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Wine Reviews August

9 Aug
2011

BY FARR Chardonnay 2007

Geelong, Victoria

RRP $55

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Wine Reviews July

12 Jul
2011

SHIRVINGTON Cabernet Sauvignon

McLaren Vale, South Australia

RRP $55-$65

Hmm…that name…Shirvington. Doesn’t it make you think of the Australian track athlete Matt Shirvington and the package that was so infamously publicized on television years ago?

Or was that just me getting a little excited? Anyway, the joke beckons, but I will save that until last.

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Wine Reviews June

2 Jun
2011

CHALMERS Nero d’Avola 2009

Mildura, Victoria

RRP $29

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!

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Wine Reviews May

3 May
2011

GIACONDA Aeolia Roussanne 2008

Beechworth, Victoria

Photograph courtesy of the Wine House

Not everybody is privy to the fact that Rick Kinzbrunner of Giaconda has a gorgeous 100% Roussanne wine up his sleeves that he has been making since 2000. Some would say it’s a bit old-school, then rub their hands together as they wait in anticipation for the arrival of his ‘should be interesting‘ Nebbiolo.
Sorry, sidetracked for a moment there!

Back to this wine in particular, it is made from the Nantua and Warner vineyards in Beechworth and called Aeolia. That’s right, Ae-o-li-a. I’m not referring to the pigmented aureole around your nipple nor the Italian garlic mayonnaise aioli. Aeolia is a wine that can go the distance (such as the superb vintage of 2005 Aeolia), or is heavenly in its youth (like the focused 2008 Aeolia). Core to both wines is a heady perfume of honeydew and cashews, a hint of exotic spice, followed with a mouth-filling, tropical fruit, minerally, textural palate that continues to surprise with its length. Who ever thought Roussanne could be so good looking on its own!

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Wine Reviews March

18 Mar
2011

WOODLANDS ‘Chloe’ Reserve Chardonnay 2007

Margaret River, Western Australia

 

There is a definite reason why, like acclaimed wine critics, I have decided to praise this wine so highly: Woodlands have performed a triumphant feat with this sumptuous Reserve Chardonnay! The striking base of white stone fruits and grapefruit acidity was given real drive and length using the battonage technique, which has then added the sublime textural element and persistency in flavour that I am ultimately bragging about. This is one Margaret River Chardonnay that not only makes you sigh, but also makes you sing.

JEANNERET Big Fine Girl Riesling 2008

Clare Valley, South Australia

The Question: What do you get when you cross a Swiss chemist with the Clare Valley, a love of grapes and a beautiful dream?

The Answer: The beginning of Jeanneret where the son, Ben Jeanneret, now runs this kooky business. I introduce to you one of his offspring, the Big Fine Girl Riesling from the 2008 vintage. Appropriately named because she speaks from the more luscious side of the Riesling family with bucketloads of juicy apple and lime fruits with an acidity described as ‘refreshing and bracing as a mountain stream’. Now this is wine with personality!

NGERINGA Chardonnay 2008

Mt Barker, South Australia

 

Our vineyards are the essence of our wine and the love of what we do, and biodynamics is the path along which we allow their character to shine.” Erinn and Janet at Ngeringa Vineyards wear their poetic hearts on their sleeves and put their passion into the vines and the resultant wines. The minimalist approach leads to no forced additions to the grape juice and it is wild yeast fermented. It is showing excellent intensity of flavour with tart grapefruit, white stone fruits and a thrust of spicy oak. After two years in bottle, this wine is now in perfect harmony. Drink now or in the next couple of years.

SORRENBERG Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010

Beechworth, Victoria

 

Here is the latest release from the man whom in my eyes can do no wrong by stylistically breaking every rule in the Australian wine book. This is a rocking blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon with the former getting a bold eight hours of skin contact before pressing! This, along with the large barrel fermentation and extended lees contact, has assisted in giving this wine real mid-palate drive and weight complemented by the naturally refreshing, tight acidity. The finish is strong and with such unique structure and overall finesse, this wine exudes Sorrenberg’s character in bucket loads.

Wine Reviews February

18 Feb
2011

TEUSNER Riebke Shiraz 2009

Barossa Valley, SA, Australia

The Riebke is such a sterling performer which makes the consumer thankful to the gang at Teusner for continuing to make it the little affordable quaffer year after year. It is really approachable being mouthwateringly juicy, packed full of flavour and perfectly balanced from acidity through to the firm finish. Winemaker Kym Teusner has a pretty good handle on these vines and has certainly done the Riebke Brothers proud.

DI LENARDO Pinot Grigio IGT 2009

DOC Grave & DOC Aquileia, Friuli, Italy

 

Massimo Di Lenardo is a man of unique character…Aren’t all Italian men for that matter? :-S Regardless, his wines are consistently beautiful, harvested by hand and lovingly made. His winery is located in the Friuli region in the north-east of Italy, in vineyards renowned for producing world-class Pinot Grigio. The palate is juicy with plenty of pear, a twist of lemon and a hint of cashew and a bouquet of Acacia florals, whilst the finish is dry, the acid streamlined and an elegant lingering flavour reminiscent of pear syrup and quince peel. Sure, this is a wine made for an export market, but it accurately targets and pleases Pinot Grigio lovers of a more textural and pear-fruited style.

TYRRELL’S Vat 1 Semillon 2000

Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia


I can’t rave enough about this wine. After doing a vertical tasting of Vat 1 Semillons at my work, I was rapped to find out that patience had paid off. The 2000 has gallantly ridden out of its adolescent maturation phase and now boasts gorgeous toasty notes, cashew and hints of beeswax with a still beautifully textured and restrained palate. The finish is long with sumptuous honeydew notes and leaves you asking your host, “Please sir, I want some more!”

Cheese Match: Try this wine with a soft Brie, perhaps combined in a gorgeous roasted pear, brie and rocket salad

Wine Reviews January

18 Jan
2011

SORRENBERG Gamay 2009

Beechworth, Victoria

Sorrenberg’s Barry Morey’s humble offerings earn praise year after year, whether it is for his Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon, or his stunning Chardonnay which I tend to pine for every so often. His latest Gamay continues this strong tradition. Intriguingly it contains a small portion of Pinot Noir to combine two French styles of Beaujolais and Burgundy. The result is seamless but remarkably distinct with red berry aromatics tied to a hint of fresh cherry. For something made in the depths of a cellar underneath Barry’s house, the wine is a true delight said by those who know all about it.

S C PANNELL Nebbiolo 2007

Adelaide Hills, South Australia


In January 2011 Steve Pannell spread the Aussie love with his ‘All for One Wine’ campaign promoting Australian wines. With so many grape variety options here in Australia and to align myself for a moment with SC Pannell’s thinking, why would I venture overseas just for the day?! (Rheotorical question DO NOT ANSWER!).

OK, so be warned. I am a self-confessed Neb-head. For a variety that some would say is more easily misunderstood than appreciated, I am an ardent advocate of the Nebbiolo grape. The 2007 is classic in style from the autumnal colour, to the delicate red fruits that are beginning to edge into a more savoury tone. The picture is completed by the wonderfully high acidity that is balanced by its lashing of tannin and palate weight. Steve Pannell really is an exceptional producer of this complex variety. Share the Aussie love if you wish.

VINEA MARSON Sangiovese 2008

Heathcote, Victoria


“When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine…” – The dear Dean Martin

As the Best Italian Varietal for the 2011 Good Wine Guide, Mario Marson’s most recent vintage provides the perfect template from which to benchmark great Aussie Sangiovese. A backbone of freshly picked cherries with hints of bramble and a lick of vanilla are complemented by a taut acidity, firm tannic kick and almond meal finish. Get on it.

GROSSET Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Clare Valley, South Australia


For their nineteenth vintage, Grosset has continued to drive for distinction, undoubtedly (and enviably) having one of the best styles in the country. Made from 60% Clare Valley Semillon and 40% Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc, this blend never disappoints in its flavoursome offering of tight citrus and pristine stone fruit perfumes. The overall lemon core provides the generous length and mouthwatering texture. A wine of this intensity will further evolve in the glass so don’t drink it too quickly!

Wine Reviews November

18 Nov
2010

FRANKLAND ESTATE Isolation Ridge Riesling 2010

Frankland River, Western Australia


The hardworking team at Frankland Estate have been showcasing the best from this prime vineyard site at Isolation Ridge, which sits on an iron­stone ridge with ancient duplex soils of gravel and loam. Not only does it grow their stunning Isolation Ridge Shiraz, but it is also home to their dry-grown vines that are consistently producing a beautiful Riesling. There are graceful floral notes that then pull you into its juicy citrus palate and distinctly spicy ironstone minerality. An absolute cracker from these guys, and one with the bonus potential to age just as distinguishingly.

PUNTERS CORNER Spartacus Reserve Shiraz 2002

Coonawarra, South Australia


Well we all got a bit excited this week at my work when we decided to pull the almighty Spartacus from out of the cellar! It collected a number of accolades back in the day when it was first released, promising the prospect of ageing beautifully. Do you know what? It is still a commanding wine. There is an unmissable dense blackberry and spice core but the tannins have now smoothed to provide a more refined and delicate finish. I’m sure there’d be plenty of people willing to be a slave to such a stellar wine…

Note: You have failed if you did not get the Spartacus reference there…

Welcome to Henschke Park, Sam Neill!

27 May
2010
WARNING! Please refrain from touching the wild animals in the cellar on your journey through Henschke Park. We hold no responsibility should you be sprayed with wine, trip over a hose, hear loud noises known as Triple J, or mistake a female animal for a male.
Jack with Sam & Gazza

That’s right Ladies & Gentlemen, today we had an honourable guest arrive at the winery. He has his own winery in NZ called Two Paddocks, and is these days more famously known for his red meat endorsements rather than latest acting accolades. Mind you, he will always hold a special place in my heart for his courageous battles against the animal kingdom in Jurassic Park! I am talking about none other than Sam Neill!

I’ll admit, he looked like an old man coming out of a camping trip…and he is an old man at that, but he was pretty lovely. So lovely in fact that he was nice enough to have a snapshot taken with us goofbags (from left: Gazza, Cynthia (cellar door), Sammy boy, Susannah (PR & Marketing) and Elaine (cellar door). I suppose I shouldn’t pick on his attire considering my own manly threads (shakes head).

Vintage 2010 Staff Awards

6 May
2010

CREATED BY KRYSTINA MENEGAZZO (TWEEDLEDEE) + KYLIE HENDERSON (TWEEDLEDUM)

For his continued presence, early starts and committed work ethic during the arduous hours of vintage

THE MOST COMMITTED WORKER AWARD
ANDREAS HENSCHKE
TRACK: “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” –
The Offspring

For his totally distinguishable murmurings and particular sayings throughout vintage

THE ELOCUTIONIST AWARD
PETER GRAETZ
TRACK: “Working Class Man” – Jimmy Barnes

For caring for all living and injured creatures and her abiding attention to the vines

A DEGREE IN VETERINARY SCIENCE AND THE DR DOLITTLE AWARD
PRUE HENSCHKE
TRACK: “I Love My Dog” – Cat Stevens

For her gracefulness in the laboratory and ensuring the glassware inventory was replenished sooner than later

THE LADY WITH THE MOST DELICATE TOUCH AWARD
KYLIE HENDERSON
TRACK: “Every Little Thing She Does Is  Magic” – The Police

For setting a chic and high standard in the fashion stakes for the other cellar hands to follow

THE SEXIEST LEGS/HOT PANTS AWARD
HARRY
TRACK: “Hero” – Enrique Inglesias

For providing the ladies at C A Henschke & Co with ample ogling opportunities, we thank you

THE GASSIEST EMPLOYEE BUT WITH THE MOST  FIRM/TIGHT/PEACHY/PINCH-ABLE/HOT ARSE AWARD
JACK WEEDON
TRACK: “I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt”

For his in-your-face humour, quick remarks and routine comedy act with Fella in the lab

THE BEST COMEDY ACT AT THE FRINGE FESTIVAL AWARD
JOSHUA PFEIFFER
TRACK: “Life In The Fast Lane” – The Eagles

For his philandering ways with an ample collection of women that kept him otherwise occupied outside of vintage hours

THE CASANOVA AWARD
STUART DUDINE
TRACK: “Just a Gigolo” + “Stayin’ Alive” –   The Bee Gees

For her abandonment of care to the wind and her elegant, some might say, superior driving skills on the road and forklift

THE KAMIKAZE AWARD
KRYSTINA MENEGAZZO
TRACK: “Most People I Know Think That I’m  Crazy” – The Atzecs

For his perpetual attempts to talk in a French or Italian accent and his ventures into ethnic cuisine with canned ‘rich tomato’ spaghetti

THE WANNABE WOG AWARD
PAUL HAMPTON
TRACK: “The Zorba Dance” – LCD

For his daily comedic routine with too many puns to remember, such as Neville’s ‘road-tested’ or ‘rocky road’ Grenache

THE BEST DAD JOKES AWARD
STEPHEN HENSCHKE
TRACK: “Praise You” – Fatboy Slim

 

Last night…I popped my Grange cherry!

5 May
2010

We did it inconspicuously at the restaurant called 1918 during the end-of-vintage dinner being celebrated for Henschke Winery where I’ve been working the last few months. If I had to describe the experience with him for the first time, I would say he was amazing. Did I mention that I had him alongside the 2005 Henschke Hill of Grace to compare for good measure? Both left a lasting impression and were of a very high standard, although if truth be told, upon tasting them blind, I commented that the Henschke Hill of Grace was doing more wondrous things to my mouth than the Penfolds Grange at this stage. So there you have it.

Schnitty night

15 Apr
2010

The last schnitty nite (schnitzels) was held at the Eden Valley Pub. This time we went closer to home and went to my ‘local’ pub Angus Park in Nuriootpa. We were a large group of 14 arriving all together and having a drink at the bar before sitting down for a relaxed work dinner, generously covered by Henschke Winery.

Schnitties were nice all around, I had mine with a Diane sauce on Fella’s recommendation seeing as normally I like mine just plain with perhaps a slice of lemon. It only gave them more reason to call me a Mexican because I was not in the habit of putting some bizarre topping like ‘prawns and bernaise’ or ‘Hawaiian’ mix on top of the meat!
Wines were a real treat and I have listed below the highlights for your viewing pleasure:
2008 Shadowfax Chardonnay East Gippsland
2008 RK Chardonnay Beechworth (Giaconda’s)
2002 Cullen’s Chardonnay Margaret River
2005 Fossati Dolcetto d’Alba DOC by Brezza Giacomo e Figli, Barolo
2005 Domaine Brusset Gigondas AOC Les Hauts De Montmirail
2002 Rosemount Estate Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon Mountain Estate
2005 Rockford’s Basket Press Shiraz
1986 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon
1975 Wolf Blass Shiraz + 25% Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Shadowfax Fortified Shiraz (vintage port aka ‘Farnacles’)
Yummmmmmmo

Ola’ it’s Gazza bucketing out Spa 13 – Tempranillo!

14 Apr
2010

Easter Sunday with the Henschke’s

4 Apr
2010

I was meant to have the morning free mind you, but since I had accepted Stephen’s invitation to dine at his home for lunch earlier, the winemakers asked if I would mind coming in the morning to help them out with the work that needs to be done. No worries said Gazza.

I had spent the night prior preparing my Italian biscotti, or as Fella kept referring to them as petit fours, even though I constantly reminded him that I was only preparing three variations of sweet nibbles. They ranged from praline, mamma’s buoni ma brutti biscotti, to nonna’s butter biscuits. I’ll admit, I was rapped with myself for how mum’s biscotti and the praline came out, but nonna’s were a little crumbly and did not look one iota like the ones she makes. I suppose you’d call them ‘rustic’ if we were trying to be coy about it.

I used my three antique plates I found and purchased a month ago at the Angaston Abbey to arrange my biscotti on and brought them over Sunday morning to the Henschke residence. We worked all morning but it wasn’t really work, I mean, we were having fun at the same time, and it is always more relaxed on the weekends.

Lunchtime rolled around and we got changed out of our manly and smelly work-gear to head over to Prue & Stephen’s house. It’s an old stone cottage with a magnificent garden, which Prue gave me a tour of later on. We had sparkling to start off with and met Prue’s sister with her research colleagues from London and then we all moved out to the pool area where the table was set up.

Lunch was totally worth the work stint in the morning. We had some fresh prawns to start off with and always a nice bottle of wine on the table. Then for main we had duck, with home grown chat potatoes, with home grown beans and shelled hazelnuts (courtesy of their son Andreas), heavenly cooked mushrooms and a simple green salad.

After playing a few games around the table I got off chatting to their daughter Justine who is also my age. The biscotti came out and I was paranoid they wouldn’t like them, but they all adored the display and after I’d explained each one they all had a story to them which I’m assuming made them more approachable! They loved them! The English people raved about nonna’s ‘rustic’ biscotti, and they all loved the half a kilo of nuts I’d mentioned I used for the buoni ma brutti, and the praline was awesome. It was pretty much all eaten anyway so that was the goal, wasn’t it!

Hot-air ballooning with the Henschke’s over the Eden Valley

3 Apr
2010

About to take off: 7:15am

Dawn breaks in the Eden Valley

The Hill of Grace Vineyard
Captain Andreas (son of Stephen Henschke) touchdowns and we swap crew

Beautiful colours looking up

Stuart and I follow the balloon closely by car as the boys contour fly and skim the valley

The balloon lands roughly and Stuart and I scan the landscape in search of the boys in some paddock

 

Packing the balloon up in an old lady’s cow paddock
THE END…great day

You’d be crazy to work over Easter, wouldn’t you?!

1 Apr
2010

While most people would dread the thought of working over the Easter long-weekend, I have two reason why it is not bothering me:

1) Saturday morning: Stephen Henschke and his son Andreas are taking me up in their hot air balloon! Andreas is getting his licence so he will be the pilot
2) Sunday, Stephen has invited me over to his place with the winemakers and his family for Easter which I have graciously accepted. I spoke to his wife Prue and am planning on making some delectable Italian goodies for coffees afterwards!
Let the good times roll!

The Temp Goddess

31 Mar
2010

That is me I am referring to: The Almighty Temp Goddess

Tis my new name amongst the winemaking crew!
Why?
Because Fella & Josh, the two winemakers, could not be bothered looking after the batches of Tempranillo (Spanish grape varietal) we have in the cellar, and Jack is too busy with all the Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon to watch, so they have asked me to be the Temp Goddess and watch over these grapes during their important fermentation life cycle.
I saw right through their laziness and when they questioned me I said, “Is this just because you two are too lazy to do it? ….silence…I was right.
I don’t mind it though, it gives me a purpose first thing in the mornings when I arrive, to go off and check all the batches. There are two lots in Chep blue bins which have fermented right through already (because the Saturday when only the winemakers were in they neglected them and didn’t monitor their progress…not my fault), so it’s just cap-management on those. And then I have two 200L mini-rotofermenters, one which has whole-berries, the other with crushed berries. There are two milkvats, one with 10-15% Shiraz whole-bunch grapes in there, a Spa (open-fermenter), and finally, one undergoing carbonic maceration, or maceration carbonique as the French would say! It is where we have put whole bunches into a vessel and have it filled with CO2 (carbon dioxide) gas. We will crush the berries eventually once a spritzy taste is present in the grapes. Yummy stuff!
Eventually when the Nebbiolo comes in (a grape variety famous in the Piemonte region of Italy where I worked two years ago), I am hoping I will be in charge of that too. I’ve already proposed to them we work a trial at least with two small batches doing on in the old-style way, and one in the modern way, which I’m glad to say has been received positively!
Temp Goddess…so what’s next…The Nebb Guardian….?

Skidmarks…

26 Mar
2010

Not the ones in your undies…ewwwww

The one’s on the roads I mean.
Today was a bad day for the roads. This morning on the way to work there were three of us one car in front of the other on our way towards Keyneton when right in the middle of the bitumen sat (yes sat) a sheep. Swerrrrrve! Kamikaze sheep at 6:50am is a little scary!
Then on the way home from work I was heading around a wide bend when my car started veering onto the dirt and as I turned to adjust myself my car swung to the side, turned 180 degrees, chewed up a massive cloud of dirt and left me facing the other way on the opposite side of the road. I wasn’t shaken up, and luckily there was no on-coming traffic, just Stuart from work behind me who pulled over and made sure I was ok, wiping a generous licking of dust off the side of my car. From the burn marks my tyres left it doesn’t look like I turned 180 degrees somehow. But it was all slow motion and I just tried to control my car so I wasn’t hit the barbed wire fences and just keep skidding along the road. It was the right thing to do, and I’m OK. First little incident for my little car. At least no damage was done to it or myself.
On a much brighter note, at work today the boys asked me if I would like to be the Temp Goddess…the Temp Goddess? I hear you say. We had Tempranillo grapes come in yesterday and we’ve sectioned them off to be fermented and made in several ways so since Jack is busy with the other reds, it is going to be my duty to make these my babies and care for them. Will keep you updated on how I fare!
Over and out! Buon weekend

Gazza’s boots are full of wine :-(

22 Mar
2010

Whoooaaa OK so I just finished work at 8:15pm. It didn’t seem like it would become such a long day, yet it did. Things just happen like that.

Alas, today the Gazza Gone Wild in the Muscat Undie Parade is no more. I arrived in the morning to see the lid on top of the fruit bin about three inches up on top of the rising grapes. So I had to use a bucket and put half the bin into another, meaning I can now get in there without having to take my shorts off. We were all a little disappointed by that news. It was good fun while it lasted though!
This evening we crushed some Mount Edelstone fruit that came in and I was helping Jacky boy outside then decided I would put the heading-down boards on top of the grapes, seeing as I’d done it before one time with winemaker Fella. It seemed like it would be no problem. Stephen Henschke saw me and decided to give me a hand, even though I told him he shouldn’t because he was wearing a nice blue shirt and pants.
As I traversed over the sides of the fermenter there was one next to me, Fermenter 5, still bubbling away with Cabernet from Blenky. The boards I’d laid out on the side were waxed and had a little water on them meaning when I stepped on them (when I should have stepped over them), I slipped, and right in front of Stephen, I fell onto the boards and into the wine of Fermenter 5. Lucky for the boards otherwise there could have been more damage. I didn’t hurt myself, I assured Stephen, but my shorts have one purple leg, and my boots and socks were drenched in Cabernet ferment. Put simply, I smell like wine….a lot!
The boys had a good laugh, I think I am the first person to officially ‘fall in’ this vintage. I knew it would be me. I blame it on the fact I wasn’t wearing my glasses at the time. Whoops. The second fermenter I boarded up after that went fine, no dramas, and I had put my glasses on for that, so for now I am sticking to that theory….and not clumsiness!

Photo update and tales

21 Mar
2010

Ooo if you look carefully I was trying to capture the Disney on Ice-style magic of the floor with the smoke wafting over. It’s actually just me at the dry ice machine and I thought it looked cool
The winemakers had pressed off a whole bunch of Frontignac grapes and were going to dump everything else even though the grapes were still reasonably juicy (because you start getting more phenolics which you don’t want in the juice). Harry saw what they were doing and suggested we make for ourselves (not for sale) a bin of Frontignac white port. This is the bin the next day. The grapes went through a chiller so they were about 7C at this stage and my legs were freezing!

I asked Harry if we should plunge it down, but considering this bin is full of grape skins and not juice, it would be like trying to plunge concrete. He suggested the best thing would be to get in there…something I was all for and so offered my legs each morning over the weekend to plunge in the acid and yeast I’d inoculated it with. Don’t be grossed out, you won’t be drinking it, and it needs this contact to make sure I’m getting the yeast through everything before it really starts fermenting and then we need to fortify it with spirit!
The Eden Valley at dawn