2018 McLean Bay Pinot Noir

If you didn’t know, our newly elected Premier is Peter Gutwein.  Pretty much all of us down here in Tassie pronounce it as Gutt-wen.  As it turns out, and how cool is this, in German it means ‘Good Wine’!  Considering he is our Premier, and we have great wine in Tasmania, I think he should consider changing his name to Peter Großwein (that’s German for ‘great wine’).  I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to it.  I go as far to say that I would probably vote for him next time if he did (tongue in cheek moment).

This is a lovely, elegant Tassie Pinot Noir that could easily be a contributor to the Großwein tag.  It’s a terrific pinot colour and the varietal characters don’t stop there.  It spreads to the nose and palate so easily.  The aromas are so subtle but present (if you know what I mean) with dark cherries, ripe strawberries and a little bit leafy.  The flavours are such that, yes it’s Pinot Noir as I mentioned earlier, but there is that little more ‘something’ to it, but what that something is escapes me.  The cherries and strawberries are here too.  Add a touch of spice, a hint of oak, silky tannins, good persistence and that ‘something’ I mentioned earlier, and it equals a mighty fine, gold medal winning (2019 International Cool Climate Wine Show), Tassie Pinot Noir.  It’s a gutwein and it gets my vote!

Maclean Bay Wines Website

Region: East Coast, Tasmania     Price: $37     Source: Self Purchase

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2019 Serere Beechworth Shiraz Viognier

My wife and I are searching the market for a good SUV.  What I didn’t realise until we started looking was, there’s a plethora of them to choose from.  It’s like every single motor vehicle manufacturer has one in their range.  You can’t blame them, they are very popular.  Some are more powerful, some have a few little extras, some more attractive, some look streamlined, some have great colours and, not forgetting, there are some better than others.

Shiraz Viognier blends are almost the SUV of the wine world.  There seems to be many of them available from many different producers these days.  The only difference is, you’d be hard pressed to find a not-so-good Shiraz Viognier produced in Australia.  We have winemaker, Joe Warren, to thank for this delicious one.

It’s a lovely colour in the glass and very aromatic and perfumed right from the get go, with ripe red fruits and delicate spice notes to the fore.  The palate is quite something.  Elegant springs to mind, medium bodied too, mouth filling juicy blackcurrants, black cherry and blueberries are the flavoursome fruits.  It has a terrific textural mouthfeel to it and, while it’s moderately+ long on the finish, the flavours hang around long enough for you to know you’ve tasted, and are drinking, something pretty special.

Serere Wines Website

Region: Beechworth, Victoria     Price: $52     Source: Sample thanks to Serere Wines

Beechworth Shiraz Viognier 2019
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2019 Glen Garvald (by Levantine Hill) Merlbec

Merlot and Malbec together, in a bottle, under a screwcap, would have to be a rare occurrence surely?  Normally they form part of the famous Bordeaux blend quintet with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.  Could you imagine Angus Young and Brian Johnson taking a break from the other three members of AC/DC and releasing an album?  As much it is highly unlikely, it would be popular with fans regardless.  Just like these two varieties coming together, it is a rarity but I think this will be a very popular wine.

It sits very pretty in the glass and things start off very juicy, fruity and eye-brow raisingly attractive on the nose.  This is a lovely, fresh and juicy wine on the smooth, medium bodied palate too where it is also very appealing.  Plenty of flavour thanks to blackberry and plum, a touch of dried herbs with a good long if slightly drying finish.  I very much enjoyed this wine and I sincerely hope Levantine Hill continue to include it in their portfolio of wines. 

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $50     Source: Sample thanks to Levantine Hill

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2017 Huntington Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Many, many years ago, I had to complete a training course as part of being accepted into my current vocation.  It was a mixed bunch of people in ages, life experience, skill sets and attitudes.  The one thing we all had in common was, we all wanted everyone to succeed and get through the course.  There were 20 of us and 19 made it through.  It was all about contributing to the success of the others, and the end of course awards were appropriately shared.

I think this wine is similar in that it may be the ‘entry’ level of the Huntington Estate Cabernet Sauvignon range, yet it still contributes to the success of the others.  It also consistently sets the bar pretty high for which the Special Reserve and Block 3 need to get over. 

Everything about this is Cabernet Sauvignon.  Blackberries.  Good, ripe, juicy blackberries, blackcurrants too, a dab of herbs, tannins are in tune with the whole medium bodied kit and the flavours carry through to a pretty fruit-full finish.  Consistency won’t win you a Brownlow Medal or the Daly M, but it will earn respect.  This wine has that in spades.

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $32     Source: Sample thanks to Huntington Estate

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Brand & Sons Coonawarra Untold Range

Have you ever played poker?  Did you know one of the most prized hands you could be dealt is four of a kind?  Speaking of four of a kind, have you ever looked closely at the four Kings in a deck of cards?  At a glance you wouldn’t think there would be much difference but they are actually all completely different.  What can’t be taken away from any of them is, they are all valued the same.  The following Brand & Sons wines are sort of ‘four of a kind’.  At a glance, the labels are quite similar but, look closely, have a read, a taste and contemplate them.  They are certainly different but have the same value as each other and demand the same respect in the pack of Brand & Sons wines.  I was not able to hide my joy when I was dealt these four Coonawarra Aces.  I’m guessing I would be a hopeless poker player.

2018 Baker’s Run Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon

Brilliant colour in the glass! Dark fruits, plums, a touch of herbal characters and just a hint oak poking through on the nose.  The palate is rich and leaning toward the top end of medium bodied.  Blackcurrants, blackberries, dark cherries and an Italian herb like influence too.  The slightly drying tannins show themselves on the medium length finish.  This reeks of Coonawarra Cabernet and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

2019 The Last Sunday Drive Coonawarra Cabernet Franc

Again, as with the other wines, this has lovely deep colour to it and looks great in the glass.  Fresh ‘berry basket’ aromas are very well received, thank you, to get things started.  The palate is also fresh with juicy berries including dark ones and blue ones and plenty of them.  There’s also complementary ‘extras’, if you like, from a sprinkle of spice, a modicum of oak and a touch of tannin, all coming together perfectly.  I’d almost go out on a limb and say, this was my favourite of the four.

2018 Brand & Sons Fire and Ice Coonawarra Shiraz

Looked good when I poured it but I was more taken by the smells emanating from the glass.  Fruits aplenty fanning their fumes into the atmosphere along with a little oak and a little spice.  An abundance of dark and blue fruit flavours kick things off on the medium bodied palate.  Fire and Ice is replaced with pepper and spice adding some lovely balance to the terrific fruit.  The tannins do present themselves but are in balance and don’t detract from this very good Coonawarra Shiraz.

2018 Night Owls Coonawarra Shiraz Malbec

In the glass, this looks so inky yet has a youthful purple at the edges.  The nose has plums and blackberries with a touch of oak making an appearance.  Impressive flavours it has to be said.  Plums again, blackberries here too, a subtle peppery bite (not as bad as it sounds), and svelte tannins on the very good length.  One word.  Impressive.

Winery Website: https://brandandsons.com.au/

Region: Coonawarra, SA     Price: $26 (each)     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Brand & Sons and https://savvycomms.ninja/

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2014 Brand & Sons CBD Coonawarra Single Vineyard Shiraz

Most people would know the term CBD as an acronym for the Central Business District of a capital city.  If you have ever been in the CBD, you would know it is a hive of activity pretty much from dawn to dusk.  There is so much happening with a diversity of people going about their business, and cars, trucks and buses adding to the life of the city.  But, as the day fades into nightfall, things slow down and it takes on a totally different persona.  There is still activity but much more mellow, with an ‘easy’ feel about it.

I sense this wine was like a daytime CBD in its youth.  Plenty of things going on with the senses heightened by primary characters aplenty.  But as the sun slowly (and I mean slooooowly) starts to set on its youth, this wine has mellowed and everything has integrated beautifully while still maintaining a certain energy about it.

It’s a lovely deep, almost inky colour and looks great in the glass.  Plenty of dark fruits on the nose along with a herbal note.  As I alluded to earlier, the palate still has some energy to it thanks to blackberry, dark cherry and plum characters while sitting comfortably in the medium bodied spectrum.  Add to this just a touch of a herbal influence, the smooth and silky mouthfeel, and the terrific length, you have a delightful wine at seven years of age.  And, as much as I’m sure it will live longer, I think it is in the perfect spot for drinking now.

Winery Website: https://brandandsons.com.au/

Region: Coonawarra, SA     Price: $85     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Brand & Sons and https://savvycomms.ninja/

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2019 Glen Garvald (by Levantine Hill) Marsanne Rousanne

Marsanne Rousanne.  Those two words would fit perfectly for the name of a French artist don’t you think?  Imagine this if you will; the art would use subtle shades, bold colours and different textures to highlight the finite detail of the subject.  The finished product being such that, every time you look at it, you see something new.  Such that you can’t help but be drawn back again and again to this alluring masterpiece, appreciating it more each time. 

This Glen Garvald Marsanne Rousanne masterpiece however is not imagined.  The two grape varieties have come together in such a bold but subtle, textural and detailed way that it has you going back again and again for another taste.  Alluring fresh fruit salad aromas set the interest juices flowing with ease.  Plenty of those aromatic fruits populate the palate too.  Peach, pear, apricot and a hint of spice spread across the canvass framed by richness, lushness, texture and terrific length.  On that note, it almost seems like an understatement.  This wine seems to offer more than that to the senses of smell and taste without bombarding either one.  Maybe that’s where that boldness yet subtlety comes into it.  Either way, this is a lovely example of the blend from a region not known for it.

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $50     Source: Sample thanks to Levantine Hill

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Patina Orange Region Chardonnay Releases

Summer may have left us 47 days ago but, even down here in Tassie, we have been experiencing some (not all) beautiful warm and sunny days.  It’s almost like Autumn wasn’t ready to step in and asked Summer to hang around for a little longer.  I’m not complaining that’s for sure and, I have to say, my garden isn’t complaining either.  This has made it perfect to continue to sit on the deck, relax and enjoy white wines on these glorious Autumn days.  The delivery of these two exquisite Patina Chardonnays could not have been better timed.  Both enjoyed in the freshness of the Tassie air, overlooking the Derwent River with the city of Hobart and Kunanyi/Mt Wellington providing a beautiful backdrop.  How lucky am I?

2019 Patina Chardonnay

A delightful nose! Truly delightful. Citrusy, peachy and just a hint of honey (like it’s been dissolved in warm water, if you know what I mean).  Quite the palate really.  An abundance of flavour.  Mainly stone fruits (peaches, nectarines and a little apricot influence maybe?) and some citrus character in there too.  It’s lovely and creamy (thank you lees contact), it’s textural and has really good length with just a fine touch of acidity at the end.  This is a beauty.  Everything has bonded and in balance. Oh yeah! 

Price: $40

2018 Patina Reserve Chardonnay

The nose on this Reserve wine was not as forthcoming early on as the previous wine.  But!  Patience and air time paid off.  Citrusy, stonefruity and lively aromas presented. The palate, rich and flavoursome.  Peaches and cream, cashew and macadamia nuttiness, along with beautiful acidity, adding to the perfect balance this wine displays and the terrific length.  And, I must say, I don’t think there was a part of my mouth that didn’t get to experience this wine.  This is indeed a wonderful, wonderful wine!

Price: $60

Patina Website

Region: Orange, NSW     Source: Sample thanks to Patina Wines and Define Wine

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2017 Huntington Estate Tim Stevens Signature Shiraz

I was listening to a podcast recently of the world’s first female roadie, Aussie Tana Douglas.  Fascinating lady.  She spent time with many famous bands and musicians but what stuck in my head was when she spoke about AC/DC, but more specifically, something she said about Angus Young.  I didn’t realise but he wore quite a few outfits not just the school uniform he became so famous for.  I do remember the prison one he wore for ‘Jailbreak’ and he apparently wore a Superman costume as well.  One thing Tana said was, yes, he wore many outfits/costumes, but they were never a distraction from his talent. 

Tim Stevens, at Huntington Estate, is similar except he is a winemaker, not a guitarist (well, not that I’m aware of).  When he makes the decision to put the finished wine into bottle, then put his name to the wine, he is sending out something that definitely shows his talent.  There is no distraction.  It is there for the punter to see, smell and taste.  And, why wouldn’t you put your name to a quality wine such as this beauty.

It’s a lovely, bright and youthful colour…as expected.  It smells divine.  You can tell there is nothing but quality fruit here just by the aromas emanating from the glass.  Think dark cherry and blackcurrant characters, a savouriness there too and oak just poking through on the nose. 

Tasting this wine is based around three words.  Complex, Concentrated and Charming.  Abundant, bold, dark fruit flavours to the fore.  Blackberries, dark cherries, plums and blueberries too.  There’s a fresh red fruit ‘complementary’ factor as well (sorry, I don’t know how else to describe it) and a dark chocolate influence.  It’s rich and smooth, it’s intense yet there’s a certain, sort of, elegance about it too (that’s that charm I mentioned earlier) and lingers longingly on the palate.  Oak has certainly been well played and the tannins let you know they’re about but, with lots of swirling in the glass, they eased up and contributed perfectly to the impressiveness of this wine.  Just superb!

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $100     Source: Sample thanks to Huntington Estate

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2020 Robert Stein White Label Riesling

Smoke free zones.  They are everywhere these days.  They have even made the CBD of Hobart a smoke free zone.  Good thing too.

How good (and lucky) is it that Robert Stein wines have their own little smoke free zone in Mudgee?  Their vineyard is situated in such a spot that, when the smoke from the terrible bush fires headed in their direction, it was “funneled…away from the vineyard, ensuring the smoke didn’t settle over (them).”  As a result, Jacob Stein was able to pick the Riesling and release a wine which, “…has allowed us to retain all of our staff who continue to inspire and support the business during the ongoing challenges.”

Very interesting aromatically.  Quite floral with a touch of spice, served blind, you could be forgiven for thinking there was a touch of Gewurztraminer in the mix but then the citrus characters come through and it draws you in for a closer look.  The Palate is definitely Riesling.  Citrus dominant (more limes than lemons), apple like acidity (tangy not tart) and a nice touch of texture too.  Okay, so it doesn’t have the same intensity as previous Robert Stein wines but it’s still up there.  It’s fresh and lively, and there’s plenty to like I reckon.  Nice work Jacob Stein.

Robert Stein Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $35     Source: Sample courtesy of Robert Stein and Define Wine

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