Archive for ‘Australia’

October 20, 2020

Majella Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015

So here’s an upbeat Coonawarra Cab Sauv. All that slang for stimulants — black mollies, black beauty, bling bling, blue devil — that’s going to hit you first.

And, first sip this is a wow, wow, wow.  A high point pointster wowza.  But you know what?  On the last sip, it’s good, not wow, just good.  And I wonder if the pointsters drank a comparative sip or nursed a bottle over the course of an evening?  Because here’s a significant different between professional tasters and people who drink wine: People who drink wine don’t buy wine to have a taste.  They buy wine to drink it.

All right, so there you go, this is a huge points winner, many plaudits, it’s got balance and then some, it could be Simone Bile’s Olympic Beam master class.  And it oozes plum, red, juicy, sloppy, overripe plum.  It’s a delicacy on the approach but something about it ends up too much, too rich, and like a slice of layer cake that’s got the proportion of icing to cake in excess, this wine ultimately satisfies but misses; it’s a bronze, not a gold.

Price: $40 something, but rare in Vancouver; the base model “Musician” however, a much less interesting red, is on the corner at every liquor outlet.

Market Liquidity: It will impress, but even Pacino in Scarface was, you know, over the top.

August 13, 2020

Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz, 2016

Gosh, for a blog that brags about being anti-pointster, we sure do seem on a point-driven jag.  92 it is.

Is it good wine?  Yes.  Is it good Shiraz? Yes; fruity, licorice, earthy, “all the usuals” if you will.  Truly, a typical and satisfying Oz Shiraz.  But: Is it ludicrously over the top alcoholic?  Yes, oh god yes.  14.9% but with the wine version of a humidex it could be Port.  There is something Hummer-ish about it’s headstrong attack and something equally leaden about the finish.  Demonstrative and then some.  Delicious, just a little weighted down.  It’s a one off for us.

Price: An extremely reasonably $27 at BC Liquor.

Market Liquidity: Think Great Expectations (as opposed to A Christmas Carol; both “92-point stories,” one just able to be bright and light and satisfying without the slog).

July 29, 2020

Peter Lehman Margaret, Limited Release Barossa Semillon, 2012

Peter Lehman Margaret, Limited Release Barossa Semillon, 2012

This should be an absolute find.  An eight-year-old Semillon, under $30, at 11% alcohol.  Did anyone say patio sipper?  Semillon holds up to fish, cured meats, cheese.  It’s a workhorse white.  Or it should be.

 

We found it wanting.  The beeswax and minerality clashed rather than melded, the dryness made us pucker, the citrus was jarring.

 

The label says it is the pinnacle expression of this classic varietal.  Methinks some people in Bordeaux might take exception.

 

What’s the old Seinfeld joke about the Ford LTD?  “Limited.  The only thing limited about the LTD was how many they could sell.”

 

Price: An extremely reasonable $28 at BC Liquor.

 

Market Liquidity: It has limited appeal.

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.