Chateau Senejac 2000 (review)

87+ points

Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France.

Medium bodied, savoury, quite a lot of French oak still showing. Quite fine. Good with food. As Clive Coates would say “quite good for what it is”. Needs more time.

Wine Spectator described this as a “soft silky red” – it is not. Wine like this from 2000 remind me that many people will prefer wines from 2001 and 2002 rather than this “greatest vintage ever”. In 2000 even some ‘value chateaux’ made wines that are fairly stern, built for the medium to long term.

Give this 2-3 more years.

Poliziano Nobile di Montepulciano 2001 (review)

85+ points.

Tuscany, Italy. 14%

Odd wine. Smells like bread, very yeasty – not sure what this means ! Incredibly tannic, it has been a long while since I have tasted a wine with such upfront (and continuing) tannin. Underneath there is some firm fruit, and the wine is quite attractive with food. But a bit of a mystery.

Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir 2002 (review)

88 points.

Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia.

A serious but easy going Pinot. Quite a lot of ripe sweet fruit, some balancing savoury tones, and nice sappy acid. The flavour lasts, and it is easy to accurately recall the wine the following day.

I bought several bottles some time ago because I felt this was a fairly serious effort, a step above prior vintages with no increase in price. Note this is not the reserve version. About $20.

Drink now, and over the next couple of years.

Prieure Ste Maried Albas, Clos de Cassis 2000 Corbieres

Sometimes you open a bottle of wine, which you can’t remember acquiring, and even if maybe it was a couple of years too young, it is so much fun, you can make up all kinds of stories about where it came from. THis bottle of Corbieres might have been given to me by a friend or maybe we visited a small rustic stone walled cellar and drank a dark licorice berry scented wine on a cool but sunny afternoon in October in stony olive coloured castle strewn Corbiere. Either way the wine is 5 years old, but dark purple, almost shiny in the glass. My guess it is made from Grenache, Carignane, Mouvedre, and maybe Cinsault. It has ripe earthy, but red fruity taste, with lots of smooth and noticeable tannins. All in all something you just don’t taste everyday. It is a bit rustic, not perfectly balanced, but yummmm!

Brini Blewitt Springs Shiraz 2002 (review)

90+ points

Blewitt Springs, McLaren Vale, South Australia. 14.5%

Deep dark colour.

Surprising nose, lifted but dense tight fruit aromas and extraordinary oak – a new interpretation of American oak, obvious but quite lovely, not in any way sweet and cloying.

Poised bright clear fruit. Ripe but not fat. Very polished without being a show pony. A smidge limey (tartaric acid, but to be expected for warm climate shiraz).

Quite a beautiful young shiraz from a traditional “big Aussie” shiraz region. Shows a good deal of finesse – not typical. An intense concentrated but drinkable wine.

Should have an interesting future.

Great value at $17.

Arundel Shiraz 2002 (review)

88+ points

Keilor, Victoria, Australia.

Very dark with a touch of crimson. Complex, brambly, tight acidic wine. Very much a food wine now, and quite closed. A dark horse. Potentially very good.

Great to see this sort of handcrafted, vinous wine from Australia. Fair price $30.

Rockford Moppa Springs 1999

90 points (2003 vintage about $28)

This is your typical/atypical Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre. Typical, because it is ripe, fruit forward, tannic. But atypical, because it is rather light in colour (you can see through it), light in oak (no noticable nose or taste), more toward the leathery furit (if you can say that), not candy flavoured or grippy tannins. Rocky likes to call it medium bodied and it is. It is very soft, but still tannic with a long finish, some spicey notes there. the alcohol is a bit too noticeable but not overwhelming. One of the better Barossa versions because of subtlety.

Villa Maria reserve Merlot 2002 (review)

82 points.

Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. 14.5%

Very very dark and shiny.

Quite closed aromas, tiny whiff of smoke, and a little simple.

Fresh merlot fruit with obvious and rather deft oak handling. The 14.5% alcohol is not noticeable. Flavours are simple, concentrated. Leaves a slight coconut ice finish in the mouth – not nice.

This is an ultra modern well crafted wine. A real show pony. And to be honest not a lot of fun to drink. Very manufactured. It is less sumptuous than top Australian cabernets like Moss Wood, less creamy, but still likely to stand out in wine tastings, and to do very well at wine shows.

Sadly a lot of winemakers are seeing this style as a (commercially successful) benchmark to aspire to.

Aluminum poisoning ?

The September 2005 Decanter magazine features a letter from Dr Chris Exley of Keele University who points out that it is not known whether Stelvin screwcap enclosures can release aluminum into wine.

aluminum is a known neurotoxin, and our bodies have no need for it. So while screwcaps may be perfectly safe, we don’t know what the risks are yet.

I checked out Dr Exley’s credentials (in case his PhD was in some unrelated field like Medieval History) and he is a chemist who has done considerable work on aluminum toxicity. That said few of his publications that I was able to read online featured much in the way of findings, most are calls for research. And this is what he is doing with this letter to Decanter.

I think there is no doubt now that screwcaps are superior to cork for preserving wine quality, but this aluminum issue needs to be investigated.

PS Yes soft drink cans are made from aluminum.

Taltarni Shiraz 2002 (review)

87 points

Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia. 14%

This is a beautifully balanced shiraz, pristine and polished. Not at all like the solid, tannic Taltarni shiraz of the late 70s when they began.

The addition of viogner is noticeable, too much so for me. There is a floral, rose, character to this wine that I really don’t expect in Shiraz. With age I think this will fade, the wine will fatten, and the shiraz and terrior will assert itself more.

If you like fresh, graceful, elegant shiraz/viogner then drink now. For more flavour and character wait a few years.

Chateau les Grands Marechaux 2000

88+ points

Premieres Cotes de Blaye, Bordeaux, France.

The 2002 of this wine is starting to settle down a bit into a nicely made, savoury, medium weight, quite classic minor claret.

This 2000 has more stuffing, more new oak too. This reflects the vintage differences.

From a very humble bordeaux appellation this is a wine of great value. A savoury food wine, ripe but without the powerful pristine fruit of some classed growths.

Kooyong Estate Pinot Noir 2003

86 points

Mornington Pennisula, Victoria, Australia.

A new Pinot Noir specialist that is getting quite a bit of press attention. And all the 2003 Mornington Penninsula wines seem to be praised.

This is dark, full, soft. Quite rich, somewhat one-dimensional but young. Low acidity suggests a life of only a few years. Good cafe/restaurant wine.

Kooyong also put out more expensive single vineyard wines. This is $35.

1985 Great Western (NY) Vidal Ice Wine

I think the cork on this wine allowed a little too much oxygen in- probably wasn’t designed to hold it this long. I got the wine from a friend, who worked for Great Western Winery, which was part of the Taylor’s Company in the Finger Lakes of NY; it is now part of Constellation, but the brand does not exist anymore. In those days this was an experimental wine; ice wines were just being trialled in Canada (only 100 mles away) and in various parts of NY State. the wine was incredibly intense and long flavoured, but very brown looking, sweet but with very high natural acidity (1.3 grams- where typical Australain wines might be 0.3-0.6). the flavour was grapey- like ripe grapes tasted but with peachy and nectarine overtones.

I left some out to try again tonight to see how it tastes when I am a bit more sober.(Yesterday was our 25th wedding anniversary). Vidal is a French American hybrid grape, mainly from Ugni Blanc and grows really well, but makes relatively insipid wines. However, it lasts on the vine a long time and develops interesting stone fruit flavours and stays there until freezing- which many grpaes don’t do. Inniskillen and other canadian producers use it as well, so you might see it if you are looking at ice wines. – Larry Lockshin

Henschke 1993 Mt Edelstone Shiraz

Once it a while we get to drink great wines. This one certainly was a really good wine, though I am not sure it was great. Still reddish in hue, though with a slight amount of brown tones, very aromatic of plums and blueberries, not much oak on the nose. The flavour was concentrated and very long, the indication of great grapes and wine making. It was a little less complex than I imagined, but did have nice developed earthy and leathery nuances. The fruit seemed really ripe and did not have the subtle black pepper that I expected. It was certainly Australian and not Rhone. I got it on sale in 1995 for about $25.

Richard Hamilton Hut Block Cabernet Suavignon 2002

86 points

McLaren Vale, South Australia.

Made by ex-Rouge Homme winemaker Paul Gordon this is quite dark and tannic, with a good deal of acid too. There is nice ripe simple blackcurrent fruit to blance. The total package is commercial but a cut above.

James Halliday gave it 94 points which is either a hefty bonus for good value (this is about $15) or just an over-the-top rating for a wine that shows nice winemaking, and good quality but straightforward fruit.

Good wine, good example of the great quality of the cool 2002 vintage in South Australia.