QANTAS Wines

After the madness of a late night check-in and security its nice to escape to the airline lounge. The QANTAS LAX Lounge is one of their busiest and sometimes seems busier than the outside terminal. However….they do usually have some reasonable wines to taste, so while waiting for the QF94 back home to Melbourne, I had time to try 3:

2007 Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva Tempranillo, Spain. An easy to drink wine although a little dull. Nice dark brambly fruit and mocha on the nose with a savory fruit driven palate. Nice savoriness and mouthfeel, but abrupt finish. 86/100

2011 Hess Select, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, California. Nice bright fruit on the nose with cassis, perfume and violet notes. Good red fruits on the palate with mocha and cedar notes. Clean and well put together. Needs some time in the cellar. 89/100

2010 Jacobs Creek Reserve Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia. Dark purple colour with beautiful aromatic nose of dark fruits, mocha, vanilla, pepper and spice. Lovely creamy mouthfeel with dark berries, coffee and spice. A big wine with a long finish that would complement a hearty steak……not something I was contemplating close to midnight! Good drinking and will cellar well for 5-8 years. 92/100

There was an interesting looking central coast pinot, but its time to board…..

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Food and Wine in Canada’s Capital

Beckta menu2008 Riesling

I was in Ottawa last week and got together with 2 sommelier buddies, Astrid and Perry to try some local wine and food. Naturally I had to bring some Aussie reds to compete. We selected the Beckta dining and wine restaurant on 226 Nepean Street, Ottawa. A great restaurant with great food and friendly service. We enjoyed sharing our wines with the Beckta’s sommelier.

We started the evening with a Riesling from Ontario – a 2008 Henry of Pelham, Speck Family Reserve. The wine opened with a soft nose with some secondary kerosene characters and soft apple and citrus on the nose. The palate was broad and flavoursome without that steely backbone evident in many top Aussie Rieslings. A very enjoyable wine that complemented my Root vegetable soup. A good pairing!

Aussie CabernetsNext we tried 2 aged Aussie cabernets from my cellar: a 2004 Balnaves from the Coonawarra district in South Australia that is famous for its cabernets and a 2005 Chapel Hill from McLaren Vale in South Australia that’s probably better known for its big shiraz reds. Both wines were stunning and were tasted after one hours decanting.

Quebec Duck Magret
The Balnaves colour was a dark plum with a purple hue and the nose was redolent with blackberry and blueberry fruit, earth, and cedar. The palate was soft and mouthfilling with spicy berry fruit, cedar and tobacco leaf. The tannins were nicely integrated and the wine would easily cellar for another 5+ years. I enjoyed the wine with the Quebec Magret Duck that was cooked medium rare to perfection and the flavours worked well with the wine.
The Chapel Hill was a monster wine with bid fruit, and big tannins. Even though only a year separated the two wines the difference was palpable. My view is that the stelvin enclosure on the Chapel made the difference. The wine was young and fresh and still quite primary, with rich spicy black fruits, anise, pepper and cedar. The palate had not integrated fully and the wine definitely needs more time in the cellar! However, Perry said it worked well with his Wellington county beef striploin that was most enjoyable.

My scores: Riesling 91/100, Balnaves cabernet 95/100, Chapel Hill 93/100.
The reds cost approx $35 each when purchased.

Sensational Penfolds St Henri 2004

Well cellared - note no travel on cork!

The Penfolds St Henri Shiraz is an iconic Australian wine that relies on fruit purity rather than oak to express its character. The grapes are drawn from multiple vineyards in South Australia (Barossa Valley, Langhorne Creek and Adelaide Hills) and is predominantly Shiraz (95+%) with a small amount of Cabernet. The wine is aged in large old oak vats.

Opened 10 Oct 13. The wine was quite subdued on opening, but began to open after an hour. Soft spicy cherry and black fruit on the nose with a hint of tobacco leaf. The palate was plush and mouthfilling with beautiful dark berry fruits, plums, mocha, anise and soft earth. Great balance, integrated tannins, rich fruit and a long finish. Lovely wine, but a little closed even after 3 hours.

Day 2. Wine still drinking beautifully with some secondary characters starting to emerge.

Day 3. Wow! The wine has blossomed. Dark, rich berry fruits, earthy undertones and great balance. Wonderful structure and polish. You could be excused to think this had only been opened a few hours ago! I wondered how it would taste on Day 4…..but I’ll never know as I didn’t have the willpower to stop! Could easily cellar for another 5+ years, but why wait? Great wine. 96/100

Well cellared wine – note no travel on cork!

Castagna Genesis Syrah 2008 – Beechworth

Tasted 26 August 2013. The Castagna vineyard is situated outside the town of Beechworth in North-East Victoria, Australia. The vineyard is fully biodynamic, yields are kept low and the wines are made with minimal interference to let the terroir show through. The wine opened brick red with a purple tinge, savoury, spicy, satsuma plum nose with a hint of cinnamon. All boding well for a lovely wine…and I was not disappointed. A lovely rich and savoury mouthfeel with beautiful soft red berry fruit, refreshing acidity, a touch of pepper and soft well integrated tannins. Lovely balance and good cellaring potential. Very glad I bought a 6 pack of this wine!! Five to go.

https://i2.wp.com/www.castagna.com.au/images/genesis_syrah_08.jpg

94/100

Tuscan beauty – Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove 2010

ImageThis is the second wine of Ornellaia, made from a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc grown near the town of Bolgheri in Tuscany.

Opened 4 October 2013. The 2010 Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove is a very pleasant wine that needs some time to come together.The wine opened considerably with 2 hours breathing. Blue/black berries on the nose, spicy oak and a hint of violets. Soft earthy palate with good depth and strength. Nice grippy tannins and soft lingering finish. However, this needs some time to come together and show its true colours.

Day 2. Nose subdued and palate softened, but nice secondary characters showing with tobacco leaf, tar and earth. Nice spice on the finish and still drinking well. A pleasant wine , but not a standout and needs a lot more time in a quiet cellar.

Score 90/100.

Clonakilla….always a delight

ClonakillaSingapore, 3 October 2013. Farewelling a special friend in Singapore, we gave him a gift of a magnum of 2008 Clonakilla Shiraz Viogner To all our surprise he insisted we open it immediately so we could share the wine. What a great gesture and what a delight! The wine opened with wonderful dark berry fruits on  the nose, a hint of perfume and dusty oak. The palate displayed lovely cherry/red fruits and great texture. It was plush on the palate, balanced and a little musky. Soft chalky tannins evident and a long lifted finish. Very young, but what a great future ahead of it! Sadly the magnum disappeared all too quickly…. Highly recommended.

95/100