Its a Cabernet Guys

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Right a whole of the wines we talk about here are made from “interesting” grape varieties like Albarino, Zweigelt and Gruner Veltliner, that is not to say Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz and the more common ones aren’t interesting but generally we tend to stick to the more exotic sounding ones. Well recognising this and needing a nice bottle of red wine to entertain some friends last friday evening i decided to grab the first “regular” wine that I saw on the shelves. Turned out to be a Cabernet Sauvignon, which was nice because I have noticed that Cabernet tends to ignored quite often in our little shop as boring and typical! This wine however was slightly different coming as it did from Quinta de Chocapalha, in Lisboa in Portugal.

The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the Tavares family estate, and aged for 16 months in oak, about half of which was new. An intense violet colour, the nose is classic Cabernet with elegant and restrained blackcurrant fruit and some herby notes and a hint of mint. In the mouth juicy cassis and blackberry fruits are complimented dark chocolate and cocoa, and again a touch of fresh mint. A really elegant red that opens up beautifully and was difficult to convince my friends was a Cab. To me the style sits nice between the tightly restrained style of good Bordeaux and the sometimes overly fruity Chilean and Aussies.

The Wonderful Wines of Kremstal

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There are 2,243 hectares of vineyards located around the town of Krems in Austria. The town and ints eponymous wine regionare located to the east of the Famous region of Wachau. As in Wachau the River Danube is very inmportant. Views of the region are dominated by the magnificent Stift Göttweig monastery. As a DAC Kremstal was only introduced in 2007 and applies only to two grape varieties the Austrian Gruner Veltliner, which is typical vibrant and spicy here and mineral rich Rieslings.Like the Wachau, Kremstal has its fair share of special climates: a cool, humid northern breeze flows from Waldviertel cooling the warm dry eastly winds from the steppes to the east. Along with the two varieties mentioned above Kremstal produces Chardonnay, Weissburgunder and supple, soft and expansive reds from grapes such as Zweigelt.

The wines of Weingut Muller need no introduction but below are 3 of our personal favs.

Muller Wines1) Muller ‘Bergkristall’ Gruner Veltliner 2012

Light green-yellow in the glass, opens up in the nose with a wide range of different fruit aromas including grapefruit but also tones of garden herbs and excellent minerals. The palate has a beautiful distinction and finesse, delicate nuances of apples and pears in the finish. A perfect companion to any hearty  white meat or pork dishes. Great with ‘Wiener Schnitzel’.

2) Muller Zeigelt Reserve 2011

Ruby and garnet colors in the glass, beautiful scents of cherries and fine spices develop in the nose, nice subtle oak tones, powerful and substantial on the palate; a wine with a good aging potential. This wine is well suited for a myriad of hearty meals such as beef, lamb, and game, or spicy pasta. It is also a fantastic wine to consume on its own by the glass.

3) Muller Chardonnay ‘Mugeln’ Reserve 2011

Medium yellow colour, ripe orchard and stone fruit on the nose. On the palate complex and powerful, already very harmonious, with lovely rounded stone fruit flavours complimented by fine toasted oak flavours on the finish. This wine is a match for the most hearty dishes especially those with butter and cream.

Chalices and Wines – a perfect match

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Here we go again harping on about Austria but it is in our opinion one of the most exciting wine-producing countries at the minute. Austria produces less than 1% off of all the worlds wine – roughly 27 million cases a year! All of this comes from the Eastern part of the country where the Alps wind down into hills and almost all of it comes from small family run wineries. As with many things the Austrians themselves are always evolving discovering new areas for vines and better growing conditions for the grapes they have, in essence there is more to Austria than the Wachau. The Wachau is probably the most famous area in Austria for the production of wine. It is in fact a world heritage site (since 2000). It is in the valley cut by the Danube as it winds its way through central Europe, between the towns of Melk and Krems. A cool climate region that has terraced vineyards along the river like in Mosel, Germany and Cote Rotie, France.  Main grape varieties grown are predominately the indigenous Gruner Veltliner and Riesling along with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and even some Traminer and Sauvignon Blanc.

Since the vintage 2009 the Müller family has cultivated 10 ha in the Wachau region. These vineyards are part of the monastery Kremsmünster estate which was founded in 777 AD by Bavarian Duke Tassilo III. The same soil has nurtured vines since 893 AD, thus producing the grapes so unique to the area. The Tassilo Cup, being one of the most valuable pieces of the nearby monastery’s art collection, was chosen as the centre piece on the label for the new wines from this region. From this site, over a thousand years old, come the characteristically fruitful vintages called the Tassilo Wines.

Tassilo Weisser Burgunder ‘Sussenberg’ 2011

Light green yellow in the glass, delicate nut aromas in the nose, elegant and powerful on the palate; an excellent wine with a great balance and length. The perfect companion for spicy and flavour rich dishes as well as elegant fish. Without a food pairing, this wine is well suited for any special occasion. The wine also possesses the ability to improve over the next 5 years.

Tassilo Gruner Veltliner ‘Alte Point’ 2011

Bright green-yellow in colour, on the nose aromatic with delicate flowers on the palate, fine textured, juicy and elegant.  Tender green apple on the finish, a spicy, typical Veltliner. A superbly refreshing wine. Serve chilled as an aperitif! As well the perfect companion for spicy meals or Asian cuisine and salads, but also has the body to stand up to pork dishes.

Pick up some Pinot

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Pinot Noir is sometimes regarded as the most highly prized wine in the world, but why? It’s not as rich or big as Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz; in fact it’s the opposite. Pinot Noir wines are pale in colour and their flavours are very subtle. The grape itself is difficult to grow and suffers from many  problems in the vineyard. Despite the difficulty in growing the grape, prices for a bottle of Pinot Noir are generally more than a similar quality red wine.  In terms of food combinations it is the ultimate on wine fits all; Pinot Noir is light enough for salmon but complex enough to hold up to some richer meat including duck.

Pinot Noir doesn’t grow very well in Australia due to the heat, it is a grape variety that loves cooler climates think of its home in Burgundy in France. It is however thriving in areas where its sister Chardonnay thrives, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra in Victoria, Orange in New South Wales, Adelaide Hills in South Australia and Tasmania . Expect sweeter fruit notes leaning towards blueberry and even blackberry but in a spicy-gamey tinge similar to New Zealand in the aroma.

1)      Weemala Pinot Noir 2011 Orange, New South Wales 17.95

This Pinot is made using fruit from Orange, providing a supple, fruit driven wine that is mouth-watering and addictive. Cool climate fruit imbues this Pinot with alluring perfumed aromas of cherry, cinnamon and dried herb. Classic varietal Pinot flavour and structure with cherries, red berries and a savoury complexity. Head straight to Chinatown and order a duck to pair with this delicious wine.

2)      O’Leary Walker Pinot Noir 2009 Adelaide Hills, South Australia 17.95

We love this funky and often forgotten wine, the boys at O’Leary Walker make so many damn good wines! Gamey, dark berry plum, with hints of sappy juicy pinot fruit explode out of the glass when [poured. Complex, supported with subtle oak influence. The palate oozes silky, long, balanced acid and fine-grained tannin. Once you try this you’ll be hooked.

3)      Dalrymple Pinot Noir 2011, Pipers River Tasmania 39.95

The wine has a vibrant ruby colour, with lifted sweet summer plums aroma, hints of cherry confiture, Chinese 5 spice and complexed with subtle savoury note. It has sweet summer fruits on the palate with nicely structured fresh acidity and silky tannins which in time delivers a savoury complexity typical of these sites. A style that is approachable now, decant one hour before serving. Although will reward with careful cellaring for the next 5-8 years.

Ramblings on Riesling

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Along with Chardonnay, Riesling is considered to be one of the finest white grapes in the world, producing a whole range of styles from bone dry to lusciously sweet. The best wines are incredibly long-lived, elegant and racy. They become increasingly complex with age. Riesling originated in Germany where, along with neighbouring Alsace, some of its greatest wines are still made. It is also hugely popular in Australia and Washington.

Interestingly, there is more Riesling planted in Australia than in France. Much of it was cultivated by Silesian settlers to South Australia. Subsequently, Riesling has become the go-to wine of the Clare and Eden Valleys with many old ungrafted vineyards. Names such as Pewsey Vale, Petaluma, Grosset and our very own O’Leary Walker resonate among those seeking a mineral edge to their dry white wine. These Rieslings retain acidity due to cool night-time temperatures, while exhibiting aromas of lime and citrus marmalade, with age. Riesling also performs admirably in other cool climate regions of Australia. These include the delicately fine Rieslings of Freycinet in Tasmania, and crisp tight styles of Orange.

1)      Weemala Riesling 2012 Orange, New South Wales €17.95

Peter Logan’s Weemala range goes from strength to strength. This Riesling is an exciting indicator of what the Orange region is capable of and if you’ve not boarded the Riesling train, you should definitely get a ticket, as this variety is going places. It shows lifted aromas of orange blossom and citrus while the palate rewards with a burst of apple and lime, a touch of sweetness culminating with zesty acidity. It’s a perfect candidate for fresh seafood or spicy Asian Cuisine.

2)      O’Leary Walker Polish Hill Riesling 2009 Clare Valley, South Australia €19.95

Slate subsoil and local terroir combine to produce a wine with more finesse less fullness at the front palate tighter in youth with varied scents from mineral to citrus pith steely palate texture with natural restraint and dry crispness and building along the tongue to reach its peak at the back. Will grow in the bottle with a lemon citrus intensity.

3)      Seven Hill St. Francis Xavier Riesling 2012 Clare Valley, South Australia €29.95

The 2012 St Francis Xavier is a wonderful expression of pristine Riesling, coming as it does from a vintage widely regarded as one of the best in the past decade in the Clare Valley. The St Francis Xavier Riesling exemplifies the variety’s great purity and elegance with its floral style and delicate citrus character. (The winery is owned by the Jesuits and the wine is named for St Francis Xavier, one of the first companions of the Jesuits’ founder, St Ignatius.)

Australian Chardonnay is getting Cooler

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Chardonnay is a really flexible variety,  growing almost everywhere it’s planted. And for years it was trendy, with its particular tendency to enjoy the kiss of oak, and become big buttery over ripe monsters. Then the tide turned and suddenly all Chardonnay was tarred as bad, (except Chablis and other white Burgundies, they always escapes by not mentioning grape variety on their labels). But as with all fashions Chardonnay is on the way back up, its getting Cool again, and in more ways than one.

In Australia, these days the oak is applied more evenly and more justly, more sensibly but the standout wines are coming from cooler climates such as Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley, Margaret River, Mornington, Orange and even Tasmania. It is making a comeback and making an argument for itself as the queen of Aussie whites.  ‘Burgundian-style’ Chardonnays full of verve and energy can be found from many producers.

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The Fab Five

1) Apple Tree Flat Chardonnay 2011 Central Ranges, New South Wales €13.99

This delightful Chardonnay is packed with aromas of pear and lemon with a nicely structured palate of white peach, cashew and fig before leading into a persistent finish. It’s perfect everyday drinking at an affordable price.

2) O’Leary Walker Chardonnay 2010 Adelaide Hills, South Australia €19.95

This wine displays delicate stone fruit characters of white peach and nectarine, with subtle grapefruit aromas. Fine yet powerful with great fruit weight, intensity of flavours, richness and oak texture. Clean with finely balanced acid. The most Burgundian of the wines listed here.

3)Logan Chardonnay 2011 Orange, New South Wales €19.95

With Peter Logan’s it’s all in the detail. It starts with the wine, premium fruit picked at high altitudes in Orange, meticulously handled by Pete. Putting the cool back into cool climate this Chardonnay is perfumed with orange, pear and a touch of spicy oak. The flavours of peach and grapefruit vie for attention complexed by minerals. Textured and long it would pair brilliantly with rich, seafood dishes.

4) Hill Smith Estate Chardonnay 2010 Eden Valley, South Australia €19.95

On the nose, smoky wild yeast complexity and subtle notes of struck flint intertwine with aromas of white nectarine, grilled cashews and citrus blossom. Full flavoured and textural on the palate, with creamy white nougat, citrus zest and ripe quince and melon flavours. The richness is held in check by a restrained grapefruit acidity and a savoury finish.

5) Dalrymple Chardonnay 2011 Pipers River, Tasmania €36.95

A delicate Chablis styled Chardonnay. Brilliant very pale straw colour with slight greenish tinge around the edges and watery hue. The nose displays aromas of melon and spiced lemon and lime peel richness. Light to medium weight the palate exhibits elegant lemon confit with a spicy freshness drives through a clean fresh palate complexed with chalked, crushed stone texture. Finishing with a clean crisp finish.

 

Return of the Shiraz

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If there is one red variety Australia does, it’s Shiraz, but to often all Aussie Shiraz is tar with the same brush – big alcoholic fruit bombs. Part  of the reason we love Shiraz comes down to its vibrant fruity notes dark and red berries and plummy notes, it is general voluptuous and smooth with the wines on the cheaper end offering much more sweet fruit notes.  But is simply note a one size fits all variety. The variety produces various different styles depending on the region it is grown in the most famous two being Barossa and McLaren Vale. But it also inspires in  wines from many other regions where the climates vary extraordinarily and hence the styles do as well – think cool climate like NSW’s Orange and SA’s Adelaide Hills.

Generally speaking here’s what to expect

  • Barossa is big and bold flavours and body.
  • McLaren Vale  tends to a bit lighter with earthy and mocha notes.
  • Clare Valley tends to berry flavours with hints of Mint and Eucalyptus and again a medium to full style.
  • Orange is a beacon for producing cool climate wines of finesse and elegance in an old world style. Rich plum, and dark berries with pepper notes.
  • Adelaide hills another cool climate district that produces refined Shiraz with red berry flavours and cracked pepper notes.

But these are so general to be easily ignored, as  the individual wine makers look to craft unique interpretation of their own.

Three to try

Shiraz

1) O’Leary Walker Shiraz 2010 €19.95

A blend of 70% Clare Valley Fruit with 30 % McLaren Vale. Showing blueberries and blackberries of Clare with a little under one-third McLaren Vale Shiraz to rev it up. Mocha, dark fruits and oak on a firm palate, fine tannin profile promises this wine will age gracefully.

2) Logan Shiraz 2009 €21.95

Hailing from the cool Orange region. The Logan 2009 Shiraz is a deep but bright red colour. The intensely perfumed aroma has mixed berries, white pepper, dried woody herbs and Chinese 5 spice characters. The medium bodied palate has flavours of red berries, plums and tarragon before a long spicy finish.

3) Yalumba ‘Galway Vintage’ Shiraz 2011 €17.95

This Shiraz shows all the hallmarks of a traditional Barossa Red. It has a bright colour with crimson hues. There are aromas of mulberries, ground spice and liquorice all sorts that speak of its varietal and regional origins. The palate is ripe and generous with flavours of mulberries, dark chocolate and hints of beetroot. It finishes with cocoa powder like tannins that give evenness and generosity to the wine.

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