Showing posts with label Morambro Creek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Morambro Creek. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Raise Your Hat to Syrah! Praise Too The Shiraz.

Raise Your Hat to Syrah!
Praise Too The Shiraz.

Syrah is one the best known grapes in the world. The origins of this dark-skinned red have been widely debated but, according to, its modern viticultural home is unquestionably the northern Rhone Valley of eastern France. In Australia, Syrah is overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) known as Shiraz, and is regarded as the country's national grape.

There is a wee chapel dedicated to St Christopher on the top of Hermitage in the Rhone. But was it St Patrick who started Syrah’s rise to world fame? In Grapes and Wine (published 2015), the story that the Irish saint planted the first wines on the famous cnoc as he made his way to the island monastery of Lérins is raised.

Another famous visitor to the area was Alexandre Dumas. “In 1834, Alexandre Dumas travelled to the South of France along with his friend Jadin, arriving one evening at Tain-l’Hermitage. ‘On entering the hotel, I took Jadin over to the window and invited him to raise his hat to the hill that towered over the town. This Jadin did, and when I told him that these were the slopes of the Hermitage, he took it upon himself to raise his hat a second time.’ “  The above quote is from About Our Wines (a Cotes du Rhone booklet).

Wayne Thomas Shiraz 2004 (McLaren Vale), 14.5%, €26.80 Karwig Wines

Twelve years old but still displaying a great depth of colour, dark with only a slight lightening at the rim; legs slow to slide down. Aromas of berries and spice. Superb rich fruit and spice on the palate too, oak is well integrated and a long finish. Robust and balanced or, as his son said, Big and ballsy! This is more or less perfect and Very Highly Recommended.

Get on down to Karwig’s, or just go online, while they still have some of it. Sadly, Wayne Thomas died in 2007 and though his son is a winemaker he operates not in the McLaren but in the Hunter Valley.

Wayne “Thommo” Thomas was quite a character and you may read a tribute to him here.

Clairmont Classique rouge Crozes-Hermitage 2008, 13%, €22.50 Karwig Wines
This one hundred per cent Syrah (from vines over 30 years old) has a purple colour, slightly less so towards the rim; legs slow to clear. Red fruits are prominent in the aromas. Again, good fruit, some spice too on the palate, smooth with fine tannins, excellent balance and long finalé. Somewhat more restrained than the Thomas and also Very Highly Recommended.

The producers indicate that this red Crozes-Hermitage will pair well with grilled lamb, cold meat or roast turkey. Aged, it will be a great match to any kind of stew.                                        

Much larger than the prestigious Hermitage appellation which it surrounds, Crozes-Hermitage is also much more prolific.

Morambro Creek Shiraz 2008 (Padthaway, Australia), 14.5%, €23.40 Karwig Wines

The Bryson family “employ sustainable environmentally friendly viticulture” and “meticulous traditional winemaking”. It all adds up to gems like this!

It is purple in colour, a little less so at the rim, legs slow to clear. Ripe fruits and more in the aromas, blackcurrant for sure. Expansive on the palate, full of fruit and spice, yet great harmony there too, soft and balanced with a hint of sweetness, the wood is well integrated and you have a long and pleasant finish. Another excellent Shiraz and Very Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My Nicely Judged Australian Trio. Not Full-on At All.

My Nicely Judged Australian Trio
Not Full-on At All

Top wine writer, Hugh Johnson (he’ll be in Ballymaloe for the Lit-fest) has noted how Australian wine has changed from "full-on" to "nicely-judged". Reckon I’ve got a trio of the latter here. Enjoy!

Chris Pfeiffer in Cork

Pfeiffer Carlyle Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, 14.5%, €19.85 Karwig Wine

First, a geography lesson. The Pfeiffer winery is located in the parish of Carlyle in the Rutherford Glen area of Victoria in Australia. I met Chris Pfeiffer in Cork a few years ago and he is very proud of his area and of its wines and named this wine after his parish. You may read about Chris in Cork here.

This purple Cabernet Sauvignon is excellent. The nose is a strikingly rich mix of red fruits and violets. The palate too is rich, concentrated and smooth, hints of sweetness and then a long and slow finalé. Best in the parish? The wine-making neighbours, 40 miles or so away, may have something to say about that! But this is a lovely wine and Very Highly Recommended.

Pfeiffers are well known for their stickies (sweet wines). The Wine Atlas of Australia suggests that Christopher’s Vintage Port is the one of the best. Interestingly, the Pfeiffer website doesn't mention the word Port, diplomatically calling it Christophers VP.
With David Bryson (left) at a Cork tasting

Morambro Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Padthaway (Australia), 14.5%, €23.40 Karwig Wines

The Bryson family established Morambro Creek in 1994 and their signature wine, according to James Halliday, is the Bryson Barrel Select (Shiraz, Cabernet). They also own the Jip Jip Rocks and Mt Monster vineyards, both also in Padthaway.

I met David Bryson (5th generation) in Cork in 2013 and, as it happens, had a taste of this very wine. David said it is selected from a small number of outstanding barrels each vintage. Traditional wine-making and minimal processing feature strongly in the making of “this Cabernet derived from our estate vineyard”.

The nose, typical of the area, is fragrant and more expressive than the Carlyle. It also has a purple colour. On the palate, it is superb, lush and intense, some spice too. The tannins are fine and soft. The power and smoothness is a delicious delight and the finish is persistent. Overall, a great balance. It impressed two years ago and impressed again the other night. Very Highly Recommended, for sure! You'll probably notice that it comes in a rather heavy bottle!

Padthaway, on the Limestone Coast, is the area in which you’ll find the vineyards that David and his brothers, Paul and Andrew, look after. Their parents, Clive and Elizabeth, built the wine business up over the past half century before handing over to their three sons. Since 1851, five generations of the Bryson family have been involved in agriculture in the area.

Katnook Founder's Block Chardonnay 2012 €17.99 (down now to 15.95) Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork

The recent Australia Day tasting in Dublin illustrated once again how the country’s Chardonnay has found redemption in recent years. Once big and brash and off-putting (remember the ABC!), now it is much more subtle and so much the better for it. And Katnook is a splendid example of what you can expect nowadays.

Katnook had quite a selection on the Findlater stand in Dublin but I had already bought my own Chardonnay in Bradley’s, thanks to the advice of their Michael Creedon. A small proportion has been barrel fermented, then matured on its lees for six months and the wine is made “in a fruit forward style for everyday drinking”.

With its subtle oak tones from the barrel fermentation, its good concentration and long finish, this is an elegant solution if you want a well-made well-priced Chardonnay. And even better value now with two euro off. Katnook is, like Deakin Estates, owned by Spanish Cava producer Freixenet.

It has an attractive straw colour with white fruit aromas (peach and nectarine) evident. There is a smooth flow of white fruit onto the palate, a rich mouthfeel, those oak hints too, good acidity, balanced all the way to the the end of the lingering finish. Highly Recommended.

See blog post from the Australia Day Tasting in Dublin here