Wine News Ė December
By Franz Scheurer
Tahbilk 1860 Shiraz Ė 2002
Tahbilk, one of Australiaís most historic and beautiful wineries hugs over 11km of river frontage in the Nagambie Lakes region. The name comes from tabilk-tabilk (place of many waterholes) and it was established in 1860. Still in private hands to this day, they produce a fantastic array of wines, just think of the iconic Marsanne (a grape variety that only exists in France, Switzerland, America and Australia) and this Shiraz, made from the fruit of pre-phylloxera 1860 ungrafted rootstock, is proof of the great things the team at Tahbilk are capable of. The 2002 Shiraz needs a little time to breathe. Itís young, juicy, fruit driven and a very big wine indeed. It opens up beautifully in the glass and although it will mature for decades it is quite drinkable now (if you really have to). I would put it up there alongside Australian icon wines like Hill of Grace or Penfoldís enigmatic Grange. Itís as interesting and as challenging, albeit quite a lot cheaper.
Next time you browse the Ďrareí section in your bottle store, be on the lookout for the Tahbilk packaging, you canít miss it.
Yalumba FDW (7c) Chardonnay 2006
FDW is Yalumba-speak for fine dry white and 7c is a specific batch of Chardonnay, making this a tight, citrus-heavy, cool climate dry white from the Adelaide Hills. Using only juice from Bernard clones 76 and 95 this is a modern, dry Chardonnay rooted in tradition with modern elegance thrown in for good measure. This might just be the way Australian Chardonnay is heading; we certainly hope so. Lots of citrus on the nose with preserved lemon the predominant aroma. On the palate its mouth-filling texture contrasts perfectly with the rather austere acid of the wine. A herbaceous note makes its presence known mid palate and it finishes clean and refreshing. At a RRP of $ 23.95 this is a superb wine.
For more information go to: http://www.yalumba.com.au
Dog Ridge Cadenzia Grenache 2005
This Grenache is from McLaren vale and looks a lot darker than expected, probably a direct result of the biodiversity and sustainable viticultural practices employed at the Dogridge Ďthe Diggsí vineyard. It is a rich, full-bodied red that shows Grenache in a new light: bigger, bolder and much more interesting. A food wine it marries well with game and is a superb match to a Swiss GruyŤre. For more information go to: http://www.dogridge.com.au
Cascade Premium Light
Generally, despite the obvious advantages of low alcohol, I donít like light beers. It seems that the level of alcohol directly affects the taste. Cascadeís Premium Light is 2.7% a/v and feels like a much more full-bodied beer. Itís quite yeasty, with good malt and hops flavours and although I wouldnít want to make this my every day beer, the fact that I can drink it and enjoy it, means itís a great beer for the festive season. Drink responsibly or find yourself a driver.
2008 Amberley Semillon & Seafood Event
Over two days Margaret River Semillon will be the star at the picturesque winery grounds of Amberley to the rocking tones of Mark Seymour, lead singer of the Hunters & Collectors for 18 years. A one-day Marquee General Admission ticket is $130 per person and includes a commemorative glass. Gold Leaf tickets are $160 per person and include prime veranda or pond seating, complimentary canapťs, vintage sparkling on arrival and a commemorative glass. For more information go to: www.amberleyestate.com.au or contact the winery on (08) 9750 1111
Angus The Bull Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Itís not often that I recommend a ĎWine of Australiaí, a denomination that sends warning signals to my palate. However Hamish MacGowan, Angus The Bullís creator blends fruit from Victoria and South Australia and creates a full-bodied, dark wine that never looses sight of the fruit flavours and ads a terrific savoury note in the mid-palate to keep the drinker interested. Strong tannins indicate this is primarily a food wine and caramelised, meaty flavours certainly enhance it.
For more information go to: http://www.angusthebull.com
Knappstein Riesling 2007†
The label states Clare Valley Hand Picked Riesling and itís typical for the area. Knappstein occupies the original Enterprise Brewery, a National Trust building and well-known landmark in the Clare township. The wine maker, Paul T. Smith obviously believes in old-fashioned techniques and minimal interference. The wine is clean, fresh, minerally and displays floral aromas, confirmed on the palate and reinforced by load of citrus flavours and a medium, high acid finish. This is a great food wine and it loves freshly shucked oysters with a drop of freshly squeezed lemon. RRP $20.99
For more information go to: http://www.knappstein.com.au
Climbing Pinot Gris 2007
I love Pinot Gris where the slight pink hue has not been stripped out. Itís a bit like chill-filtering in spirits, when you remove specific characteristics you also remove taste. The cool summer nights and cold winters shape the wines of Orange and this is no exception. Aromas of apples and pears tantalize your nose and the pears persist on the palate. Add a hint of orange zest, some dried apricot and a tight structure and a long, creamy finish and you have a terrific white wine that will work as a stand-alone and as a food wine. RRP $ 19.99
For more information go to: http://www.climbingwines.com.au
Voyager Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2007
The Margaret River region seems ideally suited for Australiaís Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend. A blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Semillon this is a fresh, clean wine, reflecting its coastal terroir and the red, gravely soils. You can almost smell the surf and the wild flowers as the aromas of this wine hit your nose. On the palate it is a little more austere than expected but pairs beautifully with fresh, steamed asparagus and sauce verte. RRP $ 24
For more information go to: http://www.voyagerestate.com.au
Brandís Laira Merlot 2005
Not another Merlot! But truth be known I really enjoy this wine. A wet 204 winter and fine spring conditions led to early bud burst and excellent shoot growth. Cooler conditions during flowering resulted in lower than average yields, however, the near optimal mild and dry conditions throughout March and April led to the production of fruit with good varietal character and rich, ripe flavour concentration. Itís much darker than expected with aromas of blackberries and tar (almost like a Nebiolo) and flavours of stewed prunes, blue vein cheese, caramelised onions and trumpet mushrooms and a long, smooth and soft finish. This is a complex wine, mirroring the vines of the oldest vineyard in Coonawarra and proving once and for all that this is not just a Cabernet Sauvignon area and for under $40 per bottle this is a steal.
For more information go to: http://www.mcwilliams.com.au
Mountadam Barossa Shiraz 2006
A blend of 60% peppery cool climate Eden Valley fruit and 40% of liquorice-laden Barossa fruit this wine is aged for 14 months in small, French barriques and displays lots of spice and plum characters without being overblown or berry. Itís weighing in at 13.7% a/v and combined with a soft tannin structure itís perfect from drinking now and itís one of the few Australian Shiraz that works perfectly with roasted duck. Try it instead of a Pinot Noir.
For more information go to: http://www.mountadam.com.au
Williams Crossing Chardonnay 2006
Philip Moraghan at Curly Flat makes some pretty terrific wines. His Curly Flat Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are outstanding examples of the terroir of the Macedon Ranges in Victoria. But itís his second label, the Williams Crossing, that really made me sit up and take notice this year. Itís a gorgeous Chardonnay, not too austere, with lots of grapefruit and ripe citrus aromas and a touch of butterscotch on the palate. Itís rich, round and tactile and itís fabulous drinking now.
For more information go to: http://www.curlyflat.com/
Voyager Estate Chenin Blanc 2007
We should be able to grow Chenin Blanc in Australia but it seems that apart from a couple of vineyards in Margaret River no one seems to get the steely, fresh, dry taste of its home in the Loire region of France. Voyager Estate is one of the few who gets it right. Itís a wonderfully fresh, young wine and it begs for a cold seafood platter. Drink it while itís young and drink it cool, but not ice cold. Cellar Door $ 20.00. For more information go to: http://www.voyagerestate.com.au