Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Two Very Highly Recommended From Down Under. Giant Steps Chardonnay and Tinpot Hut Riesling.

Two Very Highly Recommended From Down Under. 

Giant Steps Chardonnay and Tinpot Hut Riesling.


Giant Steps Chardonnay Yarra Valley 2020, 13%

€33.99 64 Wine; Avoca Handweavers Shops; Blackrock Cellar; Ely Wine Store; La Touche Wines; McHughs Off Licence - Kilbarrack Road; Mitchell & Son; Station to Station Wine; 

Giant Steps single varietals are regarded as distinctive varietal expressions from the Yarra Valley. Hand picked grapes from estate vineyards, minimal intervention winemaking at their gravity flow winery in Healesville, one hour from Melbourne.

Colour is a light and bright straw. Quite a nose with citrus and melon prominent. All nice and gentle so far. But, like an over-enthusiastic handshake, it grips the palate, getting your attention with bright fruit flavours and an unmistakeable acidity. Soon though you relax. This has loads of very easy-to-like personality, that fruit and acidity in perfect harmony all the way through to the delightfully lingering finish. A stylish and complex wine wine, it is a super introduction to the Yarra Valley and is Very Highly Recommended.

All this after a rollercoaster of a vintage in 2020, though the Yarra Valley were luckier than other parts of Australia. The Yarra began with a cool wet spring, a dry December, then a mild February, punctuated by a few significant rain events. The Yarra team were stretched. Chardonnay yields were lower than average but a consequence was that naturally high acidity and those incredible fruit flavours. It’s an ill wind…

Prior to pursuing his passion for wine, Giant Steps’ Steve Flamsteed developed many culinary passions, including cheese making, which would take him to France to study his trade. But it was after working in Beaujolais that he was inspired to become a winemaker. Steve graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1993 from Roseworthy Agricultural College. 

Prior to joining Giant Steps as Winemaker in August 2003, he worked for Leeuwin Estate in Margaret River and Yarra Burn Winery in the Yarra Valley. Steve is a Len Evans Scholar and has completed several vintages overseas, including in Alsace and Brouilly, and is an experienced show judge.

The vintage: 100% hand-picked, all fruit was chilled overnight to 12 deg C.
Whole bunch pressed, fermentation on full juice solids, wild yeast.
Fermented entirely in 500L French puncheons – 10% new, 90% older.
No lees stirring. 20% of the blend has undergone spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Matured in French oak – 10% new, 90% older – for only 8 months. It was then coarse filtered and bottled by gravity in late Spring.

Food suggestions from Giant Steps include:
Fried soft shell crab Bao, with fresh coriander and bean shoots.
Grilled fresh goats curd and olive tapenade on grilled sourdough and fresh rocket salad.
Roast crispy skin baby chicken, preserved lemon and roast garlic.
Aged Pecorino cheese drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Tinpot Hut “Turner Vineyard” Riesling (Marlborough) 2019, 9.5%

RRP € 24.99 Blackrock Cellar, Bradleys, Cashel Wine Cellar, Cinnamon Cottage, Egans Off Licence, Mitchell & Son, Searsons Wine Merchants,, World Wide Wines

The palate experience is irresistible, lively with fruit (citrus, apple) and acidity, lively but harmonious from initial sip to the long and pleasing finish. Fresh aromas of lime and grapefruit, floral notes. Pale, very pale, straw is the colour.  A marvellous Marlborough Riesling from the consistently top notch Fiona Turner, one with low ABV, and Very Highly Recommended.

Attention to detail is key. They say: Low yielding vines were monitored closely and hand-picked when the right balance of flavour and sugar ripeness was reached to produce this lower alcohol style of Riesling. The fruit was crushed and only the free run portion of the juice was retained. Specialty Riesling yeast was used for a long cool ferment. The resulting wine was then balanced and prepared for bottling under a screw cap closure to retain as much of the freshness and fruit character of the vineyard as possible.

The Tinpot Hut winery is named after the huts, famed in New Zealand sheep country, huts used by musterers as they round up the sheep who have spent Spring to Autumn in the hills. Fiona Turner, no stranger to Ireland, is the winemaker.

Liberty: Sourced from winemaker Fiona Turner's vineyard and made in small quantities, this wine displays attractive lime and grapefruit aromas and has a distinct mineral quality which is reflective of the Blind River sub-region.

Food pairing: Ideal as an aperitif and a great match for seafood, pork or with lightly spiced Thai or Chinese meals. Perfect for drinking immediately, this single vineyard Riesling will be at its best over the next 2-5 years.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Very Enjoyable Wines of the World Online Tasting With Kate Barry

Wines of the World Online Tasting

With Kate Barry

Very much enjoyed my virtual visit to the weekend’s Wines of the World Tasting with our host Kate Barry. She had three wines to go through but each was anonymous, wrapped in a brown bag, for the time being. Kate made us work (fun!) to determine what we were tasting.

But she did it so well, step by step, in simple English. No online technical hiccups here, every word from Kate was loud and clear. And there were smiles, slurps, and a few laughs, easygoing all the way, a very pleasant way indeed to learn about wine - see below for next Virtual Tasting. 

Bag No. 1, a white, was first. “We will use our senses: eyes, nose, palate.” Normally, one of the first checks is to see if the wine is corked. If there’s a “damp cardboard” sensation, you’re in trouble. But no need to worry in this case as the closure is a DIAM cork that comes with a guarantee against cork taint.

Kate holds up the first of the wine: “It is lovely and bright with a medium pale colour. Hold your glass at an angle against a sheet of white paper and you can see it’s of medium intensity, lemon with a hint of gold.” Would the nose be medium or pronounced? “Just about medium,” said Kate. Now cover your glass with a hand, swirl, smell. “Woohoo..Absolutely beautiful.” Smell now for fruit, citrus perhaps. “Lemon, lime, here.” Try now for apple and pear. Stone fruit, melon perhaps. Move on to tropical. “A hint of pineapple”. “And I think there’s a tiny bit of white pepper.”

Now we move to the palate. “Get the wine into your mouth and slurp. You’ll notice the difference!” She smiled. “The tip of the tongue will tell us whether it’s dry or not..” Are we salivating? “I think there’s a medium salivation going on, so a medium plus acidity.” Alcohol? Check the glass for legs or tears, the more tears, the more alcohol. Is there a burn at the back of the throat? “I think this is medium.”  The body? Take a sip of water (light bodied) and compare. “This is a bit more than water, so light to medium bodied.”

Now to check the flavour intensity. Medium was Kate’s verdict. Flavours include lime, lemon, green apple, a little spice, minerality (more on palate than nose) plus some stone fruit. Measure the length of the finish, how long does the flavour last? Up to five seconds is short, 5-10 medium, above 10 long.  “Eight seconds, really refreshing”. Nothing jarring here. “I think it has a loverly balance, a lovely wine. Not complex, simple and easy drinking”

So now for the reveal. Old or new world? Alcohol content? Vintage? Variety or blend? What have we been drinking? It was a Michel Lynch “Nature” Bordeaux (AOC) 2017, 12%, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, a typical blend of the region. 

Michel Lynch “Nature” Bordeaux (AOC) 2017, 12%, €16.50 Wines of the World

A lovely pale colour and silver tints, this vintage has an intense bouquet with notes of white flowers and citrus fruit. The palate fresh and harmonious, underpinned by fine intensity and noteworthy mineral tones. Grown from 100% organically grown grapes  in the Bordeaux region of France.

The wine pays tribute to Michel Lynch, one of the great names of Bordeaux wine (Irish, of course). Made from a careful selection of organically grown grapes, it contains as little sulphur as possible and has environmentally friendly packaging.

Fat Bastard Malbec Vin de France 2019, 13%, €11.50 Wines of the World

One difference between red and white wines is that red has tannins. “No tannins in white wine. Full stop!”, says Kate. “Tannins is a dry gritty sensation. Some love it, some hate it. The paler the colour, the lighter the tannin. This one is medium grippy, all integrated.”

The label says a lot here: remarkably full bodied (fat bastard), round and generous. The Fat Bastard Malbec is sourced from southern vineyards, between the Languedoc and the Gers regions. Kate took us through each of the reds in the same way as she tasted the white.

This Malbec has an intense colour with a vibrant purple hue. Elegant with aromas of black cherry and hints of vanilla and chocolate. Generous and unctuous with a delicate spicy finish. Kate: “ It’s a simple easy-drinking food wine. Lovely with a meal. Love it with a steak or Spaghetti Bolognese. Cheese too.”

A French wine created by Thierry Boudinaud, a renowned winemaker who has crafted wines from California to Chile to South Africa. It is named after a British expression describing a particularly rich and full wine.

Graham Norton’s Own Shiraz, South Australia 2017, 14.5%, €14.00 Wines of the World

The Graham Norton Shiraz is from South Australia and is a mix of fruit from different regions offering a reasonably complex, concentrated wine with a deep ruby colour. It’s a bold in aroma and on the palate, juicy wine full of character, just like the man himself! Perhaps that’s why they called it Shiraz rather than Syrah (the French name for the grape denotes, mostly, a gentler wine). 

Quite a good wine for a tasting actually. The flavours alone, mostly primary, could fill half a page of your notebook! As is often the case in Australia, the fruit comes from different areas, three in this case: “The Barossa, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek; each brings something different.”

Kate enjoyed tasting this one. “A dry wine with medium plus acidity.” She expected a high alcohol count, judging mainly by the burn at the back of throat, and she was spot on. Lots of primary fruit flavours plus some spice. Excellent finish too and well balanced. “I’m a lover of this wine and I hope you enjoyed it too.” We did, enjoyed the whole session.

Casa Silva - Live Zoom Virtual Tasting March 26th

The next live interactive virtual tasting will feature wine expert Kate Barry and Stephen Ludlam from Casa Silva. Casa Silva is Chile’s most awarded winery of the 21st Century – outstanding wines of great quality and fantastic value. It has the oldest wine cellar in the Colchagua Valley. Beneath its traditional and historic facade, however, is one of Chile’s most modern wine facilities. Should be a superb evening.  More details, including booking, here.

Kate will hold another recorded (non Zoom) tasting in mid-April. Keep an eye on the website for details. By the way, Wines of the World also do private tastings for firms and other groups.


Sunday, January 24, 2021

Two to Recommend: A Kiwi Gruner and an Aussie Shiraz.

Two to Recommend: A Kiwi Gruner and an Aussie Shiraz.

Tinpot Hut `McKee Vineyard` Gruner Veltliner Marlborough 2017 13.0% ABV

RRP € 24.99 Baggot Street Wines, Drink Store,

Very pale gold in the glass with micro bubbles clinging to the sides. Aromatic for sure, citrus prominent and subtle hints of the grape’s trademark white pepper. The lovely mouthfeel makes an immediate impression as does the lively acidity. And then the fruit, peach and nectarine, quickly begins to show in this excellent crisp wine. Terrific lip-smacking finish lingers. Very Highly Recommended.

The Tinpot Hut story began in 2003 when winemaker Fiona Turner and her husband Hamish established their own 20 hectare vineyard in Marlborough's emerging sub-region of Blind River. Naming her range of wines after a historic Marlborough mustering hut, the 'Tinpot Hut' links the area's sheep farming past with its current state as one of the world's most dynamic wine regions. 

Fruit is sourced from Fiona's 'Home Block' and is supplemented by grapes from selected vineyards (grown by the McKee family, Fiona’s friends and neighbours). Fiona is assisted by Matt Thomson, a friend and colleague with whom she has worked for many years.

Tinpot say: The 2017 growing season presented some challenges with a major earthquake in November affecting trellising at the home block. Variable weather during the flowering period in Spring delivered moderate crop levels and a cool and windy Summer required a lot of canopy manipulation. This hard work rewarded us with good quality fruit showing classic flavours and balance. Careful harvest decisions along with fast, flexible picking and good management in the winery have ensured an exciting spectrum of flavours in the harvested grapes.

Suggested pairings: Enjoy with oily seafood such as salmon and tuna or, alternatively, roasted pork and duck.

16 Stops Shiraz South Australia 2019, 14.0%, 

€ 15.99, Baggot Street Wines, Blackrock Cellar, Clontarf Wines, Drink Store, Ely Wine Store, Fresh - The Good Food Market, Jus de Vine, Station to Station Wine, The Cinnamon Cottage Cork,, World Wide Wines


This Shiraz (no messing around with Syrah here) has a crimson colour,  a little lighter towards the edge. Aromas are of dark fruit, including plum. Only a small proportion has been matured in French oak hogsheads for added complexity. And the oak supports rather than dominates on the palate which has intense fruit. The lively spice though is not as shy. Round tannins evident too as this well balanced wine proceeds smoothly to a dry finish. Quite a bit of character and Highly Recommended. Good value too by the way.

Importers Liberty: We felt it was best to invest in premium regions for our 'entry point' Australian wines. Given the quality of the fruit from which they are made, the 16 Stops wines offer tremendous value for money.The wines are made with fruit from the McLaren Vale and the Adelaide regions. They are produced alongside the Willunga 100 wines in McLaren Vale and benefit from the same expert input from Mike Farmilo.

The name 16 Stops refers to the number of stations on the railway line from Adelaide. It was built in 1915 to transport goods and people between the country town of Willunga and Adelaide. I know an Australian who would rename it as 16 Stubbies.

Friday, May 22, 2020

My name on the label. I gotta pinch myself! Jane Eyre. Winemaker in Burgundy and Australia.

My name on the label. I gotta pinch myself!
Jane Eyre. Winemaker in Burgundy and Australia.

Winemaker Jane Eyre, from Australia, operates in Burgundy and in Victoria, and told us all about working in wine in the two countries during Thursday’s Masterclass, the latest in the online series organised by Liberty Wines.

Jane Eyre is originally from Melbourne. In 1998, she had put in ten years working as a hairdresser and was looking for a change.  A conversation with a customer led her to Burgundy. But she revealed she “would have gone have  anywhere in Europe. “Just so happened I ended up in Burgundy. I loved the region, the people and the Pinot Noir. Pinot is great, it takes you somewhere, we’re all suckers for it!” 

Back in Australia, she took a job with the legendary Prince Wine Store and studied winemaking at Charles Sturt University. After working vintages at Cullen in the Margaret River, and Felton Road and Ata Rangi in New Zealand, she returned to Europe in 2003. 

Work for three months with Ernie Loosen in the Mosel led into a job in Burgundy with Domaine des Comtes Lafon in January 2004. She then took over as assistant winemaker at Domaine Newman, and has slowly developed her own négociant business, renting a small winery in Bligny-lès-Beaune with Dominique Lafon.

“I’m lucky to be able to make wine in both places, different areas in Europe and in Australia. Starting off, I was lucky to work in beautiful wineries, to meet amazing people and to get the hands-on experience. I started making my own in 2011, five barrels worth”.  

It’s back to Australia every February (“to get away from the Burgundy fog”) and here too she started making her own, again working with Pinot (check her Mornington and Gippsland). Indeed, she has now made Pinot Noir in four Australian areas, the latest being Tasmania, though that was done by great friends (Jane having had to hot-foot it on the last plane to Europe due to Covid19).

She says there’s greater freedom in the wine industry in Australia (though the ongoing phylloxera is a problem in the Yarra), prices lower when compared to Burgundy and so too is the admin! “If something goes wrong in Australia you tip it out to the pigs, but in Burgundy everything has to be accounted for. You can get tied up with admin in Burgundy, not so much in Australia.”

“I’ve got to pinch myself when I see my name on a label, especially Grand Cru. My name really is Jane Eyre and I hated it. My life wasn’t going to be anything like Jane Eyre’s. Put your own name on the label, I was told. Not very French, I thought, but in the end it went on. It’s me, my story, my wines. I probably do get a few sales because of the original Jane. Biggest market for me are England and Paris, name’s is not problem. I made it, I’m accepted, it’s incredibly satisfying. But I was lucky, only ever had help here the whole way.”

Her latest venture in France is not Pinot Noir but Gamay. And she loves the Beaujolais: “… very easy to drink… with ageing potential”. Again her luck was in when she visited Fleury in 2016, “looking for fruit” and that luck led her to Prion, a little village where a grower has “superior fruit” for sale, in an 18 year bush vine vineyard that, in 2017, somehow survived two severe hail storms (Jane’s luck again). 

“It’s fun to work with another variety and Gamay is beautiful. The growers deserve so much more there. But there are trends and fashions in wine and Beaujolais is suffering, it’s tricky to follow the market. But I love making wine in Fleurie.”

She doesn’t stand still. She’s been a long time looking to make a white in Jura and her Chardonnay, finally in bottle, “came out of the bond yesterday”. 

Liberty may have that Jura on the list in future but for the moment there is plenty from Burgundy and Australia and that lovely Chénas from Beaujolais.

Hard to keep up with Jane. She was asked about getting her own vineyard in the Q&A session. Burgundy seems out of the question, too expensive. Australia’s a “better bet”. Then again it could be Beaujolais. Or Tasmania? Wherever you end up Jane, the wine will be good. Best of luck!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

An Australian Selection. Six of the Best.

Liberty Wines. An Australian Selection

Giant Steps Yarra Valley LDR 2017, 13%, Ely Wine Store Maynooth,
LDR? It means light dry red.

Mid ruby is the colour of this LDR. LDR? It means light dry red. This one’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah (more or less fifty fifty) and is “an exciting new addition to the Yarra Valley range from 2017”. If you like  Beaujolais you’ll love this, I was told, and I’m happy to confirm. Not an exact replica of the French wine - that was hardly ever the objective - but in terms of lightness, juiciness and structure, they could well be cousins.

Red berries feature in the aromas, a touch of pepper too. Sweet ripe fruit and that pepper again on the palate, juicy and lively, with subtle tannins and a long finish, excellent structure for such a light wine. An easy quaffer, fresh and aromatic, and light of course. Just the job for the rest of the Indian summer. Very Highly Recommended.

The blend is not new in Australia and was, decades ago, prominent in the Hunter Valley. It faded but has in recent years made a comeback in the Hunter and is now on the rise in the Yarra and in other Australian regions also from Tasmania to the Clare Valley. You’ll even find one in the Yellow Tail collection. More on the blend here by Max Allen.

These wines are produced, under Chief Winemaker Steve Flamsteed, with wild ferments, gravity-flow winemaking techniques, and minimal fining and filtration. This approach produces highly expressive wines, true to the regional characteristics of the Yarra Valley. The Giant Steps Yarra Valley range also includes Chardonnay, Rosé, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.

Cullen Wilyabrup Margaret River “Amber” 2017, 12.3%, Baggot Street Wines, €39.99
Sauvignon Blanc like never before. 

Looking at the orange colour, you expect it to be sweet. But it’s the exact opposite.  This is the kind of wine we’ve come to expect from the likes of Pheasant’s Tears from Georgia (Italy too, eg La Stoppa’s Ageno) but this comes from Western Australia and, yes, they have used amphora, stainless steel and oak too though.

They being the Cullens whose winery in Wilyabrup was one of the first in Margaret River when it started in 1971. It has always been a pioneer, especially on its journey to being verified biodynamic (2004) and also to being Carbon Neutral (2006).

The general idea behind orange wines is to make a white wine like a red, fermented on the skins. It is complex, with lemon, kumquat, orange blossom and hints of honey. Textured and concentrated on the palate with great length and persistence, with a gentle saltiness at the finish.

And so it is. Like the name says, it is amber, more or less, in colour. Aromas with strong citrusy elements and the light scent of honey. Complex and concentrated fruit on the palate and then that long finish. Did I get a touch of grass there? Maybe I did, but this is Sauvignon Blanc like never before. 

Cullens reckon it will pair well with a wide variety of food; we were thinking here that it could be great with scallops. Wouldn’t it be interesting to try those scallops with this and a regular Sauvignon Blanc at the same time!

For all the intense colour and complex aromas and hints of honey, this rich and elegant wine is definitely dry with something close to a tannic finish (you notice it as your lips dry!).Very Highly Recommended and a must try. There will be more of these coming down the line.

Cullens tell us that the grapes were left on skins and fermented partially before being pressed. The length of skin contact with the must ranged from two days to one month depending on the grape/parcel. The fruit was fermented in different vessels: open-top fermentation tanks, closed tanks as well as amphora which explains the many layers and complexity in this wine. 79% of the wine spent four months in new Tonnellerie Bordelaise and Louis Latour oak barrels.

“Winemaking is now in the hands of Vanya Cullen, daughter of the founders; she is possessed of an extraordinarily good palate. It is impossible to single out any particular wine from the top echelon; all are superb.” – James Halliday

Willunga 100 Grenache Rosé McLaren Vale 2018, 14%, Baggot Street Wine, Grapevine, Jus de Vine,, JJ O’Driscolls €18.99

The winery tells us fruit (100% Grenache) for this McLaren Vale rosé is sourced from 60-year old bush vines, which gives the wine “beautiful concentration and its classic strawberry and red cherry aromas”. Not too many rosés have that kind of provenance and, according to Wine Atlas of Australia, “the region makes the best Grenache in Australia”. Indeed, the focus in the Willunga 100 vineyard is very much on Grenache.

Peachy pink is the colour (agreed, eventually). Delicate aromatics, reminiscent of a cut cantaloupe melon rather than the expected strawberry and cherry. But there are certainly strawberry flavours on the fresh and lovely palate, quite a viscous mouthfeel as well. All in all a gorgeous and fairly dry drop all the way through to the fresh finish. You’ll find it hard to better this one. Highly Recommended.

Willunga 100 Grenache McLaren Vale 2016, 14.5%, Willunga 100 Grenache McLaren Vale 2016
Ely Wine Bar, Fallon & Byrne Wine Cellar Retail Wine, Jus de Vine, O Briens Wine Off Licence, Finian Sweeney,, JJO’Driscolls €18.99
Grenache from "a fantastic year"

2016 is considered to be a fantastic year for McLaren Vale, especially for Grenache. Again the fruit for this one comes from old bush vines. It is indeed an excellent wine, succulent and complex, and Very Highly Recommended

Mid ruby is the colour. Aromas of rich and ripe red and darker fruit. And the palate too is rich, warm and somewhat spicy. Fresh and supple; silky tannins play a role, as the hot summer and the influence of the oak combine in a pleasant and lingering finish. Willunga 100 may not have made it onto the pages of Wine Atlas of Australia but it gets its own page in my book. Chalk it down.

The wine was matured using a combination of older French oak barrel and steel tanks to preserve the purity of fruit, while adding complexity and mid-palate richness. Following maturation, the wine is blended and bottled under screw-cap to maintain freshness and ensure longevity.

Plantagenet  Three Lions Chardonnay Great Southern (Western Australia) 2017, 13.2%,  
64 Wine,, Cinnamon Cottage, €20.99
Cool nights. Cool Wine!

A combination of winemaking techniques* and the effects of the cooling night time breeze from the southern ocean climate results in a Chardonnay that is complex and yet fruit driven with an acidity that delivers great persistence and a hint of minerality. You read that on the label. 

The vineyard, in Mount Barker (a sub region of the Great Southern you see on the label), is a few hours east of the better known Margaret River and is particularly noted for its Riesling.

Colour of this unoaked Chardonnay is light yellow with green tints. Peach and blossom in the pleasant delicate aromas. A surprisingly strong attack, fruit-driven (lime, lemon), with cool and lively acidity in tandem; finish is lip-smacking and persistent. 

Plantagenet - the winery is named after a shire established by early English settlers - is now a self-sufficient winery. All their wines are now being made from estate fruit and this label showcases this fruit. As well as this Highly Recommended Chardonnay, you'll find Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Cabernet/Merlot. 

Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling Clare Valley 2018, 11.5%, The Corkscrew (previous vintage)
James Redmond & Sons,, €29.99
Sweet. And Special from Stephanie.

This intensely sweet wine is one of the best. Yet one may well ask what the hell is Cordon Cut! Here’s the answer, from the source: The underlying principle of this special wine is that the canes are completely severed and the bunches of grapes are left hanging on the vine. This causes them to shrivel like raisins, naturally concentrating the flavour.

Pour it from its neat very slim half-bottle and you’ll note it is pale to mid gold in the glass. Floral and citrus (lemon, lime) in the aromas, quite intense. On the palate, it is exquisite, clean and precise, definitely sweet (Cordon Cut also concentrates the sugars) though not of the sticky cloying type, lots of sweet fruit juice at play though, yet beautifully harmonious with a persistent and pleasing finish, particularly on a disappointing showery August Bank Holiday evening. 

A dessert wine but you won’t really need one with this. Produced from single-vineyard low-yielding Riesling vines, this is Very Highly Recommended.

Sourced entirely from her organic Watervale vineyard, this is Stephanie Toole’s 26th vintage of this outstanding dessert wine. This, from an an outstanding vintage, is one of the great Australian wines. By the way, Mount Horrocks are also noted for their Semillon, Shiraz, Cabernet Merlot and Riesling, all first-class wines according to Wine Atlas.

Monday, May 27, 2019

A Riesling to remember and a Chardonnay with a difference

Let the drums and trumpets sound for this outstanding German Riesling. The label does it well: A Riesling dry in style and well balanced like its Rheingau predecessors from the glorious age of Riesling a century ago: a contemporary classic and a perfect partner for many foods.

Don’t know anything about the Rieslings of a century ago but this light gold coloured wine is a gem for sure. Intense aromas of apple and pear indicate a good year in the Rheingau, a year for the grape to flourish. And that’s soon confirmed on the palate with its crisp acidity and yellow stone fruit (peach, apricot), a striking minerality too maintained to the persistent finish. Very Highly Recommended. No wonder Wilhelm Weil considers it as one of the best he has produced in 30 years (reported by none other than an enthusiastic Robert Palmer). 

You can hardly talk of Riesling without mentioning acidity and minerality. In his book Reading Between the Wines, Terry Theise says "Acidity is innate to the berry". "Minerality, " he continues, "is inherent to Riesling, because the variety is, in its essence, more mineral than fruit. The Riesling genre is one of a mineral-tasting wine into which are woven various strands of fruit, depending on site and vintage."

Fruity, tangy, yet charming and harmonious, you’ll find it this Weil typically versatile at the table. A couple of suggestions, one “a merry table companion to a wide range of cuisines” and another, this via Google Translate, “goes brilliantly with fried fish, poultry and Asian dishes. But even without banqueting - he can sip excellent …"

The Mornington Peninsula, just over an hour south of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, is perfectly suited to growing Chardonnay and “a foremost region” too for Pinot Gris”. Chardonnay here though, according to Halliday’s Wine Atlas of Australia, “is markedly different from any other Chardonnay produced in Australia”.

Stonier was established here in 1978 and are noted for their Burgundian style cool climate wines. The vineyards overlooks the ocean. Chardonnay is a signature wine for Stonier and this is a gem.

It has a yellow colour, with green tints. The aromas are gentle, of exotic fruits. Even the background flavours are delicate with melon and citrus to the fore. There is excellent texture, a pleasant creaminess, and complementary acidity. And it boasts a long and distinctive finish too. Delicious and satisfying, this is well made, harmonious and Highly Recommended.