My Opinions of Wines I've Drunk

Very Much Under Construction
This area is a record of wines I've tasted at wineries, restaurants, and wine tasting parties. It's mostly a way for me to track what I've drunk, what I've liked, and what I haven't. As I'm traveling, I'll try to put in a few notes as well about the wineries I visit.

On some entries you will see a set of three numbers. These are a very crude way for me to be more specific than "I really like this." The first digit is a rating of a wine's nose (scale is 1-10, 10 best), the second it's taste, and the third it's finish. I won't pretend I'm good at this, I'm just trying to find a crutch to help me remember what I like in the future.

September 30, 2007

USA - California - Napa - Barnett

This is a small winery near the top of Pride Mountain on the Napa/Sonoma county border. They only produce about 5,000 cases of wine a year and specialize in Merlot and Cabernet. The views from their deck overlooking the Napa Valley are pretty spectacular.

2006 Sangiacomo Vineyards Chardonnay
Light gold, straw colored with hints of green. A very tight, difficult to smell nose. Not too buttery, nice acid, plenty of oak. Kind of a creamy texture to it. The end of the finish has a slight woodiness, but I kind of like it. A medium long finish. A very restrained California Chardonnay. $32

2006 Savoy Vineyard Chardonnay
Grapes from the same vineyard in Sonoma that Radio-Cateau uses for their Pinot Noir. Very light colored, again a touch of green. Bit of green apple on the nose - crisp. Nice round flavors, some noticeable glycerin. Apple flavors predominate. Nice long sustained finish. You can taste this wine with your entire mouth. Good stuff. $40

2006 Savoy Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Pinky colored. Nose has some cotton candy, strawberry aromas. Light tasting, pleasant and easy drinking but not a lot of depth. Starts out with berry flavors, moves a bit towards dark cherries. Finish is kind of long but not complex or layered. Nice, but not great, I'd rather have the Radio-Cateau version of this wine. Seems over priced. $52

2006 Tina Marie Russian River Pinot Noir
Purplish pink color. Tight aromas, hard to get a nose. Shows more backbone than the Savoy. Classic California Pinot with blackberry and raspberry flavors predominating. Finish is a bit short. A very pleasant wine. $40

2005 Spring Mountain Merlot
Blackberry colored. Beautifully balanced, but still definitely a merlot. Finish is nice and long but not layered. No grassiness, no harsh tannins, easy to drink now. $45

2004 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark bing cherry color. Cherry aromas, little bit of green pepper, but very very small; I enjoyed the aroma. Tastes very well integrated and balanced with lots of plum and a touch of black pepper. Nice long finish, with a bit of layering. Soft tannins, very easy drinking. $65

2005 Rattlesnake Hill Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark, almost opaque purple with hints of blue. Dusty blackberry and cassis aromas. Beautiful taste, some mocha, nice acid. Fruit first, very subdued oak, finely integrated. Tastes very fresh without any green flavors or harsh tannins. A nice wine. $120

2005 Cyrus-Ryan Cabernet Sauvignon
Grapes from the Napa valley floor. Blackberry color, touch of cloudiness. Some blackberry hints on nose. More intense than the Rattlesnake hill. Reminds me a lot of good Napa Valley Cabs like Stags Leap or Frog's Leap. More tannins than the other Cabs, but not harsh in any way, nicely balanced. Has a beautiful long finish that moves from the back of the pallette to the front.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2007

Canada - Ontario - Niagara - Jackson-Triggs

This is a really nice winery. They are based in a relatively new building with very nice architecture. My 11 year old niece and 7 year old nephew took the tour and really enjoyed it. There are two separate tasting rooms, we focused on the library wine room. It was a bit hard to get service in the tasting room even though there weren't crowds, we were ignored for a while. But once we were take care of, it was a nice tasting with Riedel stemware.

2006 Grand Reserve White Meritage 6-6-6
Pale sand color. Citrus nose, touch of grass. Not surprisingly it's 13% Semillon and 87% Sauvignon Blanc. Tastes of pineapple, grapefruit, hints of green apple skin. A bit of an edge like grapefruit peel. Surprisingly long finish. CA$24.75

2006 Chardonnay 7-7-6
Pale sand, hints of gold. Butter, poached pears and oak on the nose. Big time malolactic but balanced by a nice acid. Surprisingly clean, with a low alcohol content that helps keep it tasting light. Well balanced. Not an exceptional long or layered finish. CA$18.95

2006 Riesling 8-7-7
Beautiful nose - extremely floral - you can smell it from yards away. Very dry, hints of violet, some orange, touch of lemon zest, green apple. Maybe some sour peach or peach pit or apricot. Nice long finish with some layering - goes from fruit forward to a bit of candy. I like this. CA$17.30

2005 Delaine Vineyard Riesling 6-7-8
Clear. Strong petrol nose, very little fruit though some green leaf. Sits on the knife edge between sweet and sour. Green apple, green pear, soursop. Very long finish to lemon. I like this. Would pair perfectly with a chilled dilled salmon. CA$18.95

2006 Delaine Vineyard Gewurztraminer 6-5-6
Almost clear. Big dill chip nose. A very dry gewurztraminer, kind of a funky european kind of taste. It has a long but not complex finish. CA$22.80

2005 Delaine Vineyard Pinot Noir 4-4-4
Bing cherry skin colored. Nose of nectarine skins, earth, a bit of plastic (not a turn on) or even furniture polish. Tastes green and very heavy on the earthy flavors. You've got to look hard for the fruit. Lots of dark flavors. Tastes very tight but I don't think it will ever open up. Tobacco and tannins on the finish. CA$25.30

2002 Delaine Vineyard Merlot 6-6-5
Opaque, slightly cloudy. Bell pepper, vanilla, blackberries on nose. Taste vanilla, plum, some green pepper. Hints at a velvety mouthfeel. Finish isn't complex but goes towards spicy plum. CA$25

2005 Delaine Vineyard Syrah 6-5-6
Dark red currant color. Cassis on the nose. Nice intensity and concentrated flavors. Black cherry, truffles, some dark chocolate flavors. Finish is surprisingly long with an emphasis on dark berries, maybe a bit of mushroom. My last taste was much better than my first. CA$29.99

2004 Delaine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 5-6-6
Dark cherry color. Big green pepper nose, some currant in there. Do smell some cotton candy? Surprisngly fruity, softer flavors than I expected from the nose. Blackberry, cassis, classic bordeaux flavors with some vanilla on the finish. CA$29.95

2004 Proprietors's Grand Reserve Meritage 5-6-6
50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc. Dark cherry color, nice brilliance. Bit tough to smell the nose, not a lot of aromas. Light hints of green pepper, green twigs, cherry. Intense flavor - kind of a wow wine - very full bodied which was a surprise given the nose. Strong cherry flavors, hints of spice. Finish is long but not too complex. CA$24.99

2004 Gewürztraminer Icewine 7-7-8
Light gold color - "spring sunrise". Candied pineapple on the nose. Lots of tropical fruits, some candied ginger. Maybe some peach cobbler. Very light acid. Has a beautiful long lingering layered finish. Good stuff. CA$63

2004 Cabernet Franc Icewine 6-7-7
Red-orange copper color. Apple butter on the nose. Very intense flavors: marmalade, honey, touch of black pepper from the tannin. Finish is nice but not as long as the Gewürztraminer. CA$74

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 1:58 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2007

Canada - Ontario - Niagara - Pillitteri

2004 Dry Riesling 4-3-4
Extremely clear. Nose of white grape skins. Sour, grape taste. Disappointing finish. CA$14

2005 Chambourain 4-3-3
Dark cherry color, touch of brown. Smells high in alcohol, but is only 12%. Tastes a lot like tar, and not in a good way. Finish is abrasive. CA$14

2005 Vidal Icewine 6-7-6
Gold/green color. Honey on the nose, hints of apple butter. Nice bit of acid, keeps it from being cloying. Very crisp, not syrupy. Slight grassy taste. FInish is long though not layered or complex. Hints of apricot on the finish. CA$40

2003 Riesling Icewine 6-7-6
Sandy colored. Almond blossom nose. Taste violets, green apples. Backbone has a touch of acid, like apples. Not overly sweet. Very long finish, with some apricot, but not much layering. CA$50

2004 Cabernet Franc Icewine 6-6-6
Copper colored. Sweet ice tea nose. Taste apples - a bit tart, some spicy apple butter going on. Don't like this as much as the Jackson-Triggs. Tiny bit of tannin. Finishes with strawberries.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 1:47 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2007

Canada - Ontario - Niagara - Inniskillin

It was interesting to visit the Mecca of Canadian ice wine. This winery is obviously set up for a lot of visitors. They have two separate tasting areas, one for their table wines, the other for ice wines. We tried both.

2006 Late Autumn Riesling 6-5-5
Semi-dry. Very light, almost clear color. Hints of lime on the nose. Tastes much drier than expected. Very one-dimensional lemon/lime flavors, not enough depth, probably lacking acid. Finish is medium long but flat.

2004 Montague Estate Chardonnay 5-3-4
Light sand colored. Classic chard nose, butter and pineapple. Tastes green, not my kind of chard at all. Some butteriness but not the sweetness I usually associate with a bit of malo-lactic fermentation. Actually a bitterness predominates. CA18.30

2004 Founder's Series Pino Noir 6-2-2
Light cherry colored, some hints of strawberry red. Nice raspberry, classic pinot noir nose. Taste is very bitter - no fruit at all. Finish is hot and burnt. Drinking this was not a pleasant experience. This was really bad - could it have been a bad bottle? CA34.65

2004 Oak Aged Videl Icewine 7-7-6
Light gold colored. Honey and vanilla on the nose. Not overly sweet. Taste caramel, peach shortcake, bit of cream, hints of almond. A very long finish, but drops of suddenly at the end, not gradually. CA$89.95

2005 Cabernet Franc Icewine 8-8-7
Pinky copper colored. I love the nose - hints of strawberries. Definite strawberries in the flavor. A wee bit syrupy, but some noticeable acid, especially in the front of the mouth. Zero tannins. Nice sustained finish. CA$110

2004 Sparkling Vidal Icewine 6-6-7
Golden straw or honey colored. Honey and flowers on the nose. Tastes hint of mangos and lychees. Not as sweet as expected. Finish is nice and long with hints of nuts at the end. CA$70

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 1:47 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2007

Australia - Victoria - Yarra Valley - Oakridge

2006 Oakridge Chardonnay 7-7-7
Pale straw color. Very nice clean nose, no malolactic detectable on nose, almost not butteriness. Nice clean intense chardonnay flavors - some peach and orange peel. Finishes with a bit of minerality. Lots of layers. Good stuff. AU$29

2005 864 Charonnay 5-7-7
Very pale. Bit of a tight nose, hard to get much smell, but some burnt match. Tastes zero butteriness - do get grapefruit and serious minerality. Reminds me of a white burgundy. Has a long layered finish with a touch of burnt wood at the end of the finish. A beautiful elegant wine. AU$49

2006 Pinot Noir 5-6-7
Pinkish raspberry color. Almost candy nose. Dark stewed plum taste, with a bit of violet. Not overly complex finish. Last taste is much better than first, turns out there is a nice long finish in there. AU$29

2005 Over the Shoulder Cabernet/Merlot 6-5-6
Interesting almost candy nose. Dark plum colors. Hits of grassyness, cedar, blackberries. Tiny bit bitter, tannins a bit rough. Not very well integrated. Long finish but not very layered. AU$18

2005 Shiraz 6-6-7
Purple - a bit cloudy. Bit of white pepper on the nose, maybe hints of cardamon. This is a very different style shiraz with blueberry fruit and white pepper and anise flavors. The tannins say "Hello!" A long, nicely layered finish. AU$29

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon 6-7-7
Intense dark red/purple. Nose of sweet cream de cassis, sweet grapes. Beautifully blanced, tannins is there but well integrated. Nice acid too. Tastes of black fruits, cedar, smoke. A long savory finish on a nice classic style Cabernet. Good Value at AU$29

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 2:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2007

Australia - Victoria - Yarra Valley - De Bortoli

2006 Yarra Valley Estate Viognier 4-5-6
Very pale sand color. Weak nose. Initial taste is very chardonnay-like, typical viognier flavors come in later, but they remain a bit buried. Finish is nice with a bit of orange blossom and maybe some cinnamon. I'd almost bet that there was some Chardonnay in this. AU$22

2005 Yarra Valley Estate Chardonnay 6-7-7
Very light straw color. Nose has nuts and burnt match aromas. Hints of fig on the initial taste. Nutty oak - maybe macadamia. Plenty of good acid. Finish is very long and somewhat complex and interesting. Really keeps on going to a beautiful finish. AU$30

Gulf Station Pinot Noir 6-5-5
Purplish red cherry skin colored, medium color intensity. Classic pinot noir nose. Dark cherry flavors with a bit of latte. Very soft tannins. Moderately long finish. At the end of the finish there is some candy/syrupy taste. AU$18

2005 Estate Shiraz/Viognier 5-6-6
Nice rich deep purple colors. The nose isn't as interesting as I'd hoped with the viognier in there - some white pepper, but pretty tight. Very ripe, stewed plum tastes. Viognier influence is hardly noticeable. Smooth tannins. Finish is nice, goes towards plum skin flavors. Last taste was much more interesting than the first. AU$30

Black Noble 6-7-7
A very interesting blend of botrytised semillon (Noble One) and Pedro Ximenez. Interesting nose of molasses & malt. Complex & interesting flavors with toffee, mocha ice cream, and malt. Really reminds me of a Starbucks drinks.

U.S. Distributor:
DeBortoli Wines USA

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 2:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2007

Australia - Victoria - Yarra Valley - Dominique Portet

Brut Rosé Bubbly 6-6-6
Light pink, almost peach colored. Nice stonefruit nose. Very fizzy, almost sweet, creamy texture. Easy drinking with plenty of sweet berry flavors. Has a clean finish. AU$24

2006 Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc 5-6-5
Light straw colored. Very grapey nose - the typical Sauvignon Blanc grassiness is kind of hard to find. Very sweet, not much traditional Sauvignon Blanc flavor. Huge passionfruit, a bit bit of yeastiness, crisp. Above average longth of finish, but not very interesting. Hints of oak seem to come through. AU$22

2006 Fontaine Rosé 5-6-6
Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Shiraz. Rose-gold colored. Tropical fruits on the nose. Totally dry, with a streak of tannins. Red berries and cherry tastes. Nice savory finish. AU$18

2004 Heathcote Cabernet Sauvignon 8-7-8
Bit cloudy, light plum colored. Extremely interesting nose. Beautiful intense blueberry, currant, and spice flavors. Has a long lingering finish, nicely layered. This is good stuff. Nice yummy tannins. AU$40

U.S. Distributor is Grail Wine, 2870 Monticello Road, Napa

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Margaret River - Leeuwin Estate

Another Margaret River icon winery. Leeuwin Estate was started with the help or Robert Mondavi back in the 80's and they've been producing great wines ever since. Like the Mondavi winery in Napa, Leeuwin often has concerts in a large outdoor amphitheater. Unlike Mondavi, Leeuwin has a fantastic restaurant which I highly recommend.

2005 Art Series Riesling
Pale, touch of grassy green. Nose of honeysuckle and wet rocks. Concentrated flavors, big lime and grapefruit, very crisp with a definite mineral edge. Finish is a bit shorter than expected (hoped) and has hints of orange. AU$22

2004 Art Series Chardonnay
Straw colored, hints of green. Nose of peaches and Fig Newtons. Wow, really intense flavors. Beautiful layers of peach, pears, pear skin, buttered toast, nuts. Incredibly complex finish, tons of layers. Oak is totally under control.
I had this with a Butter Poached Marrin (something like an american crayfish) salad, the taste pairings were interesting: With the marrin a sweetness came out which I hadn't noticed before. With the parsley, arugula, and mint salad the apple and pear flavors came forward (this was an excellent combo). This wine gets better as it warms up a bit - hints of an oiliness. This is as good as some of the best French Chardonnay I've had. I don't normally like Chardonnay, but this could be the best wine I've had in Australia. AU$85

2004 Art Series Shiraz
Dark purple. Nice nose - blackberry and oak. Rich, very warm flavors, almost sweet blackberries (though completely dry). Very nicely integrated tannins. Finishes with dark cherries. AU$34

2002 Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark purple. Cedar and pencil lead on the nose. Medium bodied wine. Taste hints of chocolate and black currants. Beautiful, yummy smooth tannins. AU$51

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:54 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Margaret River - Watershed

A beautifully architected visitor's center with a good looking restaurant (I didn't have time to eat there).

2006 Sauvignon Blanc / Sauvignon
Very pale straw color, aromas of gooseberry and lime. Intense flavors, almost syrupy but plenty of acid so still crisp. Finish is longer and nicer than average but not super complex. A nice flavorful wine, big on citrus and tropical flavors. AU$17

2006 Unoaked Chardonnay
Very pale. Crisp pineapple nose. Again, intense flavors, concentrated honeydew melon. Finish is a bit short. This would be a good party wine. Find this at home for entertaining. AU$17

2006 "Awakening" Sauvignon Blanc
Very pale straw. Lemon jam and lychee nose. Very little grass or gooseberry nose. Beautiful floral flavors - the lychee comes through strongly. Touch of caramel on finish. Finish is nice and long and becomes a bit minerally.

2004 Sangiovese
A bit light colored, crimson red. Serious jammy red currant nose. Raspberry and latté flavors. Finish is a bit short. Tannin and oak very nicely integrated. Aged on hungarian oak. AU$25

2003 Shiraz
Medium cherry red color. Nose is spicy - nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper. Smokey taste, spice and raspberries, gentle tannins. Finish goes on nicely. This wine grows on me as I continue tasting it. AU$25

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
Dark plum colored, a bit cloudy. Nice intense violets, a bit of black currant. Tannins a bit grippy. Mocha, espresso tastes. Black currant too. No heavy cabernet sauvignon flavors.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:53 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Margaret River - Vasse Felix

One of my best friend's family owns this winery so I don't think I can give an objective review of their wines - I like them all. This was the first winery in the Margaret River region and they really know what they're doing.

And I highly recommend the restaurant at the winery. You sit on the second floor of the old winery and have a great view out over the vineyards, sculpture garden and eucalyptus bush while you're eating. I had two meals there and both of them were excellent. (If it's on the menu, I highly recommend the duck curry.)

On the wines, I have to say that I love the Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend and I think they make an excellent Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon. Both of these wines go beautifully with food.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:11 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Margaret River - Cape Mentelle

2006 Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon
A 60/40 blend. Very clear. A crisp clean nose, very grassy. Softer rounder flavors than expected, almost sweet. Relatively low acid. Peach, honeydew flavors with a touch of oak. Finish is very long with some layering. No tropical flavors here at all. A very gentle SBS. AU23.50

2004 Wallcliffe Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon
Oaky nose, very surprising. Some lemongrass in there too. Wow, unlike any other SBS I've had. VERY round flavors - like lemon meringue pie. Really good. Has a complex finish, lots of layers - mineral, grass, lemon, pie crust, etc. Get this at home if you can. AU$35

2005 Chardonnay
Very pale straw. Hard to get a nose (why can't we taste with better glassware?), but a bit of buttered toast. Gentle chardonnay flavors, peaches, mineral. Very subtle flavors, long complex finish. Kind of a french style. Wouldn't want to serve it too cold. AU$40

2004 Shiraz
Brilliant dark plum colored. Plums and dark chocolate nose. Very fruit flavored, almost like a grenache. Sweet and savory layers. A very complex layered finish with cherries, caramel, cherry lollipops. AU$35

2002 Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark brick colored. Classic Cabernet aroma, big on cedar. Blackberry flavors, some oak. Tannins are still a bit tight. Nice finish, long and changing. AU$71

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
Finish is the best part of this. Nose has hints of vanilla. A bit bitter, tight green tannins. Seems like the grapes were picked green. AU$28

2004 Zinfandel
Brilliant dark cherry color. Very spicy nose. This is an interesting interpretation of Zinfandel. Tastes of chocolate, cherry pie, nice spice. Beautifully finished. Surprisingly, I like this. Very reminiscent of Alexander Valley Zinfandel such as Radio Cateau.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 5:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Margaret River - Gralyn Estate

Cellar door sales only at this rather small winery. I love the fact that they use good wineglasses for their tastings and change glasses between each sample.

2005 Chardonnay
Pale straw color, hints of green. Vanilla nose, classic chardonnay. Surprisingly crisp, nice citrus & peach flavors. Finishes very differently, kind of grapefruit. AU$55

2006 Unoaked Cabernet
Clear dark cherry color. Extreme red currant nose, kind of brambly. Tastes a bit herbaceous, dark berry flavors. Tannins are a bit tight and green. AU$26

2006 Racy Red
A blend of 59% Grenache, 27% Shiraz, 11% Cabernet, and 3% Muscat. "The nice lady pouring said this was their red wine for people who don't like red wine." Cheap perfume nose. Very sweet. Pretty much like soda pop. AU$26

2004 Reserve Shiraz
Beautiful red color, a bit opaque. Nose is very layered, spicy, smokey, plummy. Initial taste is a bit overpowering with savory spices. No pepper. Beautiful long finish - mocha, cedar and smoke. A very interesting wine. Will be great in about 5 years I bet. AU$95

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz
Brilliant dark currant flavors. Raspberry and menthol nose. Beautiful round mouthfeel. Very layered with distinct flavors of blueberry, cedar, cassis, and who knows what else. A very long finish which changes a lot. A complex wine. Would be fantastic with elk or venison. Quite nice, if I could get this at home I would. AU$95

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
Brick cherry red. Kind of a tight nose, hints of cedar and peppermint. Gorgeous fine tannins. Chocolate and black currant flavors. Long finish, but not as layered as the Cabernet/Shriaz. AU$95

2006 White Port
Straw colored. Nose has spice and orange zest. Sweet but flavorful. Nothing like a white port from Porto. AU$26

Dried blood red. Raisin and caramel nose. Flavors start with big raisins then moves to caramel machiato. AU$40

Liqueur Riesling
Yellow gold. Nose of dried apricots and pears. Tastes like orange marmalade on raisin toast. Very long finish.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 5:20 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Margaret River - Ashbrook Estate

No website.

2006 Sauvignon Blanc
Light straw colored. Very nice floral nose, hints of wet minerals, not a whole lot of typical Sauvignon Blanc aromas. Buttery - tastes almost like a chardonnay. Lots of sweet tropical flavors like mangos and guavas. Different, but good stuff. Nice finish. AU$20

2005 Chardonnay
Very light colored. Nose has a bit of vanilla and lemons. Despite no malolactic fermentation, there's a smell of butteryness. Very crisp, clean fruit flavors. Doesn't taste at all like it smells. Very long finish. AU$27

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
A classic Bordeaux style. Black cherry skin colored. Typical Cabenet nose - pencil lead, mint. Softer tannins than expected given the nose. Finish isn't anything special. AU$27

2003 Shiraz
Dark violet colored. Nice nose - cedar and mint. Great tastes of blackberry, black cassis, plum skins. Finish has a few layers, but not a whole lot. AU$27

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 5:18 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Margaret River - Hamelin Bay

This winery is kind of off the Margaret River beaten track but it's worth a trip down to visit them. Because they are on the southern edge of the Margaret River appellation, their wines reflect the cooler temperatures.

2006 "Rampant" White
A Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay blend reminiscent of Conundrum. Pale, sandy colored. It has a complex nose, you can smell the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay as separate layers. Taste is very citrusy, lemon, some kiwi and grass. Nice finish. Great stuff. AU$18

2006 "Five Ashes" Sauvignon Blanc
Very clear. Nice typical Sauvignon Blanc nose, slight honey notes nestled in the lime. Gentle taste, not too acidic. Plenty of lime and kiwi, hints of vanilla. A little bit of barrel fermentation comes through. Beautiful finish - very long. AU$20

2006 "Five Ashes" Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc
Very muted nose, can't get much. Very clear. Zesty kiwi flavors. Nice long finish. AU$20

2005 "Five Ashes" Chardonnay
Light colored, almost pale. Fruitcake, maybe almond on the nose. Pear tastes, very clean, light on the oak and malolactic flavors, delicate. Interesting layers of flavor. A very long finish. Well made, very approachable. AU$26

2004 "Rampant" Red
Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot blend. Brick-purple color, some opacity. Bit sour smell - burnt spices, tar, anise. Taste is very different from nose - nice plums & earthyness. Finishes with some coconut and vanilla flavors. AU$20

2002 Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
Brownish red color. Wet wool nose, prunes. Serious tastes of chocolate and peat. Finishes with more fruit. AU$26

2003 Shiraz
Kind of dull color. Nose has some mint candy in it. Cottony mouth-feel, milk chocolate tastes. Finishes with nutmeg and cocoa. AU$29

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 4:44 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Margaret River - Happs

A very funky winery with a ceramics business as well. These guys pride themselves on making new and experimental wines.

2004 Three Hills Viognier
Pale straw. Nose is a bit weak, a bit astringent. Apricot flavors, a bit toasted, hints of almond. Finish is long and round, ending in some mandarin.

2005 Three Hills Cahrdonnay
Very light. Not much nose, tight. Serious peach flavors.

2005 Happs Fuchsia
Happs' popular pink wine. Sweet, but with a touch of tannin. Very light bodied. Feels spritzy, but has no bubbles. Their top selling wine, but not my favorite. AU$16

2004 Happs Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
Soft, easy acid. Balanced savory tannins. Short finish. Dark cherry flavors, a bit of dark bramble fruit. AU$20

2002 Three Hills Grenahce
Light colored, Not sweet at all, completely dry. Mocha and raspberry flavors. Short finish. AU$30

2003 Three Hills Merlot
Dark plum color. Grat tannins. Nice touch of yummy oak. I like this. Got to taste the 2004 as well, it's woodier (in a good way) and a bit longer finished. In a few years this will be very nice. AU$36

2002 Three Hills Charles Andreas
A Bordeaux blend. Inky dark color. Easy and approachable. Very fine tannins. AU$36

2003 Happs Shiraz
"Mountain herb" flavors. Very good stuff. AU$20

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:24 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Margaret River - Cullen Wines

A great little winery trying to go 100% organic. The restaurant at the winery is highly recommended in the area and I found it to be very enjoyable. The food is completely organic and much of it is locally grown. For lunch I had a starter of Squid with Herb Salad & Sushi Rice, and Lamb Tagine for my main.

2006 Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc
Pale straw color, hint of green. Nose is grassy with hints of lemon zest. Prototypical Margaret River SBS, with hints of pineapple. Very long layered finish. Fantastic with a squid salad (seasoned with sweet pepper and sesame). Clashes a bit with the water cress in the herb salad. AU$35

2004 Cabernet / Merlot
Dark purple color. Cabernet is strong on the nose - hints of red raspberry. Very round flavors, finish is nicer than the original tastes - layered and changing. Some smoke and oak. AU$35

2004 Mangan Vineyard Merlot
Cherry red. Aromas of blackberry and pencil lead. Dark bramble fruit flavors, a touch of tar. Finish has several layers, but not exceptionally long. AU$27

2005 Mangan Malbec / Petit Verdot / Merlot
Lighter colored - like a pinot noir, dark red raspberry. A light bodied wine, berries, but with a tannic backbone. Cola notes on the very long complex finish. AU$45

2003 Dina Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
Bit of the french style barnyard thing going on with the nose. Beautiful full flavors, cherry, cigar, cedar, purple plums. Very complex finish. A beautiful wine. AU$90

2005 Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
This wine will be released in July but I was given a sneak preview. If I thought the 2003 was nice, this is really spectacular. It's even more complex and amazingly has more concentrated flavor. This will be a fantastic wine. Price not yet known.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:23 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Margaret River - Pierro

2006 Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon
Minerally nose, not much of the classic Sauvignon Blanc aroma, more grassy. Serious lemon meringue pie taste. Intense, concentrated initial taste. AU$23

2005 Chardonnay
Pale straw, hint of green. Buttery malolactic nose, touch of tropical fruit, guava. Buttery but citrussy. For some reason the creaminess comes through to me as cashews. Well balanced. Extremely long and nice finish that just keeps on changing and evolving. Amazing complex wine. AU$67

2004 Pinot Noir
Very pale, almost rosé colored. Smells like wet wool, a bit of wood. Kind of sour, not much fruit. Long finish, but not the pinot flavors I usually like. A lot like the California pinots I'm not crazy about. Stemmy, tree leafy flavors. AU$41

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
Cherry skin red color. Bit of green cabernet nose. Tastes include chocolate, cherry, and a bit of oak. Easy soft sweet tannins. AU$32

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:23 AM | Comments (0)

April 5, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Margaret River - Voyager Estate

This winery is a landmark in the Margaret River area. Starting in Victoria on my trip across southern Australia I had people I met in campgrounds, restaurants, and wine stores telling me I had to visit Voyager Estate. The winery itself is a very traditional style Dutch building with gorgeous grounds and rose gardens. Perhaps the best part of the winery though is the restaurant where I had the best beef (a filet mignon) I've had in Australia and without a doubt the best flat-white coffee of the trip. I highly recommend the restaurant for lunch or afternoon tea.

2006 Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc
Pale straw color, tinge of grassy green. Nose has hints of Sauvignon Blanc but very restrained. Big grapefruit flavors with a lemony finish. AU$22

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
Very dark, almost opaque. Soft refined nose. Beautiful wine, a perfect pairing with my steak. AU$39.50

2005 Shiraz
Seriously savory. Dark plum colors. AU$29.50

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:22 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Porongurup - Gibraltar Rock

This winery gets my sob-story award for emotional attachment. When I drove up to the winery, the place looked abandoned. I poked around though and eventually a gentleman (Doug) came around the corner and explained that they weren't really open for tasting, but he'd be happy to open a few bottles for me to try if I had a glass. I found one and was quickly trying some very nice wines. While tasting, my new friend told me that bush-fires which had come through the area several weeks before harvest destroyed their crop for this year and they would have no 2007 vintage wines. What a shame! I really enjoyed their wines. As I was leaving Doug gave me the bottles he'd opened for tasting. Great people, great wine. It's too bad they've had this disaster fall on them.

2001 Riesling
Light honey colored. Nose is definitely headed towards the honey and kerosene type of Riesling. Taste though is amazingly fresh and fruity with plenty of acid. Finish is a bit short. AU$22

2004 Riesling
Beautiful nose with hints of apricot. Nicest riesling I've had yet in Western Australia. Peach and stone fruit flavors. Not super acidic. Very elegant and well made. Interesting complex finish. Really good stuff. AU$22

2005 Riesling
Bit less of a nose than the 2004. Flavors are more muted as well but still nice. Again, noticeably gentle acids. AU$22

2004 Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc
Very clear. Big nose, very citrusy towards the orange and lemon end. Surprisingly round flavors, not too grassy or herbally. Not overly acidic. Finish is a bit short. Easy drinking.

2004 Pinot Noir
Light cherry color. Beautiful nose. Smokey, leather, earthy flavors but in a good way. Short finish. AU$18

2005 Pinot Noir
Beautiful cherry red color. Raspberry, blackberry nose. A lot going on, a very complex, multi layered wine. Beautiful long finish. AU$28

2006 Pinot Noir
Beautiful bright cherry color. Very fruity nose. Nice vanilla on finish. AU$28

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 6:51 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Great Southern - West Cape Howe

2006 Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc
Pale, touch of gold. Nice Sauvignon Blanc style nose. Chewy citrus flavors, almost no grassyness. Finish is long but one dimensional. AU$16

2006 Viognier
Pale, almost clear, touch of straw color. Not much flavor. Finish is fairly flat. Where are the classic floral notes? AU$19

2006 Unwooded Chardonnay
Straw colored. Pleasant nose, nice orange blossom notes. Nice acid, nectarine highlights. Crisp. Finish is nice but a hint of dark flavors. AU$16

2005 Chardonnay
Pale straw colored. Bit of guava on the nose. Nice citrus and peach flavors. Creamy. Finish is layered and clean - nice. AU$24

2005 Late Picked Riesling
Light straw colored. Fruity nose. Serious strawberry flavor. On the sweet side compared to other late picked Rieslings I've had around here. Finish is very viscous, plenty of mouth feel. AU$14.50

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
Red plum skin color. Nose has some menthol notes. Warm flavors, round, hints of chocolate. Fine tannins. Finish is very short. AU$16

2004 Shiraz
Nice nose, gentle fruit. Viscous mouth-feel. Mocha, dark fruit tastes. Tannins are there but not overpowering. Great long finish with several distinct layers. A bargain at AU$16

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Nice clean nose, not much green pepper. A very gentle Cab. Silky tannins, black currant and blackberry flavors. Finish is nice an long though not too complex. AU$24

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 6:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Great Southern - Karriview

This is a great place to have lunch - I had a really nice regional platter. This is not such a great place to taste wines - they had incense burning at the tasting bar!

2006 Classic White
Very pale. Orange on the nose. Very citrusy, tropical, almost sweet. AU$17

2004 Chardonnay
Very pale. Kind of a bitter hint on the nose. Again, orange hints on top of classic malolactic Chardonnay flavors. Nice clean finish - finish is better than the taste. Some dark hints.

2006 Rosé
Fire engine red. Sweet smell - like cherry soda. Tastes sweet too, like flat soda pop. Totally flat finish, nothing there. Not horrible, just more like fruit punch than wine. AU$17

2004 Pinot Noir
Brownish color, looks oxidized. A very cheesy nose (is this corked?) Tastes extremely mushroomy, not my kind of pinot, hard core french. Zero fruit flavors. AU$25

2006 Shiraz
Very purply. Fruit punch & maraschino cherry flavors. Very simple finish. Lacks intensity and flavor. AU$19

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 6:38 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Mount Baker - Plantagenet Wines

This is another winery whose wines I've served at home and always enjoyed. They are located about a 30 minute drive north of the coast. Omrah is their easy-drinking label

2006 Plantagenet Riesling
Pale straw colored. Nice nose, citrus with a hint of coconut macaroons. Crisp, nice acid. Clean lime and grapefruit flavors. Very assertive. Beautiful long finish. No shortage of acid from beginning to end, a year or two in the bottle might make this even better. AU$19

2006 Omrah Sauvignon Blanc
Very pale, almost clear. Big nose, lots of "cat pee & gooseberries." Big green apple flavors, some grapefruit. Finish is fairly long but becomes very herbaceous and grassy. AU$17.50

2005 Omrah Pinot Noir
Brick red. Earthy, cherry nose. Strawberry and cherry flavors. some vanilla on the finish. Oak is under everything. Finish is nice but short. AU$17.50

2003 Plantagenet Cabernet Sauvignon
Maroon-bricky colored. Big nose, lots of alcohol, some cooked plum aromas. Nice, very elegant taste. Some herbal flavors, but mostly big cassis flavors. Finish is short. AU$35

2004 Plantagenet Shiraz
Inky dark cherry skin colored. Hints of peppermint on the nose. Very raspberry and strawberry flavored - reminiscent of Grenache. Finish is nicely layered and complex. Tannins are very smooth, almost velvety. AU$40

NV Plantagenet Tawny
Seven years old. Reddish brown - root beer colored. Toasted coconut on the nose. Nice round mouth-feel. Yummy stuff. Very long finish. A bargain at AU$16.50 375ml.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 6:25 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Great Southern - Howard Park

For years I've liked Mad Fish wines - they are relatively inexpensive yet taste great and go down oh so easily. I've served cases of them at parties I've thrown. But I didn't know where they came from because I couldn't find the winery in any of the Australian wine guides. It turns out Mad Fish is the low-end label for Howard Park. I'm happy I stumbled upon them.

2006 Riesling
Very pale. Sweet citrus nose, lemon blossoms. Bit of effervescence on the tongue. Serious acid here. Lots of lime, citrus and mineral tastes, but very clean. Extremely nice. Find this at home. AU$25

2006 Mad Fish Riesling
Pale, hints of green. Nice nose - citrus and hints of apple blossom. Flavors aren't as intense as the Howard Park label, gentler, almost sweet peach. AU$17

2006 Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon
Pale, light green. Serious Sauvignon Blanc nose. Surprisingly round flavors - ripe green melons. Sauvignon Blanc is under control. Some warm herbs. Crisp and clean. Very well made. AU$19

2005 Chardonnay
Pale straw colored. Popcorn on the nose. Soft buttery flavor, nutty, savory. Nice acid backbone with hints of grapefruit. Complex long finish. AU$38

2004 Mad Fish Chardonnay
Very pale, almost clear. Light nose. Much fruitier than the Howard Park, more like stone fruits. Less malolactic creaminess. An easy drinking chardonnay. Finish is very simple. AU$24

2006 Mad Fish Late Harvest Riesling
Nice zesty nose but with floral notes. Easy drinking, nothing complex. Not much finish, just kind of falls off. Very gentle acids. AU$14 500ml

2005 Pinot Noir
Light cherry color. Nose of black cherry and leather. Very smooth tannins. Nice gentle flavor, hints of strawberries and cream. A very easy drinking Pinot Noir. Great value at AU$19

2004 Mad Fish Shiraz
Very purple. Nose like Christmas fruit cake. Sweet spice, not real peppery tasting. Nice complex fleshy flavors. Finish is a bit simple after the nice initial flavors. AU$24

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
Half of these grapes are from the Denmark area, half from Margaret River
Dark purple color. Warm leathery nose, dried ferns. Velvety tannins. Nice herbal hints. A very well tempered Cabernet Sauvignon. Blueberry flavors, oak is very restrained. Howard Park's flagship wine. AU$40

2004 Scotsdale Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon
Peppery nose, a bit herbal. Very smooth, almost delicate. Very refined. Nice layered flavors, changes a lot in your mouth. Hints of caramel on the finish. Beautiful velvety tannins. Good stuff. AU$40

2004 Scotsdale Great Southern Shiraz
Light purple color. Wet leather on the nose. Very smooth tannins. Warm cooked cherry flavors and milk chocolate. Nicely layered. Well balanced. Beautiful finish. AU$40

2004 Leston Margaret River Shiraz
Light purple, almost identical to the Scotsdale. Bell pepper on the nose. Brighter flavors than the Scotsdale, more fruit forward with red berry flavors. Tannins a bit more assertive than the Scotsdale, should age well. Hints of sour berries on finish. AU$40

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 6:11 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Great Southern - Harewood Estate

2006 Riesling
Very pale, light hints of green. Great citrus nose - very nice. Beautiful lime and grapefruit flavors. Great acids, it would go so well with food. Nice finish, although a bit one dimensional compared to the flavor. Very clean. AU$21.50

2006 Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon
Very pale, almost clear. Strong Sauvignon Blanc nose - serious gooseberries. Tasted almost completely like a Sauvignon Blanc. Great acid, very clean. Finish looses complexity and falls off fairly rapidly. AU$21.50

2004 Chardonnay
Very pale with a light green tint. Strong vanilla nose. Clean and crisp while still being full of malolactic flavor. Some hints of green beans. Finish is long and quite nice, ending in a nice fruity note. I'm surprised I like this since I'm not a real traditional Chardonnay fan.

2003 Pinot Noir
Light black cherry skin colored. Nose has a truffle hint. Very european, french style wine; this could be a Drouhin if I didn't know better. Dark cherry skin flavors. Finish has some pencil lead thing, finishing in a black cherry flavor. AU$25

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
Medium dark. Nice nose, the Cab is very restrained, the merlot comes through - no hint of the usual Cabernet green pepper thing. That follows through on the taste, the Merlot is up front with the Cabernet very smooth. Sturdy but not unpleasant tannins. Chocolate and blackberry flavors. This one really grew on me as I tasted it. I'd love to try it again in 3 years. AU$30

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 5:47 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Great Southern - Somerset Hill

This is a very small winery which also happens to raise mushrooms. If you visit, you'll more than likely meet the owners.

2004 Somerset Constellation
A different, but very nice sparkler. Very light sand colored. Not much of a nose, but very tasty. Very fruity, citrusy. Absolutely no yeast detectable. Very clean, easy drinking. Yum. I bought one of these. AU$39

2006 Semillon
Very pale, almost clear. Very grassy nose, almost like a Sauvignon Blanc; some hints of honeydew. Interesting mouth-feel and texture, almost gritty. Very grassy tasting. AU$21

2004 Pinot Noir
Brick red color. Nose smells like cherry skins. Almost a sweet taste but still earthy and very french style, very little fruit. Very smooth tannins. AU$30

2003 Pinot Noir
Lighter than the 2004 and the taste is also simpler, almost diluted. Mushroom nose. Muddled flavors. AU$24

2004 Merlot
Odd nose, not sure I like it. Very light tasting Merlot. Definitely grew on me after several tastes; first was disappointing, last was quite nice. Serious chocolate taste. AU$35
Followup note: I bought a bottle of this and drank it afterwards. It is very light, but has a very different taste, not your typical Merlot. Got more of a blueberry pie taste.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 2:48 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Eden Valley - Irvine

Irvine doesn't have a winery to visit, instead you have to go to the pub in XXXX where they'll let you do complimentary tastings. Unfortunately, they have bad glassware and there's always the smell of beer around so it's not exactly ideal. That might have a lot to do with why my aroma scores are so low.

2004 Merlot
This wine has a very tight nose, almost no aroma. But it tastes beautiful, very round flavors with velvety tannins. Gorgeous finish. I bought a bottle of this and really enjoyed it. Best Merlot I've had in Australia yet. AU$23

2004 Reserve Zinfandel
A classic Northern California style Zinfandel. Not too jammy. Nice finish. AU$32

2002 Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark plum colors. Oak comes through clearly. A gentle Bordeaux style wine. AU$23

2004 Merlot / Cabernet Franc
Definite Bell Pepper thing on the nose. Smoother tasting than it smells. Finish is very simple. AU$20

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:50 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Eden Valley - Fernfield

This is a very small winery that specialized in cooler weather wines. Their Riesling and Merlot seem to have won a number of awards.

2006 Eden Valley Riesling
Very clear, pale. Pear notes on nose. Nice easy drinking, nothing complex. AU$12.50

2004 Juuso Merlot
Nice merlot nose with pencil lead highlights. Big dark cherry candy flavors. Easy smooth tannins. AU$15

2003 Pridmore Shiraz
Opaque purple. Cola notes on nose. Earty, dark cherry skin flavors. Layered flavors. Finishes with caramelized nut. A bargain. I bought a bottle of this to drink later and enjoyed it a lot. AU$20

2004 Pridmore Shiraz
Inky dark colored. Dark notes in the nose not found in the '03 - age or vintage? Chocolate flavors. Nice gentle oak tannins. AU$20

2003 Footstompers Shiraz
A bit opaque. Red cassis nose. Darker flavors than the Pridmore, tannins more assertive and earthy. Nice finish. AU$30

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:41 AM | Comments (1)

March 29, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Yalumba

I've always kind of like Yalumba wines, they are one of the "safe" affordable Australian wines you can find in many American restaurants and wine stores. I have some of their 50 year old tawny in my cellar that I absolutely love, so I was excited to visit them. It turns out they are the oldest continuously running winery in the Barossa, and even more amazingly they are still owned and run by descendants of the original founders. The winery itself is set in grand old buildings. I kept thinking that Seppelts could have been just as healthy as Yalumba seems to be if only they had received a bit more managerial TLC over the years.

2001 Eden Valley Hand Picked Riesling
Pale straw colored. Starting to move towards the honey/kerosene direction, still plenty of acid and fruit though. This tastes like it is 10 years old. AU$24

2006 Hill Smith Estate Sauvignon Blanc
Classic Sauvignon Blanc nose, bit on the gooseberries. Very fruit forward, no shortage of "grass clippings." Great acid. Tastes like it comes from a much colder climate. AU$19

2005 FDW7C Adelaide Hills Chardonnay
Very light straw colored, almost pale. Classic buttery caramel nose. Very crisp, hints of citrus. For a classic malolactic buttery style Chard, I surprisingly like this a lot. Really nicely made. AU$25

2005 Heggies Viognier"
Tight nose for a viognier, almost nothing there, just a hint of honeysuckle. Very minerally, hints of flowers & apricots. Not a really bad wine, just nothing much there. AU$29

2006 Sangiovese Rosé
Very pink. Sweet strawberry nose. Quaffing wine, not much serious, just fruity berry flavors. Not much backbone. Hot weather wine to be drunk by the gallon. AU$9.45

2005 Bush Vine Grenache
Bing cherry colored. Dark aromas sitting on top of the spicy juicy fruit nose. A bit more sour than most grenache. It has the classic grenache flavors in there, but they are almost hidden, more of a second layer taste. Finish is long, fairly tight tannins. Left me with squeaky teeth. AU$15

2005 Tempranillo / Grenache / Viognier
Bright red. Nice nose like Heisse Himbeern (hot red raspberry sauce) in Germany. Great mouth-feel, big fruit with lot of nice layered flavors. Cassis, red currants, nectarine skins come through. Finish is long, but not really complex, a bit dark. AU$30

2004 Shiraz Viognier
Black cherry color. Nice classic shiraz flavors, with some floral highlights. Nut brownie taste in the finish. AU$15

2004 Shiraz
Same grapes as previous wine, but no Viognier. Inky dark garnet color. Blackberry on nose. Definitely earthier that the previous blend. Hints of orange syrup. Tannins are much much chewier. AU$15

2004 Hand Picked Shiraz / Viognier
Very dark, a bit cloudy. Red curran nose, bits of warm spice cake. Beautifully balanced, nice mouth-feel, round flavors. Good stuff. Tannins a bit tight on the finish. AU$30

2002 Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz
80% Cab, 20% Shiraz. Bing cherry colored, hints of rust brown. Very earthy nose, almost peaty. Hints of Grenache like flavors. Chocolate on finish. AU$15

2004 Menzies Retreat Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz
Lighter than most Cab/Shiraz blends, more purple. Green vegetable nose. More forward mouth feel with tight flavors. The Shiraz is not coming through on this at all. AU$25

NV Museum Muscat
Cola colored. Toasted nut nose, but not much of it. Tastes like sweet raisins. Complex finish with buttery caramel coming through. Would be great served with apple dumplings. AU$23

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Rockford

This little cellar door is pretty amusing. They have tried to preserve how a winery must have looked 100 years ago and when I was visiting they were pressing using all old style equipment. The buildings also feel like they're at least a century old, and they were packed with tourists when I was visiting.

2004 Eden Valley Riesling
Very pale, hints of green. Tight nose, not much aroma. Not much taste either, lacking anything interesting.

2003 Semillon
Pale straw colored. Nice round flavors - sweet apple, pineapple candy.

2006 Frontignac
Another one of the weird and wacky grape varieties you find so many of in S.A. Almost clear, very floral nose. Very sweet, not much acid. Taste hints of sweet lime.

2006 Alicante Bouchet
Yet another obscure grape variety. Made from free-run red grapes (the juice is red, skins don't provide the color as usual). Rose colored. No noticeable tannins. Round mouth-feel. Easy drinking - nothing complex, just easy fruity drinking.

2002 Moppa Springs Grenache / Shiraz / Mourvedre
Crimson red. Smells like Coca Cola. Nice round mouth-feel, taste hints of very ripe black cherries. Easy tannins. AU$22.50

2004 "Rod & Spur" Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon
Nice peppery nose. Dark crimson colored. Nice stuff, fruity, easy drinking. The Cab is very tame, no nasty green pepper bits at all. AU$29

2004 Basket Press Shiraz
Ruby colored. Blackberry flavors with hints of pencil lead. Distinct black pepper. AU$46.50

1999 Shiraz Vintage Port
Beautiful brilliant red color. Bit of hot alcohol on the nose. A nice, unusual port. Strong ripe blackberry flavors, cassis.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:04 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2007

Australia - Western Australia - Great Southern - Forest Hill Vineyard

I really liked the architecture of this winery: high ceilings, lots of glass and plenty of native woods. I also liked the restaurant above the cellar door. I was served a great platter of regional specialties which went nicely with their Block 1 Riesling.

2006 Block 1 Riesling
Light straw colored, hints of grassy green. Classic cold climate Riesling nose, green apple skins & citrus. Very apple-like taste, hints of grapefruit. Has the mouth-feel of a tart apple. Finish is not as complex as I'd like. Went well with spicy hot lamb. AU$35

2005 Riesling
Very pale. Kind of an oily nose. A hint of bitterness, too much grape skin. Much more assertive than the Block 1. AU$20

2004 Late Harvest Riesling
Not a classic sweet sticky late harvest, just a bit less dry. Extremely pale, almost clear. Has some of the harsh dark Riesling tastes. AU$12

2005 Chardonnay
Very pale, hints of green. Serious banana thing on the nose. Light bodied, serious malolactic flavors. Some mango. Nice finish. This wine grew on me, I enjoyed the third taste a lot more than the first. AU$22

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Raspberry colored. Mint & blueberry on nose. A hint of cedar or eucalyptus. Has a distinct tobacco taste. Nice velvety tannins. Finish is multi-layered and changing, unfortunately 1 or 2 of them are a bit harsh. AU$22

2004 Shiraz
Dark cherry colored. Barnyard on the nose, not exactly pleasant. If this wasn't in a screw-top, I'd wonder if it was corked. Very light bodies. Grape Kool-Aid flavors with some tannins. Very simple finish. AU$22

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 1:02 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Seppelts

This winery visit had a touch of sadness to it. Seppelts is the second oldest winery in Australia and it's obvious that in its heyday, this was a big proud family business. But after 140 years, in the late 80's the family sold out to Penfolds, which was then bought out by Southcorp, then by Fosters. In all the juggling it's obvious that this grand old business wasn't given enough attention. The people who work there still dearly love the place and treat it with a lot of love and care. They are also making some great wines with tons of history. But the place needs some capital and marketing dedicated to it.

I took the AU$35 tour and it was great - you get to wander through the original Seppelt home and nose around Beno Seppelt's laboratory/office. You get to see the room where they keep the 100 year old barrels of port, and in the tasting you get to actually taste all of their top-line ports including the 100 year old. It's all pretty cool.

In June Seppelts will be sold at auction. I sincerely hope that it is purchased by somebody or some corporation that can give it the care it deserves.

2004 Sparkling Shiraz
Very much Shiraz flavored. Velvety mouth-feel. AU$

2003 "Drumborg" Riesling
Made from grapes grown in Victoria. Bit of kerosene on the nose already. An old world style riesling. Pale colored, with a touch of green. Tastes very different from most Australian Riesling. Surprisingly fruity given the nose. Tastes of lime and grapefruit.

1999 "Dorrin" Cabernet Sauvignon
Black. Beautiful chocolate nose, black currants, earthy. Very soft, beautifully aged but fruit is still obvious. Tannins have almost completely broken down into sugars. Very nicely made. Great with cheddar cheese. A beautiful wine. $44.50

1986 "Para" Tawny
A Single vintage tawny. Light coconut hull colored, touch of red. Beautiful buttery flavors. Very smooth.

DP 90 Rare Tawny
20 years old, blended. Black walnut colored. Bit more backbone than the Para, touch of tannin

DP 59 Rare Tokay
20 years old. Dark Coca-Cola color. Still plenty of fruit.

GR 113 Rare Muscat
20 years old, dark raisin color. Big raisin taste.

1906 100 Year Old Port
Very very dark. Extremely thick and syrupy - thicker than normal maple syrup. Smells like it's 100 years old. Amazingly, alcohol and fruit still there. Big coffee flavors, bitter chocolate. AU$1050

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 8:16 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Turkey Flat Vineyards

Interesting note - Turkey Flat owns 100% of the vineyards it uses.

2005 "Butcher's Block" Marsanne Viognier
Very pale straw, touch of green. Nose of pineapple, sweet lime. Surprisingly tight, dark flavors. Grew on me a little bit, but not generous enough with the flavors. AU$18

2005 Grenache
Very nice complex nose, red raspberries. Easy drinking. Still has a touch of grape soda. Not as complex in your mouth as the nose would lead you to expect. Finish is relatively long, but very simple. AU$20

2005 Rosé Grenache / Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon / Dolcetto
They consider this their flagship wine and it's the one they sell the most of. Beautiful almost hot pink color. Green apple flavors, surprising amount of tannin and backbone. Nice finish, very dry and crisp.

2005 "Butcher's Block" Red
Medium dark. Beautiful round mouthfeel. Nice juicy flavors, very fruit forward. Seems like it should cost a lot more. Big red raspberry flavors. Grenache is very evident. AU$22.50

Pedro Jimenez
Light chocolate color. A bit of a letdown after visiting Seppelts. Smooth, almost creamy texture.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 6:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 9, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Torbreck Vintners

This has to be one of the best wineries to visit on the planet. Torbreck makes ultra-premium wines and they let you taste all of them at the winery for just $5, including the really expensive bottles. Super friendly staff.

2005 "Cuvée Juveniles" Grenache Shiraz Mataro
Unwooded. Interesting earthy nose. A bit warm on the palette. Chocolate and blackberry flavors. Flavors are very forward in your mouth. Finish is average. AU$25

2004 "The Steading" Grenache Shiraz Mataro
This is the same stuff as the Juveniles, but aged in french oak. Beautiful nose. Big juicy cherry flavors. Interesting finish where the Grenache comes through strong. Long finish with several layers. Tobacco and chocolate on the finish. AU$37.50

2005 "The Struie" Barossa Valley and Eden Valley Shiraz
Odd nose, reminds me of magic markers. Very up front tannins, big licorice. A very different style of Shiraz. The flavors get better on the finish. I'm not sure about this one. AU$48.50

2005 "The Gask" Eden Valley Valley Shiraz
Inky dark. Beautiful nose, big on red raspberries. Very refined, yummy tannins. Grows on me a lot as I drink it. AU$75

2004 "The Celts" Shiraz
Small production (1200 bottles) available only at the cellar door. Very dark colored. Tastes like raspberry filled chocolate. Gorgeous. A very long finish like a mouth full of ripe juicy berries. One of the most enjoyable wines I've had in the Barossa. I had to buy a bottle of this. AU$75

2004 "The Factor" Shiraz
Torbreck's oldest vines go into this one. Brilliant dark crimson. Cassis and cherry nose. Warmer and rounder than your usual Shiraz, glycerin rich. Hints of honey and cooked strawberries. Very full flavored. Does the scratchy teeth thing. Beautiful finish. Very well made. AU$125

2004 "Descendant" Shiraz Viognier
The Shiraz and Viognier are co-fermented. Wow, big floral nose, huge smell of ice tea with hibiscus in it. Tastes very big but refined. Ice tea and hibiscus flavors come through. Finish goes on and on. Really great stuff. AU$125

2004 "Run Rig" Shiraz Viognier
The Shiraz and Viognier are blended after fermentation. Serious black pepper on the nose. Inky dark, almost black. Very seductive, really, really nice. Gorgeous tannins, velvety and just keeps on going. A very long layered finish. AU$225

2004 "Les Amis" Grenache
Surprisingly dark. Nose of stewed rhubarb. Almost sweet. Strong strawberry, watermelon. Hints of cotton candy. A very different Grenache. AU$190

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 1:01 AM | Comments (0)

March 9, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Two Hands

I signed up for Two Hands' private tasting with a platter lunch and really enjoyed it. You don't get to taste any different wines, but it's a very relaxed tasting and the assortment of local breads, meats, and cheeses served for lunch was very nice. I recommend a visit to this winery.

I also like the idea behind this winery - one of their goals is to produce Shiraz from a variety of Australia's great Shiraz regions. It makes for very interesting comparisons. They are also trying to do the best Grenache in the Barossa.

2006 "The Wolf" Clare Valley Riesling
Extremely pale. Definite lemon and lime on the nose, smells tight. Absolutely still, no liveliness on the tongue. Strong lemon flavors. Good acid. Long finish. AU$20

2006 "Brilliant Disguise" Barossa Valley Moscato
Almost totally clear. Big nose of strawberry and guava. Very fresh and clean. Nicely sweet but not cloying. Big guava flavor. Long finish. Give me a couple bottles of this and a ticket to Hawaii. AU$18

2006 "Yesterday's Hero" Barossa Valley Granache
Pinky purple color. Big alcohol on nose, strawberry-rhubarb, lavender, roses. Big round mouthfeel. Tastes of red raspberry syrup. Nice silky tannins. Surprisingly long finish. A really good Granache. AU$35

2006 "Brave Faces" Barossa Valley Shiraz Grenache
Bluish purple. Sweet herb nose - lavender. Palette of ripe blackberries, plum. Very smooth tannin. A nice long finish. Drink this now. AU$25

2006 "Angel's Share" McLaren Vale Shiraz
Classic Shiraz purple color, clear. Nose of creamy coffee, toasted almonds, spicecake. Very mouth covering, almost a cottony feel. Mocha flavors, a bit heavy on the tannins. Finish opens up a bit to bit of licorice. This was a bit disappointing, I was expecting something a bit more complex with the fruit. Maybe it needs more time. AU$25

2005 "Gnarly Dudes" Barossa Valley Shiraz
Inky dark. A very interesting nose, plums and cloves. A bit more racey - tastes more acidic than the "Angel's Share" (but isn't). Much more fruit forward. Finish falls off a bit loosing complexity. Good food wine. AU$25

2005 "The Bull and the Bear" Barossa Valley Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon
Medium purple. Big enjoyable nose of anise & cassis. I just wanted to smell this one for a while. Very beautifully balanced. no dips in the finish, just a constant ongoing flavor. Big licorice and juicy currant up front moving towards milk chocolate. I like this one. AU$45

2005 "Lily's Garden" McLaren Vale Shiraz
Dark plum colored. Spicy nose, blueberries. Beautiful full flavor, warmer than expected. Plum skins, milk chocolate. Finish is nice, but not overly complex. AU$55

2005 "Bella's Garden" Barossa Valley Shiraz
A bit darker than the "Lily's Garden." Warmer, blackberry syrup aromas. A touch of cedar and smoke. Big fruit - ripe blackberries and plum flesh. Almost meaty. Powerful flavor. Finish is sustained, but not complex. Yum. AU$55

2005 Aerope Barossa Valley Grenache
Purple-red, clear. Nose of cinnamon and figs. Beautiful full mouth feel. Big up-front flavor, moves to big tannins, then finishes almost sweet. Amazing with the ham served at lunch. Find this at home. AU$90

2006 "For Love or Money" Cane Cut Semillon
Light straw, green edges. Jasmine & honeysuckle nose. Taste like sweet ice tea. Smooth, but just a hint of tannin - very nice. Finish is long but not complex. Goes beautifully with chocolate nut truffles. 500ml AU$50

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 12:42 AM | Comments (0)

March 8, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Penfolds

I've always been a bit confused about Penfolds. They seem to want to be a producer of many high-quality boutique wines, but they are obviously a big, high-volume producer. In my heart I want to write them off as an assembly-wine mega producer. But every time I sit down with a glass of Penfolds, I'm impressed. Visiting the winery only reinforced my confusion.

The winery is one of the most disappointing in the Barossa Valley; don't come expecting a Mondavi style cellar door. Its much more industrial and utilitarian. For example I found it very frustrating that even though I had signed up for a private library tasting, the room was lit with buzzing fluorescent lights making it nearly impossible to see the true color of the wines.

And the tour I took of the production facilities proved quite clearly that you can produce very high quality wines from industrial style wine making. There were lots and lots of pumps, miles of pipes, and acres of barrels. Yet out of that comes some nice wine.

2006 Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling
Note: Made by Wolf Blass
Very light pale straw colored. Strong green apple nose. Much more fruit-forward than most Australian Rieslings that I've had. Definitely green apple tastes. Interesting "fuzzy" faze in the finish. Nice acid. Reasonable finish. AU$25.50

2006 Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay
Note: Source from New South Wales, made by Wolf Blass
Very pale for a Chardonnay, touch of green. French style Chardonnay nose. Beautiful light oak - just the right amount of oak for me, a nice balance between the Napa-style full oak and the Kiwi unoaked style. Nice creamy finish. I like this. AU$39.50

2004 Cellar Reserve Sangiovese
Plum colored, a bit cloudy. Mint, menthyl nose, a bit earthy. Nice round flavors, fruit is still there. Great with caramelized onions and braised meats. AU$43

2004 Bin 138 Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre
Dark purple. Nice floral nose. Dark flavored than expected, multi-layered with coffee notes. Tar in there. Finishes toward caramel. AU$26.90

2005 Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz
More viscous in the glass than usual. Nose of violets, black pepper, flowers. Definitely sweeter floral taste highlights. Feels tight. Kind of a european style syrah - due to Coonawarra being cooler? AU$25.50

2004 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz

Big nose. In your face flavors of burnt toast, plum skins. Hard tannins. Kind of stewed stone fruit flavors. AU$12.90

2004 Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon
Big Cab nose, missing the minty thing I've gotten in a lot of Aussie Cabs. Not a lot of cab flavor. AU$32.50

2004 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz
Very restrained nose, not much aroma; bit of licorice. Warm flavors, cinnamon, a nice blend. Cab flavors open up on the finish. Penfold's biggest restaurant wine in Australia. AU$48.90

2001 Magill Estate Shiraz
Only single vineyard shiraz made by Penfolds, old-style small lot production in separate facility. Color headed towards brick end of crimson. Interesting nose - savory, rum-raisin ice cream, touch of holiday spice. Very elegant tasting - chocolate and spice cake. Very well integrated, smooth tannin. Some vanilla on the finish. Nice stuff. AU$88

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 12:13 AM | Comments (0)

March 7, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Peter Lehman

I've always enjoyed Peter Lehman wines at home, to me they were the perfect example of good medium priced Australian wine. The cellar door was a very comfortable place with some very nice artwork. The staff was friendly and tastings were available of all their wines. They serve a lunch platter that is highly recommended by other wineries.

2003 Southern Flinders Shiraz
Plum colored. Nice nose, dark spices such as black pepper and anise. Very big tannins, fruit taste is almost smothered in tars and dark black tea. Very big impact, concentrated flavors. A long finish that opens up a bit with plum skin tastes. The word taut comes to mind. AU$25

2002 Shiraz Muscadelle
Brilliant ruby color. A bit of licorice in the peppery nose. Again, big upfront flavor. The tannins in this are much softer and velvetier than in Southern Flinders. Strong black cherry flavors. Dark chocolate on the finish. AU$25

2002 Eden Valley Shiraz
More red raspberry colored, a bit cloudy. Big time eucalyptus on the nose, sweeter spices. Taste follows through on the menthyl. Fruit forward, good acid. AU$28

2003 Barossa "The Futures" Shiraz
Plum skin colored. Classic shiraz nose, ice spice, hints of dark mushrooms. Beautifully balanced, nice round flavors, layers of fruit. Very smooth tannins. Finishes with nice milk chocolate. This is my kind of Barossa Shiraz. I liked this one a lot for the price. AU$30

2004 "Stockwell Road" Shiraz
Hints of blue in the plum color. A fairly floral nose, spice is more towards cinnamon and cloves. Feels a bit thin in your mouth. A lighter styled wine, but still has a nice long finish. Easy drinking. Very gentle tannins. Hints of orange zest on the finish. Very nice, doesn't seem as "serious" as "The Futures" but still enjoyable. AU$30

2004 "Peppers" Maranago Cabernet
More violet end of red. Bell peppers on the nose. Very soft tannins. Milk chocolate flavors. Easy toasty oak on the finish. AU$30

2002 "Mentor" Cabernet / Merlot / Shiraz / Malbec Blend
Very dark colored. A very complex nose with mint, violets, spice, and cassis. Great complexity Cab is up front, but lots of chocolate and fruit, especially blueberries. Beautiful complex finish, very layered. Interesting & nicely made. Track this down at home. AU$40

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 11:32 PM | Comments (0)

March 7, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - The Willows Vineyard

Most of the wineries I've visited in South Australia make dozens of different wines and deciding what to taste can be kind of a challenge. So it was a wonderful relief to visit The Willows where they only make three wines. I got to taste two of them, the third is called the "Bonesetter Shiraz" and is available in the States. I want to track down a bottle of it.

2004 Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Brilliant and clear. Big classic Cab nose - strong blackberry and cedar. Big upfront flavor, blackberries and a touch of eucalyptus. AU$23

2003 Barossa Valley Shiraz
Bricky violet, clear. Interesting nose, very different from the other shirazes I've been tasting. Tastes different too, more like a Washington state Syrah. Soft round flavors. Not a hugely long finish, but nice. Milk chocolate. AU$23

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 2:24 AM | Comments (0)

March 7, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Wolf Blass

I had no idea how big this winery is. When you drive up to it, you see a huge sprawling complex easily covering 50 acres. I found later that their bottling and distribution facility is 14 acres under one roof. This is definitely the biggest winery facility I've ever seen. It turns out that they do bottling and distribution for all of the Fosters owned labels in South Australia here, but still, it's really really big.

Despite their size and obviously commercial strength, the tasting room at the cellar door is staffed with very friendly people. They cell over 50 different wines, but I wanted to taste some of their flagship wines so I chose their premier tasting which cost $10. Normal tastings are free.

2004 Gold Label Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay
Apple flesh colored. Very fine bubbles. A bit of a sour bite, like sour apples. Sourced from Eden Valley & Adelaide Hills. AU$19

2006 Gold Label Eden Valley Riesling
Pale straw, brilliant. Faint honey on the nose, flowers. Delicate citrus taste (including grapefruit). Has a very long finish, goes a bit bitter at the end, like apple skins. AU$19

2001 White Label Riesling
Definite petrol, kerosene notes. Hints of toast. Fruit is 90% gone, needs 5 more years to have that classic old Riesling taste. AU$40

2005 Gold Label Adelaide Hills Chardonnay
Big classic Chardonnay with an oaky, buttery nose, and maybe hints of mandarin. Big time cantaloupe and melon flavors. Finishes peachy and smokey. A bit of that bitter smoke at the end. Hints of petrol at the very end. AU$19

2001 White Label Chardonnay
Lemony nose. Tastes like broiled parmesan on almost burnt toast. Still some fruit left. Powerful stuff. Got better as it warmed up a bit. AU$40

2004 Gold Label Barossa Shiraz
Dark pinky purple. Big pepper nose-nice. Full flavored, nice long finish. Coats your teeth. Milk chocolate finish. Very drinkable now. AU$22

2004 Grey Label McLaren Vale Shiraz
A bit darker than the Barossa. Warmer nose, more caramel. Bit of green pepper taste. Grows on you. At first it tasted a bit unripe, but just seems more concentrated after a while. This wine grew on me as I drank it. Beautiful long dark chocolate finish.

2004 Gold Label Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon / Malbec
Very dark, almost opaque. Strong cedar needles on the nose. A very unusual style of Cabernet. The Malbec comes through very strongly. AU$30

2005 Grey Label Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
Inky dark. Super nose - great mix of mint and leather. The smell takes me straight to a eucalyptus forest. Upfront taste is big bold dark cab, then mint, then blackberry. Good stuff. AU$35

2004 Platinum Label Barossa Shiraz
Brilliant colored. Nice warm, balanced nose. Beautiful balanced taste of vanilla, sour berries. Very nice long finish with chocolate notes. This tastes like a special wine. Absolutely the best I tasted here. AU$185

2002 Black Label Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon / Malbec
Touch of brick in the color, slightly opaque. Nose is big and multi-layered, complex. Cassis comes through strong from the Cab. Coffee. Nice finish, but not as haunting as the Platinum Label Shiraz. AU$135

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 2:17 AM | Comments (0)

March 6, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Gibson Barossavale

Another great little winery where they were pressing grapes when I visited. I was greeted at the cellar door by Anne Gibson, daughter of the owner and she was very friendly. A great little winery.

2004 Reserve Merlot
15% Cabernet. A nice classic merlot. Nose has a bit of cinnamon. Taste pencil lead, leather, minerals, and maybe a hint of grapefruit zest. Makes me want to eat a steak with this. Softens up a lot as it breaths and opens up. This was just released 4 weeks ago so could probably use a bit of rest. AU$31.90

2004 "Isabelle" Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon / Petit Verdot
Very dark. A wildly different nose, hints of cinnamon oil. Tastes of bramble fruits, but has a touch of that Petit Verdot feralness. Not really well rounded. AU$24.50

2004 "Wilfreda" Blend Shiraz / Mourvedre / Grenache
Looks unfiltered, a bit cloudy. Nice round nose with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Beautiful tasting, with different layers. Starts out with spice cake, then blackberry. Finishes off a bit abruptly, but still very very nice. Tastes like it should cost a lot more. AU$24.50

2004 Shiraz
Cotton candy on the nose. Gentle taste of stewed prunes. A very long finish, stays fairly fruity. Maybe a hint of coconut on the finish? Makes your teeth squeaky. Demands a great piece of barbecued lamb. AU$36

NV Sparkling Merlot
Unique. Surprisingly light bodied. Easy drinking. AU$22

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 6:56 PM | Comments (0)

March 4, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Langmeil Winery

I liked this winery a lot. They were very friendly at the cellar door, letting me taste all of the wines that they had in stock. I also like how they make their wines - all grapes are hand picked from very small orchards and they do everything in small batches.

2005 Sparkling Ondenc
Lager colored. A bit of spicy apple-cake on the nose. Fuzzy, coating mouth-feel. Nice acid, not sweet, very dry. Tastes of apple skins. Very long finish. AU$28

2006 GWH (Great White Hope) Viognier
Very pale, crisp apple nose, hints of honeysuckle. Very long finish. A bit of an oily mouth-feel. AU$19.50

2005 Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre "Three Gardens"
Brilliant dark cherry colored. Burns a bit on the nose. Chery flavors, hints of tannin but very smooth. Great food wine. AU$19.50

2004 Grenache "The Fifth Wave"
Clear dark rusty red. Big complex nose, almost syrupy tasting. 16% alcohol. Dark berry flavors, hints of chocolate. AU$30

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon "Jackaman's"
Somewhat opaque, not as dark as some Cabs I've had. Wow, huge nose, very unusual aromas: methol & mint on baked beans? Tastes very european. Smokey currants, milk chocolate. A long finish. A very different style Cabernet. AU$45

2005 Shiraz "Valley Floor"
Clear, dark, hints of brown. Soft tannins, medium bodied. Very drinkable now. Good value. AU$25

2004 Shiraz "Freedom"
Almost inky dark. From vines planted in 1843 - world's oldest still producing vines. Nice menthol nose. Hints of nectarine skins, a bit jammy. Beautiful round taste, plums & vanilla. AU$100

2004 BOUV "Barossa Old Vine Company"
A blend from 100 year old vines. Plenty of pepper on nose. Very dark, touch of violet color, a bit opaque. Bigger tannins than "Freedom," tastes younger. Blackberries, dark chocolate. Makes your teeth squeak a bit. This is an impressive wine which I suspect scores well in the trade rags. AU$100

20 Year Shiraz Tawny
Coconut hull colored. Toffee, caramel, and nuts on the nose. Beautiful honey-nut taste with a hint of orange. Extremely smooth. Great stuff. AU$35

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 5:57 PM | Comments (0)

March 2, 2007

Australia - South Australia - Barossa - Saltram


This cellar door is in a great location, shaded by big old gum trees. I went on a 100 degree day and it was a nice little oasis. They have a good restaurant which serves lunch daily.

2003 "Mamre Brook" Shiraz
Dark and inky, very dense color. Nose of blackberries. Fairly assertive tannins. Warm, black pepper highlights. I drank this with a meal of a salad and roasted vegetable crisp pizza and the wine went beautifully with the olives in the salad. AU$24

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 1:47 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2007

Australia - South Australia - McLaren Vale - d'Arenberg

This is a great winery to visit for lunch. Their food is spectacular and if you can eat on the terrace you get a great view over the McLaren Vale hills. I highly recommend a visit. With lunch I had a pairing of two flights of their top-end wines, a white flight and a red one.

2005 "The Hermit Crab" Viognier Marsanne
Straw colored. Nose reminded me a lot of chardonnay. Nice acid and a very long finish. Definitely a food wine. Went wonderfully with the Snapper Broth with Ginger Foam and Shrimp/Tofu Dumplings. Although there was a collision with the ginger in my Butter Poached Freshwater Lobster Medallion with Crab, Ginger, and Scallion Ravioli dish. AU$11.80

2006 "The Money Spider" Roussanne
Pale straw colored. Nice spicy nose reminds me of watermelon rind. Very smooth, less acid than "The Hermit Crab." Hints of honeydew. Has a sweet taste with the lobster. Good stuff.

2006 "The Last Ditch" Viognier
Straw colored. Nicely floral but not delicate. Nose is very strong orange spice cake smelling. Tastes like apricot or dried stone fruit. Went very well with the lobster. My favorite of the whites tasted.

2004 "The Ironstone Pressings" Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre
Very dark colored, looks concentrated. Nose has very strong cassis flavor, maybe a bit harsh. WOW, really complex flavors. The flavors change many times in your mouth. It has a very long finish with tons of flavors starting out with spice to orange zest to blueberry. Easy tannins. Really good with smoked tomatoes. Dies very quickly in the glass though, don't let it air, drink right after opening. Great stuff, my favorite wine of the day. AU$65

2004 "The Coppermine Road" Cabernet Sauvignon
Again, looks very concentrated, dense and unfiltered. Big licorice on the nose. Nice cedary tannin. Dark chocolate and dark berry flavors. AU$65

2004 "The Dead Arm" Shiraz
Once again, very dark, very concentrated looking, almost inky. The nose has a sweet fruity hint. Very smooth, strong cherry up-front taste. Candied orange rind on the finish. My second favorite wine at this meal. Went beautifully with the Filet Mignon. AU$65

2005 "Feral Fox" Pinot Noir
This wasn't part of the tasting with my meal but I had to give it a try. It had a classic brick red color. The nose was strong on red raspberries. It's a french-style pinot with that barnyard thing going on. Hints of chocolate, almost no fruit. Needs to breath a good while. A touch of heat. Not my favorite kind of pinot. AU$30

Old Bride Cellars in Napa is d'Arenberg's U.S. importer.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 4:48 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2007

Australia - South Australia - McLaren Vale - Coriole


A cute little winery in the hills northeast of McLaren Vale. It's a great place to visit with a nice picnic area and a friendly staff in the cellar door situated in an old stone building. They seem to do a lot of experimenting with unusual varieties, but I pretty much focused on their more traditional wines.

2006 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
Very light, almost clear color. Nice citrus on nose, Sauvignon Blanc comes through clearly. Clean herby/grassy flavors, great acid. AU$16

2005 McLaren Vale Sangiovese
Blueish rose color. Distinctly spicy nose. Tight, but nice tannins. Needs to be drunk with food. AU$18

2003 Lalla Rookh Grenache Shiraz
Brilliant color. Almost hints of maple on the nose. Nice tasting, starts with strong plum skin flavor, moves to dark chocolate. Finish is a bit dark. $AU24

2004 Redstone Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark brilliant color. Very earthy nose. Earthy taste. Not my favorite. I've had other McLaren Vale Cabs I liked a lot more. A bit harsh & woody. Coffee on the finish. $AU18.50

2005 Mclaren Vale Shiraz
Beautiful dark violet red color. Peppery nose. Beautiful smooth tannins, hints of pepper, plum skins. Has a very long clean finish. AU$25

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 4:48 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2007

Australia - South Australia - McLaren Vale - Wirra Wirra

I liked this winery. The cellar door is in a very beautiful old building and the staff is incredibly friendly. One of the best places to visit in McLaren Vale.

2004 "Scrubby Rise" Shiraz
Inky, looks viscous, a bit opaque. Peppery nose. BIG taste, powerful fruit up front. Finishes with tobacco. A very long finish. Nothing subtle about this wine. AU$15

2005 "Church Block" Cabernet/Shiraz/Merlot
Brick red, a bit opaque. Earthy nose. Cassis flavors. A very long finish. I like this wine. AU$20

2005 "Catapult" Shiraz Viognier
Again, very dark blackberry color. Peppery nose, but hints of sweet honey in the mouth. Spicy flavors. AU$20

2004 "RSW" Shiraz
Average purple highlight color. A very complex nose, lots of layers. Smooth chocolate flavor. Nice round tannins. A bit unctuous. A beautiful interesting wine. The drop of the day. AU$55

2004 The Angelus Cabernet Sauvignon (Called "Dead Ringer" in US)
Inky dark. Again a very complex nose. Elegant currant, black raspberry flavors. Fine, fine tannins. Changes on a very long finish. Very drinkable now. I like it! AU$48

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 4:47 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2007

Australia - South Australia - McLaren Vale - Hugh Hamilton

This cellar door is set up high and has a great view of the vineyard land south of McLaren Vale. When I visited there was a busload of women on a stag party and was a bit loud and overwhelming.

2006 "The Trickster" Verdelho
Very pale. Strong alcohol on nose. Zesty and acidic with no specific flavors. Not thrilled by this one. AU$18.50

2006 "The Loose Cannon" Viognier
Very pale with a weak nose. Some apricot and melon rind flavors. Where are the typical Viognier floral notes? Again, not thrilled by this one. I applaud them for trying to find a white wine that does well in this area, but these aren't doing it for me. AU$19.50

2005 "The Mongrel" Sangiovese Merlot Tempranillo
Brick red, a bit pale. Pencil lead on the nose - the Tempranillo really comes through. Hints of daffodil stems. Big taste of tar and tobacco, very little tannin. Interesting chilled. AU$19.50

2005 "The Rascal" Shiraz
Purply, slightly cloudy. Nicely integrated tannins. Tastes of poached plums, touch of smoke. Not big and bold, more restrained. AU$24.50

2005 "The Villain" Cabernet Sauvignon
Inky dark and clear. Nice nose with strong violet flowers. Smooth tannins, spicy, cinnamon hints. Flavors move to caramel, then to blackberry on finish. Pretty good stuff. AU$24.50

2004 "Madam" Sparkling Merlot
Unusual to find any merlot around here, let alone a sparkler. Kind of nice, very smooth. AU$19.50

NV Muscat Liquor
Reminds me of a light Pedro Jimenz. Lots of caramel corn. Tastes young. Very long finish. AU$24.50

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 4:46 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2007

Australia - South Australia - McLaren Vale - Penny's Hill

This is a winery that exports into the US (through Epicurean Importers) and I have drunk and enjoyed some of their wines at home. The cellar door has a great restaurant, if you ever visit be sure to plan on having lunch there.

There are three different labels and brands used here and I found it all a bit confusing. Whatever, please note that the "Penny's Hill" name won't be on these wines unless specified below.

2006 Woop Woop Verdelho
Big peachy flavors. Great crisp acid. Hints of Sauvignon Blanc like gooseberry flavors. Very drinkable. AU$13

2006 Penny's Hill Viognier/Marsanne/Roussane
Oily hints on the nose. Tastes of anise and licorice. A bit bitter on the finish. I'm not a fan. AU$18

2005 Mr. Riggs Shiraz/Viognier
The high-end wines here get the "Mr. Riggs" label and they are actually made separately by Penny Hill's winemaker. This wine had a beautiful dark sparkling color. The nose was big on the viognier floral notes. Nice leathery taste, plenty of tannins but not harsh. A big wine, kind of surprising given the delicate nose. AU$27

2005 Mr. Riggs McLaren Vale Shiraz
Mr. Riggs is the name of the winemaker at Penny's Hill, and this is his own private endeavor, but sold and distributed by Penny's Hill.
This is a classic South Australia style Shiraz - inky black color with a big nose of pepper and earth. Powerful flavors with a very long finish. Worth finding in the States. AU$40

2004 Penny's Hill "Specialized" Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot
The nose is big with strong whiffs of the Cabernet. A beautiful blend with nicely behaved tannins. Strong vanilla notes. I liked this one a lot, especially for the price. AU$22. Paired well with a "Lebanese" pizza of braised lamb, yogurt and mint at Russell's Pizza.

2005 Penny's Hill Shiraz
Hints of grapefruit on the nose. Carmel corn taste with a touch of pepper and spice. Very drinkable now. Beautiful long finish. AU$27

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:57 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2007

Australia - South Australia - McLaren Vale - Fox Creek

A couple years ago some friends gave me a bottle of the Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz and I thought it was so excellent. So naturally, when I got to McLaren Vale I looked them up. This is a small winery with a very friendly woman running the tasting room and some neat barrel craft around the lawns. Fox Creek wines are distributed in the US.

2006 Verdelho
Hints of banana on the nose. Tropical tastes - guava and pineapple come to mind. Very easy to drink, great for hot weather. AU$16

2003 JSM Shiraz/Cabernet Franc
Very smooth, almost viscous. The darker colors of the Cab Franc come through clearly. A food wine, not necessarily great alone. AU$22

2004 Short Row Shiraz
Very inky color. Grape soda hints on the nose. Nice clean flavors, not too peppery. Would be easy drinking, a sure winner on a restaurant wine list. AU$28

2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Very dark color, almost opaque. Hints of tropical fruit on the nose. Big blackberry flavors. Serious tannin, this could age a while. A perfect wine for steak. AU$36

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:45 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2007

Australia - Tasmania - Puddleduck

I wanted to taste the highly rated sparkling wine here, but they were sold out of it.

2005 Riesling
Very nice for Tasmania. Still not as powerful as New Zealand Rieslings, but great citrus flavors. Only available at the cellar door. AU$24

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 1:21 AM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2007

Australia - Tasmania - Meadowbank Estate

The best part about Meadowbank is the restaurant. It's a beautiful facility with gorgeous views over the vineyards towards the ocean. The food was simple fare but good.

2004 Henry James Pinot Noir
Nice kind of spicey, but nothing amazing. AU$41

2005 Riesling
Pleasantly acidic, plenty of citrus. AU$25

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 2:45 AM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2007

Australia - Tasmania - Domaine A

This winery has a certain uppityness to it that seemed rather foreign to the typical Tasmanian establishments. I kind of felt like I was in Napa. If you visit, don't dare asking if maybe Tasmania might be too cool to grow Cabernet. They have two labels, Stoney Vineyard which is more entry-level, and Domaine A, their flagship.

2004 Stoney Vineyard Pinot Noir
Nice ruby color. Hints of mint and smoke. A short finish. Drink now, this isn't going to get any better. More French style than I've had here in Tasmania. Over priced? AU$35

2003 Domain A Pinot Noir
Strong nose of violet. Fine tannins, hints of cypress. Starts out very fruit forward, moves to darker berry flavors. AU$65

2000 Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon
Classic Cab nose. Strong oak, firm tannins. Needs more time. AU$65

1999 Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon
Much more complex than the 2000. Herbaceous and smokey. AU$75

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 1:14 AM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2007

Australia - Tasmania - Craigow

This winery was sold out of almost everything. They are best known for their dessert wine and that's why I stopped.

2004 Botrytis Riesling
Serious nose with lots of honey, caramel layers. Big bold raisiny flavors. Very long finish. AU$24

2004 "Easy" Pinot Noir
Great deal for the price. Light color and body, but plenty of fruit flavor. AU$18

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 3:54 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2007

Australia - Tasmania - Freycinet

This is a very tiny winery, operating out of a converted garage on the winery owner's home.

1999 Radenti Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay
Beautiful initial taste. Classic champagne white peach & yeast tastes. Complex. Finishes with a carmel, creamy taste. Kind of unusual mouth feel. AU$45

2006 Riesling
Big bold fruit. Not a lot of acid. A hint of sweetness. Very drinkable. AU$22

2004 "Louis" Pinot Noir
Plum and cinnamon flavors. Very drinkable. Touch of caramel on the finish. AU$26

2004 Pinot Noir
Beautiful - very nice! A funny nose, but very smooth tasting. Silky mouth feel. Beautifully integrated tannins with just enough acid. Good stuff. AU$50

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 9:10 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2007

Australia - Tasmania - Piper's Brook Vineyard

This winery is best known for its sparkling wines, but they make some nice Pinot Noir as well. They have a lunch counter serving pretty nice local antipasto.

2000 Kreglinger Vintage Brut
Spicy nose. Very fruity taste. Would be great with strawberries. Nice, easy drinking. AU$46.50

2000 Blanc de Blanc
Yeasty, hazelnut flavors. A nice long finish with hints of shortbread. Classy stuff. AU$65.

2005 Pipers Brook Riesling
Nothing special. Lacks acid and not much flavor. AU$27.50

2005 Ninth Island Pinot Noir
Great value. Raspberry on the nose. Nice intense fruit. A faint "hotness" that might go away with breathing. Nicely rounded tannins. AU$23.50

2003 Piper's Brook Estate Pinot Noir
Mint on the nose. Strong cherry fruit. Hints of carmel & vanilla taste. Not much tannin.

2004 Piper's Brook Estate Pinot Noir
Much more intense nose than 2003. More intense fruit, stronger tannins, definite vanilla tones. 2004 was obviously a better vintage.

2004 Lyre Pinot Noir
Beautiful pinot, the best I've had yet in Tasmania. Is it worth the price? Is it as good as a Pegasus Bay Prima Donna? Not quite. Classic french style. Beautiful tannins. AU$96

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 9:11 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2007

Australia - Tasmania - Dalrymple

2006 Sauvignon Blanc
Very pale. Intense nose - hits you in the throat. Kind of odd hints of eucalyptus. AU$25

2004 Pinot Noir Special Bin
Strong mint on the nose. "Feral," intense mentyhl & cherry. AU$35

2005 Pinot Noir
Very nice. Intense raspberry flavors. Much more refined than the 2004. AU$30

2005 Pinot Noir Estate Reserve Barrel Select
Very refined. Beautifully intense. I like this wine a lot. Bought 4 bottles. AU$40

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 2:43 AM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2007

Australia - Tasmania - Bay of Fires

2000 ARRAS Sparkling Wine
Beautiful! Crisp, toasted almonds, light spice. Very very nice. AU$49

2005 Tigress Riesling
Very light color. Delicate, floral. Not very acidic. Touch of lemon and lime. AU$21.50

2005 Bay of Fires Riesling
Light color. Very nice nose. Citrus with a touch of sweet spice. AU$27

2006 Pinot Gris
Very yeast forward. Hints of allspice. Maybe some banana there. AU$27

2006 Sauvignon Blanc
Nice intense nose. Big grassy flavor. Very New Zealand-like. A nice wine, best Sauvignon Blanc I've had yet in Australia. AU$21.50

2005 Pinot Noir
Beautiful nose. Very floral & delicate. Reminds me of roses. Nothing powerful, but nice. AU$25

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 2:43 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2007

Australia - Tasmania - Tamar Ridge

2005 Riesling
Pale straw color. Almost sour acid, very lemony. Nice long finish. AU$20.10

2004 Chardonnay
Pale, light color. Very crisp. Oak comes through like a hint of banana. AU$21.10

2004 Pinot Noir
Nice Garnet color. Very approachable cherry fruit. Not a long finish. Not a lot of depth. AU$23.30

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 2:41 AM | Comments (0)

November 3, 2006

New Zealand - Marlborough - Wither Hills

2006 Sauvignon Blanc
Power passion fruit. Extremely fruit forward. A touch high alcohol, but nice acid base keeps it balanced.

2005 Sauvignon Blanc
More gooseberry than the 2006. Touch of caramel

2003 Sauvignon Blanc
Very different from the above too. Kind of an oily, viscous mouth feel. Loosing the fruit overtones.

2004 Chardonnay
Very easy drinking. Classic butter finish, but it's pleasant, not in your face. Nice.

2005 Pinot Noir
Not very concentrated. Nice cherry taste, touch of pencil. Not a great finish. Hints of grape candy. Should be better.

2004 Pinot Noir
Much better than the 2005. How much was vintage, how much is bottle age? Nice nose, more black currant than cherry.

2002 Pinot Noir
A bit more fleshy, more mouth feel. Nicely aging.

2004 Noble
Tastes like Honey Graham Crackers. Needs a bit more acid. NZ$45

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 1:08 AM | Comments (0)

November 3, 2006

New Zealand - Marlborough - Herzog

2005 Viognier
Floral, acidic, peach flavors. An interesting wine, not an American style viognier. NZ$39

2004 Pinot Noir
Hints of caramel, cherry. Drink now, I suspect it won't age well. Pretty good stuff

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 12:33 AM | Comments (0)

November 2, 2006

New Zealand - Marlborough - Cloudy Bay

2002 Pelorus Village Sparkling Wine
Nice acid. Tastes like shortbread. Powerful taste

2004 Gewürztraminer
Totally still, no effervescence. Touch of musk on the nose. Strong spice, some caramel taste.

2006 Sauvignon Blanc
To know it is to love it. Always a good Sauvignon Blanc

2006 Pinot Noir
Delicious, easy drinking. Reminds me of fruitcake.

2002 Late Harvest Riesling
Excellent dessert wine. Strong tastes of mandarin orange and lemon. Touch of honey too. Beautiful.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 1:01 AM | Comments (0)

November 1, 2006

New Zealand - Marlborough - Hunters Wines

2006 Sauvignon Blanc
Nice stuff. Very clean. Not too catty.

2004 Sauvignon Blanc
A bit of oxidation? I liked the 2006 better

2005 Riesling
Nothing special. Doesn't do it for me.

2005 Merlot/Pinot Noir/Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
A BBQ wine. Easy drinking, not very tannic.

Wine Reviews | Posted by bjones at 9:17 PM | Comments (0)