My Wine Picks from the Australian Regional Round-Up Tasting #apluswines

January 28, evening at the Bushlen Mowatt Gallery. It was raining outside, but warm and bright inside the Gallery. This evening’s tasting was a regional round-up of Australian wines. The regions, and subregions, covered in this tasting were:

  • South Australia
    • Eden Valley
    • Clare Valley
    • Barossa Valley
    • Padthaway
    • Langhorne Creek
    • Coonawarra
    • McLaren Vale
    • Adelaide Hills
  • New South Wales
    • Hunter Valley
    • Mudgee
    • Orange
    • Riverina
  • Western Australia
    • Margaret River
  • Victoria
    • Mornington Peninsula
    • Goulburn Valley / Nagambie Lakes
    • Heathcote
    • Yarra Valley

There was at least one wine from each sub-region that evening.  I tried to sample every wine but there were too many, so if a wine you liked did not make my list, it could be that I did not have a chance to try it that evening.

South Australia produces most of Australia’s wines, and have many of the best known regions such as the Barossa Valley and the Coonawarra region.  My picks from SOUTH AUSTRALIA are:

Jim Barry ‘The Cover Drive’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Clare Valley) $28.99 – This wine was deep purple in the glass.  Ripe cassis fruit aroma.  Round mouthfeel with medium acidity and raspberry flavour.  A full bodied Cabernet that is more well-known in my opinion for riesling.

Yalumba “Patchwork” Barossa Shiraz 2008 (Barossa Valley) $25.99 – Another deep purple wine.  Rich cassis aroma.  Full body with coffee, black fruit and spice. Medium tannins.

Peter Lehmann “The Futures” Barossa Shiraz 2007 (Barossa Valley) $29.99 – More deep purple shiraz in the glass.  Meaty and chocolate on the nose. Spicy, chocolate and very fruity with firm tannins.

Bleasdale “Potts’ Catch” Verdelho 2009 (Langhorne Creek) $15.99 – Verdelho is a white grape that is originally from Portugal and used in making Madeira wine.  Wine produced from the Verdelho grape can be lemony, crisp and refreshing. It’s character can vary from herbaceous, when grown in cooler vineyards or picked earlier, to tropical fruit, when coming from warmer vineyards or when picked at full maturity. This wine was watery in colour. Some light lime and lees on the nose. Good acidity with apple, lime and spice.  Think about this one for summer.

Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2007 (Coonawarra) $40.99 -Vanilla and ripe plum aromas.  Soft and round in the mouth with sweet ripe cherry flavour and nice pepperiness. A highlight wine.

Chapel Hill Parsons Nose Shiraz 2008 (McLaren Vale) $19.99 – McLaren Vale is a bit cooler climate area in South Australia, but it seems to still be putting out quite full-bodied wines that also have good acidity to them too. This wine was deep purple in colour.  Lots of cassis fruit on the nose.  Good acidity with spiciness and cassis flavour.  Medium tannins.  The cassis just jumped out of the glass at you.  Quite nice and a great price.

Wirra Wirra “Dead Ringer” Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (McLaren Vale) $58.99 – This one might have been my overall favourite for the night. Capsicum upfront then some meatiness on the nose.  Tarry, espresso and capsicum and dark fruit on the palate.  Very full bodied.

d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2008 (McLaren Vale) $21.99 – It was nice to have a lighter bodied grenache after so many big Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was light garnet in colour.  Smoke and raspberry on the nose. Petrol, cassis, raspberry flavours.  Low tannins. Very refreshing.

Petaluma Chardonnay 2007 (Adelaide Hills) $35.97 – Light lemon in colour with a tinge of green. Light spice, citrus and oak on the nose.  Light body but full of flavour.  Spicy on the palate with long length.

My NEW SOUTH WALES wine picks:

Brokenwood Semillon 2008 (Hunter Valley) $23.99 – Semillon is a classic grape for the cooler climate Hunter Valley.  It can age for a long time and develop an oaked profile eventhough no oak has been applied.  I’ve become quite a fan of Brokenwood’s Semillon since I first tried it a few years ago.  Young, it is bright and refreshing.  Lovely to go with some shellfish.  The 2008 vintage was watery with a slight green hint in colour. Light citrus nose. Green pepper and jalapeno on the palate. Clean with great acidity.  Highly recommended.

Robert Oatley Chardonnay 2007 (Mudgee) $19.99 – Medium lemon in colour.  Vanilla and slight vegetal aromas. Round mouth feel with medium acidity.  Off dry with apple, oak and spice.

From the VICTORIA region, my wine picks:

De Bortoli Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2006 (Yarra Valley) $33.99 – Light red colour with slight bricking.  Burgundian nose with some cherry too. Earthy, meaty, and strawberry flavours.  Low tannins and a bit of spice.  I’d like to try this with some nice French cheese.

Upon reviewing my notes, it looks like Shiraz was the big winner for me at this tasting, and I hope it will be for you too. Enjoy!

has been cultivated in Portugal since at least the 1400s. It is one of the grapes long used in the making of Madeira.

Wine Australia’s Regional Roundup Tasting – Jan 28/11 Ticket Info

January 26 is Australia Day, equivalent to our July 1, Canada Day.  On Friday January 28, Wine Australia will be having their Regional Round-Up tasting.  Additional wine tastings of great Aussie wines will also be held in April and in June.  I have the details for all 3 events below.  If you want to attend next week’s event, buy your tickets soon before they sell out! Tickets are $49 each—it’s a bargain ticket price for the sheer number of wines that will be in the room.


Wine Australia’s Regional Round-Up

Date: Friday, January 28th, 2011
Time: 7:00pm – 9:30pm

Venue: Buschlen Mowatt Art Gallery
Tickets available here: House Wine

Celebrate Australia Day (which is on January 26th) by getting to know her more intimately. Offering an unending variety of wine, this sizable country is blessed with a great diversity of regions. Revisit familiar favourites like Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and Hunter Valley as well as acclaimed cooler areas such as Margaret River and Adelaide Hills. You will also have a chance to discover lesser-known regions including the Yarra Valley and Langhorne Creek. A great way to compare and contrast wines from cooler pockets with those from warmer climes—and there are over 60 wines to try!

A sneak peak at some of the wines…

  • Yabby Lake Pinot Noir 06
  • Camelback Block Two Shiraz 07
  • D’Arenberg the Money Spider Rousanne 08
  • Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 06
  • Jim Barry Cover Drive Cabernet 08
  • Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet 07
  • Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz 08
  • Brokenwood Semillon 08

WINERIES FOR THE REGIONAL ROUND-UP

Barossa Valley Estates Henry’s Drive Shingleback
Bleasdale Jacob’s Creek St. Hallett
Brokenwood Jim Barry Tahbilk
Camelback Kangarila Road Thorn-Clarke
Chapel Hill Katnook Estate Treasury
Cumulus Langmeil Wirra Wirra
d’Arenberg Petaluma Xanadu
Evans & Tate Peter Lehmann Yabby Lake
Gemtree Ring.bolt Yalumba
Grant Burge Robert Oatley Yering Station
Heggies Shaw + Smith

Event #2: Down Under Mix Up

Date: Friday, April 29th, 2011
Time: 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Details and Tickets available here: House Wine

Event #3: Summer Sipper

Date: Saturday, June 25th, 2011
Time: 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Details & Tickets available here: House Wine

Review of the Trialto Wine Group Fall Tour 2010 Tasting

This week I was invited to the Trialto Wine Group’s fall tour tasting of wines. There were winery representatives from 18 different wines around the world. I tried to taste wines from as many as possible, but ended up a few wineries short. The wineries that I did get to try wines were:
– Argiano Cantina Dal 1580 (Tuscany, Italy)
– Bodega Noemia (Patagonia, Argentina)
– Brokenwood (Hunter Valley, Australia)
– Chono (Chile)
– Delta Vineyards (Marlborough, New Zealand)
– Dog Point Vineyard (Marlborough, New Zealand)
– L’Ecole No 41 (Washington State)
– Pares Balta 1790 (Spain)
– Quinta Do Vale Meao (Portugal)
– Sperling Vineyards (Okanagan, BC)
– Zardetto (Prosecco, Italy)

A few of the highlights from these wineries for me were:

1. Argiano Brunello Di Montalcino D.O.C.G. 2005 ($58.99). This wine is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes. A very nice Old World style wine. Light cherry in colour. Cherry, sausage and vanilla on the nose. Medium body, red cherry flavour and drying tannins.

2. Bodega Noemia J Alberto 2008 ($58). This is a single vineyard Malbec. The vineyard and winery is certified biodynamic. This wine is deep purple in the glass. A very interesting nose with aromas of cassis, tar and cherries. Full bodied with a smooth round mouthfeel. Cassis, black plum, black cherry and quite spicy on the palate.

3. Brokenwood Shiraz 2009 (no pricing available). I spoke with the winemaker, Iain Riggs about this wine. He did mention that it was a cool year. Typically a cool year would make a more Old World style of Syrah, rather than a typical full-fruit Aussie Shiraz. When I tasted it, it had a bit of Old and New World blended together. It was quite full bodied, but did have some structure to it. Smoke, cherry and oak on the nose. Blueberries and vanilla on the palate with a red cherry finish. Medium acidity with medium tannins.

4. Delta Vineyards Hatter’s Hill Pinot Noir 2007 ($34.99). This wine was bursting with raspberry aroma and flavour. There was also some smokiness on the nose. Medium body, round mouthfeel and low tannins. There was also some cherry flavours to complement the raspberry flavour. I’d love to enjoy this wine with duck breast.

5. Dog Point Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 ($55). I really like Pinot Noir wines. This one was in a classic New World style. One thing in particular about this wine that is interesting is that it is 100% fermented with indigenous yeasts from the vineyard (no cultured yeast was added). This is always a risk for the winemaker, but maybe it really helps to bring out the terroir of the vineyard. This wine was light cherry coloured. Earthy and violet aromas on the nose. Light body, a bit of spice, strawberries, cherries and violet flavours. Delicious.

6. L’Ecole No 41 Pepper Bridge Apogee 2007 ($69.99). This wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, and lesser amounts of Merlot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc, from the Walla Walla Valley in Washington state. Deep purple colour in the glass. Plum, vanilla and some cedar on the nose. Quite drying tannins up front. Cedar and cherry flavour that lasted for a long time in your mouth. Very structured with a good fruit / tannin balance.

7. Sperling Vineyards Pinot Gris 2008 ($19.99). This is a new winery in Kelowna, BC. No tasting room yet, but they are located near the Tantalus winery. Pale lemon in colour. A very nice nose with grapefruit and flowers. Medium body, high acidity, with flavours of lemon rind, flowers and some spice. I look forward to visiting them when the tasting room opens.

That’s all for now. There were many more wines, but I’m trying to keep this brief, and not a novel. I will be entering in tasting notes for all the wines I tried on www.MyWinePal.com. I hope you have a chance to try some of these wines.

Celebrate Australia!

G’Day Mate and Happy Australia Day! On Saturday I was invited to the Celebrate Australia wine tasting, which was held in downtown Vancouver. 43 wineries were present, along with lots of food, and music. Each of the wineries offered 3-5 wines, so there were about 200 wines to sample this evening. I didn’t make it through all of the wines, but found some very nice wines.

Australian wines over 10 years ago were in the sub $20 category and were predominantly full bodied, full fruited red wines. Now countries like Chile and Argentina are filling that price range. Australia is now into the $20 and up category, and rightly so, as they have some premium wine makers and wine regions.

Western Australia, particularly around Margaret River, are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines. More Old World in style and restrained, compared to the rest of Australia and the other New World countries. The Barossa Valley and Coonawarra are still producing big cabernet sauvignon and shiraz, but there tends to be more structure than in the past. The Yarra Valley is becoming more well known around the world for their cool climate pinot noir and chardonnay.

So you are probably hoping for a few wine picks from me, and here they are:

Brokenwood Hunter Valley Semillon 2007, $26.99. If you have never tried Semillon (a white varietal), you have to try this one. It has a citrusy, apple, tarry nose. Excellent acidity with citrus/lime flavours.

d’Arenberg The Custodian McLaren Vale Grenache 2005, $24.99. Wonderful toffee, tar, raspberry and strawberry fruit with sweet, ripe tannins.

Heggies Eden Valley Chardonnay 2006, $27.99. This wine has nice acidity and minerality. Don’t look for an overly oaked, buttery chardonnay here.

Enjoy!