Tuesday, 13 November 2007

A new blog -- fullpour.com

After a few enjoyable months of blogging here, I've teamed up with my great wine mate Chris in San Diego on a new blog, fullpour.com. Hopefully that means more notes, a wider variety of wines and some different perspectives. Chris has an excellent palate, an amazing knowledge of the obscure, and an intelligent take on pretty much everything.

I hope you'll join us over at fullpour.com.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Mike Press Wines Pinot Noir 2004

There has been quite a buzz on the local discussion boards about the Mike Press range of wines, especially in terms of the value on offer (I think the most expensive wine goes for $120/dozen). The wines I have tasted from the range have all been well-made and, more importantly to me, of individuality and character. Considering it's possible to buy wines in the $20 and $30 price ranges that are correct but blandly corporate, this is quite an achievement.

If you're used to, say, the mainstream Yarra Valley or Marlborough style of pinot, this wine might come as a shock. It is a restrained style with a focus on structure and line, rather than fruit volume.

The nose is relative expressive and, although bright fruit is present, it's a little overwhelmed at present by caramel/malt oak. Some savoury/undergrowth complexities are also present.

On entry, the wine's flavours intensify quite rapidly and fruit expresses itself early in the wine's structure. The middle palate is generous and moderately intense without losing its focus and acid-driven line. Caramel, resiny oak again picks up the flavour profile from the middle of the palate onwards and leads into a rounded, finely drying finish of adequate length.

To me, this wine tastes a little awkward and oak-heavy right now, but there's good fruit in there and a dollop of structure to keep the wine going. It's hard to keep your hands off such a well-priced wine, and I don't have a clear sense of how this wine might develop, but I'll stash a couple of bottles aside and see.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Two light red wines with dinner

Stefano Lubiana Primavera Pinot Noir 2006

The first of two wines consumed last night with dinner. This one served as a nice aperitif and accompaniment to our entry of a cheese and garlic calzone.

It was a bit hard to smell much from the dodgy restaurant goblets we were using, but floral aromas of dried and fresh fruits emerged from the glass with a bit of swirling. Not the most expressive nose but certainly true to the rest of the wine's flavour profile and of corresponding intensity. The entry is bright and immediately launches the wine's fruit flavours, which comprise the sort of heavy floral note I associate with dried apricots, as well as bright red fruit. Light bodied, with well balanced acidity. The wine's aftertaste is rather truncated, though, and fruit flavours drop away to almost nothing by the time the somewhat chunky tannins have started drying the mouth. Food helped with this dip in the palate and seemed to extend the wine's fruit flavours.

A fresh, lively wine that could probably take a light chill before serving. I've had more complete pinots for the price (mid $20s I think) but I did enjoy this.


Poliziano Chianti 2006

This wine carried dinner foward last night, being served alongside our mains.

What a nice Chianti. This is a straightforward, very fresh expression of sangiovese. Again, not enormously expressive on the nose, but what is there indicates a savoury flavour profile of herbs and dried fruits. The palate confirms this, and from entry to finish flavours are carried along a nice line that livens the palate with a slightly rustic, acid-driven mouthfeel. Fruit flavours are akin to a packet of dried peel and red fruit, with herbs. Nothing too challenging or complex, but certainly tasty.

I think this wine would be a great one to have with an afternoon picnic of fresh bread, cheese and charcuterie. As it was last night, the wine supported our meal well but was a bit overpowered by the rich sauces that accompanied our food.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

De Bortoli Windy Peak Chardonnay 2006

Onwards with cheap wine. Despite the low price (a smidge over $10), I had high expectations of this wine, mostly because my experience of De Bortoli Yarra Valley wines has been so positive of late. They seem to consistently deliver more than one might expect at their respective price points, and even the lower range wines are made with a clear idea of desired style.

This wine's a little dumb on the nose, giving subdued aromas of cool climate chardonnay fruit (grapefruit-like) and cashew. The wine's entry livens things considerably and it's only in the mouth that this wine's good generosity of flavour becomes apparent. The entry is clean and linear, and leads to a middle palate that's all about fruit supported by creamy, slightly caramel oak. The fruit flavour is relatively simple but very correct and tasty. There are supporting nutty flavours and a mouthfeel that balances creaminess with slightly coarse acidity well. Some bitter phenolics kick in towards the finish and serve to cleanse the palate. Unremarkable length.

Ok, so it's simple, not especially expressive on the nose, and finishes a bit short. It's also clearly regional, very well made, and bloody tasty. The thinking person's quaffing wine.

Houghton Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Pulled the cork (!) out of this without too much thought last night, and ended up enjoying what is a very well judged wine.

There are no harsh grassy aromas or excess acidity with this wine. Instead, the nose offers up juicy lemon curd alongside hints of aromatic herb and tropical fruit. The wine enters cleanly and spreads more lively lemon curd and tropical flavours through the mid-palate with good intensity and medium body. The wine's mouthfeel is both lively and slippery, with crisp acidity that cleanses the mouth whilst retaining a "drink now" balance. The finish isn't especially remarkable in length but continues the wine's line to a gentle close.

Simple, generous flavours, very refreshing. Not bad for under $10. Perfect summer wine.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Two cheap shiraz wines that speak of their region

Still staying at a mate's house while the boat is repaired. He's not really into wine but is curious and asked me to help him choose a dozen. Budget was $150 -- I wanted to select wines that are representative of their regions. We had two of them tonight.

I won't dissect these wines in great detail -- know that they are both well-made, quality wines of considerable flavour and character. What I am pleased with, in particular, is that they are identifiably regional and show clear differences in origin. I think it's great that we can purchase wines in the $10-15 range that are very much of their region.

The Seppelt Victoria Shiraz 2004 is all blackberry jam, white pepper and spice. The palate encourages immediate drinking, although the finish, which is lightly drying with powdery tannins, indicates the wine would not die with a year or so in the cellar. But why bother -- it's such nice drinking now. Sensational value.

The Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz 2005 is a pretty reliable number year in year out, and this one shows clear differences from the cooler climate Seppelt -- it's a relative fruit bomb, with flavoursome stewed plum-like fruit and sweet American oak the highlights. Soft, generous, medium bodied -- this is easy Barossa shiraz in "by the gulp" mode. This wine doesn't have the structural finesse of the Seppelt, but really, what's not to like here?

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Yarra Burn Pinot Noir 2006

Really craving some pinot tonight, so off popped the cap on this little number.

Very promising nose of sweet and sour red fruit, and a hint of forest floor. Very Yarra Valley in character. The palate continues the flavour profile promised by the nose, with attractive, moderately complex pinot fruit mixed with very low level oak. Good intensity of flavour and nice length. Sourness is a feature of this wine's flavour.

The main issue with this wine is that its structure is quite "small scale". It's like a wine in miniature. As the wine enters the mouth, it is linear and consistent but somehow ungenerous. Just when you want the wine to open out, it maintains its linearity and never quite fills the periphery of the palate.

Still, delicious flavours, great value. Recommended.