Category: Wine Reviews

Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Pinot Noir 2018

This is another good 10X pinot noir release from Ten Minutes by Tractor on the Mornington Peninsula. This leading producer always offers a wealth of useful regional vintage information. Specifically, the 2018 vintage saw a late budburst (20 September – two weeks later than 2016), a warm spring, perfect conditions at flowering (24 November compared with 11 November in 2016 and 5 December in 2017) and consequent good yields coupled with an early harvest (17 March, compared with 1 April in 2016). Overall, it was 10X Tractor’s shortest ever hang time of 179 days from budburst to harvest.

In the glass, the 2018 10X pinot noir is a vivid red in colour, and has a smokey, minerally aroma. The palate is quite fruity, with good length, and displays a balanced expression of cherries and spice. It gained complexity with time in the glass – a good sign. Overall, this is a good release that can be approached now. Rating: Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $34. Website: www.tenminutesbytractor.com.au. Source: Sample.

Young & Co Berry Riot French Grenache 2018

The label is certainly bright, but the wine in the glass is good and it’s smart to keep French labels simple. A Vin de France, this grenache presents as fresh and enjoyable. It has aromas of redcurrants and strawberries. The palate is spicey, with a pleasant balance and length on the finish. Ready to drink now, the wine presents as both varietal and typical of the southern French grenache style. Rating: Good. Abv: 14%. Price: $23. Website: bws.com.au. Source: Sample.

Ponsot Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes 2015

This wine from Domaine Ponsot is in a very difficult stage of its development. It presents in a raw fashion, with very fruit driven aromas of cherry and blackcurrant and resounding acidity and hardness on the palate. It is quite a difficult wine to appreciate at this point, and needs at least a further decade of cellaring to even show its potential. I don’t think decanting will be sufficient to present it for current drinking. Reflecting on this wine across its dimensions of esteemed producer, great vintage and wonderful vineyard, it is difficult to recommend this wine at this stage. Oh well, someone has to try these wines. Sealed using the unusual Ardea seal. Rating: Good (in the future), Acceptable now. Abv: not recorded. Price: $300+. Website: http://www.domaine-ponsot.com.

Raveneau Chablis Montée de Tonnerre 2013

A first for everything, this time a Raveneau wine from Chablis, and premier cru vineyard Montée de Tonnerre in particular. A grand cru in style, this wine has a gorgeous aroma of lemon and minerals. The palate reminds of jasmine, yoghurt and has a resounding linear acidity. This is an outstanding wine that can be approached now, but will suit further cellaring of 5-10 years. Rating: Outstanding. Abv: 13%. Price: $300. Website: NA.

If you are interested in Chablis, you can click here for a much longer post from the region in 2015.

Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve

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I don’t normally post on non-vintage Champagnes, but the quality of this Charles Heidsieck wine was quite compelling.  Golden in colour, it has an overt and rather delicious aroma of biscuit and yeast.  The palate is dry, fresh, has racy acidity, together with definitive lemon and cedar notes.  This is a very attractive, special occasion style Champagne, that presents excellent value at around $95.  Rating: Very Good.  Abv: not recorded.  Price: $95.  Website: https://charlesheidsieck.com/en.  

Eight nebbiolos

Here is a belated set of notes in relation to an excellent Barolo and Barbaresco tasting in May. My observations were, in no particular order: (i) the average quality of the wines was very high, (ii) the best wines had the firmest acidity and they were actually from both Barolo and Barbaresco (I had expected the Barolo wines would be a little firmer), (iii) the two 2013 vintage wines presented particularly well, (iv) the differences between Barolo and Barbaresco in blind tasting were very slight and (v) the future appears bright for the region, at least based on these wines. In terms of local comparisons, I am yet to taste an Australian nebbiolo that has a similar character, or is in close to the same league, in terms of quality. This differs from even pinot noir. Perhaps nebbiolo is a grape variety that does not travel well. This I think is worth some further thought.

And now the wines:

Tenimenti Fontanafredda La Rosa Barolo Serralunga 1999
First up, the oldest wine of the set. This 1999 vintage Barolo has aromas of cedar, luscious fruit even at 20 years of age, and florals. The oak is slightly obvious, but the palate has good length, and is earthy. Ready to drink now, this wine continued to evolve and improve in the glass. Rating: Very Good.

CA’ del Baio Asili Barberesco 2013
Considerably younger and from a classic year, this wine opens to aromas of cherry and redcurrant. The palate has very firm and pleasing acidity, great length and herbal undertones. This is a very good to outstanding wine, that can be approached now, but will benefit from a decade or longer in the cellar. Rating: Very Good to Outstanding.

Ceretto Barolo 2010
Aromas of earth, herbs and florals. The acidity is not quite as firm, but it has great length and complexity. This wine can be approached now. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14%.

Benevelli Piero Ravera Barolo Monforte 2010
This wine has aromas of herbs, earth and florals. The palate has firm acidity and terrific fruit. Approachable now, but will suit extended ageing. Rating: Very Good.

Bruno Giacosa Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba Barolo 2007
In a very good group, the star of this wine shone brightest. It has a herbal and blackcurrant aroma. The palate has very firm acidity and is classical in style. In its drinking window, but this is still young at 12 years of age. Rating: Outstanding. Abv: 14%.

Gaja Barbaresco 2004
This wine provided the most sui generis expression of nebbiolo in this group. It has a herbal nose running into red currants, together with a soft liquorice character. On the palate, this is an approachable, lovely wine, with softer, but fine boned acidity. Rating; Very Good. Abv: 14%.

Roagna Pajè Barberesco 2013
This proved an outstanding wine. Intensely youthful, it is firmly coiled, but with evident fruit and a herbal overlay. The palate is tannic with long length and is particularly structured. This wine has a decade or more ahead of it and, for current drinking, ideally would benefit from a few more years of slumber. Rating: Very Good to Outstanding.

Barale Fratelli Serraboella Barbaresco 2010
Herbal, redcurrant, firm acidity. Well, not much to say then on this wine, but it left a favourable impression. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14%.

d’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier McLaren Vale 2015

This is a very typical expression of shiraz from McLaren Vale. The 2015 vintage of d’Arenberg’s “The Laughing Magpie” has aromatics of plums and spice. The palate has good density of fruit, fresh acidity and is brooding in bearing. This wine can be approached now, but will be best with aeration and short term (2-3 years) cellaring. Rating: Good. Abv: 14.5%. Website: https://www.darenberg.com.au. Source: Sample.

Williams Crossing by Curly Flat Pinot Noir Macedon Ranges 2017

This is an excellent pinot noir from Curly Flat in the Macedon Ranges and the 2017 vintage. It has a subtle and attractive aroma of rhubarb. The palate is restrained with racy acidity, but also has a plump cherry like viscosity. Burgundian in style, this is an excellent Villages level type pinot noir, that is ready to drink now. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13.3%. Price: $29. Website: https://www.curlyflat.com. Source: Sample.

Château Cos Labory Saint-Estèphe 2003

2003 was a drought vintage in Bordeaux, and despite many of these wines being dismissed as a consequence, the vintage continues to provide very enjoyable drinking 16 years later. So some are wrong. Certainly, I would be a buyer of 2003s for current drinking. The 2003 Cos Labory has brooding aromatics of earth and cedar. The palate has reminders of licorice and earth, with good length and balance on the finish. Ready to drink now, this wine is in its best drinking window. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $70+. Website: http://www.cos-labory.com.

Coleraine Te Mata Estate Hawkes Bay 2007

Coleraine Te Mata Estate from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand is regarded as a leading cabernet blend from this part of the world. The 2007 vintage here fell somewhat short of (high) expectations. Its aroma reminds of tomato bush and dried herbs and its palate is fully mature. It retains a quiet elegance and has a persistent if subtle length which is appealing. This vintage most closely resembles an aged Yarra Valley cabernet in style, which are generally available for far less. Ready to drink now, this bottle has entered a gentle decline. Rating: Good. Abv: Not recorded. Price: $90+. Website: https://www.temata.co.nz.