Josef Chromy Pepik Chardonnay 2005

Sister wine to the Pepik Pinot Noir, this wine is also reasonably priced and from Tasmania. Enough with the introductions, then.

A nose that’s equal parts oatmeal and unripe stonefruit. There’s a bit of vanilla thrown in for good measure. Not an especially exuberant nose, it is nevertheless clean and fruity. The palate brings forward a degree of fruit sweetness that comes as somewhat of a surprise after the nose. Quite ripe peach mixes with flavours right at the other end of the Chardonnay spectrum, such as tart citrus notes. There’s some winemaking here too, including a light butterscotch note that marries well with the peachiness, and aforementioned mealiness. This moderately hedonistic touch is counterbalanced, perhaps somewhat coarsely, with a more tart, acid-driven sourness that builds through the line and begins to dominate the after palate. A herbal flourish ushers in the average finish.

Not a bad food style and, I think, a better wine than the Pinot Noir. My main issue with this wine is that lacks coherence, seemingly neither here nor there in stylistic emphasis.

Josef Chromy
Price: $A15.20
Closure: Stevin
Date tasted: October 2008

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Chardonnay 2006

It’s had a little while to settle in the bottle, so I’m keen to see how this wine is tracking now that it has just been superseded by a newer vintage. It’s funny, the ongoing race a next, maybe even better, vintage. Sometimes I feel the pleasures of a recently past vintage can get lost in amongst the latest and greatest.

Clean, intense aromas of vanilla and white peach. A lovely nose, really, even though it’s not the last word in complexity. What it does have is finesse and balance, which are certainly their own rewards. Although fresh and crisp, the palate shows notable generosity of fruit flavour. There are savoury elements, most obviously spiced oak and perhaps some steeliness, but this wine is currently about delicious and intense Chardonnay fruit. Acid is a highlight. It’s consistent and firm through the palate’s line, creating emphasis by underlining the fruit flavour rather than shouting over the top of it. Barrel ferment characters are especially well judged, adding complexity and richness without heaviness. A nice shot of clean fruit up through the after palate leads to a finish of satisfying length. An interesting textural dimension asserts itself in the latter half of the palate.

A really excellent wine to enjoy now with food. I had mine with a Chicko roll and could not have been happier. Great value for money.

De Bortoli
Price: $A23.75
Closure: Stelvin
Date tasted: October 2008

Moorilla Estate Muse Series Pinot Noir 2006

It’s impossible to discuss this wine without, in the first instance, referring to its packaging. It comes in a rather heavy Burgundy bottle that seems oversized even as oversized Burgundy bottles go. Imprinted on the the very dark label are artily photographed people in various states of nakedness, lounging over one another and generally behaving as if they’ve already had a generous dose of the bottle’s contents. There’s a little poem to get one in the Pinot mood, too. I’m all for creativity in packaging, but I admit I had trouble finding information about the producer and the wine itself on the label. Perhaps I’m missing the point.

Really bright red colour, quite pretty. Initially, a strong whiff of fine vanilla oak. My intial disappointment subsided as the wine developed clean, simple Pinot fruit aromas over the course of a couple of hours. It’s no powerhouse. Rather, it’s subtle, not especially striking, though certainly varietal, showing a kinship with the Central Otago flavour profile I’ve observed in some other Tasmanian Pinots. There’s also a nice amount of stinkiness that adds some interest.

In the mouth, some herb and spice to accompany the light fruit flavours. A fleeting, nimble palate that shows definite oak influence (vanilla/caramel in character) alongside the fruit. It all seems to be in balance, though again on the light side in terms of body and intensity. Quite a clean, lively mouthfeel, with enough acidity to create sourness and some texture. It’s all moderately distinctive while it lasts. There’s a hollowing out on the after palate, and the finish is quite long but also feels insubstantial. Chalky tannins, quite abundant, create dryness on the finish.

There’s no denying this is a lot of product for the money. It’s also an identifiably varietal Pinot Noir for under $A20, which until recently was a hard thing to find. Despite all this, I felt disappointed with the wine’s simplicity and lack of palate depth. What’s there is tasty and clean, but drinking it is like having a conversation with someone who is standing a hundred metres away — after a while, you tire of straining to hear, and simply stop listening.

Moorilla Estate
Price: $A17.95
Closure: Stelvin
Date tasted: October 2008

Pewsey Vale Riesling 2007

A little late to the party with this one, I know. 2008 Rieslings have hit the shelves in a big way by now, but 2007 editions are still widely available.

Pretty aroma of soft talc and lime juice. For those allergic to our aggressively aromatic Rieslings, this may well please. Still, there’s something simple and marginally disappointing about the aroma profile. It comes across as compromised, somehow, even a little bland. In the mouth, quite full with some minerality clawing its way into a core of lime juice. It’s quite full and tends towards tropical fruit on the sides of the tongue. For all that, it’s generously flavoured and undeniably tasty. A softer acid structure encourages the impression of full, round fruit character, but there’s still some sizzly acid to keep things lively. Things die a bit on the finish.

Very much a “drink now” proposition, this one. In its own way quite drinkable, but lacking a bit of bite for my taste. Would be a good choice to serve to a casual, mixed crowd.

Pewsey Vale
Price: $A15.20
Closure: Stelvin
Date tasted: October 2008

Tar & Roses Heathcote Shiraz 2007

I bought this on the combined basis of a good write-up at the Wine Front site and my ongoing desire to spend less money on wine (it clocked in at a modest $15.20 at the local Dan Murphy’s). Ever in search of a bargain, we wine lovers. Let’s face it, though, wine is an expensive pastime. Sometimes I feel I’d be better off getting my kicks from composting or decoupage or, really, anything fundamentally inspired by recycling.

Happily, this Shiraz provides a lot of pleasure. There’s a lot going on in the glass and, if I were to provide a two word description (through brevity, for better or worse, isn’t one of my talents), it would be “well judged.” Everything clicks into place and feels right. It would seem overly calculated if it weren’t so tasty. The aroma profiles straddles sweet and savoury with aplomb, showing equal doses of sweet dark fruit, pepper, moist leafiness, minerality and bubble-gum oak. It’s hedonistic and inviting. As nice as it is, though, the palate takes things up a notch. Perhaps too much sweet fruit for my taste, but no-one could accuse this wine of lacking flavour. Medium bodied, this wine’s flavour registers early and flows elegantly to a mid palate awash with sweet fruit and savoury complexities. Delicious ripe blackberry takes over on the after palate and lingers through a satisfying finish. There’s something rather beguiling about the way this wine feels in the mouth. It’s elegant and beautifully supple and just tannic enough.

A bit of a fruit bomb, then, but just the wine to provide some relief after a hard day’s work. Drink now with comfort food and much pleasure.

Tar & Roses
Price: $A15.20
Closure: Stelvin
Date tasted: October 2008

Faiveley Bourgogne Rouge 2006

The year ticks over and it’s Burgundy season again, this time the 2006s. Apparently a less admired vintage than 2005, some 2006 wines have nonetheless garnered appreciators, especially the whites. I’ll be tasting a few over the coming weeks.

Right now, I have a glass of Faiveley’s 2006 Bourgogne Rouge next to me, and the soundtrack to this tasting is the “jiggle jiggle” of my pressure cooker as it pulverises some lamb shanks into submission. I’m hoping this wine doesn’t do the same to my palate, as the previous year’s version threatened to do.

A pretty colour of ripe strawberries. On the nose, equal parts red fruit, funky earth and iron. Nice ingredients for sure, though it comes across as quite masculine and “hard,” which won’t necessarily be to the taste of those who enjoy a measure of sensuality in their Burgundies. Good continuity onto the palate. There’s a distinctive taste of iron that reads perhaps as blood and, as distasteful as that may sound, provides a nice backbone to the wine’s more fruit-driven notes. Good presence in the mouth, with sour and reasonably complex red fruit largely yielding to the wine’s wilder side. It’s quite a hard flavour profile, but there’s beauty in its firm, confident stance. Tannins create volume in the mouth with minimal astringency. Certainly a lot to think about for a lowly Bourgogne. Good intensity and line through to a satisfying finish.

Not bad at all, especially considering the price.

Update: the dregs, tasted one day later, had been abandoned by the touch of magic that had graced this wine on initial tasting. Less aromatic and complex, overall.

Price: $A25.65
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: October 2006


Attended a tasting with work colleagues on Friday afternoon. Here are some brief notes on the more interesting wines.

Mitchell Watervale Riesling 2007
Austere, reasonably intense aromas of citrus and passionfruit. Quite high toned/powdery. Good impact on the palate, with astringent lemon rind most prominent. Firm, fine acidity drives intensity well through the after palate. Long finish. A very dry, austere wine with quite generous fruit and good presence. A little forceful right now.

Radford Dale Riesling 2007
Eden Valley goodness. Mineral and floral talc on the nose, with delicate lime juice. Lovely flinty palate, cut apple and lime flavours. Well integrated acid is fine yet firm. It’s shapely but persuasively so. Falls over a bit on the after palate, subtle dry finish. Lovely wine.

Taylors St Andrews Riesling 2001
Showing some age but in a somewhat non-typical fashion. Not your typical toast and honey, this comes across as more biscuit-like, youthful and aged elements integrating remarkably well for a wine that, to my taste, is only just starting to age. On the palate, youthful acidity, flint, a bit of residual lime flavour. Nice interplay between all the elements, brilliant length, with a slightly herbal, aniseed-like note on the finish.

Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2004
Lovely nose of vanilla, cashew, honeydew melon and sharper, citrus notes. It would be entirely comforting if it weren’t so smart. On the palate, more crisp honeydew melon, nice firm acidity, clove-like spice and a mouthfeel that manages “round” without any love handles. Good length. Nice wine, if perhaps a little simple at this stage. I would suggest leaving this one for a while longer.

Foxeys Hangout Chardonnay 2003
Quirky wine from the Mornington Peninsula. Beautiful honey roasted nuts on the nose, sort of nougat-like. Good complexity with aniseed and doughy note too. On the palate, more honey nuts, lees-derived characters, all with good intensity. Generous mouthfeel without excess creaminess, spreading well through the mouth. Went fabulously with fresh goat’s cheese.

Piper’s Brook Chardonnay 2002
Quite youthful, with cut apple and sweet mown hay on the nose. In the mouth, a hint of honey and baked things, intensely clean fruit, some butterscotch. An odd dried fruit character on the after palate. Good persistence but not great complexity.

Turkey Flat Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Big, blousy nose, all dark cherry liqueur. Quite over the top and not really recognisable as Cabernet. Intense, genersous palate of dark cherries and perhaps some chocolate, with pleasant pippy acidity. Soft, fine and abundant tannins. Odd wine, or perhaps odd bottle?

Bremerton Old Adam Shiraz 2001
Langhorne Creek Shiraz in fine form. Complex, vanilla/blackberry nose, all very smooth and integrated and warm blanket-like. Surprisingly restrained palate, in fact quite elegant with a balanced structure and clean fruit. Some savoury complexities but really this wine is about tasty oak supporting a lot of delicious dark fruit. Fabulous clean lift through the after palate, delicate finish. Very drinkable.

Fairbank Sutton Grange Syrah 2003
Victorian Shiraz/Syrah. Intense umami on the nose, almost like smelling a mug of Continental “Hearty Beef” cup-a-soup, but of course in a highly refined wine wankerish manner. Very distinctive, but tending towards a single dimension. In the mouth, firm tannins, more beef broth. Very savoury and equally astringent, lacking perhaps a little drive through the after palate. Worth tasting.

Trevor Jones A Over T Liqueur Shiraz 1982
Very, very pleasurable, and super with Mauri Gorgonzola.

2005 Domaine Alfred Chamisal Vineyard Califa Chardonnay

Surprisingly – well, at least for me, because when I see California chardonnay, I usually expect butterscotch popcorn – this wine is one of the nuttier Chardonnays I’ve ever smelled. There’s also kind of an unusual, almost maderized effect here, something lees-y, that’s surprising as well. Overall, the effect is of something like a rich, honeyed Burgundy that is tellingly Californian only in that the acidity is a bit lacking on the finish. The closest thing I can compare this to would be Screaming Yellow Zonkers that fell into a dish of Ethiopian honey wine: it’s almost salty, there’s a rich yellowness that’s reminiscent of sweet popcorn, and the lush fatness of it all is fairly appealing as well. That being said, it really does veer a bit too much towards circus peanuts for me, and on the whole it is a touch disappointing. For this money, though, it’s good enough value – most wines at this price point don’t have anywhere near the character this wine does.

This is probably a great selection for any American fan of hugely alcoholic international style wines: it may not have a lot of typicité, but it is huge and every bit as enjoyable as Angelyne.

Domaine Alfred
Price: US $12.50
Closure: Stelvin
Date tasted: October 2008

Bay of Fires Riesling 2007

Clean, somewhat powdery nose of crisp fruit (think nashi pear) and citrus, with edges of more blatantly aromatic tropical fruit. There’s a lovely savoury note that seems like flint by way of cashew nut. Overall, the aroma profile is focused and coherent, though its level remains subdued.

The palate is a different story. Explosive, really, even when quite cold. Acidity is the wine’s most immediately noticeable element. Though not especially fine, it contributes fantastic impact and excitedly announces the wine’s fruit flavours. In terms of these flavours, the wine is quite full, with round, intense apple and passionfruit, plus more of that fascinating mineral-like note. This is not a lean wine and its flavour possesses a generosity that translates in part as fruit sweetness, though there’s a degree of residual sugar too. No chance of flab here, as acidity continues to underline the wine’s line and moves things along at a brisk clip. Good thrust through the after palate onto a lengthy, tingly finish.

A really nice Riesling. A long way from the Clare/Eden style, this wine is less chiselled, structurally, but with considerably more generous fruit flavour and weight. Consequently, a wine to pair with robustly flavoured food (we had it with pasta/ricotta/bacon) or to drink alone in preference to highly aromatic styles such as Sauvignon Blanc.

Bay of Fires
Price: $A24.70
Closure: Stelvin
Date tasted: October 2008

Josef Chromy Pepik Pinot Noir 2007

I picked up a few Tassie wines on my last visit to the alcohol shop, including this reasonably priced Pinot.

A pretty, fruit-sweet nose that shows simply but with decent varietal character. There’s a noticeable whiff of barnyard, which prevents a complete descent into blandness, plus nuances of spice and leaf. It is all attractive enough, though straightforward.

The palate shows moderate intensity and continues the nose’s line with admirable consistency. There’s a greater emphasis on sweet fruit here counterbalanced by a good dose of sourness, the latter moderating confectionary tendencies but doing nothing to fundamentally alter the fruit’s simple flavour profile. Not a lot of textural interest at the mid-palate, although overall it’s slick and supple. Sour acidity washes over the after palate, deliciously in my opinion, and the wine closes with a soft, fairly brief finish.

An ok quaffer that is straightforward and flavoursome. Not a bad way to get your Pinot fix, but for my money I’d rather spend a few dollars more and take a definite step up the quality ladder.

Josef Chromy
Price: $A14.25
Closure: Stevin
Date tasted: October 2008