Archive for the 'Aussie Wine' Category

2005 Tahbilk Marsanne, Central Victoria

tahbilk_marsanne-05.jpgI picked this one up on the recommendation of the wine manager of my local liquor store last week. It was interesting to see a Marsanne from Australia. Seeing what its Rhone friend Viognier has done in Australia, I thought “why not?”

The wine was pale straw in the glass, and had some nice floral and honey in the nose. Once we got to tasting, the wine got quite interesting – lots of apricot, some orange rind and crisp acidity. It was almost like some the muscats I’ve tried, but without the residual sweetness. The finish had a bit of lemon with some white pepper and a little more honey.

I like this wine. It’s different and in this case, that’s a good thing. We had it with a bit of brie and chutney, which worked nicely.

Grab a bottle and check this one out.

$17.83 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

No comments

1997 Peter Lehmann Mentor, Barossa Valley

12172007.jpgOK, can I just start this post off by saying, “Wow”? A couple of posts back I said that I needed a wine with the “wow” factor – something that just made me step back and really indulge in a beautiful wine experience.

My favourite wine partner, Rachel arrived back in Vancouver Saturday night from Italy, so I really wanted to open a tasty bottle. The choice was this phenomenal bottle (a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Malbec, 12% Shiraz and 11% Merlot). I picked it up last week from the display of 1997 wines at the main LDB store on Cambie Street.

On opening, it was immediately approachable with brown sugar, black currant and a ripe, mellow prune edge. Its flavours built with each sip – the silky dark currant and berry fruit with a sexy chocolate edge… and a finish that lasted for minutes.

Wine Spectator gave it a 91 point rating a while back and I have to say that for what this wine gave up, that seems a bit low.

Gorgeous stuff. This is a “wow” bottle.

$53 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

1 comment

2004 De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon, New South Wales

12122007.jpgThere are wines… and then there are sexy wines – wines that can be only described as sensual and satisfying. This is one of those.

It’s a 100% Botrytis-affected Semillon. What Botrytis, or “noble rot” is, is a fungus that grows on grapes in ideal conditions and concentrates the flavours in the affected grapes… What it produces are wines of a deep and honeyed complexity. It’s what’s responsible for the legendary wines of Sauternes, such as Chateau D’Yquem.

This wine just nails what it sets out to be. It’s a sweet, thick, mouth-filling bunch of juicy peach, succulent orange, almond nut and vanilla bean. The most amazing thing is that it has a finish that lasts for minutes. This is a beautiful dessert wine, folks. It’s eloquent… it speaks volumes. It’s just what I wanted and, if you like dessert wines, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll like it. Its relatively light 10.5% booze just makes it easier to enjoy.

Amazing stuff. It’s gorgeous.

$27.99 for 375 ml here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

No comments

Wine – 2007 Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills

11092007.jpgIt’s been an uncharacteristically long time since I’ve had a sparkling wine, so I picked up a couple of ’em tonight. This bottle was the first one to get popped open.

Wow… Yum. This is just a juicy, strawberry-laden bunch of tasty Pinot juice. It comes from the cool Adelaide Hills area of Australia and is full of the kind of smoothly mouth-filling tiny bubbles you don’t often find outside of Champagnes.

It’s a beautiful pale rosé in the glass with a lightly scented strawberry and citrus nose. An eager sip leads to an explosion of strawberry and bright cherry fruit on the palate with a finish that has a light bit of residual sugar. It’s effervescent, sexy and low on booze (12%). What a bloody tasty bubbly.

Go get some. Life will be better and you’ll be happy that it is. 🙂

$29.99 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars.

4 stars

No comments

Wine – 2005 Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier

07262007.jpgI dropped into the Mark Anthony Wine Shop on King Edward the other day on my way back into downtown to see if I could find something tasty and different. I grabbed a couple of bottles and had a nice talk with Miles – good guy who’s into the wine. That’s always a good thing.

The first bottle to fall victim was this one. It’s been a little while since I’ve had a Viognier that wasn’t from La Frenz… and like Graham, I appreciated the dryer style made by Yalumba. There’s still a mouthful of gorgeous citrus-laced peach/apricot/honeydew melon fruit, but unlike La Frenz, this is tempered with a nice honeyed, mineral-laced dry finish. I had it with sushi and loved it.

Great stuff to sit and sip while the weather’s warm.

$26.99 here in Vancouver.

4 stars

No comments

Wine – 2005 Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles, Barossa Valley

05292007.jpgThis is the 2nd bottle I picked up at Marquis Wine Cellars a little while back. The night it was drunk, it was overshadowed a bit by the Mas de Boislauzon Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but it’s still a heckuva’ wine. It was definitely the New World entry that night.

The wine is Torbreck winemaker Dave Powell’s ode to a Parisian wine bar owned by a British ex-pat, Tim Johnston, Juveniles. To reflect their shared love of Rhone valley wines, Dave began to make this classic blend of old vines Grenache, Mataro (Mouvedre) and Shiraz back in 1999 exclusively for the wine bar. The wine was aged entirely in stainless steel and was bottled unfiletered and unfined.

Thanks to that, its colour was markedly darker than the Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s and it had a nose that gave itself up in layers… black licorice, tar, smoke, cola and a bunch of black cherry, all edged with a bit of fume and heat from the 14.6% booze.

All the flavours were wound up in a gorgeous, ripe package. The black cherry was there along with blackberry and all the other spice and flavours the nose hinted at… plus a bit of a floral edge – maybe it was just me. It’s an incredibly complex wine that verges on mouth-watering.

Gorgeous stuff.

$34 at Marquis Wine Cellars.

4 1/2 stars

1 comment

Wine – 2002 Leasingham Bin 56 Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

04072007.jpgI guess my penchant for Aussie wines continues. I picked this up at the festival. I actually wouldn’t have tried it if not for the exceptionally persuasive rep at the table. We used to drink loads of the Bin 61 Shiraz in the mid 1990s as it was consistently excellent value before the price doubled.

This one is 90% Cab and 10% Malbec. The nose is full of mint and eucalyptus with some soft blackberry creeping in. With more air it began to develop some tobacco leaf and briar to boot. The mouth is full of jammy fruit with a nice earthy tone from the malbec. the fruit is a little on the ripe side, but the nice firm tannins and fresh cracked pepper on this finish make this a winner.

Fantastic with a nice steak and mushrooms sauteed in superb Amelia olive oil. mmmm…..

$27.99 at local liquor stores here in Vancouver.

4 stars

1 comment

Wine – On the contrary… Graham’s thoughts on the state of Aussie Wines

logo-1.gifAfter reading Sean’s rant, I thought I would share my perspective on the Australian wine experience at the festival. I was lucky enough to attend three Aussie tastings and have to come to the conclusion that in my mind there is more than meets they eye in the current state of Australian wine.

Paul Henry, the general manager for Wine Australia described the transition of their wines from that of straightforward accessibility to a focus on diversity and quality. He emphasized that change was the key for Australian wine and based on the wines I tasted, I agree.

The first encounter I had with Aussie wines was in my days as a server, meeting the “Oak Monster” known as the Hunter Valley Chardonnay. This beast and its compatriot the “Shirazinator” dominated many a market.

The focus now, stated Michael Hill-Smith, MW, is to challenge these stereotypes. “Restraint”, he asserted is the new word of choice in the world of Australia wine and with the rise of some of the cooler climate wines, the markets will begin to reflect this.

While the aforementioned monsters, joined by Shiraz-Viognier the “new rock and roll of Australia” as Smith deemed it, will still be readily available (along with the steady stream of critter vino) there are some wines that reflect the new focus to emphasize some of the signature terroir of Australia.

Some of my highlights included:

Shaw & Smith Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2006

This is a real departure in my mind. A zesty unoaked sauvignon blanc, this wine is not trying to be a Marlborough despite having some of the signature gooseberry aromas. The nose and mouth have loads of tropical fruit with crisp acidity. It is long on the finish with some hints of grassiness as well. A uniquely Australian wine.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz

Jane Ferrari, winemaker for Yalumba, proclaimed Aussie Cab Shiraz as “the greatest story never told.” This wine certainly attested to this. The operative word with this wine was elegance – not something traditionally spoken when discussing these wines. The nose was gorgeous leather with some black tar notes and toasty black fruit. The first sip opened into soft tobacco, blackberries and a nice earth feel from nice medium tannins. The finish was beautiful and soft with some nice long ripe fruit and well balanced with more earth notes. Gorgeous stuff.

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2003

We tasted a number of nice Semillons over the course of the festival, and this was the one I closed the festival with. A beautiful deep golden color, this was like an apricot-orange marmalade with some tasty peach notes. The finish was lovely and long with golden raisins, orange rind and a creamy smoothness from some time in French Oak. All this with only 11% booze! This one shows great restraint, and again a different direction for Australia.

No comments

Wine – 2004 De Bortoli Petit Verdot

With tax time and the impending Vancouver Wine Festival, I find value wines an important thing to fall back on. This is one of my favorites as it is different grape varietals that we don’t see too often around here.

It has the classic dark purple black color of many Aussie wines and a really great floral, blueberry nose. It almost has a blueberry jam flavor in the mouth; it’s so juicy with nice tart tannins. The finish is again full of dry tannins with some brown sugar hints as the bottle ends.

In general this is a unique bottle of Australian wine that has lots of good stuff going on and the $17.99 price tag doesn’t hurt either.

$17.99 at local Liquor Stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

1 comment

Wine – 2004 Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz

03132007.jpgOK, the first thing to say here is that you folks who hate the big, dark, jammy and boozy New World wines are going to hate this one. It’s New World with a big ‘ol capital “N”.

The nose shows a bunch of oak, which gives way to blackberry/cherry syrupy jam and a bit of a hot edge from the 14.5% alcohol.

A big sip shows all that… and a LONG finish that goes on and on. The flavours literally explode in your mouth. It’s like a velvety jam-bomb has gone off… and it’s far from unpleasant. I wanted some bread on which to spread it.

The wine is a bit unbalanced with the load of fruit weighing down the front and the booze not exactly going out of its way to keep things in check. It’s a big boozy mess, but a beautiful dark and fruity mess at that.

Very Aussie – and that’s not a bad thing at all.

$28.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars

1 comment

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