One of the pitfalls of winemaking is what's known as "cellar palate". This can occur when a winemaker doesn't taste widely enough and gets used to the flavour or style of his own wines. These wines may be good or they may have some problems which the winemaker fails to see because he has become so used to them.
That's why I am struggling to give an impartial review of this wine. I liked it but not enough to recommend it and I wonder whether that's because it shows some of the characters I am trying to avoid when I make our Squitchy Lane Pinot Noir. I want ripeness without jamminess, richness without over-extraction, freshness without green fruit characters.
Other tasters have rated this wine highly and it has been awarded gold medals so my best advice is judge for yourself. As for me, I am making sure that I am not falling victim to the dreaded cellar palate by going out and buying lots of wine to taste.
Grenache, Shiraz and Carignan from the real south of France--in fact, not far from Spain. This is a rich, smooth and generous wine with great appeal. I like the way these French wines maintain their structure and avoid the jammy, confected flavours that many Australian blends using these varieties (or some Mourvedre) can have.
It's a pretty good bet for the cellar, short to medium term, say up to five years.
Quality cork also but that's the least one would expect.
The name "Occultum Lapidem" means "hidden jewel".
Haut-Medoc from a great vintage for a fair price--and a good wine to boot. Maybe a little too New World for some but this has plenty of flavour, ripe blackcurrant fruit and just enough dusty tannin profile to let you know it hasn't completely abandoned its roots. Satisfying on a cold Melbourne night.
Now here's a wine to offer all those members of the Anything-but-Chardonnay club (and believe me, it's still a big club). It will just confirm all their worst prejudices and leave the field open for those of us who like good Chardonnay.
This is a special wine--so youthful, vibrant and clean yet so rich and complex at the same time. It's the reason we drink white Burgundy. The cork was a little suspect but the wine is holding together beautifully--there's another twenty years ahead of it.
Expensive, yes but worth every cent.
An unusual variety and one I have not tried before. Over to Wkipedia:
"Pignolo is a red Italian wine grape grown predominantly in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy.... In Italian the grape's name means "fussy" which does describe the viticultural profile of the grape which often produces low and uneven yields. The first recorded mention of the grape was in Abbot Giobatta Michieli's late 17th century book Bacchus in Friuli in which he described the grape making "excellent black wine". Today the grape is used to make rich, deep colored, full bodied wine that does well with some time in oak.Well made examples of the wine have good balance between the grape's acidity and tannins with flavor notes of plum and blackberry".
That's not a bad summary of this wine although it was more in the medium-bodied spectrum. It certainly improved with decanting and aeration.
Ripe, licorice, smooth yet with a tannin presence that cannot be ignored. Ready to drink, especially on a cold winter's night in Melbourne.
Plenty of Grenache flavour and sweet fruitiness, a hint of structure from Shiraz perhaps. Whatever, we were disappointed when the bottle was empty--this is one of those "I wish there was just another glass in that bottle" wines. It's not going to challenge the great wines of the world but it is damn nice drinking.
Merlot--it's had a good run, been given plenty of starts and yet it's never really done much, at least here in Australia. It seems popular in the USA, although cynics say that's only because it's easy for Americans to pronounce.
But here's a wine that makes me re-think all this. It has real presence, it has attitude and it doesn't pretend to be soft and easy-drinking. There is a spine of tannin to give authority to the palate while the overall effect is of richness and volume. It has a pleasing fluidity across the palate--that's the Merlot part, if you like--and it's plain that the vines have been well-treated and low-cropped.
It's made me look at Merlot in a new light.
Malbec from Mendoza, married with Cabernet Sauvignon and input from the winemaking team of Chateau Lafite--what's not to like?
This is a splendid wine and my tip for the best value red on the market today--at $16.99.
It's dense and powerful, yet highly polished at the same time. It's full of flavour, flowing over the palate and yet you get the sense of something held back, a touch of restraint. Even at 15% alcohol, you don't feel overwhelmed by the wine's body. The Malbec shines through with its rather muscular personality and rich berry fruit flavour while the Cabernet holds it all together. The finish is exemplary--full of plush, silky tannins and length of fruit flavour.
It's still youthful but there's no need to keep it in the cellar. Great stuff.