Monday, February 6, 2012

Cullen 2010 Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

Read the winery's tasting notes and you'll find references to the beneficial effects of biodynamic viticulture that are almost guaranteed to create debate between enthusiasts and sceptics, but it's impossible to deny the presence of something special in this 12% alc/vol number.

Not knowing anything about such matters I'm probably better off leaving them alone, but I can't help feeling people who are going to go to the trouble of ensuring they're following Steiner's principles down to the impeccably crossed ts and immaculately dotted is are probably guaranteed to turn out a quality product regardless of whether biodynamics actually deliver. If you micromanage to this degree you're going to come out way ahead of the just bung some chemicals on the vines and hope for the best mob.

Check the available details closely and you see we're talking grapes  picked at various degrees of ripeness (between 9.7 and 12.2 baume) over a number of different days (picking for the flavour components rather than a well, it's sort of ready now, let's get it off) and you're going to end up with (and I'll admit I'm guessing here) a number of different parcel that are going to be micromanaged to within an inch of their vinous lives.

And if that process delivers something as good as this, that's absolutely fine with me. Loved this one and will be back for more.

Cullen 2010 Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (5* $35) 66% sauvignon blanc and 34% semillon combine to deliver a package that's almost seamlessly integrated and delivers plenty to savour and speculate about. A hint of this? A tad of that? among the herbal citrus on the nose and across the palate. Not, I think a wine for food since the food flavours will get in the way. Open it early, savour as an aperitif and then throw in the fresh seafood as you hit the end of the bottle. At 12% you're not going to be absolutely stonkered by that stage, but you'll be absolutely well disposed towards the world at large. A dozen oysters or a couple of fresh red spot prawns with the last glass would work well for me. Outstanding as long as your palate can handle subtle and you're not throwing in distractions in the food line.

Leconfield 2009 Cabernet Merlot

Inevitably, a period where you've built up the stocks will be followed by one where you're running them back down again, which largely accounts for the lack of recent blog action in these parts, though the cricket coverage over on the Little House of Concrete Sports Desk also impinges on the equation.

The summer of Riesling and Rose tends to take us away from heartier red styles, but we've also been experimenting with the slow cooker in the air-conditioned living area, which brings them right back into calculations, and in this particular case brings them back with rather alarming rapidity.

I'd availed myself of a couple of offers from Vinomofo, one of which was supposed to push this particular carton a little further down the pecking order so that the contents just might last through to the notional winter, and had just polished off the last of a box of Tahbilk Cellar Door Reds when I ordered the second of them (a Hay Shed Hill Pitchfork Cab Merlot) that would, I figured, do for everyday drinking and push this Leconfield onto slightly more special occasion status.

So, not to put too fine a point on it, I didn't head off to Tahbilk for a resupply, the Pitchfork met with logistical problems and we're almost half way through a case of wine that, as noted in the note, has definite issues with evaporation.

Leconfield 2009 Cabernet Merlot (4.5* $25) Bright crimson in the glass, with fragrant oaky chocolate and mint through the nostrils. Once it hits the taste buds Cabernet cassis and plummy Merlot combine to form a rounded style with refined silky tannins. Medium-bodied elegant wine that's easy to savour and brings a definite evaporation problem to the table. Excellent now, would go on for several years but unlikely to get the chance.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tahbilk 2009 Riesling

 Recurring themes recur because, by and large, there's something about them, and there's definitely something about Tahbilk's ability to consistently produce well made wines that make for interesting drinking and deliver them freight free to the Little House of Concrete in that $10-$15 price range.

This one's no exception to an exceptional rule of thumb.

Sure, it's not quite up there with the quality Clare and Eden Valley drops I've come to know and love, but we're talking something that arrived as part of a $75 multiple vintage six pack rather than a Grosset $31 Springvale or $42 Polish Hill.

When it comes to an everyday drinking style with a bit of bottle age (Halliday rated it 89, noting a strong fruit platform for medium term development) for a notional $12.50 you could do a lot worse.

Tahbilk 2009 Riesling (4* $n/a) Ticks all the right boxes from the pale straw colour, fresh aromatic citrus notes on the nose through the varietal characters across the palate. Well made, easy drinking style that had me veering between 4 and 4.5 on the rating scale. Eventually rounded down since it's not currently available. Whack it back in the Web Specials section of the Tahbilk web site and Hughesy may well be interested. Very good everyday drinking. Excellent value for money.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pfeiffer 2010 Pinot Noir

The conventional wisdom would appear to suggest Pinot Noir is strictly a cool climate proposition.

 If you accept (not that I necessarily do, but the suggestion has been floated in my presence) that the best areas for Pinot are Burgundy, Oregon, New Zealand and Tasmania, all of which would be cooler climes than, say the Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley and the Adelaide Hills, areas that would, in turn be considerably cooler than Rutherglen.

So you'd reckon Pinot wouldn't work in northeast Victoria but, for some strange and unaccountable reason, when it passes across Hughesy's palate it seems to work in ways that limited exposure to wines from other more highly rated areas don't.

That's almost certainly my palate rather than the wines themselves, but this one, yet again worked nicely with last night's pasta with a cream, proscuitto and mushroom sauce.

Pfeiffer 2010 Pinot Noir (4* $23.50) Crimson in the glass, fragrant through the nose with earthy berries, cherries and earthy notes I assume equate to forest floor across the palate and a lengthy finish. Soft rounded style that's very easy to drink and could be included if we were heading into reorder territory. As I don't think we will be, rounded down rather than up. Very good.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rockford 2011 Alicante Bouchet

I've noted a couple of not quite favourable references to the old Rockford Alicante Bouchet recently, and on every sighting I've scratched my head and remarked that the person making the criticism obviously doesn't live in our neck of the woods.

Hell, if I lived somewhere close to a half way decent independent wine merchant in an area where there restaurants had interesting wine lists with extensive by the glass options I might get a little sniffy about wines like this.

But, for good or ill, I live two hundred kilometres away from a Dan Murphy's in a town where all the liquor outlets are tied to a major chain (ad I can understand the reasons why they would be, the locals tend to buy on price). Pub and restaurant wine lists tend to feature the usual big name corporate suspects and Kiwi savvy blanc.

So if you want something interesting to drink you have to buy it in, don't you?

And when you've started to find things that suit your purposes you're going to stick with them, aren't you?

So the reasoning behind the annual Alicante Bouchet reorder in these parts probably don't apply to the people who posted those recent comments. Low alcohol, lunchtime, fridge friendly, and if you've got more than two people on site when it's opened there's always the option of opening something else.

Suits me.

Rockford 2011 Alicante Bouchet (4.5* $18) Bright translucent red in the glass, attractive fruity bouquet and the usual low alcohol refreshing palate, a degree of sweetness lurking there but it's well in the background. Your mileage may vary but this one almost invariably works in a North Queensland summer environment. That opinion, by the way, has been almost universally mirrored by those I've inveigled into sampling a glass. Excellent under the right conditions.

Pfeiffer 2010 Ensemble Rose

Summer in the Little House of Concrete brings the annual restocking of fridge-friendly regulars, which basically ends up coming down to Riesling and Rose.

Left to myself I'd probably be happy to stick with the staples, and one of them is the Pfeiffer Gamay, which I would happily consume by the unbroken case, but the annual question about the composition ofthe box invariably brings a request for some Ensemble Rose.

In circumstances where I didn't have boxes on the office floor, I could have gone for two cases, one straight Gamay and a mixture from the rest of the range, maybe even going as far as half a dozen Ensembles in the interests of domestic harmony, but I thought there'd be phone calls and offers I couldn't refuse.

So I went for anine-three mix in a single case didn't I?

And those phone calls and offers I couldn't refuse?

Thin on the ground. Maybe when they get back into the swing of things after New Year.

Pfeiffer 2010 Ensemble Rose (4* $16 C2 $14.40) Shiraz dominant (that's if you call 44% dominant) blend with a fair chunk of Merlot, 13% Gewurztraminer, a bit of Cabernet Franc and a dash of Tempranillo. One to avoid if you're looking for varietal character, but as a chilled summer drop this makes for refreshing berry laden drinking, with the requisite berry and watermelon characters through the nose and across the palate goes down a treat. With what we've got on hand there's no chance of a reorder, so pressed to choose between 4* and 4.5 I rounded down. Very good summer drinking.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bloodwood 2011 Riesling

A few words I don't expect to be able to peck out very often.

We tried this at the winery when it was just out of fermentation and were rather impressed then (not that we had much prior experience to compare it with, you understand).

Now, just on seven months later, the first sample of the finished product is almost certain to have us lining up for more. We're talking a classy Riesling with acharacter that sets it comfortably apart from the familiar Clare Valley styles we tend to go for, but at the same time is just as impressive.

Bloodwood 2011 Riesling (4.5* $28) Pale green-tinged straw in the glass, understated but rather complex floral notes with a smidgeon of talcum powder through the nose and a bright, complex citrus-centric palate that runs along nicely and finishes very nicely indeed. We'll be having more of this one for sure.