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A Return to Australia

September 29, 2012 Leave a comment

We have not drunk much Australian wine as of late.  I have become curious about the new wines John has been bringing to the store.  The Picardy is one such example from Pemberton in Southwest Australia.  This selection was both a new winery and region for me.  From the excellent 2005 vintages this was our favorite of the trio.  Perhaps this is not suprising as the winery is owned by the Panell’s who established Moss Wood.  This wine is starting to come into its own now so I recommend you give a bottle a try.  The Fireblock was a decent enough drink but not captivating.  First Drop Wines was also new to me.  John recommended I start with the Half & Half.  With a Spanish inspired label, this Monastrell blend is certainly different.  I think it needs more time.  The Picardy and First Drop were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.  The Fire Block was purchased at Total Wine of Manassas.

2005 Picardy, Merlimont, Pemberton – $23
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 53% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 23% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 14%.  The color is a medium+ garnet.  The soft nose is a little closed with tobacco and licorice in a Bordeaux manner.  In the mouth the flavors are softer and darker with wood box along with expansive blue and black fruit.  After one to two hours things loosen up a bit as it becomes a little tangy.  There are ripe, drying tannins which coat the inside of the lips.  It becomes fresh with a little softening in the finish.  The fruit is initially ripe then dries up towards the aftertaste.  Drinkable now but give some air.  *** Now-2017.

2005 Fire Block, Old Vine Grenache, Clare Valley – $16
Imported by USA Wine West.   This wine is 100% Grenached sourced from a vineyard planted in 1926 as a fireblock next to the railway line to prevent bush fires.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose and mouth are similar with cherry fruit and maturing Australian grenache (for lack of a better description).  The red fruit is supported by ample acidity.  This is a brighter wine with subtle ripe weight.  The flavors drop off a bit by the aftertaste.  ** Now-2016.

2010 First Drop Wines, Half & Half – $20?
Imported by Vine St Imports.  This wine is 50% Shiraz and 50% Monastrell sourced from 16-year-old vines.  It was aged for 18 months in seasoned French barriques.  Alcohol 14.5%.  Tasted over two nights this was better on the second night.  There is a pungent, deep fruit nose with aromas of orange.  In the mouth the flavors are tart and bright with red fruit.  There is some ripeness, cherry flavors, and wood note supports by lots of acidity.  There is a long aftertaste with some green tea.  This needs air if you drink it now perhaps best after a few more years.  ** 2014-2018.

A Wide Variety from Saturday and Sunday, 28 July 2008

The Kilikanoon was good but it is a powerful wine to be drunk in small sips. The Charles Smith Boom Boom was well done in the bright red fruit vein. The Mourre du Tendre was some funky stuff that I only drank two glasses of. The Attems Pinot Grigio was a nice surprise. And the two pinots were much appreciated during the humid Sunday evening.

2004 Kilikanoon, The Prodigal, Grenache, Clare Valley – $26
This grenache was aged for 24 months in older American and French oak hogsheads. A medium opaque ruby with some garnet. A light to medium nose of sweet red fruit. Concentrated fruit flavors assault with red fruit up front then dark berries develop in a supporting role. Mild acidity through with a mild finish and minimal tannins. I think this full-bodied wine needs more age before it can unleash all.

2006 Charles Smith, Boom Boom, Syrah – $22
From K Vintners. A good nose of light, bright dusty northwest red fruit. In the mouth, red fruit, raspberries, and acidity abound. Minimal, very fine, young tannins. There is a light, fresh, and slightly juicy finish. Drink now or within a year or so. It drank almost exactly the same the next night.

2001 Mourre du Tendre, Cuvee Tradition, Cotes du Rhone Villages – $22
Upon decanting Jenn found an intense nose of white grapefruit. To me it was more cat pee on clay litter. After 24 hours grapefruit/pee bit disappeared and was replaced by sweet red raspberry candy/liquor. The flavors follow the nose with slightly chewy red berries in this medium bodied wine. This is some funky stuff that won’t appeal to most.

These two ’95s have been lurking in my basement for some reason. I had some hope for the Puygueraud but….

1995 Chateau La Boscq, Vieilles Vignes, Medoc
Some stinky cheese at first then a light claret and cedar nose. There are bright red berries, lean fruit, and a cinnamon flavor that develops with air. This light to medium bodied show its acidity in the finish then is followed by a simple aftertaste. Drink up. It is drinkable but completely boring.

1995 Chateau Puygueraud, Cotes de Francs
A light color of heavily bricked garnet. A light nose of mostly volatile acidity.
Thin fruit, towards acidic and a little sour. A cool, menthol finish with very fine tannins in aftertaste. Gets worse with air. Not worth drinking.

A few good wines from dinner at a friends’ house. No notes, just what Jenn and I remember.

2007 Attems, Pinot Grigio, Collio – $17
I thought this was an excellent Pinot Grigio. Round and somewhat creamy fruit, lively and refreshing.

2002 Fromm, Clayvin Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Marlborough
The first bottle was corked but the second one delivered the goods right away. Good nose of dark blue fruits that is beginning to develop some complexity. This medium bodied wine has blue fruit in the mouth, some oak, and leaves the impression of restraint. While it drank well now I’d cellar it a few more years to see what develops. We preferred this over the Dierberg…not to imply that the Dierberg wasn’t good.

2005 Dierberg, Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
Aged 16 months in 90% new French oak. Dark red berries on the nose. Dark blue and red fruit flavors that are concentrated with good acidity. I’d cellar this for a few years before drinking. The oak is not overdone.

1996/1998 Aussies with French, Chilean, Turkish, and California as Well, 14 July 2008

July 14, 2008 1 comment
A group of us got together Saturday night to focus on Australian reds from the 1996 and 1998. We met up at Dave & Deniz Wetmore’s place where Deniz’s mother prepared a wonderful Turkish dinner. Thanks to all three of them for hosting and cooking all day. I must admit, I really enjoy these casual evenings tasting 6-8 wines blind.We started off with a pair of whites. Jenn and I really enjoyed the Lirac but found the Chilean Sauvignon blanc a bit to grassy. The Lirac certainly left me thirsty for the reds. I’ll leave it to William to tell us what they were.  All wines were double-decanted about 2 hours before we tasted them. They were initially served in pairs then everyone drank copious amounts to determine their favorite bottles. The Villard was the favorite, closely followed by the Henschke, and the Coriole in third.Here are the combined group notes on the wines.
 
1996 Coriole, Mary Kathleen, McLaren Vale
This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc that was aged for 12 months in French oak. Medium garnet in the glass with some bricking. A light to medium intensity nose of primarily black currant backed up by cherry and a minty/menthol freshness. More cherries and red berries in mouth, I found an almost salty quality to the fruit. The intensity of the fruit was a bit light but was followed by an assertive and powerful, lengthy finish. There were mild, grippy tannins.
 
1998 Pycantha Hills, Shiraz, Clare Valley
Medium garnet as well but with a purple tinge that looked more youthful than the Coriole. A medium intensity nose of red stewed fruit, perhaps pomegranate, some spice and medicinal aspect. With air a slight band-aid aroma developed. There was fruit with some roundness that was perhaps more jammy and flabby. The one-dimensional flavors disappeared quickly, leaving a simple, short finish. Decent acidity kept it alive and moving, with no obvious tannins for support. Most preferred the Coriole over this one but Jenn prefered it.
 
1999 Domaine Francois Villard, Cuvee Reflet, St-Joseph
I threw this in as a ringer. This Syrah is aged for 23 months in new oak due to the young age of the vines. Medium ruby with some slight bricking in the glass. Initially a light nose of toasted oak that developed into an expansive nose of tar with additional air. Very fine tannins are obvious from the beginning then the lighter, black cherry/red berry flavors develop. There was a nice mid-palate and strong finish, that came through in this well crafted wine. I found some fresh menthol on the nose at the end. This was the first bottle finished!

1996 Penfolds, Bin #128, Shiraz, Coonawarra
Medium garnet with brown component looks old. A sweet nose of chocolate (chocolate covered cherries), almost port-like. A soft, old wine, with very little complexity, very fine tannins in the aftertaste, this bottle was near the end of its life. Best described by William, “Like a sprint to the back of the mouth – like a skittish cat scampering from the room when confronted by strangers.” This was clearly the least favorite of the group.

1998 Wild Duck Creek, Spring Flat Shiraz, Heathcote
This Shiraz is aged in 50% French and 50% American oak. A medium intensity nose of primarily eucalyptus. In the mouth more eucalyptus combined with dark red fruits. A light to medium bodied wine, with light to medium tannins, and a light, acidic aftertaste. The intensity of the eucalyptus made the wine come across as monolithic. Dave felt it was slightly corked on the nose. William felt there was energy, quality, and vibrancy. I initially preferred this to the Henschke but then the Henschke hit its stride.

1996 Henschke, Keyneton, Eden Valley
Lighter in color than the Wild Duck Creek. This is primarily Shiraz with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot thrown in. The initial nose was of sour, red fruit but then an older, darker, barnyard nose developed. Soft, round, red fruit (cherry and raspberry) with some oak spice. I found it slightly salty. There are still light to medium tannins. This wine was the slowest to developed and grew on William and myself. Dave felt this was near the end of the drinking window. Jenn liked it over the Wild Duck Creek from the beginning. Unfortunately this was my only bottle.

We then unveiled the six bottles. In the process we realized we had completely drunk the top 3-4 bottles. Dave disappeared then returned with the following two wines:

2005 Kavaklidere, Kalecik Karasi, Anatolia
Kavaklidere is Turkey’s first private wine producer founded in 1929. This wine is made from native grapes and aged in oak barrels. I didn’t take any notes but this was well made, contemporary, and easy to drink.

2005 Zeitgeist, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Dave served this blind after a brief stint in the decanter. No one guessed what it was but it was perfect match considering what we had drunk. This came from 5 barrels of Cab and is made at Behrens & Hitchcock. It is the personal project of Mark Porembski (winemaker at Anomaly and former B&H assistant winemaker) and Jennifer Williams (winemaker at Anomaly). I had a bit of a buzz going so my notes are short. I thought it was Shiraz. There was a good nose that developed with air. In the mouth I found chocolate, dark fruit, some minerals, and salt. Definitely an interested wine and one to try again.

Leighton House Selections from December 2005

December 1, 2005 1 comment

These six selections were chosen for December 2005.

2002 Craneford Wines, Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Craneford was founded in 1978 and subsequently sold three times until purchased by the current winemaker John Zilm. John moved the winery to his home town where he also started a café in the building. He attempts to produce wines with more balance by having less alcohol and using less wood. This wine is 100% Shiraz aged in 85% French and 15% American oak. Medium-garnet in color. Lightly aromatic, mature nose. Very round, blackberry, and leather on the palate with very, very fine tannins. Excellent drinking for now.

2004 Jip Jip Rocks, Shiraz, Limestone Coast
The Bryson family has been involved in agriculture in Southern Australia for 150 years. They have long realized the potential of the Limestone Coast in producing good quality Shiraz. They established the Jip Jip Rocks vineyard in the early 1990s. They aim for good integration of fruit flavors and oak. This wine is 100% Shiraz. A rather dark, purple wine with a nose of meaty blackberries. Bright round fruit on the palate with good grip and acidity. To be drunk now rather than cellared. Open one to two hours before drinking.

2002 Killibinbin, Blend, Langhorne Creek
Killibinbin Wines entered the market in 1997 by producing 400 cases of Langhorne Creek Shiraz. The wine sold out in six weeks thus launching the careers of the founders Wayne Anderson and Liz Banks. The wines are styled to be balanced and fruit forward. The grapes are sourced from parcels in Langhorne Creek then sent north to the Barossa Valley for production. This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Shiraz aged in new and used American and French oak for 12 months. Ruby in color with black fruit on the nose. Medium to full-bodied, chunky, and rich it makes for fine drinking now. It would be interesting to compare with 2002 Bleasdale Frank Potts which is also from Langhorne Creek.

2002 Koonowla, Shiraz, Clare Valley
Koonowla was established for farming and grazing in the 1830s by Colonel Barker. It was sold to John Tothill in 1892 who subsequently planted vines and built a commercial winery, making it one of the six original wineries in Clare Valley. A fire destroyed both the stock and cellars causing Koonowla to slowly switch to profitable grain and wool production. In 1991 Andrew and Booie Michael purchased the winery, restored the winery, and planted new vines. This wine is 100% Shiraz aged 18 months in 50% American and 50% French oak.

Quinta Vale do Marie, Lot No. 1 Reserve Port, Duoro
Christiano van Zeller is the former owner and director of the famous Quinta do Noval estate. He is now bottling ports under the medieval spelling of his family name, De Zellaer. This month’s selection is sourced from his own vineyards in Quinta Vale da Mina and Quinta Vale Dona Maria. All of his ports are foot trodden in lagares. This wine is a blend of Tinta Amarela, Rufete, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional, and Sousão aged in wood vats for 24 months. Aromatic, medium-bodied, with a charming slightly hot finish. Will throw sediment. Open 24 hours ahead then consume within a further 48 hours.

2003 Reilly’s Wines, Old Bushvine Grenache-Shiraz, Clare Valley
Reilly’s Wines was started as a hobby of winemaker Justin Ardill in 1993. The winery is named after Hugh Reilly, a shoemaker from Ireland who arrived at Clare Valley in 1856. He promptly built a stone cottage which today is used as the cellar store. The Grenache grapes are sourced from the 1919 block of bushvines. The Shiraz grapes are sourced from the Watervale Ridge Vineyard planted in 1999. This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Shiraz aged in 75% American and 25% French oak for 15 months. Aromatic red berries on the nose. Medium to full-bodied, with sweet cherry flavors. Wonderful to drink now.