Tag: Andrew Jefford

Jul 07 2012

The 20 Australian Wines with a Perfect 100 point Robert Parker score

Posted on July 07, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

After writing my last post, Can you guess how many wines have received a 100 ‘Parker Points’, I was thinking a lot about the usefulness of wine scores.

I came across a really interesting quote from Decanter critic Andrew Jefford about how “the language of wine is, of necessity, highly metaphorical and hence puzzling: these are not plain words.” He was speaking to the Wine Communicators of Australia, and he urged his audience to “not just think about wine with passionate intensity, but about language too.” (Wine and Astonishment by Andrew Jefford, andrewjefford.com, May 2012)

As an ex-smoker from way back, I can still remember the delicious smell of tobacco – a descriptor often used to describe an element of the bouquet of some mature reds – but I wonder whether young people today are still familiar with it? Ditto for eucalypt, which is used to describe a distinct aroma of some Australian cabernet sauvignon. I’ve seen American wine writers replace menthol for eucalypt, which makes sense because the vast majority of Americans have probably never seen, let alone experienced the smell of a eucalypt forest.

No wonder wine scores are so useful!  While most of us can differentiate over 1,000 aromas, not everyone has the same vocabulary or library of smells to draw on. Wine scores help us to cut-through the jargon. 90 points typically indicates that a wine is very good but 100 points signifies that it must be exceptional. And since wine is very much a sensuous experience, we can feel confident that imbibing a 100 point wine will in all likelihood be quite a remarkable and memorable experience. Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to try one of the 100 ‘Parker Point’ wines listed below:

Read the rest
Nov 11 2011

Can you tell if a wine is any good just by tasting it? Impressions from a Craggy Range Tasting

Posted on November 11, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Have you ever been unimpressed with a wine on first taste, but then fallen in love with it over the course of a meal?

Well, according to a very interesting article by Decanter’s Andrew Jefford “digestibility is as much a hallmark of truly fine wine as is sensorial intricacy and harmony.” Jefford goes on to explain:

Twenty-five years of reading wine assessments, as well as providing assessments of my own, have convinced me that tasting without drinking is, in fact, a monstrous (if inevitable) flaw in all wine criticism. I’d like to see wine critics append a ‘D’ or a ‘*’ to any numeric score or tasting note for a wine which has been drunk rather than merely assessed by tasting. Any critic who claims that they have never had to adjust, after drinking, an initial assessment based on tasting alone is lying. (Jefford on Monday: Thinking about Tasting by Andrew Jefford, Decanter, 7 November 2011)

Jefford’s comments resonated with me when I attended a tasting last night of the Craggy Range lineup hosted by NZ Wine Online. The event was held at the Roof Top Bar of Coast, but the sun hadn’t set so I was hot and thirsty. Not the best state to be in when tasting wines! Fortunately the weather cooled and big plates of antipasto arrived in time to whet our appetites.

All the wines on show were excellent, but the Craggy Range Old Renwick Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (26.95) was definitely an example of a wine that opened up with food. I was initially perplexed by its unusually dry, stoney and mineral character, but over time its delicious lime and grapefruit flavours also shone through.

Initially struck by the dark rich purple red colour of the Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2009 (37.95), … Read the rest

Oct 10 2011

Cork versus Screw Cap: Don’t Dismiss the Benefits of Cork!

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

At the NZ Wine Online tasting of New Zealand wines by Escarpment and Quartz Reef at Coast on Wednesday night I sat next to a gentlemen who was absolutely livid that one of the wines had a cork closure. The wine in question was the Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir 2009 ($74.95), the second most expensive wine of the evening, and Escarpment’s top cuvee. (See Masterclass with New Zealand’s Escarpment and Quartz Reef, Cellarit Wine Blog, 1 October 2011)

Curious why Escarpment’s winemaker Larry McKenna was still sticking with cork in face of what looks like growing consumer resistance, at least in Australia and New Zealand, I asked Larry to explain his reasoning. He believes that for top flight wines, which require bottle ageing to properly evolve, cork is better than screw cap, as it allows the wine to breathe more.

When I got home the latest issue of Decanter was waiting for me on my IPad. Coincidentally, it included an interview with Giaconda’s acclaimed winemaker Rick Kinzbrunner, who told Decanter’s Andrew Jefford that he was unimpressed with what he considers Australian writers’ lack of objectivity about closures.

Like Larry McKenna, Kinzbrunner uses both cork and screw cap, and likes both for different wines. He was appalled by the response of one writer upon hearing that Giaconda’s nebbiolo is sealed under cork: “Now surely if there’s one wine that needs cork, it’s nebbiolo. The vitriol I got after that! ‘No, I’m not interested in your wine if you seal it with a stupid piece of bark.’ There’s this insane preference for screw caps in Australia; and I don’t think it’s objective.” (The Decanter Interview: Rick Kinzbrunner by Andrew Jefford, Decanter November 2011)

In Australia, Kinzbrunner is not exactly a lone ranger among fine winemakers when it comes to maintaining a … Read the rest

Apr 04 2011

Domaine A: Tasmania’s Finest Cabernet Sauvignons!

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

More Tasmanian Wines from our Hobart trip

After attending  Wild Rice’s excellent production of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, we headed down to Hobart’s City Hall to listen to Haitian-American composer and violinist DBR, Elan Vytal aka Dj Scientific, and the queen of Haitian song, Emeline Michel. Our friend James couldn’t believe his luck when the bar at the venue was selling Domaine A’s Stoney Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 for $35 a bottle. The wine is actually a classic Bordeaux blend with 4% cabernet franc, 4% merlot and 2% petit verdot. It is a deliciously aromatic, finely structured wine with a wonderfully long finish.  Yet another great example of how Tasmania is excelling at making cool-climate, elegant European-style reds!

Domaine A has established a very strong reputation for its Bordeaux blends. James Halliday described the Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 as by far the best [cabernet sauvignon] in Tasmania, and here’s the Decanter’s Andrew Jefford’s reaction to an earlier vintage of the Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon:

This wine gave me the shock of my tasting-note life on May 12th 2005, when Andrew Caillard brought 114 wines from the Langtons Classification pool over to the UK and served them blind. This was my pick of the Cabernets and Cabernet blends (I gave it half a point more than Cullens Cab-Merlot), yet it was so different to the rest of its peers.

As the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown explained, since Domaine A’s Swiss born Peter Althaus first started making wine in Tasmania in 1990, he has produced “cabernet blends as though they were French classified growths.”(Wine Advocate # 189 June 2010)

Shortly after emigrating from Europe, Peter and wife Ruth purchased the Stoney Vineyard, a one acre block in the picturesque Coal River Valley about 20 minutes out of Hobart. The … Read the rest