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en passant

Date: Tue, Mar 11, 2014 Wine Tasting


A trio of Chardonnay tasting notes, and an old holiday snap from the back streets of Niagara. . .

Mischief and mayhem White Burgundy 2010. 12.5%. Cork. All night I kept sniffing, never quite sure about the cleanliness and purity of this. There's no fruit on the nose, only alcohol and something fusty. It's better in the mouth, a spike of acidity and a combination of crunch and peanut skins, but moving in and out of the shadows a persistent and growing question mark.

Lillian Lefroy Brook Chardonnay 2010. 13.5%. Screwcap. Pemberton WA. Approx $35. Made by John Brocksopp, the Leeuwin Estate viticulturist. In shape and form it reminds me of an Art series chardonnay. It's worked and smouldering with peach and flint, match stick and pollen. It's still flashing with green and I found this slightly sweet and confected in the mouth. Essence like, with almond meal - this is frontal and bold and likely to find favour.

Oakrdige 864 Chardonnay 2011.Funder and Diamond Vineyard. Penfolds 58 Clone. 13.4%.The nose is a combination of lime and smoke. Citrus leaf and lime zest, cumquat even (unusual). . . Curry leaf, flint and match; something smouldering and struck, which is of course is almost de rigueur for modern Australian chardonnay with ambition. Tingling and bright in the mouth, there's something hard and pulsating about the acids, which crackle and buzz with intent. The lightning is only partly buffered by a fleeting and paradoxical softness. . . Yes. A+. Before.


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Penfolds Reserve Bin 10A Chardonnay

Date: Sun, Mar 9, 2014 Wine Tasting


Tasting note 1500?!

I can taste the components, but it still seems this is yet to fuse into shape. The puppy fat is still a feature in contrast to the smouldering curry leaf and bitter citrus pith phenolics. It is worthy, but not yet ready. . .

For the impatient, it is bold and similar in scent to it's older siblings. Flint and peach, curry leaf. . . Melon and a suggestion of sweetness, there's a lactone edge and a core of lemon nougat, flesh, and charred butterscotch. 13%. Screwcap. Approx $A85. 93+
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BBQed thighs

Date: Sat, Mar 8, 2014 Wine Tasting


Like the participant of a powder run. . . 1.5kg of skinless thighs marinated in the following for 6 hours before being cooked on a smoky BBQ.

Cumin seeds - 2-3 tablespoons, roughly pounded / 6 cloves of crushed and diced garlic / small handful of fresh coriander, chopped / 1-2 tablespoons of dried oregano / a pinch of dried chilli flakes / salt / pepper / 3 teaspoons of paprika / half a teaspoons of turmeric / zest and juice of two small lemons / 100mls of olive oil.
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Pickled beetroot

Date: Fri, Mar 7, 2014 Wine Tasting


I managed to extract six beets from my garden, the family voted for a pickle. . .

Take 500 grams of beetroot - each one, scrubbed and individually wrapped in foil. Bake (180 C) for 60-70 minutes, so it is cooked, but still firm. Cool, then peel and dice into 1cm cubes. For the pickling solution use 150 mls of apple cider vinegar, the same volume of water, 60-75g of sugar, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 star anise, 2 cloves, 1 bay leaf and 5 black peppercorns. Bring this all to the boil and then pour over the cubes of beetroot, which have already been placed in a container that can be sealed.

Image: with kara-age
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William Downie Gippsland No SO2 2013

Date: Thu, Mar 6, 2014 Wine Tasting


Another curious bottle of Pinot noir from William Downie. The front image looks awfully like a steaming turd on a cushion in the moonlight; and on the back in brackets No SO2. It's sealed with screwcap and while there might be no sulphur dioxide, there is plenty of CO2. The spritz is visible with the first pour and it's palpable in the mouth. Beaujolais like in form and texture, it's bright and clean, though the finish is distractingly malt flavoured. Rose petals and cherry, black pepper, whole bunches. It's forward, slightly sweet and hemmed in by a corset of stems. $A45. 13%. 89/100.

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Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz 1998

Date: Tue, Mar 4, 2014 Wine Tasting


I think after this I have one remaining bottle: Magill is notable for many reasons, it is the historic birth place of Penfolds and the Magill Estate Shiraz is one of the few Penfolds wines that originates from a single plot. On a personal level, the 1998 Magill is also one of the first wines I wrote about eight years ago. . . I had been reluctant to try another one for fear of confounding my initial impressions.

It's 13.5%, medium sized, but still dense and quite formidable. It's more volatile and varnish like than I recall; leather and spice, old ginger, roasted nori and a layer of polish. Lush, rich and warming, the concentration is impressive, the profile seamless and whole. It does strike me as something worked and buffed, and though I'm less impressed than before, I can still see it's appeal (haw flake and plum in the mouth, with chewy tea leaf tannins to conclude).

Image: Medical worry beads to measure the size of testicles.





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Chateau de La Mar Marestel 2010

Date: Thu, Feb 27, 2014 Wine Tasting


An unknown unknown. An Altesse (late ripening, russet coloured varietal prone to botrytis, parents uncertain) from Savoie in France.

Golden, ripe and sun dried. In scent it smells like something white from the Rhone - apricot nectar, flint and almond meal. It's full and gives the impression (false) of sweetness and at times botrytis (wool and marzipan). It's textured, thick and spiked with musk, just the right side of unctuous with a redeeming seam of acidity.

13.5%. Cork. Approx $A50.

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Also tasted

Date: Mon, Feb 24, 2014 Wine Tasting


A trio of local wines.

John Kosovich Museum Release Verdelho 2008. Smells like an aged Australian riesling, kerosene and toast. It's smokey and texturally very interesting. Crisp and lively, peach flavoured and sunburnt.

Faber El Sol Semillon 2009. Late harvest Swan Valley fruit. Presumably it's free of rot, it does taste of Summer, diffuse and uncoiled and mostly without a sting.

Myattsfield Nancy Myatt Fortified. Mostly PX. I think this is the best example of an Australian Pedro Ximenez I've tried. Lush, rich and long. This is seamless and true.

Image: Mushroom cappuccino from Dear Friends.


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Innocent Bystander Mea Culpa Chardonnay 2011

Date: Sun, Feb 23, 2014 Wine Tasting


Quiet to start with flint, musk and pineapple; much later and with warmth there's more amplitude and buttered popcorn and grilled stone fruit. Tart, lean and sappy to open, it's coiled and some might even say mineral, though this is only one aspect, and in time there's marzipan, almond meal, salt and flesh.

13%. Approx $A65.
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Ginger and black vinegar with pork hock

Date: Fri, Feb 21, 2014 Wine Tasting

Traditionally the dish uses bone, tendon and ligament rich trotter; and it's offered up to new mothers, as a way to restore 'heat'. I wanted more meat, and picked a more proximal cut, the hock. While I found it comforting, I'm not sure I'll be returning to this in hurry. I found the ginger and vinegar too hard to match with wine. . .

Approximate directions. Take 3 pork hocks (shaved, cut into pieces by your butcher) and cover with water and bring to the boil. Drain off the water and all its impurities and set the meat aside. Peel and roughly segment and pound 600-700g of ginger. Fry this off in 6 tablespoons of sesame oil and once the ginger is golden return the pork to the pan. Let the pork colour slightly and then add 700mls of black vinegar (I used the one from Singapore with a Bulldog on the label - Chan Kong Thye) and 1.5 cups of brown sugar. Then add enough water to just cover the meat and add a pinch or two of salt. Cover, bring to the boil and gently simmer (I tend to bring it to the boil and remove from the heat for 1 hour and then repeat 3 times) for at least 3-4 hours. Serve with rice, hard boiled eggs and steamed Chinese greens.

The tasting note. Hoddles Creek 1er Yarra Valley 2012. 13.2%. Screwcap. For a moment a low grade smoulder and again the sense of something struck. I wonder if this is vintage specific, better use of stems, or like matchsticks in Chardonnay - just the latest wine making fashion. The scent and to a lesser degree the palate appear wrapped and encased. Tart and bold in the mouth, extracted, slightly charred and substantial at the end. It's better on day two, and without the gingered pig.

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Sacrilenge

Date: Wed, Feb 19, 2014 Wine Tasting


is the blow up, supposedly full scale bouncy castle version of Stonehenge. It's in Perth at the moment as part of the festival.

Though I've seen pictures and read books, I've always imaged it would be bigger, more imposing. I'm slightly disappointed by the scale, but then again it's like being disappointed in wine after hearing and reading so much and then being offered a taste of something cheap, confected and industrial.

Related.


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Michel Magnien Charmes-Chambertin 2008

Date: Wed, Feb 19, 2014 Wine Tasting


I've scribbled a page of words - spiced, sharp, deep, earthy, sweet, raisins, frontal, geosmin, tobacco, leafy, full and warm. . . but what sums up my feelings the best, is that I've bought three bottles of this, and I can see that I have erred; I should have settled for one. I had wrongly assumed this was made by Fred, andI had hoped it would be leaner, faster, brighter. . . It's sealed with a screw cap, presumably this is just for the Australian market: and while it is competent, it feels weary and worn, stuffy and over bearing.
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Calibration

Date: Tue, Feb 18, 2014 Wine Tasting


The idea of children sipping at a glass of wine with dinner has become less and less fashionable; even if the aliquot is only a tablespoon diluted with water; even if the intent is to show that wine is to be consumed in moderation, with food and company. It's a reflection of our time and of course an awareness of what problems can occur with alcohol. I don't want my children to have an issue with alcohol, but I do want them to appreciate that things seemingly similar can have great differences. I let them sniff my glass and ask what they smell and in turn they humour me. . .

Bahen, the chocolatier from Margaret River produces bars of dark chocolate from Brazil, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea. The contrast between each is quite dramatic. Earth, mocha and black cardamon from Brazil. . . Citrus and glazed cherry and less length from PNG; and something more floral, raisin like and sweet from Madagascar. All three were excellent, my children had clear and distinct preferences, the dark and brooding Brazilian being their least liked.
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Giant Steps Applejack Vineyard 2012

Date: Tue, Feb 18, 2014 Wine Tasting


The notable thing is the nose, the whole bunches are obvious, but there's a peculiar smouldering note of curry leaf. I've found it before in a red wine (1, 2) , but never so clearly and distinctly. . . beneath this, raspberries and stalk. 13%, frontal and forward, it's bold and stylish, it walks with a swagger and a slight wobble. . . the length is good, the finish fine, ginger spiced and expansive. I can see its appeal, but still, I'm not completely taken by this.

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