Wine Notes – March 2007

By Franz Scheurer


Grey Sands Merlot 2003

I have only just discovered the wines from Grey Sands.  Their small, family owned vineyard is in Glengarry, Tasmania, near the Tamar Valley. First I tried their Pinot Noir, which made me sit up and take notice, now I have tasted their Merlot and I must say: it’s fantastic. The wine has been in barrel for 24 months to soften the tannins and give the flavours time to develop. On the nose it shows dark berries with a whiff of cedar and on the palate the fruit flavours are confirmed with cigar box and cedary undertones. This will change your perception of Merlot. This is not a simple, one-dimensional wine or an empty fruit bomb, its in perfect balance and I love it. You can buy it via mail order, from P.O. Box 518, Exeter, Tasmania, 7275 or go to:

Cellar door cost: $ 30 per bottle


Penny’s Hill, McLaren Vale Grenache 2005

McLaren Vale is known more for its blockbuster wines than for elegance and this is where Penny’s Hill Grenache 2005 differs from the crowd. It’s an elegant, complex wine that nevertheless is easy to drink. The first thing you notice when you pour this wine is its colour: a bright crimson with purple hues. The nose, at first, transports you to an underground, ancient cellar in Europe where a slight mustiness and dampness always emanates from the earthen floors. Then it opens up with bright red-berry fruit and a hint of dried figs. On the palate you will discover stewed fruit, a hint of prunes and a tight tannin structure with good length. This is a thoroughly enjoyable wine.

For more information contact Sophie Hislop at the cellars on 08 8556 4460 or e-mail:

RRP: $ 22 per bottle


Shaw and Smith Shiraz Adelaide Hills 2005

Shaw and Smith is the realisation of an idea by Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith and they set out to educate you that although most Australian Shiraz is associated with a hot climate, it thrives in the Adelaide Hills, a much more temperate area. Low crop levels and ageing in French barriques give this Shiraz a definite character. A savoury nose, reminiscent of a good veal stock, interspersed with plums and a hint of raisins, translates to a Christmas pudding palate with a terrific texture and a long, stable finish. A Shiraz with a difference!

For more information or orders:

RRP: 38 per bottle.


Hugh Hamilton ‘The Mongrel’ 2006

With a black sheep on the cover, a name like ‘The Mongrel’ and the advertising blurb depicting Hugh Hamilton as the black sheep of the family, my expectations of this wine have just sky-rocketed. I like a mongrel and I tend to get on with the black sheep of the family much better than the goodie two shoes. The wine is in a screw cap Burgundy bottle and the first thing you notice is its colour: dark, dark red. On the nose it is feral, whiffs of unwashed sheep and savoury, beef stock-like undertones. On the palate it comes together beautifully; complex, richly textured but a lot lighter than expected. If this was the only quaffing wine available to me on a desert island I’d be very happy indeed. The wine contains 85% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and 5% Tempranillo: a tri-nation mongrel in the truest sense. I detect quite a lot of new oak but it is perfectly integrated. I do think this is a very Australian wine. There should be more of it.

RRP: $ 19.50 - What a bargain!

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Shaw Vineyard Estate Murrumbateman Riesling 2006

Shaw Vineyard’s winery was established in 1998 on a 700-acre wool-producing farm along the Barton Highway between Canberra and Yass. The aim is for fine wine that reflects the local terroir. The 2006 Riesling is quite austere and takes a little while to open in the glass. Lots of lime aromas are confirmed on the palate with high, but balanced acid. This is a good, fresh Riesling and only time will tell how well it ages.

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Voyager Estate ‘Girt by Sea’ Cabernet Merlot 2005

Voyager Estate is a long-established and well-known Margaret River vineyard and produces some excellent wines. The ‘Girt by Sea’ is aptly named, as the vineyard, the grapes come from, is surrounded by water on three sides and a true Maritime climate prevails. The wine is blended from 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 9% of Shiraz and 5% of Malbec. Aged for 12 months in both French and American oak this is a fruit-driven, easy to drink red that I wouldn’t keep too long. I love the simple, quaffable flavours and the soft, textured mouth-feel. A great BBQ wine.

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Brown Hill Fimiston Reserve Shiraz 2005

Brown Hill Estate makes the most of the Margaret River climate and terroir. Low yields and solid wine making techniques produce wines that speak to you and are unmistakably a produce of their location. I love their Reserve Shiraz, a contradictory meld of blockbuster and elegance where the wood dominates on the nose but the fruit overwhelms it on the palate. This is a wine that’s perfectly drinkable now but will reward prolonged cellaring. I expect this to peak at about 10 years old. One to buy now (2 cases); one to drink, one to hide from yourself in the cellar.

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Philip Shaw No.19 Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Philip Shaw’s reputation precedes him and with the establishment of his own vineyard in Orange more people are able to try his creations. The 2006 Sauvignon Blanc from the Koomooloo Vineyard is at once unfamiliar as it is challenging. No obvious Sauvignon Blanc varietal aromas reach your nose, instead it smells more like a tropical fruit salad with a touch of lemon juice. On the palate the almost ‘fat Viognier’ flavours reassert themselves but the varietal acid keeps them in check and prevents you from guessing the wrong grape variety. This is undoubtedly a food wine. It comes into its own when paired to a bit of fat and some serious carbohydrates. Don’t serve it with seafood but instead enjoy it with a bowl of carbonara pasta.

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Pepper Tree Viognier Limited Release 2006

We haven’t quite established a benchmark to work towards with Viognier in Australia. The Pepper Tree Limited Release 2006 is sweeter rather than austere (but not fat or overblown) and shows more malolactic characters than expected. This is a very good wine and I would never guess it’s from the Hunter Valley. Extended contact with the lees imparts some very musky, nutty flavours and the stone fruit and lychee aromas first perceived on the nose are confirmed on the palate. The finish is quite long with a hint of grapefruit and if you can get your hands on some you won’t be disappointed.

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Primo Estate ‘il briccone’ Shiraz Sangiovese 2005

I don’t know for how many years I have written up every new bottling of this fantastic wine. A glorious celebration of Aussie know-how meets Italian conviviality: Shiraz and Sangiovese. It’s dark and dense; it’s savoury and fruity; it’s lip smacking fantastic and so easy to drink you should have a license for its consumption. Made by Joe Grilli and David Tait and it’s distributed by Negociants all over Australia at a RRP of $22 per bottle.

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Catching Thieves Chardonnay 2006

This is a terrific, fresh and lively wine that displays absolutely no Chardonnay varietal characters. It hails from Margaret River and it’s a pleasant, fruit forward wine that reminds me of a Verdelho. Bottled under stelvin it’s a style that suits our climate and works terrifically as an aperitif or with a simple, savoury dish like lightly battered whiting.

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