Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2012 Star Lane Nebbiolo (Beechworth)

Australian Nebbiolo.

    Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it

Edgar Albert Guest


I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read or heard that Nebbiolo isn’t really worth pursuing outside of Piedmont in Northern Italy. The theory goes that there exists such a unique synergy between grape and terroir there, that nowhere else will be able to produce wine worthy of this King of grapes.

Well I’ve tasted enough good Australian Nebbiolo over the past 5 years or so to state emphatically that this is not the case. SC Pannell, Luke Lambert, Coriole, and Pizzini are all examples of wineries that have produced Nebbiolos that would sit comfortably in a line-up of Langhe Nebbiolo, albeit that the flavour and texture profiles might be somewhat different from a wine from Piedmont. The only question to my mind is whether Australia will end up producing profound, long lasting Nebbiolo such as one gets with top Barolo and Barbaresco. This is as yet unanswered. I am, however, increasingly of the view that Australian Nebbiolo is like Australian Pinot Noir of twenty years ago or so. Another decade or two will likely see a handful of vineyards and wineries making great Nebbiolo.

To the wine at hand, the 2012 Star Lane Nebbiolo. Somewhat pale and translucent in colour as per the variety. The nose is initially somewhat closed but it opened up over the course of a couple of days to reveal cherry, tar, and a note of orange peel. There’s nice fruit on the palate, but all within a medium bodied Nebbiolo frame. That orange peel note, along with some appealing bittnerness puts me in the mind of a Negroni. No bad thing. Oak is there but unobtrusive. The overall balance of the wine is excellent and it finishes with proper, drying tannin and a lovely earthiness.  On day one I had it at 3.5 Stars, but my last glass on day 2 was impressive enough to give it a nudge. 4 Stars, and a wine that needs a few years in the cellar yet.

Rated: 4 Stars
RRP: $55
Closure: Diam
Drink: 2016-2022
Website: www.starlanewinery.com.au


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Scarborough 2011 Yellow Label Chardonnay

Scarborough does wonderful things with Chardonnay in the Hunter Valley and the Yellow Label is their out and proud ‘old school’ style of chardonnay. In all but the odd horror Hunter Valley vintages, I can rely on this wine.
Smells of lemon, traces of lemon rind, cashews and spicy, creamy oak
On the palate, juicy lemon, ripe grapefruit, an alluring creamy texture and clean acid. Some integrated oak flavours on the back palate. 

Clean, flavoursome and refreshing, but not overpowering or too woody. The body and flavour to make it a versatile wine to drink with across a range of white meat dishes (seafood to roast chicken thighs).

Old school but wearing a shiny new suit.

Ratings: 91pts
ABV: 13.5%
RRP: $23 (Cellar Door)
Website: www.scarboroughwine.com.au

2010 Yelland and Papps Divine Grenache

From an impressive Barossa Valley vintage comes a powerful and flavoursome wine made from Grenache north of Greenock, planted in the 19th century. The Divine range are premium wines produced by Yelland and Papps. Made in a familiar and consistent style, they tend to be fully flavoured yet built to last.
Tasting Note:
Juicy, round red and black cherry, mixed black fruit merged neatly with Christmas cake spices. Primary fruit at the front and middle especially.  Finishes with elegant power, no overt confection.  Luscious, approachable and moreish, though kept together thanks to its impressive structure.

Makes a bold impression with a fruit intensity and  rich oak treatment that will please many.
I would probably drink this now, given the few years in the bottle and the luscious fruit on offer, though it would cruise through cellaring for 10 years.

RRP: $75
ABV: 14.5%
Score: 94+ pts
Website: www.yellandandpapps.com

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

2006 Alluviale Merlot Cabernet Franc (Hawkes Bay, NZ)

One of my gradual learnings over the years is that most premium, age worthy wine doesn't actually get discernibly better with age. Sure, a wine may age in the sense that it drinks well at 10 years of age, but a wine that actually builds additional complexity and enjoyment when compared to its youth is indeed rare. Instead, for most aged wines edges have softened, flavours have become more savoury, and a glide path of gradual decay has begun. There’s plenty of enjoyment to be had in following a wine on such a path, it’s just not the epiphany that is often hoped for when initially laying a bottle down in the cellar.

The 2006 Alluviale Merlot Cab Franc fits this mould. Nothing startling has happened with a further 5 years under its belt since I first tried it, but is nevertheless represents very enjoyable cellared wine drinking.  Medium bodied and food friendly, the tannin and acidity remain present but have now fully integrated into the wine. It still has plenty of nice plummy fruit along with chocolate notes. Grassiness, tobacco, and some earthiness all combine to provide a savoury finish. A lovely wine.

Rated: 4 Stars
ABV: 13.9%
Closure: Screwcap
Drink: 2014-2017
Website: www.alluviale.com

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