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The Wine Depository
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The Key To A Great Cellar.
The Key To A Great Cellar.

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Gratavinum Silvestris Priorat 2013

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Mas Del Perie Amphore Cahors 2014

Fresh and charming Cahors. A good one for drinking young. -

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Halliday and the Chamber of 99 Point Wines.

Gliding into the NGV in my freshly dry cleaned Pin Stripe suit, I could not help but feel apprehensive. My mission was to pour the awarding wining wines from James Halliday's 2017 Wine Companion. 97, 98, 99 point wines will be on display.

Really, how hard is it to pour 9 glasses of wine? I've probably had a night or two where I've banged that out for myself. But this is for 30 people. Not just any people thought. Wine makers, wine importers, wine types, wine lovers who have spent a more than a couple of dollars to be part of this experience. And they're all sitting down having a meal while I do it. Not being a Sommelier and cheerfully calling myself a wine unprofessional I feel that perhaps I well and truly out of my depth.

Walking into the briefing area I see enough familiar and smiling faces that I realise if I completely mess up these guys will look after me. But still, the ever looming threat of pouring wine on to a person instead of a wine glass was nagging at by hyper alert consciousness.

And these aren't just any wines. These are the best wines in Australia. Within these flights are iconic producers, newer brands and the year's best winery, best wine, ten or so best in category wines. And this is exactly why I am here. The lure of being able to taste some of the best wines in Australia as judged by Australia's most respected wine critic. I just had to keep myself tidy for the pouring before I got stuck into the wines too far.

270 odd glasses of wine later and now confirmed hits on guests and it was time to look at these vaunted wines. They are classy one and all. Chatting to the guests and hearing their thoughts it was clear that the pack was hard to split. The mission was three each of Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for whites, plus a glass of Arras Sparkling. The reds were Pinot Noir, 'other reds', Shiraz, Cabernet.

Now for the 'Sommelier' (I am not a sommelier, I had just proven I can pour wine but still!) tasting.

What struck me is almost universally the wines were clean, bright and free of funk and savoury characters. The exception was the Pinot bracket with Bass Phillips Premium Pinot Noir definitely bringing the funk. I wonder is this what the great wine public of Australia are drinking? Most of those wines I have not sold and my customers have not asked about them.

There were some amazing wine in there, I sent some emails to producers the next day. The Chardonnay was inspiring.

The other point that struck me are these were all very young wines (except the 100 year old Para Port. That was quite old). Youthful, pure and a lot were in need of time. This is in part a function of the Australian wine industry. That was all that was available at the time, there is not the scope to hold wine in the cellar.

So, the questions for me is: Does the score of 98 points equate to what is in the glass tonight? Or is it for the potential the wines offers? Is the Bass Phillip Premium an 87 point wine now but will evolve to a 98 point wine at its peak in 15 years?

And that is where you need to read the notes. Without context the scores are just arbitrary numbers plucked from the cosmos. It is like just looking at your score for an exam or essay and accepting it without reading the feedback and seeing where you won and lost marks.

How does a wine sit 2 point from perfection which most judges say is unattainable anyway? Therefore the scale becomes a 99 point scale and some Bass Phillip has achieved a score of 98.99%. Add to the fact that the book itself doesn't seem to contain a score under 88 making it a 11 point scale. And lets be really honest. If someone scores 88 then they aren't getting flooded with inquires after the book is launched. It is basically a score of 0 to most punters.

A week after attending this celebration of Australian wine I heard <a href="http://buff.ly/2s5gERU" target="_blank">this great report on the ABC.</a> This is may be a bit of attention seeking from a writer who has not kept up with the modern Australian market but some of the points raised (ha!) are valid and useful for all wine lovers to keep in mind when accessing any wine writers notes. I feel that if you know the wine writers preference for wines and scores you can reliably work out if this is the wine for you IF and I mean <strong><em>IF </em></strong>you read their notes. Which is what everyone on the ABC report said to do too.

Ultimately though. The best wine reviewer you know is yourself. The more you taste, the more you trust your palate, the more likely you are to get to drink the wines you want. -

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PRE-ARRIVAL Mauvesin-Barton Moulis 2016

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Domaine la Remejeanne Les Arbousieres Cotes du Rhone 2011

A tasty and soft CDR that screams of where it's from. -

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Vodopivec Vitovska IGT Venezia Giulia 2010

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For Your Cellar - Bordeaux 2016 En Primeur

<h6>It is my favourite time of the year.</h6>
Since <a href="http://buff.ly/2qtiXMV">Bordeaux En-Primeur</a> is a fairly antiquated idea, every year I wonder if its time has come. But for my 15th En-Primeur campaign I do still get a tingle of excitement. Especially because I believe 2016 will offer something special.
<h6>Why?</h6>
I've been lucky enough to <a href="http://buff.ly/2qtm7jt">drink great Bordeaux</a> since the very start of my career. I've seen the great vintages, <a href="http://buff.ly/2qtpnvh">the bad vintages</a>. And it is all pretty amazing.
<h6>What is En-Primeur?</h6>
Basically it is a vehicle for the wines to be sold 18 months in advance of bottling. Consequently the experts taste a representative sample of the final wines and pass judgement. The advantage of buying the wine now is as a guarantee you will get the wines you want. And when the wine is consumed 10, 20 or 30 years later the provenance will be known.
<h6>What Is Special About Bordeaux?</h6>
First and foremost the top level of wines are the greatest cellaring wines in the world. <em>Pause for arguments</em>. But it is true. <a href="http://buff.ly/2qtjbU1">For a quick introduction to the region you can read more here</a>. The wines are expensive and demand long term cellaring. But after that time they are cool and elegant and hauntingly fragrant and you just want to have them.
<h6>Vintage 2016 En Primeur</h6>
You can view the <a href="http://buff.ly/2qtrfV7">current offer</a> and then keep scrolling down to see what makes 2016 such a special vintage.

Please note:
<ul>
<li>There is still a great deal of Chateaux to release their prices.</li>
<li>The best way to to keep up to date with the releases is to <a href="mailto:philip@thewinedepository.com.au?subject=Bordeaux%20En-Primeur%202016">register your interest</a>.</li>
<li>For advice or to just let me get you the best wines for your cellar either <a href="mailto:philip@thewinedepository.com.au?subject=The%20Wine%20Guys%20Bordeaux%20Experience.%20&amp;body=I%20am%20interested%20in%20x%20bottles%20averaging%20out%20to%20%24xxx%20each.">email</a> or call  0418 23 04 82.</li>
<li>These wines will not be available until 2019.</li>
</ul>
<h6>Bordeaux Vintage 2016</h6>
<strong>Two disasters that offset each other.</strong> The 2016 vintage can be boiled down to that simple point.

<strong>The start of the season saw Biblical rains</strong> that flooded vineyards and despair set in with the growers. As it turned out, all the rains were doing was building up reserves for the next stage.

<strong>A blistering drought followed.</strong> The soils that retain moisture excelled, the reserves they had equipped the vines with the armoury to serve the heat and lack of water. A quick few showers at the end of the growing season freshened everything up.

<strong>The result is a wonderful vintage</strong> that offers serious red Bordeaux and has thrown up a few value choices that you can drink or keep for the short term too.

<strong>Reds for the cellar </strong>The Northern Medoc faired very well. St-Estephe, Paulliac and St-Julien. The plateau of St-Emilion offers some outstanding wines and the top tier level Pomerol wines are well worth your time.

<strong>Reds to drink </strong>Some of the "lesser" appellations are offering beautiful wines, finely crafted and well priced. They will offer you beautiful drinking on release.

<strong>Whites and Sweet wines </strong>Certainly not vintage of the century but still offering fleshy, aromatic and younger drinking wines.

<strong>2016 is the perfect vintage to start your Bordeaux collection</strong> or add to it. Either way, <a href="mailto:philip@thewinedepository.com.au?subject=Bordeaux%202016">act now to secure your selection</a> as the great wines will disappear before you know it. - http://buff.ly/2qt88dK

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Terroir Al Limit Terra de Cuques Priorat 2013

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Francois Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre Chablis Premier Cru 2007

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King of Kings. To The Clare Valley

It is a beautifully warm night when we arrive at Sam Miranda Winery. Our treat is to be some of the best wines of the Clare Valley.  Therefore the weather is entirely appropriate for the consumption of Riesling. And what a range of Riesling did we see. So we can compare and state without bias all the wines are presented blind.
<h6>The Clare Valley.</h6>
Before that though we needed the rich, malty and full bodied Pikes Reserve Lager to wash down some popcorn  prawns and delicious crusted lamb cutlet.
<h6>One White to rule them all.</h6>
The first wine Mt Horrocks Watervale Riesling 2016 Was everything I think of as classic Clare Riesling. Candied lime, floral, chalk, mineral, pure, citric, tangerines with a long finishing and dry finish. Due to its obvious youth I would put this baby in the cellar for the long term.

Pauletts Polish Hill Riesling 2016 provided us an almost perfect counterpoint. Pith, stonefruits, white stones, aniseed, spice, pink lady apples, pears and oystershell. There is lean acid and tasting very much of the earth. Like the Horrocks this is a young wine with time on its side.

The classic pairing of Watervale vs Polish Hill is always fascinating with there never being a right answer, only the eternal argument of which is better.

Leo Buring Florita Riesling 2008 offered an old wine. Definitely old due to the the strong and immediate kerosene. If you can describe kero as charming then this aroma definitely held charm. But there was a lot more going on underneath. Peach and mango flesh with a blossom of flesh on the mid palate it is a decidedly grapy wine too. Discussions pointed out that 2008 offered hot and dry conditions which would account for the seemingly early development. This was a delicious wine that is ready to drink from now.

Was this Alsatian Riesling? No, it was Jim Barry Lavendar Hill Riesling 2016. The nose on this wine though, was without a doubt channelling the great Riesling of the old world. Overt ripe tropical fruits and floral characters with stones underneath. The 30 grams per litre of sugar certainly was obvious but the acidity in the wine provided a scythe which kept it from being cloying. Regularly did we hear the word 'drinkable' in relation to this wine. It is apt and while it will no doubt improve with age, there is too much charm to resist it now.
<h6>Reds.</h6>
With the mains approaching it was time for the reds. After much debate there was no consensus on what they were. Except maybe that the reds were all delicious.

Not Sangiovese but in fact Clos Clare Grenache. It showed a bit earthy at first but opened up to give us compost, plums, violets, gravel, soot, damson plum. The beautifully plush and soft palate showed some oak and jubes. It is a delicious wine that could almost be described as 'Pinot Noir Plus'.

I knew this wine was Clare Valley Cabernet but I could not help thinking it smelt a lot like a full stems, 100% new oak, Grand Cru Burgundy. The divine aromas, of course, belonged to a perfectly cellared Grosset Gaia (Cabernet Blend) 2005. Stems, earth, spice, tea, chocolate and oak, it is very of the earth and always evolving. Eventually the Cabernet currants and plum showed through. Still quite structured with fine grained tannins and taut acid the palate was fresh and cool.

Our final red of the evening was more of the expected style. A hulking Shiraz, bathed in oak with pepper, salumi, game, graphite, caramel and toast. Like the nose suggests there is plush and dense weight of fruit on the palate. Hints of ironsone and a silky finish. Well played Mitchel Winery, the McNicol Shiraz 2007 delivered everything that you'd expect from a Clare Valley Shiraz.
<h6>Sweet Stuff.</h6>
One final wine to complement the berries &amp; cream dessert. A Lush, intense, pineapple, apricot, floral and cured lime kind of wine. The Mt Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling 2016. Very young and primary with a surprising and welcome presence of phenolics.

Overall it was a fine showing of the best that the Clare Valley can offer. All the wines were from establish wineries that have earnt their strong reputations with wines such as we tasted tonight. It will be a hard dinner to top. -
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