Today is my 30th Birthday. What better way to celebrate then tasting some of my favourite Australian wines?
That’s right, on my birthday I was willing to brave inclement weather and bad Melbourne traffic to taste wines – so they would have be special. And I wasn’t disappointed.
These wines are for sale and wines I recommend, I have included the price which is correct at the time of publishing. They are subject to change in price and availability.
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|Lovely, lovely Ngeringa Chardy.|
The first table I visited was occupied by my friend Erinn from Ngeringa based in the Adelaide Hills. Erinn and the team make really thoughtful, elegant and expressive wines from their biodynamic vineyards. We tasted through some of his range which included the stunning Ngeringa Chardonnay 2009 ($42ea), a lovely and lean chard with purity, clean stone fruits and a floral lift. The Chard is one of the best wines they make in my opinion. The Viognier 2010 ($48ea) and Viognier dominant blend JE Assemblage White 2010 ($27ea) both had excellent textural qualities with aromatic complexity and great subtlety – quite rare for Australian Viognier.
The reds kicked off with his elegant, savoury and silky Pinot Noir 2009 ($42ea). This is a wine of great perfume and certainly opened up with air. Then we tasted two Syrah – the flagship variety at the winery. JE Syrah 2009 ($27ea) showed delicate aromas of cola, pepper and cardomon with hints of blood orange and plums. The palate was balanced, savoury and with lovely fine drying tannins. The big show Syrah 2008 ($53ea) was showing its typical refined lean, smokey, spicy and savoury nose. The palate was very fine and a hint on the tannic side. The palate was not as impressively balanced and vibrant as previous years; Erinn explained that as it is from a difficult year (extremely hot conditions plagued the country), and picked early to retain the freshness and acidity. They took a lot of care to make it the best possible wine they could and he was proud of the result given how many producers picked later and produced jammy, alcoholic wines.
I tend to agree, with a bit of time in the bottle (or the right food match) and this wine would be stunning.
Still one of my favourite wineries in Australia.
Next stop was the Jamsheed table. Gary Mills has been making some of the best wines in Victoria for a while now, in the April TWD Magazine I featured some of his entry level wines in the drink now list. I would encourage you to taste these wines as they are extremely drinkable and amazingly good value. I also got to try his Gewurztraminer, Riesling (and friends) blend Le Blank Plonk 2010 ($21ea), the Gewurz definitely sticks out on the nose with its lychee and rose water notes. The Riesling adds a citrusy spine and length to the palate. This is refreshing and very drinkable. I also tried some of his Roussanne which I did not catch the vintage or price of but throughly enjoyed for its faint stone fruits and white flower notes and mineral purity and textural bliss.
After that was a chat with James Lance and his wines from Punch in the Yarra. James’ offerings were a bit unique and special because they had lost all of their fruit in 2009 due to the fires that came through the vineyards. With the support of vineyards in Victoria and New Zealand there was the birth of the label ‘Friends Of Punch’. And there was a lot to like about the wines. Gippsland based Mallani Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 ($36ea) had everything I want in good Chard. Silky, vibrant and elegant. Plenty of stone fruits, floral notes and citrus. Great balance and lots of length of flavour. It was so good for the price. The best of the friends wine (to my palate) was the Quartz Reef Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009 ($65ea). Quartz Reef is a producer in Central Otago (Kristina and I spent some time with Rudi on our trip in 2007 and loved every second). They made some batches with the Punch style in mind and let them pick how they wanted them blended. The wine was then sent to Punch for finishing. The result is a smokey, dense, full, spicy and tasty Pinot. There is lovely structure and good length of flavour. Very drinkable. By contrast there was also the Bannockburn Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009 ($65ea) which was more savoury, herbal, undergrowth like Pinot. It was very tight and tannic at the moment. The final Friends of Punch wine I tasted was the very Rhone like juby, smokey, slightly herbal and fine boned Bannockburn Vineyards Syrah 2009 ($65ea), one for the cellar!
James was also offering advanced tastings of his 2010 wines. Chardonnay, Pinot and Close Planted Pinot all looked amazing. You will hear more about them when they are released. They are knock outs.
I did taste a few other wines before I headed home to celebrate my birthday without having to spit the pretty wines. But I’ll save those stories for another day.