Archive for ‘Australia’

April 28, 2020

Cape Mentelle Shiraz Cabernet, 2017

Cape Mentelle Shiraz Cabernet, 2017

Well here’s a blast from the past.  Remember when BC Liquor carried Cape Mentelle?  No, I bet you don’t, because it’s been about a decade.  Their workhorse Sem Sauv Bl blend was one of those relatively inexpensive everyday whites of much utility.  We miss it.

 

This is not their finest moment.  And they do have some fine moments (which of course will cost you).  But it’s a lovely change this perky red from Western Australia, perhaps a little surprising how much sweet and how little mouth feel it has, tending to veer away from the typical leathery Oz Shiraz, despite 60% Shiraz to 40% Cab Sauv.

 

Quite decent, all things considered, screw top, not over the top pricey, pleasantly light even at 14.5% alcohol.

 

Price: $30 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Like a nice find at a garage sale.

January 4, 2020

Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz, 2017

Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz, 2017

Another gift from Santa.  I must have been a very good boy in 2019.

 

We are doubly familiar with the less expensive Grenache-Shiraz, easy to source, easy to drink, although have never bothered to post a review.  The Woodcutter’s Shiraz, a top 100 2019 wine over at the Wine Spectator (with the 93 point bottle neck seal to prove it…) is harder to find, more expensive, and like our recent post on vintage Rioja, worth every last penny vis-a-vis the prohibitive cost of BC “flagship” reds.

 

The colour is charcoal, the flavour notes teeter on a broad spectrum, between tar (meaning dark and mysterious, woodsy) and cherry jubilee (meaning fruity and rich, creamy, velvet).  The 15% alcohol is I suppose par for the course, certainly over at the Spectator, but this lovely sipper is not top heavy.  There is a faint whisker of syrup in the richness, however the layered flavour notes never cease to surprise.  Halfway though you may come across a palate tangent of cedar frond.  A most impressive gift wine.

 

Price: Gifted, but around $38 at BC Liquor, here and there.

 

Market Liquidity: Delectable, if a tad decadent for us.

August 23, 2019

Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013

Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013

Great to return to a wine you loved and find you still love it.  Pretty much everything we liked and wrote about from a cellared bottle here, from a vintage a few years back, still stands.  Coconut, chocolate, cherry, delectable through and through.  Luscious and then some.  Score.  At the end of the bottle you will feel like you’ve bench pressed 220.

 

Do you know you can score this for $30 in a private wine store?  Then get 10% off if you buy six?  And be paying less for a miraculous red than an everyday BC white?  It’s a miracle.  It’s a shame, but it’s a miracle. Oh Margaret River, marry me.

 

Price: See above.

 

Market Liquidity: Yes, it is a miracle.

May 30, 2019

Teusner “The Gentleman” Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014.

Kenwood's Wilder Diamond AKA Tony

Our dog died.  A friend brought round a decent bottle of wine for us to remember him by.  But drinking just wasn’t on the agenda. Then, a few weeks later, we sat down and opened the gift.  Wow.  This was EGOT good.  Gobs and gobs of acidity but what the aficionados refer to as juicy or attractive acidity.  Flavour notes deeper than a Welsh coal mine.  Delicate, exquisite, it begged to be sipped.  Slowly.  Little nips like fine Sherry.  While it beat the band with dinner it shone, aurora borealis shone, as a sipper. 

Price: Around $40 at private wine stores but even so hard to source.

Market Liquidity: Shows up the fraud of so many BC reds at this price point.

Teusner “The Gentleman” Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014.

March 16, 2019

Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay, 2014

There was a time when Wolf Blass defined good taste in wine.  And that time was three decades ago.  And, for me, I can even define it further: 1984 in Sydney when WB was both affordable and astonishingly good.  But now?  Talk about retro blast from the past.

 

This is a totally pleasurable Chardonnay, no strikes against it.  For the person who wants a wine, year after year, to taste pretty much the same, within a very, very narrow range of differentiation, Wolf Blass rules the southern hemisphere.  Perhaps only Beringer comes close with this sort of equilibrium.  But isn’t part of the pleasure of drinking wine that difference vintage to vintage, that variability?  If it is, I suggest you move on.

 

Glass half full: Class act.  Glass half empty: Next. Quickly.

 

Price: Regularly $25, on sale for $20, so extremely good value.

 

Market Liquidity: Like an 80s playlist.

February 23, 2019

Bleasdale Mulberry Tree Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015

There is something about Australian Cab Sauv that’s never 100% as good as you hope regardless of the price.  Shiraz? Out of the park.  Cab Sauv, hit and miss.  This doesn’t miss, but it’s no home run.

 

The Bleasdale scored high with Halliday and we’re not in disagreement, particularly the very palatable tannins, which in Napa would probably choke, and the predominance of cherry and black currant.  Smooth and decent with red meats but also without the depth the label proclaims.  Order it in a restaurant.

 

Price: $18 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: Good value but not great value.

September 14, 2018

Leeuwin Estate Siblings Shiraz, 2012

Entry level LE is expensive.  Even in Western Australia.  Even at the vineyard in Margaret River.  It’s just how it goes.  And it’s not always brilliant (witness our rather uninspired taste of the Art Series Riesling).  But most of the time it is brilliant.  It has a modesty and restraint, across most varietals, something you don’t normally get in Oz (home of Punch in the Face Shiraz); this isn’t punching bag red.

 

The entry level Siblings Shiraz has (we think) everything going for it.  Smooth and sweet(ish) like melba sauce, meaning berry forward, palate delightful and deeply nuanced but without the flair of a truly magnificent red.  You can just imagine staff tasting from the barrel and knowing it wouldn’t cut the mustard for an Art Series label but how eloquent and measured nonetheless.  We drank it against an Ottolenghi recipe of braised leeks (with edamame, buffalo mozzarella, lemon zest and a sprinkling of Gran Padano) and it shone.  As a sipper it became instantly addictive.

 

There is something missing, something you find in those towering Penfolds that cost a fortune but you are, of course, at entry level.  $40 entry level.  But still.  A good fit, off the rack.  Thank you Leeuwin.

 

Warm, pleasant, pleasing and delectable.

 

Price: $40 at Kits Wine Cellar (but with a half case take 10% off).

 

Market Liquidity: Like an earworm there’s a repetitive riff and you’re hooked.

August 22, 2018

Penfolds Max’s Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015

(I left the flashy red label on; we are over and through with glam labels, but you can always tear it off and still have a reasonable presentation at the dinner table.)

 

It’s been a while since we corked a wine this forward, assertive and confident.  Less like a Wimbledon semi this is a Davis Cup final; it clamors to be heard and in so doing you can barely hear yourself.  On a scale of one to 10 in subtlety we score this Liberace in concert crossed with Cher at the Oscars.  While it has legs, Usain Bolt legs, we opened our 2015 in 2018 as a sort of witness to things that may.  It may.  Just, do you have the patience?

 

While still (much too) young, and worthy of at least another five years on the down low, it is eminently drinkable in that forward Cab Sauv way.  If this is your thing, rock solid granite determined super masculine Cab Sauvs, then this is really your thing.  Reviews talk about the nuance and balance which to us were not predominant; more like static and assured but monochrome, with mere echoes of oak.  An astringent dark cherry crossed with licorice root on the palate and an earthy finish give it fullness; it has a lot of heft and I guess is “mouth delicious” and delightful but not as a sipper.  A whole bottle over dinner in one sitting feels a bit like a whole movie of just the car chase in The French Connection, no plot.  Yet who in YVR would be serving this by the glass?

 

Dry and red meat friendly and decent value from one of the most prestigious Oz vineyards but for better or worse not our cup of tea.

 

Price: $32 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: In the alternative, may I suggest a shot of testosterone.

February 21, 2018

Eileen Hardy Chardonnay, 2014

Drinking wine in Australia, the last post: The best Australian Chardonnay I’ve ever had the privilege to drink.  Much lauded; all the major wine mags/bloggers love this white.  But at the same time a long ways away from what else could be bought in this price category; mid range Burgundy and medium level California Chards and top of the line BC whites; line them all up and we’re hard pressed to see the dollar value.  But it was good, mark my words.

 

Very present.  By which I mean unmistakably Chardonnay, assertive, determined.  It’s like a movie script that had twelve rewrites, each to hone the previous version, but sometimes to the detriment of the end product.

 

It is dry, like mixed nuts in its nuttiness, oak laden with some Bosc pear skin on the palate, rough hewn if you know what I mean.  Rich.  Foie gras rich.  You will not accidentally mistake it for a thin Italian Pinot Grigio.  The majority is Tassie, but a minority South Yarra is blended in (I mean Hardy’s has a lot of grapes, why not?).  But it also speaks to the cool climate conditions of Tasmania and some of the genius bottles emerging from the state which, relatively speaking, is a wine region on the nascent side.  It shows the enormous opportunity and luscious wines you can score with a trip down south.

 

Price: We saw this in a few high end wine shops for between $70 and $90 AUD.  Pass.  Then I picked up some duty free for $55 AUD.  [Editorial comment: I was on my way to Hong Kong from Australia. I asked how much wine I could bring in.  They told me HKG only monitors alcohol; anything under 20% volume there is no limit.  I repeat that, anything under 20% there is no limit.  I felt like an adult.  A real, honest to god adult, living in an adult world, without a nanny state looking over my shoulder determining my every move.  Imagine.  Then a week later I came back to Canada…]

 

Market Liquidity: Like Olympic judging, sometimes the gold doesn’t go to the best of the lot, even if the marks are highest.

February 8, 2018

Jim Barry Assyrtiko, 2017

Drinking wine in Australia 4: So Jim Barry’s son, one of his sons, Peter, Peter and his wife go to Greece and drink some sensational white wine and then they go home and they decide to plant that varietal at the family vineyard in Australia and they do and a few years later they bottle their first vintage and here it is.  Assyrtiko.  Not sure I’ve ever drunk a bottle.  The tricky part is, however, wine in Santorini can be plonk but the experience so divine you might think you’re drinking Burgundy.  Was their venture just a passing interest?  No.  This is a breakthrough in terms of sipping and eating.

 

As an aside, it was not the most interesting wine we drank across four states and umpteen cities and vineyard treks.  It was the second most interesting wine.  The most interesting wine was from Mount Mary, the Middleton family’s vineyard in the Yarra valley; we had, at Cutler and Company, a few glasses of sensational Fume Blanc from Reflexion, their “down market” brand, which was profound with food.  Moving.  Sometimes wine stewards are pretentious and insensitive and at worst trendsetters but sometimes they understand the harmony of food and wine and score big time and that was our experience with the Mt. Mary.

 

That said, the Assyrtiko was definitely the second most interesting wine we drank.  It marries the acid and citrus of the Mediterranean with floral aromas and hints of honey and peach and is aggressively interesting and unique and a breath of fresh air for white varietals.  Again, not to get TOO repetitive, but the likelihood of finding this in BC, let alone Canada, is remote at best.

 

Price: A pricey $45 Australian, if you can find it, and it was hard to find (and even the clerk said to me “this is the first bottle I’ve sold”!).

 

Market Liquidity: The spirit of adventure rewarded.