Sunday, December 25, 2011

Grosset 2009 Picadilly Chardonnay

We're not too big on the actual Christmas here in the Little House of Concrete, since being non-believers takes out the Christmas observances and a lack of kids in the vicinity tends to remove Santa Claus from the equstion, but the prospect of an effective two- to four-day long weekend means we tend to stock up, cook up big on the actual day and sup off leftovers until the supermarkets and butchers are open again.

And drink well; Under the circumstances you might as well, at least from where I'm sitting, drink well.

This year's Chrissie lunch was centred around what we could put through the LHoC oven while the air conditioner purred away im the background.

Moreton bay bugs with a bechamel sauce, my favourite roast chicken and a heaping helping of risotto was washed down with a bottle of bubbles I'm not inclined to review because we're not that big on bubbles, and, in any case, it paled beside the sheer magnificence of

Grosset 2009 Picadilly Chardonnay (5* $46)  Clear, almost shimmering pale straw in the glass that drew the briefest of inspections as the vessel made its way to the nose. From the first whiff it was obvious we were in for something special. There's an incisiveness on the nose and across the palate that's simultaneously luscious and austere, with competing elements perfectly balanced. Give it time to open up and there's a buttery richness that wasn't immediately obvious among the citrus and peach notes in the first waves through the nose and across the palate. Textured, focussed, perfectly integrated and a joy to drink. Between this, the SBS, the Springvale and the Polish Hill there's a bit too much to fit into a single box. Looks like we'l be up for the Off-Dry Riesling, Pinot Noir and Gaia next time around...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cullen 2009 Mangan

The invitation that brought Warbo and the Dragon Lady to the LHoC last night was, I must admit, a calculated move to kick off what's intended to be a serious assault on the quality end of the stock on hand in these parts over the Festive Season.

We've got 'em here, and as far as Hughesy's concerned, it's a matter of finding a suitable excuse to drink 'em.

One of the first things I did when we started out on the retirement bit was to start keeping a record of the wine expenditure, since finances weren't exactly tight, but they weren't going to allow massive extravagance either.

I like my bottle of wine at night, don't mind a glass with lunch, want something interesting to sip and was, at the time, working on a $10/bottle budget.

The spreadsheet started with a selection from the Tahbilk Everyday Drinking Range back in March 2007, and now, more than four and a half years later, with the most recent entry $180 for a six pack of Hay Shed Hill 2011 Block 1 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, the long term average per bottle is still under $11.50 ($11.33 if you want to be pernickety).

We end up, in other words, with plenty of budget priced selections in these parts, but we've got a good range of bottles further up the price range, and we need excuses to open same.

Visitors are one, the Festive Season is a second, and there'll be a flurry of blog activity in these parts as Hughesy mounts a valiant attempt to move boxes off the office floor. Along the way there'll be a few wines like this little beauty which, trust me, I would luurve to be able to afford as an everyday drinking prospect.

The 2009, sampled at the winery a bit over a year ago, left me speechless, and that was before I got to the Diana Madeline.

Mangan for everyday drinking, a case of Diana Madeline for special occasions, and unlimited temperature controlled storage…

Well, a man's allowed to dream, isn't he?

Cullen 2009 Mangan (5/5 $45) Malbec (63% for fruit and colour), Petit Verdot (27% for the length and texture) and Merlot (10% for the structure) blend that, according to Mr Halliday, approximates a pre-phylloxera Bordeaux. Deep red in the glass, berries and oak across the sinuses and a palate that runs on and on. There's a characteristic subtlety that runs through the Cullen wines that would have you (or at least me) scrabbling for superlatives if you weren't so busy drinking. A rich, savoury wine that demands far more restraint that Hughesy can deliver. Definite evaporation problem here…

Cullen 2010 Mangan Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

When it comes down to tin tacks, most of us who drink would have to admit that we do so, at least partially, for the effect. True, there are any number of other considerations that impinge on the matter, including what some might consider minor details like taste and food matching, but when you scrutinise the matter with an intense and totally honest scrute, the desired effect is always lurking in the background.

Reflecting on what we'd sampled when Warbo and the Dragon Lady landed on the Friday night pizza doorstep here at The Little House of Concrete had me casting the mind back to a chance liquor barn encounter with an ex-student who rejoiced in the nickname of Jimbob.

At the I was browsing through the quality end of the operation rather than the cask and el cheapo section and a glance at the pricing had Jimbob suggesting that the price point was a matter of wankery since it was all about getting you off.

That was close to twenty years ago, but the encounter still sticks in my mind for some reason.

Yes, effect is a significant part of the picture, but it's not the only part. Suffice it to say, what we're looking at here aren't aimed at the Jimbob fraternity.

AS far as I'm concerned, however, I want something interesting to drink, and I want variety, which is why we've got a swag of boxes on the floor of the office to go with the contents of the wine rack, the stash in the wine fridge and the selection in chilled storage in the bar fridge.

And if you're after something interesting to sample, you're probably after some details, which explains the statistical and other information cribbed from Mr Halliday and the winery website, since I'm interested in, for example, what makes this one different from the almost identical blend produced by the same producer from the Cullen Vineyard.

Cullen 2010 Mangan Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (5* $35) 62% Sauvignon Blanc and 38% Semillon from the gravelly (c.f. the loamy Cullen) Mangan vineyard with some French oak (13%) on the SB side. Clear pale straw, with a subtlety through the nose that needed a little time to open up, revealing understated grass and citrus notes and a blend of citrus and minerality on the palate that was poised, balanced and textured to run out to a rounded finish. Subtle and quite superb…

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pfeiffer 2010 Winemakers Selection Tempranillo

Recent samplings have confirmed Tempranillo as a variety to watch and sighting a Winemaker's Selection number in the Spring C2 pack from Pfeiffers had Hughesy licking his lips in anticipation. Took me a while to get to it, since we're leaning towards the curries and pasta dishes rather that the grills and roasts at the moment, but I was determined to give it a try in the near future rather than setting it aside and waiting for winter.

Pfeiffer 2010 Winemakers Selection Tempranillo (4.5* $n/a) Bright reddish-purple in the glass, savoury berries, cherries, spice and hints of leather nose on the nose and firm tannins in a finish that's balanced and runs out nicely. One to watch for next time around and line up with grilled red meat, roasts or hearty casseroles in the notional winter, though it worked well enough on a Bowen summer air-conditioned Saturday night.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Jack Mattinson's 2009 Deluxe Dry Red Shiraz Cabernet

Nostalgia, as someone or other remarked, is not what it used to be, possibly because for Gen X and Y the landscape they can look back to isn't all that different to the one they inhabit.

When you're a bit older than that, however, you can definitely look back to a different time though your mileage may vary when you do so.

Reading the back panel here it's obvious Campbell Mattison has special memories associated with his paternal grandfather. He's lucky. Looking back to my own grandparents brings back memories of sweltering Christmas holidays in Rockhampton and hotels in Redbank where the draconian vagaries of the Queensland licencing laws meant you walked on eggshells through Christmas Day in case your presence on the premises might result in allegations of sly grogging.

Your reactions to the past, in other words, are largely shaped by what you're looking back to.

Here's a rather pleasant exercise in retrospectivity that would have been value at RRP but came in as remarkable value at $10 from the Fo...

And Deluxe. How long is it since I've seen anything described as Deluxe?

Jack Mattinson's 2009 Deluxe Dry Red Shiraz Cabernet (4.5* $18) Spicy berries and blackcurrants on the nose, attractive purple red in the glass and very easy across the palate this medium-bodied easy drinking style was rated 92 by Mr Halliday and when you savour the balance across the palate you can see why. While the fine tannins and chocolatey texture past the tonsils suggest autumn and winter somewhere around the high country on the NSW-Victoria border, stocks will definitely be gone before we hit the notional winter in these parts.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Deep Woods 2010 Jack's Patch Sauvignon Blanc

When it comes to phone calls asking acquaintances if they want to share a case of wine they're usually emanating from the LHoC rather than heading in the opposite direction.

We were almost out the door on the way to collect my brother from Whitsunday Coast Airport when the phone rang and Jimbo put the proposition, and the nature of the surrounding circumstances possibly accounts for the fact that I thought we were talking Cabernet or Cab Merlot rather than Sauvignon Blanc.

Subsequent research from Jimbo suggests this is the Deep Woods export label and the wine, under its official guise, took out the trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc at the Margaret River Wine Show in 2010.

Deep Woods 2010 Jack's Patch Sauvignon Blanc (4* $n/a) Pale in the glass with green tinges, varietal aromatics on the nose and zingy acidity across the palate, this presents as an ideal summer drinking style without standing up and demanding attention.

Pfeiffer 2006 Museum Release Shiraz

It's always interesting to come back to something you've tried before for another go.

First time around my reaction to the Pfeiffer 2006 Shiraz around two years agowas a note to the effect that

I really liked the '06. 

Maybe not to the point where I'd be looking at a dozen for medium-term cellaring (both the winery and Halliday suggest 2015 as a drink by date) but it's a definite option when it comes to filling out an order for a dozen or two.

Very pleasant fruit notes on the nose, with pepper and spice characters on the palate that delivered a wonderfully warm and rounded style that made for contented savoury sipping once the evening's big hairy T-bone had been demolished. Part of that may well be due to the extra bit of bottle age, and if I'd taken the chance to upgrade to the three-times-a-year C3 option I may well have had more than a single bottle to sample and may have arrived there sooner.

Now it has turned up again as a Museum Release in the most recent C2 pack, and while I was impressed once again, once again I've missed the boat haven't I?

Pfeiffer 2006 Museum Release Shiraz (4.5* $n/a) Deep red with red berries on the nose and leathery tannins across the palate, nicely structured wine that would go well with most red meats or as a medium-term cellaring style, but Museum Release means there's none left (apparently, at the time of writing, may be wrong, but never mind). Another impressive wine from a winery that continues to deliver consistent quality.