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Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 Ochota Barrels Green Room Grenache Syrah


Ochota Barrels are producing some of my favorite wines in Australia at the moment. Winemaker Taras Ochota has previously worked at Murray Street Vineyards and Two Hands in the Barossa Valley, as well as Nepenthe in Adelaide Hills. In more recent years he has been working as a fly in wine maker in Italy, as well as making some beautiful and interesting Australian wines, such as this.

This wine is predominantly grenache at 88 percent, with the remainder of the wine being syrah. All fruit is sourced from old vines grown on dry loamy red clay, delivering great fruit intensity. There was a large percentage of whole bunch (grapes along with stems) used in this wine, which adds some interest and depth.

I get lots of bright red fruit cherry fruit and aromas that remind me more of a grenache heavy Rioja than any other Australian grenache I've had. Nice chalky tannins and great length. The thing that really stands out to me in this wine is the purity of the fruit. The low levels of oak allow you to really taste just how good the Grenache fruit really is.

I shared this at a friends Birthday and it was an absolute hit. A crowd pleaser, for sure.

Price:     $39
Source:  Craft Red Hill
Varietal: Grenache, Syrah
Tasted:  December 2014
Rating:   95

2008 Pewseyvale Eden Valley Riesling

Pewseyvale sits 250 meters above the floor of the barossa valley, providing a slightly cooler climate ideal for Riesling production. The Pewseyvale winery is one of the oldest in Australia and said to be Eden Valley's first vineyard. They are also one of the most consistent high quality Riesling producers in the country and have produced many of the best Australian Riesling I've tried.

The 2008 is drinking beautifully right now. Starting to develop a small amount of aged Riesling aromas, which sit beautifully alongside aromas of lemon, lime, and hints of tropical fruit. Great refreshing acidity and minerality to this wine.

A fantastic bargain at this price point. I can't believe how good Australian Riesling generally is for the small price tag it so often carries.

Price:     $23
Source:  Dan Murphy's
Varietal: Riesling
Tasted:  December 2014
Rating:   94

2013 Yalumba 'Y Series' Viognier

In Australia Viognier is most commonly seen blended with Shiraz, where it helps raise the aromatic profile of the shiraz, as well as enhance the texture and color. However, I'm glad to see more and more Viognier is becoming readily available as a single varietal wine.

This wine smells to me of tropical fruit, lychees, and honeysuckle. Some savory bready flavors with an unctuous feel across the tongue. Good level of acidity and not too much alcohol (a common problem in some Viognier).

I enjoyed this bottle without food, however next time I have a bottle of Viognier I will try Fiona Beckett's recommendation of pairing it with a mild korma curry. As an aside Fiona Beckett's website www.matchingfoodandwine.com is a fantastic resource when trying to decide which foods pair well with certain wines.

Price:     $11
Source:  Dan Murphy's
Varietal: Viognier
Tasted:  December 2014
Rating:   90
Website: www.yalumba.com 

Monday, December 15, 2014

2011 Frogmore Creek Iced Riesling

An Australian ice wine? Being Canadian I've tried my fare share of ice wines. In the Niagara region of Canada most ice wine producers wait until there are three days in a row where the temperatures stay below -8 degrees Celsius. While it's a bit cooler in Tasmania than many other parts of Australia, they still require freezing units to produce their ice wine. I think this difference in production yields a slightly different product.

The first thing I noticed about this wine was that it was less syrupy than other ice wines I've had. Great aromas of apple blossoms and orange zest, followed by sweet but not cloying flavors of green apple and honey. Lacks some of the interesting elements I expect from an ice wine, which likely develop from the extended hang time prior to picking in Canada and Germany.

Worth noting that this is available at a fraction of the price of any good German, Austrian, or Canadian ice wines. Given the option, however, I'll take a good Aussie botrytis over any of these.

All in all, great way to end a meal. I'd pair this with a good quality, mild blue cheese.

Price:     $23
Source: Gift
Varietal: Riesling
Tasted:  December
Rating:   90
Website: http://www.frogmorecreek.com.au/

2013 Montalto Pennon Hill Pinot Noir



Montalto have been making wines in the Mornington Peninsula since the mid 1990s and have several vineyards in the region. Fruit for the Pennon Hill wine has comes from the cooler south facing slope of their home vineyard in Red Hill. This wine recently won best pinot noir, best red wine, and best wine at the 2014 Victorian Wine Show.

A beautiful perfumed nose of cherry and  pomegranate, with notes of violets. Such a clean and beautiful drinking pinot with fine structured tannins and a hint of spice on the finish.

This is a great example of why I love Mornington Pinot, and an absolute steal at this price. I'll be grabbing another bottle or two of this for the cellar.

Price:     $30
Source: Wine Emporium
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Tasted:  December
Rating:   95
Website: www.montalto.com.au 


2013 Tahbilk 'The Tower' MVR

MVR is a blend of Mouvedre, Viognier, and Rousanne; all white grapes from the Rhone Valley in France. Tahbilk is well known for the quality or it's Marsanne, and the fact that it is one of Australia's most consistent and best value white wines. Their Tower series of wines are the first from Tahbilk to be certified carbon neutral.

The viognier is distinctly noticeable on the nose, offering aromas of stone fruit and baked apple, alongside some citrus notes. A lovely savory pallet with a somewhat slippery texture and a fairly crisp and clean finish. I quite enjoyed drinking this wine, however it wasn't much of a hit with the friends I shared this one with.

Paired well with Manchego and seared prawns. I'll buy this again, but not for sharing with guests. I think the Viognier is a bit unusual for some, and is maybe an acquired taste.

Price:     $15
Source:  Dan Murphy's
Varietal: Mouvedre, Marsanne, Viognier
Tasted:  December
Rating:   90
Website: www.tahbilk.com.au

Monday, December 8, 2014

2012 Godelia 'Viernes' Mencia



The Mencia grape is most commonly found in northwestern Spain, and is a primary constituent of many well regarded wines of the Bierzo region. Mencia has some beautiful aromatic qualities and here it has been put to good use to produce an excellent young drinking wine. While Viernes translates into Friday, this is a wine I'd be happy to have any day of the week.

Complex earthy and cherry aromatics mingle alongside some floral elements, followed up by a hint of anise. This is a well integrated wine with fine and persistent tannins. For me this wine begs for a charcuterie board and good company.

I managed to track a bottle of this down after having it at a tasting and will be ordering another half dozen. I look forward to trying some more wines made from Mencia. Currently the only Australian Mencia I've come across was a rose produced by Oliver's Taranga, which was both interesting and delicious.

Price:     $29
Source: Stewart's Wine Co.
Varietal: Mencia
Tasted:  December
Rating:   94
Website: www.thespanishacquisition.com/

Monday, November 24, 2014

2014 BK Wines Rose

A Rosé made from Pinot Noir grapes that were pressed as whole bunches, to which a small portion (2%) of red pinot was added back. This hits all the right notes for me. A textural, interesting, and refreshing wine; pretty much everything I want in a rose.

Some savory elements on the nose mingle well with rose petal and strawberry notes. A soft textural wine with flavors of water melon, strawberry and a hint of pink grapefruit. Mild but persistent acidity resulting in a clean finish.

I paired this with Thai green curry chicken and coconut rice, and it was excellent. I'd buy this again.

Price:     $25
Source: Cellerbrations, West End
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   94
Website: www.bkwines.com.au

2014 Yalumba Y Series Vermentio

Yalumba Y Series Vermentino 750mLMy favorite of the Yalumba Y series wines I've tried  and certainly one of the best Australian white wines in the under $15 price range. 


Very light in color, it pours almost transparent. Quite aromatic, with plenty of tropical fruit and citrus aromas.  An easy drinking wine, with clean, crisp acidity and plenty of lemon and lime flavors.   

A great bargain that seems to be readily available at plenty of bottle shops. I have a feeling I'll be drinking a few more bottles of this over the summer.  

Price:     $13
Source:  The Cellar, Bangalow
Varietal: Vermentino
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   92
Website: www.yalumba.com 






Monday, November 17, 2014

2013 Chaffey Bros 'Tessalation' Riesling


Chaffey Bros have sourced the grapes for this Riesling from three different vineyards in the Eden valley and created a well balanced wine that definitely stands out from the pack. Tessellation is the name given to a combination of shapes that are able to cover a surface perfectly, without any gaps. True to its name, all of the elements of this wine fit together very well.

Great aromatics featuring lychee, lemon, lime, and floral notes, with maybe a hint of kerosene developing. Perfect acid sugar balance, with 7 grams/litre residual sugar. A very refreshing and easy to drink Riesling. 

This was absolutely perfect with an array of different Thai dishes. Highly recommend getting your hands on some of this the next time you are having Thai food, or pretty much any time you feel like a Riesling.

Price:     $24
Source: Chalk and Cheese, West End
Varietal: Riesling
Tasted: November 2014
Rating:   94

2013 Leeuwin Estates 'Art Series' Riesling


Leeuwin Estates are winemakers situated in the Margaret River. They are very well known for their excellent 'Art Series' Chardonnays and also produce a few other varietals, such as this Riesling.

This was a quite dry Riesling, offering green apple and lime on the nose and then some minerality and citrus fruit on the palette. I found it a bit acidic for a Riesling this dry.

This Riesling was quite good with oysters. I'd like to see this wine again in several years time when it has had time to mellow out and develop some more complex characteristics.

Price:     $23
Source: Cru Bar
Varietal: Riesling
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   89
Website: http://www.leeuwinestate.com.au/

2014 BK Wines 'Inox' Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are wines made from the same grape, which evolved from the Pinot Noir grape or a common ancestor. The difference is largely in the style of wine produced with the french Pinot Gris often being sweeter with more stonel fruit notes and the Italian Pinot Grigio generally being drier with more citrus like characteristics.

This Australian version, while Grigio in name, seems to walk the line between these two styles. A mildly fruity nose, with a hint of apricot and pear, is followed by a nice dry pallete and crisp citrus acidity. A touch of spice and maybe a hint of salinity.

A nice wine, sure to provide summer refreshment. Drank well with barbecued prawns.

Price:     $23
Source: Grand Central Cellars
Varietal: Pinot Grigio
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   90
Website: www.bkwines.com.au




2009 Tahbilk Marsanne

A varietal from the Rhone Valley in France, Marsanne was first planted at the Tabilk winery in Victoria in the 1860s. They now have some of the oldest plantings in the world and are one of the largest producers of this varietal. This wine is an absolute bargain, and is often released after several years of cellaring for very little more than the latest vintage.

The 2009 is starting to show some developed, honey suckle like characters on the nose, alongside citrus fruit and a hint of kerosene. Still has a very lively citrus palate with bright acidity. I suspect this wine still has many good years ahead of it, so I'll be holding on to a few bottles.

Remarkable wine at this price.

Price:     $16
Source: Dan Murphy's
Varietal: Marsanne
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   94
Website: www.tahbilk.com.au

Sunday, November 16, 2014

2012 Hayshed Hill 'Block 6' Chardonnay


Coming from the Willyabrup Valley in the Margaret River, this Chardonnay was dry grown, resulting in lower yields of grapes with greater fruit flavor and intensity. Only the free run portion of the juice was used and fermentation took place in both old and new french oak barriques.

A fine and refrained nose, the oak balances nicely with grapefruit, pear and flinty aromas. Has a lively freshness and crisp acidity, likely resulting from minimal malolactic fermentation. An elegant chardonnay worthy of consideration.

Being a somewhat restrained Chardonnay I wouldn't recommend eating this with strongly flavored foods. Paired well with roast chicken and I can imagine it doing well with scallops in a thyme butter sauce.

Price:     $40
Source: Gift
Varietal: Chardonnay
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   93
Website: http://www.hayshedhill.com.au/

2013 Dodgy Bros Mataro



Mataro (a.k.a. Monastrell or Mouvedre) is a grape variety believed to originate from the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Here in Australia (much like the Southern Rhone region of France), it is often blended with Grenache and Shiraz to produce the wonderfully drinkable GSM blend. That was the initial intention with this wine, however winemaker Wes Pearson decided it was so good that it was bottled along with a small amount of Grenache..

There is a beautiful interplay of dark cherry and black fruit with some more savory elements on the nose. This wine has excellent length on the palette with supple tannins. A wine worthy of contemplation and appreciation on its own, however I may try the next bottle alongside some lamb cutlets.

I'm going to try to  age my remaining bottles for a few years, but that will be a serious test of my willpower, as this wine is already drinking fantastically.

Price:     $29
Source: Dodgy Bros Website
Varietal: Mataro (87%), Grenache (13%)
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   95
Website: http://www.dodgybrotherswines.com/

2013 Tahbilk Marsanne

Tahbilk's Marsanne is a serious contender for the best value white wine in Australia. A consistently beautiful wine, with great precision, balance, and incredible aging potential. You will often find newer releases, such as this, at large retailers for well under $15.

Lots of citrus aromas, featuring lemon and grapefruit. A very lively, minerally palate brings more citrus along with some flavos of stone fruit and apple. Lots of bright acidity to the finish.

This is a great wine to stock up on for cellaring, if you have a large enough cellar. If not, don't worry to much as you can often find releases of earlier vintages for around $20. I like to grab a couple from each year for my wine fridge regardless.

Awesome value. A great summer go-to wine.

Price:     $11.50
Source: Dan Murphy's
Varietal: Marsanne
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   92
Website: www.tahbilk.com.au

2013 Vinomofo 'Gusto Mama' Sangiovese


Sangiovese has made it way from its native home in Italy and is producing some very nice wines here in Australia. This one comes from a collaboration between retailers Vinomofo and winemakers Islander Estate, Located on Kangaroo Island.

It has a rather spicy nose with cherry notes. It smells to me as though there were some whole bunches in the ferment, lending a green, herbaceous nose to this wine. The tannins were a bit grippier than many of the Italian Sangiovese I've had.

Was good with pizza, but maybe a little overwhelming. Reminds me more of a young Adelaide Hills pinot, than an Italian Sangiovese.

Price:     $15
Source: Vinomofo
Varietal: Sangiovese
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   88
Website: www.vinomofo.com

Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 Turkey Flat Rosé

Turkey Flat make consistently excellent Rosé from the Barossa Valley. Predominantly made from Grenache this wine also contains small portions of Shiraz, Cabernet, and Dolcetto. It appears to be available at many of the larger retailers in Australia, making it easy to track down.

Generous fruit forward nose offering lots of fresh strawberry, raspberry and Turkish delight. Great almost creamy palette offers a hint of spice and finishes clean .

Paired quite well with a number of Indian dishes, including butter chicken and lamb korma. A very food friendly wine.

Price:     $25
Source: Liquorland
Varietal: Grenache (93%), Shiraz (4%), Cab Sauv (2%) Dolcetto (1%)
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   93
Website: www.turkeyflat.com.au


2014 BK Wines Pétilliant Naturel

Pétilliant Naturel translates roughly into naturally sparkling, a reference to the fact that no additional sugar is added during this process of sparkling wine production. Instead the wine is bottled and sealed with a crown cap before fermentation has completed. This produces a lightly sparkling wine and also leaves some sediment in the bottle.

This was a fun refreshing wine, unlike anything I've had before. The residual yeast left in the bottle becomes more prevalent as you work you're way through the bottle and adds a bready character, which is balanced by apples and a bit of citrus. Reminiscent of a very dry apple cider, with more finesse.

I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for another release of this Pet-Nat, as it was a refreshing and interesting summer treat.

Price:     $24
Source: Cellarbrations, West End
Varietal: Chardonnay
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   92
Website: www.bkwines.com.au


2012 Glaetzer-Dixon überblanc Riesling

Nick Glaetzer was Gourmet Traveller's 2011 Winemaker of the year and also took home the Jimmy Watson award for his 2010 Mon Pere Shiraz. The name überblanc comes from a 2001 harvest Nick experienced in Germany with Stepan Mueller at Weingut Eugen Mueller. Grapes for this Riesling were sourced from both the Tamar and Coal Valley regions of Tasmania.   

It Displays a lovely subtle nose with kaffir lime and a bit of green apple. A well structured Riesling with great minerality, length, and intensity. Drinking very well now, but will no doubt improve over time in the cellar.  

Price:     $24
Source: Dan Murphy's
Varietal: Riesling
Tasted:  November 2014
Rating:   93
Website: www.danmurpys.com.au