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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2014 Giant Steps 'Applejack Vineyard' Pinot Noir

Giant steps produces to excellent single vineyards each year. This one from the Applejack vineyard, located in the upper Yarra Valley, distinctive for it's altitude, cool climate and red volcanic loam.

The 60% of the grapes that were left as whole bunches during ferment definitely make themselves known, but don't overwhelm. I get violet, red cherry, cedar spice, and some savory earthy aromas. Fine silky tannins linger with more red cherry fruit on the palate. An elegant and interesting Pinot Noir.

Price:      $50 RRP
Source:   Tasting
Varietal:  Pinot Noir
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    95
Website: www.innocentbystander.com.au

2014 Manners Gewurztraminer


Good clean crisp Gewurztraminer coming from the Mudgee region in New South Whales.

Classic Gewurztraminer nose of lychee and rose petals with plenty of grapefruit and lime. Good dose of citrus acidity on the palate, keeping things nice and dry, not to mention very refreshing. A good Gewurztraminer at this price.

Price:      $20 RRP
Source:   Tasting
Varietal:  Gewurztraminer
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    91
Website: www.mannerswine.com.au

2013 Castagna 'Growers Selection' Harlequin

2013_harlequin

An interesting orange wine from Castagna in Beechworth, Victoria. A blend of Roussane, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Viognier fermented on there skins in amphora.

Aromatics similar to what I've been seeing in a lot of these skin contact wines with a nice punch of pineapple, peach, and wet stone. Chalky texture with a good kick of acidity to finish clean. A fun and interesting wine that developed well in the glass.

Price:      $35 RRP
Source:   Tasting
Varietal:  Roussane, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    91
Website: www.castagna.com.au

2014 Jamsheed 'Harem Ma Petite Francine' Cabernet Franc

Image of 2014 Ma Petite FrancineAll of the fruit for this wine was sourced from a single vineyard in the Yarra Valley. It was fermented in whole bunches with wild yeast and no additions, outside of a small amount of sulfur dioxide.

Herbal aromatics with plenty of fresh fruit and savory complexity. Lacking the pencil shaving character I tend to associate with this varietal, but not missed here. Carries juicy soft palate, with moderate length and more fresh dark berry fruit character.

A light and easy style that is very food friendly. A good one to chill down slightly if your craving a cooler glass of red for the warmer summer months.

Price:      $25
Source:   Craft Red Hill
Varietal:  Cabernet Franc
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    92
Website: www.jamsheed.com

2013 Yangarra Estate Shiraz

A McLaren Vale Shiraz with wonderful restraint and balance. This wine was fermented with wild yeasts and included 20% whole bunches in the ferment.

Aromas of blackberry, blueberry, prune/plum,  and a bit of leather and pepper. Nice round palate with fine grainy tannins. Keeps you coming back for more, while definitely providing enough tannin and acidity to see it age for a few more years.

Excellent Shiraz for this price.

Price:      $25
Source:   CRU Bar and Cellar
Varietal:  Shiraz
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    93
Website: www.yangarra.com

2015 De Bortoli 'Villages' Pinot Noir

Another vintage of this excellent value Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley. You can see my recent review of the 2013 vintage of this wine here.

There seems to be a bit more fresh raspberry and red fruit aromas than the 2013, perhaps associated with a bit more carbonic maceration  (a great article on this wine making technique is available here from Jamie Goode.). Just a pleasant and accessible Pinot Noir. I would have a hard time thinking of a better Australian Pinot Noir for under $20.

Price:      $17
Source:   Dan Murphy's
Varietal:  Pinot Noir
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    94
Website: www.debortoli.com.au

2011 Mac Forbes 'Hugh' Cabernet Blend

Fruit for this blend was sourced from a small vineyard in the Gruyere sub region of the Yarra Valley. The grapes were all dry grown and fermented separately. One of the most complex and beautiful Bordeaux style blends I've tried from Australia.  

Powerful dark cherry and plum aromas are dominant, with lively herbal scents and perhaps a touch of pencil shavings from the Cabernet Franc. A firm taut palate follows with seriously integrated and complex tannin structure and some savory elements adding complexity to the dark berry fruits.

Paired a treat with braised lamb shanks. Already drinking fantastic, but this is a wine I would love to revisit every few years for the next ten to twenty.

Price:      $70 RRP
Source:   Gift
Varietal:  Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot
Tasted:    November 2015
Rating:    96
Website: www.macforbes.com


Monday, December 14, 2015

2012 Quealy Pinot Grigio

My first time trying a Quealy Pinot Gris, and I'm not sure this was the best example for me to have. Perhaps having this wine three years past vintage was not ideal, but I found it a bit disappointing having heard winemaker Kathleen Quealy dubbed as the 'queen of Pinot Grigio'.

Soft aromas of pear with a touch of grapefruit. Fairly high levels of acidity and nice and dry. I will definitely try to seek out a more recent vintage of this wine.

Price:      $30
Source:   Grand Central Cellars
Varietal:  Pinot Grigio
Tasted:    November 2015
Rating:    89
Website: www.quealy.com.au

2015 De Bortoli 'La Bohème Act Two' Dry Pinot Rosé‎

A consistently good dry style Rose that is easy to find. I've shared with a few friends, over Indian or Malaysian food, and heard more than once that they didn't think that they liked Rose.

Strawberrys and rosewater aromas . Soft and juicy, with just a touch of acidity to keep it lively. This is a go-to for spice heavy foods. Fresh, fun, and food friendly.

Price:      $19
Source:   Dan Murphy's
Varietal:  Pinot Noir
Tasted:    November 2015
Rating:    92
Website: www.debortoli.com.au

2014 Farr Rising Saignee Rose

Winemaker Nick Farr allows Pinot grapes to sit on skins in the tank for 2-3 hours before he bleeds the free running juice to make this wine. He then barrel ferments at cool temperatures and allows full malo-lactic fermentation. The result? One of the most interesting and delicious Roses I've tried.

Rose petal and turkish delight, but also cherry and solid use of good quality oak. Slippery refreshing palate. This has so many of the characters I like about Pinot noir, all in a very easy drinking Rose perfect for summer. Lovc this wine.

Price:      $30
Source:   Grand Central Cellars
Varietal:  Pinot Noir
Tasted:    November 2015
Rating:    95
Website: www.byfarr.com.au

2012 Wolf Blass 'Grey Label' Shiraz


A mid level Shiraz from the Wolf Blass range, with fruit from McLaren Vale.

Dark, ripe shiraz aromas with moderate oak. Tastes of dark cherries and blackberry fruit. Tannins a touch grippy for my taste. Over all a fairly good Shiraz on the riper end of the spectrum.

Price:      $36
Source:   Dan Murphy's
Varietal:  Shiraz
Tasted:    November 2015
Rating:    92
Website: www.wolfblass.com

Thursday, October 29, 2015

2012 Hayshed Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Hay Shed Hill Cabernet Sauvignon2012 was a strong vintage for the Margaret River, as well as many other regions in Australia. Fruit for this wine all came from the estate vineyard. Grapes were open fermented prior to spending 18 months in good quality french oak.

Ripe dark berry aromas with hints of chocolate and just a touch of mint. Wonderfully balanced and finely structured palate, with well integrated oak. Paired fantastic with braised lamb shanks.

Price:      $30
Source:   CRU Bar and Cellar
Varietal:  Cabernet Sauvignon
Tasted:    October 2015
Rating:    94
Website: www.hayshedhill.com.au




Wednesday, October 28, 2015

2015 Jacob's Creek 'Classic' Riesling

While Riesling in Australia generally has a very favorable ratio of quality to cost, it's still quite impressive to find such an enjoyable wine sitting below 7 dollars. In terms of an everyday-drinking white wine, it's hard to go wrong here. 
A rather floral Riesling, almost leaning towards notes of tropical fruit, there are some nice citrus elements that keep it refreshing. Soft acidity and more lemon and lime flavors on the palate. A good one to keep on hand.
Price:      $6.20
Source:   Dan Murphy's
Varietal:  Riesling
Tasted:    October 2015
Rating:    89
Website: www.jacobscreek.com




2013 Jed Torrontés

The Torrontés grape is something new to me, and I love it. It's such an interesting and unique aromatic white grape. This particular wine comes from three Australian wine makers who travel to Argentina, the home of Torrontés, each year to produce wines. The Argentinian Torrontés grape is not to be confused with the Spanish grape of the same name, as genetic testing has revealed that it is likely more closely related to Muscat of Alexandria.

Bright floral aromas, carrying plenty of rose petal and jasmine sit alongside a spiciness I really enjoy. It has a backbone of good acidity and a slightly firm, fine finish. South East Asian cuisine seems the natural partner for this wine.

Price:      RRP$25
Source:   Tasting 
Varietal:  Torrontes
Tasted:    October 2015
Rating:    94
Website: www.jedwines.com

2013 Jed Malbec

Jed's wines are made by three young Australian winemakers that fly to the Uco Valley, in Argentina's Mendoza region, each year to produce a variety of wines. Made in a medium bodied and very accessible style, that's great for everyday drinking.

A red berry fragrance, with some hints of violet and a dusting of pepper. Ample, yet refreshing tannins make way for a well balanced finish. While I didn't taste this with food, I couldn't help but think about steak.

Price:      RRP$25
Source:   Tasting 
Varietal:  Malbec
Tasted:    October 2015
Rating:    92
Website: www.jedwines.com

2007 Izadi Crianza

Bodega Izadi is a member of the Artevino group in Rioja, Spain. This Crianza is comprised of 100 percent Tempranillo, which has spent 14 months in American oak.

Nose opens with red berry fruit, anise, and hints of cedar and vanilla. Tannins are rounding out nicely, producing an elegant and structured palate. Has both the power and a roundness that allowed it to pair nicely with cured meats and Manchego.

Price:      $50
Source:   www.simplywines.net.au 
Varietal:  Tempranillo
Tasted:    October 2015
Rating:    93
Website: www.izadi.com


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2013 La Terre et du Temps 'Mas Autanel' Picpoul de Pinet


Piquepoul is one of the oldest white wine grapes to be grown in the Languedoc region of France. Wine maker Jean-Claude Zabalia has made this wine from vineyards rented in this region, where it is apparently very difficult to purchase land.

Beautiful floral and mineral aromas, with exceptional length and acidity. An almost saline minerality on the palate. This just got better and better after being opened for a few hours. I really enjoyed this wine and though it  paired beautifully with scallops.

Price:      $38
Source:   Wine Emporium
Varietal: Piquepol
Tasted:    October 2015
Rating:    95
Website: http://www.laterreletemps.com/

2013 De Bortoli 'Villages' Pinot Noir

I'm often pleasantly surprised by the quality of wine De Bortoli are able to produce, in relatively large quantities and at very smart prices. This is certainly no exception, and a very good Pinot Noir for under $20. Blended from the 'leftovers' of the 6 different estate wines, this wine is naturally fermented with about 20 percent whole bunches.

Dark red berry fruit aromas wrapped with spicy herbal notes from the whole bunch additions. Chalky and finely textured tannins give good form and length to this wine. Just very good Yarra Valley Pinot Noir at a very good price.

Price:      $17
Source:   Dan Murphy's
Varietal:  Pinot Noir
Tasted:    October 2015
Rating:    94
Website: www.debortoli.com.au

2013 Margan Estate Shiraz

Margan ShirazAn entry level Shiraz sourced from winemaker Andrew Margan's Hunter valley vineyards.

Some reductive sulfur notes on first opening, which fell away on the second day of tasting. Some dark berry fruit, with spice and earthy notes. Decently structured tannins which stuck around on the palate for a decent amount of time. Not a bad Shiraz, will likely benefit from a bit more age.

Price:      $20
Source:   Dan Murphy's
Varietal:  Shiraz
Tasted:    October 2015
Rating:    89
Website: www.margan.com.au

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

2012 Rusden 'Chritine's Vineyard' Grenache

ChristinesVineyard NVSourced from vines that were planted over 40 years ago, this wine takes it's name from winemaker Christian Canute's mother, who is particularly fond of this old vine block.

Spicy herbal aromas mix well with dark cherry fruit and a bit of licorice. I found it lighter on the palate than the nose suggested, which was a pleasant surprise. More spice on the palate with nice chalky tannins and a good acid finish.  Paired very well with roast lamb.


Price:      $40
Source:   Gift
Varietal:  Grenache
Tasted:    October 2015
Rating:    93
Website: www.rusdenwines.com.au