarizing in style, but lovers of huge Shiraz should seek it out.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lazy Ballerina Shiraz Viognier 2009

I'm a bit new to Shiraz Viognier really, I mean who would think it's a good idea to co-ferment a white grape with a red one? I'd somehow picked up the idea that it's done to lift the aromatics, but if done poorly it can leave the wine smelling like apricots.

However James Hook (aka the Hookmeister), informed me when I pronounced his SV free of such stonefruit 'taint' that the reason for the Viognier is to soften the tannins a little. There's under 3% Viognier in this wine if I recall correctly.

Thus this wine is slightly more approachable than it's 09 Shiraz sibling, which if you'd read my review you'd know I reckon it needs a little time for those tannins to soften up. (Which you can't have read yet because I lost my notes in a Freudian desire to have a need to open another bottle of it, despite it being too young.)

A side note on this wine is that the Shiraz in it is from a completely different vineyard to it's straight Shiraz stablemate.

A couple of hours in the decanter first and it's clear this is one classy drop. The nose is plums and spice and all things nice. On the tongue it's full bodied high quality fruit supported by fine young tannibles and excellent acid balance. Despite the Viognier, the tannins will benefit from a wee bit more bottle age.

This is a very good wine and I have no hesitation in rating it Highly Recommended++ and ****. (Remember I try to mark hard)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kimbolton House Block Shiraz 2008

I discovered Kimbolton wines via the Winehouse in Langhorne Creek, which is a cellar door for a number of local LC wineries. They also do functions there, well worth a visit. In fact the entire area is probably underrated for it's wines.

Dark crimson on the pour. Blackberries, noticeable but quality oak and Indian spices on an intense and somewhat hot nose. The blackberries follow on the tongue with hints of white pepper and salami. Medium bodied with silky tannins, the acid balance is very good.

The fruit intensity isn't as expected from a 2008, and I'd like more complexity but perhaps that will come in time when the oak settles in a bit. There's a lot to like about this wine despite my somewhat harsh judgement, and at $20 it's reasonable VFM.

Recommended+ and ***

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Inkwell 2010 Shiraz (preview)

I've tried it.

It's not released.

It won't be released until 2012.

Get on the mailing list.

You will thank me later.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Inkwell 2010 "Inkling" Shiraz/Primitivo

After trying lots of Zins in June, I had this thought that the grape has a lot of synergy with Shiraz and wondered why I hadn't noticed any blends of such.

Next time I was talking to Dudley Brown I asked him if he'd ever thought of blending the two. I think I surprised him a little since he had indeed made a Shiraz+Zin and was just about to bottle it. Clearly I am either clever or can read minds, or both - I know my wife can read my mind so perhaps I've absorbed that skill.

Dudley is obviously as clever as I think I am because this blend works really well. It smells like I've gone picking cherries in the Adelaide hills just before xmas. It tastes vibrant and yet not acidic, and would eminently suit being ever so slightly chilled for a warm summer's eve dinner.

I only had a small taste of it but I think it's a very exciting wine and well worth trying this unusual blend. I see a great future in it (I'm prescient as well as clever and having ESP).

Rated Highly Recommended.


Inkwell Infidel 2010 aka Primitivo

Infidel [in-fi-dl,del]
A person who has no faith; unbeliever

That's what Dudley has called this 2010 Primitivo (or as I prefer, Zinfandel), and whoever doesn't believe Zin can make great wines is indeed an infidel. A quick grape variety lesson here, Zinfandel and Primitivo are indeed the same grape. Read more about them on wikipedia if you're interested. I'm calling it Zin for the rest of this article BTW.

I first sought out Dudley because he was growing Zin in McLaren Vale. I had first tried Zinfandel in Napa Valley 15+ years ago at Cline Cellars in the Sonoma Valley, and I was blown away. I've been randomly searching for a local version of similar style for a long time, but it's just not a popular variety in Australia, possibly because it's pretty hard to grow.

My search has ended. This 2010 Zinfandel is brilliant.

In June I spent 3 weeks in Hawaii, and surprisingly there is actually a pretty good selection of Zins if you take the time to find the specialty wine shops. I reckon I tried two dozen Zins hunting for what my taste memory said I should expect from this grape, and I got close with a few but nothing that blew me away. What I found was many lacked complexity, such that after one glass I was ready to move on. That may well be my ignorant palate when it comes to Zin because I wasn't buying the cheap ones, well mostly not anyway.

This Infidel though, well lets just say I had to tell my wife off twice for trying to steal another glass of it - I was trying to save some of the bottle for day 2 to get a bit of an idea how it might go longer term. BTW, the answer is it's impressively even better today and sadly not enough left in the bottle for my liking either.

I'm not even going to attempt to describe it in detail, but I can say it's fruit forward, silky smooth tannins, perfectly balanced acid and flippin more-ish.

There's unfortunately very few bottles of it, and there's now at least one less than there was.

I rate it Excellent. And in my somewhat limited but enthusiastic search it's the best Zin I've ever had.


PS. the label print is done as a eyesight focus/sobriety test, but I had no trouble reading the word "INKWELL" so I reckon I'm fine. (you'll understand my waffle when you get a bottle)

PPS. US consumers will be buying this under screwcap cos only an Infidel would think cork is better.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dandelion Lionheart 2008 Shiraz

Gawd, I've neglected the blog again. I have written a few posts in my head but they never made it as far as my fingers. It's not the wine's fault, I'm sure.

Interesting wine this, and not in the way that people who use the word interesting to mean "I don't want to say bad things about this but...", rather I mean it's not an obvious wine. It's not obviously big, or obviously light, nor indeed can you fall back on the now obvious, 'obviously medium'.

The colour is light, the acid balanced, the tannins substantial, and the fruit is red. I think someone is pulling my leg, this is a Grenache yeah? Perhaps GSM? I know I wouldn't have guessed a Shiraz in a blind tasting.

The wine smells like a winery, well at least the room where they sit the barrels of wine to age. There's probably a name for such rooms, but personally I just call them heaven on earth. You'd think most wines would smell like that, but what I mean is this smells fresh, rich and heady.

Really the most obvious thing about this wine is it's obviously good. Light colour, medium bodied and huge nose - there's a joke at someone's expense in there somewhere.

Highly Recommended with a ++ I reckon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hard hitting wine interview

Philip White asks the hard questions of Roger Pike about his 2008 Marius Shiraz fraternal twins.

Well really it's two old buggers talking about the wine they're getting sloshed on. Bloody good wines, so can't blame em. You can see the vineyard in the background, plus the galv sculpture and even Philip's famous shrunken skull earring.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Crabtree Cellar Door Shiraz 2008

This wine is only available direct from cellar door, though you can order it online. It's a marketing idea I wish a lot more wineries would wake up to.

Wineries are always treading a fine line between looking after direct customers whom they make the most profit per bottle from, and not annoying the retailers whom they often make most of their sales to. Personally I think many get that balance completely wrong and charge their direct and loyal customers too much, whilst allowing Dirty Dans and others to sell at cost price (and then quietly fuming that they felt forced to). I'll avoid a full rant and stop right there.

The smart thing about this wine is whilst it's not as good as the 2009 Watervale Shiraz, it is still a good wine and hits that value range that Dan and other retailers know is about $12-$15.

It's dark maroon, a vibrant nose of dried thyme and sage with wafts of briar fruits. Tannins are somewhat grippy yet quite fine and the overall balance very good for a 'quaffer'. In fact that's probably an unfair term for this wine because, whilst it's $12.50 a bottle in dozens, apart from it being a tad rustic it's hard to fault really.

She's a bit sleazy but she's hard to say no to. (Just to be clear I mean the wine, not the lovely lass that was at cellar door)

I reckon 6 of these and half a dozen of the Watervale 2009 Shiraz is a good move, I just have to convince Crabtree that I should get the dozen discount on both. I would have suggested the 2009 Windmill Cab, but I think I bought the last bottles of that one.

I rate it Recommended++ and think it will drink better in 2-3 years.

I noticed there is no information about this wine at the Crabtree website, but my label says it's from Watervale West/Dry Grown blocks, hand pressed (I assume hand cranked press else I am really amazed), and 14.5% of the buzz inducing stuff.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Winter in McLaren Vale

Winter in the Vale? Well it is technically, it is July after all, but with a beautiful sunny day around 20C it doesn't feel too much like winter today. Roger Pike of Marius Wines told me he had a fairly thick frost the other morning, so I guess winter is lurking around, it was just taking the day off today I guess.

A lot of vineyards are in the middle of pruning right now, and that's where I interrupted Roger giving the legionnaires a short back and sides. The 2011 vintage went very well for him, as you would know if you read my picking article a few months back. He happened to have on hand a part bottle from a barrel sample of the 2010 Shiraz, which had been exposed to the air for the last 5 days. Despite that, the wine is showing great promise indeed, and I couldn't even detect any VA.

I also called in on Dudley Brown of Inkwell Wines. Apparently the 2008 Shiraz and 2009 Zin are all gone, though perhaps tiny amounts may be available at retail. Dudley was generous in giving me a taste of a number of barrels as well. They all showed great promise, with some interesting blends likely coming out of them down the track.

One interesting comparison was between two 2011 Inkwell Shiraz barrels, where this year he was careful to seperate during harvest the grapes from two geologically different areas of his Shiraz vineyard. Roughly in the middle of that vineyard the soil changes, literally in a single step, and you can taste it in the grapes and thus of course the wine, where the difference was quite clear. I think Dudley called it geoenology, aka terroir if you're French.

And when you actually taste just how much the soil affects the wine, you then have to shake your head at the monumental idiocy of the South Australian government, who actually approved housing development on one of the oldest geological areas of McLaren Vale.

(Anyway, enough about the foolish, looks like Rann is about to get run outta the top job anyway, perhaps he can take Rau with him.)

I also called in on Redheads Studio, who I have been meaning to check out for a while and was thankfully reminded of by Dudley. Because of all the barrel samples and needing to drive home I only tried a limited selection. Showing my excellent taste I chose the Longwood 2009 Pinot, which was quite clever of me because Phil Christiansen who is the winemaker was at the cellar door. I had been wanting to meet him since trying his very good 2007 Shiraz - I tried his 2010 Shiraz whilst I was there, which is also very good and top value as it's a cleanskin right now.

Clearly a talented winemaker is Phil, and if he points a large knife at you, just check if there's French goats cheese on the end of it, and if there isn't then say something nice about the wine - I hedged my bets by saying nice things and eating the cheese.

The Longwood Pinot is definately my style, and I suspect many Shiraz drinkers would like it a lot, with the complex flavours of Pinot Noir but with a bit more oomph on the tongue than many deliver. Highly Recommended.

I can also recommend the La Curio 2008 Reserve Shiraz, and if you like Grenache then you'd probably like the La Curio 2008 Reserve Grenache as well.

I need to go have a lie down, was a pretty hard day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Clare Valley - on your bike!

I'm off to the Clare again next weekend and decided it's about time I wrote about my last trip there when we rode the Riesling Trial. We won't be on our bikes this time as it's mid winter, and whilst it's likely the weather would be fine enough to ride we're not going to gamble on it.

So, what is the Riesling Trail anyway? It's a bicycle trail and a set of loops within the Clare Valley, see this brochure for more details. It's called the Riesling Trail because that is what the region is most famous for, and rightly so as the trophy below proves, but there are also some great Chardonnays too, and more importantly some brilliant red wines, particularly Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The main trail between Clare and Auburn is a very easy ride as the trail follows the defunct train line path, and trains aren't too good with rolling hills so the trail is quite flat.

The views from the trail are brilliant, and for the most part it's a very safe ride with no cars to contend with. You're often riding with the vineyards on both sides of you, or amongst the shadey gum trees that line a lot of the trail.


There's also a few bridges across the more major roads. The one below goes across Quarry Rd.

The path we took was starting near Kirrihill and Tim Adams, we rode down to Penwortham via Sevenhill Cellars. Then we did the John Horrocks loop, which is along the country roads which are quite winding and you need to be careful of traffic, and also be aware that loop has some quite steep sections where the kids needed to walk their bikes at times.

One side benefit of travelling that pathing is the trail from Clare towards Penwortham is ever so slightly uphill, you don't really notice it on the way south but coming home after those hills near Skillogalee and Jeanneret we were able to rest our legs since we hardly had to pedal at all.

The negative thing about riding your bike when wine tasting is that you really can't purchase the wines there and then. What I did was make careful notes, flagging any wines I wanted to buy, and dropped in with the car the next day on the way home. Please don't abuse the hospitality of the wineries by using the bikes as an excuse not to buy, most can freight your wine for you at a pretty cheap rate.

It's hard to highlight wineries as they were all great, but Cardinham Estate, Pauletts, Sevenhill Cellars and Crabtree stood out in my mind for various reasons that trip. I do suggest you skip the wineries owned by the corporates since you can buy their mass produced stuff much cheaper from the supermarket chains. Instead try to visit the smaller wineries making higher quality wines that have some character and life in them.

I'll try to be good and post more on the upcoming trip.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sieber Road Wines

Sieber Road Wines is owned and run by Richard and Val Sieber, hence the name. They have diversified into wines from being predominantly a cropping and grazing farm, after their viticulturist son Ben convinced them they had a property highly suitable for growing wine grapes. It's been a bit of a long road, but the last 5 years or so have seen them release a variety of consistently well regarded wines.

Val is most likely who will greet you at cellar door as they have it incorporated into their actual house living area. It feels quite homey yet also very classy, and the view is beautiful. I was made to feel very welcome indeed even though it was my first visit there, and I think I was there over an hour talking, mostly not even about the wines. Val is just like the cellar door, classy but comfortably down to earth. Even if the wines weren't so good I reckon I'd visit for a chat anyway. But they are good, very good in fact.

They grow Viognier, Mataro/Mourvedre, and Grenache, but the majority grape by far is Shiraz. With those varieties they do a straight white Viognier, a Shiraz/Viognier co-ferment, a GSM, a Shiraz/Mataro, and a straight Shiraz or two.

The Shiraz-Viognier was quite impressive because, unlike many of that blend, there was no overt apricot, but instead the co-ferment simply lifted the bouquet of the Shiraz, giving it a different feel and style to the straight Shiraz, without detracting from it.

All of the wines are fruit forward style with lively, and good quality, blue and black fruits.

Sadly I didn't keep notes of all the wines I tried at the cellar door as I was enojoying the chat, but I am enjoying the 2006 Ernest Shiraz whilst writing this, and in fact I drank it over two nights.

The colour is almost black but there's just a hint of crimson when held up to the light. There are aromas of ripe blackberries and black cherries, with some cedar and soy loitering around. Those all continue on the tongue, supported by lovely silky tannins and lively acid, overall presenting a muscular frame. The fruit is forward but not sweet, and the complete package is well balanced. The finish is pleasingly long and quite savoury. This should go at least another 5 years as it was noticably even better on the second night. $20 cellar door.

The winery is slightly off the beaten path but well worth the side trip from Tanunda.

I didn't get around to publishing this for a while and in the meantime I've tried a couple more of the wines, so here's my notes on those.

The 2008 Shiraz Mataro has a big rich nose, blue and black fruits, a bit of nutty oak combined with some floral hints to keep you interested. Dusty tannins and a refreshing acid blend with the fruit forward style to present quite a sophisticated wine. Went reall well with a mildly spicey stir fry. $20

Tonight I had the 2008 Special Release Shiraz, and whilst all of them will age well, of the three this one really is demanding more time in the cellar to show it's best. Based on it's structure I can only assume it was built to age. There's a fair bit of oak, but then there's a fair bit of everything. Intense black fruits on the outside, with some chocolate and Shiitake mushrooms providing a delicious earthy core. $28

All three wines I rate as Highly Recommended and ****. All of them are capable of going 10 years past vintage, but give the SR 08 at least another 2 years minimum.

BTW, if you've got access to James Halliday's notes and you're comparing to mine, I've confirmed he's got the 2006 and 2008 Shiraz backwards.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Crabtree Hilltops Shiraz 2008

This took about 2 hours to open up properly, and although it was quite good to start with, it's really singing now after 3 hours. On the olfactory senses it's overtly hitting me with black fruits, then following that up with subtle spices and quality oak.

My gustatory senses are enjoying the harmonious balance of silky velvet tannins, good quality obvious fruit with lively acid on a full bodied frame. A long finish leaves me satisfied, briefly, as it's more-ish. It went brilliantly with a top notch home made pizza.

There's none of this left at cellar door, and hasn't been for quite some time. They're into the 2009  there now, if there's any left of that. I got lucky and found some of this at a bottle shop, so keep your eyes peeled.

Rated Highly Recommended and ****.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Head Wines Head Red Shiraz 2010

The first thing that stands out is the stewed fruits on the nose. It doesn't scream apricot like some Shiraz Viognier's do, and thus it's more about subtle complexity. There's mainly red and blue fruits with a hint of spice. Tannins are dusty supporting a medium bodied frame, with somewhat lively acid. Fruit is noticeable and of very good quality.

Trying this wine over 3 hours, with and without food, it showed very good complexity and changed quite a lot in that short time. This wine will age and was probably released too young really.

Initially I wasn't overly impressed with it, but seeing how well it went with a seafood chowder I'm inclined to grab a couple more just for those type of foods, since I rarely drink whites. Actually a white wine would probably cower in fear at my seafood chowder.

It's Recommended and ***.

Torzi Mathews Schist Rock Shiraz 2008

Eden Valley fruit and thus a lighter style Shiraz. Light red fruits on the nose with a medium body based on rounded tannins. Quite well balanced but overall just a bit too simple to be anything other than the quaffer it is.

Agreeable and ***

J&J Shiraz 09

Black with maroon hue. Aromas of black fruits with a whiff of choc and maybe some olives, but overall the nose is a tad light. Dry coarse tannins, in a full bodied fruit forward style, though it's not as ripe as label suggests.

Acid is refreshing to mild, but the tannins may be hiding it somewhat yet. The fruit quality is average.

For around $12 it's quite Agreeable drinking, and probably will improve with a year or two.

Heartland Director's Cut 2009

Aromas of tobacco, licorice, black fruits, walnut and a hint of soy/umami. It's black with maroon hue,
fine dusty tannins, and full bodied. Refreshing acid, but the fruit is forward and of excellent quality. Overall a wine with diverse complexity and good balance.

On the negative there's a slight bitterness right at the end, probably the tannins as it was there day 2 still. However it's quite mild and with food you can't pick it at all.

I liked it better than the 09 Bishop, which Ben Glaetzer also makes under his Glaetzer label, because the fruit in this is overall just more appealing to me. I've hedged my bets though and bought some of each.

Highly Recommended and ****

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Warrabilla Reserve Shiraz 2006

I'm a Johnny come lately to Warrabilla, and I keep wondering how I managed to avoid them so very long. Especially since I love a big intense wine on the odd occasion*. In fact, it's a bit like sex that way.

Sometimes you just want to take your time, be aware of every little sensation, analyze it, savour it, learn from it. And then there's the times where it's all about the passion, the mind altering and heart thumping sheer abandonment. I'm talking about the wine.

The label says cellar 5 years plus. The label is correct as we're close to the plus part soon and it's not close to done. Which is good, since I am a believer that wines high in alcohol can age just as well as wines with old school 13%. Providing they have structure and quality. Does anyone remember the old David Noon 'Burgundy'? Monster of a wine, I got 8 years from that, and it wasn't remotely done. Bloody hilarious name for it really, and I didn't even get the joke at the time.

So, this wine then. My heart is thumping and I'm experiencing a great deal of passion and wild abandonment. God I hope she gave me her real phone number before she left.

Rated Excellent and ***** for value.

* odd occasion is when you're not having an even one. Flip of a coupla coins with me really.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sevenhill 'Four Buckets' Shiraz Touriga Grenache 2007

This one is only available at cellar door or by being a mailing list member, so this is more for those people.

Touriga is an unusual variety to find on a label unless you're buying a Port, aka fortified in Australia because the EU blah blah, but what I mean is it's the variety the Portuguese use in their Ports, though apparently they are using it more and more in their dry reds. This mix of grapes is indeed the same as the Sevenhill Tawny is made from.

The nose is fairly light with nothing much standing out really. The tannins are superfine which lead to a body that, despite the wine's dark complexion, is pretty much medium. The flavours are subtle and this wine just strikes me as extremely smooth, almost the epitome of a quaffer, in that it neither challenges nor offends and just goes down very easily.

Because this is on special at $120/case delivered until sold out I'm going to give it *** and give it an Agreeable score in the context that it is aimed at being a quaffer and is not a retail wine.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Landhaus The Saint Shiraz 2008

Rich red fruits on the nose which show up much better with a slow gentle inhale, quite impressive really if you get the olfactory wind tunnel speed just right.

Deceptively dark in the glass leading you to expect a typical meaty BV, but turns out it's somewhat medium bodied in the mouth. Tannins are very fine but after a few mouthfuls they show to be a tad dry. The red fruits tend more to cherries on the tongue with a subtle but persistent spicy wave on the finish. Acid isn't very noticable except for it's contribution to the spice.

Surpisingly for it's body there's quite a crust in the bottle, clearly backing up the winemaker's claim to a relatively 'hands off' attitude to winemaking.

Recommended and ***

Saturday, April 9, 2011

An oversupply of good wine?

I've been reading doom and gloom about the wine industry for a while, and there are still calls for 25% of vines to be pulled out, and if they're pulling out the vines that make cask wines and woolcoles cleanskins I'm all for it.

But when you read "oversupply" you need to keep in mind the vast majority of wine made is horrible crap made mainly to get you drunk as cheap as possible.

I'm not sure I see an oversupply of good quality wine, indeed many good producers sell out when they price according to wine quality and not purely what price they'd like to be selling it at. How many times have we seen a wine score a Halliday 94, sell out, then next vintage the price goes up yet the score dropped 4 points.

The biggest problem that many quality wineries have is somewhat of their own making, they spend very little effort on wine education about their product, almost zero in fact. Even at cellar door the vast majority impart little knowledge of their wines and methods unless you ask some searching questions.

The wine industry has this idea that everyone knows heaps about wine because in the circles they move in that's true. The real truth is the vast majority of wine consumers don't know much at all, they have no idea why an oak barrel is considerably better than oak powder/chips, they have no idea what tannins are and the differences between them, they have no idea on what a balanced wine should be like, and most of all they have a hard time telling the difference between a mediocre mass produced adulterated wine that's there to give you a buzz, and a hand made wine with character that is there to give you a memorable buzz.

The really crazy part is the wineries don't even have to spend much money on this education, it's mostly about putting in the effort.

And really, any winery that won't allow tasting of their top shelf at CD are either fools or selling a wine not worth the money - if they don't believe me tasting their $40++ wine will convince me to buy it, why should I gamble on it? I've gotten into my car, searched out their place of business, chosen them from thousands of cellar doors and I can't try their best wine because it's too special? The other side if the coin is if I like it I may end up buying it for many years on mail order. It's called education.

For too many years the quality wine industry has relied on the slogan "life's too short to drink bad wine", and whilst that's true how many consumers know what a good wine is?

I was going to finish my rant there, but there's another side to wine education. If I go to a cellar door or a website and the winery offers me their wine for $20, then next week I go into a chain retailer and I see the wine for $12.99 then I've been educated that (A) I'm silly to buy direct from the winery and (B) the wine wasn't, and never will be again, worth $20. I won't even say much about "members" pricing being more than retail in some cases, except to say what a slap in the face of your best customers.

Don't just show me the price, show me the value!

Cardinham Estate 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

What a deliciously savoury Cab Sav this is. You get herbs and spices on the nose, and they follow through on the tongue. The body is medium-full with powdery tannins that still have a little bit of grip, just enough to encourage you to lick your gums every few mouthfuls. Quality fruit but it's somewhat understated and balanced well with the oak and acid, making this quite a classy wine to go with it's svelte 13.5% spine.

The more Cabs I have from Clare the more impressed I am with the region's ability to make them very approachable even in their youth.

Recommended and ****.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Inkwell Shiraz 2008

Back in December I did a preview of this. It's now been released, well to mailing list members at least, and I assume by now even those foolish enough to ignore my prompting to get yerselves on said list can buy it.

I'd like to get all descriptive but typing means I have to put down my glass. Look, the nose is bloody brilliant ok? And my goodness the flavours are intense...gum lickingly, lip smackingly, eye closingly, intense! See it's even inspired me to come up with new adjectives.

The tannins are still pretty coarse still which gives it a bit of a rustic edge, and Dudley is well aware of that, and I bet if he had his choice I don't think we'd be allowed to drink this for another 3-5 years. So, buy at least 2 bottles so you can revel in it's raw glory now and imagine what's waiting for you in 5-15 years.

I rate it excellent+++ and ****

Damn, the bugger has stained my glass purple!

BTW, there will not be a 2009 Inkwell, thus the next release will not be until 2013.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Whitefeather Red 2006

Some people have a knack for being able to make you feel comfortable and welcome, they make you feel like they're an old friend you've known for years, even when you've only just met them. That's what John Saunders is like.

John's clearly put his style stamp on the Saunders Springs Vineyards in McLaren Vale, and that style goes way beyond just the name. But before I get ahead of myself there's the view driving down to the cellar door through the vineyard;

Saunders Springs Vineyard - McLaren Vale

The haze you can see over the house is from the brilliant wood oven he's built in dining area. Oh before I show more pics I must apologise to you and John for the terrible quality, they really don't do the place justice.

You can see the wood oven in the back left. There's a huge table you can just see part of on the front right, this was from a salvage yard and was clearly cut a very long time ago, off what must have been a massive tree. The design of the area around the oven and cellar door feels like you've stepped back to a 150 years ago. Give me class like this over chrome and glass any day.

I took several pictures of the cellar door area, and almost all of them are horribly blurry, which has nothing to do with the wines I assure you. However, at least I have a good picture of the brilliant bar design which John made from old hogs heads (wood not swine), it's hard to see in the pic but the front of the bar is quite straight;

Oh yeah, I was gonna review a wine. The Whitefeather Red 2006 has won a number of awards at wines shows, and I'm rather skeptical of wine judges these days, but getting Silver/Highly Commended at the McLaren Vale Wine Show is something that is more than reasonable to crow about I reckon. 

The wine is 81% Cabernet and 19% Shiraz, and matured in French and American oak for 13 months. It's full bodied with very good fruit, however I found the tannins somewhat dry at tasting and they are hiding the fruit a little at this stage. We later had the wine with dinner and as a food wine the flavours really come out to dance on the tongue. I reckon this one has many years before it's hit it's peak too.

Highly Recommended if you're having with food and ****.

Google is a bit of a failure when it comes to finding Saunders Springs have a look here: http://www.saunderssprings.com.au/

PS. tastings are by appointment, which I reckon gives you a good excuse to ask if the wood oven can be fired up for a pizza or two and you can see if I was right about the wine with food.

Moredsir makes wine!

I've made wine before, with mixed success, but I find it fun regardless of the outcome. So here's a little taste of what we did last weekend.

Find the Shiraz grapes

Fill as many tubs as you can fit in 2 cars

Marvel at Nokia's idea of colour correction

How to de-stem: place grapes on old bread tray
roll hand over grapes, grapes fall through holes
Stems stay on top. Viola!
No amount of foot scrubbing was acceptable to the crew, so plastic soled boots for the crush!

 The de-stem and crush took a bit over an hour and we ended up with 100L of must (from the Latin vinum mustum meaning young wine) which is the juice, skins and seeds. Yeast was added, a bit of yeast nutrient and our work was done for now. For the curious, the must was 26 Brix flat, so around 14.5 Baume. I have little control over temperature so I'm happy it's sitting around 22C.

We must have matured in our winemaking practices as nobody was asking "is it ready yet?".

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Head Wines The Blonde 2009

You know how you buy a wine purely on a reviewer's glowing recommendation, then when you get it you think the wine is pretty mediocre to say the least? This is not one of those wines.

I got some of this as I liked the idea that Alex Head is trying to make complex and classy wines from the Barossa Valley, somewhat inspired by wines from Côte Rotie in France's Rhone Valley. Actually he's gone well beyond "trying".

I'm a fan of big, bold, powerhouse BV Shiraz, but I don't want to drink it everytime I have a red. Indeed I drink red wines largely because of variety, and I'm often mystified by those who drink just one brand of anything. So, I'm pretty impressed by this wine that is not a run of the mill Shiraz-Viognier.

A quick sniff after opening and you can initially pick up the apricots like in a lot of SV, but a bit of breathing in the decanter and that melds with the other rich Shiraz aromas. On the tongue the tannins initially had me thinking they are a bit big and grippy yet, but they're balanced with superb acid that gives this wine a very more-ish mouthfeel. The fruit is just brilliant quality, absolutely top notch stuff.

I won't be opening another bottle of this for at least 3 years, though that is going to be really hard to manage. Not sure how available this is as only around 300 cases are made and it's well past the release date.

Rated excellent and ****

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Marius Harvest 2011

Whilst I wasn't in the place I most desired to be at 7am on a Saturday, I did appreciate the sunrise over McLaren Vale as we arrived at Roger Pike's vineyard. Earlier in the week, the weather forecast suggested we might get some rain, but I don't think I saw a cloud all day and you can see a long way from up there.

Roger made sure we had everything we needed, including plenty of food and drinks. It was a very enjoyable day, I found that after a while I settled into a rythym and could run pretty much on auto-pilot, with just enough of my brain tasked to watch for the very rare bad grapes - a stalled verasion caused just a few grapes to not fully ripen, and an even smaller number suffered bunch stem necrosis.

In the end I thought the picking went very quick, and I was suprised just how fast beer-o-clock came around. I thoroughly recommend the experience if you get the chance. Cheers to all my picking mates, hope to see you all again next year.

Fantastic weather and fabulous view, not long after sunrise.

Small, black and very tasty
Some bunches weren't so easy to pick off the vine
To make wine, first get a bucket of grapes

The bin is half full - I think I'm being optimistic
When the grapes reach the top of the bin it's beer-o-clock!
Amazing what people will do for a taste of Marius wines

The after picking session included some incredible wines from Roger. I didn't take notes so I've only got overall impressions, and thus I also hope I got the years right!

2008 End Play
Probably the lightest of all Maruis wines that I've tried but that's due to the tannins being fairly subdued compared to the others. Could be a Shiraz Sangiovese blend, maybe, but nobody dropped any hints that I heard. Very good wine.

2006 Simpatico
Wow, just wow. Drinking beautifully now but clearly many years ahead, great complexity. Excellent wine.

2005 Symphony
Superb wine, the kind of wine that makes you close your eyes so you can devote more of you brain to your tastebuds. Showing a bit of age complexity, my #2 overall if I was ranking.

2006 Symposium
Mind bogglingly good, my favourite Marius to date, though I'm a latecomer to them. More compexity than the 07, but that could simply be the extra year's age, but she's certainly a more classy Queen. Outstanding.

2008 Simpatico
Slightly surprising to me this wine is already into it's drink now window, it is earthy and savoury and very impressive. I like it a little bit more than the 07 Simpatico. Excellent.

2008 Symphony
A bit more fruit forward and less 'developed' than the Simpatico and thus I won't be touching mine (if I get my hands on some) for a couple of years at least, the orchestra is still tuning up atm. However clearly a great wine with fabulous structure, I have no doubt I would rate it excellent in about a years time.

We also had an unblended barrel sample that I am unsure of the year which was very interesting, and a sample of the straight Mouvedre which again I am unsure of the year, but I found it a bit young with very dry tannins so I don't have a good handle on it's flavours as a single variety. 

A great tasting session and it's abundantly clear that Roger is an artist when it comes to creating balanced and complex wines that get better with age.

I believe the 08s are being released after the 2011 vintage madness gives him some spare time to do it.

I know very little about how the flavours of ripe grapes translate into wines, but I can tell you the 2011 grapes tasted absolutely delicious, and combined with me tenderly soothing every bunch I picked into the bucket you can all expect the 2011 vintage to be superb.   Grin

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cardinham Estate 2008 Shiraz

Lovely dark burgundy as I poured into the decanter but quite black in the glass. I last tried this on a Sunday morning back in November, and that was after vowing I'd already bought enough reds and so was only going to Cardinham to see if I could snaffle a bottle of their world beating 2003 Reisling.

Considering the early hour I felt my palate was abnormaly accurate so was surprised to see Gary Walsh's review pinned to the wall giving this only a 90. I told Noel, the winemaker, that I thought he had been hard done by with 'only' a 90 but Noel was all philosophical about it. I think you can afford to be philosophical when you make wines as good as he does.

Trying it again now, I do agree that the tannins are a bit too rustic but merely in the sense that this is clearly a wine to age for a while if you want to see it at it's best, and it should be a ripper in 5 years or so. There's plenty of delicious fruit, balanced acid, and good savoury complexity. The finish is fairly long and comes in waves.

Pretty big wine for a Clare Shiraz, but still quite classy. I'll also give you the tip that the barrel samples I tried of the 09 and 10 wines were extremely good stuff, keep an eye out down the track.

No hesitation in giving it a Highly Recommended++ and **** at $20

Since I have been slack about pics lately, here's one of the 2010 Cab Sav barrel sample at around 10 months old - as you can see the bloody thing was trying to climb out the glass!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Madeleines McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007

This has got a really great nose, it's voluptuous and full like Barbera Streisand's konk but sexy as hell like Catherine Zeta-Jones' sculptured schnoz. Not sure I would have picked this blind as a straight McLaren Vale Shiraz as it's got a little of that cooler climate style to it, ie. some pepper and spices with a few herbs.

If I was trying to be picky I'd say the 15% is showing a bit, but considering this ain't a fruit bomb and not remotely jammy then I'm not sure that's much of a negative really.

Recommended++ and **** and I'm really looking forward to trying this again in 2-3 years.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Kalleske Pirathon 09

Not a proper review because I didn't take notes - I was distracted by good friends and good food. However, I can say for sure that it's bloody good stuff. I've a few 09's now and it's looking like a great Shiraz vintage in SA.

Highly Recommended+++ and **** especially if you can get it for $20 like I did.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Review System

oops thought I'd clicked publish on this quite some time back...

Cats piss (self explanatory)
Barely Drinkable (probably flawed or just plain very ordinary)
Acceptable (ho hum wine)
Agreeable (ok, well and truly drinkable)
-- You'll almost never see the above ratings here
Recommended (good quality wines)
Highly Recommended (faultless high quality wines)
Excellent (benchmark wines)
Outstanding (few and far between)
The Ultimate (almost as rare as rocking horse dung)

* Bad news - wines with delusions of value
** Normally not worth buying unless its very high quality special occasion wine.
*** Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; average value for money.
**** The extra good value drops that we all search out.
***** Like hens teeth, the bargain of the year category.

Cellaring Potential
+ Likely to improve with some age
++ Certain to improve with some age
+++ Requires and will reward cellaring

1. My ratings are heavily based on the TORB system, and I try to mark as hard as he did and for exactly the same reason - I want to buy high quality wines at better than average value, and those need some work to find.

2. You probably won't see me actually review anything under Agreeable. I will rarely be able to justify trashing somebodies hard work - the exception is cheap plonk that I really think would please nobody and needs a warning label. Actually, as time has passed, I find I can only be bothered to write something up if it's at least Recommended, and there's a very large amount of wines never posted.

3. Conversely, very few wines will rate Outstanding unless they have some age to them. To me Outstanding should mean exactly that, standing out from the many good and great ones.

4. To indicate how I am guessing they will age I've roughly stolen Philip White's system, where no + means drink it's already at it's peak.

Right, now to explain why I refuse to use a 100 point system. TORB sums it up like this:

Firstly readers need to understand that I profoundly dislike all numerical based rating systems, believing that assigning an objective score to a relative assessment, unless in a show situation, is folly.

Let's say that unknown to you, two reviewers independently agreed and both considered a particular wine as "excellent" yet neither used that term in their review, instead one gave it a score of 92 and the other a 94. To get a meaningful comparison you then need to find out what each number for each reviewer actually means when related back to a descriptor. And really, which is the more relevant rating to the reader, "Excellent" or the arbitrary numbers?

Simply put, an excellent wine is an excellent wine, regardless of some unrelated, made up, inconsistent
and randomly scaled number.

The Devil You Know Shiraz 2008

Picked up a bottle for 10 bucks on special at local bottleshop. Can't find much information on it, and not listed at Kellermeister, so I suspect may be a export label.

Simple report is it's great value at that price. Plenty of quality fruit flavours, slightly sweet but not overly so, velvet tannins, mild acid, and medium-full bodied. If you find it for that price buy a case I reckon, pretty hard to find better value for 10 smackers.

Recommended and ****

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gran Sasso Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2009

Trying so broaden my horizons I picked up a bottle of this Italian wine, mainly because the 2008 had gotten pretty good reviews. It's pretty cheap so I didn't expect it to be too impressive.

I'd call it light to medium bodied but with some noticable dusty tannins. The flavours are different to most Aussie reds, but they're a tad restrained. The nose is a lot more interesting, with someone having put a bit of blue cheese on the fruit platter.

Kinda surprising the Italian's can make a wine like this and ship it halfway round the world for ten bucks. A pleasant quaffer though a wee bit simple overall for me to want to drink it too often, it does however yell "get me a pizza!".

I rate it agreeable and ***.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Laughing Jack - "Jacks" Shiraz 2009

Swirling my glass I can see long dark crimson legs, and whilst the legs don't belong to some supermodel wearing red tights, the owner is still showing her youth.

The perfume she's wearing is familiar. I can't quite work out where I know it from, and it doesn't really matter anyway if she smells this good.

I've somewhat prejudged her based on those crimson tights, but it seems I've got her all wrong. She might be bold but she's slinky, spicey, classy, and almost surprisingly, her kisses are velvet soft, and deliciously long.

I can see why Jack's laughing.

Highly Recommended and **** value. Buy a dozen I reckon and share with friends over the next 9 years. Why 9 and not 10? Ask Jack.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Schild Estate 2008 Shiraz

Edit: review withdrawn, see comments and this.

To note, at this time most bottles will not yet have the added label showing the bottle to be a second 'blend'.

Dear Aussies, you can have this other wine, all the award winning ones are being sent to the USA. It's just as good, honest!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tim Adams Cellar Door Nov 2010

I just realised I never got around to posting my tasting notes from the late November trip to Clare, so I'll do that over the next week or so. Here's the Tim Adams tastings for a starter. The notes are brief as I just cannot get into a wine in a small sip.

Tim Adams

2010 Riesling - crisp acid, hidden fruit, harmonious balance but too mineral for me. Agreeable **
2008 Reserve Riesling - lively acid, noticable fruit, good balance. Hint of toast now. needs 5yrs. Agreeable ***
2009 Semillon - lively acid, noticable fruit, oak balance good. Agreeable. ***
2010 Pinot Gris - far too sweet for my palate.
2007 Fergus - acid mild, lean body, obvious fruit, complex, drink now style. Rec. ***
(blend is Grenache, Shiraz, CabSav, Tempranillo, Mataro)
2008 Reserve Tempranillo - rounded tannins, freshing acid, obvious fruit, savoury. Rec. ***
2006 Cabernet Sav/Malbec - dry tannins, refreshing acid, obvious fruit;savoury, earthy, mouthfilling. H.Rec. ***
2007 Shiraz - dry tannins, refreshing acid, fruit forward, full body, complex. H.Rec ****
2008 Aberfeldy - dry tannins, refreshing acid, obvious fruit, very full body, refined complexity, classy, H.Rec ***

The 2007 Shiraz was a bit of a standout, cellar door staff made it known that because no 2007 Aberfeldy was made that all that fruit went into the cheaper Shiraz, and it shows. It's not a pseudo-Aberfeldy but it is very good value. Noticed it was $27 at one point and is now $20 CD, hence my value rating.

My Tasting notes are a derivation of TORBs and mostly take the format;

Tannins smooth, silky, velvet, rounded, dusty, dry, chalky, puckering, overwhelming
Acid sour, tart, crisp, lively, refreshing, mild   

Fruit hidden, noticable, obvious, forward, big, huge
Body light, lean, medium, muscular, full, huge
Balance disjointed, plain, uncomplicated, harmonious, sophisticated, diverse, complex, intricate
Rating  CP, BD, Accept, Agree, Rec, Highly Rec, Excellent, Outstanding, Ultimate 

Value   *   **   ***  ****   *****
Note: I try to always mark quite hard when I'm CD tasting.

Tim Adams Cleanskin 2007 Shiraz

This is a wine made specifically for fund raising to support the Variety Club, an extremely worthy charity that helps kids.

At $80 a case it's stunning value, and $20 of that goes to the charity.

The Shiraz is med-full bodied, good quality fruit, fine tannins, balanced acid and a very nice quaff indeed. As a mark of a well made wine this one improves with a few hours breathing, and indeed I would expect it to continue to improve in the cellar for a few years at least.

You would be crazy to buy one of those no-name cleanskins from the large chains when you can have a very good value wine like this and be helping needy kids at the same time.

More info here. And I can tell you the 06 Merlot is even better and the Sparkling GSM a great little BBQ wine.

Very classy of you indeed Mr. Tim Adams!