Archive for category ‘Wine Tasting’

Online auction wines

Posted by Martin Field on 9 October 2013 in Wine Tasting

Lest anyone should think that wine writers drink only top shelf samples, it should be pointed out that we also buy liquor to review and to drink. And not all of us are wine snobs. A few wine scribes have even been known to drink beer (gasp!) and dare I say it, vin ordinaire. However, I once met a well-known columnist who drew the line at cask wine.

Which brings me to everyday drinking. My good friend Prof Kim from Melbourne told me a while back that he had bought some very good wine from Grays Online Auctions, at bargain prices.

I love a bargain, so it was straight on to the site and the live bidding began. I won some and lost some but ended up buying a few dozen bottles: Hunter Valley reds, Canberra rieslings, Margaret River viogniers, to name but a few.

All the wine was delivered in good condition. On tasting, the reds were good quality quaffers. An aged riesling was in tip-top condition, a young viognier excellent drinking. I checked a couple of the prices on winery websites and found one of the wines retailed at $18 per bottle and another for $22.

Why are they sold at auction? I suspect a number of reasons. A glut of stock. Cash flow problems, taxation bills – but who knows?

Now here’s the good part. Using the trusty calculator, I averaged out the cost of all the auction wine I had bought and it came to approximately $4.75 per bottle. This price included the buyers’ premium of fifteen percent and the courier delivery cost of $12 per dozen. A bargain deal if ever I had one. Highly recommended.

Good drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 9 October 2013 in Wine Tasting

Mud House Pinot Gris 2012 – $22 – 89/100. South Island, New Zealand. The bouquet displays generous ripe fruit characters and notes of lime zest. On the palate it tends to the medium-dry, softer end of the spectrum showing dried pears supported by mild and balanced citric acidity.

Lowe Tinja Chardonnay Verdelho 2013 – $22 – 90/100. Mudgee, New South Wales; no added preservatives. This one is nicely aromatic with hints of lemon and new season apricots. The palate is light and fresh and crisply acidic in a Granny Smith apple kind of way. A lovely style for a picnic lunch.

Fox Gordon Sassy Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – $17 – 89/100. Adelaide Hills, South Australia. The nose displays aspects of kiwi fruit with a sherbert-like edge. In the mouth it shows some grassiness along with suggestion of fruit salad. The finish is medium-dry with mild acidity.

Ferryman Chardonnay 2011 – $26 – 90/100. Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. This starts with a pleasing nose of apricot conserve, along with almost caramelised toasted oak. Ripe stone fruits dominate the palate and blend well with undertones of French oak maturation. A fine match for savoury entrées.

Forester Estate Shiraz 2010 – $24 – 89/100. Margaret River, Western Australia. The wine leads off with a juicy summer berry nose. Blackberry fruit continues in a palate that is smooth, medium-weighted, and just on the soft side in texture. The fruit is ably supported by restrained tannins.

The Barry Brothers Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – $20 – 90/100. Clare Valley, South Australia. A solid offering of the classic Australian blend of shiraz (70%) and cabernet sauvignon (30%). The blend offers generous and ripe blackberry fruit throughout with an oaky vanillin edge and a finish of lip-smacking tannic astringency.

Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz 2011 – $70 – 93/100. McLaren Vale, South Australia. The nose of this wine opens with complex dark berries, mocha notes and elements of smoky oak. Ripe and rich in the mouth, its sweet berry fruit is balanced by drying tannins and attractive but restrained oak integration.

Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – $106 to $150 – 96/100. Coonawarra, South Australia. Deep crimson with purple/violet hues in the glass. The bouquet presents notes of blueberries and blackcurrants and a dusty hint of French oak. On the palate it is assertive with loads of concentrated blackcurrants, chewy tannins and upfront oak treatment. Its finish is long, firm and intense. A shame to drink this wine so young as it will come together beautifully over the next 5 to 10 years. As I savoured a glass I hummed to myself the last phrases of The Divinyls’ Boys in Town: “Too much too young”.

Too much, too young.

Ratings

95-100 – Gold

90-94 – Silver

85-89 – Bronze

80–84 – Good drinking

A bottle of memories

Posted by Martin Field on 9 September 2013 in Wine Tasting

This piece was submitted by an old friend with whom I shared many of the experiences of a long gone Melbourne that he relates below. MF.  

By Bryan Walters

A late night visit to the father-in-law OBE (Over Bloody Eighty in his own words) recently was reason enough for him to demonstrate his renowned generosity. One attribute in short supply is his ability to differentiate a good wine from a bad one. None-the-less, he always has a couple of bottles in his portmanteau on any visit.

My arrival at his house was quickly followed by ‘Can I get you something?’ Being midwinter in Melbourne, I suggested a whiskey. ‘I might have something,’ he rejoined. ‘Would a port do?’

There quickly appeared a Chateau Yaldara 1969 Rich Old Port. [Barossa Valley, shiraz and mataro blend. Back then Australian law permitted the term port on Australian fortified wine].

Bottle full of memories

‘Where did you get this’, I asked. Read the rest of this entry

Good drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 12 May 2013 in Wine Tasting

Rosalina Vinho Verde – under $6 – 86/100 - Portugal. A non-vintage white in a traditional rounded Mateus Rose shaped bottle. The “verde” means young rather than green – so you can have a red vinho verde. This white is a fresh, crisp and fruity style, medium dry with refreshing spritzig and mild acid. Lowish alcohol of 9% makes it ideal for light lunches or as an aperitif. A steal at the price. I bought a dozen.

Yarrabank Cuvée 2009 – $38 – 92/100 - Chardonnay and pinot noir, four years on lees. Light golden tints; persistent tiny bubbles. The bouquet shows notes of green apple and brioche. A full-bodied bubbly on the palate with generous fruit and a finely balanced dryish finish.

Delatite Deadman’s Hill Gewürtztraminer 2012 – $25 – 90/100 - Mansfield, Victoria. Pale straw hues. On the nose there is that typical Gewürtz rose petal spiciness and in the background the faintest hint of oak. The palate is rich with a pleasant illusion of sweetness which adds a liqueurish mouth feel that gradually transforms into a medium dry finish. Try with a platter of sharpish cheeses.

The Lane Block 1A Chardonnay 2012 – $20 – 89/100 - Hahndorf, South Australia. Pale straw in colour. Ripe and fruity nose. Stone fruits and melon continue through the palate with just enough oak to balance. The finish is medium dry and flavours linger agreeably. Read the rest of this entry

In Praise of Older Wine

Posted by Martin Field on 14 April 2013 in Wine Tasting

Long-time wine drinking friend Prof K writes from Melbourne.

I was doing a re boxing of some of the oldies in the cellar earlier this afternoon and found a slight leak in one of the old Chateau Tahbilk boxes. This lead me to a 1965 Chateau Tahbilk* commercial [as distinct from their Reserve Bin labels] Shiraz. I figured that with an inch of ullage I couldn’t sell it, so off to find the muslin, funnel and carafe and corkscrew.

Well. Hugh Johnson’s comments in his pocket wine guide in the mid 1960s echoed true. ”Chateau Tahbilk has some of the finest commercial reds, and the reserve bins are outstanding and great value….”

Was this ‘once upon a time’, quote still valid? Well for the humble ’65 Shiraz (deserving of a reserve status) Hugh’s words were an understatement.

The wine threw little crust and surprisingly passed the 100 watt globe test. (Viz, you couldn’t see through the wine to see the 100W globe). The nose was a little dumb, perhaps allowing for the ullage, but still with some perfume.

The colour was a balance between red and chocolate, with the red just winning out, but the fruit was unexpectedly MASSIVE. Not at all a limp, tannic dull wine, but potentially pickable as a declining 12 or 15 year old heavy fruited  commercial red. This wine is now 48 years of age. (1965 was my last year of primary school). The palate saw the fruit very much overpower the tannins, producing a full, across the palate dry finish of big fruit and solid underlying tannins.

An unbelievable red for its mere commercial nature. But again, the range of 1962, 64, 65, 66.68 and 69 Tahbilks are a legend to the Aussie cognoscenti but not to the world at large. Tsk Tsk, a shame!!!

For the unquestioning believers of the trite wine authors that suggest few wines can peak past 20 years I would suggest that several icons can certainly last the 40 year mark, this being one of them.

*The brand name Chateau Tahbilk later changed to Tahbilk.

 

Top shelf drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 19 December 2012 in Wine Tasting

Champagne Duperrey Brut Rosé NV – up to $45 – 89/100. Pinkish onion skin hues and fine bubbles in the glass. Berries and yeasty baked bread aromas are evident in the bouquet. The palate exhibits hints of strawberries and stone fruits and is unexpectedly off-dry. Though not a sweet style, this will appeal to those who dislike bone dry bubbly.

Knappstein Clare Valley Hand Picked Riesling 2012 – $20 – 92/100. A nose of citrus blossoms and lime zest. Light and elegant in the mouth, well structured with citrus fruitiness which at first seems sweet but then progresses into a lingering dry finish.

Forester Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – $25 – 89/100. Margaret River, Western Australia. Ripe kiwi fruit scented nose with subtle notes of barrel fermentation. A fuller flavoured style of SB with underlying oak toastiness and good length. Would go well as an entrée wine.

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2008 – $33 – 95/100. Perfumey nose reminiscent of cumquat marmalade. The palate expands with essence of nobly rotted semillon and if this were a dessert you would have to liken it to a superior lemon meringue pie. A superb after dinner drink. Read the rest of this entry

Top shelf drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 17 August 2012 in Wine Tasting

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Brut 2010 – $18 – 88/100. Pinot noir and chardonnay blend. Bright gold in the glass with a medium leisurely bead. Its nose shows floral notes and a hint of lemon. Flavours on the lively palate reminded me of strawberry shortcake, the fruitiness offset by clean acidity. A medium dry finish suggests entrée accompaniment.

Waipara Hills Riesling 2011 – $21 – 88/100. Waipara Valley, New Zealand. Greeny gold hues in the glass. Aromatic, with a hint of lime marmalade on the nose, which reminded me of “Noble” styles. The lime theme continues on the palate along with aspects of dried apples. A smooth version of the varietal that sits somewhere between medium dry and not quite sweet. Try with a cheese platter.

Tyrrell’s Moon Mountain Chardonnay 2011 – $18 – 91/100. Hunter Valley, New South Wales. This wine has an immediately attractive bouquet of new season apricots over a background of toasty French oak. The palate is full and flavoursome with suggestions of nectarine and Granny Smith apple. Careful oak influence supports rather than dominates the wine. A style for lighter main courses. Read the rest of this entry

Top shelf drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 10 May 2012 in Wine Tasting

Campbells Classic Rutherglen Muscat – 500ml $44 – 92/100. Shows clear golden syrup hues – a quick swirl in the glass leaves lovely ‘legs’. Bouquet of aged alcohol, raisins and ‘roll your own’ tobacco. Goluptious palate of dark fruitcake, leather, and aged wood. A superb after dinner treat.

d’Arenberg Dadd Sparkling – $28 – 87/100. Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier blend. Pale lemon colour, small slow bead. Light bouquet of warm bread rolls and lemon peel. Dry in the mouth, medium bodied with toasty aspects, dried pears and a crisp citric finish.

Juniper Crossing Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – $20 – 86/100. Margaret River, Western Australia. Nose of lemon grass and tomato leaf. Fresh vigorous palate, with a lychee character that reminds me more of sauvignon than semillon fruit.

The Lane Gathering Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2009 – $35 – 89/100. Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Herbal nose of lime and a hint of green apple. Smooth, mouth-filling palate with some more of the Granny Smith apple, supported by firm, lemon acidity.

Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling 2011 – $33 – 91/100. Eden Valley, South Australia. Mineral nose with delicate citrus blossoms. Classic varietal palate somehow reminds me of Rose’s Lime Marmalade – without the sugar. This white has a long aftertaste with beautifully balanced, lip-smacking acidity.

Shaw + Smith Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2010 – $48 – 90/100. Pale crimson. Heady rose water and strawberry conserve nose. The light colour belies a solid palate stacked with red berry flavours, subdued oak and subtle tannins. Illusions of sweetness from the fruit taper off into a satisfying firm and dry finish.

Angove McClaren Vale Shiraz 2010 – $18 – 87/100. Deep red hues. Warm (14.5% alcohol) and ripe blackberries on the nose. Generous palate of plums, summer berries and mild vanilla oak. Main course style for sure.

Blackjack Major’s Line Shiraz 2009 – $25 – 90/100. Bendigo, Victoria. Peppery fruity nose with a hint of anise. Pleasing intensity of flavours on the palate with sub-strata of liquorice and a hint of dark chocolate.

Zema Estate Cluny Cabernet Merlot 2008 – $26 – 89/100. Coonawarra, South Australia. Dark ruby colour. Lifted nose of mulberries and blueberries. Chewy, dry palate shows more concentrated blueberry character, along with an olive savouriness, the whole ably supported by balanced oak.

Sierra Nevada Stout 355ml stubbie – 6-pack $24 plus – 90/100. California, USA. Delicious roast coffee hints on the nose. Silky smooth and thick in the mouth, showing earthy mocha character and mild bitterness towards the finish. Though a little sweeter, this is right up there with my favourite, Coopers Stout.

Ratings

95+ – Trophy

90+ – Outstanding

85+ – Fine drinking

80+ – Good stuff

75+ – Commercial drop

Prices in Australian dollars.

Star Drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 16 March 2012 in Wine Tasting

Clover Hill Methode Traditionelle 2007 – up to $47 – 89/100. Tasmania. Chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier blend; three years on lees. Pale lemon hues, tiny bead. Nose of croissants and dried pears. Light dry palate shows limes and biscuity yeast, leading to a firm crisp finish.

Hickinbotham Pinot Gris 2011 – $18 – 86/100. Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Generously fruity nose with white blossoms and Nashi pears. Initially soft in the mouth but with a backbone of sherbert-like acid and layers of autumnal apples.

Bleasdale Potts’ Catch Verdelho 2011 – $18 – 85/100. Langhorne Creek, South Australia. Lychees and fruit compote bouquet. Fruit salad verging on the tropical in the mouth with mild acidity at the finish.

Moss Wood Semillon 2011 – $30-ish – 90/100. Margaret River, Western Australia. Where Hunter Valley semillon can be steely and acid, this style is straight luscious. Rich and mouth-filling, it has a complexity of flavours ranging from lime pie to fresh picked dates – over a subtly integrated acid infrastructure.

De Bortoli Pinot Noir Rosé 2011 – $22 – 88/100. Yarra Valley, Victoria. Very pale russet hues. Pleasant nose of cranberries and cherries. Fresh and lively in the mouth with tangy strawberry notes and a light tannin texture. Excellent with a picnic lunch.

Whiz Bang Barossa Shiraz 2010 – $16 – 86/100. Ripe, warm (14.5% alcohol) summer berry nose. Plentiful sweet fruit in the mouth with softish tannins. A definite main course style.

Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz 2008 – $30 – 92/100. Grampians, Victoria. Upfront aromatics of mulberries and blackberries. Palate offers concentrated varietal fruit with a hint of eucalypt and clove-like spice. Finishes long and moreish.

Henry Weston’s Vintage Cider 2009 – 500ml – $7. Alcohol 8.2%. Golden hued, hint of onion-skin, slow persistent bubbles. Dry style with chewy texture and robust flavours of ripe Winesap apples. Great main course cider.

Brisbane Bitter – 375ml can – $2.50 and up. Retro (circa 1979 labelling) CUB release in bright red and yellow can. Alcohol 4.9%. A likeable and easily quaffable commercial beer with a nice hint of bitterness at the finish.

Ratings

95-100 – Trophy

90+ – Outstanding

85+ – Fine drinking

80+ – Good stuff

75+ – Commercial drop

Prices in Australian dollars

Star Drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 6 December 2011 in Wine Tasting

Angullong Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – $17 ˜˜- **.  Orange, New South Wales. Pungent lychee and kiwifruit nose. A fuller-flavoured style on the palate showing juicy fruitiness, a hint of fruit salad and dried pears with light citric acidity at the finish.

Scarborough Semillon 2011 – $20 ˜˜˜- ***. Pokolbin, New South Wales. Aromatic nose of hay and young melon along with a hint of lemon oil. Dry, tangy, citric palate with a lip-smacking finish. Fine aperitif. .

Frogmore Creek Fumé Blanc 2011 – $28 ˜˜˜- ***. Tasmanian sauvignon blanc. Herbal-edged nose with a hint of tomato leaf and passionfruit, underscored by biscuity notes from new and aged French oak. The palate is fresh and very dry with a good length of flavour leading to a tangy, sherbert-like finish.

Hugh Hamilton The Floozie Sangiovese Rosé 2011 – $22.50 ˜˜- **. McLaren Vale, South Australia. Pale rosy pink. Sweet fruit nose hinting at new season cherries. Lively palate shows summer berries and finishes just off-dry. Try with a picnic lunch by the river.

Campbells Sparkling Shiraz – $30 ˜˜˜- ***. Rutherglen, Victoria. Foamy purple to black in the glass. Lovely blackberry nose. Full on palate of dark berries and dark chocolate that finishes firm enough to accompany a Christmas roast.

Cooks Lot Pinot Noir 2009 – $20 ˜˜˜- ***. Mudgee and Orange, New South Wales. Hues of cherry skin in the glass. Strawberries and light smoky notes on the nose. The strawberry character continues on the palate above a sub-structure of integrated tannins – these lead to a dry and persistent finish.

Raidis Estate Billy Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon $23 ˜˜˜- ***. Dense crimson hues. True varietal notes of black currant on the nose along with a hint of smoky oak. The palate reminds me of those black currant pastilles you used to get, the intensity not the sweetness that is. Tannins are nicely incorporated and the wine leaves an overall impression of smoothness.

Turners Crossing Shiraz Viognier 2008 – $25 ˜˜˜˜- ****. Bendigo, Victoria. Black with a purple edge in the glass. Dusty nose with notes of Black Forest cake and a suggestion of liquorice allsorts. A complex and substantial wine in the mouth with an attack of assertive yet integrated tannins supporting flavours of blackberry conserve, cocoa powder, allspice and leather.

Yanjing Beer – about $3 per stubbie. From Beijing, China. Made from malted barley, hops, spring water and rice. Full strength – 4.5% alcohol. A light refreshing style with nice hoppy aromatics. The palate has sweet edges with a background of malt and finishes with mild hops bitterness.

Two Elk Apple Cider – 330ml 4-pack $16. Sweden, 4.5% alcohol. For some reason this made me think of elks acting out the old two dogs joke. A delicate light style. Pleasant autumnal apple aromatics with a palate that will suit drinkers who like cider at the sweeter end of the spectrum.

Ratings

*****˜˜˜˜˜ – outstanding

****˜˜˜˜ – classy

***˜˜˜ – first-rate

**˜˜ – fine drinking

– commercial