Tag Archives: australia

Halloween Re-post: Return of the Living Red

30 Oct
vineyard zombies?  delicious!

vineyard zombies? delicious!

Mash Design, the marketing brains behind the labels for Mollydooker, Two Hands and Magpie Estate, is back with old friends Redheads Studio for this genius new brand. From the unmarked, wax-dipped bottle to the small envelope of crime files, vineyard zombies and disturbing photos, this packaging is utterly unique. The contents of the bottle (yet to be reviewed) is just as unique, blending the Portuguese variety Touriga Nacional with Cabernet Sauvignon from different regions and different vintages. Download this .pdf file for more. Scroll left-to-right to view all images.

Ret_of_living_red3

The attached package of medical images and eerie photos is more than mildly reminiscent of Pearl Jam's Vitalogy liner notes.

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Lingerings of VPIWF: More Malbec wines you should try

24 May

Malbec: VPIWF left me somewhat smitten with the grape.

Malbec, also known as Auxerrois, Côt, and about 1,000 other synonyms, is a black grape variety that tends to produce inky, violet-black, tannic wines. The thick-skinned variety traditionally used to add colour and tannic structure to Bordeuax wines has found a home in Mendoza, Argentina, where it is used for everything from rosé wine, to simple, mass-produced red table wine to supremely rich and concentrated luxury wines of world-class calibre.

The main aromas of Malbec include cherry, raspberry and plum, dried fruits, blue flowers like violets, coffee and chocolate, leather and balsamic. Ageing in oak contributes vanilla aromas and flavours.

Doña Paula ‘Paula’ Malbec 2008, Mendoza, Argentina $16.99
Lighter-bodied than expected. Varietally correct nose of plum, dark berries, violets, tar and spice.  Satisfying fruit, well-balanced acid & tannins. Excellent value.

Bleasdale Second Innings Malbec 2007, Langhorne Creek, Australia $17.99
Expected a full-force plush Aussie fruit bomb, but this wine is actually quite elegant and well-structured for the price. A food wine, to be sure, with acid and tannin for red meat and subtle Langhorne-esque herbal notes.Bodega Sottano Malbec 2008, Mendoza, Argentina $19.99
Big nose on this one: all the requisite dark berries and fruits, plus licorice, root beer, tar, violets, earth and cracked pepper, all of it distinct and concentrated, but perfectly balanced.  The fruit is mouth-filling, the tannins soft and long, and the acidity provides just enough zing to invite the next sip. Serious Malbec for $20.

Luis Felipe Edwards Family Reserve Malbec 2008, Colchagua, Chile $19.99
The lone Chilean offering stands up to the Argentine competitors without denying its origins.  Chile’s Malbec wines offer fruit, spice and aromatics in a leaner, meaner package. The LFE Family Reserve has an intense, Cabernet-like nose of dark fruits, brambleberry tart, black currant black licorice, tar, toffee, mint, dill and subtle floral notes. The palate is a super-concentrated melange of sticky-sweet fruits like blackberry preserve, a bright berry acidity on the mid-palate and grippy bittersweet chocolate tannins on the finish. Dispite its weight and dense black fruits it remains more austere, less ‘obvious’ than most Malbecs. One step left from Argentina on the Old World:New World spectrum. *My value-for-money pick. I’ll buy this again!

Finca Decero Remolina Vineyard Malbec 2008, Mendoza, Argentina $25.99
Talk about “Old World meets New World”, this is one solid Malbec that shows its feminine side with swirling floral notes and lifted aromatics.  The structure is sound, yet delicate; the fruit big, yet soft. From a young vineyard (Decero means “from scratch”) high in Mendoza, this producer shows real promise.

Mapema Malbec 2008, Mendoza, Argentina $26.99
After 34 years as chief winemaker at Catena, Jose “Pepe” Gallante is now making world-class (and well-priced) Malbec for his new venture “Mapema”. The high altitude, fresh air and intense sun of the vineyard in Consulta, Mendoza have contributed to the formation of a profound Malbec.  Twelve months in new French oak has produced a wine with aromas of black cherry, combined harmoniously with fine notes of chocolate and tobacco, a rich fruit character, and smooth tannins.

Reviewed: Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz Viognier (2005)

13 Apr

The iconic producer Wolf Blass has been making some of Australia’s best, and most-awarded, wines since its inception in 1973.  Early on, Wolf Blass recognized the marketing value of a range of wines in distinct tiers, from everyday to luxury.  Right in the middle of the 8-tier range lies the Gold Label:

The wines created for the Gold Label range are an ever-evolving proposition: emerging varieties, groundbreaking techniques, and the most progressive regional styles are incorporated into the range as they become available. All vineyard parcels are kept separate until final blending and bottling and production levels are dictated by vintage quality. [1]

I recently tasted the 2005 Adelaide Hills Shiraz Viognier from the Wolf Blass Gold Label series of wines:

Wolf Blass Wines
Gold Label Shiraz Viognier 2005

Adelaide Hills, Australia
15% alcohol/volume
$33.99 at Everything Wine (not available at BCLS)

Beautifully bold colour in the glass with a black cherry core and a ruby/violet meniscus.

The nose is intense and Shiraz-dominated, with big, bold blackberry pie filling, cassis, wood smoke, and cured meat. The Viognier offers only a touch of a violet/floral component and hints of dried peach and apricot jam.

The palate is full-bodied and lively, with brambly berry jam, spicy sausage, cherry cola, anise, menthol and white pepper. The finish is long and sweet, with subtle tannins and good acidity. It has the structure to age longer, but must be very near its peak at this point.

I greatly enjoyed this wine with wild mushroom, herb and sherry soup, but it would also be delicious with lamb dishes, duck sausage, and other earthy, rustic fare.

For more information on Shiraz/Viognier blends, from Côte-Rôtie to Australia, check out the new post by Bitch Casserole‘s Ruby Bricks.

Fun with FAOSTAT

23 Mar


Recently, I’ve discovered a great new way to waste time on the Internet. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has a Statistics site that allows users to access all sorts of great information on food production, from crops and livestock to food prices and supply.  For fun, I crunched some numbers to look at recent wine production in some important wine-producing countries.  Google Spreadsheets helped with the chart.

I’ve looked at production data before and I’m always a bit shocked that Australia ranks so low. Aussie wines are definitely over-represented on shelves in BC wine stores, relative to that country’s production.  Chile, too, tends to get much more shelf space than higher-producing nations South Africa and Germany.

I find this interesting. You may not.

What Joe’s Digging: Aussie Grenache

6 Feb

Grenache Noir grapes

Every so often I get on these kicks where I get a bit obsessive about a particular grape or region or producer.  These days I can’t get enough Grenache. More specifically, I’ve been sipping a number of Australian Grenache wines – and enjoying them quite a bit.

While not considered a “Noble” variety, Grenache is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world and an integral part of wines from the Southern Rhone, especially Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas.  Grenache is also widely planted in Spain, where its known both as Garnacha and as Alicante, and also pops up in Italy as Cannonau.  Australia is the only New World wine region where Grenache has taken a serious hold, and where some of the world’s best examples are now produced.

In the glass, Aussie Grenache wines often take the appearance of Pinot Noir: pale strawberry-red with subtle violet hues.  Aromas, too, lean towards the light, and delicate.  Bright red berry, floral notes and hard candy are common.  The palate, however, is another story: big, rich mouthfeel is commonplace, and alcohol contents above 14% is the rule.  This dichotomy is what currently attracts me to these wines.  Light, bright and elegant for summer barbeques, but with enough fullness and complexity to stand up to grilled meats and the hardcore red-wine drinkers that eat the grilled meats. Continue reading

An $1,100 Flight to Flavour Country

19 Nov

my first Grange!

While I wasn’t lucky enough to enjoy the wisdom of host Chris Sharpe, working late last night did result in the reward of sampling the heels of the wines from his Ultra Premium Tasting.  If you happen to have $1,100 you need to dispose of, these five wines will do the trick nicely. All are available at Everything Wine and prices listed are current retail.

Quinta do Vale Meao 2005
Douro, Portugal

Touriga Nacional (40%), Touriga Franca (25%), Tinta Roriz (25%)

This wine’s nose is charming and gorgeous, with concentrated ripe red berries, pretty floral notes, earth and tar.  The palate is bright and lush, with red raspberry, sweet cherry and peppery spice. Complex, exotic and hugely appealing, I would gladly drink this wine daily – and with just about any fare. This doesn’t strike me as a wine that would fare well in the cellar, but with luscious fruit like this, who wants to wait anyway? $109.99

~

Achaval Ferrer Finca Mirador 2006
Medrano, Mendoza, Argentina
Malbec (100%)

From a 12 acre vineyard at 2400′ asl harvested to 0.75 tons per acre. The colour and aroma seemed to indicate a wine with some maturity, with it’s slightly brick-hued rim and subtle earth scents.  That illusion was soon shattered, as the palate bursted with bright red and black fruits, fresh and ripe with mouthwatering acidity.  Suprising, but delicious nonetheless.  I’d definitely leave this one in the cellar another half-dozen years. $119.99

~

Numanthia Termanthia 2005
Toro, Spain
Tinto de Toro (100%)

From an 11 acre plot, 2600 feet above sea level, planted with 100+ year old ungrafted vines, the yields were well under 1 ton of fruit per acre. The wine was barrel fermented and received the ‘200% new oak’ treatment for 20 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. It is big, tannic and extremely ageworthy. ~ erobertparker.com

A wonderfully complex nose, with layers of black cherry, sweet cassis, blackberry, caramel, licorice, mineral, toast and tar.  I went back two or three times to take it all in before taking a sip.  When I did, I received a powerul mouthful of rich black fruits, baking spices and a mess of fine tannins. Structured enough for a decade or more of cellaring, but a wonderfully unique and enjoyable wine now. Maybe the best Tempranillo I have tasted. Fantastic. $259.99

~

Shafer Hillside Select 2004
Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California
Cabernet Sauvignon (100%)

Incredibly rich, from the sweet cassis and vanilla-oak nose to the silky mouthfeel and super-long and textured finish.  The Hillside exhibits opulent black cherry, chocolate, graphite and oak.  32 months in 100% new French oak lends a silky, sexy, layered palate and a flawless finish. This wine is beautifully intense – one of the most pleasurable sips I’ve had in a long, long while. $325.99

~

Penfolds Grange Bin 95 2004
South Australia
Shiraz (96%), Cabernet Sauvignon (4%)

…grown to very special vineyards in the Barossa and McLaren Vale, with a component from the distinguished Magill Estate site in the Adealide Hills. Grange remains as Australia’s most famous wine, a peerless wine of historical significance, officially listed as a Heritage Icon of South Australia. Above-average winter rainfall led into a promising vintage, characterised by mild conditions up until February, followed by warmer weather conditions throughout March and April. Penfolds South Australian vineyards fared well, producing wines of elegance and intensity. Matured for sixteen months in exclusively new American oak hogsheads. Alcohol 14.3% ~ PenfoldsGrangeForSale.com

My first Grange!  Tauted as one of the greatest vintages of Australia’s most prestigious wine, the 2004 Grange might never have had a chance at living up to its $600AUD pre-release price. Concentrated ripe black fruits, cherry cola, smoked meat. The palate is very concentrated, but still bright.  I expected more – more tannin, more acid, more fruit, more alcohol.  But this wine is not for drinking now – it is all about 10 years from now. $424.99

congrats on the retirement, dave. enjoy!

4 Jun

cristia renaissanceanaperennaalpha syrah

Big congratulations to Dave on his recent retirement.  I was more than happy to help put together a package for him.  Now I’m terribly envious of his personal wine library! This is a killer group of wines that can be enjoyed for the next decade and beyond.  Keep reading for details on Dave’s 12 new friends.

Cheers, Dave!

Continue reading

Tahbilk Marsanne (2007)

20 May

marsanne-lg

Tablas Creek Vineyard has given Marsanne a new home in Paso Robles, California

Marsanne, the most widely planted white grape of the northern Rhone Valley, has a long history– not in single varietal bottlings, but rather as a blending grape. In Hermitage, Marsanne is blended with Roussane to produce the white wine of the appellation; in our opinion, white Hermitage is one of the most overlooked great wines of the world. Incidentally, along with Roussane, up to 15% of Marsanne can be added to the red wines of Hermitage under AOC regulations. For a stellar example of white Hermitage, try Chave’s Hermitage Blanc.

Apart from these origins in the Rhone, Marsanne plantings have expanded in Australia, so much that now 80% of the world’s Marsanne is grown there. The grape was first planted in Australia in 1860, and while most of these original vines are gone, the wines in the vineyard of Chateau Tahbilk, in Victoria, are among the oldest in the world, dating to 1927.

A number of challenges in viticulture stand in the way of single varietal Marsanne exploding in popularity. The grape is highly sensitive to extreme temperatures: when the climate is too warm, Marsanne is short on acidity, limiting its ability to age well; when climate is too cool, the wines tend to be neutral and uninteresting. One strategy employed by winemakers is to harvest Marsanne just before it hits full ripeness, in order to retain some acidity.

from http://www.wineaccess.com/

Tahbilk Marsanne 2007tahbilk marsanne
Central Victoria, Australia
$17.99 Everything Wine

This unusual variety is rarely seen outside of blended whites from the Rhone Valley, and it’s even more unusual to find it without any of its typical partners like Rousanne, Viognier or Grenache Blanc. The Marsanne grape typically offers bright aromas of citrus, quince and honeysuckle with mineral, almond and a rich, slightly oily mouthfeel. Tahbilk specializes in Rhone varieties, and its 2007 Marsanne offers those expected elements, plus tropical pineapple and lime aromas, white peach and apricot flavours and crisp acidity. The palate is rich and full, but not from barrel fermentation. A great unoaked white for the brave or curious or as a good alternative to Viognier. 88 points

Aussie winery firesale

24 Feb

20goundry01

Winemaking equipment at Goundrey

Western Australia’s Goundrey Wines is for sale. One lucky buyer can pick up the vineyards and winery (but not the Goundrey brand) from wine giant Constellation for a paltry $9M (AUD), drastically reduced from the $62.5M (AUD) paid by Canada’s Vincor for the brand and holdings back in 2002.  A lack of demand due to tough economic times is the main factor contributing to the price depreciation.  Stonehaven and Leasingham, two more Constellation-owned Aussie wineries, are also on the market.  Check out the Decanter article for more.

* * * * *

Foster’s Group has announced it is selling 37 wine brands and three wineries.

Foster’s will retain the rights to the brands already produced at (two of) the wineries, including The Rothbury Estate and Jamiesons Run. But, crushing and processing will take place at Foster’s large, modernised facilities at the Rosemount Denman Estate winery and the Wynns winery.

from ap-foodtechnology.com

Shottesbrooke's McLaren Vale vineyards

* * * * *

Also for sale is the small (10,000 case) and profitable McLaren Vale winery Shottesbrooke.  Shottesbrooke is on the market due to the impending retirement of founder Nick Holmes, as reported by Adelaide Now.

V I N O | V A L O R E {issue 4}

20 Feb
domaine-gauby-roussillion

in this issue: Domaine Gauby Cotes du Rousillon Rouges 2006 - 90 points

download issue 4.pdf

Issue four is the biggest vino valore yet, with seven great wines reviewed and a report from the first IVSA tasting of the new year. Cheers!

~Joe Corkscrew

download issue 4.pdf