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Sunday, May 3, 2015

2014 Symphony Hill Gewürztraminer

While Symphony Hill is located in the Granite Belt wine region in Queensland, the grapes for this particular wine have been sourced from New England, a region South of the Granite Belt in New South Whales. 

Plenty of tropical fruit and lychee on the nose, with a hint of rose petal and pink grapefruit. Nice soft palate with wonderfully length and complexity. Refreshing acidity helps this wine finish well. An all round delicious wine.

Price:      $40
Source:   Cru Bar and Cellar
Varietal:  Gewürztraminer
Tasted:    April 2015
Rating:    94
Website:  www.symphonyhill.com.au

2013 Dopff Au Moulin Gewürztraminer

A classic Gewürztraminer from the French region of Alsace, this wine delivers very well for this price. It's hard to pass this one up when thinking of getting a wine to have with spicy asian cuisine, such as Thai or Vietnamese. 

Quite aromatic, with plenty of lychee, rose petal, and hints of grapefruit. Nice clean acidity and a mild sweetness help this wine pair well with a bit of heat. I've grabbed this a couple of times now and will surely consider it again when looking for a  fairly inexpensive bottle to have with Thai or Vietnamese food.

Price:      $20
Source:   Dan Murphy's
Varietal:  Gewürztraminer
Tasted:    April 2015
Rating:    92
Website:  http://www.dopff-au-moulin.fr/

2014 Yelland and Papps 'Second Take' Grenache

An interesting contrast to their Devote range Grenache, the Second Take is a fruity, lively, fun wine that is great for drinking young. Fermented naturally with 48% whole bunches before being aged in old and new oak for seven months, it was then bottled unfined and unfiltered. 

A sweet cherry/raspberry aroma jumps out of the glass and is followed by hints of chocolate and spice. In contrast to the sweet berry aromas the palate is refreshing and delicate, with a lively kick. This is a great bottle to buy and drink right away. An excellent wine marrying new and old wine making techniques to produce a faultless, fun, and interesting drop.

Price:      $40
Source:   Cellar Door
Varietal:  Grenache
Tasted:    April 2015
Rating:    95
Website:  www.yellandandpapps.com

2014 Unico Zelo Grenache

Sourced from one of the few parcels of Grenache in the Adelaide Hills, this wine was made from hand picked grapes that then underwent 100% whole bunch fermentation for 10 days, prior to being pressed off for the completion of fermentation to occur in old oak puncheons. 

A very lively nose, with lots of zippy hits of ginger and spice. The time spent on stems definitely comes through and comes off a bit green and herbaceous, for my taste. Fine tannins, with moderate length make for very easy drinking. 

Price:      $30
Source:   Different Drop
Varietal:  Grenache
Tasted:    April 2015
Rating:    90
Website:  www.unicozelo.com.au

2012 Yelland and Papps 'Devote' Old Vine Grenache


Yelland & Papps Devote Old Vine Grenache 2012

Made from fruit sourced from 45 year old vines at the Materne Family Vineyard in the Barossa Valley, this wine was open fermented for two weeks before being basket pressed and aged in old and new french oak for 20 months.

Wafts of cherry and other red berry fruits meld with aromas of black pepper, spice, and licorice. Soft fine tannins flow effortlessly across the palate. A well balanced wine with clean acidity and fine structure. Drinking well now, but will likely improve over the next few years.

Price:      $35
Source:   Cellar Door
Varietal:  Grenache
Tasted:    April 2015
Rating:    93
Website:  www.yellandandpapps.com





Thursday, February 12, 2015

2014 Ochota Barrels 'Fugazi Vineyard' Grenache


Sourced from 66 year old dry grown bush vines in Mclaren Vale. The vineyard takes it's name after a post-hardcore punk band from Washington, D.C. A large addition of whole bunches (70%), this wine spent 82 days on it's skins prior to six months in old oak barrels. 

Another fantastically aromatic wine from Ochota with heaps of fresh, bright cherry and raspberry aromas. Fresh and juicy, yet textural and complex palate offers more red fruits with some spice and white pepper.

Price:     $40
Source:  Wine Emporium
Varietal: Grenache
Tasted:  January 2015
Rating:   94
Website: http://www.ochotabarrels.com/




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2010 S.C. Pannell Nebbiolo


S.C. Pannell's sixth release of Nebbiolo consists of a blend of five different clones from the Adelaide Hills. This wine had an extended 24 day maceration imparting unique tannin characteristics. The wine then spent 21 months in old Hungarian oak puncheons, resulting in great varietal expression that is not overwhelmed by oak.

Remarkably orange in color for a wine this age. Still plenty of ripe cherry, rose, and earthy aromas. Medium bodied with fine grippy tannins and a slightly savory finish. Paired excellent with butternut pumpkin Gnocchi. A real treat and drinking very well at the moment.

Price:     $50
Source:  City Wine Shop, Melbourne
Varietal: Nebbiolo
Tasted:  December 2014
Rating:   95

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