What’s in the glass tonight July 26th – A Calibration Shiraz


Yalumba Patchwork 2014

Off Topic: Yalumba Patchwork Barossa Shiraz Barossa 2015 – $

The June 2017 issue of Decanter included a review of Australian value Shiraz, defined by the price point spread of GBP10 – GBP20.

Aha! Now, it isn’t that common for me to be able to buy wine that this magazine usually reviews, cos geography / tyranny of distance, but in this case there were a couple of wines I saw I could pick up from my local supermarket. I recognised this was a splendid opportunity for me to compare and calibrate my scoring palate against the crack team of drinkers that the magazine assembled to do this Aussie tasting. And not too expensive either!

So I picked this Yalumba, and noted the scores given, and set about to assess the quality of the wine myself, and also see if I saw the same tastes and aromas that the judges wrote of…

Firstly tho, DWWA regional Chair Anthony rose wrote in the preamble, “Broadly speaking, there are three main styles: the traditional hot-climate inland region and Barossa style with powerful, super-ripe fruit and high alcohol; the more restrained, spicy reds of the milder regions like Mclaren Vale and Clare Valley and slightly cooler Yarra, Heathcote and Coonawarra; and the perfumed peppery intensity and blackberry elegance of Mount Barker in the west, Adelaide Hills, Canberra and the Grampians.

The latest trends reflect the objectives of creating both more refreshingly drinkable Shiraz and wines that express their origins.”

So, to the wine…served non blind, with the magazine review compared non-blind also

Deep carmine colour. 13.5% alcohol.

Soft and fruity aromas of oak and spice, dark fruits, smells bright.

Soft texture and quite Rhone-like flavour and structure, ripe fruit, good level of extract, some attractive complexity and layering on mid-palate, silky tannin, reasonably long finish. A rewarding example. L liked it.

I would have scored this a solid 88 points. Towards the lower end of the Decanter trio of scores, but certainly not a 92 as one judge called it.

Comparing the tasting notes, I was trying hard with no luck to see blueberries on the nose, and I thought the wine too dark and rich to show cherries. I did detect a slight stalk flatness, so the comment of a herbaceous top note seemed on point. On palate I saw the pepper (white) (natch, this is Shiraz..) but not the marzipan, unless this is confused for vanillin. I agreed with the Rhone-like comment.

What’s in the glass tonight July 2nd – Syrah blend


Kloof Street 2014

Off Topic: Kloof Street Swartland Rouge Swartland SA 2014 – $$

This is a rouge blend from the Swartland region of South Africa, a province in the Western Cape some 50km north of Cape Town. Swartland is the anglicised name for “Het Zwarte Land” (the Black Land) named for the colour of the endemic Renosterbos flowering shrub (Elytropappus rhinocerotis).

The wine consists of 86% Syrah, 5% Grenache, 4% Carignan, 2% Mourvedre, 2% Tinta barocca and 1% Cinsault. A proper southern Rhone-style blend, this.

13.5 % alc. Deep ruby colour.

Lightly floral to the nose, with dusty dark fruits, spice, vanilla, and bush honey.

A rustic honest red to taste, somewhat lean and angula in the fruit department. There was acid freshness at the death. Quite long, and hot on the back of the throat. Persistent note of tobacco leaf. I expect this will soften over the next 24 hours and round out.

An attractive wine.

Recommended 87 points

What’s in the glass tonight June 22nd – Merlot Syrah Cabernets


IMG_20170622_184310_processed

Ata Rangi Celebre Martinborough 2014 – $$$

This is a long-time favourite local red for me. A bright red blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc fruit grown on the Martinborough Terrace, and matured in 20% new oak.

Deep plum purple colour. 13% alc.

Soft, round and opulent on the nose. A savoury character up front, then opens to reveals oak, plums, and spice.

Sweetness on entry, fine-grained tannins in the mid-palate, and fresh acidity on the finish. Fruit flavours are restrained, not as ripe as the ’13, and slightly leafy.

A fine, expressive wine.

Recommended 89 points

What’s in the glass tonight January 31st – Riesling


craggy-range-te-muna-riesling-2014

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Riesling Martinborough 2014 – $$

Pale gold colour. 11.5% alc.

Steely cut-thru on the nose, crisp and ticklish, with scents of lemon and apple and a bit of clover honey.

Off dry. Austere and linear, with crisp citrus fruit flavours, short and sharp. Young and somewhat one-dimensional, but good for the heat of a summer’s afternoon, something that this season has been in short supply of.

Commended  – 84 points

What’s in the glass tonight January 7th – Syrah


elephant-hill-syrah-2014

Elephant Hill Syrah Te Awanga Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$

Deep dark carmine. 13.5% alc.

A big, rich and expressive aroma. Plums, savoury with vanilla and white pepper, balsa wood and spice, and a hint of funk.

The flavours show sweet on entry, with rich dark fruit through themed-palate and supple tannins with just enough grip to balance the floral nose, and heat and length at the finish.

This is such a good wine I can really see the kinship this grape has with Pinot Noir. A heady nose paired with a feminine quality on the palate. Sophisticated, delicate fruit with a good core of weight.

Highly Recommended  – 93 points

What’s in the glass tonight January 4th – Syrah


bilancia-syrah-2014

Bilancia Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$

Deep dark carmine colour. 13% alc. This Syrah is a blend of three vineyards, 25% La Collina and the remainder from two vineyards located in the Bridge Pa Triangle, plus about 3% Viognier. I like it when Viognier is in the mix – it adds perfume.

There was an expectant savoury nose, with scents of ripe plums, pencils, black pepper, and red roses.

On drinking I noticed the usual rich red fruit flavours, plus there was a confectionery character through the mid palate, with vanilla over-laid, and a peppery finish, long and soft. Medium tannins. I also saw a salty element, and licorice.

Recommended  – 89 points

What’s in the glass tonight December 30th – Merlot Malbec


elephant-hill-merlot-malbec-2014

Elephant Hill Merlot Malbec Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$$

From grapes off Gimblett Gravels and Bridge Pa Triangle vineyards, taasted and bought at the Te Awanga winery. Inky scarlet colour. 13.5% alc.

While 2013 was good for ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 was a good year for Merlot.

This wine showed an expressive bold hit of perfume, soft fruit, plums and vanilla. A gorgeous nose; savoury and smoky.

Rich ripe fruit on the front of the palate, plenty of fruit weight through the middle, supple tannins and a pleasant brusqueness at the finish. Mouthcoating and long.

Highly Recommended – 94 points

What’s in the glass tonight December 8th – Syrah


church-road-syrah-2014

Church Road Syrah Hawkes Bay 2014 – $

Inky carmine colour. 13.5% alc.

Michael Cooper rated this wine his best red buy for 2017. He wrote of it, “sturdy, richly flavoured, sharply priced red is not to be missed.  ‘Serious’ but highly approachable, it is mouthfilling, with an array of blackcurrant, plum, spice and nut flavours, hints of black pepper and licorice, and excellent concentration, ripeness and complexity”.

I have to agree. This wine has a beautiful nose, layered, fruity and savoury in equal parts. Softness, with plums and white pepper, vanilla and chocolate. Lots going on, and ‘serious’.

The wine tasted soft and robust, with dense rich fruit, mid-weighted with medium tannin and spice. Well-built, mouth-filling and long, with unctuous umami components and a white pepper finish. The best CR base-level Syrah yet. Superb.

Highly Recommended – 92 points

What’s in the glass tonight November 24th – Shiraz


barossa-valley-estate-cab-sav-2014

Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz Barossa Valley South Australia 2014

A gift from the outlaws on my birthday. Thanks!

Inky carmine. 14% alc.

A rich nose, with scents of dark chocolate, vanilla and oak, ripe black plums, and a brace of boxes – cigar and cardboard.

Big in the mouth, and very attractive. Rich flavours, fresh, with a deep fruit intensity, and a sweet finish.

Very nice.

Highly Recommended – 90 points

What’s in the glass tonight Nov 4th- Chardonnay


cr-kv-sv-chardonnay-2014

Craggy Range SV Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay Hawkes Bay 2014 – $$

I reckon that the 2014 vintage in the Bay was just as good for Chardonnay as the much-heralded 2013 vintage. And this wine is a good reference point for that claim.

Medium brilliant straw colour. 13% alc. From Te Awanga near Cape Kidnappers.

Toasty oak and mealy aromas. Ripe golden stonefruit. Good density. Elegance and lightness of touch.

Plenty of ripe fruit flavours, extract and sweetness on entry. The citrus freshness you need to see in a good modern oaked Chardonnay is balanced and provides the necessary structure on the mid-palate to avoid flabbiness and bland-ness. Good length in the finish, and no bitterness that might indicate a lack of extract. A delicious and rewarding drop.

92 points