Sunday, February 28, 2010


- Canberra District
- $22
- Screwcap
- 14.5%alc

Although Canberra shiraz might not have completely won the hearts of Australian drinkers just yet, the mere presence of a certain shiraz viognier means anyone would be a fool to ever write it off.

Fragrantly spicy, Shaw Vineyard's 2008 opens to heady notes of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg overlying slightly baked aromas of dark plum with sweet vanilla oak and a touch of fennel. Medium or even light-medium bodied, its baked dark cherry and sour plum flavours are bound by a brittle, grippy, acidic structure, with hints of savoury spice and an apparent warming aspect closing out its rather raw finish, which altogether lacks true length of fruit sweetness.

X Shaw Vineyard's 2008 Premium Shiraz drinks more like a pleasing little quaffer, but it's certainly a bit dear to be tagged in that category. Drink to 2012.
86 points

Friday, February 26, 2010


Leeuwin Estate's 2007 Art Series Chardonnay has just been released in Adelaide this week and with it comes the mandatory Melbourne Street Fine Wine tasting.

With the exception of the three new Art Series whites, I've already posted tasting notes on the Leeuwin wines available under my September 2009 post. However, this didn't prevent me from re-tasting the two Art Series reds, which I've provided some updated notes for.

One of my favourite Leeuwin wines, the Siblings Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, should see its 2009 vintage released soon, while the 2005 Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon should be released around April-May. Leeuwin's spent a bit of effort rejuvenating their flagship cabernet vines, which they hope will one day see the wine return to its status as a regional icon alongside the chardonnay. The 2004 Art Series Cabernet displays plenty of good signs, but the company rep informs me the 2005 is the one to keep your eyes peeled for.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling 2009 ($21) Quite ripe riesling nose, with stonefruit/lemon juice aromas backed by a flinty edge. Its palate is significantly forward, juicy and round, lacking the cut, precision and length of great riesling. 86

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($28.50) The 2009 reaffirms its status as one of Australia's best sav blancs in my eyes. Its clean, fresh vanilla oak and banana skin nose precedes a beautifully balanced and juicy palate of keenly restrained varietal quality. It's neither terribly complex or inherently fruity, but it drinks very well in more of a clean, textured style. 92

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2007 ($82.50) Classic Leeuwin nose with both fruit and oak well in attendance, if perhaps a bit oaky at this stage. Fresh and creamy vanilla/cedar oak leads the bouquet, with undertones of melon and white stonefruit present. Typically fuller, voluptuous and creamy in texture, with a nutty/savoury underlay to its fruit base which is significantly more refined than the 2006 wine. My only concern is its lack of truly penetrating length. 95

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Shiraz 2007 ($36) Interestingly enough, this wine's come up a lot better on the two occasions I've sampled it at tastings as opposed to when I consumed a whole bottle. Maybe I over decanted it? At this tasting it was back to the savoury/spicy red fruit and cedar oak style I recalled at the cellar door, unlike the vigorously ripened, generously fruited and sweetly oaked wine I reviewed back in October. Could be an interesting lesson in the differing perceptions of the tasting/home environment? With that in my mind my score based on today's encounter is back up to....91

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 ($53) Still easily the best wine I've had under this label. It was interesting to hear the rep mention how challenging the 2004 season was, as I can certainly recall a lot of superlative Margaret River cabernets from that year. The nose has a slight charry accent to its redcurrant, cassis and toasty cedar aromas, leading into a medium-bodied palate which is well poised, balanced and structured. With a dusting of finely powdered tannins it finishes quite savoury and dry, yet unusually spicy for the variety. I wish Leeuwin Estate the best of luck in seeing this recover its status as a regional benchmark. 92

Sunday, February 21, 2010


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $19 (375ml), $30 (750ml)
- Cork
- 17.5%alc

One of Australia's more historic wines is d'Arenberg's Vintage Fortified (first declared vintage 1928). An industry defining wine back in its day, its mere presence in that classically labelled bottle transports me to a time when fortified wines were the elixir of the masses. For a change chambourcin (32%) has been added to the 2005, which should be a familiar grape to fans of d'Arenberg's popular Peppermint Paddock sparkling red.

Dark crimson red, this young Australian fortified opens to a rich, meaty bouquet of currants and plum/berry concentrate, with dark chocolate undertones lifted by notes of spice, tar and cleanly restrained spirit. The charmingly composed palate is very smooth and essence-like, with sweetened regional shiraz flavours marked by a faint herbal edge and a gentle dusting of dry tannin. It finishes very long and particularly fine for the style, with a consistent balance evident from front to back palate, and a climax pushing through rich berry fruit flavours which are eventually overawed by a lingering impression of sensational, organic bitter dark chocolate.

ü+ d'Arenberg's 2005 is a totally convincing and delicious young fortified, which drinks very well right now in an absurdly rich and spirity shiraz-style, but it certainly contains all the components to develop into something special with patience. Top value. Throw some in the cellar, you won't be disappointed. Drink to 2025.
94 points

Friday, February 19, 2010


- Adelaide Hills, SA
- $46-$59
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

The latest Grosset newsletter just announced the release of the 2008 Piccadilly Chardonnay, which, if anything, made me realise it's about time I drunk that 2007 Piccadilly off the rack! At its best Grosset's Chardonnay easily rates with South Australia's finest (check 2004-95pts and 2005-94pts).

Brightly scented with radiant tones of white stonefruit, melon and nuts, Grosset's 2007 also reveals a generous extract of butter/vanilla oak aromas. Initially quite elegant and sophisticated, its smoothly textured palate presents a similarly refined character profile as the nose, however, it tails off a bit towards the finish, ending slightly raw with faint bitter undertones.

O After tasting Grosset's 2007 Chardonnay back in Sep '09, I optimistically hoped a further 6 months bottle age might help it integrate. Unfortunately, this hasn't happened. Drink to 2012.
89 points

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010


- Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
- $14-$21
- Screwcap
- 11.5%alc

Industry veteran Andrew Margan produces this traditionally made, unoaked Hunter semillon from low yielding, forty year old vines planted on volcanic soils in Broke Fordwich.

Rather savoury, nutty and complex for such a young Hunter sem, Margan's 2008 is scented with a slightly quirky fragrance of green capsicum and Chinese five spice overlying its more typical lemon and grapefruit notes. The somewhat unconventional palate is deceptively savoury, with a side tingling acidity that wraps around its clean flavours of grass, grapefruit and mineral marked by faint smoky edges, before it finishes adequately long with a lingering zestiness and compelling tones of cooked herb and dry, Australian summer-style grass.

ü+ There may be fresher, cleaner young Hunter semillons around, but kudos to Margan for producing this wine already loaded with character, shape and intrigue. Considering its complementary winemaking, it must surely be considered a unique Australian expression of terroir. Predicting its lifespan right now isn't easy (it could really show me up). Drink to 2015.
92 points

Sunday, February 14, 2010


- Barossa Valley, SA
- $56-$80
- Cork
- 14.5%alc

Passionately followed by many, Rockford is one of South Australia's most (loyal-) customer orientated wineries. Massive profit margins have never been too high on Rocky O'Callaghan's list of priorities, a point exemplified by his flagship Basket Press Shiraz selling for as little as $46 through cellar door as recently as the 2004 release (97pts). By some distance it's the cheapest wine ranked 'Exceptional' (the highest ranking) by Langton's Classification of Australian Wine IV.

Rich and essence-like on the nose, the 2007 Basket Press reveals currant influenced aromas of red plums, violets and cassis in a typically fruit focused, rather plush manner. Its palate is altogether more savoury and silky, with a nicely textured, bright and satiny underlay to a fruit component which borders on uneven (more over) ripeness, but it just stays within the lines enough, allowing the wine to finish long and even with pleasing mineral undertones.

O The 2007 isn't a standout Basket Press for me by any means, but on a more positive note, two of my less experienced wine drinking friends felt this was as good a wine as they've ever had. Drink to 2017.
91 points

Saturday, February 13, 2010


- Yarra Valley, VIC
- $23-$32
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

I can remember buying bottles of Coldstream Hills' 2005 Pinot Noir (93pts-Apr'07) in late 2006 for $23 each. In hindsight I can't recall drinking a better $23 bottle of Australian pinot since, so it is with mixed feelings of joy and regret I pull my last bottle from the cellar.

Appearing a dark brick red, this 5 year old pinot noir reveals an almost leathery bouquet of deep, damp earthy soils, sour cherry, cedar and gentle spice. Extravagantly silky, its sumptuous palate delivers layer upon layer of silky flavour, announcing darker notes of complex leather, cherry and earth which end wonderfully smooth and plush. It finishes very long and savoury, revealing a trace of pencil shavings before it just tightens a fraction at the climax.

ü+ Very attractive, sensuous and hedonistic; Coldstream Hills' 2005 Pinot Noir is drinking in peak form right now. Drink now.
93 points

Thursday, February 11, 2010


- McLaren Vale, SA
- $54-$69
- Screwcap
- 15.0%alc

d'Arenberg's Ironstone Pressings must be considered a quintessential expression of an old vine McLaren Vale GSM. The 2007 Ironstone will see a slightly delayed release date (expect June 2010), so the classical 2006, which has already been available for over a year, remains current vintage.

Bright ruby-red, musky and spicy, this suitably perfumed blend unloads floral whiffs of raspberry, blueberry and currants supported by a gentle tone of cedar/chocolate oak and exotic spice. A hint of alcohol also edges its way in. Quite full and robust, its rich, chewy palate reveals a deeply flavoured symposium of meaty, juicy dark berry and plum characters, with a penetratingly long finish drawn out beautifully by a persistent core of bright, sour-edged fruit coated in assertive and coarse, yet savoury and natural tannins. Oak plays a secondary role here (approx. 12 months), allowing its vivid, generously ripened old vine fruit to command the show.

ü+ The Ironstone Pressings sits right among the top tier of Australian GSM blends price wise, and the 2006 justifiably sits among the top tier quality wise as well. It's a truly distinctive McLaren Vale red (even with the generous alcohol) blessed by enough even ripeness, depth, length and structure to suggest it'll cellar as well as any of its peers. Drink to 2021.
94 points

Monday, February 8, 2010


- Adelaide Hills/McLaren Vale, SA
- $16-$24
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

d'Arenberg are proud to state (on the back label) that they were the first to release a McLaren Vale viognier, referring to the grape as a 'Great White Hope'. Their Adelaide Hills/McLaren Vale sourced Last Ditch Viognier underwent some gentle oak treatment in 2008, with 6-9 months of older (5-20 years) oak maturation in French (mostly) and American oak barriques following barrel fermentation.

Pale straw/yellow, this fragrant viognier reveals a bright expression of peach, melon and lemon drop aromas with a deft touch of creamy oak. Smooth and delicious; a more refined varietal profile of creamy nectarine, melon and citrus fruits grace the palate, with a restrained undercarriage of peach fuzz emerging without unpleasant tartness or phenolics, towards a clean, nutty and gently spiced finish. It displays true balance and delightful winemaker inputs, which allow good length of fruit and chalky acids to complete an appetising package.

ü+ The 2008 is definitely the best wine I've had under this label. It's tighter, more refined, textured and balanced than previous releases, and it appears d'Arenberg, like others in the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale (or the rest of Australia for that matter) are benefiting considerably from increased experience with viognier. Most importantly this is delicious. Drink to 2012.
91 points

Sunday, February 7, 2010


- Heathcote, VIC/McLaren Vale, SA/Hunter Valley, NSW
- $7-$15
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

The Old Winery Shiraz hasn't exactly set the world on fire but Tyrrell's new labelling, which incorporates its regional sources, carried me over the line on the 2007. Heathcote (75%), McLaren Vale (20%) and the Hunter Valley (5%) sounded like a pretty handy combination when I asked my wallet's opinion of this $9 wine.

It's very ripe and jammy on the nose, with a slightly stewed fragrance of prunes, violet and spices revealing a liberal influence of sweet oak. Marked by sour acidity, the light-medium bodied palate reveals a somewhat hollow expression of thinly fruited raspberry, black cherry and currant flavour, ending with slight baked notes and a persisting sourness.

X I like the more informative label but this is much the same wine as it was before. The 2008 Old Winery Shiraz (83% Heathcote/17% McLaren Vale) has already seen the first wave of reviews and it might be a better bet. Drink now.
84 points

Friday, February 5, 2010


- Fleurieu Peninsula, SA
- $50-$55
- 14.0%alc
- High quality, vintage dated cork

There's an awful lot to be said for wine legend Brian Croser's Tapanappa Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir. Meticulous site selection, superlative vineyard management and carefully judged winemaking have created an utterly unique expression of Australian pinot noir, which sits right at the cutting edge of South Australian interpretations of the style. One day the Foggy Hill vineyard may be to South Australian pinot noir what the Croser family's Tiers Vineyard is to South Australian chardonnay.

Fairly restrained and elegant in its youth, this slightly brown/orange tinged yet bright red 2008 Pinot Noir reveals savoury scents of red plum and cherry fruits, with toasty cedar/vanilla oak cloaked by a clever combination of spices; clove, cinnamon and white pepper. Texturally astounding for South Australian pinot noir and deceptively deep considering its 5 year old vineyard source, its lusciously silky palate is decidedly more savoury than the nose, announcing a beautifully measured, layered expression of well composed dry earth and sour edged cherries tightly knit with fresh cedar oak. It grips nicely on the finish, extending down the palate with prickly, sandy tannins and lingering spices.

ü+ I feel like I've just drunk the future of South Australian pinot noir. As I mentioned previously the 2008 Tapanappa might not be the best pinot you'll ever drink, but the potential of the young Foggy Hill vineyard is astounding. At 5 years old it's produced a truly elegant, downright sexy wine. I'm very excited. Drink to 2015.
94 points

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I was fortunate enough to get the heads up on a small Tapanappa tasting at Adelaide's Wine Underground today from a friend in the industry (thanks Jeeves!). But what Jeeves didn't tell me was that the tasting would be attended by a certain Mr Brian Croser himself, who happens to be one of my wine heroes! Severed ties with a well known marketing company have seen Brian and a very polite, well spoken and wine savvy Frenchman named Xavier take to the wine circuit themselves. The concept of tasting wine with the maker in a smaller setting is a lovely one, especially compared with the oversized tastings (which are perhaps a bit insensitive to the individual wine brands) put on by their previous marketing reps.

Without doubt Tapanappa is one of the biggest new names in Australian wine. It's a combined effort of one of Australian wine's biggest living legends Brian Croser, as well as the Bollinger and Cazes family of Lynch Bages, France.

Part of the Tapanappa ethos is to push back the boundaries of contemporary Australian wine, finding excitingly different region/style combinations which handsomely reflect their uniquely Australian site/place of origin. Certainly, they want their wines to express more of the exquisite fruit quality offered by nature rather than its human influence.

Their wine range revolves around the much hyped Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay from the Piccadilly Valley in the Adelaide Hills (famous Croser family vineyard planted in 1979 which still contributes towards a Petaluma 'super chardonnay'), a scene shaping pinot noir from South Australia's burgeoning yet very cold Fleurieu Peninsula region, and three fuller bodied reds from the perhaps under-rated and overlooked Wrattonbully region in South Australia's southeast.

All of the wines display wonderful texture and good, even ripeness, with a lovely sensual aspect which is partnered by enough structure to suggest they're more than age worthy.

The Tapanappa Chardonnay is undoubtedly closing in quickly on Australia's best examples of the genre, but the real excitement today for me came in the form of the 2008 Pinot Noir. I've long hoped SA could match the other states for good pinot (as I think apart from Ashton Hills the Adelaide Hills doesn't quite consistently cut it at the top end), and Tapanappa's meticulous site selection and vineyard management in the very cold reaches of South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula (between Victor Harbor and Cape Jervis in prime sheep country) suggest we might well one day get there. The 2008 is a good sight better than their original 2007 release in my opinion - it's quite tough to comprehend this wine was made from 5 year old vines, no matter who you are.

Tasting notes are posted below

Tapanappa Chardonnay 2008 ($79)
So interesting to see Tapanappa using 50% new oak with this wine, when Petaluma use 100% and charge a hell of a lot more for their Tiers Chardonnay, which isn't necessarily any better a wine. The 2008 Tapanappa is quite complex yet bright on the nose, with savoury, nutty accents of grapefruit, melon and lemon. The palate is surprisingly luscious, with a counter balance of good, mouthfilling structure for chardonnay, which is altogether contradicted by a very refined, restrained cool-climate fruit profile. It finishes very long, and should age particularly well. 95

Tapanappa Foggy Hill Pinot Noir 2008 ($50)
It presents a very youthful expression of bright red cherry notes with savoury accents and definitive spice, fresh cedar/vanilla oak also plays a part. The palate announces itself with a beautifully silken, sensuous texture, the likes of which I've almost never encountered in South Aussie pinot before. It has exceptional depth of flavour for its young vine age, with its youthful deliciousness finishing fine, long, tight and well structured, with fine tannins and a lingering spice. It might not be the best pinot noir ever, but the potential of this vineyard now has me extremely excited (so excited I rushed to the Ed on the way home to grab a bottle, which I'll review later tonight with Casey - full review published tomorrow). 94

Tapanappa Merlot 2006 ($75)
The first of Tapanappa's Wrattonbully wines tasted here, this merlot displays a wonderful vibrant lift to its somewhat minty/herbal edged red plum and boysenberry notes, with oak integration looking pretty good right now. It displays great freshness to its aroma. Like the pinot it has wondrous texture, very velvety for the variety. It finishes with a firm yet softly balanced extract of silky tannins to complement its vibrant paalte. To be honest, it's been some time since I've come across an Australian merlot I've enjoyed so much. 93

Tapanappa Cabernet Shiraz 2006 ($75)
Very dark/black fruited nose which has a synergistic blend of both varieties and oak. Shows just a hint of the green notes sometimes associated with the region, leading into a smooth and satisfying palate with a rather approachable lick of tannins. I was hoping I'd like this the best of the Wrattonbully wines, but somehow the Merlot won my heart....91

Tapanappa Shiraz 2007 ($50)
Probably the least impressive of the Tapanappa wines for me, which seemed a little green yet at the same time ripened well with lively notes of small red and black berries. Its palate remains tasty, with the same sensuous texture of Tapanappa's other wines, but it just didn't sit in complete harmony for me. 88

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


At the Tapanappa tasting I attended today I picked up your typical press review sheet. The familiar list of names were present; James Halliday, Jancis Robinson, Huon Hooke, Campbell Mattinson, Gary Walsh, Andrew Jefford etc. But then I noticed a name down the bottom of the Cab/Shiraz page: Andrew Graham of Oz Wine Review. What a delight to see you here Andrew, listed alongside some of Australian wine's greatest writers; if it's good enough for Brian Croser it's good enough for me!

I couldn't help but talk to the Tapanappa team about you AG, and they responded with glowing praise; mentioning what a top bloke you were when they met you in Sydney. Good on you Andrew!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


d'Arenberg: there's just so much to love about the place! Outstanding wine, beautiful location, long family tradition, large and diverse range, exceptional restaurant, classically packaged wines, I could go on! All this adds up to the cellar door which is probably my most visited of them all.

I travelled to d'Arenberg this afternoon primarily in search of tasting some of their premier 2007 reds. Unfortunately, my quest was unfulfilled. Despite that the 2006 releases of d'Arenberg's icon wines (Dead Arm Shiraz, Coppermine Road Cab Sav and Ironstone Pressings GSM) have been available for well over a year, I was informed that their 2007 releases would not be released for about another year, as all corresponding releases of these wines will be available to public with closer to 3 years bottle age as opposed to the previous 2. This is probably a good move in my opinion and one that if you can afford it - do it! I normally get around to tasting d'Arenberg's icons at time of release and, in the past, it must be said, they could all benefit from another year in the bottle (the last two Dead Arms being shining examples).

Still, d'Arenberg's 2006 icons are all brilliant reflections of their respective styles and well worth another go round in my opinion. The 2007 Custodian and d'Arry's Original should be available relatively soon though, but the 2007 Galvo Garage and Derelict Vineyard Grenache could be a while away yet.

I scribbled notes on all the wines tasted at the winery today, just be aware that they represent only about a third of d'Arenberg's extensive list available at cellar door.

I wasn't particularly in the mood for d'Arenberg's riesling/sav blanc/chardonnays today so I only tasted the Rhone styles from their white range. All of them impressed me in some form or another, especially the 2008 Last Ditch Viognier and character filled 2008 Money Spider Roussanne.

Another disappointment was the unavailability of the 2008 Noble Wrinkled Riesling, which has received quite a number of good reviews - it was sold out at cellar door. Now I must search the shops!

The two new wines here (a shiraz/roussanne and a sagrantino/cinsault) beautifully reflect the forward thinking and creative blending skills of the d'Arenberg team. The shiraz/rousanne is a beautiful drinking, lusciously ripe style almost akin to shiraz/viognier, while the sagrantino/cinsault certainly has some potential, but I'd like to wait and see where it goes once d'Arry's sagrantino vines have reached maturity.

My tasting notes are posted below.

d'Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne 2008 ($20)
Buttery, toasty, nutty nose with notes of melon and quince; reflects ample character for the style. The palate is rather pungently set with grapefruit/melon flavours, finishing with punchy acids. Good roussanne. 89

d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2008 ($15)
70/30 blend. Apricot kernel and lemon nose leads into a brightly flavoured palate with viognier's stonefruit varietals providing more of an undercarriage. 87

d'Arenberg The Last Ditch Viognier 2008 ($20)
Adelaide Hills/McLaren Vale. Oak fermented, then 6 months in old (5-20 years) French (mostly) and American oak. Reveals a soft, creamy, more savoury edged stonefruit fragrance, with a bright palate of nicely restrained varietal fruit, finishing fresh yet savoury with a framework of refreshing acidity. Another nice 'modern' Australian viognier? (full review soon) 90

d'Arenberg The Feral Fox Pinot Noir 2008 ($30)
Adelaide Hills. I never liked this wine much until the 2007, and now, I think it's improved again with the more generously oaked 2008. It contains a freshly perfumed, slightly minty/herbal red berry fruit nose backed by fresh cedar oak. The light-medium bodied palate is supple and surprisingly savoury, with a restrained fruit core which finishes pleasingly firm and tight with nice tannins. 91

d'Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2006 ($18)
Perfumed and floral, with a somewhat spicy, savoury fragrance of redcurrant and earth which precedes a generously ripened, fruit forward and rustic palate touched by sour edged acidity. It's still good value but I'm dying to supple the 2007. 90

d'Arenberg d'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache 2006 ($18)
Reveals meaty aromas of dark plums, cherry, spice and aniseed which could use a touch more intensity. Its meaty cherry flavours are complemented by bright acidity and sour edged fruit, with a savoury undertone and loose-knit tannins. 90

d'Arenberg The Twentyeight Road Mourvedre 2007 ($35)
Red colour, slightly closed nose yet savoury and deep, with baked earth and black plum notes expressed in a muddy fashion. Medium-full bodied, its palate is very tight and grippy, revealing ultra-ripe plum and prune undertones and some dark chocolate/herbal notes. Ultra firn, sandy tannins are also distinct. Quite a masculine wine. 91

d'Arenberg The Derelict Vineyard Grenache 2006 ($29)
Top perfume - very even elegant and integrated for the variety. Cherries, plums and blueberry with some spicy chocolate oak complexity. Palate has opened up nicely over the past 15 months, revealing a more smoother, supple and downright delicious expression of its complex, old vine fruit and sweet oak characters. An excellent 06 grenache. 93

d'Arenberg The Wild Pixie Shiraz Roussanne 2008 ($29)
Roussanne skins chucked into the mix of a 95/5 blend. Its ripe plum and dried apricot perfume is given a great big aromatic lift in a similar fashion to shiraz viognier. The brimming palate is full, soft, creamy and totally satisfying, delivering an ultra ripe expression of plum and berry fruit with soft, creamy vanilla/chocolate oak. A good one for the masses. Cellar door special? 91

d'Arenberg The Galvo Garage Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Petit Verdot Cabernet Franc 2006 ($30)
McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills. I'm not a big lover of cross-regional blending but the Galvo Garage style almost always tickles my fancy. The 2006 contains an intense, minty red/black berry fruit nose with fresh, lush vanilla oak and a hint of dried herb, showing the great aromatic quality typical of the blend and the label. Its medium bodied palate reveals dried herb undertones to its vivd red fruit flavours, with a velvety mouthfeel and well controlled tannins. A good drink now or much later wine (for fans of the style). 92

d'Arenberg The Sticks & Stones Tempranillo Grenache Shiraz 2005 ($29)
Interesting to see d'Arenberg have changed their temp/grenache/souzao to a temp/grenache/shiraz, just as Yalumba will stop making their temp/grenache/shiraz or so I've been told. d'Arenberg's TGS is dark and pruney with scents of rich chocolate and raspberry. Bony tannins provide an assertive framework for its dry, savoury and medium bodied palate, but I still think I'd like to see the souzao return ala Portuguese....89

d'Arenberg The Cenosilicaphobic Cat Sagrantino Cinsault 2007 ($29)
Certainly a typical d'Arenberg project of lofty ambitions both wine wise and in terms of labelling(!). It's 91% sagrantino (from 5 year old vines on the property) with 9% cinsault (vines planted 1958) added for depth and weight. It's tight nose shows dried herb, redcurrant and rhubarb notes in more of a savoury, Italianette fashion, but its lighter bodied palate which is framed by very firm, tight tannins could use more depth of flavour to balance the package. 87

d'Arenberg The Ironstone Pressing Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2006 ($60)
70/25/5. Great, savoury, rich yet deep and inviting nose reflects truly even ripeness of its old vine fruit character. It's extremely long on the palate, a lot softer and more accessible than it was in October 2008, it's now decidedly even and elegant. It announces a myriad of flavours - prune, plum, meat, chocolate, berries all layered in fine fashion. It's an exceptional d'Arenberg GSM really, which successfully integrates its 15% alcohol. (full review soon) 94

d'Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($60)
Still one of the best McLaren Vale cabernets I've had for some time. It's deeply fruited in a very regional fashion, showing currant-like dark fruits, rhubarb and lovely chocolate/cedar oak. The palate is wonderfully concentrated, essence-like and silky, with a long, savoury and persistent finish scored by ripe yet sandy tannins. Very regional but true. Top stuff. 95

d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2006 ($60)
Has opened up a bit since October 08 but still needs more time. It showed a surprisingly freshly fruited and musky (if closed somewhat still) expression of its old vine fruit, with more than a polite nod of nutty vanilla/cedar oak and perhaps even some mint?. It's medium-full bodied, silky and savoury, with very firm tannins. It's also rather elegant and balanced, but it's rather obvious this Dead Arm's screaming for time in the cellar. 93

d'Arenberg The Vintage Fortified Shiraz Chambourcin 2005 ($30-750ml)
Very complex, almost alive aroma. It's kinda nutty, plummy and meaty, with a rich dark chocolate note. The palate shows wonderfully luscious sour edged dark plum flavours with chocolate pudding. It's long, smooth and seamless, finishing with a nicely controlled use of spirit. (full review soon) 92

Monday, February 1, 2010


- Yarra Valley, VIC
- $24-$35
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

My early encounters with 2008 Yarra Valley pinot noir suggest there's plenty of good wines to come. So, my next bottle off the rack is Giant Steps' single vineyard Sexton Vineyard; a wine whose style usually reflects the fuller, meatier side of Yarra Valley pinot.

Translucent garnet, with a somewhat withheld expression of meaty cherry and vanilla oak aromas backed by a spicy hint of stalk, this fuller, sumptuous pinot noir reveals a juicy undercarriage residing beneath its bright cherry, strawberry and dry earth flavours, however, it's a little loose, lacking concentration and tightness. The ripe, straight forward palate remains pleasingly varietal for the most part, finishing with a faint raw element underscoring its soft acidic outline.

O Although well ripened this isn't as meaty as some recent Sexton Vineyard pinots, but it does reveal a similar (yet fainter) rawness to the one which I felt hampered the 2006 release (89pts). Drink to 2013.
89 points