Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sassingo Fattoria Casablanca IGT,Tuscany 2007

It's $21 so it shouldn't be fantastic right? Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong! Such a great wine and such a great price. The Sassingo Fattoria Casablanca 2007 from Tuscany is a 50/50 blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon and uses both varieties fantastically with the Sangiovese delivering savoury tannins and bitter chocolate and the Caberent supplying subtle brambly fruit as well as tannins and a ripper cassis nose.

I guess I'm lending a line from the Vermentino blog, but when you want something authentic and an insight in how it's done traditionally, go to the source.

Drink with lamb shanks
Drink till 2016
Cork 13.5%v/v $21 Enoteco Sileno, Lygon Street Carlton

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wine fact #3: Retsina

You there! Drawn onwards through this stretch of Hell, tell me you know me. Say so, if so you can. You! Made as man before myself unmade.’
And I replied: ‘The awful pain you feel perhaps has cancelled from your memory. Till now, it seems, I’ve never ever seen you
Dante Alighieri, canto 6 40-46, Inferno

You may think that this is about extreme, but I do not. It all really started back in 2002 and it was my first trip to Wagga for Res School at Charles Sturt University where I had just started Wine/Vit science. And one of the first units involved wine evaluation with Malcolm Allen. The usual stuff was looked at; pH, alcohol, clarity of wine, baumé and other fascinating wine tid-bits. Then he gave us some Retsina or Ρετσίν in Greek. Gosh it was awful. I’m not sure what the lesson was, but whatever it was the message was duly noted; Retsina is to be avoided. To this day I have not, and doubt if I ever will, had good Retsina. This is what Wikipedia has to say about it...
Its unique flavor is said to have originated from the practice of sealing wine vessels…”
Unique flavour indeed. You’d think that they would have got it right after 2000 years wouldn’t you?

So then, Retsina is not a nice wine, and that’s a wine fact!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Chalmers Mildura Vermentino 2009

I really tried to get excited about this wine. Actually, all I wanted to do was try it for myself; you know, form one’s own opinion. In the end it was nice. Nice citrus, nice acid; nice. You see I had to try for myself because a couple of weeks ago I was listening to a young wine shop assistant come wine expert tell me that this has got to be the best release of the year. Wow I said, that’s pretty big wraps. Then I asked what she liked about the wine, and I quote, ‘Oh I haven’t had it yet, it’s just what Sally from Cutler & Co told me. She reckons it’s the best ever Verm (she actually said Verm!)’ Riiiighhhtttt!

So if you are one of the herd out there, go and buy it on someone else’s opinion, or otherwise check out an Italian Vermentino from either Mediterranean Wholesalers or Sileno Enoteca and then try the Chalmers Mildura Vermentino 2009 and then have an opinion.

NB said wine expert does not work at Blackheart and Sparrows

Drink with grilled sardines
Drink till 2014
Screwcap 11.5%v/v $25 Blackheart and Sparrows Brunswick

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spring Vale Freycinet Tasmanian Pinot Noir 2006 and Michael Owen

It’s another humid start to the weekend and I’m sitting down the back with ‘The Age’ listening to my kid’s sort of fight and giggle all in the one guise. So I’m reading the paper and a story on the upcoming cricket world cup in the sub-continent grabs my attention. The story is focused on ranking the teams and discussing key players. But it is the last column that has me scrunching up my face, ‘If they (the cricket nation) were a curry they’d be...’ Give us a spell.

Gimmicks. They’re everywhere. But I have gimmicks too. Oh my, I’m part of the 'scrunchy face’ epidemic. Yep, if you can’t beat them....

So with this I ponder my next gimmick, and it is, ‘If this wine were a Football player, who would they be?’ the football in this case is the real football, the world game, or soccer as you may regard it. Yes I know it is sort of tacky, but hey, whatta ya going to do? It won’t be on every post, just ones where I’ve got the itch.

The Spring Vale Freycinet Tasmanian Pinot Noir 2006. I reckon it had been about 10 years since I have had one of these wines, with their Gewurtz being a regular in the fridge. But that was long ago. Now Tasmania I guess isn’t as cutting edge that it used to be 10 or so years ago. Don’t get me wrong, they make great wine, but now when I want something new I look to Vermentino or Waitaki Valley or Hawkes Bay Syrah.

The wine has a very Pinot Noir look about it in the glass with a pink/ruby transparency going on. The nose has a blend of macerated strawberry with a subtle touch of earthiness. So far so good right? The first sip is still holding on to a sliver of acid and primary fruit of strawberries and sweet plums. Then it was over. The wine ceased to be. There was really nothing left in it but a rather dull dry red wine. In hindsight the wine was probably passed its best, somewhere around 2009 I reckon (tasted Jan 22, 2011), but at $34 from Dan’s I thought it would be good to have a look. Oh well.

Now this raises the question: if the Spring Vale Pinot Noir were a football player, who would they be? Michael Owen. Ten years ago this guy was safe to say at the peak of his powers. World Cup at the age of 18 – France 1998 where he scored that exquisite goal against Argentina - £45,000 a week pay check and the world at his feet. But that was his problem, his feet. After years of stress fracture problems in his feet, Michael Owen was off-loaded to Real Madrid – not a bad destination, but he did virtually nothing there, thanks to more injuries. After that it was Newcastle United and now Manchester United; two great clubs but only a bit part player at best. We loved you Michael, but your best is behind you.

Drink with BBQ lamb burger
Drink three years ago
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $34 Dan Murphy’s Hawthorn East

Saturday morning

I love Saturday mornings. I love coffee on Saturday mornings and I really love breakfast tarts on said mornings. I love you The Brunswick East Project xxooxx

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mitchell Harris Pyrenees Shiraz (little bit of viognier) 2008

... then there are things that are just really good. The Mitchell Harris Pyrenees Shiraz (little bit of viognier) 2008 is just plain and simple really bloody good. Sitting dark in the glass, really dark, the wine has an instant hit of white pepper, blackberries and my all time favourite, mulberries – I’ll tell you all about the massive mulberry tree in my back yard in South Fremantle another time. It took me a while to actually have a sip of this wine thanks to my little boy Henry refusing to go to sleep on his own, so I lay down with him and hey presto, I’m asleep as well. So then I wake up and yum; fine tannins, lip smacking minerality followed by more blackberries and mulberries. Super job Mr Harris – bravo!

Drink with rib eye roast – rare
Drink till 2018
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $30 take away from Wine Bank on View, Bendigo

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dumanoir Cidre de Normandie, France

I’m not going to say, ‘... so far my favourite cider for the summer’ again, because that is getting to be rather repetitive wouldn’t you say. The Dumanoir Cidre de Normandie ticks all the right apple boxes; beer colour, applely aroma and super dry and tart in the mouth with a great finish of dried herbs. Just great really!

Drink now
Drink with prosciutto and melon salad
Cork and cage seal 4.5%v/v $11.90 for 750mL at Dan Murphy’s Hawthorn East

Powdery mildew

As all Melbournians will attest, this summer has been one wet weekends and humid nights. No doubt has the wet been good for our gardens and catchments, but the humidity has been rather unpleasant and it has been these humid conditions that our Crepe Myrtle - Lagerstroemia – has succumbed to Powdery mildew.

Powdery mildew or Uncinula necator is disease mostly common in viticulture when the conditions in the canopy are humid and dense. It is a disease that may overwinter inside dormant buds which enables the fungus to infect shoot growth in spring, and in very humid conditions look like these pictures. Because this part of the tree does not get a lot of direct sunlight, virtually none actually, and constant humidity and temps of around 25°C-29°C have been common this summer, Powdery mildew has gone nuts in this case.

Right now there is not a lot to do, so it is next year you have to think about. Once leaf fall happens use a wettable sulphur spray, and if you are worried about it not being good for the environment don’t worry; this is an organic substance and you can get uber friendly sprays from your local garden centre. If it is a real problem throughout your tree/shrub/grapevine what you will need is a systemic fungicide.

So, if you are coming around to mine for a BBQ, don't go sniffing around the back of my Crepe Myrtle for a look-see cos' any spores that are still present could stray onto your trendy boat shoes and settle on your award winning Fycus!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Punch Yarra Valley Close Planted Pinot Noir 2006 (II) and crispy skin duck

Lauren Bacall on Humphrey Bogart, “For myself, I can only say that he changed me. He was my teacher my husband, my friend. In his life and his work, Bogey was integrity, truth, and courage. He taught me how to live. That it was okay to trust. He taught me to keep going no matter what. He did. And he is.”

You get the jist; they were soul mates. Just like duck and Pinot Noir I guess. And it was Friday night in downtown Brunswick in my little kitchen that I introduced Punch Yarra Valley Close Planted Pinot Noir 2006 to my crispy skin duck with tarragon lentils with baby carrots braised in white wine and butter with fennel seeds – cue wocka wocka music now.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Punch wines – Huge! It is safe to say that I am also a big fan of duck. So why has it taken me so long to figure this little union out? Buggered if I know. Needless to say, the wine was just sexy as (my last six pack is now a five pack) with layer upon layer of toffee, bacon fat, delicate violets and just simply gorgeous and quite frankly perfect. And the duck; cooked to perfection (i just had my oven fixed the following day after being without her for close on three months). There’s nothing else to say really.

Drink with the above dish
Drink till 2021
Screwcap 13.5%v/v $75 mailing list three years ago

Saturday, February 5, 2011

John Kepplers Premium Apple Cider, Ireland

Like I’ve said, its a cider revolution. Not long ago Erin, who is also a recent convert, took a trip to Uncle Dan’s to grab some cider. Not knowing exactly what she wanted Erin duly grabbed an armful of the stuff for a little tasting session at home. This was my favourite. The John Kepplers Premium Apple Cider, Ireland, which happens to come in a big-arse can, looks like a flat beer in the glass – not very appealing I know – but pretty soon a great waft of apple (der), cinnamon and a bit of smokiness which very much reminded me of my Nanna’s apple pie. The real joy was that this cider did not suffer from the sugar hit that most of the others did, and instead having a tart, dry finish. Top notch this one.

Drink with BBQ pork chops
Drink now
Can 6%v/v $4.90 at Dan Murphy’s Preston