Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Taltarni 2007 Brut Tache

At the end of the day fizz is all about fun and this captures it all. It features all three champagne grape varieties as well as a doseage of red wine liqueur. This contributes to the colour and the touch of sweetness at13g/l.
Terrific stuff and apparently tache means "stained".

Our Price: $18 per bottle by the doz


Taltarni 2006 Brut

I'll leave it to the website words with just one comment - I can't believe one of my favourite sparklings has been around for 30 years.

"Taltarni is an established household name for sparkling wines in Australia, well renowned for producing sophisticated premium wines of extraordinarily high quality and great value. Its vineyards in the Pyrenees are the source of two very coveted sparklings, Taltarni Brut and Taltarni Brut Taché. Taltarni Brut 2006 is a blend of the three classic sparkling wine varietals – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Since the first Taltarni Cuveé Brut was made in 1978, each bottle of Taltarni sparkling wine has been fermented and matured on yeast lees according to traditional methods.

The sparkling base is a blend of both cool climate Victorian and Tasmanian fruit contributing to exquisite length and flavours. Generous and refined, Taltarni Brut 2006 has the same dimension and personality known as Taltarni’s consistent house style for years."

Our Price: $18 per bottle by the doz


Clover Hill 2006


This is Taltarni's Tasmanian "Let's do French". First vintage was 1991 and it was pretty damn good.
And with all the years of practice it's getting even better.
They leave it lurking on lees for 3 years which helps explain both the current release's vintage and the price. It's not a cheap process.

But it works and explains its own individual character. Great stuff.

Our Price: $30 per bottle by the doz

Henschke 2005 Keyneton Estate


It's that Shiraz Cabernet Merlot blend smack bang in the middle of the Henschke pecking order. You know the wine, you know how good our price is.

Our Price: $35 per bottle by the doz


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chalice Bridge 2005 Margaret River Shiraz

Back in August we offered the final stocks of the 2004 Chalice Bridge Margaret River Shiraz. It was a wine that justly deserved rave reviews from Halliday and Hooke. We sold out within 24 hours and most of you who got some emailed me looking for more. It was just that good and an outstanding under $20 red.
We tasted the 2005 at the same time about a week after it was bottled. I don't whether you know about the concept of bottle shock but this was a classic example. A wine you just wouldn't bother with.
We tasted it again last week and it was a different wine - virtually identical to the 2004. A superbly balanced, elegant red that is up there in the $30 category. Highly recommended even though it hasn't won a trophy as far as we know.

Our Price: $18 per bottle by the doz


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tyrrell's 2004 Stevens Vineyard Hunter Semilon

Tyrrell's cleaned up at the latest Hunter Valley Wine Show which is a regular habit of theirs. They won all sorts of trophies but for me this was the standout both in terms of sheer quality and outstanding value. It won four trophies including the BIG ONE of Best Dry White Wine of the Show. Incidentally previous vintages have won that trophy in 5 of the last 6 years. Which tends to support our view that it is consideraby better value than its Vat 1 big brother and anything else for that matter. If you enjoy Hunter Semillon you can't wrong with it to drink now or cellar.

Our Price: $ 21 per bottle by the doz


Monday, November 24, 2008

The USB Wine Device

A very clever man I once worked with had the idea for this 7 years ago. If we'd had the money we'd have launched it the day after March 31, 2001.
Now, sadly the French have beat us to it. Thank god for the Rugby!

Our Price: $


Deen De Bortoli 2006 Vat 9 Cabernet Sauvignon

Bagpipes, Toukley RSL and a Captivating Cabernet
When Toukley holds a Highland Gathering, they know how to party. Which is how we found ourselves on a recent Saturday night at the glittering Toukley RSL being entertained by the Lithgow City Pipe Band. While most of the lasses and laddies were more than content with whisky and beer I was sent forth to find a bottle of red wine.
Which was how I met Cheryl the barmaid. She was a gem. Not only did she keep a straight face when I asked to see the wine list, she also knew that there were only two bottles of the only possible decent red in the place. She wasn't quite sure where the second bottle was but when I explained there was every possibiity we may require it, she made it her "mission possible" to make sure it woud be ready when we were.
And so it transpired that Toukley RSL ran out of their "premium" red that night and bad luck if they tried to order anymore now. I rang De Bortoli who told me they had 50 dozen left and I said we'd take the lot.

Our Price: $ 9 per bottle by the doz


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Baldivis 2002 Cabernet Shiraz

A lovely dusty 6 year old red.
If you're looking for a bit of age in your cellar this has to be the bargain of the year.

RRP: $13
Our Price: $6 per bottle by the doz


WA Great Southern 2005 Unlabelled Riesling

Beautifully poised between the exuberance of youth and the grace of maturity this is a wine to enjoy now or whack in the cellar for 10 years.
This offers everything that's great about Oz rieslings at a ridiculous fraction of its true worth. An absolute no-brainer for lovers of this style.

Worth: $15+
Our Price: $6 per bottle by the doz

Friday, October 24, 2008

Yellow Tail 2008 Pinot Noir


I was tempted towards describing it as " The Pinot you have when you're not having a Pinot" but I thought that may be a little too disparaging for what is a brilliant budget red. Then again, "peculiar" in a sub head isn't too encouraging despite its accuracy.

I've become a major Pinot Noir convert over the last few years. I love the combination of subtlety and strength, the way this often deceptively pale red can begin with a caress and then powers its way through your palate.

This latest release Pinot Noir under the Yellow Tail label has none of this. It's an "in-your-face", fruit driven red with a deep, impenetrable, quite dazzling colour, lashings of berry,cherry and violet fruit flavour, minimal tannin but enough reassuring acid to support it for far longer than we recommend.

Prima facie this doesn't look like the summer red it really is. It looks like a shiraz, almost tastes likes a cabernet - we suggest you just treat it as a rose with grunt, especially with alcohol just a whisker under 14%. It's a cracker of a quaffable red wine.

RRP: Whatever you see it for in the shops
Our Price: $8 per bottle by the doz


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Matahiwi 2006 Wairarapa Pinot Noir

We got onto this wine a few years ago courtesy of a Jeff Collerson rave.
He was right and very little has changed - even the price is the same!

Wairarapa is on the North Island of New Zealand, not far from Wellington and the winemaker is the lovely Jane Cooper who I've had the peasure of meeting a couple of times.
These are probably her notes and I've lifted from their website mainly because I love this stuff in terms of all the permutations that can come into play in winemaking. Enjoy:

"The Matahiwi vineyard is planted in several combinations of rootstock and Pinot Noir clones and this Pinot is a blend of some of these - 115, 114, 10/5, 777, Abel and 667, with each adding their own character and complexity. The 2006 vintage was a vintage showing natural low yields of about 1.5-2.0kgs per vine. This has resulted in a final wine with concentration and ideal ripeness.In the winery, the different batches of fruit are processed separately so that we can see the individual characters on their own and we add further complexities by incorporating different techniques and yeast combinations. The grapes are cold soaked for between 5 and 7 days and then fermented at about 28-32C. Depending on the fruit, post ferment time ranges from 3-10 days, before the wine is pressed off.

The wine is then aged partly in tank and partly in barrel for 10 months, undergoing malolactic fermentation, before being blended for bottling in March 2007."

RRP: $25
Our Price: $18 per bottle by the doz


Aspen Estate 2008 Chardonnay

While there are plenty of cheap chardonnays around we haven't tasted anything as impressive as this at $5. Fruit is more in the citrus spectrum and it has a crisp acidity that takes it well away from the fatter,cloying style.

RRP: $??????
Our Price: $5 per bottle by the doz


Aspen Estate 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

A clean crisp dry white that offers the best varietal fruit you'll find at this price. Extraordinary value, very well packaged and highly recommended.

RRP: $ ?????
Our Price: $5 per bottle by the doz

Publish Post

Stephen John Blanc de Blanc

EASILY OUR BIGGEST SELLER AT THIS PRICE and once you taste it you'll understand why. Here are Stephen's notes
Our Blanc de Blanc, as the name implies, is a sparkling white made from white grapes. A blend of Chardonnay and Semillon from selected vineyards and picked early in the season to capture the freshness and elegance.
Medium straw colour. Excellent mousse and fine bead. The nose shows fresh creamy fruit, whilst the palate is delicate with balanced acid/sweetness. An aperitif style displaying elegant structure balanced acid and lovely soft integrated flavours."

Our Price: $12 per bottle by the dozen


Stephen John 2006 Shiraz


Our old friend Stephen John doesn't just make your favourite everyday fizz. He's just released his 2006 Shiraz and it's an absolute cracker. It's simultaneously opulent and elegant and considerably underpriced. This is a perfect exampe of the heights that Clare Shiraz can hit. Enjoy it now or cellar for 5-10 years.

Our Price: $20 per bottle by the doz


Monday, September 15, 2008

Champagne Gremillet Brut Selection

Two Champagnes were submitted this week from the House of Gremillet. I knew I could sell one at $50 and one at $35 but wasn't sure which. Tasted them and thought it was pretty obvious which was which, thought I'd check anyway and discovered that as far as I was concerned the better one was the $35. So talk about win/win. We get to quaff two terrific fizzes and you get a crack at an absolute gem. It's yeasty, developed and complex and at $35 it will go down as one of the bargains of the year
Our Price: $35 per bottle by the dozen


Gotham 2008 Clare Valley Riesling

It's made by Neil Pike and the overwhelming response was WOW! I've been very well behaved in recent times resisting the urge to fill the cellar door with stacks of my favourite white variety but this one couldn't be ignored. This opens quite shyly with a reserved delicacy and then takes off. It combines a crisp acidic dryness with an intensity of fruit that out blancs the sauvignons. As much as I enjoy sauv blancs it's rieslings ike this that really excite me with their character and versatility. A superb wine that delivers well into the $20+ territory.

Our Price: $15 per bottle by the doz


Gotham 2006 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon

I may have told you this story before but regardless it's worthy of being told again. Not so long ago a VERY senior winemaker employed by a VERY voluminous producer was asked for the secret of making successful Cabernet Sauvignon. His reply was "Make it taste like Shiraz".
Which goes along way to explaining the long time shortage of finding cabernets that actually taste like the grape from which they were made. I want to taste Cabernets with tannin and acid that ooze blackcurrant. And don't cost the earth.

Last week the Gotham 2006 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon was submitted and it's a cracker. You have no idea [actually you probably do] of how tempted I was to do a "Crazy Coonawarra, Batman" as a heading.. It's a crazy name with one of the wackiest labels we've seen in a longtime and neither do the wine justice. It opens with a fairly overt cool climate nose. There's a fair bit of capsicum and a touch of earthiness which I'm glad disappears within 20 minutes or so. There's none of that on the palate which starts off reasonably subdued and then just blossoms. Wood is there but it's the rich cabernet fruit and acid balance that make this such a top drop. Alcohol is a sensible 13.5% and the winemaker is Peter Douglas which goes a long way to explaining the quality of this wine. We road tested it over 4 days and it just kept on getting better so it's one to consider for the cellar. Very highly recommended.

Our Price: $15 per bottle by the doz


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tamar Ridge 2006 Pinot Noir


Let's not beat around the bush. This is a great red.
It's soft and welcoming and then hits you with the palate impact and length that lasts until the next sip - even if you can resist it for 5 minutes! I've even converted one doubting Michael to the joys of Pinot with this one.
I'm also hiding a few bottles away to share with the Pinotphile son-in-law when he returns from his Asian sojourn

Our Price: $23 per bottle


Benwarin 2005 Hunter Valley Chardonnay

GOLD MEDAL WINNER: Hunter Valley Wine Show 2006
This is a very fine "New Age" chardonnay which achieves its impact through great winemaking rather than being hit over the head with a lump of a oak. Lovely citrus fruit, quality oak and steely acid make this one to enjoy now or confidently cellar

Our Price: $17 per bottle


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Aspen Estate 2009 Cabernet Merlot

For our money this is one of the best budget reds available at the moment. Great BBQ wine and can hold it's head high in much more expensive company.

RRP: $????
Our Price: $5 a bottle by the dozen


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Staying at the VIC in Rutherglen

what happens when my passionate Richmond supporter sibling suggests we ALL go to Melbourne to contribute to the effort to achieve 100G at the G. Great idea to celebrate the club's centenary.
The response started at coach load, eased into a mini bus and ended up with just the two of us in a Barina called Chester.
Given that both the game and result were ugly, the undisputed highlight was our overnight stay in Rutherglen. What a top spot.
There are three pubs in Rutherglen and I was really pleased I booked at the Victoria. It's a 140 year old pub that's two years into a 10 year renovation project. Sarah and Sean have undertaken a huge enterprise along with the help of their mate Jim. The best part of all is that the end result will be a traditional old pub, not something glammed up to be something it never was. The rooms are basic and comfortable even though Sarah rather humbly calls the accommodation "like camping under a roof."
We'll be returning as soon as possible not only to see how the renovations proceed but to further the Rutherglen experience. It has to be one of the most welcoming, fascinating vineyard areas I've ever visited. We'll also try and plan the next visit to co-incide with one of the VIC's food and wine weekends. Sarah and Sean are planning six events each year and we suspect they might be rather special.
If you'd like to contact the Victoria Hotel:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Not so enthaicing wine descriptions

Back in 2006 we found ourselves overnighting at the Grand China Princess Hotel in Bangkok. Great hotel with one of those truly inspiring Asian breakfast buffets and a rooftop pool that let you soak in just how huge the city really is.
I borrowed one of their wine lists which I've just come across in an early spring clean.
At around $25 - $50 a bottle these were easy to resist:

Chenin Blanc White Wine 2003
"A medium sweet wine: deep colour, golden, mushroom and fungus on the nose. Enjoy with very hot and spicy seafood, Thai dishes or as a spicy aperitif. Serve well very chilled."

Chenin Blanc Extra Dry 2003
"With a fresh and fragrant bouquet. Typical aged Chenin characteristics on nose and clean fruit on the palate. Perfect with popular fish, seafood Thai dishes."

Shiraz Red Wine 2004
"Light, soft and sweet with a bitter after taste. Oak on the nose and palate with a very light middle palate match perfect with any meat dish or spicy one."

Sparkling Wine De Loei
"Honey nose, very rich on the palate, a very fine mousse on the palate. It is produced firstly by the traditional method " a bottle fermented" and aged nearly two years from the best selection of chenin blanc. Perfect for any occasion and with special house cocktail Thai ingredients (mango or lychee liqueur)"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Bolter 2005 Cabernet Merlot

A Quality Quaffer from Yarraman
Yarraman Estate may sound very Victorian but it's a quintessential part of upper Hunter winemaking history. In fact it contains the original Dalwood vineyard planted by Max Schubert and Perc McGuigan in 1958. That's right, Grange and Brian's dads!
They also have plantings at Jugiong near Gundagai.

The current owners are obsessed with things equine and have launched a very appealing range pitched at the $10 retail price point.

The pick of the bunch is the Cabernet Merlot. Unashamedly fruit driven it has plenty of power and spice. Highly recommended for mid-week quaffing.

RRP: $10
Our Price: $8 per bottle


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sevenhill 2005 "Inigo" Cabernet Sauvignon

Since Sevenhiil was established in 1851 there have been seven Jesuit winemakers. Each of them had a fair old shift at the helm which was taken over by Brother John May in 1972 - that's him pictured amongst the vines. John's now the Emeritus Winemaker [great title, that] with Liz Heidenreich joining up in 2005. I haven't seen John since my Summer Hill Wine Shop days of the 90s and this is the first Sevenhill wine I've tasted in way too long.

It came about during my recent search for cabernets that actually tasted like the grape from which they came. This was the pick of the bunch and is a welcome addition to the range. Rich and sumptuous it oozes blackcurrants and doesn't taste like a shiraz!

Our Price: $ 18 per bottle


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Palandri 2007 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

If you're into the wonderfully synergistic SBS blend grab some of this. Don't be put off by the price or the label. The price is based on a pretty daft deal we were offered and the wine would still be a bargain at $16. It's the classic WA blend and drinking beautifully.
As for the label .......... great leaping lizards Batman, it's a shocker [in my opinion]. The sharp eyed amongst you will notice that the sauvignon blanc is portrayed to the right. I couldn't find an SBS label but felt duty bound to at least show you how bad [my opinion again] the label is. It's a different colour but the lizard is just as prominent.

RRP: $16
Our Price: $10 per bottle


Palandri 2005 Vita Novus Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon

This is truly outstanding. We had a look at Palandri's website notes and decided THEY didn't realise how good it is. In fact nor did we until we tasted it on the second day after opening, and the third and the fourth. It just kept on getting better.
Drink it now providing you let it breathe for a minimum 24 hours or hide some away under the bed.
Easily worth $30+.

Our Price: $18 per bottle


Palandri 2004 Vita Novus Margaret River Chardonnay

Blue Gold medal winner 2008 Sydney International Wine Competition Top 100

Here are two of the judges comments that explain the wine pretty well.

Adrian Atkinson :Very deep, golden, green colour. Rich, toasty nose with nice signs of development. Almost a hint of Semillon character on the nose and palate with this toasty character. Yes it is oaky, yes it is big but it’s well done. It’s a sort of a classic, traditional Aussie Chardonnay which is well done.

Kym Milne: Ripe tropical and toasty notes and bottle aged flavours. Very textured, creamy lees notes. Nutty, full and long but quite a big, flavoursome style. The creamy texture went well with this dish.

The Outstanding Wines view is if you like them full-on and crunchy you'll love this.

RRP: $25

Our Price: $18 per bottle


Stella Bella 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot

Huon Hooke Tastings SMH Good Living p16 June 17 2008 - WINE OF THE WEEK
"Stella Bella Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2005, $28
With its stylish, colourful labelling and modest pricing, winemaker Janice McDonald's Stella Bella range is excellent and arguably undersung. This is a pristine Margaret River cabernet merlot in the tight, fine grained, elegant, vibrant-fruit style that is the trademark of the maker. The colour is brilliant red-purple, with the intense and very clean aromas of blackcurrant, mulberry and blackbery with subtle oak. The palate is very intense and taut, with unobtrusive but definite-fine grained tannins giving good structure and a nice grip to finish. Youthfully vital, not yet showing great complexity but its future seems assured. Best in a couple of years but it can be drunk from now until, say, 2025. 93/100

Our Price: $24 per bottle


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tyrrell's 2011 Old Winery Pinot Noir

Exceptional value for one of the best entry level Pinot Noirs on the market. There's a small touch of sweetness that's more than compensated for by the definite varietal fruit flavour.

Our Price: $10 per bottle


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pikes 2005 Eastside Shiraz

"The current releases from Pikes are, without doubt, the best yet" James Halliday


Colour: Deep crimson red - almost black
Aroma: A dark & brooding, moody sort of wine still not giving up all it’s secrets. At present displaying super ripe red and black berry fruits along with some regional dark chocolate and mocha/charry undertones.
Palate: Concentrated, rich dark berry fruits with soft, ripe tannins and balanced acidity keeping the structure together. Long and quite elegant.
Summary: Full flavoured, ripe wine, but still in the restrained style we like. No problem to drink this wine young, but as usual 4-7 years will see the wine develop some bottle aged complexity and repay those with a little patience.

Region: 100% Clare Valley, South Australia
Variety: 100% Shiraz
Alcohol / Vol: 14.5%
Acidity: 6.16g/L TA
pH: 3.57
Fermentation: Innoculated & natural yeast cultures, 100% SS Ferm. pumped over, membrane pressed, pressing added back. Temp. controled 19 - 28 C Oak: 18 months-predominantly 228L French barriques.

Our Price: $18 per bottle


Thursday, June 12, 2008

A few truths about RTDs

At midnight on 26/04/2008 the Federal Government hugely increased the excise duty rate on Ready-to-Drink [RTDs] premixed spirits.
Was this a master stroke to end the so-called epidemic of binge drinking or a devilish scheme to score a $3bn tax windfall. Whatever the intent I can assure you the end result will be neither. It's patently ridiculous to attribute binge drinking to either this segment of the market or to the price of alcohol. Sadly the causes are far more complex and it will require far more thoughtful efforts to address the issue. Nor will it raise tax revenue as sales of RTDs have been decimated as buyers have switched to beer or bottled spirits. Our observation is that they are not buying wine as an alternative. Not even cheap sweet cask wine which I would have expected to happen.
As much as I dislike RTDs [they're just not MY thing] I sympathise with the customers who don't like beer, enjoy the convenience of not having to mix their own and rely on the concept to give them an accurate measure of their alcohol consumption. And this is where I object to the sweeping generalisations of both the products and their consumers.
For starters let's stop calling all of them "alcopops".
Broadly the market can be divided into three categories. Firstly there are serious branded spirits where customer brand loyalty is very strong. Then there are the vodka drinks which seem to all taste the same but are clearly alcohol and lastly there's the ridiculous category that producers have created to shoot themselves in the foot. These are the milk drinks and "energy" drinks that could easily be confused with soft drinks. On top of that producers have created the ridiculous situation where there are now over 5000 different products on the market. A large part of the proliferation has come from different container sizes and alcohol strengths within the same product. Which of course could lead to confusion regarding alcohol consumption giving the critics more ammunition.
The consumers of RTDs are equally diverse with all ages represented fairly evenly. That's right, it's not just kiddies. They are drinkers of all ages who have primarily enjoyed the convenience that these products have offered and prefer the taste to beer. And let me tell you, the 35yo who buys the occasional 4pack of Jack Daniels and Cola or Haig and Dry is not very impressed with the suggestion they are binge drinkers of "alcopops."
But the debate has started and alcohol is back as a priority on the political agenda. As wine drinkers we should all be very concerned about arguments for volumetric equality in alcohol taxation. During the 1980s the effective tax rate on wine increased from 10% to over 40%. In 2000 the Wine Equalisation Tax of 29% was introduced to complement the GST. This means that if a producer receives $100 for a box of wine we pay $141.90. Can the wine industry handle an increase? Here's an article from today's Sydney Morning Herald that's worth a read. Let's just hope the Winemakers Federation of Australia argument is successful. What the article doesn't mention is that the vagaries and lead times of wine production is a compelling argument to treat wine differently to other categories of alcohol :

"Tax on alcopops sets off alcohol lobby war

Mark Metherell
Sydney Morning Herald June 12, 2008

"THE huge tax increase on alcopops has unleashed a fresh lobbying war, with the alcohol industry raising obstacles for further tax changes being sought by community groups.
With most health and drugs groups arguing the Government should tax drinks uniformly by volume of alcohol, the drinks industry has turned out in force to protect its interests at the Senate inquiry into the new and controversial tax on alcopops.
The Australian Medical Association was one of several health organisations demanding an end to the varying tax treatment of different alcoholic drinks, arguing for "volumetric" taxation based on the percentage of alcohol in a drink.
The AMA has told the Senate committee inquiring into the issue that the focus on alcopops alone "may provide perverse incentives for young people to shift their preference to potentially more harmful behaviours or alcohol substitutes" such as cheaper cask wines or the self-mixing of spirits.
Under the latest tax changes, $5 buys only 1.8 standard alcoholic drinks of alcopop products compared with up to 14 standard alcoholic drinks of discount cask wine, the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia has argued in its bid to overturn the new 70 per cent tax on alcopops.
Meanwhile, the Australasian Associated Brewers has warned that any shift to a uniform volumetric tax would push up the price of a schooner of full beer by 50 cents to $4.34 and more than double the price of a cask of wine to $31.23.
The figures are reached by assuming the Government collects the same total taxes on alcohol but by imposing a uniform volumetric tax.
The Winemakers Federation of Australia fiercely defended the overall lower tax burden on wine, as it was "different to other alcohol products".
Wine production was a major contributor to the economy - particularly to regional areas - and Australia had "one of the highest-taxed major wine producers" in the world, the federation's chief executive, Stephen Strachan, argued in his submission.
The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney said the new tax had played a big role in triggering debate over drinking in Australia.
"It has drawn into the spotlight the place of alcohol in Australian society and our collective acceptance of intoxication as a 'rite of passage'.
"The debate had starkly highlighted the glaring inconsistencies in the current tax approach, which needed to be reviewed in totality, not one product at a time," the centre said."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Braided River 2007 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Here's another great find from En Zed.
The winemaker's notes from their website are well worth a read. I was particularly interested in the sugar level which is quite low with the cause and effect explained well amongst the unavoidable hyperbole.

"Wines of flavour and definition mark 2007 as a Sauvignon Blanc vintage of resounding success. The principal components of alcohol and acidity sit in definite balance contrasting the broader palate of the previous year’s wines. 2007 Sauvignon Blanc benefits from the riper characters achieved at lower sugarlevels, thus the wines offer great intensity and style at moderate alcohol levels.After cold-settling different batches were fermented separately slowly maximizing the character of each. This year lees-aging,without stirring or sulphur treatment was conducted for three weeks at a higher temperature than in the past. Gently crushed and pressed to minimise skin contact, the resulting juice was settled overnight at cool temperatureswith the aim of taking clean clear juice to ferment. The juice was then inoculated with cultured yeast selected forits varietal characteristic enhancing abilities. The wine went through cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks and earlybottling ensures maximum retention of that unmistakable Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc identity. Winemakers Comments The best vintages challenge our vineyards to produce fruit truly expressive in personality. This year a layer of lemon and lime leads onto notes of gooseberry and subtle passion fruit. This myriad of flavour is kept deftly in check by a very elegant acidity moving seamlessly through the wine from beginning to end. This tension of fruit and acidity makes for a finely textured wine with a long,persistent finish. Winemaker Matthew Mitchell Viticulturist John van der Linden Alc/Vol 12.5% Titratable Acid 8.2g/l pH 3.26 Residual Sugar 2.8g/l"

Our Price: $14 per bottle

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Peter Lehmann 2002 "The Mentor"

Chief Winemaker, Andrew Wigan, has proclaimed the 2002 vintage
as the greatest Barossa Cabernet vintage of his 30 year
winemaking career.
Blend: 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 10% Shiraz,
8% Malbec.
Fruit source: The Stonewell, Ebenezer and Light Pass districts
of the Barossa Valley.
Colour: Dense black centre with a dark red/garnet rim.
Bouquet: An exciting mélange of mixed spice, wild violets,
hints of mint and black currants.
Palate: The richness and depth of the fruit is a seamless
blend. A wine of great power and length, it shows a
superb balance between the fruit and the
fine-grained tannins. A distinguished wine of great
dignity and is only a very limited release.
Wood: Fermented and thence matured for 18 months in
new French oak hogsheads.
Cellaring: It can be cellared with confidence for a further 10
plus years.
Alc/Vol: 14.0%

Our Price: $29 per bottle


Peter Lehmann 2002 Eight Songs Shiraz

Peter Lehmann Website Tasting Notes

Colour: Dense black with a garnet rim.
Bouquet: Dark chocolate-dipped ripe plum aromas with a hint
of smokiness.
Palate: Reflects the superb quality of the 2002 red wine
vintage. It has deep, rich black berry fruits with
lashings of chocolate reined in by soft tannins.
Shiraz at its voluptuous best, with a deliciously
velvet mouth feel.
The Vintage: 2002 was the coolest Barossa vintage on record.
The reds are densely coloured with exceptional fruit
concentration and structure.
Vineyards: Selected high quality, low yielding Shiraz vineyards
of the north western districts of the Barossa Valley.
Oak: Fermented and thence matured for 18 months in
new French oak hogsheads.
Cellaring: Very approachable now, and will continue to develop
in the bottle over the next 8-10 years.
Alc/Vol: 14.5%

Our Price: $29 per bottle


De Bortoli 2005 Noble One Botrytis Semillon [375ml]

It's a richly awarded and applauded icon that is impossible to go past.

Our Price: $20 per bottle


Tall Poppy 2004 Chardonnay

This is the final stock of a bin end that we picked up sometime ago. It's unwooded Murray-Darling fruit and it's perfect if you like mature toasty, crunchy whites. There will be a little bottle variation so it's een priced accordingly. And yes, it is chardonnay - not viognier!

RRP: $12 upwards
Our Price: $6 per bottle


Heritage Wines 2004 "Rossco's" Shiraz

That was how the late great Melbourne Age wine writer Mark Shield described Rossco's Shiraz. It's heroic Barossa Shiraz at its best and while it bears a fair price tag you can grab a dozen for the price of a bottle of Grange.
This is Heritage Wines' flagship red made from very old dry grown vines from a grower not surprisingly called Ross. Winemaker Steve Hoff advises cellaring for 10 years although others give it a far longer life span.The Wine Spectator's Robert Parker is a huge fan and that should give you a fair idea of the style of the wine. He likes them BIG.

Our Price: $45 per bottle


Elderton 2004 Barossa "Ode to Lorraine" Cabernet Shiraz Merlot

Neale and Lorraine Ashmead created Elderton just over 25 years ago. When Neale died, Lorraine continued on and is now the matriarch guiding her two sons Cameron and Allister.
These two came up with the idea of this tribute to their mum and Allister told me she had no idea about it until it was unveiled at a trade function in New York. I suspect the tears flowed.
From my point of view this is top notch Barossa and a cabernet [57%] shiraz [27%] merlot [16%] blend that bonds together perfectly. It's intensely fruit dominant with tannins and wood providing underlying support and structure. Would easily fit in the $50+ range.

Our Price: $ 30 per bottle

De Bortoli "Montage" 2005 Chardonnay Semillon

For a wine of its age this is remarkably fresh and vibrant with quality wood and crisp acidity. "Montage" is a clever little label that pays homage to the synergy of varietal blending. This particular blend was incredibly popular with wine company accountants in the late 1980s as the price of chardonnay went through the roof. They were really upset when told that a Chardonnay Semillon blend actually had to be at least 50% chardonnay. They would have much preferred 10%. And while I've never been a fan, this could convert me. Combines richness with finesse and would be brilliant with shellfish.

Our Price: $8 per bottle


Tyrrell's 2005 Double Barrel 24 Shiraz

It's a statement of the bleeding obvious that tasting wines like this will always be a highlight of our working week.It's a true flagship red and is deservingly their most expensive with a cellar door price of $99. We're offering it at $80.
The fruit is 90% McLaren Vale and 10% Heathcote. It's had 24 months in new French oak with half that in internally corrugated barriques that's increased the contact area by 500%. Yes, the oak does dominate at the moment but the fruit and tannins are there waiting to integrate.
An outstanding red.

RRP: $99
Our Price: $80


Tyrrell's 2005 Belford Single Vineyard Chardonnay

Huon Hooke's Wine of the Week SMH Good Living 29/1/2008 $35 - $40

"This is Hunter Valley chardonnay at its best. That it's three years old is a bonus. It's distinctively regional, with roast hazlenut, smoke and a hint of Friar's Balsam antiseptic aroma over peachy fruit, nicely oaked and ultra complex. The mouth feel is rich and smooth with a satisfying depth and spectrum of flavour, which lingers nicely on the aftertaste. A wine of great charm and style. Drink now and for another two to three years. 94/100"

RRP: $35-$40
Our Price: $27


Oxford Landing 2005 Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre

We found this in February and still have a quantity left.
The Yalumba sales rep earnt his keep with his tip - "This is way above Oxford Landing quality and even the Y series. It should be in one of our more expensive ranges - it's that good!". He was spot on.
Grenache dominates with its lovely stalky cherry character but the overall fruit complexity is equally impressive. Palate is midweight with tannins and acid to suggest a 5+ year cellaring opportunity.
You can read more here

But what's really funny is the previous page which shows the full product range, put your cursor over the GSM and a pop up claims something that WE know is definitelt not true.

RRP: $ who knows?
Our Price: $8 per bottle


Dromana Estate 2004 Chardonnay

For me this was one of the stars of this years SIWC Top 100 exhibition. Although as a long term fan of this wine I must confess I approached it with considerable bias. If you'd like to have a look a the judges comments its always worth a read to see how their opinions vary.

Sadly there isn't nuch left.

RRP: $33
Our Price: $26 per bottle


Cable Station 2006 Pinot Noir

The producer has changed the label and wants to clear old stock - I love it when they do this because they also slash the price. It's Marlborough fruit and it's just what you'd hope for from NZ Pinot. Colour is that deceptive near translucence which suggests a delicate light red. Nothing of the sort here. There's 13.5% alcohol, lashings of plum and cherry fruit, a dash of gamey earthiness and lovely balancing tannins. A lip-smacking red that reveals more of itself with every sip.

Our Price: $15 per bottle


Willow Bridge 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

Is this the best SBS blend in Australia? I've long thought so. The 2007 vintage picked up a trophy and 3 gold medals. I've also seen the results of a blind tasting of 24 WA SBS and SSB held at Xanadu in December 2007. Wines were from Xanadu, Leeuwin, Cape Mentelle, Vasse Felix, Pierro, Stella Bella, Voyager etc. The Willow Bridge overwhelmingly outpointed them all. It's been a gem for a number of vintages, grossly underpriced and THE classic example of the strengths of this blend. In fact, I'd be happy to argue a case that the blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes is the most powerful synergy in the wonderful world of wine.
And the 2010 may just be the best vintage of them al!

RRP: $16
Our Price: $12 per bottle


Richland 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

This latest release from the Calabria family keeps the tradition going.
These were my notes from last time:
After quite a lengthy drought we've seen a remarkable number of really tasty crisp dry whites. This is a brilliant follow up to the  best "entry level" sauvignon blanc we'd ever seen.
This has a little more flesh than the Gold Medal winning 2012 while maintaining outstanding varietal fruit. Beautifully made wine at a bargain basement price.
And like the 2012 it's already had show success

Our Price: $9 per bottle


Riverby 2007 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

This has been a huge seller for us over three consecutive vintages. Affectionately known as "the fishy wine" it's everything you'd hope for in a NZ sauvignon blanc, without the hefty price tag. Very highly recommended.

The grapes for this wine were picked from our single vineyard in five different batches to ensure optimum ripeness and to achieve our desired flavour profile. There was an average yield of just less than 4 tonnes per acre.


It is light to medium straw green in colour and has delightfully fresh, crisp aromas of gooseberries, limes and passionfruit. On the palate it is a noticeably ripe wine with concentrated tropical fruit, passionfruit, pineapple, banana and lime flavours. It is well structured with considerable depth and complex flavours. It has an almost oily concentration with great mouth feel and a lingering, refreshing finish.

"Very dry, crisp and fresh with upfront lime and grapefruit peel acidity balanced by a pleasing slippery softness and phenolics adding a slightly grainy “mineral” edge. Classic gooseberry and bean flavours push their way through and the increasingly pungent citrussy finish is long bright and clean."
– February 2008

"A tightly framed Sauvignon showing aromas of dried herbs and subtle mineral notes. The palate is juicy and succulent with excellent acidity providing lovely crisp finish. The high level of concentration, structure and overall balance indicate the wine will evolve gracefully over the next few years. At its best: mid 2008 to 2011." **** 92
– Wine Orbit 2008

RRP: around $20
Our Price: $12 per bottle


Thursday, May 22, 2008

TK 2003 Adelaide Hills 2003 Reserve Pinot Noir


I was talking to the distributor earlier this week and he slipped it into the conversation that he still had some. I was really surprised. It was offered to us back in January at the same price as the standard TK Pinot Noir. "What's wrong with it?' I not surprisingly asked. Absolutely nothing, came the reply. Apparently they just need to discretely move some stock.
We ordered some, I took a bottle home and pulled the cork. It was an absolute cracker and a truly outstanding way to kick of 2008. We sold out and ordered more and sold out of that. We now have more.
This is a top class Pinot at an amazingly low price.

RRP: $40
Our Price: $20 per bottle


Witchmount "Scarlett" 2004 Shiraz Cabernet


We first saw this wine sometime last year. Based on the wholesale price we would have been looking at retailing it for around $20 but the label was so inappropriate that we unanimously declined the offer to taste it.
What a difference a year makes.
We have just bought the last remaining stock and can offer this premium Victorian red for just $10 a bottle. Our opinion of the label hasn't changed. Naked women, even rear views, just aren't appropriate for wine labels and it looks like the market has agreed. [Not sure what the market thought about the Captain Jack chardonnay - yep, a front on male nude]

This is a serious red with a silly label. It's medium weight with 14% alcohol and only 12 months in both French and US oak. Shiraz and cabernet almost seem like an old fashioned blend nowadays but it still works. Both contribute their varietal notes and I reckon it will be drinking at its peak over the next two years.

RRP: $17 - $20
Our Price: $10 per bottle


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tyrrell's 2004 Brokenback Shiraz

The nose is unmistakeable, classic earthy Hunter. I've never been comfortable with the "sweaty saddle" adjective as to me it's not a particularly compelling endorsement. This one has it but in an attractive appealing way that I've rarely encountered.
The earthiness continues on the palate but there is none of the dirt stink that characterises so many Hunter shiraz. This also offers a rich roundness of fruit that carries on to an incredible length. This is an outstanding red that is a must for lovers of Hunter quality and an absolute must for anyone who's never been convinced. Enjoy now or confidently cellar.

RRP: $c24
Our Price: $18 per bottle


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Penfolds 2002 Grange Shiraz

SUPER SPECIAL $405 per bottle


Pirramimma 2004 Stocks Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Max Lake, Pirramimma and the overturned truck.

Sometime in the '90s, in a period that was definitely not early, a tad after mid and way before late, I was at a Trade wine tasting. I've been to many tastings in all the other periods, heaps in the '80s and the trend has continued through the current decade but this was the only tasting I'd ever encountered Max Lake. Max, of course, is the medico who created his eponymous Folly in the lower Hunter Valley well before most of us had any interest in wine.

About 3 minutes after I tasted the Pirramimma 1995 Stocks Hill Shiraz, so did Max. And started waxing lyrical about the wine that I'd just bought every last bottle of. I was pretty chuffed. A small crowd gathered and listened to Max continue waxing. I wondered how many had tasted a relatively unfashionable label and been blind to the quality of the wine.
But Pirramimma, to their credit, honoured my order and we were all glad they did. Half way up the Hume HIghway the truck overturned and there was a sad loss of many bottles of a very fine red. The phone call came - "Do you want us to take it back?"
"No way", I replied. So Pirramimma were grateful and after we spent days sifting through the debris we managed to salvage far more than we expected. Obviously the labels were stained and scratched but that all became part of the heroic fame of the outstanding red that survived the truck crash.

So when a new distributor showed me a bottle of the 2004 Stocks Hill Cabernet Sauvignon and their wholesale special I couldn't wait to twist the top. They might have changed the labels but thankfully, not the winemaking style. This is good old fashioned McLaren Vale cabernet. The 14% alcohol is fairly overt on the nose while the tannins and wood front up the palate. But the real charm is the fruit which kicks in half way through and goes on and on. We road tested it over 3 days and I suggest this is perfect for medium term cellaring. Not a huge saving off cellar door price but it's fantastic value at anything under $20.

RRP: $15 cellar door
Our Price: $14 per bottle

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Simon Pemberton Pearse 2004 Cabernet Tempranillo

It's from the same Simon Pemberton Pearce concept as our rave riesling and it really impressed us at a time, leading into summer, when we really weren't looking for reds. But we couldn't resist grabbing some to tell you about.
Tim Pearce is the winemaker so not surprisingly it's called Tim's Cabernet Tempranillo. There's a cute little story on the back label of Tim tramping the countryside looking for the perfect grapes for his vision. He found the Cabernet in McLaren Vale and the King Valley and the Tempranillo close to Mildura. It's a shame that the concept has since been canned because it really works.
The nose is all berry fruit, plum and spice. Palate is medium weight and incredibly spicy with a balancing tannic grip at the end. Alcohol is a restrained 12.5% and it's always gratifying to see how well that works after a decade of blockbusters. The other delight with this wine is that it doesn't reveal all on the first sip. If you can give it time to evolve in the glass you'll be truly rewarded.

RRP: $15
Our Price: $10 per bottle


Brokenwood 2007 Semillon


Brokenwood's WebsiteTasting Notes
"Excellent, luminous green/yellow colour. Lifted zesty, lemongrass aromas with some sweet apple blossom characters. Fruit dominant on the palate but typical tight structure with citrus acid finish. Initial lime plus cut grass flavours. Perfect balance of fruit, alcohol and acid. An impressive Semillon that will reward early drinking or cellaring."

RRP: $20
Our Price: $16 per bottle


De Bortoli 2008 Windy Peak Pinot Grigio

This has the distinction of being the first 2008 vintage to pass the lips. And it was a top start!
It doesn't seem so long ago that we were raving about the 2006 release. The 2007 vintage came and went in a flash and now we have this one.
If you want to find out what Pinot Grigio is all about there's no better place to start. It's unwooded with a dazzling vibrancy and lively zingy fruit that lingers forever on the palate.
If you're looking for something a little different this is impossible to recommend too highly.

RRP: $14
Our Price: $11 per bottle


Jindalee 2007 Merlot

This is a serious red at a bargain basement price.
There's plenty of fruit and spice on the nose and medium weight palate. Beautifully balanced it's up there with the De Bortoli Petit Verdot and Oxford Landing GSM as outstanding value red wines.

RRP: $12
Our Price: $9 per bottle


Jindalee 2007 Rose

We're selling more Rose than ever before and it's quality quaffers like this that explain why.
Crisp, delicate and dry it's the perfect al fresco wine.

RRP: $12
Our Price: $9 per bottle