I read the other day in Decanter that cabernet sauvignon may be in decline in Victoria. Were it to be read as a comment on the quality potential of the grape on Victorian soil, I would respectfully disagree. It would be a great pity were this type of thinking to take root as applicable to a region as climatically large and diverse as Victoria.
Brown Brothers’ 2014 Victorian cabernet sauvignon is a workman like example of a cool climate cabernet. The grapes are sourced from all over Victoria, with Heathcote and the King Valley mentioned. It is medium bodied with blackcurrant and bramble fruit influences and a touch of backbone. Acceptable to Good
This is an impressive Rhône style rosé from Alkimi. It’s made using the saignée method, and is rather humbly described by its winemaker Stuart Dudine as a wine created by necessity. I would say necessity has been kind then, because I think this is a very good rosé. From grenache, syrah and roussanne, but mostly grenache, it has aromatics of strawberry and nectarines. The palate has a viscous texture and a lovely balance to it. This is easy to recommend.
Rating: Good to Very Good Abv: 14% Price: $25 Source: sample Vendors and website: http://alkimiwines.com Tasted: 2016
Unwittingly, I find myself tasting a rosé with 7 years of age on it. The result is better than expected – the wine seems to be holding up rather well, whereas I was expecting it would be flat and tired. Instead, its primary fault is that it has resolved to something definitive in its lack of interest. Aromatics of stone fruits, and a palate that is dry with similar flavours. I don’t suggest ageing rosé.
Well, here’s a bit of a surprise for a little under $20 and produced locally, albeit from grapes grown in three States.
Taltarni’s sparkling Taché wine from the 2010 vintage has a dash of colour, probably salmon pink is the right description, with small and persistent bubbles. It opens to evident aromatics of yeast, bread, strawberries and raspberries. On the palate, it is clean with high acid, a creamy mousse and medium intensity flavours of strawberry, lemon, toast, yeast and minerals. Rather stylish drinking really. Tasted blind, the only pointer to it not being from Champagne, was the shortish length and perhaps the purity of fruit. That the wine is made locally from Victorian, South Australian and Tasmanian grapes, is vinified using the exacting traditional method, is sub $20, and is still good is something of a credit to the winery. This is a good and well priced sparkling wine due to the complexity of the yeast autolysis characters and the clean primary fruit lemon flavours. Good
Abv: 12.5% Price: $19.90 Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/ Website: http://www.taltarni.com.au Tasted: 2013 Subscribe: Subscribe to benefit from regular, considered and independent wine reviews from Grape Observer. Please enter your email address in the subscription icon on the right of screen to receive updates by email.
The search for high quality Australian sparkling wine is not always an easy one. There are a few of them, but I mean this in a literal sense. Fortunately, Brown Brothers’ Patricia sparkling is one of this elite category. It is a very high quality sparkling wine, that I consider holds its own comfortably in Champagne company. The 2005 vintage is a pale lemon in colour, with its bead admirably persistent – usually a good sign. The aromatics are interesting too – bread, yeast, and quite fragrant at that, with some vegemite notes – a step up from the clean “fruit only” aromas sometimes found in more usual Australian sparkling wines. The palate is dry, with medium length, firm acidity (not too firm though) with that yeasty character carrying through. Very much recommended. 88 points (very good)
When it comes to Champagne (or sparkling wines), my preferences are not strong. Gosset is a favourite, Krug would be if money were no object, and I am partial to Bollinger too. I might soon add a Clover Hill vintage release to this list, although I see I didn’t seem to like it so much last time I tried it in a set of Champagnes. Most of the other readily available Champagne grande marques are hardly offensive either: well made, easy to drink, good quality. This post though is about none of those wines – instead, it is close to the opposite – the sub $25 sparkling wine market. By this I mean the Sekts, the Crémants, the Australian sparklers and the lower end Cavas and Astis of the world. I’ve looked at these more than once at “Dan’s” and wondered: what if they are good? And even if not, would these ruin a kir royal?
I got to answer the former question as part of an exercise I did earlier this week tasting through a number of non-premium sparkling wines for the WSET Diploma with Kate McIntyre MW. What surprised me is that there’s some good value to be had here. Not always, mind you. But some are definitely worth a look.
Henkell Trocken Fine Sekt
At $13.95, it is not sensible to expect the world. Despite having a Germanic name, “Sekt” can in fact be made from grapes grown outside of Germany, unlike “Deutscher Sekt”. The variety of the grapes used in the Sekt is not specified.
An off dry “dry”.
Solid rather than good, it has a bright, pale intensity lemon-green colour with medium sized bubbles and short persistence of bubbles. The aroma is youthful, with a medium intensity expression of apples, pears and cinnamon, with a touch of lemon rind. The palate is, despite its name, off-dry, with medium-high acid, a creamy mousse, medium alcohol and body, flavours of apples and pears, and short length. It’s not too bad. Drink it cold. 77 points (fine) Abv: 11.5% Price: $13.95 Vendors: http://danmurphys.com.au Website: http://www.henkell.at/en/#/home Tasted: April 2012
Riccadonna Asti At $12.99 per bottle, this wine is even cheaper, and is from the Asti region in north-western Italy. It is bright, with a pale intensity lemon colour, with large bubbles, and medium persistence of fizz.
Made from white muscat grapes, this fact becomes immediately apparent from the wine’s aroma: a medium-high intensity aroma of grapes, green apples and ginger, with a waft of sweetness in the air. On the palate, the wine is medium-sweet, with medium acid, a creamy texture, light alcohol and pronounced flavour intensity, with similar notes of grapes and apples. This wine is soundly put together and quite enjoyable, and not surprisingly for the price, not complex. 84 points (good) Abv: 7%
Yarra Burn Cuvée Brut NV Cheaper still, at $12.20 per bottle, comes the Yarra Burn Cuvée Brut NV (part of the Accolade Wines group), made from the classic sparkling varieties of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, with grapes sourced from Victoria.
It is a pale intensity yellow in colour, with fine bubbles, and medium persistence. The nose has a touch of cloves, apples, cashew nuts and brioche. The palate is dry, with high acid, a creamy texture, medium alcohol and intensity of flavour, medium length, and notes of apples and pears. A simple wine that retains its primary fruit flavours and aromas. 81 points (good) Abv: 12.5% Price: $12.20 Vendors: http://danmurphys.com.au Website: http://www.yarraburn.com.au Tasted: April 2012
In part two of this post, I’ll post reviews of three different crémants, and a Cava. The crémants were interesting, even if I felt they needed a bit more “love” to move up to the next level. The Cava reminded me of aspirin.
Sorry, here’s another grumpy review. Dark in colour, Brown Brothers’ 2009 tempranillo had a medium intensity aroma of plums, strawberries and dark cherries. The palate had similar flavours and medium acidity, but I felt the alcohol a bit pronounced, spiky and out of balance. But then we are talking here about a wine that is around $14, and I tasted this wine blind not knowing this, so this may be harsh. On day 2, it was better. Decanting might be a good idea to soften this one up a bit. Seemingly not as good as the 2008 or the 2004 that I’ve tried previously. 80 to 81 points.
I tried this wine in a café, with a pretty crappy wine list, yet really, really good food. Grr. It’s fair to say this was a pretty simple wine. Aromas of pepper and plums were met with a simple spicy palate with a touch of length. Suitable for uncritical drinking. 81 points (6.6/10)
Abv: not recorded
Price: couldn’t find
Would I buy it having tasted it? It was ok I guess in its place
This wine is very well priced at less than $20 and performs at a level equal to many of its more expensive peers in the $30 to $40 price bracket. An Australian style pinot noir aroma of soft cherries and herbs. Soft palate with light cherries and lingering soft length. 85 points.
An independent Australian and international wine review since 2009.