CIAO VINO 2009 Sangiovese – Revenge of the Super Tuscans

I’ve been laying low, turning down the profile, upping the privacy settings to beyond paranoid levels, see due to a minor technical glitch, and what I can only imagine to be a wheelbarrow load of unclaimed mail I’ve reached a level of civil noncompliance  That, and you never quite know when a member of Vic Roads is among your anthill sized readership, will jump out of your monitor and wheel clamp your mouse on the pad. I’ve shaved the beard, cut the hair, bought new south-side looking jeans, found a bike with gears, and plotted the shortest route to most south american embassy’s in the greater Melbourne Area, I’m a glass of new wave Albariño away from being unrecognizable. I still managed to make it to Bearded Wine Man the Second’s Shop (BWM2), things are getting warmer here, humid, I walked in clean shaven and looked over, the Bearded ones stood there, twitching, scratching, now is the time when you earn your Hipster Stripes, that beard, once your wind breaking friend is now the wicked witch of itchiness, but hey, there are at least long necks of Coopers to get you through.

CIAO VINO 2009 Sangiovese

It was hard times all round, and none taking it more than the Italian wine industry, they have been getting it in the neck from all quarters, first us, then Spain, now Chile. That and they seem to be surrounded by countries that can’t count money. The Italian’s, like the French have been making booze for some time, Sangiovese’s roots go back to pre biblical times in fact,  and like the french they too have a stiff appellation system, making pedaling, even labeling your wine, tricky at the best of times. Something had to give, so the Italians went on a little drive north, grabbed some cuttings of Bordeaux Cabernet and Merlot, grafted over some temperamental indigenous varieties and the Super Tuscan was born, the two old world towers combined to fight the new world scourge. One strong when the other weak, together in the fight against vintage variation, and a consistent product, who knows someone might actually buy it?

CIAO VINO 2009 Sangiovese

Let’s not beat about, CIAO VINO has most likely gone to Italy, lassoed this vino for a good price, bottled it, labeled it, and sent it packing to a place where people have money to buy it, and I for one are not upset in the slightest. This is a balanced, introductory wine for those not acquainted, or maybe not previously willing to throw money at our savory wine making cousins. It can be an expensive exercise purchasing some DOC/DOCG grade Chianti, just to find that you could have found a similar experience by walking into a classroom and chewing on some white chalk. This more Vin de pays experience gives a bit of tease, without the front on palate curling assault. She doesn’t sit heavy in the glass like our local bold reds, and more of brick red transparency than our purple hues. When first opened there is the usual ‘dusty jam’ from the Sangiovese, but with some punchy fruits from the french Bordeaux connection, these soften with some air, and I would recommend some time in the glass/opened, but not a full decant.  Structure and acidity is what makes this wine smart, the palate has a great freshness and vibrancy, it’s not cluttered, or bulky, the Sangiovese brings great layers of plum flavour with punchy acidity, the Cabernets warm fruits, berries, with great curvy balance. Find a lamb, feed it some grass, pat it, hit it on the head and bring it home, it wants to meet this wine, in your mouth, tonight.

This wine excites me, she brings structured, classy Italian expression in the below $23 dollar bracket. Put it against some local fair at that price and I know where I would be spending my money. If you enjoy your Cabernet, but want to explore the idea of savory wine that doesn’t leave your palate feeling like a multi-storey car park, then this is worth a spin, and at 13% alcohol it won’t put the dinner party to sleep before dessert.

So she has made her journey all the way here, you might as well bring her home to meet your pet Australian lamb.

7.0 / 10 Sipps
$21-23 RRP


Quealy ‘Musk Creek’ 2011 Pinot Gris – Are You Interested?

WANTED: One Richmond wine store, preferably quirky, independent, creative, lightly lit, seductive, wooden floor boards optional. Must have international experience, ability to have French speaking female staff desirable, varied stock rotation a plus, and at least one Grand Cru Burgundy somewhere in the shop Apply Here. I moved, I’m now connected to the ‘internets’ once more, and have returned. There is only one problem Bearded Wine Man (BWM) is gone, and so has his shop, it’s not so much that I don’t want to go back, it’s that I can’t. I’m further south, the beards are neater, the trimming tauter, the bikes for the most part have gears, and are shinny, women have makeup on, and your ripped skinny jeans make you look like you just couldn’t afford a new pair at Dimmey’s. I launched an expedition to BWM’s sister shop up north, with each pedal stroke I felt I was returning to the motherland, to the warm bosom of men wearing hats, and ladies with pixie cuts, tofu burgers, and vegan special’s nights.

The familiar is comforting in times of change, but sometimes a change of tack is required, this unfortunately cannot be seen as synonymous with 96% of the Australian wine drinking public. Ever wondered why out of the 5 fridges at your wine store, 1 of them is full of Sauvignon Blanc? Well its mostly due to Pinot Gris losing the good fight to the New Zealand menace, and well let’s not mess about, there are reasons, Sauvignon Blanc was the cheap date. I see it as the push up bra of the wine world, it looks fantastic till you get it home and unwrap it. Pinot Gris is a touch inaccessible to most, you’re going to have to think about things a bit to approach her, not just get a large club.

Quealy ‘Musk Creek’ 2011 Pinot Gris

Quealy, born of T’Gallant Vineyards, or should I say ‘the sale’ of T’Gallant Vineyards, and well let’s face it, if a large, albeit overexcited beverage company comes to you with a blank cheque, you fill the thing out and go forth on your own. And the Quealy’s did just that, they knew all the growers, and knew all the best bits, and went and conquered. Concentrating on Alsatian, Burgundian, and Italian varietals, they have for my mind stayed true to Mornington’s strengths, and I’ll be upfront, I’m a sucker for a single vineyard ‘anything’. This wine just looks classy in the glass, vibrant and clear, she is inviting, the nose presents in the Alsatian Gris style, lifted and clean, initially I had sherbet & confectionary lifts that morphed through to more traditional Australian Gris notes of stone fruits and pear. For me she really is a great introduction to European styles on the nose. Want acid? This has it in spades, not as austere as her Riesling cousins, but not far off. The palate is full and vibrant, she ‘pops’ on the tongue, great mid range depth and punch, the fruit is forward but not weighty. The citrus and lime keeps coming, its clean, its full, it’s exciting, pickup the meanest green Thai curry you can find and she will bat it away. This is one of the more serious, concentrated Australian Gris that I have had in a long time.

With Australian Gris like this hitting the fridge for around the same price as Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc, it may just be time to get out of our heads, and move our hearts over to something new. This is not like going and buying a beverage, your participating in an experience, visiting a terroir, seeing someone else’s vision, not just drinking 0.750 litre’s out of a 65,000 litre thermo tank with fermentation temperature stabilising bromide strips. This is all going to happen one bottle at a time, one fridge at a time, and in the words of a most likely as successful change making campaign, “Yes We Can!”

So, do you come to this fridge often? I’ve been here for a while, are you interested?

7.0 / 10 Sipps
$28-32 RRP



Clayfield ‘Massif’ 2009 Shiraz – Interviews With Myselves

The dynamics of house hunting, it’s a bizarre ritual belonging to the transient, and un-mortgaged amongst us, you would spend more time debating the pros and cons of crunchy verses super crunchy peanut butter, than you would choosing your prospective ‘house partner’. It is  much like the first date, the interview stage, and let’s face it, that CV contains a small amount of poetic smudging, describing just how amazingly well adjusted, and ‘chilled’ you are, your love of the outdoors, exercise, and just how do you manage to get the time between work, and that part time job as a dolphin trainer. World peace? Sure let me in your house, and this too can be yours, just don’t mention that your idea of doing the dishes is an in-house Jenga party at the end of the week. You fully realise the lack of personal continuity between interviews, swinging between aloof and mysterious, learned and bookish, loud and engaging, it’s all about playing to the crowd, exhausting? Well I just expressed an interest in tofu burgers, the things we do for underground storage.

My move will take me away from Bearded Wine Man, I dropped the news this week, I was slightly jealous seeing that his beard has been newly sculpted with muffin chops, I had shaved mine, I pretended to preen mine and that it was not bothering me. He informed me that he was taking his beard to London, I had been jealous for no reason.  I looked for something heavy to make me feel better, I had not touched a Grampian Shiraz for a while, the last being a Mount Langi 2001 Shiraz. These are for the most part concentrated wines, with depth and character, though in cooler years can get a bit ‘sappy’, a bit like under ripe Pemberton / Demark Shiraz from back home.

Clayfield ‘Massif’ 2009 Shiraz

Victorian Shiraz has a tuff gig in my opinion, the South Australians do it well, Barossa, the Vale, Clare and Eden Valleys push out some serious wines, at some very accessible price points. Many a Melbournite reaches for interstate options instead of looking in their backyard. I have always been a fan of regional Grampians booze, these are some smart wines, being accessible early, and aging with structure. Leading to the Clayfield’s Shiraz; the colour concentration leaps at you in that varietal purple hue, this 2009 vintage is still all primary fruit colours and light, and the nose follows through. I find dark fruits, and a subtle but interesting star anises character, cloves, and the usual spicy pepper suspects. Some older French oak , I was intensely searching for the vanilla hit, and I can’t say I was missing it. The palate re-enforces this, there is no railroading oak regime marching down your tongue, the fruit is generous on the mid pallet but not sloppy, with structure from the fruit tannin and older oak to round out the sensuous mouth feel. Beginnings and hints of secondary characters start to form on the pallet once the wine has seen some air, but she is by no means crumbling into a heap in front of your eyes. There is not a massive amount of acid kicking around, that being said, hit it now, or hold onto 2014.

If you can move away from the Barossa jam jars, this is a wine designed for slow cooked beef cheeks, kangaroo, or lamb shanks with potato puree, or just a simple French styled Cassoulet. The dense gamey / meat characters, with this structured finesse wine, will make for a meal, both warming and comforting, and intricate and sophisticated. I would have to say that this wine surprised me, the Mount Langi wines have more ‘punch’, but I am seduced by the subtle nature of this temptress. You will find yourself topping up for guest glasses, and your own with, surprising regularity, this is a creeper.

For me this is the sexy librarian of Australian Shiraz, understated but intriguing, passive but firm.  Maybe she needs a housemate?

7.0 / 10 Sipps
$30-34 RRP



Pizzini 2010 Sangiovese – On Shaky Ground

It has been a good week of passive research, I have discovered two things so far. One; drinking red wine makes you immune from the effects of an earthquake, for I didn’t feel a thing and I was all prepared to jump into the bathtub, I am assuming that is what you should do. The second discovery being my Riedel Vinum series wine glass is officially rated to 5.3 on the Richter Scale. She handled it like a dream; impressive engineers those Austrians – the bullet proof vest, Me-262 engine, designer glassware, and then a small annexation spoils the party. Now for me you only truly know who your friends are when they break your fancy stemware, and you still talk to them. This is a difficult task for me, I feel it comes from the ‘wrongness priority disorder,’ that I have inherited from my father, symptoms being; take the car for an afternoon joyride, no worries son, high school girlfriend in your room, nice one, elusive  pea falls on the floor at the dinner table, now you will not be leaving the house for a month. The thought of throwing ‘breakees’ off my balcony does in fact cross my mind, that or threatening them with the broken stems, enforced wine-floor licking, dispensing super glue, but I smile, get up, and pass the banister broom, and walk away, this is Zen glassware.

I love a big glass, I like swirling it, I like watching the legs erotically flow down, how a wine develops, and most importantly I can fit my nose in them. All the better to smell things with, and well this week I have had a craving for ‘dirt’. Bearded Wine Man was a bit light on in the Spanish and Italian departments, so I went for an Italian in Australia. My first dalliance with Sangiovese was the Primo Estate Shiraz/Sango and it was time to take another spin on the merry go round. The King Valley seems to be ground zero for Italian varietals in Oz at the moment, and really, why grow apples, when you can make wine; and lose money.

Pizzini 2010 Sangiovese

The European styles really lend themselves to enjoying with food, and to be honest, the drinking of wine as a standalone entity is really a ‘new world’ philosophy. Hence we go for the big, flashy fruit driven styles, though I see this changing, and wines like this, for me are leading the charge. The nose has a dusty, developed fruit character that just sucks me in. There is still a ping of zippy primary fruit to keep it vibrant; dark mulberry, and cherry, cedar box / cigar old French oak, minimal vanilla. The overall effect as described by an old fellow hospitably worker  as ‘dusty, strawberry jam,’ and you are there. I often think there are wines that taste as they smell, and this is most defiantly one of them, she has an interesting mix of savoury characters, with the ripe fruits punching through on the palate. I could maybe want for more tannin from the older oak, but then I am a slut for tannin, but I am none the less left wanting. The possible oxidative handling techniques have maybe stripped the primary fruit characters, at the expense of a weighty feel on palate. There is a textural feel to the wine, the palate is defined and structured, but this is a wine designed to enjoyed with food, and for my money snacks are required reading on this one.

If you are going to take your Australian drinking hat off for a second, then this a one to have a look at. This is a Sunday afternoon conversational cheese wine with friends, some pâté, sour dough, capers, smoked salmon, and at 13.1 % alcohol you will respect yourself in the morning. This is not a light weight wine, but I feel she is best enjoyed with friends, and with compliments, plenty of both really for maximum effect. She is a nice introduction to her more chalky tannin European cousins, the gateway wine so to speak, and I like that an Australian Vineyard is moving in this direction.

So it’s a relaxing book and bath wine, or getting together with friends by the lake, with overly tame ducks stealing your crackers. I like that she is a vehicle to take you somewhere, and that you just might remember it afterwards.

6.5 / 10 Sipps
$23-27 RRP



Farfalla 2008 Pinot Noir – The Reckoner

Same, but different –  there are certain similarities to the Melbournites and their often disowned Western cousins. There are also things that we can’t decide on, and lets face it the 2750 kms between us has done plenty to enforce that. Take for example that we couldn’t decide on what which railroad gauge would be the best to use, we also tried once also to secede from the federation; the Easterners decided that would not be a good idea also, truth be known we owed the Crown oodles, and were up to our wellingtons in debt, how times change. We both play cricket, football, and have an affliction to Queenslanders. But I will say there is one thing, or prhase that sets us apart, ‘you reckon’. Now for my money ‘you reckon’ does not exist in Perth,. It may in Bunbury, but not in general Perth society, not on St George’s Terrace, not in Fremantle. ‘You reckon’ is a staple in Melbourne, for me it is the phonetic equivalent of grown men on scooters, you see it, but just look away, but it will find you anywhere, spoken out of the mouths of people whom moments earlier you had a glowing opinion of. Now I am no grammatical elitist, you should see the list of people this blog goes to before it is published, but just  how the ‘reckoning’ happened surely has a PHD in there somewhere, and someone should get onto it, ASAP bru.

I only discovered the true extent of my infection when on the phone to mother, and it was out before I could stop, you could almost hear her heart sink, all of that private schooling, the after school tutors, had amounted to a sketchy wine blog, and menial bike building abilities. Now you reckon, you would think that all is lost, but now while there are great differences, there are those of which to be thankful for, Western Australian for my money cannot make midrange priced Pinot Noir if its life depended on it; what exists is a cesspool of strawberry boringness, green tight tannins, jamy fruits, or stuck ferments.

Farfalla 2008 Pinot Noir

Let’s not mess about, Pinot Noir is a fickle mistress, I remember a story from a winery back home, Old Kent River, once made a gold medal Pinot off a block of one year, that the next didn’t even go into budburst. She makes you earn it, far more fickle than her Burgundian sibling Chardonnay, Pinot knows what it likes, and won’t put out till she knows you’re going to stick around. The demand for a long ripening season, low temperature variation, low yielding soils, massive vineyard canopy management, massive disease susceptibility, that makes for an interesting vineyard expedition back west. Hot vintage? Pinot don’t like. Next door’s vineyard got bugs? Pinot don’t like. Backpackers don’t turn up to trim, Pinot don’t like. Accidently irrigate the wrong block, Pinot grapes explode. So you can see that the fact that all of this is not coming to you in a $25 bottle, all of the time is not overly surprising. But occasionally you will find one, and you should tell anyone that will listen. Now I must admit I initially purchased this wine for the Freudian butterfly like label, but maybe that was just me.

This is an inviting varietal wine, it has the Mornington cherry, strawberry nose, but there is something dirty about it, not the forest floor nonsense, but I really get a ‘funkiness’ from this wine, and I like that in Australian pinot, a wild ferment, yeasty portion blended back into the mix at a guess. It’s delicate and poised on the nose, and this transfers onto the palate. It has every indication of being a savoury delight, and does not disappoint, I enjoy the balance of fruit and acid, she is cleansing and refreshing. I could almost want for more fruit depth, but I enjoy that tease of savoury tannin, and deep cherry fruits. The only trick being is to rip it out early, and dazzle your guest with this heavy hitting featherweight, or wait and partner with your cheese selection. I would opt for the latter, it needs be discussed, and dissected. I want to throw her in with some Kooyong, Port Phillip, Paringa Pinots, taste blind, and see what comes out on top, she is trouble for $40 Victorian Pinots.

This is not your fleshy Otago dinner destroyer, nor an old world replacement, but certainly an enjoyable postcard from Burgundy, and at a fraction of the airfare.

7.0 / 10 Sipps
$21-25 RRP


p.s If you are having a hard time finding her please send me a message.

Hugel 2008 Gewurztraminer – Everybody Should Want You

It was all going so well, I had all of the pieces of the puzzle, sourced from all of the right places, the finished product was sure to be a fine one, all you had to do was put them all together. I stood there with my brother ‘ Doctor Who’ (DW), we were in the process of making the replacement to my recently stolen fixie, dubbed ‘White Lightning’, only problem was it was just not going together, everything looked great on the ground, but all it was doing was starting to look like a wounded Voltron character, the car Voltron, not the crazy one made of lions, which in my mind was completely unrealistic.  Things are always tricky when you don’t understand all of the components, or for that matter have bought them of numerous eBay sites, exploiting the what was then weak American dollar. There was no doubt that littered on DW’s living room floor was quite a pretty spectacle of bicycle componentry, but all in all a conceptually non-working product.To Hugel Site Click

Now this for me is how most large scale wineries marketing departments must feel about Gewurztraminer; on paper it has every piece of the puzzle, it is for my money one, if not the most versatile wine in a sommeliers arsenal. You can hold it up your sleeve, and devastate a degustation, or be liege your friend’s dinner party. She is your trump card, the slightly akward girl at high school you wished you talked to more, who rocks up at the ten year reunion fresh from the runway in Milan. You can not for the Life of Brian give the stuff away, trust me, I tried. The masses just have not quite switched on to this variety, it has everything you should want, and yet don’t take. I feel it suffers from Viognier Syndrome (VS), she is phonetically challenging, and thus sits in most restaurant fridges on the account of embarrassment. Maybe it is need of a rebrand, the German Translation contextually meaning “perfumed”. This was the first French wine I ever tasted at a Negociants Tasting back in South Perth, I had up till that point not seen anything like it, and she still gives me goose bumps.

Hugel 2008 Gewurztraminer

“Boom” that is about the first thing that will hit you when you put your nose in the glass of this wine, if you ever have someone tell you that white wine doesn’t have enough body for them, Fed Ex them a bottle of this to rectify the issue. Some may find her characters a bit much, but I enjoy them, Gewurztraminer and her southern Rhône cousin Marsanne, for me are the white wines for red wine drinkers. Once they warm up in the glass they will assault your senses, your nose, and your palate, will experience favours enough to make you double take. So lets have a look at this often reclusive wine, “its like an onion.”

The dead giveaway, not that it’s a big leap, for Alsace Gewurztraminer, is that that the second you put your nose into the glass, you are transported to a tropical oasis, complete with an onsite fruit market. It is an amazing feat that such a smell could come out of an appellation with a mean summer temperature of 18°c. It is lychee heaven, with a side of ripe loquats, it is a perfume to rival the real thing, and for me surpasses the original, the lifted notes just keep on coming to an almost confectionary character, a sherbet like experience. I really can’t exaggerate enough that this wine will give you a ‘smelling’ experience that you most likely have not had in your lives, the ethyl compounds in this wine are a gift from mother nature.  The palate just continues the onslaught, there is body here beyond belief. This isn’t sweetness, this is fruit weight at her finest, it reaches all across, and the tropical, dense flavours of loquats, paw-paw, lychee, continue in what can only be called a siege upon your senses. The true secret of this wine is its ability to enhance Asian, especially Thai cuisine, I cannot over estimate the extreme amount of chilli this wine can compliment, she wants for coriander, ginger, chilli, anything you can get in the pot, my preference is whole Red Emperor stuffed with all of the above, you will not be disappointed.

Very few times in life do you get to experience something truly out of the box, this wine for me is the Universe’s way of telling us she has more up her sleeve, I know it’s all just chemicals reacting with other enzymes on my tongue, but well, I’m all in, and to be honest there is a little part of me that is happy that everyone else is not.

8.0 / 10 Sipps
$33-37 RRP


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