Premium Wine Buying Guide
Welcome It was tough work but we had loads of fun tasting our way through around 180 wines to give you this winter season newsletter. We were looking for exciting reds for the cooler days and some balanced whites for your lighter meals and we found some beauties but it was the fortifieds that struck a chord. The oohs and ahhs around our tasting table was testament to the quality of these seductive sipping wines and we wonder why they aren’t more popular, especially at this time of the year and especially as they are enormous value. Try a few of these on a cold winter’s night with friends and expect a few oohs and ahhs. The ‘On the Vine’ tasting panel takes its work very seriously. Around ten of us meet fortnightly and taste wines submitted by wineries and distributors. The wines are sorted into styles and we adjudicate on two or three styles and about 35 wines at each tasting. They are tasted ‘blind’ and scored using the Australian Wine Show system. Then, after identification and discussion, they are finally given ‘in house’ points for both quality and value. The highly-pointed wines are then assessed for availability of supply, final costing and suitability before a decision is made to include them in the newsletter. Without the panel’s confirmation, a wine won’t be included. A democratic and fair approach – we think so. Cheers! Rod Properjohn
The Panel I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food. W.C. Fields
Rod began in the wine industry 35 years ago as a Wine Advisory Officer for the Wine Industry Association of WA and gravitated from there into lecturing at the Association’s Wine Education Centre, in which he is still involved. He also ran wine classes for Technical and Further Education. He was a wine columnist for the Western Mail and Daily News papers and later on with the magazines West Coast, Scoop, WineState, Spice, Menu and Cravings. He is also a Regional Wine Show judge and the writer of our newsletter.
Steve has been expertly advising and educating Perth’s western suburbs since 1985. He was a director of legendary Cottesloe Wine Store - John Coppins until 1997 and now leads the team at fine wine store- Swanbourne Liquor Barons. He has travelled extensively around the wine-growing regions of Australia and NZ and has been the Chairman of the Panel for over 10 Years.
Peter has been in the wine industry for over 30 years, always tasting and assessing wines for sale and for his own drinking. He has been Wine Show judging and consulting to a major Australian wine company. Being on other professional wine panels gives him a broad view of what is out there, but it is always changing. Peter’s view is you never stop learning.
For Michael wine started as an interest, then became a vocation and after 20 years in the wine industry as both a retailer and wholesaler, remains a passion. What keeps that passion alive is the increasing range of new and interesting wines from grape varieties and regions around the world that are becoming available to us.
Basil has been involved in the liquor industry since 1983. Besides a good drop of wine he can not pass up a cold beer, a good malt whisky or a silky fortified. Basil enjoys selecting wines to compliment the diverse range of foods on offer today. What more is there? Good food, good wine and stimulating company and enjoying life.
Paul (Ed) Edwards
Ed joined the wine trade in 1998 and has managed fine wine stores in London, Sydney and Perth. He led Hyde Park Cellars to win the NSW Liquor Store of the year Award in 2001 before moving to the historic cellars- ‘Averys of Bristol’, to study for the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) diploma which he passed in 2005. In 2008 Ed was the WA representative in the national final of the prestigious, Negociants ‘Working with Wine’ Fellowship.
Alex hails from a winemaking background and brings much technical winemaking knowledge to the panel. Since 2002, Alex has worked 9 vintages in 5 countries, completing vintages with Amberley and Cape Mentelle before heading across the Tasman to make wine for St Clair in Marlborough. Alex has also worked vintage in Portugal, California and Canada. When not making wine, Alex has worked in fine wine stores in Boston and Perth.
Thomas is our late starter to wine appreciation and as the youngest member of the panel his accreditation may not read as long as others. But with a sensitive palate and a good nose for what is truly outstanding wine value, he is always looking for the next fine wine bargin for the customer.
Paul is currently the CEO for Fonty’s Pool winery in Pemberton. He is the wine consultant for ‘Must’ wine bar/ restaurant in Perth (since 2004). Paul is regularly involved in both trade and consumer wine education and passed the UK based ‘Masters of Wine’ (MW) tasting exam in 2003.
Pete has been apart of this industry for over thirty years on both sides of the counter. Noel his father, introduced him to the finer things in life, including food and wine. He readily admits to having a “punters palate” and loves to de-mystify wine by stating, “A good wine... is a wine you like”.
All wine prices each by the mixed 6 pack
Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it. Anonymous Purchase any Castelli wines to go into a draw to win a Vintec Wine Fridge - see instore for details
Mount Riley 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Castelli 2009 Riesling
We know this is one of a ship-full or three of Kiwi savvy blanc that has made its way across the ditch recently but it’s an honest performer at a silly price and if you are tiring of the style, there will always be a friend or rellie who will quaff it for you. Fresh, zingy, with citrus blossom and grass, it has balance and crisp acidity.
We’ve certainly haven’t been disappointed by the ’09 Great Southern rieslings, they are a terrific bunch and this one from the Porongurups particularly takes our fancy. You’ll notice green apple freshness on the nose, a lively zesty sweet-fruited palate and intensity of citrus/apple flavour and length that you only get from quality fruit and attentive winemaking.
Forester 2009 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc
Frankland River 2007 Isolation Ridge Chardonnay
From the warmer Yallingup end of Margaret River this is beautifully fresh example of SSB. It is lively with dollops of citrus and herbal characters. We enjoy the semillon predominance, especially the extra palate weight and balance in the wine and it would suit any number of seafood dishes. Won’t disappoint and will rock out of our shops.
From a winery that is more noted for its riesling, this is alluring because of its restraint and subtle oak influence. It is similar to the Chablis wines of France. The very cool climate of Frankland is obviously the key and this kicks in and delivers a lean, long palate with a minerality that makes it very attractive as an aperitif style or with a light white-sauce pasta dish. Cool!
Sorby Adams 2009 ‘The Family’ Pinot Gris
Catalina Sounds 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Here’s this variety again, popular with consumers but not so much with your panel. It’s the inconsistency of style we struggle with, although we do enjoy this wine from the cool Eden Valley. Delicately light with poached pear fruit, it is crisp, clean, balanced and has softness and some finesse about it. Although it’s not Pinot Gris in the French style, it’s a fresh attractive drink and that’s the most important thing. Drink soon.
A lively sav blanc from Marlborough with herbaceous traits and a small dollop of sugar to give it harmony and palate feel and there’s a touch of texture from lees contact. It’s exactly the quality we expect from this pretty good Marlborough vintage. Serve this with lighter seafood and salad dishes or as a refreshing palate cleanser at the start of a meal.
All wine prices each by the mixed 6 pack
What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch? W. C. Fields
Oakridge 2008 Chardonnay
Jim Barry 2008 Clare Red Shiraz Cabernet
A very smart modern young chardonnay from Oakridge in the Yarra Valley, which has been doing clever things recently. Wild yeast-fermented, it has loads of stone fruit and a shot of creaminess and nuttiness from winemaking and the long structure and stony acid finish add extra appeal. Great with a roast chook and all the trimmings.
This Clare Valley maker is known for its big flavoursome full-frontal red wines and here’s another. A traditional Aussie blend of these two varieties guarantees some palate weight, minty fruit and spice and this wine has it in spades. Oak then kicks in with a smoky nutty complexity. It’s all good and have a look at the price.
$ Greywacke 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
West Cape Howe 2008 Tempranillo
Brand new label from Marlborough’s pioneer winemaker Kevin Judd who knows one or two things about this variety. Sourced from his family-owned plots in the region, the fruit goes through some wild yeast fermentation in small French barrels and is then blended with a traditional stainless steel and cultured yeast ferment. The result is a lovely harmonious ripe-fruited wine with depth and the renowned Marlborough lifted aromatics.
Like a Spanish bullfight, this wine has excitement, silkiness, dustiness and flesh, then a charge of new world sweet fruit brings it home and makes it a little more quaffable for local customers than perhaps a savoury Spanish tempranillo would be. There’s an appealing mouthfeel about this and more than an appealing price. Ole!
St Hallett 2008 Gamekeeper’s Shiraz
Mount Bera 2005 4.23 Reserve Merlot
This well-tried and popular Barossa red is full of ripe plummy fruit; it’s shiraz at its softest and juiciest and at a budget price. Oak is there but it is subservient to the fruit. The wine works well with most red meats and is designed to be opened and consumed soon. This winter would be perfect.
From the Adelaide Hills this medium bodied red has some savoury nuances with sappy blackcurrant fruit and and a little ‘road tar’ development creeping in. It’s long on the palate with a distinctively clean crunching river-pebble finish. A cool-climate merlot that’s near its best, we would hop in and drink it this winter/spring.
All wine prices each by the mixed 6 pack
Hold the bottle up to the light; you will see your dreams are always at the bottom. Rob Hutchison
Koonara 2008 Bay of Apostles Pinot Noir
Forest Hill 2007 Shiraz
This new label from Koonara Wines showcases parcels of fruit grown near the Great Ocean Road of southern Victoria. Attractive bright deep watermelon in colour, this has a glorious lifted spicy nose and a well-orchestrated palate of red berry fruit, drying oak firmness and a lingering austerity on the finish. Top gold medal winner and also a Jimmy Watson finalist in the Melbourne Wine Show, a pretty rare feat for pinot.
Love this for its fruit-driven red berry strength and white pepper aromatic lift and then long sinewy dry palate with fine tannins and firm finish. A tempered medium-weighted young shiraz from the Great Southern that would be spectacular now with your favourite cut of aged beef. Will cellar for a few years as well.
O’Leary Walker 2008 Shiraz
Dense in colour this young red from Clare and McLaren Vale has bountiful kitchen spice on the nose and a wonderful oak and fruit balance that delivers a seamless velvety texture to the palate. Clare fruit gives it strength, McLaren Vale supplies the flesh. A wine for drinking soon or for a short stay in the cellar.
Langmeil 2006 Blacksmith Cabernet Sauvignon
Solid rugged red wine just as you would expect from this popular Langhorne Creek maker and especially with a name like this. It’s showing a little maturity in colour and has a dusty oak nose with deep-seated fruit and firm well-built palate with the warmth of alcohol, good long structure and a chewy astringent finish. Perfect with winter braises.
Ringbolt 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Moss Wood 2008 Amy’s
Youthful grippy young red/violet coloured wine from Margaret River with inherent forest floor, mocha and mulberry, all which fill the palate and provide a generosity that deserves to be enjoyed in the short to medium term. Many say this is generally a better Margaret River red vintage than the cracking 07’s, so buy a bottle and check this wine out. Excellent price for Margaret River cabernet.
It’s a Bordeaux blend with a majority of cabernet sauvignon, (71%), equal parts petit verdot and malbec (each 11%) and the remainder merlot and shows off in the glass with a bright deep ruby/mauve colour. Then the red berry fruit, regional eucalypt and oak aromatics take over and together with grippy upfront tannins and good palate structure, it comes together in a plush package. Medium term maturation for this beauty.
Try a few of these on a cold winter’s night with friends and expect a few oohs and ahhs. Rod Properjohn
Astrolabe 2008 Pinot Noir
Seppeltsfield Grand Tokay
This label hasn’t been long in WA, but it has made a huge impression on our panel in the time it has. The pinot is a new-world fruit bomb with some winemaking funk to create interest and has a long well-integrated fruit/oak palate with desirable firm finish. An in-your-face style and not to be missed if you are a pinot fan.
An absolutely brilliant deep golden colour with bright amber tints, this has bundles of varietal ‘cold tea’ aromatics on a rich creamy rancio platform. Unctuous and smooth, it’s seduction in a bottle, a glorious example of Australian fortified wine that many punters have unfortunately forgotten about. Revive your memories.
Bleasedale ‘The Wise One’ Verdelho
Deep amber golden in colour, this has a rich roasted nuttiness from 16 years sweating in small old oak barrels under the hot tin roof in the Langhorne Creek winery. Add citrus peel zestiness, a silky sweetness and lovely dry finish and you have a complete fortified white dessert wine. As close as you’ll get to classic Madeira wine without going to the Atlantic island itself.
Quinta do Pégo 2004 LBV Port (Portugal)
Late Bottled Vintage Port is similar to Vintage Port but it is more forward, doesn’t require the long bottle-aging and is sensibly priced. This is a call to hop in and enjoy this red-fruited beauty now with its traces of liquorice and drying spirituous finish. Not as sweet as Aussie ports and this would marry well with a matured hard cheese (cheddar, Parmesan) or even a piece or two of dark chocolate. Serve slightly chilled, an Australian winter temperature of 12-14° is ideal.
Seppeltsfield No 8 Muscat
Alvear 1927 PX (Esp)
Rich and velvety, here is a wine that proves you don’t need to pay a big amount to drink one of our internationally-respected muscats. Yes, it’s sweet and yes, it has a decent belt of alcohol, but you only need a sip now and again to appreciate the wealth of sunshine in each glass, because once opened, it will last for months in the pantry.
Hand-picked and sun-dried pedro ximenes grapes, vinified and lightly fortified, are the essence of this opulent sticky-sweet white Spanish wine. Bottled from a 1927 solera (the oldest wine in the blend), you could almost pour this on your toast in the morning. What a way to start your day. Best however to sip it in the evening with some rich blue cheese or patisserie. The Spanish prefer to drink this chilled to around 12°. 16% alcohol.
I have lived temperately ....I double the doctorâ€™s recommendation of a glass and a half of wine each day and even treble it with a friend. Thomas Jefferson Your On The Vine Stores Liquor Barons Swanbourne
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Specials 24th May to 31st July 2010. While stocks last. Pics for illustration purposes only. prices inclusive of gst. OTV Magazine published by Liquor Barons Co-Op Ltd - Suite 16 350 Cambridge St Wembley WA 6014 . Tel 08 9287 2222