Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cidre Breton Brut Traditionnel from Guenrouët, Brittany

The sun is setting in lovely down-town Belmont in sunny Perth, and as another domestic carrier flies overhead delivering more intrepid tan chasers, I have debunked to the ‘family room’ of this cheery rental to sit down and talk about my 2010/11 summer love – Cider. More importantly the Cidre Breton Brut Traditionnel from Guenrouët in Brittany France.

But first I need to ask the question: why have I taken so long to board the Cider train? It’s got me buggered I tell you. But anyway I love it and it is here to stay, at least in my fridge, be it in Brunswick or this rather charming rental house in Belmont.

It’s pretty basic this one; yellow in colour, ripe apples on the nose but when you get it in the mouth it all starts to get funky – in a good way of course. Dry, tart, fragrant with a real feel of phenolics about it; I reckon it’s got the palate style of an Amontillado Sherry where the flavour is there, then it’s not and then it comes back. All a nice surprise really.

All in all a great drop and a perfect foil for forgetting about the sunburn you just got at the beach!

Drink with grilled whiting and Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’ playing in the background
Drink now
Crown seal 5%v/v $3.19 at Dan Murphy’s Morley

Friday, December 24, 2010

Pinga Bridgewater on Loddon/Bendigo Nebbiolo 2007

Seeing that I am still on Melbourne time and that it is 6.20am in Perth and I have been wide awake since 5am, I thought I’d fill in some time while the kids watch ‘The Flintstones’ with a post on possibly the finds of the year – for me anyway. The Pinga Bridgewater on Loddon/Bendigo Nebbiolo 2007. From my understanding this is a second label from the Pondalowie folk in Bendigo, with Bridgewater on Loddon being found midway between Kyneton and Daylesford in Victoria’s Spa country.

Dark and brooding in the glass with an almost endless deep set tawny colour with purple hue, the aroma is straight out of the Piedmontese – a tight bouquet of lavender and violet with that evolving to black olive tapenade over the following two days. The palate displays tight and fine tannins and acid combined with effortless apricot, dark chocolate and after two days the trademark tar. All in all a super wine and priced in the mid 20’s is a dead-set bargain – simple!

Drink with slow cooked beef daube
Drink till 2016
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $25 from Red, White and Amber in Kew

Monday, December 20, 2010

A real Summer warmer - Romate Don José Oloroso Sherry Jerez Spain

What else would you want to be drinking while we freeze through another December week in Melbourne – Romate Don José Oloroso Sherry from Jerez Spain. Sinister and dark looking in the glass this little beauty is all seduction and is quite possibly on level terms with champagne as a no-brainer as an aperitif. Almost peanut brittle like on the nose, the palate jumps from earthiness, mushroom, almonds, and then truffles and so much other stuff that escapes me. Quite simply gorgeous!

Drink with truffle risotto
Drink now
Quality cork 18%v/v $38-$42 at all god wine stores

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Barratt Piccadilly Valley Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2009

I like being surprised. I was at St Judes Cellars a few weeks ago having a chat to Sean behind the jump, and we were talking about the resurgence of chardonnay. Did you know that for the first time in yonks, chardonnay has eclipsed sales of savvy b in Australia (going off first half of the year sales from Vintage Cellars); that’s pretty huge!

Now I’ve always been a chardonnay fan; never understood the ABC set – anything but chardonnay. All you need to do is go through my blog and seethe praise I fork out to such players like Bindi, Giaconda, By Farr and Oakridge to name a few.

So, like I said, I was having a wee chat with Sean at St Judes about chardonnay and he asked me if I had had the Barratt Piccadilly Valley lately. No was my reply. Is it any good asked? It most certainly is was his reply. Long story short I gave him some money and took a bottle home.

In the glass the wine almost has a Riesling like clarity. We let the wine sit for about 25 minutes just to get it closer to room temp. After that there was an abundance of grapefruit zest and just a little bit of locut in there too – haven’t seen that in chardonnay for yonks. Gorgeous acid was accompanied by more grapefruit, slight toast and licorice powder; a super chardonnay indeed.

Wonderful balance and length, with complexity and weight evenly balanced. A no-brainer for the XMAS stocking this year.

Drink with scallop ceveche
Drink till 2014
Screwcap 13.5%v/v from St Judes Cellars and

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Clos Guirouilh Jurançon Sec 2007 Pyréneés-Atlantiques

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." - Sam Keen

We are not exactly in deep summer just yet, but what the hell is deep summer anyway? I guess it is the second part of the quote that rings true – “...laziness finds respectability”. And it was this laziness that I shared with a bottle of Clos Guirouilh Jurançon Sec 2007 Pyréneés-Atlantiques in South West France (Gros Manseng and Courbu varieties).

Sitting yellow white in the glass, the aroma has an instant hit of wax and honeysuckle wafting up the olfactory. Another thing that is quite noticeable is the viscosity in the glass – subtle hint on the sec I’d say. In the mouth it is rich and textured with just a touch of crème brulée about. The acid is not sharp, as expected, but nevertheless clean and pronounced.

A seriously good wine and such a great companion this summer.

Drink with salmon gravlax
Drink till 2012
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $26 Blackhearts and Sparrows Fitzroy North

Monday, December 13, 2010

Delamere Tasmanian Blanc de Blanc 2005

Sometimes when you pick something up from the wine shop, you just simply want what you pay for with no little surprises; a bit of common garden-variety I'd call it. So when I happened across the Delamere Tasmanian Blanc de Blanc 2005 I was hoping for a little bit of toasted nut and brioche to wash down some oysters and smoked salmon (just another day in down-town Brunswickistan).

Now lets get the checklist out; toasted nuts - check, brioche - check, fine bead - sort of check, brine - check. This is where Play School comes in to it. Which one does not fit! If you chose brine you'd be right. If you chose brioche you are probably wanting the Brunswick Sardine's webpage

Call me crazy, but the sexxy taste of brine from the Canadian coast is something I really wasn't expecting. And if you did check out the Brunswick Sardines web page, doesn't that Canadian family look so happy jogging along what is probably a freezing beach in Newfounland.

But back to the wine. Brine. Thats all I've got really.

Drink with Brunswick Sardine's
Drink now
Quality cork 13%v/v $30 Blackheart and Sparrows Brunswick

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Seppelt Great Western Original Sparkling Shiraz 2006

Seriously, this is a no-brainer when it comes to XMAS day celerbrations this year, or any year for that matter; the Seppelt Great Western Sparkling Shiraz 2006 I couldn't wait two weeks so I guess I'll be grabbing some when I touch down in Perth in 10 days.

Drink with XMAS pud
Drink now-2016
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $22 Dan Murphy's Hawthorn East

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Massena Barossa Valley Barbera 2009

Lately I have been rediscovering the joys of the Barossa Valley. No more is it a place where you go for high alcohol jars of jam, instead there are a group of new and young producers making, dare I say, exciting styles of Shiraz/Syrah in the guise of Northern Rhône wines.

But this is where it sort of goes off track a little. I like Barbera, always have. So when I tried the Massena Barossa Valley Barbera 2009, I was instantly wowed, but had to have a double take cos' this was for me not what Barbera is about. To me Barbera is flavors and aromas of fresh fruit and dried fruits and herbs.

Don't get me wrong this wine is great, and I am happy to see Barbera planted in ther Barossa, for the acidity of Barbera makes it ideal for planting in the warm to hot climate Barossa where acidification is usually needed.

So, about the wine then. Really dark in ther glass with no real hint of a ruby hue. ripe blueberries and mulberries come through on the nose with the palate very smooth with acid very much in the background. After about 45 minutes in the decanter the wine delivers red licorice at the end of the mouthful.

A good wine in the end and something that isn't what I would call garden variety.

Drink with slow braised lamd
Drink till 2013
90Screwcap 14.5%v/v $22 Blackheart and Sparrows, Brunswick

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Suckfizzle Augusta Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 1998

My first look at a Suckfizzle wine was a corked bottle of the SSB at Piraeus Blues in Fitzroy just after I returned from four years in Europe and the US. In an Iron Chef moment, if memory serves me correct, the manager quickly took the wine away, and instead of another SSB she opened up the Cabernet Sauvignon. The three of us seemed a little surprised but just went along with it – we were glad. The banquet that we ended up having been accompanied with a further two more bottles of the Suckfizzle CS.

That was effectively the start of my love-affair with Suckfizzle wines, in particular the CS. And with this Suckfizzle Augusta Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, my cellar is a little bit sadder today for there is no more hiding away. But no more tears, let’s get to the wine.

Still very dark in the glass, with no signs of any brickie hue to be seen. Fantastic wafts of cassis, cedar and brown spices with cinnamon the most obvious. More cassis in the palate with the acid a surprising hit in the mid palate followed by blueberries, more spice and another surprise with checked and still firm tannins bobbing up – very Bordeaux and very Left Bank.

My cellar has taken a hit in the past six months, so armed with Mr Visa, I think Suckfizzle may be getting an email from me sooner rather than later.

Drink with Corsican lamb stew – my recipe
Drink till 2016
Quality cork 14%v/v Parkhill Cellars Richmond $38 – still have receipt, but Cellars are now closed

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Good grief, I think I am finally accepting my Brunswickness.

Yesterday in Melbourne was very muggy and quite hot, and instead of inhaling beer I gave in to cider; geez it was good. Nice work Punt Road and rock on Napoleone & Co Apple Cider - made by winemakers if you didn't know!

For some reason I feel like buying a crappy 80's bike and riding on the footpath without a helmet carrying my Mac in the floral basket - I am so rad now!

$14.99 a 4 pack from Northcote IGA

Friday, November 12, 2010

I was Wrong!..... Vavasour Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010

.... and before you know it, it’s hot. Then it’s going to be cold, then hot, then cold, then.....

Melbourne; what a great city to live in hey? Yes summer has once again side-stepped spring in Melbourne and we find ourselves again switching from central heating to air-con over night. And that’s what this post today is based on – switching.

Now, to all those too cool for school rock n’ rollers out there, look away now. Everyone else, I like Sauvignon Blanc. It’s almost a Fonz moment, ‘I was w-w-w-w-w-w-wrong....’, but hey, when it’s warm and the nights are muggy, Savvy B really does hit the spot. And the Savvy B that floated my boat this week is the Vavasour Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Crisp, fresh and just a real good sense of balance about this wine; its got great acidity yet it is not astringent; the fruit is there but its not cloyingly sweet. This is a very nice wine.

So people, give this much maligned grape a go. And if need be, look up your local SBA (Sauvignon Blanc anonymous) group and tell the world that yes, I love Savvy B.

Drink with goats cheese and scallop salad
Drink now
Screwcap 13.5% v/v $17 from Dan Murphy’s Hawthorn East

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mount Riley Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009

For all of you who do not know who Jack Dyer is, here is a brief synopsis:

• Richmond Football club and VFL legend
• One of the dirtiest players in his, and for that matter any era
• TV personality
• Creator of some of the best quotes in last 50 years

A few times I have mentioned in my blog the phrase, ‘good average player’. This was one of Jack Dyer’s more common summations of players he commented on while he was in broadcasting, and probably for that matter, playing also.

For me, ‘good average player’ is effectively saying he is not a star, but he holds his own; wine imitating football you might say. A wine that will not blow your socks off, but something that deserved to be bottled. Pretty simple really.

This leads us to the Mount Riley Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009. A nice wine without the lap dance. All categories tick the box: colour – slight greyish pink; nose – prickly pear and full; palate – more pear with a slight viscosity about it. In the end, a nice bottle of wine, or in footy terms, a good average drop.

Drink with seared scallops
Drink till 2012
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $19 from Psarakos markets, Thornbury

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Patrick Piuze Courgis Chablis 2008

Simple is good. The Patrick Piuze Courgis Chablis 2008 is all simple; simple in a good way with wonderful clean acidity, citrus and lanolin all melded together with what I can only describe as one of the most mineral driven wines I have had. An absolutely must have wine this summer.

Drink with kingfish ceviche
Drink till 2016
Quality cork and wax seal 12%v/v $50 from Blackhearts and Sparrows, Brunswick

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Paradigm Hill Mornington Peninsula L' ami Sage Pinot Noir 2008

'Well done is better than well said.Benjamin Franklin

Such a stonkingly good wine!

I could easily sit here in my sunny little home in Brunswick and pontificate about this wine but I shant. The Paradigm Hill Mornington Peninsula L’ami Sage Pinot Noir 2008 is such a good wine. Simple. So here is what I saw.

Great colour with virtually no translucency at all. Tight nose, so I decanted. After about 30 minutes the wine opened up to gorgeous tart red fruits of cranberry and brimming raspberry with brown spice’s the longer in the glass. Super clean acid held in check by the littlest of super fine tannins. Musk, tart red fruits again and just super gorgeous.

The wine I must say is at its peak three days later (I decanted about two glasses back into the bottle to see how it travelled). It is so Burgundy like, with descriptors I can’t give justice to. But I’ll have a stab anyway. Definite 5 spice aroma’s that meld deliciously into mushrooms, blackberry and more spice in the form of cinnamon. Mazel tov George and Ruth!

Drink with Asian style duck
Drink till 2018
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $55 Armadale Cellars

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Dispensary Enoteca and Dr. Loosen Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Columbia Valley Riesling 2006

Building relationships is the key in this industry. In my ‘A little memo...’ post earlier this month I received a comment from Jeremy in Perth in which he was, I would suggest, taking a shot at certain ‘types’ that work in the restaurant scene. Thinking more about what he wrote, and sort of reading between the lines as he put it, I more or less agree with him.

In Melbourne I have built some great relationships. Likewise the same in Perth (just got back last night). But sometimes it is the most unlikely places where great relationships are made. That place is Bendigo, and the person is Tim from The Dispensary Enoteca.

About three weeks ago I headed up the Calder Hwy and spent two days in Daylesford and Bendigo pressing the flesh. Pretty much all my appointments went well, save the ones that cancelled of course, but it was the genuine honestly from Tim that really impressed me. There was no bullshit about him; if he like a wine he told me, if he didn’t likewise (suffice to say he is currently pouring three of my wines). But for me the thing that really stuck out was his generosity with his time. It is very rare someone will give you time in the middle of service, yet he did this and then made time to see me later in the day during his break.

The Dispensary is a great little Enoteca type of place hidden in a laneway off one of the main streets in Bendigo. Seating about 25 inside and out, Tim has very skilfully managed to fit a kitchen, bar, wine wall and fridge in to a very tiny space as well as making room for 4 tables, a communal table and seating in the front window. All this without the slightest sense of being cramped. The menu follows the simple design of an Enoteca/cuccina with terrine, soup and what I had, croque-mademoiselle.

Now I reckon I have had about a dozen different types of croque-mademoiselle, but this one was the pick by a country mile. Perfectly toasted bread sandwiches still perfectly smoked salmon with a dill garlic butter. And with this I enjoyed a wine that Tim sold me on – Dr. Loosen Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Columbia Valley Riesling 2006 from Washington State. Slightly developed in the glass, this wine, unlike our Rieslings, does not throw the kero waft, but instead a much understated stewed pineapple and subtle spice. The palate like the nose delivers restrained flavours of stewed prickly pineapple and cinnamon with the acid holding it all together as if it were from the 08 or 09 vintages. It turned in to a Remington moment where I liked it so much, I bought a bottle (drank later that night with honey and soy glazed salmon).

So, without turning this post into a Mills and Boon story, having good relationships is key to this industry. Because sooner rather than later, the people that are always in meetings will come around because they will not be able to resist the wine you have. And by the way, thanks again Jeremy for your comment in my “A little memo...’ post.

The Dispensary Enoteca gets Two Birks

The Dispensary Enoteca
9 Chancery Lane Bendigo

... and the wine

Drink with salmon
drink till 2016
Quality cork 12.5%v/v $39

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Brice Verzenay NV Grand Cru Champagne

OK. Famous people called Bryce/Brice:

• Bryce Courtney – novelist
• Bryce Howard – actor and daughter of Richie Cunningham
• Bryce Florrie – baseball player (scratching head)
• Bryce Molder – golfer and presumably cousin to Agent Molder
• Bryce James – son of LeBron

There you have it. Famous Bryce’s’/Brice’s’ that role off the tongue as easy as putting on wet cement!

This little exercise was to highlight that there are no Brice’s out there in neon lights. This leads me to Brice champagne! Might as well call it Colin champagne or Leanne champagne. Nevertheless, Brice Verzenay NV Grand Cru champagne is the name of the wine (and I didn’t just make up the label and put it on an old bottle for fun, although, that’s not a bad idea).

Now the Brice family have only been making wine since the 17th century, but this business is only 16 years old (scratching head again)and pretty much stick to Pinot Noir based wine, with this wine being 75% PN and 25% chardonnay. I worked vintage in Champagne in 1998 and 1999 and frequented many small houses on my day off, but I somehow missed Brice.

Back to the wine. Well, it definitely is Pinot Noir driven, with a distinct pale peach colour to it. In the glass is subtle brioche and cranberry and raspberry. The palate is whacky, with nuts, brioche and apricot all being primary, flavours I would not necessary say were true Pinot Noir. A nice wine, if bizarre in coming forward. But Grand Cru, don’t know about that!

Drink with poached salmon
Drink till 2012
Quality cork and cage 12.5%v/v $80ish from Blackheart & Sparrows Fitzroy North

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A little memo....

It’s funny. After eight years I sit here in my wet Brunswick home and think back to what happened this day 2002, and I think to myself, ‘are you happy with what you have done?’

For those who don’t know, way back on October 6th 2002, I was working alone at a wine store in South Yarra when all of the sudden I was set upon by some very brazen thieves and beaten, blind-folded, feet and hands bound and mouth gagged, and then sat on by a very heavy bloke and had a knife held to my throat while his buddies ransacked the store of about $60,000 worth of Penfolds Grange (I will not go on about how I was poorly treated by my employer after, for he has since told me that I am lucky he hadn’t got his lawyers on to me for talking a lot of bullshit, which I never did).

So, I find myself sitting here in my home in Brunswick, safe with the knowledge that my wife and children are fast asleep, and asking myself, am I happy with what I have done? Well I am. Do I still have a passion for wine? Yes as well. But what has got me out of bed to write this is do I still want to be involved in the wine industry.

Since getting back from my travels in 2000, I have been a bar owner, waiter, wine waiter, viticulture student, wine science student, cellar-hand, vineyard worker, sommelier and now wine rep for a business that I want to be a part of. I can honestly say I have had a 360° view of an industry, which in all honestly is not searching for a cure of cancer or brokering the middles east peace accord, or even an industry that is trying to get rid of people like Aker and Fev. This is an industry that hopes people like their product.

The bottom line is a like what I do, and I want to keep enjoying it. I still want to be part of this industry because 15 years ago I sat in a little French Bistro in the Upper East side in New York and sipped a glass of 1986 Château Haut-Marbuzet from Saint-Estèphe and was blown away. The following night the owner of the same Bistro poured me another glass of wine; a 1985 Château La Conseillante from Pomerol. With that glass of wine my life changed and my career in banking and finance was over. Wine was where I wanted to be.

It sounds corny but it’s true; wine is where I want to be. Laugh if you must, but I hope you don’t, because at the end of the day all I am doing is expressing my desire to still be involved with wine and work with people who share my passion, not the people who will read this and cast judgement on someone they do not know. For even though I have bared my soul in my little blog, I do not expect many people to read this, but if you do, please read this with an open mind and not take it for a rant. All I have done is choose this public forum and express what I feel eight years after I could have lost my life over some bottles of Barossa Shiraz. Nothing more, nothing less.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blue Poles Margaret River Reserve Merlot 2008

A few years ago, wine types around the world were getting themselves all in a lather over the Hollywood movie ‘Sideways’. With its release, many people were banking on the film giving the Californian wine industry a boost, which it did. But what it also did was give Merlot a bad name; remember this –

Jack – if they want to drink Merlot, we’re drinking Merlot.
Miles - No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!

Was it funny, well sort of. Did it do anything for Merlot sales? Yes, it fucked ‘em. Ever since Merlot has been doing the hard yards to be once again taken seriously. Add certain so called experts in wine having preconceived ideas about the wine, the movie screwed quite literally Merlot sales not only in the US but also here.

Now Merlot is a grape that needs the right growing conditions, and with this, Margaret River offers the best conditions here in Australia, and for me has the most similar conditions to where Merlot is King – the right bank in Bordeaux.

And this brings me to the wine. The Blue Poles Margaret River Reserve Merlot 2008. Now these guys do not make Merlot every year, hence the Reserve moniker. Only in the best growing years will Mark Gifford make this 100% version. After about 1 hour in the decanter we were ready to go. One of the darkest colours I have ever seen in a glass of red wine, ever! The nose has a profound blueberry whack to it, with a touch of mocha also thrown in. The palate also had very primary blueberry, with wonderfully checked tannin and acid working beautifully. In the end, just a fabulous wine.

Do yourself a favour and lose your preconceived ideas that are from people who have selfish and narrow-minded agendas. That should do it I reckon.

Drink with roasted lamb shoulder
Drink till 2029
Screwcap 14%v/v first had at Grossi Florentino’s The Restaurant and also available at Bottega Tasca and Carlton Cellars

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spinifex Barossa Valley Papillon 2009

“Make the best of what we offer you, and you will suffer less than you deserve.” Camp Commandant from Papillon

I remember watching this for the first time on a wet and wintery Fremantle day when I was about 11. It let me with one lesson; no matter how much you try, you’ll always be trapped. This was pretty heavy for me at the time, but never the less apt – I had two older sisters and was always the whipping boy with no escape. But enough about my traumatic childhood.

So far this is my second favourite wine of the year. The Spinifex Barossa Papillon Barossa Valley 2009. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Mataro, this wine started as mistaken identity; I meant to grab the Bête Noir, but in my haste one evening I grabbed this (have since grabbed it about five times!).

This wine caught me off guard. Quite opaque and dirty in the glass, the nose offers a wonderful mix of dried herbs and tart red fruit. The palate is very true to the nose with more tart red fruit, cranberry being the dominant for me, with tight and clean acid certainly making its presence known throughout the whole bottle. This is also the type of wine that needs food, not just a lazy Friday night quoffer.

Drink with rump steak and béarnaise sauce
Drink till 2014
Screwcap 13.8%v/v $27 from Blackhearts & Sparrows, North Fitzroy

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A right of reply to Toni Jordan's article in 'The Age', September 7, 2010

It’s been a while hasn’t it.

It was about 12 months ago that I took a fair run up and had a whack at Michael Shmith from ‘The Age’. He wrote a restaurant etiquette article which was published in ‘Epicure’ where he basically had a go at various front of house rituals; my favourite was when he asked a FOH manger where the toilets were only to be looked at oddly and without directions. We all know Michael that the trees across the road from the restaurant would have been fine!

So with this I had my right of reply. And even though I wasn’t at that time working in a restaurant (still not), I couldn’t just read this self indulgent drivel and not get my soapbox out.

Move almost 12 months on and it seems another worldly Age journo has gotten out a stick and gone whack at restaurants again. And the reason this time; dodgy adjectives to describe menu’s!

Now I sort of agree that some menus go a bit far in selling their fare; giving the town from where the beast was raised to me is a little too personal. I don’t want to know that said bovine lived next door to old Mabel in Royal Street Wonthaggi – the district will suffice.

What got up my goat about this article, written by the smiling Toni Jordan, and the same with the Shmith article from last year is they don’t name restaurants. Is this so Dubecki and Co aren’t chased out of eateries by meat cleaver wielding chefs?
When writing an article like this, shouldn’t you start with real examples of what she calls ‘... dodgy adjectives to gloriously describe a menu is simply poor taste.’ What I find poor taste is what she starts with:

''FREE-RANGE organic brown wild duck breast and leg (but not the thigh because that's too fatty), stuffed with hand-polished Israeli pearl couscous, surrounded by a sprinkling of sun-dried heirloom apple picked by naked virgins under a full moon, and crescendoed by kalamata olives pickled by my Greek grandmother in Brunswick 1999.''

Followed with.....

''Slow-cooked tails surgically removed from happy oxen who spend their lives listening to Mozart, nestled on a Doona of home-made wholemeal chestnut gnocchi, napped by a jus studded with chunks of oven-roasted then smoked embryonic beetroot and ribbons of black cavelo nero that has travelled only 80 food miles to get here, on the back of the forementioned now-tailless ox.''

Come on! Show me one menu in Melbourne that comes within three light years of the above rants and I will happily buy you dinner Toni. I bet you that if you saw on a menu, ‘Duck – cooked here’, you would surely be curious in how it was cooked. What about the wine list – would you like red or white with your piece of meat?

All this is is a generalist insight in to Melbourne restaurants: do you think Jacque Reymond or Guy Grossi are two chefs she is taking aim at? What about Shannon Bennet or Teague Ezard? Don’t think so.

I dunno, maybe it has been a quiet news week; I can't think of anything that has been making the news over the past few weeks except for some bloke in FNQ wearing a silly hat!

Question; are all journalists as right wing as Andrew Bolt? Maybe that is a generalist remark on journalists or is Toni just getting a little out of hand like the all of the other Melbourne menu descriptors are. Ponderous, really ponderous!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fathers Day 2010

Father, n. A quartermaster and commissary of subsistence provided by nature for our maintenance in the period before we have learned to live by prey. Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911

Father’s Day has come and gone and this dad has, like many, increased his undy collection.

Unlike last year, Father’s Day this year was an indoor occasion due to this never ending winter that still has a tight hold on the garden state. But Father’s day; a sleep in and breakfast in bed and peace and quiet until about 10am.

Father’s Day this year was pretty slim for presents; this is fine though, I’m not moaning. This year is Imogen’s first year at school, and the Thursday before there was a Father’s Day market after school where she got me a notebook, a pen and a beautiful tie (which I duly to work); just what a dad needs hey!

Because the BBQ was out of action due to the weather, red meat was off the menu – kitchen vent is on the fritz. But not to worry. Lately I have had a hankering for fish, and more importantly Asian inspired fish dishes. On this night it was sweet soy-glazed salmon (no photo unfortunately). Absolutely gorgeous!! Now you gotta be careful with fish. It is so easy to overcook, especially when you start it in the pan then transfer it to the oven. But this salmon was just perfect.

Just before sticking the salmon in the oven I pulled out my wine from the fridge and left it sit for 10 minutes to raise the temp; I don’t like my white wine too cold, especially when it is a bottle of Giaconda Beechworth Chardonnay 2005 – Cette boutielle porte le No. 03154. Slightly golden in the glass, the nose sprang to attention with a waft of butterscotch and licorice powder standing out. The palate was still being held together with crisp acid, not achingly tort, but very much the master holding everything in place – nougat, citrus, mealy hazelnuts and a great minerality feel about the wine. Now it’s not the best Giaconda chardonnay I have had – the 2002, but it still such a great wine, and thankfully I have been patient and still have two bottles left.

Drink with soy-glazed salmon
Drink till 2014
Screwcap 13.8%v/v $75 mailing list

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Alvins bruised salad and Hidden Bird Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Version I

I like Masterchef. I think it is great and actually. I love Masterchef. There you have it, an unashamed and spontaneous pledge of affection. And like most Australians this year, I have taken a few recipes from the Masterchef website and given them a go myself. But the one I reckon has had the most hits is the one that the judges loved; Alvin’s drunken chicken and bruised salad.

Version II - bowl licked clean 2 minutes later

In the past four weeks, not once, not twice but thrice, I have fixed together Alvin’s bruised salad – minus the drunken chicken, that stayed quite sober each time. A fair-dinkum ripper (that mind you is the 383,590th time that ‘Fair-dinkum’ has been uttered since this election started). No really, this salad is the dogs bollocks, the ridgy-didge, the full-lot and the narly dude all rolled into one – even my daughter Imogen thought it was ‘rad-man’ – on my mother’s life!

It really is that good!

Oh yeah, we had a bottle of Hidden Bird Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 to wash it down – quite nice actually (the word 'Martinborough' is hidden on the label; get it, Hidden Bird), not bitter and astringent like those other savvies from the south island. This has got a bit more minerality than cats pee if you know what I mean!

Drink with
Drink now
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $21 from Kooyong Cellars, Glenferrie Road, Kooyong

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pommery Brut Apanage NV, Reims Champagne

Well now, seems I have been away from this blog for ages! Just so happens that we are gearing up for the first Australian release of Pommery Brut Apanage NV - Hooray!!

Since Pommery started up shop in Australia late last year, there have been a few people out there in restaurant land snubbing their noses at the Brut Royal simply because of its association with Fosters. You see Pommery had been wasting away in the depths of the Fosters portfolio for about 4 years, and in this time champagnes such as Jacquersson and Lamandier have really rocked the landscape for champagne not only in Melbourne but the rest of the champagne drinking cities in Australia. But things are about to change.

Enter stage right Brut Apanage. Now the Brut Apanage has the same assemblage as the Brut Royal - a third each of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, but the fruit for the Apanage comes from Pommery's best 20 cru's whereas the Brut Royals fruit comes from 40 cru's. The Brut Apanage also differs from the Brut Royal where it has 6 grams/litre of residual sugar where the Brut Royal has about 10. And all the fruit is from vineyards owned by Pommery (Pommery is the second largest holder of vines in Champagne with over 200 hectares under vine).

The main selling point though is that it tastes mucho fantastico! This champagne is a classic aperitif wine, its just that simple! Clean, linear, and just ripper; thats all I got, its that good.

So, if you are in Melbourne next week, you can start by heading to Grossi Florentino's Cellar Bar where they will be pouring the wine, or if you are lucky enough to have a booking at Ezard you can order a bottle there too. And another thing, you won't be able to buy this in retail - sorry!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Season of Stout - Monteiths Black Beer, NZ

So, we find ourselves yet again in the middle of a long cold winter. And in this winter I have had two constents; Masterchef on Network 10 and Monteiths Black Beer; my daughter calls it the Masterchef beer - bless!

Now this is my first 'Season of Stout' post this winter, and I don't quite think it is a stout, but it's black. So the reason for it taking this long is simply I have not been drinking anything else; quite easy the pick of winter.

It reads on the back label that the good boys from the West Coast (NZ, not the Perth boys) use five premium malts. I'm not all over brewing, but that sounds like a lot to me. What would I know it turns out a friend recently told me; what would I know indeed. What i do n]know however, is that this beer is jam packed with gorgeous chocolate and coffee aroma's with more of this in the palte along with burnt toffee and licorice make this beer a fair dinkum cracker! Too easy!

Drink now
Drink with roast beef leftovers or freshly shucked oysters - now thats a Susan if there ever was one!
About $18 a six-pack 5.2%v/v

Friday, July 16, 2010

Belated Bastille Day 2010 - Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2002

Yes, I know I am a couple of days late for my Bastille Day entry, but I gotta’ tell you, I have been flat chat busy with work, family and yes, a Bastille Day celebration on Tuesday night at the NGV.

So without further ado, here is my 2010 Bastille Day post; Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2002. I picked this up a few years ago on for a miserly $210 a bottle – just the one bottle I’m afraid – and sensibly put it aside in a dark place. And like so many things in life these days, I completely forgot I had it until about two months ago when I was searching for a bottle of Barolo and shabam, right before my eyes was this beauty (as to was the Barolo I was looking for).

To tell you the truth, I didn’t grab my note book and enter in my thoughts; instead I just savoured what an amazing wine this truly was. And that’s just it. I don’t remember it for being savoury or sappy or tart; I remember it just tasting absolutely gorgeous. That’s why this wine is the perfect example why people like you and me fork out handfuls of cash for single bottle treats. People find it hard to believe I would spend this much on a bottle of wine, but it was a bottle of wine like this that revealed its true power to a friend of mine about eight years ago.

The story was that this friend really did not like drinking sparkling wine – ergo champagne. He thought it was basically just soda water mixed with dry white wine. But it was the day he had a glass of Krug 1990, a truly magnificent wine that changed him forever. I still recall the look on his face when he sipped his first sip; his eyes widened, his jaw tensed and he was simply a changed man. Not 10 minutes after this experience, he turned to me and said, ‘You bastard. How can I go back and drink a beer or a shiraz now that I have had this’. And it’s true. Ever since then when I have gone over to his house, there in the fridge I will find a bottle of champagne; every time!

I do love my wine, and I do enjoy the good things in life, and the Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot is one of those good things. So, a salute to you France for making such beautiful, beautiful wine. Bravo!


Oui, je sais que je suis à quelques jours de retard pour mon entrée de la fête nationale, mais je gotta ' vous dire, j'ai été occupé par le travail, la famille et Oui, une célébration de la fête nationale mardi soir à la GMV plat chat.

Sans plus attendre, voici mon 2010 post fête nationale ; Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2002. J'ai ce capté quelques années sur pour un avare de 210 $ par bouteille – juste une bouteille je crains – et judicieusement mettre de côté dans un endroit sombre. Et comme pour beaucoup de choses dans la vie de ces jours, j'ai complètement oublié je s'il avait jusqu'à environ deux mois lorsque j'étais recherche pour une bouteille de Barolo et shabam, droit devant mes yeux était cette beauté (qui était le Barolo je cherchais).

Pour vous dire la vérité, je n'a pas récupérer mon livre de note et entrez dans mes pensées ; je déguster plutôt juste quel un vin incroyable c'était vraiment. Et c'est juste. Je ne me souviens d'être savoureux ou sappy tart ; je me souviens il vient dégustation absolument magnifiques. C'est pourquoi ce vin est le parfait exemple, pourquoi les gens comme vous et moi, fourche hors handfuls de trésorerie pour seule bouteille traite. Gens du mal à croire je serait passer ce bien sur une bouteille de vin, mais il s'agissait d'une bouteille de vin comme cela qui a révélé son pouvoir de véritable à un ami à moi il y a environ huit ans.

L'histoire était que cet ami ne pas aime boire de vin mousseux – érgothérapie champagne. Il pensait que c'était fondamentalement juste soude eau mélangée avec un vin blanc sec. Mais c'était la journée qu'il avait un verre de 1990 Krug, un vin vraiment magnifique qui lui a changé pour toujours. Je me rappelle encore l'aspect sur son visage lorsqu'il sipped son premier sip ; ses yeux s'élargi, sa mâchoire tensed et c'était simplement un homme modifié. Pas de 10 minutes après cette expérience, il s'est tourné vers moi et dit, ' vous bâtard. Comment puis-je revenir en arrière et boire une bière ou un shiraz maintenant que j'ai eu cette '. Et c'est vrai. Depuis puis quand j'ai passée à sa maison, il dans le réfrigérateur va trouver une bouteille de champagne ; chaque fois !

J'aime la mon vin, je jouissent-ils les bonnes choses de la vie et le Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot est l'un de ces bonnes choses. Donc, un hommage à France vous permettant de ces vins belle et magnifique. Bravo !

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Terradavino Piedmont La Casa In Collina Barbaresco DOCG 2005

If you are living in Melbourne right now and not in a coma, you will have noticed how bloody cold it has been this month. Before I rant anymore I must add that I am a winter person with no real affection for anything north of about 28°C, but this current cold spell has me longing for Calypso cricket and my boardshorts. But this cold spell has had me in the kitchen cooking my world famous ‘Old Lady Stew’s’ (Thanks Pam). And when you have an ‘OLS’, you need a hearty wine; by gollies’ you do! The Terradavino Piedmont La Casa In Collina Barbaresco DOCG 2005 is just that wine.

First the stew. Now stew’s can pretty much take any veg and meat that you have hiding in the fridge and pantry. What makes the stew though, for me anyway, are the stock and the one or two additions that are not so garden variety. for this stew I used mushroom stock and some saffron.
1 tsp saffron threads
2 cloves
10 black peppercorns
5 cloves garlic
½ cup of chopped parsley
Sea salt
Olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
1½ kgs chuck steak
2 red capsicums, deseeded
2 onions, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
5 potatoes, cut into chunks
440gms of tinned tomatoes
½ bottle of red cooking wine

In a pestle, pound saffron, peppercorns, cloves, garlic, cinnamon stick and sea salt into a paste and transfer to a bowl with warm water. Heat oil in a large oven proof pot and fry off meat until browned then set aside. In same pot fry off cap, onions and carrots until soft. Return the meat to pot and add spice mix, wine and tomatoes and bring to boil them simmer for two and half hours. Sweet as a nut!

Now the wine. The Terradavino Piedmont La Casa In Collina Barbaresco DOCG 2005 is a 100% Nebbiolo from Piedmont and is quite often confused as a hoity-toity Barbera; not so. The Barbaresco area is strikingly similar to that of Barolo with soil, altitude, weather and grape all pretty much the same. It is in fact a very small zone, the production of which is about one third of its more famous neighbour on the other side of Alba.

In the glass this wine has a very deep garnet colour with an aroma packed with spice, red cherries and bacon. It is balanced beautifully in the mouth with elegant firm tannins, lively acidity and bright fruits ranging from currants to tart cranberry the longer in the glass. An absolute cracking wine and a fair dinkum Susan for this stew.

Drink with my saffron stew
Drink till 2017
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $28 from Mediterranean Wholesalers in Brunswick

Friday, July 9, 2010

Blue Poles Margaret River Viognier 2009

"Things are pretty, graceful, rich, elegant, handsome, but until they speak to the imagination, not yet beautiful" Ralph Walso Emmerson.

Viognier. It was a contender not that long ago until Marlborough Savvy B entered the fray. Yes, Viognier five odd years ago had such a bright future. Thing is though, no-one really harnessed Viogniers true potential; enter stage right Blue Poles Margaret River Viognier 2009.

The first thing that I noticed from tasting this wine is that there wasn't that great big smack in the face of apricot that you generally associate with this variety, instead you get lovely honeysuckle and floral notes on the nose with a more subtle burst of apricot in the form of those little apricot and coconut slices you find at school fetes; I did anyway. Another plus for this wine is that it does not come with a massive whack of alcohol with 13.7%v/v for less than the norm of about 14.5%v/v you may find from producers in SA.

Overall, a lovely pretty thing that definately deserves your attention.

Drink with chilli prawns
Drink till 2012
Screwcap 13.7%v/v $20 at Decanters by the bay, Port Melbourne

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Splitting the difference - Bindi Block 5 2005 and 2006

Over the past few weeks, Cameron (my boss) and I have been trying to put together a ‘Block 5’ lunch somewhere in town to celebrate the release of Yabby Lake’s new Block 5 Pinot Noir. You see Cameron’s dad Keith Harris is the vineyard manager down at Yabby Lake, and together with Bindi and Felton Road we thought we could scrounge up some wine and have a Block 5-off; just for fun of course, no medals or trophies, just the undivided love of all those who attend.

I couldn’t wait though. The Bindi was there, but Yabby Lake and Felton Road were missing. So to keep up with the idea of seeing which was best I needed two bottles; 2005 and 2006 (still have 3 of each left thank God). So here are the findings:

Bindi Block 5 2005 – an instant hit of minerality, spice and a mixture of raspberry and blackberries and earth in the glass that make a path through my olfactory and palate; such a magic wine with notes from the Michael about the vintage being rather cool all the way with a whack of heat just before the fruit came off. This is probably the fourth or fifth 05 I have had, with each one being better than the last. Simply stunning 100/100

Bindi Block 5 2006 – darker in the glass with heavier layers of dark fruit than the 2005. Prickly acid, firm chewy tannins combined with spicy plums and raspberries with the tartness of cranberry holding it all together. A little warmer than the previous vintage which shows with a little more ripeness. Still a great wine though! 98/100

So there you have it. A somewhat expensive task, but geez, the Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir’s have easily got to be Australia’s finest – no argument!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vinea Marson Heathcote Syrah 2006

Be well my love
Be well
As you brave
The raging storm

Be well my love
Be well
Into a new world
We are born

Step out on the road
Alone for awhile
Underneath Dublin sky
The quiet grows.

Luka Bloom – Be Well, The Acoustic Motorbike

Luka Bloom. We all know him and his music; raw, folksy, sometimes gut retching but always beautiful and poetic. So if Luka Bloom could be a wine he would be Vinea Marson, or more particular the Vinea Marson Heathcote Syrah 2006.

Hand-crafted by former Mount Mary and Jasper Hill winemaker Mario Marson, the Vinea Marson wines for me have always been of the highest quality, with the 2006 Syrah being just that. Strikingly reddish-purple in the glass, the nose throws up wonderful layers of black pepper and brown spice with notes of blackberry as well. super gorgeous in the mouth, this wine effortlessly brings together firm grippy tannins as well as black olive and licorice. A truly stunning example of Heathcote Syrah done well – just mouth watering!

Drink with beef and Guinness pie
Drink till 2019
Diam cork 14.5%v/v $36

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Spinifex Bête Noir Barossa Shiraz 2008

There are times in everyone’s life when they have to admit they were wrong; Lady Di got it wrong with Charles, Richard Nixon got it wrong with Watergate, JVC got it wrong by betting on Beta and even the great Arthur Fonzarelli occasionally got it w-w-w-w-w-w-wrong. And I got it wrong with Barossa Shiraz! There you have it; I admit that not all Barossa Shiraz wine is merely a Christmas cake in a bottle. And the wine that did it for me, the Spinifex Bête Noir Barossa Shiraz 2008.

Midnight purple in the glass, this wine is very intriguing on the nose with lovely wafts of chocolate and pepper and a just a faint lick of licorice. The palate is jammed (sic) with raspberry and blackberry fruit; tart raspberry and ripe blackberry, spice and more juicy chocolate.

I just guess that today’s Barossa shiraz is not what it was five odd years ago. Just like I guess the same for chardonnay today compared to what it was 10 years ago – all buttery and oak! I look forward now to opening up to more delights from what used to be the ‘Heart of Darkness’,

They were dying slowly – it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now – nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom.” Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

Drink with seared lamb and black pudding
Drink till 2016
Screwcap 14.5%v/v $42 at Blackhearts and Sparrows, North Fitzroy

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ostler Vineyard Waitaki Valley Caroline’s Pinot Noir 2006

Every now and then you come across a wine that really grabs your attention. The Ostler Vineyard Waitaki Valley Caroline’s Pinot Noir 2006 is such a wine, and in the celebrated words of Victor Kiam, ‘I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company’ I went out and pursued Ostler. Unfortunately my finances won’t allow such an extravagance, so the next best thing was to get in touch with the owner and persuade him to let me distribute the wine in Australia. Done done and done!

Hailing from New Zealand’s newest sub-region, Waitaki Valley in North Otago, the Caroline’s Pinot Noir is a brooding ripper, but unlike it’s cousins within the ranges of Central Otago, this Pinot Noir does not suffer the rich ripeness, rather a savoury direction actually. Crimson in the glass, there is a very noticeable whack of mulberries, game and beetroot leaf on the nose. Quick bitey tannins greet the palate with layers of currants, morello cherries and brown spices which flow effortlessly alongside the still savoury acid hit. A great wine and the bonus is I distribute it – sweet as a nut hey bro!

Drink with pan roasted pigeon
Drink till 2016
97 and that’s not just because I distribute it, it is why I distribute it!
Screwcap 13.5%v/v about $50 at Blackhearts and Sparrows, North Fitzroy and Decanters by the Bay in Port Melbourne plus listing at Pearl, The Press Club, Rockpool Bar & Grill, The Point Albert Park and Grossi Florentino – sorry, selfless plug.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dindi Murrindindi Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Quite frankly the best bargain I have seen in yonks and it’s been yonks since I’ve said yonks so there you go. The Dindi Murrindindi Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 was such a good wine that I had to phone up Psarakos Markets in Thornbury and ask them if they had made a mistake with the price. And the price, a crazy $8.99!!!

Now I pretty much do all of our fruit and veg shopping down at Psarakos because simply they have the best range and lowest prices, but they also have a very good bottle shop with cheap imported Stella and Heineken; not the crap brewed here in Australia but the real stuff from Holland and Belgium. But every-now-and-then you find a little bargain, something odd and something different that you cant pass up on; the Dindi was this little bargain.

Deep purpley and red in the glass, the nose instantly throws up soft pepper, red capsicum, raspberries, tobacco and mocca – very surprising. The palate was lean and cool – winter helps with that – with long clean acid and tight chewy tannins with more raspberries and mocca. Such a bloody good wine and a fantastic reason to head down to Thornbury for some fresh galangal and a botlle or two of something something.

Drink till 2013
Drink with lamb korma
Screwcap 13%v/v $8.99 at Psarakos Markets, Thornbury

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gustave Lorentz Bergheim Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru Riesling 2005

There is no way I saw a 4-0 drubbing by Germany this morning – no way! Sigh goes my lamentable heart.

Anywhoo, its Madge’s birthday, or it was her birthday but we seem to have far too many holidays in April so we are celebrating today (geez, thanks heaps Germany). Now the question is what you would honour the Queen on this day of celebration (sleep in); something grand perhaps, and something to take our minds off this morning’s thumping. The obvious answer is down at the pub, but because I am a responsible dad it will have to be Gustave Lorentz Bergheim Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru Riesling 2005 – thanks for pointing that out Henry.

Stupid round ball game! Starting to yellow in the glass, the nose has an instant hit of stewed pineapple followed by the very obvious kero smell. The palate was quite a surprise with what seemed to be a granny smith malic acid hit. This was only for an instant as lavender and lanolin flowed over prickly acid, which by the way was bolt upright for the five hours (no Viagra was used for this acid, and no you filthy animals I’m not talking about getting it on!) we drank it over. Really racey, yet really developed all at the same time.

So thanks Madge for letting us have a sleep in two months after your birthday. And for Germany, well all I can muster up is well done and Sod Off! Nice wine but.

Drink with Lyonnaise sausage and chargrilled eggplant
Drink till 2016
Quality cork 13%v/v $70

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hans Herzog Marlborough Pinot Noir 2006

Sometimes, you wander in to a wine shop and think, ‘yeah, today I’m going to splurge out and spend $60 on a bottle of really good Pinot.’ After all is said and done though, all you have left is $60 less in the bank.

I gotta say that I was a little disappointed with the Hans Herzog Marlborough Pinot Noir 2006. It was a nice wine, but sort of left me wanting, wanting, wanting.........

‘.... and the wanting comes in waves....’ Hazards of Love – The Decemberists.

In the end Erin and I had a nice bottle of wine. Did I want a nice bottle for $60? No! I wanted a lap dance, but instead got a neck rub from my sister. Oh well, never thee mind.

And the wine. Good red with a tinge of brown in the hue. Not a lot on the nose, except for some brambly fruit and what I thought was a little formic acid – crushed ant smell. The acid is still bolt up-right, with a little touch of tart cranberry and a little ripe plum.

Drink with beef spare ribs
Drink now
Cork 14%v/v $60

home made gnocchi

Home-made gnocchi is such a simple pleasure for a rainy Sunday afternoon. It’s easy to make and more often than not all of the ingredients are already in the pantry – potatoes or semolina, flour and an egg. And for the sauce, just some passeta, olive oil, garlic and basil and there you have it. A simple and satisfying meal indeed.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Blue Poles Margaret River Allouran 2007

We were drinking. We decided to paint something together. I wanted to get him out of himself and into colour again. We spread out a large piece of Belgian linen. It must have taken an hour, because it was wrapped in a canvas sack, and inside, it was wrapped in a kind of wax paper.” Tony Smith, friend of Jackson Pollack, on the creation of ‘Blue Poles: number 11, 1952’

It all starts over a drink.

And what a drink this one was; the Blue Poles Margaret River Allouran 2007. I picked this up yesterday at Carlton Cellars after bottling up at Bindi, and I must say what an impressive wine it turned out to be. But before I get on about the wine, where the hell has this little gem been hiding. I know we are very Victorian centric about what we drink here, but geez, something like this should not be hidden away in cosy Carlton.

A blend of Merlot (66%) and Cabernet Franc (33%)- 1% of fairy dust obviously - this classic right bank blend, a blend that is all to ignored by the greater wine producing regions, is everything I was expecting, and I mean every word I say! Beautifully dark in the glass, the nose is soft and subtle with blackcurrant and tobacco, with a little bit of leafy green towards the end which tells me the Cab Franc has not been mauled by the Merlot. In the mouth there is perfect harmony between oak, acid and fruit, with the acid holding it all together without being too punctuated. I must add also that this went perfect with the ‘old person’ casserole I made when I got home.

A great wine and absolutely worth the trip to Carlton.

Drink with old person casserole – an easy Susan!
Drink till 2018
Screwcap 14%v/v $27 at Carlton Cellars

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Jean Pillot et Fils Les Caillerets 1er Cru Chassagne-Montrachet 1996

Oh it's a miserable day here in Melbourne - you'd think we were in Sydney!!!

Anywhoo. I could well be talking about the Bindi bottling this morning - 2009 Quartz, Original Vineyard and Block 5 with the Quartz being the first Bindi wine to go under stelvin (sounds a bit blue doesn't it, 'Quartz under Stelvin'). Not today folks. Today it is going to be something that is going to shoo these rain clouds away; so shoo clouds, here is the Jean Pillot et Fils Les Caillerets 1er Cru Chassagne-Montrachet 1996.

I picked this up from Langtons about 18 months ago, and the real good thing about this is that I've got one left. For such a relatively old chardonnay (in our world anyway) the colour in the glass wasn't as dark gold/orange that I was expecting. On the contrary, the colour was golden, but still quite lite with a pale gold hue. Oh what gorgeous harmony the nose was! Full-on custard, lemon curd, creme brulee, oyster shells and truffles all hitting the olfactory at different intervals. In the mouth there were more surprises with the acid still bolt up-right with very citrus and a lovely briney feel about it; this is such a good wine, and like I said, there is one more.

A perfect example of getting what you paid for!

Drink with pan roasted snapper with a burre blanc sauce
Drink till 2011
Quality cork 12.5%v/v $110 at

Monday, May 31, 2010

Kientzler Ribeauville Alsace Gewürztraminer 2007

Gewürztraminer; just merely saying the word sends many people to their wine reference books to make sure they get the right spelling (take a bow Tim). It is the wine that you take with you to Victoria Street Richmond to have with the wonderful array of Vietnamese restaurants. And it is also a grape that people can quite easily spot in a glass of wine; sherbet and the obvious lycee. This, however, can sometimes be its downfall, for more often than not the gewürztraminer will be all too predictable and half way through the bottle the thought turns to what the next bottle will be.

For all of that I have just said, the Kientzler Ribeauville Alsace Gewürztraminer 2007 is all of that. Lovely and golden in the glass, before I put my nose to the glass my olfactory is already engulfed with the rich viscous aroma of lycee. A quick hit of spicy acid up front is followed by a long lick of sweet sherbet then once again followed by a whack of subtle spice. A really nice wine, but I knew before I opened it what it was to deliver, but sometimes you want that, and that is what gewürztraminer does – no surprises!

Drink with gunpowder chicken - an easy Susan
Drink till 2012
Cork 13%v/v $29 Blackhearts and Sparrows Brunswick

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Firriato Altavilla Della Corte Grillo 2008, Sicily

In the never ending pursuit of finding that special wine that has yet to be accepted by the mainstream, I think I may have come across a wine that just fits that niche; the Firriato Altavilla Della Corte Grillo 2008, Sicily. Now, for those who are unsure, the grape here is Grillo.

I did a little reading on this grape and it turns out that Grillo is the preferred grape for the production of Marsala because Grillo is able to climb to quite high sugar levels if it is left to 'grill' to over-ripeness. If required to, Grillo may be left on the vine until the end of September (northern hemisphere growing season), by which time in a normal year the grapes will be very rich in sugar - upwards of 16-18%, and therefore low acid levels too.

I happened across this wine at the always value for money Mediterranean Wholesalers on Sydney Road Brunswick, and for a mere $14, a deadset no-brainer. This wine however is not made in the Marsala style, so acid in this wine is quite present. Quite a bone/straw colour in the glass, the nose throws subtle pear with little else. It is in the mouth, however, that this wine comes up trumps. More pear, this time a more grainy feel of pear, with lip smacking acid in the form of citrus - pink grapefruit comes to mind - and right at the back some more pear, this time a little sweet which came as a bit of a surprise. All in all though, a ripper of a wine.

Drink with potato pizza with anchovies
Drink till 2012
Cork 13%v/v $14 from Mediterranean Wholesalers, Sydney Road Brunswick

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Padre Coffee, Lygon Street Brunswick; Guatemala San Francisco blend

After 10 years loyal service to Atomica Coffee for my stove top, amounting to fortnightly trips down Nicholson Street to the Brunswick St digs, I have come to the decision that the good folk at Padre Coffee in Brunswick East - a mere 4 minute walk down the street - will now be my preferred coffee at home.

I know it sounds like a big wank, but I take my coffee at home very seriously - OK, I like my coffee at home. So for 10 years it was the dark roast from Atomica that went into the stove top each morning. Not only did I have Atomica at home, but also at A Minor Place, the ever-so Brunswick cafe on Albion Street. Trouble with A Minor Place though, is they take sooo long to get the coffee in a cup, that once you have it 20 minutes later, you've downed it in 45 seconds flat (my preferred temperature I must add).
Apparently, the Guatemala blend has dark, brooding flavours of chocolate and spice - sweet as a nut!

So, hello Guatemala San Francisco blend, adios Atomica dark roast - for now......

Jamsheed Yarra Valley Gruyere Syrah 2008

It has been made aware to me that most of my recent posts have been of rather lofty scores, including a 100/100 and a couple of 98's and 99's. I did not realise that I had to show distaste to the wines I drink, for who in their right mind would go out to a wine shop and think, '.... hmm, what can I buy that is going to leave me a little disappointed'. So, if you think I have been rating wines too high of late, look away now cos' this one is way up there.

What a wine this is. The Jamsheed Yarra Valley Gruyere Syrah 2008. I think I am going out on a limb here when I say that this is by far the best shiraz/syrah I have tasted from the Yarra Valley.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with Ian MacLean from Yarra Yarra Vineyards, about what he believes was growers not understanding the Yarra Valley when they first planted Pinot Noir there. Ian first planted back in the late 70's where he received advice from Stuart Anderson to plant Bordeaux varieties, for one day the Valley floor will be too hot for the delicate Burgundy variety; I reckon he knows what he is talking about.

I don't think anyone can disclaim climate change, so much so that Rick Kinzbrunner of Giaconda has grafted over a lot of his Pinot Noir (maybe all of it) to shiraz and nebbiolo; two varieties that will be able to stand up to warmer growing conditions. So it is no surprise that we now see more and more shiraz/syrah coming out of the Valley. Eight years ago I only knew a handful of producers making Yarra Valley shiraz - Sylvan Estate and De Bortoli to mane two, but now it seems that some wine stores have dedicated shelves for the stuff.

Enough about that, now onto the wine. A great raw red colour in the glass, with what to me appears like a chalky red/purple hue. The nose is full of dusty tannins, black pepper, olives and black fruit - but not ripe black fruit. In the mouth the wine starts off with tight acid and chewy firm tannins and builds up ever so slowly with black licorice and waves and waves it seems of olive tapenade. This is truly a fantastic wine.

So, the score is going to be big, so what. If you are going to be objective about something, you might as well like what you are being objective about!

Drink with rare rump steak and pommes Beaucaire
Drink till 2016 - but it is mad gorgeous now
Diam cork with wax seal 13.5%v/v $42 Rathdowne Cellars Carlton

Friday, May 28, 2010

wine and kitchen alert!!

Warning: sparkling blanc de blanc and homemade salami and cheese pizza is not a good wine/food match! Make sure you have a plan B.

Also, when leaning over to check the pizza in the oven, make sure your wife/husband/partner/whoever is not closing the dish-washer door - those corners really leave a big lump on your head and hurt like hell!

carry on!!