Monday, May 25, 2009

M. Sorrel 'La Grael' Hermitage 2001

When I first tasted this wine last year I was immediately drawn to the way that over time, this wine, like no other I have drunk, evolved in such a way that even after 2 hours, the wine was still coming up with new flavour spectrums.

The colour is a deep ox blood red with absolutely no translucency (with further investigation I found out this wine had 23 days on skin, hence the massive colour). On the nose at first there was a real smack of olive tapenade, really big and really one dimensional. Later the nose showed lovely hints of white pepper then later again soft red fruit – whacky stuff this one. In the mouth at first was a great marriage of tannin, oak and black fruit. The tannins after a while in the glass and decanter melded in to a fine chalky feel in the mouth with the fruit growing longer and longer with every sip.

The longer and longer and longer I drank this wine the more it evolved until finally I was hit with the olive tapenade I got from the initial whiff. Wine like this really doesn’t get any better.

Drink with saddle of lamb cooked medium rare.
Drink till 2030

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chateau Doisy-Daene 2007 Bordeaux Blanc

Wine is sexy stuff; I have said this many times. Wine is sexy, but these are not words I would generally describe me old mate Savvy B. The Doisy-Daëne Bordeaux Blanc 2008 is no Savvy B, this is real Sauvignon Blanc let me tell you.

This wine straight away seems to betray all the characters that new world Savvy B gives you; pale straw colour, rancid cats pee and vegetal nose followed by the lip smacking acid rush that comes in the mouth.

This wine is pure delight. Nice pale gold colour seems a bit odd for such a young wine of this calibre, but this is put to rest with a nose of clean and clear lemon curd. The mouth is very true to the nose with a lovely mouth feel, clean acid which with this wine is playing the second fiddle, followed by more lemon and a hint of sherbet and melon. Bloody good stuff I say.

Drink with cervice scallop
Drink till 2012

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chateau Montrose Ste-Estephe 1996

What a wine. What a wine!
Bordeaux wines in Australia a quite often regarded as mythical beasts that are generally out of most people’s price range, mine included. But then there are wines such as Chateau Montrose (pronounced Monrose) which, even still a second growth wine, is quite affordable. This one was a paltry $130 – and this is very cheap for Bordeaux let me tell you.
The colour of this wine is gorgeous; deep garnet red with absolutely no translucency whatever. On the nose there are black cherries, leather and tobacco; this tells me that the wine is certainly in its secondary flavour profile. In the mouth there is a chalky fine clean tannin grip with a long powerful spectrum of black fruit and savoury chocolate. Just brilliant I say!
Drink with Chateaubriand medium rare
Till 2026

The young and the old of it

Did you know that in Australia we drink our wine within 48 hours of purchasing it (courtesy of This means that most of the wine consumed is only a couple of years old. Shiraz tastes of ripe fruit; Cabernet tastes a bit furry; Chardonnay tastes of citrus and Savvy B tastes of cat pee – we know all of this.
So what happens when we are confronted with a wine that has got quite a few years in the bottle? Well it’s not going to have it youth about it that’s for sure.
When wines are young they display what is called primary flavours – its youth you may say. As the wine develops, the flavour spectrum moves to secondary and then tertiary flavours. Finally the last flavour occurs when the wine is too old – this is the knackered flavour.
Primary, secondary, tertiary and knackered. Yet sometimes wines don’t follow this order. Some wines skip secondary and tertiary and go straight to knackered, like our friend Savvy B.
For me, the wine is ultimately a flavour vessel of where the fruit is grown. I have said it before, terroir is the most important ‘finger print’ that a wine has. Terroir is aspect of the vineyard, slope of the vineyard, altitude, proximity to water, surrounding flora and fauna and a raft of other factors.
The second main reason defining a wines flavour is the growing season. This is what types of weather conditions the fruit I guess ‘lives’ through from budburst to harvest. Cool climate fruit, Chardonnay for example, the flavours to me are a balance of fruit, acidity and texture that is immediately identifiable to say shiraz grown in the Barossa where it has a very warm growing season; this translates in to a wine with high alcohol, big ripe fruit, liquorice and leather – a bit like a Christmas cake in a bottle!
So, onto what I started with, and that’s flavour evolution from youth to maturity. When wine display high degrees of acidity in the mouth, such as Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir, the general rule of thumb is that these wines will develop quite slowly with the result being rich, gamey flavours that reward with patience. Acid is the most important factor, because a wine with high acid (low pH) generally has low alcohol. This means development comes in the bottle, not the vine.
Wines with high alcohol such as Viognier, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon develop their flavours on the vine with the high sugar content of the berry translating in to high alcohol in the glass. These wine lose the primary fruit very quickly and cultivate a more savoury, animal flavour.
So the point is a 2002 Chardonnay, say Giaconda, will taste dramatically different in 2004 and then again in 2009. In 2004 this wine (and these are my tasting notes at the time) was lip smacking acid, grapefruit, lemon and then a wonderful licking of liquorice. In 2009 there was crème brulee, custard and stewed pineapple and apricot – there was a little bit of acid, but this was channelled through the stewed fruit. The colour also changes from a bright yellow to an almost orangey-oxidative colour.
Things change; all things change – governments change, hairstyles change and climate changes (and I certainly hope my son Henry’s hair colour changes from red – two ranga’s in the family is quite enough I say). So next time you open a bottle of wine with some age on it, don’t be put off by the strange flavours that are emanating from the glass, this is just the wine telling you that nothing stays the same.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Savvy B Darling

Not so long ago, very recently actually, a certain chunk of the population was inundated with a warning that scared the living bejesus out of them; this was the cigarette smoker. These warnings were plastered on cigarette ‘cases’ with grotesque images of lungs with clogging tar, arteries with oozing puss... you’ve seen it right? Well, out of this, their most famous ambassador tragically died –‘The Marlborough Man’; he died from lung cancer brought on from cigarettes.
You may ask what this has got to do with wine; absolutely nothing, except for the joke that I am telling people that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc will kill them – because we all know what happened to ‘The Marlborough Man’ right?
Now this is just a joke, because I have to admit I am not a fan of this variety, but most of Australia seems to love this wine. And why not; it’s light, fruity, acidic and most importantly easy to drink.
More and more of us Aussies are consuming this variety from NZ than the Oz wines with about as much patriotic zeal as knowing the second verse of ‘Advance Australia Fair’; how does it go again? The Kiwi’s it seems have a magic wand that urges 30% of the population to say, ‘geez man, this Savvy B is just great with my porterhouse steak’. IT’S WRONG BY GINGOES!!
Anyhoo, we here in Oz make a pretty darn good Savvy B as well. So Charlie my dear, here are some Aussie Savvy B’s (with a little Semillon sometimes) to get your laughing gear around.
Cullen – a Margaret River wine which you will like; really lingering tropical fruit and a great smack of acid to boot; eat with mud crabs caught with your own net up in the bay Charlie.
McHenry Hoehnen – another Margs wine. This is from the guy who started Cape Mentelle, David Hoehnen. Clean, crisp with heaps of green acid. Eat with chicken salad.
Limbic – this is a gem from Gippsland in Victoria. Very Sancerre with a mineral mouth feel and a great clean melon finish. Eat with Thai seafood.
Sorrenberg – very Bordeaux in style, this Beechworth wine is loaded with citrus, lanolin and soft acid. Great with grilled snapper
Grosset – the Adelaide Hills legend. Just drink it in a glass God damn it!!!!!
So there you have it Charlie. Hope this was helpful. And to anyone else out there who needs the urge to drink Marlborough Savvy B - the same horse that rode the ‘The Marlborough Man’ off in to the sunset is ready for you as well.
Oh yeah, whatever you do, do not, and I repeat, DO NOT, drink Savvy B with lobster; and I don’t care what Scott says!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mount Gisborne Pinot Noir 2003

You see, it’s not all Bindi Bindi Bindi OK!!
Just down the road from Bindi is Mount Gisborne wines, as previously mentioned in ‘Stuart Anderson’s’ blog.
This little winery is the product of hard work from expat yank David Ell. I have drunk several of David’s wines over the years, with the 1997 and 2001 Pinot Noirs the standouts in my mind.
What Mount Gisborne wines try to do is get a bit of bottle age in them before being released on to the market. Now I think the 2003 Pinot was released in 2007, but don’t quote me on that; this is a long time to wait before being released.
What David is trying to achieve is to highlight the terroir of the area and let the wine define what it is after time in hibernation. I reckon this works most of the time with his wines, and this one is a great example of leaving it sit for a bit longer I think – it still needs time.
The colour seems to be rose red, with the hue showing signs of fading. The nose was a massive whack of red fruit, plum and raspberries; yet after about 10 minutes it was more like game and spice. In the mouth it was yet another surprise with massive amounts of acid pulling the seamless fruit in to line – strawberries and rhubarb the obvious. Like the nose, it all changed after a while in to a savoury, spice mix of cinnamon and the like – lovely stuff.
Drink with roast lamb or lamb shanks.
Now till 2015

Monday, May 4, 2009

La Parisienne Pates and L'Eglantiere Chablis 2007

Last week my daughter and I went on a little trip into the city for a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
On the way home we stopped off in Lygon Street Carlton for some provisions for dinner; Donati butchers for some pork. While waiting to be served (they were very busy), I was pondering how to cook the pork – pondering long and hard I was.
Now I do have a bit of a soft spot for all things French, so it was decided that the pork would be prepared in a Gaul sought of way and so with this I knew I would need more provisions.
Now Lygon Street is famously known as ‘Little Italy’ in Melbourne, no disputing this. So it is a surprise that the best French deli in my town is on this thoroughfare.
La Parisienne Pates is a little gem in the heart of ‘Little Italy’ and is Australia’s only charcuterie, with all the wonderful small goods made by Stephane Langlois. There are game pies made from duck and rosemary jus, rabbit and prune, and venison with mushrooms. The pates and terrines are just brilliant - more duck, this time with orange, wild mushroom, venison with cepes; sexy stuff this.
Our visit saw us buy some duck fat, bread, wonderful Ossau Iraty hard cheese and a bottle of L’Eglantiere Chablis 2007.
Now, about the wine.
I am not sure if this wine is exclusive to La Parisienne Pates, but if it is, they have got themselves an absolute ripper. At $30, this is pure gold. The colour is straw gold, quite stark. The nose is all lemon, and with time in the glass transforms to a lovely lemon meringue. In the mouth it is quite minerally with flint coming through in even waves. This is very young Chablis which I think may need a couple of years, but right now it is clean, crisp and easy to drink.
Drink till 2012
Drink with confit pork with steamed green beans (the menu that evening).

Wow, this is making me hungry and thirsty. Bugger it, I’m off to La Parisienne Pates.