Monthly Archives: April 2010
Yelland & Papps Devote Old Vine Grenache 2008
As nice as it was, the 2007 vintage of this wine pales in comparison to the current release 2008. This is seriously good Barossa Grenache in all respects.
Yelland & Papps
Moppity Vineyards Chardonnay 2008
Though this producer is based in Hilltops, the fruit for this wine was sourced from Tumbarumba. Curious region. It would have to be one of our lower profile regions, yet carries a reputation for exceptional Chardonnay (amongst other things), its fruit often ending up in premium Penfolds table wines, for example. It’s a beautiful part of the world too, and part of me wonders how special a destination it might become should a critical mass of cellar doors ever be achieved. I can think of worse places to visit.
Patina Pinot Gris 2008
I’m shallow and pretentious; there’s no other explanation for leaving this wine untouched at the bottom of the sample pile for so long. In my defense, some kind of filter is more or less a necessity when there’s so much wine out there; one can’t simply taste it all. And if I instinctively gravitate towards varieties and regions I am experienced with and attracted to, is this really so wrong?
Tahbilk Eric Stevens Purbrick Shiraz 2004
People seem to have very strong reactions to Tahbilk’s red wines; not like or dislike so much as love or hate. I wonder both why this is and what it means; in any case I’m tempted, from an aesthetic perspective, to value Tahbilk’s wines all the more highly because of it. Increasingly, I am impatient with wines that don’t display intent beyond correctness and technical perfection. Especially at a price point such as this, I feel we ought as drinkers to demand personality, a provocation, a point of view.
JK Carriere Anderson Family Pinot Noir 2006
After a drink of this and a long, slow exhale I turned to my partner and said “yeah, this has it all.” A distinctly groovy blackish red, straight out of a 1960s steakhouse, the color itself is appealing enough to make me want to overfill my glass. Beautiful, really, and enough to telegraph the intentions of this pinot: rich enough and ripe enough to be New World, yet distinctly holding back before going off the Californian deep end, it suggests you’re in for a best-of-both-worlds kind of experience – and you are.Wonderfully complex on the nose, I’m having trouble keeping track of it all. Rich, ripe red fruit is seamlessly counterbalanced by politely serious French oak, but only just enough to support the fruit; this is not one of those oaked-to-death, overripe pinots that are all too easy to find here. The wine also smells incredibly youthful: at this point, I don’t see any secondary aged characteristics, but I get the sense there’s enough stuffing here to last at least a decade.At first sip, the wine is shy, hesitant, refusing to offer much of anything up save for a brief, surprising wallop of acidity. That’s quickly replaced by a wonderfully lush, silken, voluptuously textured ribbon of sensible red fruit with hints of roasted coffee, caramel, and violets. Not as dirty as Burgundy, the overarching effect is of a very smooth customer: however, what really sets this wine apart is the balance and elegance of an incredibly well crafted, peculiarly Oregonian experience. The finish does go on for quite some time, again subtly meandering between refreshing acidity, soft earth, and that wonderful, spicy red fruit peculiar to Oregon.Look, I’ll be honest here: if you wanted to try the best the USA has to offer, this is probably as good a pinot as you’re going to find, full stop. Less tannic and earthy than Burgundy, fuller and richer than Otago, and perhaps most resembling Bass Philip pinot noir, this is for my money one of the best wines made in North America. Best of all, it’s the kind of wine that doesn’t take a lot of explanation to enjoy: pace Parker, this really is a hedonistic experience in the best sense of the word. My only complaint is that I only had the one bottle and that I won’t get to try it again ten years from now. J.K. Carriere
Gardners Ground Shiraz 2008
I don’t know much about this producer other than what I’m reading on the bottle (and website): based in Canowindra, organic viticulture, reasonably priced. Again, I’m struck by the number of producers in this region who are overtly pursuing organics.
Vinoterra Mtsvane 2005
I have never, ever seen a wine of this particular color before. This is an ungodly shade of sherry-peach-cream that I had no idea was possible outside of a 1970s makeup counter. Honestly, I’m surprised. Just when you think you’ve seen and drunk it all comes something completely outside and unthinkable to surprise you.I would have expected some oxidation on the nose given the color; instead, I get something like toffee and walnuts… for a moment until that tell-tale Sherry-like smells kicks in too. There are also wildly varying notes of cold cream, fine leather gloves, and cucumber. Overall, it has the effect of suggesting an English garden complete with ladies enjoying a cream tea: all kinds of curious, elegant smells suggesting flowers, finger sandwiches, kid leather, and freshly washed faces. Bizarre, I know, but honest: I’m not ridiculously far off the mark here.Relatively light at first, the flavor quickly solidifies in the mouth, showing slight oxidative notes as well as what feels like moderate tannin. However, things change up in the middle of palate, suddenly broadening out into tea roses, Brazil nuts, macadamia, and burnt cream. Although not a big wine (there is neither residual sugar nor noticeable alcohol), it nevertheless feels serious, solid, and frankly a bit like homework: the noticeable tannin prevents a sense of freshness and all of the fine aromatics on the nose are lost in the kerthunk of the wine driving its point home. However, there is also a fairly unbelievable suggestion of violet-encrusted strawberries, somehow, hiding in there among the oxidative notes and tannins. In short, I have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on here. If there was ever a wine so complex as to be bewildering, then it’s probably this one: my only real complaint is that there are so many things going on here and yet so few of them seem to belong in the same bottle.If this wine were a perfume, it would be Odeur 53 by Comme des Garçons: truly, this is remarkable, but drinking it is feeling awfully postmodern somehow. Serve with lavender crème brûlée, Marcona almonds, macaroons, and a bowl of Corn Pops. Why not? Vinoterra
Maison Nicolas Potel Santenay 1er Cru "Les Gravières" 2006
Do you enjoy chocolate-covered cherries? You do? OK, how would you like chocolate covered cherries if they were wrapped in musty used teabags? You would? OK, well, how would you like them if you were eating them next to a barnyard? Oh, you still would? Well, would it be even better if you were eating them in acid rain generated by a nearby sulfur producing chemical plant? Oh, it would? Well then! I believe I’ve found just the wine for you. Enjoy!In all seriousness, this wine is moderately good, but marred in my opinion by a deliberate stalkiness, excess sulfur dioxide, and a lack of any character other than simple cherry fruit with an anemic lashing of oak. It’s not strange enough to be Burgundy and not fruity enough to be a New World pinot. If you were looking for something along these lines but which was actually, you know, delicious, then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Sherwood pinot noir from the south island of New Zealand: it’s half the price and twice the fun.Nicolas Potel
Flaxman Shiraz 2005
In response to my write-up of the 2007 Shiraz, Colin Sheppard of Flaxman Wines very kindly sent me a bottle each of the 2005 and 2006 versions so I could compare the site and its wine across vintages. After having tasted all three, and quite apart from notions of quality, one thing I can confirm is this wine’s transparency.