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Four Syrah with Lou

December 11, 2017 Leave a comment

I met up with Lou and one of his coworkers to taste through Californian Syrah.  To the mix I threw in a brown-bagged bottle of Australian Syrah.  The Californian wines were initially popped and poured.    At roughly one decade of age this might be the preferred manner to drink these wines as the flavors show more generously, not quite revealing the strong structures lurking underneath.  These wines are not yet at peak maturity but are still tasty.

The 2007 Shane, Syrah, The Villain, Mendocino County is all about black olive aromas and dry, black flavors in the mouth.  It is satisfying but does not have the expression of our next wine.  This is the 2007 Stolpman, Hilltops Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley and is my favorite of the group for drinking now.  It is lifted both on the nose and in the mouth leaving a fresh impression.  I think that the 2006 Pax, Syrah, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino County has the strongest potential out of all the wines tasted.  There are good flavors just starting to come out.  Purportedly from the oldest Syrah vines in the world hails the 2004 Langmeil, The 1843 Freedom Shiraz, Barossa Valley.  Made from vines planted in 1843 it is seamless and clean with good acidity.

2007 Shane, Syrah, The Villain, Mendocino County
Alcohol 14.2%.  Lou noted “black olives” on the nose and both Jenn and I agree.  This is an articulate wine with black, finely textured flavors and a fresh, dry finish.  It is chewy at first with dry baking spices and minerals.  With extended air the dry nature and structure for age become more apparently.  *** Now – 2027.

2007 Stolpman, Hilltops Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
Alcohol 15.0%.  A slightly tight nose at first though with deep aromas.  With air there is a lifted suggestion.  In the mouth this is a fresh, mineral wine with good presence and lifted flavors.  There is watering acidity and a finely ripe finish where a ripe tannic structure is evidence.  With extended air it takes on some savory power at the end.  ***(*) Now – 2027.

2006 Pax, Syrah, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino County
Alcohol 14.9%.  Chocolate and red fruit mix with the substantive structure by the middle.  The flavors are entering maturity with a core of complexity slowly coming out.  It is lively on the tongue with good poise throughout, notes of baking spices, and a long aftertaste.  It is tight, chewy, and not quite at full maturity but will certainly improve once there.  ***(*) 2019 – 2027.

2004 Langmeil, The 1843 Freedom Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Imported by Epicurean Wines.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The mixture of dark fruit, olives, and Kirsch smells Australian to me.  There is a ripe controlled start which quickly expands leaving clean fruit throughout the mouth.  This is a seamless wine with fresh acidity.  *** Now – 2022.

Australian Wines With Acidity

Jenn and I recently tasted through a slew of Australian wines.  John likes some age to his Semillon and of the three that I tried, the 2008 Kaesler, Old Vine Semillon was the most interesting and it is still young.  I would cellar it a few more years.  I found more to like with the red wines.  The 2010 Shadow Chaser, Red Wine is a good buy at $13.  The 2011 Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Shiraz proves to be another satisfying vintage and one I could drink by the case.  The 2010 Tournon, Mathilda Shiraz from Michel Chapoutier is evocative of the Northern Rhone.  It really is a good wine which I would age for a year.  It is also only $13 so grab several at a time.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Semillon, Barossa Valley – $16
Imported by Wine Creek LLC.  This wine is 100% Semillon with fruit from the younger vines fermented in stainless steel and the older vines in used French barriques. Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light straw yellow.  The nose revealed tart pear and ripe lemon aromas.  In the mouth there were pineapple flavors which were a touch more ripe than the other Semillons.  The wine had a pebbly texture with berry and tooty-fruity flavors near the finish.  It showed some grip.  ** Now-2015.

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2008 Kaesler, Old Vine Semillon, Barossa Valley – $17
Imported by Epicurean Wines.  This wine is 100% Semillon sourced from vines planted in 1961.  It was aged for seven months on the lees.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light straw yellow.  The nose was slightly rich with Semillon aromas that stepped out of the glass. Perhaps a little toast as well.  In the mouth there was acidity with tart white and light yellow fruit.  There was plenty of acidity for the gravelly, citrus flavors.  There was a ripe lemon texture and dried herbs in the finish.  In a sense this is still very young.  ** Now-2018+.

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2007 Henschke, Tilly’s Vineyard, South Australia – $20
This wine is a blend of 57% Semillon, 24% Sauvignon Blanc, and 19% Chardonnay.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a light yellow with a gold tinge.  The nose was subtle with dried herbs and flowers.  In the mouth there was richer fruit driven by acidity which promptly expands to reveal drier, lighter, and very lively flavors with underlying mature notes.  The white fruit brought a little focused citrus note in the back-end.  ** Now-2017.

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2012 Shadow Chaser, White Wine, McLaren Vale – $13
Imported by Epicurean Wines.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from four vineyards with vines 11 to 34 years of age.  The fruit was fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts and underwent partial malolactic fermentation.  5% of the wine was aged in French oak.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a very light straw yellow.  There was toasty fruit on the nose which had some grip.  In the mouth there was focused, ripe white fruit, a good mouthfeel, and lots of integrated acidity.  It took on fine pebbly spices.  **  Now-2014.

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2010 Shadow Chaser, Red Wine, McLaren Vale – $13
Imported by Epicurean Wines.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from two 40+ year old vineyards.  The fruit was fermented and aged in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There was a good nose of fragrant berries.  In the mouth there were fresh ripe berries, black and racy fruit, and a savory and weighty personality.  The flavors were drier in the finish where it was a little rough, or furry as Jenn put it.  The acidity was supportive from underneath with firm minerals towards the finish.  There was a nice mineral texture.  ** Now-2015.

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2011 Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley – $19
Imported by Wine Creek LLC.  This wine is 100% Shiraz which was fermented in stainless steel, cement, and wooden vats.  It was basked pressed then aged for 12 months in used hogsheads and foudres.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium black cherry.  There was a tart start with young, complex fruit with good depth.  The wine was a little chewy and sappy with a tautness from youth.  With air spices and black minerals came out in the finish.  *** Now-2018.

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2010 Michel Chapoutier, Tournon, Shiraz, Mathilda, Victoria – $13
Imported by Fruit of the Vine.  This wine is 100% Shiraz which was vinified and aged in both concrete and stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was lifted with aromas of smoke and some meat.  After a few hours the wine opened up with tart red fruit, tart black fruit, and some citric tannins.  It remained a little tart and grapey with minerals in the finish.  A good wine which needs a little time.  *** 2014-2019.

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2010 Ring Bolt, Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River – $17
Imported by Negociants USA.  This wine  is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged 10 months in American and French hogsheads and barriques.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The nose bore greenhouse aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were not too tart with red and black fruit.  The wine was dry with the mouth following the nose.  It was rather focused the first night but showed more ripe fruit the second night.  ** Now-2015.

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2010 Pyren Vineyard, Broken Quartz Shiraz, Pyrenees – $24
Imported by Vine St Imports.  This wine is 100% Shiraz which was aged for 10 months in used French and American barriques.  Alcohol 13.6%.  The nose was good with fresh aromas of exotic flowers, herbs, and pepper as if from cool fruit.  In the mouth there were very tart flavors of citric red fruit.  It was a little pebbly on the tongue time and certainly vibrant.  Interesting but I found it hard to drink.  ** Now.

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We Find Comfort with Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Shiraz

October 16, 2012 Leave a comment

We are long-time fans of David Powell’s Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Shiraz.  This bottle is a rich experience with plenty of fruit which you may drink now.  This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley – $19
Imported by Wine Creek.  This wine is 100% Shiraz which was fermented in cement, wooden, and stainless steel vats then basket pressed into seasoned hogshead and French oak foudres where it was aged for 12 months.  TA 5.67 g/L, pH 3.81, Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was dark purple with garnet.  Tasted over two nights the nose remained berry-licious.  In the mouth there was minerally blue fruit with heady, brambly red fruit.  The stone framed fruit has acidity which stands up the flavors.  The flavors gently fills the mouth before the heady finish which is a little tangy.  There is a soft, rich aftertaste with some spice and cookie dough notes.  *** Now-2017.

Wines at Lou’s House

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

We recently gathered at Lou’s house for a celebratory dinner.  Though the house is in the last weeks of renovation Lou and Adriene were willing to host a small dinner attended by Jeannie, Nick, Jenn, and myself.  While Lou set out cheeses, prepared both fresh and steamed oysters from Prince Edward Island, and seared Yellow Fin tuna, we all drank some wine and explored the renovation.  No dinner with Lou would be complete without a Champagne starter, let alone a bottle from Weygant-Metzler, so I was thrilled to see a selection from Nathalie Falmet.  At the Champagne Day at Weygandt Wines I tried and very much enjoyed the Cuvee Brut Nature and Cuvee Le Val Cornet.

NV Nathalie Falmet, Brut, Champagne
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  Disgorged 12 October 2010.  There is a light color in the glass.  In the mouth there is a good balance between the yeast and subtle ripe fruit with the perfect texture from the bubbles.  Quite nice, drink this very good wine over the next several years.  Jenn was thoroughly pleased by this Champagne.

2008 Varner, Chardonnay, Bee Block, Spring Ridge Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the 3.5 acre Bee Block featuring 24-year-old vines.  It was barrel fermented with indigenous yeasts, underwent malolactic fermentation, and aged for 8 months in 30% new French oak barrel.  There was a light golden color in the glass.  The subtle nose made way to the fresh, yellow fruit with an unctuous mouthfeel that was not creamy.  The refreshing acidity led to cool flavors in the aftertaste where flavors of minerals and toast persisted in the mouth.  There were notes of “honey”.  Very well-balanced.  Unassuming and quiet, this very good wine will become even better with several years of age.

We moved on to the red wines with a Moroccan lamb shank entrée to accompany theme.  Lou felt the entrée would work with the Chateauneuf du Papes wines.  Indeed the two wines and entrée were aromatically sympathetic.  He cooked in his temporary kitchen which was relocated into his living room with his new range sitting less than 20 feet away.  Starved for counter space and burner space his almost illegally powerful new gas range surely would have let Lou sit down to taste the wines in a more timely fashion.   Perhaps the heat of the kitchen primed Lou so we started with the Godolphin and Entre Deux Meres.

2005 Ben Glaetzer, Godolphin, Barossa Valley
Imported by Epicurean Wines.  This wine is a blend of 80% Shiraz from 85-year-old vines and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from 60-year-old vines.  The wine underwent malolactic fermentation in oak followed by 14 months of aging in 100% new oak of which 20% was American and 80% French.  Appropriately enough 70% of the barrels were hogshead and 30% barrique.  For a while the aromatic nose reminded both Jenn and I of soy sauce.  In the mouth it was rich with fruit, roasted, and quite mouthfilling.  The tarter red fruit had a lot of up front flavors with the tannins resolved.  While this was a good, primary wine that could stand more aging, it was not my favorite profile.

2005 Drinkward Peschon, Entre Deux Meres, Napa Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  A very opaque color with more garnet than the Godolphin.  There was jammy fruit with a cedar note.  The assertive flavors had sweet spice, a well-integrated feeling, and more cedar spice in the aftertaste.  On the second night the wine was still tight but show steely, mineral flavored fruit with dark fruit notes and sweet spices in the finish and aftertaste.  Tight but not dense. This good wine will undoubtedly improve with a more age.  Jenn really liked it.

1998 Bosquet des Papes, Chateauneuf du Papes
Imported by Ginday.  Typically a blend of 70% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 10% Cinsault  sourced from 45-year-old vines.  It was fermented in cement vats then aged for 12-18 months in old oak casks before resting in cement tanks before bottling.  Though it bore a similar garnet color as the Marcoux it was a little cloudier.  There was a cedar spiced nose.  In the mouth it had a more mature profile, though still in good shape, with thinner flavors in the mouth.  It has the personality of a classic Chateauneuf du Pape.  This wine does not try to be amazing, thus it is complete in what it is.  This good wine is fully mature but may be drunk over the next several years without decline.

1998 Domaine de Marcoux, Chateauneuf du Pape
No imported listed, recently acquired by MacArthurs.  Typically a blend of 80% Grenache, 5% Cinsault, 5% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% other varietals sourced from 40-50 year old vines.  The wine is fermented in stainless steel with 30% aged in stainless steel and 70% aged for 3 months in old oak casks and barrels.  The vibrant color leads to a nose of riper fruit which is sweeter with gritty aromas of plum.  In the mouth there is younger blue fruit with red fruit developing and ripe tannins in the aftertaste.  On the second night it was drinking beautifully with young, fruity flavors, minerals, and an expansive, almost creamy finish.  With spices in the aftertaste the ripe tannins are fine and coat the mouth.  I would cellar this very good wine another five years.

2007 Chateau des Charmes, Late Harvest Riesling, Niagara on the Lake
This is 100% Riesling harvested in October.  Our taxi cab had arrived so I quickly sampled this wine, hence the short note.  A young nose followed by sweeter flavors showing more residual sugar than acidity.  A bit simple and tilting towards unbalanced.

Australia!

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

These two recently tasted bottles were quite tasty.  The Torbreck came recommended by John at MacArthurs.  I must admit I had never tried a Cuvee Juveniles as we typically pick up the Woodcutter’s Shiraz.  Jenn found a bottle of the Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier hidden amongst some plates in the basement.  Last year we had purchased several bottles but they were always shut-down and not too pleasing.  This wine has come a long way since it was last tasted in June 2011.  If you are willing to take a gamble then cellar the Terlato & Chapoutier while you drink the Torbreck.  Otherwise you should try the Torbreck.

2009 Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier, Shiraz-Viognier, Victoria
Imported by Terlato Wines International.  This wine is a blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Viognier.  The fruit is fermented in cement or stainless steel and tank aged for up to 12 months.  This is starting to settle down with red fruit on the nose which continues into the mouth.  The tangy red fruit has underlying blue fruit notes, steely ink and generally presents itself with enjoyable flavors, texture, and a little ripeness.  I would cellar this another year or two at which point it should be a good drink.  2014-2017.

2009 Torbreck, Cuvee Juveniles, Barossa Valley – $19
Imported by Wine Creek.  This cuvee is made for Tim Johnston the owner of the Juveniles wine bar in Paris.  This wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Shiraz, and 20% Mataro sourced from 40-150 year old vines.  The vineyard batches are fermented separately before tank assembly and malolactic fermentation.  There is a nose of raspberry and strawberry.  In the mouth there are round, almost rich, flavors with some tartness.  The sweet fruit is round and soft but there is acidity throughout which keeps it lively.  The flavors turn dark red, a bit warm and spicy, as minerals come out in the steely finish.  Now-2015.

Derby Day Wines

Animal Kingdom, Kentucky Derby, 07 May 2011

We went to our neighbor’s house to watch the Kentucky Derby and eat a grilled dinner. While my daughter was off placing her winning bet on Animal Kingdom, I sampled some of the wines.


2003 Louis Roederer, Brut, Champagne
Robust and rich, the fruit balanced out the acidity,  good quality fizz.  This disappeared quickly.  Not Rated.


2007 Domaine La Cabotte, Cuvee Garance, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Massif d’Uchaux
This domaine was purchased twenty years ago.  Cabotte refers to huts built in fields used to store tools or provide shelter.  The domaine is in the process of converting to a biodynamic operation.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 20% Syrah.  It showed steely, light clean blue fruit flavors.  The Mourvedre and Syrah definitely revealed themselves.  This seemed somewhat shutdown.  Not Rated.

2008 Stuhlmuller Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
This wine offer primary, round blue fruits with some spice.    It is a polished wine that is balanced all around.  It is close to being full-bodied.  It is a good wine but not exciting.  I would cellar it a few years.  Not Rated.


2009 The House of Independent Producers, La Bourgeoisie, Merlot, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Merlot from the Goose Ridge Vineyard in Columbia Valley.  The project aims to showcase different vineyards throughout the state.  This bottle had a decent nose of red berries and herbs.  In the mouth it had redder fruit than the Hedges Red Mountain.  It is light to medium bodied with red and blue fruit in the mouth, more herbs, and decent finish.  It is relatively low alcohol and easy to drink.  A good budget wine.  Not Rated.

2008 Hedges, Red Mountain
This wine is a blend of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 14% Syrah, 11% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Malbec.  It was the most aromatic of the reds I tasted.  It show good dark fruit and nice complexity.  I preferred it to the Stuhlmuller.  Not Rated.

2003 Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Several years ago I bought six magnums on closeout from Wide World of Wines.  It has been a few years since Jenn and I last tasted this wine.  This magnum was quite nice, entering maturity, and offering ample aromas and flavors.  Some olive notes, sour red cherry, and a decent finish.  Not Rated.

Some Recent Kaesler and Nashwauk, 03 October 2008

A friend dropped off some Kaesler and a Nashwauk for me to try back in October 2008. They had been open for roughly eight hours. Jenn and I are fans of some of the 2004 Kaeslers but we haven’t bought any since then. We weren’t floored by any of them as they were more disjointed than I’d like to see. I think the Bogan has the best potential. The Nashwauk and Avignon were fun to drink because of the mouth feel.

2006 Kaesler, Stonehorse GSM, Barossa Valley
A suprising light+ opaque ruby with purplish tinge. A light nose of indistinct blue and red fruits. In the mouth there is hard blue and red fruit that is a bit austere. Tart fruit comes through in the finish as the acidity ratchets up. The wine leaves the impression of being a bit warm. A total disappointment after the 2004 and clearly the worst of the bunch we tasted.

2005 Kaesler, Stonehorse Shiraz, Barossa Valley
This is medium opaque ruby-garnet. A light+ nose of dusty red fruit. In the mouth there is immediate red fruit followed by cool blue fruit, and a spicy/peppery aftertaste. There is some suppleness in the mouth and minimal tannins. While better than the GSM it isn’t too interesting.

2006 Kaesler, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley
Medium+ ruby-garnet and darker than the first two. A light+ nose of cab flavors, black currant and dark fruits, perhaps mildly more interesting than the first two. Cab flavors in the mouth, that are more restrained but still provide suppleness.

2005 Kaesler, Avignon GSM, Barossa Valley
Light to medium opaque. A light nose of gritty, bright red fruit and oak toast as it warms up. In the mouth there is immediate, weighty, supple dark-blue fruit. It then morphs into sweet, cinnamon accented fruit. The acidity comes through in the aftertaste along with the heat. The disjointed finish is the major flaw which is a shame because the flavors are good.

2006 Kaesler, The Bogan, Barossa Valley
This is very opaque and clearly the darkest of them all. A light nose of creamy, blue fruit and black currant. In the mouth there is darker purple/blue fruit. The mouth feel is not as creamy as the Avignon. There is an underlying structure of strong, drying tannins and some puckering acidity. Rather young.

2006 Nashwauk, Shiraz, McLaren Vale
Medium+ purple/ruby/garnet, very dark. A light nose of gritty blue fruit. In the mouth there is supple, creamy fruit, clotted cream like in sweetness. The flavors are of overt blueberry. There is a long finish and aftertaste.

1999 Torbreck, Steading and 1998 Viking Wines, 15 September 2008

September 15, 2008 Leave a comment

Here are two more Barossa wines I found on sale in September 2008.

1999 Torbreck, The Steading, Barossa Valley – $20
The color is medium+ opaque garnet. There is a light nose of gritty blue fruit that has brightness to it. In the mouth there is bright red/blue fruit with a type of tartness that reminds me of Smarties. As the berry fruit flavors fade cinnamon and spices develop. There is a restrained acidity that comes through on the finish. There are almost no tannins, a decent aftertaste, in this still tight wine. As others have remarked there is a Rhone quality to it. I opened this bottle just to see what I thought of it so I did not decant off the sediment. A solid buy at this price but not at $40+ and I felt there was plenty of good drinking life to it.

1998 Viking Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley – $15
A color of medium+ garnet with an older ruby core. A light to medium nose of savory blue fruit and olives. In the mouth there is dark fruit that is sweet and weighty with some black tea flavor at the end. The flavors slowly taper to the finish. There are still fine tannins. Jenn enjoyed this wine and I can see why since she is a salt and olive fan. Great price. Drink now.

Six Aussies Including the Tasty 1998 Maxwell Grenache, 09 August 2008

August 9, 2008 1 comment

Jenn and I decided to shake things up and try a number of Aussie reds. The 1998 Maxwell Grenache was by far our favorite and a very good value. After that, but a notch down are the St John’s Road and Warrenmang. I wouldn’t recommend the Yalumba, Hazyblur, nor the Rockford.

2005 St. John’s Road, Blood and Courage, Shiraz, Greenock, Barossa – $20
Very opaque purplish color. A light to medium intensity nose of gritty blue-red fruit. Tart blue fruit, slightly salty, in this medium bodied wine. The acidity is strong, causing puckering, that is wrapped up with a good finish and strong aftertaste. Young. A nice wine that doesn’t have the elegant of Solitary Block Shiraz from Greenock.

2003 Yalumba, Handpicked Shiraz Viognier, Barossa Valley – $20
Medium plus opaque purple with a hint of garnet. A light to medium intensity nose of candied red and purple fruits. Tight, dark fruit, toasty oak flavors, some acidity, and fine noticeable tannins. It never developed into much after three days. Our least favorite of the bunch.

2002 Warrenmang, Estate Shiraz, Pyrenees, Victoria – $20
Medium plus opaque ruby-purple, younger looking than the Hazyblur. A medium strength nose of bright, black gritty fruit, with some eucalyptus. In the mouth there was bright, tart fruit. The acidity is up front followed by a decent finish and aftertaste with some fine tannins coming through.

2001 Hazyblur, Barootra Shiraz, South Australia – $16
This came from 8-year-old vines. Medium plus opaque garnet. A nose of tart red fruits and some rubber/tar component that eventually blew off. In the mouth there is savory, dark red berries, enlivened by high-toned acidity. The flavors drop off to reveal minimal tannins, a simple finish and aftertaste. It did not change much on the second day. Second least favorite.

1998 Maxwell, Grenache, McLaren Vale – $25
Medium garnet in the glass. A medium nose of gritty, mildly sweet blue fruits. In the mouth there are cool, blue fruit, minerals, with good supporting acidity. The finish is refreshing. It still has textured tannins. This was by far our favorite and drinking beautifully right now. The nose makes one interested and the flavors do not disappoint, well-balanced.

1996 Rockford, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley – $19
This was fermented in open-top slate tanks and aged for two years in American and French oak hogsheads. Medium garnet in the glass with a core of darker purple color. A light to medium nose. There are red and blue fruits at first, a slight amount of minerals then the acidity comes through. There are some cedar/wood flavors in the finish, followed by a tart fruit finish. This isn’t that complex and there are still some new oak tannins. Kind of boring.

Three Recent Australian Releases

February 8, 2008 1 comment

It is hard to shift gears from all of my French wine drinking to Australian wine drinking. To satisfy my curiosity I thought I’d give these recent releases a go.

2005 Izway, Mates, Barossa Valley – $29
This is a relatively new venture from Craig Isbel and Brian Conway. Craig Isbel is a winemaker at Torbreck. He worked a vintage in Beaujolais in 2002. Their first barrel of wine was produced in 2003. The Mates is a 60% Grenache, 25% Shiraz, and 15% Mataro blend. The Grenache comes from 80 year old vines. I believe the Grenache and Mataro is from Greenock and the Shiraz is from Ebenezer. The 2004 vintage saw no oak and the 2005 tastes that way. Medium, opaque in the glass. A sweetish nose of brighter red berries and raw meat. In the mouth it is bright with flavors of red and dark berries and no noticeable tannins. There is a bright attack of fruit, followed by some juicy acidity then a fading finish. There is no underlying complexity and tastes like a wine to drink over the next year or two. It drank great on the second day and I preferred it over the Craneford. I’d personally wish there was more acidity to focus the fruit.

2005 Craneford, Quartet, Barossa Valley – $27
The Quartet is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 8% Shiraz, and 2% Cabernet Franc. It is matured in American and French oak for 16 months. Medium-dark in the glass, more opaque than the Izway. There are ripe blueberries in the mouth, some juicyness, and no noticeable tannins. It is a medium-bodied wine that on the second day developed a nose of raspberry fruit roll-up. The fruit roll-up is meant to convey sweet fruit with a touch of sourness. Not my style of wine, I’d rather drink the Izway or the Solitary Block.

2004 Solitary Vineyards, Solitary Block Shiraz, Barossa Valley – $55
Solitary Vineyards is another young project started in 2003 by Australian Domaine Wines. The goal is to produce single varietal wines from the best parcels of fruit they can find. The wines are produced by Neil Pike at Pikes Winery. This grapes for this wine come from Greenock Block 560. It was aged in 2-3 year old French barriques for 18 months. The 2004 is the first vintage of the Shiraz. Production for any of their wines is limited to 300 cases. A medium purple/ruby in the glass with a calm nose of red berries and spice. A medium to full-bodied wine with dark berries, creamy, and full in the mouth. There are very fine, elegant tannins and a slight amount of acidity. This wine is so easy drink! The first couple of glasses slipped down before I mustered the strength to save some for the next day. The wine is concentrated in its primary flavors and needs a number of years to develop more complexity. If you are looking for a wine to enjoy now, you can find something more interesting for the price. Otherwise buy this to drink in 5+ years.

Enjoy,

Aaron