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!!

Lamont Bendigo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2006

It struck me some time back that Central Otago Pinot Noir’s were being written up as chest beating brutes with as much appeal as a Barossa Shiraz tipping the scales at 15.5%v/v. Last week I overheard a Melbourne sommelier lament the tragedy, yes that's right, tragedy, of the “.... poor, poor Central Otago Pinot Noir – where did you get it wrong.” Strong words from a twenty something person who has yet to do a vintage, but assures me that they are more than capable of making a cracking Pinot; true story.

Well may they lament, for I would suggest they have not come across this ripper, the Lamont Bendigo Central Otago Pinot Noir 2006. A great blend of fruit with a mineral hit on the nose, the wine drifts between plums, spice, loganberries and strawberries with no real let up the longer in the glass and mouth watering acid with fine chewy tannins to balance it all out . A fair dinkum cracker without a hint of chest beating bruteness!!!!

Drink with black bean slow cooked spare ribs
Drink till 2014
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $47 Blackheart and Sparrows North Fitzroy

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Shobbrook Macclesfield Nebbiolo 2008

“Thanks for the times that you've given me
The memories are all in my mind
And now that we've come to the end of our rainbow
There's something I must say out loud

You're once, twice, three times a lady
And I love you
Yes, you're once, twice, three times a lady
And I love you
I love you”

The Commodores

Can’t you just see those big lips of Lionel tremble as he burst this timeless ballad out. But we are not here to reminisce about Lionel and his rev-head mates are we.

Today I am blogging about a wine that at first sight I thought was an amazing wine; The Shobbrook Macclesfield (Barossa Valley) Nebbiolo 2008. On visiting this wine a second time, I thought, ‘hey, is this the same wine?’. The third time I was really confused. Visiting the website, the wine maker announces that only 150 bottles of this wine were made (maybe that is 150 dozen – I dunno’). This is a really small amount to have such massive bottle variation – I reckon anyway!

So here are my three tasting notes for the Shobbrook Nebbiolo:

1. Ink purple in the glass, the nose throws lots of chocolate and rose petals – very fragrant. Complex licorice and oak with tar coming after a while with also heaps of black licorice; absolutely gorgeous.
2. Same colour as #1. Very obvious prunes on the nose with hints of rose petals. Overriding whack of chocolate and prunes with plenty of juicy acid; a good wine.
3. Ditto 1 and 2. Prunes again with a very hot smell the whole way through the bottle. Black olive tapenade with licorice allsorts. This is the only time that I left some wine in the bottle overnight, with the two glasses the next day being the best wine of all three bottles; roses and tar and black licorice on the nose with juicy acid woven in with more licorice, chocolate and olive tapenade.

So, Lionel and Co, you may need to head back to the studio and add another line to your song – the fourth time was the charm!

Drink with beef pot roast and Portobello mushrooms
Drink till 2017
94 – average score
Quality cork with wax seal 14%v/v $50 @ The City Wine Shop, Spring St Melbourne.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Keller Rheinhessen Trocken Riesling 2008

We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard.” -Voltaire

It seems that I somehow stirred the hornet’s nest with my last post on Australian Rieslings. At the end of the day though, the words that you read on my blog are put there by me to share with the ‘you’s’ out there in cyberwine land. That is why on any given day, thousands of people around the globe sit down in front of their Dells and plug out whittascims on all matters of wine speak; some may have weight while others may just be the ramblings of just a very drunk scribe – what will be will be.

So, while we are on the subject of Rieslings, may I present the Keller Rheinhessen Trocken Riesling 2008 from Germany. Brimming with a full nose of flint – river bed pebble, honeysuckle and candle wax, this wine really hits its straps with perfectly balanced acidity which effortlessly integrates with the minerality. I must add that the glass that was left for the following day was even better than the first with the candle wax on the nose and flinty river bed pebbles really standing up tall. A super wine and well within reach of someone who does not want to go nuts on a bottle of Riesling.

Drink with kingfish sashimi
Drink now for minerality, drink in 2018 for kero and stewed pineapple
Quality cork 12%v/v $29 @ Blackhearts & Sparrows

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Mt Barker Wallflower Riesling 2009

If you haven't noticed, pretty much all of the Riesling in Australia tastes exactly the same, and thats not me being uber generalist; tight harsh lemon/lime acid with acid and more acid. From Clare Valley to Geelong to the Great Southern and the Derwent Valley, Riesling has been produced in a way where it should be labeled 'Australian citrus wine'. Its a harsh call, but its all I have seen in a bottle for quite some time now.

Enter Larry Cherubino with his Ad Hoc Mt Barker Wallflower Riesling 2009. He has pretty much taken to this sterotype with a crossbow and gone whack; not that you would whack something with a crossbow of course. Yes, there still is the citrus about the wine, but it is not the dominant character, with the minerality of a German Trocken the most appealing character here.

Brimming with soft floral notes, this wine is a lot more feminant than the garden variety Riesling I was talking about at the start, with gentle white oliander prominant on the nose. There is no harsh ascerbic acid up front, instead a lovely and clean addition of river bed pebble - yes, minerals, but I like to describe it as river bed pebble! As with the nose, there is a little citrus, but it does not strip the palate like so many other Rieslings. A seriously good wine.

Drink with pickled octopus
drink till 2014
Screwcap 12.1%v/v $22 @ Blackhearts & Sparrows Brunswick

Mountford Estate Waipara Pinot Noir 2007

A truly great wine, but alas no longer available. Made in small quantities, I first had this wine last September at a New Zealand wine event I Melbourne and instantly fell in love with it. The Mountford Estate Waipara Pinot Noir 2007 displays bright red ink in the glass, this wine has gorgeous notes of red fruit laced together with dried tea and roasted beetroot. In the mouth a wave of sweet plum hangs around for a while but in time a very savoury stewed cheery dominates; much like a young Nebbiolo after about three hours in a decanter.

If you see Mountford Estate in a wine shop, buy it!!

Drink with BBQ five spiced quail
Drink till 2013
Quality cork 13.5%v/v /

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Watershed Margaret River Shiraz Cabernet 2005

“Although Woundwort had shown himself at the last to be a creature virtually mad, nevertheless what he did proved not altogether futile. There can be little doubt that if he had not done it, more rabbits would have been killed that morning on Watership Down. So swiftly and silently had the dog come up the hill behind Dandelion and Blackberry that one of Campion’s sentries, half asleep under a tussock after the long night, was pulled down and killed in the instant that he turned to bolt” Watership Down, Richard Adams

For those of you who know me, I am a sport tragic. Every now and then you can hear “Tim from Brunswick” on talk-back radio SEN 1116 AM, be it a quiz or singing the praises of my favourite ever footballer, Stephen Michael, the great South Fremantle ruckmen who decided to stay home instead of pursuing a VFL career; I love you Stephen if you ever read this.

So, it was a month or so ago that SEN were discussing books that made the transition to the big screen (not exactly what you would call sport talk-back). It must be said, before I go on, that a good proportion of SEN listeners are your quintessential Aussie Bogans; very myopic in their beliefs about pretty much everything. So anyway, SEN were asking listeners to phone in with what they would consider good book/movie transitions; Star Wars (true), The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Godfather, The Club (David Williamson) and plenty more were announced. Me? I phoned in with Richard Adams ‘Watership Down’. You know the one; rabbits.

I was quite surprised with the ‘guffaws’ I was getting from not only other listeners but also from David Schwarz, one of the presenters. Fortunately the worldly Francis Leach was there to explain what the book/movie is about (I am not going to explain the pretext of the book now – I will be here for sometime).

It was time to announce the best call, and it was me!!!!! My prize? Not the round of golf at Devil Bend (which I had won on a previous call), not the Adidas pack, but two bottles of Watershed wines from Margaret River. Geez I thought, I won some wine on a sport talk-back radio station discussing a book about rabbits – funky shit that one!

So, the wine in question today is the aforementioned Watershed Margaret River Shiraz Cabernet Shades 2005. Off the bat I must say that I am not a big fan of the ‘Aussie Blend’ of Shiraz and Cabernet. To me the combination strips away the primary characters of each varietal. But hey, who am I to complain – the wine was free.

Well, to my surprise, this was actually quite good. Wonderfully dark in the glass, the nose threw up cassis, saddle leather, tobacco and a real waft of Margaret River green; think dried herbs. The palate was a bit restrained early but then produced some really good licorice and black fruit. A really good wine and a nice surprise.

So next time you tune in to SEN 1116AM, don’t be surprised if “Tim from Brunswick” is rambling on a bout South Fremantle and Stephen Michael , because he really is the best player I have ever seen, even if he did not play in Victoria.

Drink with a cheese burger and onion rings
Drink till 2011
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $19 or there about’s at The City Wine Shop, Spring Street Melbourne

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Prawn Crackers

What a simple pleasure prawn crackers are. Stick em in the microwave, press start and 60 seconds later you got a snack that will shut the kids up quicker than you can say Hong Kong Fui!

By Farr Geelong Chardonnay 2006

It’s Mothers Day today – happy Mother’s Day to all the mum’s out there, and happy Mother’s Day to my mum who is holidaying in sunny Tuscany. My lovely Erin has had a lovely child free morning with a cup of tea, jam pancakes and the paper in bed; I’ve had two annoying (of course I love them) little buggers at my feet, but now they seem to be quiet watching ‘Yo Gabba-Gabba’ on the box – cabin pressure has been restored. So with five minutes up my sleeve, I steal myself off to the study for a wee bit of blogging.

What to write about - something mucho fantastico I think. The By Farr Geelong Chardonnay 2006. Once again, I think Geelong is the most underrated wine growing region in Australia, and this is pretty much thanks to Gary Farr. Straw yellow with a golden hue, aromas of stone fruit, with peach kernel coming through strong and a massive hit of lemon tart and licorice powder at the end. If this wine was masked, it could easily be mistaken for something from Chassagne-Montrachet with layers of citrus, minerality and licorice all woven together by precise oak integration; simply stunning wine.

Drink with baked mulloway
Drink till 2013
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $40 mailing list two years ago

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Giaconda allocation 2008

Luxury disgusts me” – Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani said this about his 2002 proletariat-inspired men’s collection. Luxury may disgust him, but the outfits from the collection were for those who lived in luxury everyday; a mere cashmere waistcoat costing $14,000!

Of course luxury disgusts Giorgio Armani, he lives in it everyday. This is the same disgust that an obese person feels about their own plight, or a terminally unemployed and unskilled 40 year old feels about their braised steak and onions toasted sandwich being the gastronomic highlight for the year. The things that are our everyday life, after a while we learn to hate them for they are what we have accepted.

I hate the fact that my Giaconda allocation is only eight bottles and that if I drank them now I would miss out on a truly wonderful wine, yet patience is something this blogger has yet to master; away they go in to the cellar.

Luxury, a truly misunderstood state of mind.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ostler Waitaki Valley Audrey’s Pinot Gris 2008

This is a true expression of what real terroir wine is all about. Located in North Otago, just over the ranges that enclose Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand, the Ostler Waitaki Valley Audrey’s Pinot Gris 2008 is absolutely gorgeous.

Full of oyster shell on the nose with a real hint of ocean spray, even though the vineyard is about 50km from the South Pacific Ocean; this whack of fresh ocean salt comes from the cracked limestone that is effectively the soil profile, a soil profile that was once the ocean floor some 38 million years ago. The mouth brings a new flavour spectrum of white flowers up front followed by a juicy hit of Fuji apple and gorgeous ripe figs with enough residual sugar to balance out the minerality on the nose.

An absolute joy to drink, and easily the best exponent of Pinot Gris outside of Alsace!

Drink with blue swimmer crab with angel hair pasta
Drink till 2015
Screwcap 14.2%v/v about $33 from Decanters by the Bay, Port Melbourne