Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Six in 2011

It’s that time of the year again when we make resolutions and spend money on gym memberships that rarely get used. 2011 came and tomorrow its 2012’s time to shine. But 2011 year has been pretty huge for me, starting off still working in champagne and as agent for eight Australian and New Zealand producers to be now heavily involved in one of Melbourne’s newest, and biggest I think, restaurant – Albert Street Food & Wine. Yes, it has been positively Heaps Bunta (South Australian Oxford Dictionary meaning HUGE!).

This year has also been a great year for new and not so new wine, which I have come across. Even though there has only been just shy of 90 posts this calendar year, it’s been a year when so much has been awesome, and so little being crap; that a good thing! So here are my Top 6 (5 just couldn’t justify) wines of the year in no particular order. You will notice that there is a leaning towards whites. This is by no means a ‘White Power’ salute to white supremacy, just worked out that way I guess.

Mitchell Harris Pyrenees Fumé Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – a recent post on Cooked and Bottled, and a truly great wine. What I loved about this wine is the wonderful nose of dried white herbs of coriander, fennel seed and white pepper. Just love it.

A.Rodda Beechworth Chardonnay 2010 – the first wine produced by Adrian Rodda under his own label. I met and worked with Adrian in 2008 doing vintage at Oakridge in the Yarra Valley and hit off pretty quick with a shared passion for The World Game; I think he still follows Melbourne Victory, me Melbourne Heart. Anyhoo, I smashing debut up in Beechworth.

Bindi Macedon Ranges Original Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 – What more can I say about Bindi that i haven’t already. This is Australia’s answer to Burgundy. That’s all I’ve got!

Vinteloper Clare Valley Watervale Riesling 2011 – made by possibly the tallest wine maker in Australia, David Bowley producers a beautiful wine loaded with never ending flint and river stone minerality without the predictable lime acid that is known from this part of SA.

Marcel Deiss Alsace Pinot D’Alsace 2010 – a blend of Pinot Gris, Blanc and Auxerre, this wine has beautiful floral notes on the nose and a seductive fullness in the palate that just makes me want more, more and more....

EKK Weissburgunder Südtiroler Pinot Bianco Alto Adige 2010 – a real wine out of left field when I first came across it. Rich and viscous with orange blossom and a tickle of honey, this wine has a real residual feel to it, but this is more from lees stirring that left over sugar. But eat it with rich fatty pork like i did last night. Delicious!!!!

There you have it. If there was a real favourite I think it would be the Mitchell Harris Sauvignon just because it made me fall in love with this much maligned variety all over again. So leave your preconceptions behind and do yourself a flavour favour and get some.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Must!

Two weeks ago I flew to Perth for an in and outer – sounds lewd I know – for a mate's 40th. So there I was on the Saturday afternoon with 5 hours to kill and wearing my best Hawaiian shirt and effectively nowhere to go. Staying in the CBD I ventured down to Balthazar, but alas, they were shut. After this I shifted up to St Georges Terrace to Greenhouse, but that was too noisy (and I was the only person there without ink or piercings) with some douff douff or whatever blaring out of the speakers. Fortunately all was not lost and a quick taxi ride (Perth’s traffic lights are possibly the slowest in the free world!!) I was at Must Wine Bar & Restaurant in air conditioned comfort and in the company of the very erstwhile Stefano, Tim and Aaron. Here is where my 5 hour lunch started.

There was so much good stuff that those boys put in front of me; steak tartare, oysters, parfait, pork belly and more stuff and more.... There was also a lot of wine and cider, and it was this gem that was the standout; Piero Mancini Cucaione Vermentino di Gallura from Sardinia. Very Vermentino in the glass with a mature Chardonnay look about it. The nose was a mix of brine and custard; sounds odd but it was all working really well, so well that I reckon I was sniffing it for a good 5 minutes before it past the laughing gear! Like the nose, the mouth was a combination of brine and acid and burnt cream, or crème brulee, and once again it worked and was pretty spot on with the tartare. An awesome day fella's. Thanks for everything!

I made sure before I left the boys that they give me the details of the importer, so expect to see this gooden’ beauty down at Albert Street Food & Wine sometime in the New Year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Head Brunette Moppa Syrah 2010

This wine is not built on sun but rather the minerality that is below the ground. The Head Brunette Moppa Syrah 2010 is still very young in the bottle, but speaks to as if it had been around for five or so years. Beautiful and dark in the glass; a perfect example of ox blood if there was one, the Brunette 2010 like the 2009 has a great hallmark of tart red and dark fruit, but none of the JABS characteristics of stewed fruit and blood curdling alcohol. As I said, this wine speaks with a very mineral accent that drives both luscious tannins and squeaky clean acid. Lucky there are 5 bottles left in the 6 pack; needed to see what the little fella looked like!

Drink with rare venison
Drink till 2020
Screwcap 13.8%v/v $40ish

Mitchell Harris Pyrenees Fumé Sauvignon Blanc 2011

This is close to the best wine of the year for me. The Mitchell Harris Pyrenees Fumé Sauvignon Blanc 2011. In past posts I have mentioned that I am an unabashed Sauvignon fan; done right that is and not to a regional formula. So the first thing to say is that I should not be confused with the ‘Savvy Bashes’ and secondly buy this wine. Full of cracked white pepper and fennel on the nose, the palate also too surprises with a crisp and, this next one I had difficulty with, unctuous and almost tangible herbal note to it. This persisted throughout the bottle. The only trouble with this wine was the glass and a bit I left in the bottle for the next day had no impact like the first three. So I went back to Albert Street Food & Wine the next day and picked anotherie up. A truly great Australian example of how to do this grape justice.

Drink with goat’s cheese
Drink till 2013
Screwcap 12.5%v/v $24 Albert Street Food & Wine, Brunswick

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Best's Great Western Young Vines Pinot Meunier 2010

This was a real head turner! The Best's Great Western Young Vines Pinot Meunier 2010 is one of the best wines tasted this week and a no-brainer for the new winelist at Albert Street Food & Wine. Gorgeous tart red fruit on the nose and also in the palate, with biting acidity and tame and polite tannins makes this wine a wonderful summer red as well as sticking away for a couple of years I reckon.

Drink with slow cooked kaiserfleisch
Drink till 2015
Screwcap 12%v/v about $25

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Radford Eden Valley Menagerie 2009

It's been a while but I'm back.

For the last 2 weeks I have been toiling with constructing the wine list (not only restaurant but also wine retail) for the soon to be opened Albert St Food & Wine in downtown Brunswick. I reckon I have swilled and and garbled and spat out close to 1000 wines, with yesterday accounting for about 150; some crackers, some not so cracking. This one was is a cracker! The Radford Eden Valley Menagerie 2009.

As it says, this wine is a collective of Mataro, Grenache, Shiraz and the earthiness that is Alicante. Deep garnet in the glass with a wonderful smack of sweet morello cherry,spice and dried herbs on the nose, the Menagerie has a real velvet mouthfeel combined with a flavour I cannot quite pinpoint, suffice to say it felt quite meaty in a sweet way - that was a good thing, not bad.

This is such a great wine and pays respect to Southern Rhone with acid balance and spice all at the same time pitching the wild card Alicante in for good measure. A great outcome.

Drink with steak tartar
Drink till 2016
Screwcap 14%v/v about $32 at Albert St Food & Wine in 2 weeks

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tim made pork and pistachio sausages

My first batch of Brunswick-made sausages. And they tasted better than they look....

Pork and pistacio mix
1.5 kg pork neck
300 grams pork fat
80 grams pistachio's, blanched then skinned
20 grams salt
15 grams black pepper
pork casing
1/2 glass white wine

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wine Fact #4 - Temperature matters

Its too cold. Its too hot. Its too windy. Its too cold. Its too sunny. Yes, as you can see I am from Melbourne. One day its 32°C and the next its 15°C with rain coming in sideways; a temperate split personality you might say. This is typical of Melbourne. Something that is also typical is our wines are served either too cold, as in Riesling or Champagne, or too warm as in Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz. This my friends is a wine fact!

How many times have you been to a restaurant and have ordered, say a viognier, and have the waiter present the bottle for taste only to be met with an ice-cream headache instead of ginger or apricots. Most fridges these days are set between 2-4°C because of safety concerns with milk. This may be fine for milk, but it aint fine for viognier, or champagne, or chardonnay or anything wine for that matter. Same to goes with reds. Beaujolais is seen as a red wine – no arguments here. Problem is Beaujolais is best served slightly chilled, so therefore should be stored in an appropriate wine fridge. Same with Madeira. Just cos it’s a fortified doesn’t mean it should be drunk at 25°C – a temperature that a lot of people know as room temperature, which is true. Thing is, room temperature and wine temperature are two vastly different subjects. The average ‘room temp’ for whites is about 8-9°C and red about 15-17°C, not 4°C or 25°C, and that’s a wine fact!

Temp C
36.8° Body temperature
25° Laboratory room temperature
19° Vintage Port
18° Bordeaux, Shiraz
17° Cabernet Franc, Red Burgundy
16° Pinot Noir, Rioja
15° Chianti
14° NV Port/Tawny, Madeira*
12° Rosé, Beaujolais
11° Viognier, Sauternes/Botrytis wine
9° Chardonnay
8° Riesling/Bordeaux Blanc
7° Champagne
6° Ice Wine

2° Fridge Temp

0° Water freezes
-18° Freezer Temp

*Madeira can also be served slightly chilled

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Trellis Heathcote Syrah 2009

Catchy label isn’t it. The Trellis Heathcote Syrah 2009 turns out to be all of that; a Heathcote Shiraz/Syrah with a catchy label. Its dark and peppery and its got dark fruit and there’s a little bit of eucalyptus and the alcohol is prominent and its got a catchy label. Don’t know about calling it Syrah though, because as I said, its very Heathcote. But if you are in Melbourne and are wondering what to drink today, cos its such a crap day and all, this wine will warm you up.

Drink with a steak sandwich and woolly socks
Drink till 2013
Screwcap 14%v/v sub $30 I think Blackheart & Sparrows Brunswick

Monday, October 24, 2011

Millton Gisborne Chenin Blanc 2009

Erin is watching ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ on the dots. This may be my last post ever, because the world must be ending for Erin to be watching such rubbish TV. Better make this one count then. The Millton Gisborne Chenin Blanc 2009. Can you believe it, ‘Celebrity fuckin Apprentice’!!!!! I love Chenin. Problem is that we in Australia tend to stuff it up, so I am usually drinking Vouvray. Not anymore, or not as often anyway. I’ve got Millton from Nelson – but I better hurry up because Arma-fuckin-geddon is around the corner. Closed and tight on the nose, the palate is awash with subtle sugar and perfectly pitched ginger. Do you hear that, sounds like the four horsemen. Just want more.

Drink with my green papaya and beef salad
Drink before the end of the world!!!!
Screwcap 13%v/v $26 Blackhearts & Sparrows Brunswick

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tarrington Vineyards Chardonnay 2009

I’ve been busy. Very busy. In this busy-ness its very easy to miss things, or simply lose track of something. There is one thing in particular that I have not seen, and also missed, and that is Tarrington Vineyards wines from Western Victoria. Its been a few years since Di has put out a wine but this one has been worth the wait. The 2009 Chardonnay is full of chardonnay goodness on the nose with purity of citrus, with grapefruit singing loud. The palate is wonderfully blessed with a squeaky clean minerality note commanding all other flavours – grapefruit and licorice powder the dominant. A great return Di, and to sound mushy, ‘…you were always on my mind.’ And I have no idea who sang that, but no one will miss that!

Drink with snapper cooked in banana leaf
Drink till 2015
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $35 Blackheart & Sparrows Fitzroy North

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kidnapper Cliffs Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009 Bottle 2230

One of the best New Zealand chardonnays I have had. Simple! The Kidnapper Cliffs Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2009 in my mind would quite easily stand-up in a blind test with the best Australia has to offer and quite possibly 1er Cru’s from Puligny and Chassagne, without the price tag. Very floral and creme brulee-ey on the nose, with white oleander a standout with grapefruit primary after pulling the cork. Lovely balance of oak with seamless minerality running down the middle of the palate. Its also interesting to note that this wine has virtually no MLF; sort of uncommon for Kiwi chardonnays I’d suggest. I left it in the glass for about 20 minutes to come closer to room temperature where licorice powder and hints of white peach stood tall. Like I said, one of the best New Zealand Chardonnay’s I have seen.

Drink with rabbit pie – my recipe to come later
Drink till 2016
Quality cork 13%v/v $45 Prince Wine Store St. Kilda

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cristom Willamette Valley Sommers Reserve Pinot Noir 2007

It was a whirlwind in-and-out trip to Perth a few weeks ago, so an impromptu BYO Wednesday dinner was organised for Tuesday, as you do. Like I said, it was a very impromptu dinner, but like so many things organised on the cuff, this one was not to be. I had to drink this on my own. The Cristom Willamette Valley Sommers Reserve Pinot Noir 2007; hey batter batter, soooowing batter!

A label that sees quite a few wine lists and retail shop shelves in Australia, and for a good reason. Pale red in the glass, backed up by the ‘Unfiltered’ statement on the label; the wine was a bit tentative to begin but after a while lovely pink musk stick, cherries and even more pink musk stick came wafting out of the glass. Much later the wine took on a very gamey feel on the nose. As with the nose, the palate was also a bit stilted and flat, so it was off to the decanter where the wine hits its stride. Bacon fat, game and tart red fruit were the obvious notes with still a great whack of acid and just the faintest touch of furry tannins. Great stuff.

Drink with duck and pork sausages
Drink now till 2015
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $95 Liquor Baron’s Mount Lawley

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bindi Macedon Ranges Quartz Chardonnay 2004

Only in bottle size people! The Bindi Macedon Ranges Quartz Chardonnay 2004 in magnum is, actually was, superb! To quote Bleek Gilliam – aka Denzel Washington – from “Mo Better Blues”

“….. I’ll even give up my full season tickets to the New York Knicks… Courtside!
And you know how I feel about basketball, that’s gotta be L-O-V-E

Yes, Love. Bleek loves basketball, Romeo loves Juliet, A flower loves the rain and I love Bindi; the Quartz for this particular post. It was just perfect. Oyster shell, clean acid, licorice powder, lively minerality; just perfect. L-O-V-E!

Drink with a loved one
Drink with abandon
Diam cork 14%v/v

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Bliss

Its pretty simple really. Gooey chocolate brownie's on a lazy Sunday afternoon made by Erin ....

Friday, September 30, 2011

Andrew Thomas Hunter Valley Sweetwater Shiraz 2009

Day 1 – a bit clumsy
Day 2 – a bit awesome
The Andrew Thomas Hunter Valley Sweetwater Shiraz 2009 is exactly that. After the first glass, decanted also, it was pretty clear that this wine is not a lazy quaffer but something that needs a little time. Controlled by great dusty tannins, this wine on the second day shows wonderful hints of pepper and spice with a great whack of black olive tapenade sticking at the back of the palate. The best thing I can say about this wine though is that it will definitely better in a few years and brilliant in about 10 years. Pretty simple really.

Drink with five spice roast duck
Drink till 2025
Screwcap 13.5%v/v Rathdowne Cellars, Carlton North

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eden Road Canberra/Hilltops ‘The Seedling’ Shiraz 2009

There is one thing I have found since acknowledging my addiction to wine, and that’s that it is arbitrary. What I think is great, someone else will think is shite. Bit like one persons terrorist is another ones freedom fighter. So wine is arbitrary; just remember that The Princely one next time you have a whack at me!

So, where was I? Yes, the Eden Road Canberra/Hilltops ‘The Seedling’ Shiraz 2009. Quite simply a ripper. Plenty of blackberry and cheery and juice and just a little bit of acid and ever so polite tannins. The best thing though it is $15. $15? Yep, $15. Baaaaarrrgggainnn. It’s a steal, and the best thing is it is not trying to be Cornas or Hermitage or whatever Jonny Rock n’ Roll is waffling on about. It’s just a great wine. And its $15!!

There you go; wine is arbitrary. If you want to go and lick coconut skins then do it. Thats arbitrary too.

Drink with a lamb burger
Drink till 2014
Screwcap 14%v/v $15 Blackheart & Sparrows, Fitzroy North

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thierry Violot-Guillemard Pommard Clos de Derriére Saint Jean 1er Cru 2006

A wine that was enjoyed with two good friends on a recent trip back to Perth for work. The Thierry Violot-Guillemard Pommard Clos de Derriére Saint Jean 1er Cru 2006 is all power and elegance or puissance et elegance as one of my friends kept saying. A wonderfully vinous nose and beautifully structured tannins with a very clear line of minerality, this wine just kept giving and giving, mostly thanks to our waiter who insisted on topping our glasses every 3 minutes! Tart cranberry with a lovely layer of earth and musk, the Clos de Derriére Saint Jean, or The back house of St. Jean, is the type of wine that is good to share with others, but a wine that you only want to give a thimble full to them while you greedily hog the rest. Yes I know - all class, and next time, all mine!

Drink with hare pie; a special that evening at Must Wine Bar & Restaurant, Beaufort St Highgate
Drink till 2018
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $$$$

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gérard Tremblay Chablis 2009

For anyone who has met me, one of the first things people notice is that I am not tall. I am short; 170cm in the vertical – I do hope my kids will be taller than me because I am sick of being the tallest Cohen in the family. I’m short and so is the Gérard Tremblay Chablis 2009 . Its a great little wine on the primary palate but then its gone. Its short, but unlike me its got lovely white flower aromas with a thin line of citrus, mainly grapefruit, holding it together; I don't smell nearly as good. If you are unsure about Chablis and get scared by some of the $$$, then grab a bottle of this; for $30 it’s a great introduction.

Drink till 2012
Drink with scallop ceveche
Screwcap 12.5%v/v $30 Blackheart & Sparrows, Brunswick

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Brix Café & Bistrot, Fitzroy

This is going to be a small and quick post because I have to go and pick my daughter up from her mates place. The Brix Café & Bistrot in Fitzroy is The Dope. Its The Shit. Its The Place. Its The Place Right Now. NOW!!! And it will be the place that will be responsible for me putting all that weight back on that I lost last summer. Beautiful oysters - $10 for 4 thankyou very much! Beautiful black pudding. Beautiful little wine list. Thats all I have. Just go. Beautiful!

The Brix Café & Bistrot
Rear 412 Brunswick Street,
Fizroy VIC 3065

(03) 9417 6114

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wilson Vineyard Clare Valley DJW Riesling 2009

It’s a character that doesn’t need to be there. Kerosene. It is a bi-product of Terpenes, where exposed fruit gets too much sun after veraison, something that isn’t an issue in the northern hemisphere. But it’s an Australian characteristic so that is cool, or hot, depending where Riesling is grown.

This effectively is my segue to the Wilson Vineyard Clare Valley DJW Riesling 2009. Drunk over two days, the wine initially displayed lovely nashi pear with a piercing lime finish. The next day a very obvious kero aroma wafted from the bottle. Well not really obvious but there none-the-less. I dunno know, but it’s not me. I like the pear. I like the lime. I don’t like the kero. Good day 1. Not so good day 2. For me anyway.

Drink till 2014
Drink with pan fried whiting
Screwcap 12.5%v/v $23 Dan Murphy’s Kew

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mitchell Harris Pyrenees Sangiovese 2010

This for mind is the perfect pizza wine. The Mitchell Harris Pyrenees Sangiovese 2010 contains all the elements of a Friday night footy wine with pizza - cherry ripe fruit without the ripeness, grainy chocolate and a hint of green vegetalness (yes, I made that word up)- a good thing I reckon, along with super chewy tannins which were, and are, perfect with a homemade prosciutto and mozzarella pizza. Cracking stuff Jonno!

Drink with pizza.... der!
Drink till 2015
Screwcap 13%v/v
NB not sure on the $$; wine obtained when I won a round through the 'Mitchell Harris' footy tipping comp. And it was when I was in Vietnam!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cascina Morassino Barbaresco 2006 DOCG

Spotted on the 'end of bin' table at Blackhearts a month or so ago, the Cascina Morassino Barbaresco 2006 DOCG was in my mind a no-brainer at $65; as it turned out my brain was right again! A purple ink colour in the glass, this wine after about 30 minutes in the decanter was positively singing with floral and savoury notes as well as bright tart fruit - cranberry my notes say. The palate was definitely showing its age with tort chewy tannins and piercing acidity. When you get passed that, lovely violet, dark cherry and chocolate notes take over but not all the way with the tannins still primary. In hindsight the wine would have been much better in about 4-6 years, but being a lush good things don't always happen to those who wait; they happen when you are impatient too!

Drink with cumin crusted slow roasted shoulder of lamb
Drink 2015-2025+
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $65 Blackhearts, Fitzroy North

Monday, September 5, 2011

Xanadu Margaret River Reserve Chardonnay 2008

On a recent trip to Perth, I popped in to Steve’s Fine Wine and Food – a bit of a favourite – to have a chat with the guys. With no real urgency to leave I purchased an enomatic card to sample some of the wines, but it was the wine that was sitting on the tasting table really had me salivating. The Xanadu Margaret River Reserve Chardonnay 2008.

After a little cosmetic work with the label, The Xanadu brand has more of a sophisticated look about it after what seemed like years in bargain basement wilderness, and this wine certainly lends to that. Straw colour in the glass, the aroma offers the soft and sexy wafts of bees wax and citrus blossom. The palate delivers wonderfully integrated oak; you wouldn’t know it but it’s got 100% barrel ferment – with seamless minerality and acidity held up by more citrus, but no over powering, peach and licorice powder. A great wine.

Drink with pork and prawn Hue pancakes
Drink till 2014
Bottle was opened and did not notice closure, but get it at Steve’s Fine Wine & Foods, Nedlands

By Farr Geelong Tout Pres Pinot Noir 2008

An Australian Pinot Noir that masquerades as Burgundy - no shit! The By Farr Geelong Tout Pres Pinot Noir 2008 is as close to pure seduction as I have come across this year; blindingly seductive! Dirty red in the glass, the aroma makes its way to the olfactory in a teasing fashion to wash you over with savoury and earthy notes with a real sense that this is really something from Pommard or Volnay. The palate is all class with just the right balance of soft tannins and acid with dark cherry the bright spot. A truely great wine.

Drink with grilled calves livers
drink till 2017
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $110 from Blackhearts Brunswick

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Matariki Hawkes Bay Blanc de Blanc 2001

The Matariki Hawkes Bay Blanc de Blanc 2001. I’ve had this wine twice and twice I have loved it. This bottle is another treat I completely forgot about so when it turned up after a search through the cellar, well you know, woohoo! Heady of thick brioche and developed roasted nuts, this wine has still got a bone dry look about it in the glass and a delicious fine bead; a very well made wine indeed. This is not a wine that you will easily find at your local wine specialist and certainly not at Dan’s or VC’s, so if you are heading over the ditch, or are already over the ditch, search it out because it is a seriously great wine.

Drink with crumbed oysters
Drink till 2015
Quality cork and cage 13%v/v $$$?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bindi Bottling June 2011 - 2010 Original Vineyard, Block 5 and Quartz Chardonnay

I’ve learnt two things in the past couple of months, one is “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story” and “its not what you know, its who you know”. I think that’s about all I will say about that.

One thing that is for sure is that Bindi from the Macedon Ranges is mighty fine wine; but you already know that! Just before I took off to Vietnam with the family I headed up the Calder to help bottle the Bindi 2010 Original Vineyard and Block 5 Pinot Noirs and the Quartz Chardonnay. For the 11th time now I have taken the journey up the road and got stuck into some good old fashioned manual labour with 10 or so other Bindi knockabouts and just plain and simply had a great day.

By 7.30am about six of us were milling around the winery ready for the day ahead, and what better way to start then a crisp glass of the Quartz 2010 out of tank. It certainly was a heart starter, and what a way to start the heart; bright, clean, linear and driven by the wonderful mineral soil structure it is grown in. Bill Dhillon was pretty spot-on when he suggested this was the best chardonnay to come out of Bindi.

Just before 10am we were done and dusted with the chardonnay, and now it was the Pinot with the Original Vineyard stepping up to the plate. And with that it was time to taste. Brimming with tart red fruit, the OV 2010 straight out of tank is for me the best since the 06, and that’s big considering the 08 was and is very schmick. The Block 5 was next and quite simply, Amazing!!! Considering this wine was straight out of tank, you could easily say that it was a wine that had spent at least 9 months in the bottle; red and dark fruit, toffee and soft and sexy tannins. A master piece!

One thing that was different this year was bottling all three wines under three different closures; natural cork, Diam and Screwcap. This is so Michael can look at the development of the wines over time and effectively see how much TCA the wines under natural cork will show. I reckon this should be done a bit more by other producers so we can put to bed the ‘natural cork’ sycophants and enjoy all wine, not the 90% of wine that isn’t corked!

Like all bottling days we finished with another beaut lunch from Michaels wife, Wendy. This time it was her Beef Bourgogne; that’s all I’ve got, it was just super. And with this there was more Bindi wine with Michael opening up some back vintage Composition Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and the 2010 Pyrette. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday I’d say!

So there you have it. No truth was harmed in the telling of this story and yes, it is good to know people like Michael Dhillon!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Burn Cottage Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009

Certainly the Burn Cottage Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 fits into the Rita Hayworth category; fleshy, seductive and wanted by men (and women) from all over. The thing is though, when you get Rita Hayworth home you want the Rita Hayworth that you have seen on the big screen. This is where the illusion ceases. Plump fruit with spicy dark fruit, The Burn Cottage at the end of the day is a nice wine, but ceterius paribus, this Pinot Noir is very Central Otago and very expensive, and like the grainy photo, it sort of misses the mark.

Drink with medium rump steak
Drink till 2015
Cork 14%v/v $80+ City Wine Shop, Spring Street Melbourne


While picking up some bacon from the Sydney Rd IGA for my 'home cooked' meal a few hours ago, I came across this take-home meal; I seriously think Ken Bruce had gone completely mad, again!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Domaine A Stoney Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

In my endeavour as Business Development Manager for Vranken-Pommery-Monopole in Australia, one of my tasks is to go out there and source quality producers for our domestic (including NZ) wine portfolio. Real tough job that one! Over the past twelve months I am happy to say that I have managed to bring in Paradigm Hill, Ostler Vineyards, Blue Poles Vineyard and Vinea Marson. My task is simple; approach producers from each region, represent only one producer from each region, but most importantly approach a producer whom I really like and wine I reeeaaalllyy like. Keep it simple stupid!

So with a good chunk of the mainland and NZ sorted, my attention turned to the apple isle. For me there is one producer down there doing it spot on. All rather there is only one producer I could think of off the top my head whom I would like to represent. Domaine A. Simple. But not so simple. I also believe in not poaching producers from other wine businesses; if they wish to contact me all the good, but I like to think I have some sort of integrity.

Not long ago I posted Domaine A’s 2003 Cabernet, a wine which I believe is Australia’s best Left Bank version; a theory that has met with much guffaw I must say. Anyhoo, Matt from marketing down at Domaine A was kind enough to write me an email thanking me for the write-up. And for the write-up came a bottle of the Domaine A Stoney Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – with a little Cab Franc, merlot and Petit Verdot. What a Stirling chap!

The wine. Dark and lush in the glass with flowing aromas of chocolate, soy sauce and cherry with licorice coming the longer in the decanter. The palate followed the nose with more cherry and chocolate with coffee imparted at the end. An amazing balance also with the acid and fine and savoury tannins. A winner, no doubt about it!

It’s interesting; however, that Domaine A markets this wine to be drunk early and the flagship wines to be cellared. In an age of second and entry level wines, Domaine A is producing two distinct wine labels that can both be struck in the premium category. Again, simple!

Drink with lamb rack
Drink till 2020
Quality cork 13.9%v/v from

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Vinea Marson Heathcote Syrah 2008

Words fail me, so I’ll let someone else say it for me. The Vinea Marson Heathcote Syrah 2008

To the onlie Begetter of these insuing Sonnets. Mr. W.H. All Happinesse. And that eternitie promised by our ever-living poet wisheth the well-living adventurer in setting forth.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should time decrease,
His tender heir might bear his memory;
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy lights flame with self substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And, tender churl, mak’st waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.

William Shakespeare; The Sonnets: 1

Drink with steak tartar
Drink till 2024
Diam cork 14.5%v/v $46 Purvis Cellars Balwyn and Bistro d’Orsay Collins Street

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Victor Gontier Cidre Bouché

Here I am sitting at home with a sore throat, air cabin ears and Nirvana playing on the iPod – little bit of nostalgia; that makes me sound so old!. So it’s me, the throat and Kurt and I’m thinking what gnarly little delight I have lying around to sooth my whoa’s: the Victor Gontier Cidre Bouché; from France of course.

The mighty fine Stu from North Fitzroy Blackhearts & Sparrows put me onto this (he also got Nicholas Brown from Black Estate in Waipara hooked). It was while I was on a work call with Nicholas when said Nicholas questioned the little ’warning’ sign sticky taped on the fridge below this particular cider. Well the warning sign was there due to a few unsuspecting consumers thinking this badboy was going to be like Strongbow: Oh contraire my learned colleagues! Stu then went on to share with us some of the flavour descriptions some consumers had passed on to him, but it was the elephants piss one that made me want to look at this one. And look at the label, it looks so innocent and harmless; don't know why, but it reminds me of "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Very cloudy in the glass with a very distinct ammonia smell about it; yes, that’s the funky shit. But wait, it was also in the mouth with an almost wash rind flavour, and dare I say, texture! But I loved it. Erin did not. I don’t know what it was about it but it was really, really good, and did I say I loved it!

Drink with cheese – seriously!
Drink now
$22 4.5%v/v 750mL with a whacky cork and cage closure

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Amherst Pyrenees Dunn’s Paddock Shiraz 2009

A much loved wine as you can see. The Amherst Pyrenees Dunn’s Paddock Shiraz 2009 was a trip down memory lane for me. Way back in 2000/01 I operated ‘Polly’ in Brunswick Street Fitzroy and had this on BTG for almost the entirety I was there. But it has taken 10 years before tasting again. An instant hit of white pepper on the nose followed red and black licorice and black olive tapenade. Very smooth in the mouth with tight and polite tannins and acid with a great mix of red and dark fruit; blackberries most obvious. I loved it, and it will not be 10 years before I have it again.

Drink with homemade pizza
Drink till 2014
Screwcap 13.6%v/v $30 Seddon Wine Store

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ravensworth Murrumbateman Shiraz Viognier 2008 and Marco van Basten

Pedigree. In all aspects of life, pedigree is a major factor to getting it right! Pedigree is raw talent that is moulded from something into something!! But pedigree comes from somewhere; as stated in The Concise Macquarie Dictionary – pedigree /’pɛdəgri/, an ancestral line, or line of descent, esp as recorded: lineage.

Pedigree. It’s where you come from. Just like the Ravensworth Murrumbateman Shiraz Viognier 2008 with Bryan Martin at the helm. And where did Bryan Martin come from (and still works with)? Clonakilla and Tim Kirk. It is safe to say that Tim Kirk is Australia’s main man when it comes to the Côte-Rôtie blend and Bryan Martin has obviously been watching Tim over the years to with his 2008 wine one of the best local Shiraz Viognier’s I have drunk. A lovely mix of fruit and savoury aromas and flavours define this wine with chalky tannins holding it altogether; there’s also a hint of green in the form of eucalyptus, but it is the dark and brooding flavours of olive tapenade and subtle brown spice that keeps me heading back to Dan’s for this gem.

Now if the Ravensworth Murrumbateman Shiraz Viognier 2008 was a footballer, I would suggest that it would come in the form of Holland’s Marco van Basten. Discovered by the Godfather of Dutch football, Johan Cryuff, van Basten was thrust into AFC Ajax Amsterdam as a 19 year old and dominated the centre forward position there until his departure to the powerhouse AC Milan in 1987. It was the following year in the 1988 European Championship where is flower blossomed by not only being the top scorer in the completion, but also being a member of the winning nation and scoring quite possibly the best volley ever. EVER!

Bryan Martin/Tim Kirk:Marco van Basten/Johan Cryuff. Its kismet baby!

Drink with calves livers
Drink till 2015
Screwcap 14%v/v $30 Dan Murphy’s Coburg

Thursday, July 28, 2011

François Chidaine Les Argiles Vouvray 2008

Such a sexy wine. In an almost Mills & Boon way this wine grabbed me around the waist and drew me to its plump bosom in a fit of ecstasy! The François Chidaine Les Argiles Vouvray 2008 is quite easily my favourite white for 2011 for the simple reason that it has everything. Pale straw to look at, the wine offers up a hint of tropical fruit on the nose, but that was it. In to the decanter for you then my pretty! After a while a real whack of flint was followed by ripe pineapple and papaya – funky shit right. The palate was where it was for me with a great mix of minerality and sweetness, but it wasn’t like one followed the other. This dance ebbed and flowed between the both, sort of like dancing to The Chemical Brothers and Anne Murray both at the same time; told you it was the funky shit!

All in all, a brilliant Chenin Blanc!

Drink with crumbed lambs brains - an easy Susan!
Drink till 2015
Quality cork 13.5%v/v; didn’t put $$ on wine notes sorry, but got it from Blackheart & Sparrows in Brunswick

Monday, July 25, 2011

Shobbrook Wines Seppeltsfield/Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008

Its winter and I’m not in Vietnam anymore so its Shiraz time. Its Shobbrook Seppeltsfield/Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008. And yes, its cold; the weather, not the wine

Almost black in the glass, the wine lifts in the decanter with a distinct purple hue and black licorice nose. Initially the palate shows tiny grippy tannins that are there then gone before you know it. With the tannins gone a more mineral mouth feel flows with an almost charcoal feel along with more black licorice and a hint of raisin at the back. A real winter red without the JABS.

Drink with rare roast beef
Drink till 2015
Quality cork with wax seal 14.5%v/v $42 from Blackheart & Sparrows Brunswick

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wolf Blass Clare Valley/Eden Valley Gold Label Riesling 2005

I love Riesling. I also love Riesling with some age; the ageier the better I say. Seeing this Wolf Blass Clare Valley/Eden Valley Gold Label Riesling 2005 at Psarakos in Thornbury I thought 'you beauty' - I really did! And $28, another 'you beauty'.

So I'm at home, and with my best Butthead voice, it was time for, 'Beavis, the test!' - my first Beavis and Butthead reference. Nice. But anyway, the wine. Golden in the glass so all good thus far. Prickly ripe pineapple on the nose - 2/2. In the mouth? Blousy, Flabby, Blah. Absolutely nothing that would suggest this is an aged Riesling, even a young Riesling for that matter; no acid or white phenolics either.

But hang on. What happened when I put it in the decanter. Lovely and soft, then almost a brute, and honestly, in a weird way almost tangible. A great wine.

Drink with sole and buerre blanc sauce
Drink till 2015
Screwcap 12%v/v $28 Psarakos Market, Thornbury

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Number 64. My home. Our home. After three weeks in Vietnam with family can honelstly say that I am loving the very mild 13 degress right now in downtown Brunswick. Heaps of food, heaps of beer - no wine except for a very ordinary Chardonnay/Chenin Blanc out of the cask from South Africa - heaps of sunburn, now tan, and heaps of everything in between.