Posts Tagged ‘red wine’

Red Claw Pinot Noir 2010

Posted: December 5, 2012 in Australia
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Yabby

Spitting: Optional

Red Claw Pinot Noir 2010

Vintage: 2010

Style: Light-mid bodied red

Country: Australia

Region: Mornington Peninsula  

Overview:   So a while ago I mentioned that people who are just starting to get into wine normally struggle with the variety Pinot Noir. My theory for this is that wine wankers, like myself, use descriptors such as game, mushroom and forest floor. While all these characters are typical of Pinot Noir when a beginner hears words like this strung together it would be difficult for them not think of a dead deer, rotting in a forest with toadstools growing around it.

I’ve been looking for a good Pinot Noir that displays the fresh, vibrant fruit characters of Pinot without these gamey, forest floor flavours to give newcomers to the world of wine an example of a simpler version of Pinot to ease them into falling in love with this great variety. As you recognize the simple characters of Pinot Noir you will come to appreciate the more complex. It’s like being attracted to someone for their good looks but falling for them for their subtleties and personality (I know, I know, I’m a massive tool).

This wine is made by the team at Yabby Lake, arguably one of the most recognized wineries out of the Mornington Peninsula.

Tasting note: Sour cherry on the nose, a touch of strawberry. On the palate the fruit characters are fresh and vibrant, cherry and violets.  Finishes with soft tannins. Simple but quite enjoyable.

Final Say:  Sells for around $20 a bottle and is sure to spark a Pinot love affair,

Score: 16.5 out of 20

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

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Jack Davis

 

 

Spitting: Optional

Brand’s Laira Cabernet Merlot 2010

Vintage: 2010

Style: Full bodied red

Country: Australia 

Region: Coonawarra 

Overview: Cabernet Sauvignon is frequently referred to as a ‘doughnut’ variety. Why? It’s not because it’s sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon or because it is responsible for overweight men of authority but because when it is made into a single variety wine there is often something missing, a hole in the palate. This ‘hole’ needs to be filled in with something. In Bordeaux, France this is filled with the variety Merlot. On the left bank of Bordeaux Merlot is actually the dominate variety.

There is often the perception that Merlot is a one-dimensional, wishy-washy wine that’s good for nothing other than staining the drain with tannin and while this might be true for a lot of the cheap Merlot produced in Australia the fact is that any variety can be made as a one-dimensional, wishy-washy style. When made in a serious manner Merlot displays savoury spice and rich berry characters.

This Cabernet Merlot is quintessentially Australian in style, punchy, oaky, fruit driven and tannic enough to stain your teeth for a week. A good one to put in the cellar for 5 years or so.

Tasting note: Lifted aromas of dark cherry, plum and ground coffee tones. The more delicate cherry characters on the nose give way to plum and blackberries on the palate. Liberal contact with oak has imparted cedar flavours and finishes with a touch of menthol and chewy tannins.

Final Say: Normally sells for $17 a bottle, it’s probably a little young at the moment but will be looking good in 3-5 years’ time.

 

Score: 16.5 out of 20

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

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Jack Davis

 

 

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Picante Grande Meseta Tempranillo Shiraz 2010

Vintage: 2010

Style: Medium bodied red

Country: Spain 

Region: Central Spain 

Overview When selecting this wine I was choosing something that I believed would be a simple drink. Nothing mind blowing or overly complex, just a nice drink that I could sit down, put my feet up and enjoy. It was probably the price tag that made me think this, $11.99 I think I bought it for. The wine in the glass, however punched well above its weight, floored me, put me down for the count and made me feel guilty that I was drinking this on my own and not sharing it. I should have seen it coming really, those Spaniards are notorious for making great, inexpensive red wines. Where I really discovered the great potential of this wine was when I matched it with food, the spice and fresh fruit came to life when paired with fennel seed and pepper crusted pork.

Tempranillo and Shiraz are great partners. I’ve seen many, great cheap wines of this blend out of both Spain and Italy. Both have different dimensions of fruit and spice that lend to one another. This wine does not see oak which adds vibrancy and freshness which can sometimes be missing in a red wine.

This wine has the Spitting:Optional guarantee. Try it and if you don’t like it I will not give you back any money but subject you to a stern talking to.

Tasting note: An attractive, floral nose with tones of strawberry, blueberry and white pepper these characters carry on to the palate with savoury spice, crushed rosemary and finishes with grainy tannins. It is reminiscent of a good, entry level Cote du Rhone.

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Final Say: Looking for an inexpensive wine to impress with? Look no further, pick it up for between $11 and $15 and enjoy.

 

Score: 18 out of 20 (90 out of 100)

Spitting: Optional

Prunotto Occhetti Nebbiolo d’Alba 2009

Vintage: 2009

Style: Full bodied red.

Country: Italy 

Region: Piedmont, d’Alba 

Overview: I have never imagined Nebbiolo as a pretty or elegant variety, it is a brute that requires manhandling to make it do what winemakers want it to do and even then it remains defiant. Nebbiolo is a variety that is lighter in colour but higher in tannins. It requires extended aging in oak for the tannins to soften. When young and unoaked these tannins would be far too aggressive to be a pleasurable drink. Imagine trying to drink a cup of black tea made from 20 teabags that had been left over night to infuse. When these tannins soften the spice and herbal characters of this grape shines but still Nebbiolo really needs a few years in the bottle to come into its own.

The most famous example of wines made from the Nebbiolo grape is Barolo. Barolo wines are produced in Piedmont of Italy and must be at least 90% Nebbiolo. Some Barolo can spend up to five years in oak and 3 years in the bottle aging. It has been said that a Barolo needs at least 10 years aging before it is approachable.

The wine in this review spent 1 year on oak but is from the d’Alba region which grows a more approachable style of Nebbiolo but in saying that I did find the tannins were quite powerful without food. With food where this wine really impresses. Tannin needs protein to bind to so have this with red meat, piles and piles of red meat. This wine is also a fraction of the price of most Barolo.

Tasting note: The brick colour of this wine could be unappealing to some but keep in mind that this is typical of Nebbiolo, it turns orange very quickly. A brambly, minty nose. This mint carries on to the palate. Pepper, chocolate and blackberry foremost on the palate which way to spicy cedar and dusty tannins.

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Final Say: Looking for a wine to throw in the cellar and forget about for a few years? Look no further. Give this brute five years in the cellar and you will be rewarded. It sells for around $45 a bottle.

 

Score: 17 out of 20

 

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

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Jack Davis

Spitting: Optional

Les Courtilles Côtes du Rhone 2010

Vintage: 2010

Style: Medium bodied red

Country: France 

Region: Rhone Valley 

Overview:

Drinking a wine like this reminds us that oak is not the be all and end all. Sometimes simple, upfront fruit can be more appealing than dense oak characters. Aging in oak would tone down those pretty, perfumed, luscious characters that many of the Côte du Rhone wines display.

As I have said before some varieties just need a little extra to express their potential. Grenache is quite pretty and shows delectate red fruit flavours but can be a touch light. Shiraz has pepper and dark fruits but can be overpowering. Mourvedre sits between these two but has great structure. With their powers combined they summon forth Captain Côte du Rhone or Captain GSM, the younger, Australasian cousin of Captain CDR (Côtes du Rhone). Somehow it doesn’t have the same ring to it when I sing the Captain Planet theme song.

Fruit is king in this wine, it uses oak as its royal footstool. Using the barrel to stand taller but never steal the show. Just recently in Australia we have accepted that 10 years ago we were over oaking our Chardonnay and now it is considered a wine fault. This is because the fruit disappears into a mire of cedar, woodchips and pencil shavings and stops being Chardonnay. All varietal character was lost. This will never happen when drinking wines from Cote du Rhone, especially those as reasonably priced as this one.

Tasting note: Musk, strawberry and white pepper rises from the glass to fill the nose. The palate is soft and elegant with red fruit characters such as strawberry and raspberry. A subtle spice and pepper rounds out this wine. Don’t bother cellaring this wine, it’s too enjoyable now.

Final Say: Sing the Captain Côtes du Rhone song all the way to the bottle shop to buy this one. Enjoy with lighter red meat dishes. Sells for around $16.

Score: 16.5 out of 20

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Also, check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

Jack Davis

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Mr Riggs Yacca Paddock Tempranillo 2009

Vintage: 2009

Style: Mid to full bodied red

Country: Australia 

Region: Adelaide Hills  

 

Overview: Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while now will know that I’m a big fan of Mediterranean wines and Mediterranean varieties. Tempranillo is one of the varieties I have a lot of love for. I can tell you a whole lot of facts about the grape such as ‘temprano’ in Spanish, Tempranillo being native to Spain, means ‘early’ which refers to the early ripening of the Tempranillo grape. I can also tell you that the roots of Tempranillo have the capacity to absorb potassium easily which helps balance the PH levels in the grape’s skin and flesh. However, if too much potassium is absorbed there is the risk of the fruit becoming salified (increased levels of salt) which interferes with the malic acid, letting it hang around for longer which is something you don’t want in a red wine. I can keep going but guess what?  I know you could care less (unless you’re some painful wine geek like me) so here is all you need to know:

  • It can be made vibrant and youthful with little oak contact
  • It can be matured in oak for added complexity
  • It can be elegant or robust, depending on the climate
  • It’s a great food wine
  • It grows really will in Australia
  • More people should drink it.

So there you go. The Adelaide Hills, much like the King Valley, have long been pioneers for the Mediterranean varieties and critics have been pretty tough on them. I for one love what they are doing. Keep it up! ß A threat, not encouragement.

Tasting note: Typically Tempranillo on the nose, ripe cherry, earthy and a touch of game. A rich palate, the cherry characters verge on becoming plum-like, nice spice- subtle pepper. Chewy tannins and a clean, pleasant finish.

Final Say: A relatively new variety in Australia but with wines like the Mr Riggs Yacca Paddock the future is looking bright. You can pick it up for $25.

 

Score: 16.5 out of 20

 

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Also, check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

Jack Davis

 

Spitting: Optional

 

Elefante Tempranillo Shiraz 2010

 

Vintage: 2010

 

Style: Medium-full bodied red

 

Country: Spain 

 

Region: Castilla la Mancha

 

 

 

Overview: The strong Australian dollar has wreaked havoc on our attempts to export wine into other countries. On the other hand however, it has made it cheaper for distributors to export international wines to our own shores. As a result there are some great, reasonably priced international wines floating about at the moment and this wine is one of them. Elefante means elephant in Spanish, der, however the symbol for the Elefante wines is a bull. I’m not really sure what the meaning is there, perhaps something is lost in translation. Perhaps it’s some deep metaphor. Like this wine is so large like an elephant that it is a bull. I should write anecdotes for Buddhists. I really don’t know, I tried this wine when it was first launched in 2009 and while impressed by its value for money, the Elefante/Bull confused me, it still does. So much so, even as I write this I am perplexed. Someone please help me solve the Elefante/Bull code before my brain heads into a mess of trucks, horns and hooves.

 

Long story short, this wine is absurdly good for the price. Very funky packaging lets it jump off the shelf. From reading the wine making practices it seems some good quality fruit goes into these wines. The Tempranillo vines are ‘Goblet’ bush vines which are low yielding. Low yields= fruit intensity (in most cases).

 

 

 

Tasting note: Lifted cherry and white pepper on the nose. Flavour of cherry, spice and pepper at the forefront of the palate supported by grainy, chewy tannins. Not too rich and not too serious. Quite elegant and balanced

 

 

 

Final Say: Looking for a cheap crowd pleaser? Give this little blend a go. You can’t go wrong for $10-$12 a bottle.

 

 

 

Score: 16 out of 20

 

 

 

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

 

Also, check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

 

Jack Davis

 

Spitting: Optional

Eden Road ‘The Long Road’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Vintage: 2009

Style: Full Bodied Red

Country: Australia 

Region: Canberra

 

Overview: Cabernet Sauvignon is an old Aussie favourite. It’s one of the most widely planted varieties in the world yet the variety itself is relatively young. Its birth century is the 17th century and its father is Cabernet Franc and its mother is Sauvignon Blanc. No I haven’t been in the bathroom snorting stuff, this variety, which produces some of the world’s heaviest reds, is a cross between a red variety and a white variety.

It originates from Bordeaux where it is typically blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. In Australia it is planted in just about every region, the only place I have not seen a Cabernet from in Australia is Tassie, it’s just too cold there. The regions that have gained fame from Cabernet are Margaret River, Coonawarra and the Barossa.

While this variety has been popular for a long time its varietal characters have often been misjudged. Twenty years ago the sought after Cabernet Sauvignons were minty and, what I call now, lean, green and mean (yes, I’m still talking about wine here not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). These ‘green’ characters are very bitter on the palate and it was once believed that these aggressive characters would disappear with cellaring. Wrong, it took about ten years to realize that these characters do not disappear but only become more prevalent as the primary fruit dropped away. Ultimately this ‘greenness’ can be a result of under ripeness.

Today we look for ripe berry characters, blackberry and cassis. Mint and menthol flavours are still sort after but if the wine is ‘bitter’ that is a big no-no. As always with wine it is all about balance. This wine is a great example of that, the cool climate fruit retains an elegant, lean, structure but is complemented by fruit weight.

 

Tasting note: Menthol and blackberry aromas on both the nose and palate. Also on the palate more delicate characters of blueberry can be tasted. The tannins are quite grippy and a touch chalky. It finishes with black olive nuances. Will definitely benefit from cellaring.

 

Final Say: Canberra is a relatively small wine region as far as Australia goes but are producing some of the best wines out of this country. This wine sells for between $20-$25 dollars.

 

Score: 16.5 out of 20 (In the Garden of Eden)

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Also, check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

Jack Davis

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Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec 2009

Vintage: 2009

Style: Mid-full bodied red

Country: Argentina  

Region: Mendoza

 

Overview: If asked the question of which country started producing wine first, Australia or Argentina what would your answer be? Most would answer Australia and they would be wrong. Like us Argentina are considered new kids on the block in terms of wine production. The first vineyard in Argentina was established in 1557 during the Spanish colonisation. It was 1788 that vines were first introduced to Australia however wine was not produced from these plantings until the 1820s. So with a decent head start on us why is that Argentine wine seems so new to us? Well up until the 1990s 90% of wine produce by Argentina was consumed within the country, it wasn’t until the 1990s when production cost were reduced that they could produce enough wine to start exporting their wares.

Malbec is the variety that Argentina is known for. I’ve always seen Malbec as a blending variety. It originates from France and is one of the varieties that Bordeaux use to blend with for their reds but only in small quantities. It is a tannic variety and is used to give body to red wine.

It was in the early 2000’s that I first tried Argentine Malbec and a remember thinking ‘Holy crap! This is drinkable!’ You see when produced as a straight variety in Australia, the tannins are so strong that it could be mistaken for a cup of black tea made with 20 teabags and left to draw overnight. Argentine Malbec is different; it produces softer, spicy, rich reds and normally represents great value for money.

 

Tasting note: Blueberry, strawberry and pepper characters on the nose. On the palate these berry characters are dominate the front palate, behind these characters of strawberry and blueberry flavours of white pepper, violets and leather add complexity. Finishes with soft tannins.

 

Final Say: Elegant yet robust, there’s loads to love about this wine. It is imported into Australia exclusively by the Coles group which means you can pick it up at Vintage Cellars or First Choice for around $16 a bottle.   

 

Score: 16.5 out of 20 (83 out of 100)

 

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Also, check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

Jack Davis

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Henry’s Drive Vignerons Dead Letter Office Shiraz 2007

Vintage: 2007

Style: Full-bodied red

Country: Australia

Region: McLaren Vale/Padthaway

 

Overview: Shiraz is planted in just about every wine region in Australia. Why? Well Shiraz would grow in your gutters if you planted it there. It adapts well to different climates and is uniquely expressive of each region it is grown in. Cool climate you gives you blueberry and white pepper characters. Moderate climates give you raspberry and spice and warm climates give you blackberry, black pepper and concentrated fruit.

It used to be that the warm climate, South Australian; Shiraz was the work horse of the Australian wine industry. With high alcohol, due to warmer ripening conditions and massive tannins these wines appealed to people who liked to be smashed in the face with flavour. Recently we’ve seen winemakers tone back these wines and are going for a more elegant style. You see, people realized wine is supposed to compliment food whereas this massive styles dominate food, bully that they are. This wine from Henry’s Drive Vignerons is on the cusp, full-bodied with lots of concentrated fruit and liberal oak use but elegant on the finish.

 

Tasting note: Quite oaky on the nose, cedar characters dominate. Subtle scents of menthol and blackberry soon escape the oak overlord. The oak stands out on the palate also, cedar again but the fruit is more expressive on the palate than the nose, blackberry jam and licorice. Full bodied.

Final Say: Like a Shiraz with gusto? Give this a try, not a style I would drink all the time but it does have its place within the cellar. You can pick it up for around $20 a bottle.

 

Score: 16.5 out of 20 (83 out of 100)

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Also, check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

Jack Davis