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Friday, September 12, 2014

2012 Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz

Hailing from Canberra, Clonakilla is one of Australia's finest shiraz producers. As their entry level red, the Hilltops Shiraz offers excellent value for money and is a great example of a restrained cool climate Australian shiraz.

The nose shows a hint of stalk with notes of cherry and blackcurrant.  Very nice and refined, the perfect ripeness for my taste .  Nice length on the palate with some lively fine tannins.  At this price point I might not buy again, but would happily have a glass if it were on a wine list.

Price:     $30
Varietal: Shiraz
Tasted: September 2014
Rating:   92
Website: http://www.clonakilla.com.au/

2010 Luis Cañas Crianza Rioja


Went to check out a spanish tapas and wine bar in Brisbane called Peasant.  After enjoying the Luis Cañas Barrel Fermented Viura, I opted for a bottle of this Rioja which was recommended by the waiter.  It drank beautifully with a charcuterie board, chorizo, and croquettes.

A nice precise nose with gentle use of oak and some cherry notes.  Very clean structured palate.  Good acidity and round tannins held up well against the strong flavors of the cured meats and croquettes.  I would definitely buy this again, as soon as I can find some available here in Australia.

Price:     $75 (by the bottle at Peasant in Brisbane) 
Varietal: Tempranillo
Tasted: September 2014
Rating:   94
Website: http://www.luiscanas.com/

Thursday, September 11, 2014

2011 Feudo Di Santa Tresa Avulsi Nero D'avola


As I've been drinking a fair bit of Australian Nero D'avola lately, I wanted to refresh my memory on how it's done in Sicily.  Didn't hurt that I was looking for a sixth wine to get that great discount associated with buying in multiples of six.

Right away I got tobacco and blackcurrant/cassis, a very savory nose.  The palate was nice, if short lived.  Nice soft round tannins and more savory notes. This developed over a couple of glasses and provided some interest for me, but certainly didn't blow me away.  I wouldn't buy this by the bottle again at this price point, but would be happy to have another go on a wine list if I were eating the right food.


Price:     $30 
Varietal: Nero D'avola
Tasted: September 2014
Rating:   92
Website: http://www.santatresa.com

2013 BK Wines Skin and Bones White

This is a super cool wine.  I had this a while back at a monthly tasting I attend here in Brisbane called Swirl, Sniff, and Spit.  I wanted to show my office mates something different and interesting and this turned out to be the perfect pick.

Holy aromatic!  My boss smelled it walking by and busted us wine tasting on a Friday afternoon, so I had to pour an extra glass.  The time spent on skin and in contact with the stems gives it a very unique nose for a white wine, reminiscent of a pinot that has had some whole bunches left in during fermentation.  There are also some floral notes that make it very pretty, as well as interesting. Great tasting wine, with nice acidity and citrus flavors.  I love what these guys have done.  A wine that's both novel and beautiful.

Price:     $30 
Varietal: Savagnin (80%), Chardonnay (20%)
Tasted: September 2014
Rating:   95
Website: http://bkwines.com.au/

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2013 Hand Crafted by Geoff Hardy Nero D'avola

This grape varietal from Sicily is starting to make waves here in Australia, and I can see why.  It is well suited for a hot and dry climate, and seems to be growing very well here in the  McLaren Vale region.  Nero D'avola is always one of the wines I think about when eating pizza and pasta. This one paired well with my homemade pizza, topped with sausage, red onion and portobello mushrooms.

Nice nose with lots of raspberry and floral, possibly lavender, notes. It has juicy soft tannins and the palate gives off more raspberry with a hint of cherry.  A very enjoyable wine.  Having taken this to a few parties, I can say this is a  crowd pleaser and a great drink now red wine.

Price:     $30
Varietal: Nero D'avola
Tasted: September 2014
Rating:   93
Website: http://www.handcraftedbygeoffhardy.com.au/

2013 Long Rail Gully Shiraz Cabernet

Long Rail Gully Shiraz Cabernet 2013I'm not entirely sure how this wine ended up on my wine rack, but I was pleased to find it, after a long day at work.  The Long Rail Gully vineyard resides in Murrumbateman, approximately 30 minutes north of Canberra and was first planted in 1998.

I was pleasantly suprised when I took s whiff of these to find a nicely balanced Cab/Shiraz blend with lots of black cherry and nice integration of oak.  Quite soft tannins and short lived on the palate.  Having tasted this over a couple of days I have the feeling this might not be a very long lived wine.  However, a pretty decent mid week quaffer and pleasant find for me.

 Price:     $20 (Unless you find it on your wine rack:)
Varietal: Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasted: September 2014
Rating:   90
Website: http://www.longrailgully.com.au/

Monday, September 1, 2014

2012 Carpineto Chianti Classico

Making pizzas tonight, so naturally going for some Italian wine.  In my experience Sangiovese and predominately Sangiovese blends (such as Chianti)  pair awesome with pizza.  That being said, some of the Australian Nero D'avola I've had lately are starting to give these a real run for their money.

The nose has a touch of tobacco and roast pepper, but generally very mild and subtle.  Quite soft tannins for a young Chianti, but generally a fairly bland wine.  That being said, it was in no way offensive and drank well with the tomato based pizzas.  Would I buy it again? Probably not.

Price:     $20
Varietal: Sangiovese (90%), Canaiolo (10%)
Tasted: September 2014
Rating:   88
Website: http://www.carpineto.com/

2005 Penfolds Reserve Bin Riesling

Penfolds recently held a promotion, in collaboration with Vinetec wine fridges, offering a fantastic deal on a  fridge when you purchased at least six wines from their bin series or luxury wines.  Being in need of a wine fridge this seemed like a perfect excuse to pick up some Penfolds wines.  Amongst the six pack of wines I got a couple of bottles of this riesling and am glad for it.

The nose has a nice toasty character with some lime and kerosene, characteristic of so many aged rieslings from this region.  The palate is holding up well with nice crisp acidity, sustained minerality and plenty of citrus.  Drank fantastically well with salt and pepper soft shell crab.  Will buy again, if I see it, as it's hard to beat at this price and I love aged riesling.

Price:     $25
Varietal: Riesling
Tasted: September 2014
Rating:   94
Website: https://www.penfolds.com/

Friday, August 22, 2014

2012 Tolpuddle Pinot Noir


I came across Tolpuddle at the Tasmania Unbottled tasting in Brisbane and right away noticed that the table contained only two wines for tasting, a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  It turns out Tolpuddle have decided to stick with two wines and do them really well.  In this they have most definitely succeeded.

The vineyard was planted in the Coal River Valley in 1988 and was recently purchased by Shaw and Smith.  Tolpuddle takes it's name from a group of English convicts sent to Tasmania for forming an agricultural union.

The nose offers some ripe cherry aromas as while as some green herbaceous notes from the inclusion of some whole bunches.  A very silky pinot with very little tannin and mild acidity.  Has just the right amount of whole bunch included for my tastes and is already drinking quite well.

Price:     $75
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Tasted: August 2014
Rating:   95
Website: http://www.tolpuddlevineyard.com/

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2009 Meerea Park Alexander Munro Semillon

Produced from fruit from their Braemore Vineyard in the Hunter Valley, this wine was bottled in 2009 and only released this year.

Aromas of lemon and buttered toast. Great precision and varietal expression.  A spectacular Hunter Valley Semillon, likely to improve for many years, but already fantastic.  Next time I try this I hope it's withh scallops in a brown butter sauce.  Sure to be magic.

 Price:     $40
Varietal: Semillon
Tasted: June 2014
Rating:   94
Website: http://www.meereapark.com.au/

2013 Azte's Corner Rose


Indian food seems to match rose better than any other wine I've tried yet.  Friday nights, after a big week of work, seem to also pair quite well with Indian takeaway.  So tonight I tried the 2013 Atze's Corner Rose along side a lamb rogan josh and chicken tikka masala, and it was great.

Opens up with a big wiff of strawberry and a touch of pineapple and rose water.  Slightly sweet with fairly low acidity, which held up well with the Indian food. Grenache Roses have definitely found a spot on my wine rack.

Price:     $15
Varietal: Grenache Rose
Tasted: August 2014
Rating:   90   
Website: http://www.atzescornerwines.com.au/

2012 Austins Six Foot Six Pinot Noir

Austins have been producing pinot noir in the Geelong region of Victoria for the past 30 years.  Six Foot Six is their entry level range and takes it's name from escaped convict and local folk hero William Buckley, who settled among an indigenous tribe in the Geelong region.  William was an impressive six foot six inches tall.

This far exceeded my expectations for a $20 pinot noir.  A perfumed fruit forward nose displays hints of maraschino cherry with some earthy, savory notes.  Nice soft tannins are well integrated with a good level of acidity for drinking young.  An easy drinking great value pinot, perfect for an everyday tipple.  Share with friends and don't decant.  This wine doesn't hold up well with much oxygen.

Price:     $20
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Tasted: August 2014
Rating:   91
Website: http://www.austinswines.com.au/

Sunday, August 17, 2014

2014 Pirie South Riesling

Pirie South Riesling 2013A friend of mine has been talking a lot about Tasmanian Riesling lately and I'm starting to see why.  This Riesling from Andrew Pirie in the Tamar Valley is absolutely delicious.

I gave this a swirl and right away was impressed with the flowery nose.  Almost reminded me a bit of a Sauvignon Blanc, but without any trace of passionfruit or gooseberry.  There was a great minerality to this wine with nice steely acidity that gave it great balance.  I plan on grabbing half a case of these for my new wine fridge and watching them develop over the next few years.

Price:     $25
Varietal: Riesling
Tasted: August 2014
Rating:   93
Website: http://www.brownbrothers.com.au/wines/pirie

2011 Picardy Chardonnay


This offering from Picardy is definitely one of the best Australian Chardonnays I've had yet.  The winery takes it's name from a region slightly above Paris and the influence of France's Burgundy region is very evident in this wine.  The vines at Picardy are unirrigated cane pruned and hand picked.  Resulting in lower yields of wonderfully high quality fruit with great intensity. 

I could sit and smell this wine all day long.  I get peach pear and buttered toast.  It has nice  fresh acidity and is well balanced and precise.  I had a second bottle recently from my case,  but hope to resist the temptation of drinking the rest this summer, so I can see how this wine develops. 

Price: $40
Varietal: Chardonnay
Tasted: August 2014
Rating: 96
Website: http://www.picardy.com.au/






Friday, May 30, 2014

Carachelo 2011

I've decided to taste varietals or regions I haven't tried before this weekend. Was a good weekend to do so as two of Brisbane's best wine merchants, Craft Red Hill and Wine Experience,  had some really interesting and unusual wines on for tasting.  One that really caught my interest was a 2011 Carchelo from Jumila, Spain.

Nice fruity nose with notes of blueberries, anise and maybe tobacco.  Great soft tannins and generally a very juicy wine.  Nice light oak treatment makes this a very drinkable wine and allows for great expression of the fruit. I'll be testing this out over the next few weeks, but I'm betting this is a real crowd pleaser.

Price: $20
Varietal: Blend
Rating: 90
Tasted: June 2014

Monday, December 30, 2013

2012 Hoddles Creek Pinot Noir

Was really impressed to find a pinot noir of this quality under $20.  The best in this price bracket that I've had the pleasure of trying this year, followed by the Holm Oak 2012 Ilex Pinot Noir.

I get cherry in the nose with some nice spice, just good classic pinot.  Tasting of wonderful red berries  on the palette, particularly raspberry, and good acidity.  I suspect this will do well over time, as even an hour in the decanter really brought out a lot..

Price:     $19
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Tasted: May 2014
Rating:   91
Website: http://www.hoddlescreekestate.com.au/


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Italian Salsa Verde

Recently discovered this fantastic green sauce at a BBQ.  A friend had put it on roasted potatoes and they were amazing.  After my initial rejection that it was salsa verde, I learn't that it was indeed, only that it was the Italian salsa verde not to be confused with the Mexican sauce. I've used it to top Tilapia and found it to be a perfect accompaniment to white fish.  Pairs great with a glass of marsanne or a pinot gris.

1 bunch parsley  (can substitute some parsley with other herbs such as dill, basil, and mint)
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp capers
3 gherkins
4 anchovy fillets
1 tbsp seedy mustard
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Finely chop parsley, garlic, capers, gherkins, and anchovy fillets.

Combine with mustard, vinegar, and oil.

2012 Rocland Estate Duck Duck Goose Shiraz ($15-20)


Seriously good value for money.

Great balanced oak character prevalent on the nose. Blackberries and chocolate are followed by nice soft tannins.

Sure to be a crowd pleaser. Could be dangerous to crack without company to help you out, as I can easily imagine finishing a bottle of this myself. I suspect this will be an easy pick for casual barbecues.






Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Great Value Aussie Whites (Under $15)


When I first arrived here in Brisbane I was excited to try many of the amazing wines I'd heard so much about. However, as I'd just packed and moved across the world, my budget was a bit tight.  Having been spoiled in Canada with excellent inexpensive wine from Chile and Argentina, I was initially disappointed in the quality of Australian white wine I was able to get sub $15. The inexpensive white wine market in Australia seems to be flooded with duds.  I had no idea where to begin.  However, now that I've had some time to poke around, I realize there are some great whites available in this very low price bracket.  I've decided to share three of my favourites here, in the hope that it might help others find some of the great value Aussie whites available.

2012 Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon ($14-18)

This is a great wine from an excellent producer.  Mount Pleasant produces many fantastic semillons, at very
reasonable prices.

Smells like lemon and fresh straw, with a hint of asparagus.  Balanced palate with a good amount of citrus.

I cannot get enough of Mt. Pleasant Semillon right now.  While the 2012 Elizabeth is already a great, readily available, inexpensive option, their aged semillon is amazing and also very reasonably priced.  If you can still find the 2006 Cellar Aged Elizabeth, buy it.  Generally available for less than $25 and incredible value at this price.  Although, rumour has it the 2007 cellar release will be as good, if not better.  


2013 Jim Barry Watervale Riesling ($14-17)













Gourmet Traveller has named Tom Barry "Young Wine Maker of the Year", and I can see why.  Anyone who can produce a Riesling of this quality for this price deserves an award.

Great Riesling with lots of citrus.  Very fresh and dry, fantastic with east Asian curries, or nothing at all.

While discussing Riesling I feel it's only fair to mention that there are many more great Aussie Rieslings available for around $20. In fact, I plan on spending my summer exploring as many of them as possible.  I cannot say enough good things about aged Riesling and there are some superb deals to be snatched up at some of the major retailers right now.  


2013 Tahbilk Marsanne ($12-17)


Every time I get a bottle of of this Marsanne I'm amazed at its simple beauty and easy drinking. I've shared this with many friends who have been impressed with its great value.

The Marsanne grape originates in the Northern Rhone region of France and has found a well suited new home at the Tahbilk winery in the Nagambie Lakes region, north of Melbourne Victoria.

Wonderful stone fruit, citrus and peach on the nose.  Nice minerality and decent length.

The best part is that this ages really well, and you can buy vintage Tahbilk Marsannes at a pittance.  Some are available at major retailers (I've recently found the 2008 for $18), but I reckon the best bet is to check out their website below and join the club. I've seen packages containing multiple vintages available at great prices.

http://www.tahbilk.com.au/