Tahbilk 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon our April 2018 Wine of the month by Stuart
Following Adam’s two week wine tasting tour with Wine Australia in November, we chose some of our favourite wines for this dinner.
Barossa in South Australia is one of Australia’s oldest and greatest wine regions .
We were hosted by Yalumba’s Chief Winemaker Louisa Rose who is one of Australia’s most experienced and talented winemakers. Her name is synonymous with Viognier in Australia. In 2014 ‘The Age’ named Lou Australia’s Best Winemaker. Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family-owned winery founded in 1849 and unusually has it’s own cooperage and nursery.
Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvée 2011
Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier
Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier
Yalumba The Scribbler Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz
Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz
Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz
Yalumba The Octavius Shiraz
Yalumba FSW8B Botrytis Viognier
Salt & pepper squid, chilli sauce
Pan-fried duck breast, baby vegetables , broccoli & wasabi purée
The Viogniers particularly shone through. The Eden Valley Viognier full of fresh ripe apricots with a lovely texture and finish.
The Virgilius was outstanding. Almost Burgundian with depth texture smokiness long finish and beautiful balance.
This will age well for 10 years.Scored 96 points in a recent Decanter review by Matthew Jukes.
Inland Australia is massive, equivalent to the size of the United States. This leads to a continental effect. Warm North Westerly winds come from inland. However a cooling effect comes from the Southwesterlies from the southern ocean giving Yarra Valley a cool climate. The geology is ancient, 550 million to 800 million years old, much older than most regions . There’s not many mountain ranges .The impact of climate change over the last 20 years has led to a harvest one to two days earlier each year .The length of the growing season is the same. This spring has been much wetter than usual. Higher red loam volcanic soils gives low tannin ideal for sparkling wines.
Oakridge Winery David Bicknell – Chief Winemaker and CEO gave us an insightful introduction to the region.
Eight chardonnays from 2015 similarly made, approximately 20% to 30% new oak for 10 months, whole bunch press, wild ferment, low or no Malo, low sulphur, leave on lees most years, bigger barrels. Chardonnay is very successful in the cool climate of this region. Typical flavours of white peach and melon.
De Bortoli AA5 Creamy, vanilla ,smokey, toasty, touch pineapple, less texture on the palate lacking length.
Yering station 2015 Lovely nose, complex, sl butter, toast smoky nice toasty length.
Layla 2015 Helen and Joey Estate Less on nose, pineapple, hint toast,closed.
Giant steps 2015 Chardonnay melon,passionfruit, pineapple, background toast lovely texture mouthfeel balance length complexity ++ core citric backbone.
Seville Estate 2015 Flint smoke toast oak lovely texture crisp acid backbone length.
Oakridge 2015 Willow Lake Vineyard Ripe honey dew melon, finish crisp and citric slightly bitter.
Elmswood estate 2015 Some Oak smoke toast nice acid prominent.
Coldsteam Hills 2015 Toasty clean crisp vanilla integrated.
Winemaker thoughts -earlier picking keep sun off vines, good acid,low oak, fresher style, lovely integrated wines, cool climate grapefruit pith, keep compact fruit. This has changed over the years. The feeling is that previously the wines were overmade, making big flashy wines. The changes have been spurred by multiple issues including market forces such as the proximity to the well informed Melbourne clientele and the need to counter the surge of New Zealand sauvignon. The confidence and increased expertise of local winemakers have helped enable this.
Eight Pinot Noirs 2015 Vintage
What is Yarra Pinot about? Red fruit and elegance, prettiness and food friendly. Soft tannin due to continentality. No fining, some unfiltered with a gentle approach. Whole bunch wild berry ferment helps promote perfume and elegance. Low percentage 10% to 15% new oak. 300L to 500L barrels, levels of toasting more subtle with careful selection of oak. Low intervention, ‘my children could make this’ Hoddles Creek winemaker. Pinot Noir ranges from light to medium bodied with flavours of plum strawberry and raspberry.
Punt Road 2015 Red fruits long finish perfume and floral wild strawberry warmer part of valley more Malo
Giant steps Sexton Vineyard 2015 Red fruits perfume spice length good acid core
Elmswood Estate Pinot Noir 2015 Herbal greener note candied cherry finish
De bortoli Riorret Lustatia Park vineyard 2015 More colour richer nose spicy notes strawberry ripe cherry summer pudding.Floral ripe fruit nice sl bitter finish,Cedar pencil shavings more tannin graphitic note
Journey Wines 2015 Sl more toasty smoky savoury earth forest floor good long finish +
Hoddles Creek Estate Pinot 2015 Medicinal mint herbal eucalyptus finish surrounded by forest
Oak ridge Willow Lake 2015 Spicy oak rich nose textured mouth feel long finish
Coldstream Hills Deer Farm 2015 Savoury long richer creamy mouthfeel uses 50% new oak sl smoky toast to finish
The wines showed lovely freshness and purity with complexity and length and demonstrated what the Yarra Valley can deliver. The wines were greatly appreciated over an exquisite lunch at Oakridge .
Four Pillars Gin with Cameron Mackenzie Juniper from Macedonia makes up 80% of the botanicals it gives a pine forest character. Coriander is the second most used botanical then Cardamon from Guatemala, Star Anise from Vietnam, Cassia a close cousin to cinnamon. Native Australian botanicals include, Lemon myrtle, cinnamon, leaf of Tasmanian pepper berry, green tea, white pepper 170 g in 600 litre, Lavender, Angelica root gives a dusty old soily note and acts as a fixative. The base used is wheat spirit. Fresh oranges are used in the head of still, leading to infusion and delicate extraction of citrus oils.
Rare Dry Gin Mediterranean character
Navy Strength Gin58.8% more Asia native Australian finger lime dried almost like Thai basil leaf / Vietnamese mint, lime caviar ginger and turmeric .
Four Pillars Barerender Series Spiced negroni gin more orange and Indonesian pepper to combat Campari bitters . Cubeb Grains of paradise from Africa
Four pillars Rockpool Pomelos schezuan peppers other,dry elegant
Bloody Shiraz Gin Version of sloe gin acid ++ from sloes add sugar,Trials of Yarra Shiraz worked best (Cabernet too herbaceous) destem soak for 8 weeks 37.8 c No colour no sugar added 95 gl sugar colour stable,Nice sweet touch long delicious.
Four pillars barrel aged Gin French oak barrels
Four pillars Christmas Gin in old rutherglen barrels distilled Christmas puddings,Aromatics flavor balance weight texture
This is the last winery in Yarra, 3 km from border with Gippsland owned by the Marks family. Andrew Marks makes Gembrook Hill with Timo Mayer. He also has his own label The Wanderer, and started The Melbourne Gin Company.
We were surrounded by some of Australia’s most talented winemakers – Luke Lambert, Gary Mills from Jamsheed and Timo Mayer and were lucky enough to try a wide range of their excellent wines accompanied by slow cooked lamb falling off the bone.
Cool climate, selection of wines to show diversity, some cofermented with viognier others with Marsanne.Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Yarra Cabernet ranges from full to medium-bodied with silky tannins and aromatic,floral and herbal characters.
Seven Shiraz’s from Yarra Valley
Innocent Bystander 2015 Savoury pepper spice black fruits,low crop not much length, drying finish grippy tannins.
Punt Road 2015 Tim Shand , Lighter esters fruity red, and black fruits pepper lighter tannins chalky nice length good acidic core tension freshness tension Pinot technique whole bunch
Giant Steps 2015 Richer riper complex nose dense core ripe blackberries dark plums spice pepper savoury lovely ripe grippy tannins savoury finish sl salty +
Paynes Rise 2014 Smoke rubber pepper savoury meaty chalky tannins good acid balance
Yering station Old Beenak road 2014 Sl smoke toast spicy peppery core good long length black fruits length +
Yering station Shiraz viognier Reserve 2014 Alcohol spice closed chalky sl green tannins
Yarra yering 2014 more old school, complex nose of turmeric spice vanilla pepper black fruits touch oak savoury meaty salty long finish + + violets
Seven Cabernet Sauvignons from Yarra Valley
Looking for ripeness picking has to be late to avoid greeness and tomato leaf. The feeling is that an edge of leafiness is best , site sensitive, different from Margaret River and Coonawarra dry red if picked too late.
Punt Road 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Chalky drying tannins, closed hint cassis
Tokara Estate 2015 Oak spice delicate tobacco cedar full richer coffee tannins chalky ++
Warramunda 2014 Cassis mint menthol tannins, blackcurrant finish
Yeringberg 2014 Cedar mint drying chalky tannins
Yarra yering 2014 60 % cabernet Complex liquorice spice oak cassis tobacco ++ softer but still lots tannins sillier long length
De Bortoli Estate 2014 Cassis spice mint herbaceous not vegetal
Yering station 2014 18 months barrel mint menthol cedar cassis Length ++ Power elegance Length lovely +
We finished the day with fine dining in Fitzroy, Melbourne with a selection of wines from the tour.
Best Western Pinot Meunier 1999 was remarkable, so much fruit for a wine of this age and great balance and length.
Huge thanks to Wine Australia and our tour leader Mark Davidson for their generosity and organisation of this memorable journey through some of Australia’s fines wine regions.
Art wine prosecco Apple pear freshness not really floral nice acid line 12.7 gl sugar holds it quite well
Verdun park Amelia NV pn chard 10 meunier Traditional method nv 100 dozen Smoky toast biscuit lovely length great acid persistent biscuity finish lighter bubbles
Deviation Road Loftia chardonnay 50% self tirage 10% PNApple less complex less toasty
Bird in hand 2016 Restrained style melon passion fruit
Lobethal road 2016 Passion fruit persistent acid lemon
Pike and Joyce 2015 Good vintage much more gooseberry green pepper capsicum pyrazine NZ style tomato leaf
Catlin wild ferment 2015 Toasty smoky oak barrel ferment length nutty toast
Jared Stringer bird in hand World class chard lots microclimates specific clones for different sites
Nest Egg 2015 3 tiers named after gold mines nest egg flag ship 30 % new French oak,Lovely toasty buttery nose,Barrel wild ferment,lees stirring natural maloLong buttery finish
Shaw and Smith M3 benchmark,100% whole bunch cool room overnight while bunch pressing ,new and old French oak wild ferment battonage barrel age 9 month struck match noble reduction flinty Beautiful classic chardonnay toasty oaky smoky nose buttery.Lovely texture length smoke ++
Jeu de Fin end game 2015 Restrained hints toast oak lacks length complexity sl yeast no Malo sharper more Chablis
Lobethal Rd 2014 Bacchant Toasty smoke butter lovely mouthfeel texture yum oak lovely length texture and balance 50 % new oak
Larry Jacobs gave us an introduction . Gruners made with skin contact and often oak ferment give a lovely texture,seeks and finds oak character. Tasted with food matching in the picturesque vineyards of Pike and Joyce
Guthrie ‘wild’ Gruner Veltliner lovely texture peppery, apple pear white flowers.
Deviation road 2016 wild mint green peppery spritz mid palate celery
Catlin 2016 honeydew melon, lovely texture.Served with goats cheese and strawberry
Nepenthe winemakers selection
Hahndorf hill 2015 Texture lighter than chardonnay between aromatic varietals and Chardonnay
Mt lofty ranges 2014 lenswood Gary Sweeney. Site specific 42 dozen made,apple nutty citrus lime hint soy sauce mint Tropical fruit papaya 550m cool site
Pinot Noir presented by Gary Sweeney Mt Lofty Ranges ‘The greatest producers in the Adelaide Hills express great colour and sense of place more than other regions’
Henschke Giles 2014 Strawberry raspberry red fruits floral , Sandy block 13 % good PH soft cool climate Pinot great length med soft tannins sometimes picked in May can be very cool years fine chalky tannins fine grained 31 % new oak 10 months hint vanilla on finish
My lofty Ranges Lenswood 2014 Whisky, oak, strawberry,1 yr old barrel 100% whole bunch pressed,2 barrels only made ! 13.2% site specific.North facing picked March 4 th Med fine grained chalky tannin good length balance acidity crisp drier than others 10 month oak
Nepenthe the Good Doctor 2014 Earth, spicy, floral, cherry, bigger body more tannin soft chalky fine grained wild strawberry some stalks used inc structure
Shaw and smith 9 months oak less than other areas such as Mornington Peninsula, 12 months bottle prior to release. Herbal ,spicy, gamey, strawberry sl cooked perfumed oak soft tannin low extremely low yield vintage 1.5 tonnes per hectare .Don’t age like burgundy, not sure why new oak doesn’t over power wine.Beautiful expression pure fruit.
Lost in a forest in Uraida is a converted church. It now houses a wood fired pizza oven and wine lounge with art decorating the walls, based on a song by the Cure. A perfect setting to meet this entertaining group of hipsters at the forefront of winemaking in the Basket Range region of the Adelaide Hills. They share a philosophy of how wine should be made – with wild yeasts, as little added or taken away as possible, lots of skin contact, no filtration, and just the barest addition of sulphur at bottling.
Murdoch hill Wines – Michael Downer
Sulky Blanc – Blend of Riesling SB PG aromatic textural
Ridley Pinot by 2 Pinot Noir , Pinot Meunier 50 50 Very light colour red fruit perfumed nose candied cherries
The Surrey Pinot Meunier 100% 2016 Very light colour Nice candied cherry finish Gentle extract softer style hint spice
Sulky Syrah Merlot Light extract ? Carbonic , ester VA acetone light tannins
The landau 100 Syrah 2015 Blackberry and pepper med chalky tannins light and fruity
BK wines Brendan Keys
Pet Nat Chardonnay Cider yeast cloudy surprisingly good apple hint sugar helps
Bk Rose all Pinot Light fresh hint strawberry Crisp finish
Savagnin skin And bones Long time on skin and bone dry Savagnin thought it was Albariño 1 month on skins made like a red wine Orange peel marmalade white flower chamomile tea dried herbs thyme Long finish tannins.He says smells lol old people !
Swaby Chardonnay 2015 He makes 5 chardonnays Flinty smoky vanilla cream butter obvious Chardonnay old clone Picked earlier 30 % new French 10 m Malolactic per cent variable 100% in this nice good crisp finish gentle salinity Huge variability in region hills micro climates slopes .
Skin and bones Pinot noir 90 days skin extended macération fine long tannins can age well Earth gamey wild strawberry
Ochota Barrels Tara’s ochota
Ochota Barrels Chardonnay Likes texture whole bunch prolonged macération 13 % Names relate to punk music Champagne clone g 9 b 7 closed nose apples hopes for savoury finish, holds acidity 2 days skins
Ochota Barrels Gamay Half carb mac half whole bunch Cherry red fruit esters acetone obv carb Clean red fruit nervous tension One for the pizza
Ochota Barrels Grenache 100% whole bunch Planted 1947 Closed good tannins perfume on finish florality . Too young .
Ochota Barrels Syrah 100% whole bunch Carb mac type flavours also raspberry violet green peppercorn
Ochota Barrels Mataro Light fruit juicy lots chalky tannin savoury Persistent tannin needs age
Jaume -James Erskine
Sémillon 75 chenin Whole ferment Cider yeast fermenting ? Natural
1000 fires Huhndert Wasser lots colour slightly cloudy
Jaume Grenache Perfumed finish, violet chews, cedar, pencil shaving red cherry long length excellent Tannins good backbone +
Jaume Shiraz bit of Grenache, Blueberry, blackberry, red fruit, floral, violet ,herb, fine med tannins fruity .
Jaume grenache Ralph 2015 Complex nose liquorice spice, dried herbs pot pourrie dried rose petals Long floral finish very interesting floral length suphur free available les caves de pyrennes Lighter style.
Wendouree Cellars is one of the cult legends of Australian wine.Tony Brady has been winemaker since 1974 and together with his wife Lita are custodians of this historical wine gem. The first vines were planted in 1893. Wendouree has 28-acres of vines, all dry grown, yielding around 50 tonnes per vintage. The grapes are handpicked and made with minimal intervention in open top fermenters. The 100-year-old stone winery is virtually unchanged from the day it was built. They switched to screw cap in 2009, having waited for 10 yrs for guala cap. Only a limited amount of quality wine is produced per year, for an exclusive mailing list of customers.
Wines we were luck enough to try –
Shiraz Mataro 2014 80% 20% 1893 vines 1919/20 vines.Tannin smooth well integrated blueberry and blackberry fruit liquorice herb and spice texture lovely long meaty complex finish 13.3%
Shiraz Malbec 2014 1919/1920 vines.Lots generous blue fruit.Great length after blueberry concentration.Black cherry great backbone chalky tannins depth and concentration roses violets 13.6%
Shiraz 2014 1893 vines 13.7 % blue fruit and black pepper spice chalky tannins.Pepper finish delicious tannins full need time !
Malbec 2014 from 1898 plantings blueberry and blackberry less tannins Greek Corintiake currents may be present
Cabernet Malbec 2014 graphite pencil shavings cedar perfumed big tannins mouth coating acidic lurking needs a long time hint cassis but not much group thought ferrugenous ( iron like quality maybe from soils).Meaty bloody quality ? Hint chocolate
Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Cassis rich intense concentrated fruit tannins a baby needs 20+yrs so concentrrated rich intense not complex yet. would love to try his old stuff fruit covered tannins chalky long long
Everyone agreed wow factor
Muscat of Alexandria 2014 1940 east vineyard planting slightly fortified to 17%.Grapes luscious delicious no one spitting ! Ripe apricot perfume floral length amazing just awesome .so balanced and long orange blossom +++
A truly memorable experience with everyone hankering after a bottle !
Dave and Diana Palmer were generous hosts for the evening at their boutique family-owned and operated winery located in the heart of the picturesque Clare Valley. Seated outside on the verandah and under the shade of an old olive tree, overlooking the cottage garden and the vines we were treated to some real gems and delicious local cuisine.
Skillogalee shiraz 2012 spicy rich intense fantastic length and balance
Skillogalee Gewurtztraminer beautiful restrained Gewürztraminer with lovely florality
Skillogalee Riesling clean crisp lovely long finish
Wood vale 2014 Shiraz black intense blue and black fruits pepper spice long.
Mcnichol 2004 shiraz fragrant complex with dark fruits .Made by the lovely Hilary Mitchell who’s magical smile lasts long in the memory.
Riesling has become synonymous with Clare Valley. The typical style is restrained and austere when young, with lime and mineral notes. They can evolve for decades and most benefit from over 5 years of ageing. Clare Shiraz is full flavoured with ripe blackberry and spice characteristics. There is a large diurnal shift with drops in temperature from 40C in the day to 1C at night common during the ripening months. This allows for acid retention and vibrant fruit quality. We were lucky enough to visit some of the iconic wine producers – Jim Barry Wines, Grosset, and Wendouree .
An evening with Peter Barry and family at his lovely colonial home was one of the highlights of not just this wine trip but all previous tours. In his Garden the much anticipated Assyrtiko was unveiled, The glorious end product of his vision following a family holiday to Santorini in 2006.Ten years on, following a lengthy process of importation and quarantine of the cuttings, we were lucky enough to be amongst the first to try it . Crisp,fresh and acidic and fittingly served with fresh anchovies. It was clear to see Peter is a visionary in the wine industry.He then served the delicious Florita Riesling, lovely floral nose and fresh lime zest.
We moved inside for dinner. I could barely hide my excitement at the array of wines chosen. Two vintages of the majestic The Benbournie Cabernet Sauvignon . Mcrae wood Shiraz 1994 ,1998 . The Armagh 2002 and 2010, and many more. When he brought out a range of silly hats from a Morrocan Fez to a Mexican Sombrero, Peter and his lucky guests hit full song . The evening’s finale lay in The Jim Barry cellars sampling a rare old home matured Rutherglen and his own ‘Sauternes’ 1981.
We left in fine fettle . This night will long go down in the memory.
Jeffrey Grosset is internationally recognised as one of the most influential winemakers in the world. He hosted a Riesling Masterclass ( 9am 11 th November) We started with a review of the geology in the Clare Valley. The region’s soils are 500 to 800 million yrs old it’s phylloxera freeand vines are on their own rootstock .Clare has up to 110 yrs of unbroken winemaking history. Grosset is situated in the south of Clare , which is 25 km in length . We tasted six 2016 Rieslings in pairs from different sites to demonstrate the expressiveness of different terroirs , followed by six older Rieslings to demonstrate the marked changes in ageing .
Grosset Polish Hill 2016 Lime zest/blossom clean crisp piercing acidity linear hint white flower,closed
Pokes Merle Riesling 2016 Lime clean acid pear apple lemon grapefruit closed generally
Crabtree Watervale Riesling 2016 Red loam limestone watervale region,boot polish musty nose reduced,Crisp fresh lime on palate
Jim Barry Florita Riesling 2016 More floral Jasmine white blossom.Lime juice long finish open fresh
Celtic farm Riesling 2016 Floral white yellow blossom open nose honeysuckle stone fruit peach warmer site mandarin more open wine more lush complex mineralty salty
Naked run Riesling 2016 Pear apple hint mandarin lime and salty finish
Aged Riesling flight
2014 Hill River Clare Estate Riesling Petrol beeswax fuller richer palate length depth lime more developed than expected for 2 yrs
2013 Leo Buring Leonay Riesling Petrolic reduction TDN
2010 Kilikanoon Morts Reserve Riesling dry acid crisp lime length petrol
2009 Paulette aged release Riesling Petrol honey longer complex sl toasty marzipan beeswax **
2005 Mount Horrocks Riesling Tropical fruits honey beeswax marzipan.Long finish nutty toast
2004 Mitchell’s Watervale Riesling Beeswax honey nuts toast,petrol long
The wines were generally bone dry (less than 4gl or nil).Value wines not expensive given beautiful development over few years.Production is low.
We then drove to the Gaia vineyard through Montero slate country. Jeffrey specifically chose this isolated east facing slope 20 years ago for his Cabernet Sauvignon.We sampled the lovely Gaia 2013- Herbaceous, black currant leaf,casssis capsicum good acid backbone and length
Lunch at Paulett vineyard , Polish Hill River with alternative varietals tasting followed
Pauletts Helmsford semillon2015 by Polish Hill Lemon citrus fresh clean
47/74 hand crafted Malbec Cabernet 2010 Cassis black plum mint liquorice concentrated fine chalky tannins good acidity length
Artwine Fiano Wicked Stepmother 2016 fresh lovely texture oily mouth coating
Matriarch and Rogue 2016 Vermentino hint peach pear good crisp acidity
Mount Horrocks Nero d’Avola 2014 Low tannin not great depth concentration black fruits light only planted 2007 young
Artwine Montepulciano Leave Your Hat On 2015 dark wine packed full of dark cherry fruit dark plums spice good backbone med tannin length
Matara kilkanoon 2013 Good intensity black fruit med tannin good balance acidity sl savoury
The day was still young. The iconic Wendouree and an evening dinner at Skillagolee was yet to come ….