Monday, April 25, 2011

2005 Domaine de Villeneuve ‘Les Vieilles Vignes’

Since taking ownership in 1993 the Wallut and Roy de Blicquy families have been knocking out some pretty smart booze from their Chateauneuf-du-Pape vineyards. Although I have no information as to the precise blend of this wine I’m guessing it’s predominantly Grenache, with Mourvedre and Shiraz and possibly up to ten other red varieties. So, here’s the gen on the 2005 ‘Les Vieilles Vignes’.

A dullish brick-red colour greets, slight browning at the edges but still retaining some purple hues. Tarry, charry black plum and cherry lead the way on the nose, with meat and spice – star anise, cardamom – some marzipan character and a touch of VA (it's OK). There’s some brambly earth and blackberry, red raisined currants, and a little leafy black tea and herb.

The structure of this wine is pretty sound. Firm yet approachable tannin, relaxed acid, supple texture, mid-weight and a reasonably lengthy sweet finish. On the flavour-ometer we get black cherry, rasberry/blueberry, earthy, gamey and pretty much all-round grenachey-ness. There was a muddy coffee character, some tar,licorice and coconut, and a certain marshmallowy sweetness that was highlighted when combined with our spare ribs and pork belly and rice.

I almost forgot about the oak treatment because, quite frankly, I didn’t really notice it – I’m sure it’s there and supporting the structure perfectly, but it melds so effortlessly with the savoury flavours it doesn’t stick out.

I liked it. Quintessential Rhone and probably best tried with food. More savoury than sweet – it handled the spiciness of the ribs and the salty crispness of the belly nicely. A bloody nice wine from a bloody nice vintage.
Value: This aint cheap. I picked this up at a bargain rate from a mate who was changing his wine-list, but I think in the big wide world you’d pay near-on $80 for it. Big number, wine is good, you be the judge.
Tasted: April 2011
Closure: Cork (a perfect example)

Producer: Domaine de Villeneuve – – owned since 1993 by the Wallut and Roy de Blicquy families.
Region: Chateauneuf du Pape, Rhone Valley, south-eastern France.
Site: A mixture of red clay, silt and pebbles – some sites on silt, clay and fine sand – a real historical maritime area.
Vintage: Outstanding. Warm, but not hot, with cool nights. Wines will be long-lived.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2004 Castano Hecula Monastrell

Castano is the producer. Monastrell is the variety, but don’t be frightened because you probably know it better as Mourvedre or Mataro. Bodegas Castano is the biggest producer in a region known as Yecla in the south-east of Spain, a little west of Alicante. Monastrell is the major variety in Yecla. Although it can vary between regions and climates, Monastrell has a reputation for colour, tannin and alcohol. Picture painted, on with the notes.

Starting to brown a little around the edges but otherwise a dense purple/black. The nose leads with rich, ripe, sweetish raisiny blackcurrant and a liberal dose of redfruits. There’s a touch of aged leatheriness and some spicy vanillan licorice, a whiff of cardamom/cumin, and on the savoury side some char and tar and black olive. There’s gorgeous red berried ripeness and choc-cherry mocha. The oak is very subtle, savoury and stylish.

The age is showing more obviously on the palate with raisiny coffee choc, molasses, orange rind and raspberry coulis. There’s some satisfying black tea bitterness – tannins probably – I’m not complaining. And some smoky, gamey flavours to promote the savoury elements. But how’s that mouthfeel? Smooth as a baby’s back-end. Supple. Texturally lush. Probably the alcohol – it is 14.5% after all.

The Hecula Monastrell spends 6 months in French oak.

Gee I enjoyed this. It’s getting on a bit in life but it’s still a really good brew, especially with good company and a few home-cooked pizzas – casual style. Everyone loved the texture and blend of sweet/savoury. You could call it a quaffer, and it probably qualifies for that at approx $25, but it’s a bit more special than that.
Value: Approx $25 in Australia – very good value for a decent import of this quality.
Tasted: April 2011
Closure: Cork

Producer: Bodegas Castano – – the largest producer in Yecla, Spain, with 450Ha of vines. A family affair.
Region: Yecla, south-eastern Spain.
Site: The vineyard source for this wine is 750m altitude and include 35 year old bush-vines. A combo of dry sandy stone and limey clay.
Vintage: Exceptional for the most part. Warm, dry conditions – generally rain and disease-free.

Monday, April 11, 2011

2009 Devils Lair Fifth Leg Red (Shiraz Cabernet Merlot)

A leftover party wine (they always find their way to the blog, don’t they?) and I know it’s only Monday night but it’s been a pretty mixed and chaotic day and I’m feeling somewhat tetchy, so hey, what are you, my mother?

I expected to crack this for one glass only with our lamb roast in tomato reduction, but I made it to two with relative ease. Here’s why:

Youthfully vibrant purpling colour. A dusty nose of violets and rose petal, satsuma plum and prune juice, finishes with a savoury, meaty aroma. There’s a subtle dose of VA which I like to think is deliberate to lift the nose and add some zip and zap. The oak is simple and pencilly, leading to varnishy – not especially stylish, but well-handled for this style of wine and it’s price-point. In fact it’s very appropriate.

The palate is purpley – if you could taste colours then a youthful, vibrant, fresh and zingy red wine would be purple. There’s a floral flavour, some meatiness again, and the flavour spectrum runs from red to blackcurrants. It’s supple and soft – although tannins are certainly noticeable. There’s no lean-ness or green-ness – it’s basically a mid-weight wine that is pleasantly supple and textural and flavoursome without the ballsiness, intensity and drive you would get at another level up.

Yeah, it’s not a bad drop for a Monday night home-cooked dinner. It’s difficult to discern individual varieties here and given the wine is labelled Western Australia I wouldn’t expect to pick the cabernet from the shiraz from the merlot. It’s a simple dry red style with characteristics of each variety, but melded sufficiently to make identification tough. But of course it don’t matter none for this style and price. Drink now or short term.
Value: I reckon I've seen this label from $20 down to $12 or 13 on promo. Good value in the middle of that range, great value on promo.
Tasted: April 2011
Closure: Screwcap

Producer: Fosters Group, out of the Devils Lair stable – – a big company wine really.
Region: Western Australia – the previous vintage Fifth Leg Red came from both Margaret River and Geographe, but the website is not up to date so I can’t tell you where this one is from.
Vintage: Generally a good one in West Australia – mild and consistent growing season, a warm vintage without extreme heat spikes or undesirable rainstorms.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

2008 Mac Forbes ‘Woori Yallock’ Pinot Noir

I usually avoid cutting-edge-hip-flavour-of-the-moment winemakers. No real reason. It’s the same with cutting-edge-hip-flavour-of-the-moment bands. The more the band is hyped, the less interested I am. But occasionally, very occasionally, the latest hot band will either sneak up or be thrust upon me, and in an unguarded moment I’ll be reluctantly impressed and revel in the talent, originality and style of said hyped band. It can happen with wine too.

But first, let’s look at the detail. A very light brick red colour greets, even slightly browning – deceptive as it turns out. Initial hit of fairy floss and mallow, but quickly turns to savoury, meaty aromas. To be precise, rare lamb resting in its juices; a touch of rosemary, bay leaf, basil and black olive. Tomato stalky, yes, tomato saucy, yes. Smoky bacon and stuffed red pepper... yes. There’s still a lovely fragrant bouquet of perfume and sweet redcurrant fighting against all the savoury elements, and this aspect was highlighted as we tucked into our pork chops and apple sauce.

The palate is even from start to finish; texturally fine, creamy... flavours of redcurrant, strawberry, spicy orange rind, plum and maraschino cherry – perhaps a little stalkiness – but essentially displaying the purist of pure pinosity. With the food the sweetness was emphasised further, yet still retaining the attractive meaty, gamey savouriness of the pre-dinner tasting. There was tight acid, there was restraint, and there was power.

This is good. It is equal parts simple, stylish and sexy. Seductive and supple. How can I explain? It shows no outward sign of greatness; it doesn’t smack you immediately in the face; it’s not the hottest-looking girl in the room – it’s the wine that gets under your guard slowly until it holds your complete attention – it’s intelligent, charming and resourceful. It's got 'it'. And it won me.
Value: Fifty five big buckeroos will get you this wine. Wow, it’s up there. I guess I’ll just say it’s a worthy wine if you think $55 is not a lot of money.
Tasted: April 2011
Closure: Screwcap

Producer: Mac Forbes – – one of the newish cultish producers crossing this fair land.
Region: Woori Yallock, south-eastern Yarra Valley, Victoria.
Vintage: Early budburst, wet December, warm vintage culminating in a heatwave in March, but most of the pinot was already picked by then. A good year despite challenges.