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Spitting: Optionalspring vale

Spring Vale Pinot Noir 2011

Style: Light- mid bodied red

Country: Australia

Region: Tasmania (Freycinet)


Overview: I have to say my favourite thing about this wine is the Map of Tassie on top of the screw cap:



Call me immature (I’ve been called worse, trust me) but every time I peek into a box of wine and see the Map of Tassie looking up at me I can’t help but giggle. Obviously there is more to this wine than matching its state of origin with a piece of anatomy. This is Spring Vale’s flagship Pinot Noir, spicy and complex its one to keep the Pinophiles drooling.


Tasting note: Dusty spice and lifted cherry, strawberry and cinnamon aromas with subtle floral notes. The palate is vibrant yet complex with flavours of plum, sour cherry, truffle and savoury spice. The tannins are on the grippy, grainy side and the oak quietly sits in the background. Great length and balance.


Final Say: More than just a pretty screw cap. $40 a bottle


Score: 18.5 out of 20

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on

Purple Hands Wines Pinot Gris 2012Purple Hands

Vintage: 2012

Style: Dry White

Country: Australia

Region: Adelaide Hills

Overview: There is still much confusion surrounding Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio – you’d think we would have worked it out by now. It’s definitely not the consumers’ fault; in Australia we’ve seen Pinot Gris labelled as Pinot Grigio and vice versa. As a result, the muddied water will take some time to clear. The two styles use the same grape but should be made very differently. Pinot Grigio is a simple, fresh and crisp drink. Pinot Grigio is generally fermented in stainless steel with lees stirring (lees= dead yeast; try not to think about it) used to build texture and nuttiness through the mid palate. Pinot Gris is generally picked later to maintain richness. In the winery, to add complexity, the winemaker throws more work at it, such as time in barrel, lees contact and sometimes malolatic fermentation. This wine definitely sits in the Pinot Gris spectrum with 40% of the wine fermented in oak and left on lees for eight months while the remaining 60% spent its time hanging about in stainless steel.

Tasting Note: The nose is typically Pinot Gris – pear, almonds and a little bit cheesy. There are subtle oak notes on the palate, with a lovely richness. The aromas on the nose transform into flavours on the palate with added stone fruit and custard apple notes.

Final Say: This is a wine that has escaped the ever present Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio identity crisis. $16.99 a bottle.

Score: 16 out of 20

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on

Mandala Pinot Noir 2011Mandala

Style: Light-bodied Red.

Region: Yarra Valley

Country: Australia

Tasting note: This wine is from a tough year in Yarra Valley; it was wet and cold, which is why this wine is so light in colour. It has a bright, lifted cherry nose with just a touch of spice. There is more where this came from on the palate with strawberry tones complementing the sour cherry. Simple yet enjoyable.

Final Say: If you’re looking for a great, everyday Pinot Noir then this wine is for you. $19.99 a bottle.

Score: 15.5 out of 20

MV mer

Spitting: Optional

Mount Avoca Merlot 2010

Vintage: 2010

Style: Medium bodied red

Country: Australia

Region: Pyrenees, VIC


Overview Merlot is often referred to as a ‘wishy-washy’ variety in Australia. Simple, easy to drink but not a serious wine. This term reminds me of dirty dishwashing water and for some Merlot this description could be seen as kind. It’s a shame that a variety that originates from one of the world’s most famous wine regions, Bordeaux has been given this reputation. Although in Australia most Merlot is made into a quaffing style there are certain exceptions to this rule. Serious Merlot (as funny as that may sound to some people) should display good structure, red berry and spice. This wine ticks these boxes and is a better food wine than one to drink on its own.


Tasting note: A leafy, dusty nose complimented by subtle blueberry aromas. Raspberry and forest fruits on the palate with grainy tannins. A touch short and under ripe but food helps push these characters to the background.


Final Say: No recycled grey water here. $20-$28 a bottle. A decent Merlot if you’re so inclined.

Score: 15.5 out of 20

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on

Oakridge 864 Charlie's Block

Spitting: Optional

Region: Yarra Valley, Victoria  


Overview: Chard freaks and pinophiles all love the Yarra Valley, the self-proclaimed Burgundy of Australia. During a recent visit to the Yarra I found the diversity in Chardonnay styles quite impressive. Thus I have compiled a list that could be seen as a veritable best of the best of Yarra Valley Chardonnay (that is if anyone takes what I write to be serious of course).

Tasting notes:


Innocent Bystander Chardonnay 2011: A fresh, uncomplicated Chardonnay that displays nice stone fruit characters and subtle oak. A good every day Chardonnay.

Score: 16/20



Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2011: A complex, flinty nose with a party-in-your-mouth palate of nectarine, peach, underlying citrus and lovely oak tones.

Score: 18/20



Giant Steps Tarraford Vineyard Chardonnay 2011: A more restrained style, toasty oak and citrus on the nose. Elegant grapefruit characters, mouth filling and classy.

Score: 17.5/20


Colstream Hills Chardonnay 2011: Nice stone fruit on the nose supported by subtle oak, lingering grapefruit on the palate and great acidity.

Score: 17.5/20



Coldstream Hills Deer Farm Chardonnay 2011: Flinty, toasty nose with a fantastic minerality, citrus and stone fruit with a great, creamy mouth feel.

Score: 18/20



Coldstream Hills Rising Vineyard Chardonnay 2011: Awesome nose (the wine not mine) complex notes of struck match with a fresh palate of honeydew melon and citrus. Well integrated oak and great acidity.

Score: 18/20



Yeringberg Chardonnay 2011: Toasty nose with a salty, austere palate with nectarine characters, zippy citrus and lingering finish.

Score: 18.5/20



Yeringberg Chardonnay 2009: Oak more evident on the nose, toasty and nutty with a creamy mouth feel and grapefruit flavours.

Score: 18/20



Oakridge 864 Charlie’s Block Chardonnay 2011: This wine displays layers of complexity, subtle, complex sulphides, toasty oak, elegant minerality, grapefruit and nutty characters. A real winner, probably my favourite overall.

Score: 18.5/20



Oakridge Denton Vineyard Chardonnay 2011: So funky this wine could play jazz sax, flinty nose, citrus and white-fleshed nectarine characters with a fresh, clean acidity.

Score: 18/20




Oakridge Guerin Vineyard Chardonnay 2011: More Chablis in style, restrained citrus and grapefruit with a mouth-watering minerality.

Score: 17.5/20



Final Say: Sorry pinophiles, Chard freaks won this week.


For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on


Gone Fishin’

Posted: February 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

Hi all,

Spitting:optional will be taking a short break while I go on holidays. See you all in three weeks.



Spitting: Optional

Chrismont ‘La Zona’ Barbera 2011

Vintage: 2011

Style: Medium-bodied red

Country: Australia

Region: King Valley, Victoria


Overview: The Italian grape Barbera may be the 3rd most planted variety in Italy but here in Australia it is lesser known and barely grown. In fact most people probably believe that Barbera is an attempt at spicing up the name Barbra, in an exquisitely bogan fashion.  The King Valley is known for its prolific use of Italian varietals which, for me, makes it one of Australia’s more interesting wine regions. Out of the Australian attempts at taming this variety this is definitely the stand out.

Barbera is my grapey wife, I love it. It’s funky and temperamental and there are some shocking wines made from Barbera floating about, due to its propensity to become reductive and a bit smelly (due to hydrogen sulfide) if fermentation is not monitored correctly. Its typical characters are blueberry, pepper and spicy notes and are best in enjoyed with red meat dishes.


Tasting note: A funky nose of sour cherry, white pepper and tobacco. A complex palate of fresh fruit and spice, strawberry, plum, cherry, white pepper and cedar. Finishes delicately with a fine tannin structure.  


Final Say: Enter a brave new world and give this wine a try. $20 a bottle, absolute bargain.

Score: 17 out of 20


For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on

Photo © Patricia Thomson

Primitivo vs. Zinfandel

By Spitting: Optional

Overview: This week I’ve tried something a little different, over two nights, with the same meal I’ve tried an Italian Primitivo and an Australian Zinfandel. What’s the difference between Primitivo and Zinfandel? Well nothing, they are both the same variety so why the different names? Well it’s a little like calling corn ‘corn’ in Australia and calling corn ‘maize’ in America. In Italy they call the variety ‘Primivito’ and in California they call it ‘Zinfandel’ and true to the Australian way we grow it, produce it and call it both depending on what the winemaker thinks may sound more romantic. How romantic can you get? Primitivo sounds like a new model of Volkswagen and Zinfandel sounds like some hideous war crime.

Any way, I digress, I tasted the A-Mano Primitivo 2008 IGT and the Elderton Estate Zinfandel 2009 and while both were similar they were time very different at the same time, not only because one comes from Puglia, Italy and the other from the Barossa Valley but because of the very nature of the grape itself.

To avoid confusion the variety will be referred to, from here onwards, as Zimitivodel, not a registered synonym for the grape but give it time… Zimitivodel is a grape that grow in large bunches, the bunch ripens unevenly which means you can have very ripe berries mixed with green berries on the same bunch. Thus you can hand pick the grapes at the sugar level you want – disregarding the unripe grapes, or you can patiently wait for the whole bunch to ripen which means higher sugar levels which translates into higher alcohol content and very concentrated fruit.

A- Mano (13.5% Alc) is an example of the first way of handling the grape and the Elderton (16% Alc) the second way of cultivating the variety.

Tasting Notes:

            A-Mano Primitivo 2009: Vibrant ruby in colour. The nose is of white pepper, cherry and strawberry, these characters follow on to the palate complimented by sandalwood and aniseed and soft tannins.

Elderton Zinfandel 2009: A nose of sour cherry, pepper and cinnamon. Initially on the palate there is a punch in the face of strawberry and game but a richness lingers. Chocolate and persistent acid on the finish.

Final Say: So what was the result? Well both were similar in their primary fruit characters the main difference was the spice. Both wines were a touch short on the back palate, which suggests to me that a small amount of another variety should be blended in to fill that black hole. My preference is with the Italian Zimitivodel, I found that the wine developed a great aniseed character as it opened up which was very seductive. Both wines were tried with a Moroccan Lamb Casserole, a great food match.


A-Mano: 16.5 A great drop (83 out of 100)

Elderton: 16 Well worth a try (80 out of 100)

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on

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Jack Davis

Spitting: Optional