Grey Sands Pinot Blanc and Blanc de Noir

If you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favour and look up at the sky at night?  So many stars!  Some brighter than others, of course, but all shine and contribute to the wonder that is the Milky Way.  In the galaxy of wine producing stars in Tasmania, some stand out more than others for various reasons, but they all shine equally in Tasmania’s vinous constellation.

True vinous astronomers don’t look for the biggest or brightest.  They seek out the hidden stars, like Grey Sands, who may not shine the brightest but is a star in the Tasmania Wine Galaxy.

2018 Pinot Blanc

The nose is fresh, clean, slightly floral and a little citrus like.  The palate is the same but includes flavours of juicy peaches and pears, there’s texture and elegance, zippy acidity and finishing dry with medium persistence.  This has a lovely mouthfeel to it and seemed to open up more the longer it sat in the glass.  It was an easy decision to indulge in a follow up glass, just to check my notes of course. 😊

2019 Blanc de Noir

It’s hard to describe, but the colour is quite alluring.  It’s quite rich and complex aromatically.  The palate is the place for me though, where the complexity ramps up a notch or two.  Bordering on full bodied and youthful, all sorts of flavours and characteristics poke the palate into life.  Fruitful, thanks to ripe red fruits and cherries, and a pear flesh/juiciness character coming together nicely.  Texture and gentle acidity join the ride to the lengthy dry finish.  This is a lovely wine that just seemed to intrigue me more and more after every taste.

Region: Glengarry, Northern Tasmania     Price: $45 each     Source: Generous gift

Grey Sands Website

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2019 Domaine A Lady A Sauvignon Blanc

The sea water in Tassie is freezing.  There’s no escaping or denying that.  As a kid, I’d watch as other people would walk slowly into the water so they could get used to it before going for a swim.  Me, I would run and dive in to get it over with because, once you got past that stage, it was so cool and refreshing on a hot Tassie day (yes, we do get those down here).

I’ve learnt to do the same when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc.  No point in procrastinating, no point in easing my way into it, just get in and try it.  With the pedigree and reputation this wine has, those thoughts shouldn’t enter my head in the first place.

Went it comes to this wine, it is more about complexity than freshness.  It shows typical Sauvignon Blanc characters, each in small quantities, such as; grassy notes, snow peas, and asparagus but also stone-fruits and a hint of citrus too.  The palate has flavour richness, elegance, balance and terrific length.  There’s some lovely texture too with delicate acidity playing the perfect supporting role.  With time, it seemed to flesh out and develop even more delicate yet intense richness of flavour and, sat longer on the palate too. 

This is not the first Sauvignon Blanc I have tried but, from memory, it is certainly up there as one of the best I have tried.

Domaine A Website

Region: Coal River Valley, Tasmania     Price: $66     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Domaine A

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2019 Mapleton Vineyard Riesling

Gospel music. Admittedly not my go to music genre. However, you can’t but appreciate how the whole church congregation gets involved, and it is easy to understand why. The songs are usually catchy, so upbeat and lively, and of course, involves plenty of religious words like, ‘God’, ‘Jesus’ and ‘Hallelujah’.  Those in the choir are usually very good singers too, which helps.  If you are in the congregation and not a good singer, it’s okay, nobody will notice.

The first time I tasted this wine I was with a small group of Riesling loving friends.  I’d like to tell you that we all broke out in song about it, but that was never going to happen.  We did, however, sing its praises with statements that included, “god this is good” and “Jesus!” (with an excited inflection). The second time I tried it, very recently in fact, it was served to me blind, and my thoughts remain the same. This time I will say though is, thank God for Riesling!! 

Please, let me to you about this wine. The citrus aromas are lively, fresh, and juicy.  This continues on to the lovely limey palate, with a touch of lemon and green apple like crispness, and lots of flavour while maintaining poise.  There’s some soft citrusy yet mouth-watering acidity and, to cap things off, it finishes nice and dry with very good length.  Seeing as it is Easter, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jesus served this up at his last supper.

Mapleton Vineyard Riesling

Region: Coal River Valley, Tas Price: $35 Source: Tasting

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2021 Storm King Wine Co. Releases

On my walk the other morning, it was a beautiful, clear and still start to the day. The sun was up enough to bring light and warmth to everything it touched. I walk across a short bridge over an inlet. When the tide is out, the inlet is more like a pond and, on this particular morning, it was so still it was like a natural mirror. The reflection was almost a perfect copy of everything surrounding the pond with just the slightest ripple. The trees, clear sky and fading moon reflected along with the natural colours mother nature provides with the inlet’s embankment framing the almost perfect picture.

Pouring these wines in their respective glasses reminded me of this pond. It was almost like I was looking at the surface, taking in the aromas, and experiencing the flavours, and the wines are a reflection of Ray Costanzo and his wife Jen, the people behind the Storm King wines. They seem to possess a naturalness, with their care, attention and focus evident, excluding the ripples. You just can’t help but sit back, taste each wine, and appreciate what was being reflected from the glass in which it is framed. The reflection may not be real, but what is being reflected about Ray, Jen and the wine is.

2021 Mataro Graciano

Fresh and fruit driven from the first to the last pour. It’s a lovely deep colour and so beautifully aromatic. There’s a brightness and richness on the medium bodied palate showing these two varieties work very well together (thanks to some clever Ray Costanzo blending).  Dark fruits, spicy red cherries and a nice touch of white pepper showing through too. To sum this wine up, it’s a palate and people pleaser in a bottle. Sure to delight and excite.

2021 Vermentino

I really liked this wine from the first whiff until it eventually left my taste buds. It’s delightful on the nose with a fruit salad bowl of aromas getting things started. The palate offers up stonefruits and pear juice like characters, lovely texture and presence, a hint of acidity and spice, and very good length to top it off. Deeeelicious!

2021 Shiraz Malbec

Another delight from top to toe. Fruitful, characterful, wonderful. There’s a bountiful array of black and red fruits providing richness yet maintaining a medium bodied palate feel, plus a slight pepper and spice influence all of which just glides across the palate. Gee it’s good. This has to be one of the most popular blends going around at the moment and, when you see examples like this one, it is easy to see why.

Region: Granite Belt, Qld     Price: $55(each)     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Storm King Wine Co. Website

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2020 Montalto Estate Pinot Noir

It’s not uncommon for me to get into trouble for bringing my work home and/or doing work in my free time.  I can’t help it.  I just need to make sure my team are okay, that things in the town where I work are okay and there is not going to be any surprises when I turn up for work the next day.  I bet Montalto’s Winemaker, Simon Black’s doesn’t get any grief if he takes his work home and, I don’t reckon my wife would complain if my work involved this excellent Pinot Noir.

Bright, dark cherry aromas with a hint of herbs too.  Fresh and juicy on the palate provided by dark cherries, a slightly plummy influence brings mid palate richness and a lovely touch of spice.  There is plenty of flavour and intensity, yet it has elegance and remains beautifully varietal.  Tannins and a touch of acid are perfectly in balance to ensure a good future and it has terrific length (understatement!).  I am a Pinot Noir fan and this is an absolute beauty!

Montalto Website

Region: Mornington Peninsula, Vic Price: $50 Source: Sample thanks kindly to Montalto

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2020 Montalto Estate Chardonnay

There have been many times I have enjoyed a bottle of wine that has resulted in a certain level of sadness because it was my last bottle, my only bottle, or one that is not so readily available at my local bottle shop.  I had a sort of melancholy feeling when I tasted this wine.  At the time, I wondered why because I very much enjoyed it.  So, I decided to adopt the attitude of Theodor Seuss Geisel (commonly known as Dr Seuss), “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Flavours of stonefruits, melon and citrus characters are unmistakably and beautifully presented along with nicely balanced acidity, and freshness comes with its youthfulness.  What struck me with this wine when I tasted it was how complete it seems.  By this I mean, flavour was there in abundance, it has personality (yep, this is a thing with this wine), eyebrow raising palate presence and length.  I’m smiling because tasting this wine happened.  I guarantee you will too when you try it.

Montalto Website

Region: Mornington Peninsula, Vic Price: $50 Source: Sample thanks kindly to Montalto

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2021 The Natural Wine Co Lightly Sparkling Wines

Sometimes it is so good to just have a wine and not think about it too much.  Find a glass, crack the screwcap, pour it, sit, relax aaaaaand drink!  I suppose you could call it the simple approach to wine appreciation.  Add low alcohol, low calories, organic, vegan, a bit of fizz and you have these two wines in a nutshell.  It must be said, they are a great idea and there is definitely a place for these types of wines in bottle-shop fridges.  They are probably already out there and these two wines have made me realise I need to look a bit harder.

The Lightly Sparkling White is a great way to start a lazy afternoon.  It is so light and easy, and the cheeky bunch of bubbles release enough citrusy like aromas to get the mouth watering.  It may be nice and light on the palate too but there’s enough apple and pear flavours to cause repeat pours. 

The Lightly Sparkling Rosé proved to be the perfect follow-on from the White.  Again, yes light but there’s more presence on the palate thanks to a touch of texture.  It’s all about the fresh strawberry fruit for me with the fizz adding the ‘fun’ factor.  This is very easy to like.

The Natural Wine Co Website

Region: Cowra, NSW     Price: $20     Source: Sample thanks to The Natural Wine Co and Define Wine

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2021 Clandestine Vineyards Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir

I have a mate who is not like anyone else I call a friend.  I always know exactly where I stand with him and there’s no doubting his thoughts on something.  Honesty is his best asset.  Not everyone he meets likes this of course but he’s not fussed.  For him it’s about being unashamedly genuine and true to himself.

I feel this Pinot Noir is doing exactly that.  It’s not like other Pinots and it’s not hiding the fact.  Almost like it has a ‘take me as you see me’ attitude.

It’s a bright, pretty and juicy colour. That’s a no-brainer for me. I love the colour of young Pinot Noir; gets me every time. Fruit-full aromas, that’s for sure, thanks to ripe strawberries and a little plummy character too.  No beg your pardons on the medium bodied palate. Dark cherry and plump plums speak loudly.  There’s texture and some spiciness too as the tannins say ‘hello’ on the good length finish.  I quite enjoyed this even if it did lack the finesse and elegance I normally expect as part of a ‘Pinot package’.  I reckon a couple of years under its belt and those qualities will emerge.  I like the price too.

Region: Blewitt Springs, McLaren Vale, SA     Price: $24     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Clandestine Vineyards and Savvy Comms

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2021 Clandestine Vineyards ‘Hearts and Minds’ Grenache

I don’t know how many parents expect much from their new born child in the first year of its life. Yes, putting on some weight, reacting to its environment, stimulated by sounds and certainly getting attention. 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think the proud parents of this baby of a Grenache needed to keep friends and family in suspense for another year before showing it to the world.

The colourful introduction gives an indication of what to expect.  It’s a lovely dark cherry skin colour and sits in the glass with a nice sheen to it.  It has pleasant perfume, almost floral like yet bright raspberry, cherry and spicy characters shine through.  Everything is singing out for attention on the medium bodied ‘plus’ palate (unexpected for a Grenache).  Plenty of spiciness, really good bunches of fresh, ripe red fruit and, as strange as it sounds, fat juiciness (sorry, don’t know how else to describe it).  Oak is gentle, tannins tamed and it certainly has a finish that give you something to think about.  While it is quite delicious I sense it’s still crawling so, give it time to get on its feet.

Region: Blewitt Springs, McLaren Vale, SA     Price: $48     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Clandestine Vineyards and Savvy Comms

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2017 Levantine Hill Katherine’s Paddock Chardonnay

A small part of my morning walk takes in a track that winds through a bush area and overnight rain released an array of aromas from the eucalypts, wattles, native flowers and grasses. It was truly invigorating.  I decided to change my normal path home and walked through this area again, this time slower. I just wanted to take it all in again. It was like the air had been refreshed and renewed.

Pouring this wine in the glass had a similar effect in that it released an abundance of fresh, clean and captivating aromas. Pausing to take it all in before picking up the glass and swirling it.  This time it was like a tropical fruit forest.

Tasting the wine made the aromas more tangible, more real, giving a sense of actuality to the sensory arousal provided. Palate stimulation created a fascination in the flavours that coated and caressed every part of the mouth. This wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry either. It dawdles across the path of persistence and presence that seems like an enchanting eternity and you just have to take that walk again. An absolutely beautiful Chardonnay for all the senses.

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Victoria     Price: $125     Source: Generous Gift

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