Sunday, December 30, 2007

2006 Honore Lavigne Pouilly-Fuisse

Country: France
Region: Burgundy
Alcohol: 13%
Price: €7,99
Closure: Cork

Honore Lavigne is a wine range offered by wine négociant J.C. Boisset, the second largest exporter of wine in France. This Pouilly-Fuisse is another wine recommended by the Supermarkt Wijn Gids. Pouilly-Fuisse wines originate from the Bourgogne region, and are not to be confused with the Sauvignon Blancs from Pouilly-Fumé and Pouilly-sur-Loire in the Loire Valley.

Pouilly and Fuissé are two distinct villages in the Mâconnais. The larger wine area actually encompasses 4 villages to produce a white wine based on the Chardonnay grape, and sold under the name of Pouilly Fuissé. Most Pouilly Fuissé can be drunk when relatively young though the best can possibly be cellared for 20 years or more.

Here is my tasting note:

Gold straw-like in colour. Powerful, yet elegant, nose with intense aromas of peach and melon. The palate is quite lean and mineral with the same peach and melon. Some creaminess is the only indication of oak handling. Tart and cleansing on the finish with good length. Simply delicious Bourgogne Chardonnay at an excellant price. I love it!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

2006 Aliwen Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah

Country: Chile
Region: Central Valley
Alcohol: 14%
Price: €4,95
Closure: Cork

One of the gifts I received this Christmas was the Supermarkt Wijn Gids which rates the wines sold in the supermarkets in the Netherlands. My intention is to slowly work my way through some of the wines that were highly recommended in the book. A number of Aliwen wines are highly rated including this Cabernet blend.

Aliwen is a range of wines produced by Vina Undurraga, a fifth generation company with around 1011 hectares of vineyard in the Maipo and Colchagua valleys. It was founded in 1885 by Don Francisco Undurraga Vicuña one of the pioneers of winemaking in Chile. Don Francisco was a man of many colours including lawyer, politician, writer, painter and ofcourse farmer.

The name Aliwen is taken from a local Mapuche legend where the Machi (shamans who represent good as opposed to the kalkos or sorcerers who represent evil) joined her Aliwen (sacred tree) forming a single being a mystical bond that symolized the connection of human beings with the universe. The most important rituals are performed around the trunk of the tree (it is a fundmental element in the rituals). The wines of Aliwen are concieved as pure beings, a composition of elements that have evolved out of the experience of nature and the diversity of human spirit.

This wine consists of 75% cabernet sauvignon and 25% syrah. Here is my tasting note:

This wine is a deep ruby red in colour. Lovely and elegant nose with aromas of cassis and hints cedar like oak. This is a well-structured wine with plenty of upfront fruit; currants and blackberry fruit. Mouthfeel is good with firm, grippy tannins. With good length on the finish this is an excellant value for money Cabernet.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Cheer

Well Christmas is here, along with the presents, food and ofcourse plenty of wine. These are the wines that we had with our Boxing day dinner that we held at home. An interesting note here is that all the wines were at least 13.5% alcohol but this did not show in any of them. Anyhow, here are my tasting notes:

2006 Montana East Coast Unoaked Chardonnay

This a wine from New Zealand. The vineyards is quite far inland as thus avoid the cooling influence of the sea. In the summer months leaves are plucked from the vines in order to increase sun exposure of the grapes in an effort to improve flavour and ripeness. This is an unoaked Chardonnay (stating the obvious there I suppose :)).

Pale gold in colour. Nice fresh nose with grapefruit and pineapple. Fresh and crisp on the palate with citrus, melon and some pineapple. Though fresh, it's suprisingly creamy for a Chardonnay that has not had any oak treatment. Nice crisp finish. An allround good value quaffer.

2006 Emiliana Adobe Chardonnay

This is the first of the Chilean Chardonnays. Emiliana Orgánicos is dedicated to producing environmentally responsible wines It has started as an organic producer with the goal of adopting biodynamics. I understand this is something of a rarity in Chile at this point in time. The Adobe range is the value for money range.

Bright gold in colour. Nice fruity, creamy nose with cirtus fruits, melon and some cashews. On the palate the same fresh citrus and tropical fruits are again evident. Oak treatment has taken place, but it has been handled well. This is quiet a light, elegant style of Chardonnay. Not a top Chardonnay, but a good value for money drink.

2006 Casillero Del Diablo Chardonnay

Casillero del Diablo means Cellar of the Devil. Legend has it that more than 100 years ago Don Melchor of Concha y Toro, founder of the winery, reserved for himself an exclusive batch of the best wines produced. To keep strangers & light fingered workers away from this special private reserve, he spread the rumour that the devil was living in his cellars, hence the name. Casillera del Diablo is owned y Chiles largest wine company Concha y Toro.

Light, pale gold in colour - almost straw in colour. Crisp, yet creamy, with plenty of sweet, tropical fruit and pineapple. This is more upfront fruit than the other two; more in the mould of the creamy new world style Chardonnay but not at all over the top. Decent citrus fruit length. I liked this the best of the three Chardonnays on offer.

2003 Boschkloof Syrah

I don't pay any attention to awards but for interests sake this wine was rated highly by wine Spectator (91/100) and won a gold medal at the Michelangelo International wine awards. I decanted this a number of hours before consumption as we started with the whites.

Lovely deep purple, red in colour. Superb nose with spice, blackberries, currant and cedar. On the palate it is full bodied with a nice concentration of spicey blackberry and bramble along with some hints of mint. Excellent mouth feel with nicely integrated tannins. Nice lengthy finish with some toasty caramel character. This is a serious wine and by far the best of the night.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

2000 Peter Lehmann Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz

Country: Australia
Region: Barossa Valley
Alcohol: 14%
Price: €19,00
Closure: Cork

Sparkling Shiraz is quintessentially Australian. Living in Europe it was actually quite difficult to source any at all. A number of wine store owners informed me that there wasn't enough demand for sparkling reds which confirms that outside of Australia sparkling Shiraz is not really accepted or understood. Eventually I finally found a small quantity of Peter Lehmann Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz in a small wine store of which I purchased the majority.

Sparkling Shiraz was first produced in the 1880's in South Australia. The early 1930's-1950's saw the Seppelt winery at Great Western in Victoria become known as the home of Australian sparkling Shiraz, or sparkling Burgundy as it was commonly referred to at the time. Today Seppelt is still Australia's largest producer of sparkling wines, though there are numerous other wineries also producing sparkling Shiraz. More information about the history of Sparkling reds in Australia can be found in this well researched article by Dr. John Wilson of the Wilson Vineyard.

Peter Lehmann initially started with the production of a small number of cases of sparkling Shiraz for personal consumption in the 1980's. The first serious sparkling shiraz for public was released almost twenty years later in 1999 (from the 1994 vintage). The wine is produced using the method champenoise where secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle. It has spent 6 years cellaring on tirage (or on the lees) before disgorgement which allows the wine to gain further complexity.

The wine is named after the Queen of Sheba (also depicted on the label), member of the Ethiopian royal family. Not all that much is known about her, although she is mentioned in a number of key religious books such as the Bible and the Koran. In the limited literature references to her she is described as a mystical, exotic, dark beauty; as "dark [am I] and comely". As wise as she was beautiful, she was blown away by the wisdom of Solomon, even converting to his God. It is also possible that more took place considering Solomon was quite the ladies man.

Here is my tasting note:

Pinkish, brown head when poured. This is black, red in colour with brown towards to the edge of the glass. Rich, fruity nose of ripe blackberries and some hints of American oak. Plenty of sweet rich blackberry and plummy palate with a lovely fine bead and some hints of tannin. Nicely balanced with good length on the slightly bitter finish. Certainly dark and comely, this is a lovely example of Sparkling Shiraz.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Person of the Year 2007

It was (and still is) my intention to keep this blog purely wine-related. However this is something I feel very strongly about and so I felt compelled to blog about it.

Vladimir Putin was recently announced as the Time Magazine person of the year for 2007. Nothing wrong with that as he fits right in with a number of previous 'winners' including Osama Bin Ladin and Adolph Hitler. What really ground my gears, so to speak, was the reasons behind Time Magazines choice.

According to the magazine Putin was chosen because he has brought Russia much needed stability despite the costs of freedom. Apparently he has brought Russia back the brink of world power. The Time goes on to say that "if Russia succeeds as a nation-state in the family of nations, it will owe much of that success to one man, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin." And that is exactly what really gets me. Apparently the West has no problem with stability over human rights issues such as freedom of press, ideas, democracy etc. On the issue of Checnya Russia is allowed to do whatever it likes hiding behind the excuse that it is fighting terrorism and the West seems to have no problem with that. And just because Russia has oil?

Some time ago I read the book Putin's Russia and I was both amazed and horrified at the way things are handled in Russia. It would not surprise me if the average citizen would feel that they would have been better off under Communism than the current democracy. And while the Checnyans are not totally innocent, their fight is a legitimate one.

Anyway since 2007 is drawing to a close I would like to nominate my person of the year for 2007, Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya who was shot to death on the 7th of October 2006. I feel it is appropriate to remember her a little over a year after her death.

Politkovskaya, a fearless crusader for human rights who deserves far more recognition for her fight.

Monday, December 17, 2007

2006 Miolo Cabernet Savignon

Wineries are popping up all over the world these days and wine is being produced in even the most remote and unlikely places. I rather enjoy tasting wine from unknown places even though this often leads to dissapointment. Anyway this Brazilian wine caught my attention in the local supermarket, and seeing I had not tasted any wine from Brazil before I grabbed a bottle.

Initially I thought Brazil was new to wine production. However, that could not be further from the truth. Wine production in Brazil has as long a history as Australia albeit not as illustrious or successful. The late 1800's saw the vine introduced by Italian migrants who brought a wine tradition when they settled in the southern half of the country. While wine has been produced in Brazil since this time, it only started to develop in the 1960s. The 1990s saw serious exports including to the US. It was around this time that the Brazilian Wine Institute was established.

The past decades have seen a lot of investment in wine technology, and there is no doubt that the wine quality continue toimprove in the coming years. How much improvement remains to be seen. The big hurdle for the Brazilians to overcome is climate. According to Jancis Robinson the climate is too tropical meaning that rain and fungal diseases are perennial problems. As a result it is to difficult to allow the grapes sufficient hangtime to fully ripe. There are also critics that say two harvests in a year weakens the vines. How true this is I am not sure.

Miolo wines is a family owned winery that is known as one of the better producers in Brazil. Established in 1847 it has vineyards in all five of Brazils wine-producing regions: Vale dos Vinhedos, Vale do São Francisco, Campanha, Campos de Cima da Serra and Serra Gaúcha. The winery is modern and employs modern winemaking techniques and technology.

This Miolo Cabernet Sauvignon wine comes from a vineyard located in Vale dos Vinhedos - the first Brazilian denominação de origem contralada (DOC) or appellation. Vale dos Vinhedos is a sub region of the largest wine region in Brazil, Serra Gaúcha, which has 8000 hectares under vine and produces 90% of Brazilian wines. Here is my tasting note:

The saignée process was used to increase colour depth and it has certainly worked as this wine is a deep red / purple with excellent depth. The nose, although not powerful, is a nice combination black cassis fruit and some oak. Soft and round on the palate with some nice cassis fruit and soft tannins. Balance is good. It finishes with the same cassis and some caramel-like oak. Not a bad effort for a country not known for quality wine. However, it lacks complexity and doesn't really do it for me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #40 - Que Sirah Sirah

This month the Wine Blogging Wednesday theme chosen (by wannabewino) is Petite Sirah or Durif depending on who you talk to. The wine I chose to review for this theme is the Westend Estate 3 Bridges Durif 2003.

Westend Estate is a small family-owned and operated vineyard with around 20 hectares under vine. The estate was established in 1945 by the the Calabria family who still own it today. The vineyard is located in close to the town of Griffiths in the Riverina region in New South Wales. Chief winemaker is Bill Calabria, who cannot consume his wines but is limited to taste and spit as he has allergy to acids in the wines.

Anyway now to the wine.

Typical of the durif grape, this wine is a very deep, dense, inpenetrable purple in colour. The is nose powerful and attractive with plenty of sweet fruit: plum, black berry and hints of vanilla. Massive is the only way to describe the wine on the palate. Plenty of fruit here with plums and black berries; also a little vegemite. American oak contributes some toasty vanillan flavours. Tannins are big and grippy but don't dominate the fruit. Thick legs sliding down the sides of the glass give testament to the high alcohol content which is nicely tucked behind a wall of black fruit. Still a baby this is a big wine that packs plenty of punch, just as Bill Calabria would have done in his amateur boxing days.

Friday, December 07, 2007

2004 Quinta Grande Touriga Nacional

Quinta Grande Touriga Nacional is a red wine produced from the Touriga Nacional, a grape native to Portugal. Touriga Nacional is generally considered one of Portugals best, and most expensive, wine grapes. The grape plays a big part in the production of the Port wines produced in the Douro region. The wine produced from the Touriga Nacional is generally typified by its deep colour, intense fruity aroma, and powerful tannins. This is my tasting note:

Nose: Initially kind of wacky sweet nose with sweet American oak and hints of plums and prunes. Once it opened up it was very much dark red berrys and plums.
Colour: Lovely colour; dense, deep reddish brown.
Palate: Full bodied with plum and black fruit with nicely integrated tannins. Nicely balanced.
Finish: Plums with a slightly bitter, grippy finish.
Comments: A very young wine that is nicely balanced wine and excellant value for the 6.95 it sells for.

List of Australian Durif Producers

While doing some research about the Durif / Petite Sirah grape I came across quite a few winery websites. This got me thinking perhaps it might be interesting to provide a list of all producers in Australia who grow Durif. Please let me know if I have missed any.

919 Wines (Riverland)

All Saints Estate (Rutherglen)

Anderson Winery (Rutherglen)

AT Richardson Wines (Grampians)

Battely Wines (Beechworth)

Beelgara Estate (Riverina)

Bellarine Estate (Geelong)

Big Barrel Vineyard and Winery (Queensland Coastal)

Boyntons Feathertop (Alpine Valleys)

Brown Brothers (King Valley)

Brumby Wines (Swan Hill)

Buffalo Mountain Wines

Buller Calliope (Rutherglen)

Calais Estate Hunter Valley

Campbells Wines (Rutherglen)

Cape Horn Vineyard (Goulburn Valley)

Casella (Riverina)

Cassegrain Wines

Ciavarella (King Valley)

Cofield Wines (Rutherglen)

Connor Park (Bendigo)

Currans Family Wines (Murray Darling)

Date Brothers (Swan Hill)

Dos Rios (Swan Hill)

Drinkmoor Wines (Rutherglen)

Eumundi Winery (Queensland Coastal)


Gapsted (Alpine Valleys)

Gehrig Estate (Rutherglen)

Golden Grove Estate

Granite Belt Heritage Estate Granite Belt

Jaengenya Vineyard Goulburn Valley

John Gehrig Wines (King Valley)

Judds Warby Range Estate (Glenrowan)

Jones Winery & Vineyard (Rutherglen)

Kama Sutra Wines (Mudgee)

Kingston Estate (Riverland)

Lake Moodemere (Rutherglen)

Massena Wines (Barossa Valley)

Melange Wines (Riverina)

Michael Unwin Wines (Grampians)
Miranda Riverina

Morris (Rutherglen)

Morrisons of Glenrowan

Mount Prior (Rutherglen)

Mudgee Wines Mudgee Murray River Wines (Murray River Region)

Myattsfield Vineyard and Winery Perth Hills

New Glory Goulburn Valley

Normanby Wines Queensland Zone

Nugan Estate King Valley

Patrice Wines

Pieter van Gent Wines ()

Petersons Glenesk Estate (Mudgee)

Piako Vineyards (Murray Darling)

Piromit Wines (Riverina)

Pyren Vineyard (Pyrenees)

Reedy Creek (Northern Slopes Zone)

Renewan (Swan Hill)

Riverina Estate Wines (Riverina)

Roland Kaval

Rothbury Ridge (Hunter Valley)

Rusticana (Langhorne Creek)

Rutherglen Estates (Rutherglen)

Sam Miranda Wines (King Valley)

Scion Vineyard (Rutherglen)

St Petrox (Hunter Valley)

Stanton and Killeen Wines (Rutherglen)

Swan Hill

Tamburlaine Vineyard (Hunter Valley)

Taminick Cellars (Glenrowan)

Tinonnee Vineyard (Hunter Valley)

Toolleen Vineyard (Heathcote)

Valhalla Wines (Rutherglen)

Vale Vineyard (Mornington Peninsula)

Vintara (Rutherglen)

Warburn Estate (Riverina)

Warrabilla Wines (Rutherglen)

Watchbox Wines (Rutherglen)

Wedgetail Ridge Estate (Darling Downs)

Westend Estate (Riverina)

Wirruna Estate (North East Victoria)

Yacca Paddock Vineyards (Adelaide Hills)

Yendah Vale

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Petite Sirah aka Durif

Since the next Wine Blogging Wednesday theme is petite sirah i decided to do some research into the background of the Petite Sirah grape. Petite Sirah, Durif or pinot de l’hermitage, respectively if you are American, Australian, or French, is a grape producing wines of massive proportion. It is the only reasonably well-known grape variety to be named after a person, botanist Dr François Durif, who propagated it in the Rhone Valley in late 1800's. Interestingly, the Durif vine was not propagated from cuttings but originated from seed stemming from a Peloursin vine germinated by Syrah pollen.

The main reason for, and importance of, the development was that it demonstrated the resistance to downy mildew, a fungal disease that had been causing widespread damage to European vineyards in the 18th and 19th century. Whilest the grape showed resistance to downy mildew it was very susceptible to grey rot in areas where there is high humidity such as the Rhone Valley. As a result the French, however, were never charmed by the wine produced from the grape and today there is very little grown there.

While never quite taking off in France, Durif did take a hold in the United States (California) and Australia (Rutherglen). Today these two regions are still the primary producers of the Durif variety. Both regions are warm and dry, conditions in which the durif grape thrives without much threat from grey rot. The late 1800's saw much of the Vitis Vinifera planted in both the US and Victoria wiped out by the root louse phylloxera. It was at this time that Durif was introduced in both regions.

Exactly why Durif was introduced in either Australia and the US is unclear. I am inclined to think that, if not the introduction, then the spread of Durif was more often incidental than by design. In the US durif was called petite sirah, and the syrah petite syrah. The two Rhone varieties coexisted and were often mistaken for each other. The Prohibition saw the Durif became a favorite as it was tough and stood up well to cross-country shipping by rail.

On other hand in Rutherglen the gold rush taking place at the time possibly provided a ready market for the wines. Very little is known about why exactly durif grape found it's way there. As in the US it is highly probable that some of the spread can be attributed to the similarities in appearance between the Syrah and Durif vines certainly in old age. Even recently there has been much confusion between the syrah (Shiraz) and durif grapes. This is how Carmen vineyards came to grow Petite Sirah in Chile for example. There is no doubt that this also played a large role in the spread of durif (petite sirah) during the late 1800's and early 1900's.

Typically, the Durif grape produces monumental wines dense, impenetrable purple/black in colour with massive concentration, balanced by a massive palate normally laden with black fruits, licorice, chocolate and vanilla. And it doesn't end there as the the tannins are big, but soft and the alcohol high. Paradoxally it also has a soft side, allowing the wines to be enjoyed right away or cellared for 10+ years. Decanting wines these wines is absolutely essential in order to enjoy these wines at their best, as is a number of years cellaring.

Today the Durif is still not a widely grown grape although it is becoming more popular. In Australia its home is Rutherglen, and it rarely strays from here. Total tonnage for Durif in Australia was 5430 tonnes a mere 0.5% of the 1,023,006 tonnes of red wine grapes crushed in Australia in 2005. In terms of planting Durif covers 402 hectares of a total red planting of 98,112 hectares, just 0.4%). In the US California is home to Petite Sirah. The popularity of the grape is similar in the US (California to be more exact because it grows 90% of all wine grapes in the US) where in 2006 36,281 tonnes, 1.9% of the total red crush of 1,873,892 tonnes, was crushed. The grape accounts for 2640 hectares from a total of 119,003 hectares just 2% of total red wine grape vine.

Durif: a grape producing wines of massive proportion, but miniscule in production.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #39: Silver Burgundy

I initially intended this post for Wine Blogging Wednesday, an intiative started by Lenn Thompson. I forgot to submit the post in time but since I've written it I might as well post it. The theme of the month was silver burgundy meaning wines (white or red) from the Côte Chalonnaise or the Mâconnais regions, and was brought by brooklynguy.

In the first place I found it quite difficult to get hold of a Silver Burgundy, but eventually found a bourgogne offered by the cooperative Cave des Vignerons de Buxy. The wine is 100% pinot noir based and cost me €7.50 (roughly $11.00).

Here's my tasting note:

Colour: very clear and light cherry red in colour.
Nose: not a strong nose; red berry fruits with some barnyard-like aromas.
Palate: medium body with some red berry and cherry - quite spicey. tannins are smooth and soft. ends a little tart towards the finish. good balance. Not enough body for my liking.
Finish: finishes off with spicey cherry fruit.
Comments: I find this wine lacks some body and some fruit. It's quite thin but then I guess what do you expect for $10.00 I guess. Doesn't do anything for me.

Friday, November 02, 2007


While in Porto I visited a small wine bar called Vinologia (also known as La Maison des Porto) located in the heart of Porto very close to the ribeira. The owner and founder, Jean-Philippe Duhard, is a Frenchman who fell in love with the wonderful ports of the Douro over ten years ago. It is probably better described as a port bar as this small, cozy place serves nothing but port offering over 200 different bottlings of port.

I was also planning on visiting Solar do Vinho do Porto, the port bars operated by the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto but unfortunately they were closed on the day I chose to visit. As a result I can't really write about them with any of my experiences in mind - which is a pity.

Vinologia, while smaller that Solar do Vinho do Porto, is a fantastic place to taste port offering a number flights of different ports for tasting. It also has any number of bottles open on any given day including a vintage port. Each flight of port (or single glass for that matter) is offered along with a small bowl with saltanas and chocolates.

For mine, the most impressive aspect of this port bar is the commitment to the sales and promotion of the smaller, individual producers. This is unlike Solar do Vinho do Porto, which is somewhat more focused on the larger producers, and the better known ports.

I also found it interesting that the employees of Vinologia don't consider it to be just a port bar / port store, but rather they consider it to be a port school. The flights of port offered are also graded in beginner, intermediate, and advanced etc. The staff were also extremely helpful and willing to share their knowledge.

Vinologia also has a lot of rustic appeal, with every nook and cranny filled with port bottles, port books, and other wine utilties. The port bottles hanging from the ceiling, and the tables and benches made from the lids of port cases adds to the appeal. You can see the coziness of the bar in the photos above and left.

This bar, in my view, is a place you must visit during your next trip to Porto. In fact, I would recommend visiting it a number of times just as I did when I was there!

Friday, October 05, 2007

2002 Little River Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot

Little River Winery is a tiny 15 acre winery owned and run by Count Bruno and his wife Jan de Tastes. It is located in the Swan Valley, some thirty minutes from Perth. The winery is run applying old world-style principles with new world technologies. The utmost is done to ensure wines of high quality; the vines are not irrigated, the fruit is hand picked and a traditional Basket Press is used to press the fruit.

I visited this Swan River winery while back in Australia and I must say I was very impressed across the entire range; both whites and reds. This is the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, a traditional Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon (50%), merlot (40%) and cabernet franc (10%). The wine has been aged in French oak for five years and does not undergo any fining or filtering processes.

Here is my tasting note:

Deep red in colour. A lovely elegant nose of red berry fruit with hints of mint and oak. Plenty of spicey red cherry fruit on the palate with hints of mint, eucalypt and some caramel-like oak. Great mouth-feel with grippy tannins. Smooth and well balanced. Spicey cherry lingers nicely on the finish. This is an excellant effort that is lovely drinking now, but definitely has cellaring potential.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Downloadable Aroma Cards

Alder from the Vinography blog has a handy, downloadable aroma card for those who would like some additional help finding descriptors for the aromas etc. in the wine they are tasting. It's available free of charge (a donation is welcome if you find it useful), in colour or black / white, and in Francais, English, Español, and Italiano. I'll be trying these out during my WSET course which starts next month.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

2004 Santa Rita Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon

Chile has gained a strong reputation for the quality of it's red wines, in particular Cabernet Sauvignon. It has become a worthy competitor for Australia in the high quality, value-for-money wines that have put so much pressure on the French winemakers. This wine produced by Santa Rita, one of Chiles largest wineries, is the reserva Cabernet. Here is my tasting note:

Colour: Deep, dense red with purple hues.
Nose: Lovely nose of spicey black fruit along with hints of vanilla.
Palate: Slightly medicinal with plenty of juicy black current and hints of eucalypt. Full bodied with chunky tannins; though quite well balanced.
Finish: Nice grippy finish lingers for while.
Comments: I like this wine although I do find it to be a little one-dimensional. Still, for the price, it would be good every day drinking along with food.

Monday, September 10, 2007

2005 Chateau Bellegrave

I've been trying to grab as much different 2005 Bordeaux as I can. The 2005 Chateau Bellegrave is a Medoc, a wine based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Colour: Deep, dense red, purple in colour.
Nose: Quite a strong nose with plummy, spicey black fruit.
Palate: Lovely, spicey, black berry fruit with excellent mouth-feel and plenty of grippy tannins.
Finish: Decent length finish for a wine at this price point.
Comments: A little one-dimensional, but at this price point it's very hard to beat. Still a little hard at this stage, but has plenty of years ahead of it. Excellent value for money.

Friday, August 17, 2007

La Trappe Quadrupel

There are a total of seven trappist breweries world-wide. La Trappe, located in the Netherlands, is the only non-Belgium trappist brewery. The beer is brewed at the Koningshoeven Brewery in the Onze Lieve Vrouw van Koningshoeven abbey located in Tilburg. The brewery produces five regular beers - a Witt Trappist, a Blond, a Dubbel, and a Tripel - and two seasonal beers - a Quadrupel and a bockbier.

The aging of the monks meant that the total control of the brewery was becoming increasingly difficult, and lead to the sale to a commerical beer brewer, Brand, in 1999. The purchase lead to a dispute with the International Trappist Association (I.T.A.) which felt that the brewery was becoming too commercialised to be labelled a trappist beer. This has since been resolved, with the monks taking more direct control in daily brewery operations.

Since the purchase by Bavaria the quality of the beers has improved. However, there is still some confusion about the fact that Bavaria brews some if its non-Trappist products, including the Moreeke and Kroon brands, at the abbey brewery. I feel it's a great pity that the continued commercialisation and globalisation of the world has not left this little part of the world untouched.

This beer is the Quadrupel, the biggest beer produced by the abbey at 10%. Here is my tasting note:

Nose: nice spice nose with hops and raisins.
Colour: caramel in colour. a delicate white - yellow head.
Palate: a smooth and chewy mouth feel; quite delicate in a way. malt, nuts and spice with a good balance between tartness and sweetness. 10% alcohol is well hidden.
Finish: nice long, spicey finish.
Comments: this is an excellent beer.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Gala Solene 10 Years Old Tawny Porto

I purchased this 10 year old tawny in the local Aldi supermarket for around 6 euros. I can't find any further information about the producer of this port. To be honest I don't have that much hope for it really, but I guess I can always be suprised. Here is what I thought of it:
Colour: Nice and clear; orange-brown in colour.
Nose: Dried, stewed fruit with some hints of oak.
Palate: Sweet but well balance, with plenty of dried fruit.
Finish: Lengthy finish, albeit a little stringent.
Comments: Lacks the complexity of a high-end port and a little astringent. However, a decent port for the price paid.

Leffe Brune - Dubbel

This beer is produced by Abbaye de Abdij van Leffe located in Belgium. Leffe is an abdij, or abbey beer, which is a brewed along similar lines to the famous Trappist breweries with the exception that the beers are not brewed in monasteries. This is the Brune beer (or Dubbel beer) one of the five beers produced. Here is my tasting note:

Colour: Deep, chocolate brown in color. Nice white, foamy head.
Nose: Not a big nose, but there is some sweet stew apple here.
Palate: Very smooth and soft with plenty of sweet fruit along with brown sugar and caramel like flavours.
Finish: Nice dry, spicey finish.
Comments: A good, easy drinking beer.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

2005 Chateau la Fleur des Amandiers

Montagne-Saint-Emilion is a satelite, and located to the northeast, of the Saint-Emilion Appellation. As with Saint-Emilion, and the neighoring Pomerol, Merlot is the dominant grape with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Merlot and Malbec used as for blending. While I don't know anything at all about this Chateau, 2005 was a very good vintage in Bordeaux so I went on a gut feel and bought a case of this wine.

Here is my tasting note:

Colour: Deep, dense red with purple hues.
Nose: Black fruits and some hints of oak.
Palate: Plenty of fruit here; black berry and plums. Lovey grippy tannins. Good balance.
Finish: Nice long, spicey finish.
Comments: This is a lovely wine. While drinkable now, this is still a very young wine that still has its best years left in it. Excellant value for money.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Hertog Jan Grand Prestige

Coming in at 10% the Hertog Jan Grand Prestige is one of the more heavy, powerful beers brewed in the Netherlands. It is also called gerstewijn which means something like grain wine due to the fruit flavours and high alcohol content. This beer goes through a second fermentation in the bottle which gives the beer it's full, round flavours. This beer will also improve with some additional bottle age, developing port-like flavours.

Here is my tasting note:

Colour: A deep, dark reddish brown with a nice creamy head. While very dark it's also very clear.
Nose: Plenty of hops and some berry-like flavours.
Palate: Full flavoured beer with good balance between sweet and bitter. Nice ripe fruit flavours. Rather powerful alcohol dominates.
Finish: Long bitter finish with some alcohol.
Comments: A beer with good flavours but in my opionion the alcohol dominates a little too much. Maybe it will balance out a bit better with some time on its side.

Kasteel Bruin-Brune

Kasteel Bruin (also known as Kasteelbier Donker) is produced by the Van Honsebrouk brewery. In general it's difficult to categorise beers produced in Belgium as they produce the largest variety of beers in the world. This bruin beer is just another one of these beers. It is a strong brown ale style beer with a high alcohol content of 11%. This beer will also last a couple of years in the cellar.

Here is my tasting note:

Colour: Rich Dark Red-Brown; very dense. Small beige head.
Nose: Not a strong nose. Hints of coffee and chocolate.
Palate: Full, rich and smooth. Sweetness nicely balanced by bitter. High alcohol but not too dominant. Hints of chocolate and coffee.
Finish: Long smooth, slightly bitter finish.
Coments: A nice, well balanced dark brown beer.

Monday, July 30, 2007

2006 Novelito Vino Novello

I tasted this wine without knowing what vino novello actually meant. My first impressions, as you will see in the tasting note, were of Beaujolais Nouveau. Later I did some checking to see what it really meant. I soon found out that just like Beaujolais Nouveau it is a new wine, a celebration of the harvest.

New wines are the first wines of the crop and are permitted for sale in November (6th for Italy and 16th for France). The fermentation process that takes place to produce new wines is that of carbonic maceration. What basically happens with carbonic maceration is that the wines are fermented whole rather than crushing (or breaking up) the grapes in making a normal wine. The result is that the juice ferments inside their skins. After a number of weeks the winemaking process is continued as per normal. The resulting wines are light and fruity with very little tannin and thus no aging ability.

Here is my tasting note:

Colour: light, bright cherry-red in colour.
Nose: fresh, bright cherry nose.
Palate: Beaujolais-like; quite spritzy with the same spicey cherry as the nose. virtually no tannins at all.
Finish: light spicey finish.
Comments: a nice light summer drink, and piece of tradition that will hopefully stay.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

2003 Botalcura El Delirio Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

One of my favourite red grape varietals is Cabernet Sauvignon; in my opinion it is the king of red wine grapes. I simply love the powerful wines the Cabernet grape produces.

Over the last ten years the Chilean wine industry has been on the up with Cabernet Sauvignon becoming Chile's trademark wine. The rise of Chilean Cabernet has been based on high quality wines that overdeliver in the 10-15 euro mark. This is the El Delirio Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the Botalcura winery and cost me around 9 euros. Here is my tasting note:

Colour: deep and intense purple-red in colour.
Nose: a big waft of sweet black currant. some oak here too.
Palate: plenty of sweet cassis fruit. nice grippy tannins. well balanced.
Finish: spicey black fruit.
Comments: a nicely balanced wine that i could drink all night. pretty good value for the 9 euro price tag.

Friday, July 20, 2007

2005 Antica Contea Di Castelvero Piemont Barbera

Antica Contea Di Castelvero is a vineyard located in the limestone-clay soils of the Monferrato hills in the south of the province of Asti, Piemonte. This wine has been fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks, and has had not oak handling. Here is my tasting note:

Colour: ruby red-garnet in colour.
Nose: light and fresh. vibrant plummy fruit. some savoury characters here as well.
Palate: medium bodied. light red berry and cherry flavours. little or no tannins.
Finish: light and savoury on the finish.
Comments: a medium bodied wine that would suit food.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

2004 Chateau Fourcas Hosten

I purchased six bottles of this wine as one of the weekly specials from the local Aldi store. Chateau Fourcas Hosten is situated in Listrac (Medoc) and produces some of the better wines from this region. It is a 2004 vintage which was a good year in Bordeaux, although not quite so good as the 2005. The wine is made of twenty five year old vines, and is a blend of 45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc.

Here is my tasting note:

Colour: deep purple-red in colour. good colour depth, but not inpenetrable.
Nose: oak hits the nose first backed up by hints of black fruits.
Palate: elegant, peppery black cassis fruit with fine tannins. a nicely structured wine.
Finish: solid finish; green and peppery.
Comments: nice solid wine that will last a fews years tucked away in the cellar. excellent value for money.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

2000 Gilberts LBV Porto

This is the Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) port produced by Gilberts, and comes in a 500 ml bottles instead of 750ml. I purchased this on a whim when I saw it on sale at the local Gall & Gall. This port has been produced by the traditional treading of feet in stone lagaeres (open topped tanks).

Here is my tasting note:

colour: deep, dense red in colour. browning slightly towards the rim of the glass.
nose: lovely big nose of sweet, jammy red fruit.
palate: full bodied and powerful. begins with smooth, spicey red fruit. acid and sweetness are nicely in balance. was a little sharp until the wine opened a little more. some fermented wood in here as well.
finish: long, sweet and smooth. a tad sharp and alcoholic towards the end.
conclusion: this is a nice LBV and good value for money.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

2005 Terroir De Dentelles

Vacqueyras is a region located in the Rhone valley which gained it's own appellation status in 1990. The main grape used here is the Grenache which must make up at least 50% of the wine. It can then be blended with Syrah and Mourvedre in what is sometimes called a GSM blend. This is the case with the 2005 Terroir De Dentelles. Here is my tasting note:

Colour: Purple, red in colour.
Nose: Red fruits; red and black berries.
Palate: Kind of earthy with spicey red and black berries.
Finish: Earthy, spicey finish.
Comments: Nice food wine; A good value for money, every day drinking wine.

Friday, June 29, 2007

2005 Pepperjack Shiraz

Coming from a town close to the Swan Valley I have come to realise that I really enjoy a glass or two of the warmer climate reds. I picked up this bottle of Barossa Shiraz on one of my daily, holiday tours through the local liquor store. Here is my tasting note:

Colour: Deep red and purple; i like wines with good colour depth, and this certainly has that.
Nose: A big, solid nose of black berry fruits and some vanillin.
Palate: Very soft, round wine. Plums and black berries. Generous wine typical of warm climate Shiraz. Good tannins round the wine off.
Finish: Nice soft, slightly spicey finish.
Comments: I loved this nice, generous Shiraz. Will also go a few years in the cellar.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

2004 Waters Edge Merlot Cabernet

I was in the Swan Valley and swung by what used to be Olive farm. I saw it has been renamed Waters Edge and decided to stop by. It appears most of the wines have been made from fruit grown down south in places like Pemberton. I purchased two wines for further tasting at home: and Cabernet Merlot and a Merlot Cabernet.

Here's my tasting note for the Merlot Cabernet:

Colour: Vibrant cherry red in colour.
Nose: All fruit with Cherry and Plum. Some vegemite here too.
Palate: Cherry and plums. Nice soft tannins.
Finish: Short finish of Cherry and Plums.
Comments: Nice easy drinking wine. Plenty of fruit there when the wine opens up a bit.

Monday, June 18, 2007

2004 Faber Vineyard Riche Shiraz

I purchased a case of this wine a few years back. Pulled one bottle out to see how it was getting along. Here is my tasting note:

Nose: Deep intense purple; very intense in colour.
Palate: Gobs of juicy plum and dark berry fruit. Spice and some tar. Very round and big; voluptous with solid tannins.
Finish: Nice lengthy finish.
Comments: An impressive wine that got bigger as it opened up. Next time I will give it more airtime. Clearly still too young; needs a piece more in the cellar.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

2004 Zilzie Cabernet Sauvignon

I am a big fan of the cabernet grape, and was looking forward to tasting this wine as I have read good reviews of their wines around the place. Here is my tasting note:

Colour: Deep purple in colour.
Nose: Black currents. American Oak and Vanilla.
Palate: Typical cab flavours of black currants and berries. Also some numeg spice. Good firm tannins.
Finish: Finishes with vanilla and nutmeg. Slightly weak on the finish.
Comments: Ok wine, but in my opinion lacking fruit. Expected more from this.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

2000 Killerby Shiraz

I purchased this wine back in 2000. Over time I seen some less than postive reviews of the Killerby marketing tactics - I haven't noticed this as yet. Anyway, some six years later pulled one out to check how these are travelling. here is my tasting note:

colour: deep red bordering to purple in colour. some fading of colour to the edge of the glass.
nose: nice nose with spicey red fruit. hints of cedary oak and pepper also.
palate: a rich wine with a good dose of spicey red fruit; blackberrys. some oak imparted vanilla. nicely structured with lovely grippy tannins.
finish: nice long finish.
comments: i'm quite impressed by this wine. it's certainly travelled well so far.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

2005 Zilzie Buloke Cabernet Merlot

I have read pretty positive reviews on the Zilzie range of wines in a number of different sources. The Buloke range (meaning Bull-Oak) is named after the range of Buloke trees overlooking the vineyard and aims to deliver everyday drinking wines that overdeliver in quality. In my opinion Zilzie have achieved this with this wine. Here is my tasting note:

Colour: Lively red in colour. Nice colour density.
Nose: I can only identify fruit here; mainly dark berry aromas. Oak is not noticable.
Palate: Dark berry and plum flavours dominate the palate. Very soft, smooth tannins. Some oak and spice decernable here.
Finish: Oak and spicey fruit linger a little on the finish.
Conclusions: Nice food wine for every day drinking; quite good value for money.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

2003 Ferngrove Symbols Cabernet Merlot

Ferngrove Estate is located in the South West of Western Australia some 360 km south of Perth. It's one of the rising stars of the southwest. The climate here is a temperate mediteranean meaning a cool climate wine region which the wines produced by Ferngrove reflect. Here is my tasting note:

Colour: Red in colour; good depth of colour.
Nose: Typical Cabernet Merlot nose. Dark berry and plum. Lots of sweet fruit.
Palate: Same dark fruits as on nose. Nice grippy tannins.
Finish: Nice dark berry finish. Slightly short as you would expect with wine of this cost.
Comments: A nice, simple, entry-level cool climate Cabernet Merlot.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

2005 Taylors Shiraz

I am currently back in Australia at the moment. I always like to purchase wines from regions known for their particular wine varieties. In this case it happened to be a shiraz from the Clare Valley one of Australia's oldest wine regions that is well known for Reisling, Cabernet and Shiraz. Here are my tasting notes:

Colour: Deep purple red. very dense bordering to black in the centre of the glass.
Nose: Lovely nose of cherry. Definite American oak gives the wine a nice hint of vanilla as well.
Palate: Spicey red fruits: plum and again cherry. The palate also has a creaminess about it probably due to the oak. Nice soft tannins.
Finish: Nice smooth, creamy finish lingers for a while.
Comments: Lovely wine that will probably soften a little as it ages.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

1997 Chateau Coufran

Chateau Coufran is located in northern Haut-Medoc. Suprisingly for a left bank Bordeaux Chateau Coufran grows predominately Merlot rather than Cabernet Sauvignon in contrast to the majority of estates. While this estate is not very high profile, it does produce quality wines.

The wine is now ten years old, and it took some time before it opened up. While 1997 was not a great year for Bordeaux it did produce some quality wine albeit with shorter lifespans than better vintages.

Here is my tasting note:

Colour: Still a deep red with some browning at the rim showing it's age.
Nose: Lovely elegant nose. Once it opens up it shows black fruits with some hints of cedar.
Palate: Black current and cherry. Spicy with solid tannins.
Finish: Lingering finish, though more tannin than fruit.
Conclusion: Nicely structured wine.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

2004 Doluca Antik

Doluca is one of the best independent producer of wines Turkey. The winery, which was founded in 1926, is situated on the Sea of Marmara close to the Black Sea. I haven't tasted a lot of Turkish wine: in fact this is just the third time. This particular wine is produced from Gamay grapes. Here is my tasting note.

Colour: Light red in colour.

Nose: Pleasant nose with some hints of cherry.

Palate: Uncomplicated dry red. Typical of Gamay it's light with cherry and red berry flavours.

Finish: Short finish with the same light cherry.

Conclusion: Pleasant, simple wine.

Friday, May 04, 2007

2005 Chateau Roc de Cazade

This was a wine that I picked up at my local Gall & Gall store. Mainly chosen because it was a 2005 Bordeaux; I am trying to taste as much as of this vintage as possible.

Colour: deep red, purple in colour. nice looking wine.

Nose: i love this nose. elegant and full of red fruit. more cherry-like than cassis. my nose is slightly blocked up today so i may be way off here!

Palate: spicey red fruits followed up by solid tannins. my first impression is that the tannins are little dominant which is a pity. I guess at this price who can complain.

Finish: slightly bitter; the tannins hang around for a bit too.

Conclusion: All-in-all not a bad budget-priced red wine. I just prefer a bit more fruit than this wine offers.

Monday, April 09, 2007

2002 Chateau de Charmes Cabernet-Merlot

Chateau des Charmes is a winery located on the Niagara Peninsula in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is owned by the Bosc family, and family of French origins. The winery is best-known for it's reds, and it's old world style.

This Cabernet-Merlot is classic bordeaux-blend made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Here is my tasting note:

Colour: nice red in colour, going to brick-red towards the edges of the glass.

Nose: lovely currant and black berry aromas. some spice and earth aromas.

Palate: good fruit: currants, black berries and cherries. a nicely balanced cabernet with an excellent structure. nice solid, grippy tannins.

Finish: nice length to the finish.

Conclusion: a very nice wine. worth the $17 canadian i paid for it.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wine and Food Arrogance

I've been in Canada for work the past week. Tonight, while zapping through the channels I spotted a show on Slice TV called The Heat. I spotted the footage of the wines, and vines immediately so began watching. The show was about catering for a harvest party for the part-owner of Canadian winery Inniskilin, Donald Ziraldo.

Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with good good and wines. However, what really ground my gears was the way in which Donald tasted the food cooked for the test meal. Every dish had too much sauce, not enough flavour, too dry etc. Ok, he's the client but it really struck me as so stuck up. It's everything that I hate about about a certain section of food and wine. It's that snobbish arrogance. Pathetic is all i can say. After watching the show there's no way i will ever purchase any of Inniskilin's overpriced wines.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

2004 Chateau Tour Prignac

Travelled to the UK this weekend. On the way I saw a special in one of the duty-free shops. Chateau Tour Prignac 2004 two for the price of one. Now 2004 having been built up as a pretty decent vintage for Bordeaux, I picked up a couple of bottles.

Coming from the Medoc region (left bank Bordeaux) the wine is a blend of 50% merlot and 50% cabernet sauvignon. Here is my tasting note:

Colour: dense red in colour. colour shows this wine is still very young.

Nose: lovely elegant nose. primarily black currents and cassis, with some hints of mint and oak.

Palate: plenty of ripe black fruits much in the same vein as the nose. soft, smooth tannins give this wine good structure.

Finish: good length on the finish.

Conclusion: good qpr as the last one i reviewed. should be enough in this wine to last at least a few years.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

2005 Chateau Fourreau

I picked up a couple of bottles of Chateau Fourreau after reading a very positive Hubrecht Duijker review. The producer of this wine is a family-run winery located, south of St. Emilion, in Pujols. The wine is 100% merlot-based from the 2005 vintage which was very favourable in Bordeaux.

Here is my basic tasting note:

Colour: dense deep red/purple in colour.

Nose: black fruits: currents and black berries.

Palate: same black current. lovely and smooth. good mouth feel. tannins are well integrated, although slightly hard at this stage.

Finish: nice finish, albeit slightly short.

Conclusion: very good qpr. i also suspect that it has enough in it to last for a few years. a great daily drink.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Wine Writers Workshop

As you can probably tell from the small number of posts on my blog, I am seriously interested in wine. I like tasting it, drinking it, reading about it. So the next logical step is also to learn how to write about it. I'm considering doing some writing about wine, and maybe also food. The course i had in mind was the Travel, Food & Wine Writing Class which will take place in St. Emilion, France from the 27th May until the 1st June 1, 2007.

St. Emilion is a lovely place and I really look forward to traveling there again. A week of wine and food sounds like heaven to me. I just hope it's not a snobby affair as I have a hard time tolerating that. In my opinion good food and wine don't have to cost the earth, and should not only be available for the rich.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


The courses offered by WSET are much more accessible for persons not in the wine industry than the master of wine qualification is. However, they provide a good stepping stone for further studies. WSET provides a level 1 through to level 4 certification described as follows on the WSET website:

Level 1 Foundation Certificate in Wines

This one day wine course provides basic product knowledge and skills needed in the service and sale of wine.

Level 2 Intermediate Certificate in Wines and Spirits

This wine and spirits qualification offers broad coverage of all product categories in the field of wines and spirits, together with basic wine tasting technique. It underpins job skills and competencies in the customer service and sales functions of the hospitality, retail and wholesale industries.

Level 2 Professional Certificate in Spirits

This spirits course gives a greater breadth and depth of knowledge in the specific area of spirits and liqueurs. The qualification covers spirits categories, use of identified products and spirits tasting. It underpins job skills and compentencies in the customer service and sales functions of the hospitality, retail, wholesale and spirits industries.

Level 3 International Higher Certificate in Wines and Spirits

This qualification is available through International WSET providers only. It is also available in several different languages.

Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits

Provides a more comprehensive coverage of the wide range of wines and spirits around the world to equip those in a supervisory capacity with the authority and confidence to make informed decisions in a wide variety of trade situations. The qualification has an increased focus on wine tasting technique.

Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits

The Diploma is a specialist qualification where detailed knowledge is combined with commercial factors and a thorough system for the professional evaluation of wines and spirits. Divided into 6 individually assessed and accredited units. A pass in all 6 Units must be obtained to gain the WSET Level 4 Diploma qualification.

Level 5 Honours Diploma

The WSET Level 5 Honours Diploma is an individual research project that enables students to develop skills in research, evaluation and analysis in a wine and spirit related subject of their choice. This qualification is open to anyone holding the WSET Level 4 Diploma.

Students are taught to taste in a logical, systematic and above all professional manner through the WSETs tasting system, which is designed to build an individual’s skills progressively through the different qualification levels. If you check the The WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting you can see the steady progression in detail required when tasting wine. This progression will take place as the student tastes and experiences more wine.