Archive for category ‘Wine Tasting’

Spitbucket Drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 11 February 2007 in Wine Tasting

by Martin Field

The Crossings Sauvignon Blanc 2006 – $19 \_/\_/
Marlborough, New Zealand. Nose of lychees and fruit salad. Clean lime juice palate with tangy, citric acidity to finish. Ideal aperitif style.

d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne 2006 – $13 \_/\_/
McLaren Vale, South Australia. Nose of sweet melons and dried pears. Softish, generous white with plenty of fruit sweetness and mild acid. Would suit entrée pasta dishes.

Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Riesling 2006 – up to $15 \_/\_/\_/$
South Australia. Green-tinged, very pale. Lime blossoms and lemon sherbet on the nose. The palate shows more of the citrus and finishes crisp and dry. Will age gracefully to 2013.

Haselgrove Reserve Viognier 2006 – $25 \_/\_/\_/
Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Bouquet of dried apricots and faint vanillin oak. More stone fruits on the palate are supported by oak toastiness. Finishes firm enough to suit well-seasoned entrées.

Roundstone Gamay 2006 – $20 \_/\_/
Yarra Valley, Victoria. Gamay is the grape of Beaujolais and this wine has obviously been made after that style. Redcurrant jelly hues. Fruity juicy nose. Pleasing medium-weighted palate of ripe raspberries with an off-dry finish. Lovely lunch wine, serve cool.

Allinda Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2004 – $24 \_/\_/\_/
Strawberry conserve dominates the savoury nose. A biggish (14% alcohol) pinot of mouth-filling cool climate berries over a mild tannic structure. Firm, dry and persistent on the finish.

Frog Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 – $25 \_/\_/\_/
Mudgee, New South Wales. Plummy nose with a hint of liquorice and oak. This is a generous red showing more plumminess in the mouth along with pleasant savoury aspects. Assertive tannins, upfront acidity and a long finish augur well for the dinner table.

Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz 2005 – up to $40 \_/\_/\_/\_/
McLaren Vale, South Australia. Deep crimson coloured. Attractive spicy peppery nose. The palate is thick and chewy with intense blackberry fruit and mocha to follow. In a word, scrumptious.

Spitbucket rating system
Five gold spitbuckets \_/\_/\_/\_/\_/ – brilliant
\_/\_/\_/\_/ – classy
\_/\_/\_/ – first-rate
\_/\_/ – good stuff
\_/ – spit it!
An added $ or two denotes excellent value for money.

Wine in China – a perspective

Posted by Martin Field on 3 December 2006 in Wine Tasting

China correspondent Ken White reports from Dalian.

‘Hi Martin, My favourite tipple here is Dragon seal 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s about $AU9 but in my opinion is above the rest for everyday quaffing. That said there is a great Cabernet Franc I drink every time I’m in Beijing, the name of which escapes me. [Possibly Changyu? Ed.]

I have only found it in Morels, a European restaurant in the San Litun district where the Embassies are situated. Sells for about 40 bucks in the restaurant. Yantai, which is just across the bay (three hours by fast ferry), is a fast growing wine area and the above wines stem from there.

Forget the whites. Long way to go before they become drinkable.

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Spitbucket Drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 3 December 2006 in Wine Tasting

by Martin Field

Pooles Rock Hunter Valley Semillon 2003 – up to $25 \_/\_/\_/
Grassy, lemon sherbet nose. Light-bodied style with lemon zest, fine honey and a crisp, citric acid finish. Will cellar well to 2011.

Grant Burge East Argyle Pinot Gris 2006 – $20-ish \_/\_/
Eden Valley, South Australia. Nose of tropical fruits and dried apples. Quite full-bodied for this varietal. Shows more of the Granny Smith apple on the palate leading to a dry, tangy finish.

Tallarook Viognier 2006 – up to $24 \_/\_/\_/
Tallarook, Victoria. Shows attractive aromatics of dried pears with a hint of oaky butterscotch. This wine has a creamy mouth feel with rich full flavours of dried orchard fruits. Finishes slightly off-dry with soft acidity.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2006 – up to $32 \_/\_/\_/\_/\_/
Marlborough, New Zealand. The benchmark of Australasian sauvignon blanc does it again with a nose of pungent grassiness, blackcurrant leaves and asparagus. All these characters and more combine on the palate, held together with lip smacking lime acidity. Delicious and persistent finish.

Red Knot Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – up to $15 \_/\_/
McLaren Vale, South Australia. Purple edged crimson. Warm spicy plummy nose. Ripe plums continue on the palate with earthy undertones, medium tannins and good acid structure.

Sparkling Mad Shiraz – $12-15 \_/\_/\_/$
Clare Valley, South Australia. Nose of ripe blackberries supported by subtle French oak. Rich and smooth in the mouth showing flavours of ripe summer berries and lightly toasted oak. Ideal summer drinking.

Campbells Bobby Burns Shiraz 2004 – up to $22 \_/\_/\_/
Rutherglen, Victoria. Deep ruby appearance. Complex nose of plums, raspberries, aniseed and vanillin oak. Robust Rutherglen red shows good ripe fruit concentration, medium tannin astringency and a noticeably firm, food-demanding finish.

Taminick Cellars Durif 2005 – $15 \_/\_/\_/\_/$$
Glenrowan, Victoria. Nose of ‘fruits of the forest’ conserve, liquorice allsorts, vanilla and coconutty oak and noticeable alcohol (15.8%). A red wine for serious red wine drinkers. Extravagant fruit matches well with integrated American oak. Solid drying tannins lead to a long, warm ‘let’s have another glass’ finish.

Spitbucket rating system
Five gold spitbuckets \_/\_/\_/\_/\_/ – brilliant
\_/\_/\_/\_/ – classy
\_/\_/\_/ – first-rate
\_/\_/ – good stuff
\_/ – spit it!
An added $ or two denotes excellent value for money. Prices in Australian dollars.

In the realm of the senses

Posted by Martin Field on 28 October 2006 in Wine Tasting

Virtues and Necessities
by Martin Field

Wine is all about the senses. About sensory evaluation, sensuality and consensual enjoyment. And wouldn’t it be awful to lose your sense of taste, of smell, of touch, of sight?

It happens. Years ago, a wine-loving colleague went through a devastating course of chemotherapy to treat cancer and was cured. Afterwards he told me he had permanently lost his taste for wine. He sold his not inconsiderable cellar soon afterwards. Another friend had an operation on his nose that left him without a sense of smell. He’ll drink a glass of wine with dinner but admits to being indifferent to its finer points.

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Great Shiraz Challenge 2006

Posted by Martin Field on 28 October 2006 in Wine Tasting

Best Shiraz in Australia
by Martin Field

Announced on 27 October was this year’s winner of the Great Australian Shiraz Challenge – the irrepressible Geoff Merrill, with his Geoff Merrill Reserve McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002.

Twelve years ago the search for the best shiraz in the country saw the creation of the inaugural challenge competition. This year 370 wines competed for the prestigious trophy and were judged by a panel of leading palates – James Halliday, Stephen Henschke, John Duval and Geoff Merrill. Merrill admitted at the awards ceremony that he was the only judge to give his own wine (unidentified at the time of judging) a low mark.

My tasting notes for the winning wine read, ‘Rich, dry red with a nose of blackberry, a hint of mocha and toasted oak. Mellow on the palate, with plums, sweet oak and lasting fine tannins.’

Runners-up were, in second place, the 2004 Clayfield Grampians Shiraz; third place, the 2004 Howard Park ‘Scotsdale’ Shiraz. The award for best under $25 wine went to the 2004 McLaren Wines Linchpin Shiraz.

Spitbucket drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 28 October 2006 in Wine Tasting

by Martin Field

Matilda Bay Crema $15 the 750ml bottle \_/\_/
‘Would you like a coffee with that beer Sir? In the one glass?’ Yep, this is a beer made from malted barley and wheat and Arabica coffee. Sounds unusual, but it’s not all that uncommon to hear beers described as having coffee flavours – so why not brew some in? Orangey gold in colour. Nose of malt and café latte. Full and soft in the mouth with an edge of bitterness and a tang of mocha.

Yellowglen Vintage Crémant 2004 up to $17 \_/\_/\_/
Pale gold. Nose of white flowers, pears and lightly toasted bread. Creamy texture on the tongue and pleasing peachy flavours. Finishes off-dry with an edge of lemon zest. I served this blind to a wine class recently – they loved it and went out the next day to buy a case or two to share.

Pauletts Polish Hill River Clare Valley Riesling 2006 Cellar door price $18 \_/\_/\_/\_/
Near water pale, green-gold edge. Nose of lime flowers and lemon. Clean, quite dry, elegant palate of mixed citrus fruits and minerals. Zesty lasting finish. Cellar to 2016.

Tahbilk Viognier 2006 up to $19 \_/\_/\_/
Will be released mid November. Nagambie Lakes Victoria. Pale straw, hint of green. Aromatic, grassy, apple skin, kiwi fruit nose. Dry, with more kiwi fruit on the palate and tangy acid. If you tasted this blind you might think it was a riper style of sauvignon blanc. Lovely main course white.

Phi (Φ) Lusatia Park Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 around $55 \_/\_/\_/\_/
Yarra Valley Victoria. One definition ( of phi that might apply here is ‘A shorthand representation for an aromatic functional group in organic chemistry.’ Another is a super-premium Yarra Valley collaboration between Yarra Valley makers De Bortoli and the Shelmerdine family. Rosy, mid red appearance. Generously perfumed nose of strawberries, cherries and smokey oak. Stacks of juicy, bursting ripe pinot berries in the mouth supported by fine tannins and beautifully integrated oak. Delicious.

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 about $15 \_/\_/$
South Australia. Mid crimson colour. Plummy ripe nose, hint of oak. Mid weighted style showing more of the plumminess, ripe berries leading to a firm warming finish. Well priced dining red.

Shingleback McLaren Vale Grenache 2005 up to $25 \_/\_/
This is the first wine I’ve tried from the company that won this year’s Jimmy Watson Trophy. Bright mid-ruby. Fresh, juicy fruity nose. An approachable red that offers plenty of sweet fruit flavours and soft tannins leading to a smooth finish. Will suit people who find bone dry reds intimidating.

Majella Coonawarra Shiraz 2004 $28 \_/\_/\_/\_/
Purple edged mid crimson. Nose of blackberry conserve, white pepper and sweet charred oak. Blackberries again come into play on the palate along with a hint of minty eucalyptus. The mature berries are nicely supported by fine drying tannins and integrated oak flavours. Finishes firm with persistent fruit intensity.

Spitbucket rating system
Five gold spitbuckets \_/\_/\_/\_/\_/ – brilliant
\_/\_/\_/\_/- classy
\_/\_/\_/ – first-rate
\_/\_/ – everyday drinking
\_/ – spit it!
An added $ denotes excellent value for money. Prices in Australian dollars.

Spit bucket drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 29 September 2006 in Wine Tasting

by Martin Field
3 Ravens Black – about $3.40 the 330ml bottle – \_/\_/\_/
Espresso black in colour. Inviting nose of bitter chocolate and dark coffee beans. This stout is a smooth (from oatmeal component I’m told) textured, satisfying brew that lasts long on the palate with more of the chocolate and coffee following through from the bouquet and some sweet maltiness. Bottle-conditioned (means there’s yeast in the bottle) unfiltered, unpasteurised, 5.5% alcohol.

Bress Brut Cider – about $18 the 750 ml bottle – \_/\_/\_/
Harcourt, Victoria. Pale gold, persistent bead. Lovely, very dry cider (10% alcohol) oozing essence of apples and showing an appetite-whetting, lip-smacking, green apple, finish.

Effen Vodka – up to $50 the 700ml bottle – \_/\_/\_/
Holland. Distilled from bulgur wheat. Clean, fragrant spirity nose. The vodka is mellow on the palate and has such a silky mouthfeel it’s almost a pity to use it as a cocktail base – it deserves to be sipped ice-cold on its own.

Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling 2005 – up to $16 – \_/\_/\_/\_/$
Clare Valley, South Australia. Near water pale with a light green edge. The nose is all lemons, limes and citrus flowers. The palate shows elements of lemon sherbet, lime juiciness and medium acidity – the finish is off-dry.

Peter Lehmann Barossa Semillon 2005 – RRP $12.95 seen for $7.74 – \_/\_/\_/$
South Australia. Light lemony hues. Attractive and typical semillon nose of ripe lemons and hay. Palate is crisp and tangy with lovely youthful acidity. Great aperitif or entrée wine. Cellar to 2009.

Tallarook Roussanne 2005 – around $25 – \_/\_/\_/
Tallarook, Victoria. Very pale gold. Complex nose of lychee, tea, citrus and hints of smoky oak. Rich and full in the mouth with a mix of tropical fruit ripeness nicely supported by an edge of citric acidity.

Swords Pinot Noir 2005 – $14.99 (incl. $3 deposit) 1 litre swing-top returnable bottle – \_/\_/
Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Bright rosy colour. Fresh berry nose. Soft light and fruity palate, ideal for a spring or summer lunch.

Cardinham Sangiovese 2005 – $18-ish – \_/\_/\_/
Clare Valley South Australia. Mid-ruby, hint of purple. Savoury, perfumed, smoky nose. I liked the mouth-filling palate, a cool collation of cherries, plums and strawberries, drying grape and oak tannins and good length of flavour. Admirably suited to a rich pasta dish.

Fox Creek JSM Shiraz Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 – up to $22 – \_/\_/\_/
McLaren Vale, South Australia. Deep crimson. Ripe, spicy blackberry nose. Mellow velvety style of soft tannins and well-ripened berry conserve, supported by that faint chocolate flavour I often notice in McLaren Vale reds. Will drink well for the next four or so years.

Seppelt Mount Ida Shiraz 2004 – up to $50 – \_/\_/\_/\_/
Heathcote, Victoria. Dense, purple-edged appearance. Nose of berries, faint pepper and sweet oak vanillin. The palate is full-on with extravagant ripe blackberry fruit, assertive tannic astringency and an intense, concentrated finish.

Spitbucket rating systemFive gold spitbuckets: \_/\_/\_/\_/\_/ – brilliant
Four: \_/\_/\_/\_/ – classy
Three: \_/\_/\_/ – good drinking
Two: \_/\_/ everyday drinking
One: \_/ – spit it!
An added $ denotes excellent value for money.

Prices in Australian dollars

Oz tasting notes

Posted by Martin Field on 24 August 2006 in Wine Tasting

by Martin Field

Miceli Iolanda Pinot Grigio 2005 – up to $20 – \_/\_/\_/
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Grassy, lemon nose. Citric characters dominate the palate leaving a mid-weighted pleasant tang.

Hungerford Hill Hunter Valley Semillon 2006 – up to $23 – \_/\_/\_/\_/
New South Wales. Aromatic passionfruit, and citrus bouquet. Dry, elegant style showing kiwi fruit and passionfruit – almost sauvignon blanc flavours. Lovely acidity leads to a dry finish. Use as aperitif or with entrées.

Jim Barry The Florita Clare Valley Riesling 2005 – up to $45 – \_/\_/\_/\_/
South Australia. Intense lime flower and lemon sherbet nose. Pervading lime juice flavours, steely acid and a very dry lemon zesty finish make for a highly enjoyable dry white. Cellar to 2012.

Tulloch Chardonnay 2006 – up to $15 – \_/\_/\_/$
Hunter Valley, New South Wales. Peachy sweetish nose, hint of oaky vanilla. Yummy ‘apricot Danish’ taste and a smooth and satisfying mouth feel. Long pleasing aftertaste and pleasing acid structure.

Hamiltons Bluff Sangiovese 2004 – up to $18 – \_/\_/\_/
Canowindra, New South Wales. Mid-black cherry hues. Savoury, ripe, spicy aromatics on the nose. Strong elements of blackberry conserve and anise on the palate, supported by soft tannins and a warm alcoholic finish. Would suit well-seasoned main courses.

La Testa Shiraz Grenache Cabernet 2001 – up to $28 – \_/\_/\_/\_/
McLaren Vale, South Australia. Mid-ruby hues. Plums and liquorice and toasty oak on the nose. Developed complex palate of soft integrated tannins supporting dark chocolate, short black, liqueured plums and vanilla. Good dining wine.

Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz 2002 – up to $46 – \_/\_/\_/\_/\_/
Eden Valley and Barossa Valley, South Australia. Dense crimson. Attractive lifted nose of blackcurrants and dusty oak. Fine example of premium Barossa sweet fruit: extravagant ripe berries, just right tannic astringency, oaky vanilla and a warm chocolatey finish. Moreish.

Warrabilla Reserve Durif 2005 – I paid $24.99 – \_/\_/\_/
Rutherglen, Victoria. Purple to back in colour. Nose reminded me a little of an Australian vintage port style. A huge soft fruity wine full of blackberry flavours and showing considerable alcoholic (15.5%) warmth. I served the wine masked and the tasters agreed that they’d have preferred more tannin and acid to complement the sweet fruit. Cellar to 2010.

Spitbucket rating system
Five spitbuckets: \_/\_/\_/\_/\_/ – brilliant
Four: \_/\_/\_/\_/ – classy
Three: \_/\_/\_/ – good drinking
Two: \_/\_/ everyday drinking
One: \_/ – spit it!
$ denotes excellent value for money.
Prices in Australian dollars.

Spitbucket drinking

Posted by Martin Field on 6 July 2006 in Wine Tasting

by Martin Field

Stone’s Premium Ginger Beer. 4.8% alcohol. Six pack of 330ml bottles $15 – Rating: \_/\_/\_/
Pale, white and slightly cloudy. Appetising tangy fresh ginger nose. Faintly sweet in the mouth with pleasant root ginger zinginess.

Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout 5% alcohol. 330ml bottle – I paid $3.95 – Rating: \_/\_/\_/
Ruddy, unmilked black coffee hues. Malteser nose. Smooth and malty in the mouth with fine dark chocolate and an attractive bitterness at the finish.

Trevor Jones Reserve Riesling 2005 - $25 cellar door – Rating: \_/\_/\_/
Barossa and Eden Valleys, South Australia. Pale with a greenish edge. Lime apple and minerally nose. Delicate and elegant on the palate with tangy lime zest and Granny Smith apple acidity.

Ten Minutes by Tractor Wallis Vineyard Chardonnay 2004 - $52 – Rating: \_/\_/\_/
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Light straw appearance. Flowers and apricots on the nose. Peach and apricot flavours enhance the palate assisted by notes of vanillin oak and butterscotch. A crisp acid finish completes the wine.

Clonale by Kooyong Chardonnay 2005 – up to $25 – Rating: \_/\_/\_/
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. A nose of spicy apples, melons and toast. The palate is smooth and luscious and reminded me of apricot conserve on buttered toast, The finish shows medium acidity.

M. Chapoutier La Ciboise 2004 – I paid $14.90 – Rating: \_/\_/\_/
Appellation Coteaux du Tricastin, Rhone, France. A blend of grenache, shiraz, carignan and mourvèdre. Mid to light rosy red colour. Savoury nose with ripe cherry notes. Mid-weighted dryish palate shows ripe berries, a hint of leather and a noticeably firm finish. Suit dishes like a substantial main course pasta.

Jean-Paul’s Shiraz 2004 - $20 cellar door- Rating: \_/\_/\_/\_/\_/*
Yea, Victoria. Certified organic production, low preservatives. Deep crimson to purple. Inviting fragrance of blackberry and mint. Beautifully constructed, youthful, berry-packed wine. Spicy fruit, oak, and integrated tannins interact harmoniously leaving an impression of a superb, artisan-crafted, modern era red. Truly delicious. Order by email,

Moondah Brook Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 – I paid $10.90 – Rating: \_/\_/\_/ *
Western Australia. Ruby to purple hued. Dusty blackcurrant nose. Redcurrant, blackcurrant and plummy flavours mix well on the palate to produce a likeable, ‘Let’s have another bottle of that.’ effect. The well-priced shiraz and cabernet marketed under this label are consistently enjoyable, year in, year out. We buy some annually for a few year’s rewarding cellaring.

Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Sparkling Shiraz NV up t to $14 – Rating: \_/\_/\_/
Ripe, almost porty nose. Mellow, sweetish style with stacks of blackberry conserve flavour.

The Spitbucket Rating System
Five spitbuckets: \_/\_/\_/\_/\_/ – brilliant
Four: \_/\_/\_/\_/ – classy
Three: \_/\_/\_/ – good drinking
Two: \_/\_/ everyday drinking
One: \_/ – spit it!
An asterisk * denotes excellent value for money

Note: Prices in Australian dollars

Oz TNs

Posted by Martin Field on 3 June 2006 in Wine Tasting

by Martin Field

Picks of the bunch
Cascade First Harvest 2006 – $17-ish the four-pack
Tasmanian ale made using Ember, Galaxy and Nova hops. Mid-amber. Aromatic with tobacco leaf and floral notes. Mellow palate shows malty chocolate and a faintly bitter finish. Eminently drinkable.

Red Hill Brewery Hop Harvest Ale – $5.50 the 330ml bottle
Ruddy unmilked tea hues. Fresh nose of light maltiness and an edge of citrus. Refreshing palate shows fruitiness and a fine bitter tang. Use as an aperitif or would suit light main course tucker. Served on tap at the brewery.

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