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, November 19, 2015

Sellicks Hill Wines Valletta Shiraz (Grenache Mataro) 2010

Tell me this doesn't inspire you to visit Paul at the winery ladies!

This is a new release. Well, it was when I started this review. Yes, it's a 2010, and yes, that was nearly 6 years ago. Did it get lost on the way to the cellar door? Well, I'm sure there's a number of reasons but the main one is that it's now ready.

Paul was previously a fan of the way cork ages his wines, but he was not a fan of the associated problems with taint, random oxidation and their general unreliability. His eventual solution was to leave the wine to age in barrel much longer, which is an economically risky and difficult plan. It's something the big wineries simply cannot even contemplate, since whilst it results in a more developed wine it's costly to store wine and in the meantime you're not getting paid for it. However, for us consumers it means we get a wine far more developed than usual, and in the case of blended wines they can be more perfectly balanced.

This is predominantly Shiraz at 85%, with about 10% Grenache and 5% Mataro blended in for that better balance. Tasting it, I suspect most people would not pick it as anything but Shiraz. Full bodied, savoury and plush, with more complexity and sexiness than the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders explaining quantum mechanics. It's only real fault is it comes in a measly 750ml bottle, when clearly a magnum is the minimum required.

It doesn't need aging, but will reward it, and give it some air before drinking in the short term.

Rated: I love it / 96++ / Excellent
VFM *****

Monday, September 28, 2015

Koltz 2014 Estate Shiraz

I opened this just after the Pagan. A bit unfair probably, but then again it's far from out of place alongside it's older brother. I'd like to think I can taste the same vineyard, albeit different years and styles, in these wines. I'll never be sure until someone tests me with an options game, though I'm usually sitting out early anyway.

I'm actually writing this on day 2, it's not so much that the wine needed to breathe a day, but I was sure it wasn't going to hurt it, and indeed the opposite is true.

Quintessential McVale Shiraz but with a fair bit of Koltz terroir for interest. Sexy nose, cacao powdery tannin, plummy rich fruit, black olives, shiitake, and a lick of ironstone all in one glass. The length is very good, and the balance rock solid. It could use a wee bit more time in the bottle for those tannins to soften a bit more, probably 2-3 years, but the why-wait generation will find it drinkable now, and the why-hurry crew will be rewarded in 10 years.

Like The Pagan and The Wizard these Koltz Shiraz are high on the genuine VFM chart. I could easily drink it by the case load.

Rated: Highly Recommended++ / 94
Value: *****

28/09/2015 There is a current The Pagan 2013 release special which includes this wine, those slow to find this page will have missed out.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Koltz Pagan Shiraz 2013

I had a pretty much perfect introduction to the Koltz Pagan, with my first tasting being a decadent vertical, culminating in the impressive 2012. My wine enlightenment journey continues with the new 2013 release.

I do admit to initially having a little trouble getting my taste buds to understand the Amarone style. It tricks the palate, there's overtones of late picked but it's not cloyingly sweet. That's because it's actually picked a fair bit earlier than most Shiraz would be and then the grapes are dried before fermenting. This method concentrates the fruit flavours, but also captures the natural acid at the correct level.

If you were to pick more normally ripened Shiraz and use that technique, then the wine is going to lack the acid to be balanced. It's a temptation, but a mistake, to let grapes become over-ripe and shrivel on the vine,  the resultant wine so often initially starts out pretending to be rich and opulent, but actually ends up being cloyingly sweet after a while because they have very little acid left. The mistake is sometimes compounded in some wine factories when they add a few buckets of tartaric acid to counter the sweetness.

The acid in this Pagan is succulent, natural, and exceptionally well balanced with the fruit power.

There is a theory that the grapes will continue to develop and ripen even after they've been picked, and during the drying. I assume that they do not develop in the same way that they would if the vine were feeding them, and no doubt there are a lot of complex changes going on besides just drying out. Regardless of the science involved, the result is a wonderfully complex and individual wine.

There are very few wines I make mine mind up on after just a couple of small sips, but after sip #1 I felt an audible "oh wow" was required, and with sip #2 I've made the huge call that this is the best Pagan yet.

Black cherries, leather (also probably black), cedar, nutmeg, and a bunch of other good McVale stuff  combining to give a hard-to-put-the-glass-down mouth filling flavour bomb that reminds you that you've even got taste buds in the back of the throat. Full bodied yet impressively lithe and harmonious. It's only a baby but already clearly a gifted child, who will go on to become exceptional. If you can let it.

Rating: Excellent+++ / 96
Value: *****

PS. Sealed with Diam, which is far more reliable than cork.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Massena Twilight Path 2014

I was a bit unsure exactly what I should expect from a blend of Primitivo (aka Zinfandel), Mataro and Graciano. I know Zin and Shiraz are good mates, and Mataro and Shiraz are good mates, so a friend of my friend is also my friend. Graciano? Well she's Spanish, usually brings tappas to parties, and has flowers in her hair.

Quite a powerful nose of black cherries, a slice of raw ripe strawberry, fresh shiitake mushroom, a scattering of violets, all served on a Bottlebrush wood platter.

It's surprising how easily it can be to get a bottle brush platter. Firstly, you need the water company to come unblock their drain, and whilst doing that also crash into the Bottlebrush tree in front of your house. After they've fled the scene and the tree has indicated by leaning over at 45 degrees, with a split trunk, that it may fall on someone's head or car, you call the council. Three times over 3 days. They eventually send out some poor guy on a Sunday with his chainsaw to fix things. In chatting with the aforementioned chainsaw wielder you notice that Bottlebrush wood is both wonderfully aromatic and quite pretty.

A palate of intense flavours that increased the longer it was open. Vibrant flavours but not acid driven, fruits follow the nose. Silky tannins slide off the tongue and then hang around in the chops, succulent acid leads to a long but more-ish finish. There's good complexity here, the three amigos are melded but you can also taste each one, giving a layered flavour profile, which is not seamless but then that's what makes it an interesting vino.

A sipping wine this, the floral aromatics revisit from the back of your throat and the flavours linger long. Apparently it's designed to be drink now, and whilst yes you can, I have a suspicion it's only going to get better.

Recommended, 92+, price matches quality at $28 RRP

I had with Butter Chicken, which matched very well.

Bought from: Different Drop

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Marius Harvest 2015

Oh dear, I just found this in my drafts. Oh well, better late than not at all...

Sheesh, I'm getting worse. We picked months ago and I still haven't posted anything.

All'ya'all'd (I larn'd me that in the USofA) be sick of me gloating about what we drink after picking, but that won't stop me.

I picked over 2 days again this year, well more like 1.5. I'd like to say teams 1 and 2 were so brilliant than we left little for team 3, but truth is the rain gods were fickle (does that suggest goddess? /duck), and so the yield was somewhat reduced on last year.

Saying the quality was high in the Marius vineyard is a somewhat of a tautology, but it was. The wonderful thing, to me anyway, is that the grape flavours were like no other year I've tasted yet. It's subtle of course, since the Marius grapes are like no other grapes, but I expect yet again the wines to be similarly different as they were over the last 10 years (there's another post here about that somewhere).

On pick #3, we actually tried the 2015 "wine" ferment from day 1, and a week later it was pretty well finished in terms of sugar to alcohol but it will spend more time on skins until Roger thinks it's "done". Rather impressive really, clearly not going to be a featherweight, and really nice silky/rounded tannins, so I ordered a dozen.

To the tastings. I was also lazy with photos this year. You get this: 

The moral winner is the 2005 barrel sample Mataro, lost for a decade and then pops up to show how bloody good Mataro can be even when you treat it so rudely. The one on the right was not a Matarius, but a super secret sample of which I may not yet speak. The 2002 was vibrant as hell and a great wine, thankfully under screwcap and I expect will easily go another 10 years. End Play is nowhere near it's end, keep it a bit longer I reckon, though drinking very well now.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sieber Rd 2012 Ernest Shiraz

You sometimes read that a wine is a 'good food wine', but what does that really mean? I sometimes hope it's a bit like German Fastenbier, which is a strong Bock beer that is rich enough to live off during lent. Then again, perhaps it's best if I'm not tempted to try.

Perhaps it means it's only good with food? Do I need a layer of cheese coating my tongue in order to mute it's acidity? Or does it mean I should use it in my cooking? Coq au Bin 95?

Well, to me, a good food wine is one that refreshes the palate, wakes up the taste buds and melds with the food rather than competing with it. Of course, a Shiraz is unlikely to meld well with a lemon sorbet.

As you've probably guessed by now, this is a good food wine. It dances the line between refreshing the palate and satisfying it. Just when you think perhaps the acid is marginally too fresh, the resultant salivation creates a secondary wave of flavours and primes the palate for non-vinous input. It's pretty good without the food too.

Mulberry, blackberry and dash of redcurrent for fruit. Black leather, red gum and an autumn sunset for a bit of interest. Soft succulent tannins, and balanced acid in a Johanssonesque body. Made for enjoying now, and I did.

Rating: Silver / 92 / Recommended
Value: **** (Punches above it's weight)


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Whistler Hubert Irving 2012

We Aussies still haven't got our collective heads around blends. They seem to scare the masses, and so quality wines like this and Kalleske's Clarry's GSM blend sell for a lot less than they probably should. If this was a straight Shiraz we'd be paying at least $10 a bottle more and still thinking it was a bargain, because it's rare that a straight varietal is going to have as much complexity and balance.

Then again, from the winemaker's perspective they didn't risk having all their eggs in the one basket. If, for example, the Grenache (37%) happened to be a tad more acidic than desirable, you could balance that with the plusher Merlot (41%). Same deal with the Merlot perhaps lacking length, up steps the Cab (17%) to convince it to linger a bit longer. Of course it's rare that a wine doesn't need a bit more subtle flamboyance, so in struts magic Mataro (5%).

Winners are grinnners.

Slightly over medium body, suitable for pretty much any occasion. Opaque body with a dark crimson rim. Fruit forward but supported well with rounded slightly chewy tannins and just right acid. Redcurrent, blackcurrent, purple plum, a dash of miso and a sprinkle of sage. Slurpable synthesis.

Rating: Recommended/Silver/92
Value @ RRP $20 **** (Tell yer mates it's $30)

Whistler Wines Website

Rating System Updated

I've been using the same rating system for 5 years now. I've avoided points for a number of reasons, mostly because they're not remotely relative between wines, let alone reviewers.

Keep in mind, I can't be bothered to review hohum wines, so nobody sees those, so anything reviewed is a wine worth considering.

Regardless of the value I personally see in them, people like points. So in the interests of giving people a rating they are familiar with I'm going to wack a number on it. I still think you should ignore that number and read the text, as the number will be as reliable as anyone else's number, which is to say, not at all.

P.S. Add 2-3 points, or more, when comparing with Halliday.

Not Rated = 87 and below
Acceptable = 88-89 = Decent Quaffer
Enjoyable = 90-91 = Bronze = I'm looking for a top up
Recommended = 92-93 = Silver = I'd buy it again
Highly Recommended = 94-95 = Gold = I'd buy a case of it
Excellent = 96 = Trophy = Have I secured a supply before publishing the review?

* Tell 'em they're dreamin'
** Possibly overpriced
*** Reasonable value for money
**** Punches above it's weight
***** Serious Bargain

Cellaring Potential
+ Likely to improve with some age
++ Certain to improve with some age
+++ Requires and will reward cellaring
(Each + is perhaps 3-5 years)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sevenhill St Ignatius Cabernet Blend 2012

I've been drinking this blend for a while, but the monks at Sevenhill don't tend to market the wine as well as they might. It's a 'Bordeaux Blend', of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Us Aussies regularly blend those, especially in Margaret River, but it's not particularly common to see all four in a wine. I have no idea on percentages, and apart from it being a talking point, who cares really? I think it's typically half Cab Sav, 1/4 Merlot, 1/8th Malbec and Franc.

I had this opened about 4 hours before I started writing, and it certainly did need time to open up properly, and continued to develop in the glass. I'll take that as a sign it will go long the in the cellar, but if drinking soon give it a good decant and if possible a few hours to give up the goods.

The nose is slightly light, but it is very complex, and extremely pretty. Quite full bodied, but more Natasha Romanoff than Nigella. The 15% alc on the label suggests it could be fairly ripe, but the book cover judging technique would be wrong. The tannins are dusty and chocolatey, providing just enough dryness and structure to balance the acid and fruit, and should provide a strong backbone in it's later years. The complexity on the palate even more impressive. Blackberry, schwarzwalder schinken, pipe tobacco, allspice, dried Italian herbs, and a touch of rosemary flowers, all balance and class.

Rated Highly Recommended+++


Monday, June 15, 2015

Koltz The Wizard Shiraz 2013

I wrote a review of this wine a few weeks back. Then I read what I wrote and couldn't bring myself to actually publish that waffle about such an interesting wine. So I shall try to keep this attempt a bit more to the point.

Mark and Anna make this wine using the Ripasso method, which involves arcane magiks and some clever Pagan grape necromancy. I would not be surprised to find that 'ripasso' is Italian slang for 'ripper'.

A sure sign that the wine is an aromatic joy is that you take your eye glasses off, just so you can fit more nose into the glass, and get a seriously good whiff. Bit of hardwood in there, more like Jarrah than oak, wonder if that's been tried? Aromas of mulberry jam, pipe baccy, and rich dark brown/black soil.

There's a very unusual tannin structure to this wine, it's both firm and velvety, clearly the ripper method at work. What strikes me most though, is the clever tightrope balance the wine has between rich fruit and savoury. There's just the slight hint of a late picked character, but it's not cloying or palate fatiguing like a true late picked Shiraz often is.

Savoury? Yes. Plush? Yes. Simple? Nope.

This is a special wine because it's really not like anything else I've had. It takes a bottle or two to start to understand what it is you're tasting. At least that's my excuse.

Rated Highly Recommended+++

PS. background information from Koltz /Mark Day:
We did the first Wizard in 2006 and have since done a 2009, 2010, 2012 and a 2013. We only do it in certain years as it depends on the skins from Pagan.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Koltz Autumn 2015 Release

2011 Koltz Etruscan
80% Sangiovese, 10% Shiraz, 10% Sagrantino

You know a wine has a great nose when you start getting a buzz even before the first sip. An absolutely stunning olfactory experience, though it has moderated slightly on the second day. I'd advise amateurs to avoid drinking it from Burgundy or tulip shaped glasses.

A bit of a dirty wine this, likely grown on sacred soil, and so has sucked up some of that righteousness. Earthy and savoury, and just a little floral, a bit like doing a face plant in a herb garden really. Mid weight on the palate, silky tannins and that beautiful mouth watering acid that is sadly very rare. The fruit somewhat in the red spectrum but a bit of black and blue too.

Ignore the year, I know some of you still have a mental bias, but this is from McLaren Vale and secondly my big Shiraz loving wife thinks it's bloody good (I may be paraphrasing here). My own confession is I am not much of a Sangiovese drinker, in fact I might not have any in my cellar, but this is bloody good (I am not paraphrasing) and clearly I need more of it.

Highly Recommend+ and *****

2013 Koltz Dog Day Sangiovese

As mentioned before, I don't drink a lot of Sangiovese but it's a grape with a relatively distinctive nose, and whilst I would not have picked the Etruscan as Sangio, I'd like to think I'd have picked this in a blind tasting. Of course I probably wouldn't have, but I have delusions of adequacy.

I like the nose on this better day 2, it's a little less fruit focussed and more clearly savoury. Blueberries for sure, some mulberry too. I had a bit of cigar box on day 1, but today I'm going with dried shiitake mushrooms grown under an old jarrah tree, as unlikely as that may seem.

At the lighter end of medium weight, very fine tannins, acid is light but in balance, it overall strikes me as a very pretty wine. Have with food to get the best from it, but sips just fine.

Recommended+ and ****

2014 Koltz Dog Day Shiraz

My wife wants to come back as a golden retreiver, 'cos ours spends a very large amount of time just laying around snoozing. Clearly a 'dog day' is a good day. Anyway, I'm not sure the Pope will be that keen on changing church dogma.

I reckon this might be my first 2014, if you don't considering me internally fermenting Marius grapes a year ago. I may be sharing too much information. I'll be even more honest and say I thought this was too young yesterday, but what a difference one day can make. Stating the obvious, it's still pretty young, but there's sometimes a bit of cool vivaciousness in young wines as they gangly run around, with knees and elbows seemingly juxtaposed yet weirdly in harmony.  

The more I drink it, the more I like it, and yes that sometimes happens with booze, but then again I've never gone back for a second glass of Cow Bombie, ever.

So, a powerful nose of rich red and blue fruits, there's something underneath but the fruit aromas overwhelming it at this early stage. More savoury on the palate than the nose suggested, full body, chewy tannin, chocolate and black cherry. Balance makes it absolutely good enough to drink now if you are an impatient type, but try for a year or 3 in the cellar and drink the Sangios in the meantime, I reckon.

Recommended++ and ****

Oh, and you can probably add a star above if you order soon as Koltz have an Autumn offer for the above 3 wines at a further reduced price. I secured mine before telling you about them, so feel free to load up.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Longwood 2013 Sellicks HIlls Cabernet Sauvignon

I started writing this quite some time back, then forgot I hadn't finished it until I cracked another bottle and wondered what I wrote back when I "first reviewed" it.

A nose of graphite, blackberries, mulberry, mace, and a hint of custard & apple. OK, I'm stretching on that last one, the Frenchies would say je nes sais quoi, which sounds all very clever until you know the direct translation is: "I haven't got a flamin clue". I wouldn't normally go with custard or apple as descriptors in a red, but this is all cuddly and rich without being sweet, so c'est ce que c'est.

Med to full body with very fine round tannins, and the acid is playing seesaw with the fruit, so all the kids are playing nice together.

Very good value wine this, a true bargain at $12ish. Drinks so easily now, and even better a day later, so I reckon hedge your bets and go short for fun and long for more complexity. Apparently there's some left, which is crazy.

Recommended++ and ***** for value.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Flametree "Frank" Tempranillo 2012

This wine was only available from cellar door and wine club. Shame that as it's pretty good.I'm only posting about it in case someone is thinking of joining their wine club and wants an example of the club only wines.

Lotsa blue fruit is what this is built on, despite them using red grapes. Somewhat spicy but more like mace than the usual pepper, and of course nutmeg with that, but I'm not sure I want to call it a savoury wine as that blue fruit is pretty forward. The body is medium full, and the finish lingers suitably long with a hint of dried herbs.

Let's call it a Rec stick a + on it, and say that it's one of the better Temps I've had recently, and the Mayford was one of those recents.

If I had a more empty cellar I would probably join the club.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

SC Pannell Tempranillo Touriga 2013

The label is red, but this is more of a black wine. Tempranillo Touriga? Seriously? We do blends down here? Without Shiraz???

I don't know if it's chicken or egg, but more and more these kinds of wines are catching my attention, and satisfying my desire for something beyond the fruit driven Shazza that's been a staple for so long.

This wine is a mouthful, with great structure and character. I can smell the Tempranillo clearly, and it's that self assured Temp, not the wishy-washy type. I'm trying to come up with some good flavour descriptors because this is a really nice wine and really deserves your attention, but it's Thursday night and I'm not able to channel my inner Phil.

So, bloody good drop, savoury, wants something seared with it, or when you have it you'll want to sear something, but you'll get distracted and char what should be seared, and not care, and pour more, and all in all it will be a good evening. (this was not my evening, well except for wanting to sear something)


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Summer is Sangiovese Season

Tonight the said Sangio is the La Curio 2013.

Slight chill, bout 10C in the bottle, by the time it hits the glass it's probably closer to 14, so pretty much perfect. You know you've chilled it too much if there is a bit of condensation on your glass, but that is a problem that takes mere minutes to rectify on a hot day.

Roses, rosemary flowers and freshly crushed thyme on the nose, whilst the palate has vibrant red cherries and a touch of tarragon. Medium body but with obvious fine and firm tannins, and a nice acid finish, with no eye quivering tartness.

A very good wine with most summer foods, including freshly caught garfish encrusted in crushed fennel seeds, parmesan, and polenta, with a dash of curried goat powder (because I had leftovers and it had the pepper and cardamom I wanted).


PS. my thoughts are with the Adelaide Hills folk tonight, several friends and family affected by the fires, but we hope things will be ok in the end with the stupendous help of the emergency services.