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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2013 Tscharke 'Matching Socks' Touriga Nacional


Touriga Nacional is a grape varietal originating from the Douro Valley in Portugal, where it is traditionally blended with several other grape varietals to make port. However, it is increasing being used to produce interesting and distinct table wines here in Australia.

Tscharke (sounds like sharky) have been growing grapes in the Barossa Vally for 6 generations and are currently producing some very interesting alternative varietals such as Touriga Nacional, Savagnin, and Montepulciano. Their cellar door was a definite highlight of my recent trip to the Barossa.

Deep purple in color, this is a lively aromatic wine with plenty of violet and lavender aromas. Drinking well right out of the gate, it's juicy without being jammy or overripe in anyway. Fresh blue fruit flavors dominate and good levels of acidity make for a nice clean finish.  

Price:     $20
Source:  Cellar Door
Varietal: Touriga Nacional
Tasted:  January 2015
Rating:   93

2012 Glenlofty Single-Vineyard Pyrenees Chardonnay

Glenlofty hails from the the foothills of the Pyrenees region in central Victoria. In previous vintages their wines were blended to make premium wines for larger wineries such as Penfolds, Seppelts and Rosemount. However, in 2013 Glenlofty opted to bottle these wines under their own label and are offering many of the wines as single vineyard releases. 

An inviting nose with aromas of white peach , tropical fruit and some toasty brioche. A soft mildly complex palate offering more peach and creaminess. Finishes clean with a nice acid kick. 

Price:     RRP $20
Source:  Vinomofo
Varietal: Chardonnay
Tasted:  January 2015
Rating:   91
Website: www.glenloftywines.com.au

2013 Torbreck 'Cuvee Jeveniles' GSM

While Torbreck are better known for there big, bold, age worthy wines, it was this young drinking and playful GSM that caught my eye on a recent visit to their cellar door.

A beautiful perfumed nose that's both somewhat restrained and fruit forward, offering notes of cherries and blackberries alongside hints of five-spice. Soft juicy tannins make this enjoyably soft on the palate and a very food friendly wine.

Price:     $22
Source:  Cellar Door
Varietal: Grenache, Shiraz, Mouvedre
Tasted:  January 2015
Rating:   93

2013 Vasse Felix Chardonnay

Recently Vasse Felix have ben producing some of the best Chardonnays from the Margaret River region, and in all of Australia for that matter . This wine is their mid-level offering falling in between the Filius and Heytesbury and offers fantastic bang for buck.

Delicate white peach, mineral and cashew aromas with some complex brioche like nuances. Seamlessly integrated palate offering some more peach flavors and finishing with a touch a citrus. A very clean and elegant chardonnay, with subtle oak influences.

I tasted this alongside several Chardonnays that were at least twice its price and was blown away by how well this wine stood up.

Excellent value at this price.

Price:     $33
Source:  Wine Emporium
Varietal: Chardonnay
Tasted:  January 2015
Rating:   96

2014 Bird in Hand Pinot Rose

Residing in Adelaide Hills, Bird in Hand was first established in 1997 and their first vintage was released in 2001. In spite of their youth, they have been making some very solid wines and have quickly become quite successful, making many of their wines easily to find.

This time of year I love a good rose, and this one fits the bill quite well. Blushing pink  in color with a fragrant yet delicate strawberry nose. So easy to drink, offering more strawberries with a touch of citrus. A nice clean, dry rose that is not overwhelmingly fruity.  


Price:     $22
Source:  BWS
Varietal: Pinot
Tasted:  January 2015
Rating:   90

2013 Kalleske 'Fordson' Zinfandel

The Kalleske family have been growing grapes in the Barossa Valley since 1853and winemaker and 7th generation family member Troy Kalleske  has been producing organic/biodynamic wine under the Kalleske  label since 2002. 

2013 was a particularly dry year, resulting in low yielding but good quality fruit in the Greenock region of the Barrossa Valley.

This is a great example of how well suited this grape variety is to the Barossa region. Elegant yet restrained, offering a nice balance between spice and fresh purple fruits. A medium bodied  wine with decent length and fine dusty tannins.

Zinfandel is quite common in California and Italy (where it is known as Primitivo), however it is not very common here in Australia, as of yet. I recently tasted three while in the Barossa Valley and this was certainly my pick of the bunch, and the least expensive. I hope to see more Zinfandel coming out of the region in the future.

Price:     $24
Source:  Winery
Varietal: Zinfandel (Primitivo) 
Tasted:  January 2015
Rating:   92

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

2014 Andrew Thomas 'Braemore' Semillon

Winemaker Andrew Thomas is one of the best regarded winemakers in the Hunter Valley, and with good reason. For this wine Andrew was able to source fruit from a vineyard in the sub region of Pokolbin, known as Braemore.  The Braemore vineyard is thought by many to be one of, if not the best vineyard in the Hunter Valley for growing Semillon. He's put this fruit to good use producing a wine with great focus and balance.

Crisp flavors of lemon and lime, with slatey minerality and excellent length. Hunter Valley Semillon at it's best. Certainly has the acidity and clarity to improve over many years, however I thoroughly enjoy drinking this already.

I've had it both with seafood and slow roasted rolled pork belly and it was a perfect match on both occasions.

Price:     $32
Source:  Wine Emporium
Varietal: Semillon
Tasted:  January 2015
Rating:   95

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