2012 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 11,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 18 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

2006 de Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon

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The Christmas feast was drawing to a close with dessert. Rich fruit pudding with brandy custard pointed towards the 2006 de Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon to accompany it. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Many of my previous Noble Ones have been one dimensional and overly sickly sweet – sort of like cough medicine. On my recent trip to France I had the pleasure of a 1998 Chateau d’Yquem so I wasn’t expecting too much from the relatively recent 2006 de Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon.

Maybe it was the number of preceeding bottles, or maybe it was the unaccustomed youth of the 2006 of maybe it was genuinely great. But we all really enjoyed this wine. It had sweetness, dried fruit and honey – but also enough acidity to mix it with the custard and brandy.

I think I might go back, grab my other Noble Ones from the cellar and have them for drinking soon. This was a wonderful conclusion to a fantastic afternoon of wine. Now, to how to work out how to sleep on a full stomach!

2006 de Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon

2006 de Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon

2004 Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Hunter Valley Semillon

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The 1999 Semillons had come to and so it was time to venture from the world of cork to screw caps. I have written about the 2004 before and given the lateness of the hour and the number of bottles to preceed the 2004 I think my previous notes will somehow be more reliable.

You can find them here : https://nicedrop.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/2004-mount-pleasant-elizabeth-semillon/

1999 Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Hunter Valley Semillon

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Sticking with the theme the 1999 Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Hunter Valley Semillon was the next to make at appearance at our Christmas table.

The cork, like our previous examples was in excellent condition. Into the glass the colour was midway between the other two bottles, sort of a mid-straw colour.

But in comparison to the previous two first labels, this second label wine was flat, short on the palatte lacking some of the length and refinement of the previous bottles. We came to the conclusion that if we of had this bottle first we wouldn’t have noticed its shortcomings, but in the shadows of giants this wine came up just a little short. This theory is proven by my previous tasting notes of another example from the sample vintage (https://nicedrop.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/1999-mount-pleasant-elizabeth-semillon/)

But still …. we drank it.

1999 Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Hunter Valley Semillon

1999 Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Hunter Valley Semillon

1999 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon

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We had a difficult choice next but chose the 1999 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon to accompany the Jamie Oliver inspired Bloody Mary Seafood Platter (highly recommended by the way.) http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/seafood-recipes/bloody-mary-seafood-platter

Totally in contrast to the Lovedale, the colour of this wine was pale and clear. Again it could have been bottled yesterday based on the colour AND the excellent condition of the cork.

But don’t let that lack of colour fool you. This is as long and as complex as the Lovedale and in some respects more sophisticated. To me it was the stand out performed of the day.

Like the Lovedale this is drinking at its peak, but would probably be good for a few more years in a good cellar.

1999 Tyrrell's Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon

1999 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Valley Semillon

You can still buy this wine at Dan Murphy’s and I know I’d prefer one of these babies for Christmas over socks and undies any day. Here’s what Dan Murphy’s has to say:

Tyrrell’s 1999 Vat 1 Semillon is one of the most awarded wines in the country. At last count, 8 Trophies and 28 Gold medals have been awarded to this remarkable wine. Still amazingly fresh and vibrant with one of the cleanest lines of acid that you can find. Zesty citrus is still the predominant flavour with lemon curd breaking through. Far from looking tired, this Australian icon deserves every accolade that comes its way.

And others say:


The palate’s etched in a fine, acid-driven line of lime and lemon flavour; really striking and pure, immensely concentrated.
Vintage: 1999 Score: 97 points
Nick Stock
Source: Penguin Good Wine Guide 2011

Aromas of lemon and lime and some lightly honeyed toast. Hint of candle wax. Juicy fresh squeezed lime flavours with a little toasty development. Touch of spice and vanilla. Pure and perfectly balanced – everything is just right here. Exceptional length of flavour. Just starting to develop some complexity but still fresh and vibrant. Reminds me of the 1994 vintage a bit and I’d say it’s the best vintage since.
Vintage: 1999 Score: 96+ points
Gary Walsh
Source: The Wine Front

Bright green-straw; fine, floral lemon juice aromas, as much akin to Riesling as Semillon; brilliantly fresh, fine, long and lingering mouthfeel. Bottles as good as this one are to die for.
Vintage: 1999 Score: 97 points
James Halliday
Source: http://www.winecompanion.com.au



1999 Lovedale Single Vineyard Semillon

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I love old white wines and accordingly I have a small precious collection of Lovedales. The theme for today’s wine was going to be 1999 Semillons (until we got too thirsty and had to move to other vintages). I know it was going to be a long afternoon of eating and drinking, so the lower alcohol of the Semillon was seen as a bonus and the reason for my selection today. Also Semillon does go well with warm weather and cold seafood.

The 1999 Lovedale Single Vineyard Semillon opened with a firm and brand new-like cork. It could have been sealed yesterday. The wine poured with a deep straw colour, giving away its 13 years age. On the nose, it was open and demonstrated buttered toast. And, it tasted wonderful, there were fruit tones of citrus balancing nicely right now with honeyed, buttered toast. Hmm. This was a real gem and is drinking to perfection right now. If you wanted to, there’s probably another 3 – 5 years, especially given the excellent quality of the cork.

1999 Lovedale Single Vineyard Semillon

1999 Lovedale Single Vineyard Semillon

This is a fantastic example of a Hunter Valley Semillon drinking to its peak.

Here’s what the winemaker had to say back in 2006.

Mount Pleasant is situated on the slopes of the Brokenback Ridge in the Hunter Valley, NSW. The estate was established in 1921 by the legendary winemaker Maurice O’Shea who recognised the special characteristics and longevity of Hunter Valley table wines. To this day, Mount Pleasant continues to bottle-age commercial quantities of wines until they are considered at their peak to release.
Vineyard Region Lovedale Vineyard, Hunter Valley, NSW.
Vineyard Conditions Continuous rain periods in the lead up to vintage and unseasonably cool temperatures in Spring/Summer produced
an even flowering and fruit set. These mild conditions continued into harvest period with intermittent rainfall delaying and extending vintage, resulting in white grape varieties with great depth of flavour and excellent acidity.

Grape Variety 100 per cent Semillon.

Vinification & All grapes for this wine were handpicked. Upon receiving Maturation them at the winery, the grapes were de-stemmed, crushed, must chilled and the juice allowed to drain off. After 48 hours of settling, the clear juice was racked off, warmed up and inoculated with a neutral yeast. The ferment was slow and cold to retain fruit fl avour. One month after fermentation the wines were blended, stabilized and sterile filtered prior to bottling.

Winemaker Phil Ryan’s Comments:
Colour Mid straw.
Aroma The aroma is dominated by zesty, citrus notes of lemon and lime. The primary fruit aromas are complemented by the beginning of toasty development and hints of honey.
Palate The well structured palate, built around a clean vanilla core, has all the hallmarks of a great Hunter Semillon. Fresh citrus flavours, long persistent palate and refreshing acidity.
Chef Peter Howard’s Serving Suggestions
Enjoy this glorious aged Hunter Semillon with fresh seafood.

Wine Analysis Alc/Vol: 11.5% pH: 2.92 TA: 6.65

Last Tasted September 2004
Peak Drinking Enjoy now or cellar up to 2016.

NV Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne

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Day Two of the Christmas feast continued on Christmas Day with the Australian neo-traditional seafood accompanied by dollops of white wine. First cab off the rank was the NV Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne. The fridge had finally caught up with all the new food and wine added over the previous days, so now things were a little too cold.

Only after a few minutes in our hands did this champagne start to show its bready and yeasty flavours. Not nearly as much as Moet, but certainly enough to round out the fruit acidity.

NV Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne

NV Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne

Here’s what others have to say. You can read these while we move to the first course and open the Semillon.

“Theres been a change in Bollinger NV over recent years more freshness, less aldehydic influence. The result is still an excellent, traditional style, rich and opulent. Special Cuvee has toffee apple, bread and nutty characters on the nose and woven through a full-flavoured, smooth palate that finishes savoury and zesty….” 5 Stars. – Ralph Kyte-Powell, The Age – October 2010.

“Typical to the style, this is a wine of power, elegance and style. I think recent developments at Bollinger had introduced a new level of freshness and life into this great wine but it still retains that complexity and palate weight that are so distinctive. It’s pinot noir dominant with smaller amounts of chardonnay and pinot meunier. Very long and persistent palate structure. “ 94 Points. – Ray Jordan, The West Australian, June 2010

1994 Leasingham Bin 61 Clare Valley Shiraz

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With the Christmas dinner continuing with wonderful homed cooked Veal Involtini we decided to stick with 1994 and open the 1994 Leasingham Bin 61 Clare Valley Shiraz. By comparison to the early bottle of St Hallet Old Block, the 1994 Leasingham Bin 61 Clare Valley Shiraz pour bright red and much darker than we would have thought. From Clare Valley we were expecting something a little lighter and with less body. But once again the gods of wine proved how wrong we could be.

Like the St Hallet though, we did have some trouble with the cork, so we got to sample a little of that on the palette as well.

This is a wine that could have been bottled yesterday (cork aside), it was youthful by colour and to taste. There are some subdued blackberry fruit left, matched superbly with secondary spiciness and other flavours. The tannins by now have softened to nothing which makes me believe this wine right now is drinking at it’s peak.

1994 Leasingham Bin 61 Clare Valley Shiraz

1994 Leasingham Bin 61 Clare Valley Shiraz


Unusually for us, we decided to quit while we were ahead and leave some space for more alcohol the next day – which would be a marathon of Australian white wines. But we had enough time, and composure, for one photo of the evening’s players.

Pre-Christmas Drinks

Pre-Christmas Drinks


1994 St Hallett Old Block Barossa Shiraz

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I know the last series of posts haven’t been exactly true to the name of this blog – in that they’ve largely been of overseas wines. But with the Christmas two day marathon feast getting underway in earnest it was time to return to to our roots. Drinking some fabulous Australian wines.

The first part of the series of meals was an Italian dinner on a slightly cool Christmas Eve. Following the champagne,the 1994 St Hallett Old Block Barossa Shiraz made an appearance. The cork didn’t extract cleanly leaving us with a bit of roughage to accompany the meal. In contrast to the Bin 61 which was to follow the 1994 St Hallett Old Block Barossa Shiraz poured brick brown / red but still fairly light in colour.

After a few minutes of air, the dominant flavour in this complex, but slightly thin wine was that of cigar box. There was sufficient fruit, but it was well balanced by other secondary flavours including a touch of vanilla. I’d say this wine is on the gentle decline from it’s youthful days and so any remaining bottles should be brought forward for drinking in the next few years.

This was hardly what you would expect from a big gutsy Barossa Shiraz and it carried it’s 13% alcohol on a very restrained manner. But the word I most frequently used to describe it was sophisticated. Old Block is the premium label from this premium wine maker. The length of the wine demonstrates with wine makers skill in putting it together. It made a great start to the main course.

1994 St Hallett Old Block Barossa Shiraz

1994 St Hallett Old Block Barossa Shiraz

NV Heidsieck & Co Monopole Blue Top Champagne Brut

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We extended our Christmas feast over two days this year. With good friends who also enjoyed great wines, it was going to be a treat.

I wouldn’t be an event without starting with Champagne. In this case it was the NV Heidsieck & Co Monopole Blue Top Champagne Brut which had spent a couple of years in the bottle. Not always optimal for champagne, I know. But still, it did well to open the batting for an all star team of reds which were to accompany our Christmas Eve italian feast.

The cork opened with a restrained fizz, even though it had spent the early part of the day on a 3 hour car trip to reach us. It had a fine bead and plenty of acidity to accompany the antipasto. There were citrus tones, but above all brioche. Without too much fizz, maybe as a result of being a couple of years old, this was the perfect start on what was a fairly cool evening.

NV Heidsieck & Co Monopole Blue Top Champagne Brut

NV Heidsieck & Co Monopole Blue Top Champagne Brut

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