Grosset Gaia 2001

Exotic and yet strangely familiar, this wine smells of California mission figs, damp soil in a shady redwood forest, freshly-baked German plum torte, the singing acidity of just-cleaved fruit, freshly baked brownies cooling in a suburban kitchen window, and cassis. It’s so wonderfully complex that honestly? I could probably sit here smelling it for half an hour; it’s as elaborate and fluid as a Guerlain perfume.Texturally, it’s fascinating, simultaneously hard and porous, with an initial impression of hard, ripe tannin quickly changing to a soft, slippery, sensual decay of just-melted chocolate. Beyond the texture, though, is still-present, still-youthful black cherry fruit, cheerfully slipping into warmer cigar box and cedar notes, finishing softly into a long, slow dissolve into dried herbs and dark bread baked in a wood-fired oven.Ironically, it’s the sweetness here that marks this wine as distinctly what it is. If that weren’t here, it would remind me of a Loire red, given its firm tannin and wonderfully complex notes of cherry, mineral, and herbs. However, it’s that beautiful, pure Australian fruit that elevates it beyond the merely really f***ing good and into the phenomenal. There aren’t many wines that can convincingly walk the line between Old World and New; just as Ridge Monte Bello does, this wine is simultaneously everything good about the Old and the New.I would imagine there’s another five or ten years’ life left here; simultaneously, I can’t imagine this being any better than it is right now.Grosset
Price: $27
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Flaxman Shiraz VP 2008

I love a nice Aussie Shiraz VP and this is certainly one. As an aside, I generally drink this style as a table wine, with food, and I feel it works tremendously well in this context. I guess that’s why I have a soft spot for some over those overwrought, overripe red table wines that exist between medium bodied sanity and the delicious lunacy that is the Shiraz VP style.

A woollen blanket of aroma, all prickly and comforting. Such dense smells of chocolate, ripe plum, spice, nuts, vanilla and leather. I can’t tell if this is complex or just overwhelming; it’s certainly seamless and expressive. The palate is pure luxe. Quite cool and slippery on entry, it quickly floods the mouth with sweet plum and chocolate, and that unmistakable mouthfeel that goes with 17.5% abv. Aside from abundant flavour, there are equally abundant tannins, silty-fine in character, and a burn of alcohol through the after palate and finish that speaks of decadence rather than imbalance. 
Admittedly, this isn’t a style for everyone, but those who enjoy these wines will find great reward here. Will go for ages.

Flaxman Wines
Price: $A20 (375ml)
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

Windowrie The Mill Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009

Some bottles I look at and presume, for one reason or another, I won’t be writing up. This – being a blend of which I’m not terribly fond – was one of them. But drinking it now, nicely chilled, I’m finding it really well made, so thought I’d jot down a quick note.

These wines are made for immediate quaffing, so to my mind need a particular balance of fruit, structure and (let’s face it) residual sweetness to faciliate their function. The nose is promising, with a shock of cut grass atop quite rounded fruit. There are hints of lychee and paw paw, along with the sharper passionfruit-like aromas one might expect from Sauvignon Blanc. Just pungent enough, fresh-smelling, and well-balanced. So far so good.
The palate follows through admirably. These sorts of wines aren’t going to break any records for complexity, but there’s still a bit going on here, with generous-enough fruit flavours running all the way along the line, propped up by slightly vicious acidity and a dollop of puppy fat to smooth the edges. I think there’s a bit of residual sugar — I find it well-judged — adding weight to the fruit without turning the flavours candied. 
Nice quaffer. Well done.

Price: $A16.99
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

J.K. Carriere Provocateur 2008

Because I’m a lazy man, I’m tempted to simply say this: This is the most Burgundian pinot noir I’ve ever drunk from Oregon.

To elaborate:

One, you’ll want to chill this wine down to 60 degrees or so. It’s not good at room temperature.

Two, you’ll want to give this a lot of air before even thinking about drinking some. Straight out of the bottle, it’s clumsy, chunky, and disappointing.

Three, the tannins are gentle, assertive, slight, dominant, stalky, ripe: in short, all over the map. They’re in wonderful balance with the fruit and oak.

Four, the wine smells wonderful. Soft cedar shavings, forest floor, wild strawberries, allspice, plums, and barbecue: they’re all here. This would be amazing with cedar plank salmon.

Five, the mouthfeel is similarly all over the map. Rich and mouthfilling? Sure, the vibrancy of the fruit suggests that, but it’s secretly leaner, trimmer, acidic, racy, daring. This is not a wine for the timid, not a wine for the lazy, not a wine you can drink without thinking about it. Every mouthful is wondrously complex; a thousand experiences unfurl before you. Drinking this is like opening an atlas: suddenly, you’re faced with – and overjoyed by – all of the possibilities open to you. The chalk cliffs of Dover, the quiet of the California redwood forest, the stark beauty of the Namib desert? It’s all there if you want to go; it’s all here if you want to taste.

J.K. Carriere
Price: $24
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Ten Minutes by Tractor 2008 single vineyard wines

Recently, the very straightforward General Manager of Mornington Peninsula-based producer Ten Minutes by Tractor, Chris Hamilton, asked me to write some tasting notes for the winery’s use. I mention this both by way of disclosure and to make a particular observation. When I talked with Chris about the brief, I assumed he wanted the typically concise, descriptive notes one often sees attached to wine marketing material. Instead, he asked me to write in the style of my notes on this site. 

When I write for Full Pour, my intent is far from commercial and so, I believe, are the resultant notes. So it fascinated me that a producer might want to commission similar material, complete with the extravagances of length and style in which I often indulge. 
It pleases me to note all the wines tasted were good. The single vineyard labels, however, stand out as the most authentic representation of what Ten Minutes by Tractor is doing. I tasted two Chardonnays (Wallis and McCutcheon) and three Pinot Noirs (Wallis, McCutcheon and Judd). All vineyards are in the Main Ridge sub-region of the Mornington Peninsula, just ten minutes away from each other as the tractor flies. The material provided to me included copious information about vineyard elevations, clones, viticulture and winemaking. The approach strikes me in general as somewhat obsessive, and in particular as striving towards an understanding of differences between wines wrought by specific variables between vineyards. This is the mad scientist approach to the aesthetics of wine, and I love it.
These notes are my own personal write-ups, different from those provided to the winery for is use.
Wallis Vineyard Chardonnay 2008

Instant cool climate Chardonnay with a fireside warmth twist. The aroma shows crushed rocks, lean oak, oatmeal and predominantly grapefruit-like citrus. It’s quite savoury and austere in a way, but there’s a glimmer of enticing warmth at its core, like a candle shining in the midst of a winter snowstorm. I think this flows from a real funkiness to the aroma, something slightly off-center and quirky, that adds humanity to what can sometimes be a rather robotic Chardonnay style. 
The palate trades on this tension between cool collectedness and a flavour profile that teases with its darting cuddliness. It’s all fine and poised, with a pleasingly slippery mouthfeel and the sort of detail that rewards slow drinking. Overall, this is a really subtle wine, low-key and humble, but full of interest too. Quietly seductive.
McCutcheon Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 
Both different from and strikingly similar to the Wallis wine. This is altogether more powerful and direct, with an aroma full of thrust and parry, pure citrus fruit, spice and mealiness. Its power is well controlled, and if I were to characterise the aroma profile to set it apart from the Wallis, I’d say this is cooler, more chiselled, perhaps more detailed, certainly more masculine. Fascinating that viticulture and winemaking were essentially identical for both wines.
The entry shows a nice cut of minerality alongside more citrus and vanilla spice. There’s a soothing caress of viscosity on the palate which balances out robust acidity and makes way for fruit flavours to express themselves. The after palate is full of pithy grapefruit and the finish shows really refreshing bitterness, in the most positive sense. I reckon this will get better over the medium term (5 years or so). 
McCutcheon Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

One thing I noticed across all the single vineyard Pinots was their lack of colour density. The hues themselves are most attractive and fresh, but each wine is quite see-through, which I feel is one of the pleasures of this variety. I love how something so insubstantial-looking can be so powerful.
The nose here seems ideally balanced between varietal sour cherry and a catalogue of spices, damp earth and the sweetness of char siu. It’s all quite seamless, moving through its modes with no bumpiness or pause. On entry, good intensity without heaviness. It’s immediately complex, with seemingly all parts of the cherry (pulp, skin, pips) included in the lovely flavour profile. The middle palate introduces some sticky caramel before nicely textured acidity sweeps in to move one through the after palate. Grainy tannins adds to the mouthfeel and help with persistence through the finish. 
For drinking now, my favourite of the three single vineyard Pinots, thanks to its beautiful balance.
Wallis Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 
If the McCutcheon is a dilettante, spreading itself across all its elements equally, the Wallis Vineyard Pinot is the specialist, diving deep into a particular expression of Pinot that is more mysterious and difficult to unravel.
The aroma’s first impression is of thick impenetrability. There are layers of spiced wood, sour cherries, vanilla and undergrowth, all swirling to form a dense fabric of smells that is quite hard to tease apart. There’s a lovely sappiness that arcs over the aroma too, which tends to unify the elements and provide some light. 
There’s slightly more fruit emphasis in the mouth, though it remains a seriously dark expression of cherry. It’s concentrated and savoury, no one aspect dominating yet with the whole existing in a subterranean place, compact and firm. Texture is wonderful, with plenty of tannins emerging on the middle palate and continuing down the line, and a subdued acid line running the whole length. There’s a dip in intensity as the wine progresses down its line and this, combined with the tightly held flavour profile, suggests the Wallis more than the other two Pinots will benefit from bottle age. 
Judd Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008
This wine is tangibly different again from the Wallis and McCutcheon. One obvious difference from a viticultural perspective is this vineyard is planted to the 115 Pinot clone, as opposed to the others which carry MV6. 115 is known for its more straightforwardly fruity flavour profile, and this comes through into the finished wine. 
A deeply spiced aroma profile that is nonetheless dominated by heady, ripe cherries and fresh plum pulp. More in-your-face than the other two wines, this is openly seductive in character. It’s all curves and femininity, quite voluptuous really.
The way it enters the mouth is wild: an initial pause followed by a dramatic enlargement of  scale that is quite surprising. After wedging your palate open, it supplies gobs of sweet fruit onto the tongue. The fruit character is very pretty, all maraschino cherries framed by attractive tartness. Some oak is present in support, and is well matched to the fruit. I just can’t get over the physical aspects of this wine’s feel in the mouth, though; this alone makes it worth experiencing, for its sensuality but also its sophistication. A very long finish.

Ten Minutes by Tractor
Price: $55-70
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

J. Rickards Muscat Blanc 2009

After what’s turning out to be a nearly endlessly delayed introduction to summertime – here it is, June already, and it’s still cloudy, cool, and altogether disappointing – I suppose it’s time to drink myself into summer, even if it’s technically not quite here yet.Richly spiced, with a shimmering overlay of nutmeg over pineapple, this pretty much does the trick, reminding me of an imaginary barbecue out back of the US embassy in Saigon shortly before the fall, or, rather, liberation of the city: there’s a smoky haze in the air, with suggestion of tropical fruits, spices, and something damn near approaching decadence.The taste of the wine makes a beautiful counterpart to what the nose suggests: instead of a fat, flabby, sugary wine, you’re instead treated to an unctuous, mouth-filling wine with keenly balanced acidity, Yes, there is a hint of sugar – or is it alcohol? – which is entirely appropriate for the style, but it’s miles away from simple, mindless muscat. The overall effect is not unlike doing something you shouldn’t with someone you shouldn’t be doing it with: you, serious wine drinker, are well aware of the societal repercussions of drinking muscat, but as soon as you taste this you really, really won’t care. All you’ll care about is making sure you get more out of the bottle than anyone else you’re sharing it with.J. Rickards
Price: $20
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail