A weekend in the Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley in South Australia remains one of my favourite wine areas in Australia. Big bold beautiful reds, picturesque rolling hills and very friendly people. Four of us hired a little cottage called Hallet’s Hideaway. For anyone spending time in the Barossa, I strongly recommend it. In a quiet rural location, it looks out over vineyards, is immaculately kept with modern appliances and a good open fireplace. We all bought wine from our cellars which we had masked and served the wine blind. Tasting notes from wines served blind from 9-11 August 2013 follow:

2009 Corton Charlemagne – Louis Latour Grand Cru, Burgundy, France

On opening, pale yellow with golden hue. Beautiful buttery nose with hints of pear and melon. Instantly recognised as a very classy chardonnay. Unctuous, mouthfilling viscosity. Pale yellow, beautiful mouthfeel and flavour that floods the palate. A finish that lasts and lasts. Slight bitter aftertaste initially that disappeared within an hour after opening.
Day 2 – Softer, broader, still rich and mouthfilling but lacked the intensity of Day 1.
Perfect complement – Tarragon chicken.
Hommus/Cheese – not good match!

2006 Tyrells Stevens Hunter Semillon, Hunter Valley, NSW

Fri 9.8.13 Opened (Served blind). Bright herbaceous crisp nose, amazing bright acid, watery colour. Lifted acidic mouthfeel with hint of oak. Great intensity, but still a refreshing summer wine
Day 2 – Drinking better, softer, more integrated flavours, plush mouthfeel.

2006 Sena Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile

Fri 9.8.13 Opened (Served blind). Bright red brick, perfume, blueberries, butter chocolate, velvet tannins, coffee/mocha, and hint of tobacco. Beautiful viscous mouthcoating feel. Elegant, sophicated, amazing balance – no edges. Score 95.
Day 2 – Smoky nose blackberry fruit. Earthy on palate, still a great wine.

2011 Mollydooker Velvet Glove, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Fri 9.8.13 Opened (Served blind). Beautiful plum/purple colour. Creamy, cassis, rich mouthfilling, opulent black and red fruit, great balance but bawdy and in your face!
Day 2 – Still fresh, bright fruit on nose and palate. Softened only slightly, slight stalkiness on back palate.

Penfolds – 1996 St Henri Shiraz, South Australia

Fri 9.8.13 Opened (Served blind). Aged cigar/tobacco character, brownish edges, bright brick red colour. Dumb initially but opened over an hour, steely nose, mocha, oak, dusty, soft tannins.
Good food wine with beef bourgignon.
Day 2 – Dark berries, tobacco leaf on nose. Still drinking well. Secondary characters on palate, more pronounced leather, cigar. Fruit faded.

2003 Trevor Jones, Wild Witch Reserve Dry Grown Barossa Shiraz 14.5%

Fri 9.8.13 Opened (Served blind). Tight, restrained nose, light fresh red fruits, drying tannins, slightly acidic, astringent finish. Disappointing Score 87.
Re-tasted Saturday 10th – Similar to Friday
Mon 12.8.13 Amazing metamorphis!! The wine has opened. The nose has soft, red berry fruit with traces of anise, hint of volatile acidity, very complex, very appealing. Fine dusty tannins, mocha flavour with soft berry fruit. Leathery aged finish. Very enjoyable
Lost freshness, gained complexity. Very interesting to watch. Score 90.

Cool Climate Aussie Shiraz

2003 Paradigm Hills Shiraz|

Mornington Peninsular winery on the SE outskirts of Melbourne. This wine 13.1% alcohol, 2.2 tons per acre, 3800 bottles made. Purchased from winemaker at a Paradigm Hills dinner in 2007.

Tasted 28/9/13. On opening, presented a soft earthy nose with red berry fruit aromas. Hints of spice and Szechuan pepper. On tasting, soft spicy red fruits, good mouthfeel and pleasant stalky lifted finish. Medium to light bodied wine showing expected cool climate characters but a little closed. Retasted 3 hours later and wine had opened nicely. Nose deepened and more powerful with nice addition of blackberry, smoke and hint of tar and cloves. Excellent mouthfeel with good fruit/tannin balance. drinking well.

Retasted 29/9/13. Wine has softened and flattened somewhat, but still pleasant drinking. Soft blackberry nose with hints of leather, smoke black pepper and spice. Drying tannins and secondary characters more pronounced.

Drink now. 89

Ata Rangi Rules!

2008 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir.

Tasted 28/8/13.Purchased this bottle in New Zealand from Ata Rangi’s Martinborough cellar door 3 years ago and keen to see any development. Poured a big glass. Bright cherry colour. No sign of age. And what a great sniff! Lovely lifted cherry fruit, a little forest floor and hint of earth. The palate followed through on the promise. Creamy cherry fruit, lovely soft savoriness and velvet tannins. A long finish with a good Pinot power wave.

Retasted 29/8/13. Nose has developed more secondary characters. Sappy, spicy forest floor, with less pronounced but still beautiful cherry/raspberry fruit. Long soft palate packed with flavor and long lifted finish. Great wine, great enjoyment! Didn’t leave any for a third day….. Score 95/100

Japanese Sake


Today I am in Japan, the home of cherry blossoms, Kobe beef and sake.
For a wine drinker, once you try a high quality sake you’ll be amazed at the flavours, balance and complexity of this ancient Japanese drink. I sampled two Niigata sakes last night, both delightful and excellent drinking. The Niigata Omashi was slightly sweet with great balance and flavours of juniper berries. A soft and lingering finish made for great enjoyment with prawn and vegetable tempura. The Niigata Matsunoi was a little drier with plush mouthfeel and long finish. Both highly recommended.