Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Excellent Wines


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The theme today is excellence in diversity. The wines — five red, five white and two pink — illustrate the notion that great wine can derive from anywhere wine grapes are grown and excel within the parameter of their intention and purpose. Excellent wines don’t require the “best” grapes; notice we do not touch on chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon in this post. (O.K., there’s a dollop of cabernet sauvignon in one blend.) There’s diversity in price too, ranging here from $12 to $59. I won’t go so far as to say that there’s a wine for every taste here — we’re all too individual for that — but I wouldn’t be surprised if plenty of My Readers found wines to like among this dozen. As usual in the Weekend Wine Notes post, I eschew the historical, geographical and technical details on which I normally dote for …

Cullen Diana Madeline 2001


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14%. Cork – mostly stained. 75% Cabernet 25%: Merlot.

The third encounter. . . 18 years old, mature and in slow and gentle decline. Deeply coloured, a leafy nose – blackcurrant and leather, lead pencil, it smells medium blue. . . Soft and lush in mouth; big and bold with fine milk chocolate tannins and a balsamic edge.

Before.

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2009


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Image: middle aged wino climbing a rock near Yallingup circa July 2018. Camera bag in tow, note book and pencil at the ready. . .

A pair of reds, both worthy and terrific.

Amisfied RKV Reserve Pinot noir 2007. Central Otago. 14%. A deeply punted, very heavy bottle. The wine has a beautiful nose; plush, rich, ripe and quite delicious. Cola like, it smells and feels like a Central Otago wine, but with more finesse. Tadpole like, but convincing and enticing.

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2009. Canbera, 14%. If the last bottle was dark red in scent, this is certainly more pink and pale purple. . . Very fresh and bright, Turkish delight and confection, the nose at least is much younger than expected. . . in contrast it feels inkier and older in the mouth.

Alternative Reds: Not Cab., Mer., or P.N.


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No, friends, there’s not a darned thing wrong with cabernet sauvignon, merlot or pinot noir wines — unless they’re made in an overwrought, obtrusive manner — but they tend to dominate the discussion of the world’s red wines and so-called “noble” grapes. If you’re just a tad weary of those wines, I offer alternatives in today’s post, with grapes that include alicante bouschet, carignan, malbec, petite sirah, sangiovese, tempranillo, syrah/shiraz and tannat. Our Seven League Boots touch down in Mendoza, Tuscany, Paso Robles, Alentejo (Portugal), Chile’s Maule Valley, Apulia, Arroyo Seco, Oregon’s Umpqua Valley and Monterey County. Oh the things you’ll see! And the wines you’ll taste! Enjoy, in moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review.

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Malbec is not exactly an unknown grape in the United States. One cannot go into a liquor store or big box venue without encountering shelves and boxes of malbec wines from …

Jumping Juice Windy Cottage Pinot noir 2017


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A slight name change, but identical label with a subconsciously matching photo. It’s clear that my thinking when it comes to photographing wine bottles is unchanged. . . 13.5%, Taggerty, Warragul, Gippsland, Victoria. The best part is the nose – vibrant, filling and primary. Mashed berries and spice, it’s only later that the shadows and black cardamon appear. A little clunky in the mouth – like vegetable juice – with too much amplitude and acid. Awkward where you might hope for nuance and softness.

Context. I’ve been listening to a trio of books. The Overstory (by Richard Powers) – It’s superb, though I can only handle one short story per day, there’s too much to absorb and I keep wanting to rush home from my nocturnal walks so I might Google the featured Northern Hemisphere tree that he is painting with such vivid language. How to Change Your Mind (Michael Pollan) …

15, 17


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A Margaret river pair. . . infants really, not yet ready for battle.

2017 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay (13%). Still dominated by a shroud of oak and cream, butterscotch and curry leaf; the fruit obscured, but the quality is apparent. From 2021 perhaps.

2015 Cullen Diana Madeline (13%). A few weeks earlier, I had tried a 2013 Diana Madeline and was struck by the poise and balance. Possibly the best youngish DM I can recall. . . This in contrast is  unresolved, smudged. Black currant and a sharp prod of menthol, creamy and rich in the mouth – inky, dark chocolate tannins.

Six Savory Whites


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Yes, we’re well into Spring and heading toward Summer. Here’s a roster of savory, spicy, saline white wines to ease the transition through the vagaries of changeable weather and shifting winds. In truth, of course, these six diverse wines might be consumed throughout the year. Call them eminently versatile. Also mostly excellent value. Of the six wines presented here, four offer terrific PQR — Price/Quality Ratio. All are from vintage 2017.

These wines were samples for review.

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The 15.2 percent alcohol on the Ricardo Santo Semillon 2018, Mendoza, may give one pause, but somehow this absolutely lovely wine comes across as inherently delicate and elegant. It sees no oak. The grapes grow on 75-year-old vines at about 2,950 feet above sea level. The color is pale straw-gold; the nose offers spiced pear inflected by apricot and figs, with notes of lanolin and bee’s-wax and a sunny-leafy element that …

Penfolds Grange 1996


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Warm and effusive, this seems hardly more than adolescent in development. Deep with menthol and spice, soft leather and raisins. A PX soaked Christmas pudding nose. . . Terrific structure, even to this hard to please observer. . . Super balance of size and well rounded tannins.

Context – the 15th or 16th bottle of the night, proceeded by a pair of St Henri – a very cuddly and compelling 2012, and a stern but softening 2002.

Jansz Tasmania Premium Rosé NV: A Sparkling Jewel on a Small Island


This post is by Dezel Quillen from My Vine Spot


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Hello Friends,

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to taste wines from all over the world, from well-known and highly regarded regions to unexpected areas that are producing quality wines that are just waiting for your discovery. Nevertheless, there are some wine regions I hear more about than I savor. Australia’s southernmost state, the island of Tasmania, is one of them. The region enjoys cool-climate maritime influences and is recognized for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as the production of Méthode Tasmanoise (traditional method) sparkling wines. While Tasmania represents a tiny percentage of Australia’s total wine production—and the region’s wines may be hard to find—just about everything I’ve tasted from the island has been delicious. In fact, I’m looking for more of this sparkler as I type. It is well deserving of both your attention and your table. For further information and where you can find this wine, …

February notes


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Midway through the lunar festival and the chance to open and revisit some older bottles. . .

Not in picture – a green skinny bottle of unsurprisingly fresh and pert Grüner. Prager Hinter Der burg 2008. 12%. Screwcap. Pale, peppery and primary. Peach, pollen and polished stone. Super texture – in retrospect, like a mouth full of citrus and white flowers. Lovely acidity and poise. My drinking companion thought it was a 2018 riesling – so fresh. It’s the more expensive (though I’ve long forgotten the price) sibling to this bottle that I tried a decade ago.

Also unseen – a bottle of 2010 Mountadam Chardonnay. It’s become a butter ball – round and full, very old school / 1980’s in shape and accent. Butterscotch and almond meal. In passing.

The half bottle of the 2011 Lake’s Folly Caberents is starting to turn I think. Still …