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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cork Crazies

At Adelaide Cellar Door Festival a week back, one winery proudly proclaimed they are moving back to corks. We immediately stopped tasting and moved on. I am baffled the industry is still this crazy and doesn't understand why we hate them, now that we've tried the alternative.

Listen up you wineries persisting with the gambler's seal, and consider what's best for the consumer for a change.

1. Cork sealed bottled are harder to store
They require being laid down, which is fine for your full cases in the winery but it's rather annoying unstable once you take a bottle or two out. They also require a humid environment for good long term seal. Of course every wine enthusiast has their own climate controlled cellar, or incredibly expensive wine fridge, right?

2. Cork sealed wines need a corkscrew
I was at a BYO wedding in the middle of a wine district, and it was both sad and amusing seeing a number of wine industry people wander around trying to borrow a corkscrew.

3. Cork sealed wines can't be resealed easily
This makes taking home half bottles from restaurants/picnics harder, and even at the picnics/parties there no risk of spilling the wine with screwcaps, ignoring the drunkard's pouring skills.

4. Old corks often crumble
I really hate dealing with a crumbling cork, it's messy and likely to end up with me picking bits of cork out of my glass, or teeth.

5. TCA aka cork taint
Oh, good wineries will just replace that corked wine, so no problem right? Wrong. I have carefully cellared your wine for 10+ years, I open it on a special occasion and am I rewarded for that patience?  No, I am actually penalized instead.

5.1 So, if I am going to open a cork sealed wine, particularly an old one, I need to have two wines on hand, and if wise one of them will be a screwcap, because most of us have had 2 corked wines in a row.

5.2 Then I have to go through the hassle of contacting the winery and asking for a replacement, being quizzed about how I stored the wine as though it's my fault. My time is wasted yet again, it wasn't enough that you wasted my time at the opening of the wine, now I have to chase you and justify myself to you because of your bad decision.

5.3 Wineries generally only replace with current vintage. Understandable that they won't be keeping 10% of production back for later replacements, but I've just wasted 10+ years of cellaring and I typically won't be compensated for it. This is an unwanted gamble too, what if current vintage release is poor one?

I will add one more thing, which should be the sole reason you stop using cork. Most people who try your wine will not give you a second chance to impress them.Why would you risk them trying a sub-par bottle? The average wine drinker is more likely to simply assume the wine is made badly, rather than blame the cork, and then ignore your wines from that point.

I could go on, easily, but the point all wineries should have picked up by now is that it's not about you, or your wine, it's about me, the consumer and the problems you're passing on to me. I'm the one not buying your wine, there's already more great wine than I can possibly drink in a lifetime anyway, so thanks for helping reduce my buying list.

At least one American wine magazine publisher, Harvey Steiman of Wine Spectator, is trying to drag the recalcitrants into the modern world. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Paxton Jones Block Shiraz 2010

Always had a soft spot for Paxton's wines. They are a bit nutty there, playing with horns and manure, dancing dynamically under a full moon, and just generally doing things in their own super organic way. The thing is though, they seriously care about their vineyards and wines, unlike the conglomerates who see wine as just a commodity.

I first tried this as the Adelaide Cellar Door Wine Festival, and it was one of the few that really stuck out as something special, mostly because of it's intensity of flavour and impressive length. All the more impressive as I'd been tasting for nearly 2 hours by then, and it takes something special to stand out.

A deceptive wine, it's really not that much above medium bodied, but quite flamboyant on the palate whilst retaining a fair bit of class and style. Silky tannins, great acid balance, lovely complexity and just pretty damned yum.

I breathed this for 2 hours and it's just getting better the longer it's open, so do yourself a favour and give this wine a good bit of air if drinking it anytime soon. The rest of mine will be going for a 10 year sleep.

Rating: Excellent++ and ****

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cradle of Hills Shiraz Mourvedre 2011

Well, that's three great vintages in a row for this blend. In fact since it's also the first 3 vintages from Paul and Tracy, I'm calling it The Hat Trick.

However, they'd already decided to call it the Darkside, which is perhaps more accurately descriptive, and also less ostentatious.

Speaking of threes, this is the third time I've tried this wine. The first time it was the barrel components, which I had to mentally blend, and limited though my mental faculties are, it's pretty easy to add yum + yum and come out with the answer "very yum". The second tasting was shortly after the brutality of bottling, and on a fairly warm day, and so with the maths right but the physics wrong, the teacher wrote a note in red pen to "see me later!".

Fast forward a few months, and the grumbling, sulking, confused child has come along in leaps and bounds. She's still a bit of a Goth though, with those intense black eyes, and lets face it, you don't want your kids to be boring and nondescript. She dances out the room with such grace and balance anyway, so that you can't help but be impressed.

The tannins are simply excellent, probably due to the cooler vintage allowing slower ripening. Make no mistake, this is no wimpy lightweight, and indeed a number of 2010s wish they had such a muscular and sporty physique.

Plenty of dark fruit, chocolate, and even a bit of pipe tobacco, which probably cheekily sneaked over for a menage au trois from the Cab barrel when Paul had his back turned. There's plenty more in there, but with all those intertwined body parts, it could take years to work out what belongs where.

It's 72% Shiraz, 23% Mourvedre and 5% Grenache, and as I mentioned in the Splash+Merge write-up, that small amount of Grenache does make a positive difference. I think I suggested 60/35/5 to Paul at that time, but he was obviously worried about me claiming royalties if he used it.

Highly Recommended++ and ****