Tag Archives: New release

Shiraz – New Release

Reviewed: 20th September 2013

This tasting was defined by the number of outstanding wines on show.  Interestingly, several of my favourites came from producers that I know little about.  The wines from Salomon, Jericho and Shottesbrooke were all noteworthy.

I will write more on each of these producers over the next few weeks.

This is not to say that some of the established players did not show well.  Yalumba’s Octavius was also in top form.  A dense, powerful wine for the long hall.



jericho-shiraz-2012Jericho – Shiraz – 2012 (18.5).  Initially, this is restrained, taut and closed, with subdued fruit characters.  The quality though is outstanding with wonderful depth and texture.  The length is a defining feature, as is the balance and velvety mouth-feel.  Will build and develop for many years.  A superb wine from McLaren Vale.

Salomon – Shiraz – Finniss River – 2010 (18.5).  This has both a captivating nose and wonderful palate.  This is powerful, yet elegant and restrained at the same time.  The palate is very long and near seamless, with subtle spicy notes.  The fruit is quite closed, but the quality is evident in every aspect of this wine.  An outstanding, sophisticated wine with great balance.

Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Eliza – Reserve – 2010 (18.5).  Here is another cracking wine from the 2010 vintage.  Has an attractive nose that combines concentrated fruit with supple oak characters.  The palate is initially closed, taut and linear, with bright acid and fine, drying, slightly chewy tannins.  With air, this really opened up to display wonderful fruit that had layers of depth and complexity.  The palate is very complex, expressive and alive.  A beautiful wine that deserves ten years in the cellar.

Yalumba – Shiraz – Octavius – 2008 (18.5).  An impenetrable wine that took two days to really open up and show its class.  A great wine that demands patience.

Salomon – Shiraz – Finniss River – 2011 (18.3). Ripe fruit on the nose that hints at fresh plum and forest floor.  A delicious wine that has a remarkably soft mouth-feel yet has tannins that are fine and persistent.  The fruit builds depth and breadth in the glass and on the palate, evolving and enticing a further sip.  Whilst this is a big, powerful wine, it expresses a softness that is very attractive.  An excellent wine at the start of a long life.

Grant Burge – Shiraz – Filsell – 2011 (17.8).  Inky colour and really deep smelling, this wine has quality stamped all over it.  Presents precise fruit, with a vanillin oak lift.  Masculine and structured, yet with elegance and poise.  Chocolate fruit notes to close.  Long and textured, this needs a few years to show its best, as the tannins are quite firm on the finish.

Jericho – Shiraz – Adelaide Hills – Syrah – 2012 (17.8).  Lovely, peppery fruit to open here.  The spicy fruit is balanced and nicely textured.  The fruit is not overly dense, but has been handled sympathetically.  Long and balanced, this could easily take 5 years in the cellar.  Another producer who is trying to differentiate the Adelaide Hills style by adopting the French term Syrah.

Salomon – Shiraz – Finniss River – 2009 (17.7).  Cooler climate fruit that is precise and focussed.  Shows mint, red berries, bright cherry fruit, white pepper and a touch of aniseed.  Long and sappy finish with silky, slightly dusty tannins that adds life and interest.  Very smart wine that is good now or in 10 years.

Bird in Hand – Shiraz – 2012 (17.5).  Whilst quite a big wine, this has quality, cooler climate fruit characters.  The ripe, aromatic fruit is supported by supple, chewy tannins.  A youthful wine with inherent balance and good length.

New Release Tasting

Fine Wine Wholesalers

Reviewed 14 October 2011

Matt Holden, the State Manager for Fine Wine Wholesalers popped in to show off some of his new releases. The highlight of which was the fantastic rieslings from Geoff Grosset.

The value wine of the tasting was the Echelon from Kingston Estate. A flagship wine at a bargain price.

Speaking of value, Lamont’s have some Italian wines at great prices. JJ is bringing them in directly and the wines reviewed below are available for $30 per bottle. To get a Barolo for this price is unheard off. To make the deal sweeter, ask for 13 to the dozen!


Grosset – Riesling – Springvale – 2011 (18.5). Lovely nose. This is floral and fragrant, with hints of lemon blossom. Steely characters dominate the palate, but this opens up to show fragrant talc and very fine acid/structure. The lemony fruit goes on and on. A superb wine that just got better and better in the glass. This is all class, but I would like to give it a few years. We drank this with a roast chicken for dinner and it was beautiful.

Grosset – Riesling – Polish Hill – 2011 (18 – 18.5+). Wow. Pristine nose showing fresh lime juice. This has a degree of viscosity and almost a touch of phenolics, but the lovely lime fruit drives the palate forward. Much more approachable than some previous vintages and an excellent drink. This does, however, have superb structure and it will live for a long time.

Grosset – Riesling – Off Dry – 2011 (18). Lovely wine. Floral fruit and vibrant acidity. Really delicious in the mouth – a super wine. A touch oily to close, the length of fruit on the palate is a standout. The slight residual sugar is balanced by well judged acidity. Softer and more approachable than the previous two and my pick for current drinking.

Bird in Hand – Sauvignon Blanc – 2011. (16.8). Gooseberry, lantana and tropical fruit more typical of NZ than of the Adelaide Hills. Clean and fresh with more of the tropical notes on the palate. Smart wine with good persistence. Not overly complex.

Chapel Hill – Blend – Il Vescovo – 2011 (17). More reserved, but more interesting. Nutty, oily, textured and viscous. Savoury wine of some appeal that would suit food well.

Olssens – Pinot Noir – Nipple Hill – 2010 (17.4). More depth and structure here. Smart wine, with cherry and strawberry fruit, with savoury/sappy complexity underneath. Almost chewy, the finish is very good. Not a delicate wine, but one of much appeal. Well made, but straightforward.

Dominique Portet – Shiraz – Heathcote – 2008 (17.3). Dense fruit here. There is ripe plum notes, but no overripe/dead fruit characters. Pepper and spice over silky, supple fruit. Only medium bodied, but long and savoury finish.

Kingston Estate – Shiraz – Echelon – 2008 (18). A touch of menthol and cedar on the nose. The palate has pepper and spice to the max. Long and lean, the tannin structure is spot on. The oak is noticeable, but this will settle down. Fantastic fruit and great value.

Mario Marengo – Nebbiolo D’Alba – Valmaggiore – 2009 (17-5 – 18). They say these wines smell of tar and roses, and this has both. A lovely nose here. The palate is lovely. There are some ripe fruit characters, but the tar and floral notes come through in spades. This is long and savoury, though there is a degree of suppleness that is beguiling. Long and fine, this is a lovely wine.

Tenuta Di Capraia – Chianti Classico DOCG – Reserva 2007 (17.5). More depth to the nose. Hints of aniseed/licorice. The palate is finely structured and beautifully balanced. Excellent mouth feel and structure. Not a big wine, but all the better for it. A touch of savoury, medicinal flavours that add interest. Lively, fresh and well made. Good persistence.

Il Poggione – Brunello Di Montalcino – 2005 (17.9). Very savoury palate. Traditional style that is savoury, mouth-watering and leathery. This is all about texture and mouth-feel, with little in the way of primary fruit. Slightly chewy tannins to close. Long palate that demands aging or food. Long and dense, with deftly handled fruit.

Lamont’s Direct Imports

These wines are spectacular value. Both are available for $30 from Lamont’s. Mention this review and you may even get 13 to the dozen!

Salvapiana – Chianti Ruffino – 2008 (17 – 17.5). Limpid. Mot much on the nose, but the palate is a lovely blend of traditional characters and fresher fruit components. Savoury, medium bodied and medium weight.

Apartin – Barolo – 2006 (17.5 – 18). Lovely savoury aromas, but still with aniseed. Much more subdued and better balanced. Excellent structure and length. An excellent wine that is modern. I would like to see this again in a couple of months once it has settled down.

New Release

Fine Wine Wholesaler

Reviewed: 8 March 2011

Matt Holden, the State Manager for Fine Wine Wholesalers put on a tasting to show the panel some of his current portfolio. With the likes of Mosswood, Grosset and Pierro in the portfolio, the wines were sure to be interesting.

Abigail from Zarephath Wines also popped in to show off their current range. I was interested to note that all of their wines have a few years in the bottle, which means that some of the ageing has been done for you. I thought the chardonnay and pinot noteworthy and have included them in the review below, although they were not technically part of the tasting.

A highlight of the tasting was a bracket of 2010 rieslings from Grosset, Mt Horrock and Xabregas. I did not review these here as I have previously recommended these wines. The same also applies to the 2008 Mosswood Cabernet. (They all pointed 18 – 18.7 previously).


Grosset – Chardonnay – Piccadilly – 2009 (18+). This is a powerful wine with complex wine-making inputs. Restrained and taught, this has a fabulous mouth-feel. The creamy oak is seamlessly integrated, though the fruit is held back right now. There is a hint of the oak toast on the finish along with match strike and a touch of curry leaf. A very good wine with real length of fruit flavour, great acid balance and quality oak.

Pierro – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Reserve – 2005 (18). Very closed and unyielding. The palate is powerful and very long. There is blackcurrant fruit with plum, hints of eucalypt, cedar and tobacco leaf to close. The length is outstanding as is the texture. Needs years to evolve but a superb wine.

Grosset – Pinot Noir – 2008 (17 – 18). The fruit is quite lifted on the nose, very pretty and quite floral. The palate has excellent length, but the wine is very closed. Becomes more expressive with air, showing powerful cherry fruit that is textured and mouth-filling. (I really need to see this again after being opened for a day or two to see how it evolves).

Chapel Hill – Shiraz – Vicar – 2008 (17.8). Now this is big! Lovely hue. The nose has masses of cherry, plum, spice, tar and licorice. This is layered and very dense. Very textured palate that is very long and really builds intensity. Very silky tannins coat the tongue. Not my style but an impressive wine all the same.

Lenton Brae – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – Wilyabrup – 2010 (17.8). Quite complex, yet retains a fragrant edge. Tropical fruit to the fore, with gooseburry and grapefruit. Vanilla highlights come from the oak. Tight and refreshing palate that is very clean. Almost seamless transition in the mouth and the quality oak influence adds complexity. Give it a few years. This is a serious wine and one of the best SSB wines I can remember from Western Australia.

Zarephath – Chardonnay – 2007 (17.7). A rich, round and generous wine showing the benefit of a few years in bottle. There is plenty of peachy fruit and the finish is very creamy courtesy of the oak treatment. Excellent length on a wine that is ready to drink now. (Not tasted blind).

Mosswood – Chardonnay – 2009 (17.5+). Peach and nectarine fruit, with minerals and a touch of flint. Pineapple fruit on the palate with quality oak that is a touch forward now. This will settle and integrate with a few years bottle aging. Quality fruit and wine-making, but this is a style that needs aging to show its best.

Zarephath – Pinot Noir – 2008 (17.5). The nose has cherry fruit to the fore, with strawberry, tar and licorice to add interest. The palate is quite soft and round, with fine structure and good acidity to close. (Not tasted blind).

Mosswood – Pinot Noir – 2008 (17.4) Fragrant cherry and spice aromas. There is a degree of complexity, and depth to the fruit. The palate is taught and restrained, but there is a degree of power underneath. The length is excellent, but this needs 5 years to open up and start to show its best. History suggests that this will blossom with a decade in the bottle.

Penley Estate – Shiraz – Hyland – 2009 (17.2). Fragrant, with pepper and spice to the fore and a density of fruit that is very appealing. Concentrated fruit on the palate, with lots of pepper and savory, spicy notes. Good concentration and length. Smart wine with herbal notes to close. Value.

New Release

Reviewed 5 April 2011

An interesting tasting with some quite diverse wine styles. The pinots mentioned are all good wines, though the style varies from the lighter Stoniers to the Penfolds Cellar Reserve, which is closer to a dry red in style. In their own way, all are good value.

With the whites, the Juniper Estate semillon is a quality wine that offers an interesting alternative to the grassy semillon blends we see from the region. This wine has more in common with quality chardonnay than a fresh and fruity white.


Henschke – Pinot Noir – Giles 2009 (17.5/18). Quite savoury fruit characters on the nose with some gamey/sappy notes. There is a lovely spice to the fruit on the palate. The acid balance is spot on and the textural components are complimented by very fine tannins. This really hit its straps after a couple of days on the tasting bench. A good each way bet.

Penfolds – Pinot Noir – Cellar Reserve – 2008 (17.7). Lovely perfume here. Ripe red fruits over strawberries. There are also earthy notes with a touch of sandalwood and fragrant spice too. The palate is forward, and the bright fruit needs to settle into the textural components. This is a big wine, with some charred oak characters. A wine to watch.

Penfolds – Pinot Noir – Bin 23 – 2010 (17.6). Deep and vibrant colour. Powerful wine with cherry and spice over leather and earthy notes. This has all the usual pinot characters, though you would never call this a delicate wine. The palate is dense and velvety with some cedar showing through. The complex finish is very long and fine, with excellent texture. The grainy oak needs to settle down a touch before this starts to show its best.

Stoniers – Pinot Noir – 2009 (17.5). More forward cherry fruit compared to some. Clear and precise nose that is very clean. There is fresh fruit on the palate with a slightly sappy, sour cherry finish that is refreshing. Not as complex as the others listed, but there is quality fruit and the wine is well made. Perhaps the most authentic pinot here, and certainly good value.

Juniper Estate – Semillon – 2009 (17.4). This took me by surprise, as the style is totally different. A serious wine that has been worked in the winery. The lemony fruit is complemented by fine vanillin oak. The lees contact has added a creamy component. The palate is rich and textured, though it really needs a year or two to settle down. Fume style.

Deviation Road – Pinot Gri – 2010 (17). Fresh and vibrant, with tropical fruit and passionfruit. There is also a touch of quince paste. The palate is fuller than the other whites here, with just a touch of viscosity. The finish is long and fine, with excellent balance. The length is a standout. A well made wine that is good drinking now.

Cumulus Wines – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Rolling – 2010 (16.7). Restrained tropical fruit on the nose. The palate is rich and vibrant, with a surprisingly soft finish. Whilst this is an easy drinking style, the quality of the fruit is evident in the glass.

Leeuwin Estate – Sauvignon Blanc – Art Series – 2010 (16.7). A soft and generous nose with very pleasant aromatics. The palate continues the theme, with fine talc on the close. A fairly neutral wine that opened up over a couple of days.

Geoff Weaver – Sauvignon Blanc – 2010 (16.5). More interest here. Vibrant and mouth-filling fruit. Juicy, almost succulent fruit with good acid balance and length. Refreshing, yet with enough going on to make for interesting drinking.

The Alchemists – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – 2010 (16.4). Good fruit here. Quite a complex nose with lanolin, fragrant talc and gooseberry notes. The palate is balanced and round. Not overly complex, but pleasant drinking.

New Release Tasting

4 March 2011

I sometimes think that we pay too much attention to cellaring conditions. After all, I have drunk many old wines that have been kept in cupboards and under beds for 20 or more years and they have often been very good. Every now and then, however, I am reminded that temperature can make a big difference.

I included two bottles of one of the wines in this tasting. The first tasted liked stewed plums, the second vibrant and fresh. The fresher bottle had been kept in my cellar, while the tired bottle had been at another venue for a while.

This leads on to the issue of buying wine. Have you checked out the storage conditions at many wine shops or wholesalers recently? Whilst some have refrigerated storage conditions, many are not much more than a tin shed! My advice is to buy wines as close to release as possible, or better still, in winter.

The highlights in this tasting were the wines from Paulmara in the Barossa and the Craggy Range pinot. The pinot was a delight to drink and the Paulmara wines were very impressive. The pick for the tasting on a value basis was the Sandalford Elements shiraz/cabernet. This delivers great drinking at a bargain basement price. You could even cellar it for a couple of years.


Craggy Range – Pinot Noir – Te Muna Road – 2009 (18.5). Dense and a touch meaty. There is a core of sweet fruit with cherry and strawberry accents over a bed of subtle spice. A touch of licorice and tar add interest. The palate is exceptional. Concentrated red fruits entwined with quality oak make for an impressive wine. Silky and seductive, there is enough souring acidity and tannins on the finish to make this excellent drinking. This was even better after being left on the tasting bench for a couple of days.

Paulmara – Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon – The Marriage – 2008 (18-18.5). Incredibly dense, the colour and nose are almost impenetrable. Immensely powerful, with licorice and spice over dark fruits. Whilst this has impeccable balance, the palate is shut down by fine tannins and quality oak. The length is prodigious, but the fruit is shy at present. This took three to four days to show its best.

Paulmara – Shiraz – Syna – 2008 (18+). Licorice and tar to open. The nose is dense and very powerful. The fruit is ripe, serious and textured, with chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, leather and tar. Incredibly dense fruit that floods the palate, yet is surprisingly silky, with genuine length. Nothing out of place, it just needs ten years to show its best. This is not for the light-hearted, but an imposing wine that retains enough elegance to carry food. The bottle (very heavy and large) is a thing of beauty, but an environmental disaster.

Frogmore Creek – Riesling – Iced Riesling – 2008 (17.9). Quite restrained, this has a lovely riesling-like nose. Powerful palate with obvious botrytis. Impressive intensity and length. Viscous and mouth-coating, this develops complexity without being cloying. Very long and enough acidity to keep the balance. (Desert Wine).

Sandalford – Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon – Elements – 2009 (17.8). Floral fruit that is fresh and vibrant. Really lifted nose that has perfumed accents (violets). Hints of blackcurrant and cassis combine with cedar and a touch of cigar box. There is also a touch of mint and eucalypt. There is quality fruit on the palate that is, again, fragrant and a touch spicy. The tannins are fine, as is the gentle oak. Whilst not as complex as some, this is a good wine regardless of the price!

Cherubino – Riesling – Frankland – 2010 (17.7). (Dessert Wine). Quite a complex nose with some almond and apricot notes. A very pretty wine that has apricot, musk and fruit cake flavours. Very long and intense, I would like to see a touch more acid to balance the richness. Will appeal to many, and will go well with rich desserts.

Cherubino – Shiraz – The Yard – Acacia Vineyard – 2009 (17.5). Pretty and perfumed in comparison to the Barossa wines. There is white pepper over pretty red berries with a touch of tomato leaf. I wondered if there was a touch of viognier included in the blend. The palate has some apricot, over the top of raspberries and spice. The oak and tannins are fine and ripe, though they dominate the fruit now.

Amisfield – Pinot Noir – 2008 (17.7). Seductive nose. Taught and racy palate that is full of vitality. There is a density to the fruit that, when combined with the tannins makes this quite closed now. This is a serious wine with significant fruit weight and length. Not as pretty as the Craggy Range now, but will evolve and improve for several years.

Both Barrels – Tempranillo – 2008 (17.5). Fragrant and pretty. Ripe fruit on the palate that is juicy, with chewy tannins to close. Really needs food to show its best, but an authentic style with a good tannin structure. Quite silky, with high quality fruit and wine-making. Deliciously juicy.

Umamu – Shiraz – 2006 (17.1). Dense, yet fragrant, with licorice and spice. White pepper to the fore with silky tannins and oak that add structure. Not particularly open, but a smart wine with potential. Dense palate with length.

Mr Rigg – Tempranillo – Yacca Paddock – 2008 (16.8). Fragrant and spicy, with some earthy notes over the cherry scented fruit. Fresh and vibrant fruit on the palate with very fine tannins which are quite chewy to close. Minimal oak influence.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Friends

22 February 2011

The discussion at this tasting revolved around what it is, exactly, that makes a good wine. In particular, the question posed was whether it is the fruit characters or the textural components that are most important.

My personal view is that both are vital. Without appropriate texture and mouth-feel, great fruit lacks structure and balance. Sometimes, these wines can be referred to as fruit bombs. Conversely, I have tried superbly textured wines that have given me no joy to drink as the fruit has been subdued to the point of not existing at all. No amount of physiologically ripe tannins can make up for a lack of nicely rounded fruit.

In short, the best wines have ripe, though restrained fruit with a silky texture. The mouth-feel needs to be seamless and the length and persistence spot on. As you would expect, the Moss Wood fits the bill perfectly. At a more affordable price point, the Penley Estate – Phoenix is a very good example.



Moss Wood – Cabernet Sauvignon – Moss Wood Vineyard – 2008 (18-18.5). Very dense fruit. This wine is brooding. Some blackcurrant, cedar and spice slowly emerge from the glass. Hints of coffee and roast meat too. Incredibly dense palate. The fruit has tremendous power, but remains refined and elegant. The length is outstanding as are the textural components that make the mouth-feel superb. The oak is very tightly bound and the palate virtually seamless. Just bottled, so the faint smell of esters should dissipate rapidly.

Bests – Shiraz – Bin 0 – 2008 (18). Powerful aromas of anise, tar, blackcurrant and cassis, with fine spice and pepper running across the top. The palate is silky, refined and elegant with plum and textural components. Quality fruit and sophisticated winemaking in evidence. 10yrs +.

Penley Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2008 (18). There is powerful fruit on the nose, though the aroma profile is quite different to the Moss Wood. There are minty notes, but there are savoury, almost earthy notes that add complexity. The palate is rich, dense and displays a touch of viscosity. Very textured, this is a meal in itself. A very impressive wine, but perhaps not as easy to drink as some here. This could be described as a blockbuster. 15% alcohol, but does not show any heat.

Penley Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Phoenix – 2009 (17.8). Blackcurrant, cherry and cigar box on a really deep smelling nose. An inky wine with quality fruit. The fine grained French oak and supple tannins are holding the fruit back somewhat, so give it some air before drinking. Fine and dense, this will do well with a bit of age. Not as powerful as the Reserve, and better drinking as a result. (Received unanimous support from the panel).

Bird in Hand – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2009 (17.7). Much more restrained and fine than some here. There are typical cabernet fruit characters on the nose. Long, solid, closed and dense, there is potential here. There is a hint of dried sage and forest floor fruit. Good length.

Oakridge – Chardonnay – 2009 (17.6). Impressive wine. The nose is complex and inviting with quality wine-maker’s inputs such as barrel fermentation, aging on lees and maturation in oak. Think melon and grapefruit with creamy oak aromas. The lees, barrel ferment and oak all combine to provide a very textured palate. Quality fruit and oak, this just needs a year or two to open up.

Bests – Riesling – 2010 (17.5). Lovely fragrant, even floral, fruit aromas with some passionfruit, musk and lime. Bright and focused palate that is extraordinarily fine. Good length with enough weight to carry the palate. A powerful wine with a slightly chalky mouth-feel.

The Yard – Cabernet Sauvignon – Riversdale Vineyard – 2009 (17.2). Quite concentrated and dense, though there is lifted sweet fruit on the nose. This is a structured wine that is dense, ripe and long. The integration of fruit and oak is excellent. A serious wine that will benefit from bottle age.

Geoff Weaver – Sauvignon Blanc – Ferous – 2009 (17). Lemon and lanolin aromas with some barrel ferment/lees complexity. This is quite a restrained wine with lemony fruit on the palate with a touch of grapefruit.

Greed Sheep – Cabernet Sauvignon – Barrel Select – 2008 (16.9). Forward and fruit driven with a touch of herbal/medicinal notes. Generous palate is very pleasant. This is an easy drinking wine with plenty of appeal.

Juniper Crossing – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – 2008 – (16.7). Sweet ripe fruit with aromas of mint, eucalypt, redcurrant and cherry essence. The palate is silky but the very fine tannins (fruit and oak) dominate the finish at present. Smart wine.

Sarantos – Merlot – Soft Press – 2008 (16.7). Complex aromas of earth, mixed with vibrant red fruits and spice. The palate is quite lean and linear. Nothing wrong here, just a pleasant easy drinking red.

Bird in Hand – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Two in the Bush – 2009 (16.5). More density to the fruit on this wine. Fleshy, juicy and round, the flavours tend towards the (slightly stewed) plum spectrum. Generous and easy drinking.

Bunn – Cabernet Sauvignon – Preservative Free – 2006 (16.5). Very concentrated fruit but the colour is starting to turn on the edge. Has a sweet and sour component, with tobacco, tomato leaf and Chinese five spice. Obvious cool climate fruit on the palate, this is dense and savoury. Not really my cup-of-tea, but interesting. Holding up well and worth a look if you are after a preservative free wine.

Louis Latour – Pinot Noir – Marsannay – 2008 (16.5). Fragrant and floral, with dried herbs and strawberry fruit. This is a very light and fresh wine with a structure akin to a rose. A pretty wine that is juicy and mouth-watering. Will take food well.

Sandalford – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Element – 2009 – (16.4). Peppermint oil on the nose to start. There is also licorice, with tar and earthy aromas. The palate continues the theme with almost chocolate fruit. A very soft and generous finish makes this an excellent everyday red.

Sandalford – Merlot – Element – 2008 (16). Ripe and forward, with slightly stewed plum fruit. A generous wine that is made for immediate consumption. Typical of this style of wine.

Penley Estate – Merlot – Gryphon – 2009 (16). Mint and a touch of eucalypt with cedar and tobacco leaf accents. The grippy palate shows pleasant fruit underneath.

Cape Mentelle

New Release

14 December 2010

When I consider the Margaret River region as a whole, Cape Mentelle rates amongst the best. As with wineries such as Mosswood and Vasse Felix, it is the strength of the entire range, rather than an individual wine, that makes Cape Mentelle stand out from the crowd. Their cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc/semillon blend are all amongst the best of their styles from the region.

We are blessed that these wineries are in Australia rather than the left bank in Bordeaux, the historical home of great cabernet based wines. Producers in Bordeaux are constrained by tradition and regulation in what they can produce. Australian wineries are free to plant any suitable grape variety and make wines in a variety of styles.

Over time, it has become obvious that some varieties and regions are particularly well suited. The Great Southern has a special affinity for riesling and shiraz for example. Margaret River’s fame is based on cabernet sauvignon, though it is clear that chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and semillon are also equally at home here.

Rob Mann, the senior winemaker at Cape Mentelle, was in town recently to show their new release wines. This year sees and expanded range of wines with the addition of the Wilyabrup red and the repackaging of the range to reflect the different quality levels.

N.B. This was not a blind tasting.


Cape Mentelle – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon -2010 (17.7). A very grassy style. There is gooseberry and passionfruit on a very complex nose. The palate is complex and long, with a bone dry finish. The fruit characters are in the lime juice theme and there is a creamy, textured mouth-feel. The semillon component was barrel fermented.

Cape Mentelle – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Wallcliffe – 2008 (18.1+). This is very reminiscent of white Bordeaux. Yes, there are grassy notes, but this offers so much more! There are hints of minerals, spice and complex “worked” aromas courtesy of slick wine-making. The palate is all about texture. The fruit is subdued but the creamy mouth-feel would carry food well. Impressive.

Cape Mentelle – Chardonnay – 2009 (18). Very tight and closed. The nose is clean and fresh, with nectarine and peach aromas. The palate is seamless and supple, with a silky mouth-feel. Really needs 3-5 years to show its true potential.

Cape Mentelle – Shiraz – 2008 (18). Wow. Really juicy fruit in the plum spectrum, with classic black pepper running over the top of licorice and mulberry. The peppery fruit continues on the palate, but the fine oak and tannins shut down the finish. Silky and long, this has a bright future.

Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Trinders – 2008 (17). Great nose for an entry level wine (though the Marmaduke probably fits that bill better). Blackcurrant, cedar and spice are evident. The palate is firm and quite tight, but with good length. Fruit concentration builds, but falls short of others in this tasting.

Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc – Wilyabrup – 2008 (17.8+). Very closed to start, this develops rich and complex red fruit aromas on the nose. The palate is very fine. There is cedar and spice over lovely fresh fruit characters. Whilst fine and elegant, this wine remained very closed, with chalky tannins flattening the fruit. Very smart, but requires patience and a bit of faith as this will be better in 5 years and will last for many more. 400 cases made.

Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2007 (18.5). A real step up in fruit concentration on the nose, with red fruits, cedar, licorice, tar and cloves. The palate is dense and brambly, with blackcurrant fruit. There is a great deal of complexity and excellent length carried by chewy yet fine tannins.

Mixed International Tasting Highlights

A Boot-full of Wine Tasting notes from Italy

Here are some amazing wines I had the pleasure of tasting at a large, recent tasting. A plug for this particular vinoteca (wine shop) – they are serious about European, and Italian in particular, wines, and several times a year put on large tastings. They are located just outside Florence, on the doorstep of Chianti. These wines featured at a larger tasting of vigneron champagne, which I shall write about next week.


France- Burgundy

Lescure Chantal – Pommard – Premier Cru – Les Vaumuriens – 2005 (18.25). A fantastic wine for the price (31 Euro). All the classic hallmarks of a great Burgundy with the added stamp of 2005 – great acid, structure, tannins and cherry fruit, beginning to wind its way to some early compost complexity.

Sigaut Hervé – Morey St Denis – Premier Cru – “Les Millandes” – 2005 (18.25). Again reflective of a great year, austere, with high acid levels, complexity (including, I felt, some hints of chocolate) and length.

Domaine Bertagna – Clos de Vougeaot – Grand Cru 2006 (18.5). Sure, this wine needs more time, but – WOW! – such powerful fruit, tannins – power with elegance.

Pillot Fernand & Laurent – Pommard – Premier Cru “Clos de Verger” 2006 – (18.25). Varietally as faithful as they come. Beautiful cherry and strawberry fruit, with hints of coffee possibly derived from the oak.


Bouchard Pascal – Chablis – Grand Cru – Les Clos – 2005 (17.5). Wet stones and citrus – superb minerally example of Chablis with just a whisker less acidity than I would have expected.

Defaix Daniel-Etienne – Chablis – Premier Cru – “Vaillons” – 2001 (17.75). Even more complexity and flint evident, superb persistence of core citrus fruit.

Defaix Daniel-Etienne – Chablis – Premier Cru – Les Lys– 2001 (17.5). An amazing wine, lively and spritely despite its age, with evolution evident, but with a core of steely minerality.

Defaix Daniel-Etienne – Chablis – Blanchot – 2003 (17.75). This didn’t hit me at first like the Premieres Cru, perhaps because of lower acidity owing to the hot year. However, its subtle flavour kept building and building, and then just hung on.

Defaix Daniel-Etienne – Chablis – Grand Cru – Grenouilles – 2004 (18). Apples, honey, brioche and lemon zest doing a dance on the palate. A long dance.


Prieuré De St Jean De Bebian – Coteaux Du Languedoc (Rouge) – 2001 (18). A mix of Syrah 40%, Grenache 40% and Mourvedre 20%, this wine was expressive, with sweet brambly and plum fruit, with some smoky notes, and undergrowth complexity – like a Frenchman’s armpit! Or so I’m told….


Brundlmayer (Kamtal) – Riesling – Zobinger Heiligenstein 2006 (18). Clean, pure, crisp, and dry. Beginning to show early aged characters adding complexity to the pristine citrus palate.

Brundlmayer – Gruner Veltliner – Berg Vogelsang – 2007 (17.75). I tend to distinguish Gruner Veltliner from Riesling in Austria by the slightly “fatter” midpalate, by the mouthfeel, and profile of the fruit flavours (which can be similar to Riesling). This was a superb example, full of citrus and mineral flavours.

Brundlmayer – Gruner Veltliner – Ried Kaferberg – 2002 (18.5). Aged Gruners are one of Austria’s best kept secrets. Indeed, even most Austrians prefer to drink theirs young. Gruners age differently to Rieslings, not developing that kerosene flavour, but instead a kind of “sweetness” and complexity of depth of flavours. As was the case here.


Fritz Haag (Mosel) – Braunenberg J Sonnenuhr – Riesling – GoldKap – 2007 (18.5). With an amazing 135g/l of residual sugar, this wine is delicate and its sweetness exquisitely balanced with searing acidity: a whopping 8.9g/l! Alcohol levels are 7% – this wine would be at its best in 15 years+!

Prum Joh. Jos. (Mosel) – Wehlener Sonnenuhr – Riesling – Auslese – 2007 (18.5). Like the Fritz Haag, this is from the great Sonnenuhr (Sundial) vineyard in the Mosel. Honeyed sweetness, piercing clarity of fruit, bright acidity – this too calls out for time in the cellar.

Donhoff (Nahe) – Dellchen – Grand Cru- Riesling – Grosses Gerwachs – 2007 (17.75). This has an amazing 13.5% alcohol and 8 g/l of residual sugar – global warming effects? It is bright, poised and balanced, with slate and citrus, especially grapefruit characters. A slight bitterness on the finish (reflective of the higher alcohol?) caused me to mark it “down”.

Kunstler (Rhiengau) – Hochheimer Herrenberg – Riesling – QBA – 2007 (17.5). Most like the dry Aussie Rieslings we are used to, at 18 Euro I thought this was great value. A pure lemon-lime zingy palate, with a just hint of fruit sweetness. Though a QBA wine, with 8.1 g/l acidity, this would only improve after a few years.


Simcic Edi – Sauvignon – Riserva – 2006 (17.2). These wines, especially from this producer, were a great find for me, and illustrate the great things that are being done in the world of wine in Slovenia. Varietally spot on, without too many methoxypyrazines to overload the palate with “cat’s piss”; instead bitter stone fruit added to the flavour complexity. I cannot tell from the website whether this has had any contact with oak, but suffice to say it has a softer rounder mouthfeel than most other Sauvignon Blancs I have tasted.

Simcic Edi – Chardonnay – Cru “Kozana” – 2006 (17.25). Very Burgundian, with good levels of acidity and minerality to match. 17.75 pts Simcic Edi Malvasia Riserva 2007 An amazingly intense wine, with apricots, mint, eucalypt and aromatic herbs and spices – like nothing I have ever tasted before. Hard to think what food to match it with – perhaps fragrant, oily fish?

Ciao for now!

Brendan Jansen


Grosset/Mosswood Launch and Friends

15 September 2010

When I was informed that Matt Holden, the Sales Manager for Fine Wine Wholesalers decided to put on his new release wines from Grosset, Mosswood and Pierro etc, I jumped at the chance to review the wines.

The highlight was the Grosset Polish Hill. A truely great wine. There were a few other stars including the Mt Horricks 2010 riesling and the Mosswood Chardonnay.

Please note, the wines were not tasted blind, and this may have influenced my points.

Reviewed (in order tasted)

Mt Horricks – Riesling – 2009 (17.5). Floral, perfumed, round and mellow, yet with lovely lime juice acidity. The palate is long and tight to close, but this is a touch more developed than the others here.

Mt Horricks – Riesling – 2010 (18.1). Lifted fruit on the vibrant nose, with musk and lime juice. There is even a touch of granny smith apples. Lemon and lime brule on the palate. This is fine, long and quite seamless. (This is possibly the best riesling ever made by this producer.)

Grosset – Riesling – Polish Hill – 2010.(18.7). Wow, this is special. The nose is restrained and tight, yet bristling with potential. There are lovely floral notes and a touch of citrus. The palate is fine, taught, crisp and seamless. The length is outstanding and the floral notes continue on the extraordinarily fine finish. This is the best young Australian riesling that I have ever tasted!

Grosset – Riesling – Springvale – 2010 (18). Surprisingly closed by comparison to others here. Steely nose with minerals and lime juice. A touch of orange rind. Again, very long and with floral and musk on the close. Very good.

Lenton Brae – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – Wilyabrup – 2009 (17.5). Complex and grassy with green apple. This is clean, fresh and vibrant, yet there is a lot of intrinsic power coiled up and waiting to develop over a few years. Interesting wine.

Pierro – Chardonnay – 2008 (18.2+). Pineapple fruit, lees, barrel ferment and oak all appear on the lifted nose. Peaches and cream to the fore on the palate. This is very long and fine. It is a more forward style, yet retains its elegance and poise. Good length and excellent mouth-feel. This really opens and gets better with air.

Mosswood – Chardonnay – 2008 (18.2). Restrained and closed on the nose – this is extraordinarily fine. Yes there are some pineapple and stone fruit characters, yet these are subdued. Whilst the oak is a little forward right now, this will settle. A textural treat that needs a few years to show its best.

Mosswood – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2008 (18.6). Perfectly ripe and very dense, the fruit quality here is superb. This is ripe, with raspberry, blueberry, blackcurrant, cedar, spice and a touch of tar. The fruit is incredibly dense and fine, suggestive of a warmer year. Silky tannins and excellent length of flavours are a feature. As this opened, it displayed more of the characters typical of Margaret River cabernet.

Chapel Hill – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2008 – (18). Dense and closed initially, this has impressive fruit on the nose. The palate is dense and firm, the fruit characters are subdued and the tannins are fine if a bit chalky. Very good fruit combined with excellent winemaking guarantee a very long future. (This should also be good value).

Pierro – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2005 – (18). Cooler fruit characters with mint and some eucalypt. Perfectly ripe fruit that is starting to show the first signs of development. The palate is soft and supple, and there is good mouth-feel. Not quite as dense fruit as the others, but great drinking.

Feet First – Shiraz – 2008 (17.7). Fresh, but with dense fruit. The palate is all pepper and spice. There is cinnamon and nicely weighted fruit. The tannins are firm, but these will soften. Should be excellent value.

Chapel Hill – Shiraz – 2008 (18.3). Dense, ripe and displaying very good fruit. Super wine this, the fruit is dense and ripe, yet this is a restrained wine that will need years to show its best. Some chocolate to close. Silky tannins and Satsuma plum fruit. Textured, balanced and excellent oak.

Deepwoods – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2008 (18.4). Intense and racy nose. The intensity of fruit on the palate is a revelation. The finish is fine, long and seamless – this is a superb wine. Excellent length and intensity of fruit.

Lamont’s – Direct Imports

12 September 2010

Lamont’s in Cottesloe has received another shipment of imported wines. Apparently they are importing the wines direct from Europe, thus cutting out the middle-men. The prices range from good to excellent for the given quality, with the Italian selection being particularly good value.

Wines from Burgundy have become so expensive in general, that even at these ex-ship prices, they are quite pricey, though there is still some value to be found.

My picks include the Bonon – Meursalt, Arpatin – Barbera d’Alba, Araldica – Barbera d’Ast and the Arpatin – Barolo.

This was not a blind tasting, so I have tried not to be too generous with my points. With the reds, I could have been more generous with my points, but because we were only trying one or two wines from each style, I was conscious of the lack of perspective. Be assured that these are good wines.


White Burgundy

Domaine Bernard Bonin – Meursalt – Les Tillets – 2008 (17.8). Minerals to the fore, with complex almond meal, cashew nut and lemony oak. The palate is very rich and textured, with slightly honeyed fruit. The length is a highlight and the oak is not obtrusive. (Chardonnay).

Domaine Darvoit Perrin – Meursalt – Clos de la Velle – 2006 (17.9). Much finer and closed compared to the Bonin. Develops nutty fruit and minerals with air. In the mouth, this is creamy, seamless, textured and very fine indeed. The fruit is subdued. One for the purists! (Chardonnay).

Domaine Darvoit Perrin – Chassagne Montrachet – Blanchots 1er Cru – 2006 (18.3). Lovely refined nose, with minerally, textural components overlaying curry leaf and creamy oak. The palate really builds in the mouth, but this remains very elegant and fine. (Chardonnay).

Domaine Bernard Bonin – Meursalt – Charmes 1er Cru – 2007 (17.4). Interestingly, this has all the components of a good white burgundy, yet I preferred the Les Tillets! (Chardonnay).

Domaine Phillippe Chavy – Puligny Montrachet – Les Pucelles 1er Cru – 2008 (18.5+). Classic nose. Complex, yet refined, this is more restrained than some here. There is almond and apricot fruit notes intertwined with creamy textural components. The power on the palate is a revelation, yet this remains very fine and seamless. Superb wine! (Chardonnay).

Domaine Bernard Bonin – Corton Charlemagne – Grand Cru – 2004 (18). From one of my favourite appellations. More peachy fruit on the nose, this is all about refinement. There is a minerality to the palate, with excellent balance and length. This is a very subtle wine. (Chardonnay).

Red Burgundy

Domaine Jean Marc Millot – Cotes de Nuits Villages – Aux Faulques – 2008 (16.8). A good entry level burgundy, with simple fruit characters. The mouth-feel, fruit and texture are all good.

Domaine Philippe Livera – Gevery Chambertain – Clos Village – 2007 (17.9). More complex nose displaying plum, blueberry and earthy notes that combine well. Lovely fruit on the palate, and real depth. This is quite seamless, long and taught. A lovely example.

Domaine Humbert Freres – Gevery Chambertain – Poissenot 1er Cru – 2007 (18.2). Complex, but quite closed. Develops lovely perfumed fruit, reminiscent of violets. The palate is closed and tight, yet delicate and very fine. Superb length and texture, the refinement is the key.

Domaine Jean Marc Millot – Vosne Romanee – Les Suchots 1er Cru – 2008 (18.5+). Complex and earthy, this has licorice, tar, cinnamon, spice and raspberry fruit. The fruit characters are more pronounced on the palate, with incredibly fine tannins. The oak has been absorbed by the fruit. This has superb length and depth, and the finish fans out across the palate beautifully.


Arpatin – Barbera d’Alba – Superiore – 2008 (17). Lovely cherry fruit with tar and licorice on the nose. This is a fruit driven wine that is fresh, vibrant, juicy, soft and thoroughly refreshing. A modern style and great value.

Poderi Alasia – Barbera d’Asti – Rive (Il Cascinone) – 2007 (17.3). More savoury and earthy, with licorice, spice and lots of pepper. The palate is reminiscent of cool climate shiraz, with peppery fruit, that is long, textured and structured. There is leathery fruit to close.

Frascole – Chianti Rufina – 2007 (17.4). Cherry fruit to open, but briary and dense, with leather and spice. The palate is dominated by spicy fruit and drying tannins. A good example, and organic to boot!

Selvapiana – Chianti Rufina – 2007 (17.8). More complex, with more fruit weight than the Frascole. This is very textured and structured in a traditional style where the fresh fruit notes are exchanged for mouth-feel and structure. Another organic wine, but this is crying out for food. Good value!

– d’Annona – Barbera d’Asti- 2007 (17.8). Wow – this has an exciting nose displaying cherry, tobacco, plums, cedar and anise. This keeps evolving. This is a powerful wine where fruit, oak and tannins combine to coat the palate with an amalgam of flavours and textures. Will be even better in a year or two.

Arpatin – Barbaresco – 2006 (17.5). More savoury, with real density. There is licorice all sorts on the nose. Typical of the style, this is textured and has really chewy tannins. Whist the tannins are fine, they are formidable. 10 years +.

Arpatin – Barolo – 2005 (17.8). Savoury, with dark fruits, cherry, coffee and tar. The palate is really dense and chewy. The tannins are finer than the Barbaresco. This is great value, but needs at least 10 years to show its best.

Gianni Voerzio – Barolo – La Serra – 2005 (18+). Closed. Pristine fruit, silky tannins and excellent texture. Superb mouth-feel and tremendous depth, this is fine and dense. (Not cheap though).