Brezza Stanta Rosalia Nebbiolo D’Alba 2001

88 points

Piedmont, Italy. 13.5% A$35

Striking interesting wine. Like a pinot noir structure wise, but with herb flavours dominating the finish – definitely not pinot. Marred by a bit of oxidation, signs of travel and storage (this was bought off the shelf).

Overall an interesting and enjoyable wine, with flavours unlike anywhere else in the world.


Chateau Puygueraud “George” 2000 (review)

90 points

This is a reserve cuvee from Puygueraud, unusual for its high Malbec content. I enjoy a bit of Malbec in the blend, and I think it can do particularly well in Australia where its tannins tend to be soft and chewy. Here though I think there is a tad too much Malbec, it adds tannin and what seems to be a strong but not lively acid.

It’s a dark wine, with a whiff of almond maripan new oak on the nose. Pretty impressive, good modern winemaking though the wine is still a bit rustic (terroir shows through), not sleek nor charming nor sophisticated. But characterful, full of flavour, excellent honest claret of pretty substantial weight. Should disappoint very few drinkers. Consume now til 2011.

Chateau Tour St. Bonnet 2000 (review)

85 points

Haut Medoc, Bordeaux, France. 12.5%

I did not like this wine when it arrived in 2003. The fruit seemed unpure and unconcentrated. But it has evolved into rather nice claret. Green and black olive notes on the nose. Supple, savoury, light wine. Without great fruit intensity but the finish is quite long. Very good table/food wine. For drinking over the next few years.

Italian tasting review

Guicciardini Strozzi Chianti 2003
72 points
12% A$19 one litre bottle

This was bought purely for the bottle, so we can stick a candle in it and pretend we are in an old-fashioned Italian cafe. I expected a thin poor wine, but it was quite dark and full (the 2003 vintage effect I guess), with some Brett, oxidation, and rather unpleasant acids. You’d need pretty distracting food to drink much of this.

Guerrieri Rizzardi “pojega” Valpolicella Superiore 2001
78 points.
12.5% A$25

Light colour, medium bodied, not unattractive wine. Simple. Not for keeping.

Frescabaldi Nipozzano Chianti Reserva 1998
83 points
12.5% A$30

This wine has seen better days. In spite of the decent vintage this wine lacks the stuff to handle the 8 years (and travel). Mind you it was bought of retail shelves (buying older imported wine off retail shelves in Australia is generally a mistake). Half a bottle was left over after dinner – says a lot.

PianCornello Brunello de Montalcino 2001
88 points

Compared to the previous wines this has greater structure, weight of fruit, and oak. The wine is noticeably fresher too, no oxidation, clean clear Sangiovese flavour. With this sort of tight structure and zippy acids I tend to think the wine will live for a long time.

Zilzie Reserve Sangiovese 2002
from King Valley, Victoria, Australia (for comparison)
67 points

Flat dull pruney flavours. Rather disgusting to drink when put against the Tuscan wines. I’m surprised I remember this as much fresher and fruiter (when younger of course).

Arnaldo-Caprai “Collepiano” Sangratino di Montefalco 2000
84 points
14% A$70

I was very impressed with these wines 11 years ago when staying in Todi, Umbria. Made from the Sangratino grape which gives bright dark wines with considerable fruit, with chewy grapey tannins. Compared to the other wines this is far more concentrated (extracted ?) with noticeable alcohol, bold acid, tannin and whopping amount of new oak. It’s bold impressive wine, seemingly only a couple of years old (not 6). For long aging. But now I really didn’t like it.

I suspect that now that Sangratino has been discovered and money is pouring in (the wines are very expensive now) winemakers are trying out all sorts of modern techniques to make even more impressive wines. Fine for getting attention at wineshows, not good for the dinner table.

Chateau Kirwan 2002 (review)

89 – 92 points

5th growth, Margaux, Bordeaux. 13%

Ultra dark, tight knit, dense, muscular wine. The intensity and youth of the wine overshadows any Margaux elegance it might have. This is more weighty than most Margaux. A pristine, shiny wine with savoury, vegemite characters.

In weight and single mindedness it seems like a Pauillac, but without the strength of blackcurrent flavour.

Not for drinking now, hard to assess (hence the range in points). Kirwan appears to have bounced back to a quality level commensurate with the historic reputation.

Jacob’s Creek Centenary Hill Shiraz 1998 (review)

84+ points

Barossa Valley, South Australia. 14%

For a wine that is now eight years old (good to see a big winery releasing wine with some age) it reeks of oak. It’s a dark young looking wine, though dropping a crust due to added acidity. Will the oak ever be in balance ? I suspect it will be less obvious in a couple of years.

For now it is a syrupy, one dimensional wine tarted up with too much oak. It’s a pity, when I think the aim is to release an impressive wine with decent amount of age – surely this gap in the market exists.

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2001

87 points

After Byron’s post regarding a pretty poor bottle of Chapel Hill blend, I found this one on the shelf. I am not sure what the price is, since I think it was a gift. I found the wine to be very drinkable and not so overt in added acid. The nose is a bit too rich in American oak for my taste but after an hour or so it was much less pronounced. The wine itself is rather tannic without being too extracted with a long finish. It is not as big a wine as many from McLaren Vale. It didn’t have the chocolatey overtones- much more a berry-based wine with only 13.5% alcohol.