Week Two Wining

Early on in the week Ben and Megan had a few people over to their house for tea (Aussie for dinner) and wine. We fired up the BBQ and grilled some lamb, chicken sausage, corn and peppers, and kangaroo. Kangaroo is red, real lean, and can be a bit tough if overcooked. Not really my thing, but I'll try anything once. I still haven't seen a kangaroo, just eaten some:
The evening was shared by Chad the asst. winemaker at Lillian and Antica Terra (based in Willamette), Meredith who works in Napa, Robin the Scot, and Volker the Austrian.

Ben on the Q with the Roo

We drank some nice wine:
06 Croze Hermitage, Domaine des Lises: classic croze, graphite, savory, meaty, finesse.
06 Spinifex, Barossa "Taureau" 41% carignan, 32% tempranillo, 27% cab sav: smells like grandma's chocolate pie on finish, interesting more than enjoyable
00 Frankland Estate "Olmo's Reward" 45% cab sav, 38% merlot, 6% cab sav, 6% petit verdot, 3% malbec, Frankland River: smells like old world/Bordeaux but with new world aussie fruit structure, richness on palate.
04 Kooyong Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula: This is cool climate pinot from Victoria. Nothing too special:
07 Clonakulla Hilltop Shiraz, New South Wales: 'another aussie shiraz:' A little dirty behind all the fruit.
Great night all in all. I'm really stoked to be working with such awesome people who love the grape:

Later in the week we hosted some wine drinking at our place in Nuriootpa. Same group, minus the gals.

92 Howard Park Cab Sav//Merlot, Margaret River: Great vintage, great wine. Firm structure, still has a bit of time in it although it has lost some of the primary fruit. Dry but sweet fruit, leather, improved as the night went on.
05 Westlake Shiraz, Albert's Block, Barossa: Smells like Cali syrah, but real rich and very Australian on palate with chocolate/mint. Nothing special:
06 Holyman Pinot, Tasmania: Very similar to my last Tasi wine experience. Nice nose, but thin and unbalanced on palate.
Whitcraft Pinot, Aubaine vyrd SLO: Big hit with the group. Classic old world nose, but still distinctly Californian with cola and spice. Thanks for the booze Whitcrafts.

Everyone was stoked for Friday to roll around... Two Hands sponsored a weekend trip to a local beach destination as a pre-vintage bonding experience for the crew. We caravanned through beautiful twisty, curvy roads in the Adelaide Hills, visited TH vineyards in McLaren Vale to chat with growers and check out fruit, had lunch at a superb pub with killer ocean views before making it to our 2 beach houses in Middleton (south of Victor Harbor). Simply bad-ass. The crew had an awesome time hanging at the beach, surfing, bocce ball, beach cricket, and some cold beers made it a killer weekend. We all spent lots of time in the water, and the following Monday we saw news reports of several great white shark sitings in the Middleton area:yikes.

The farmer, winemaker and vintage crew in McLaren Vale (10 k from the climate!) The McLaren Vale vineyards all looked well farmed, and most (but not all) sufferred less from the heat relative to Barossa.

The 09 vintage crew at lunch. The pub was up on a hill with terrific ocean views. Everyone had the fish.

Some solid beach bocce action at Middleton Beach

Owners Michael and Richard met up with the gang on Saturday for an extensive tasting and dinner at a local pub. They provided 22 wines, and I'm not up to typing all of them in, so instead I'll just list my favorites:

Vintage Aussie Chard: 2001 Leeuwin Art Series
NZ and OZ Pinot: 05 Ashton Hills Reserve:intense flavor concentration, balanced
OZ Southern Rhonies: 04 Spinifex Tabor:33 cs production, earthy with loads of depth and length on finish, outstanding
94 OZ Shiraz: Wendouree Shiraz/Malbec:great vintage, complex and elegant
Aged OZ Cab: 98 Balnaves Tally:I'm loving these older Western Aus Cabs
Overseas Shiraz: 04 Bilancia La Collina, NZ:.big surprise for me. Stunning, cool climate style, quite possibly the WineOfNight
The tasting was incredible. Such a great opportunity to get exposed to some of the world famous OZ producers. Dinner was fantastic, and after the tasting the TH crew did a fine job and taking over the bar, livening the place up a bit, singing, dancing, etc. I have photos to prove the good times, but most are unsuitable even for the internet.

We returned from the beach Sunday, and throwing our better judgment aside Chad and I decided to go out and taste some more wine:
"Eldterton" is literally just down the road from our place, and we started out there on Chad's suggestion.

Riesling: real racy, bright, lime, chalky well made
Sav Blanc/Semillon: oaky but well integrated, sav blanc livens it up a bit, rich fruit with grassy undertones.
06 shiraz/cab: aromatic complexity, dark fruit with evident cab character, direct and focused fruit flavors linear not lush or mouth coating glycerine.
06 cab: gripping texture, chalky tannins, a little spicy
05 Ode to Loraine, 47% cab sav, 39% shiraz, 14% merlot: complex aromatics of dark fruit, spice, earth, molasses, tobacco, great balance and structure, age-worthy. Awesome (especially for A$35)
06 cab ashmead: sweet fruit quality, meaty, oak tannin on finish
04 command shiraz, Barossa: 34 months in oak. Interesting that this wine is bottled half in cork, half in stelvin. We tasted the stelvin, and it was super reductive. The burned rubber/sewer reductive qualities blew off after five minutes of swirling and the wine was impressive. Insanely complex, black fruit + cigar box, clean and focused, lengthy finish.

Kaesler was next on the list, and their wines were downright awful. Didn't taste the "Old Bastard" (with the cool Ralph Steadman label). The aggressive oak tannin stayed in my mouth for half an hour after we left. Not worth sharing more:

Chad hadn't tasted at Torbreck yet, and we wrapped up the day there.
Overall I don't really enjoy the Torbreck wines. I know they're iconic (and priced as such), but I just don't dig the overall style. Across the board I noted "oak tannin on finish." However there are a couple wines I enjoyed more than the others, notably the wines that had more oak balance/better integration:
Their Rhone white (mar,rous, vio) was well balanced, with just the right amount of oak.
Cuvee Juveniles: GSM blend with no oak. Easy to like, bright red fruit.
Struie: cool climate spice, more fruit, lush, holds up to the oak
The Celts: Not my cup of tea, but still one of the better wines in the lineup. Chocolate mint city, powerfully aromatic, ginger/thai spice, good mouthfeel
Torbreck's 2 flagships the "Descendant" and "RunRig" both have some viognier blended in (Descendant is cofermented, with the RunRig blended at bottling). The Descendant's vio is incredibly up front, with lots of stone fruit/apricots on the nose. Too much man. The RunRig is much better integrated.

Below photo: Torbreck facility and small vineyard in the background

Last night Chad, Ben and I got into:

07 Shaw and Smith Chard M3, Adelaide Hills: Simply outstanding! Great aromatics and oak balance. Minerality, bright and lingering finish. Balanced and ageworthy. I'm bringing some home:

03 Yering Station Shiraz/Vio, Yarra Valley Reserve: Slightly disappointing. Chocolate mocha aromatics, but the fruit profile seems advanced for its aged. A little pruney, sweet oak/alcohol finish.

07 Spinifex Esprit Barossa, 36% shiraz, 36% Grenache, 25% mataro, 7% carignan, 6% cinsault: nice, balanced, easy to like, spice and herbs on nose candy quality up front, soft mid-palate, but good tannin and fruit resurgence on finish. Started out shiraz dominant, but the Grenache fruit profile took over as night went on:

06 Petaluma Viognier, Adelaide Hills: best OZ viongier thus far. Real rounded, restrained and elegant aromatics, bright with good acidity, stone fruit.

Wow when you sit down and type it all out it sure seems like a lot of wine:

Harvest kicked off with the White Frontignac. Fruit comes in throughout the day, and I sense the coming weeks are going to be demanding. The fronti juice tastes really good (especially with a little vodka and ice :) ), and now that it's all in it feels good to check something off the list. We'll cold settle it for a few weeks before inoculating. Much of the TH fruit gets processed at their "Branson" facility.

Below Photo:
Me driving the biggest forklift I've ever seen. It's awesome, I want one. We can dump 2 bins at a time into the receiving bin, before it's stemmed, crushed, and pressed.

Branson Coach House vineyard below, stunning...

McLaren Vale shiraz started coming in yesterday. We're expecting about 40 tonnes more by the end of the week.

Today is my day off for the week, and I've enjoyed strolling around town, having a morning cup of Joe at the bakery across the street from my house, a couple Pasty's for lunch (a veggie version of a meat pie, which are hugely popular here). Penfolds is directly across the street from the library, and I wandered in on my way here. I saw a sign that read "Grange Tasting 2pm"...I reckoned I hit it big. Upon going inside I was informed that it's a mere A$150 for the Grange "experience." Even for the industry. That's out of the budget unfortunetely, so I'm on my way back to taste their pedestrian level wine...

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