Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chateau De Caraguilhes Corbières Languedoc Blanc 2009

So far the pick of my summer wines this year. The Chateau De Caraguilhes Languedoc Corbieres Blanc 2009 was realised this week after I had a hankering for Tahbilk Marsanne but unfortunately the good folk at BHS didn't have any. Instead they had this beauty. A blend of 80% Marsanne and 20% Grenache Blanc, in the glass the wine has a very young Riesling-like colour to it yet the nose is full of generous honey and burnt creme brulee. The palate also enjoys what the nose has to offer, but only after a while - this wine takes along time to get moving in the glass. But besides that it was just gorgeous.

Drink with veal schnitzel and almond, rocket and mustard dressing salad
Drink till 2013
Quality cork 13%v/v $24 Blackheart and Sparrows North Fitzroy

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australia Day 2011 and Donny Goodmac Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

I do love Australia Day. Lamb on the BBQ, good wine and most of all a day off – even though I’m on holidays anyway. One thing I did love about this one was the fact that my 5 year old daughter (almost 6 she will tell you) Imogen has recently fallen in love with cricket. More to the point, back yard cricket. So as well as a multitude of lamb, cider and wine, there was also back yard cricket, with the obligatory breaks to climb the fence and fetch the ‘6-and-out’ shot.

Like most of the posts, there is wine. There were a few bottles open, but the most enjoyable was the Donny Goodmac Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. I worked vintage in the valley in 2008 and it was a quick one, with most of the fruit being processed in about 6 weeks. That’s sparkling base wine to Merlot in 6 weeks. What I do remember however was that there wasn’t prolonged heat. It was hot, don’t get me wrong, but the heat didn’t hang around for the 4, 5, 6 or 7 day periods that you will have in SA.

So to the wine. Like I said, the 2008 vintage was one where they got the fruit of the vines in a quick time, so with this you are going to have your cool climate wines showing through. There is almost a coolness about the wine with blackcurrant and cassis very primary. A bit of greenness to the wine up front, but I like that.

It may sound like I am boganing it up for this post - not at all. Like I said, I love Australia Day, but I will not chant "oi, oi, oi', no-sir-ri-bob!

All in all, another bonza Australia Day.

Drink with BBQ lamb
Drink till 2015
Screwcap 13%v/v $32 Blackheart and Sparrows Brunswick

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

wild rocket

Found this growing near Merri Creek in Brunswick East. Quite simply the most intense rocket I have ever had with masses of pepper and citric acid - just perfect!

Monday, January 24, 2011

#unfake beer

It’s been a recent trend in the past few years for brewers in our neck of the woods to take out brewing licenses for such bevies like Stella Artois, Peroni, Asahi and Heineken. This is done to effectively cut the cost in shipping and also keep government subsidies for buying local hops and wheat; just to keep the stock holders happy supposedly. It has also been a trend of late that independent retailers and licensee’s to bring out the real stuff at a sometime inflated premium. And for this we thank them.

For example, Psarakos Markets in downtown Thornbury have real Stella for just $42.99 a case, whereas BWS – standing for bulls#&t wine sellers I can only assume – are currently selling said product brewed in Sydney Australia as opposed to Sydney in Belgium for a crazy $52.99; on sale as well.

So big brewers take note. As long as you intend to continually put stock holders interests in front of flavour, the good people at Blackheart & Sparrows, Psarakos Market and Anthony Danna from Bocacchio Cellars– who I am led to believe brings in his own Peroni – will sell us the ridgy didge stuff at a price more often than not cheaper than the stuff brewed here.

So, to keep up the appearances of a blog and not a soapbox, here is a non-fake tube of what was a lip-smacking Dutch brewed Heineken. After drinking 7 of them on Saturday night this post will not have any tasting notes other to say it was mucho fantastico and frightfully wet. Chips-ahoy to you all.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A few Semillons with Ferris

It’s been one of those weekends really; so much planned, so little achieved yet so much to look back on. A few bottles have been opened, a great curry was made and scoffed down, 'Ferris Buellers Day Off' was watched for the 166th time (really, I can almost do it word for word) and the Northcote pool was bursting at the seams. But it was the two Andrew Thomas semillons that stood out (saying that there is still two hours to go and I am still a bit thirsty).

So for this post it will be the Andrew Thomas Hunter Valley Individual Vineyard Braemore 2009 that will get the nod. Pure in clarity , the nose combines even citrus of lemon and lime which is backed up in the glass with piercing acidity but an almost lanolin-come-mascarpone feel about it; funky shit I know.

Either way you look at it, it’s a great wine and a lip smacker for this summer. And before I go, a little gem from my good friend Ferris,

Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I'd still have to bum rides off people

Drink with shallow fried white bait
Drink till God knows – I never know how long to hold on to semillon
Screwcap 11.5%v/v $27 Blackheart and Sparrows Fitzroy North

Friday, January 21, 2011

I have been corrected

Some amendments if I may; the wine is in fact a Left Bank blend with Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. Thanks to anon in Tasmania I now have my facts straight; and I still stick to my comment that Domaine A is the best Cabernet Sauvignon producer.



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wine Fact #2 - It's not broken glass!

Many years ago when I was working in an un-named three hat restaurant in Melbourne, I was confronted during service with what can only be described as one hysterical woman who single handedly brought service to a screeching halt! The problem you ask, and I quote, “Ohh my GGGGOOOODDD!! (God not good people) There are smashed shards of glass in my wine. Ohhhh GGGOOODDD, someone call an ambulance!!!”

A good 15 minutes later said woman had composed herself and had sheepishly decided not to sue ‘the pants’ off of said restaurant. What were initially thought to be shards of glass were merely soluble crystals of Potassium Bitartrate, or KOCO(CHOH)2COOH for all you science geeks out there. From here I’ll let Mr. Rankine take over from 'Making Good Wine',

When the wine is cooled the solubility limit of potassium bitartrate is exceeded and some comes out of solution as a crystalline deposit. When this happens to white wine in the bottle the deposit is unsightly and may be mistaken by the uninitiated for broken glass .... Potassium bitartrate is present in the grapes, partially precipitates as argols during fermentation because of its low solubility in alcohol, and is present in the young wine as a saturated or even a super-saturated solution in excess of its normal solubility.”

The crystals are usually present on the under-side of corks and sometimes will settle at the bottom of the wine bottle.

So there you go. Doesn’t exactly say it’s not going to kill you, but when Rankine refers to it as “unsightly”, well “Sex in the City 2” was unsightly but that didn’t kill anyone – no-one we know of anyway. And that’s a wine fact.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Domaine A Tasmanian Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

Dark and rich and sexy and dark. The Domaine A Tasmanian Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 sits almost black in the glass with heavy dark chocolate wafting up the olfactory. Clean soft tannins with every sip, with each subsequent sip better than the last – sort of reminded me of The Godfather part’s I and II, the long standing question of which is better. That’s what it was like, which sip is the best. Anyway, clean tannins and clean acid all wrapped around quite ripe dark fruit, something was a little bit surprising seeing it is only 13.5%v/v. But aside of all that waffle, I’ve said it before and that is I believe Domaine A is Australia’s best Cabernet Sauvignon producer. It’s that simple really.

Drink with lamb shanks
Drink till 2020
Quality cork 13.5%v/v $70 Rathdowne Cellars

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cidrerie d’Anneville Normandy, France

A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood” Austin O’Malley

I would actually prefer to save a gallon of cider in this hot, sticky humid weather we are having right now – somehow I always think of Brer rabbit stuck in the briar patch when it is the humid, don’t know why, just do. Anyway, the cider today is Cidrerie d’Anneville from Normandy, France. Made from ripe apples this cider sits very cloudy in the glass, similar to a Coopers Sparkling Ale but more orange than Yarra River brown. Both nose and palate deliver fresh, clean, and after a while, sweet tones of ripe apple. The real surprise came about 3 hours later when a sort of sweet grilled pineapple flavour came wafting out of the bottle; just gorgeous.

Drink with salt and chilli squid
Drink now
Cork wrapped in cage 4.5%v/v $16 from Blackheart & Sparrows, Brunswick

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wine Fact #1 - Shiraz or Syrah?

Be it pocket vintage guides, portable argon sprays or downloadable apps to your iPhone or Blackberry, wine and wine talk is everywhere – a true Planet of the Grapes you may say. And with all of this wine talk comes wine lingo – MLF, oxygenation, reverse osmosis and on and on and on! There is so much to know about the little grape that makes fermented juice that can fetch upwards of $50K.

So what I propose to do is borrow the ‘wine fact’ concept derived by James May in “Oz and James's Big Wine Adventure” and now and then share something that I may know and you may not; some may be true, some may be a little true. And without further adieu here is my first Wine Fact!

Q: Where does the word ‘Syrah’ come from?
A: We all know that Syrah and Shiraz are effectively the one grape, this much is known. But why use different words? A long, long time ago in a place called Persia there was this town called Shiraz where they had this grapevine that magically produced a red drink that made everything and everyone seem ridgy-didge! One day some people came walking down the Silk Road and suggested that they might take some of the grapevine back to their neck of the woods – Europe – and try and do it justice. So off they travelled back up the Silk Road and boarded a ship in a Byzantine port and headed off with Poseidon’s blessing. Soon they came across some land and decided to dock for a while in the port, and the port was called Siracusa on the island of Sicily.

So long story short, the name syrah comes from the port city of Siracusa, the first city in Western Europe to propagate the Shiraz vitis vinifera – they just added an ‘h’ for posterity.

And that,as James May would say, is a wine fact!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Felton Road Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008

Sometimes your expectations are just way to high. This is such a time.

Felton Road Central Otago Pinot Noir – in this case the 2008 - is a wine that more often than not is regarded as one of NZ’s best wines; I am one of those people that share this view. But lately, not sure whether it is the style of the region (probably) or just the wine itself, I have come across Central Otago Pinot Noir’s to be pretty much pigeon-holed in a one dimensional style – big! (I must also state here that even though I have only a few Central Otago PN’s on my blog, I have made the decision not to blag, and no that’s not a typo, on wine that I don’t like.)

In the glass the wine is deep in colour without being deep, deep red. The nose displays a good whack of cranberry and raspberry, but not tart as I was expecting, rather a riper feel to it. The palate has quick acid straight up which disappears as fast as it arrives. After this is pretty much ripe red fruit of more cranberry and raspberry with very little tannin structure.

Going back to a previous life as a sommelier, this is a wine that I would have matched with red meat that was cooked medium to well-done. Reason is simple. When you have bloody or rare meat, be it at home or in a restaurant, the best match is a dry, tart red wine like a cool climate Shiraz or Pinot Noir. This is because the steak already has plenty of juice already, and wine and food pairing for me is all about countering the others overall mouth feel; dry with juicy and juicy with dry. So if you are having a well done piece of meat (not advised) go for an old school Barossa Shiraz which is all about juice, juice, alcohol and juice – or JABS! This is because the piece of meat has had all of the juice squeezed out of it by the chef and the JABS will simply put that juice back in to your mouth.

So next time you are at say Rockpool Bar & Grill or The Point Albert Park and you want to spend $65 on a well cooked piece of meat, go for a wine that will give back the juice that has been so mercilessly sucked out of the rib-eye or God forbid a wagyu.

PS – I am not describing this wine as a JABS, just a reference to wine-food matching, that’s all!

Drink with med-well rib-eye
Drink till 2013
Screwcap 14%v/v Rathdowne Cellars, Carlton North

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Domaine de la Chauvinière Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie 2007

I find pleasure in things that are simple.” Stephan Jenkins

Pretty much says it all doesn’t it. The Domaine de la Chauvinière Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie 2007 is fresh and clean with citrus, honeydew and white oleander with a touch of phenolics about it on both nose and palate. By the way, the variety is not Muscadet but Melon de Bourgogne, a common misconception made here in Australia. Just a great little wine.

Drink with moules marinière while listening to Demolition by Ryan Adams
Drink till 2012
Good cork 12%v/v $20ish from Blackheart and Sparrows, Brunswick

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Head Barossa Valley/Stonewell ‘The Blonde’ Shiraz Viognier 2009

Start the new year off on a good note I say. Head Barossa Valley/Stonewell ‘The Blonde’ Shiraz Viognier 2009. Loving all things Rhône, Alex Head brings together Côte-Rôtie staples shiraz and viognier and creates a gorgeous wine from a place where I didn’t think had the elegance to pull off this style. So with that I bought a dozenand hopefully get an allocation of another of his sexy wines, The Brunette. An almost ox blood colour in the glass, my tasting notes on the nose were a bit eligible so I am just going to go with sexy! As like the nose, sexy in the mouth with plenty of apricots, licorice and a touch of dried sage with xmas pud and prunes coming through after a couple of days - very much reminding me of the Shobbrook Nebbiolo. Other than that just a ripper wine, and that’s it really.

Drink with ox tail ravioli
Drink till 2021
Screwcap 14.5%v/v $30 mailing list