Wine Notes – May 2007 

By Franz Scheurer


Yering Station Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier Reserve 2005

Bottled under screw cap this is a very interesting wine. When you first open it a very strong aroma that is far from pleasant confronts you. Dark, dank, almost musty hues overshadow any fruit and give you the impression that this wine is either flawed or needs lots of air. This bottle stink blows of quite quickly (even in the bottle, providing you leave it open) and is replaced by a nose of black berries with a touch of green, unripe gooseberries. On the palate it is an elegant wine with lots of complexity, integrated oak, soft tannins and a long and savoury finish. Decanted and allowed to stand for an hour it proves it deserves the Reserve label. A very enjoyable wine right now but I don’t think that ageing for up to 15 years would be a problem at all.

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Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz 2004

This very together Shiraz hails from the Grampians, an under appreciated and beautiful are of Victoria. The wine is dark red with purple hues and looks to be produced with minimal fining or filtration. The robust aromas of old, bare-earth wine cellars mixed with the scent of chocolate mousse opens up on the palate to a liquorice, plum and cinnamon forward, mouth-filling luscious wine that demands food. This is not a quaffing wine. Try it with just seared skirt steak flavoured with salt and pepper only accompanied by some Lyonnaise potatoes and it will transport you to memories of the flavours of tiny villages in the Northern Rhone.

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Katnook Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Picked early from low-yielding vines predominantly planted in 1978 this is a rich terroir-driven food wine that will age well. Lots of gooseberries on the nose (although nothing like its New Zealand cousins), which are confirmed on the palate, underpinned by a hint of lychee and lime characters. This is not an aperitif wine; it comes alive with food and it likes salty, fatty morsels like simple white anchovies in olive oil served with good, crusty bread. This is the type of wine that suits our climate and should be consumed a lot more often.

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Philip Shaw No 17 Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet 2005

Chicken stock, freshly baked rye bread and a hint of sweat are the first things to hit your nose. Slightly green, stalky aromas slowly surface and the meaty, yeasty aromas are confirmed on the palate with some butterscotch and green capsicum. It’s a wine that doesn’t give a lot away at first, but as it opens it convinces with soft tannins, a soft mouthfeel and the fruit in the form of cooked, dark cherries as it slowly asserts itself. Although very light, this is a beautifully balanced wine. RRP $ 26.99 and it’s a bargain at that!

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Catching Thieves Cabernet Merlot 2005

I just love the picture on the label: an illustration of a leggy female disappearing up a ladder loosing one red shoe and a pair of handcuffs in the process and this also illustrates how quickly the wine disappears down the gullet. Catching thieves makes very drinkable wines. I love their Chardonnay and the Cabernet Merlot is just approachable. Red berry aromas are predominant and are confirmed on the palate. This is a fruit forward wine with soft tannins and just enough earthy notes to grab your attention and rise above simplicity.

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Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Ringbolt is a relative newcomer from Margaret River with its first vintage in 2000. The fruit is sourced from 12 growers, mainly located in the Willyabrup and Cowaramup areas. The wine undergoes primary and malolactic fermentation in tank and is matured, off the lees, for 16 month in old French and 20% new American oak. This is a terrific BBQ wine. Although not very complex it is juicy and accessible and would be a perfect companion to Mediterranean food.

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Sticks Cabernet Merlot Petit Verdot 2004

Made from all Victorian fruit supplied from ‘friends of Sticks’ this Bordeaux blend reminds me of chocolate-coated liquorice sticks. These are the predominant aromas and they’re confirmed on the palate, underpinned by a considerable whack of mulberries. This is an easy, drink-now wine, bottled under screw cap and the perfect companion to a dish of pan-seared calf’s liver with burnt butter and sage.

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Brown Hill Ivanhoe Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Brown Hill produces well-crafted wines from low-yielding vines grown in Lateritic soils. They don’t use any irrigation striving for concentrated flavours and if the 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is the result then they succeed. Although massively fruit forward it has wonderfully feral notes that keep the fruit in check. Combined with silky tannins it becomes a complex and layered wine. It will no doubt reward your patience if you cellar this for a few years.

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Piggs Peake House of Bricks Cabernet Merlot 2006

Is this the best Cabernet Merlot made in Australia? Bloody oath, it is! Steve Langham is not only a clever marketeer; he’s also an exceptional wine maker. The wines he coaxes out of the NSW soil are representing the full spectrum from elegant to blockbuster. Steven admits to 16% alcohol with this Cabernet Merlot (fruit is sourced from James Sweetapple at Cargo Road Vineyards from the oldest Cabernet and Merlot plantings in Orange, ca 1983) and the wine makes no apologies for being big, bold and brash; but it has the audacity to be alluring, gentle, balanced and so incredibly moreish that if you don’t get your hands on some I will!

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Moss Brothers Chardonnay 2006

Hailing from the Wilyabrup Valley, Margaret River, this is a tightly structured Chardonnay representing both the terroir and the talents of the wine maker. Partly whole bunch pressed straight into barrel and only 20% of the wine put through malo-lactic fermentation; this wine is a terrific example of a Chablis-like Chardonnay. With lots of ripe grapefruit and some orange peel on the nose it convinces with a creamy mouthfeel, balanced structure and natural, mineral acidity, making it a definite food wine.

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d’Arenberg The Money Spider 2006

Roussanne was first planted in the mid 1990s and surprisingly the first crop in 2000 was covered with millions of tiny money spiders, reputed to bring lots of luck. Being animal lovers (and slightly superstitious) no wine was made from the first crop and it was not until 2001 that the first Roussanne was made (the money spiders had decamped into the surrounding bush by that time). Basket pressed and tank fermented the 2006 is a typical Roussanne; big, bold and brash with lots of stone fruit aromas and citrus flavours ably supported by an appealing feral element. This might be an Australian Roussanne but it’s amazingly close in flavour profile to a Roussanne from the Rhone.

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Tempus Two Moscato 2007 

Tempus Two’s packaging is impressive. A large, very heavy black bottle is packed in a black cylinder, crown sealed with a black opener tied around the neck and adorned with a copper label. The wine is just as impressive. Moscato is a wonderful style of wine: light, effervescent, grapey and very low in alcohol, suitable as a wine with cheese (blue especially) or dessert, or as an easy summer aperitif. I love Moscato and I am surprised at just how wonderful this Australian version is. It’s slightly higher in alcohol than expected (7% instead of the customary 5%) but the balance of sweetness and acid is perfect. Give it a try, it’s fantastic.

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Wedgetail Estate Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2005

This single vineyard Chardonnay hails from the Yarra Valley. The grapes are grown on a steep southerly slope with the result that the wine features lots of typically cool climate citrus aromas. On the palate it displays a creamy, mouth-filling texture with lots of lime, roasted nut and grape-fruit flavours, ending with a clean, acidic finish which just begs for another glass of the same. This is a terrific food wine and it jumps to live when paired with a buttery emulsion sauce. Utterly delightful!

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