Different but Similar – Rolland versus Ringland

Two fine wines from two great winemakers……


2005 Yacochuya Malbec, Salta region, Argentina

Tasted blind: Wine consultant Michel Rolland. Brick red with purple tinges. Nose of plum, chocolate, earth and spice. Very rich and inviting. Warm palate filled with dark berries, dark chocolate, coffee and spice. Fine drying tannins and good finish. Tricky wine to pick blind. The richness made most think of Shiraz first but a lot of uncertainty. A very rich and inviting wine that is easy to drink and enjoy with beef or game. 94/100. Drink now to 3 years

2010 Chris Ringland, Reservation Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Tasted blind: Winemaker Chris Ringland. An extraordinarily good winemaker and great person to know. He will happily chat to you about his vines, wines and winemaking all afternoon over several glasses…..
This deep purple wine clings to the glass and has a lovely perfumed nose of plum, chocolate, dark berries and fruitcake. The palate is rich and mouth coating with flavours of spice, mocha, prune, and fruitcake. Incredibly rich but not jammy. A wine that evolved and improved over several hours in the decanter. 95/100. Wait for 2-3 years then enjoy over the next 5-8 years.

Verdict: Split decision. Have five bob each way….drink the Yacochuya now and the Ringland in a few years. Win-win!


Very Special Whites – d’Yquem and Leonay



Every now and then you get to try something very special…….

1991 Leo Buring, Leonay Riesling, Eden Valley, South Australia

Tasted blind: Beautiful straw, gold colour. Glorious intense nose of pineapple, lemon, honey, and toast. Only a hint of aged “kerosene” found in aged Rieslings. And a palate to match! Very intense and opulent with honey, lemon, toast, and nougat. Long clean acid and mineral finish. This was something special and we all went back for multiple ‘tastes’ until the masked bottle was empty. We agreed this was a beautifully aged Aussie Riesling with some debate whether it was Watervale or Eden Valley. There was NO debate on the drinkability of this wine! Outstanding. 98/100. Drink now – it’s at its best.

1998 Chateau d’Yquem, 1er Grand Cru, Sauternes, France.

Tasted Blind: The moment you bring this to your nose, you know it’s something special! The nose is flooded with aromas of pineapple, apricots, marmalade, and vanilla creme fraiche. Although the botrytis character is not strong, the palate follows the nose with sweet pineapple, vanilla, marmalade and spice. Nice acid to balance. Went well with cheese and dried figs. Fairly easy for all to pick this as a top wine from Sauternes. Most agreed d’Yquem or Rieussec. 94/100. Enjoyable now but will continue to develop for another 15-20 years. The 375ml bottles ages quite quickly.

Two Awesome Blanc de Blancs



2001 Arras Blanc de Blanc, Tasmania, Australia

Tasted blind: Light straw colour with soft mousse and fine bead. Gentle nose of lemon, grapefruit and minerality. Clean pure fruit, clearly Chardonnay with nice acid and fine persistent finish. Very impressive wine. Seemed young and well kept and clearly cool climate. I guessed a young (2004-06) Tasmanian Blanc de Blanc. I was surprised to find this was a 2001 wine! Fabulous example of what Tasmania is capable of. Lovely with prawns and yabbies. Can keep for several more year but drinking beautifully now. 94/100. Drink now to 2017.

2002 Taittinger Comptes de Champagne, Blanc de Blanc

Tasted blind: Pale straw with greenish hue, creamy mousse and persistent fine bead. Beautiful strong nose of fresh baked bread, brioche, pear, grapefruit and toast. Incredible mouth filling flavours, complexity and minerality that screamed a classy French wine. Lovely acids, delicate chalky tannins and a long, long finish. Effortless strength and depth. Definitely needs more time to evolve. A lot of discussion on high end French champagnes as to what this might be, but no one picked the Comptes, and we kicked ourselves when the bottle was unmasked! Obvious in hindsight! Great wine. 97/100. Drink now but will evolve for another 5-10 years

Two Interesting Australian Whites

Two interesting whites Two interesting whites

1988 Henschke Gewürztraminer, Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Tasted Blind: very dark gold to Amber in colour, although wine colour still quite bright. Nose was floral, perfumed, spicy with a slight oxidative character. Palate of toffee, caramel, honey, spice, and drying tannins. Fruit not evident and secondary character predominant. Finish long and drying. Wine opened with time and went well with our spicy mussels. Probably at its peak 5-10 years ago but still an interesting wine and still drinkable. My guess an aged Gewürztraminer – more by a process of elimination of what it wasn’t and the dominance of spice and honey indicating the possibility of aged Gewürztraminer.

2005 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay, Western Australia.

Tasted blind: Pale straw colour with green tinges. Lovely nose of butterscotch, melon, pineapple, mango and vanilla essence. Rich and hedonistic! A beautiful rich creamy mouthfeel with spicy vanillin oak, honey, peach and clean acid. Long long finish! A beautifully integrated and we’ll balanced wine. I could drink this wine every day! Drinking at its peak now but can keep for another two years before it starts to fade. 96/100

Review from 2008: This is the most purebred and aristocratic of all Australian chardonnays. It has awesome power, grace, depth and finesse; pure grapefruit, nectarine and peach flesh aromas are framed by complex, toasty, grilled nuts; the palate is amazingly concentrated, yet portrays a lightness that is completely beguiling and incredibly long. Drink now-2020 with marron. 97 Points James Halliday – The Australian Top 100 – 2008 image image

Magical McLaren Vale – 2006 Oliver’s Taranga HJ Shiraz

Oliver’s Taranga HJ Shiraz is their flagship wine from vines planted in 1948. Only 600 dozen of this wine was produced. McLaren Vale in South Australia is known for producing big, rich, ripe and earthy reds. This 2006 wine from a good year is no exception. There is an uncompromising quality and delightful richness to this wine.

Oliver's Taranga HJ Shiraz 2006

A big wine and bigger steak

It poured with an intense purple colour and quite opaque despite its age. The nose was rich with floral notes, perfumed, spicy and redolent with dark berry fruits. There was also dark earth, and leather evident. On the palate there was a creaminess and texture that flooded the senses with dark berries, vanillan oak, dark chocolate and clotted cream. Not for the faint hearted! This rich wine went well with a rare scotch fillet steak (ie prime rib minus the bone). A stronger man might finish with a cigar and vintage port…….

Score 95/100 and will keep for another 5 years, but drinking superbly now. Price AU$50

Day 2:  Still going strong! Lovely blackcurrent, spice, dusky oak and white pepper nose. Palate still rich and full with blackcurrent, chocolate and earth. Almost too strong for the Osso Bucco. Strongly recommend this wine – current vintage 2010 also a cracker!

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.