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Robin Garr

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Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Robin Garr » Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:54 am

We thought we'd put this out there a day in advance, fearing that if it landed on April Fool's Day, you might think we were just funning with you. :lol:

Yes, many of us who were crazy about Australian wines back around the turn of the Millennium have felt that infatuation falling away in more recent years, perhaps knocked down by a combination of a move toward super-ripe, high-alcohol blockbuster wines at the high end and, well, Yellowtail at the other end.

So maybe it's time to take a new look at the land Down Under. Let's spend April reacquainting ourselves with wines that we once not only enjoyed but admired? Never mind the heavy hitters ... let's go find the good stuff.
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Lou Kessler

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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Lou Kessler » Fri Mar 31, 2017 12:15 pm

The western side of Australia is pretty much of where some good wines come from with a few exceptions IMHO.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Robin Garr » Fri Mar 31, 2017 12:38 pm

I tend to agree, Lou. Margaret River for the win! It's hard to get them here in this no-shipping state, though. :(
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Robin Garr » Fri Mar 31, 2017 12:38 pm

Another approach: Go for the Riesling!
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by David M. Bueker » Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:21 pm

Maybe I will have some while at my parents' house in April. I own zero Australian wine in my own cellar.

Have to see what's out there at my favorite shop!
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Bob Parsons Alberta

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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Mar 31, 2017 2:13 pm

Have a few reds in the cellar but pretty strong on Riesling naturally..Barry, Pewsey Vale, Lehmann.
Semillon...zero. OH Tahbilk..plenty.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Jenise » Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:49 pm

Robin Garr wrote:Yes, many of us who were crazy about Australian wines back around the turn of the Millennium have felt that infatuation falling away in more recent years, perhaps knocked down by a combination of a move toward super-ripe, high-alcohol blockbuster wines


This is probably more of an American phenomenon though. I pointed out what we can in one swell foop bottom-line as 'the Mollydooker problem' in a discussion on Facebook to a Vancouverite, who hadn't made the connection before. He commented "so that's why I now have to go to London to find some of my favorite Aussie wines". The good stuff stays home or doesn't get any further than Europe. Us, we get Mollydooker.

But not only has the move been toward the type of wines you describe, it's also true that, despite the variety of many great growing regions in Australia, where I live and likely elsewhere these days you don't find anything but Barossa and McClaren Vale wines and pretty much all of them branded wines (with the lone exception of Pewsey Vale dry Riesling).
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:03 pm

Thought I had been down to last bottle of the d`Arenberg Cab Sauv a while back but just found another bottle hidden away down in the basement so will put in the line up for this month. Here is a note I posted quite a while back.
2010 d`Arenberg The High Trellis Cab Sauv, Mclaren Vale Aus.

Last bottle of 3, $18 Cdn, always enjoy any red or white from d`Arenberg.

The color still had nice blackberry tones mixed in with some purple on the rim. Nose had it all, just like my previous bottle..oak, black cherry, violets, plum.
Initial entry was medium-bodied, lush, soft tannins, easy to drink and great with a steak sandwich. Raspberry as it opened, some earth, "potpourri of various ripe fruits" from across the table. Newer vintages are in the cellar alongside some Taltarni and Tahbilk . Now if I could find the Viognier from these guys :D .
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Tim York

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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Tim York » Sat Apr 01, 2017 2:34 am

I only have one bottle of OZ wine in my cellar- a Wynn's John Riddoch CabSauv 1993. I read (e.g. in David Crossley's blog) that there are lots of exciting boutique wineries nowadays in Oz producing much better focussed wine free of exaggeration; but fat chance of finding any of those here :( . Maybe some in the UK which I can bring back from a visit until it disappears over the horizon to its new moorings next to Trump tower :( :( .
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Robin Garr » Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:49 am

Tim York wrote:Maybe some in the UK

Barring political horrors, Tim, the UK has traditionally been a good place to get Oz wines, far more so than in the US thanks to Commonwealth status. Good luck in your quest!
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Jenise » Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:16 pm

So the other night I had to grab some bottles to take to a pop up restaurant, and the fellow who set up this dinner is or at least was quite the Aussie fan so I grabbed an orphan bottle of 2005 Clarendon Hills Kangarilla Road Grenache to take along. I don't recall how or why I came to own that, but Grenache sounded like a perfect can't-go-wrong kind of grape that would pair flexibly with an array of foods and with Wine Focus heading down under, why not.

Well, my heart was in the right place but the wine wasn't. Without exaggeration, I probably have never had a more heavily charcoal-ed wine. It tasted like it had been drained off a couple handfuls of Kingsford Briquets. That, and that there was a gobby vanilla sweetness in the finish are about all I have to report. I could not drink it.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Paul Winalski » Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:06 pm

Robin Garr wrote:We thought we'd put this out there a day in advance, fearing that if it landed on April Fool's Day, you might think we were just funning with you. :lol:


Cue Monty Python's Australian Table Wines sketch.

-Paul W.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Jenise » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:06 pm

So Bob and I opened a '15 Pewsey Vale Reisling five or six nights ago, had a glass each, then recorked it to finish later and later was last night. The wine was admirably unphased by the inattention and exactly as we'd left it, which speaks well to its life in the bottle. I just love how bone dry it is, yet fruity. As I said to Bob, "I could get used to this."
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Jenise » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:10 pm

And by the way, while shopping at Whole Foods Market yesterday, which has only been about 11 months, I checked out the Aussie wine situation there. There were exactly four red Aussie wines, or five if you count a negociant named Criterion who also bottle a lot of South American juice. Two Mollydookers, a Tait Ball Buster and a GSM from someone called McGregor. That's IT. No whites.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:30 pm

I am always keen to pick up anything from Tahbilk including of course their Marsanne but I saw this white blend 2 years ago so stashed away in the cellar.

2012 Tahbilk Marsanne Viognier Roussanne, Central Victoria.

$25 Cdn, SC, 60% Marsanne, 20% Viognier, 20% Roussanne.

Very light lemon color, appealing nose with fresh lime zest, orange, some spice, apricot. Think lightly oaked, found some pear on day 2.
Initial entry thoughts were off-dry, zesty, hint of nuts. Refreshing aftertaste, medium-bodied. Pretty average on reflection and think should have drunk earlier? Apricot and mineral tones on day 2 but not a wow wine for me. Pity.

2012 Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon Clare Valley.

$24 Cdn, SC, 14% alc, opened one hour. Poured on the day I heard about the death of Hank Gillespie.

Medium purple in color, very light brick on the rim.
Restrained nose with some oak, spice, blackcurrant. Off-dry on initial entry, soft tannins, great mid-palate. Blueberry, black fruits, not a big fruit bomb!!
Has a nice expressive fruit balance, "no chocolate" from across the table, thankful for that! Overall a fair buy for $24, not sure why I purchased 2 yrs ago, maybe next to the Molly :D .

** Day 2 nicely evolved with some very nice ripe fruits.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Jenise » Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:51 pm

So since the only Aussie reds around to buy are very few, and they're the big American-targeted styles I already know I don't care for, I pulled another Aussie red out of the cellar last night. The 02 D'Arenberg Laughing Magpie: Bing cherry fruit with strawberry jam, strong charcoal, and that distinct McClaren Vale sour cream note which I detest throughout. How did I ever get these (I have two)? Couldn't stand it.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Robin Garr » Sun Apr 09, 2017 2:52 pm

Jenise wrote: sour cream note

Lactic acid?
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Jenise » Sun Apr 09, 2017 3:06 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Jenise wrote: sour cream note

Lactic acid?


Maybe. I catch a bit of sour dairy on new world syrahs from time to time, but it's especially strong and pervasive on McClaren Vale syrahs--I can pick them out of a blind lineup every time. And I've never had one without it. What's especially odd is that where it's so obvious to me, others don't quite get it when I point it out. Go read 100 reviews on MV syrahs and you won't find anyone else mentioning it. To me? Godawful. :shock:
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by JC (NC) » Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:03 pm

Selection of Australian wines in Fayetteville, NC is mostly limited to mass-produced brands in the grocery store. There are some selections available at Westgate Wine in Raleigh including one Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon I may try and a fairly expensive Riesling (oops, no, that one is from New Zealand but came up in a search under "Australia.") I do have some holdovers from when I was buying Australian reds some years ago and may try one Shiraz and one Cabernet Sauvignon from them (probably in the blockbuster mode.) I also have an Australian Chardonnay--purchased three bottles of it and liked the first one better than the second one--will see how I feel about the third.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by David M. Bueker » Sun Apr 09, 2017 9:58 pm

Popped a 2002 d'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz tonight at my folks' house, and it's pretty darned good. I do think it needs to be drunk up, as the fruit is getting a bit brown around the edges, but it makes a nice dinner companion. It's got good balance, and the red and black (and brown) fruit it touched by some pleasant spice and a bit of old leather. Not bad. Not bad at all. Drink up!
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:28 am

Nice one David, bit of a cult wine eh.
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Tim York

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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Tim York » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:55 am

I'm not going to get to London any time soon and certainly not this month, so I will be unable to seek out those new wave, less overstated, boutique winery products which the pundits say are out there. I have found one supplier here in France, Les Voyageurs du Vin, who offers a decent range of foreign wines, including some well known Aussies, but at prices so high + freight that I am inclined to boycott them.

A nice tasty faux-filet steak on the table was, however, a reason to open my one remaining bottle of Australian wine, which in its 24th year turned out to be a real winner. I doubt if I will ever have another Oz of this maturity and quality.

1993 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon John Riddoch - Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Coonawarra (4/9/2017)
I described a bottle opened in 2008 as "admirable and powerful but darkly brooding". 9 years on the wine has really opened up and has acquired subtlety and elegance while retaining most of its power. Colour still very opaque with little bricking. Nose well developed with notes of mature blackcurrant tinged red and dark fruit, balsamic and vanilla hints and that touch of noble greenness, which most Oz wines lack, to bring freshness and balance. Palate full/medium bodied with expressive fruit, some earthy minerals, velvety texture and fragrant overlay replaying the aromas from the nose across the whole palate leading to the remainder of some still sombre tannins supporting the finish. When I wrote my earlier TN, I recall an Australian expert saying that 1993 was a weak year in Coonawarra?! Excellent.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Robin Garr » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:08 pm

It seems that several of us have been posting D’Arenberg wines recently. Here’s mine, the relatively low-end “The Stump Jump” may not have a lot of gravitas, but it’s a decent table wine, and like most of D’arry’s portfolio, manages to avoid the worst excesses that have turned off a lot of us on Oz. The humorous eye-chart label pays homage to the inventor of the “stump jump,” an inventive vineyard plow geared to jump over tree roots and stumps, who purportedly had poor and declining vision and required frequent eye tests to ensure that it was safe for him to run the plow.

D’Arenberg 2012 McLaren Vale “The Stump Jump” ($9.99)

A typical Australian (and Southern Rhône) blend of Grenache (46%) Syrah (39%) Mourvedre (%15), this is a very dark reddish-purple wine, shading to clear garnet at the edge. Juicy raspberries, the signature scent of Grenache, predominates in the nose at first, but there’s other ripe fruit there too, blackberries and plums, carrying over on the palate with a full, medium-bodied mixed-fruit flavor framed by tart acidity, brisk tannins and warm but not overbearing 14.3% alcohol. U.S. importer: Old Bridge Cellars, Napa, Calif. (April 7, 2017)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with a hearty meat-and-tomato sauce over spaghetti, and worked as well after dinner with bites of buttery, creamy cheeses.

WHEN TO DRINK: No rush, but it’s not really intended as a long-term ager and won’t gain value with time. I’d drink it up over the next two years or so.

VALUE:
My local price matches the $10 U.S. retail reported by Wine-Searcher.com, and it’s an excellent value for that price.

WEB LINK
Here's a Stump Jump fact sheet on the D’Arenberg website.
You'll find similar information on this Stump Jump promotion sheet on the importer's website.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and check prices for D’Arenberg McLaren Vale “The Stump Jump” pm Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2017: Wines of Australia

by Jenise » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:51 pm

Saturday night, I opened a 2001 Yalumba 'The Signature' cab-syrah blend from Barossa. Youthful dark color with a good nose of blackberry, dust and menthol on the nose. On day one, though, no palate. So recorked and enjoyed on Day Two where the aromas come through as flavors on the palate, along with still significant tannins. To it's credit, there's no excess here: nothing OTT or hot-climate Barossa-ish. But at the same time, at age 16 it's merely chronologically older and it lacks the secondary development one cellars a wine 16 years for. This could probably cellar for another ten years; not sure if it will ever get interesting, though.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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