Food & Wine Weekend at Tarnwarndcoort Homestead, country Victoria

The word “Tarndwarncoort” is based on the ancient Gulidjan tribal language, used by indigenous people to describe the undulating hilly landscape the property sits upon. First settled in 1840s, the building is one of Victoria’s heritage buildings and a great getaway off the Princess Highway not far from Colac in country Victoria.

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Day 1. Six of us settled into an evening of tasting excellent wine and cooking great food. Started with two aged Rieslings. A 2006 Pizzini Riesling that was drinking beautifully with lovely developed characters, touch of sweetness, and rich mouthfeel. Also had a 2004 Leasingham Bin 7 that was more developed and had less fruit, but still a good wine.

Four Great Wines to match our Cape Grimm dry aged Prime Rib

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1999 Bests FHT Shiraz, Great Western, Victoria, Australia
Brick red colour. Glorious nose of violets, milk chocolate, confectionary and dark plums. Superb rich and concentrated mouthfeel with great length. Spice, ripe brambly fruit, vanilla soft tannins and anise all combine to flood the senses. Great wine. Tasted blind, several friends thought this was a Barossa wine and found it difficult to believe such a rich wine could come from Western Victoria. Drinking beautifully now, it can keep for a few more years yet. 96/100.
The quality of this wine is surprising given the difficult vintage conditions with a spring frost wiping out almost 80% of the premium fruit.

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The 2004 Langmeil Freedom Shiraz and the 2004 Peter Lehman Stonewell Shiraz made an interesting comparison. Both fabulous wines showing the best qualities of premium Barossa old vine fruit with great intensity, lovely dark berry fruit, spice and creamy oak. The Stonewell showed a little more elegance with nuances of red berries, dark chocolate and dusty tannins. The Freedom was a little bigger and richer with lovely dark chocolate and earthy characters. Both great wines! 95/100

The 2007 Cullen’s Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot Petit Verdot was another beauty. I suspect we opened it 10 years too early, but the wine opened with a few hours breathing. Lovely flavours of blackcurrent, cedar, and vanillan oak. Very elegant and seamless. A delight to drink. 95/100. Keep. Drink 2017-2020.

All 4 bottles disappeared far too quickly! Hence the Berocca came in handy the next morning……..

Tomorrow we dine at Brae restaurant run by our favourite chef Dan Hunter.

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Another 2 Great Wines Unmasked

Grange and Frredomimage

1985 Penfolds Grange Hermitage

Served masked. Brick red colour with large onion skin rim indicating extensive bottle age. Nose of maraschino cherries, plums, dark chocolate, mocha, cream, spice and vanillin oak. A beautiful nose that indicated this wine was something special, hinting of a Grange. Palate with lifted acidity, soft fruit that was possibly past it’s best, soft dusty and drying tannins. Long persistent finish. Really enjoyable drinking!! My guess, Grange of 25 plus years…..pleasantly surprised when unmasked! Wine had recently been recorked by Penfolds recorking clinic. Drink now. 95/100 (scored 90/100 by Robert Parker in 1990.)

2004 Langmeil 1843 Freedom Shiraz

Bright reddish purple colour with small onion skin. Spicy nose with cherry and chocolate malt. Soft mouthfilling palate. Rich but still closed, needing more time to open. (Nose and palate continued to develop and improve over the next three hours.) Very refined palate with bright red berry fruit and soft drying tannins. Very French in style with great length, mouthfeel and persistence of flavour. Something about old vine wines! Assessed by all 4 tasters as something very special, very very drinkable and a top wine. Drink over the next 2-5 years. 98/100

Shiraz vines for the Freedom planted in 1840s with only a few acres remaining. Grapes are dry grown, hand picked and yields only 1.5 to 2 tonnes per acre. Aged in French oak for 2 years. Winemaker, Paul Lindner.

Terrific 2003 Tatiarra

Opened a bottle of 2003 Tatiarra Trademark Shiraz for dinner. 15.5% alcohol and a multi regional blend from Heathcote in Victoria and from McLaren Vale in South Australia. Winemaker Ben Riggs.

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Interesting Tatiarra Story

2003 Tatiarra Trademark Shiraz

2003 Tatiarra Trademark Shiraz

Well cellared. No wine travel on cork

The wine was perfectly cellared (as you can see from the lack of travel on the cork). 

It was very dumb on opening and needed a good 2 hours of decanting before reaching its best. Lovely brick red colour. Incredible rich and pungent nose full of bright red berries, pepper and spice, violets, marzipan, and fruit cake. A delighful nose full! Rich and creamy mouthfeel with lashings of pepper, spicy oak, berry fruit and cedar. Great structure and well integrated tannins. Very long finish. A true over the top hedonistic Aussie wine. Will keep easily for another 5+ years. Score 95/100. Purchase price $60.

A great way to enjoy a Thanksgiving Dinner. 

Other Wines Tasted this Week:

Bollinger Rose. A lovely summer wine! Creamy mousse. Nose of biscuit, brioche, green apple nectarine and pear. Nice acid lift on the palate and beautiful rich texture. A great summer wine and perfect with fresh strawberries, apricots and Compte cheese! Rating 91/100.

1998 Orlando Jacaranda Ridge Cabernet. From the Coonawarra region and grown in its famous Terra Rossa soils in South Australia. I remember buying a 6 pack of this wine in 2001 and stashing it away in the bowels of my cellar. It has aged brilliantly. On opening, a beautiful waft of dark friut, ribena blackcurrent juice, spicy oak and dusty cocoa. Brick red with a dark core. Smelt far fresher than a 15 year old wine had any right to!! Sensuous palate of soft berry fruit, moccha and cedar. Dusty well integrated tanins and a very long drying finish. Still fresh, clean and mouthcoating. Perfect accompaniment for a rare scotch fillet steak followed by St Agur cheese. Yum! Rating 96/100. Purchased $46.99 in 2001. (See photo)

1998 Jacaranda Ridge Cabernet

1998 Jacaranda Ridge Cabernet

After 15 years, perfect cork - perfect wine

After 15 years, perfect cork – perfect wine

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!

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…..

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!