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Showing posts with label Barossa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barossa. Show all posts

07 April 2018

Grenache / Garnacha: Australia, France (Roussillon), Spain (Catalonia).

Wine Australia says that Grenache 'was the most widely planted variety,' but the amount of Grenache crushed in Aus in 2012 was sadly one-fifth of the quantity harvested in 1979. Meaning somewhere along the line, Australian winemakers fell out of love with the grape, combined with the drop in demand for traditional fortified 'Port styles' based on the variety, which must have been removed in favour of Shiraz, for example among others, and/or very old vines died and weren't replaced. The Australians also claim they have 'some of the oldest vine varietals in the world, red and white,' in South Australia essentially where a successful quarantine policy has kept out the vine-destroying phylloxera louse, including cherished senior-citizen Grenache in the McLaren Vale.

04 November 2015

Australia: Gatt Wines

From winetitles.com.au
Owner Ray Gatt and his team - headed up by winemaker David Norman and vineyard guru Gil Rogers - are based in famous wine town Tanunda, South Australia; and the vineyards are found in the Eden and Barossa Valleys. Ray's 'High Eden' vines lie at around 500 metres altitude, one of the highest sites in the area I'm told, which suits Riesling well and nurtures a cooler climate style of Shiraz. On the red front, I focused on his Shirazes and Cabs at this particular tasting (in Dublin), as part of a themed approach to hundreds of bottles lined up; but Gatt does also make Grenache and Sangiovese sourced from their Barossa plantings, as well as new additions Tempranillo and Nebbiolo. The 2007s and 2008s featured below are probably their first vintage releases by the way: he bought Eden Springs vineyard in 2006 (established in 1972). Some of these wines are quite pricey, but Ray doesn't produce very much of certain old vine batches. I've indicated cellar door prices in Aus dollars: GBP retail would be about half this roughly, and € in Ireland about two-thirds. More @ www.gattwines.com (but not much: follow the link under the photo to a good article on Wine Titles' site).

Accent Pinot Gris 2014 Eden Valley (13.5% abv) - Honeyed juicy and spicy, lightly 'balsamic' too, attractive style with crisp-ish vs fatter texture. A$20
Accent Viognier 2014 Barossa Valley (13%) - Enticing pure peachy style, quite soft and juicy with a touch of bite and nice 'sweet' fruit. A$20
High Eden Riesling 2014 (11.5%) - Light and delicate with juicy citrus and zingy 'chalky' mouth-feel, crisp length although soft too. A$25
High Eden Sparkling Shiraz 2007 - Drier than many in this quirky style, showing savoury developed flavours livened up with fizz, attractive and different. A$25
Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (14%) - Nice maturing cassis aromas and flavours, tasty sweet/savoury fruit with a little grip still, well-balanced and drinking now but has some power left in it. A$55
High Eden Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - Leafy cassis notes leading to chunkier richer ripe berry fruit vs a touch of oak, nicely balanced though with rounded mouth-feel vs light grip and reasonably subtle overall. A$55
High Eden Shiraz 2009 (13.5%) - Delicious peppery herby black cherry nose, maturing savoury flavours too vs minty tones and lush dark fruit with a bit of grip on its long finish. Very nice. A$55
Barossa Shiraz 2008 - Meaty vs sweet fruit nose, tasty mature savoury notes vs dark cherry and spice, lingering touch of tannin; lovely balance though. A$55
Old Vine Barossa Shiraz 2010 - Fair amount of choco oak to start vs very rich dark and peppery fruit, concentrated / extracted, quite oaky still vs good depth and power, closes up on the finish. Time will tell... A$100

11 March 2013

Grenache: Australia - Seppeltsfield & Kilikanoon

Nathan Waks oiling his cello with
Grenache: www.kilikanoon.com.au
You've guessed it... "aka further adventures from the World Grenache Competition..." held in France a few weeks ago, where I was one of the (many) judges. This time, the limelight neatly shifts continents to Australia and a guy called Nathan Waks in particular, who came over from Oz for the event and brought a few Grenache wines and some interesting stories with him. Nathan, who speaks pretty fluent French by the way (much to the pleasant surprise of the probably majority French audience), I guess thanks to a career as a professional musician having travelled extensively around Europe on tour, is one of the owners and directors of these two wineries and associated brands; the rather famous Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley and perhaps less well-known Kilikanoon in the Clare Valley. The latter was only established in 1997 by Kevin Mitchell; the former purchased (literally lock, stock and barrel by the sound of it) from the Fosters Group in 2007, although has been around since the mid 19th Century...
Seppeltsfield specialises in fortified Grenache-based wines, some of them very old indeed. Nathan told us they have over 100 ha (250 acres) of "mostly old Grenache, about 50 to 80 and some 100+ year-old ungrafted bush vines, as there's no phylloxera in South Australia." There's also Shiraz plus some of the Port variety Touriga and Sherry variety Palomino planted here. The historic winery was built in 1888 and was then the world's largest 'gravity-flow' winery (now the norm for most new-build cellars where you have the space to do it, constructed into cut-out hillsides or huge excavated holes to create different levels/heights to allow a natural winemaking process going from top to bottom), with 120 concrete open-fermenters on six storeys! There are seven million litres stored here, "although not all ours - some of it is Penfolds, which was Fosters' when they sold it... complicated..." There are all sorts of styles found there; some are aged in "loft-like (spaces) for a 100 years, or in corrugated iron (sheds), which get very hot and cold (over the course of the year) so the wine gets very oxidized, with lots of evaporation; sometimes it reduces down to 10%-15% of the original amount. It's not very economical!" he explained.
Presumably that's why they sell the 100 year-old (see my note on their extraordinary treacley and intense 1913 Para below) for $1000 (Aus) a bottle! Production of this wine started in 1878, "and we still have every vintage for over 130 years." Other fortified wines they make include classic Tawny styles such as their Para Grand Tawny (also see below) - from Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre with a minimum average age of 10 years, "although much older due to the solera system we use (as for Sherry production), but we can't prove it..." - and Colheita wines too (Vintage Tawny). At Kilikanoon in Clare, they make two varietal Grenache reds (plus a couple of GSM / SG blends and a rosé), one of which won a Gold medal in the competition - again, I've tasting-noted these below. I've also got a bottle of their 2009 Riesling under the stairs - will report back with my impressions on that (I'm keeping it for a special tasting). These wines are distributed by Negociants International in Australia, so presumably are via their UK and US offices too: more info @ www.seppeltsfield.com.au.

1913 Seppeltsfield Para ("100 years in oak", 21% alc.) - bizarre cocktail of cooked molasses, red Madeira and roasted/charred walnuts; very rich sweet and intense, super concentrated and long on the palate with power, warmth and very complex flavours. Wow: not sure I'll be able to taste anything else after this!
Para Grand Tawny (20% alc.) - aromatic and nutty with intense rich nose and palate, again some of those complex aged/oxidized flavours with a bit of oomph and extracted caramel finish; delicious. About $30.
2009 Kilikanoon The Prodigal Grenache - touches of oak with savoury and peppery edges, ripe sweet fruit vs grainy firm and solid mouth-feel still; good wine. Gold medal. $30
2009 Kilikanoon The Duke Grenache - still showing a fair bit of oak but this is richer yet firmer too with attractive sweet vs peppery fruit, nice grip and power on the finish. $59

Other World Grenache Competition medal winners from Australia (all three Silver medal)The Absconder 2010, Wirra Wirra Vineyards, McLaren Vale; The Blewitt Springs Grenache 2009, D'Arenberg, McLaren Vale; Yangarra High Sands Grenache 2010, Jackson Wine Estates Australia, McLaren Vale.
More on the WGC on my blogs: part 1 (overview), part 2 (Roussillon & Chateauneuf-du-Pape), part 3 (Cannonau di Sardegna), part 4 (Spain). And a couple from South Africa here.
Lots more on Australian Grenache there (Sept. 2012)

03 September 2012

Australia: Semillon

From tyrrells.com.au
I'll kick-off these random thoughts on how Australian winemakers have been quietly busy creating palate-provoking nectar out of the not terribly well-known Semillon variety (apart from in a blend with Chardy or Sauvignon blanc perhaps), by pinching a quote from Wine Australia's catalogue blurb from their big Dublin tasting a few months ago. It serves very well as a spot-on introduction: "Riesling (link takes you to a post on Aus Riesling) has a bad reputation with wine drinkers, Semillon has no reputation!"
To address this lack of knowledge, awareness or interest, there was an enthusiastic tutored tasting of Aus Semillon, going back to the 2000 vintage, led by Raymond Blake, wine editor of Ireland's Food & Wine magazine. I've tasted a few in my time, but this was a great reminder of what remarkable white wines, dry and sweet, can be made from Semillon in Australia, especially in the Hunter and Barossa Valleys and by certain wineries who really have mastered a distinctive style. Perhaps the problem is, when dry, it often makes a rather uncompromisingly 'steely' and subtle verging on plain un-obvious wine, austere even, that doesn't always reveal much without a few years bottle ageing bringing out lots of complex quirky flavours. Or, as a lush sweet wine, well, from just being very sweet really, which isn't many people's cup of grapes. Its typical very crisp acidity comes from early picking to preserve this age-bestowing freshness, which helps the wine blossom in bottle and also gives lighter alcohol levels of around 11% to 12%.
Anyway, here are my impressions of the six wines we tasted, all produced by pretty famous and widely-stocked names: Peter Lehmann, McWilliams, Tyrrell and De Bortoli. My, as ever very personal (!) tasting notes reveal the kind of sometimes unique characters, aromas and flavours that Semillon wines typically have or develop over time: toasty or toasted (yet these wines have no or little oak I believe), nutty, honeyed, oily, steely, lean, tight... Retail prices (Euro) and stockists are for Ireland, although these wines should also be readily available in the UK, US etc. Which goes to show what a bargain some of them are too.

2005 Peter Lehmann Art Series Classic Semillon Barossa (11.5% alc) - surprisingly pale for a 2005, toasted yeasty nutty and honeyed on the nose; quite rich and oily on the palate with a steely 'chalky' side too, turning creamier on the finish vs still fresh, tight and lean. Nice mix of lively, elegant and mature. €10 imported by Comans Wholesale, Dublin.
2001 Peter Lehmann Reserve Semillon Barossa (12.5% alc) - now called 'Margaret' Semillon I'm told. Not much deeper in colour really, toastier and nuttier with oily and 'charred' lees edges; rounded toasty and rich vs again quite delicate, steely and dry finish; lovely toasted maturing notes vs still crisp and lean underneath, more concentrated and finer than the above.
2005 McWilliams Elizabeth Semillon Hunter (12%) - a tad more golden perhaps, toasty yeasty honeyed tones lead on to crisp vs rounded creamy oily mouth-feel; quite complex showing good balance of toasted oaty maturing flavours vs still has steely bite. Was on "half-price" offer at Tesco for €10.
2005 McWilliams Lovedale Semillon Hunter (11.5%) - more yellowy in colour, bready yeasty aromas with delicate biscuit flavours vs crisp green fruit; lean and tight palate vs lightly oily maturity, more closed up and youthful even, long steely finish. €20+ imported by PLB Group (England).
2000 Tyrrell VAT 1 Semillon Hunter (11%) - relatively pale for its age, not very revealing at first showing light honey and apple notes; juicy steely with delicate crisp mouth-feel, zesty sherbet edges vs toasty yeasty touches on its long finish. Can't believe it's 2000 vintage, still young in some ways. Barry & Fitzwilliam, Cork.
2007 Deen de Bortoli VAT 5 Botrytis Semillon Riverina (11%) - exotic spicy apricot, sultana, orange peel and jasmine tea (!) aromas; very enticing lush nose and palate vs underlying orange zest, dried fruits and pineapple vs subtle acidity and length, rich yet elegant too. Lovely sweet wine. €10-€12 half-bottle Febvre Wines, Dublin.

More on some of these producers and lots of other Aus wine HERE.


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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.