jamie goode's wine blog

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Penfolds pair

I grew up with Penfolds. When I was getting into wine, the likes of Bin 369, Bin 28 and Bin 128 were staples. Grange was cheap then (1993 = £35), comparitively speaking, but I wasn't ready to spend this much on wine, so I skipped it. Alas. There was a period when the Penfolds wines seemed to be less impressive, during the late 1990s and early noughties, but they seem to have picked things up a bit.

Two from the current Penfolds portfolio:

Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2005 Coonawarra
14% alcohol, tin-lined screwcap seal, French oak. Cabernet is the variety more normally associated with Coonawarra, but Shiraz can do well here. This is very fresh, bright, a bit minty, meaty and has some spicy oak alongside the fresh blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. I like the fresh dark cool-climate-ish fruit character; I'm less convinced by slightly unresolved nature of the sweet oak and lemony acidity that currently stick out a bit. It's almost as if there's a disconnect between the sweetness of the dark fruit and the brightness of the (added) acidity. Still, it's a very well made, appealing wine that has a degree of seriousness to it. 88/100 (£11.99 Majestic, Tesco.com)

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2006 South Australia
14.5% alcohol, cork seal, American oak. This is quite lovely: a wine that is integrated and at ease with itself. A dark colour, it is concentrated with rich, spicy blackberry and blackcurrant fruit and some cedary complexity. The richness of the fruit works well with the American oak, yielding a dense, bold, spicy wine with some meaty depth to it. It will probably age quite well, although it's drinking now, in its own chunky way. A crowd pleaser, too. 89/100 (£11.99 Majestic, Co-op, Tesco.com)

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Coonawarra Cabernet

Australian Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes underrated. Coonawarra and Margaret River are the two regions acknowledged to do best with this variety, but I'd plead for the inclusion of the Clare Valley into this list, because I just love Clare Cab.

I used to think I could tell the difference between Margaret River and Coonawarra, but after the Landmark Tutorial, where we had a few wines blind, I'm not so sure. Anyway, here's a fairly serious Coonawarra Cabernet. It's beautifully expressive with the Coonawarra character in spades, but for some it may be just a little too extreme and full-on. This level of intensity seems to be the Majella style.

Majella Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
14.5% alcohol. Very sweet brooding blackcurrant and berry fruit nose with some savoury, gravelly, spicy notes. Rich but still distinctly Coonawarra in style. The palate is dense and spicy with fresh lemony acidity under the ripe, sweet fruit, which has a savoury, earthy character. A delicious wine with real impact. 91/100 (£14.99 Oddbins)

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Two more Aussie Cabernets

Following on from my post on the Parker Terra Rossa Cabernet a few days ago, here's a note on another couple of good efforts.

Suckfizzle Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Margaret River, Australia
14% alcohol. A really delicious, expressive Cabernet. The nose shows sweet yet fresh blackcurrant fruit, with attractive aromatics and a hint of earth/gravel savouriness. The palate shows good concentration of beautifully balanced dark fruits and savoury, smooth, tannic structure. There’s a really nice fusion of sweet fruit with the spicy, gravelly, savoury notes. Pretty serious stuff. 92/100 (the image above is from the label - a foot with angel's wings treading grapes - nice)

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Vintage Release 2005 Coonawarra, Australia
14.5% alcohol. A stylish, dark, ripe Cabernet with sweet blackberry and blackcurrant fruit complemented by some spicy oak. There’s a hint of mint here, as well as some tarry, olive-like notes. Very ripe, but still well defined, with no evidence of greenness. Quite savoury, and beginning to develop some softer, more complex evolved notes, although this has a long way to develop, I reckon. 90/100

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Brilliant Aussie Cabernet

With all the attention focused on Shiraz, it's easy to forget that Australia makes some great Cabernet Sauvignon. [But, then, if you look hard enough, you'll find that Australia also makes some really great Pinot Noir. And does well with lots of other varieties, too. You just have to look hard enough.]

Well, here's a cracking Cabernet from Coonawarra.

Parker Coonawarra Estate Terra Rossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Coonawarra, Australia
Lovely nose of pure blackcurrant fruit with dark, spicy, earthy notes adding savoury complexity. Quite blackcurrant-bud like. The palate is taut and backward with a lovely spicy, gravelly edge to the sweet fruit. Lovely freshness and definition here. It's varietally true and quite complex, and you don't really feel the 15% alcohol. 92/100

Find this wine with wine-searcher.com

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Some serious Aussie wines

Remarkable tasting today, titled 'Landmark Australia', held by Wine Australia at Australia House in the Strand. Despite an encounter with a doorman who lacked any people skills whatsoever (I was strongly ticked off for being early), it was a fantastic event. The idea was to showcase Australia's 'proud and exceptional history of fine wine'. There's one thing you have to admire the Aussies for, and that's their self-belief. When this comes to wine this is exemplified by their show system, where judgements are made with a degree of certainty and confidence that worries me slightly. Still, the show system has undoubtedly helped in the pursuit of quality (or, at least, a self-sustaining Aussie-centric perception of quality), even though it may have stifled innovation to a degree in the past.

Michael Hill-Smith led the tasting, in conjunction with Paul Henry of Wine Australia. [Hill-Smith comes across as a smart but rather bullish Aussie; I suspect you wouldn't want to disagree with him.] The first part was a sit-down tasting with 17 specially chosen wines, showcasing the best of Australia's fine wine offering. Afterwards, we were treated to a further 26 wines on self-pour, with a long lunch where we got a chance to drink any of these 43 wines that took our fancy.

I came away really enthused by many of the wines. There were lots of really stunning bottles, one after the other. In fact, I was taken by surprise: I follow Aussie wine quite closely, and I guess this familiarity had made me forget just how good the best wines are. It was also great to be able to drink as well as taste - it gives you a bit more of a chance to get to know the wines.

Some highlights:

Tyrell's Vat 47 Chardonnay 1998 Hunter - a big, massive Chardonnay that's unashamedly Australian, but which at 10 years old is ageing beautifully. 94/100

Jim Barry The Florita Riesling 2007 Clare - wow, this is good: pure, rich, focused limey fruit with great balance. 94/100

Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 1996 Coonawarra - it was hard to believe this wine is already 12 years old. Fantastically concentrated, complex and fresh with lovely purity of fruit. A real classic. 96/100

Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2005 Margaret River - a thrilling wine that's still tight and youthful. Concentrated ripe, dense fruit with great precision and real potential for further development. 94/100

Hardys Eileen Hardy Shiraz 1999 - Distinctive, classically styled Aussie Shiraz that's ageing beautifully - sweet fruit and nice spiciness, with great integration of ripe, sweet fruit and oak. 94/100

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2004 Barossa - much better than I was anticipating with beautifully dense, pure dark fruits. Fruit is the dominant feature here. 94/100

Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz 2004 Grampians - utterly brilliant cool-climate Shiraz with a fresh white pepper nose and lovely purity and lushness to the well defined, precise fruit. Thrilling. 96/100

Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz 2005 Hunter - stunningly good: fresh, focused and well defined, with massive potential for future development. 95/100

Wild Duck Creek Estate Duck Muck 2004 Heathcote - crazy stuff, with 16.5% alcohol and incredibly rich, porty fruit. But it's actually in balance and is thoroughly delicious. A guilty pleasure. 94/100

Mitolo Serpico Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 McLaren Vale - incredible stuff, with a lovely rich, spicy mid palate and fresh, sweet, slightly leafy blackcurrant fruit. 94/100

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Margaret River - thrillingly intense Cabernet that's taut and brooding at the moment, but it's a serious wine with a long life ahead of it. 95/100

Shaw & Smith Shiraz 2006 Adelaide Hills - cool climate Syrah with a peppery edge to the beautifully fresh, well defined red fruits. Fantastic stuff. 94/100

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Hotel du Vin, Cheltenham

Stayed last night in Cheltenham at the Hotel du Vin, where I'm blogging live from. Verdict? A little mixed. The hotel has only been open since July, and it is sort of part travelodge, part luxury hotel in feel - some bits of the decor really work, some bits (most notably the carpets and coridoors and public areas) feel low budget. All the rooms are named after wines (ours is Hush Heath, the makers of the UK's finest pink sparkling wines), but the maze of coridoors and lack of numbering system makes it impossible to navigate. We kept running into guests who were hopelessly lost, as we were.

We arrived quite late and decided to have food in our room with a DVD. The food, and service, is great - you get the impression from the buzzy bistro (and the 'metal' in the parking lot) that the restaurant is 'happening'. I had a brilliant done ribeye which I washed down with a bottle of Jim Barry's Coverdrive Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. I'd opted for this because of my current interest in the Clare Valley - turns out that it's a Coonawarra/Clare blend. Very nice, dark and intense, and doesn't show the 15% alcohol too much.

Now we're off to have a look round Cheltenham and find some breakfast.

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