Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz 2006

91 points

13.5%

Youthful and dark colour.

This once was Seppelt Great Western Sparkling Burgundy. In more recent years it’s been sourced from a variety of places and quality varied somewhat but in recent years it is back as the best value sparkling red in Australia and a wine of distinctive style.

It’s red fruited, quite unlike some sweeter and black fruit to prune flavour competitors. Quite tight and reserved, though there is clear varietal flavour. This is rather dry, very food oriented. Indeed almost too dry to drink without food. I have a fear that it may simply dry out and fall over with age as some Seppelt Victorian wines have had a tendency to do – even though they start life seeming so dark and concentrated that they will live a long while.

Time will tell. But at the moment it’s a classy flagbearer for sparking shiraz in Australia.

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Ashton Hills Sparkling Red 1998

91 points

Clare Valley, South Australia. 13%

This is wine from the Wendouree vineyard revitalised by secondary fermentation. Stephen George, Ashton Hills winemaker is consultant at the iconic Wendouree.

I’ve always thought this sparkling shiraz was very unusual, much drier and less exuberant than others. I was recently told at cellar door that it isn’t shiraz, but a Cab/shiraz/malbec blend (if I recall correctly). It tastes very much like a delightfully old-fashioned Aussie red from the days when 13% was a big red. Dry, slightly leathery. Savoury yet charming still.

A style that some drinkers today may sadly find quite under-stated, and difficult to understand.

Enjoy now.

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Larmandier-Bernier 1er cru terre de vertus

92 points

Champagne, France. 12.5%

Non dosage wines have appeared to me to be more miss than hit, but this non-dosage blanc de blanc really hits the mark in a vinous savoury mineral style.  Aromas of rocks – really.  Not a pretty Champagne, but not trying to be.  Nor big and masculine.  This really is different, highly successful – though I in no way am suggesting that other houses try to go for this style.

Very impressive bubbles that lasted to the last glass even when consumed over two days.

Bindi chardonay pinot noir ‘cuvee V’

90 points

Macedon, Victoria, Australia. 12%
Disgorged Jan 2006, blend of 1993-2000 vintages, 4 years 3 months on lees in this bottle.

Odd wine. Not really my style. But high points for the quality and individualistic winemaking.

This is a top notch Pinot and Chardonnay producer, with a highly committed winemaker making very small batches of distinctive handcrafted wines.

This is a sparkling white that smells and tastes of red and white burgundy, if you can imagine that. Fine full flavoured complex, but odd for champagne. The acidity is nice but this isn’t really an aperitif style !

NV Grandis Method Champenoise

Loire, France.

This was around $12 a bottle from 1st Choice (the other Australian big box liquor retailer). Bought it as an experiment, and because the faily that would usually join us for this type of dinner are in the Loire at present.
Toffee yellow in colour, excellent bead, mouthfeel and length. Concentrated dried apricot on the nose, and “creme brulee” palatte. Not too citrussy, but there in lemon drop and some soft green apple.
For $12 it is something different of excellent value, and fills a price point that does not offer much great drinking. Somehting to talk about. 9 months bottle maturation, and contains ugni blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir.

Nyetimber chardonnnay blanc de blancs 1995

88 points.

West Chiltington, West Sussex, United Kingdom. 12%

The back label says that vines have been grown on this estate since the 12th century.

This is proof that the UK can make fine sparkling wine. Not entirely surprising given the cool climate, but it has been some while coming. Most English wine is far from exciting.

This is medium full-bodied with pronounced chardonnay fruit, and fine cool climate acidity. More ‘New World’ than I’d expected, with the weight to handle light food. Nicely developed for its age and best to drink now.

Top wines tasted in 2005

The top 3 wines on this blog were:
Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2002 and Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2002
Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 1996

For the commercial wine of the year I’d nominate Tyrrells Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz 2003.

I’ve picked over the blog to list all the 90+ point wines that there is a not unreasonable chance of being able to buy still.

Brini Blewitt Springs Shiraz 2002

Chateau Leoville Las Cases 2001

Rockford Moppa Springs 1999

Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz 2002

Tresmoulis 2000 Corbieres

Chateau Leoville Barton 2001 and 1999

Massena Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2004

Moss Wood Cabernet 2001

Mr Riggs Shiraz 2003

Tyrrells Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz 2003

Robert Chevillon Nuits St-Georges ‘Les Roncieres’ 2002

Chateau Croix de Gay 2001

Roger Sabon Chateauneuf de Pape ‘cuvee prestige’ 2000

Voyager Estate shiraz 2002

Torbreck The Struie shiraz 2003

Browns of Padthaway Ernest shiraz 2002

Peter Lehmann 8 songs shiraz 2000

Chateau Rollan de By 2001

Henriques & Henriques Madeira Malmsy 15 yo

Greenock Creek apricot block shiraz 1999

Chateau Senechaux Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 2001

Winter Creek Barossa Shiraz 2002

Laurona 2000
Chateau Potensac 2000