What a day! It was a bitter sweet leaving of family on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. Everything was going well and on time. We were even on the plane belted into our seats, when the captain informed us that a baggage carrier machine had put a dent in the plane and an engineer had to come from Brisbane to check it out. Two and a half hours later we did get in the air. Straight off that plane in Melbourne, and then back on it to continue to Tasmania. Our luggage did not make it with us, but was delivered the next day. At the end of that long day I really appreciated the wine that SIL (Son in Law) had warmed up for us.

2010 Angoves McLaren Vale Shiraz.

I have long said that the fruit from McLaren Vale (especially red wine fruit) is hard to beat. It is always ripe, yet very rarely over the top jammy. This wine is a particularly fine example of McLaren Vale Shiraz. It has an intense colour impossible to see through. The nose has lifted berry fruit and cherries, plus a hint of licorice that is very appealing. It was bold and beautiful in the mouth and a long pleasing finish. This wine was bought on special at 2 for $30 and is a bargain at that price. It has spent 18 months on oak and that richness flows through. A lovely welcome home!

2010 Angoves McLaren Vale Shiraz


As these notes are being typed up some time after the event, my memory is a bit rusty, but these wines although they didn’t rate as highly as those above were well worth experiencing.

2006 Zema Merlot

My Son In Law does not rate Merlot too highly, but there were a couple here that almost convinced him to change his mind (but then he thought the one he has is good enough). The Zema Merlot from Coonawarra is a great example of what Merlot could and can be. It was lifted in all aspects, especially in grip and flavour. However you have to pay for reasonable Merlot; this was priced at $30.

2007 Peter Dennis Merlot

It is a bit of a worry when these visiting wine experts start recognising you by name. Peter is one such. He has been coming to Tasmania at least twice each year for some time. I have always liked his generous fruity McLaren Vale wines. They are always fruit driven and don’t try to push for the expensive heights. The Merlot is such a wine. It was really nice; quite grippy and a good mouthfeel. Handily priced at $25.

2007 Peter Dennis Limited Release Shiraz

Another fruit driven wine from Peter that was very nice. It was really smooth and lovely flavour. Way to go Peter! A little more expensive at $38, but for a limited release is not too bad.

2008 Zema Cabernet Sauvignon

Zema wines are all estate grown in the Coonawarra, and are always of good quality. This wine was no exception. It had a great intense colour. It had a hint of the Coonawarra mint and is a very good example of the breed. Not too badly priced at $32.

Disappointing Wines

2010 Bests Bin 0 Shiraz $71

2010 Coriole Estate Shiraz $32

2010 Coriole The Soloist Shiraz $45

Wines at the Tasmanian Wine Fair range in price from approx $20 up to around $100. It is a chance to try those wines which an ordinary budget can not afford and see what the fuss is all about. The following wines are ones I would have awarded top marks regardless of cost. To try to protect the palate and to stay sober for as long as possible, nearly every wine I would sip, swirl in the mouth and spit out. The remnant would be tipped out. A few were untippable (if there is such a word).

 2009 Shottesbrook The Proprietor

This was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. It was a wonderful wine with fruit all over the place. A huge mouthfull that was smooth as silk and a glorious finish. It was a surprise as previous Schottesbrook wines had not been so outstanding. Mind you at $52, this is not a wine for every day drinking. This was a wonderful wine that did not get tipped out!

2010 Schottesbrook The Punch Cabernet Sauvignon.

Another well made McLaren Vale wine. A nice fruity nose (that beautiful ripe fruit) and intense colour. Full flavoured and grippy, this wine is really lively. Another great Scottesbrook wine a bit more handily placed at $36 than the last wine.

2007 Scottesbrook Eliza Reserve Shiraz

From the moment it was poured in the glass this was a powerful experience. Great colour (brick red). A huge nose that was noticed long before the glass was brought to the nose. Full flavoured yet as smooth as silk. Another wine that I found impossible to tip out. This at $37 a bottle competes very handily with some that were twice the price.

2007 Zema Shiraz

This was a great wine. It was a wonderful dark intense colour. It had grip and astringency still in a wine that is 5 years old. Pepper and spice were evident on the nose and the palate, yet still had wonderful fruit flavours and a powerful, lingering enjoyable finish. An great, great wine and a definite non-tipper. At $30 a bottle you need to search this one out and give it a try.

2005 Zema Family Selection Cabernet Sauvignon

What a big wine! It was a dark intense almost ink colour. If I had a nibbed pen I could have written my notes with it. The nose was lifted and made me start to salivate as if the wine needed to be put in the mouth. What a huge, monstrous mouthfull with great fruit flavours of plums and berries, a huge grip and a long finish. What a wine! Unfortunately at $57 a bottle it is a bit out of my budgetry range. This wine did not get tipped out!

2008 d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz

From the moment this wine was poured, it was an experience. Colour! Nose! Flavour! Everything was lifted, full and powerful. It was certainly a mouth full with huge grip and tannin and a long lingering sweet finish. A tour de force. This is almost as good as I believe Shiraz can get. A great wine, but unfortunately I only get to taste this at occasions such as this because at $75 it is way too expensive for me. If I win Tattslotto, this will become my house wine! A definite non tipper.

We are here on the beautiful Sunshine Coast visiting with family. A bonus occurred when old friends of ours from the days when we all lived at Fingal in Tasmania, contacted us and drove up from Brisbane to visit us. It was good to see them. We had pizza for the evening meal and my friend had brought a Queensland wine to help wash the pizza down.

2007 Normanby Durif

I have tried a few wines from Queensland in the past and had yet to find one worth getting somewhat excited about. This one was actually not too bad. It had an intense colour with brick red tinges showing the fact of age. The nose was a typical red wine nose. The palate was surprisingly lively with hints of plums and cherries, and a finish with chocolate overtones. It had an alcohol percentage of 14.9%.

You will note that it has 2 gongs on the bottle. The top one is a Bronze medal at the Australian Small Winemakers Show in 2008. The second gong is a Gold Medal from the Cairns Show in 2011. Not a bad wine, but far from the monsters of Rutherglen.

We were staying in Melbourne over the weekend. Mike, whose 60th birthday we were due to celebrate on Saturday night, felt a need to get out of the city and into the country and smell some fresh air. The Yarra Valley seemed to be a logical choice. Originally the aim was to go to Marysville, an area tragically burnt out in bushfires nearly three years ago. We didn’t quite make it there.

Our first port of call was Sutherland Estate, a winery that I had not heard of before (which is not to be wondered at because new wineries are popping up all the time). It has a very salubrious tasting room which we had to ourselves when we arrived. However after tasting a couple of wines, three bus loads of bulk tasters turned up and we were squeezed out the door by the noise and number of bodies. I tasted four wines there.

2008 Sutherland Estate Blanc de Blanc.

A VERY nice bubbles. The persistent bead was very fine. There were peach aromas on the nose . It had a beautiful huge mousse showing the traditional methode champenoise used in the making of the wine. The taste of apples (Granny Smith was mentioned) and sweet fruit was very cleansing and it had a long lingering finish. A great start to the day and at $28 not badly priced. If we had not been crowded out I would probably bought one of these.

2008 Sutherland Estate Blanc de Blanc

2008 Wildcat Chardonnay

This is how I like my Chardonnays; plenty of oak thrown at them. This was creamy and buttery with a hint of figs on the nose. It was a full flavoured mouth feel and an excellent finish. Very handily priced too at $18.

2008 Wildcat Chardonnay

I tried the 2010 Wildcat Unwooded Chardonnay but as usual this was not to my taste. I like wood in my Chardonnays and at $18, this wine was not such good value. I also tried the 2003 Sutherland Estate Pinot Noir at $24, and being a Tasmanian I knew I shouldn’t. It had a promising nose but was a bit thin and had a slightly bitter finish. Not at all a great wine.

After quite a bit of travelling through some wonderful bush land we arrived at the Black Spur Inn for lunch. This is in Narbethong and the dining area was well set out and the food was good. To accompany the food we had a bottle of Merlot.

2010 Punt Road Merlot.

Punt Road is a winery in the lower area of the Yarra Valley. I remember on my one visit there a number of years ago, we were given our tastes in huge Reidel glasses. This Merlot has a pleasant nose with cherry and berry hints. It was a lovely full flavoured wine with lots of savoury characters. It had a very pleasant long finish. An excellent choice to go with lunch.

2010 Punt Road Merlot

I finished the day at Chandon. I had to pay $5 for the tasting, and was to be truthful, disappointed in the wines I tried. I think the Sutherland Estate bubbles was better than any I tried at Chandon and more handily priced.

I am currently in sunny Queensland visiting family, including my cute 3 year old grandson. On the way I spent time in Melbourne to help one of my best mates celebrate his 60th birthday. It was planned that we have a roast meal with the Grange being the highlight of the evening. I brought a bottle of Tasmania’s finest; a bottle of Winstead Lot 7 Merlot to get the evening going (which it did perfectly) and then we were into the Grange. We treated it with much respect. We actually had to go out and buy a waiter’s friend. The cork nearly made it out of the bottle and the seal was secure. We decanted it carefully and removed the sediment that had built up over the years. Unfortunately the end result was underwhelming.

1993 Penfolds Grange

The colour was really intense and inky with beautiful brick red tinges around the edge. Even after decanting and aerating, the nose was not lifted. There was certainly no fruit on the nose, but lots of cigar box overtones and hints of tobacco. It was a full flavoured wine with a long finish, but nothing was particularly lifted. This was my first taste of Grange and while it was an interesting experience, I certainly have tasted many better wines, (including the Winstead Lot 7 Merlot), but was really honoured that Michael was prepared to share this special wine with me.

The Tasmanian Wine Fair is an annual event run by the Tasmanian Wine Centre. David Johnston invites many wineries to be a part and there were about 30 represented last Sunday 12th August. With each winery showing a range of wines there are too many wines to be trying all of them. With Sil (Son in Law) I did a circuit trying bubbles, then let our palates decide where we would go after that. I present what I thought were  the handiest bubbles on the afternoon.

Hamilton Syn NV Cuvee Blanc

This was a lovely start to the afternoon. It was a cleansing bubbles with a pleasing mousse. At $20 this is a very good value bubbles that I would be happy to drink on any occasion.

Hamilton Syn NV Cuvee Blanc

2008 Josef Chromy

A lovely wine! Cleansing with crisp acid. It was hard to assess the mousse with such a small sample given out, but the flavours were very pleasant. The bouquet of green apples was evident and certainly came through on the palate. Sil suggested that it was very reminiscent of Granny Smith apples. A definite lift in class from the Syn, but a huge lift in dollars as well. At $47 this make this wine a very special occasion only.

Josef Chromy 2008 Vintage

d’Arenberg Dadd

For Darry, the labels on his wines are just a small part of his legendary status. With a tongue stuffed quite securely in his cheek he has produced a bubbles in an attempt to compare favourably with French bubbles, but has had a backhanded slap at the French obsessiveness about correct labelling (Mumm being a well known French Champagne). This wine was made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier, left for at least 18 months on lees. It was really dry. In balance, the label has more interest than the wine.

d’Arenberg Dadd

Skillogalee Sparkling Riesling

The person behind the counter at the Skillogalee counter said with great assurance that this style of bubbles would not be found any where else in the room. He was right! In fact I don’t think I have EVER had a sparkling Riesling before. It had a definite Riesling nose and flavour. It was light and fresh and very tasty. Not badly priced at $27.

Skillogalee Sparkling Riesling

Shottesbrooke 1337 NV

This blanc de blanc had a  quite toasty nose. there were tropical hints on the palate and some rich full flavours that were pleasing. It finished fairly short which was a bit disappointing. However the reds well and truly made up for the lack of finish in this wine. (Please see following posts as they occur).

Shottesbrooke 1337 Sparkling

Holm Oak NV Sparkling Rose

100% Pinot Noir has given this wine a gentle blush. It is very dry, yet very cleansing. It has lovely flavours and I rated this bubbles fairly high from the tastes today. It is also fairly handily placed at $32 for a classy bubbles.

Holm Oak NV Sparkling Rose

Relbia Estate NV Chardonnay Pinot Noir

A new winery for me from the north of Tasmania. The gentleman behind the counter said that as yet they don’t have any vineyards themselves, but they buy in the grapes they need. This wine was a nice example of the breed. It has spent a minimum of three years on lees. It has a great mousse, probably the best of all the bubbles tasted today. It is dry and cleansing with beautiful flavours and a good long pleasant finish. At $30 a bottle it is probably the pick of the bubbles tasted today.

Relbia Estate NV Chardonnay Pinot Noir

Other nice bubbles:

2008 Chain of Ponds Diva. Nice wine; wildly overpriced at $53.

Hanging rock Macedon XII. Very fine bubbles, but out of my price range at $53.

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