CHALMERS Nero d’Avola 2009
This is a wine of mid-burgundy hue with dusty pink tones that made me seriously want to watch ‘Pretty in Pink’ because I kept picturing Molly Ringwald’s character fabulously suited up for her prom in that garish pink dress…you remember the one!
I think cured meat must be on my brain after spending last weekend making salami and capocollo. I got soft flushes of clean, freshly minced meat on the nose…something that to us non-vegetarians is a highly appealing scent. Combine that with inflections of bright red fruits and you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s pretty and mid-weighted. I expected more guts from this wine but it turns out I was quite pleased with the bloody, juicy, good acid drop before me. There’s a touch of black olive savouriness to it too and it matched perfectly well with my bistecca (steak), polenta and funghi (mushroom) dinner.
BORGOGNO Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2008
I think the fact that I just typed ‘Copped the pork’ instead of ‘Popped the cork’ to start my tasting note reveals that I have possibly had one glass too many. The story goes that I should actually be studying for my final ever exam next Thursday to finish my post-grad gig in Wine Business, yet instead I am coiled up on a blue garden chair inside my apartment with a generous glass of Borgogno Barbera d’Alba 2008 tucked nicely in my mitts. I promise myself that I will try to study after this, but the fact remains my brain is tainted. Tainted with this juicy, fresh plum wine that acted as the perfect condiment to my dinner of gnochetti sardi in a simple tomato sugo with un sacco (a lot) of pecorino grated on top. The colour reminds me so much of Johnny Depp’s partner Vanessa Paradis and her Chanel lipstick ad that I actually want to dip my finger in and blend it over my lips. Like all decent Barbera’s, the acidity is tart and lip-smackingly in check with that bountiful level of mid-palate flavour. This is not complex, but neither was my gnochetti sardi dish so no one is complaining.
TOOLANGI Reserve Chardonnay 2006
Yarra Valley, Victoria
People often harp on about Rick Kinzbrunner of Beechworth’s Giaconda winery and his ability to weave magic with a number of varieties. There is justification in such ramblings when a wine is put forth of such high quality. Mr Kinzbrunner used premium Yarra Valley fruit and made no excuse for the opulent style. Aged in oak for 18 months, it is swathed in layers of toasted pine nuts, smidgens of butterscotch and vanilla, spices and a robust mealy finish. When your winemaking ethos dictates that you will release a wine only when you are supremely proud of the result, you can be sure that Mr Kinzbrunner had no qualms when deciding whether to put his name on this bottle.
SHAW & SMITH Pinot Noir 2008
Adelaide Hills, South Australia
The 2008 vintage had a near perfect growing season before the mad rush to pick when a heatwave burst through the area in early March. The modest alcohol of 13% though is a pretty good indication that the Shaw & Smith team managed to shine through what was for some, a difficult harvest. The most distinctive feature of this wine is the generous palate weight, attributed to their miniscule yields. The palate has an appealing brightness surrounded by bold, red fruits like fresh cherries and blood plums. Time has been kind to this wine and allowed additional layers to gradually build in this punchy but silky Pinot Noir.
SHAW & SMITH M3 Chardonnay 2009
Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Twas the first day of winter when all through my house not a creature was stirring, not even a housemate…so I thought, why don’t I open a good bottle of wine, play some Rat Pack and eat some cheese? Not only that, I will eat enough cheese and quince paste so as to justify it as my dinner! Oh I would make my mother proud.
This is a wine that should not be drunk too cold. When the weather is already this fresh, a satisfactory cooling period would be during the walk from your darling local wine shop back to your home. I hardly ever end up chilling my Chardonnay because you get so much more of a heady aroma out of it when it’s just below room temperature.
The Shaw & Smith is all almonds and sprinklings of spice on the nose with a final flourish of buttered popcorn as a twist. It sticks a finger up to all the Aussie winemakers who currently claim their wines are now of the more in-vogue Chabliesque style of Chardonnay. Don’t even get me started.
So Chardonnay may not be your thing, right? I prefer to say it may not be your thing so far because you haven’t had the right one yet! There is no overuse of oak here. These guys know how to compliment their fruit with some winemaking tricks in such an elegant way that it really assists in elongating the ultimately delicate base material. With an acidity in check with the rest of the structure, this wine was a hit for all involved tonight. Me, myself and I.
TEUSNER The Dog Strangler Mataro 2010
Barossa Valley, South Australia
Do not think poorly of the Teusner gang just because they give their wine a name like the Dog Strangler. No animals were harmed in the making of this wine! ‘Dog Strangler’ is the name the French give to the brutish Mataro grape. This has pronounced briary notes, juicy plum and a firm earthiness whilst the palate borders on the earthier, slippery gravel path and provides enough bite to pair well with strong meats, even Schezuan steak.
JOSEF CHROMY Zdar Chardonnay 2006
The ‘Zdar’ label refers to a Czech village where Mr Chromy originated from. His affection for his homeland is encapsulated in this wine with the use of top quality parcels of fruit. The Chardonnay’s nose has a delicate touch of vanilla complemented by more tart citrus fruits. Full fermentation and lees stirring in barrel has meant there is a generous palate weight present but the naturally high acidity seen in many Tasmanian sites provides the backdrop for an elegant element of finesse.