John McDonnell of Wine Australia treated members of the press to a small tasting yesterday. On one side he laid out 15 wines labelled as 'Party Pieces' and on the other we found another fifteen, this time labelled 'The Main Event.'
Christmas is all about gifting, enjoying, having a bottle or two lying around for that Just In Case moment, and of course The Main Event itself. Just In Case, by the way, goes along the lines of, 'Just In Case the neighbours drop by' or 'Just in Case the Movie is really good' .... or 'Just In Case ....!'
Why was this such a good tasting? Well for one John served all of the wines blind and only produced a list of the wines at the end. No room for preconceptions then.Secondly, a lot of these wines showed well in a diverse sort of a way. Australia stood up well to the test. The wines were well made, interesting and offered something for every occasion.
Party Pieces * liked a lot
1. Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato 2011 €7.99 35cl
Very distinctive and excellent wine. Exuberant in the extreme. Great conversation piece.
1a. Hardy's Nottage Hill Pinot Chardonnay Sparkling NV € not blind
Very typical of many mass produced sparkling wines ex Australia. technically perfect, very clean, interesting up to a point but really then lacks definition/direction. Like the dryness here, acidity is excellent making this a very fine starter wine.
2. Jacob's Creek Sparkling Rose NV €12.99
Small fruit nose, big fruit palate but ultimately not a lot going on here. Often a problem with pink fizz is that the colour promises more than the delivery.
3. Jacob's Creek Sparkling Blanc de Blanc NV €13.99
Well made, fine mousse, some autolytic elements, dry palate that's a bit lemonadey, good long finish.
4. * d'Arenberg The Stump Jump Sauvignon Blanc McLaren Vale Adelaide Hills 2010 €9.99
Liked this a lot. Well developed bouquet with good depth, interesting warmth and herbs coming through on palate. Very big acid - so, be careful.
5. McWilliams Florence Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2009 €12.99
Seemed to me to be a bit makey up. It has elements of the grape but also a tired heart which seemed all a bit innocuous.
6. Ferngrove Leaping Lizard Sauv Sem, WA 2010 €9.99
Not a fan at all. Seemed to be 'all over the place'.
7. * Peter Lehmann Barossa Semillon 2005 €9.99
Really excellent wine. All completely true to the grape and to the country of origin. Lots of development in every sense across nose, palate and finish.
8. St Hallett Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009 €13.99
Another success. Fatter than the previous wine with a full broad palate and a warming finish.
9. Thorn Clarke Milton Park Riesling, South Australia 2010 €13.50
Trying just a bit too hard to get lots of fruit into the wine and it loses elegance. Nothing at all wrong here but it seems to be too full all the way through to a very big finish.
Flat Butchers Block White, Barossa 2010 €16.99 Turkey
(Don't you just have to love the name!) Everything here is big in an uplifting and appealing and soft sort of way. It doesn't offer varietal definition but as a white wine would suit winter evenings really well.
11. Grant Burge Benchmark Cabernet
2009 €9.99 Shiraz
Burst of fresh summer fruits follows from nose through to palate. All primary fruits and all simple and pleasant and well put together. A crowd pleaser.
12. * The Accomplice
De Bortoli, 2009
€10.99 Bilbul, New South Wales
When I found out what this was I was surprised I scored it so highly! I did not have this down as a shiraz at all! It's delicate and light in many respects and displays a really interesting sense of land and earth. A winemakers and wine thinkers wine. Great for sipping slowly.
13. Yalumba Y Series
Viognier 2009 €12.99 Shiraz
Distinctiveness here begins with a bouquet that has both tart and soft fruity edges (can you even smell 'tart'?)
good edges of clay and earth. Rusticity here and very French like. If the finish had more to it I'd have given it one of my little red stars....
13a. Hardy's Oomoo Shiraz 2008 €13.95 not blind
I've always admired the honesty in this wine. Despite its relative simplicity of soft but full, lightly peppered fruit with a smooth, slightly warming, finish, this never really lets you down.
Wakefield Estate Shiraz, Clare Valley 2009 €12.99
Nice rich looking pour, nose muted and palate comes across as tough rather than rustic leaving one with the impression of a chunky warm climate style of wine.
15. * Tim Adams The Fergus,
Clare Valley 2007 €14.99
Light and nuanced colour and bouquet. Enticing elements.Lots of fine edges demanding attention. Fine structure. really good wine making and very good wine showing particularly well right now.
The Main Event * liked a lot
1. Croser Sparkling, Adelaide Hills 2005 €30.00
Very fine wine with lots of interest. Technically perfect. Impressively dry finish. Brilliant heart.
2. Tim Adams Semillon,
Clare Valley 2009 €13.95
First impression was that this wine will age well. Loved the development on the nose. No pandering to commercialism here! Good edgy character on the palate. (This blind tasting clearly points out my personal preference for Semillon ... )
Creek Reserve Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills 2007
Very much on the right track for a cool climate style of wine here with good minerality showing through with a restrained and tight fruit on the nose but a broad and ripe fruit on the palate. No obvious wood and a lot of pleasing stalkiness. Well done.
4. * De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot
Noir, Victoria 2008 €16.95
A 'Pinot Pour' and a 'Pinot Nose'! Everything here ticked the right boxes for a well made and carefully crafted wine. Very satisfying and yea this would do the Main Event proud!
5. Bush Vine Grenache,
2008 €18.49 Barossa Valley
Crimson red in light ruby, flat on the palate, almost like it has lost a zing it once had, bit reductive on nose and shows its ripeness in almost an off dry sort of character. Wine just seemed to be having an off day!
6. Willunga 100 ‘The Tithing’ Grenache, McLaren Vale 2009 €24.99
Light ruby pour, small nose of herbs and dry stuff, intensely stalky palate with herbal influence, not hugely interesting, tannins are good though and should allow this to do well with roasted things.
Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare
Valley/Coonawarra 2000 €19.99 Wakefield
Hugely impressive wine. Showing age and poise with a Full-on-Fruit. In yer face! Eucalypt and cassis fold well into a rich, warm and enveloping structure. Excellent example of the style.
8. McWilliams Jack Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra 2000 €
Fine rich colour lead to a 'serious' wine; it demands to be thought of. Light and delicate elements mix well with a dense rather than an ageing palate.
9. * Ferngrove Symbols
Western Australia 2008 €13.99
Good wine. Has all the boxes ticked off as if painted by numbers. Fine crunchy palate with a delicate berry fruit. Excellent palate/weight/structure all through to an endless finish where warmth and spice show well.
11. Thorn Clarke, Terra Barossa Shiraz,
Valley 2009 €16.95
(Still loving the name!) Very good. Long serious style with loads of well fleshed and groomed fruit set into a luxuriant structure where tannins, acid and 'fruit feel' all have a part to play.
13. Peter Lehmann Futures
, Barossa 2006 €19.99 Shiraz
'Warm country' wine style. Smooth and globally popular palate. Leaves a bit too much tannin on the finish. Muscular stuff and very well made.
14. Grant Burge 10 Year Old Tawny, Barossa
This is consistently one of the best tawny fortified wines in the world. It's a 'must have'.
15. d’Arenberg The Nostalgia Rare Tawny, McLaren Vale NV 37.5cl btl €27.50
What is it about sweet sticky wines of this type that makes me want to find quiet, nay silent!, meditative places? This is to die for. There is such an incredible sense of a land and its pioneering people about this wine that I urge everyone to try this at some time along their wine journey's. d'Arenberg genius.
|A contemplative Dublin at sunset this week|