Parish Vineyard Riesling 2013

by The Wine Punter on March 19, 2014 · 0 comments

in Reviews

 

Tasmania – so hot right now.  There appears to be plenty of mainland wineries having a sniff around for that elusive holy grail. Louisa Rose and Robert Hill Smith think they’ve uncovered something quite special.  Winemaker Louisa Rose reveals, “The small block of mature Riesling vines, hiding in the rather larger plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir was an irresistible  temptation to work with.  Having tasted and admired Tassie Riesling for many years, the opportunity to make one had to be.. well… destiny.”

This is very special.  It looks smart and is absolutely delightful.  A most engaging nose of lime, lemon butter, sherbet and all the pretty florals.  I could sniff this for days.  It tastes pure and precise.  There is a crisp, fresh acidity but the real feature is the texture and layers of interest.  It rolls throughout the mouth in waves of lime and ripe green apple juice; pillows of soft fruit deliciousness.

It is drinking beautifully now and will continue to evolve.  I won’t wait, this is sensational.

A brilliant debut.

 

Region: Coal River Valley – Tasmania

RRP: $28.95

 

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Yelland and Papps ‘Sete Di Vino’ 2012

by The Wine Punter on March 16, 2014 · 0 comments

in Reviews

You can count on Yelland and Papps to produce wines of great interest.  With their ‘Second Take’ range and this, they’re mixing it up and keeping it interesting.

Interesting this is.  Aromas of cedar and sandalwood it’s a bit like a Norsca Spa ad complete with pine needles.  Some raspberry and liquoriche bullets on the nose too.  It’s hard to pin down, not surprising considering it’s a blend of Lagrein, Dolcetto, Barbera and Primitivo.

When it hits the palate, sparks fly.  It’s a mouth-watering, eye-squinting, laser-like attack on the pucker glands.  There’s plenty of acid.  It’s lean, not much in the way of fruit sweetness and relatively light bodied.  I wouldn’t call it an easy drinking wine, it’s more bony than cuddly but certainly interesting.

It’d go well with some cured meats, chorizo or a meat-laden pizza.

Region: Barossa Valley

RRP: $20

Website: www.yellandandpapps.com

 

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Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2010

by The Wine Punter on March 8, 2014 · 0 comments

in Reviews

 

From the glorious Margaret River – one of the great chardonnay growing regions in Australia comes this from Voyager.  It’s a comfortable balance of typical chardonnay fruit characters with some up-front lemon acidity to add razzle dazzle.

It’s fresh and clean and far from weighed down by ripe fruit and oak, though both add interest.  There’s a slightly funky, almost pungent finish which relates to some green vegetable characters.  I think it adds a nice savoury element and an extra layer of interest.

It’s Voyager, it’s Margaret River, it’s chardonnay and it’s good.  Simples.

Fish and salad will round out the trifecta nicely.

 

 

Region: Margaret River

RRP: $45

Website: www.voyagerestate.com.au

Twitter: @voyagerestate 

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The Road to Mornington Glory – Day 2

by The Wine Punter on January 18, 2014 · 0 comments

in Tastings

 

I woke feeling pretty (relatively) fresh to the sound of bacon and eggs sizzling, NickOs working his magic on the pans.  After a well decent bacon and egg sarnie, we hit the road.

Fortunately, we’d found a sweet little deli at Red Hill and a cafe nearby to keep us going throughout the weekend. The kitty didn’t last long, but it was worth it.  This morning it was coffees.

 

Eldridge Estate

I’d heard a lot about David Lloyd, his reputation as one of the good guys preceded him.  He was mowing between rows of vines as we rolled into the carpark and spilled out of the car.  He turned the tractor back towards to the cellar door where we were greeted with a firm handshake and a very sharp wit.

I won’t go into detail about the vineyard and how it’s managed which feels somewhat disrespectful considering David spent a good hour doing just that.  Suffice to say, he knows this vineyard intimately and my mind was blown by just how much goes into making a great wine well before it even makes it to the winery.  If ever there was a grape whisperer…

David Lloyd of Eldridge Estate

“Have I covered enough background about the vineyard guys?”  He was only warming up.  A generous man and a great story teller.

“Right then, I’ll show you the winery, then we should taste some shit.”

He pulls no punches and by his own admission, “Is not the world’s greatest sales person, cause I don’t tend to bullshit.  I call a spade a shovel.”  And calls his own sauvignon blanc, cat’s piss.  “I have a problem, I’m so uncool it’s daggy.” 

I was surpsied to see just how small the winery is.  His persnality and reputation for quality had me assuming it was a far bigger operation.  ’From little things big things grow’ was sung and not for the last time this weekend.  Only 20 cases of some pinots and one of the chardonnays are produced, 25 of the sparkling and around 100 cases of the rest.

The ‘Bat Cave’ was where we ended up after a quick look at the processing equipment. This is where the barrels are stored as well as some of his own museum stock and a wall of “benchmark wines and some burgundy shit.”

Wide-eyed with wonder we wove our way back through the garden to the cellar door to taste some shit.

The Bat Cave

’05 Chardonnay – gorgeous peach, oh so pretty.  It’s his wife Wendy’s favourite.  Easy to see why.  So linear and powerful and will continue to evolve, a cellar dweller.  Amazing wine and a pleasure to drink.  Thank you wine gods and grape whisperer, you did good.

’08 Chardonnay – similar year to ’05, rounder, fuller.  A little more meat on the bone, but don’t be fooled, its layered.  Meat, bone, then marrow – get sucking.

’11 Chardonnay - “It’s definitely what you’d call a cool season”  is one of way to describe the 2011 vintage.  Certainly a lighter wine, lacking in the intensity of the ’08 and ’05 but not without a little razzle dazzle to keep you on your toes.

’11 Chardonnay Clone 96 (20 cases) –  a woody, nutty character.  It feels warm, like a well fitting cardigan.  A fuller, rounder wine.  Savoury.  Not pretty but neither is a cardigan.  It just feels good.

The Man, The Wines

’03 Pinot Noir – wow, still so much structure and acid.  It’s dry and screaming for little birds – “little birds and sticky sauce” was Peter’s go-to food match for much of the pinot we tasted.  He knows his stuff.

’08 Pinot Noir – more raspberry fruit character.  It’s so light, nimble and fresh.  A really pure and delicate wine.  Amazing.  A tap dancer, who whistles a sweet melody with a twinkle in his eye.

’10 Pinot Noir – beefed up aromas, a step up in savoury intensity.  This is deep in the pocket – singing, baritone.  More muscular than 08.  Will go well over next 5 years.  Not in my house though, this one was aded to the hand luggage stash and will be lucky to even make it to the plane back to Vegas.  It belongs in belly, not bottle.

’11 Pinot Noir – spicy, savoury, drying, chalky. Drink younger. Like now.

’12 Gamay – juicy, intene, tannic and dry.  “Why Gamay?” I asked.  ”We like gamay, let’s plant that,” David responded.  Why not?

’13 PTG – soft, fresh, juicy, light and so smashable.  The ideal ‘session wine’ and an ideal introduction into red wine – I challenge anyone who’s not a red wine drinker to not enjoy a glass of this.  I’ll drink the rest.  Win / win.

We didn’t get a chance to taste any of the ’13 vintage but David reckons, “It’ll be one of the best pinots i’ve made, if I don’t stuff it up before bottling.”  If his track record is anything to go by, they’ll be spectacular.

David’s wife Wendy is unwell.  He spent a couple of hours showing us through his property and wines with such a positive, honest outlook laced with a wicked sense of self-deprecating humour.  It was a highlight of my weekend.  Grateful.

Givin' it some!

 

Foxeys Hangout

None of us had been here before despite it being highly recommended.  It’s run by brothers Michael and Tony Lee – winemakers and restauranteurs who upped-stumps from the restaurant game in Melbourne to move to the Peninsula. There was a huge team of staff running around when we arrived at 11am,  I didn’t understand why as we were the only ones there.  Later, it was clear that these guys are onto something special, the place was heaving and the well-drilled staff were all over it.

We began with a demonstration of how sparkling wine is made.  From the racking, disgorgement then adding of various amounts of sugar to labelling the final product.  We tasted a few examples – dry, 5g, 10g, 15g.  It was a great experience and being a kinaesthetic learner, I got more out of this experience than I ever did reading about the process.

The finished product we made had 8% of pinot noir added to it.  The corking machine did its thing before a label and sleeve was applied.  We watched a sparkling rosé being made, blended and labelled before our eyes.  It’s a great experience and something they do every day they’re open, at 11am.  You might want to check and see if bookings are required.  I highly reccomend it.

Michael finished the process with a handwritten note to Peter’s wife, to whom the wine was to be presented.  A nice touch.

How to make a sparkling rosé, and a wife happy

The question I had about the name Foxeys Hangout was answered as we descended the stairs from the winery to the restaurant.  There was an old picture of a tree, a metal hoop around it and dead foxes hanging from it.

The following is taken from the Foxeys Hangout website:

In the 1930s, two fox trappers used the tree as their scorecard, hanging the corpses of their day’s shooting from opposite branches. In 1946 one of the trappers, Old Jack, was found murdered at his home near Foxeys Hangout. Locals continued the practice of hanging fox corpses for decades but eventually it petered out. From the early 1990s wooden effigies of foxes hung from the tree, reminding passersby of its grisly past.

In 2011 the tree, long dead, was moved to the side of the road. A healthy new sapling now grows in its place.

What did the fox say?  Fuck this!  I reckon.  Apparently as the school bus drove past the boys would hang out the window and try to grab one.  Boys.

I reckon the original Foxeys Hangout was “that stupid fucking intersection”  we kept circling.  Some haunted vixen vortex voodoo shit going on there for sure.  For the record, it’s Balnarring Rd at the Junction of Tubbarubba Road.  Yep, Tubbarubba. You can imagine the mileage we got out of that one over the weekend.  Boys.

Tony Lee

Graciously, Tony took us onto the deck to taste through the wines.  Normally you’d do this at the counter but things were starting to pick up.  It wasn’t long before he was called away to man the pans.  Not before he decanted a bottle of their award winning shiraz – the  best Victorian red wine in the Royal Melbourne Wine Show.  The decanter was pretty cool, the wine a belter.

Moby

We tasted some of the ’13 Pinot Gris and decide its ‘giggle juice’ qualities were just what we were looking for over a few share plates for lunch.  The estate vineyards have been biodynamic since 2007, it’s clear Michael and Tony have an affinity with their produce – both food and wine.

’12 Chardonnay – blend of two vineyards. Soft and delicate, a nice balance.  Subtle acidity makes for a nice easy drinking lunch wine.  Full solids, straight into barrel = texture.

’12 Shiraz – red and black fruits with a white pepper finish.  There’s a lot going – on a cacophony of spices says Peter, like hanging at the Souk in Morrocco suggested Stu.

For those of you following along at home on Instagram you’ll remember I got a little carried away with the gratuitous food shots from lunch.  For those of you who weren’t, here they are again.  This place is only open on weekends for lunch, get there if you can.

All the food. Minus one Marchant had nicked

 

Dem meatballs. Amazing.

Main Ridge

It was quite the contrast arriving at Main Ridge from Foxeys.  This place is reminiscent of your Grandparents’ house – a garden well tended, the radio tuned to a easy listening jazz station, clippings of newspapers framed and pictures of the grandkids taking pride of place behind the tasting bench.  It was cozy.

The Grandkids

Nat and Rosalie White have been here since ’75.  Pioneers.  Nat told a good story about how they travelled to France in the ’60s and discovered Burgundy.  He thought the climate on the Peninsula was pretty similar.  He “Did a rough comparison, it looked near enough and we had a go.”  And so began the legend of Main Ridge and the marriage of Mornington and Burgundy.

We saddled up at the tasting bench.  I must admit I was a little hesitant and didn’t really know what to expect.  This was a man who’s been making benchmark Mornington Peninsula wines since ever.   Quiet and softly spoken, he warmed up and the stories started to flow a little more comfortably when he realised we understood and appreciated the significance and provenance of these wines.

Quality is foremost, no compromise.  They dumped all of the pinot from 2011, I can’t say for sure whether this had happened before but I do remember Nat saying this was the only time he’s done this in 30 years.  A big call and testament to their commitment to maintaining integrity that has been so important in maintaining brand integrity.  It breaks my heart to think of so much pinot flowing out into Port Phillip bay, but that’s where it belonged according to Nat.  I wouldn’t have minded tasting a barrel or two just to be sure.

The Main Man at Main Ridge

1’1 Chardonnay – a very softly spoken wine, much like its maker.  Fresh and clean.  It’s very pretty, very pretty.  Swoon.  Glad this one didn’t go down the sink.

’09 Chardonnay – now that’s my kinda chardonnay.  It’s lemon butter, nougat and cashew.  Aroma-rama.  Amazing texture, so soft and pretty.  Creamy but not fat.  It’s like the inside of a woman’s thigh, or that flesh that comes from a fish’s cheek – sweet, soft and precious.

’12 Pinot – only been bottled a few months, from the acre block.  That’s a manly kinda wine, it made me sit up straight, shoulders back.  Savoury raspberries, not pretty but beautiful and a little rough still.  Johnny Depp style.  Without too much eyeliner, keep the tatts.

’12 Pinot  – from the half acre block.  Unlike everyone else I found this to be a softer, wine.  Smooth as a you like.  Subtle.  Johnny Depp in his 21 Jump St. days.  You know it’ll age well, will go long and everyone lives happily ever after.

Nat asked if we’d like to go down into the cellar.  Umm, yes!   It’s like we earned our ‘wine tasting’ scout badge and were given a visitor’s pass into the barrel hall of fame.  We tasted the 2013 pinot meunier and both the acre and half acre block pinots.

I had a moment.  That’s all I’m going to say here.  It was special, and If I could go back in time I’d father as many children as I could last year to justify buying all of them a dozen bottles of this, for  me to drink every year until they were 12 just to be able to tell them how good it was.  Unbelievable.  One of those epiphanies you hear wine people talk about.  2013 Acre Pinot Noir – I’ll chalk that one up as one of mine.  I’m saving all my monies for this.

We each walked back to the car in silent reverence for what we had just experienced.  We knew it was special.   Again, we were all so grateful.

 

Quealy

Kath Quealy was another winemaker whose reputation preceded her.  Peter spoke of her quirky nature.  I remember a visit to the Peninsula back in ’98 and visiting T’Gallant – the winery she launched with her husband Kevin McCarthy who’s still there.  Together they were a driving force behind gris and grigio being planted on the Peninsula.

Quealy Cellar Door

We went for a wander around the winery and were shown some recent additions (the roof) and not so recent additions (the row boat that should seem out of place, but isn’t – its a family heirloom).   Afer spending some time with Kath, nothing seemed out of place regardless of how eccentric it may have appeared.  From dogs shagging during our vineyard interview, the names of her wines (see below) to the varieties she works with, it’s like heading down the rabbit hole with Alice.  Expect the unexpected and expect it to be fabulous.

Kath Quealy

’11 Pobblebonk  - amazing aromas, smells sweeter than it its, great acid crispness. Amazing musk and so lively.  Zippy, tangy.  300 cases.  Friulano,  pinot grigio , riesling, chardonnay an moscato giallo.  Pobblebonk is the sound frogs make – if you hear pobblebonking amongst the reeds you have a healthy vineyard.  We got great mileage out of that name too.  Boys.

’13 Turble Friulano – made in barrell, 7 days skin contact, needs oak.  First year ’12 was a small expriemental batch.  This one harder to manage on a larger scale, the cap and ferment wants to heat up and go (winemaker talk for those who’re into ferments).  Amazing texture, bread and lees.  Really toasty, warm croutons in your pumpkin soup.  With a swirl of sour cream.  Tasty.

’13 Pinot Grigio / Friulano – musk,strawberries n cream.  Honeyed texture.  Back deck belter.  This one’s coming home with me.

’13 Tuzzie Muzzie Pinot Gris – a lot more sweetness on the front palate, it’s a palate coater.  Heavy going but  balanced.  Honeyed texture, pink fruits. Did someone mention texture?  It’s a lush.

Tuzzie Muzzie

I asked Kath why no chardonnay?  ”Chardonnay is fantatic but not as distintive as pinot gris.”  I learned a lot about pinot gris and grigio from this visit. I like it.

Together with wines of Friuli, Kath and Kevin are champions of muscat.
’13 Late Harvest Muscat Blanc - so fresh, it’s sherbet.  Sweet and clean, cleansing.  Like those sherbet lollies we used to get as kids from the Rutherfords service station in Roleystone.  Back in the day when a petrol station was a service station.  Anyway, sherbet.

’13 Muscat Rose ‘East’ – again a super slurpy wine.  Serve over icecream.  Super chilled.  And be happy.

’12 Seventeen Rows Pinot - this is more anglular and lean.  Aromatic, not as pretty as the Must Creek, a bit of a monster.  Brawn n balls.  Might be more bark than bite but I’m not hanging around to find out.  Not when there are more friendly dogs out in the vineyard.

Kath had to bail and left us in the capable hands of Danny, who’s been working with Kath for long enough to not bat an eyelid as she ran up the driveway, towel in hand.  She was going for a swim.

Kath is not afraid to experiment with wines and styles and the Peninsula is all the better for it.  I can’t imagine her standing still.  “As soon as I hit my 60s I’m hitting the piss.”  She says.  ” But I’m not doing that at the moment cause I’ve got too much work to do.”

We spotted a Koala on the driveway of Quealy, another box ticked.

 

Avani

There was one more stop before we headed home to put our ‘big boy pants’ on for a night out.  We’d arranged to head back to Avani for a taste of Shashi Singh’s syrah (try saying that after a bottle of Pobblebonk).  I’d enjoyed chatting to her over lunch yesterday and resonated with her philosophy.  It’s clear, having tasted the wine that her philosophy is woven throughout the vineyard, her wine and her lifestyle.

Our shoes were washed to avoid any potential spread of phylloxera.  Shashi likened this to an Indian tradition of washing feet before entering a home.  It gave our visit to her winery under the house that much more meaning, a little ceremony.

Like a pedicure. With your shoes on.

The first syrah to come off the Estate vineyard is the 2012 and it was stunning. We were fortunate enough to taste through some earlier vintages too.

I began taking notes for these wines but it felt better to simply enjoy them.  Typing away on an iPad in Shashi’s company as she explained her affinity with these wines and the vineyard seemed out of place.  These are wines to experience and I can assure you the syrah is quite special indeed.

 

Shashi Singh

 

 

We were all a little amped at the prospect of dining at 10x Tractor and everyone had bought their ‘going out clothes’ with them.  Pity the iron was MIA.  Crinkled shirts and party pants on, we were ready.  Or so we thought….

 

To be continued…

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The Road To Mornington Glory – Day 1

by The Wine Punter on January 15, 2014 · 1 comment

in Travels

Allow me to set the scene – it’s twilight (11pm daylight saving time) on the deck of The Vines at Red Hill – the place run by Sam Cloverdale of Polperro and Even Keel wines, our home for the next few days.  The restaurant and cellar door is currently being renovated and will be open soon.  Keep an eye out for it, I had a quick tour through the joint and it’s going to be spectacular.

From the deck of our accommodation, life was good. The tomahawks (those Brontosaurus ribs in the pic at the bottom of this post) are resting their heaving, bulking masses of meat-selves on the bench.  The BBQ is warming up, not knowing what’s about to hit it and there’s a beer in hand.

The view is pretty.  Pretty amazing.  Bees are floating around the lavender that borders the edge of the lawn. Vineyards are lined up amongst grey gums.  It’s absolutely stunning.  And very manly.

I’m here with 4 mates; we’re ready to tuck into some meat and wines so I won’t bang on too much about how amazing this place is for there’s beer to be drunk and I’m no Thoreau.

 

A glorious view north. Or is that east? West? That way anyway.

The day began at Batch in Melbourne with a cameo from Dan Sims.  The amount of bacon on his plate, red eyes and last night’s Instagram posts of monster rum pours were clues to how he was feeling.

Unlike Grandmaster Flash there was no such drama for the Furious Five – we were pumped.  Like U12s anxiously waiting in the sheds ready to run onto the ground for the first game of the season.

 

There's never enough coffee. Or spreadsheets

I decided it might be best to have some fruit for breakfast.  It turned out to be the last healthy thing I ate for three days.  Before we set off, we were presented with our TMNT (yes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) pencil case care packages with the essentials required for such a weekend.  I thought it was a thoughtful and funny gesture.  I came to appreciate the contents of that over the coming days and realized this was not for fun and games.  It was a matter of survival.

 

TMNT RTMG Survival Kit

Stu and I were lucky to squeeze into the back seat of the NickOs express with Steve’s massive quads taking up the majority of seat space.  Had they not been clean-shaven we would’ve had even more significant comfort issues.

So, I know the Mornington Peninsula is South-East of Melbourne as did  our designated navigator Peter, but that’s about as close as either of us would get to familiarising ourselves with the region’s road network.

First mistake – Peter on map (cracked iPhone with dodgy reception) duties.  The first fork in the road, we missed.  “What a fuckin’ stupid intersection that is!”  “Is that a crack or a road.” It wasn’t the last time we heard either of those comments.  Stu (Siri) took over from the back seat after we passed that “fuckin’ stupid intersection, is it even an interesction what do you call that?” from each direction a few more times.

Extreme Navigation

We made it to Avani and the pop-up restaurant Gertrude St. Enoteca have, popped up, for the month.  Aperol upon arrival and a look around the gorgeous property was followed by a bottle of the 07 Wildcroft Chardonnay, the last vintage before Avani took over the vineyard with their Syrah.

Lunch was excellent.  Peter quoted Coco Chanel with regards to Brigitte Hafner’s cooking.  “Once you’ve dressed, and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.”  Her cooking is simple and precise – great produce cooked perfectly.  It was nice to see her mum helping out in the kitchen too.

Aperol, Squid, Duck Confit and Panna Cotta

 

Amen Pablo

 

After a chat with Brigitta on the winery deck it was time to bail. We made our way past that fuckin’ stupid intersection a couple more times before landing at Moorooduc Estate.

What a beautiful spot.  We met Richard McIntyre before he took us to the top of the tower that overlooks the McIntyre vineyards.  A spectacular panoramic view of the northern part of the Peninsula with views of Mt Eliza, beyond Port Phillip Bay to the You Yangs and the Dandenong Ranges in the distance.

 

Moorooduc

Richard McIntyre bought the property in ’82.  There was a fence running through it with a dead tree holding fort.  Nothing else on it.  He had a dream of making wine since he was a med student.  Like most students he didn’t have much money but a taste for wine.

He was perhaps a little more committed to both wine and his studies than most, at one stage spending a couple of weeks’ wages on a bottle of Grange and eventually working in England as a surgeon.

There he discovered the wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux.

Upon returning to Australia, the urge to pursue wine became insatiable.  To work as an on-call doctor and be within reach of the city and live on a vineyard left few options.  The Peninsula was an obvious one and after Garry Crittenden gave him the inside word on a property too good to refuse, the seed (and vine) was planted.

Meanwhile, Richard’s daughter Kate (McIntyre, MW) was at school in Melbourne.  Rather than excel at ballet like her siblings and spend weekends working on pointing her toes, she spent weekends on road trips to the ‘farm’ with dad.

Richard and Kate McIntyre

Despite the fact a tennis court was built to appease her teenage desire to have some ‘fun’, Moorooduc was a long way from the parties and socialising in Melbourne.  In hindsight she reflects,  you spend enough time in a place and it becomes part of you.  That sense of place and belonging is clear today.

Kate took off overseas after school, worked in a wine shop and for an Italian importer before studying her MW (Master of Wine).  She returned to the family business eventually, realising just how special this place is.

Age and experience helps give you perspective and from having spent enough time doing her own thing it became apparent that home was back on the Peninsula with mum and dad and that vineyard they’d worked so hard to establish – the place of her youth.

She immersed herself in the business, learning as much as possible about the operations and putting that theoretical MW knowledge into practice.

“Eventually dad will slow down she says”, despite that passion and fire still burning strong in his eyes.  Her intent is to ensure that his “desire to never retire” is realised.  ”I need to know to make the wine but what I do best is talk to people about the wine.”  And so she did.  As well as introduce us to Reggie.

 

The Flamboyant Reggie

Reggie the peacock has made himself home at Moorooduc over the past few years despite being frequently chased by Oscar, one of the dogs mooching around. There’s a good story about how Reg got his name.  I’ll let you ask Kate about that.  It’s a happy, ‘Love Boat’ style ending.

 

The Wines

(Disclaimer: all tasting notes were scribbled hastily and have not been edited)

 ’11 Pinot Gris – rich and textual.  Spicy apple and fresh, it’s more of a lingering kiss than a dirty pash.  Difficult vintage but they were happy with the whites.  Chill and quaff.  Far from slippery, a more lean and fresh style which will sit well on the back deck. $35.

A conversation about texture began which continued for the next three days.  According to Kate, “Texture is something we don’t talk about enough in Australia. We prefer a dry style, and are looking at making wines with food in mind.”  And oak? “We use it like a chef uses salt,” not as a feature but to subtly enhance the wine.

‘11 Devil Bend Creek Chardonnay – predominantly fermented in old oak, smells like the veggie crisper.   Kate reckons its “A Wednesday night wine.”  Hump day just got a whole lot better with a bottle of this on coffee table. 28 bucks retail. I saw green, herbal characters, Peter spoke of olive brine and tasting talk turned to dirty martinis.  Kate’s no Negroni fan but by her own admission would happily smash a few dirty martinis.  Now that’s a Wednesday night!

‘11 Estate Chardonnay – little bit of fruit from the Robinson vineyard, 25% new oak in the mix, the rest being a combo of 1-3 years old.  Gorgeous texture and light.  Plenty of power with a great finish.  A lovely example of what 2011 can produce.

‘11 Single Vineyard Robinson Chardonnay – more melon and fruit forward, floral and pretty.  Fresh and zippy, it’s tense and will relax nicely over the next 5 years.  Put some away and watch it unwind, then pounce.

‘11 Single Vineyard ‘The Moorooduc’ McIntyre Chardonnay – a bit of fuzzy fruit here, more nectarine and peach from the 30-year-old vineyard.  Opulent, a mouthfeel that leaves you speechless with extraordinary texture that demands attention.  One to introduce your mum to – a keeper.

‘10 Single Vineyard ‘The Moorooduc’ McIntyre Chardonnay – it’s had enough time to settle down, more nougat.  Generous, it splurges and would pick up the tab at dinner.  Awesome wine.  Love the intensity and balance.  Befriend this wine, it’s one to keep close.

‘11 Devil Bend Pinot Noir – it’s got the lippy on.  Darker cherry, raspberry, violets.  Light and slurpable.  Not without texture and fruit sweetness though.  $28 well spent.

‘11 Estate Pinot Noir – declassified ‘duc fruit.  14% whole bunch.  Good balance of texture and fruit, it’s got an orange twist with minerals.  Negroni ‘esque’ perhaps Kate?  $35

‘11 Robinson Pinot Noir – more savoury, twigs and dried herbs.  Spicy and lacking the same finish as the Estate.  Less fruit sweetness, more acid and tannin to the fore with dark fruit lurking somewhere.  Like a very dark chocolate if you’re a milk chocolate kinda person.

‘09 McIntyre Vineyard Pinot Noir – year of bushfires with no smoke taint on these vineyards.  Yarra Valley got smashed.  Some very hot days however, they lost half of the fruit.  What was left were bunches with mixed berries – ripe, overripe and cooked.  They tried to sort but some of the more wrinkly ones made it through to the fermenter.  A small crop, the warmth showing in a powerful wine.  Silky texture, a juicy mouthfeel.  A more linear wine that goes deep rather than wide.  $55

‘10 Estate Pinot Noir – dark cherry and such intense fruit sweetness.  It’s a massive bear hug for your mouth, a long, lingering one.  Absolutely delicious wine.

‘08 The Moorooduc Pinot Noir – more lean and tannic.  It’s a ‘serious’ wine and I’m not so serious. Some sharp edges that will round out with well matched dish.  Small birds and sweet berries perhaps?

‘12 The Garden Vineyard Pinot Noir – flinty and green, herbal, menthol nose suggests it’s a bit mean.  It’s angular and a little temperamental. Super fine tannin will see it through, give it time and see if it hasn’t mellowed after 5 years. $55

 

Richard did a little shiraz experiment in 2010.  They did half / half –  one batch 100% whole bunch, the other de-stemmed.

‘10 McIntyre Shiraz – the way we used to make shiraz. It’s a well-worn pair of trackies style of wine.  Very comfortable.

’12 McIntyre Shiraz – all whole bunch.  Alienating.  Takes shiraz to the next level for Moorooduc.  A conscious decision to up the interest and create something that’ll evolve over a longer period of time.  Time will tell, I’m more of a trackies kinda shiraz drinker however.

 

After a few ‘tastes’ and several failed attempts to pronounce Moorooduc, Kate stepped in to help.  “Just think of cow, kangaroo, and duck.”  Cows -moo, roo, duc.  Moorooduc.  I practiced all weekend and still managed to stuff it up, every time.

Apparently it’s the local indigenous word for ‘swampy ground, place where water lies’.  With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Kate suggested it could also mean ‘great place to grow pinot noir’.  Crittenden and her dad were right.

We eventually made it home after a few more passes of that intersection.  There was smack talk all day of how tough we each were, how we were going to murder those tomahawk steaks.  Until the physical reality of meat to stomach size ratio was acknowledged.  A few beers threw the calculations out and it was settled that we cook three of ‘em and see how we go.

The Tomahawk

I was almost kicked off the team for suggesting we might pick up some salad greens to mix it up a bit.  Fair call.  So we cooked and ate, Flintstones style – with our hands.  There wasn’t much cutlery at our disposal and we didn’t need it.

Wagon wheels and wine from tumblers was how the night ended.  I slept like a baby.  Not before wondering how I was going to keep up this drinking for the next couple of days, for we had only just begun.

Nightcap

 

Oh, and if anyone has seen Peter’s glasses, please let him know.  It appears they’ve gone missing, along with any sense of direction…

Jedi focus, on wine. Maps, meh.

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The Road to Mornington Glory – Day 0

by The Wine Punter on January 9, 2014 · 0 comments

in Travels

The Road to Mornington Glory – a quest of five men to savour the best food and wine the peninsula has to offer.  We’re away, almost.

Tomorrow the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will assemble.  We will prevail, after coffee.  Lots of coffee.

Tonight however, I eased my way into the painfully, hipstertastically cool digs that is Melbourne. I lugged my wine laden suitcase up Bourke St. from Flinders St. station, ducked into an alley and landed at Captains of Industry.

I’d been there last time I was here a few months back but it was closed.  The sign on the first floor of the staircase that leads up to a tattoo joint listed coffee (black), whiskey (neat), hair (cut) and shoes (bespoke) as services rendered.  I needed to find out if this was in fact, man heaven.

A West Winds Gin (feat. triple filtered Margaret River rainwater) and Fentimans (botanically brewed) tonic set the scene.  Not your average G&T, not your average bar.  This place features old Singer sewing machines on the tables, a cobbler, tailor and barber in-house to care for all of one’s manly needs.  Indeed, man heaven.

I Instagramed the shit outta myself, slapped an X-Pro II filter on it and felt right at home as I drafted a newsletter on my iPad.

My old mate Lize dropped by for an Aperol before we took the #96 tram back home to Nth Fitzroy.  We stopped by an old Italian deli for some cheese, wine and charcuterie.

Whilst in store I got a phone call from Jacq confirming our lunch appointment tomorrow at Gertrude St.Enoteca at Avani.  She said it was warm so bring my togs.  It’s Melbourne and I’m from Brisbane.  I didn’t bring togs, I bought my jacket.  I suggested I go nudie.

We’ve not met so I wasn’t sure how that’d go down.  Her response suggesting we’ll all go au naturale assured me that we’ll be dining in good company, lunch is going to be a whole lotta fun.

A bottle of Fowles ’12 Chardy and a Philip Shaw Rosé over dinner and catch ups with Cam n Lize were enough to wet the whistle for what is set to be quite the weekend of indulgence.

I got a message from El Capitano – PGM, the master organiser, that we’re to assemble at Batch Espresso in St Kilda for a couple of heart starters before boarding the NickOs express.

Gentlemen, start your engines.  The Road to Mornington Glory is long and winding, strap yourself in and hang on tight.  It’s going to be one helluva ride.

God speed.  And (triple filtered rainwater) Gin.

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Mandala Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

by The Wine Punter on January 6, 2014 · 0 comments

in Reviews,Tastings

 

This is the first I’ve tried from this winery.  With a genuine family, friends and lifestyle-first vibe, Mandala are making wines from two vineyards; Yarra Junction (pinot noir) and Dixons Creek (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, shiraz, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir).

Charles Smedly says: “The 2011 Shiraz is a surprise package. It’s delicate and perfumed, and our cool climate has produced more red berry fruits, finer tannins and greater acid structure than you might find elsewhere.”

It’s what I like about Cabernet – cassis, some herbs and black olives.  The oak (French, less than 1/4 new) has a spicy spike to it and it’s a delightful drinking experience.

I’ve always been fascinated by Mandalas and their transient nature.  This one, like all good mandalas was carefully constructed and mesmerising before being quickly transformed, in ma belly.  This is well worth tracking down and I’ll keeping an eye out for more from this producer.  I like their style.

 

Region: Yarra Valley

RRP: $28

Website: www.mandalawines.com.au

Twitter: @mandalawines

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Yelland and Papps Second Take Roussanne 2012

by The Wine Punter on November 15, 2013 · 0 comments

in Reviews

 

I took this to lunch with a few friends who enjoy a glass.  Two out of three loved it, the third appreciated the style but it was a bridge too far.  That’s one on the long list of things I like about this wine – it’s unique and interesting.

It’s cloudy (unfiltered) but don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with this wine. In fact it’s all right and better than alright.  It’s wicked good.

The nose is a warm, a swirling ginger and spiced orange melange with subtle oak characters a result of having spent 10 months in barrel.  It’s soft and rubbery and the palate is alive.  Oh that texture, smooth.

There is a beautiful burnt orange and spice feature that lingers long, way back in the palate for some time after this is guzzled.  Bloody beautiful.  Sensational.  Pair this up with baked fish, Moroccan spices and cous cous or an orange and walnut salad and watch the sparks fly.

Michael and Susan Papps are passionate about the Barossa and are doing exciting things in this special part of the world.  If you get a chance, swing by and sample some of their homemade produce (food and wine) and experience these progressive wines in situ.

Summer, winter, whenever – a wine for all seasons.  Get some and get amongst it, this is brilliant.

 

Region: Barossa Valley

RRP:  TBC

Website: www.yellandandpapps.com

Twitter: @yellandandpapps

 

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Wirra Wirra Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc 2013

by The Wine Punter on November 12, 2013 · 0 comments

in Reviews

 

As is the case with many Wirra Wirra wines, this has an interesting name and story inspired by the quirky character of founder Greg Trott.  He was prone to wandering off and not returning for quite some time, seemingly oblivious to what all the fuss was about.

I like his style and could easily imagine myself wandering off amongst the rolling Adelaide Hills with a bottle of this tucked under my arm, and / or in ma belly.

Easy to stash too – it’s so light with an almost clear colour.  Aroma is alive with gooseberry and lantana but it’s the kiwi and passionfruit that dominate.

The palate has a structured texture that finishes crisp, dry, full of flavour and long enough, with a clean finish.  In fact it’s quite a crisp finish with some mouthwatering pucker.

Perfect for sunshine swigging and a safe bet to crack whenever chicken, meaty fish and fancy salads (think quinoa, kale, iceberg lettuce – yes, it’s so naff it’s back) need company.

And nothing pokes out, which makes it great for hiding.

 

Region: Adelaide Hills

RRP: $24

Website: www.wirrawirra.com

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Chapel Hill Il Vescovo White 2012

by The Wine Punter on November 11, 2013 · 0 comments

in Reviews

 

From the boys at Chapel Hill comes a blend of Verdelho, Savagnin and Roussanne; an interesting blend of southern Rhone whites with a focus on texture I assume.  It works.

A subtle, floral nose with the slightest smear of apricot jam on buttered toast.  There’s some nuttiness but it’s all pretty restrained.  Plenty going on once you tuck in however.  It’s a round, fuller texture with some ginger spice on the finish.

Lively and a little sparkly.  It’s like that guy at the party who ‘dances on the inside’.  He’s having a good time but you wouldn’t know it.  Underestimated and a little misunderstood.

A wine drinker’s wine and drinkability plus.  Some sticky soy glazed chicken and it’s game on.

 

Region: McLaren Vale

RRP: $20

Website: www.chapelhillwine.com.au

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