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