jamie goode's wine blog

Friday, April 03, 2009

Another Vinhao, and a Heathcote Shiraz

Two wines tonight. I'm finishing off the remainder of the Vinhao (red Vinho Verde) that I opened last night and posted an extended tasting note on here. I enjoy this style of wine a lot, while accepting that it's not to everyone's taste. It's a bit like drinking pressings straight from the press. There's a time and a place for it.

The second wine is a Shiraz from Heathcote that's quite striking.

Shelmerdine Merindoc Vineyard Shiraz 2005 Heathcote, Victoria
From a single 7.4 acre vineyard on granitic soils, wild ferment and aged in French oak. 14.5% alcohol. This has a complex nose of super-sweet blackberry and plum fruit with some meatiness, a hint of mint and a pure, almost liqueur-like richness. The palate is concentrated with lush, sweet, intense fruit combined with some spicy oak and complexing black olive, meat and herb notes, as well as hints of medicine. It's very much new world in style with its ripe, intense fruit, but there's some old world-style complexity here, too. Overall, though, while I'm impressed with its size and dimensions, it doesn't really pull together all that well as a whole: could the closure (screwcap) have anything to do with this? 90/100 (23.99 Oddbins)

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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, December 07, 2007

Heathcote Shiraz: regionality in Australia


Regionality is a bit of a theme in the new world, these days. People are recognizing that there are some sites that are just great for wine growing, which I guess fits in with the notion of terroir. In Australia, one of the buzz regions is Heathcote in Victoria (see here for an introduction to the region), which specializes in Shiraz wines with a real presence and freshness,

Tonight I'm drinking a Heathcote Shiraz with a real sense of place. It tastes like some of the other wines I've had from this region. The fact that, irrespective of winemaker, a certain place can produce wines that resemble each other, is something I find exciting.

Sanguine Estate Shiraz 2004 Heathcote, Australia
This is a really expressive Heathcote Shiraz with a sense of place. The nose is quite fresh with sweet dark fruits together with a bright peppery, meaty character. It's aromatically alive and fruit driven, with a really appealing, almost floral complexity. The palate is ripe, sweet and dekicious, but there's a lovely freshness to the dark fruits which prevents it from becoming over-the-top. It's definitely a warm climate wine, but it's also fresh and expressive, too. 92/100 (16.95 Great Western Wine)

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