Category Archives: Imported – Wine Review

Chablis: New Release Lamont’s Imports November 2018

Chablis: New Release Lamont’s Imports

Barry Weinman: 8th November 2018

For a number of years now, John Jens at Lamont’s has been importing a number of producers’ wines direct from Burgundy. This has allowed him to keep the prices down, by removing the costs associated with having a broker, importer and local wholesaler all taking a margin.

Typically, the quality of the wines has been very good, and the value excellent when compared to other producers available locally. The catch though is that the quantities available are quite low.

For me, the most impressive wines on a price/quality scale have been the Chablis. I have bottles of the Premier Crus from Sebastian Dampt and Sylvain Mosnier going back to 2010, and they are holding up very well indeed.

This year has seen another producer added to the stable. Vincent Dampt is the brother of Sebastian, and the wines are equally well made. The style though is a little different, with Sebastian favouring riper fruit characters and mid palate weight, whilst Vincent’s wines are leaner and racier, with the acidity adding great drive to the finish.


  • The prices listed are for the introductory promotional period, but I suggest getting in fairly quickly, especially for the great value Premier Crus
  • The wines have only recently arrived in Australia, so took a little while to open up
  • This was not a blind tasting, so the points are best used as a relative guide only


Sebastien Dampt – Chardonnay – Petit Chablis – 2015 (17.5/20 pts. $33.00). Pretty and perfumed, there is fantastic fruit on the nose for an entry level wine. Excellent mouth-feel and texture, with ripe stone fruit notes. A modern, elegant Chardonnay that has the presence of a more expensive wine, but lacks the ultimate length and depth.

Sebastien Dampt – Chardonnay – Chablis – 1er Cru – Les Beugnons – 2015. (18.1/20 pts. $44.50). There is a degree of finesse here that is charming. Lithe and subtle, this is quite shy at present with the texture a stand-out. The quality is on display with the supple, perfumed fruit that gradually builds with air. Should be very good with another two years in bottle.

Sebastien Dampt – Chardonnay – Chablis – 1er Cru – Cote de Lechet – 2015 (18+/20 pts. $56.50). Wow, this wine really makes an impression for all the right reasons. Intense stone fruit characters give way to minerals, toast and honey. Excellent balance and structure on the close.

Sebastien Dampt – Chardonnay – Chablis – 1er Cru – Vaillons – 2015. (18.5/20 pts. $56.50). Taut, fine and elegant, this is an excellent wine that needs 3 – 5 years in the cellar. The balance is key here, as everything is in place, though the fruit is muted at present. Lemon, honey and fine minerality are paired to ripe tropical fruit. Super stuff!

Sylvain Mosnier – Chardonnay – Petit Chablis – 2016 (17.4/20 pts. $29.00). Lemon, toast and supple lees work that shows as struck match and flint characters. Mouth-filling and rounded, this is an excellent drink now.

Sylvain Mosnier – Chardonnay – Chablis – 1er Cru – Beauroy – 2016 (18/20 pts. $45.00). Classic Chablis, with elegant, yet concentrated fruit paired to supple minerality and gentle flint/struck match notes. Excellent mouthfeel and length on the palate, with gentle toast and honey notes to close. Needs a year or two to open up.

Sylvain Mosnier – Chardonnay – Chablis – 1er Cru – Cote de Lechet – 2016. (18.3/20pts. $45.00). Very fine and elegant, this is a great example of the style. Supple, rounded and revealing, with the gentle minerality and acid carrying the fruit with ease. Delicious now, and sure to be better in a year or two’s time.

Vincent Dampt – Chardonnay – Petit Chablis – 2016 (17.7/20 pts. $27.00). Full of life, this is a leaner, racier style that is so typical of the region. Supple, perfumed fruit, gentle minerality and a saline tang make for an excellent aperitif with freshly shucked oysters as well as white meats such as grilled lemon chicken.

Vincent Dampt – Chardonnay – Chablis – 2016 (17.9/20 pts. $32.00). A step-up in intensity, with thrilling lemony acidity driving the palate. The grapefruit and melon flavours are a highlight, and bitter almond minerality adds drive and focus. Very good.

Vincent Dampt – Chardonnay – Chablis – 1er Cru – Vaillons – 2015 (18.6/20 pts. $46.00). A highlight of the tasting. Refined, fine and elegant, with subtle fruit and minerality. Very long, the finish is near seamless. Gentle aromatics build and are accompanied by a steely minerality and fine acidity. An exciting wine now, but also one that is sure to age brilliantly over the next 5+ years.

Affordable Tempranillo

Affordable Tempranillo

Barry Weinman: 28th September 2018

Over the last few years, wines from Aldi have received a few good reviews in the media, especially overseas. Now that they are well established in Western Australia, I took the opportunity to taste their range of Tempranillos from Spain which, remarkably, included a pair of Reservas for under $10 a bottle.

To put the wines into perspective, I also included some of the more affordable examples from Vintage Cellars and Dan Murphy and a couple of more expensive wines for good measure. I gave the tasting panel no clue about the origins of the wines, to prevent any bias.

To my great surprise, there were several decent wines, all at bargain-basement prices.


Pablo & Pedro – Tempranillo – 2016 (16.5/20 pts. $9). Sweet fruit, with a dusty/savoury component. The palate is fairly light, with pleasant red berry notes. With no oak to speak of, the gentle cherry-like acidity and tannins add life. An easy-drinking pizza wine from Australia, that is popular at my local Vintage Cellars.

Marques de Riscal – Tempranillo – Proximo – Rioja – 2015 (16.9/20 pts. $9.40). A bit more body than some, with cherry, plum and spice over plum and dark berry fruit. The finish has refreshing acidity and tannins, with little in the way of oak. This is really quite good, and gets a little chewy to close. From Dan Murphy, this is a great drinking entry-level wine from this well-known producer. Now – 3 years.

Chalk Board – Tempranillo – Navara – 2014 (16.8/20 pts. $15). Good quality fruit and chewy, textural tannins here. The fruit is actually quite dense, and opens with air. The tannins are drying and are the main characteristic on the finish. Souring acidity makes a good foil for richer tomato-based pasta dishes. Navarra is in the Basque country in Northern Spain (Vintage Cellars exclusive label).

Baron Amarillo – Tempranillo – Riojo – Reserva – 2012 (17.5/20 pts. $10). A traditional style showing earthy, forest-floor characters over sweet, red berry fruit. This is quite ripe and seductive, with cedar and vanillin characters courtesy of the (American) oak. The palate is initially firm, but the fruit lingers admirably. Almost pinot-like, with masses of red berry fruit. Perhaps a bit rustic, but this is all part of the charm of this excellent value red. Spent 3 years in oak and is exclusive to Aldi.

El Toro Macho – Tempranillo – Utiel – Requena – Barrica – 2013 (17.5/20 pts. $7). Utiel – Requena is a wine district in the Valencia region of Spain. The fruit is more in the plum spectrum compared to the Amarillo. The palate is fresh and lithe, with fine tannins and souring acidity complementing the supple mouthfeel and decent fruit weight. Good length and an enjoyable drink on its own or with slow-roasted lamb shoulder. Brilliant value from Aldi.

Singlefile – Tempranillo – Run Free – 2017 (17.5/20 pts. $25). Clean and fresh, with pristine fruit on both the nose and palate. Bright, succulent, and fresh, with delicious cherry and plum fruit. Uncomplicated and great drinking.

Imported Wines: Italy and Spain

Imported Wines: Italy and Spain

Barry Weinman: 13th May 2018

For those of us who have grown up in Australia, we are used to clean, bright wines where the fruit is allowed to sparkle. When reviewing a line-up of imported wines, the challenge is that the wines can be made in a number of ways.

We tend to struggle with those wines made in a rustic, old-fashioned way, as the fruit is often dulled, whilst oxidative characters come to the fore. As a result, only a few of the wines tasted for this review actually made it to these pages.

The good news is that those that did are all worth trying and cover a variety of styles.


Terre di Terrossa – Pinot Grigio – 2016 (17.5/20pts – $20). Quite floral and aromatic. The palate is nicely textured, and has good length. Some ripe peach fruit, a touch of honey and zesty acidity to close. Fresh and zippy, this is a compelling drink on its own, but would also accompany food well.

Palladino – Arneis – Roero – 2016 (17/20pts – $35). Clearly European, with a core of minerality and savoury fruit on the nose. On the palate, this is a drier, leaner style with apricot kernel and a touch of minerality leading to a neutral finish. Will be at its best with food.

Vega di Princesa – Albarino – 2016 (17/20pts – $29). More depth than others in this tasting, and actually quite good. Textured, with a touch of viscosity, the honey and strawberry fruit is balanced by long, vibrant acidity. A refreshing, versatile wine from Rias Baixas in Spain.

Begali – Valpolicella – Ripasso – Classico Superiore – 2015 (17.3/20pts – $33). The nose is subdued, but the palate has vibrant fruit with a savoury edge. Good length and mouthfeel, the textural components are a highlight. Souring cherry fruit and a touch of spice and tar add depth. Grippy tannins a plus with foods such as Prosciutto and other cured meats.

Selvapiana – Chianti Rufina – 2015 (17.5/20pts – $29). I like this. The fruit is ripe, yet there is a savoury core that runs the length of the palate. Fine, drying tannins, older oak, the texture gets a little chewy to close. Would be great now with roast lamb or a spicy Chorizo (perhaps a hint of Brett here, but it works for me). Querceto Di Castellina – Chianti Classico – L’Aura 2013 (17.7/20pts – $38). The ripe fruit here will suit many Australian palates, as will the dollop of new oak sitting behind the fruit. A wine that can be drunk now with pleasure, but really needs 10 years to open up.

Ribafreixo – Portugal

Wines of Portugal

Barry Weinman: 15th March 2017

Port, the fortified wine of Portugal, needs no introduction. It is considered one of the world’s great wine styles.

Portugal’s table wines on the other hand are relatively unknown in Australia. I can only ever remember trying one red wine.

The winery Ribafreixo is a relative new comer in Portugal, with the project starting in 2007. The winery produces wines under four separate labels. Pato Frio, Barrancoa, Connections and Guadio and covers both red and white varieties. All wines are from Alentejo in the region of Vidigueira.

The local distributor is Paulo Forjaz from Luso Gourmet, and the wines are sensibly priced, to allow consumers to try some interesting and worthwhile wines, without breaking the bank.

Many of the reds feature the grape Aragonez in the blend. This is a local name for the Spanish variety Tempranillo. Originating in Southern France, Alicante Bousc het is another variety that features widely in Alentejo. Of interest, this is one of the few wine grapes with red flesh (and juice).

My initial impression is that the reds are the pick, though there is a refreshing Verdelho that would be an excellent summer drink.

Distribution is limited at present, so try one of the local independent stores, or contact Luso Gourmet for stockists.


Gaudio – Verdelho – 2015 (17.3pts – $18). Really interesting, with excellent balance. The grassy fruit has lanolin and melon notes, complemented by a core of refreshing acidity. Great summer drinking with light food, or by itself.

Barrancoa – Aragonez/Trincadeira/Alicante Bouschet – 2013 (17pts – $17). A well made wine, with plump fruit building in the glass and gentle herbal notes. The palate has souring acidity and drying tannins, and gets slightly chewy on a finish that is quite long. Made as a food wine.

Pato Frio – Aragonez/Alfocheiro/Alicante Bouschet – Red Edition – 2013 (17.5pts – $25). Old-world structure here, where the fruit characters are initially muted. The ripeness of the fruit is more apparent on the palate, where it is matched to taut structure The acidity carries the finish and gives life. Really needs food, and will complement quite rich foods. Well made.

Gaudio – Touriga National/Alicante Boushet/Aragonez/ Tinta Miuda – Classico – 2013 (17.8 – 18.2pts – $28). More fragrant, with the ripe fruit showing some pretty berry notes. The palate is defined by the angular acidity, with a vein of minerality and tannins driving through to the finish. Almost Bordeaux-like in structure, this is a smart, age-worthy wine. Closed and tight, this spends 9 months in French Oak.

Negotiants Imported Wine Tasting – June 2015

Chateau Musar, New Zealand Pinot Noir, French Wines

12th July 2015

Reviewed by Barry Weinman

Here are my first impressions on a range of excellent wines imported by Negotiants. Part of the Yalumba group, Negotiants has the most extensive range of high quality wines in Australia, so products should be widely available (though they may need to be ordered in).

The two highlights for the tasting were the bracket of Pinot Noirs, and tasting though several wines from Chateau Musar with Ralph Hochar, the grandson of founder Gaston Hochar.

Situated in Lebanon, Chateaux Musar was founded in 1930, with the aim of producing fine wines in the tradition of Bordeaux. Gaston’s son Serge was named Decanter Magazine’s inaugural “Man of the Year” in 1984. This was in recognition of his remarkable achievement in producing wines through the Lebanon civil war.

The Bekaa Valley is now home to a number of vineyards and wineries, but Chateau Musar remains their most famous export.


Marc Bredif –Chenin Blanc – Brut – NV. Creamy, textural nose. The palate is rich and generous, with decent acidity to keep the fruit balanced, and there is good length. An interesting and worthwhile alternative to Champagne. Will take antipasto very well.

Pol Roger – Champagne – 2004. Complex nose, but not overtly influenced by lees. The fruit really shines here, with pinot richness adding depth. Long, this is a very subtle, fine wine.

Pol Roger – Champagne – Rose – 2004. This has the palest salmon colour. A touch more red fruits on the nose compared to the vintage. Fine and elegant, with zesty acidity, but the subtle complexity drives the finish. Sublime.

Domaine du Vieux Telegraph – Chateauneuf du Pape – la Crau – 2012. Supple, subtle red fruits on the nose, with complex mineral and spice notes. The palate is alive, with vibrant fruit leading into savoury, earthy notes. Very long and fine, with minerality and texture, a wine of real presence and style.

Chateau Musar – Rhone Blend – Hochar Pere Et Fils – 2008. Lighter, pale colour, tending towards brick red. Lovely fragrant fruit with spice and depth to the nose. The palate is savoury and complex. The fruit is subdued, allowing the gentle complex characters to shine. The acid drive adds length. Good now with hearty food, this is from a lighter year, and is made to drink earlier than the premium wine.

Chateau Musar – Cabernet Blend – 2007. Lighter colour reflecting the age and the style. There is serious power to the fruit, yet the wine comes across as elegant and refined, with great length and texture. Not mainstream, but a lovely drink. (33% new oak and is from a strong year).

Chateau Musar – Cabernet Blend – 2000. Quite Burundian. Feminine, floral, complex, with ripe, savoury, spicy fruit. The palate is remarkable for the way the fruit builds and gains depth. A savoury treat.

Pinot Noir

Nautilus – Pinot Noir – 2012. Nice balance of fruit and savoury complexity on the nose. The palate is fresh, with the structured fruit giving way to oak and fruit tannins on the close. Quite serious, but needs a year or two. From Marlborough.

Fromm – Pinot Noir – Clayvin Vineyard – 2013. I liked this a lot. Serious fruit with cherry and spices – clove and cardamom. The palate is fresh and light, with an almost ethereal character. Delicate, refined and very long, this is a delightful wine. Now – 5 years.

Grasshopper Rock – Pinot Noir – Earnscleugh Vineyard – 2012. Restrained and taut, yet with a core of vibrant fruit running through the palate. Quite savoury to close. A fine effort from Central Otago, without the fleshiness often seen from this region.

Valli – Pinot Noir – Gibston Vineyard – 2013. Dense ripe fruit, showing cherry, plum and spice, typical of Central Otago. The palate is dense, with earthy notes adding depth and interest. The long finish sees the tannins dry up the fruit somewhat, making this a good prospect for a few years in the cellar, or served with lamb now.

Two Paddocks – Pinot Noir – 2013. A complete wine from Central Otago that is a great drop now. Deceptive, as the intrinsic quality is easy to miss due to the ease of drinking. Who needs food?

Ata Rangi – Pinot Noir – 2013. Brilliant colour. The nose is complex, yet delicate and refined. The palate has vibrant fruit, with a cloak of oak and tannins. The souring, cherry-like acidity really cuts through on the finish, ensuring drive and focus. With excellent length and persistence, the fruit fans out on the close. A brilliant wine that can be drunk any time over the next 10 years.

Francois Feuillet – Pinot Noir – Chambole Musigny – 1er Cru – Les Sentiers. A lovely nose that combines savoury/spicy notes with supple fruit. The palate is bright and fresh, with menthol and hints of tar and aniseed.

Geantet-Pansiot – Pinot Noir – Gevery Chambertain – 1er Cru – Le Poissenot – 2010. Quite savoury at first, with meaty/earthy notes. That said, there is a core of ripe, powerful fruit that defines the wine. The palate is quite elegant, with the earthy/savoury minerality carrying the length of the palate. Very long, this is a fine wine indeed. Not cheap, but very good.

Dugat – Py – Pinot Noir – Gevery Chambertain – Ville Vignes – 2008. Concentrated fruit on the noseDepth provided by the complex earthy notes. Old vines really show their worth here. On the palate, the balance is excellent, though the fruit is actually quite muted, shut down by the structural components and savoury oak. Superb wine in the making, and remarkable quality for a village wine.

Piedmont – December 2014

Reviewed: 14th December 2014

I recently attended a tasting hosted by Maurizio Ugge from Arquilla, an importer of a large variety of Italian wines. The focus was specifically on the wines of Piedmont and included wines from several highly regarded producers.

Whilst there were decent Dolcettos and Barberas on show, it was the wines made from Nebbiolo from the regions of Barbaresco and Barolo that were the main feature.

Due to the sheer number of wines and the limited time available, my notes are somewhat brief and represent my first impressions. Also, as this was not a masked tasting, my points are best used as a rough guide only.

If only they were a bit cheaper….


Elio Altare – Barbera d’Alba – 2012 (17.2). A lovely blend of ripe, succulent fruit and savoury, earthy, almost tar-like complexity. The palate is long and has surprising depth/density. An excellent wine.

Domenico Clerico – Barbera d’Alba – 2011 (17+). Opens with sweet ripe fruit, but the tannins really kick in on the mid-palate and continue to the close. The fruit is actually quite long and persistent and should become more expressive with a year or two in bottle. If you like a big red, this is a really interesting alternative and worth a look.

Pio Cesare – Barbera d’Alba – Fides – 2011 (17). A lovely blend of sweet fruit and savoury highlights on the nose. The palate is a standout. There is real depth to the high-quality fruit. The mouth-feel and texture are superb. A very good wine that has been expensively made (the oak is more apparent here, but not out of balance).

Domenico Clerico – Nebbiolo – Lange – Capisme-E – 2012 (17). I like this wine for its approachability. Savoury, drying and fine, yet with depth and subtle power sitting underneath. Not overly long or complex, but an excellent drink.

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Langhe – Il Nebbio – 2011 (17.3). Light and fresh, with textbook tannins. The fruit here gets quite floral and pretty. An excellent pinot alternative.

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barbaresco – 2009 (18). A real step up in terms of both fruit depth, as well as texture, mouth-feel and length. I really like the finish here which is feminine and seductive, yet focussed and fine. Savoury, textured and chewy tannins fit the bill. The fruit really builds and gets quite serious to close. Now, but also in 10+ years

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barbaresco – 2010 (18). This is tighter and less giving than the 2009. Savoury, structured, long and tight, the tannins get all chewy on the close. Needs time, but will reward.

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barbaresco – Bricco Di Tresio – Vendemmia – 2009 (18). Savoury, structured and tight, yet there is a real prettiness in the fruit. The palate is only mid-weight, with very fine tannins and silky oak. The finish is fine and long, the super-fine tannins making this an accessible drink now, but also ensuring longevity.

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barbaresco – Bricco Di tresio – Vendemmia – 2010 (18+). Mirrors the straight Barbaresco but this is just so much finer. Again the oak and tannins are silky and fine, caressing the palate, yet allowing the fruit to sing. The mouth-feel is a highlight, though this is structured and tight. Will age well.

Marchesi Di Gresy – Nebbiolo – Barbaresco – Martinenga -2010 (18.4). This is amazingly feminine, silky and fine! For a variety known for its tannins and power, this is a revelation. That said, the fruit is superb, yet it is wrapped in a cloak of silk gauze that holds it in check, allowing glimpses of potential to show through. Superb!

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barolo – Ornato – 2009 (18.4). This is clearly different to the wines from Barbaresco. More overt power to the fruit and very fine tannins that slowly build to the point that they close down the wine on the finish. Powerful and impressive, yet still balanced and possessing great length. A wine that can be drunk now with pleasure, but will certainly benefit from 10 – 15 years in the cellar. From the Seralunga sub-district.

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barolo – Ornato – 2010 (18.6). More structure and power, yet this is less accessible than the 2009. Amazing fruit, yet the tight, chewy structure shuts down the palate. Needs 10 years, but would be better with 20. Super stuff!

Pio Cesare – Nebbiolo – Barolo – 2010 (18.3). Closed, dense and structured. Classic Barolo, with the chewy tannins preventing the fruit from showing its best now. Not quite as dense as the Ornato, but will be ready sooner. A complex, multifaceted wine.

Domenico Clerico – Nebbiolo – Barolo – Ciabot Mentin – 2010 (18.8). Whilst this is still a savoury wine, the intensity and concentration of the fruit here is amazing. The pristine fruit tends towards the classic rose petal and tar characters. The tannins are prodigious, yet the fruit soaks them up, finishing with souring cherry-like acidity. A spectacular wine!

Domenico Clerico – Nebbiolo – Barolo – Pajana – 2010 (18.5). Really savoury, with tar and earthy notes on the nose. The fruit on the palate is, again, outstanding. The mouth-feel and structure spot on. The fruit is not as dense as the Ciabot Mentin, but this makes it so much more approachable.

Madeira – June 2014

Reviewed: 31st May 2014

Madeira refers to an archipelago of islands (Madeira islands), the island of Madeira and the wine called Madeira. Whilst both dry wines and fortified wines are produced on the islands, it is the fortified, sweet wines that the region is famous for.

Madeira as we have come to know it, appears to be the result of serendipity. According to Jancis Robinson (The Oxford Companion to Wine), in the 17th century, Madeira was used as ballast on ships sailing across the equator to India. The wine was fortified to protect it for the journey. Over time, it became apparent that the wine was somehow improved as a result of the journey. Legend has it that a return journey improved the wine even further.

In modern times, this process has been replaced by using heated rooms or tanks to bring about the accelerated aging. The wine is subsequently aged for the requisite period in barrel before being bottled.

The grapes most commonly used to produce quality Madeira are Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malmsey and are often referred to as the “noble” varieties. According to Robinson, the red skinned grape Tinta Negra Mole is the most commonly planted variety, and this is used for making lesser quality wines (though the variety was used in better wines until EU labelling laws demanded that, to show the variety(s) on the label, the wine needs to be made of at least 85% of that variety).

Higher quality Madeira will have the grape variety listed on the label, and this is an indication of the style of wine. Sercial and Verdelho tend to be fermented to near dry. Bual tends to be medium/sweet, whilst Malmsey tends to be the sweetest style, (although various techniques can be used to add sweetness to the drier styles).

As with Port, or indeed Australian fortified wines, the majority of wines are non-vintage, though there are small quantities of vintage wines produced. Quality is often indicated by the average age of the wine. (Wikipedia has a good article on this at ).

In Australia, there is only limited availability of these wines. A quick trip to Dan Murphy resulted in the three wines that were sampled for this tasting.


Blandy’s – Bual – 5 Years (16.8). Tawny brown colour. Nose is quite muted. The palate, however, is a riot of spirituous fun, with some aged characters. With reasonable length and moderate sweetness, this is a pleasant drink, but it is not overly complex.

Blandy’s – Malmsey – 5 Years (17.2). Offers more interest on the nose, with dried fig, tea leaf and herbal notes. The palate has more obvious sweetness, yet still retains some of the rancio and spirituous notes. This is a decent drink, with good length and mouth-feel. Quite viscous, with drying acidity to close.

Blandy’s – Malmsey – 10 Years (17.8). Similar colour to the 5 year old, but there is much more intensity on the nose. Much better balance in the mouth, with the sweet fruit, spirit, aged characters and acid all combining to confer life on the palate. Good length and very more-ish.

Master of Wine – Warm Up Tasting

Reviewed: 1st July 2013

I had the opportunity to attend a Master of Wine (MW) exam practice tasting recently.  Brendan Jansen, who is an occasional contributor to these pages, recently sat his second part tasting exams and wanted to do a quick palate check before flying out.  Brendan put together a smart tasting to help him focus his thinking.

The MW qualification is uniquely challenging.  There are less than 300 people alive world-wide who have passed the examination process.  Brendan argues that becoming a doctor was much less challenging than the MW process!

As an observer, one of the biggest hurdles appears to be the financial aspect.  Candidates need to taste very widely. Indeed, they need to be experts in all the great wine regions around the world.  The cost of tasting the great wines appears very prohibitive to me.  Candidates also need to cover all the other major regions, including those that are not known for quality wine.  (This is also a big hurdle for me :).

With the current tasting, Brendan asked a series of questions.  With the Chablis for example, the aim was to examine the characteristics of each wine to establish the features that a 1er Cru wine possesses that separates it from a Village wine etc.


Sylvain Mosnier – Chardonnay – Chablis – 2010 (17+).  Attractive, lemony fruit on the nose.  The palate is quite lean, but really builds in the mouth.  Textured, but more perhaps from lees stirring rather than new oak.  The wine has good attack and mouth-feel, the minerals a gentle kiss on the finish.  Excellent value current drinking.

Sylvain Mosnier – Chardonnay – Petit Chablis 2011 (16.6).  Closed, cold, but with potential evident on the palate.  Lean, but also linear, with little in the way of winemaking influences.  The palate is quite good.  While there is not much in the way of fruit density, there is a slipperiness to the fruit and good acid to close.

Sylvain Mosnier – Chardonnay – Chablis – 1er Cru – Beauroy – 2010 (17.8/18).  The most powerful of the three and a wine of real presence.  The nose has perfume and even honeysuckle aromas.  This has more richness and density to the fruit, while the winemaking influences are more pronounced.  There is a nice nutty character to the palate as well as the typical minerality and a hint of curry leaf.  The finish is dense and textured, with an almost chewy mouth-feel.  The oak is present, but not overt.  A very enjoyable wine that will take 3 – 5 years to really fill out.

Marcel Martin – Sauvignon Blanc – Touraine – 2009 (17).  Aromatics are gentle on the nose, but more pronounced on the palate.  Very French in style, the richness of the fruit is balanced by tangy freshness.  The palate has honeyed minerality, is nicely developed and the finish is round and quite rich.  Long, the acid really carries the fruit weight through to the finish.  Drying, this leaves me wanting another sip.

Baland-Chapuis – Sauvignon Blanc – Sancerre – Le Chatillet – 2011 (17.7).  Very drying wine that is more about texture and mouth-feel than overt fruit.  This builds in the mouth and is a wine of some depth and power.  Whilst very drying, the finish is balanced and persistent.  Ideally suited to food now, a few years will see this come into its own.  A lovely wine.

Chapoutier – Marsanne – Hermtiage – Chante Alouette – 2007 (17.5).  Nice aromatics here, with pineapple, almond, apricot and cinnamon.  Textural finish that, whilst not overly long, is very persistent.  There is a touch of smoky bacon to close. Interesting wine that has supple fragrant fruit, though the texture really is the key here.

Philippe Gimel – Grenache/Shiraz – Saint Jean Du Barroux – 2007 (18.3).  Lovely perfumed nose of roses and spice.  The palate is sweet and ripe, with a seam of tar and rosewater on the mid palate.  The texture on the finish is a highlight.  Very long, the dusty tannins caress rather than dominate adding depth and texture to the very long palate.  A superb wine now, or in 5 – 10 years.

Norton – Malbec – Privada – 2007 (18).  Amazing colour that is very deep, yet brilliant red.  Dense, impenetrable nose.  The palate is redolent of coffee, chocolate and ripe fruit.  The finish is powerful, viscous, textured and chewy, showing licorice and vanilla oak to close.

Alamos – Malbec – 2011 (17.5).  Elegant, tight and  restrained.  The nose on this displays quality blackcurrant fruit, mint and pencil shavings oak.  The palate shows quite tight, sweet fruit and oak.  The fruit is rich and dense, the palate showing superb mouth-feel and presence, though in a more forward style.

Chateau Dufort-Vivens – Cabernet Blend – Margeaux – 2nd Growth – 2009 (17.7/18.2).  The balance is the key to this wine.  There is quality fruit on the nose, with hints of dried herbs adding complexity.  Bay leaf and spice come forward on the palate and the length and texture are excellent.  Classic Bordeaux that needs time to build.

Buller – Muscat (Petit Grains) – Fine Muscat – NV (17.5).  Lovely amber hue that still has life to it.  The nose is very intense, with Christmas cake / plum pudding aromas.  The palate is intense and deep, yet in no way cloying.  Incredible length and persistence with enough acidity to balance the fruit.  I defy anyone not to like this wine.  At $10 from Dan Murphy etc., this is a steal!

Cockburn’s – Late Bottle Vintaged Port – 2006 (17.8).  Incredibly dense colour.  The nose is deep, rich and powerful.  Whilst an LBV, I am sure that this will still age for some time.  There are bright red fruits and a wonderful, spicy texture.  Long and near seamless, this is a lovely wine.  Intense fruit on both the nose and the palate.  The finish is almost chewy, yet silky.

Beaune and Beyond

Hosted by Phillip Rich at Lamont’s in Cottesloe

Reviewed: 3rd June 2013

I must admit that I had reservations about attending this tasting as I had spent the day working in Sydney and had flown in just in time to attend. The thought of a hot shower and warm bed was very appealing. I am so glad that I did attend though as it was a fantastic evening.

Phillip Rich was in town to showcase a range of wines that he imports in to Australia. Two things made the night so enjoyable. Firstly, the wines ranged from very good to spectacular. The red Burgundies from Hudelot Noellat in particular were nothing short of spectacular.

The other factor that made the night so enjoyable was our host. Phillip is a warm and engaging speaker. He shared his great knowledge with us in such a way that it felt like catching up with an old friend.

If you get the chance to attend one of his tastings in the future, jump at it. I am sure you will enjoy the experience as much as I did.

NB. This tasting comes with the usual caveats. It was not a blind tasting (and I had a lot of fun), so please use my points as a guide only. Wines are available in limited quantities from Lamont’s and other select independent retailers.

  • Tasted:        16
  • Reviewed:   11


Pierre Peters – Champagne – Chetillons – 2005 (18 – 18.5). A very impressive wine that balances delicate floral notes with complex autolysis characters (brioche, bread dough etc.). The palate is very subtle, showing balance and poise. Youthful and quite lean, this needs time in the bottle to really open up.  To get the most out of this wine now, try letting it warm up in the glass a little as this lets the pristine chardonnay fruit really shine.

Copain – Chardonnay – Tous Ensemble – 2011 (17 – 17.5). Delicate lemony fruit that is quite taut and linear at first. An elegant, modern style that opens up to show grapefruit and nectarine characters. The finish is elegant and quite seamless. Don’t serve to cold.

Copain – Chardonnay – Laureles – 2011 (17.5 – 18). Compared to the Tous Ensemble, there is a real step up in richness here. There is still the grapefruit and citrus notes, however the mouth-feel and texture are the real highlights. Finishes with lemon pith and precise minerals. A lovely drink.

Copain – Pinot Noir – Tous Ensemble – 2010 (17.5+). A lighter hue here. Lovely red fruits to the fore, with red cherries and lifted perfume. The palate is very pretty and has good texture and structure. Good length and intensity on the finish rounds out the package. A wine to enjoy now and, as such, represents quite good value

Copain – Pinot Noir – Kiser En Haut  – 2010 (18+). This wine still has the lovely perfume of the Tous Ensemble, though there is more depth and structure to the fruit and the mouth-feel is more textural. Whilst this is a lighter style compared to a NZ pinot, there is superb intensity, density and an elegant structure to the palate. A balanced and youthful wine that has intrinsic fruit power and is very age-worthy.

Copain – Pinot Noir – Kiser En Bas  – 2010 (18 – 18.5). This is a compelling wine that blends many of the characteristics of the previous two wines from Copain. Both the nose and palate display lovely perfumed fruit, silky mouth-feel, cherry fruit notes and fine oak handling/ lovely souring acid. A wine that balances fruit and structure expertly. A wine that can be drunk now or in 5 years.

Felton Road – Pinot Noir – Cornish Point – 2010 (18.5). Gorgeous nose that has sweet fruit that is balanced by complex cherry and spice aromas.  Real density and serious fruit weight is apparent on the palate. The oak is evident now, but complements the fruit very well. A delicious wine that offers a degree of generosity that only the new world seems to achieve. Put in to the tasting as a yardstick, and very nearly stole the show.

Hudelot Noëllat – Pinot Noir – Vosne Romanee – 2011 (18). In the glass, this wine has a lovely, vibrant colour. The nose is dense, earthy and weighty, yet retains a lovely perfumed character. The palate is supple, fragrant and spicy, the depth of the fruit evident in the texture and mouth-feel. With excellent length and wonderful balance, this wine actually represents good value at around $90!

Hudelot Noëllat – Pinot Noir – Beaumonts – 1er Cru – 2011(18.5+). This has a classic Burgundian nose that, like the Vosne, has fragrant, perfumed characters sitting atop the dense fruit. Opens up to show sappy sour cherry, spice and earthy notes. The palate here is spectacular, with superb fruit that is balanced, very long and near seamless. The structured nature of the finish suggests that this should continue to develop well in the bottle. Brilliant wine.

Hudelot Noëllat – Pinot Noir – Clos de Vougeot – Grand Cru – 2011 (18.7). Even more density to the colour here and the fruit is much more closed than the Les Beaumonts. Whilst this is fresh and supple, with almost new world richness to the fruit, the wine is dense, structured, powerful and tannic. A truly great wine, but one that needs 5 – 10 years in the cellar to start to express itself.


Magnum Lunch

Fraser’s Restaurant

24th May 2013

Eighteen wine enthusiasts, twenty one magnums of outstanding wine and one of Perth’s best chefs recently combined for a truly memorable experience. No occasion was needed to bring a remarkable collection of both wines and people together for the second magnum lunch at Fraser’s Restaurant in Kings Park.

The lunch was conceived by John Jens, but it was Bob Winterbottom who made the lunch a reality. Bob set the guidelines for what wines could be brought and coordinated selections to ensure that there was a spread of wines from various styles. Once the list was finalised, Bob passed this on to Chris Taylor at Fraser’s. Chris developed a spectacular meal that complemented the wines superbly.

There were so many vinous highlights that it seems unfair to give the wines points. Needless to say that many of the wines would have been awarded gold medals. I will go out on a limb and say that the line-up was one of the best collections of wine that I have tasted in years.

One highlight for me was the bracket of Corton Charlemagne’s from Bonneau du Martray. It was fascinating to see how the style has evolved over the last few years. The 2008 was drinking spectacularly, but the 2010 was, quite possibly, the greatest wine of the tasting.

Another highlight was the three Second Growths from Bordeaux. Whilst the quality of the 2000 vintage was superbly highlighted by the Leoville Barton and the Cos d’Estronnel, the 2001 Leoville Las Cases was also a superstar.

The food that was prepared to accompany the wines was uniformly superb. For me, the highlight was the roast whole pig! A special mention must go to William and Bronwyn from Fraser’s who provided us with superb service throughout the event.

Ultimately though, it was the company of the other 17 wine tragics who attended that made the day so memorable.

How soon can we do it again???


We started the lunch on the restaurant forecourt where Chris shucked Ceduna oysters as we sipped on the four Champagnes. It was a perfect start, the picturesque backdrop only adding to the sense of occasion.

Pol Roger – Champagne – 1996. This wine stood out for its great finesse and balance. Yes, it was fully mature, but there was still life and vitality. A great way to start. (From Magnum).

Krug – Champagne – NV. Remarkably, this had spent 11 years in bottle since it was purchased. Fully mature, complex, rich and finely balanced, this was a great drink and perfectly complemented by the ocean tang of the oysters. (From Magnum).

Dom Perignon – Champagne – 1990. Unfortunately, the cork on this spoiled the party. (From Magnum).

Dom Perignon – Champagne – Oenotheque – 1996. Unbelievably fresh and tight, the lemony citrus characters leading the charge on both the nose and the palate. This needs years to reach its drinking peak but is a superb wine!


The pairing of the Climens and the parfait was an inspired combination. The silky texture of the parfait was the perfect foil to the wines richness.

Chateau Climens – Barsac – 1995. Balanced, precise, rich (though not in any way cloying) and very long. Apricot, almond and marzipan combine with wonderful spice notes on both the nose and the palate. Whilst this is superb now, it will last for many more years.

White Burgundy and Chablis

Given the refinement of the wines in this bracket, I was concerned that the mushroom risotto that accompanied it would overwhelm the fruit. In reality, the risotto was remarkably delicate and refined, adding a lovely backdrop to the whites.

Bonneau du Martray – Corton Charlemagne – Grand Cru – 2004. A very complex wine, the minerals and honey on the nose combined well with the toasty, developed characters on the palate. Powerful, intense and very long, this has developed very nicely. (From Magnum).

Bonneau du Martray – Corton Charlemagne – Grand Cru – 2008. Sublime drinking here. Grapefruit and lemony acid lead onto complex mineral characters, spice and a hint of curry leaf. Outstanding drive and length to a wine that is great now, but will also develop well for a few years. (From Magnum).

Bonneau du Martray – Corton Charlemagne – Grand Cru – 2010.  Precise, focused and tight, this is a restrained and silky wine that flows seamlessly to a very long finish. A stunning wine and one of my favourites for the day. (From Magnum).

Domaine Francois RaveneauChapelot – Chablis – 1er Cru – 2009. Very tight, lean and racy, with lemon, nectarine and citrus rind notes. Outstanding length to a wine that needs 5 years to really start to hit its straps. (From Magnum).

Domaine Baron Thenard – Le Montrachet – Grand Cru – 2007. Opens with really tangy citrus notes. A very powerful wine that has subtle minerals and a very fine texture. Creamy and very long, this is a superb wine of power and restraint. Will age for years, but this is sublime!

Blain Gagnard – Batard Montrachet – Grand Cru – 2006. This is a very powerful wine, though the nose is remarkably tight at present. A big wine that still needs a few years for the powerful fruit to fully integrate with the oak and show its best. (From Magnum).

Red Burgundy

The Burgundies were accompanied by a complex and artistically prepared dish of braised lamb. A delicious dish, with the natural acidity of the wines complementing the richness of the food.

Pousse d’Or  – Volnay – 1er Cru – Caillerets – 1990. This bottle had, perhaps, seen better days as it was very earthy and old fashioned. (From Magnum).

Armand Rousseau – Ruchottes-Chambertin – Grand Cru – Clos des Ruchottes – 2007. Silky, sweet fruit with pepper and lovely spice highlights. The texture, balance and power have all the hallmarks of a great wine! Despite the powerful fruit, this is elegant, refined and very long. A great wine!

Mommessin – Clos de Tart – Grand Cru – 2008. Pepper, spice and cinnamon come to the fore here. Superb length and balance combine with a silky texture to make this a stunning wine. (From Magnum).

Mongeard Mugneret – Clos de Vougeot – Grand Cru – 2005. Leaner and more structured than the Clos de Tart, this is still youthful, long, fine and powerful. There are cherry fruit notes, while the finish fans out like the proverbial peacocks tail. A superb wine that is immensely long. (From Magnum).

Bordeaux and Dry Reds

From a food perspective, the roast pork that accompanied the bigger reds was spectacular. The crispy skin combined beautifully with the succulent meat. There were Asian cues to the preparation with galangal being an integral part of the seasoning.

In many respects, this dish stole the show!

Chateau Léoville Las Cases – St Julien – 2001. A brilliant wine, though the fruit is wrapped up in a very structured cloak. The tannins are firm, though very fine, while the supple oak complements the fruit perfectly. A powerful wine that will last for years, yet is a joy to drink now. (From Magnum).

Chateau Cos d’Estournel – St Julien – 2000. This is a great wine. The fruit is sweeter than the Las Cases (perhaps reflecting the year), though the wine is still very powerful. Wonderful length and texture, the fruit framed by very fine tannins. A complete wine. (From Magnum).

Chateau Leoville Barton – St Julien – 2000. Another stunning effort. This wine is silky and supple, with wonderful tannin and oak management. The most structured of the three St Juliens, this is masculine and very youthful. (From Magnum).

Joseph Phelps Eisele Vineyard  – Cabernet Sauvignon – 1986. Perhaps more than any wine here, the Phelps polarised the group. Spectacular fruit quality and power, but the wine initially appeared a little rustic and old fashioned courtesy of a touch of Brettanomyces. Certainly evolved in the glass and improved significantly as it opened up. (From Magnum).

J L Chave – Hermitage – 1983. This wine is totally, seductive, elegant and fully mature. The palate is defined by its finesse and length, the acidity providing drive right through to the close. From a drinking point of view, this wine was my favourite of the reds! (From Magnum).


At the end of such a spectacular lunch and with plenty of red wine still on the table, we finished with a selection of cheeses. An excellent way to end a memorable day.

Franck Bonville – Champagne – Blanc de Blanc – 2006. A superb way to end the meal, the freshness, balance and power left the palate refreshed (although it did not really refresh my mind at this point!)