Tag: Australian shiraz

Mar 03 2014

Top reviews for the 2010 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz generate excitement

Posted on March 03, 2014 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The Wine Advocate reviews of the icons of the Penfolds range are always widely anticipated.  As one of the world’s most influential wine magazines, a high scoring Wine Advocate review can move markets. Indeed, last year Penfolds raised the price of the 2008 Penfolds Grange on the back of its 100 point review by the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown! (see my post Penfolds Grange 2008 and the 100 point review)

This year the spotlight has moved to the excellent reviews for the Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2010. The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perotti-Brown gave the vintage its highest score to date, 97+:

Very deep purple-black in color and showing an attractive nose of warm blackcurrants, blueberries and licorice with a complex undercurrent of mocha, cedar, menthol and grilled meat, the full-bodied 2010 St Henri Shiraz is relatively rich in the mouth, offering tons of fruit structured by firm, fine tannins and refreshing acid. It finishes with great persistence. Drink it 2015 to 2030+ (eRobertParker.com #211 Feb 2014)

Julia Harding MW, wine reviewer for JancisRobinson.com, was also very enthusiastic, scoring the wine 18 out of 20:

‘Demands silence’, says Gago (at last, I thought). Delicate and fine aroma, blueberry, mulberry and sweet spice but peppery red fruited too. Juicy core enfolded by dry firm tannins, savoury and juicy. Very distinctive. No new oak. ‘A continnuum of flavour’ says Gago, who thinks it will rival the 1990 and the 1971. Effortless concentration. There’s a savoury and chocolate finish. And smoky spice. Powerful but refined. All fruit-derived tannins. Fabulous fruit. (JancisRobinson.com, 28 February 2014)

The St Henri is often described as a counterpoint to Grange, an alternative expression of shiraz that can age just as well. Its origins date back to 1911, when it was the star offering of … Read the rest

Mar 03 2014

Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz 2009 – Stellar Reviews for this Vintage of a Top Rated Shiraz

Posted on March 03, 2014 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Readers of the Wine Advocate may recall that in 2013 Lisa Perrotti-Brown gave perfect 100 scores to two Australian wines: Penfolds Grange 2008 and Torbreck The Laird 2008. But in her year-end report, Guide to the Best of 2013: Current Release Wines, she drew attention to three of her favourite “near perfects:”

Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz Clare Valley 2010

Torbeck Run Rig Barossa Valley 2009

Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz Barossa Valley 2009

The 2009 Kaesler Old Bastard received a rating of 98 points and, of course, a very impressive review:

Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2009 Shiraz Old Bastard displays a very pretty aromatic melange of red and black fruit, kirsch and mulberries accented with anise, Chinese five spice and black pepper. Medium to full-bodied, it has lovely harmony in the mouth between medium-firm, silky tannins and the natural acid line. It finishes long with layered flavors. Drink it from 2014 to 2025+ (Wine Advocate #205, February 2013)

The Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz is in fact a relatively young wine made from very old vines of shiraz.

Kaesler Old VinesThe Kaesler family first planted shiraz in the Barossa Valley in 1893, but traditionally they and subsequent vineyard owners sold their grapes to Seppelts.

In 1997, Reid Bosward, a young winemaker at Cellarmaster, recognised the power and intensity of the fruit from the old Kaesler shiraz vines. He made  a special batch from the 1998 vintage for the Kaesler label, which he called the “Old Bastard” – an irreverent reference to tough, gnarled 1893 vines.

In Bosward’s opinion, the 1998 Old Bastard  “was up there in the Grange and Hill of Grace class, but with its own distinctions, its own secrets.”

Fortunately for Bosward, this exceptional vineyard soon came up for sale and with backing from a group … Read the rest

Jul 07 2013

50 Wines to Try in 2013: Pondalowie Special Release Shiraz 2008

Posted on July 07, 2013 | By merrill@cellarit.com

My last post, Are Wine Critics Better Judges of Wine than You and I?, talked about the trouble even experienced wine judges can have in identifying wines correctly in blind tastings. It brought back memories of a blind shiraz challenge tasting I attended at Melbourne’s Armadale Cellars in March. Interestingly, almost everyone in the room (a mix of amateurs and professionals) mistook the Pondalowie Special Release Shiraz 2008 for the Penfolds Grange Shiraz 2006!

I’m sure that Dominic and Krystina Morris, the winemaking team at Bendigo’s Pondalowie, would be thrilled to hear that their wine had been mistakenly identified as Australia’s most famous expression of shiraz! Of course I doubt that their intention was to create a Grange look-a-like, but their winemaking practices suggest that they are every bit as keen as the makers of Grange to create unique and interesting wines of complexity and depth.

The hands-on pair established Pondalowie in 1996 after years of wine-making experience both in Australia and overseas. (Dominic still oversees winemaking at the award-winning Quinta do Crasto winery in Portugal’s Douro Valley).

Pondalowie familyThe focus is on making red wines – shiraz, tempranillo and cabernet –  and multi-varietal blends like shiraz viognier and cabernet malbec. Whenever possible the two or more grape varieties in the individual blends are co-fermented – a novel technique which the Morris’s believe best integrates the individual varietal flavours and produces superior balance and texture in the resulting wines.

The Special Release Shiraz is only made in years when a parcel of wine really stands out from the crowd during the winemaking process.  The 2008 vintage has certainly impressed the critics. James Halliday’s 96 point review even predicts an almost Grange-like drinking window out to 2035:

Dense purple; a first class full-bodied shiraz, open-fermented, basket pressed and matured in Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

Australian Cabernet: A Worthy Contender to Shiraz’s Crown!

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

Campbell Mattinson, the well respected wine critic and a principal author of the popular wine blog The Wine Front, remarked in a recent post, Notes from a cabernet masterclass Tuesday, Aug 10 2010, that “when we talk of what Australian wine does best we invariably mention shiraz first, semillon second, chardonnay or riesling third and then cabernet or pinot noir.” In his opinion, a recent Dan Murphy’s cabernet masterclass, which included stars such as Mount Mary, Cullen, Yeringberg, Balnaves, Wantirna Estate, Petaluma, Yarra Yering, Voyager Estate and Moss Wood, would have equaled, if not surpassed, a similar tasting of  twenty or so Australian top-flight shiraz or chardonnay.

So why isn’t Australian cabernet getting the attention it deserves? In James Halliday’s list of the 100 Top Wines of 2009 and 100 Tops Wines of 2008, the two varieties, shiraz and cabernet, are fairly evenly represented, so you probably can’t argue that top Australian wine critics are biased towards shiraz-based wines. Of course, Penfolds Grange and Henschke’s Hill of Grace have set the bar pretty high for aspiring makers of fine Australian shiraz, and the international profile of Australian shiraz has certainly been lifted by influential American wine critic Robert Parker’s great enthusiasm for the variety. But could fashion also have something to do with it?

In a fascinating article Eric Asimov of The New York Times observes that younger Americans have lost enthusiasm for French Bordeaux, Bordeaux Loses Prestige Among Younger Wine Lovers, 18 May 2010: “Not so long ago, young wine-loving Americans were practically weaned on Bordeaux, just as would-be connoisseurs had been for generations. It was the gateway to all that is wonderful about wine. Now that excitement has gone elsewhere, to Burgundy and the Loire, to Italy and Spain. Bordeaux, some young wine enthusiasts say, is … Read the rest