Category Archives: New Releases

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

Oct 10 2010

Wine of the Week: Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier

Posted on October 10, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In my previous post, Langton’s Updates its Classification of Australian Wine 30 September 2010, I mentioned that five wines had been elevated to the ‘exceptional’ category. Langton’s describes ‘exceptional’ wines, of which there are now 17, as “the most highly sought after and prized first-growth type Australian wine on the market.” Langtons: Our Classification Explained.

One of the standouts of this newly elevated group is Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier. According to Langton’s Fine Wine principal Andrew Caillard MW, “Tim Kirk’s ethereal Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier is perhaps one of the most important advances in the development of Australian shiraz since the release of 1952 Penfolds Grange.” (Langton’s: View Classification V)

Clonakilla’s Shiraz Viognier is a product of a very fortuitous visit to the Côte Rôtie in Northern Rhone that winemaker Tim Kirk made in 1991.

Côte Rôtie produces fine wine from the Syrah (shiraz) grape, sometimes with a small percentage of the white wine grape viognier blended in to add an extra dimension to the wine.

Tim recalled his reaction to single vineyard barrel tastings of Marcel Guigal’s Côte Rôtie with the eRobertParker.com’s Neil Martin: “Up until then, I was familiar with Australian mainstream models of Syrah, with blackberry, with warmer fruit, sometimes with a cola character, even chocolate. But here the wines had an ethereal dimension, a lightness of touch, the flavour profile more in line with red fruits with a complex spice element spun through the aromas and palate. The palate structure was different: finer, silkier and more succulent. It captivated me, it was a revelatory moment and I was completely smitten. Here was a wine of purity, finesse and elegance.”

Tim borrowed other winemaking approaches from Rhone valley and Burgundian winemakers to highlight the inherent flavours of the fruit: inclusion of whole bunches in the … Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

Australian Sparkling: Rivals Best in the World?

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Only the French can call it Champagne but that doesn’t mean Australian producers aren’t intent on going head to head with their famous French counterparts to produce the world’s best bubbly.

In June the Tasmanian  House of Arras released the EJ Carr Late Disgorged Sparkling 1998, which at a recommended retail price of around $200, makes it the most expensive Australian sparkling wine on the market. House of Arras chief winemaker Ed Carr, for whom the the sparkling is named, believes his Australian sparkling is a true rival to fine French Champagne. About 60 per cent Chardonnay to 40 per cent Pinot Noir, the use of malo fermentation gives the wine a creamy-soft palate that is typically a hallmark of vintage French Champagne, but according to Carr, the complexity, that “special something” is the result of letting the wine age. (Jane Faulkner, Ageing shall not weary him, The Age, 16 February 2010)

Of course, only time will till whether Ed Carr can do for Australian sparkling what Max Schubert achieved for Australian Shiraz with the iconic Penfolds Grange. But before you dismiss Australia’s chances, consider the success of England’s West Sussex winery Nyetimber.

Nyetimber’s Classic Cuvee 2003 scored the highest marks and took the gold medal in the Bollicine Del Mondo competition in Italy ahead of thirteen Champagnes including Louis Roederer (Millesimè 2000), the Bollinger-owned Champagne Ayala, (Dosage Zero), Pommery (Blancs de Blanc and Brut Apanage), Gosset (Grand Reserve), Joseph Perrier (Brut Cuvée Royale) and Devaux. The Nyetimber 2001 Blanc de Blancs, which was also entered, came 12th ahead of seven of the champagnes, making Nyetimber the only producer to have two places in the top seventeen.

Run by Italy’s leading wine magazine, Euposia, the competition attracts sparkling wines from around the world. Only open to traditional-method and … Read the rest