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Posts Tagged ‘varieties’

Dear Blog,

I regret not writing sooner. The longer I left it… the more embarrassed about not writing I became. But the truth is, I did miss you and my attentions, although redirected – were good. I have started to pursue post-graduate study and have simply concentrated all into that over the past few months. And ashamedly, I have still been drinking – just without you…

But over new years, my resolution is to share more wines, laughs and interesting … even boring tales – whining or wining with you.

So tonight, I throught I’d have another crack -

                                                                 –at a stelvin seal that is.

So feeling a bit fruity, I went for a Verdelho. Not a traditional favourite of the real wineo, yet – in my eyes far superior to the herds of crappy Sauvignon Blanc that still saturate the market en-masse. [Seriously? A whole aisle for Sauvignon Blanc? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the grape. Its not Sauvignon Blanc’s fault. In fact I blame the “fad” of Sauvignon Blanc because just like Chardonnay in the 80’s there is soooooooooooooooooooooooo (soooooooooooooooooo) many bad ones. A great “Sauvvy B” can be wonderful. But I have never found one in a bottle shop. ]

Back to Verdelho. I think one of Hunter Valley’s regional hero’s is Verdelho. It just works for our climate.

Now the variation for Verdelho can be its let down. They can be anywhere on a scale from dry to fruity, but they are always going to be all about the fruit. This one,  pale straw in colour. Citrus on the nose, reminding me of freshly grated zest. I get a hint of freshly cut pineapple and the last aroma is slightly green like bruised lemon tree leaves. The best part, is with more air and active swilling – the fresh pineapple turns candied – embarrassingly taking me back to pineapple lollies at school (without smelling sweet).

Righteo, the palate. It does have residual sugar, and is fruitier than other traditional varieties, but I don’t mind my Verdelho carrying fresh fruit flavour. And on the scale of fruity its not obscene. Anyway, fruity is why it matches so well with spicy foods like Thai. It can just handle the heat, when a Chardonnay or a Semillon would just go crying home to mummy.

The fruitiness of the palate is tarty, yet fleshy citrus – lemons, mandarins and oranges which have to share the glass with pineapple. The whole palate is backed up by excellent acidity. Just the way I like it. Acidity can save the day in a fruitier style of wine by cutting the palate off short, midway. Its a bit like hemming your palate.

The mouth feel is fun, its smooth…. smooth… zingy (without an annoying spritz) and then clean. The palate is left with a pleasant lingering sensation, and its overall a good example of Hunter Verdelho, and an even better example of why Hunter Valley wine should be the top of the bottle shop purchasing books.

This wine is people-friendly. The Spicy food activist would enjoy this, as well as the naive drinker. Its not a think and drink wine, its really just a pour and adore.

13% al/vol, screw cap, available in bottleshops

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I saw this in a bottle shop, and honestly I’ve been a bit fed up with Riesling lately. As you know, last month I went to the Good Food and Wine Show I tried a few Rieslings here and there. Overall, too young to be consumed without food. I found nothing where I thought, “wow thats interesting” or “the depth in that wine is stunning”. All citrusy and dull.

Statement: Petaluma Chardy is the bomb. Instantly a reliable wine.

I saw this, a Petaluma Riesling $33 in a bottle shop. I figured I would give Riesling one last try. Afterall  every palate changes, as do styles over the years.  After all – you wouldn’t be seen dead with your mothers 80’s perm today would you? But maybe our kids will “die for it”.

Maybe my relationship with Riesling is just over. Its not you its me. MY palate has changed and there is no longer room in my cellar for you. Sure, we’ll meet again from time to time – with mutal friends and at work events and functions and we’ll be polite to each other.  But it just won’t be the same. You’re back on the market, and I’ll put you back on the shelf.

But I decided that Riesling can still be a romantic at times. Not just monosyllabic like my partner can be. Just like Dave has shown me over the years, Riesling can be dual toned, deep, personal and long lasting. Hell, there are times when we can disagree but maybe its just a phase. Riesling surely couldnt be a phase?

So I grabbed it, lovingly Dave paid for it (love you), and I cracked it. Literally of course this time, because its a stelvin seal.

Lovely Golden colour. I know I’m flirting with danger here, I don’t like to cheat on Chardonnay with another intense wine unless I will be truely satisfied. And looks do matter.

The nose is subtle, yet delicate and flawless. Its a rounded bouquet with pear, slight citrus texture and lemon blossoms. Hint of spiciness follows through reminding me of cinnamon toast in the morning.

Cumquats on the palate – and not just because of the euphemism! Mixed Citrus including lemons dance all over the front of the palate. This is broadened by the breadth of acidity on offer – which I am already noticing is discipating with bottle age- but well balanced by generous fruit. There is a minerally/flinty/chalky character – but I don’t think most would notice.

This wine needs to continue to be cellared by those who could tame it!! Lie it down, and awake it when you’re ready for a full styled, generous Riesling that can steal your heart all over again.

And before the complaints set in I haven’t even said how it felt on my tongue! LOL

This wine has rejuvinated my love of Riesling. Its a pity that there are too many flowery models out there only interested in your money.

12.5% al/vol, screw cap, available in bottleshops

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I was so excited this week. I’ll get to this in a second.

I am a huge supporter of Facebook for Business marketing. I started Petersons Wines off when I worked there and it now is in the thousands in both friends and fans. Its been brilliant with lots of rewards for wine drinkers including notification of events, novelty of applications, new releases and general interaction with your favourite winery INSTANTLY.

When I started the use of Facebook I was hit with criticism. From other colleagues ( to whom I am blowing a big fat raspberry of phooey); other wineries (who ironically now also “have” to use it to remain competitive which I lOVE), from marketers and from others. But overall the response what beyond expectations, so much so other wineries and businesses followed suit. I even did some consultancy work to establish the same for other wineries. FIGJAM.

But enough on this. I WAS SO EXCITED THIS WEEK… because last week I was able to offer a winery advice on how they could increase hits to their Facebook page. They posted asking for advice from consumers and I thought… I can do this…

So I rattled off some quick (but extensive) list of what I know all about social networking marketing.

And this week I got a message from that winery saying I’d won a twin pack of wine for offering advice. I would have done it for free! So in return I’ve decided to give them a plug on my blog. (I hope they don’t mind)

I received in the post today, a bottle of Deen De Bortoli Vat 7 Chardonnay (and a Durif TBA). I believe “South Eastern Australia” is a euphemism for Griffith (Australia’s largest chunk of wine growing).  This is also obvious because De Bortoli are also known for their Noble One (very very good) and Griffith is perfect locale for growing Botrytised fruit. But could indicate anywhere else within the vicinity of South Eastern Australia.

I was provided with tasting notes but chucked these out. Wine is subjective and this is what I thought of it:

A bright, yet pale lemony straw colour without that heavy oaky colour.  An oaked Chardonnay with a nice leaness about it. Its there but if you weren’t totally looking for it you might forget you don’t drink oaked chardonnay. Its definately NOT new oak. But its got a nice rounded palate with full display of peach, and mandarin and a hint of rock melon. True varietal characters. A nice level of residual sugar remains on the palate – something sure to please the masses, and works really quite well  for this wine as its backed up by pleasant acidity.

I enjoy the complexity of the bouquet here – again Yellow Peach, almonds/nuttiness, and really reminicent of… Chardonnay. Its suffice, exactly what I would expect. Very pleasant. Enjoyable.

I ideally, would match with spicy seafood including Thai Chilli Prawns, or something with an Asian  spicy slant. Anything kind of fruity goes great with spice – and as a solid wineo, this is why I don’t totally reject fruity wines. Don’t get me wrong – its not fruity for a supermarket wine, its fruity for a cellar door wine. I also LOVE spicy foods. BUT… for me Anything Goes with Chardonnay. If I had a movie about my life, that would be the title.

13% al/vol, screw cap. http://www.debortoli.com.au/our-wines/our-brands/deen-vat-series/listing/view/deen-vat-7-chardonnay-2009.html 

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Recently, I visited my local Bowling Club. Don’t judge me. Yes I know where my local club is, yes I’m a member.

I ordered a glass of Chardonnay absent mindedly. Then I realised this could be fatal and sharply added *From a Bottle!* as a stipulation to my order.

Until this moment, I had no idea how high my standards were -and how judgemental I was. (Despite being at a Bowling Club…) Now, my $4 glass of Stony Peak Chardonnay *From a Bottle!* was worth every cent… depending on which way you look at it. :)

For a brief moment, I was bothered by my realisations of panic about my crappy Chardonnay. My brain momentarily convinced itself that it would be the end of the world if I forgot to mention *From a Bottle!* But would there be much difference between the quality of two vessels at a Bowling Club?

Ashamedly, even I can drink a posturised glass beaker of oak chipped, highly sulphured and questionable* Chardy. (*Questionable because I wonder what proportion of Muscatel juice is used in supermarket wines to sweeten us up – likely the legal dose without needing to legally mention on the label. I don’t usually like my Chardonnay Unleaded E10).

So standing in line with my Chardonnay, I remembered a fantastic evening I had once spent dining at the then-new Hunter Valley Crowne Plaza. Amongst the group was Hunter Valley legend, Karl Stockhausen (a winemaker in the Hunter Valley for over 50 years). He probably wouldn’t even remember me, but I recall the huge honour I believed it was to be in his company. After all – hes a bit of a Hunter Valley Celebrity.

On this night, I ordered my favourite Peacock Hill Chardonnay, *From a Bottle!* and everyone in the group had a wine of some sort. Karl asked for a glass of Sparkling Wine. Naively, the young girl behind the bar offered this huge wineo the “house” sparkling. It was some tragic, energetic, blushing, barely Charmat styled sweety. Gasps and horror from the crowd. Crickets sang.

There was also a Methode Champenoise Bubbles on the wine list, more appropriate for a figure like Karl. It was luxuriously dressed in black and gold, the Bentley of wine.

Surprisingly, Karl accepted the cheap bubbly. He took it for a test drive, and I had to take a step back and put on my seat-belt. He began to engage the flute in serious appraisal. He looked at the colour, questioned the mode of Sparkling Production, described the bouquet and made a judgement on which varietals might comprise to give the flowery, candied flavours. He even ate the *Shudder* strawberry that was precariously positioned on the lip of the glass. (Don’t put fruit in your wine unless you’re making Sangrea, it interferes with the wine).

Karl took it all with a pinch of salt. I had to pinch myself. Karl was truely a good sport. Living Legend. Literally.

So here I am, back at the daggy local bowling club. I’m in line paying for my $4 Chardonnay *From a Bottle!* that is fit for a Blue Rinse and a game of Bingo, and I’m thinking to myself – I hope I’m insured in case I crash. Here goes… Colour = good, golden hues.
Bouquet = who knows in this glass?
Palate = saturated in residual sugar without being “sweet”, but satisfyingly sound – stone fruits and something reminicent of oak in there.
Price Point = competitive.
Great Mileage, quiet engine, not a Rolls Royce, not even a Corolla… but passes the REVs Check,
(Now you’ll love this one… REVs = Rhiannon’s Everyday Vino.. LOL) and not quite a bomb.

Yes, its hard not to be happy with a $4 glass of wine *From a Bottle!*.

At this point I was waiting for my change, distracted by my Chardonnay and almost didn’t notice the elderly man next to me who was placing his order. He excused his way past me as he ordered “Two Glasses of Dry Red”, then sharply added *From the Fridge* as his stipulation. “Cask ok?”, She queried. “What else is there?” he revelled.

Tempting to shudder, but instead I shrugged. Although – I wasn’t game to ask what kind of car he drove. It’s probably not even registered… because he’s definately unlicenced.

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Pinot Noir is a pain in the arse.

Why?

Small tight little bunches.

Low yielding.

Thin Skin = susceptible to fungal disease, bunch rot, skins splitting.

Thin Skin = Sometimes leads to a crap colour.

Needs a cold climate.

Sentitive to light.

Sensitive to everything (needy).

Loves air. Loves it so much it will Over Dose on air during fermentation (addictive personality).

Dies younger than average than other varieties.

Pinot Noir has a complex and will easily suffer a crisis. How can such a soft, delicate and subtle wine have such robust, fruit -forward intentions? Try-Hard.

Why do the French use it in Champagne? Because they can harvest it green before it becomes too much of a pain in the arse.

Genetically unstable: Pinot Noir likes to mutate. Even it doesn’t like who it is, so it tries to change itself. Pinot Noir sometimes pulls a Michael Jackson and “swaps” to producing a white grape. Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are thought to be Pinot Noir mutations. But it doesn’t even mutate whole heartedly – sometimes its only a point mutation where only one cane produces white fruit and the other canes bear red fruit. Weird.

Only one thing more painful in the arse than Pinot Noir, is Sideways.

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Hybrids. What do we know about them?

Cheap to run, fuel saving, energy efficient… Disease Resistant?!

Hybrids of the wine world are those single varieties which are genetic result of two or more other grape varieties. But how prominent are hybridised varieties in the Australian Market? They might be more common than you think.

Is Chambourcin the mule of the wine world? A favourite amongst hybridised wine producing grape varieties, Chambourcin has held its own through being a deep coloured wine with intense aromatic flavour, and not having any “foxy” flavour carried by many hybrids. Along with its intense colour it is interestingly one of the worlds only Pink-Pulped varieties. It is also favourably resistant to fungal diseases – a reason it has become popular to the Australian climate. It also makes a fabulous sparkling wine – and we all know how much Australia loves Sparkling Red. So what’s wrong with a mule if it pulls the cart the same… if not better than a horse?

But would a wine by any other name still taste as… sweet? Chambourcin has only been available since 1963, and was developed by Johannes Seyve. Once upon a time, Chambourcin was named Johannes Seyve 26-205 and I once read, “Chambourcin” is also the name of a cheese. Perhaps its excellent pairing with cheese lead to the naming? Unfortunately for us, Johannes never wrote anything down when he was cross-pollinating with his paintbrush (forcing flowers to fornicate can really be a distracting process). Johannes defiled up to 8 vitis ancestries to produce Chambourcin and unfortunately for us, later died with no records of the official parentage (and we do hope it was of natural causes and not owed to Chambourcin). Mystery is not always romantic, but the grape was born from a native North American grape, and French vines in the Loire Valley. Chambourcin still remains a bastard of sorts not knowing who its many fathers are.

Perhaps it comes back to the naming of the grape. If its pseudonym sounds traditional – a hybrid is more easily accepted by the Old World. Take for example Durif. In Australia more often than not – we call it by the name of the man that invented it. The Durif variety originated in 1880 when François Durif (a botanist) founded a cross of Syrah and Peloursin. Egotistically he named it after himself – but hey who’s judging? – I had a wine named after me too. The point of the story, is that the majority of Petite Sirah plantings can be DNA proven to be Durif. Same Diff huh? Apparently this happens alot.

Of  course Zinfandel‘s fairy tale story arouses the continual arguement of nature versus nurture. Zinfandel has been genetically proven to be the same grape as Primitivo of Italy and Crljenak Kaštelanski of Croatia. (yeah dont ask me how to say that last one). So what happened? Separated at birth, given different names, regional terroir and traditons change the style of wine produced and we just forgot that it went on a holiday under an alias? Did they not check the passport? Keep in mind, this example is not a hybrid, but each is a clone of the same variety. Which one is Molly?

Australia (and many new world wine producing countries) tend to be kinder to hybridised varietals than the old wine world. I have heard that the European Union has prohibited Chambourcin to be blended with traditional varieties. This seems to be a bit “variety racist”. But is it ironic considering the origins of many of Europe’s “traditonal” grape’s ancestry. As well as the fact that many “traditional” varieties are grafted onto American root stocks in order to be disease resistant.

Speaking of “traditional” grape varieties…. Merlot, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon… BUZZ Epic Fail. What most people DON’T know is that Cabernet Sauvignon (although naturally occuring) is a hybrid… of sorts. Originally from Bordeaux, and considered the noblest of grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon has long lived a lie. OOh I feel like a gossip columnist…Ever wondered why Cabernet Franc has blackcurrant , cassis, tabacco and raspberry flavours and so does Cabernet Sauvignon? Also, Cabernet Sauvignon sometimes has herbaceous greeness, and what other “Sauvignon” carries these green grassy flavours? You betcha! Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc had a dirty weekend in the 1600’s. And Cabernet Sauvignon is in fact a love child. And I blame the French. Well – they obviously knew all this time… they NAMED the grape. Perverts, probably set them up on a blind date. This grape family is truely dysfunctional with all this DNA testing.

Apparently Humans share up to a third of our DNA with a Lettuce, and in my reasoning, a lettuce and a grapevine can’t be that far apart genetically. Perhaps we have a close affiliation to wine because we share DNA. You can’t choose your family hey? But I admit… I am another Chardonnay Clone.

Cheers!

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Lighter in colour and style than I expected. A refined wine with a modest structure, but good varietal character. Energetic and lively when first poured, the colour is brick red with a chestnut hue. The label mentions “time spent on yeast lees” – but the size of the bubbles tells me they are not likely talking about bottle fermentation. All the same it is a gracious example of a Sparkling Red, and I have no qualms about Charmat sparkling wines. 

Rich in flavour, leather, smokiness and blackberries with a sweet oven roasted  red capsicum and cinnamon spice. Sweeter breadth of fruits add a real plumminess sweep over the palate, enhanced by the tantalising bubbles. The firmness of the slight tannins compose the mouth feel and it finishes balanced and dry. A good structured wine but not overly intense, and a nice wine to compliment poultry such as turkey or duck. I served it with Roast portuguese styled chicken and baked winter veg, and this highlighted the intense fruit in the wine.

A good light hearted take on a Sparkling Red and a great example of why we should all break the old world wine rules.

13% al/vol, Cork seal, Ashamedly, I have no idea how this came to be in my collection. On http://www.oliomio.com.au/Stormy_Ridge_Wine.html it is listed as $29 per bottle.

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