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Wine Reviews

Gembrook Hill Pinot Noir 2010

Gembrook Hill’s pinot noir is from vines planted in (I imagine fertile) red volcanic loam north of the town of Gembrook in the Yarra Valley but are non-irrigated, hand pruned and hand harvested.  Thus, the right sort of viticulture seems in play.  In 2010, the results are quite impressive.  Like the Villages wine just reviewed, the 2010 pinot noir is a very pale strawberry in colour.  Its aromatics however are immediately more impressive, with notes of spice, strawberries and cherries all in a medium intensity expression.  The palate has a savoury sweet and sour tartness to it, with cherries, earth, spice and short to medium length.  This wine is an exercise in spices and nuance, and certainly is of interest to the pinot noir lover.  Good

Abv: 13%
Price: $55
Vendor: http://www.gembrookhill.com.au
Website: http://www.gembrookhill.com.au
Tasted: August 2012

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Wine Reviews

Gembrook Hill Village Pinot Noir 2010

Gembrook Hill has developed a very good reputation for its wines, which are made by Timo Mayer and Andrew Marks.  The “Village” wine is the winery’s second label.  From the excellent 2010 Yarra Valley vintage, the Gembrook Hill Village is a very pale strawberry in colour, yet bright.  Its aromatics are interesting: quite cherry like, with a low-medium intensity of expression, coupled with overtones of spice.  The palate is sweet fruited, with light tannins, flavours of berry compot, packet strawberry jam and medium length.  It has a raciness and an after taste uncannily resembling strawberry jam.  This is a beguiling, different sort of Yarra Valley pinot noir that I expect will excite many and interest those that it does not excite.  For me, it pushed the boundaries a little too far.  Acceptable to Good

Abv: 13.2%
Price: mid $20s
Vendors: http://www.gembrookhill.com.au
Website: http://www.gembrookhill.com.au
Tasted: August 2012

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Wine Reviews

Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port

Cockburn has changed hands a few times over the years, but since 2010, finds itself part of the quality minded Symington family group of companies.  Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port has long been Cockburn’s most important brand.  Its style – a reserve ruby Port – is crafted as something better than a “ruby” port which is the simplest and least expensive style of Port, to be a wine with a bit more colour,
depth and interest.

The wine itself is clear rather than bright, with a medium intensity hue of ruby in colour, and noticeable tears in the glass.  Its aroma speaks of its hot Portuguese origins – baked raisins, baked plums, Christmas cake and sweet spice are all present.  On the palate, this fortified style of wine is sweet, with medium acidity, a full body, medium length (perhaps a bit longer) and medium intensity flavours of raisins, currants, baked plums and dried earth.

I suspect that many in the Gen X and Gen Y demographic in the Australian market aren’t particularly familiar with Port wines, and if they are, have probably dabbled more with the more expensive vintage Ports or perhaps tawnys, rather than the other blends.  Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port is a well made and well priced and hearty Port wine that has the advantage that it can be consumed immediately without committing infanticide.  It thus appears as a smart choice on the quality versus price spectrum.  Good to Very Good

Abv: 20%
Price: $24.99
Source: sample
Vendors: http://www.danmurphys.com.au
Website: http://www.symington.com

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Wine Reviews

Chateau Pezat 2009

I can sometimes be a bit sceptical about the quality of the wines of Bordeaux Supérieur, but this one is a good, solid claret from an outstanding vintage (2009).  It’s a blend of 85% merlot and 15% cabernet franc and the vineyard itself is not far from St Emilion.  Its regional expression is probably more dominant than its constituent grape varieties.

Bright, it has a medium to pronounced intensity hue of ruby in the glass.  Classic aromatics of blackcurrants, cedar and clove feature, with a medium intensity expression.  The palate is dry, with medium(-) tannins, short to medium length and dominant cedar and clove flavours, together with black pepper and blackcurrants.  The tannins are quite fine grained, and the overall mouthfeel savoury.  At $28, it’s not bad value. This is the sort of wine I’d love to see in the low $20s, as I think it would fly out the door.  Good

Abv: 14%
Price: $28
Vendors: http://www.bordeauxshippers.com.au
Website: n/a
Tasted: August 2012

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Wine Reviews

Arrogant Frog Croak Rotie Shiraz 2011

The wine’s name is kind of humorous for wine geeks I guess, although I suspect it may elicit more than a couple of blank stares.  A blend of 91% shiraz and 9% viognier, in name and composition it plainly is aimed at capturing the shiraz viognier market, at the modest price of $11.  A deep purple in colour, it opens to an unexpectedly intense aroma, for a Pays d’Oc wine, of plums, spices and apricots.  The palate has medium-high acid, medium tannins, some length, plums and apricots.  To nit pick, there is a slight sweetness suggesting some residual sugar, and perhaps the viognier is handled a little heavy handedly.  For the price, it’s hard to be too fussy.  Acceptable to Good



Abv: 13.5%
Price: $10.99
Source: sample
Vendors: http://www.danmurphys.com.au
Website: http://www.arrogantfrog.fr
Tasted: August 2012

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Wine Reviews

St. Stephan’s Crown 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszu 2005

I haven’t tried a Tokaji Aszu for years – since living in London really.  This is probably because (a) I don’t drink that much sweet wine and (b) the local Australian versions or Sauternes usually fit the bill.  But it is a classic style of the wine world, and of Hungary in particular, and it is worth a look for something different.  For those unfamiliar with the style, the reference to Aszu is a reference to a botrytis affected style, and the grape used is mostly the furmint.  The number of Puttonyos has a linear relationship with the grams per litre of residual sugar in the wine.  5 Puttonyos, as in this case, corresponds to approximately 120g/l of residual sugar.

What then of the wine, you say.  It is golden in colour, with an orange tinge and a pale intensity of expression.  The aroma is clean, with pronounced intensity notes of honey, caramel, butterscotch, brown sugar and orange blossom.  It is developing.  The palate is sweet with medium-high acidity, medium body, and similar butterscotch, honey and caramel flavours, together with some dried apricots, set to medium length.  This is a good example of the style.  Good to Very Good

Abv: 11.5%
Price: mid $40s
Vendors: check Wine Searcher
Website: n/a
Tasted: July 2012

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Wine Reviews

Weingut Bernhard Huber Malterdinger Pinot Noir 2009

There’s a first for everything, and this is the first German pinot noir I’ve reviewed on this website, from the southerly region of Baden.  It’s a good one too.  A between pale and medium intensity ruby in colour, the wine is bright in the glass.  Its aroma is clean, with a quite pronounced intensity aroma of cherries, spice, and some savoury attractive sappy characters.

It is quite youthful at 3 years old.  On the palate, it is dry, with trademark high acidity for this quite northerly home for pinot noir, with light tannins, medium body and intensity, notes of cherries and spice, and between medium and long length.  This is a great little wine due to the length and balance of its fruit, and I would gladly buy more of it.   Very Good

Abv: 13.5%
Price: n/a
Vendors: It may be imported by Cellarhand as it’s in their portfolio.  I suggest speaking with them for retail distribution.
Website: http://www.weingut-huber.com
Tasted: July 2012

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Wine Reviews

Arrogant Frog Ribet Red Cabernet Merlot 2011

The “Arrogant Frog” series of wines hail from the region now known as Pays D’Oc Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP). At $10.99 they are keenly priced and appear designed to be noticed and, I am guessing, to compete with the Yellow Tails of the wine world. It’s even bottled under screwcap.

The “Ribet” cabernet merlot is a blend of 55% cabernet sauvignon and 45% merlot. For $11, it’s not too bad. A medium intensity purple in colour, it is bright in the glass. The aroma had some varietal typicity, and a bit of interest, with notes of clove, black cherry, thyme, dusty earth and bay leaf.  The palate presented reasonably well with between short and medium length and some bay leaf and blackcurrant notes.  It was more disjointed on the second day, some residual sugar showing a bit more, and the alcohol a little pokey.  But for $11, it’s hard to be too critical, and I suspect it’s designed to be drunk “then and there”.  Acceptable to Good

Abv: 13.5%
Price: $10.99
Source: sample
Vendors: Dan Murphy’s
Website: Arrogant Frog
Tasted: August 2012

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Wine Reviews

Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Reserva 2006

The Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Reserva 2006 vintage is a good rather than very good wine. It would have been much better had it not have been beaten quite so severely with the oak stick. A medium to pronounced ruby in appearance, the wine’s aroma is a study in oak, butter, vanilla, oily popcorn kernels, some volatile acidity, vanish, oak and oak. Now, did I mention the oak? On the palate, powdery tannins, vanilla, cola and plums are accompanied by medium length, perhaps even a bit more. With time, and the next day, the oak and lactic characters become more dominant. A slight rawness to the wine is suggestive of a lack of integration between fruit and wood. If it were a school report card, I would write “talented student but could have done better”. Good

Abv: 14%
Price: $26
Vendors: Try Wine Searcher
Website: Marques de Murrieta
Tasted: August 2012

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Wine Reviews

Coriole Sangiovese 2011

Coriole have some of Australia’s oldest plantings of sangiovese, with vineyards dating from 1985.  Being partial to sangiovese, a grape variety that Australia has mostly struggled with, the older vine Coriole sangiovese naturally caught my attention.

Unfortunately, and despite wishing that the position were otherwise, I didn’t find this wine particularly commendable.  The 2011 vintage is a light to medium intensity ruby in colour, and opens to a medium intensity aroma of packet cherries, earth and what I will describe as “weeds in water”.  This latter weedy character is particularly evident.  On the palate, this is a lighter style of sangiovese, lacking the structure and tannin profile of the heartier versions that I prefer, with candied cherries to the fore, and only the briefest of length evident.  While perfectly adequate, this is not a style of wine I seek out and it is hopefully a victim of the wet 2011 vintage in the McLaren Vale.  Acceptable

Abv: 14%
Price: $18
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.coriole.com
Tasted: August 2012