Star drinking

by Martin Field

Cascade First Harvest Pure Green Hop Brew– up to $20 the six-pack of 330ml bottles – * * *
Made with from fresh hop flowers. Mid to dark amber. Sweet aromas of toffee like malt and savoury hops. Full-flavoured and malty on the palate with a delicious lasting hop bitterness at the finish. This limited release is worth chasing up.

Temple Bruer Verdelho 2007 – up to $18.50 – * *
Langhorne Creek, South Australia. Certified organic, no preservatives added. Spicy apricot nose. Full-bodied white with overtones of stone fruits on the palate, mild acidity and a quite dry, food suited finish.

Blind Mans Bluff Sophist Red – Cellar door price $18 – * *
Kenilworth, Queensland. I’d call this a sort of shiraz rosé. It’s light in colour – a bit darker than your typical rosé and light in alcohol at 10 per cent. The nose is juicy and plummy and the palate fresh and off-dry with enough grape tannins to offset the sweetness. Serve chilled as you would a rosé.

Wily Trout Pinot Noir 2005 – cellar door price $29 – * * *
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. Pale rosy hues. Generous nose of dark cherries. Palate is quite robust for this varietal with more cherry and raspberry aspects. Medium drying tannins and forward acidity would lend this wine to main course accompaniment.

Deen De Bortoli Vat 1 Durif 2006 – seen for under $10 – * *$
Lovely mid-purple. Blackberries and plums and light oakiness on the nose. Youthful style with ample ripe fruit and just right tannic astringency. Top value.

Summit Estate Petit Verdot 2005 – up to $30 – * *
Granite Belt, Queensland. Dark crimson. Dry sinewy red with hints of plums, tobacco leaf, and leather on the palate. Very firm to finish.

Freeman Rondinella Corvina 2003 – up to $35 – * * *
Hilltops region, New South Wales. Dark red. Smoky summer berries and a hint of aniseed on the nose. Solid wine with thick chewy tannins supporting warm ripe fruit flavours. Good enough to eat.

Brown Brothers Shiraz, Mondeuse and Cabernet 2004 – up to $40 – * * * *
King Valley, Victoria. I’ve tried a few of these dating back to the 1960s – they last well. Purple to crimson. Aromatic vanillin oak and blackberry conserve on the nose. Solid mouth-filler with extravagant fruit, a layer of mocha and enough oak to spice it all up. To be launched at the cellar door on 9 June. Will drink well for at least 10 years.

Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2004 – seen for $75 up to $90 – * * * * *
South Australia. St Henri is one of the country’s greatest reds and when I started drinking it as a university student it was just affordable. Now it’s in the super premium bracket but no less a wine for that. Unusually for modern Australian reds, St Henri does not depend on new oak treatment but rather is matured in large (1460 litre) old vats.

This is a complete wine. Perfumed spiciness on the nose with a suggestion of star anise, elegant on the palate with hints of fruits of the forest and a subtle chocolatiness. The overall impression is of exceptional length, structure and depth of flavour. This one will cellar well until at least 2025.

Yalumba Kingston Town Vintage ‘Port’ 1980 – I paid about $8 at auction – * * * *
Yalumba’s Thoroughbred vintage ‘port’ releases enjoyed celebrity status for a short while in the early 1980s. At one stage, bottles were selling in the after market for around $100 each. Then collectors got over it and prices plummeted. I picked up half a dozen at auction a few years back for under $8.00 the bottle.

The other night we decanted one, a Barossa Valley blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. The cork was in good condition and so was the wine. Clear, red to russet-hued with an edge of onion skin colour. The nose was rich with hints of liquorice and raisins but not that spirity. Smooth as velvet on the palate it showed sweetness and flavours of Christmas fruitcake with no evidence of oxidation. If I’d been asked to taste this blind I’d have guessed it was about half its actual age.

Rating system
Five stars * * * * * – outstanding
* * * * – classy
* * * – first-rate
* * – good stuff
* – commercial
A $ denotes excellent value for money. Prices in Australian dollars.

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