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Monthly Archives: August 2012
We’re in Quay restaurant, watching the sea pulse through Sydney harbour on a miserably, cold, wet windy day. After the long drive from Canberra and cold walk from the Opera House car park, we’re comfortably settled, hungry and keen to launch into Peter Gilmore’s revered degustation lunch (a generous Christmas gift from our son and his fiancee).
We’ve studied the wine list online – an adventurous selection, compiled by head sommelier, Amanda Yallop. It gives us the confidence to go with Quay’s wine suggestions.
Our wine waiter for the day, Russell Mills, shows us the “classic” ($95) and “premium” ($175) wine matches – a half glass each of eight wines, selected by Yallop’s team to suit the eight dishes in the degustation menu ($220).
He says the wine team selects the wines on each list, then runs them past the cooking team for the thumbs up.
We decide to go with the premium selection all through the menu, but to try the first three whites from the classic selection as well.
Like the party game falling backwards, hoping someone might catch you, there’s a risk in trusting the wine waiter. But the potential reward is significant in a good restaurant with such a diverse wine selection. In this instance the eclectic selection, accompanied by the theatre of a new, unique glass with each wine, took us beyond our well-travelled path in the most delightful way.
What follows then is our impressions of the wine experience at Quay – the first three courses accompanied by two wines each, the first from the premium selection, the second from the classic selection. From there on, the wines are all from the premium selection.
Marco Felluga “Mongris” Pinot Grigio 2010 (Collio, Italy) Moorilla Estate “Muse” Riesling 2009 (Tasmania) Sashimi of Corner Inlet rock flathead, Tasmanian trumpeter, salt cured wild oyster cream, black lipped abalone, raw sea cabbage, nasturtiums, warrigals, periwinkles.
Sommelier’s aim: Dry, textured, minerally wines, not overtly fruity, to match a subtle, textural dish.
What we found: All of the above in the partially barrel-fermented Italian pinot grigio – a particularly fine example of the style, very much on the savoury side with rich texture, derived from the barrel work. It was my preference of the two with the supremely delicate food. Moorilla’s Muse, rated highly on the texture and minerality scale, but the floral and citrusy, maturing riesling varietal character pushed it towards fruity, away from savoury. This delicate fruitiness still worked with the food. Both wines were highly distinctive.
Pyramid Valley “Field of Fire” Chardonnay 2009 (Canterbury, New Zealand) Krinklewood Chardonnay 2010 (Hunter Valley, NSW) Congee of Northern Australian mud crab, fresh palm heart, egg yolk emulsion.
Sommelier’s aim: A sweet and delicate dish requires full-bodied but delicate wines like modern chardonnays with little obvious oak impact.
What we found: We’re supposed to be savouring the wine with the food, but who can help comparing the wine styles first, both full-bodied chardonnays but widely different in style. The New Zealand wine is older, produced without sulphur dioxide, fermented in large old oak and bottled without fining and filtering. Apart from the deep lemon-gold colour it’s youthful and fresh on the palate – full and ripe flavoured with funky yeast lees influence, but with assertive acidity providing backbone and freshness to the finish.
The pale-lemon coloured, green tinted Hunter wine shimmered with pure, ripe, white-peach varietal flavour against a subtle nutty background, derived from yeast lees. It’s a very even, very youthful wine and a total contrast to its New Zealand companion.
Both of the wines worked with the food, the Krinklewood predictably and conventionally; but Pyramid for its idiosyncrasy.
Domaine de Belliviere “Les Rosiers” 2010 (Jasnieres, Loire Valley, France) Bellar Ridge Chenin Blanc 2009 (Swan Valley, Western Australia) Gently poached southern rock lobster, hand-caught Tasmanian squid, golden tapioca, lobster velvet.
Sommelier’s aim: An opulent dish requires wines counterbalancing sweetness and acidity.
What we found: Again we couldn’t help comparing the wines (both made from chenin blanc) before trying the food combinations. The Western Australian wine fell down on the most important measure, in my opinion. Though fresh and clean and richly textured, the wine’s acidity proved no much for its sweetness. With the balance tipped to sweetness, the wine just didn’t work with the food for me. On the other hand, the perfect tension between sweetness and acidity in the Loire Valley wine couldn’t have been better for the food.
Bass Phillip Pinot Noir 2010 (Gippsland, Victoria) Roasted partridge breast, teamed truffle brioche, confit egg yolk, new season white walnuts, fumet of vin jaune.
Sommelier’s aim: Not stated – too excited about “Australia’s best pinot”.
What we found: We’ve visited Phillip Jones at Bass Phillip, tasted many wines over many years and the best are truly stunning, this one included. This was our wine of the day – pure, magic, ethereal, rich, earthy and fine. What wonderful company for this sublime dish.
Claude Courtois Or’Norm Sauvignon 2008 (Sologne, France) Smoked and confit pig cheek, shiitake, shaved scallop, Jerusalem artichoke leaves, juniper, bay.
Sommelier’s aim: An adventurous wine to match the smokiness of the dish.
What we found: This is another idiosyncratic wine style made without sulphur dioxide and deliberately oxidised slowly in old oak for three years. This results in a slightly rusty coloured wine that retains clear varietal sauvignon blanc character while taking on other aromas and flavours familiar to lovers of sherry, vin santo and vin jaune. It’s an unusual wine for sure, the richness, high acidity and tart oxidative flavours sat comfortably with the delicate, smoky pig cheek. One glass is enough.
Spinifex “Tabor” Mataro 2009 (Barossa Valley, South Australia) Pasture raised milk-fed veal poached in smoked bone marrow fat, shiitake mushrooms, raw buckwheat, young orach, land samphire, parsnip.
Sommelier’s aim: An earthy wine is required to carry the smoke and earthiness of the food.
What we found: A deep, crimson-rimmed Barossa red that at 15 per cent alcohol may have been too robust for the dish. But alcohol tells only part of the story – in this instance only a small part, as the deep, rich, spicy fruit flavours and firm but fine tannins easily masked it. It’s a full-bodied wine, but the full flavours worked harmoniously with the food – and how nice to finish the reds on full, earthy, satisfying note. It’s sourced from two old vineyards in the Tabor area near Tanunda.
Domaine de L’Arjolle “Lyre” 2007 (Pouzelles, France) Guava snow egg.
Sommelier’s aim: A luscious but not overly sweet wine, with structure, and should not compete with the dessert for sweetness.
What we found: It was a good choice to sit the wine in the background and let this extraordinary, complex dessert remain at centre stage. We attacked it with childlike delight – pausing to sip the light-golden coloured wine. It’s made of muscat blanc a petits grains. But the luscious fruit flavour seemed more like melon than in-your-face, fruity muscat. And a reasonably high phenolic level added texture and assertive grip to the finish – cleansing the palate rather than adding more sugar.
Chambers Grand Muscat NV (Rutherglen, Victoria) Jersey cream, salted caramel, prunes, walnuts, ethereal sheets.
Sommelier’s aim: The wine must highlight the dried fruit and sweetness of the dessert.
What we found: I don’t have a sweet tooth, but coming off the crunchy, icy luxury of the snow egg, we were converted by the teasing nibbles of chocolate and toffee ethereal sheets; and succumbed completely to the luxury of the cream, caramel, prunes and nuts physically holding them up. The incredibly luscious, olive-green rimmed old muscat became part of the dessert – a rare and outstanding example of sweet plus sweet actually working.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 29 August 2012 in The Canberra Times
Though they’re both labelled ‘ginger beer’, there’s a huge difference between alcoholic ginger beer and beer brewed with ginger.
The growth of RTDs and flavoured beers means we’re seeing more of both on retail shelves – the best of both styles providing the exotic flavour of fresh ginger.
Some, like Crabbie’s, reviewed below, are just alcoholic versions of the soft drinks we brewed at home as kids. They’re really part of the RTD world and generally pretty sweet.
But brewers of real beer sometimes season their product with ginger – giving adults the malty flavours and dryness of beer, overlaid with ginger.
Mad Brewers Ginger Chops Alcoholic Ginger Beer (330ml 4-pack $16.99) is a good local version, brewed at Malt Shovel Brewery, Sydney. It even contains a little malted wheat, giving it extra freshness. The full-bore Kiuchi (below) is an excellent imported example.
Kiuchi Brewery Real Ginger Ale 330ml $9.50 Many ginger beers seem like alcoholic soft drinks, tempering cloying sweetness with tart ginger. But Kiuchi is all beer – rich, warming (seven per cent alcohol) and malty, with an abundant, persistent head, and delicious deep undercurrent of tangy ginger flavour. The high alcohol and generous malt make it a good winter beer.
Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer 330ml 4-pack $15.99 A crafty brew, this one – the Brits down 2.5 million cases year, “tapping into consumer desire for craft”, claims the press release, adding that it’s “made from a base of four secret ingredients”. Our leathery old palate identified only two, ginger and sugar delicious enough, but too sweet for my palate.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 29 August 2012
Brokenwood Stanleigh Park Vineyard Semillon 2007 $45 Lower Hunter Valley, NSW People tend to have or hate the Hunter Valley’s idiosyncratic semillon style. If, like me, you love it; or if you’ve heard of it but haven’t tried it, Brokenwood’s just-released 2007 provides the perfect opportunity. It’s travelled through the early, lemony, austere stage of its development, and at five and a half years reveals the first of the magic extras that come with bottle age. The classic, ultra-fresh lemon and lemongrass flavours remain. But bottle age has added the beginnings of richer toasty and honey characters. These fill the palate out deliciously, despite an alcohol level of just 10.5 per cent. (Available cellar door, www.brokenwood.com.au).
Majella Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $28.75–$33 Majella Vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia Sensational – simply sensational. How else to describe Brian and Anthony Lynn’s latest release. They own one of Coonawarra’s great vineyards, established in 1968, and have tended it ever since – originally as suppliers to other wineries but from 1990 as winemakers, too. Bruce Gregory makes the wine on site and in 2010 produced a particularly floral, fragrant wine to equal anything made to date from the property. The seductive violet-like aroma leads to an equally seductive, supremely elegant cabernet with layers of juicy, sweet fruit and fine tannins.
Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Chardonnay 2011 $28–$30 Judd, McCutcheon and Wallis Vineyard, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria Martin Spedding writes, “After a decade of warm and dry conditions the 2011 vintage broke the drought with over 600mm rain during the growing season versus an average of 350mm, the cool and wet conditions resulted in our latest harvest on record”. The cooler season also produced a leaner, tighter chardonnay than usual. The aroma shows grapefruit and white peach varietal character with “struck match” notes derived from ageing on yeast lees in barrel. The richly textured palate, like the aroma leans more to citrus than stone fruit varietal flavours
Yalumba Y Series Shiraz 2010 $9.49–$15 Adelaide Plains, Barossa and Virginia, South Australia Yalumba’s Y series wine provide high quality current drinking at realistic prices. This wine, from the very good 2010 vintage, delivers ripe, rich shiraz flavours reminiscent of dark berries. A post-ferment maceration and clever use of oak barrels helped build the soft tannins that give structure to the wine. The wide price range reflects periodic discounting by the big retailers. Made for drinking over the next year or two.
Vinaceous Divine Light Sauvignon Blanc 2012 $19–$21 Margaret River, Western Australia Vinaceous — an export-focused venture created by wine marketer Nick Stacy and winemaker Michael Kerrigan features quirky labels and wines from several Australian regions. The pair’s fresh-from-the-vine Margaret River white delivers the lighter, herbal flavours of early picked sauvignon blanc. It’s well removed from the overt Marlborough style, but still clearly sauvignon blanc with its pungent, tangy edge. It’s a good aperitif quaffer and suited to shellfish, especially oysters.
Blandy’s Malmsey Madeira 10 Years Old $49.99 Madeira, Portugal Madeira’s famous fortified wine ranges from dry to sweet – sercial, verdelho, bual and malmsey. It’s hard to find in Australia these days, but Woolworths’ owned Dan Murphys now imports the sweetest version, malmsey (made from the malvasia grape). Fortification with brandy arrests fermentation, leaving a considerable amount of natural grape sugar. Prolonged ageing in oak casks at varying temperatures produces the distinctive olive green colour of the rim and mellow, earthy aroma. The oak ageing also gives the wines its unique bite, cutting through the luscious sweetness.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 29 August 2012 in The Canberra Times
McLeish Estate Hunter Valley Semillon 2011 $23 The lower Hunter Valley’s idiosyncratic semillon style doesn’t please all drinkers, though it’s followed with passion by the true believers. McLeish 2011 – winner of a trophy and gold medal at the Hunter Valley Boutique Wine Show 2011 – is an excellent example of the style. The alcohol’s just 11.1 per cent and the aroma and flavour reveal a unique, delicate lemongrass-like character. The palate’s light, fresh and a little austere, in a pleasing, food-friendly way. Over time, the colour will darken from lemon to golden, the aroma and flavour will develop rich but fine honeyed and toasty characters. (Available through www.mcleishhunterwines.com.au).
Longview Red Bucket Adelaide Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $15–$17 The label says “Adelaide”, but that’s shorthand for a blend of 52 per shiraz from the Longview vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, the rest cabernet sauvignon from McLaren Vale. The Saturno family owns the Adelaide Hills vineyard and the wines are made under contract by Ben Glaetzer. In this instance it’s a clever, medium bodied wine combining the juicy, ripe flavours and pleasing aromatics of cool-grown shiraz and the structure, and leafy flavour notes, of cabernet sauvignon. It’s all about bright fruit, soft tannins – a joyous wine to enjoy right now.
Grant Burge Filsell Old Vine Barossa Shiraz 2010 $25.15 –$40 Winemaker Grant Burge says the Filsell vineyard contains one of the largest blocks of old (more than 90 years) shiraz in the southern Barossa Valley. Burge has made an impressive single vineyard wine from the block for some years now; but the 2010 really stands out after a run of drought-affected seasons. It’s full bodied, in the Barossa style, with particularly intense, bright, ripe fruit flavours and supple texture. The supple fruit comes layered with soft, ripe fruit tannins, with another structural and flavour lift from very high quality oak. It’s a very high quality red with medium to long term cellaring potential.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 26 August 2012 in The Canberra Times
Henney’s Vintage 2010 Still Cider 500ml $7.50 As cider’s popularity grows, we’re seeing many more high-quality versions made entirely from apples – in this case from cider varieties grown in Herefordshire, England. Made in autumn and stored over the winter, Henney’s delivers the full, ripe, mellow slightly rustic flavour of apples with a firm, dry finish.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 22 August 2012 in The Canberra Times
Brad Rogers, brewer at Byron Bay’s Stone and Wood Brewery, says he tweaked this year’s Stone Beer to see it through the 12 months until the next release.
The annual brew uses a technique from the middle ages – heating stones and dropping them into the kettle. Rogers writes, “apart from the obvious heating effects, the brewing stones also caramelised the brew to create subtle but rich toffee-like flavours.
Rogers says a number of beer drinkers stretched their supplies over the year between releases – prompting the decision to build cellarability into the 2012 brew.
Brewers generally achieve this by upping the alcohol and hops and, in some cases conditioning the beer in bottle on its yeast sediment – Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale, for example.
Rogers dispensed with bottle conditioning, but increased the alcohol, added dark roasted malts and Hersbrucker hops for “firmer bitterness”.
Stone and Wood Limited Release Stone Beer 500ml $9.99 Stone beer 2012 moves from copper red to a deeper mahogany colour. The source of the deeper colour – dark, roasted malts – add their own toasty notes to the rich, sweet underlying toffee flavours. The full body reflects the robust 7.2 per cent alcohol and bitter hops bite all the way across the palate.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 22 August 2012 in The Canberra Times
Turkey Flat Shiraz 2010 $38–$42 Bethany, Stonewell and Koonunga vineyards, Barossa Valley, South Australia Christie and Peter Schulz say their magnificent 2010 shiraz is based on vines planted at Bethany in 1847 by Johann Fiedler. They compliment fruit from those venerable old vines with material from low-yielding vines at Stonewell and Koonunga. This is perhaps the best shiraz since the Schulz’s made the transition from grape growing to winemaking about 20 years ago. It’s big, and shows the lush ripeness and tender tannins of the Barossa Valley. But it’s so beautifully balanced, and the French oak so complimentary to the fruit flavour and tannin, that it sits lightly on the palate. It’s marvellous to think that vines planted in the wilderness continue to produce beautiful wine 165 years later.
Yalumba Galway Vintage Shiraz 2011 $9.49–$15.95 Barossa Valley, South Australia Galway shiraz sits a long way stylistically from the Yalumba Galway Claret that raised Bob Menzies’ eyebrows in awe half a century ago. The firmer, more savoury style Menzies loved gave way to this bright, fruity modern style. In the cool 2011 vintage Galway shows the bright, fragrant, musky side of shiraz, both in the aroma and on the soft, juicy, drink-now palate. It’s a regular participant in the retail discount wars, sometimes falling below $10.
Scorpo Estate Pinot Noir 2010 $39.89–45 Mornington Peninsula, Victoria This is on the big, rich side of pinot – in an elegant, succulent pinot kind of way. Deep, juicy, sweet fruit flavours, reminiscent of black cherry, with notes of beetroot and an earthy, mushroomy note, held our attention to the end of the bottle. The slippery texture and firm, fine backbone of tannin completed an outstanding red that beautifully complimented the duck spring rolls at Lanterne Room, Campbell.
Scorpo Estate Pinot Gris 2011 $33.25–$36 Mornington Peninsula, Victoria The cold, wet 2011 season devastated many vineyards and in some areas grapes failed to ripen properly even if they escaped the mildew and botrytis. While most wines show the bony character of the vintage, some show exceptional concentration of fruit flavour – like this excellent Mornington Peninsula white. Ambient-yeast fermentation in old oak vessels gives the wine a rich, juicy, smooth texture. And the cool conditions intensified the elusive pear-like varietal flavour, contributing a crisp, fresh acidity to balance the succulent sweetness of the fruit.
Quartz Hill Syrah 2010 $32 Quartz Hill vineyard, Pyrenees, Victoria What an enormous contrast there is between Quartz Hill Syrah and Turkey Flat Shiraz also reviewed here today, sitting at the opposite ends of Australia’s shiraz spectrum. Quartz Hill’s use of the French ‘Syrah’ salutes the fine-boned elegant styles made in the northern Rhone Valley. It’s a medium bodied red, with a ripe, sweet core of red berry fruit flavours, cut with savoury, varietal black pepper and spice flavours. Very fine, gentle tannins and fresh acidity give the wine structure, subtly augmented by fine French oak. (Available only through email@example.com)
d’Arenberg Dry Dam Riesling 2011 $14.50 McLaren Vale, South Australia The emergence of so-called semi or half dry riesling is simply a renaming of a style that’s been with us forever. It simply refers to retention of unfermented grape sugar (or in some case adding grape juice back to a dry wine). At very low levels, the sugar fills out the middle palate very pleasantly without adding overt sweetness. In d’Arenberg’s attractive version, residual sugar of 18.3 grams per litre gives a notable sweetness that’s offset – in a tangy, mouth-watering way – by a low pH (2.8) and acidity of 8.3 grams per litre. It accompanies spicy and chilli-hot food particularly well.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 22 August 2012 in The Canberra Times
Oxford Landing Estates Shiraz 2011 $6–$9 Oxford Landing shiraz provides good daily quaffing at a fair price. Though the recommended retail is around $9, it’s often discounted to around $7 and sometimes to a little below $6. It’s generally a medium bodied, drink-now style. But in the very cool 2011 it’s a little lighter bodied than usual, but still based on bright, fresh fruit flavours and soft tannins. So, it’s not for lovers of big, gutsy reds, but definitely a good buy if you like light, fresh, fruity flavours. It’s moderately alcoholic at 13 per and sourced mainly from the Hill Smith family’s Oxford Landing vineyard near Waikerie, South Australia.
Quartz Hill Pyrenees Viognier 2010 $32 Shane and Michelle Mead planted their tiny vineyard in the Pyrenees in 1995 and have their wine made by Michelle’s brother, Darrin Gaffy, at Principia Wines, Mornington. The production is tiny but the quality is very, very high. The barrel fermented and matured Quartz Hill Viognier 2010 shows a very fine, cool climate side of viognier, a variety that tends to fatness, even oiliness. The wine ginger and apricot-like varietal flavours on a richly textured but not heavy palate. It’s deliciously fresh and the oak flavour very subtle and supportive of the fruit. (Available only by email – firstname.lastname@example.org).
Paxton MV McLaren Vale Shiraz 2011 $18–$20 The Paxton family’s extensive vineyard holdings in McLaren Vale produce a range of high quality wines at various price points. Their MV shiraz, sourced from biodynamic-in-conversion vineyards, delivers typically generous McLaren Vale flavours, combining bright fruit with a satisfying earthy, savoury undertone. It’s an amazingly good wine at the price. The fruit comes from four Paxton vineyards – Quandong Farm, Maslin Vineyard (near the coast), Jones Block and 19th Vineyard. The diversity of fruit sourcing, a range of winemaking techniques and maturation in a mix of French and American oak account for its completeness.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 19 August 2012 in The Canberra Times
A couple of times each decade a very special riesling vintage comes along. And for me that means, eye on the retailer discounts, grabbing a couple of bottles here, half a dozen there and even a few dozen when the best opportunities arise.
For riesling remains Australia’s great bargain cellaring wine. The best offer delicious fruity freshness on release and over time develop deeper, richer flavours while retaining great freshness. Stock up on the great vintages and even modestly priced wines provide wonderful drinking for a decade, while the very best might give pleasure for 20 years or more – especially with the protection of a screw cap.
Right now I’m literally sniffing excitement in the 2012 vintage Clare Valley rieslings, revelling in the beautiful, pure fruit flavours, fresh, dry palates and moderate alcohol levels, demonstrated in all the wines reviewed here today, and peaking with the sensational Wilson Polish Hill and perhaps even loftier Leo Buring Leonay.
I’ve included a few winemaker comments as the wines support their palpable excitement about a Clare vintage that provided ideal ripening conditions – in sharp contrast to the cold, disease-ravaged 2011 season.
The 2012s are just beginning to arrive in restaurants and retail shelves now; and from what I’ve seen present that rare buying opportunity. Chateau Shanahan stocked up liberally on the wonderful 2002s and we’ll do the same with the 2012s.
I’ll review more of the wines as they come to market, highlighting those that offer best value and cellarability.
Winemakers Federation of Australia vintage report “Most winemakers have described the vintage as one of the strongest on record. Yields were slightly lower than an average year, but this was offset by the higher levels of flavour intensity, fruit purity and natural acidity levels in the whites”.
Daniel Wilson, The Wilson Vineyard, Clare Valley “2012 was a fantastic vintage, nice warm ripening conditions with the occasional shower to keep things hydrated.
I’m trying to remain objective as there’s probably a danger of overstating the quality of this vintage after the terrible year we had in 2011, but really, I couldn’t be more happy with the 2012 vintage.
To put it into perspective, I didn’t make our Polish Hill River Riesling in 2011, the first vintage missed since The Wilson Vineyard started making wine in 1980. I think that says it all”.
The Wilson Vineyard Watervale Riesling 2012 $18.95 Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia Watervale riesling lean towards a beautiful purity of fruit flavour, tending towards the lime-like end of riesling’s flavour spectrum – with the volume turned up a little in the 2012 vintage. The palate’s rich but delicate with a lingering, fresh, dry finish.
The Wilson Vineyard Polish Hill River Riesling 2012 $27.95 Polish Hill River, Clare Valley, South Australia In 2012 Wilson’s flagship white reveals the unique power and delicacy of great riesling. It comes from low yielding vines and the winemaking aims at maximising and protecting the fruit flavour: hand picking and gentle pressing to avoid extraction of phenolics from the skins, prolonged, cool fermentation flavour and aromatics, then bottling under screw caps as soon as possible after fermentation. The aroma features floral and citrus characters and even at this early stage the palate reveals great intensity and power of flavour, held in check by its tight acid structure. Should age very well.
The Wilson Vineyard DJW Riesling 2012 $23.95 DJW vineyard, Polish Hill River, Clare Valley, South Australia This comes from a 2.2-hectare vineyard planted by Daniel Wilson in 1997 on a fertile section of his father’s vineyard. The fertile site produced large vines, large bunches and bigger flavours than other parts of the vineyard, prompting the decision to bottle it separately. In 2012 the citrus and tropical fruit aroma gush from the glass and flood the palate deliciously. While big and juicy it retains a fine structure, zingy acidity and a modest alcohol content of 12.5 per cent.
Tim Adams, Tim Adams Wines, Clare Valley “Our yields were down a bit on average, but flavour intensity and condition of fruit were outstanding. Vintages of intense flavour sometimes produce huge, blockbuster-type wines but that wasn’t the case in 2012”.
Tim Adams Riesling 2012 $18–$22 Irelands, Rogers and Bayes vineyards, Clare Valley, South Australia Tim Adams generally makes low-alcohol, dry, austere rieslings requiring a few years to fill out and soften. But in 2012 the aroma and flavour’s already there, bursting like a genie from the bottle – while the alcohol level remains at a modest 11.5 per cent. The beautiful aroma and juicy, intense, lemony varietal flavour comes with a load of refreshing natural acidity and not a sign of the fatness that can accompany forward young rieslings. 2012 looks to be a great riesling vintage in the Clare Valley. This one is sensational at the price.
Peter Munro, Leo Buring Wines (owned by Treasury Wine Estates) “Much will be said about the ‘amazing’, ‘powerful’ and ‘classic’ 2012 vintage; it’s all true and well deserved”.
Leo Buring Dry Riesling 2012 $14–$20 Watervale (50:50 company and grower vineyards), Clare Valley, South Australia Buring’s bread and butter riesling generally does the discount rounds. But even though the price varies widely, it provides excellent value even at $20. The 2012 delivers Watervale’s purity and mouth-watering lime and lemon varietal flavours. It’s richer, fruitier and more deeply structured than we’d normally see in a riesling at this tender age, but not at the expense of delicacy or freshness. Watch for the bargains and grab a case or two for medium-term cellaring.
Leo Buring DW P18 Riesling 2012 $32–$40 Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia It takes only a mouthful of Leonay to understand winemaker Peter Munro’s excitement. This is an amazing dry riesling – gentle, delicate and caressing on the palate, yet with an extraordinary intensity of pure, thrilling, lime-like flavour. It’s unusual for a young Leonay to reveal itself at this age (typically the show medals come some years after vintage). But like other rieslings of the vintage tasted to date, there’s liveliness and finesse accompanying the upfront fruitiness. This one should cellar for decades in the right conditions.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 15 August 2012 in The Canberra Times
Rebellion Brewing belongs to a couple of beer drinking coeliac sufferers – John O’Brien and Andrew Laver. Dissatisfied with the quality of gluten-free beers (all imports at the time) they decided to make their own. In 2005 they launched O’Brien Gluten Free Premium Lager, brewed under contract at the Bintara Brewery, Rutherglen. Two years later they established their own brewery in Ballarat.
They now make four gluten-free beers from malted millet and sorghum. We lined the four brews up at Schloss Shanahan this week and liked what we found.
Like all low-alcohol beers, O’Brien Gluten Free Light Lager (2.7 per cent alcohol, $23.45 330ml 6-pack) lacks body, but it’s fresh and dry with a pleasant, light, herbal, hoppy character – a well crafted, refreshing brew for life’s almost sober moments.
Medium bodied Gluten Free Brown Ale ($330ml 6-pack $24.95) offers a salami-like, smoked grain aroma and flavour on a smooth, malty, dry, mildly bitter palate.
O’Brien Gluten Free Premium Lager 330ml 6-pack $24.95 This is a decent brew by any measure, made principally, in the original recipe, from sorghum with a smidge of buckwheat. The colour’s a pale lemon/gold, the aroma and flavour sit in the mainstream lager spectrum and the finish is emphatically and lingeringly bitter.
O’Brien Gluten Free Pale Ale 330ml 6-pack $24.95 The aroma of the light golden coloured pale ale combines fresh, delicate, floral hops with a light fruitiness and malt. The same combination flows through to the well-balanced, mild palate – smooth, fruity maltiness deliciously cut through with delicate hops and finishing with a satisfying bitterness.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 15 August 2012 in the The Canberra Times