Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top of the Pop's in the Naughties - the best of wine for me 2000-2009

Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it? Yesterday when I ended my Top 10 wines of 2009 saying that I would be posting my top 10 wine moments of the naughties (or noughties I have since been informed), the thought that it would be as big as it is was not as obvious as it is now.

The last 10 years has really been about me finding my place within the wine industry; from sommelier to retail wine sales to studying wine and viticulture at university to working vintage and finally finishing the decade working for a Champagne house in Brand development. Since arriving back from Europe in February 2000, I have immersed myself in all things wine, so coming up with a list of wine moments for the naughties has been tougher than first expected, but after much thought I have come up with the ten moments and events that have defined the past ten years with wine. So in no particular order, here they are.

1. Four amazing Champagnes; Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 1959, Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 1990, Krug 1998 and Krug NV.
2. Penfolds Grange robbery at Como Wine & Spirits, 2002.
3. Domaine de la Romanée Conti 2005 vertical tasting, 2008.
4. Vintage at Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley 2008.
5. Working at Bindi Wine Growers, Macedon Ranges 2005-2009.
6. Sommelier work.
7. Viticulture/Wine Science degree 2003-2008.
8. Re-discovering Chardonnay.
9. Working for Vranken Pommery Monopole.
10. The rise of cool climate Shiraz.

Now it’s a big list with each one being a lengthy story, so like many other posts, this one will be a series over the next few weeks, with the first instalment on my Champagne moments with Dom Perignon and Krug.

Four amazing Champagnes – I have always loved champagne, with it all starting in Champagne while doing vintage with Jean-Marie Etienne in 1997. During my time there I was able to taste some amazing wine, and not just from Jean-Marie Etienne but from other producers in the Valle de Marne, yet it wasn’t until 2002 that Champagne really meant something to me.

The first was back in 2002 when the three assailants responsible for the Grange Robbery at Como Wine & Spirits were charged and sentenced to lengthy gaol time (I will get to the Grange incident in another post). It was a pretty big moment for me filled with relief, anger and pity for the three idiots who did it to pay off a heroin debt. With the help of a good mate, we polished off a bottle of Krug NV in quick time and were left with the common thought that we could never go back to boring old sparkling wine – a bit like flying first class the first time and knowing how tough it’s going to be in coach the next time!

My next Champagne moment came in 2005 with the birth of Imogen. Having the kind of taste for wine that I do, Erin and me were never going to toast the arrival of Imogen with a mere bottle of Aussie sparkling, or even something like a Bollinger or Veuve Clicquot NV; we needed something grand, and that was the Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 1990 – an amazing moment celebrated with an amazing wine.

I did not have to wait too long for my next Champagne moment, with this one still being the most amazing wine I have ever tasted – the Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 1959. This happened when I was a sommelier at Vue de monde in 2005 when David, the head sommelier, and I enjoyed a half a glass each of this wine that was left by a customer who BYO’d it. I can fair dinkum still smell the truffle and earthy notes of this wine.

Finally, there is the Krug 1998, another wine that Erin and I had to welcome our second child, Henry, in to the world. Having only had it 11 months ago, this wine displayed everything good about a young vintage Champagne with mouth watering citrus and brioche, and also the lament of finishing the bottle just knowing how good this wine will taste in 20 years. Still, the wine lived up to the occasion.

There you have it, four wines that meant, and still do, quite a bit to me; relief, amazement and wonderment.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top 10 Wines for 2009

Yes, it is the end of yet another year with 2009 over in a little over 48 hours; I think there is a definite correlation between how fast a year travels and how old you are. Anyway, with the end of my first year as a wine blogger, I thought it apt that I compile my ‘Top 10’ wines for this year. The judging of this is based on the ‘Decanter Top 100’ wines where it is not always the highest ranked wines that make No. 1 but the wines that have had the greatest impact. So without anymore dilly-dallying, here we have my Top 10 for 2009.

10. Pierro Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot ltCF 2005 – never been a big fan of this blend from Australia but this wine really stood up and slapped me bang on the nose; am now a convert and a fan. 96

9. M. Chapoutier ‘Deschants’ 1997 Saint-Joseph Marsanne – this was a wine that sort of got forgotten about in my cellar but turned out to be an absolute cracker. 95
8. Punt Road Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2006 – a surprise winner at The Bledisloe of Wine at The Point Albert Park this year during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. And to think, the Kiwi winemakers thought it was one of theirs - silly buggers. 93
7. Oakridge Yarra Valley 864 Chardonney 2006 – probably one of the best Chardonnays I have had from the Valley and I got it for $30 a bottle when I did vintage there in 2008. 98

6. Merricks Creek Mornington Close Planted Pinot Noir 2006 - the best Pinot Noir ever from the Peninsula and proof that when you believe in something, you give it plenty of time to become something special. 95
5. Ngeringa Adelaide Hills Syrah 2006 – a relative new comer to me but by no means a wall flower wine; the only wine that I have not blogged on so here are my concise findings. Heavy and dense colour with a little touch of leather coming through early but definitely not hiding the licorice all-sorts. More licorice in the palate with mouth smacking tannins that would be lovingly soaked up by a juicy rare rum steak purchased from North Carlton Butchers on Nicholson St Carlton; I scored this 97.

4. By Farr Geelong Shiraz 2007 – I still standby my comment that this is the best Shiraz in Australia, simple! 98
3. Pio Cesare Piedmonte Barolo 1997 – The reason I fell in love with Nebbiolo and the reason why wines like this need plenty of time in the bottle. 99
2. Felton Road Central Otago Block 3 Pinot Noir 2006 – one of the most perfect New World Pinot Noirs I have ever had. If you see one out there, grab it! 99

1. M. Sorrel ‘La Grael’ Hermitage 2001 – an absolute pleasure to drink this one with real elegance and how a wine made with shiraz grapes should taste like. 96

So there you have it, my 2009 retrospective. Tomorrow night I will compile my Top 10 Naughty wines, or more general, Top 10 wine moments for the past 10 years.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas - a very long lunch in Brunswick

Well, another Christmas Day is done with! I was sheepishly greeted by my daughter Imogen this morning with, ‘...only 364 sleeps till Christmas dad’. I certainly hope that this countdown does not have legs; she already has one for when she starts prep and her birthday is in March so three countdowns before New Year would not bode well here in Brunswickistan.

Yes, yesterday here in Brunswickistan was a massive effort; presents, more presents, mud crabs, prawns, smoked salmon, Champagne and then Grandma and Papa arrived with Aunty Meaghan with even more presents for a sugar hyped 4 year old and more wrapping paper for Henry’s first Christmas Day

As usual, when there is a get together at my place, I do the cooking, so yesterday, bar the Christmas pudding and one massive ham was all up to me. The menu sort of read like this:

BBQ Tiger prawns with a fennel and Chinese salad like coleslaw (inspired by Andrew McConnell)
Grilled zucchini and asparagus with truss tomatoes and chevre goats cheese
Singapore chilli mud crab
6 kg Bertocchi ham!
Tasmanian Smoked Salmon
Home made ginger bread men - Henry's favourite as you can see below with Grandma
Christmas pudding with brandy jelly

The eating started at about 2.30pm and wound down by about 7pm I’d say (the obligatory picking ensued of course). Now for me, you cannot not have a Christmas Pud on Christmas day; it is by far my favourite plate. Yet yesterday my fancies were certainly with the smoked salmon and mud crab (that’s if you could get some from Mum’s plate!) The chilli was just right without offending more sensitive tummies.

There was no real thought to the wine yesterday, with some favourites and crowd-pleasers making up the numbers:

Heidsieck & Co Monopole NV Champagne from Epernay
Pommery Brut Royal NV Champagne from Reims
Swings and Roundabouts Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from Margaret River
Shaw and Smith M3 Chardonnay 2008 from Adelaide Hills
Majella Sparkling Shiraz 2001 from Coonawarra – Wine of the day!
Willow Creek Tulum Pinot Noir 2008 from Mornington Peninsula
Buckleys dark Bock ale from Healesville in the Yarra Valley

As I said, the Majella Sparkling Shiraz was the wine of the day, but it was the Buckleys dark Bock ale that was the obvious Susan for the day with an abundance of rich malt, coffee and raisin chocolate.

I am not going to bang on about the wines from yesterday cos’ I did not sit there with pen and paper jotting down notes on colour, nose and palate. Instead I sat back with my family and enjoyed the smiling faces of my two kids – that’s what Christmas day is all about. Now it’s time for leftovers for lunch and the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gluttony or Gourmand delight - a very busy week eating in Melbourne

In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires.” Benjamin Franklin.

It is, I think, the last day of a very long and large week of eating out across Melbourne; by Monday I will presume that I will be linking my belt one hole back! And it is on this day that I sit here in my study sipping a glass of sparkling wine (I was supposed to go to the gym!) while thousands of service professionals snake their way through tightly set tables serving the corporate professionals lunch on the busiest service of the year. Please do not think I am making light of their endeavour, but I do not miss it one bit!

For far too long now I have been the one who has been doing the serving of wine and food to the endless conga line of Christmas lunch and dinners. Now that I am on the other side of the bookings book, it has been my great pleasure this week to find myself pondering over wine lists and menus, and apologising to the wait staff for taking my sweet precious time.

For me it started on Monday with a lunch that turns into an all nighter. It was the annual Australian Sommeliers Association Christmas lunch at Mahjong in St. Kilda. On arrival I was greeted with a crisp and cold flute of Pommery Brut Royal (a little donation of six bottles for the thirsty sommeliers) and a catch up with thirty or so wine professionals from some of Melbourne’s best restaurants. David and Quentin from Vue de Monde, Sally from Cutler & Co, Lincoln and Penny from Taxi and a smattering of wine reps from JHL Wines, Yabby Lake and Russel Gehring Wines there for the usual trade talk – me included now. It was a set course of plates being dropped off at the tables with dumplings, spring rolls and sticky rice making up some of the delicacies. The highlight for me however was the Peking duck pancakes; melt in the mouth perfection!

After many more bottles of Champagne and other wine blow ins, we headed off down Fitzroy Street and over The Esplanade to The Stoke House bar downstairs. Here we drank more Champagne, wine and beer (and yes, a little bit of water too) and continued on our general stream of bullshit for the day. It was getting a little busy and crowded so the decision was made to head up to Circa, The Prince bar – so off we headed again. More beers and wine and also a good catch up with Travis from Coda, who I never got too play pool with downstairs even though I said I was going to, and Virginia from Cumulus Inc. After far too many beverages it was time to close my account and head home – at 11.30pm!!

With a sore head the next morning (very sore!) I headed in to work to regale Cameron with all the witty anecdotes and try and remember who I spoke with; it took a while let me just say that. With not much on the horizon but a few calls and emails, Cameron and I headed up Burke Road in Camberwell and settled at The Tea House on Burke, a little Chinese place that needs a bit of work on the interior but definitely not in t he kitchen. Another serve of Peking duck and even better selection of dumplings was washed down by some Pinot Noir from Geelong and Mornington Peninsula. Can you believe I had to go back to the office and do some work after the bill – sheesh!!

Wednesday saw the arrival of Jon from Sydney who is the NSW Sales Manager for Vranken-Pommery, and it was at Rockpool Bar & Grill where I joined up with Jon and Cameron. Along the way I had a little catch up with David and also bumped in to Michael Dhillon of Bindi Wine Growers. After a couple of beers at the bar we headed to our table in the wine bar where there is only one thing to order – the Wagyu Burger and onion rings; three all round of course. This burger has got to be one of the best in Melbourne I tell ya! Another glass of Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir – The Oceans 8, and we were back to the office to discuss strategy over some more Champagne.

We were now in a taxi and headed for Matteo’s on Brunswick Street Fitzroy (the clean end) where we sat down with three bottles of Champagne – The Cuvée Louise Rosé 1999, Pommery Blanc de Blanc and Pommery Blanc de Noir. There was a little more wagyu beef as an appetiser - bresola air dried; I know it is supposed to be oysters with Champagne, but it is summer and you should never order an oyster if the month has an ‘r’ in it! All wines were fantastic, but the Louise 1999 dropped away pretty fast unfortunately – we picked the wrong bottle with that one, I guess.

These guys get two hats for a reason. The food was absolutely fantastic. It was just the two courses for me – I’m not really a dessert person I must say – with the Japanese plate of smoked eel, confit salmon and sashimi King Fish. BRILLIANT!! This was hard to match, but the suckling pig was just as good if not better!!! I rolled out of my chair (full, not drunk) at about 11pm and headed home to a very jealous Erin who wanted to know all about it; I just wanted to know all about my pillow.

The next morning I picked up Jon from his Hotel in Carlton and headed in to the CBD to give him a walking tour of some of our better restaurants. We started at Vue de monde where we had a coffee at the cafe and headed down over to Syracuse, Gills Diner and through to the coffee precinct around Degraves Lane. After another stop we headed up Flinders Lane past Mo Vida, Coda and yet another coffee, this time at Cumulus Inc before walking past Verge, Becco, Gingerboy, Bottega and Grossi Florentino and hopping in to the car for the short ride to Cutler & Co for a hello with Adam Cash and a super glass of Felton Road Central Otago Dry Riesling 2008.

We were again in the car out to Camberwell and in the office just before the heavens opened up. Some more strategising and it was time for lunch – again. With our walk cleverly timed between two rain periods, we headed up to Gohan-Ya Japanese Bento Cafe on Camberwell Road. With about 12 seats, this place is always full and if it had a few more seats and maybe a liquor license would be jamming every day. I once again gave in to my smoked eel addiction and the obligatory serve of gyoza dumplings; I was once again truly full!

The week duly finished today with a lovely impromptu lunch with my lovely Erin and the boy Henry as well at Gertrude Street Enoteca in Fitzroy. A serve of pork and duck terrine for me and a goat’s cheese and sorrel tart for Erin and all was well - they even struck a deal in Copenhagen I over-heard someone say there.

With all this done all I could do was to go and pick Imogen up from her very last day ever of daycare and whip down to get her favourite dinner – Fish and Chips! It’s always good.

With the children now asleep and Erin and me down here relaxing in the kitchen area, it was time to open something nice up to celebrate not only Imogen’s last ever day of daycare before she starts prep next month but also the fact that Erin secured some more consultancy work. So to wind up a massive week we sit here sipping the Pommery Cuvée Louise 1998 Grand Marque Champagne – absolutely gorgeous. Have I told you that I don’t miss the restaurant floor?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dalwhinnie Pyrenees Eagle Shiraz 2001

It was a big week. The Pommery and Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Champagnes are once again getting noticed, the back garden is green again and the cold I have dragged through the week is almost gone. Yet as the saying goes, 'There is no rest for the wicked', and even though I am (sort of) not wicked, it all starts again on Monday with the annual Australian Sommeliers Association XMAS Lunch at Mahjong in St. Kilda.

This will be a day when 50 or so sommeliers from mainly Victoria, with a few coming down from Sydney and Brisbane, get to sit around a big table and chew the fat over a busy 2009 with a cheeky glass of Pommery Brut Royal Champagne - an unashamedly promotion - and essentially sit back and let someone else serve really.

But it will not just be Pommery Brut Royal sipped over lunch. It is a lunch where all the diners are invited, nay encouraged, to bring something delish along for others to have a glass of. Decisions, decisions - what shall I take?

Yes, 2009 has been a big year for memorable wines. Pio Cesare Barolo, Lamy Pillot Montrachet, Etienne Sauzet Montrachet, Merricks Estate Close Planted Pinot Noir, Punch Close Planted Pinot Noir, Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir, Krug Grand Cru Champagne and on and on and on.........

I am not saying that my cellar is of slim pickings at the moment, but my choice of wine has been limited with plenty of corks being released this year. I will probably take a Bindi Original Vineyard Pinot Noir 1998 or 1999, but it is the wine that I would really love to take that got away earlier this year - The Dalwhinnie Pyrenees Eagle Shiraz 2001.

This was a wine that I had the pleasure of drinking at The Point Albert Park over a very impressive Chateaubriand. An almost ink tone to the wine, I found it near impossible to drag my nose away with plenty of cedar and mocha screaming up my nose. After about 45 minutes, a heavy spice layer of cinnamon and black pepper became the secondary wave on the nose. Plenty of ripe morello cherry on the initial palate, the wine once again changes in the decanter to a very earthy and savoury beast - an almost blend of Cote Rotie and Burgundy I would suggest. Throughout the life of this bottle, taught silky firm tannins were always present which were absolutely perfect with the Chateaubriand; a Susan this one!

Quite simply stunning!

Drink with Chateaubriand medium rare
Drink till 2020
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $310 wine list at The Point Albert Park

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

T’Gallant Mornington Peninsula ‘Juliet’ Pinot Grigio 2008

Looking out at the Brunswick skyline this morning, all I can see is an endless grey horizon with rain, rain and more rain. It is fair to say that today’s events are going to be in closed quarters, which is not pleasing a certain big four year old called Imogen I tell ya! It is rainy days like this in December that I turn my thoughts to those hot nights of October and November and remember the gorgeous and bright white wines that were going to be the toast of the 2009 summer – still a sceptic on climate change Abbott and Minchin?

Anyhoo, I was rambling on about crisp summer wines for this season before rambling on about dinosaur politicians, with one of those being the fantastic T’Gallant Mornington Peninsula ‘Juliet’ Pinot Grigio 2008. This is a wine that has probably been surpassed by the 2009 vintage by now, but a wine that should not be overlooked never the less. Bone straw in the glass with a positively water like hue to it. A faint nose of wax is evident up front with a very appealing palate of crisp acid and soft tropical fruit such as passionfruit and melon.

Side note to parents; could you imagine the school holidays being drowned out by six weeks of rain!

Great summer wine with a real easy drinkability about it.

Drink with asparagus and egg salad
Drink now
Screwcap 12%v/v $12 Psarakos Markets, Thornbury

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunday BBQ - Sichuan salt and pepper squid - part 2

... and yes, I did pick that shirt myself and still wear it, thankyou for asking!

Sunday BBQ - Sichuan salt and pepper squid part 1

Last week, our good friends Tracey and Pete came over for a little BBQ, and Tracey, who is a little media whiz, brought her video to do some playing around. Long story short, here is the outcome; my Sichuan salt and pepper squid - part 1.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Red Hill Estate Mornington Peninsula Botrytis 2000

When I was a wee lad growing up in the old port town of Fremantle, there was nothing better – I thought, anyway – than heading off to the Esplanade after a feed of Fish and Chips and rummaging through the flea market stalls. To me the two highlights were Lawson’s Castle (jumping castle) and the lucky dips. For 20 cents I got to stick my arm in to a box and pull out a magical delight; spinning top, paddle bat with ball, miniature Godzilla and numerous other titbits that would usually not see the day out.

Fast forward 30 odd years and the excitement of the lucky dip has somewhat faded with this joy now passed on to my daughter Imogen. Yet it was a dinner party Erin and I hosted a few weeks ago that the lucky dip concept was re-visited with the Red Hill Estate Mornington Peninsula Botrytis 2000. This is where it gets funky; Botrytis what I hear you ask, with the short answer being dunno (we will not bother with the long answer seeing that it would in fact be quite long indeed).

The colour was very orange with a very obvious brown sneaking in. This wine drew varying tasting notes so I will list them from who said what.

Pete – smells like cheddar cheese.
Tracey – far too sweet even for me!
Erin – what’s with all the toffee?
Tim – who wants to open up something else?

For the record this wine gave off quite a bit of marmalade and subtle saffron yet it all seemed to finish quite quickly with the nose becoming dull after about 10 minutes. Tracey and Erin were right; there was toffee and way too sweet! In my notes, I must add, is a comment about a blow up doll. This I think was the fifth bottle of wine opened that night so this remark could mean absolutely anything really.

Drink with crème brulee
Drink now
Cork 10.5%v/v $15 from Red Hill Estate Cellar door in 2002

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pommery Reims Brut Royal NV Champagne

Today I re-entered the workplace, leaving behind my poor gazumped son Henry in the care of his mother and taking on the role as Brand Development Manager for Vranken-Pommery Australia – that’s Champagne, people. Yes, it is my task to show-case Vranken-Pommery’s Champagne portfolio to all of the sommeliers out there in restaurant land with such Champagne as Pommery Brut Royal, Cuvee Louise 1998 – super drop that, and Heidsieck & Co. Monopole which has had zero presence in Australia for quite some time.

So it is with great pleasure that I give you the Pommery Reims Brut Royal NV. Now I am not going to tell you it is the greatest Champagne ever made and that you would be a dead-set nimrod if you don’t buy one now, tomorrow will be fine. The Pommery Brut Royal has a presence in over 85% of Michelin Star restaurants in France right now, so you don’t need me telling you how good it is.

A traditional aperitif style Champagne with a third each of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, this wine presents a very lean and crisp palate with a very tight bead. Green apples and slight lead pencil aromas are evident with seamless acid holding everything in place.

So next time you head out to a restaurant, ask for Pommery, and if they don’t have it on the list tell them to get in contact with me at

Drink with freshly shucked Tassie oysters - a fair dinkum Susan these two!
Drink till 2011
No rating
Quality cork 12.5%v/v from Vintage Cellar stores nationwide.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Remy Martin XO Champagne Cognac AOC

I don’t need to say anymore really; smells yum, tastes yum and is yum. Yum yum yum yum yum yum yum!!
Drink with big fat Cuban cigar
Drink till you are at least 75
No rating, just gorgeous!!!
Cork seal 40%v/v $AUD210 Hong Kong duty free

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Felton Road Central Otago Block 3 Pinot Noir 2006

This is as close to Grand Cru Burgundy New Zealand have ever got. The Felton Road Central Otago Block 3 Pinot Noir 2006 is an elite wine that can definitely be excused for the price tag. Very little translucency in the glass gives me the impression that this was left on skins for at least 17 days and maybe more. Bitter chocolate and spicy plum are very forward on the nose yet it is the palate that is the absolute star; thick red fruit of tart cranberry and cherry are followed by seamless acid holding together spices of cinnamon and dried tea with a gorgeous hit of game and funk – bacon fat meets forest floor if I may say. it all sounds terribly wanky but this is why Pinot Noir drinkers are labelled fanatics! Sensual and elegant in every way. Mucho Fantastico!!

Drink with five spiced duck – a fair dinkum Susan!
Drink till 2018
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $90 Barrons Cellars Perth

Friday, November 27, 2009

Logan Weemala Central Ranges Shiraz Viognier 2007

Lately I have had a fascination, more a hankering really, for wines produced from Orange and the Central Ranges in NSW. There are plenty of good wines coming out of these areas but you have to look for them. One thing I also have to say is do not dismiss these areas because they are not that well known; our wine drinking habits have come a long way since Mateus and ‘Man and Woman in Boat’, aka Coolabah cask wine, but I digress.

The Logan Weemala Central Ranges Shiraz Viognier 2007 is packed with wonderful layers of fruit and savoury notes. Deep garnet with a purple tinge to it, this wine throws plum and rhubarb on the nose. In the mouth there is an abundance of licorice and morello cherry with the faintest hint of apricot kernel at the end. Add in the silky smooth tannins and even acid, this is a wine that will last for at least seven more years yet is drinking absolutely fantastic now. Another great find from Blackheart and Sparrows.

Great balance and length; a real crowd pleaser this one!

Drink with roasted pork and especially the crackling!
Drink till 2015
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $19 from Blackheart and Sparrows, Lygon St Brunswick

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Austins Geelong Shiraz 2005

This is another cool climate ripper. The Austins Geelong Shiraz 2005 has had a presence here in Brunswick now for the past six months and as long as Uncle Dan’s keep stocking it, will feature for some time yet. In the glass this wine has a very deep garnet colour with no real distinction in the hue. The nose throws off plenty of complexity with licorice and rum raisin being predominant. The palate has an instant hit of more licorice, all sorts this time, that balance the oak and opens up with a great smack of black pepper with tight firm tannins and clean acid holding everything in place.

Great balance and length and a surprising medium weight to this wine; at 14.5%v/v, maybe the winemakers have fudged this a little in an attempt to steal some of Barossa and Mac Vales domination in Australian Shiraz sales – it feels more like 13.5%v/v and not the brooding 14.5%v/v.

Drink with BBQ pork spare ribs
Drink till 2013
Screwcap 14.5%v/v $23 at Dan Murphy’s Coburg

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pio Cesare Piedmont Barolo 1997

One of the best food wines I have ever had. The Pio Cesare Piedmont Barolo 1997 is an absolute monty for a Susan when paired up with osso bucco or cep risotto. An achingly dark colour with the nose throwing an abundance of roses, ripe strawberries, tart cherry, spice, earth and tar – busier than Bourke St mall in December! Even though it has 12 years on it, I would still decant this wine using a Pomerol decanter; this one has a very small egress as not to allow too much air contact with the wine. Thick tar on the palate with the acid still very relevant. A long, elegant finish with plenty of time left in this one – simply incredible!

Drink with osso bucco
Drink till 2025
Cork 13.5%v/v $$$$ from

Monday, November 23, 2009

Terre Da Vina La Villa Roero Piedmont Arneis DOCG 2007

Wonderful colour to this wine, with a developed yellow to it even though it is only an 07. The Terre Da Vina La Villa Roero Piedmont Arneis DOCG 2007 is a fantastic example of how a wine should taste when grown and made properly. Arneis to me is a youthful enough wine with very easy and floral aromas followed by a citrus herbal palate – and low alcohol; I have seen some New World Arneis coming in at 14-14.5%v/v!

Again, a great yellow in the glass with green pear and floral notes on the nose. There is a little spritz on the tip of the tongue followed by subtle acid with a finish of herbs – anise comes through at the end.

A great wine made for lazy summer days.

Drink with antipasti or Fish and Chips
Drink till 2011
Cork 12.5%v/v $16.95 from Mediterranean Wholesalers, Sydney Rd Brunswick

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pierro Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot L.T.Cf 2005

Lucky is he who has been able to understand the causes of things.’ Virgil 70-19BC.

Lucky indeed are the people who are able to blend wonderful wines. The Bordelaise have been doing it for quite some time, with their wines constructed based on geography; left bank based on Cabernet Sauvignon with flavours dominated by blackcurrant and the right bank based on Merlot with a more fruitcakey flavour and more aromatic in character.

If this Pierro Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot L.T.Cf 2005 were to be imported from Bordeaux rather than Margaret River (the L.T.Cf standing for little touch of Cabernet Franc), it would definitely be a first or second growth from the left bank. Decanted for a while, this wine shows visible SO2 dissolving through the dark deep garnet colour. The nose is absolutely dripping in cassis and other red fruit – totally seductive. More cassis in the palate but it is not the dominating presence however; spine tingling acid and firm grippy tannins drive this wine. An dead-set food wine this one; definitely not a quaffer and definitely not a wine that belies it's massive 14.5%v/v.

Seamless balance and complexity and a bargain at $35!

Drink with roasted shoulder of lamb
Drink till 2025
Quality cork 14.5%v/v $35 Dan Murphy’s Parkdale

Friday, November 20, 2009

Agrapat & Fils Avize Blanc de Blanc ‘Terroirs’ NV Champagne

Elegance and charm. The Agrapat & Fils Avize Blanc de Blanc ‘Terroirs’ NV Champagne can easily and succinctly be described as just that without anything else to be said – but that’s just boring and defeats the purpose of this exercise. In the glass the wine has a very tight bead that also displays a straw yellow to it. Leesy brioche and nuts come through on the nose with a crisp bite of green apples and lead pencil on the palate. This is a ‘Growers’ Champagne at its best. Just Lovely.

I am tipping that a few of these corks were released celebrating the now infamous 'Hand of Frog' goal by Thierry Henry. Ohh well, cei la vei.

Drink with scallops in beurre blanc sauce
Drink till 2012
Quality cork 12%v/v $100 at Rathdowne Cellars, Carlton North

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dr Bürklin-Wolf Wachenheimer Riesling 2007

Behold! The beast who soars with needle tail
through mountains, shattering shields and city walls!
Behold! The beast that stinks out all the world.

Canto 17, Commedia Cantica I: Inferno
Dante Alighieri

By golly it is hot! Right now most of south east Australia is sweltering in a very unseasonal heat-wave, and though I will concede that we have not quite got the conditions of Dante’s Inferno, it is only November and all we have to do is think back to what happened in February this year in Victoria.

There are a few measures we can take this summer for cool respite; the beach or pool, midnight showers, icy cold beer and mouth watering Riesling. So it is Riesling I have been turning to lately (there is always room in the fridge for beer as well!) and one of those has been the brilliant Dr Bürklin-Wolf Wachenheimer Riesling 2007 from Germany. This is a wine that I had on the pour at The Point Albert Park and was a wine that was greeted very well by the dining public while it was on.

Though it is probably not the current vintage, this wine has fantastic minerality and flintiness that make it perfect for lazy summer day salads and seafood. In the glass the wine has a very yellow gold colour to it, which is very deceptive to what is to follow on the palate. The nose throws up a very distinct stewed pear and lime aroma, with, as I just said, a very surprising palate following of crisp, clean acid holding together a bright linear feeling of flint and river stones. A massive contrast to the colour and nose but one that is rewarding none the less!

Super balance, gorgeous length with complexity I have not seen for a long time. Dare I say mucho fantastico!

Drink with sashimi
Drink till 2013
Quality cork 12%v/v $35 from King and Godfrey Cellars, Carlton

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shaw & Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2007

I do love my cool climate wines; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sparkling and Shiraz – all have great demand in my Brunswick habitat. All of these wines can easily be grown and made in virtually every wine region in Victoria, bar the Murray Darling of course, yet it is to that hot of hot states South Australia that we go to today, who are in fact enjoying (sic) their hottest November on record, for some cool climate juice in the guise of the Shaw & Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2007.

Now most of you out there know I am not a fan of over ripe South Australian juice from Barossa or Mac Vale, but the Adelaide Hills throw up wine that is made with all the savoury nuances that describe food friendly wines for the discerning wine drinker (or snob). After about an hour in the decanter, the colour of this wine (though nothing to do with the decanter) is deep red with a crimson purplish hue. The nose has an instant hit of licorice all-sorts and morello cherry with white pepper playing a role after a while. More sweet licorice in the mouth up front with fine grippy chappie tannins followed by a whack of pepper and more morello cherry. This is a delicious wine.

Super balance and length without having the weight of the world on its shoulders.

Drink with BBQ venison cooked rare
Drink till 2019
Screwcap 14%v/v $39 from Randalls, Bridport St Albert Park

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mount Gisborne Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2005

When people talk about wine and food matches, the two obvious to me are lamb with Cabernet Sauvignon – a no-brainer in my books, and Pinot Noir with duck – ditto. Yet the Pinot Noir/duck pair is based on the old world Burgundy style Pinot Noir and not so much the new world style that is usually dominated with strawberries. There are however some very good Pinot Noirs in Australia that are very duck friendly, but these tend to be quite expensive; think Bindi Block 5, By Farr and Bass Phillip which all come in $100 and then some.

Just down the road from Bindi is Mount Gisborne Wines, and for those of you who are regulars you would know I am a massive fan. A part of the selection of wines proprietor David Ell dropped off for me to taste, the Mount Gisborne Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2005 is a fair dinkum super wine and a Susan with Duck.

With no fining or filtering, this wine presents a very dirty nebulous red with a tinge of brick red hue. The nose has plenty of funk and wet earth with plenty of prickly acid tickling the olfactory. There is massive acid to this so I would definitely decant this one for a good hour or so before getting stuck in. Soft spice of cinnamon and bay leaf gives way to a more green tomato leaf feel. Bloody good wine this one.

Fantastic balance, great length with plenty of complexity. Mucho Fantastico.

Drink with, well, duck!
Drink till 2017
Diam 14%v/v $58 from Gertrude Street Enoteca, Gertrude Street Fitzroy

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sorby Adams Eden Valley Individual Vineyard ‘The GT’ Gewürztraminer 2008

I was down at Blackheart and Sparrows a while a go now looking for a Gewürztraminer for an Asian chilli dish I was preparing that night. Now it is a fair given that Gewürztraminer wine is a monty with Asian food yet here in Australia I find it increasingly difficult to find a half decent version of the Alsacean style; distinctive aromatic wines with a whack of floral notes and the obligatory lychee taste. It is because of this I generally go for a Riesling or perhaps even an acid driven Chardonnay.

In Australia however, it all just seems to be lychee, lychee and more lychee... with a hint of lychee at the end! And this was all too apparent with the Sorby Adams Eden Valley Individual Vineyard ‘The GT’ Gewürztraminer 2008; let me just say that the name packs more of a mouthful than the actual wine! The wine in the glass presents a strawy yellow with a clear watery hue. The nose gives the predictable lychee aroma with a hint of rose petals after a while. The palate I must say was a little disappointing – quite flat with no real oomph to it; no real anything actually.

The wine in the end did not hold up well with the chilli dish, so we had to make good with a couple of Tiger beers from Singapore – this was a far better option in the end. Crisp dry and very easy to drink, an almost Susan with the Nasi Goreng.

In the end, a pretty disappointing Gewürztraminer.

Drink with Nasi Goreng
Drink till 2011
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $23 Blackheart and Sparrows, Lygon Street Brunswick


Tiger Beer
Drink now
About $45 for a case at Tsarakos Grocers in Thornbury

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Paesi Tuoi Piedmont Barolo DOCG 2003

Do me a favour; just humour me for a sec. You know the song they play at baseball games where it ends with, ‘Charrrrrge!!!’ When I first had this wine, all I that was happening in my head was the baseball Charge song, with ‘yum yum yum yum yum.....’ – It was a Kodak moment I guess. Anyway, that wine was the Paesi Tuoi Piedmont Barolo 2003, and it was fantastic!

Yet another find from Mediterranean Wholesalers on Sydney Road, this wine gave me everything I wanted for a very good price, for Barolo anyway. There is plenty of SO2 in this wine so give it a good decanting before drinking. The colour of this wine had a real deep red garnet to it, yet still had a subtle translucency with the onset of an orange hue. As I said, give it plenty of time in the decanter – it needs it, and after a while the nose shows plenty of dried apricot and tar. The palate is puckery dry with a very distinct cranberry tart flavour about it; lovely and long and very Nebbiolo. Mucho Fantastico!!

Drink with Corsican slow braised beef with papadelle
Drink till 2035
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $45 at Mediterranean Wholesalers.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hewitson Barossa Valley Miss Harry Shiraz Grenache 2007

The regular readers of this blog are well aware of my constant avoision of anything starting with Shiraz and ending with Barossa on the label. Yes, I am a lush when it comes to Pinot Noir, aren’t we all? And then there is Champagne; am I not human, do I not bleed when cut? It is true that I have been called a lot of things over the journey, but Shylock is not one of them.

It was a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a friend in Brisbane who told me that I should not pay you too much bias to a particular variety and style and judge all wines on their merits. This is all true of course, but its coming from someone who is paid for their contributions on wine. Me, I just love Pinot Noir and Champagne, but to appease my tropical natured friend, I have started trolling the aisles of Dan’s, Blackhearts and other wine outlets in search of the Barossa Shiraz that is going to leave me smiling. This one, however, did not leave me running around my backyard with my shirt covering my face ala celebrating soccer players.

The Hewitson Barossa Valley Miss Harry Shiraz Grenache 2007 is an OK wine with no great surprises. Deep, deep red with a purple pinkish the in the glass, this wine automatically gives me the cue that there will not be too much acid. The nose is all sweat ripe fruit with oak also abound. The palate delivers similar to the nose with more ripe fruit and a hint of spice with no real acid to drive it through to the end. It reminds of the late Anna Nicole Smith; all flesh with no real substance. A definite JABS.

Drink with meat and three veg
Drink till 2011
Screwcap 14%v/v (??) $20 from Dan Murphy’s in Coburg

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bindi Macedon Ranges Block 5 Pinot Noir 2006

It was such a lovely day today. It wasn’t too hot, Henry had two really good sleeps and went down without (sort of) a peep, and Erin got her travel itinerary for her Asian trip - a lot shorter than first expected. So with all of this good news, something good had to be opened. The Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir 2006 was exactly that wine – you can almost hear Bruce McAvaney whisper ‘Special’ can’t you?

Such a great wine. In the glass the wine has a very dirty plummy red colour to it due no fining throughout the 17-18 months it has in barrel, with maybe 2-3 times it being racked off it lees by yours truly. This is not a simple wine on the nose with plenty of complexity abounding – lots of soft spice and earthy characters coming through. The palate engages with firm savoury tannins and wonderful minerality coming through in the acid; the length is tight and almost endless. There is an almost delicate addition of red fruit with tart cranberry and raspberry being an unlikely, yet affective duo. Great now but fantastic with 5-15 years and even more. Mucho Fantastico!!!!!!!!!!!!

Super, Super, Super!

Drink with thrice cooked duck
Drink till 2021
99 - I had to score this one, too good not to!
Diam 13.5%v/v, expect to pay plenty at auction sites such as Langton’s and MW Wines:;

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chandon Yarra Valley ZD Blanc de Blanc 2005

Another hot one in Melbourne and another hot wine to drink when said day is, well, hot! The Chandon Yarra Valley ZD Blanc de Blanc 2005 has got hot weather written all over it with its clean bone dry feel making it a monty for your next aperitif.

Now ZD is an acronym for zero disgorged. This is when a sparkling wine has the crown seal – its initial closure – released to remove any dislodged yeast sediment. There is generally a little wine lost so a dosage (minus sugar in Australia) is added before it gets its cork and cage. This does not happen with the ZD, hence the crown seal. What you get is a very dry sparkling wine with clean acid, which as I said, is perfect for an aperitif.

The 2005 ZD is fantastic; pale straw in the glass with a very fine bead. The nose is all green apple – very Blanc de Blanc because of the low v/v and 100% Chardonnay; more malic acid than lactic acid. The palate has up-right acid with a lead pencil taste to it, for those who remember lead pencils that is. This is a great wine.

Drink with freshly shucked oysters, a fair dinkum Susan!
Drink till 2012
Crown seal 12.5%v/v $35 from Rathdowne Cellars, Carlton North

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Woodside Valley Estate Margaret River ‘Les Bas’ Chardonnay 2007

Plenty to like about his Chardonnay. The Woodside Valley Estate Margaret River ‘Les Bas’ Chardonnay 2007 was dropped off to me at The Point Albert Park just prior to me resigning, so I am pretty sure that it did not make the cut. If I had stayed on however, it definitely would have been in the Chardonnay column, probably pouring as well.

Bone straw to look at, the nose is a wonderful marriage of stonefruit – peach primarily, and oak. The wine really hits its straps in the mouth with a punch of grapefruit, more stonefruit of peach and nectarine with spine tingling acid which tells me this wine will develop very nicely over the next 10 years.

Wonderful balance and length with its complexity spelling out what Margaret River Chardonnay should taste like.

Drink with pan seared scallops
Drink till 2018
Diam 13.1%v/v $40 from

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Yalumba Y Series South Australian Pinot Grigio 2008

I don’t k now why, but when I first had this wine I instantly thought of this song:

Hey you, stare at the sun,
You’re not gunna see anyone
Lost my nerve I didn’t know what to say
The weakness may have gone away...

I might sit on a beach
Where the waves are out of reach
Watch the ocean as it rolls on the wave
My weakness may have gone away.”

Losin’ it – Underground Lovers

With the Celsius more than likely hovering around the low 30’s here in Melbourne today, the idea of twisting a few screwcaps around the BBQ and picnic rug is spot on. One such wine, the Yalumba 'Y Series' South Australian Pinot Grigio 2008, will I think lose many lids today.

There is nothing pretentious or humdrum about this wine. The colour is bone straw with an almost sparkle to it. The nose instantly has a freshness of white pear and the prelude of piercing acid.... and it was with more freshness coming in the way of clean acid and more white pear with a touch of Granny Smith apple to boot.

This is a short wine with not much complexity, but when you are sitting around with friends deciding when to pull out the back yard cricket set, this wine is the perfect companion.

Drink now
Drink with picnic basket contents
Screwcap 12.5%v/v $10ish at most Dan Murphy stores

Friday, November 6, 2009

E. Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blond 2000

This is a stellar wine! The E. Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blond 2000 was absolutely pure joy to drink and unfortunately my last one.

E. Guigal has been described as the ‘Locomotive’ of the Rhone and the ‘Pirate of the Valley’ in the way they forage out the best fruit year after year. I would describe them as the Penfolds of the Rhone with parcels of fruit from Côte Rôtie up in the north to Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the south and everything in between.

From an average year, this wine still has all the hallmarks of a great Côte Rôtie wine. There is still plenty of brightness in the colour with no signs of an orange rusty hue. The nose is the winner here with layers of complex aromas; savoury cherry, herbs - bay leaf sticks out massively, and the prickly spice of tobacco. The palate still has a wonderful acid hit that is not astringent but clean and sharp with more savoury flavours dominating and finishing with subtle dusty tannins. Pure joy this was!

Drink with Roast Chicken
Drink till 2020
Quality cork 13%v/v $130 Langton’s online auctions

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Summer BBQ Time! - Cookbooks Part 2: Ross Dobson's Chinatown: sweet sour spicy salty

Home from hospital – it’s a good feeling! The stay at North Park Private to try and get Henry to sleep has sort of worked, cos’ I have come home with some better strategies for him to sleep longer – fingers crossed!! Home from hospital also means no more hospital food. I can categorically say that I will not miss their cooking! Sitting down and filling out my meal orders was probably one of the hardest things I did in the last week. All I could think about was my BBQ - pork, beef, crabs and prawns sizzling away while I sip a frosty beer.

It is going to be a bit tough to get organised for a feast tonight with not much in the fridge or pantry, so it will have to wait until tomorrow night for our gourmet spectacular. So to continue my series on summer cookbooks, tomorrow I will be using Ross Dobson’s Chinatown: sweet sour spicy salty.

A couple of weeks ago I had a massive hankering for some home cooked Chinese food. My cookbook range on the subject was very thin, so instead of spending mucho $$ on some new glossy from Kylie Kwong, I borrowed one of the many cookbooks my sister has on the subject, with Ross’ definitely looking the best.

So, in no particular order of what’s going on the BBQ this summer, here are some of the dishes that will get a decent circulation; and yes, I know I have two tofu recipes here carnivores, but they are both delicious so get used to it you meat lovers out there.

Salt and Pepper Tofu – this is such an easy and cheap dish to prepare. It will only work on the BBQ if you have a side wok attachment.
• 600 grams of silken tofu, cut in cubes
• 750 mL vegetable oil
• Half a cup of cornflour
• 1-2 teaspoons of Sichuan pepper and salt mix – one tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, two teaspoons and two tbsp salt
• One lemon, cut into wedges
Cut up tofu in to cubes and carefully place onto a plate lined with paper towels. Place a couple more paper towels on top and leave for about 30 minutes so the water may be absorbed; roll in cornflour. Heat oil in wok and gently slide/place tofu cubes in wok two at a time for about a minute or golden brown. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain then toss in salt and pepper mix. Serve with Peter Lehman Barossa Semillon 2006.

Char Siu rack of Lamb - another super dish for the BBQ with fantastic sweet and spicy flavours from the marinade combining with the juices of the lamb.
• Third of a cup of Chinese BBQ sauce – Char Siu
• Two tbsp honey
• Third of a cup lemon juice
• One teaspoon sesame oil
• One tbsp peanut oil
• Rack of lamb, about 750 grams
Combine Char Siu, honey, lemon juice and sesame oil and rub marinade in to lamb rack and refrigerate for at least eight hours. Char the rack on the BBQ for about 30-45 seconds to burn a little; this gives a really good flavour hit from the Char Siu. Place in a baking dish and cook for a further 20 minutes in BBQ. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes and carve up. Serve with Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 or De Bortoli Estate Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.

Chilli Blue Swimmer Crab or Singapore Chilli Mud Crab - this will get messy so don’t forget finger bowls and not your children’s wading pool!
• Four blue swimmer crabs/mud crabs
• Three tbsp Chinese chilli sauce
• Three good glugs of tomato sauce, not ketchup – we are in Australia people!
• 200mL chicken stock
• One teaspoon castor sugar
• Half a cup of vegetable oil
• Two garlic cloves, roughly chopped
• One tbsp grated ginger
• Two spring onions, white bit chopped and green bit sliced diagonally
• Two large red chillies, not birds-eye, thinly sliced diagonally
• One egg, lightly beaten
Combine chilli sauce, tomato sauce, stock and sugar in a mixing bowl and dissolve the sugar; set aside. If the crabs are still alive, put them in the freezer for about an hour. Using a cleaver or a heavy bladed knife, make and incision through the head of the crab, put the crabs on their back and lift the tail apron and using your thumb, lever off the top of the shell. Remove the spongy grey gunk and rinse. Cut the crab in half and half again and refrigerate until ready.

Heat the oil in the wok to very high heat. When it reaches smoking point, toss half of the crab contents in and give a good toss for about 3-4 minutes or until coloured. Remove from wok.

Drain almost all of the oil from the wok and add garlic, ginger, spring onion whites and half of the chillies and cook for about 7 seconds then toss in crab and sauce mixture and bring to the boil – keep the kids away at this time cos’ it gets really hot! Keep tossing for a while then slowly pour the egg in as you keep stirring. Cook for another minute. Serve with green spring onion and remaining chilli as garnish. Serve with Provenance Geelong Pinot Noir 2007 or Pepper Tree Hunter Valley Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – this has a lovely tang to it!

Tofu with soy and ginger – this is a great appetiser for something like the last recipe.
• 600 grams of silken tofu, cut in cubes
• 750 mL vegetable oil
• Two tbsp light soy sauce
• One tbsp fish sauce
• Two teaspoons grated ginger
• 40 grams tapioca flour
• Half a teaspoon of fine ground white pepper
• Two spring onions, green part only thinly sliced, diagonally
Prepare the tofu the same way as the first recipe. Simmer fish sauce and ginger in a small bowl to soften ginger. Remove from heat. Heat the oil in the wok to very high. Toss the tofu in flour and cook until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Reheat the sauce mix and pour over tofu with spring onions to garnish. Serve with Bloodwood Orange Riesling 2009.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Melbourne Cup Carnival Champagne and Sparkling Wine

Tomorrow is the official start of the 2009 Melbourne Cup Carnival with the AJC Derby at Flemington. Tomorrow is also the start of my son Henry's sleep school - he still cannot sleep!! This will last for four days with Henry and me bunkered down in cosmopolitan Bundoora for four days. So seeing that this racing carnival is all about bubbles and fizz, here are four wines to spend your winning's - if there are any - on when you leave the track sober and head home to regale the days events.

Buxton Ridge 'Molly Jean' Upper Goulburn Valley Blanc de Noir NV - So nothing came home for you at the end of the day and you didn't think to put a 'place' bet on any of the seconds you got - doesn't matter! make sure you have about $50 left in the kitty so you can swing by Blackheart and Sparrows in Brunswick to pick up a couple of these; the 100% Pinot Noir in this wine gives it a great peach pink look to it with gorgeous savoury flavours flowing all the way through - lovely!

Croser Piccardilly Valley Sparkling 2006 - Nice work, you picked the winner in the jumps and got the office sweep and a voucher for $45 at Dan's. This will pick you up an easy Croser on the way home with change for a six pack of imported beer. Crisp, clean and to the point this one.

Krug NV, Reims Champagne - Getting the trifecta in any race is a big win, but when you have the winner in it that pays $101 and second paying $51, well you got a big payout. An NV will give you endless citrus and toast and nuts and deliciousness.Look for this at Vue de monde or Ezard for about $600.

Dom Perignon Œnoteque 1990, Epernay Champagne - So, you just got the running quadrella super whatchamacallit. A massive win like this justifies a massive Champagne and the Dom Perignon 1990 is all of that. This wine should be rich with real forest floor aromas and flavours of truffles yet still displaying the youthfullness of citrus and brioche. Expect to pay fork out at least $1,500 a bottle at Rockpool or Bistro Guilluame at Crown. Make sure you offer a glass to Bart Cummings if you see him, he probably trained the winner!

Boy, that was an expensive exercise! I do hope you have fun out there - good punting and wish Henry and me luck for our sleep school!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Paringa Estate 'PE' Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2008

A very clean and expressive wine. The Paringa Estate 'PE' Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2008 has all the hallmarks of a Lindsay McCall wine - fresh, spotless and a cracker to drink now. This Pinot is from two vineyards in Red Hill coming in over a four week period from the very difficult 2008 vintage.

Very Pinot Noir in colour with a pink hue a clear translucency. Dark cherry and rhubarb on the nose is quickly followed by clean and quick acid on the palate held together with spicy oak at the end. This is going to be so easy to drink this summer!

Drink with roasted beetroot and lamb salad
Drink till 2012
Screwcap 14%v/v $24 from Dan Murphy's Preston

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bindi Bottling 2009 - 2008 Quartz Chardonnay, Original Vineyard and Block 5 Pinot Noir

Having to get up at 6 am these days is a pretty hard slog considering my young son Henry is usually up at 1.00, 3.00 and 4.30 in the AM. Having to get up at 6am towards the end of a cold winter is also a little bit of a turn off. So as the alarm blinked 6.02 am, I slowly pulled myself out of bed and headed down to the kitchen and get my fill of coffee for the drive up to Bindi Wine Growers in the Macedon Ranges to help bottle the 2008 Quartz Chardonnay, Original Vineyard and Block 5 Pinot Noir.

Over breakfast with my daughter Imogen, I had to explain that I was not seeing ‘Bindi the Jungle Girl’ but my friend Michael Dhillon, the wine-maker and owner of Bindi Wines who has been having me up there for the last four years to tinker with him in the vineyard and winery.

It is around August each year that Bindi bottle their premium wines. Now this is not a slight on the other Bindi labels are not premium, just these bad-boys spend a little longer in barrels to eek that ‘something special’ out of them.

This year Michael contracted a new outfit, three guys with a great big shiny rig with all the flashy bits on it; don’t ask me what they were, they were just flashy OK. And instead of the eightish helpers, there were only five of us, plus Michael’s dad Bill and Wendy his wife.

The morning unfolded without as much as a broken bottle (to come just before the end) and the pallets were steadily filling up. I was swapping with another fellow, Jason, in stacking the pallets and slapping stickers on to boxes so as not to confuse any of the wines; so this is why I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Viticulture. Yet as we had completed another pallet followed quickly by another and another it was becoming starkly apparent that we were going to knock this off in super quick time.

Before we knew it there were about 250 dozen neatly stacked bottles of wine all snug in their boxes ready for pick up in the coming weeks. And looking at all of this wine heaped in the winery, a real sense of achievement was shared by all who helped out.

But alas, there was a touch of sadness in all this. One of the chores I looked forward to when I was up to Bindi were the days spent in the winery labelling and packaging the wines when it was either too hot or cold in the vineyard and giggling along to ‘Tenacious D’ singing about naughty stuff – it’s a Kodak moment OK. These days are gone with the wine sitting in quiet idle already.So looking at the pallets stacked up, there was only one thing left – lunch. This year Wendy whipped up a great big pot of meat balls in a tomatoee-olive sauce with some creamy scallop potatoes. This was washed down with a few of the day’s wines with some other vintages thrown in for comparison (and just because they were there, really). It is such a privilege when you can sit there sipping some of Australia’s best wine and listen to people like Stuart Anderson and Michael Dhillon give their impressions on what we are drinking, only to have them ask you what you think of it (I also learnt not to use the descriptor ‘meaty’ when analysing wine, cos there are lots of meat out there). I seriously did not want to head back down the highway.
And so the day came to an end and for my services I was sent off with a bottle each of Block 5 Pinot Noir and Quartz Chardonnay. That is why I finished my degree in Viticulture I guess!