Tag Archives: Rhone

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!)


Imported Wine – New Release

Wholesaler tasting: 19th May 2013

Several wholesalers recently banded together to put on a trade tasting of some of their imported wines. Whilst my focus of the tasting was the Rhone Valley, I took the opportunity to look at a number of different wines.

Unusually for me, I have not pointed the wines. The format of the tasting did not really lend itself to a critical analysis of the wines, so my notes are more about my impressions.

  • Wines tasted: 24
  • Wines reviewed: 12


Pommery – Champagne – 2004. A real step up in intensity and penetration compared to the standard NV. The palate is bright and fresh, with grapefruit and melon over subtle complexity from extended lees maturation. This is taut, fine and demands a second sip. Worth saving up to drink (instead of the NV), this is long and focused, the gentle mousse adding to the package.

Pommery – Champagne – Cuvee Louise – 1999. Again, this is a clear step up from the 2004. The sense of presence on the nose is superb. This is a wine that demands attention.  Complex, complete and totally delicious, though the finish is very dry, leaving the palate refreshed and wanting more.

Warwick EstateThree Cape Ladies – 2010. I like this for the bright primary fruit and supple texture. This is an easy-drinking style that will work well with food. Not overly complex, but there is decent length and persistence. Drink this winter.

Domaine St Damien – Cotes du Rhone – Vielles Vignes – 2011. Lovely perfume to this that I assume comes from a high percentage of grenache. I would go as far as saying that this is a pretty wine. The palate is fresh and juicy, with lovely white pepper running through to the long finish. Not complex, but excellent drinking over the next year or two.

Bastide du Claux – Cotes du Luberon – Le Claux – 2009. More obvious density and structure compared to the St Damien. The palate is dense, yet the balance and mouth-feel make this surprisingly supple and slippery in the mouth. Fine, dusty tannins coat the tongue on the finish making this a great foil to food. Good now, but will also age well in the short term.

Domaine La Colliere – Rasteau – Rouge – 2010. Some perfume to open, with red fruits and a touch of licorice. The palate is quite tight, with the structural components suppressing the fruit characters at present. Savoury tannins round out the package. Give it a couple of years to really hit its straps.

Domaine Les Grands Bois – Cotes du Rhone Villages – Cairanne – Philippine – 2010. Nice balance here of fresh fruit and structural notes. Quite a simple wine that is well suited to a simple pasta meal. This sees no oak.

Domaine Les Grands Bois – Cotes du Rhone Villages – Cairanne – Maximillien – 2010. A more “serious” nose compared to the Philippine, this wine sees some oak treatment. A savoury wine that has spice aromas to complement the fruit. The palate is savoury, spicy and textured. The tannins are remarkably fine, but really close down the fruit on the finish. This is a great each way bet, as it drinks well now, but will also age well for a few years.

Domaine St Damien – Gigondas – Vielles Vignes – 2010. Structured, but with pretty, peppery, spicy fruit peeking out from around the edges. The palate is flooded with pepper and spice. The tannins are plentiful and the acid cuts a swath through the finish. No doubt that this will be an excellent drink, it just needs 5 years to come around.

Vivanco Dinastia – Temperanillo – Reserva – 2005. Lovely nose that combines floral perfume (think violets) and earthy aromas. There are also hints of coconut from the oak that is very attractive. The extra age really makes its presence felt on the palate, which is silky, supple and totally delicious. This is not tremendously complex, but presents a compelling argument to be drunk and enjoyed. The tannins build and make their presence felt on the finish, suggesting that some tapas would only make this even more enjoyable. Better buy a second bottle J.

Condo de San Cristobal – Tinta Fina – 2008. This wine is less compelling than the Vivanco, but this is an unfair comparison as this is tighter and less developed. Opens to show lovely tar and licorice characters. It really needs food to show its best.

O.Fournier – Centauri Blend – 2009. A very interesting and somewhat old-fashioned wine. This is luxuriously dense and delicious, with ripe fruit complemented by quality oak. There is a fair whack of tannins on the finish, but good mouth-feel and texture. This needs 10 years for the fruit to soften and build complexity, but when it gets there, it could be very interesting.


Grenache Master Class

Reviewed: 5 April 2013

Following on from the recent grenache discoveries I wrote up last week, I was very pleased to attend a grenache tasting held by a local wine group. Grenache is a variety that is commonly blended with other varieties (typically shiraz), so straight grenache based wines can be overlooked as a source of fine wines. Confusingly, where it is produced can affect what it is called. In France and Australia, it is referred to as grenache, whereas in Spain, it is typically referred to as garnacha.

This tasting looked at grenache based wines and grenache blends, looking at how different countries and regions handle the fruit, as well as how well the wines can age. After all, it is not only the climate that effects the finished wine, it is how it is treated in the winery. A few wines did not make it to these pages as there was considered to be an unacceptable degree of Brettanomycis evident. In small amounts, this can add complexity, but in large amounts, it can make the wine smell like a barnyard.


Baltasar – Garnacha – Gracians – Vinas Viejas – 2003 (17.5). Ripe, fragrant fruit that combines red fruit characters with cherry and a touch of tar. At 10 years of age, this is still quite dense and chewy. The palate has excellent length and mouth-feel. Great now, but may still improve.

Guigal – Cotes du Rhone – 1995 (17.5). Remarkable wine in that this is made in very large quantities, is relatively inexpensive and has aged superbly over its 18 year life. On the nose, there is still a degree of ripe fruit, but with a lovely savoury lift adding complexity. There is obvious age on the palate, with earthy characters, forest floor and supple, though savoury tannins. A complete drink now.

La Bruja Averia – Grenache – 2011 (17.5). Pretty, spicy grenache fruit with bright red berries. The palate has cherry, tar, spice and red fruits and a finish that is long, supple and savoury. Lovely balance, with souring acidity that cuts through to the finish leaving the palate refreshed. From Madrid!

The Willows – Grenache – 2010 (17). An interesting wine that shows mint and eucalyptus over herbal notes. With air, the floral fruit really comes through with soft, textured tannins driving the finish. There is good length of flavours on the close.

La Fiole – Cotes du Rhone – 2010 (17.3). I liked this wine. There was a surprising level of density to the fruit and even some fresh oak characters in a balanced package. The palate on this gets really floral and perfumed, while the fine tannins make their presence felt on a finish that is drying and textured. Really needs food to shine.

Clos Des Papes – Châteauneuf du Pape – 2004 (17.5). Sweet fruit on the nose with a lovely savoury lick that imparts gentle spice to the wine. The palate is textured, chewy and long, with a degree of fleshy fruit and a savoury edge. Excellent length and persistence.

Cirello – Grenache – 1850 – 2006 (18+). The adjectives flowed in my tasting notes for this wine. Dense, textured, long, chewy, savoury and earthy. Tremendous length and latent power to the fruit. Superb quality fruit has been matched to quality oak, the old bush vines providing real concentration and penetration, especially on the palate. Bravo. (From the Barossa).

Roger Sabon – Châteauneuf du Pape – Cuvee Prestige – 2000 (17.5). This has dense fruit, with attractive, savoury complexity. The palate is long and supple, yet there are chewy textural components on the finish. Robust fruit, but with a degree of finesse.

Clos Mogador – Grenache – 1997 (18). A beautiful wine that has delicious ripe fruit. Supple and juicy sweet fruit leads on to chewy, texturing tannins and quality oak. From Priorat.

Rayas – Châteauneuf du Pape – Pignan – 1998 (17.8). Really showing its age, the wine is silky, supple, long and quite seamless. Really needs food to complement the less obvious fruit characters.

Charles Melton – Grenache – 1997 (17.5). Much fresher than the Rayas, with dense, ripe fruit that has chocolate overtones. The palate is defined by floral fruit, that is supple and long. This is balanced by lovely pepper and cedar spice characters.