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