Tag: Lisa Perrotti-Brown

Aug 08 2012

Kilikanoon: Exceptional Wine and Music Making go hand-in-hand!

Posted on August 08, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Having previously worked in the arts, I’m always intrigued by stories of people who have made the transition from one art to another. Nathan Waks, executive director and proprietor of Kilikanoon, used to be the Principal Cellist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. But by all accounts, he is having just as much fun promoting Kilikanoon overseas, and still occasionally playing the cello to  appreciative audiences at Kilikanoon promotional dinners!

Not that he needs to put on much of a show to sell the Kilikanoon portfolio. You may have read that Kilikanoon was recently named Winery of the Year 2013 by James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion. The Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman also recently included Kilikanoon in his list of “Australian Wineries to Put on Your Radar,” noting that “this long-standing, family-owned Clare Valley winery builds remarkable elegance into its range of rich, complex and expressive shiraz bottlings from both Clare and Barossa.” (Australian Wineries to Put on Your Radar by Harvey Steiman Wine Spectator 31 July 2012)

 

 

 

Founder and chief winemaker Kevin Mitchell is very much a wine man. His father, Mort Mitchell, planted and still tends Kilikanoon’s Golden Hillside suite of contiguous vinyards, including Mort’s Block, which is home to Kilikanoon’s flagship wines such as the Oracle Shiraz and the Mort’s Reserve Riesling. After completing his wine studies in 1992, Kevin gained extensive wine making experience both in Australia and the United States before purchasing the Kilikanoon property in 1997.

Thirteen of Kilikanoon’s wines received 94 points or higher in James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion 2013. While the emphasis is on shiraz, Kilikanoon also makes an excellent range of cabernet sauvignon, greanche. riesling and semillon.

The focus is on making wines with strong regional and varietal definition, an approach that has won the … Read the rest

Aug 08 2012

Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot: A “Hall of Fame” Bordeaux Blend

Posted on August 08, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In an article on Australian Bordeaux blends for the May edition of Decanter Magazine, the Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot was among 15 wines to make Huon Hooke’s “Bordeaux Blend Hall of Fame.” (Aussie Bordeaux Blends by Huon Hooke, Decanter May 2012)

Its inclusion on such a prestigious list, which included other Margaret River greats like Cullen Wines Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot, the Vasse Felix Heytesbury and the Brookland Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, should come as no surprise. Since the mid 1990s, the Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot has been one of the most consistently highly rated wines of its style.

Perennial high scores from one vintage to the next is due in part to a winemaking philosophy that believes in leaving nothing to chance. As Voyager Estate states on its website, “We are meticulous in everything we do: from site, varietal and clonal selection to vineyard management and winemaking.”

Indeed, reading about the labour intensive care devoted to each individual block in order to achieve uniformity – meaning “every vine within a specific block will have the same number of buds at pruning, the same number of shoots and the same number of bunches” – reminded me of the approach taken at top Bordeaux estates like Château Haut-Bailly and Château Pape Clément, where everything is done with an eye on perfection.

The goal at Voyager Estate is to give the Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot the absolutely best chance possible of expressing the true essence of its very special terroir.

The original ‘Old Block’ of the Stevens Valley site was first planted with cabernet sauvignon in 1978. Here the terroir of uniform gravelly soils formed from underlying granite and gnessic rock on a stony clay base allows for a slow release of moisture and nutrients to the … Read the rest

Jun 06 2012

Mount Mary Quintet: The Quintessential Cabernet Blend

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

When I was reading Jay McInerney’s article on Paso Robles blends, I couldn’t help thinking about Australia’s most renowned blended wine, the Mount Mary Vineyard Quintet Cabernets. Justin Smith of Saxum, one of Paso Robles’ most respected winemakers, told McInerney that “Blends are a great tool for winemakers to be able to bring complexity and balance to their wines, especially when working within a single site.” (Discovering the Beautiful Blends of Paso Robles by Jay McInerney, The Wall Street Journal, 15 June 2012)

Mount Mary has been putting Smith’s approach into practice for over 40 years. Back in the early 70s, Mount Mary’s founder, the late Dr John Middleton, decided that he wanted to make an elegant, low alcohol Bordeaux blend. He settled on a gentle, north facing slope in the heart of the Yarra Valley and planted it to cabernet sauvignon (46%), merlot (26%), cabernet franc (18%), malbec (5%) and petit verdot (5%). These varieties became the basis for his celebrated Mount Mary Quintet Cabernets.

Elegant, structure and complexity are the adjectives most used to describe the Quintet’s style. Middleton preferred the taut, tight and lean flavours of great old red Bordeaux, and modeled the Quintet on the classical proportioned wines he revered. When it was first released in 1979 the Quintet proved a revelation to consumers, more used to a richer style of Australian cabernet. Available only to buyers who gained a spot on the coveted mailing list, it quickly attained a cult-like status.

Today the Mount Mary vineyard is regarded as an exceptional site, and the crops are carefully managed to insure that the integrity of Middleton’s original style is maintained. (Apparently Middleton was very hands-on up until his death in 2006 at age 82.) Each variety, for example, is picked only after … Read the rest

Jun 06 2012

Bass Phillip Pinot Noir: “Pushing the boundaries of Australian Pinot Noir Greatness.”

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In light of one of my earlier posts, Cellaring Australian Pinot Noir: How long do they last? I was interested to read that Bass Phillip’s proprietor Phillip Jones is most emphatic that good pinot noirs can last a very long time. On his recently launched website, Jones states that the commonly held view that pinot noir cannot be cellared for more than five to six years is “absolute nonsense!”

He goes on to say: “Our most enjoyable wine experience ever were the 1908 Cos de Tart Burgundy and the 1949 Rousseau Le Chambertin, both drunk in about 1990. We are still drinking some Bass Phillips from the late 1980s, and the Premium and Reserves from the early to mid 1990s are looking fresh and complex today.”

Jones, of course, is someone who knows a great deal about pinot noir. His Bass Phillip Reserve Pinot Noir and Premium Pinot Noir have been pivotal in gaining serious international recognition for Australian pinot noir. Jones was an early pioneer of high quality pinot noir production in Victoria and, as the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown observes, he “is still leader of the Pinot pack in Australia.” (eRobertParker.com #195 June 2011)

The Bass Phillip Reserve Pinot Noir is among only 17 wines rated “Exceptional” in Langton’s 2010 Classification of Australian Wine. Langton’s Andrew Caillard MW writes that “It is a madly rare, profoundly intense and exquisitely balanced wine which reflects the nuances of an exceptional vineyard site.”

The exceptional vineyard site of which Caillard refers to is in Leongatha, South Gippsland Victoria. After first experimenting with Bordeaux varieties in 1979, Jones closely planted (9,000 vines per hectare) the vineyard to pinot noir, releasing the first 1989 vintages of the Reserve, Premium and Estate bottlings in 1991. Today the vineyard is … Read the rest

May 05 2012

Reviews for Penfolds Grange 2007

Posted on May 05, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Reviews for the Penfolds Grange 2007 are starting to trickle in. As you may recall, the 2006 Grange was a stellar vintage. Andrew Caillard MW of Langton’s gave the wine a perfect score of 100 points, rating the 2006 Grange as the best vintage since 2004.

2006 was always going to be a hard act to follow, especially since the 2007 vintage was plagued by drought, high summer temperatures and severe frosts early in the growing season. Of course, only the best quality fruit is used for the Grange, and Penfolds has the luxury of being able to source prime material from different sites and regions. The 2007 is a blend of 97 per cent shiraz and 3 per cent cabernet sauvignon.

Grange is definitely not a wine designed to be imbibed upon release, and early reviews and scores are often revised as the wine ages. As the influential American wine critic Robert Parker commented, Grange is a wine that ages at a “glacial pace.” His Wine Advocate regularly re-tastes the wine at 3-7 year intervals, updating reviews and, most importantly, the crucial point scores.

Usually point scores and reviews for Grange tend to improve as the wine ages, but sometimes they dip and then come up again. Like a great Bordeaux, some vintages of Grange have a propensity to ‘close down’ and then ‘re-emerge’ after several more years of cellaring.

The Wine Advocate’s reviews of the celebrated 1990 Grange, for example, are a case in point. (Incidentally, this was the vintage that was named ‘Red Wine of the Year’ by the Wine Spectator magazine in 1995 – the first time it chose a wine outside of France or California!)

In his 1995 review of the 1990 vintage, Parker remarked that “The 1990 is the greatest, most complete and richest … Read the rest

Feb 02 2012

Bannockburn Serré Vineyard Pinot Noir: A little slice of Burgundy in Geelong

Posted on February 02, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of making wine from a single vineyard is vintage variation. Most winemakers worth their salt will decide not to make a single vineyard wine if the vintage is deemed not to be superb.

The widely acclaimed Bannockburn Serré Pinot Noir is an excellent example of a top notch winemaker’s respect for the integrity of this approach. As winemaker Michael Glover explained to the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown, “Our winemaking is reactive. You’re constantly reacting to what the season is.” (2008 Bannockburn Serré Pinot Noir by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, eRobertParker.com #195 June 2011)

The Bannockburn Serré Pinot Noir is made from a dry-grown, organically cultivated 1.2 hectare vineyard planted at Bannockburn in 1986. The vineyard was deliberately designed to match the tough conditions of the great grand crus vineyards of Burgundy. Closely planted vines (9,000-10,000 per hectare), narrow rows and low trellising force the roots to dig deep for moisture and nutrients, and limit crop yields. Apparently, in 2006 yields were so low that fruit from four vines were required to make just one bottle of wine!

Garry Farr of By Farr established Bannockburn’s reputation as one of the finest makers of pinot noir in Australia. But Glover, who took over in 2005, is taking the Serré to even greater heights. The Wine Front’s Campbell Mattinson describes Glover as “an idealist, a passionate man who’s done his time and made his mistakes and learnt the ropes – and has now been handed the keys to a set of Ferrarri-like vineyards, open licence to drive them really fast, and really well.” (From Evan to Earth, From Hands to Glover: Bannockburn by Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front 13 November 2006)

For Glover great wine is definitely made in the vineyard, and one of the … Read the rest

Feb 02 2012

What makes ‘single vineyard’ wine so special?

Posted on February 02, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In a recent article on the Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz, the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown gives a great deal of thought to the definition of a ‘single vineyard’. She asks “Is there a limit on how big it can be? Is there an implied uniformity of terroir and vine in these words, and to what extent is that even possible?” She argues that “when taken to its ultimate extreme, the words ‘single vineyard’ should conjure images of miniscule parcels of near mono-geological turfs that have long been married to a single varietal soul-mate, perhaps Romanee-Conti (1.8 ha), Le Montrachet (8 ha) or Clos Sainte Hune (1.67 ha).” (Henschke Hill of Grace: Australia’s Greatest Single Vineyard Wine? by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, eRobertParker.com, 6 February 2012)

But whatever the size of the vineyard or the number of distinct blocks of varying soils, vine ages and varieties (the Hill of Grace Vineyard consists of 8 blocks between a half and one hectare in size), Perrotti-Brown argues that a wine should only be classified as a ‘single vineyard’ wine if it represents a “thoughtfully delineated example of elevated quality that stands apart from that which surrounding vineyards can achieve and expresses something, well, singular.”

The custodians of world’s greatest single vineyard wines certainly devote a great deal of time and attention to yielding the best results from their single vineyards no matter their size.  Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC), for example, converted his vineyards to organic in 1986 and more recently biodynamic, because he believes that making wine as naturally as possible is the best way to express the nuances of his fabled terroir. (see Domaine de la Romanée-Conti: The Quintessential Expression of Terroir by Merrill Witt, Cellarit Wine Blog, 12 May 2011)

Perrotti-Brown notes that fifth … Read the rest

Dec 12 2011

Wine Advocate announces the top twenty good value producers in Australia for 2011

Posted on December 12, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown has just released a list of the top 20 good value producers in Australia for 2011. As the Wine Advocate’s main subscription base is the US, the list includes only wineries, both large and small, that export to major markets around the world. (No point, I guess, in choosing wineries that a US or European consumer would have no chance of finding on a bottle shelf in their home country).

According to Perrotti-Brown, “Producing singular wines of great character and expression for under US$25 / AU$25 is no easy task, but these guys and gals have all managed to create wines that are nothing short of incredible in this capacity.”

Here are her choices (The links take you to the winery websites if available):

Australian Domain Wines, McLaren Vale

Ad Hoc/Ad Lib, Western Australia

Balgowni Estate, Bendigo, Victoria

Chateau Tanunda, Barossa Valley, SA

Hentley Farm, Barossa Valley, SA

Hoddles Creek Estate, Yarra Valley, Vic

Innocent Bystander, Yarra Valley, Vic

Jansz, Tasmania

Madfish, produced by Howard Park, Margaret River and Great Southern, WA

Margan Family Wines, Hunter Valley, NSW

Massena, Barossa Valley, SA

Mollydooker, McLaren Vale, SA

Paringa Estate, Mornington Peninsula, Vic

Penfolds, Multi-Regional, SA

Pirie, Tamar Valley, Tasmania

Rolf Binder, Barossa Valley, SA

Shingleback, McLaren Vale, SA

Small Gully, Barossa Valley, SA

Tyrrell’s Wines, Hunter Valley, NSW

Yabby Lake, Mornington Peninsula, Vic

(Australian Wine Values of 2011: Better than Ever by Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, eRobertParker.com 23 December 2011)

Photo: Red Knot McLaren Vale Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre 2010 ($11.50) Made by Shingleback. Perrott-Brown awarded this wine the International Judge’s trophy at the 2011 McLaren Vale Wine Show. “It’s an absolute winner that I continue to drink at home … Read the rest

Oct 10 2011

Masterclass with New Zealand’s Escarpment and Quartz Reef

Posted on October 10, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On Wednesday night I attended a masterclass hosted by two of New Zealand’s leading winemarkers: Larry McKenna of Martinborough’s Escarpment and Rudi Bauer of Central Otago’s Quartz Reef. Organised by nzwineonline.com.au and held at the very picturesque Coast restaurant in Cockle Bay, the evening proved a wonderful opportunity to sample pinot noir from the two most acclaimed wine regions for the variety in New Zealand.

Both winemakers have drawn on Burgundy for inspiration for their pinot noir. Their winemaking practices reflect the very best of Old and New World traditions as characterised by complete respect for their respective terroirs and a willingness to experiment with new ideas to improve the quality of their wines. Austrian born Rudi did several vintages in Burgundy, as well as California and at Rippon in New Zealand before starting Quartz Reef in 1996. Larry grew up in Adelaide, studied at Roseworthy College and worked in Europe and New Zealand before co-founding Escarpment in 1998.

 

Larry talked about how the winemaking philosophy of the renowned Burgundy estate Domaine Dujac has influenced his own approach. Dujac vinifies its pinot noir with little or no de-stemming of the grapes, with winemaker Jacques Seysses being convinced that it gives the wines greater complexity. Larry explained that he includes whole bunches in the fermentation for his pinot noir. The fruit for the 2009 vintage, for example, was a little riper than 2008, so a slightly higher percentage of whole bunches (approximately 40%) were used to enhance the wine’s complexity and tannin structure. The fruitier and more savoury perfume aromas of the Escarpment Pinot Noir 2009 made it our table’s choice over the more subdued but still very good 2008.

The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown recently described Rudi’s winemaking style as “both understated and powerful.” Quartz Reef’s single vineyard … Read the rest

Jul 07 2011

Wine of the Week: Henschke Hill of Grace 2006

Posted on July 07, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If any wine could potentially knock Penfolds Grange off its mantle as Australia’s most iconic wine, it would undoubtedly be the Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz. These two wines share the stage as Australia’s preeminent expressions of shiraz. Together they perennially deliver almost unbeatable quality, and command equally impressive prices upon release.

But whereas Grange is a multi-regional blend sourced from Penfolds very best vineyards, the Eden Valley Henschke Hill of Grace comes from a single, eight hectare vineyard that was planted in the 1860s with pre-phylloxera material brought from Europe by the early settlers.

Hill of Grace was first made by Cyril Henschke in 1958. Today the wine is very much the product of the shared vision, talent and expertise of fifth generation winemaker Stephen Henschke and his wife, viticulturist Prue Henschke.

The Henschkes are absolutely fastidious about every aspect of vineyard and winery management.  Projects over the years have ranged from a clonal selection nursery to soil management innovations. The Hill of Grace vineyard, for example, is now mulched with wheat straw to avoid herbicide treatment under the vines. This technique also allows more organic matter to be incorporated into the soil and preserves precious soil moisture. Organic and biodynamic principles are also utilised.

The  minimalist intervention approach to winemaking that was favoured by Cyril Henschke in the 1950s and 60s has been continued by Stephen Henschke. The handpicked grapes, picked at full maturity, are vinified in traditional open fermenters and matured for 21 months in a combination of new French and American oak. The use of racking, sulphur, fining and filtration is minimised or avoided.

2006 is considered one of the best of recent vintages, and the reviews have been excellent. Lisa Perrotti-Brown of the Wine Advocate scored the 2006 97+points  and described it as a … Read the rest