There has been a lot of talk about the release of the 2008 Grange lately. At Veraison we are featuring the little brother, a 10 year old ‘Baby Grange’. The Penfolds 2003 Bin 389 is just starting to look quite smart right about now. At a younger age the Bin 389 can be quite assertive with strong dark fruits, heady oak & aggressive tannin. As they say at Penfolds ‘the rewards of patience’ are coming into play now. The wine, rather than jumping out of the glass to grab you by the throat, has now got comfortable in its own skin. The fruit characters are developing nicely, the oak integrating well & the tannins are thankfully softening back. This wine is under cork, so as long as it has been cellared properly, you are in for a real treat. Drink anytime now or for another 5 years – Andrew Smith
What others are saying about this wine…
Good hue; medium-bodied, complex blackcurrant, blackberry, plum, chocolate, spice and vanilla, the whole works; will richly repay cellaring if the cork permits. Very good outcome for a challenging vintage. 93 Points - James Halliday
Representing an evolution in 389's style, this deeply flavoured and artfully structured red blend has moved away from the overtly charming mocha/chocolate oak of the 1990s towards a finer and more perfumed oak extract, as well as revealing some herbal, bay leaf aromas largely unfamiliar to the label. Its rich, dark and meaty aromas of dark plums, cassis and cedar/vanilla oak reveal delightfully assertive and complex suggestions of dark chocolate, spice, game and leather. Smooth and polished, its palate backs its ripe and slightly currant-like expression of cassis/blackberry fruit with a drying and rather chalky backbone of firm tannin, finishing with warm, lingering nuances of polished oak and minerals. It’s very good, but below gold medal standard. 94 Points - Jeremy Oliver
At Veraison we have just had some Peter Lehmann 2006 Art Series Grenache come in. I am quite liking the subtle treacle & liquorice characters it is now developing. Typically I would expect these characteristics to be a little stronger in a wine at 7 years of age. This little number is under screw cap though, slowing the aging process somewhat.
If you enjoy your Grenache with a little extra savoury complexity & spice, rather than just the typical bright red fruits, then this may be the wine for you. At Veraison we have it at the very modest price of $46 per bottle. A perfect match with our Banyard quail dish or smoked duck breast!
I love it when a new month rolls around & the latest update of the Veraison menu is released. It means we get to sample some great new wines! Our latest menu can be found here.
A the moment my favourite match is our pan fried Tasmanian Salmon with beetroot spelt paired with Vermentino. I’m really loving the 2012 release of Taylors Winemakers Project Vermentino. A great balance between fruit & acidity. Not a grape variety we see a lot of in Australia yet, but y tip is we’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the future though. If you like your Riesling & Semillon dry & crisp, you’ll be needing to get your hands on some Vermentino!
Like to keep up with Andrew’s Wine words? Follow VeraisonTwba on Twitter!
The 2011 season would have to go down in wine history as one of the most challenging of all time. Excessive rains caused widespread headaches for the grape growers & wine makers throughout the South Eastern corner. A lot of grapes had split, fungi was going ballistic & the grapes that survived were so full of water they were incredibly dilute!
Ladies & Gentlemen it is time to see which winemakers are worth their keep! There is an old saying in the wine industry, “The good wine makers don’t earn their keep in a good vintage”. The term ‘good vintage’ is largely determined by the grape grower. If they have a good growing season & the fruit is good, this is a good vintage. Sadly 2011 was on the other side of the coin. If you find a cracking wine made in the 2011 vintage, stick with it.
As I type this, I am drinking a Kooyong 2011 Massale Pinot Noir. Kooyong are based in the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. A region widely regarded as one of the premier Pinot Noir growing regions of Australia. I must say Sandro Mosele, take a bow!!! Pinot Noir is one of the most finicky grapes to grow at the best of times & in this tricky season Mr. Mosele has come up trumps.
I spoke with Sandro at a Mornington Peninsula road show of Chardonnay & Pinot Noir in Brisbane last year. Apparently stem & stalk contribution to wine is generally increased in the leaner years. The reason I remember this is that it goes against what I would naturally think is the winemaking process. Don’t believe me? Get your hands on some Kooyong 2011 Massale Pinot Noir & decide for yourself. Personally, I think it’s brilliant! A wine that I will certainly be pouring more of at Veraison. - Andrew
Of late I’ve been drinking a little more dessert wine than I normally would. Not quite what I would normally do as the weather warms up but I have been particularly taken with the Salvador Poveda Vino de Licor Moscatel from Valencia in Spain. I don’t normally drink a lot of Muscat. I normally find them toxically sweet & incredibly heavy in terms of palate weight. But this one is different. The palate is incredibly light with flavours of lychee, orange peel & tea leaf. It weighs in at 15% alcohol which is about as much as the standard bottle of red wine but quite low by fortified wine standards.
Although we have it currently paired up with our Rosemary pannacotta, we have had it with our Banyard Farm Quail. A sweet wine with quail may seem an odd combination but believe me, it just works! Sadly I only have 4 bottles left in the cellar.. Mainly due to the fact it comes in under $50. Why not drop in for some yourself? I would encourage sooner rather than later though. I’ll be recommending this wine to anyone who will listen!
Today I tried the Brown Brother’s Dry Sherry. The bottles are so old that the labels are virtually impossible to read. The photo below shows the faded labels & the wine itself in the glass. Assuming you can’t read the label it says that the wine is from the Milawa Vineyard & made by Brown Brothers. The wine itself hasn’t faded at all, to look at, the wine itself is still crystal clear & there is some stain under the cap (which is to be expected). To smell it has striking honey & spice on the nose. To taste, it is incredibly dry, has flavours of cinnamon & citrus and still has great acidity.
The biggest question I have is how old is it? I can’t for the life of me find any info! The thing that is really throwing me is the screw caps!! I know there were screw caps were being trialled at least 30 yrs ago. I once opened a bottle of port from 1973 (not by Brown Brothers) which was sealed under screw cap. Once opened, I then found a cork in the neck of the bottle! This company was obviously being doubly certain about keeping the wine fresh. However I could clearly read the label on this wine. I’m guessing the Brown Brother’s Sherry was made in the 60’s. Is there anyone who can verify this fact for me? Perhaps our friends at Brown Brother’s will oblige?!
In cricketing terms, an ‘all rounder’ is somebody who can bat, bowl & usually field equally well. Michael Bevan springs to mind immediately. That cracking cover drive for four on the last ball to win the game against the West Indies in 1996 is still burnt into my mind. There is just something special about an all-rounder that you can count on when the chips are down.
In wine terms I have an ‘all rounder’ that I rely on from time to time. It’s the one that I look to when I’m unsure what to choose. The one that is solid every time I need it. It’s not a particular wine, a certain grape variety or even a particular winery. It’s a region.
I was discussing with a friend about some of my favourite regions & I mentioned the Adelaide Hills was very high on my ‘go to’ list. For me it doesn’t matter whether you are partial to Sparkling Whites, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Pinot Gris, or Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Cabernet or Merlot in the red department. The Adelaide Hills covers all bases equally well. My quick thinking colleague mentioned that it wasn’t his favourite for a number of different grape varieties, but it would be a silver medal on a number of fronts.
Regardless of whether you place Adelaide Hills first or second on your list the point remains if you are unsure what to buy & need a wine that’s going to hit one out of the park. The Adelaide Hills regularly comes up with the goods.
Grape growers are like any other farmer. They need the right conditions to grow good quality grapes. For instance, a farmer may get rain, they might not, they may get it at the wrong time, they may get hail or frost, the temperature may be too cold overnight, and too hot during the day. Throw disease and pests into the mix and the list goes on and on. Obviously if a grape grower has ideal growing conditions, the quality of the grapes is good, we usually end up with a good quality wine. This is what is termed a good vintage.
I will never forget 2011 for the massive amount of flooding we had in Queensland. But occasionally I need to be reminded that most of Victoria was under water too. Which is bad news for all farmers and winemakers down there. South Australia and Tasmania didn’t escape poor growing seasons either. Overall 2011 is one of the worst vintages we have seen in a long time. Generally I would avoid most wines produced in 2011. Having said that, Western Australia managed to come up with another blinder of a vintage. Their third in a row! The old adage of there always being exceptions to the rule rings true.
I was reading the 2012 vintage report by James Halliday today. Overall the vintage is very good. Queensland and New South Wales had a difficult season. But the producers in the southern states are rejoicing! Best in 50 years, 11 out of 10, Perfect in every way, Best in my lifetime, are some of the comments. Although we aren’t likely to see too many wines from the 2012 vintage until September I have tried some Clare Valley Riesling & Granite Belt Verdelho. Personally I think they are fantastic! The better quality reds won’t be seen until they have spent at least 12 months in oak barrels. I am eagerly awaiting their release. For those that can hold out until 2013 the rewards will be there. For those who can’t wait that long, you will need to pick and choose wisely.
I have hit a flat spot in my wine tasting. By a flat spot I mean that everything I taste is well… a little boring. I have been scarred. I have tried the one wine you MUST try in your lifetime. The one that uses so many superlatives to describe that there are none left for whatever wine is following. It is so head, shoulders, & torso above everything else.
My son was born earlier this year & to celebrate a good friend brought around a 100mL vial of Seppeltsfield 1912 Para Port. (See Picture Below) James Halliday describes the 100 year old beauty as a “life enriching experience” and he rates it an astonishing 100 points. I couldn’t agree more. Never before have I tried a wine so complex with so many different flavours & layers. Normally one would have to wait until they are older in life to be able to afford such luxury. Yet at the tender age of 30-something, my life has been marked by the experience. If this is the pinnacle, and indeed it is, I guess I should have my mid-life wine crisis now & get that over with. Having said all of that, this is certainly one wine that needs to be on your bucket list.
On the up side, I am excited to hear of an outstanding 2012 vintage. The best in the last 50 years they say! I eagerly look forward to the upcoming spring tasting. Perhaps that will spark things up again!
I know winter is upon us but I am currently sipping away at an aged riesling. I like the rich aged rieslings in winter! Penfolds 2001 Reserve Eden Valley to be precise. It was a dry riesling & had aged well, but is sadly over the hill & picking up speed!
I recently was on the panel of judges at the Mediterranean Wine Show here in Toowoomba. I am lamenting the fact that I didn’t get to try any riesling. I know the growing conditions are ideal in Queensland but I am always on the lookout for an outstanding riesling from the Granite Belt. Nevertheless I press on.
If you walk down the isle of your local bottle shop, you probably won’t notice any riesling in the ‘Sweet Wine’ section. Thus highlighting the fact that riesling isn’t actually a sweet wine! Having said that, I like the fact that we are starting to see a few more of the “off dry” style riesling here in Australia.
Most bottles of riesling these days will have an indicator on the back label which shows the level of sweetness. Certainly some of the European riesling producers (particularly those of Merces-Benz driving decent) have rieslings with up to 8 degrees of sweetness. Personally I like the austere, dry styles. But some of the big name players in South Australia are coming on board with this style. Many with rave reviews from their critics. If you are looking for Australian producers offering this variation check out Leo Buring & Leasingham from the Clare Valley.
I understand that a lot of South Australia has been settled by people of German heritage, but it seems our New Zealand counterparts are a little closer to mimicking the German style of rieslings than we are. At Veraison we currently serve Highfield Estate 2010 Riesling from Marlborough in New Zealand by the glass. This wine is classed as ‘semi-sweet’ which is 1 degree sweeter than ‘off-dry’. Not as sweet as Moscato but a helpful tool in bringing people around the corner from the sweet wines to drier styled wines. If you are looking to try something new perhaps a slightly different style of riesling might appeal. - Andrew