Tag: Vinography

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

Dec 12 2010

Artisans of the Barossa: Breaking down the Stereotypes!

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

In my article, Australian and New Zealand Wine: Telling a Complex Story!, 28 September 2010, I mentioned that 12 of the country’s most prestigious wineries have joined forces to create Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) – an export oriented venture designed to explain and promote the character, heritage and quality of Australia’s family-run wine companies.

In the Barossa region another group of like-minded winemakers formed their own alliance in 2006 with a similar purpose. Today, Artisans of the Barossa consists of 12 wineries that are working together to market their small production, hand-made, high quality wines to the domestic and international markets. Familiar and not-so-familiar names make up the group’s membership: Dutschke Wines, Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, John Duval Wines, Kalleske Wines, Massena, Radford Wines, Schwarz Wine Company, Sons of Eden, Spinifex Wines, The Standish Wine Company, Teusner and Tin Shed. Collectively they represent 11 Barossa subregions: Barossa Ranges, Lyndoch, Ebenezer Moppa, Kalimna, Bethany, Vine Vale, Light Pass, Koonunga and Marananga, as well as the Eden Valley.

What is also interesting about Artisans of the Barossa is that while the winemakers collectively have decades of winemaking experience behind them and share a rich viticultural heritage, most of the wineries in the group are less than 20 years old. Indeed, they represent a new generation of wineries that are dispelling the notion that Barossa is about massively extracted, high alcohol wines. As the American wine critic Alder Yarrow commented in his article, Tasting the Artisans of Barossa Wines, Vinography, 30 March 2010, “I was very happy to find many of them making 13.5% to 14% alcohol, elegant and delicious Shiraz (some from very old, microscopic family vineyards, and lean, low-alcohol Rieslings from the Eden valley).” Yarrow tasted … Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

An American Perspective on Australian Wine

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

Alder Yarrow, founder and editor of the well respected American wine blog Vinography, recently visited top wine regions in Victoria and South Australia, including the Yarra Valley, King Valley, Beechworth, Heathcote, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, and the Barossa Valley.

Yarrow makes a lot of interesting and informed observations and insights. His article and the readers’ comments are well worth reading. (Some Thoughts on Australian Wine, 21 May 2010, Vinography) Here are a few highlights:

Yarrow says that he encountered a much wider range of wines (styles and grape varieties) than are typically found in the U.S. “In large part, much of this diversity existed at smaller wineries. Indeed, some of the most exciting wines I had in Australia are made by tiny producers who don’t make much wine, and export even less to the U.S.”

Yarrow remarks that he was surprised to see so much mechanical harvesting in Australia even among some of the more premium producers. As he notes, the practice is a function of a lower influx of migrant labour and higher labour costs, which makes it more expensive for Australia than other countries to hand-harvest. While acknowledging that he has had some good wines from machine-harvested vineyards, Yarrow says that “anecdotal experience leads me to believe that machine harvesting may at least limit the quality of wine, if not negatively impact it.”

The trend in Australia towards biodynamic winegrowing and winemaking was also discussed by Yarrow. He describes his conversations with winemakers about the practice, noting that many are taking a pragmatic approach to biodynamic certification because aspects of the strict certification regime are not necessarily suited to the Australian environment.  Preparation 501, for example, which requires ground quartz to be buried in cow horns in the soil and then sprayed over the vines, … Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

What Makes a Great Wine Label?

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

As Dr Vino recently reported, Before the Courts: Cristal ($299) defeats Cristalino ($5.99), 3 August 2010, Louis Roederer, maker of Cristal champagne, recently won its trademark infringement lawsuit against J. Garcia Carrion SA over the misleadingly similar name and labeling of Carrion’s $US5.99 Spanish sparkling Cristalino.

While most wine lovers would concur with the old adage ‘that you can’t judge a book by its cover’, no-one can deny that a distinctive label gives a brand a strong visual identity and is the basis on which many consumers make their decisions. The phenomenal overseas success of Yellow Tail, for example, can be attributed in part to the eye-catching, wallaby on the label.

So what makes a great wine label?

I am struck by how much I liked the Dalwhinnie Moonambel label. (As few years ago I catalogued the wine of a collector who was a big fan of Dalwhinnie, so I handled a lot of them!)  No gold background or cute Australian fauna on this label.  Just elegant black lettering against a plain wine background! Even if I’d known nothing about this celebrated Pyrenees artisanal winery, I would have trusted the quality of the wine based on the quiet sophistication of the label.

But as Peter Bourne observes in his article, Willing  & Label, Qantas The Australian Way, August 2010, with over “2400 Australian wine brands vying for consumer dollars, … those with an eye-catching label are more likely to make a sale. And, assuming the wine is decent (and the majority of Australian wines are) a casual wine buy will become a dedicated consumer, which, after all, is the name of the (label) game.”

A few years ago, Alder Yarrow of Vinography: A Wine Blog wrote a very amusing post about the dangers of being seduced by eye-catching label, … Read the rest