Paradise Lost

Dear Melbourne,

Where did it all go so wrong, you had it all; the looks, the vibe, the sex, the drugs, even the spattering of live rock and roll. But no, you had to eat the forbidden fruit, follow the serpent down the rabbit hole, and then take the red pill. It’s not like you didn’t have help, we have all been sitting around, eating our expensive gluten-free toast, and almond milk lattes. As the old hallmarks of industry closed, they have been swept anew with polished concrete cafés, and gelato dispensaries abound. We washed clean the grime of character, and replaced it with ever expanding places to queue for whatever had bought its way into broadsheet that week. The individual has become lost in a sea of beige, predictable, palatable experiences, social engineering has left the aspiring young elite, buoyed by their parents’ guarantored apartment loans, awash in the soul of what was Melbourne, liquidation of the now ‘undesirables’ that actually made the place relevant, as they trickle further up Sydney Road, the Active Wear Index ( AWI ) rising in their wake.

Victoria Street, once the birthplace of hypodermic needle hopscotch, now has ladies walking with prams at 9pm on a Friday night, the train station has customer service representatives in Hi-Vis and not the drug squad, there is artificial turf to have lunch on, umbrellas that so far have not been stolen after 72 hours, unlocked. Where there was once just a road, there now stands an elevated tram stop, reflective writing on the road, everywhere there is the illusion of safety, marked areas to get doored in while riding. There is now more chance of getting done by an undercover ticketing officer, than a detective, ‘Junkie Corner’ now has CCTV, and pleasant revolving advertising. The excitement of potentially getting assaulted while using the ATM is gone, replaced by a blandness and desire to go and get Botox in my furrowed brow.

About the only thing saving us is that we can still get a straight scotch after 11pm, but as the AWI rises, and the youth in trouble on skate boards continue their insurgency of the side walks, one can only feel the need to legislate to safety. For how can we protect our newly formed concrete box kingdom, amassed in our serfdom created in the property ownership divide. This safety, now found in the erosion of our individuality, and once fought for self-determination, resides in the cleansing of you, the city, populated by our credit cards, cars, and numbness of distractions, the soul of the city now finds a heart of darkness.


The Resident.

Saddleback Pinot Gris 2013 – The Wine beyond the Wall

The Fridge, I’m looking into it, the frosted icicle pane in front of me. Which you might think is a bizarre choice Saddleback 2013 Pinot Grisfor winter, but you see I’m not in ‘the fridge’. I have escaped to Sydney, a land of important people with very high mobile usage, the corporates wear ties here, pedestrians still have fear of cars. Here in this temperate fertile land in late July you can look at a bottle of Pinot Gris, and not wonder if you’re going to be judged for liking white wine just a bit too much. The balminess has left my scarf wondering if we will get back together again, we have gone from a state of co-dependence to one of trial separation. I’m worried that she will stow away with the pillow cases tomorrow morning, down into the cesspool of spin-dry online laundry. Now maybe travelling to New Zealand could be on the cards, we could re-establish a connection. Take time to remember what we liked, and needed from each other, the firm fit, the tightening of the slip knot, the soft embrace. Enduring shivering cold can bring desperation, acidity, and integration into any relationship, the same though, could be said of wine.

New Zealand it was to be, and after liberating the Pinot Gris, and also an XL5 tasting glass from a nameless chain liquor stores tasting bench, I made good my escape back to the hotel. On a side note for any hotel managers out there, an over sized tumbler is not a wine glass fit for wannabe wine writers, or for that matter anyone attempting to drink aromatic whites.

Saddleback Pinot Gris 2013

New Zealand, land of sheep, hobbits, receding glaciers, and my personal un-favourite, tankers full of Sauvignon Blanc. Which is strange, when in my opinion it has the ability to make some of the most interesting white wines I’ve had. Once our Tasman cousins learnt they could grow aromatic varietals in their schist gravel soils with the stunting and distressing cold of Otago, they quickly figured they had a winner on their hands. Long hang time in the vineyard, tick, low temperatures, tick, low yields without hacking the be-Jesus out of the vines, brilliant. Let’s go then.

Pale straw and pretty in the glass, the hit to the nose is immediate and lifted. Confectionery banana quickly dissipates to deep ripe pears, touch of apricots, laced with cashew in a clean fresh lift. The palate is broad, luscious, a minute hint of spritz, a touch of residual sugar which you would expect with the fruit weight. Having good viscosity and mouth feel the points above meaning she will take all the coriander and chilli, that even Chin Chin in Melbourne could throw at you. I’ll be honest, I would like a touch more zip, and I would really like to see the 2014 soon. Take nothing away though, put her with whole fish, Thai herbs, ginger, and you have a meal that will make you feel in summer again.

At sub $20 a bottle you could leave winter, and drinking sauvignon blanc behind you, for now.

7 / 10 Sipps
$18-20 RRP



Plantagenet Riesling 2013 – Excuse Me, but Just Mind the Cat

Well I”m quite excited today as my readership has greatly expanded, due greatly, to no effort on my behalf. So “Hi” new readers, well I can only assume that you are reading this blog, it is published on the ‘inPlantagenet-Rieslingternets’, which is a network, meaning ASIO have it carte blanche really, and frankly it will be nice to have some ‘real’ people around for a change. The list of bots I have to delete every week or so was getting a bit sad, yes, I know the CAPTCHA is really hard and boring to get through, but please persist, and leave comments, oh and don’t forget to click the ‘like’ button so that it shows up on your friends news feeds. I’ve always felt that the government agencies should take more of an interest in the Australian wine industry, so maybe the tide has turn. Unfortunately the box which has this web-server on it is sitting in my parents study, most likely with the cat sitting on it because it is warm, so I’m not sure if your allowed to access a private users network, but from what I’m reading that should be fine to, just please don’t wake the cat, she’s sleeping. I have though put some really bitchin kung-fu encryption on the email data files, but you should have that sorted by lunch, surely? I didn’t want to make it too easy, you can at least buy me a drink first before feeling me up.

Bearded Wine Man (BWM), thought it was a bit funny when I walked in with a funny mustache and glasses disguise, as it obviously wasn’t much of a disguise, as it looked like one, but well there is only so much you can do to hide shopping on Victoria Street. Apart from being asked for smack a couple of times, I was trying to keep a low profile, and well two Vic Police Officers walked straight past me, but maybe the AFP are more cunning, their bright red cars with lights always blend in so well with the surroundings they can be hard to spot. I needed to make this quick, so I went into the cool room, “no cameras in there”, but BWM came in, obviously worrying why a strange man was in his cool-room, I do have a beard I might be a threat to ‘Team Australia’, oh no, it’s just a guy with a bottle of Riesling, relief. It was time to head to the counter, everyone was a bit nervous as I reached into my jacket pocket, I made an average, sensible purchase, and was careful not to leave my bag unattended on the ground for any length of time, least cause suspicion. Maybe people would be fearful of my Western Australian Riesling, it’s from a minority region, be afraid of it, she has funny looking dragony-lion things on the label, but just relax she didn’t come by boat.

Plantagenet Riesling 2013

Mount Barker, now that’s near Margaret River right? Ah, no, Mount Barker is a swashbuckling four drive from sunny Perth, which makes it not near Margs at all, but what it does make it is ‘freezing’. Riesling loves living in a fridge, if not you end up with the Brown Brothers style we all love to hate, that really is responsible for destroying the marketability of this variety in this country. ” Would you like a glass of Riesling?”, “oh no that’s too sweet”, “Really, it has 3 grams per liter of sugar, its Dry!?”, ” oh I couldn’t possibly, but thanks..”, and so it goes on. What Mount Barker brings to the table is the ‘fridge’ factor, slightly inland, with no maritime breezes to keep things warm it gets chilly, which Riesling loves, the cold temperatures keep the high acid levels in the grapes, and the long growing season brings the flavours at credible alcohol levels.

Plantagenet have been doing this since 1974, and have for my mind helped develop the Barker scene, and the Great Southern style. The first things that jumps out at me from the glass is the freshly cut lime notes, which for my mind distances it from its eastern cousins.This far reaching citrus combo, lights up your nostrils with its primary freshness, there are some very subtle hints of some honey suckle and apricots, which no doubt will show with the coming years. The palate is involving with the acid just smashing down your tongue, cleaning everything in its wake, piecing and austere, I could liken it to a fresh lime sorbet between courses. The citrus is there, the light honey notes, I like its weight, and feel, but mostly the freshness of the mouth that keeps me coming back to her quickly. There is no hit of fatness, or oily characters that I can sometimes find with Clare Valley Riesling, this is trim and terrific, I just want to drive to my nearest fresh oyster dispensing machine and camp out for hours. Albeit, that this is not the perfect match for all dishes, use it wisely, at the beginning of an evening to freshen up, of with seafood entrée. I find it is best just not to tell people what they are having, and with an open mind, and palate, they will be hooked.

So give your palate something extreme before you’re not allowed to.

7.5 / 10 Sipps
$22-24 RRP


Lake Breeze “Bernoota” Shiraz Cabernet 2010 – Death of a Salesman

Lake Breeze “Bernoota” Shiraz Cabernet 2010Well it’s that time to get the ‘Bat-phone’ out once again, “What phone? Where is Robin?”, well Robin isn’t coming, and neither is this months commission cheque, but for those of my fellow kin, the in between job mobile is mandatory field equipment. You see we don’t really have our own number, well most of us anyway, and very much the most of us that like the idea, and ability to disappear when required. If you have CV like mine that resembles a frequent flyers passport, you too would consider it good idea as well. Sales people are a transient bunch, staying long enough to be effective, but not too long to overstay our welcome, or problems. “Fish and friends”, only keep for three days I have been told, well in my line of work the three days equates roughly to 18 months, get in there, smile, make lasting relationships, and get out before the burn. Manipulation with a paycheck attached, only this time dinner is not coming out of your bank account, and closing the deal will actually make you respect yourself more in the morning.

You could all start to feel jaded, all of these people walking between you, hiding in plain sight, but you would notice our absence more, Pepsi would be more popular than Coke, Eskimos all of a sudden wouldn’t have any spare Ice, and well in the wine industries case “Just what the frack?!”, happened to Shiraz Cabernet Blends. Possibly Australia’s greatest contribution to the International Wine Industry, behind arguably our fortified wines from Rutherglen, no one is mad enough to do it elsewhere, not the French, the Yanks, and well the New Zealanders just haven’t got around to copying it yet, though it would actually require getting both varieties ripe. Only here does the regal Cabernet from Bordeaux, get paired with the queen of the Rhone Valley, this style was first pioneered by Yalumba very early on in the piece, is typically Australian in that no one knows about it, and fewer of us drink it, so hold onto my hand, we are off to meet the grand daddy of Australian Vino production.

Lake Breeze “Bernoota” Shiraz Cabernet 2010

So why such an indecent proposal of courting Shiraz with Cabernet Sauvignon, well Wine Tasting 101 is in session, putting these two together just makes sense, a bit like the wing tipped keel. Cabernet Sauvignon leaves the palate with a hollow doughnut in the middle, sticking to the front back, and sides. In Bordeaux this ‘hole’ is filled by one of the other four noble grapes, Merlot / Petit Verdot / Malbec / Cabernet Franc, at the dawn of our wine industry we were a tad light on these. Shiraz on the other hand but we had buckets of. Rhone’s Shiraz gives great middle palate weight and feel, one variety strong were the other is weak, a marriage made in heaven, or at least the genie in the bottle. I’m a big fan of Langhorne Creek wines, the region is a bit like McLaren Vale on steroids, velvet hammer Shiraz, with Coonawarra like cigar box Cabernets, and this wine is a great mix of both.

I’m looking at a four year old wine here in the glass, and the colour is bursting out, deep hues of purple that would make a Shiraz Viognier blush. The nose brings exquisite spices, cinnamon, aniseed, and the usual pepper, hiding behind this is the slight veg-ital tones of the Cabernet, highlighted by the a-fore mentioned cigar, and leather notes. The power on the palate has to be experienced, deep and viscous, delicate but thorough, she is not big for the sake of it like a Barossa Shiraz. This wine carries the weight with the intertwined structure of the Shiraz and Cabernet, a sumptuous dance by the two varieties. Find this vintage, and a decanter, pound for pound I would like to see you top this wine for the under $25 it costs, period.

So we lost her, hiding in plain sight, might just be found in the last place you look?

8 / 10 Sipps
$24-28 RRP


Marlborough Sounds Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – The Desolation of Bored

Space, it’s meant to be good for inner peace, finding ones center, perspective on life, the universe and everything. That being said too much inward reflection can be odious for ones health, it’s far easier to consider ones place in the outside world, then to consider the place within yourself. Paint it anyway that you like looking into the mirror tells you far more than you really want to know, or have the capacity to do anything about. Reflection, I for one think that this must have been made up by some reclusive introverted numpties, for while I can only speak for myself, it is the lifestyle equivalent of running fingernails down a chalk board, or in my case handling cotton wool balls, strange I know but true.

Now I like to keep busy. I write this, cycle, motorcycle, run, well anything really that results in not sitting still, result of an overactive childhood? I’m not sure really, most of what I can remember was spent hitting hockey balls up against a wire fence down at the local park in a vain attempt to escape household chores, under the guise of improving youthful sporting prowess. Today though I am pensive, something was messing with my chi, there was an itch to be scratched, something that should have been taken care of a long time ago. I didn’t go to Bearded Wine Man (BWM), I didn’t want him implicated in any potential fallout, this was code rouge. I walked into Dans, went to the fridge and picked out the second finest Woolworths created brand of  Sauvignon Blanc, not because I was in any way interested, but because it was time to expose her for just what was masquerading as a wine inside the bottle under my arm.

Marlborough Sounds Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Relax, but this might sting just a little, while you haven’t been lied to simply because most of you didn’t ask a question, the story behind what can only be the industrial military complex of the wine world may hurt a bit. The Cliffs-notes version of events are as follows, figuring they have a similar climate to Loire Valley in France, our New Zealand cousins plant Sauvignon Blanc, it grows well, well more than well, it crops like a nothing they have seen before. In Marlborough toward the western side they can barely contain its vigor, with tropical passion-fruit flavours in abundance, to the east, its the pungent pea pod flavours we have come to know. Unlike New Zealand fauna the only natural predator is frost, (helicopters later fixed this). It’s relatively cheap to grow, cheap to make as there is none of this nasty expensive french oak involved, and you can sell it for a reasonable price. It’s not long before the French arrive, knowing a good colonial investment when they see one, and also knowing no-one was going to shoot at them this time, they purchased Montana Wines, and it works.

Now everyone wants a piece, and our dear friends Coles and Woolworths are right on cue with other large multinational wine companies, looking to price fix the production volume by the litre, ( not by tonne),  and control the grape wholesale market. All the while screwing over local growers on price, thus forcing them out due to cost overruns, and then buying more vineyards off them. Not surprisingly the process cycles through again. Circa 2014 we are now seeing grape juice shipped overseas in large tanks, thus robbing local New Zealand industries of the profits, and the jobs of wine marking, bottling production, and logistics, want to find some boats to stop, easy pickings here.

It may be time for both Coles and Woolworths wine buyers to start, much like the fashion, food production, and mining industries to become accountable for the implications of there their purchasing decisions, or see their own hubris catch up with them. You can always vote with your hands, and visit an independent liquor store, and purchase something not on this list. As you may of guessed not actually going to review this wine as I’ve tipped it down the toilet, fitting really, hopefully it will find some goldfish, and make them happy before they meet their maker.

I’m going downstairs to make myself a gin and tonic , and contemplate just where, and when, it all went so terribly wrong, maybe you should too.

N/A Sipps
$14 RRP

Who Makes My Wine?


Le Colture Fagher Brut Prosecco D.O.C.G – Black Little Stars

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say what we feel all of the time, be unreserved with others, have no inhibitions about the consequences of what we are saying. “Is that interesting?”, “What do you mean by that?”, “How will that make sense?”, or will I look like a complete uninteresting twit by saying that . In my experience the eventualities of vetting too many conversations that are going on in your head, as well as the one you’re having in real time, will ultimately lead to disaster. Thus following onto appearing not overly invested, may actually lead to a situation where you might not actually be deemed worth of being invested in, which is a bit of a shame if  that was what your initial objective in fact was to be. The further quandary being that you have actually set out on a Burke and Wills course of action, albeit maybe that you have someLe Proseccothing to drink at least, and a lemon soufflé to mull it over with, so it’s a different kind of desert you are stuck in here.

Leading me to Prosecco, it seems comfortable being who it is, its not Champagne, and seems quite happy with that. Why do the Italians bother when there is plenty of other fizz on offer only a few hours’ drive away, are they trying to be if at all interesting? Though maybe the Italians don’t really care, that and some of it that reaches our shores is made in a fashion not too dissimilar to a certain red coloured can, in fact over there you can get it in cans, enough said. I think they are just doing what they feel is right, and who am I not to investigate. Bearded Wine Man (BWM), looked at me quizzically, one I didn’t look like I was in a celebratory mood, two it was raining and 17C outside, third being it was a school night. BWM seemed nonplussed on the purchase, far removed from my usual personal aquirings, which is interesting given the topic. I didn’t look like I was trying to impress anyone with my fizzy Italian, but I was beginning to wonder if I had any intact stemware to suit the product.

Le Colture Fagher Brut Prosecco

I love buying D.O.C.G wines, they stare at you with their little appellation official stickers announcing that they mean business, and assuring you that they will taste far nicer than their un-stickered cousins, luring you in anticipation of what you will find post unwrapping, all the more engaging seeing that we are dealing here, with a sparkling cork cage, and heavy wrapping. She made a slight “sigh”, just the way I was taught by my very first, overbearing Michelin Star made English restaurant manager, if he a heard a joyous ‘pop’ he would shoot you the restaurant managers look of death, you were not in trouble there and then, but you knew that you were soon to be bailed up in the cool room. From the outset though, this Brut exhibits a spaced but steady bead in the glass, small exquisite balls lift their way up the flute, extremely pale straw in appearance, but by no means opaque. The nose brings steady citrus notes, blood orange, and quince, mixing with some nutty themes, fresh warm broken banquette, nothing sharp or edgy to put you off, or anything to make you feel this is going to be a sugar slurp-fest. The palate brings an explosion of fine mouth filling mousse, fine, and searching for all of the crevasse of your tongue, here you’ll find some dense lemon characters, almost to mature chilled limoncello, and preserved rind flavours.

This wine for me has some interesting points in just what exactly is its place in the order of service, she has some great fizz that wants for a pre-dinner canapes context, or cocktail function. That being said, you could pair it with some interesting degustation options with its heavy lemon, kiwi, bread notes, and its explosive mousse, solid acid, and savory backbone. She is doing a lot of things for a Prosecco, and quite engaging, and lingering, without the sharp metallic edge of some more simple sparklings, and wears her D.O.C.G status effortlessly. I enjoy the freshness, and cleanliness that leaves me coming back the the glass refreshed and wanting more, all the while running after the closest waiter with smoked salmon, goats cheese, and capers.

So she is being what she should be, and I find no fault with that, I’m just not sure what to do with the rest of the bottle, maybe put a teaspoon on top to keep it fresh for tomorrow.? I think I would rather be at a villa in Salerno, with two glasses, looking at black little stars.

7.5 / 10 Sipps
$26-28 RRP


Dominique Portet Fontaine Rosé 2013 – Pink Little Demons In My Glass

Melbourne’s trying, really trying to sort out its weather, which is odd, everywhere else is either hot, boiling, or underwater, or soon to be. I’m told the boats have been stopped, gay people can’t get married even though we want them to, Fracking is now coal seam gas extraction, and climate change is happening, well it seems everywhere other than areas surrounding the 3000 post code, here in our natural environment, its freezing. I’m over it, most of Melbourne is over it, that and the temporarily scantly raised hemlines that just as quickly disappear overnight. The frigid air is still being pumped down Chapel Street from what can only be from the Antarctic ice sheet, or a sizable but guilty ice berg that has sauntered its way up the Yarra; sinking a quantity of asylum seekers Titanic style on route. Things are coco-loco. I want to be in the park, with my picnic rug, and a jug of Pims, watching people trip over their slack lines in the twilight, not remembering where it was I last left my scarf for the umpteenth time.

2013 Dominique Portet Fontaine Rosé

I’ve not touched Rosé on here before, which is strange because I’ve been know to snorkel a bit of it in all weather conditions. No matter what is going on outside, drinking Rosé is akin to thinking of a tropical island when you have locked yourself in the restaurant cool room in your shorts in singlet. I’m not talking of massive Barossa residual sugar bombs, while yes, they sell very well to old ladies at Wine Expo’s, have done their fair share to damage the Rosé brand, a fate I could only really compare to the other marketing nightmare of a wine Riesling, sugar damaged for the same reasons. Bearded Wine Man was out of stock so I had to venture behind enemy lines for this one, I dressed up in my trusty Scream Halloween costume, went into Dan’s, got the gear, got out clean, quickly, but feeling slightly dirty.

Dominique Portet Fontaine Rosé 2013

This is pretty, the whole thing is pretty, the from the moment she stares back at you from behind the glass door, it’s all over, just you and her, and that feeling like your the only wine buyer in the room. Yes, I know it is what is on the inside that counts, but with this one your starting from a disadvantage from the get go, so you best hold on for the ride. The strawberry and apricot hues I’ve not seen the likes of in Australian Rose, sitting delicate and enchanting in the glass as you swirl her around, I can imagine them in the sunlight in the park. An intriguing blend of Merlot, Shiraz, and Cabernets awaits, the nose is lifted strawberry’s with fresh cream, firm apricots, and ripe raspberries, imagine the smell of the best berry cordial you have had, next to a dish of clotted cream, and you are there, the subtle esters all flow into each other, the experience quite intoxicating, you will find yourself revisiting the glass, not just to take a sip. The palate on this wine is clever, there is a real juiciness and weight present from the outset, moreish, the Shiraz giving the generosity of mouth-feel, and the Merlot bringing the acid, tannin, and poise, to what could easily turned into a type one train wreck in the wrong hands.

Few wines in my knowledge transfer the sensation and experience of the nose to the palate, than this one, what you smell really has found its way onto your taste buds. There is the fullness of a ripe strawberry being crushed between you lips, and while its not a Chardonnay like malolactic experience, there is for me a creaminess for me laying underneath lashes of apricot fruit, and my favourite of wine sensation, a bit if spritziness on the tip of the tongue.  The balance of the acidity with the fruit is uncanny, and while I haven’t cheated and read the tasting notes, I sense the use of some partial batch wines being in old French oak bringing, what sweater elements may exist in the wine into check. This for me is the best example of dry style rose going around in Australia right now, period. This wine has sold out for the last 3 vintages that I can remember, and I can not think of anything better to have with you in the park, with some smoked salmon, capers, crème fraîche, and a pretty girl, or handsome man on your picnic roll out.

Have in the park with friends, or with the new ones you will make because of what you are drinking. That or you could sit at home,and just wait for the neighbours to come banging on your door.

8.8 / 10 Sipps
$22-24 RRP


Ashbrook Estate Cabernet Merlot 2008 – A Franc Return To The Start

While surely a world first here right now, and I”m going to do it, start a wine review with a quote from Winston Churchill.

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

And well I have not written a line of anything in so long it feels like starting new, afresh, vibrant, the red squiggly lines under words are popping up with rather vast and sweeping regularity. I’ve taken down my favorite glass that I use for all of these reviews, un-dusted, de-linted, washed in first hot, then tepid water, finally dried to a loving shine. This combined with a large sense of trepidation, I journey back into peering down into the looking glass. I won’t lie, I’ve been consuming rather than thinking about my adult beverages of late, but it is I feel, never to late to venture back into adult, learned behavior, even after a period of abstinence from it, and without a commitment of continuing on.

Ashbrook Cabernet Merlot
The old label so we can reminess

It is always best to reach into the top draw in times of uncertainty, and as such I managed to scrape up one of the first red wines that I fell in love with. I managed to get Bearded Wine Man (BWM) to source some, the wine first raised suspicion when I, a usually varied, and mixed dozen wine buyer, dipped into the bargain bin and bought all remaining bottles of the 2007 vintage that were in the shop. BWM, by now knowing that I knew my way around, slumped on the counter and asked. ” Did I miss something about this one?” I smiled, slid one of the nine over the counter and left with the other eight bottles. Victorians – bless them, for the most part know their way around  Pinot Noir, but alas can not see the Cabernet forest for the trees in most parts.

Ashbrook Estate Cabernet Merlot 2008

Cabernet Franc, while yes, one of the 5 noble red grapes of Bordeaux, has to feel like the slightly over accomplished daughter that everyone is a bit scared to ask out. She brings a lot to the table, but know-one really understands her, or when looking over at the parents, how she got there in the first place. Giving for the most part in wines, the high note violets, and deep plums, of a level that would make organic chemistry labs be jealous of their clarity, this a strong “value Add” variety. And lets face it, the French don’t leave her to be planted in the hallowed grounds of Bordeaux just because she is making up the numbers. Previous to this vintage release, the wine was labeled “Cabernet Merlot” with “Cab Franc” in brackets below, this with its swarve calligraphy styled label gave a sense of elegance to the overall package befitting to one of the original inhabitants of Margaret River. (FYI Ashbrook marketing, please go back to the old one) But yes, there is more than just Cabernet Franc in the bottle, but I hate to think that it is now an omission from the front because of a lack of wine consumer knowledge, or Dan’s just didn’t like it.

On with the wine then, Ashbrook have for a long time held their vintages back, with the wines leaving when they are ready for the market, not because market was ready for them. This is old, concentrated, Wilyabrup fruit, from a vintage that had it not come behind the 2007, would have had a large song and dance made about it. If you have a decanter around, get it! This is deep fruit winding down Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbed fruits of the forest road, ripe blackberries, raspberries from the Cabernet Sauvignon, punching violets from the Franc, with the regional herbaceous capsicum freshness that sets her apart from eastern cousins. Yes the Merlot if holding the fort down the middle, but that is a sideshow for me on the palate. The lively acidity from the Cabernet, and the palate freshness from this five year old, lingers, and has you wanting for the next sip of her as she evolves in your glass. You can, and I currently am, take the time to get the most out of the nose, the prettiness of aged released Cabernet never gets dull for me, each return to the glass a new experience. With this in mind I’m not going to recommend a food accompliment, as quite frankly, I don’t recommend that you find one.

Be selfish like I have and drink it some yourself, or share with friends, or potential ones, and have them convinced that yours is the company they will wish to frequent.

8.5 / 10 Sipps
$28-35 RRP



Lenton Brae 2010 Southside Chardonnay – Once More With Feeling

So it has happened, the house of Bearded Wine Man (BWM) has re-opened, the once grimy Abbotsford converted petrol station come wine store has, like much of the North, been gentrified , disinfected, sanitised. Into a place where owners of Audi’s can now feel safe in the knowledge that the worst thing that could happen to them in the car park,  is that a BMW might dink their door. There it stood, shiny non-faded winery branded signs on the facade,  “Now Open” stickers on the windows, and a car park full of clamouring wine rep’s wagons. Most of them inside circling over the scraps of empty fridge window placements, promo end rows, and seeing just how many ‘recommended’ signs they can hang on their product before the staff intervene. This is everything that I had come to hate about the wine game, or maybe I just wasn’t a very good wine salesman, that and ones palate integrity should come before monthly budgets.

I turned the fixie around, with each pedal stroke putting distance between be myself and the industrial winery complex behind me, I wanted the grime, the slightly sticky floor from dropped Rekorderlig ciders, squeaky wooden floors, and half cut wine barrel bargain bins. On Swan Street I found what I was looking for, attached to the blacked out hotel windows is a drive through, hidden away behind, with only enough advertising to make it look like they were trying to let people know it was open. There was a dog water bowl, and a dog attached to the end of a rope next to it. The stacked up product made it an event to get through the door, a sure test to weed the strong customers from the weak. Here, in this place I found something I was not expecting, a taste from home, and an old friend.

Lenton Brae 2010 ‘Southside’ Chardonnay

Now those that know me, also know that I am a slut for Chardonnay, and as stated in a previous reviews, before moving East I would swim in puddles of it. I feel as a variety she has the ability to show the best, and worst in terroir, and wine-making.  Now Lenton Brae go back a while, one of the founding Metricup / Caves Road region mafia 20 odd years ago. They have access to some serious estate grown fruit which flows into their top tier, and this second tier Chardonnay. Known for in my opinion more fruit and acid driven wines, I was keen to get into this. Pale straw in the glass, she is showing no signs of blowing up early. The nose is peaches, stone fruit, with hints of red grapefruit, this smells lean straight off the bat. The wood work presents with the usual vanilla tones, some partial malolactic ferment, with wafts of nut, but by no mean a creamy butter monster, she has a focused and austere nose. The palate presents with a nice base of weighted fruit, the malo giving a slight creamy edge to some zesty citrus tones, with the clever oak integration creating a fine boarder for the wine to sit in around its savoury tannins.

This is a smart entry level Chardonnay from one of the founders of the Western Australian Chard scene. If you are looking for a lean, non butter-bomb to pair with your char grilled South West Marron with lemon pepper, olive oil, sitting on a watercress and orange wedge salad for lunch, then you have found it. It is enough to almost get me to fly home and raid my ex’s farms dam, almost, that and they have guns, so I might not, but you get the idea. I like this wine as a great summer seafood accompaniment with the impending festive season, well priced with a great heritage.

While not worth getting shot at for, pound for pound at 20 dollars, it is truly a steal.

7.5 / 10 Sipps
$18-22 RRP


Stelvins Tasting Evening Results – Onto Bordeaux – 29th September 2012

Team Stelvins finally went to where no Stelvins had been before, the land of Bordeaux, and to once and for all silence paperbagbrandivino ‘s critisism of the rest of us being Viognier drinking wusses.

In attendance:


Wine No.1  Dark. So utterly different from local wine. Different fruit note. It’s beyond fruit. We think it is cabernet sauvignon dominant, therefore Medoc. But we are really babes in the wood. Date, savoury earthy fruit. Relatively sharp. Bigger and more tannic than expected.Visual appearance of age, but very lively. Perhaps 2000? Beautiful grip. A bit short perhaps. Round 2 – clearly a young wine from a year that is going to last a long time. It’s opened up some, more middle to it now lots of structure still, you get the sense that it will fill in and balance with more time. A very good wine, but in extraordinary company. We think now it may be younger than we first thought, but it still doesn’t look young. 

What it is – Chateau de Fieuzal 2005 – from Graves, just south of the Medoc region, near

60% Cab, 33% merlot


Wine No.2


Looks a little older. Leathery tinge. A bit fig and baby’s bottoms.Juicy, length. At least 10 years old. More like a really good old Aussie.  Merlot-based perhaps. Really astounding.Hard to find descriptors for a wine so complex and complete. Not as tannic as the first. Still presenting a lot of fruit. Coming back to this, it’s like a graceful old gent with a red velvet jacket and an enormous erection. Might be a bit older than we thought at first.

Round 2 – very very classy wine, feminine, slash camp, extraordinary length, yes he’s gay, but god he’s smart , that sort of gay – Oscar wilde, Stephen fry kind of wine gay. Deep rich juicy flavours, low alcohol, goes on forever, a bit of cottonmouth…? Noice. Really reallynoice

What it is – Phelan Segur 1996, in the upper Medoc.


Wine No.6

Deep Deep red cherry.Shot through with blue. Younger and tighter.Very high notes – acetone.Liquorice. More like the first wine. Deep, jonno loves it. Beautiful balance. Something very gamey on the nose. More Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot than Sauvignon or Merlot.

Round 2–vanilla hints, just too young for now, and its not contending in present company.

What it is – Batailley 2008 Paullac


Wine No.3

Pamela Anderson wine. A lot on the front. Beautiful. Rose petals and violets.Really reallyreally astounding.A lot of fruit. Not a fruit bomb. Magnificent balance in the mouth. Like No.6 but with an added layer. Similar blend to 6. Incredible wine. Balance. On the front of Bil’s tongue, vibrant youthful fruit.Quite cool in the mouth. I think it’s right bank.

Round 2 – still astounding structure, it has a spark, a tweak, that is unusual. It is like no wine we have had before. It has a hum, a note, that we can’t remember. Confirmed right bank, definitely less than 10 years old, probably more like 5… Fantastic wine, might not get wine o’ the night, but is certainly a new experience, which is valued above all else in this context.

What  it is – chateau du Tertre 2007 large amount of cab, planted on gravel, since 1997, new owner revived the property which was entirely renovated


Wine No.4

Appearance of age. Stinks of claret. Sarsparilla.More cabernet, low left bank. Doesn’t have the structure of 3. Not as long. A little bit of Aussie.Older than 1 and 6. Quite old. Maybe what one might become.Same shortness as No.1.Big cabernet hole. Raisins.

Round 2 – strangely, still old, smooth, integrated, balanced, superb. Still has the cabernet hole, but now has completely fulfilled the potential of its structure and length. Beautiful. Bit of stewed/dried pear/apple, old white characters.

What it is – chateau pichonlonguevillecomtesee de lalande 1990 softer and more opulent than most Paulliac’s – has often out pointed grand cru chateaux.



Wine No.5


Formic acid. Austere. Cabernet and darker.Capsicum.  Really chalky tannin. More than 10 years old. Stonking wine. Lengthy cabernet. Such power. Finesse. Just astounding. Again,

Round 2 –  Smells like the aftermath of a forest fire, after rain. Dark and tragic, with a hint of bbq. And brisket. Has really softened off, the structure has been accompanied by some delicious licorice and fermented blackberry. Still has some sweetness, but so savoury and whole.

What it is: duhartmilon  1990 – the third rothschild property – 4t growth, but gets some buzz cause it’s a bargain. To the left of lafite, since 1983, the dirt has started to fulfill its potential.