Cape Mentelle 2010 Shiraz – Home Is Where the eTag Is

Mail is a strange thing, nowadays it tells us less and less; no more Franklin Mint, I now have to pay my bank to get a piece of paper with how much of my money they have, it has resulted in a cesspool of Crust coupons, and strata title meetings that are not addressed to me. Though occasionally something of note arrives that sends things a tad out of kilter. It appeared much as any other slightly larger than normal packages, with a slight, “I’m important” edge to it. It was my eTag, it was quite bizarre really, but as I slowly unzipped the anit-static packaging, and I realised that it was over, license changed, old plates gone, and now this beeping plastic wonder, the jewel of the Victorian transport privatisation policy, was now in my possession, there was a pang, if only mild, for the familiar, bad coffee, limited trading hours, dry heat, overtly high beverage prices, and the awkward notion that sooner or later that day, without doubt,  you will run into your old ex-girlfriend on the street.

I launched an expedition to Bearded Wine Man (BWM), with haste, convinced that I needed to source the taste of home that would instantly cure my Westerncollia. Dreaming up in my head on the way, ideas of lashes of french oak in lively chardonnay, cassis and minty pleasures, leading to Metricup Road Cabernets. This was going to be the greatest expedition since Burke and Wills, and well, it looked just as shakey. I quickly reeled off some names to BWM, he blinked, preened his beard, I preened mine, together we preened, and as I gazed around the shop at the un-western labels, I was in a quandary. BWM walked out the back, now ‘out the back’ is always interesting at independent wine stores. Now what he brought out was quite interesting seeing as  a.) I’m not a huge fan of multinational beverage companies, b.) I’m not a huge fan of Margaret River Shiraz.

Cape Mentelle 2010 Shiraz

Colour, that’s the one thing that always amazes me about Shiraz, especially youthful examples, it’s the plundering purple that gives it away. This can be seen in blind tastings, by girlfriends, fiancés, HR Managers, its vibrant, and has an affiliation with white business shirts. This wine just ‘pops’ out of the glass, you just want to swirl it around in the hope that she lights up even more. Not since drinking some central Victorian Shiraz/Viognier, have I seen such potent hues, so yes she looks pretty, but well, we have all been there, looks great at the dinner table, but can it talk. Margaret River Shiraz can for me sometimes be disorganised, I think people are always trying to make it something that it is not, and well look at the region, Margs makes, at its best, refined, elegant wines, with well assimilated french oak, with balanced,  non over ripe fruit. We can’t make the Barossa fruit cake, or the McLaren Vale velvet hammer, and do we really have to? I think some wineries have been tripping over this equation for a while, and we have the scope to make some smart, sub regional blended wines styles with fruit from Wilyabrup, all the way south to Karridale.

This wine for me is ‘pretty’, the colour, the nose, the palate, the oak integration, the fruit is there, but not heavy. For me it almost has that Côtes Du Rhône, ‘oh there is some fruit, ah its gone again’, it’s almost refreshing in nature, find that in a Shiraz article. It has some great coating vanilla characters from the oak, lifted notes of black berries, violets, and all things nice, if it was not for the outrageous colour in the glass, you could start to wonder from whence she came. Now this shiraz is not going to be for everyone, she needs some lamb, fresh rocket, pine nuts, Roquefort, aged pear, and well for me some fetta mashed potatoes, but I am a starch slut. Its delicate, but I appreciate the effort seeing 2010 was a solid vintage ripening wise, they could have made the jammy monster but decided not to. I’m torn with this one, the fruit is almost subdued, but elegant, and there are some savoury oak characters that I would like to explore, at length.

This is a difficult dance given the talent in the Chardonnay, and Cabernets section, I would try this with an open heart, and an open wallet, she is a sophisticated monster, her legacy I feel will be uncovered with years.

6.0 / 10 Sipps
$35-40 RRP



Stelvins Tasting Evening Results – Aussie Red Blends – 18 May 2012

Results from Fridays blind tasting, exploring Australian’s great blends, typed LIVE into Dr Vandermast ‘s iPAD2. Live blogging from Stelvins at @mike ’s. Theme is ‘Aussie Red Blends’. A report wine by wine as follows:

See it as it happend HERE

In attendance:


Wine No.1: Big Hot. Shiraz Grenache (guess) Barossa, shitty Grenache BBQ meat North of 14.5%

D’arenberg Shiraz Grenache it is. 14.5. The boys are fast out of the gate!

Wine No.2: dense, dark, minty and cedar wood.Sawmill nose. paperbagbrandivino reckons its Margaret River, jld reckons its Coonawarra. Probably Cab Merlot. around 2004. jld thinks older. Very elegant. paperbagbrandivino’s taking a punt on a Diana Madaleine.

Wine of the night. Lindeman’s ‘Pyrus’1998 cabernet sauvignon merlot malbec

Wine No.3:  A very nice wine, started very similar to No.2, but perhaps less savoury, more fruit released. Wine #2 was more restrained and sophisticated, but the similarities are doubtless. Good structure, suspect cab shiraz, and indications of age. 8-10 years on it. Perhaps a warmer area than 2.

Rosemount traditional 99 cab merlot petit verdot

Wine No.4: paperbagbrandivino just had an olive. Black pepper, olive bread, savoury, dense colour and flavours, shiraz blend, which suggests the blend is viognier, but its tight, young ahem etc. Warm area, barossa? Hunter? unlikely… The difference, going back to 3, is stark. 4 is not B, H and S’s bag. Sour, unbalanced – its hard work. It got tipped into the bucket. That is a rare occurrence.

d’Arenberg – 2006 – Sticks & Stones – Tempranilllo, Grenache, Tintacow, Souzo – Weird !!!

Wine No.5: Attractive nose. Bordeaux style blend. Cabernet-driven blend elegant. A bit soapy.   Pommegranate green fig, mint, god, smoky, great tannins – like those mint leaf lollies. About 6-8 years. Great structure. Chewy, very sophisticated. moreish. a cracker more margarets than cooners! Dr Vandermast

Voyager – Cab Merlot 2005. Bang on.

Wine No.6: That bastard -it’s almost black – the black hole of red wine. pencil shavings. Coonawarra. Locus classicus of aussie red blends. A beautiful but not as complex. 4-6 years. lovely but not spectacular.

1998 Penfolds Bin 389. Cab Shiraz. The locus classicus indeed…

Wine No.7: Black as night. Shiraz Voignier. A V8 commodore. A younger man’s wine. Changing in the glass, quite quickly. Fruits have come up.

Cullen Mangan 2004. Malbech Petit Verdot.

Wine No.8:  Red capsicum, herbaceous, cabernet shiraz blend, High quality Margaret. jld doesn’t like the finish. Lots of Oak. He’s on his own. @stewart likes the tannins. jld and @stewart are taking it out the back. jld thinks it’s over oaked. jld thinks it’s a cab merlot. paperbagbrandivino thinks it’s Margaret River. This is the most controversial wine of the night. I think it’s OK. BTW the other posts are by some of my drunk fellow Stelvins hence the spelling.

ok, so now we worked out that this wine is corked

Cab Shiraz from Coonawarra. 2002.

Wine No.9: A dirty old bastard. Old cork. Age. It smells. Soft Silky, It’s the smell of memory without the fact of memory. A bit of rubber band and leather, Caramel. Hasn’t got long. Palette’s got 3 minutes left. Just on its last legs. Sticking your nose in an ugg boot of a vestal virgin. If one closed one closed one’s eyes, it could be an old chardonnay. Sensational and a privilege to farewell such an elegant old gent. We think it’s 15-20 years old.

Jamison’s Run. 1988. A very old bastard.

Wine No.10: Another black bastard. A bit sweet and overcooked. a bit of age. Hot young. too early to tell. Raspberry jam Coonawarra stink. Attractive. Young 389 (jld). North of 14.5%. Needs to be drunk later. Shiraz cabernet.

Bin 389. 2004. Cab Shiraz.

Well that wraps it up for this installment, thanks again to @mike for such a great venue. Next stop on the @thestelvins train is paperbagbrandivino ‘s place in a few months, theme to be decided.

Stelvins Lord

Kooyong ‘Clonale’ 2011 Chardonnay – Design Desired

Well it was only a matter of time really, there has been something missing, a feeling really, a bit like gazing at your pet dog, while it’s licking its lips with a satisfied look on its face, and there appears to be 2 pieces of the 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle missing. You want to search, you just don’t know if you like the consequences.  I’ve been pushing it back, building bikes, riding them, playing hockey, making non chardonnay drinking acquaintances, drinking ‘other’ wines, writing about them even, but it’s there, a niggle, a faint spark. I tried to go cold turkey since the tap was abruptly shut off from whence I moved from the ‘west’, the result however, is as predictable as the flavour on my pizza shapes. I like Chardonnay; we are involved, I was ruined early though, the second the Grand Cru Montrachet passed my lips, it was over. Knowing this, take most of what I say about my beloved Chards with that in mind, I have an open heart, but a demanding one.

A woman once dear to me said you have to suffer for your art, ok, drinking wine isn’t art, but let us just run with it. It was 2005, the neo-metro’s, (let’s call them the anti-hipsters), were all practicing their pronunciation of Viognier (Vi-ohn-yay), and discovering this amazing thing called Pinot Gris. The Anything But Chardonnay Crew, had driven the movement underground, we were hosting Chardonnay wine dinners with select friends, and masquerading them as Herbalife functions on our MySpace. It was uncool, but we stuck together, huddled around the flame of devotion to the cause, and we were right – the anti-hipsters eventually couldn’t figure out their elocution, Sauvignon blanc destroyed pinot gris, and the once quiet whispers of the chardonnay birds began to return to the forest, the two towers had been silenced.

Kooyong ‘Clonale’ 2011 Chardonnay

It’s hard being a younger brother, I should know, there are expectations, boundaries, people wonder why you’re not like the ‘older’ one, things though are often closer than you think, and well, it’s just a label. This to me applies to wines as well, it can be tricky, generally you grab the second, or third tier wine, with the stars in your eyes of the big hitter.  And let’s face it Kooyong has plenty of them, whether the single vineyard series of the ‘Faultline’ or ‘Farrago’, the ‘Estate’, and then you find your way to ‘Clonale’, these are all smart wines, I remember the 2009 Estate Chardonnay in a Stelvins group tasting, mixing with well into the process with some smart 2006, Premier and Grand Cru Burgundy’s. Fair to say that I liked this wine straight of the bat, I let her warm up on the bench for a bit, I was expecting to have nostrils exploded by the usual Australian chardonnay vanilla battleaxe, but this was different. I won’t go as far as to say ‘old world’ like, but it was subtle and refined. It’s there, French oak, with toasty, nutty tones to get you interested. There is a certain elegance over her ‘western’ cousins compared to others at this price point, and let’s face it, you can throw some misguided cash at this problem, and walk out unsatisfied.

The fruit is smart with this wine, kicking in at 13%, (plus 0.5 imo), great natural, integrated acidity, and austere middle pallet, balanced with a texture malo-lactic textural feel, it has the stone fruits, ripe grapefruit, it’s all clean, almost a splash of citrus for me, which is bizarre in a malo’ed chardonnay. She is fresh, it demands some fresh fish, or seafood exploration, I’m thinking Blue Bone, with citrus brûlée blanc sauce, caramelised lime wedges, and shall we just throw some asparagus under there, with a small medallion of potato cake, to cure any starch requirements. This to me is business lunch Chardonnay in action, I like it, you like it, lets drink it, congratulate each other on the fact that we both like it, and walk away thinking that something special just happened here.

So it’s the one you meet before the big brother, but well, its younger, has less baggage, costs you less financially, uncomplicated, maybe you’ll be interested.

7.0 / 10 Sipps
$25-30 RRP


Schild Estate 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – For Whom the Red Tolls

Sorry for my tardiness, life has been somewhat hectic since my last confession, weddings, and inappropriately placed car doors notwithstanding, I’m back, and moving forward. Now, It’s cold, here in Melbourne Town, lets face it, seductive Melbourne suckered me in, tempting me with flashes of sunshine, picturesque skies, culture, hidden pockets of caffeine splendour, and an endless procession of quirky bars, affectionately known as the ‘horseshoe of death’, situated up and down Smith and Brunswick Street. But like I said, all the while I was distracted, sitting like a naive baby fur seal, waiting for a pat from a passing polar bear, I’ve come to know that obvious truth, It’s freezing here, but there is something you can do about it, clunky, slurpy, Barossa Reds.

I walked down to see my Bearded Wine Man ( my single speed got stolen), we once again discussed our beards, hipsters, and big reds. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I did used to pedal Schild back in the West, Bearded Wine Man (BWM), had not stocked them in a while, and after a small fight for the last 4 Pack of Old Mout Cider with a couple of hipster girls, I said I’d be back next week, we nodded, groomed our beards, and continued to be cool.

Schild Estate 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Now I’m first to admit Barossa, and Cabernet, are not the usual fit for something that will jump off the wine list, and demand to be ordered. It’s the wine equivalent of going out on a date with your mate’s ex, It’s fine, just as long as no-one sees you doing it. And well there is good reason for it, the noble Bordeaux variety’s are not one to take a nasty heat wave, and well that is what the Barossa has been dealing up since the cool 2006 vintage by my maths. But the news is not all bad, if you’re looking for winter warmer, and don’t feel like jumping in the full shiraz fruit cake, this wine has a lot going for it. She is a ripe little one, this is a cassis explosion, dark berries, blackberries, think overripe mulberries, on first look you almost think that it’s going to be too much, but this is where this wine is quite clever. There is some good use of some savoury oak, it’s not an American oak, white vanilla, cherry bomb, and by no means new oak, but it is there, and subtle, but pronounced. Now there is nothing to support this theory on the tasting notes, but I find a cleansing Grenache character through the mid palette, I’m not sure if there is some blended in, and hey there could be 14.9999% for all we know.

While not an overly complex drink, I think it would reward a decanter for 15-20 minutes like most Schild reds seem to do. Like a good house guest it cleans up as it goes, leaving you wanting a revisit, the 14.5% alcohol is present, but not overpowering when in the context of the overall rich flavours, and textural qualities of the wine.

She is not going to win any medals, due mostly to the lack of varietal trueness, and sophistication, but she will warm your evening, and your hip pocket.

6.5 / 10 Sipps
$18-20 RRP