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

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Marius Harvest 2014

This was my fourth Marius harvest, and thankfully the coolest yet.

As always, a good crew, made up of Roger's customers, so there's a bit of self interest here to do a good job. The benefit here is the pickers are also the sorters - it's our job to snip off the under-ripe berries and keep an eye out for bunch stem necrosis.

Adelaide had some wacky weather this year, with record number of days over 45C and then 100mm falling on the CBD a few days later. So not surprisingly there was more fruit variation this year, but the vast bulk of the fruit was very good, and compared to a BV vineyard I saw, still very consistent.

Of course the vineyard's micro-climate means Adelaide's extremes weren't the same here, Roger's babies only got 40mm, and the sea and lake breezes kept the heat down. That rain was pretty much spot on to wake the berries up after they'd gone dormant in the heat, so they could continue to ideal ripeness.

As usual, there's a fair bit of variation across the small vineyard, but the most obvious difference to the last few years was the western rows by the evil pines were slightly more fruitful, yet still had the same wonderful complex flavours.

Our group now holds the record of the longest picking day, well unless the Wed crew beat us. Anyway, we were well rewarded, as the last 2 photos show.

For some crazy reason I've offered to pick again next weekend. It's probably guilt, and feeling like I need to pay up for the aforementioned last 2 pics. Either that, or I'm looking for an escape from the elections being held then.

Enjoy the photos. click for bigger versions.

 Dawn over the vineyard. At 7am you wonder wtf you're doing up on a Saturday, but by the arvo you're bloody glad it's not far off beer oclock.

 Black pearls.

Bit of variation in the bunches this year, still the usual tiny berries but the 45C followed by 40mm of rain confused some vines. The grapes that were ripe were lovely, but more bunch stem necrosis and a few more scattered under-ripe berries needing snipping off this year.

 A tad more foliage than previous years, mostly due to the viticulturist (Roger) almost dying last year with Septicaemia. Thankfully he's a lot healthier now, but his walnut crushing grip needs to build back up yet, so pruning has been a problem.

 Better bring me a bucket
As a goal oriented person I found it somewhat disturbing that my 90% full bucket would often be swapped for an empty one.

 Five 700kg bins was the plan, we got pretty close.

The 07 Simpatico, a very good wine especially considering the difficult vintage, however Roger felt it's probably at or near it's peak and he advised drinking in the short term.

  2007 Symphony is a bit different, more fruit power and will go a few more years yet

 Harry showed us his sausage. It's Boerwors, a Seth Efriken mix of spices and meats, all healthy stuff, which you can tell simply by how tasty it is.

We played a few rounds of options. Apparently brown paper bags are hard to come by in this neck of the woods. 

The only shot I got of the 2012 Symphony. It's a recalcitrant beast that needs to be flogged into giving up it's goodies, as it's only been bottled for a short while. Lovely tannins, shows much promise.

Such fruit power here and yet great balance. Hasn't really changed in the last year that I can notice. Will go many years yet if you have some.
What a sexy creature this is, I believe the first of it's line. If the starts align, there could be a sibling in 2014.

The oldest screwcap wine I've had, and one of the very best wines I've ever tasted. This was the transition to screwcap, with 60% under stelvin and 40% under tree bark. This one was screwcap.

It is simply magnificent! The pessimism about seals and aging under screwcap is clearly unwarranted, as this wine proves brilliantly.

Also, that is not Roger's signature.

The pipe is Rogers. It does not ever contain tobacco, but it does smoke.

Not shown wines tasted were a 2010 Symphony, which Roger feels will go 20 years comfortably. I also absolutely stand by my claim that 2011 Marius are outstanding wines, the Symphony is starting to sing now.

I did a second pick so here's a few more pictures:

Bird's eye view
A fair bit of bird damage across the Vale, some lost half their crops, but only a few small sections of the Marius vineyard was badly pecked out.

 Shady picking
Not a lot of need for shade on that last saturday, was pretty cool all day

Driving up in the morning there was donner und blitzen (not the reindeers), though first flash I though was a speed camera (I was not speeding)

but in the end no rain until the end of the day when we were comfortably inside.

 Only leaves left now, and they'll be gone soon too

Tagine, cous cous, Coq au Vin, mashed taters, beans and crusty bread,
courtesy Peter the chef
Went down perfectly as the rain started and the wines flowed

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thomson Estate Back Blocks Cab Sav 2011

In 2011 it pissintently rained in Clare. Noah was called, but his ark was too small to save much of the rizza from the rivers. So you'd tend to expect ye late ripening variety Cabernet Sauv to not fare thee too well. But the Back Blocks it seems to have been in a rain shadow, or at least yon viticulturist for said vineyard is more savvy than cabby, because this is pretty damned good stuff, and is a wine anyone in 2010 woulda been proud of.

The tannins are beautiful, they are of that dark chocolate coat your tongue variety. It's a wine of finesse and class, but there's also a fair bit of power here, not remotely wimpy at all.

Blackberry, Kalamata olives, bit of 85% Lindt, wild mint from my garden (trust me, it par-tays), cedar and a bit of old Toby.

Good length and lovely balance. However, I regret two things. First is I've opened it about 5 years too soon, and secondly I only bought one bottle.

Recommended++ and ****

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lazy Ballerina Shiraz 2010

James Hook made a fair bit of 2009 Shiraz, he planned to sell some to the US, but then the mining boom gave the Aussie dollar a jolt. So 2009 got an extended tour of duty at Dingabladinga.

The flow on from that is the 2010 got time to age a bit more, at least a year longer than is the norm, and two years longer than most of the industry. This is a particularly good thing for us consumers. It means that on release the wine is almost a four year old. So from the start we get to drink a wine that's been cellared for us, and by the guy who's gonna look after it better than anyone else. I will note he was mildly distracted by nabbing a wife and producing the next generation of LB winemaker in the meantime, so it's not like he had time to bottle it anyway.

I should also add that James' wines aren't the sort than need to be imbibed in the short term. This baby will still learning to walk long after Ms Emmaline (currently age 1) is dancing without the need for dad to provide the locomotion. Thing is, when Ms Twennyten starts dancing I expect she'll be a singing Ballerina. Melba Pavlova perhaps?

One of the side effects of Twennyten taking longer to arrive, is she gestated in the barrel somewhere around 30 months. Thus the first whiff is a decent waft of oak, but fear not, this is good oak, it's not quite as forward as it first seems, and indeed blends in to the other good bits when you get around to noticing them. Bit like Marilyn Monroe walking into a room really.

I said "she" before, and I will stand by that, it seems James is focussed on producing ladies for the present. This is such an elegant wine, it's got such a feminine nose, not exactly perfumed, but just lady-like, and the package is voluptuous, without being more than a handful.

A little bit red fruited on the first day, but went completely black a day later. Quite clever that really, Marilyn does the wicked witch? Belgian chocolate coated blood plums and a sprinkle of spice. No peaches Nellie.

Now, to the tannins, and as you would expect from a lady's ensemble, they are rather silky. I wanted to use the word "firm" too, but felt that analogies can go too far. Acid I didn't notice, by which I mean it was just right.

You could drink this now, but should you wait 10 years, there will be some singing and dancing, and in a tutu too. The you may be in the wrong place there.

Highly Recommended+++ and *****