Wine Blog & Reviews

Aug 08 2017

The wonderful whites of Sicily’s Mount Etna

Posted on August 08, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Just back from London where even the supermarkets have a decent range of good quality, well-priced wines from around the world!

One of my favourite discoveries was the delicious Mount Etna Bianco, a blend of two indigenous grapes – Carricante (70%) and Catarratto (30%). Graci, one of Mt Etna’s top producers, makes a superb example. The 2014 Graci Etna Bianco, which I tried over lunch with friends, was a revelation. Bright and fresh with mineral and citrus notes, it had just enough phenolics to impart a rich, slightly creamy mouthfeel.

The Wine Advocate’s Monica Larner believes that overall the 2014 vintage sealed the deal for Sicily earning its “ranking as one of the top three most prestigious wine regions of Italy, following Piedmont and Tuscany.” (Italy, Sicily, Class of 2014 by Monica Larner, Wine Advocate 31 December 2015).

In fact, Angelo Gaja, described by the Wine Spectator Magazine’s Robert Camuto as “the Piedmont winemaking legend who for more than 50 years has helped lead Italy’s quality wine movement,” recently teamed up with Alberto Graci to buy 51 acres on the active volcano’s southwest face in Biancavilla. He follows in the footsteps of other great Italian winemakers like Giacomo Tachis, the creator of  Sassicaia, Tignanello and San Leonardo, who have helped Sicilian winemakers position Sicily as a star on the world wine map. (Piedmont Wine Star Angelo Gaja Invests in Sicily’s Mount Etna by Robert Camuto, Wine Spectator, 29 April 2017)

The bottle we enjoyed over lunch comes from the Graci’s Passopisciaro-based winery on Mount Etna’s North face. Here the family cares for 18 hectares of cool northern-facing closely planted vineyards at an elevation of  600 to 1000 metres above sea level.  The Carricante grape thrives in high elevation vineyards, where the loose, well drained volcanic soils encourage deep root development and impart a mineral character in the wines.

The Mount Etna wine region is blessed with disease-free growing conditions and dramatic diurnal variation; conditions which encourage experimentation and the use of organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking practices… [Read More]

Jun 06 2017

L.A.S. Vino – Forging a new path in Margaret River innovation

Posted on June 06, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

You may recall that Vanya Cullen, the winemaker of Margaret River’s Cullen Wines, took her winery to a new level of international recognition and excellence by embracing innovations like biodynamic viticulture and winemaking. Little wonder perhaps, that her nephew, Nic Peterkin, has shown a similar drive and talent for innovation.

As the grandson of Cullen Wines founders Kevin and Di Cullen and the son of Mike Peterkin, the founder of another celebrated Margaret River winery Pierro, Peterkin was keen to forge his own path,.. [Read More]

May 05 2017

Australia’s famed Margaret River wine region turns 50 years old!

Posted on May 05, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Not putting a foot wrong when it comes to recent vintages, Margaret River—at the heart of Western Australia—has become one of the most consistently solid regions for producing quality wines in Australia.

                                                        Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Western Australia, The Wine Advocate, 29 October 2016

Western Australia’s Margaret River region is considered one of  Australia’s, if not the world’s, premier wine regions. Coincidentally its birth coincided with the Beatles release of their most celebrated album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band –.. [Read More]

Apr 04 2017

The seriously delicious Hentley Farm Clos Otto Shiraz

Posted on April 04, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In the early years of this century, Americans couldn’t seem to get enough of Australia’s top wines, especially the full-bodied and sometimes ridiculously rich shiraz from the Barossa and beyond.

But a spiralling Aussie dollar, changing tastes and some serious competition from both the New and Old Worlds led to an almost sudden collapse in fortune for the Australian wine export market.

As The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown highlights in a recent report, today the South Australian wineries which have continued to make a mark by actively selling internationally “largely fall into one of three categories: 1) those coming from well-established 30+ year-old wineries that,.. [Read More]

Apr 04 2017

South Africa: Old vine stock discoveries make the Cape Wine Lands one of most exciting places on the planet to make wine

Posted on April 04, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Viticulturist Rosa Kruger has played a leading role in revitalising South Africa’s wine industry. According to the Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin:

She is to South Africa what Mme Loubat was to Pomerol. Just as the former grande dame of Petrus presciently understood the value of her wine when others dismissed it, so Rosa has awakened South Africa to the value of its vineyard heritage and proselytised a higher level of viticulture amongst its farmers, if not by their owners, then by contracted winemakers. As I have written previously,.. [Read More]

Feb 02 2017

Newcomer Lisdillon Pinot Noir 2015 – Wins Top Gold at Tasmanian Wine Show

Posted on February 02, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

No fewer than 57 wines entered the 2015 pinot class of the recently judged Tasmanian Wine Show, a testament to the growing reputation and popularity of pinot noir in the island state.

Some familiar names dominated the trophy and gold medal cache. The 2015 Bay of Fires Pinot Noir won the Chairman’s Selection Hazards Ale Trophy and the 2015 Goaty Hill Family Reserve Pinot Noir won the People’s Choice James Halliday Trophy. Gold medals were awarded to the 2015 Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir, the 2015 Bay of Fires Pinot Noir,.. [Read More]

Feb 02 2017

John Duval Eligo Shiraz 2013 – Named by the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown as one of her favourites for 2016

Posted on February 02, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I couldn’t help thinking that John Duval would have been chuffed to see his 2013 Eligo Shiraz share company with the 2012 Penfolds Grange and the 2013 Giaconda Estate Vineyard Chardonnay as the best current release Australian wines from 2016 according to the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown. (Current Releases: Best of Australia 2016)

After all, Duval started his own boutique label in 2003 after a legendary career as chief winemaker at Penfolds. He was responsible for making the Penfolds Grange and developing the highly successful RWT label… [Read More]

Feb 02 2017

2016 Wine of the Year: Tyrrell’s Old Patch Shiraz 2014

Posted on February 02, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Recently wine critic Nick Stock announced his Top 100 Australian Wines for 2016 in a report for JamesSuckling.com. Describing the character of the list, Stock remarked that it “encapsulates the growing divide between the classic wines and producers and the current generation of younger makers who are redefining the notions of great Australian wine.”

Tyrrell’s Old Patch Shiraz 2014, the 2016 Wine of the Year, is a wine that certainly sits in the former category. According to Stock, it’s an example of how “established producers who have custodianship of gifted terroirs are making the most of their land.”.. [Read More]

Jan 01 2017

McLaren Vale’s Yangarra Estate: Lifting grenache to new heights

Posted on January 01, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

But the old saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ seems particularly apt for describing McLaren Vale’s response over the last couple of decades to a changing climate. This South Australia region, framed by Adelaide to the north, the Mt Lofty Ranges to the east and south, and the Gulf St Vincent to the west, has developed a well-earned reputation for innovation. According to the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown “perhaps more so than any other GI in Australia, [McLaren Vale] has made huge strides towards clearly defining and differentiating itself in recent years with remarkable results that can be tasted in the wines.” (Australia’s McLaren Vale: Geological Wines by Lisa Perrotti-Brown,.. [Read More]

Dec 12 2016

Penfolds Grange 2012 and Penfolds St Henri 2013 – Make the list of the 20 most “extraordinary”red wines in Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate

Posted on December 12, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Lists of top wines published by Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate always grab headlines. The 2012 Penfolds Grange was featured on The Wine Advocate’s top 20 most “extraordinary” red wines, a list created from wines tasted in the bumper October issue that covered top drops from the USA, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia and Greece. It shared company with the 2013 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz.

Reviewer Lisa Perrotti-Brown said that the “2012 Grange and the 2013 St. Henri are right up there with the very best vintages of these wines ever made.”.. [Read More]