Back on deck

After an interesting few days stewarding at the Sydney Royal Wine Show, I’m back and hope to get some more notes up soon.

Watching the judging process was illuminating in all sorts of ways, and humbling with respect to my own efforts here. Certainly, I’m reminded that I’ve an enormous amount still to learn. There is, I hope, a corresondingly enormous amount for me to enjoy too.

Mount Ida Shiraz 2001

An older Shiraz from one of Australia’s more renowned regions for this variety, Heathcote in Victoria. This wine is, interestingly, sealed under Stelvin, which is somewhat unusual for red wines of this age. Although Mount Ida is a famous vineyard in Heathcote, I’m not especially familiar with its output, so this tasting was quite exploratory for me.

A savoury nose, some volatility, with earthy minerals, some astringent eucalyptus, roasted meats, slightly edgy oak. Far from a fruit bomb, this one. I find the nose complex and a little challenging in its angularity. 
The entry has good impact and delivers flavour early in the wine’s line. There are lots of distinct flavours here and, unusually for me, I found myself identifying a fair few. At last count, we have: pepper, sappy vanilla oak, some sweet leathery bottle age, dusty dark fruit, some cedar and slight ecualyptus character, plus a dash of sweet granite-like minerality. Phew. It’s medium bodied and presents its flavours assertively. It’s also curiously flat and almost cartoonish in its “surface level view” of flavour. The wine lacks a sense of depth and stuffing that, even in a lighter red, assures continued interest beyond any initial impact. So, despite a lot of qualities usually regarded as positive (complexity, intensity, distinctiveness) I wasn’t especially drawn to the wine’s flavour profile or structure. Fine tannins help the wine’s dry finish to linger well.
This wine (or perhaps this bottle) isn’t really my style, although some elements of the flavour profile (the minerality in particular) are pleasing. The other half loved it.
Mount Ida (Fosters)
Price: $A30
Closure: Stelvin
Date tasted: July 2008

A new look

You will no doubt have noticed that we’ve updated the way we look here at Full Pour. We hope the site is more readable and, in general, easier on the eye. If only it were so easy to refresh one’s liver, too. Feel free to send us feedback on our new design!

Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Napa Valley 2005

Light scents of pineapple and Bosc pear drift out of the glass; the color if the wine is a sun-dappled, honey, golden straw. This is exactly the kind of a wine a prop manager could use for an 80s soap opera: imagine the reflection on the shoulder pads of the protagonist’s pantsuit, and you’re almost there.There’s no yeastiness to speak of, but there is a certain creaminess to the smell of the wine that’s very well judged. On the other hand, the wine seems to tends towards tropical fruits that don’t seem quite right for (what’s mostly) Carneros grown fruit; something smells like it’s been manipulated just a bit too much here.In the mouth, the first impression is of a wine that’s a bit flabby, but there’s jarring acidity somewhere in there as well; it’s all just slightly off balance. It seems bigger than it ought to be, with sort of a dead fruit effect: on the other hand, there are distinctive hints of good quality winemaker taste in there, presumably due to bâtonnage, barrel fermentation, and other tricks. On the whole, my best guess is that this is focus grouped to death. There are traces of a really lovely wine in here, to be sure, but on the whole it seems to have been teased out to more closely match the (bestselling) style guide that’s used to make stuff like Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve chardonnay… and I find that really depressing, because the elements for a strong, traditional California chardonnay are here: good fruit, well judged oak, and ripeness. The problem is simply that they appear to have tacked on the stuff they think will sell well (a certain sucrosité, a certain broadness), and it really doesn’t belong here.If anyone knows what this wine was like before the Canandaigua takeover, I’d love to know about it.Robert Mondavi WineryPrice: US $14Closure: CorkDate tasted: May 2008

A blind tasting of some coffee liqueurs

I really don’t know what they are. Chris poured them into little South African wine tasting glasses. [Ed: These notes are in random order; the tasting glasses came from South African wineries, hence the names below.]”Fairview”:
creamy coffee, good mouth feel. There’s a nice low subtle bass note and
a hint of vanilla. It feels sophisticated; I can see drinking this
straight up when I want to feel mellow and curl up and read a fluffy
travel book. My favorite.”Bouchard Finlayson”: hot alcohol,
some coffee flavor, lingering finish of burnt coffee beans. Not all
that attractive, it tastes like the bourbon I drank in 9th grade out of
a styrofoam cup with John Zebala and Mike Matsuda one night and it
compelled us to write bad haiku on my brother’s underwear. The one I
liked the least.”Neil Ellis”: Toffee more than coffee, but not
in a bad way. Tastes like a high quality Chinese Kahlua knockoff that’s
served in a low rent Macau gambling den.”Groot Constantia”:
more cream; moderate coffee flavor–and that coffee flavor is almost
minty. Call this “Nestle International Coffee Liqueur” , it’d go great
in some hot chocolate drinkypoo at some Canadian ski lodge with whipped
cream and cinnamon on top and one of those tubular cookies that looks
like a taquito.[After Dan wrote up his notes, I let him know which glasses had which coffee liqueurs: Fairview was Kahlúa ($15), Bouchard Finlayson was Kahlúa Especial ($18), Neil Ellis was Starbucks coffee liqueur ($17), and Groot Constantia was Trader Vic’s Kona Coffee Liqueur ($12).]

Bonny Doon DEWN Central Coast Viognier 2003

First of all, it’s a mistake to even think about drinking this wine straight from the fridge. I mean, seriously? Cold, this wine tastes no different than that bottle of Inglenook Chablis that your Mom had in her fridge back in the 1970s: no smell, no taste, no nothing.Given enough time to warm back up again, this wine smells of beeswax, honey, Marconi almonds, Bosc pears, jasmine, ginger, and maybe even tonka bean. Wild. To be perfectly honest, this wine really seems to be heading in the direction of a Tahbilk marsanne: eminently strange, not as floral as you feared, and altogether delightful. [As it turns out, the wine is actually more of a fake Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc – it’s only 80% Viognier, with a bunch of other stuff in there as well – marsanne, roussanne, and grenache blanc.]In the mouth, virtually none of the stereotypical viognier oiliness is there on the attack, but the wine fans out in the mouth to end on a rich, full note. There’s definite spice and not a whit of sweetness; this wine is SERIOUS BUSINESS. With some air, it began to remind me of salt water taffy: sea air mixed with the promise of sweetness and honeycomb, with a salty tang, some spice, and almost a hint of violet leaves. On the whole, this is one of those rare Bonny Doon wines that is an unqualified success on its own terms: this tastes like something that could only have been made in California, and it’s all the better for it.Bonny Doon VineyardPrice: US $20Closure: StelvinDate tasted: March 2008