Henschke's Lenswood vineyard in the Adelaide Hills

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Seppelt, Chalambar Shiraz (2005)

Grampians/Bendigo/Pyrenees, VIC
13.5%, screwcap, non organic, RRP $28


The smokey bouquet led to a palate of roast tomato. The fruit that was there was rather simple. The tannins were quite pronounced. It finished short. On the second night there were more earthy notes to the bouquet and the tannins had settled. I found this to be a largely underwhelming wine, particularly given its reputation and the time it had been provided with to mature. No bottle variation here, they have all been the same over the years - 87.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

HEAD Wines, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Alex Head made his debut on the wine making scene in December 2008, inspired by the wines of Cote-Rotie in the Rhone Valley, France. Alex has focused on Shiraz (and Shiraz Viognier) which he has sourced from single vineyards that are situated  in different districts of the Barossa Valley. Those vineyards also have different soil profiles and produce wines with contrasting personalities.

Alex also produces a semillon and most recently added an 'old vine' Grenache to the line up. He has experienced an enviable debut, receiving significant praise from highly respected reviewers, such as James Halliday. Oh, and there are only very small quantities of these wines. 


Head Red Shiraz Viognier (2009) RRP $25, a blend of declassified barrels from 'the Blonde' and 'the Brunette', the bouquet burst forth with vibrant berries, which were also pronounced on the palate - 92.

Grenache (2009) RRP $25, this wine was made using traditional techniques, whole bunches were pressed and fermented in an old oak barrel using natural yeasts, unfined and unfiltered. Light ruby, with a restrained nose, this straight grenache was very approachable. With a palate of red berry fruit it was easy drinking. Some residual sugar? An ideal match for a robust Indian curry - 90

The Blonde Shiraz Viognier (2009) RRP $35, single vineyard wine from the Stonewell district of the Barossa Valley. It had a pretty floral and berry bouquet. Great balance and flavour intensity, with impressive acid on the finish - 94.

The Brunette Syrah (2009) RRP $45, single vineyard wine from the Moppa district of the Barossa Valley. Deep purple, a bouquet of tar and licorice followed through onto the palate. Great balance of fruit, tannin and acid. Light to medium bodied - 93.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Hunter Valley, NSW March 2011

I managed to take a detour via the Hunter Valley on a recent holiday. I had a day to visit a few cellar doors, so please excuse the lack of detailed notes:

Mistletoe Wines

Home Vineyard Semillon (2009) RRP $20, amazing fruit intensity - 95.
Chardonnay (2009) RRP $20, 93.
Reserve Chardonnay (2007) RRP $40, 93.
Barrel Fermented Rose (2009) RRP $20, The oak influence a little overpowering (whereas the 2008 was spot on and wonderful) - 92.
The Rose (2010) RRP $19, 94.
Shiraz (2007) RRP $30, 94.

Pepper Tree

Chief Winemaker Jim Chatto is doing some amazing things at Pepper Tree with their white wine and red wine. They have an outstanding selection of wines available. Visiting their cellar door is a 'must do' for any trip to the Hunter Valley.

Limited Release Hunter Valley Semillon (2010) RRP $22, clean citrus notes, nice balance - 93.
Winemaker's Reserve Semillon (2007) RRP $30, 92.
Winemaker's Reserve Semillon (2009), nice citrus notes - 93.
Limited Release Hunter Valley Verdelho (2010) 13% alcohol, tropical nose and clean melon palate - 93.
Chardonnay (2009) RRP $25, great balance, melon and peach, oak just right - 93.
Rose (2008) RRP $20, made from shiraz - 93/94.
Winemaker's Reserve Shiraz (2007) RRP $42 - 93/94.
14 Shores Reserve Merlot (2009) Coonawarra RRP $35, 14.5% alcohol, amazing mouthfeel, silky tannins, powerful fruit intensity - 95.
The Pebbles Limited Release Wrattonbully Shiraz Viognier (2009) RRP $25 - 95.
Calcare Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (2008) Coonawarra RRP $35 - 94/95.
Elderslee Road Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (2007) Wrattonbully RRP $35 - 94.
The Gravels Reserve Shiraz Viognier (2008) Wrattonbully RRP $35 - 94.
Grand Reserve Wrattonbully Cabernet Sauvignon (2004) RRP $55 - 95.

First Creek
Winemaker's Reserve Semillon (2009) RRP $30 - 93.
Chardonnay (2009) RRP $25, great balance, melon, peach and oak just right - 93.
Shiraz (2008) fruit sourced from the Canberra District, RRP$25 - 94.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Penfolds, BIN 28 Kalimna Shiraz (2004)

South Australia
14.5%, screwcap, non organic, $24

Medium purple-red. With a bouquet of plums and spice, this wine did not disappoint. The complex palate showed delicious blackberry and plum with hints of licorice, with a fleshy texture and smooth tannins. Impressive structure. In the past I had considered this wine a little simple, but it has improved with time. 94

Metala, White Label Shiraz Cabernet (2006)

Langhorne Creek, SA
14.5%, screwcap, non organic, $12

Deep purple, the bouquet was of vibrant fruit with spice and white pepper. The palate was filled with impressive fruit intensity, showing vibrant blackberry and plum. This wine showed a superb balance between fruit, oak, acid and tannin. This wine is drinking well now, much better than a year ago. I was most impressed by this 'week day' wine. Great value when you find it on sale (as I did). 93

Brookland Valley, Verse 1 Chardonnay (2009)

Margaret River, WA
13.5%, screwcap, non organic, $17

Light golden hues. The bouquet was dominated by oak, but vibrant fruit came through on the palate, with a hint of manderin which left a sour edge that wasn't completely pleasant. That sour edge had disappeared by the following evening and it seemed more balanced. It had a creamy texture, but no butteriness. 

Whilst I couldn't necessarily fault this wine in any way, it wasn't my preferred style. Personally, I like a stronger buttery/malolactic influence, which it appears is not in line with current trends. 91 

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Lloyd Brothers, Shiraz (2006)

McLaren Vale, SA
14.5%, screwcap, non organic, $25

I originally tasted this hand picked, single vineyard wine at the cellar door. A great vintage in the Vale. I consumed a bottle in March 2011. It was drinking very well after five years. The aroma was of berries and spice. The palate was very smooth, with blackberries and hints of chocolate. Amazing fruit intensity with a nice long finish. Great balance. 94

Tamburlaine, Hunter Reserve Semillon (2008)

Hunter Valley, NSW
10.5%, screwcap, organic, $28

I was pleasantly surprised by the citrus notes of its aroma when I poured this wine. I had toured the Hunter Valley in 2009 and found that I didn't like most of the semillons I tasted, due to the characters they were displaying, which were more akin to Sauvignon Blanc. I have since learned that can be typical of cooler years. 

With some time in the bottle, there were no signs of Sauvignon Blanc characteristics. This wine was showing well defined citrus notes on the nose and the palate. Flickers of lemon and lime were set amongst pleasing acidity. A lovely wine. Perfect with battered Perch and chips. 93

Sydney Royal Wine Show 2011 - selected highlights

I attended the public wine tasting on the Saturday. As you will appreciate, there was no time for extensive notes as I rushed my way through the many wines that were available. I sampled a total of 65 wines on the day. By the end of it my palate was severely fatigued. How do those judges do it?

Hardy's Winery, Sir James (2005) - 94-95
Bay of Fires, Tasmanian Cuvee Brut (NV) - 91-92
Starvedog Lane, Chardonnay Pinot Noir Pinot Meunier Brut (2004) - 96

Taylors, Riesling (2010) - 91
Jim Barry, Riesling (2010) - 91
Leo Buring, Riesling (2010) - 92
Wynns Coonawarra Estate, Riesling (2010) - 92
Leo Buring, Riesling (2005) - 93
Leasingham, Clasic Clare Riesling (2005) - 93
Brokenwood, Semillon (2010) - 94
Peter Lehmann, Margaret Semillon (2005) - 96
Penfolds, Bin A Chardonnay (2009) - 94
Wolf Blass, White Label Chardonnay (2009) - 94
First Creek Wines, Winemaker's Reserve Semillon (2010) - 95

Domaine Chandon, Pinot Noir Rose (2010) - 93

Peter Lehmann, Eight Songs Shiraz (2008) - 92
Annie's Lane, Copper Trail Shiraz (2008) - 95
Wolf Blass, Platinum Label Shiraz (2008) - 95
Scarpantoni Estate, Block 3 Shiraz (2008) - 93
Wolf Blass, Grey Label Cabernet Sauvignon (2008) - 94
Moppity Vineyards, Shiraz (2009) - 95
Collector Wines, Marked Tree Red Shiraz (2009) - 96
Pepper Tree Wines, The Pebbles Limited Release Shiraz Viognier (2009) - 95
Philip Shaw Wines, The Idiot Shiraz (2009) - 96
Evans & Tate, Margaret River Merlot (2008) - 96