Yelland & Papps Delight Grenache Rosé 2010

And now for something completely different (at least compared to this and this).

The nose is quite thick, with turkish delight, fresh red fruits and ripped berry skins. Not hugely complex nor terribly piercing; instead, generous, soft, fun. This is a comfortable rosé (if such a thing exists) with as much dark, sweet berry juice as flowers and other higher toned aromas.

The palate shows consistently with the aroma. It’s very relaxed on entryl fruit flavour soon flops onto the middle palate then gushes over the tongue. This is surprisingly full and rich for a rosé. It’s not overly sweet, though there’s clearly a degree of Grenache fruit character (which can seem inherently sweet) and a touch of residual sugar too. I’d like more acid — the thickness of the flavour profile would benefit from some cut and thrust, structurally. The finish is surprisingly, satisfyingly long, with candy and sour lollies the main notes.

I’m not sure this would cut it as a refreshing summer drink. Rather, I feel it would make a great red wine substitute where you’re looking for something lighter without sacrificing generosity of flavour. Like other Yelland & Papps wines I’ve tasted, it is purpose-designed for utterly frictionless drinking pleasure.

Yelland & Papps
Price: $A18
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

De Bortoli Yarra Valley La Bohème Act Two Dry Pinot Rosé 2010

Act Two in my own De Bortoli 2010 rosé notes, having yesterday tasted the Estate edition. This is altogether less fine a wine, but to my mind meets a different need. A few bucks cheaper too.

The nose is slightly feral, with firmly savoury fruit and a wildly aromatic bent that some dry rosés can show. I tend to like such aroma profiles and don’t mind some vulgarity, though here there’s enough density to temper the sharper aromas. With some time and a bit of air, some cuddlier aromas begin to emerge; slightly simple red fruit flavours and a bit of sap. All in all, an interesting nose.

The palate is less chiselled and precise than the Estate wine. It place of the latter’s clear delineation of flavours, this wine shows robust, more softly generous fruit and bouncy texture. Although there are some sweet raspberries lurking in there, the dominant flavours are again savoury in character. My main criticism of this wine is that its flavours lack definition; each thread blurs into the next and compromises an overall impression of freshness. Acid provides bubbly texture through the after palate in particular, while flavours take off in a crushed leaf and fresh red berry direction.

This seems to be De Bortoli’s interpretation of an accessible rosé style. Like the Estate wine, it emphasises savouriness and texture, but offers a less sophisticated and in many respects more accessible flavour profile.

De Bortoli
Price: $A18
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Pinot Noir Rosé 2010

The back label parenthetically describes this wine as “pale and dry.” They’re not kidding. This is a daring wine and one that may defy many drinkers’ expectations of rosé.

A very pale salmon colour, this gives off a range of angular, fragrant aromas. Peach skins, light plum juice, minerals, pink flowers. This is far from a sweet style, yet there’s a hint of icing sugar peeping out from amongst all the straight-faced seriousness that is making me smile. It’s a cheeky nod to rosé’s typical function as a refreshing, accessible drink, and here it works to draw you in past what might be a forbidding level of savouriness. Overall, the aroma is moderately expressive, neither too flouncy nor irritatingly reticent.

The palate, however, shows a degree of power that isn’t really suggested by the nose.This is a serious wine, to be sure. There’s a nice fleshy fullness in the mouth that accentuates red fruit and rosehip notes, and which is balanced out by tart, firm acid. Structurally, this wine is full of interest and I especially like the hit of chalky, dry texture through the after palate. This dimension is so enjoyable that I’m prompted to wonder whether a more extreme approach to texture, with additional lees work or even some barrel action, would yield an even more interesting style. No matter, there’s lots of satisfaction here. Good drive through the line and a very satisfying, lightly candied finish.

Fascinating wine.

De Bortoli
Price: $A24
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample


A few wines over the weekend; brief impressions follow.

Starting with the best of a decent bunch, a 2006 Crawford River Riesling totally wowed me on Friday evening. It’s ageing slowly and superbly; nuances of toast and honey starting to intrude on thrilling, precise citrus, floral and mineral flavours. In the mouth, a clean thrust of green apple acid and dry phenolic texture, not ultra-fine so much as perfectly rough. Surely this and Seppelt’s Drumborg label are all we need to proclaim Henty one of our very best regions for this most intellectual of white varietals.

A 1990 St Hugo Cabernet did not fare so well. The bottle was in good condition, and the nose promised heady aged characters, but I’m afraid to say that, for my taste, the oak has taken too prominent a role, unbalancing and ultimately overpowering what are correct, umami-infused aged Cabernet notes. It’s great oak for sure, there’s just too much of it at this point.

I found a glass of the 2008 Clyde Park Chardonnay provocative, if not totally convincing. It’s a heavily worked style, with funky aromas sitting alongside plenty of oak and tight Chardonnay fruit. In the mouth, complex and somewhat cacophonous. I have a soft spot for worked Chardonnay, but this seems to fall between stools; the fruit did not strike me as ideally suited to this treatment.

A 2008 Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz demonstrates the best and worst of a certain winemaking context (large company, large scale, quality end of the market). This is so well made and regional in character that on first sniff I was tempted to start waxing lyrical. Yet a few minutes with this wine reveals a level of calculated perfection that is, ultimately, unattractive. This is a fashion model of a wine; perfectly put together but kind of faceless and not half as interesting as someone with a few well-placed flaws. Still, very solid and, in a sense, critic-proof.

Lastly, the 2005 Zema Family Selection Cabernet. This is self-evidently a good wine, with powerful fruit and clean winemaking. So why wasn’t I bowled over? There’s something about the scale of this wine that seems outsize to me. The fruit is so ripe, the mouthfeel so full, the oak so present. Clearly, some will go nuts for this style, and in a different mood I might too. But I was eating a nice steak and wanting a Cabernet with structure and a measure of elegance. This was simply de trop. Perhaps as much my fault as the wine’s.

Domaine Ninot Rully La Barre 2007

I’ve tasted one previous vintage of this label, the 2005, and at the time came away with mixed feelings. On the one hand, a cheap way to taste some Burgundy goodness, on the other a rather underwhelming experience in absolute terms. So how’s this more recent vintage, then?

Once some funky sulphur blows off, the nose strongly suggests a degree of oxidation; there’s as much honey as there is vanilla ice cream and ripe papaya fruit. The 2005 had a similar mix of flavours, but (from memory at least) this is a more exuberant wine, tilting more definitely towards a drink-now balance of oxidative versus fresh flavours. It’s quite attractive, really, if somewhat simple, and much more expressive than I remember the 2005 to have been. Presuming these flavours are a result of oxidative handling, it’s a bold style to chase.

The palate is generous in scale, with rather lazy honey flavours accompanied by browned apple and melon fruit. The oxidative flavours are a little distracting at this point, though lively acid keeps things more or less in check. Mouthfeel moves through a few stages, from lightly textured on entry through voluptuous on the middle palate and sharp-ish through the finish. It’s all quite fun and drinkable, yet I’m not feeling entirely satisfied with the sophistication (or lack thereof) of the flavour profile, especially at this price point, and compared to local wines.

Domaine Ninot
Price: $A30
Closure: Synthetic cork
Source: Retail

Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz 2007

This label, long iconic, has caused an even greater sensation of late, the 2008 vintage having recently been named the Penguin Wine Guide’s wine of the year. I was therefore surprised and happy to see this wine — which was made in extremely limited quantities due, I believe, to frost damage — on a restaurant wine list this week, sporting a relatively small markup. I promptly ordered a bottle and had it decanted an hour or so prior to drinking.

Some of my wine writing colleagues have expressed quite negative reactions to the Langi style, and I can certainly see why. This is a full-throttle wine, quite undeterred by the notion that Grampians Shiraz ought to represent restrained, medium bodied elegance. There are lashings of oak immediately evident on the nose, and these dirty spice flavours combine with regional plum fruit to create a dark, dense aroma profile. This is the Grampians on steroids, all ultra-plum and squishy blackberries, dark spice and wet wood.

The palate is quite acidic, showing plum flesh, brown spice and pepper (black and white). Lots of flavours and good typicité, then. Stylistically, this is dense and muscular to the point of being slightly clumsy, and it’s here that some drinkers may come unstuck. Does this level of density, of oak and of raw power speak of the Grampians? Or does this wine represent a distortion of its region, a twisting of terroir into something barely recognisable? One thing’s for sure, the quality of the fruit here is superb. It’s clear from this and previous vintages tasted the Langi Ghiran site is capable of producing fruit with the most wonderful flavour and structure. Tannins are raw, raspy, completely fabulous and in need of a while more to settle. Whether they will calm in line with fruit flavours remains to be seen; I’ve tasted older Langis that have aged beautifully, and others whose oak has clearly outlived the fruit. No matter; it’s good to drink now with a good decant and appropriate food.

A real statement wine. I rather liked it.

Mount Langi Ghiran
Price: $A98 (wine list)
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Retail

Waipara Hills Marlborough Cuvée NV

Dedicated readers of Full Pour (and I thank you both) may have noticed a relative paucity of posts from me these last few weeks. I’ve been busy finishing off semester two of my winemaking studies, and am happy to report the year’s last exam was taken yesterday. So, for now, I am free of the little nagging voice that has been urging me to study rather than taste wine or, generally, have a life.

I thought I’d drink something special to celebrate this milestone. Instead, I’ve opened a bottle of sparkling Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Okay, so that’s a cheap shot. Indeed, this is better than my recollection of the only other wine in this style I have tasted, the Mount Riley Savée 2007, and demonstrates how the style may need to evolve to be taken (relatively) seriously. Unlike the Mount Riley wine, this shows only hints of the overt varietal character that is so apparent on still wines of this grape and region. Personally, I believe that’s a mature stylistic approach – after all, one doesn’t drink Champagne to experience sparkling white Burgundy. A sparkling ought, in my opinion, to be a reinterpretation of the variety, reframing its character on quite different terms from any still wine that shares its parent grape. The mousse here is pretty aggressive and short-lived, leading to a surprisingly fine bead. There’s still some grassiness and a bit of passionfruit, but it’s muted and accompanied by a general savoury vibe that contributes complexity and grown up-ness.

This is less lively in the mouth than some sparklings, which was signalled by the bead and may be attributable to this bottle as much as anything else. No matter, there’s plenty of acidity and an astringency of flavour profile that together generate a lot of impact. The primary fruit flavour is again cut grass and some passionfruit, with a whole bunch of savoury detail around the edges. Sophisticated? Not especially. But not a bad attempt at balance given the raw materials and class of wine. A nice twist of honey through the after palate, and a lightly citrus-driven finish.

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc polarises drinkers and this wine can’t escape the legacy of its heritage. However, for those with an open mind, it’s an interesting exercise in what might be for not a lot of money.

Waipara Hills
Price: $A22
Closure: Cork
Source: Sample

Gilligan Roussanne Marsanne 2010

Gilligan’s second release of this wine, and I note last year’s model was more Marsanne-heavy, at least judging by the order in which the varieties are listed on the label. I enjoyed the 2009, though felt it could have used an extra ounce of intensity, considering its fullness of body and luxe vibe. This wine, happily, has noticeably more fruit flavour, bringing the style’s elements into greater balance.

I thought this was a Viognier when I first smelled it, but the richness that presents is less apricot and more honeysuckle. Yes, this is a vulgar French perfume of a wine, and all the more glorious for it; I like wines that don’t try to be something they aren’t. And this is about as far from Riesling (on the one hand) and Chardonnay (on the other) as you can get. It’s redolent of white flowers, peach stones and fresh laundry with just a hint of something more challenging, savoury and feral underneath.

The palate has good impact due, at first, to a thickness of texture that smacks the mouth and winds its way onto the tongue. Flavour follows soon after, with surprisingly delicate accords of stonefruit and florals. There’s plenty of flavour on offer. The risk with richer wines styles such as this is that they become cloying, but I’m pleased to note there’s a nice thrust of phenolic texture (and decent acid) that underlines the entire palate, roughing up the mouthfeel and freshening the flavour profile. Good continuity through the after palate and a very long finish, hinting at some alcohol heat but never quite crossing over to the other side.

Not a bad wine after only two goes. Really good value for money.

Price: $A21
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

Moppity Vineyards Reserve Shiraz 2008

This is quite a wine. After a few days of tasting fundamentally uninteresting commercial styles, one sniff of this reminded me of what wine can be, of how it can fill a room and one’s senses with individualism and character.

Which probably means some people will hate it, and those likely to disapprove are those with an aversion to spicy, cooler climate Shiraz styles of the sort Australia does so well but is so little known for. This wine, from Hilltops in New South Wales, is a full-on pepper attack at first, each twist of the grinder revealing blackberry brambles, snapped twig and all sorts of other wild, meaty aromas that are about as far from Barossa Shiraz as you can get. It’s sharp and complex and neatly avoids any sense of out-and-out aggressiveness.

The palate is both light and powerful. What stands out most for me is the way each flavour wraps around the others while remaining quite distinct; this gives the wine a sinewy, taut character that is quite thrilling. Entry is spiced and red fruited in equal measure, the flavour profile being entirely savoury and the acid prominent. While the middle palate remains light to medium bodied, there’s a good deal of flavour and its sharp, spiced profile gives the wine satisfying impact. The after palate shows some plush plum fruit alongside twigs and spice (and a hint of vanilla ice cream oak), while the finish is both delicate and long. The acid needs a little time to settle, I think, as it’s currently quite assertive, something the sharp flavour profile does not mask. Tannins are drying and loose-knit.

Still an infant, but bloody impressive nonetheless. I’ll be fascinated to revisit this in a few years’ time.

Moppity Vineyards
Price: $A60
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample