Tag: Harvey Steiman

Aug 08 2012

Kilikanoon: Exceptional Wine and Music Making go hand-in-hand!

Posted on August 08, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Having previously worked in the arts, I’m always intrigued by stories of people who have made the transition from one art to another. Nathan Waks, executive director and proprietor of Kilikanoon, used to be the Principal Cellist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. But by all accounts, he is having just as much fun promoting Kilikanoon overseas, and still occasionally playing the cello to  appreciative audiences at Kilikanoon promotional dinners!

Not that he needs to put on much of a show to sell the Kilikanoon portfolio. You may have read that Kilikanoon was recently named Winery of the Year 2013 by James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion. The Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman also recently included Kilikanoon in his list of “Australian Wineries to Put on Your Radar,” noting that “this long-standing, family-owned Clare Valley winery builds remarkable elegance into its range of rich, complex and expressive shiraz bottlings from both Clare and Barossa.” (Australian Wineries to Put on Your Radar by Harvey Steiman Wine Spectator 31 July 2012)

 

 

 

Founder and chief winemaker Kevin Mitchell is very much a wine man. His father, Mort Mitchell, planted and still tends Kilikanoon’s Golden Hillside suite of contiguous vinyards, including Mort’s Block, which is home to Kilikanoon’s flagship wines such as the Oracle Shiraz and the Mort’s Reserve Riesling. After completing his wine studies in 1992, Kevin gained extensive wine making experience both in Australia and the United States before purchasing the Kilikanoon property in 1997.

Thirteen of Kilikanoon’s wines received 94 points or higher in James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion 2013. While the emphasis is on shiraz, Kilikanoon also makes an excellent range of cabernet sauvignon, greanche. riesling and semillon.

The focus is on making wines with strong regional and varietal definition, an approach that has won the … Read the rest

Jul 07 2012

5 Reasons to Collect Wine: Collectors Share their Opinions

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

Have you ever scanned a restaurant wine list and noticed that a bottle you have in your cellar is on the list for two or three times what you paid for it?

Many collectors I know love BYO restaurants for this very reason. They can share a special bottle with friends over a wonderful meal without breaking the bank.

Here’s a few other reasons why, for some at least, building a bit of a wine collection is a lot of fun!

1. Well Made Wines are Designed to be Aged

I had the privilege recently of enjoying a bottle of Penfolds Grange 1975 and a bottle of Lindemans Limestone Ridge Shiraz Cabernet 1991. In my mind, nothing quite compares with the bouquet and taste of aged wines when imbibed at or close to their peak. In both of these wines the tannins had completely lost their original bitter sensation and were seamlessly integrated into wines that still displayed some primary fruit characteristics and had lots of body, depth and texture.

Bill Daley, former wine critic of the Chicago Tribune, said that “watching and tasting a wine go through its life cycle is one of the joys of wine collecting.” He recommends making notes as you taste the wine during its different stages of development. (How to Collect Wine by Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 29 September 2010)

2. Collecting Wine can Encourage Self Exploration 

Making a decision to start a cellar often stirs people into being more proactive about educating themselves about wine. Campbell Mattinson says that “cellaring wine can be a kind of self exploration.”

Many collectors report that over the years, as they experiment with new wines, their tastes change, and their wine collections move in new and often unexpected directions. A willingness to try new things … Read the rest

Jun 06 2012

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2010 – “A New Wave of Chardonnay”

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In a recent article on Australian chardonnay, the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman commented that when it comes to a preferred style of chardonnay, most people “want grace and elegance, but they want it to come with plenty of flavor and real charm.” (Action in Australian Chardonnay: New styles modeled on Burgundy make it the buzz of the country now by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 2 December 2011)

The multi-award winning Vasse Felix Heystesbury Chardonnay 2010 is certainly a very fine example of the style of chardonnay Steiman so succinctly describes. In the tasting notes, Vasse Felix’s Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock remarked that the palate of the 2010 vintage “exhibits that wonderful and rare quality: power with restraint.” In other words, it delivers what most people would consider the hallmarks of a great chardonnay:

A dramatic and powerful nose that is constantly evolving in the glass. Amongst the descriptors are sublime fragrant citron and baby pineapple, while wild notes of lamb’s fat and struck flint provide a beguiling complexity that lift the floral and spice fruit perfume and frame a stunning Heytesbury Chardonnay nose.

Palate. Super fine, textured and succulent with impeccable balance and poise driven by seamless natural acidity. Juicy white nectarine and preserved lemon puree form a strong fruit core which is embellished with flavours of spicy oak, lanolin and flint. (Vasse Felix tasting notes)

The 2010 Heytesbury Chardonnay is in fact Vasse Felix’s most awarded wine to date. The wine has picked up an unprecedented eight trophies from the top wine shows in the country, including the Royal Adelaide Wine Show, where it won the coveted top prize, “Most Outstanding Red or White Wine in Show.”

In many respects the 2010 vintage represents the most recent incarnation of a style of chardonnay that Willcock has been developing and … Read the rest

Jun 06 2012

Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvigon: Taking Margaret River Cabernet in a New Direction

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In the June/July 2011 edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine, wine critic Nick Bulleid MW offered the following summary of the general style of Margaret River cabernet sauvignon:

Stylistically I see Margaret River cabernet at its best as intensely varietal, with blackcurrant and other dark fruits plus hints of capsicum and herbal overtones often describes as “bay leaf” or “seaweed”. While some drinkers weaned on cabernet from hotter areas regard capsicum and leaf characters as under-ripe, I disagree: they an essential part of high quality cabernet, with one proviso – that the tannins are ripe. Margaret River cabernet certainly has firm tannins in its youth, but they should be evenly mouth-coating and not grasp you around your lips and then reappear as a green, bitter finish. (Captivating Cabernet by Nick Bulleid MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine, June/July 2011)

Rob Mann, chief winemaker at Cape Mentelle, may not necessarily concur with Bulleid’s assessment of the attractiveness of herbal characters in Margaret River cabernet. Since joining Cape Mentelle in 2005, he has made significant changes both in the vineyard and the winery to minimise the herbaceous notes in the winery’s flagship cabernet sauvignon. As he told the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman back in 2007:  “The strong herbal, capsicum (bell pepper), bordering on eucalyptus and menthol flavors, is accepted in Australia as a regional trait. I want minimize that and go for ripe, more classical berry flavors.” (Getting the Green Out in Margaret River by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 18 October 2007)

 

 

Working with viculturist Ashley Wood, Mann has introduced new imported clones and rootstocks to create a broader spectrum of flavours in the wines, replanted vineyards at closer density to improve the flavour intensity of the grapes, and minimised as much as possible the use of artificial fertilisers.

In … Read the rest

Jun 06 2012

BVE E & E Black Pepper Shiraz: A Great Name for an Outstanding Shiraz

Posted on June 06, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I have always liked the name of the Barossa Valley Estate E & E Black Pepper Shiraz. As you are no doubt aware, most wines are usually named after the region or vineyard from which they originate or perhaps an illustrious individual or a dear relative. The BVE E & E Black Pepper Shiraz is one of the few wines I can think of with a name that actually evokes its aroma/flavour. Although I should note that E & E stands for Elmore and Elaine, the original old-vine shiraz blocks that were the core of the early vintages and are still part of the blend.

Black pepper, of course, is a very attractive aromatic or flavour characteristic of shiraz. It is usually associated with cool-climate shiraz, but many distinguished shiraz wines from the warmer regions of Barossa and McLaren Vale also have a peppery note.

Fruit for the E & E Black Pepper Shiraz is a blend from vineyards in northeast Barossa where the vines are at least 60 years old. The vineyards are owned by Barossa Valley Estate – originally a grower’s cooperative set up in 1984 by 80 third and fourth generation Barossa growers. In the face of declining demand for their shiraz grapes at the time, the growers decided to join forces to produce their own wines. Last year, the growers repurchased Constelllation Wines 50% equity state in the business and once again the Estate is 100% grower-owned.

Harvey Steiman of the Wine Spectator has long been an admirer of BVE’s flagship wine.

...E&E has a distinctive personality. The flavors run toward dark fruits, often cherry and plum, with noticeable floral and spice notes, including licorice and, yes, black pepper. The texture in the best vintages is plush, but it seldom gets overwhelmingly alcoholic or Read the rest

May 05 2012

Balgownie Estate Cabernet Sauvignon: A Perrenial Favourite

Posted on May 05, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

This week is so far shaping up to be all about Victorian wine. On Saturday night, we had friends for dinner and opened a magnum of the Wild Duck Creek Estate Shiraz Reserve 2003. It was absolutely sensational. Delicious ripe fruit flavours wrapped in a very balanced, medium body package with superbly integrated tannins, still firm but softened a bit from bottle age. I’m sure the wine could easily handle another five to ten years in the cellar.

Last night I enjoyed another Heathcote shiraz – a wine I wasn’t familiar with, the Syrahmi Climat 2009.  Like 2003, 2009 was a dry, hot vintage in Heathcote. Adam Foster, who makes the Syrahmi range, sourced the grapes for the Climat from the Mt Camel Ranges, 45km north of the Heathcote township. It’s a wonderfully aromatic wine with well defined fruit flavours and fine tannins. Foster opted for a 60% whole bunch fermentation – a technique commonly used in France’s Rhone Valley to enhance the fragrance of their shiraz.

I was lucky to receive a sample of the Balgownie Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. I’ve always been a big fan of Balgownie’s wines, and the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 certainly didn’t disappoint.

Fruit for the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the 33 hectare Bendigo vineyard, situated on a gentle slope overlooking Myer’s Creek at Maiden Gully. Here the alluvial clay soils and continental climate provide ideal conditions for low yields and a long ripening period, which helps to create wines of intense flavours and great ageing potential. Originally founded in 1969 by pioneer winemaker Stuart Anderson, since 1999 the estate has been owned by brothers Des and Rod Forrester, who have expanded the winery and added another vineyard in the Yarra Valley.

The Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman has commented … Read the rest

Apr 04 2012

Australian Chardonnay: New style creates excitement on the world stage!

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

In a recent article in Purple Pages, British wine critic Jancis Robinson stated that “Chardonnay is arguably the varietal that Australia is best at currently. At least, to palates raised on wines produced outside Australia, particularly European wines.” She notes that many new examples of Australian chardonnay are tighter and leaner than they used to be, and in Europe these wines are filling a gap left by people avoiding White Burgundy because of the yet unsolved problem of premature oxidation. (Fine Australian Chardonnays rated blind 18 Apr 2012 by Jancis Robinson (For more information on the issue of premature oxidation of Burgundian wines, see A Few Interesting Facts about Burgundy: Masterclass with Burghound Allen Meadows, Cellarit Wine Blog, 13 March 2012)

On a recent visit to Australia, the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman also picked up on the trend towards what he describes as chardonnays with less alcohol, less obvious oak, more savoury flavours and smoother textures from wild ferments and ageing on less. “Prevailing opinion suggests,” he remarked after meeting with Australian winemakers, wine writers and sommeliers, “that an emerging style modeled more on white Burgundy may supersede Australia’s reputation for making broad, big-fruit Chardonnays.” Action in Australian Chardonnay: New styles modeled on Burgundy make it the buzz of the country now by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 2 December 2011)

Neither critic, however, was dismissive of the depth, power and elegance of the best examples of the older style of Australian chardonnay. Robinson singled out “unashamedly full-on wines” like the Giaconda Chardonnay 2008 and the Hunter Valley’s Harkham Aziza’s Chardonnay 2011 as highlights of a recent tasting of 35 Australian chardonnays. Harvey Steiman was rhapsodic about a recent vintage of Devil’s Lair from the Margaret River, which displayed “rich fruit – pineapple, pear, tropical fruits – layered … Read the rest

Apr 04 2012

Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz: A Wine that Rewards Cellaring!

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

After tasting 19 vintages of Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz with Chief Winemaker Peter Gago, the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman remarked, “The sneaky little secret that so many savvy Australian wine collectors know is that, yes, St. Henri can age as long as Grange does.” (Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz: Old School by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 12 May 2008)

Well, I certainly hope that you are one of the savvy ones. At around $75 on release St. Henri is a real bargain compared to its fabled sibling Grange! But as Steiman also notes, “while Grange tastes amazingly good upon release and continues to develop extra nuances in the bottle, St. Henri takes a few years to show what it has.” So properly cellaring a newly released St. Henri is essential if you want to enjoy the wine in its prime.

Determining the optimal drinking window for the St. Henri can in fact prove quite a challenge. Steiman called the phenomonal 1976, which he gave 95 points, “almost under-developed for a 32-year-old wine.” Here’s his glowing review:

Rich and meaty in flavor, with a gamy grace note to the vibrant blackcurrant and plum flavors, riding on a supple frame. Fine tannins, round and generous, with power and elegance. Just now developing an old-wine character…Spectacular.

That is not to say that younger vintages aren’t drinking well. The Wine Advocate has a drinking window of 2013 to 2025+ for the spectacular 2006 vintage. And as Steiman comments, “It’s not that the unready wines are harsh or difficult to drink. On the contrary, they are really pleasant. But they get so much better with longer cellaring.”

So what makes the St Henri such a great wine for ageing?

St Henri was originally made in the 19th century by the Auldana Winery, which was next … Read the rest

Mar 03 2012

Wine Spectator awards 98 points to the Chambers Muscat Rutherglen Rosewood Vineyards Rare NV!

Posted on March 03, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

An Australian wine, especially these days, doesn’t receive a 98 point score from the Wine Spectator very often, so I thought I would share the news that the Chambers Muscat Rutherglen Rosewood Vineyards Rare NV was the only wine awarded 98 points in the latest issue of the Wine Spectator’s Insider Newsletter (Volume 8, no. 11 14 March 2012)

Reviewed by the Wine Spectator’s Editor at Large Harvey Steiman, here’s what he had to  say:

“Exuberantly spicy, with clove, cinnamon and cardamom accents weaving through the prune and tobacco aromatics. Very sweet but not at all cloying, as earthy, tarry notes give way to rich brown sugar and brandy flavors on the finish. Drink now.”

Rutherglen has a long established record for making the finest examples of muscat in Australia, if not the world.

The “Rare” designation is reserved for exceptional material dating over 100+ years of age. They are renowned for their aromatic complexity and full, deep flavours and rich texture.

The tiny family-owned Chambers Rosewood Winery has collected a string of awards since it was first established in 1858. The wine is now made by sixth generation family member Stephen Chambers, who took over the reins from his famous father Bill.

Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate calls this fortified “a true Australian treasure.” Through the extended solera aging process (fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years), the wine is relatively stable to changes and ready to drink now. Now bottled under screwcap, it can also be cellared.

For the quality, the price tag of $250 for a 375 ml bottle, as still listed on the Chambers website, is very reasonable if still available.

Merrill Witt, EditorRead the rest

Feb 02 2012

Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz 2005: ‘Surprisingly’ good drinking Seven Years On!

Posted on February 02, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The reasons for America’s fading love affair with Australian wines in recent years have been much discussed. At the bottom end, the predominance of the so-called ‘critter’ brands unfairly created an image of Australian wine as cheap and cheerful. And at the high end, influential wine critic’s Robert Parker’s trumpeting of a big, rich, full bodied style of South Australian shiraz possibly inflated expectations to a point that it was hard for the wines to live up the glowing praise. As American wine critic and blogger Alder Yarrow observed, “after several years of hype over huge, extracted, high-alcohol wines from the Barossa (Mollydooker was named as a poster child for this excess), collectors were tasting these wines with five or eight years on them and realising that they were falling apart.” (Some Thoughts on Australian Wine by Alder Yarrow, Vinography, 21 May 2010)

I remembered Yarrow’s comments when I was at a dinner party on Saturday night and our friend opened a bottle of Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz 2005.  I should note that our friend is a very astute collector with catholic tastes, so we worked our way through a bottle of Herzog Marlborough Pinot Gris 2006, an Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir 2005 from the Santa Maria Valley in California and a Pintia Tinto de Toro (Tempranillo) 2005, before we approached the 2005 Mollyooker Carnival of Love Shiraz.  I guess you could say my palate was warmed up, but as the designated driver, I was very careful to have no more than a couple of mouthfuls of any of the wines. So for the record, no, I wasn’t drunk when we eventually imbibed the Mollydooker!

And the Carnival of Love wasn’t just good, it was great! More than a worthy competitor in a very strong field of … Read the rest