Saturday, 30 January 2016

2006 Woodstock 'The Stocks' Shiraz

When one bottle is not enough and two bottles is just greedy.

30 January 2016

At a decade old this half bottle is great drinking.

Classic McLaren Vale.

Details on Woodstock can be found here.

2006 Woodstock 'The Stocks' Shiraz

Concentrated fruit, sweet spices, savoury notes and pepper on the nose.

All fruit in the mouth. Great length and well balanced.

A good wine. Sadly our last.

2000 Glenguin Pokolbin Vineyard Shiraz

Testing the waters with outstanding cheese from Harper & Blohm.

30 January 2016

I picked fifteen of these up from auction.

Its always a roll of the dice with the secondary market.

If these had been cellared well they should be decent. 2000 was a great vintage in the Hunter Valley and the wines were made on contract by Rhys Eather.

Today I probably would not bother. Eather and his brand Mereea Park have chased massive fruit to the point their wines are over the top and ridiculously dense.

A decade ago was a different story. In the late 90's and early 00's Eather had the mydas touch.

Details of Glenguin can be found here

The meal we had with the Glenguin ended up being outstanding.

We stumbled upon the amazing cheese providore, Harper & Blohm

Rogue vine wrapped blue, Delice chablis and a french ewe and goats milk hard cheese I cannot recall. all lovely.

We followed that with a bowl of pan fried quail and finished off with loin of venison in port sauce with roasted potatoes.... so good.

2000 Glenguin Pokolbin Vineyard Shiraz

Decanted due to a large amount of sediment.

Purple fading to bright red.

Quite youthful for 16 years old.

Dark fruits, dried herbs and white pepper. There is a chemical smell present. Band aids. I assume its a bacterial or microbe issue.

The palate if dense red fruit with great mouth feel and a lingering feel. The chemical taint continues however.

This is a really good wine with a clear fault.

I finished the bottle regardless, as it was not overpowering.

I can only hope the other bottles are not the same as this is a very good wine with plenty of years ahead.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

2001 Lakes Folly Cabernet

A rare find in the most unlikely place.

21 January 2016

After walking through the open gardens at Mount Macedon we stopped at the Post Office for a coffee.

The post office also serves as a cafe, general store and bottle shop.

Lined up in a neat little row was 2001, 2003 and 2004 Lakes Folly Cabernet. All listed at $45 a bottle.

I was sceptical of storage. They were upright in the cafe. How long had the been like this?

As I stood there procrastinating, Shell bought one of each to try.

Background on Lakes Folly can be found here

Time to purchase a decent camera?

2011 Lakes Folly Cabernet

We decanted due to sediment.

Purple fading to red.

It took a little while to open up.

Sour cherries, mushroom, flowers and sweet chocolate on the nose.

Restrained. Well balanced. Great length and well integrated powdery tannins.

Years still ahead of it.

One of the best Lakes Folly I have had.

Back to the Mount Macedon Post Office to see what else they have.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Royal Mail Hotel Degustation

With matching wines. This not a food blog after all.

18 January 2016

Quaint blue stone cottages for accommodation. Ten minutes from the restaurant was not a problem as courtesy transport is all part of the package.

Mt Sturgeon from the cottage

Blue stone cottage

I was planning on taking pictures of each course with its accompanying wine.

Shell was having none of that. I was crossing the line into 'wine wanker' territory.

Eight courses in total (not counting what seemed like an endless supply of complimentary dishes).

The food was excellent.

The service attentive and skilled.

Special mention to Julian, the young Frenchman who is acting sommelier. Knowledge that defies his youth and the confidence to admit when he is unsure. Outstanding prospect for the Royal Mail. I would suggest they make the position his before he gets snapped up by a big city establishment.

The line up-

Portland abalone, bacon and succulents

2011 Tarrington Vineyards 'Saignee de rose' - Henry, VIC

Pinot characteristics on the nose with confectionery. Dry with clean acidity. A decent expression of a wine style that does nothing for me.

Garden snails, toasted rice, garlic and parsley

Nu Lustau 'Escuadrilla' Rare Amontillado - Jerez, Spain

Oxidised and nutty on the nose. Quite a nice sherry. While it did not clash with the dish neither were improved by the pairing.

Blue eye, red cabbage, cucumber and crayfish sauce

2012 Patrick Piuze 'terrior de eye' Chablis - Chablis, France

Best wine of the night. No flabby fruit and heavy oak so often seen in Australian chardonnay. Clean sharp citrus fruit with sweet spices on the nose. Excellent mouthfeel with balanced acidity. A great wine.

Greenville farm pork, turnip, curly kale and apple

2013 Faively 'clos de myglands' Burgogne - Burgundy, France

Savoury complexity without lacking dark fruits on the nose. Refined and classy on the palate. Gripping fine tannins. Good wine.

Royal Mail beef and onions

2005 Restif Cabernet Sauvignon - Yarra Valley, VIC

Blackberries, crushed herbs and a hint of sweet spice. Well balanced, fine integrated tannins and medium length.

Cucumber, tonic sorbet and aloe vera

Peach, cultured ice-cream and basil

2010 Pichot 'le marigny' Moelleux Vouvray Chenin Blanc - Loire, France

A classic Vouvray. Pears, oranges and honey on the nose. Sweet mouthfeel without being cloying.

Figs, milk and honey

2013 Royal Tokaji Co. Furmint blend - Tokaji, Hungary

Toffee and praline. Thick mouth coating consistency. A good wine without being exceptional.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Seppelt Great Western Cellar Door

An exercise in terrible customer service.

18 January 2016

I have purchased the Drumborg Riesling and the St Peters Shiraz for years. Both out standing value and brilliant wines.

I had never been to the Great western cellar door before.

Along with the Drumborg Riesling and the St Peters I was particularly interested in the Mt Ida Shiraz and Drumborg Pinot Noir which had recently been receiving plenty of accolades.

We arrived just after lunch. The cellar door was empty apart from two staff who were both cleaning silverware.

One staff member quickly excused herself (apparently she needed to attend to a sandwich press).

We were shown the list of what was available for tasting (the entire range).

I asked for the Drumborg Riesling, which was poured.

At this point our host turned around and returned her attention to polishing the silverware.

Soon after the phone rang. She answered. Disappeared without excusing herself I assume to find the person required on the phone.

After a some time Shell went to the bathroom. Returned and we were still alone.

A few more minutes passed and we simply walked out.

Disgraceful customer service.

The highlight of the Seppelt visit. Leaving

Best's Great Western Cellar Door

A trip back in time.

18 January 2016

Apparently Dolcetto is the 'next' big thing

I have had limited exposure to Best's. Primarily the Bin 0 Shiraz. Their contribution to the wine industry in the Grampians, Victoria and Australia is worth the visit.

History can be found here

The wines aside, it is worth the visit to tour the underground cellars at Best's. It is amazing to walk through these old cellars.

'Corker' in front

The line up was extensive.

For the most part the wines are well made and good examples of variety.

There were some standouts.

1999 Best's Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon

Purple fading to brick red.

Savoury olives and spices on the nose. Hints of crushed herb and fading plums and dark fruits.

Fading tannins balanced with a complex well balanced mouth feel.

This is a great example of aged Victorian Cabernet and indication of how well these wines will cellar.

2000 Best's Great Western Merlot

I held little hope that this wine. Outside of Bordeaux I consider Merlot lacking in both style and substance.  Often lacking the tannins and structured acid required for cellaring.

Brick red.

Holding together... just. Savoury and a little oxidised. Tannins faded yet there remains some structure.

This is not a great wine. What it was is surprise. An Australian Merlot holding together at over 15 years old.

2012 Best's Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz

Blueberries, potpourri and liquorice combines with white pepper.

Plums and more berries on the palate. Dusty tannins with a lingering finish.

A very good representation of cool climate Shiraz.

2012 Best's Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon

Black currant and black berries. Cigar box and dried petals.

Dark fruits and a textured mouth feel. A lingering structured finish.

A good expression of Cabernet. Given the pedigree of the 1999 I can assume this will age gracefully.

2012 Best's Great Western Bin 0 Shiraz

After the flagship Thompson's Shiraz the Bin 0 is Best's classic example of cool climate Victorian Shiraz.

There is a lot going on here. White pepper, herbs, spices and flowers framed by blue and black berry fruit.

Plenty of fruit on the palate. Perfectly balanced. Great length with fine well integrated tannins.

A classic wine. History suggests this will age for decades.

Port casks

Underground concrete white fermentation tank has been converted into a storage room

You can only wonder how the 1969 Great Western Shiraz is drinking

Thousands of bottles like this. Unlabelled and not dated
The cellar (just a small part of it)

Monday, 18 January 2016

Dalwhinnie Cellar Door

On the way to the Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld

18 January 2016

Taltarni vines that run along the Dalwhinnie driveway

We have been drinking Dalwhinnie Shiraz and Cabernet from the 2004 vintage for a while. Both classic examples of aged Victorian wine.

The brand is known for its Shiraz. While the style is more consistent than the Cabernet when the season suits the Cabernet is outstanding.

37 year old Shiraz vines

A bit about the vineyard from the Dalwhinnie website-

'Dalwhinnie vineyard is situated in a unique amphitheatre that has its own meso climate. Surrounded and sheltered by the highest range – at 595 metres above sea level - this unique bowl of vines is a world unto itself, located in a naturally undulating trough which falls away from the hills.

The main grape varieties grown are Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. These small individual vineyards average around 1.8 hectares in size and because of the hungry sedimentary soils cropping levels are low, only 1.5 tonnes per 0.8 of a hectare. There are 16 hectares farmed at Dalwhinnie at present.

The vineyard is situated on the 37th parallel in the southern hemisphere and the poor and fragile soils from left over alluvial mining areas in the 1850's are some of the hardest and hungriest you will ever see.  However, the climate and soils seem well suited to the production of complex shiraz and this is why we specialise in this great variety.

The site is totally frost-free which enables the grapes to reach optimum ripeness and the vineyard is non-irrigated and operated on strong organic viticultural principles; the fruit is hand-picked, for example, and the vines are cane-pruned by hand. Harvest usually starts the third week in February and is completed around the first week in April. Cover crops are sown every year between the vineyard rows to add nitrogen to the soil. The average annual rainfall is 550mm with most rain falling between July and November.'

The original vineyard was planted over 35 years ago.

Top centre is the 'Pinnacle' vineyard

We started out with The Hut range. A chardonnay, rose from pinot noir and a shiraz. All made for early drinking. Bistro style wines that are approachable, well made and easy drinking.

An outstanding line up

2013 Moonambel Chardonnay

Pale yellow.

Pears, apples and spices on the nose. Hints of vanilla.

Peach and pears on the palate. A textured mouth feel with well integrated acidity.

This is a very good wine but not in the style I prefer.

2012 Moonambel Shiraz

Deep vibrant purple.

Dark berries and olives on the nose.

Blackberries and dark fruit on the palate. Incredible weight and length.

Balanced and stylish. A great wine with excellent cellaring potential.

2013 Moonambel Shiraz

Deep purple.

More concentrated fruit on the nose. Plums and black forrest cake.

Massive mouthfeel but everything is well integrated. Gripping acid but remains well balanced.

A bigger wine than the 2012. Again, a great wine with plenty of cellaring potential.

2012 Moonambel Cabernet Sauvignon

The nose displays dark berry fruits and hints of flowers. Chocolate, mint and sweet herbs.

Restrained textured mouthfeel. Balanced fruit, fine powdery tannins and excellent length.

An excellent expression of the variety.

2013 Moonambel Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep purple.

Flowers, chocolate, berries and mint herbs on the nose.

Huge mouthfeel. Gripping tannins balancing exceptional fruit and well integrated acid.

This is a very classy wine. The best of the day. Outstanding.

2012 Southwest Rocks Shiraz

Sourced from a single vineyard high up on the south west hill. The soil here is far poorer than elsewhere in the vineyard resulting in concentrated fruit.

Almost black in he glass.

Rasberries and sour cherries and a sweet confection I can't pin down. 

An excellent mouthfeel. This is a deceptively restrained feminine wine. Full bodied yet reserved and poised.

An excellent wine. A departure from the normal big wines. Worth cellaring.

It would all be tasteless without this beautiful woman

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Curly Flat Cellar Door

An impromptu visit to Curly Flat.

16 January 2016

At Curly flat, its all about the vineyard....

The Curly Flat vineyard

Lifted from the Curly Flat website-

'The vineyard is acknowledged as the greatest influence on wine quality and it's here that most of the work and thought are focused.  The desire to be connected to the whole process of growing wines drives the decision to be a single vineyard producer.The first vines were planted in 1991 but problems with clonal identification and quality of planting material resulted in these vines being removed.  The hard work of planting was repeated in 1992. Subsequent plantings (1993 to 2000) have seen the vineyard grow to 14 hectares (33 acres). The majority of the area is planted to Pinot Noir (69%), with Chardonnay (26%), and a small area of Pinot Gris (5%).Multiple clones are used - for Pinot Noir they are 114, 115, MV6 and some Mariafeld and D5V12 - while for Chardonnay they are P58, I10V1, I10V3 & I10V5.  This clonal spread adds some complexity to each variety.The trellis is horizontally divided - mostly the Lyre trellis system but with some Geneva Double Curtain (GDC) - both use two walls of foliage resulting in a greater surface area for sunlight interception and heat penetration, increased airflow, less crowding within the canopy and lower disease pressure.The above photo is a profile of the Lyre Trellis divided canopy. The double wall of foliage & the space between increases sunlight pick up, UV penetration & airflow through the canopy. This combination naturally reduces disease, maintains vine health & maximises fruit quality.Our farming practices started along the sustainable agricultural model, and we're moving further down that road by firstly ceasing to use herbicides (6 years ago now) and have seen a marked improvement in the soil micro fauna and the resulting increase in organic matter is staggering and bodes well for a healthy future for our vines.'

Curly Flat cellar door

It's not often you have a member of the vineyard team take you through a cellar door tasting. We were fortunate enough to have Damien take us through the line up. It was great to have someone with his expertise provide an insight on the effect of the vineyard on these wines.

A note on the Curly Flat declassification system. The Curly Flat wine team (and invited consultants) process each vineyard separately in the winery. On completion, before final blending, each barrel is tasted individually. All wines are tasted blind, to avoid confirmation bias, and a predetermined score is used to rate the wines. Those that make the grade become Curly Flat. Those that fall short are declassified and used for the Williams Crossing label.

2015 Curly Flat Pinot Gris

Confectionary and white stone fruits on the nose. Lingering sweet spices.

A well balanced palate. A clean mouth feel with a lingering finish. Citrus, nectarines and sweet spices are the dominate flavours.

A well made wine without fault. True to type.

2013 Williams Crossing Chardonnay

Light straw.

Classic chardonnay fruit on the nose. Peaches, nectarine and only slight vanilla cream.

Well balanced on the palate. A lingering finish. Entirely fruit driven with only a hint of texture from oak.

Approachable, refined and elegant.

2013 Curly Flat Chardonnay

Straw to light yellow.

Peaches, nectarine and honey on the nose. Vanilla and toast indicate the heavier use of oak.

On the palate is a repeat of stone fruit, white peach and vanilla. A velvet mouthfeel with a long finish and bracing acidity.

Every aspect of this wine expresses quality. It just does not seem integrated. The parts are all there in abundance however it is somewhat disjointed for now.

In a few years this wine will be exceptional.

2011 Curly Flat Pinot Noir

This wine came from a particularly difficult vintage. Panned by local critics the wine went on to win Decanter Pinot Noir of the year in 2015.

Light red in colour.

Roses and strawberries. Savoury spices, forrest floor and all manner of things I can't define. Thought provoking and impossible to pin down.

It's the same on the palate. Savoury and elusive. Balanced and elegant with a long finish.

Very little primary fruit yet remains complex and elegant. It does appear to be ageing prematurely however. I can't see it lasting past 2020.

2013 Williams Crossing Pinot Noir

Bright purple.

All cherries, and dark fruits on the nose. Subtle chocolate and soil.

Well balanced. Fruit forward and lingering tannins. Full bodied with a lingering finish.

An excellent wine that is punching well above its weight. After a series of disappointing pinot noir's on the Mornington this was a refreshing change.

True to type and very well made.

2013 Curly Flat Pinot Noir

Bright purple.

A step up in intensity from the Williams Crossing.

The same dark fruits. Cherries and mocha. Crushed herbs and and hints spicy meats. The more you stick your nose in this wine the more you discover.

Excellent balance on the palate. Fruit and spices and great oak integration. Great mouthfeel, well integrated tannins and an exceptionally long finish.

This is an excellent age worth wine. A classic example of Pinot with quality ageing potential.

The Curly Flat vineyard at over 500m elevation enjoys a long cool ripening period. This combined with quality vineyard management results it excellent expressions of both pinot noir and chardonnay.

Mt Macedon could be the ideal site for pinot in Australia.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

2003 Lakes Folly Cabernet

Christmas Day.

25th December 2015


Just the two of us. An excellent and a rather lovely lunch.

I disclaimer in regards to Lakes Folly. I have been a member for a number of years and admire what is done in the vineyard and in the winery. While I consider my self objective there may be some confirmation bias at play.

Lakes Foll Cabernet vines

 Planted in 1963 by Dr Max Lake, Lakes Folly was one of the first 'weekend' wineries in New South Wales.

Planted to mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay the vineyard manages to defy the elements and produce consistently excellent Bordeaux style reds and elegant yet powerful Chardonnays.

Attention to detail in the vineyard, in the winery and a swathe of earth unique to the Hunter allows Rod Kempe to produce the areas only first class Cabernets.

The 2003 vintage in Pokolbin was hot and dry. The wines produced were of very high quality. A rarity in area prone to humidity and summer storms.

Rachelle is not a fan of sparkling. It seemed appropriate to open something 'celebratory'

2003 Lakes Folly Cabernet

Decanted for an hour before drinking.

A vibrant purple to red in the glass. Youthful for 12 years.

The nose displays black fruits. Cedar, hints of leather and some earl grey tea. Quality bouquet.

Black berries and cherries on the palate. Excellent balance and weight. Maintains finesse despite the power. Softening tannins followed by a long lingering finish.

A charming wine of considerable class.

Still has 3-5 years of good drinking.

The wine was paired with a slow cooked shoulder of pork. Sourced from Jonai Farms at Daylesford which specialises in the old breed pig Large Black.

A brilliant combination.

Shoulder of 'Large Black' pork

After lunch Rachelle declared a ban on drinking until the 18th.

I am not sure how I will manage, but I need the break.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

2001 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz

Christmas Eve. The story continues.

24th December 2015

Apparently the Yarra Yering did not quench our thirst.

Years ago when I was working in the trade, cellar door staff at Rosemount Estate would invite me to purchase wine at wholesale pricing.

At the time, Penfolds, like Rosemount was owned by the large Southcrop operation.

I recall purchasing the 2001 Bin 28's for around $12.00 a bottle. Had I the foresight I would have invested in more.

On reflection, the greatest missed opportunity were the Lindemans wines on offer. At the time were case lots of the 1999 Pyrus, Limestone Ridge and St George for $9.00 a bottle.

Christmas eve therapy

Wine companies like Penfolds need little introduction.

The Kalimna is a multi district blend of South Australian grapes. Given the commercial capacity of the Penfolds operation one can only assume some of these sites are truly noteworthy. Given where Kalimna sits on Penfolds shiraz portfolio I have no idea what makes up the wine.

The Kalimna was first released in 1959. The wine was traditionally aged in old American oak hogsheads.

It is hard to comment on the 2001 vintage and its effect on the Kalimna. Most area's declared it above average, but without knowing where the fruit came from specifically it is hard to tell.

2001 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalmina Shiraz

Decanted for about ten minutes.

Subtle fruit cake on the nose. Plums and toffee. Savoury biscuits and leather.

Plums and dark fruit on the palate. Chocolates and overt masculine tannins. It is certainly in balance. certainly well made. While not unrefined it is far from subtle.

A good example of Australian shiraz probably at its peak.

Unlike the Yarra Yering, it lacks finesse. There is no emotion.

I am probably being to harsh. If I am honest with myself I tend to judge wines like this harshly. There is no story here other than a long history. The wine speaks of no vineyard. No terrior is expressed with this wine. It does not take the consumer on a journey.

I sound like a wine wanker. I will stop now.

One thing is certain. I will have a hang over in the morning.

The Kalmia vineyard. First planted in 1888. Acquired by Penfolds in 1945. It is unlikely these grapes get anywhere near the Bin 28

2009 Yarra Yering Dry Red No1

Christmas Eve

24th December 2015.

An eventful year. New careers and a relocation to Melbourne, Victoria.

Something to celebrate the start of the holiday season.

2009 Yarra Yering Dry red No1

The Yarra Yering vineyard was planted in 1969 by Dr Bailey Carrodus. 

Dry grown on the north facing slopes of the Warramate Hills in the Yarra Valley, the soil is deep sandy loam shot through with bands of gravel. Good drainage, full sun and adequate elevation to avoid frosts provide an ideal terrior for quality wine making grapes.

The first vintage in 1979 consisted of the Dry Red No1, a Bordeaux blend, and the Rhone blend which was imaginatively named Dry Red No2.

The current winemaking team headed by Sarah Crowe continue this tradition.

Typically I find the No1 and 2 classic expressions of their respective style. Restrained yet powerful. Elegant wines which age with grace and offer rewarding returns for the patient. Yarra Yering wines often display the nuance and charm of old world wines rather than the clumsily overt expressions often seen in Australia.

The 2009 vintage was marked by an extremely hot and dry season. While the wines maintain their characteristic style, this hot season has produced a range of wines that are maturing quicker than the norm.

The 2009 vintage consisted of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 15% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot.

Tasting Notes: 2009 Yarra Yering Dry Red No1

Decanted for around thirty minutes before drinking.

The nose displays dark fruits, cherries, aniseed, and mint. Only a slight hint of vanilla chocolate is surprising considering the wine was aged for 21 months in all new barrels.

The palette is varietal. The flavours are subtle and stylish however developed. Seamless powdery tannins combine with considerable length. Charming and moorish.

Impressive despite behaving like a vintage ten years older.

Some experts suggest this will age for another decade. I will be drinking what is remaining in the next year.

We enjoyed this with itself. Though I am sure it would be well matched with any number of dishes.

Yarra Yering Vineyard


My journey in wine.

I have decided to start documenting the experience.

Apparently everyone is doing it.

It started twenty years ago....

Better late than never.

'Alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buss of inspiration when reading or writing.' - Christopher Hitchens

Burgundy. Winter.