Wine Blog & Reviews

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, like their ancient vines, have the quality foundations to weather the vagaries of difficult times (think Henschke, Yalumba, Jim Barry, Elderton, etc.); 2) the 10- to 30-year-old wineries that survived the storm by being not just a cut above the rest, but several cuts above the rest (e.g. Torbreck, John Duval, Glaetzer, and Hentley Farm); and 3) a precious few newcomers that have managed to get overseas representation, because they are seriously impressive (e.g. Powell & Son and Sons of Eden).” (South Australia Part 1 – Slow Burn by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate 30 June 2016)

Certainly, no-one can deny the pedigree and staying power of The Hentley Farm Clos Otto Shiraz. Made with vines planted by previous owner Otto Kasper using a cutting from an ageing and “secret” shiraz clone, and tended to “with almost antique machinery and a well-practiced hand”, the Clos Otto vineyard (purchased by Hentley Farm in 2004) consistently yields super low quantities with ultra rich flavours. Yet its ability to combine richness and intensity with complexity and elegance has earned it a very loyal following and a serious price tag.

Here’s Perrotti-Brown’s 96+ review of the 2013 vintage:

Maintaining a very youthful deep garnet-purple color, the 2013 Shiraz Clos Otto is a little coy and mute to begin, opening out to crushed blackberry, cassis and licorice notes with dark chocolate,.. [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]

Dec 12 2016

Pét-nat – Cool Champagne alternative for New Year’s Eve

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Rootstock Sydney 2016 in November Pét-Nats were a hit. The full name of the wine is pétillant naturel – translation “naturally sparkling.” Made from red and white grapes, the wine is bottled while it’s still fermenting –  the reason it still has bubbles. 

For aficionados of natural wine, pét-nats are popular, not only because they often taste very good, but the ‘finished product’ can be a bit of a gamble… [Read More]

Sep 09 2016

Agathist Alchemy: New Barossa label from Torbreck winemaker Chris Isbel

Posted on September 09, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Tomorrow is International Grenache Day. Even though grenache is one of the most widely planted red grape varieties in the world it’s still considered a bit of an unsung hero?

As a lover of Rhône wines and especially Châteauneuf-du-Pape, of which grenache is typically the dominant grape, I applaud efforts to help the variety become more widely appreciated!

In Australia winemakers are doing wonderful things with grenache. Take Barossa based Agathist Alchemy, a fairly new label from Torbreck senior winemaker Chris Isbel. Chris has just released two grenache wines from the 2015 vintage: the early drinking style Agathist Alchemy First Wine ($31.95) and the cellar worthy Agathist Alchemy Second Wine ($57.95) –.. [Read More]

Aug 08 2016

Tasmanian Pinot Noir: Reaching for New Heights – Highlights from Sydney’s Vin Diemen Tasting

Posted on August 08, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Vin Diemen, the annual showcase of Tasmanian wine, is always a great event and this year was no exception. Held last Saturday in a new venue – the beautiful historic National Arts School in East Sydney – many of the winemakers were on hand and happy to field questions while busily pouring their wines for big crowds.

The outstanding quality of Tasmanian pinot noir (with some pretty hefty price tags to match!) was one of the highlights of the tasting. The enticing dark cherry and plum fruit aromas of the Holm Oak “The Wizard”.. [Read More]