Star Drinking

by Martin Field

Crown Ambassador Reserve Lager 2008 – around $55 * * * * *
A limited 5000 bottle release beer, in individually numbered 750ml bottles, each with a wax seal and a presentation box. The lager is bottle-conditioned, so look for the yeast sediment when pouring. At 9.2 percent alcohol, it is twice as strong as some regular beers.

I tasted bottle number 2465: Dark amber in colour, with a nose of malt and toffee along with hoppy high notes. In the mouth, the high alcohol contributes to a thick, velvety, creamy mouthfeel. The long-lasting, complex flavours of malt, hops and a hint of mocha made me wonder where I could get another bottle. They reckon this lager will cellar for ten years or so and I wouldn’t be surprised. A scrumptious drop, which, despite the price tag, will be snapped up by collectors.

Chandon Vintage Brut 2005 – under $39 – * * *
A blend of chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier, two years on yeast lees. Very pale, tinged with green, persistent bead. Bouquet shows brioche and lime blossoms and praline. The palate is lip-smackingly crisp and dry showing flavours of baked bread, hazel nuts and a zesty Granny Smith apple finish. A first class aperitif style.

McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Crisp Chardonnay 2007 – typically under $10 – * *
Pale lemon hues. A pleasing light dry white with peach and apricot characters on nose and palate and a zingy acid infrastructure.

De Bortoli Sacred Hill Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – under $10 – * *
Light straw in colour. Nose of tropical fruit salad. Clean on the palate with hints of pineapple and passionfruit and lemony acid.

Odd One Out Pinot Gris 2008 – up to $20 – * *
A new brand from the Hanging Rock stable. Aromatics of new season apples and pears. Dry fruity and fresh in the mouth with a refreshing lime tang aftertaste.

Bay of Fires Pinot Noir 2007 – up to $40 – * * *
Tasmania. Mid red in colour. Raspberries and cherries with a savoury edge on the nose. Palate shows good length with dark cherries, strawberry conserve and a suggestion of cigar box.

Montrose Omaggio Barbera 2006 – up to $26 – * * *
Mudgee New South Wales. Medium ruby. Lifted aromatics of cherries, plums, olives and grapeskins on the nose. Raspberries, rhubarb tart and savouriness in the mouth supported by medium tannic astringency and youthful acidity. Like its Italian counterparts, this red is designed with main course food in mind.

Yellow Tail The Reserve Shiraz 2006 – seen for $16 – * *
Mid-crimson. Attractive sweet berry, black pepper and restrained oak on the nose. The fruit sweetness of blackberries continues on the palate in this medium-bodied red, along with a structure of soft but significant tannins.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 – up to $32 – * * *
Purple hues. Tight on the nose with suggestions of blueberries, blackcurrants and mint. Intense inky flavours in the mouth reminiscent of blackcurrant jelly, leading to a long, fairly firm finish. I didn’t find this one as generous as some previous vintages but it does need time to develop.

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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