Lanson ‘gold label’ 1996

89 points

I would have marked this higher but I feel that this bottle has aged slightly prematurely due probably to storage on warm retail shelves.  Though it still has racy acidity reflecting the Lanson non-malolactic house style.  It’s a very good wine, not too modern and concentrated, but plenty of flavour.  A very good bottle of vintage.


Vagnoni Vernaccia Di San Gimignano 2005

89 points

Vernaccia Di San Gimignano, Toscana, Italy.  13.5%

A region (and grape by the same name) that I have not heard of.  So this is a very pleasant introduction.  Flavoursome with a nice seam of acidity – great finish.

The Oxford Companion to Wine (by Jancis Robinson) says that DOCG status was awarded in 1993 though there are records of wine in this appellation in 1276.  She describes the white wine “at its best, the wine has a crisp, refreshing quality and an attractivenly bitter finish”.  I think Jancis needs to lift her expectation for this region going by this particular bottle.

Great to see serious winemaking attention going to these unique local grape varieties.

Gilles Robin Crozes-Hermitage ‘cuvee Alberic Bouvet’ 2004


Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone, France.

This just isn’t my cup of tea, it’s so young and fruity, with a touch of floral, dandelion character.  It’s a fairly dense, fairly dark wine, well made, in a good vintage.  Perhaps it is simply its age but it tastes to me more like a good Southern Rhone with a strong Grenache influence, though this wine should be 100% shiraz.

If it hangs around on retail shelves I’ll buy another in 1-2 years time.  But for now I can’t get excited about this very youthful, but not inexpensive wine.

Spanish wine tasting

All in all a pretty enjoyable bunch of wines. More successful than last year’s Italian tasting.

LZ 2006

Rioja. 84 points 14%

The first wine of the night was a young Tempranillo (young vines too). A nice modern interpretation, with clear, clean fruit. Simple, straighforward. Good to see this sort of thing on Australian shelves, perfectly appropriate introduction to Spain. Good cafe wine. Trendy, quite cool label.

Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva 2001

91 points 13.5%

Wine of the evening for most people. Marques de Riscal is a very reliable producer and 2001 was an excellent vintage. This was fairly oaky, in a classic Rioja style, with some deep flavours. Plenty of stuffing without high alcohol or extract. Should last a good while (drink over the next 10 years).

Dominio de Tares ‘Baltos’ 2004

81 points 13%

A chance to try the local Mencia grape from the ‘hot’ new area Bierzo. Nice colour, interesting aromas, but pretty disappointing to drink. Commercial style without much concentration, no depth, just a bit of plain sweetish fruit. Glasses were poured out, and the bottle was never finished.

d”Arenberg ‘The Sticks and Stones’ 2002

86 points 14.5%

McLaren vale

A Tempranillo, Grenache, Souzau blend. Very noticeably Australian with greater body, alcohol and sweetness. Surprisingy undeveloped for its 6 years. There are some interesting flavours, but I find this too ‘in your face’, it’s not food friendly, it’s for impressing on the first taste/glass, after that drinking it gets a bit exhausting. That said, it’s a well made wine, a would make a nice change from shiraz – it deserves its position on retail shelves – though I’m not so sure about whether it deserved to be awarded so many wine show medals.

The Souzau is a Spanish and Portugeuse grape that was added for colour stability, acid, and resistance to oxidation. I wonder if this is part of the wine’s slow aging.

see previous review

Condado de Haza 2002

88 points 13.5%

A great effort in a difficult year. From one of the masters of Riberia del Duero (Alejandro Fernandez) this 100% Tempranillo is attractive and juicy with some smoky aromas and savoury flavours. It’s a much more open knit style than in previous, riper vintages. This is a well judged style for the vintage. Food friendly, not heavy, not too intellectually demanding.

Finca la Planeta ‘Pasanau’ 2001 and Orlando ‘St Hugo’ Cabernet 2000

88 points 14% and 13%

A Cabernet from Priorat paired with what I thought might be similar, a Coonawarra Cabernet. Of course these wines tasted different, but I was pleased how comparable they were. Both seemed out of place in this tasting though, in that they were so obviously (pungent even) Cabernet, with real cassis berry flavours. More masculine, structured wines. The St Hugo has more extraneous minty aromas and flavours (eucaplypt ?). It would be more intellectually interesting to see these wines in a Cabernet tasting.

Valminor Albarino 2006

84 points

This white wine from Rias Baixas is a pleasant aromatic white. Nicely made, though not as aromatic as some Albarino.

I can’t see this grape variety stealing much share (from much more racy) Sauvignon Blanc which seems to have become the great alternative (or competitor) to Chardonnay. It has nothing like the depth of flavour of Riesling nor (Loire) Chenin Blanc.
But it is an attractive grape variety, one that Spain should be pleased with having.

Seppelt Sparkling Shiraz 1999

90 points

Shows the benefit of aging this commercial volume wine.  Actually I’m struggling to think of a vintage that didn’t turn out fine after 5+ years, ummm, well this 1999 just adds to the pack.

It doesn’t have a lot of fizz, but has good flavour in a rich, tending towards savoury style.  Unlike many sparkling reds from Oz (one of the great wines of Oz) this doesn’t drink that well by itself, it needs food.

A reminder – buy some of the current vintage and keep it for 3-5 years.   It’s not expensive and you’ll love the result a Summer/Winter Solstice.