Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rockford Barossa Valley Basket Press Shiraz 1998

Boy, two Barossa Shiraz’s in one week, I fair dinkum don’t think I can do it! I know it’s the Rockford Basket Press and I know it comes from one of the best vintages from the last 50 years, but hey, it’s the Barossa!

So for just this one time, I am going to pass the keys over to my very good friend Archibald Hinkletroffer, who just as it happens is a third generation Barossavite whose family hails from Dusseldorf can you believe it (put it in the boot you dunkoff!!). So because of my avoision (see George Costanza) to the Barossa, here’s Archibald.

One more thing, the wine is from my birthday dinner. Thanks Archibald (in photo)

No, thank you Tim,

First may I say that the greedy bastard Tim did not give me any of the wine, and that he is making me translate from his notes – wanker! Now, what can I say, the super excellent super gorgeous Rockford Barossa Valley Basket Press Shiraz 1998. Apparently the colour in the glass was quite red, hmfff, I could have told you that. He also goes on to say that the hue had a tinge of orange; does he think I am a moron; of course it had a tinge of orange – blah blah blahhhh!

He goes on and on! The aroma exuded eucalypt and cherries which apparently then turns in to licorice allsorts, cedar and leather – wow, magic cherries these ones hey! Here we go; the mouth was like Dave Graney ‘n’ The Coral Snakes, ‘Scorched earth love affair’, and it goes a little something like this....

‘’s a scorched earth love affair,
They were going at it like a couple of minks,
And they aint thinkun about the wider community

Very good, now I get it (he told me to write that!).

Thank you Archibald. Really, I thought this was going to be an easier gig for Archibald. Just because I am not the biggest fan of Barossa Valley shiraz, and just because he didn’t get any does not excuse the tome he just used. Fuck it, the wine was amazing and Rocky Callaghan was right to write on the back label, ‘Cellaring for 10 years will reward’, and definitely no JABS!!!!

So thank you again Archibald and sucked in that you missed out.

Drink till 2015
Drink with people you love; that’s you Erin. Also try my Corsican braise
Quality cork 14%v/v plenty if you get it at an auction site; Erin won it back in 2001 at a work team bonding exercise. God bless that woman hey!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Koots Salle A Manger, 474 Glenferrie Road Kooyong

It’s been some time now that since I’ve added Birk review, not that I haven’t been out, just that lately I haven’t had too many experiences that have floated my boat. Yes I have been to MoVida and Gingerboy quite a few times recently. And yes, Gingerboy right now is my favourite eatery, but it like MoVida, have been critiqued so much that a recent blogger commented on the creases in the MoVida’s linen napkins – geez people, just eat and be happy!

And speaking of happy, it was me who was happy last week when I stopped in to Koots Salle A Manger in Kooyong last Thursday for lunch. Located in the hollow of Glenferrie Rd Kooyong, which is effectively a Roger Federer top-spin lob away from the Kooyong Tennis Club, Koots has recently celebrated 10 years service in the little village where with what locals say are the noisiest train signals in Melbourne. Add to this a chefs hat in the Good Food Guide, Koots has lasted a lot longer than plenty of other restaurants that have recieved sicophantic praise over the journey, let me tell you!

Having recently sold Koots some champagne – Pommery Grand Cru 1995 – I thought I would pop in before the lunch service and have a chat with the very likeable Denis, the maître d’, about this and that and how the ‘Le Blue’ will do in the World Cup (45 more sleeps to go people). The longer the chat went, the more the little dining room was attracting my attention. Furnished with huge cushioned seats and crisp linen table cloths with the walls being adorned with minimalist prints of various food stuffs, Koots seats about 35 in the front room with the bar able to seat a further 7 or 8. Yet it was the growing aroma from the kitchen that was becoming the real distraction. Denis, I said, can you fit me on the bar for lunch at about 2? But of course Tim, Denis replied. I went back to work and waited for my lunch booking.

Track about two hours and it was 1.15pm and I couldn’t wait anymore. Fifteen minutes later, I was back in the dining room and ready for lunch. A quick hello to Patrice, the chef-owner, who was having a chat to Denis in the bar, and I was seated at the bar looking out to the four tables of locals enjoying their lunch. A little more small talk with Denis and it was time to order. I went for the $30 lunch special, entrée and main with a coffee at the end. I like this option because Koots is not a restaurant that is pushing a very inferior glass of wine on to you, rather giving you the option to choose a glass that suits your meal, rather than a have a glass of un-oaked chardonnay or shiraz from Rutherglen or Mildura!

For starters I had the crumbed veal sweetbreads with frisée salad. It is a shame not more chefs are cooking with sweetbreads, offal from the thyroid glands and not sugar coated bread, because the gorgeous flavour that Patrice has extracted is quite stunning. The main consisted of twice cooked chicken with carved baked potatoes. The glass of wine that I was able to chose, was actually expertly chosen by Denis - 2008 Picpoul De Pinet Ormarine ‘’Sur Lies’’ Coteaux Du Languedoc, France – a blend of Roussanne, Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon, and a wine that is only available at Koots. This is why it is better to spend an extra $10 over lunch and get the right glass of wine rather than something red or white! Quite possibly Melbourne’s best express lunch menu, simple!

Koots Salle A Manger, 474 Glenferrie Road Glenferrie 9822 3809

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hunky Dory Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009

That’s right, I was shocked too! Turns out the Hunky Dory Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 isn’t just another bottle of insipid grape juice from across the ditch, but there is actually plenty to like about this wine. Plenty of passionfruit and gooseberry come wafting up the nose with a real pleasant acid rush in the mouth followed by a tinge of green and more passionfruit. An easy wine without the astringent cats piss finish – definitely worth a look.

So if you do find one out there, tell me where you got it from; this bottle was brought over to our place last Sunday by some friends of ours for a BBQ, but we never got a chance to have some so they left here. Thanks Joanna and Jeremy!

Drink with BBQ asparagus and goats cheese
Drink now
Screwcap 13%v/v from somewhere for so much?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Head Barossa Valley The Brunette Syrah 2008

Head, paper, kitchen – NOW!!!’ – Stuart Mackenzie played by Mike Myers in, 'So, I married an axe murderer'

This was the first thing to pop in to my mind when I came across this label at Europa Cellars in East Melbourne a month or so back.

Even though it is from the Barossa Valley, I was persuaded to give it a go by the wine store manager, Nick who I studied Viticulture with. He knew I sort of have an aversion to anything that comes from the Barossa, but he insisted that the Head Barossa Valley The Brunette Syrah 2008 was more than worth having a look at, and he was spot on.

No JABS here! Hailing from Moppa in the Barossa Valley, it is deep red in colour, with the nose throwing a whack of black olive tapenade with savoury licorice and dark fruit not far behind. More olive tapenade in the mouth with red licorice, firm tannins and a gorgeous amount of acid makes this wine very memorable indeed.

Made in minute amounts, this wine will sure reward with cellaring, but given it is this good, there is not much hope of that happening when I head back to Europa Cellars next week to pick me up some more.

Drink with Sichuan chilli beef - a monty of a Susan!
Drink till 2016
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $43 Europa Cellars East Melbourne

Monday, April 19, 2010

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Gulf Station Pinot Grigio 2009

Bloody hell!! When is this weather gunna change?

I really do not like hot weather. I don't like hot weather in December, and I certainly don't like the hot weather that comes with January and February, but hot weather in April - c'mon!

So with all this hot weather - the in car temp reader said it was 34 at 3.30pm in down town Coburgaria - it was time for a clean summer wine, the De Bortoli Yarra Valley Gulf Station Pinot Grigio 2009. Simple, fresh and swimming with clean acid and subtle white pear, this wine is literally gone in 30 minutes because it is just so easy to drink.

Drink now
Drink with the thought that winter is almost upon us
Screwcap 12%v/v $12 from most good wine shops

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mt Beautiful North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2007

The guys from over the ditch really do make great wine! Without thinking about it, I have been finding my purchases leaning to the New Zealand isle in my local wine outlet. The Mt Beautiful North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2007 is such a super easy wine to drink. Plenty of dried spice and bramble fruit on the nose; this wine really hits its straps in the mouth with a gorgeous blend of spice, tart cranberry and lip smacking acid, but to get the most out of this wine, it really needs a good decanting – double decanter if you can. Two hours later the wine is totally unrecognisable with dense earthy aromas and dried tea on the nose with Burgundian funk flowing in layers in the mouth. If you see this wine, buy it! Mucho Fantastico

Drink with beef and Guinness pie
Drink till 2014
Screwcap 13.5%v/v NZ$40

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hidden Bird Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008

A newcomer from Martinborough, the Hidden Bird Pinot Noir 2008 turns out to be a very smart wine. Full of savoury tannins and black fruit, this wine delivers a lot more than the poultry $23 I paid for it in Hawthorn last week. Very Pinot in colour with a light translucency in the glass. Red licorice, spice and black fruit full the nose. There is plenty going on in the mouth also with sharp, clean acid mingled with brown spice, tart cranberry all woven together nicely with even oak integration.

A really good wine, and at the price a dead-set no-brainer for an easy drink with food or just for the hell of it!

Drink with charcuteire plate an easy Susan
Drink till 2012
Screwcap 13%v/v $23 at Red White and Amber, Glenferrie Rd Hawthorn

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Collingwood Children's Farm - Grandpa's Tomatoes

If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavour’ Eleanor Roosevelt.

Flavour, what an imaginative concept!

When was the last time you really tasted food the way it is actually supposed to taste? Don't know? Then head down to the Collingwood Children’s Farm and get a real bite of life.

These tomatoes, Grandpa's tomatoes to be precise, in the frame are absolutely gorgeous; GORGEOUS!!!! With a bit of balsamic and some salt flakes, these tomatoes turn in to possibly the tastiest snack you could imagine. Just super I tell ya!

The Collingwood Children’s farm is on the 2nd Saturday of the month and going this time of the year, for me anyway, is the best – the cooler the better.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pikes Clare Valley Riesling 2009

A nice riesling, a tad boring actually, with the nose and mouth bringing the usual suspects along for a mundane walk to the cornershop - citrus, acid and a hint of white pear. I really do think that Australian Riesling has become a little bit humdrum!

Drink till 2012
Drink with chicken and two veg
Screwcap 12%v/v $22 at Kooyong Cellars

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mayer Yarra Valley Dr Mayer Pinot Noir 2008

After the fourth ‘paddy’ of the morning from my eldest – way too many Easter eggs I’m afraid, and the departure of Erin soon to her ‘12 Ladies are Lunching’ day (sounds all very festive doesn’t it?) I sneakily sneak away to the study to talk about a wonderful, wonderful wine; the Mayer Yarra Valley Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir 2008.

I would hazard at a guess that the Mayer Pinot Noir 08 found its way to my recycling bin on at least 10 occasions in the last 12 months – such a good wine. But it is Timo Mayer’s ‘Dr’ Pinot Noir that massively hits the high note, yet a note only hit twice due to its limited production.

Before I had drunk this wine I would have probably said that only about three or four Australian Pinot Noirs could stand up to wines from Burgundy; Bindi Block 5, By Farr Serre and Bass Phillip Reserve. Throw in The Doctor to that list!

The colour easily translates the unfiltered product with a hazy dark raspberry that almost turns purple in natural light. The nose is very tight at first, but after sometime in a decanter a very pronounced tart cranberry and beetroot aroma fill the glass and my olfactory. Layers of red licorice, more beetroot and cranberry with a wonderful dirty fungal bight to it (I’m not going to say forest floor because as Stuart Anderson told me there are many forest floors in the world as too are there many types of meat!). An amazing wine with so much more time left in the bottle. Mucho Fantastico!!Drink with cassoulet.

Drink till 2019
Diam 13% cannot remember how much it was, so go to

Friday, April 2, 2010

Laurenz V Austrian Friendly Grüner Veltliner 2008

I had a friendly chat with my neighbour; I enjoyed a friendly kick to kick in the park with Pat; she has a friendly demeanour; my mum is not so friendly with my dad anymore.

These are some examples of the word ‘friendly’ you may come across if you are emigrating to Australia and cannot speak a lick of English – grammar 101 you might say. There are many uses for the word friendly, but the most intriguing one came from a recent purchase down at Blackhearts and Sparrows in Brunswick; the Laurenz V Austrian Friendly Grüner Veltliner 2008. It reminds me of bad English/Cantonese translations on Cantonese food products!

A curious wine with elegant white pear and clean acid fill the nose with a little hint of white flowers – oleander I’d say after about 30 minutes. The palate is similar to the nose with citrus dominating the white pear. A nice wine, even for a GV, as one of the new cultural elite Melbourne sommeliers now refers to Grüner Veltliner.

Drink with smoked chicken cold cuts
Drink till 2011
Screwcap 12.5%v/v $29 Blackhearts and Sparrows, Lygon Street Brunswick