Tag: Sarah Ahmed

Mar 03 2012

Moorooduc Estate Moorooduc Pinot Noir: A Worthy Challenger to Fine Burgundy!

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

In the March edition of Decanter, Benjamin Lewin looks at whether pinot noir grown outside of Burgundy can ever match the Cote d’Or’s complex, sensual and ageworthy wines? Lewin notes that Burgundian winemakers argue that pinot noir is a grape that expresses the specificity of the place, uniformly stating: “We don’t make Pinot Noir – we make Burgundy.” (Beyond Burgundy by Benjamin Lewin MW, Decanter, March 2012)

Today, only a third of the world’s pinot noir comes from Burgundy. Germany and New World producers in the United States, New Zealand and Australia have demonstrated over the past 20 to 30 years that they are capable of making very fine, ageworthy pinot noirs, often in styles that are different to Burgundy’s but perhaps just as special and interesting in their own right?

Lewin dispels what he calls the Burgundian myth that pinot noir needs limestone soil to achieve its full complexity, noting that pinot noir from slate soils in Germany, for example, are more precise and taut than pinot noir from limestone soils, which are rounder, fuller and softer. Different, yes, but no less interesting!

Singling out “12 Pinots to challenge Burgundy, ” Lewin’s only Australian pick is Moorooduc Estate’s The Moorooduc Pinot Noir 2008 from the Mornington Peninsula. Here’s his review:

Savoury, cereal aroma. Lively black fruit palate shows purity with well-delineated, precise cherries and aromatic blackcurrants. As generally in the region, the 2008 shows more precise, tighter edges than the more overtly generous 2009.

The Wine Detective’s Sarah Ahmed argues that the top pinot noirs from the Mornington Peninsula offer the best of both worlds – “the consistent quality, fruit ripeness and intensity that we’ve come to expect from Australia, combined with Burgundian structure, complexity and balance.” (Mornignton Peninsula Special Liftout Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Tasting, Decanter Magazine June … Read the rest

Jun 06 2011

Australian Pinot Noir: Coming into its Own!

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

A couple of decades ago, few believed that making great pinot noir outside of Burgundy was possible. Today Burgundy still holds the mantle for the most complex, elegant and sometimes ethereal expressions of pinot noir, but most people would agree that New World competitors are catching up.

To date, much of the limelight has been hogged by New World producers in New Zealand and Oregon. Last year, Craggy Range, for example,  picked up the prestigious ‘Wine of Show’ trophy in the 2010 Tri Nations Wine Challenge with their 2008 Te Muna Road Vineyard Pinot Noir from Martinborough. (Typically only the best wines from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are submitted to the highly respected Tri Nations competition.)

But what about the profile of Australia pinot noir?  Well, given that only 2.6 per cent of land under vine in Australia is devoted to pinot noir, it has probably already garnered a good deal more attention and respect than expected over the past decade.

The paucity of pinot noir plantings in Australia is due to a number of factors. First of all, no-one would argue that it isn’t one of the most challenging varieties in the world to grow. Correct site selection is absolutely essential (see Burgundy: Its about the Terroir), and the dedication of a patient, talented winemaker is almost an equal first. For these reasons, only brave, risk-taking smaller producers have typically been game to embrace the pinot noir challenge.

One of the pioneer of Australian pinot noir, Gary Farr of Geelong’s By Farr, has certainly demonstrated that when the right ingredients come together, the results can be outstanding. The well drained, low fertility soils over limestone of his hillside vineyards could have been lifted right out of Burgundy. Gary spent 13 vintages at Burgundy’s Domaine DujacRead the rest

Jan 01 2011

Putting Canberra District Riesling on the Map

Posted on January 01, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

“Ken Helm’s Rieslings took my breath away – why hadn’t I heard of these wines before?”

UK Wine Critic Sarah Ahmed of The Wine Detective recently named Helm Wines Premium Riesling 2010, Canberra District, New South Wales, one of the top five Australian wines of the year. Here’s her glowing description of the wine:

Ken Helm’s Rieslings took my breath away – why hadn’t I heard of these wines before?  This, his flagship single vineyard Riesling, is positively tensile ‘n tightly coiled, with a flinty quality to its brilliant bright but subtle lime on the palate.  Very, very good with incisive length and great precision. (My top five wines of the year: Australia by Sarah Ahmed, The Wine Detective, 28 December 2010)

Recognition for Helm Wines rieslings is certainly growing. The Premium Riesling 2010 won top gold in its class at the prestigious National Wine Show of Australia. Just as Tim Kirk’s Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier focused international attention on cool-climate Canberra District shiraz, Ken Helm may be on the way to achieving the same lofty status for his Canberra District rieslings, which Ahmed regards as among Australia’s best and one of “Australia’s best kept secrets!”

Ken Helm has been making riesling at his family-run Canberra district winery for 34 years

Helm may well have riesling in his blood. He is a fourth generation descendant of German vinedressers from the Rhineland, who established vineyards near Albury and Rutherglen in the 1860s. He has been making riesling at his family run winery in Murrumbateman for over 34 years, sourcing his grapes from four separate terroirs that range for volcanic rocky soils over limestone to volcanic rock soils over red ironstone.

The Premium Riesling, first made in 2004, is a small production (400 cases only) single vineyard wine sourced from neighbour … Read the rest

Dec 12 2010

Australia’s Old Vine Wines

Posted on December 12, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The list of acclaimed wines made from old vines in Australia are many and would include, to name a few, such renowned names as Henschke Hill of Grace, Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, Torbreck RunRig, Wendouree Shiraz, Chris Ringland Shiraz, Clarendon Hill AstralisD’Arengberg The Dead Arm and Yalumba The Octavius Barossa Old Vine Shiraz.

So what makes old vine wine so special? Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator addressed this very question in his article If it Says “Old Vine,” Will You Buy?: The benefits of old vines are debatable, particularly to those who don’t have them, 15 June 2010.  “Of all the many ambiguities of wine”, Kramer said, ” ‘old vines’ seems to be one of the more troublesome. Every grower I’ve met, everywhere in the world, who has old vines insists that older vines are better. Yet I’ve met a fair number of growers who suggest that “old-vine admiration” is, if not bunk, then certainly overstated and overrated. Not coincidentally, these same scoffers are not in possession of old vines.”

Before launching into a discussion about the merits of older vines over their younger counterparts, here’s a few points about old vines that are beyond dispute.

Old Vines are Fairly Unique

Wine-making is thousands of years old but surprisingly old vines, or at least the really old vines of 60 to 100+ years, are in fact not that common. Their scarcity is due to a number of factors, but most importantly is a consequence of the damage caused by the vine destroying Phylloxera louse, which at the turn of the 20th century wiped out vine stocks throughout Europe and especially in the wine-making centre of France.

Fortunately, Australia was spared the full force of the Phylloxera curse. Phylloxera hit Victoria and New South … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

Premium Australian Sparklings for the Silly Season!

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

As the silly season approaches and your mind turns to what to serve at a party or send as a Christmas gift, you may wish to consider Australian sparkling as an alternative to French Champagne.

Australia is really starting to make its mark as a producer of  fine quality sparkling. The best examples are being made in the cool climate regions of Tasmania, the Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills and Macedon Ranges under the direction of skilled winemakers using either the French traditional method (méthode champenoise) or the ‘transfer method’ (in which second fermation takes place in the bottle like Champagne, but the wine is disgorged after it has completed its ageing on lees).*

As I mentioned in a previous post, Australian Sparkling: Rivals Best in the World?, 3 September 2010, earlier this year the Tasmanian House of Arras released the EJ Carr Late Disgorged Sparkling 1998, which at a recommended retail price of  $190 made it the most expensive Australian sparkling wine on the market. But Arras also makes very good and less expensive vintage and non-vintage sparkling. The Arras Grand Vintage Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2003 (rated 96 points by James Halliday) retails for $75 and the Arras Brut Elite Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay retails for $55.

 

Other top producers include boutique winery Mount William Winery in the Macedon Ranges. Like Arras it recently released a vintage 1998 sparkling, Mount William Winery Macedon Blanc de Blancs 1998 (retail $80), which spent 10 years on lees before being disgorged. James Halliday gave the wine 97 points, and here’s the winemaker’s Murray Cousins description of the wine.

Still maintaining a freshness and colour which belies the age. The fruit character was found to be so elegent on disgorging, that no dosage was required. Very delicate with Read the rest