Archive for the ‘Syrah’ category

Cellers Fuentes Priorat Finca El Puig 2002

January 9, 2009

img_52361The revival of Priorat is repeatedly embodied in wineries as Cellers Fuentes: founded in the ’90s, backed by foreign capital, lead by the passion of a young winemaker playing around with mouthwatering old-vine material. This approach has clearly paid off, with the Gran Clos and Finca El Puig having conquered their place between some of the region’s greatest wines as L’Ermita and Clos Mogador. The 2002 El Puig is a blend of 45% Garnacha, 23% Cariñena, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 2% Syrah, aged between 12 and 16 months in predominantly French oak. Deep crimson in the glass the nose unveils its origins straight away, with an amalgam of  fragrant berry fruit, herbs, liquorice and hints of leafs and leather, following through to a full-bodied palate with ripe fruit, some earthiness and ample minerality adding freshness and balance. This wine actually showed much better the day after opening, proving the point that most big and bold Priorats deserve serious decanting. 90 points

Source: Vintage Cellars  Price: $50  Drink: Now-2011

Web: www.granclos.com

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Borie de Maurel Minervois la Liviniere “La Feline” 2005

January 8, 2009

img_5241The young appellation of Minervois La Livinière is considered to produce some of Languedoc’s best wines. From its leading producer comes La Féline, a deep crimson coloured blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Grenache. Where the wines from the Southern Rhône already offer the distinctive characters of garrigue and Herbes de Provence, to this one the ripeness and fulness of sun-drenched grapes is added, however, balancing acidity is always in sight due to the relatively high altitude of the AOC’s vineyards. On the nose aromas of cherry, blackberry, plum, herbs, pepper and exotic spice seem to grow more complex with some time in the glass, perfectly balancing the fragrance of primary fruit with spicy-savoury notes. The palate is smooth, round, ripe and powerful with grippy tannins building towards the finish. Its austerity suggests it can easily be cellared for 5 years or more. This is actually a quite fantastic wine at this price. 90 points

Source: Vintage Cellars  Price: $26  Drink: Now-2014

Web: www.boriedemaurel.fr

Yann Chave Crozes-Hermitage 2006

December 22, 2008

img_50932The story of Domaine Yann Chave is similar to that of many wineries in this appellation: an ambitious young son joins his father in the family business, stops selling grapes to the local cooperation in Tain while improving viticultural practices by using organic standards and drastically cutting back yields. The new approach has clearly paid off, resulting in impressive wines from both Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage and making this domaine one of the northern Rhône’s fastest rising stars. Chave’s standard Crozes-Hermitage is all about maximum expression of fruit with basically no oak  used. Fragrant and intense aromes of violets, blackberries and spices follow through to a medium-bodied palate with a round and supple mouthfeel, grainy tannins, bags of ripe fruit and very well balanced acidity. The peppery finish gives this wine plenty of regional personality. 89 points

Source: The Prince/Swanbourne Cellars  Price: $60  Drink: Now-2011

Domaine des Sénéchaux Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2000

August 4, 2008

I had no intention to write about joint ventures again but with the ever globalising dynamics of modern wine business it’s hard not to do so. Take for example this iconic Châteauneuf du Pape producer. Acquired in 2006 by Jean-Michel Cazes, it adds to a prestigious portfolio including Château Lynch-Bages, Ormez de Pez, L’Ostal Cazes and Tapanappa, the latter a joint venture with our own icon Brian Croser. Time will tell what direction the wines will take stylistically,  this one is made under auspices of previous owner Pascal Roux. Deep ruby in colour the nose still shows remarkable fresh primary fruits as blackberry, raspberry and plum while notes of spice, earth, garrigue and leather add an intriguing complexity. Time has smoothed the tannins, lending the wine an appealing elegance only found in Châteauneuf with sufficient bottle-age, without loosing its finely woven structure that guides the core of sweet fruit towards a long and satisfying finish. Maybe a bit old fashioned but certainly well-made. Bravo! 92 points.

Source: Swanbourne Cellars  Price: $60  Drink: Now-2010

Domaine Tournon Syrah 2004

July 14, 2008

Renowned Northern Rhône producer Chapoutier is one of the most important players on the Australian Shiraz scene with the Heathcote derived La Pleiade – jointly crafted with Jasper Hill’s Ron Laughton – receiving raving reviews and heading towards cult status rapidly. But in the meantime the wines from Chapoutier’s other vineyards in the Victorian Pyrenees and Mount Benson should not be overlooked, producing excellent wines stylistically sitting between French elegance and Australian sturdiness. The in 1998 founded Domaine Tournon in Mount Benson is situated on the famous Terra Rossa soils of the limestone coast. Around 50 hectares of vines are organically cultivated in what is one of Australia’s coldest wine growing regions with a mean January temperature of only 18°C. A viticultural approach avoiding over ripe fruit further guarantees wines that offer finesse through relatively low alcohol as shown by the 2004 Syrah. But if you think this intensily purple red wine exposes any hard, leafy or green characters you’re wrong. In contrary, ripe berryfruit strapped by spicy and toasty oak defines the nose following through to a medium to full-bodied palate exhibiting lush, rounded fruit, velvety tannins and hints of smoke, toast, earth and pepper. This is a discrete, elegant and balanced food wine that drinks perfectly now or can be cellared for at least another 5 years to gain futher complexity. I hope we see more of these wines in the future. 91 points

Source: Fine Wine Wholesalers  Price: $30  Drink: Now-2013 

Web: www.mchapoutieraustralia.com

Kalleske Pirathon Shiraz 2006

June 30, 2008

If there is one Australian region bearing the image of mass-producer and marketeer of cheap and cheerful wines it has to be the Barossa Valley. The incorrectness of this image is proven by a group of 12 small producers united as the ‘Artisans of Barossa’, emphasizing traditions and terroir of the Barossa in a climate of increasing corporate power and dominance. One of them is Troy Kalleske, a young and dynamic winemaker who has put his signature on many a bottle. His latest project is Pirathon Shiraz, consisting of parcels of grapes from 7 different Barossan sub-districts, each contributing their own unique character to the final blend. Made with open top fermenters and basket presses, the resulting wine is an ultimate example of a rich and concentrated Barossan Shiraz. Its dark, nearly impenetrable deep purple colour is a prelude to a nose oozing aromas reminiscent of raspberries, dark plums, chocolate, olives, tar, coconut and spices. Regarding the fact the wine has spend two years in new and seasoned hogsheads, it testifies how well the fruit has absorbed the oak, showing a perfect balance between the two on a palate that is remarkable elegant for its 15 percent ABV. Hedonistic and satisfying, this is a signature Barossan Shiraz. 91 points.

Source: winery sample  Price: $30  Drink: Now-2015+

Web: www.pirathon.com

Gilles Robin Cuvée Alberic Bouvet 2005

June 23, 2008

With just over 1200 hectares Crozes-Hermitage is the biggest appellation in the northern Rhône. it is clear that an area of this size produces a great variety of styles. At the cool northern end wines tend to be more subtle and fragile while the ones from the warm south are rather big and sturdy. Gilles Robin’s flagship Cuvée Alberic comes from a zone called Les Chassis, an ancient riverbed of gallets and clay left behind by the mighty river Rhône. Combined with mature vines and yields that are kept well below the permitted maximum the quality of the fruit is excellent, allowing Robin to mature the wine in partly new barriques for approximately 15 months without losing balance or finesse. On the nose the oak plays a prominant role with loads of vanilla, olives and bacon perfectly complementing plums, raspberries and blackcurrants. The same characters follow through on a sleek palate with lovely fruit wrapped in creamy tannins and smoky oak before a refreshing and spicy finish. A stylish, modern and typical Crozes-Hermitage that shows dedicated and skillful winemaking. 91 points

Source: Vintage & Vine/Liquid Library  Price: $55  Drink: Now-2012+