2015 Grey Sands Romanesque

Have you noticed how many Roman Empire constructions are still standing some 2000 years after they were built?  Well apparently they have worked out why.  A bloke by the name of Vitruvius (What was his mother thinking?!) wrote of “a kind of powder which from natural causes produces astonishing results”.  It was more so with maritime architecture where the sea hardened a blend of volcanic ash, lime and seawater which then mixed with an aggregate of volcanic rock.

In the article I was reading, referred to a study by a smart lady at the University of Utah, Marie Jackson, where seawater found its way into the cracks of the construction and it dissolved some of the ash.  The alkali fluid allowed the minerals to develop which strengthened it and bonded the materials.  How cool is that?

Now, I’m not saying this wine has been built using this method or to last as long as some of the Roman structures we see today.  It is clearly a blend of three grape varieties that have bound together in a strong, united and unique way that will have “Friends, Romans and Countrymen…” lending their ears, eyes and tastebuds.

A blend of Shiraz, petit verdot and touriga franca, this is not a wine your going to find in many places around Australia let alone Tasmania.  A fruit forward wine with plenty of relatives from the berry family in the mix with bold blueberries holding the reins of this wine chariot.  There’s a cohort in support consisting of some subtle herbs and leafy notes, savouriness and soft smooth tannins bringing up the rear as it departs the arena triumphantly.

Grey Sands Website

Region: Glengarry, Tasmania     Price: $40     Source: Generous gift

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2017 The Natural Wine Co. Rosé

Rosé, Rosé, Rosé.  Where for out thou Rosé?  Well, these days, everywhere and what a good thing that is.

This is going to please a huge group of punters.  With its free run juice, wild ferment, vegan friendly approach and a damn good price, this’ll attract “thy friend and foe alike” to this style of wine.

This could well be the ideal wine for Wimbledon.  Strawberries and cream in a glass just like it says on the bottle.  Throw in some cranberries and other dainty red fruits and you have this wine to a ‘T’.  There’s that creamy texture, that I sort of mentioned earlier, turning up at the same time complementing it nicely.  I have to say, this is a pretty generous rosé for the dollars.

The Natural Wine Co. Website

Region: Canowindra, NSW     Price: $18     Source: Sample courtesy of Define Wine

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2015 Huntington Estate ‘Basket Dried’ Shiraz

This may sound conceited but there aren’t many ‘styles’ of wines I haven’t tried. ‘Basket Dried’ is a term I’m definitely not familiar with but if I see it on a wine label again I’ll be grabbing for my wallet and checking it out.

It’s funny you know, when this wine arrived it seemed to be just a part of the group. It  stood out from the others because of the darkish label but I sensed it didn’t consider itself special, pretentious or the ‘man of the moment’ wine. A humble bugger if you like. Yet it has every reason to stand on the top step of the Huntington Estate wine staircase with its hands on its hips and nose in the air.

It’s no different when it comes to drinking this wine. It clearly shows how good it is but in such a cool, calm and collected way.  It doesn’t appear rushed either.  Delivering a lot to the senses slowly and precisely I wondered when it was going fade. The fruit is bright and youthful and I’m guessing it’s hardly developed since it was conceived.

The palate is lovely, rich and smooth without being full bodied. Darker fruits appear, plums as well and some delicate sweetish stewed blueberries add a nice touch. I assume this is the ‘basket dried’ method doing its bit, and if it is, I like it a lot.

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW.    Price: $75    Source: Sample courtesy of Huntington Estate and Define Wine

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2017 The Natural Wine Co. Organic Shiraz

I honestly like the idea of natural, organic, preservative free wine.  Varieties treated in a way to bring out their ‘true colours’ if you like.  This one is made that way and it certainly ticks all the right boxes.  The most important box that it ticks for me is, it is a good and enjoyable wine to drink.

I think it starts at a good level and maintains that spot right to the end.  It has primary aromas and flavours of blueberries and dark(ish) cherries that are there from the outset with a nice savoury/spicy/stemmy note adding an interesting complexity if you like.  It doesn’t move far beyond the mid palate but I don’t think it was meant to do that anyway so it is perfect in that sense.  Also, at this price, I don’t think it was built to be cellared and why would you bother.  Good wine at a really good price…tuck in I say.

The Natural Wine Co. Website

Region: Central Ranges, NSW     Price: $18     Source: Sample courtesy of Define Wine

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2015 Levantine Hill Melissa’s Paddock Yarra Valley Syrah

I was recently in a cafe that I frequent enjoying a cup of tea with a mate and he mentioned how the cafe had a good reputation but he’d never stepped foot in the place.  When questioned on it further he outlined that he had a regular place that consistently served up good coffee just the way he liked it, exactly like the one he was drinking in my favourite little establishment.

My mate did point out that the coffee was more expensive (marginally I might add) than where he usually goes but it was worth it because the cafe didn’t seem to be a “churn’em out” sort of place where they call your name when it’s take-away or give you a number when you sit at a table.

Reputation may get people into my favourite cafe but to keep them coming back, they need to be consistent and not just with one thing but with everything they do.

Levantine Hill have certainly built a reputation for everything they do since being established in 2009.  Winemaker, Paul Bridgeman, has been at the helm since 2013 cementing that reputation by consistently making quality wines from the Coldstream Guard range to the top of the tree, Family Paddock wines like this one.

Fresh, bold, dark fruits from nose to palate give the impression this wine is going to be a whopper (I could take in the aromas all day!) yet that fruit power seems so well controlled and evenly distributed in the mouth.  Flavours galore with licorice, dark chocolate (just a coating), delicate spice are all in there and perfectly balanced.  Tannins are there too but they are so smooth and silky adding to an incredible length you just don’t want to end.  Mind you, I love that it seems to fade away slowly like the end of the Beatles song ‘Hey Jude’ (it’s in your head now isn’t it?)

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Victoria     Price: $200 (estimate)     Source: Generous gift

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2017 The Natural Wine Co. Organic Sauvignon Blanc

I learnt a valuable lesson thanks to this wine.  I put this wine in a fridge which I know is set at a temperature for beer…to make it cold…pretty cold…like beer should be.  It really came down to poor planning on my behalf but in the back of my mind I knew what the fridge was capable of doing to any white wine, not just Sauvignon Blanc.  So, as it happened, while leaving to go to work, I picked up this bottle, put it in ‘that’ fridge, and walked out the door.  Twelve hours later, it was literally rescued.

When I poured the wine it was obvious it was too cold.  I still gave it a swirl, sniff and a taste.  It was a bit of alright but lacked a decent flavour hit.  The surprise was, it didn’t present as a typical Sav Blanc and I could definitely see some good in it.  I had a (rare) light bulb moment and decided to give it some time out of the fridge and let it come up in temperature a bit.

The aromas were still a bit subdued but that was fine because tasting it made up for it.  For me, there’s fruit flavours such as pears, pineapple and rockmelon with a slight stamp of ‘Sav Blanc grassiness’ making an appearance at the finish.  The other attractive component I like about this surprise package, there is some texture.  It’s almost like some of those pear pieces have landed in the salad bowl with their skin still on them.  My eyes are now open to Sauvignon Blanc.

The Natural Wine Co Website

Region: Cowra, NSW     Price: $18     Source: Sample courtesy of Define Wine

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2013 Huntington Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

I am going to admit to being a little stuck for words after I tried this wine.  I started to write it up and then there was a ‘take 2’ and a ‘take 3’.  It is such a really good wine which was what I expected and got me thinking, it is probably what everyone else knows they’ll get from winemaker, Tim Stevens, and Huntington Estate.  That’s what made it hard to write up.  Nothing will come as a surprise to those who know the quality of this wine.

It’s full of lovely, concentrated dark fruits without being over the top.  Medium bodied seems a bit ‘easy’ to describe the weight.  It is medium bodied but the fruit coats the palate so well it seems to go up a rung.

There’s a couple of other things helping out in the mix as well such as leafy character  (not a green, under-ripe character) and a nice little sweetish black currant flavour adding some balance.  There is a bit going on yet it all seems to come together very nicely at the finish…apart from some slightly drying tannins, which are fine because it will definitely partner well with red meat.

The bottom line is, it’s a really good wine that I really enjoyed and would really like to see it in a few years.  Really really!

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $29     Source: Sample courtesy of Huntington Estate and Define Wine

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