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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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Three Enjoyable Wines Under $12

January 10, 2012 Leave a comment

I recently picked up these selections from MacArthurs.  After I had picked up the bottles I specifically wanted, Phil pointed out the Moulin de Gassac and Duorum as recent affordable additions to the shelves.  John pointed at the Coriole.  I must admit I was a bit sceptical about the Coriole with it being a Sangiovese/Shiraz blend.  Perhaps this was due to a limited familiarity with their more classical Lloyd Reserve and Mary Kathleen.  But it was good, Jenn thought so too.  Both the Coriole and Moulin de Gassac have a couple of years bottle age on them which really helps.  The Coriole is in the vigorous midst of its prime whereas the Moulin de Gassac has peaked.  The Dourum drinks like the younger wine it is with Jenn finding it quite attractive.  Having just drunk the 2009 Dourum, Colheita I can taste the familial resemblance and am impressed by the quality and the price.  I recommend you try all three.  $31 for three bottles of interesting wine is a good deal.

2008 Coriole Vineyards, Sangiovese/Syrah, McLaren Vale – $10
This is imported by Robert Whale Selections.  This Classic selection wine is a blend of 51% Sangiovese and 49% Syrah.  The supple, meaty fruit show some confected notes before it becomes dusty and dark.  Some tart red fruit comes out as tannins coat the inside of the cheeks.  This pleasing wine has settled down from some bottle age.  The aftertaste leaves fresh flavors of menthol.  This wine is quite large in the mouth with a richness that belies the relatively low alcohol.  A good value.

2010 Duorum, Tons, Douro – $12
This is imported by Winebow Inc.  This entry-level wine is a blend of 50% Touriga Franca, 30% Touriga Nacional, and 20% Tinta Roriz.  The fruit is sourced from vineyards grown on soils of schist at altitudes of 400-600 meters.  The wine is aged for six months in 2nd and 3rd year French and American oak barrels.  In the glass the wine is a ruby color with purple rim.  The nose reveals powdery, fruity aromas.  In the mouth the flavors are fruity with a strong floral, black berry note that is quite attractive.  The flavors start off a tad soft before it becomes juicy with plenty of acidity and a good finish that is racy with black fruit.  This is ready for current consumption.

2008 Moulin de Gassac, Guilhem, VdP Hersault – $9
This is imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is a blend of 40% Syrah, 25% Granche, 20% Mourvedre, and 15% Carignan sourced from vines on soils of Jurassic limestone.  The wine was aged 6-7 months in stainless steel.  The wine is a light+ ruby color in the glass.  The light nose started off with earthy, red fruit before revealing strawberry aromas.  In the mouth the flavors start off pleasantly ripe with black fruit that turns towards sour red fruit (but not in a bad way).  The flavors become simple but remain enjoyable.  There is a bit of sweet spice in the finish, some very fine tannins, and a smidge of salivating acidity.  This wine has entered its mature phase and though it is not complex, it is satisfying and a good value that should be drunk up in the near term.

Four Wines Between $12 and $15

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

During the early weeks of this blog, I once took a break from posting for two days.  This prompted my friend Lou to check in on me, to make sure I was healthy and still drinking wine.  I am currently flying to Seattle and have recently passed over Fargo.  I was too busy having fun with my daughter to write a post for today.  Fortunately, Alaska Air has excellent inflight wi-fi as I demonstrated from this post.  So here I am once again blogging from the air.  Jenn and I have drunk some excellent wines from Washington and Oregon this summer but the majority of these bottles comfortably cost over $25 per bottle.    For this trip I plan on tasting and buying wines under that price point.  In this vein, this post includes notes on four different bottles all $15 or less.

The Thorn-Clarke was purchased for $13, the Alpha Box & Dice for $12, the Quinta da Rosa for $15, and the Plungerhead for $15.  All of these should be currently available at MacArthur’s.  My favorites were the Thorn-Clarke and the Quinta de la Rosa.  The Thorn-Clarke strongly delivers on value and the Quinta de la Rosa is at a decent price.  The Alpha Box & Dice and the Plungerhead were both too soft, jammy, and too sweet for my preferences.  If you are craving a zinfandel blend then spend an extra $2-$3 to buy a 2009 Ridge Zinfandel.

2008 Thorn-Clarke, Shotfire, Quartage, Barossa
This is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Malbec, 18% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, and 3% Merlot that was aged for 18 months in 85% French and 15% American oak. I first tried this at the Fran Kysela tasting held at MacArthur’s. We recently tried a full bottle that I had purchased that day. This wine has savory, soft, dark fruit with notes of olive. It is smooth, easy to drink with textured tannins, and supporting acidity. It is definitely an Australian wine and one that Jenn quite enjoyed. On the second night there were more blue fruits and the wine gave the impression of maturity beyond its age. *** Now-2015.

2008 Alpha Box & Dice, Tarot, Grenache, McLaren Vale
This wine is 100% Grenache from 10-year-old vines grown on hard red clay over limestone.This is very youthful and fruity with ample flavors of raspberry. A bit jammy in the sense of sweeter fruit, some blue notes, and plenty of acidity. Pleasant but not the most interesting. Drink with in a couple of years. * Now-2014.

2009 Quinta da Rosa Vinhos, Dou Rosa, Douro
This wine is a blend of 30% Touriga Nacional, 35% Touriga Franca, and 35% Tinta Roriz that was aged in French barriques. The nose was light with floral and fruity notes. There were flavors of youthful, purple fruit that immediately left the impression of being an easy to drink wine. With air a gentle, berry, ripeness develops with an enjoyable perfumed violet and lavender quality. The fruit becomes a mixture of red and blue flavors as tannins come out in the finish. *** Now-2017.

2009 Plungerhead, Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi
This wine is 98% Zinfandel and 2% Syrah sourced from mostly 30-60 year old vines. There are ample flavors of jammy, soft raspberries and strawberries. The flavors are a bit sweet, with unobtrusive acidity, and some spice.  Sealed with a Zork, which is actually quite handy for resealing the bottle. * Now.

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.

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.

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.

Inaugural Aussie hammers and Abattoir

I drank a lot of Australian wine a year or so ago but much less this year. It could be that I found the 2004s to drink well on release and prefer my 2005 and 2006s with some age. I only had one Maxwell wine before, the 2004 Ellen Street Shiraz which my wife and I really liked so I was eager to try the Silver Hammer. The Winner’s Tank Velvet Sledgehammer was mentioned in the Garagiste thread but I thought I’d include my note; it is tasty but more loose and flamboyant. The Rosabrook was reviewed on the board a year ago and is still drinking well. I drank one earlier this year at the normal price then bought a few more at MacArthur’s Aussie sale. In order of preference: Rosabrook, Maxwell, Winner’s Tank.

2005 Maxwell, Silver Hammer, Shiraz, McLaren Vale – ~$30
This is the inaugural vintage of the Silver Hammer. The medium-dark color is red with purple. There are blue fruits on the light, young nose. In the mouth there are blue and dark fruits and a bit of minerals. There is ripeness and roundness to the fruit, but it comes across as balanced. There are very fine tannins in the aftertaste. It is drinkable now but I’d give it a few more years in the cellar. As a point of reference, I drank this alongside the 2006 De Lisio, Quarterback. The Quarterback came across as having more blue/red fruit, a bit sour in tilt, and less definition.

2006 Winner’s Tank, Velvet Sledgehammer, Langhorne Creek – $20-$25?
This too is the first vintage of the Velvet Sledgehammer. It is aged in 35% new French barriques for 16 months. It comes from specific parcels within the same vineyard used for the regular Shiraz. It is a rather opaque ruby-purple color. There is a light nose of roast, red berries, and raspberry. There is immediate, rich, mouthful of flavors that echo the nose. The wine is not quite creamy but rather a softness that picks up ultra-fine tannins. I think it is preferable to wait a few years on this one.

1998 Rosabrook Estate, Abattoir Block, Shiraz, Margaret River – $32
A medium-opaque garnet in the glass. A fresh nose of wooden box and red fruit. In the mouth there are immediate, round, mouthfilling mature/earthy flavors with some mintiness. There is good acidity, and a fine, thorough finish that is still tannic. This wine is tasty, easy to drink (I sucked down the bottle), and has life left in it.