Tag Archives: South Australia

Purchasing McLaren Vale Wines – Backyard Shed Cru Red Pack #7

Every 6 months Taste McLaren Vale puts together a six pack of wines to provide the members or The Backyard Shed Cru. Check out the membership site here.  Anybody can sign up for the half yearly delivery of a Backyard Shed Cru six pack for only $140 delivered to your door.

Now for the release of our Red Pack #7.

Backyard Shed Cru Red Pack #7

 

2010 La Curio “The Original Zin” Primotivo

The Zin tag comes from the grape variety – Zinfandel.  This is a variety that has significant plantings in America and Europe.  The vineyard where the grapes for this wine came from is on California Road and is owned and tendered by an American born.

This wine initially shows cherry characters but after a while is shows a darker side with plums and layered tannins.  The tannins are multi dimensional and I suspect they originate from the ripe grape seeds, stalks as well as the usual oak treatments.  The oak was there but not dominant.  All in all a great package and aimed at a good price point.   The juicy nature of this wine would be a great match to a feed of Chinese food – you know with sizzling Mongolian beef and black bean chicken.

2010 La Curio “New World Order” Sangiovese

Sangiovese has a reputation for being very tannic – this wine has drying tannins but it is not over done.  There is definitely good cherry but the most endearing things in this wine was the savoury nature and the lovely teeth drying tannins.  This is a wine that screams out food and for me I am thinking a good Aussie BBQ.

2010 J&J Vineyards Shiraz

I was looking forward to this wine – from a great vintage and an organic producer.  J&J have recently been given full organic status.  I was not disappointed as this is a classical McLaren Vale Shiraz.  The aromas show plum fruit mixed in an envelope of spices (star anise, cinnamon and cardamom) and is dominated by licorice.  The flavours continue with the same theme except there is no dominance here.  The fresh plums, licorice, chocolate, spices (this time with pepper included), tannins that are not over the top and a good acid finish that refreshes the mouth making it ready for the next mouthful.

2006 Sellicks Hill Wines Valletta (Grenache Shiraz)

I have been doing this wine sales thing for a couple of years and this is one of my favorites.  It appeared in an earlier pack but I just wanted to share this one with you again.  Initially worried about Grenache being in oak for 3 years but I should not have been – only older oak was used and really well looked after.  The 3 years in bottle have also been good to it.  I get lots of spice here – cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon.  The wine has been 6 years in making it to you so do it a favor and let it breath for a while before consuming – it will be worth the wait.  There is a fusion of fruits almost as secondary flavours and such depth where the flavours just linger in your mouth.  There is strength and complexity here so bring on a slab of Beef Wellington.

2010 Kay Brothers Basket Press Mataro

There is a sense of history here with the naming of this variety.  McLaren Vale seems to name this variety Mourvedre.  Kay Brothers has a long history of growing this variety – mainly as a fortified wine base.  I was speaking to Colin Kay about a year ago and we were discussing that there was a workshop on emerging varieties and they did a blind tasting that had, amongst others, a Mourvedre.  The discussion was about everything old, was new again.  There is a changing use of Mourvedre.  It was not long ago that it was only seen as a blending variety, but since 2009 there has been a steady increase in Mourvedre used as a varietal variety.

In this case the aromas were dominated by cherries and juicy plums and just a hint of dry oregano as the point of difference.  The flavours are dominated firstly by the same cherry and plums – they seemed to be darker in nature as the wine opened up.  There is a hit of grainy tannins that works well in this context.  There is some meatiness and sense of violets with that hint of that dried oregano these are the points of difference that Mataro can make.  I enjoy these differences and I think you will too.

2010 Bellevue Estate Shiraz

The plum and blackberry characters are well balanced with the oak and the natural acids – they all produce a wine with a mouthful of a textural wine. This wine is one to check out when the bottling shock has settled as at this time it looks like they have hit the right notes. I would enjoy this with slightly chared BBQ’d meats.

McLaren Vale Wine – Parri Estate

 

Parri Estate Sign

Parri Eatate is the location of the once famous Ingoldby vineyards and cellar door (take the name belongs to one of conglomerates).  The cellar door is a large facility that has outdoor undercover area that is being used for functions including weddings.  There is plenty of room for the kids to run around and keep themselves amused while mum and dad try a few wines.  I have found the cellar door to be closed quite often so it is best to check they are open – or alternatively there are other close options.

Outdoor Undercover Area

I have tried the wines from this stable a number of times over the past year and always find it interesting as they have cool climate wines sourced from their Mt Compass vineyard as well as the warmer climate vineyard next to their McLaren Flat cellar door.

They basically have 3 ranges a second lable called Southcote, a cool climate range from their Mt Compass vineyard and the Pangkarra range from McLaren Flat.  Pangkarra is a local aboriginal word that represents the characteristics of a specific site – soil, climate, sunshine, rain etc.

And now the wines…….

2009 Southcote White ($15)

Chardonnay (60%), Semillon (25%) and Sauvignon Blanc (15%) all from their Mt Compass vineyard to produce a white wine showing some developed characters and as such lost it’s  fruit freshness.  The aromas show grapefruit and lemon rind with toasty notes.  The flavors are dominated by nectarines and grassiness but the developed tones kick in again.

2012 Savagnin ($20)

From Mt Compass fruit and fruit it is – stone fruits of nectarines and peaches.  There is an interesting floral note there as well.  Plenty of acid here and an interesting textural feel makes this a wine I would be very happy to drink with food.

2008 Viognier Chardonnay

An unwooded version with 55% Vioginer and shows mainly Chardonnay character with melons and stone fruit.  The wine was short on the palate and not really inspiring.

2010 Estate Pinot Noir ($25)

As one would expect this Pinot is from Mt Compass fruit and the cooler climate shows with this variety.  The aromas were nuances of mushrooms, pine needles and cherries with brown spice mix thrown in.  Flavors showing red fruits and subtle oak that lingers.  There is a hint of bitterness that just takes the enjoyment down a notch.

2006 Shiraz Viognier ($20)

Mt Compass fruit with just 5% Viognier – the use of Viognier with Shiraz is to provide a lift to the wine that would not be apparent otherwise.  I got rhubarb as the main red fruit mixed with subtle spices.  I did not get any apricot (good) but the wine is a bit tired.  It would have been good to see it a couple of years ago.

2006 Southcote Cabernet Shiraz ($70/doz)

A very fruit driven wine with red fruits and pepper spice.  Good value.

2006 Pangkarra Grenache ($25)

From the McLaren Vale vineyards and shows lots of cloves, nutmeg and dark cherry aromas.  In terms of flavors – they show the same spices and with red fruits and a savory finish.  Unfortunately there was a slight bitterness on the finish that stopped this wine being first class.

Pangkarra Grenache

2008 Cabernet ($24)

Made from Mt Compass fruit and shows the aromas expected from Cabernet – black current and mint.  The flavors were dominated by fruit cake and then mocha on the finish.  There are layers of good tannins and lots of structure here.

2006 Pangkarra Shiraz ($24)

From the old Ingoldby vineyard in McLaren Flat Shiraz.  Aromas of deep plum and chocolate aromas with subtle spices.  The mocha flavors dominate the dark plum fruit and the tannin structure is fine not course or chewy.

2005 Noble Semillon

Made from Mt Compass fruit that starts impressively with orange blossom and blood orange and a hint of citrus peel.  The flavors were much lighter than expected with some stone fruit but it was hard to work out the flavors as they were just so short.

McLaren Vale Wine – Foggo Wines Part 2 (Sweet Wines)

Check out Part 1 of this review here.

2011 Moscato White ($15)

Made from muscatel grapes and only has 5% alcohol normally means a refreshing and sweet drink.  This is no exception with real tropical-ness about it that is just nice and light.  Do not expect too much from this wine – it is made to drink very cold on a Sunday afternoon and still be able to drive away when you have finished.  A bit seller at cellar door but a bit light for me.

2011 Moscato Rosa ($15)

With the use of Grenache skins I thought this wine may show a sense of difference and I was not disappointed.  The red fruits one associates with Grenache comes though in spades and the sugar is less apparent.  Both of these characters appeal more that the straight white variety.

2010 Golden Botrytis ($20 375ml bottle)

Made from mainly Chardonnay and a little Semillon to produce a honey, grassy marmalade sensation.  The Semillon makes all the difference to the final product.  Another good seller from the cellar door.

 Muscat ($20)

An eight year old fortified that starts with honey and raisins but is so much lighter than expected.  This equates to something that is potentially far to easy to drink – the 19% alcohol will catch up with you.

Tawny ($18)

A Grenache and Shiraz based 8 year old fortified that shows interesting cherry, strawberry and cranberry notes that is dryer on the palate than anyone would expect.  Much lighter than the classic tawny offerings from the Barossa.  For me it lacks the thick viscous feel one gets from many fortifides but it tends to sell very well.

2007 3 Sheds Grenache ($55)

I suspect this wine will provide arguments over the quality and if the wine is enjoyable – it is just so different and thus is may polarise many.  The grapes are cordon cut (the grape stems are partially cut and left on the vine ) this technique allows the grapes to shrivel as the grapes do not get any nutrients from the vine and water from the grapes start to evaporate.  This technique concentrates the sugars and flavours of the grapes.  The differences do not stop there – the grapes are hand picked, foot crushed and then barrel fermented.

The aromas were just reminiscent of ripe Grenache grapes – sweet red fruits and florals.  The flavours are just intense with red raisins and chewy tannins that give the wine an interesting mouthfeel.  For interest alone I had to purchase a bottle, but I know many people that would hate this wine.

2005 3 Sheds Shiraz ($55)

Made in the same way as the 3 Sheds Grenache.  This time the wine smells concentrated fruits with intense star anise and chocolate (yes the McLaren Vale influence on Shiraz happens again).  The flavours are oh so concentrated raisins and, of all things, grape seeds.  I also found the finish to be long and dry – not what I was expecting.

McLaren Vale Wine – Foggo Wines Part 1

Foggo Wines Cellar Door

One of the joys of the large number of cellar doors in McLaren Vale is the unearthing of the different or unusual.  Some small makers differentiate themselves by small scale winemaking techniques or different varieties.  In this case Herb and Sandie have their own patch of McLaren Vale where they are fiercely determined to do things their own way.  From old vines that are dry grown (others would irrigate) to fermenting in oak where the barrels are turned on their side with the top knocked out.  When fermenting is over the tops are returned and the barrel is then used.  The main point of difference is the age on the wines – the wines are kept and aged at the winery until Herb believes the wine is ready.  They do the cellaring for us.  I am sure their accountant does not like this but I believe they do not care.

Anyway we should talk about the wines…..

2005 Wooded Chardonnay ($25)
Straight away I was concerned about a 2005 Chardy – I was initially thinking that they could not sell the wine and that was the current vintage available.  Then I found out that the wine spent 5 years in oak and the oak varied from 5 years old up to new oak – now I was concerned that I was going to taste a wine that was so full of oak that I was going to be drinking splinters.  Well I was wrong on both counts.  The wine was held back and released when the winemaker considered it was the correct time plus the wine was so much more about balance than I was expecting!  The aromas were a complex mix of peach stone as well as the peach fruit and an interesting whiff of pear.  The flavors started with peaches and some underlying cream that helped provide an interesting mouthfeel to the wine.  The finish had an acid zing so it was not flabby at all.  The overall view was the wine was not over oaked.  This is unashamedly a complex wine that is desperately in need to food when drunk – and it should not be disappointed.

N/V Sparkling Grenache ($18)

I was so interested in this wine and was met with something different again.  The wine is made in a Rose style from 1920 planted vines.  At this price the wine is made in the Charmat method – but this is of no concern.  The aromas were dominated by glaciated cherries, raspberries and chocolate covered lollies – how different.  There is some age flavors apparent that added to the complexity of the red fruits, the light oak touch and the dry finish.  Very interesting use of the Grenache grape.  Again a food wine but would also be suitable as the Sunday session tipple.

2006 Old Bush Vine Grenache ($30)

There is an emphasis on the dry grown old vine grapes here and not the least showing up as 15.8% alcohol.  This alcohol is not apparent in either the aromas or flavors so there is plenty of both to pull this off.  The wine shows cherries and raspberries with nice oak influence plus interesting florals into a complex mix.  The age is evident with the wine and I expect that the wine needs to be drunk now.
2007 Old Vine Shiraz ($30)The wine is made from the grapes from 96 year old vines that were dry grown.  Here is the concentration you expect from such a pedigree and the glass is full of plums, blackberry, pepper and hidden in the depth of that glass is hints of smoke.  The age on the wine is just right and perfect to drink now with big slabs of beef.

Wild Thing Shiraz Cleanskin ($15)

A younger wine and it shows with lifted black fruits and an cardamon aromas with the clean fruits of blackberry and dark cherry.  This is a cellar door popular champion.

Foggo Wines Red Dodge

2006 Red Dodge Shiraz ($35)

Named after the red Dodge Barrel truck that sits outside the front of the cellar door when not in use.  This red is made in a contrasting style to the Old Vine Shiraz where American oak is used.  One can pick the sweet American oak influence on the aromas and flavors.  The wine has a level of freshness I was not expecting from a 6 year old wine.  There is berries and more berries with an interesting floral finish.  Worth checking out to compare between American and French oak influenced wines.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon ($30)

This 100% Cabernet was open fermented in stainless steel, foot tread and then cold soaked in French oak.  The aromas showed herb characters with blackcurrent and dark chocolate.  The grapes for this were definitely as there was no green capsicum tones.  The flavours were black orientated – blackberry and chocolate with cedar based tannins.

2005 Hebertus Reserve Shiraz ($50)

Made from the fruits from 75 and 97 year old vines and the wine was aged in 4 year old French oak this wine has the aromas of plum and dark chocolate one expects from good McLaren Vale Shiraz.  The flavours were exactly the same as for the aromas that just showed a seamless experience for the consumer.

N/V Myriah Sparkling Shiraz ($35)

This is the wine that just brings me back again and again – a non vintage bottle fermented Shiraz.  The aromas show a fruit depth but is moves over for for the layers of chocolate and a myriad of spices.    there is a velvety mouthfeel that gives up the flavours of the plum and pepper of the Shiraz and the licorice of the blended aged material.  Bring on a serving of roast turkey with cranberry sauce and pleas leave the bottle.

Next week check out my review of Foggo Wines sweet wines.

McLaren Vale Wine – Wirra Wirra Part 2 The Reds

Wirra Wirra Cellar Door

Check out Part 1 of my review of the Wirra Wirra wines and cellar door.

Wirra Wirra is one of the very well known icon wineries from McLaren Vale.  The cellar door is large and inviting and is staffed by friendly and knowledgeable staff – always a good start.  The original owner (Greg Trott) was known for his fierce commitment to McLaren Vale wine industry but also had a sense of quirkiness.  This comes out in some of the names of their wines – such as the Catapult Shiraz.  You know it that there is a full size catapult at the cellar door.

Another feature of the cellar door and winery complex is the bell.  This bell is 3/4 of a tonne and was rescued from a wreckers yard and they got it from a Norwood Jesuit Church.  This bell is called the Angelus Bell and also forms the name for the signature Cabernet from the winery.  This bell is now some what an icon in its own right and the bell is rung at the start and end of each McLaren Vale vintage and other suitable celebrations.

The cellar door has BBQ’s available for those that want to BYO food and an excellent covered area.  You can purchase wines by the glass at the cellar door so why not spend an afternoon with friends at a well known McLaren Vale winery.

Anyway what about the wines……

2011 Original Blend ($24)

The story of the Wirra Wirra success must always have the tale of the “Church Block”.  The original Church Block was a Grenache and Shiraz blend taken from the vines from the Bethany Chapel vineyard near the winery.  The blend moved from this McLaren Vale classic to the current Cabernet based blend.  After much feedback from the wine drinking public in the know about the Original blend caused the thinking that this blend needed a come back.  This wine is available at the cellar door but I suspect that the quality and price will see a wider appeal.  The aromas show the red fruits of Grenache and the pepper of Shiraz while the flavors show off the red and black fruits of the two varieties and an intriguing spice blend.  Tannins are there but there is a soft finish.  For me forget the current day Church Block and got for the Original.
2011 Esperenza Tempranillo ($35)

A new lable for cellar door customers only and is a play towards the Spanish alternate varieties.  With this Tempranillo why not – the aromas have bright cherry and the funky mushroom characters.  The flavors showed an almost dirty forest floor character with the cherry and mushroom taking centre stage.
2011 Esperenza Monastrell ($35)

Most wineries in McLaren Vale either call this variety Mourvedre or Mataro – but the Spanish call it Monastrell.  The earthyiness shows as expected on the nose with an interesting licorice finish.  The flavors had the marks of the variety – cherry, meaty and earthy.  In this case the wine was significantly liter than expected.  This light character may be a product of the wet and difficult 2011 Vintage.
2007 Church Block ($20)Good to see an older release from the winery at the same price as the current installment.  However I was disappointed.  The aromas were closed and the flavors were stewy and very short.  Not for me.

Cork Church Block

2010 Church Block ($20)

Lifted fruits and what I consider to be typical Church Block with integrated oak with the nice fruit.  The problem I have with this wine is not the value or the price point but just when I try it I am just not inspired to drink a second glass.  For me the Church Block is an average wine that has been a great marketing success for Wirra Wirra but I just do not look forward to the next sip.  Sorry guys this one is just not for me.

Wirra Wirra Catapult

2010 Catapult Shiraz ($24)

The addition of a small amount of Vioginer can make such a difference in a wine and this one shows this addition can be balanced and not over done.  The aromas are lifted with hints of apricot but mainly fresh plums.  The flavors continue with the lifted theme – there is lots of fresh fruit compote with some cardamon mixed in for good measure.  The acid oak and fruit is balanced and lingering.  For me worth the price up from the Church Block.
2010 Woodhenge Shiraz ($30)

In a word dark.  From a good vintage and it shows with aromas of plum essence and lifted cedar from the oak.  The flavors were lighter than expected on the mid palate but the tannin structure is very good and it leaves you with a lingering plum experience.

2010 Sparrow Lodge Cabernet Sauvignon ($30)

Another of the cellar door only wines and another reason to check out their cellar door.  Straight away the cassis and mint aromas are alluring that just continues into the flavors.  I like the fact there is little green character in the wine so the fruit was ripe when picked.  Well done to the Wirra Wirra team for this one.  The wine comes from the gap between Church Block and The Angelus wines so a mid tier wine was warranted.

Absconder Grenache

2010 The Absconder Grenache ($65)

Cellar door only and made from 90+ year old vine fruit from Blewitt Springs and McLaren Vale fruit.  The aromas are alluring with perfume and spiced red fruits – good enough to eat.  The flours show layers of depth with red fruits and tannins structured all over the place.  This is why I am in love with McLaren Vale Grenache – when done properly.  This wine is just so impressive and not only wether the asking price but also the time effort and money just to visit the cellar door just to have the honor of tasting this wine – let alone aging able to the purchase such a wine.  One of the best Grenache wines I have ever tasted.
2008 RSW Shiraz ($80)

With oak maturation for nearly 2 years and 40% of that oak being new barrels one seances this wine would be about strength.  My expectations were met with concentrated fruit that is balanced with the tannin structure from the oak and fruit tannins.  In a word – depth.
2009 The Angelus Dead Ringer Cabernet Sauvignon ($65)

This is a classical Cabernet that would give any Australian Cabernet a run for it’s money – so move over Coonawarra.  As for the Absconder and the RSW this wine is all about strength and character.  One for all the Cabernet drinkers out there that should not be missed.

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