Category Archives: Australian Wine Icons

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 vines. Coupled with the maritime climate of moderate winter rainfall and warm summers moderated by cool sea breezes, the conditions are ideal for growing Bordeaux varieties… [Read More]

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,.. [Read More]

Apr 04 2012

Wendouree: The Collector’s Wine

Posted on April 04, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

When I was researching this post on Wendouree, I came across an article in the Wine Spectator about a very successful Houston heart surgeon who had built an impressive wine collection. Of particular pride for the collector was a substantial vertical collection of Wendouree reds – 90 bottles from 1990 to 2003. (The Pulse of a Collector: A surgeon builds a cellar that would get anyone’s heart racing by Jennifer Fielder, Wine Spectator, 30 June 2007)

The article brought back memories of a collection I once inventoried for another doctor… [Read More]

Dec 12 2011

Reviews for Penfolds Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2008: Australia’s most expensive wine!

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

If you’ve been following Cellarit on Facebook or keeping up with recent wine news, you couldn’t have missed reading about the fanfare around Penfolds official release of the Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2008 in Shaghai, China. The lavish launch was held at the opulent Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where guests were treated to a six course banquet and a spectacular light show with contemporary Chinese dancers.

The reason behind all the fuss was Penfolds’ release of a wine that was last made in 1966… [Read More]

Aug 08 2011

Wine of the Week: Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz

Posted on August 08, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In his post, Tasting Australian History: Six decades with Peter Lehmann (Wine Spectator 12 October 2010), wine critic Harvey Steiman talks about a recent  tasting of the 1996 Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz. As Steiman notes, 1996 was the best vintage of the 1990s for Barossa Shiraz and this wine certainly didn’t disappoint:

astonishing suppleness, depth and power. Gorgeous stuff, it showed spicy cherry and blackberry flavors that glowed through polished tannins. Has power without excess weight, and it feels like it can go on for decades... [Read More]

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… [Read More]

Jul 07 2011

Aussie Wine Icons: Clarendon Hills Astralis Syrah

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

You don’t usually hear “big” and “graceful” in the same sentence when reading a review of a McLaren Vale shiraz, but here’s the Wine Spectator’s opinion of the 2006 Clarendon Hills Astralis Syrah:

A big wine, but amazingly supple, graceful and pure, offering cascades of wild blueberry, black cherry and plum fruit that play against spices such as cardamom, clove and black pepper. It’s all seamlessly integrated with fine tannins and enough creamy oak to complete the picture. Syrah. Drink now through 2020. (Harvey Steiman, The Wine Spectator,.. [Read More]

Jun 06 2011

Aussie Wine Icons: Wild Duck Creek Estate Duck Muck

Posted on June 06, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In The Australian Encyclopedia of Wine, James Halliday recounts a funny story about how the Wild Duck Creek Estate Duck Muck came into being. In 1994, a forgotten block of shiraz in David and Diana Anderson’s ‘original vineyard’, planted in 1988, became super-ripe, was picked as an after-thought and irreverently labelled Duck’s Muck in the winery (David’s nickname is Duck). To their surprise and embarrassment (because of the name!), Duck Muck was blessed by influential American wine critic Robert Parker Jr and became an icon wine… [Read More]

Jun 06 2011

Aussie Wine Icons: Torbreck RunRig

Posted on June 06, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

My teenage daughters are big fans of Australia’s Master Chef. They came home giddy with excitement after Neil Perry made a surprise visit to their school – autographed photographs in hand!

I think the adults of this world would equally enjoy (and learn a lot) from an Australia’s Master Winemaker series. Top of my list of real “Master Winemakers” to invite on the show would undoubtedly be Dave Powell of Torbreck. The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown hit the nail on the head with her description of what makes his Torbreck wines so unique:

…what makes these wines stand amongst some of the world’s most special wines is not their supreme plots of land,.. [Read More]

Jun 06 2011

Aussie Wine Icons: Reviews for Penfolds Grange 2006

Posted on June 06, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The annual release in May of the latest vintage of Penfolds Grange is always greeted with a great deal of anticipation. Most retailers’ allocations are sold out even before the reviews are written!

Now the reviews are beginning to trickle in and by all accounts the 2006 vintage is one of the best to date. 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. (2011 Penfolds Grange “luxury & icon” wine release Andrew Caillard MW)

James Halliday,.. [Read More]