My friends have discovered the “Tardis in the Wine Room”

Tardis in the Wine Room

Tardis in the Wine Room

I’m not positive who discovered it first, it was either Acepfv or The Gardener who worked out that if they bring a wine that I like to my place for dinner, there is a good chance that the “Tardis in the Wine Room” (TITWR) will take that wine off their hands and return it with much more bottle age. It has become such a phenomenon that I’ve had to create a separate purchase category in Cellartracker for the wine room called TITWR.

The latest TITWR event was Saturday week ago when Acepfv and The Banker came over for dinner, bringing with them a bottle of 2007 Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot and off it went into the Wine Room to reappear seconds later have gained 9 years in the blink of an eye and was at its peek, ready to drink. There may have been some small intervention on my part, as in taking it out of Acepfv’s hands with the words “lets see what we can do with this” and also having a quick look on the laptop to see what Cellartracker could conjure up, well if your maths are any good you would know by now that Cellartracker conjured up a 1998 Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot which resided in Bin 10 b 11 in the Wine Room. So into the wine room I went and popped the 07 onto the bench, grabbed the 98 from its resting place and voilà TITWA strikes again.

A little later on in the evening when we were smoking a couple of very nice Partagas No. 4 Cigars Acepfv had the suggestion that we mark the bottles for future reference, an excellent idea, because as he remarked it will be an interesting reminder in years to come to remember the history of the bottle of wine we are about to drink. So I guess now’s the time to work out what information is required to go on future TITWA bottles, and this is what I came up with:

1 The purchaser

2 Where it was purchased

3 The purchase price

4 What date the swap was made

5 The bottle it was swapped for

6 And the occasion associated with the wine

When I say goes on the bottle, this is not what will exactly happen, the information will be logged on Cellartracker with a reference on the bottle so we know to look on Cellartracker to see its history.

A final note on my friends preferences, the Gardener has focused on my Picardy Collection and particularly the Pinot Noir section and very specifically the Tête de Cuvée part. While Acepfv has a very different palate he knows that not only do I have some nicely aged Voyager Estates there is also a stash of 1999 Penfolds Bin 28’s ready to drink.

Posted in Thoughts on Wine | 2 Comments

What I have been drinking 13

IMG_9692Hoddles Creek Pinot Noir 1er Yarra Valley 2008

This wine had a lovely and very light burgundy colour and is still a young looking wine, this was reflected in the nose with its hints of light cherry a bit of indian spices and a touch of brightness. The fruit and acidity followed onto the palate making for an easy to drink light summer Pinot Noir. The really interesting thing was how it developed beautifully over the next 2 days, gaining a savory complexity and a slightly earthy taste which gave it a lot more body and helped flesh it out a bit more than when first opened. A fine example of a Yarra Valley Pinot Noir and at $50.00 this is a wine that is not over the top in price, fair value.

Purchased 6 bottles from LaVigna August 2010 @ $50.00 per bottle

James Halliday 92 points

And now for something completely different

Curly Flat Pinot Noir 2006 Macedon Ranges

It’s a Pinot Noir, it’s from Victoria so when I say something completely different it may just be a slight exaggeration but the segue sounds good and they are quite different in style and very different in how they both developed over the few days that they were consumed.

This was a lot darker in the glass and showed more age than the Hoddles Creek, as it should with 2 more years in the bottle. The savory and spicy nose was well-balanced by the darker fruits and these flavours were on the palate from the start, the surprising thing is they didn’t develop a more aged musky profile over the 3 days it took to drink. If anything the wine become lighter in flavours! Not a bad thing but not what I was expecting at all, but then that’s a good reason to drink wine, it can always surprise. This is another good example of Pinot Noir, this time from the Macedon Ranges in Victoria.

Purchased 12 bottles from the winery direct about 3 – 4 years ago @ $46.00 a bottle there are now 7 left in the Wine Room. Just purchased another 3 bottles each of the 2007, 2008, 2008 and 2010 vintages giving me a rather nice vertical of this wine.

James Halliday 95 points

Jancis Robinson 18 points

Hoddles Creek Estate

Curly Flat

Posted in Pinot Noir, Reviews | 2 Comments

The Art of pricing Wine at the Bluewater Grill

The View

The View at the Blue Water Grill

A very enjoyable Christmas season has been and gone, with good family, though a couple was missing on the high seas, but they were not forgotten and have since been cast ashore in Buenos Aires Argentina. To make up for their absents we had a couple of new additions at the Christmas table to help bolster the numbers, including a new companion “The Non Drinker”.

This season also included time with good friends, which started the Christmas ball rolling with good food and wine at the Bluewater Grill, on a hot Thursday for what became a very very long lunch. The food was above expectations with the Soft Shelled Crab as my starter an excellent highlight that I would go back for, Acepfv had and enjoyed the Pork Belly starter and there were no complaints from The Retailer, The Instigator or The Country Squire with their starters. The mains and service were also above the average.

Mandala Chardonnay 2010

Mandala Chardonnay 2010

The standout wine of the lunch was a Mandala Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2010 @$52.00 by far the best value white on the wine list and with plenty of fresh citrus and light acidity, it was a refreshing lift on a hot day, sitting outside in the shade, overlooking Melville Waters. Though one has to say the wine list did disappoint, as it is overpriced even by Perth standards, an example was a Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay at well over $200.00 this is a bit rich no matter what the vintage, this one was a 2006 if I remember correctly. Even at The Rockpool Perth the prices only just touches $200.00 for their 2003 and 2005 vintages and with everything that surrounds the wine at The Rockpool, the service, the atmosphere, the glasses, the experence is a cut above the average and this helps ease the bill. You don’t get this at the Bluewater, it’s much more casual and the pricing should reflect this, it doesn’t. We moved on to a Riesling that was pleasant, but for the life of me, I can’t remember its name and did not take a photo as a prompt to an aging memory. As The Country Squire chose it, he may be able to remind us of its pedigree the next time we meet, as it’s a wine and a varietal that needs more exploring.  The Instigator, not a wine drinker was happy drinking Strongbow Ciders and we were also having a few cold and refreshing Peroni’s interspersed with the wine. We moved on to a Red, yes a Red on a 40 degree day while sitting outside. Why, because there was a cheese board coming, one could ask “a cheese board on a hot day for lunch” I did The Retailer did and we skipped the cheese and went straight to desserts. The Red was a bit of a standard bearer for Margaret River, a Leeuwin Estate Prelude Cabernet Merlot but don’t expect any notes as this was at the end of a very good and long lunch.

The Bluewater Grill

Yarra Valley Wine – Mandala Wines

Bluewater Grill on Urbanspoon

Posted in Chardonnay, Food and Wine, Reviews | 4 Comments

What I have been drinking 12

Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir 2008

Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir 2008 with my new reference book on Wine Grapes in the background

Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir 2008 with my new reference book on Wine Grapes in the background

Finally it’s back to posting on wine and I thought that as its got to be a favourite wine Mt Difficulty fits that bill. But I should really set the scene first to give an idea of why wine is more than just a beverage, it’s 6.00pm on a Saturday evening and we are sitting in the backyard of our holiday cottage watching the birds coming in to drink, eat and interact with each other. There are 4 Common Bronzewing Pigeons around the birdbath, Wattle Birds flitting in and out of the trees making a racket and creating general havoc, a couple of Pink & Grey Galahs eating seeds next to the house a couple of Australian Ringnecks high up in the eucalypts just outside the property and a family of Magpies lording over it all. An all round relaxing place and time to be drinking wine.

Even a Two Buck Chuck1 would taste good in this setting but a wine with a little more complexity is elevated to greater heights, something a Coke or Pepsi Max could never do. One senses come alive and one sees more in the wine than if it was been drunk out of a foam cup in a fast food joint (as in the movie Sideways).
Back to the wine. Nose is a beautiful scent of dark cherry and raspberry with a hint of the alcohol that one comes to expect from a Central Otago Pinot, the dark cherry fruits follow through into the palate with a wonderful sense of brightness for some subtle acidity and there are light fine tannins which give a truly beautiful mouth filling feel that lingers on well after the wine is gone and getting ready for the next mouth full. This is defiantly a wine that is at its best drinking after a couple of extra years in the bottle, it gives the wine time to balance out and not be dominated by either the fruit or wood.
As there are still some 13 bottles residing in the Wine Room, this will be a favorite that needs drinking over the summer and I’m sure there will be more than one or two Santa’s little helpers out there who will lend a hand.
After drinking another glass (kept under Argon in the Wine Room) 2 days after opening, I came to the conclusion this will get even better with some more bottle age, it had developed more earthy animal flavours and the were hints of wild thyme on the nose, this is great value Pinot.

Purchased from Langtons for $40.00 per bottle


Mt Difficulty Wines

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A ballerina from the Village of Vonse Romanee


Dinner on Good Friday was accompanied with a bottle of A F Gros Vosne Romanee “Aux Reas” 2009 that is by far the best of the three bottles of Vosne Romanee Villages we have had on this tour of Old World wines. The bottle of Thibault Liger-Belair also from the Aux Reas vineyard was a close second and when we drunk it at Ma Cuisine in Beaune it was the front runner, when compared to the rather rustic Joesph Drouhin we drank at our apartment in Paris the week before.

My notes
A F Gros Vosne Romanee “Aux Reas” 2009
This is my third Vosne Romanee Villages and one has to say this is the best Anne Françoise Gros (not to be confused with Anne Gros or the other two Gros Domaines) is a truly great wine maker. This has the power of the Joseph Drouhin and the subtleness of the Thibault Liger Belair, there is rose petal and violet in amongst the earthy forest floor and dark fruits, ripe cherry on the palate, not what I was expecting and John got Chocolate, which I can’t disagree with and it sure had a long and lovely finish.

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Vin de Cardboard (a glass of)

My first glass of wine in France was a Vin de Pays in the small mountain pass town of Prats de Mollo at a little café after driving over a mountain pass in the Pyrenees from Barcelona on our way to Nimes. As this is a Vin de Pays there is only the name of the AOC on the box and it’s any bodies guess what’s inside, mine was a Grenache dominated blend with maybe a touch of Syrah, more because of the region we were than any great ability to blind taste wine from a box. It wasn’t a bad drop fresh and with a discernable fruit balance on the palate and is a safer bet than some bottle of better quality wine that was opened the week before and now tastes like industrial plastic.

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What I have been drinking 11 European edition 2

Started off with a couple of cheapies, that we had with tapas, wine by the glass so the choice here in Barcelona is Red or White, we did both, first up was the white a chardonnay from somewhere, probable an industrial site in Chernobyl (it glowed) not real but the label did. This is not something that comes with high expectations so it did not disappoint, may have had a nose that resembled a Riesling and a palate that resemble a whatever but it was refreshing and filled the gap and you have got to like the label, we followed with the red not as pleasing as the white, I guess I have higher expectations of my red wines but this one did nothing, which can be a good things as some wines at this level in Europe can do major damage, to the extent you end up with teeth stained red.

Will upload the photo in France, connection here on Barcelona is so slow I can’t upload.

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What I have been drinking 10 European edition 1

Houghtons Jack Mann 2008

We drank this wine with lunch at Romany Restaurant before heading to Europe for what is hopefully a Grand Tour of the old world wines starting in Spain then moving to France and finishing in Italy. This is a very good start as this wine is a bit of a New World Old World wine it has the power that one expects from a Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon but it is tempered with subtle fine tannins that fill the mouth and blend with the dark berry fruits that are not overpowering.

My Notes

Its all Margaret River on the nose, but with great soft wood and fruit that is not overpowering or over ripe, but still with a hint of plum and dark berry notes to it. There is also a hint of sweet chocolate there as well. On the palate those smooth soft tannins round out the fruit and fill the mouth while focusing the flavours along the palate to a long and enjoyable finish. The only thing that was on the downside was a touch of sulphur on the nose

Hopefully this is a precursor too many a fine wine to come.

Not so on the flight from Perth to Singapore the d’Arenberg Olive Grove Chardonnay 2011 should not have been bottled, as for the 2007 Chateau La Garde from Pessac Leognan Bordeaux that should never have been allowed to get out of the vineyard, there is merit in ploughing vines back into the ground to take some of that wine lake off of the market. The leg from Singapore to Barcelona showed a marked improvement in wine quality, the Chardonnay was from Rully and was a well structured wine that had a good if slighty sweet citrus flavour on the palate, this was followed by a Barbera, a G. D. Vajra Barbera D’Alba 2008, this is one of our favorite Piedmont produces and they did not let us down. Well structured with that backbone of acidity which was framed by red fruit flavours, a wine well worth looking out for.

Posted in Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay | 1 Comment

Down in the Coal Pit

Coal Pit Pinot Noir 2008

Coal Pit Pinot Noir 2008
Central Otago is that rare region that keeps surprising and producing value for money, had the good fortune to share a bottle of Coal Pit Pinot Noir at Balthazar a few days ago with the The Retailer (formerly the Frock Salesman) and if he wasn’t bigger and uglier than me I would have drunk the whole bottle myself but alas we had to share the bottle.

Before going further about this wine a little about the Central Otago region and its terrior, or more to the point, those areas within Central Otago that I have a preference for. Top of the list would be the Bannockburn region of Central Otago, which produces some of the icon single vineyard wines of the region including the famed Calvert vineyard. Followed by Gibbston region which produces good Pinot Noir but the single vineyard wines are not in the same league as Bannockburn. Well there is always one to prove us wrong and the Coal Pit Pinot Noir is that one, it may not technically be a single vineyard wine coming from two separate blocks on their estate, one 4.0 hectares planted in 1994 and the other a 1.5hectare site planted in 2000. But it has a wonderful expression of place and the two blocks are close together. From my notes on the night;

“A tight but delicate nose that wants to open up (and will) and express its fruit. There is a subtle hint of soft oak and cherry fruit that is gentle and not over ripe, with earthy and wild thyme binding it all together. The palate starts of smooth and soft, but given a few minutes it develops deep red fruit and earthy forest floor flavours bound together with silky tannins. Works with and complimented the steak tartare I was eating, after the tartare we were given a sorbet of lemon and lime……”

That’s as far as the notes go, concentrate on enjoy what is a wonderful wine that is great value as well and was keeping an eye on The Retailer as he buttered the wait staff up, hoping to get a greater share.

Purchased at Balthazar can remember how much but it sells for $42.00 New Zealand from the winery direct

Coal Pit Wines

Posted in Pinot Noir, Reviews | 2 Comments

What I’ve been drinking – 009

My last bottle of the Block 5 2007

It’s been over a month since my last update of “what I have been drinking” and it’s not because I have been abstaining from drinking, far from it, there have been some spectacular wines this past month and a couple of wines that should have been left in the vineyard or better still have somebody rip the vines out so a future travesty is avoided.
Focus though is on a couple of spectacular wines that have been drunk recently the first one is a bottle of

Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir 2007
Now if you want a ballerina dancing across your tongue to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s Rock n Roll this is a wine that’s got a good chance of achieving it. The wine has great structure subtle flavours that build up and deliver that Rock n Roll punch. If you don’t believe me, The Gardner will confirm I was dancing across the patio singing its praises while trying not to spill any. Drunk at Cookies house while cooking the BBQ so there are no notes, but will be taking a bottle to P’tite Ardoise next time I go there and will make sure a more comprehensive review is written at the time.

From my cellar purchased from Langtons $115.00

Felton Road

The other standout wine was Champagne

NV J.L. Vergnon Conversation Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger
First off I think just the name needs a little explanation; not being an expert this is a very layman like explanation.

NV – Non-Vintage usually a blend of a number of different vintages with one of those vintages making up the bulk of the wine.

J.L. Vergnon the wine grower who in this case is also the wine maker, unlike the large Champagne Houses which even if they own the vines, will outsource the growing of the grapes.

Conversation would not have a clue why they slipped that into the name, my guess is that it’s a wine that starts a conversation, so the next question would be, do they have a Champagne called Blogger.

Brut a drier style of Champagne not to everyone’s taste and can be viewed either as a warning or as a selling point.

Blanc de Blancs (White of Whites) Champagne made only from Chardonnay Grapes, which are the King of white wine grapes.

Grand Cru the ranking of the vineyard, Grand Cru being the top ranking.

Le Mesnil-sur-Oger the two Grand Cru vineyards the grapes come from, Le Mesnil and Oger

If you have got this far, well done and bet you will never look at another bottle of Champagne in the same way again.

The wine itself has a very light straw colour with a vigorous but fine mousse (bubbles) the nose is full of a wonderful yeast and apple like scents which follow onto the palate. There is a tight refreshing dryness on the palate, which is well balanced with the fruit, there maybe just a tad shortness on the palate as was suggested by Acepfv’s wife but a wonderful example of what a small Champagne Grower can produce with good vines and a lot of passion.

From the cellar purchased from Ross Duke for $44.00

J.L. Vergnon

Posted in Champagne, Pinot Noir, Reviews | Leave a comment