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Wine Amateur

A site for those who are interested in wine but do not hold themselves out to be experts!!

Updated: 2015-09-17T07:36:36.277+10:00


The first Corbie Street Winner


In the dinner I mentioned recently we tasted a number of other wines. Scott brought the 'winning' wine - ie the wine we all (collectively) rated as the best on the night. It was a Penfolds 1998 St Henri Shiraz.The AFL gives an award of the Norm Smith medal for the Best on Ground during the grand final. Maybe we should start giving just the 'Norm' award for best wine of the night?? If so, Scott was a worthy 'Norm'. Don't worry too much mate, be thankful we didn't name the award Dick, Bevan or something worse. 'Norm' is better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick!We have already discussed the other wines, being Penfolds 1998 Bin 389 Cab/Shiraz and the Orlando 1998 St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon.Penfolds 1998 St Henri Shiraz Our notes for the evening show: The wine was dark red to purple in colour with a big caramel and burnt toffee on the nose. Medium to full bodied with big fruit flavours, firm tannins, and well balanced with good length. Overall rating of 92-95/100 and scoring the various characteristics 18-18.5/20. Other reviews here.The other wines we drank on that night were:Orlando 1996 St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon Red to dark red. Blackcurrents on a very subtle (or somewhat closed) nose. The wine was described by my compadres as "luscious"and "elegant" and definitely had soft tannins and quite a long finish. The only drawback was the intensity of flavour was not there. 90-92/100 or 17.5/20Some other reviews are here.Penfolds 1996 Bin 389 Cabernet Sauvignon/ShirazDark red with pepper, black fruit and a hint of acetone (? - wierd). Little intensity of flavour and we were obviously either half-cut by then or just not too impressed as there are hardly any notes to the wine. I do recall thinking that it was past its prime. It may have just been this bottle. 88-90/100 and 17/20.Other reviews here.d'Arenburg 1999 The Coppermine Road Cabernet SauvignonDark red to purple. Big spicy pepper nose. Good fruit flavours but falling flat of the promise of the nose. Firm but gentle tannins with little length. Again somewhat disappointing. 88-89/100 or 17.5/20.Other reviews here:I have cleared the decks from this dinner by posting the rest of the wines as we have since had another dinner with the same Corbie Street crew and want to get to those wines asap.Well done Scotty - this time. It will be hard to keep it up as everyone else is out to beat you next time.Drink Well - Live Well!!wine wine tasting food and drink cabernet sauvignon shiraz[...]

Milford Track - Back on Deck!


As mentioned previously, together with 3 mates and leaving our wives behind, I recently walked the Milford Track in the SW corner of the south island of New Zealand. The track starts at Lake Te Anau and finishes at Sandfly Point on Milford Sound, takes a little over 3 days and is around 60 km or 35 miles of trekking through pristine wilderness. You cannot get there by road but must be dropped off by boat and picked up at the other end by boat. (This photo is from the boat heading to our drop off point at the end of Lake Te Anau.)For the next day and a half we trekked along the beautiful Clinton River valley and scenes like the next were commonplace. (This next photo is one I 'stitched' together from 4 photos of the Clinton River. I am intending to have it blown up to poster size, framed, and placed on the wall of my office as a reminder of the beauty and tranquility of the place)Here is the Wine Amateur nearing the top of Mackinnon Pass with part of the Jervois Glacier in the background. To the right is the view from Mackinnon Pass of the Arthur River valley which is where we were headed forthe next day and a half or trekking.To the left is a photo of some of the many cascading waterfalls and rock pools we saw heading down the other side of the pass.There were quite a few interesting people in our group and we made quite a few friends on the trip including some great people from St Petersburg, Florida - G'day Stan, Claudette, Mike and Julie. We made Stan an honorary Australian because he smuggled booze onto the trip and certainly drank beer like an Aussie. We also discovered that NZ has fantastic Pinot Noirs.The next two photos are of Milford Sound which is a true fiord that you come to at the end of the track and the 4 of us ready to hop in a helicopter and fly over the mountains and glaciers on our way back to Queenstown.I hope you don't mind the wee departure from wine discussions, but I will get back to them.After all the serenity and beauty it was really hard to go back to the office. The lads and I are planning another escape next year - maybe to Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. Some of the boys want to do Kokoda but I really don't think I am up to it yet.Enjoy life!!(REMEMBER YOU CAN CLICK ON THE PHOTOS TO SEE THEM ENLARGED)winewine tastingfood and drinkpinot noir[...]

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1998


A couple of posts ago I shared with you some of the goings-on at a recent dinner at our place. As a group we tasted 6 wines and I talked, in that post, about the St Hugo's 1998.The other day I noticed the very good Dr Ed (the Wino-sapien) recently gave his tasting notes on the 1998 Penfolds Bin 389. As this was one of the wines we tasted on that night I thought it would be good to share our (Scott, Robert, Ivan and I) notes and see how they compare.Ed said:"Dark, vibrant purple. Dense nose with blackberry, blackcurrant, malt, meat and the faintest hint of dried herbs and lavender. Rich, soft and structured. Lovely weight, length and shape in the mouth. Plush. The tannins are firm, chewy and lingering.Excellent.18.5/20 (95/100).Drink now - 2017."Our notes (of January 2007) said:14% alcohol. Deep red-purple with strong blackberry on the nose along with other big black fruit aromas. Luscious (it is hard to get all the adjectives that 4 tasters use into one note) and big (but not too bold) but smooth on the palate. Very firm tannins leading to a long dry finish. Well balanced and structured with plenty of time left to go.Overall rating =92-94/100Rating the individual components = 18/20Interestingly enough I have notes of a tasting of this wine before-in July 2006 and I wrote about it. I said (July 2006):"The wine had BIG berry and blackfruit aromas (maybe even blackcurrents). I was still very dark, dark red with maybe a touch of purple (but I might have been wishing that into the wine but the lighting is not the best in our dining room at home and I remember doing the tasting notes there).There is no mistaking that this wine is full bodied with big berry taste, plenty of tannins and good acid. It is smooth but powerful and obviously will last another 6-10 years. I hope I am right on this as I still have around 14 bottles left.I loved this wine but interestingly it doesn't seem to scream 'Barossa', or any other place for that matter. This is something I am only starting to become aware, of in a limited way, recently.On an overall rating I gave it 93-96/100 and scoring the individual attributes18.5-19/20It is interesting that the latest tasting my rating has slipped back somewhat. Am I a harder marker no? Or, is it just a different bottle? Oh well - only one way to find out - MORE EXPERIMENTATION!!!winewine tastingfood and drinkcabernet sauvignonshiraz [...]

Wine Amateur goes trekking!


Following a recent health scare, the Wine Amateur has been busily getting into some sort of shape (you too could have a body like mine - through sheer neglect!) preparing for the great adventure.

Together with fellow wine buddy
Lynton, his brother Warwick and mutual friend Justin, we have ditched the old girls and are doing the 'blokey' thing in New Zealand. We are going to hike, or if you come from New Zealand, "tramp" the Milford Track. It is 58 kilometres of wilderness with beech forests used in the filming of Lord of the Rings, mountains, rivers, lakes etc (some more photos here).

Who knows? If we enjoy it (and survive) we may do more. The lads are talking about Cradle Mountain, Mt Killimanjaro, part of the Appalachian Trail, or even the Kokoda Track (Trail) which almost seems to have become some sort of spiritual rite of passage for Australian males.

It appears that I am following a few weeks behind Mike from Shirazshiraz blog and I certainly hope to be trying a lot of the wines out while I am over there.

(image) Coming from Queensland we do not see a lot of cold weather but I have had to prepare for the hike as it has been snowing in the Mackinnon Pass (which we will reach on Day 3). It is hard to find weather information for the track but the nearest town (Queenstown) gives us some idea.


Hopefully I will have my own photos and wine reviews to share when I return.

Drink well, live well!

The drought is over!!!


For those not aware, our great State of Queensland has been suffering from a prolonged period of lower than average rainfall. It isn't really a drought because it is still raining and everything is green however, there hasn't been good rain in the catchment areas of the dams servicing SE Queensland for a few years.I would like to announce that the drought is finally over! Is it raining?? No, but after about a 7 week period, where I was on strict instructions from a host of doctors to drink no alcohol, the really bad, gut-wrenching drought is over. I have celebrated in style this last week.Over the past 7 weeks my wife, sister and brother-in-law (Rob of the 'up-punt') have continued to consume great quantities of red wine and continually waving their glasses under my nose. I think my appreciation of the various aromas has increased ten-fold.Just prior to the drought I caught up with a few friends from Corby Street, Ashgrove (near to where I used to live - and one of my favourite streets in Brisbane). Scott, Pauline, Robert, Pru, Ivan and Jennifer came over for dinner and the odd wine or 8. There is an unspoken challenge (but very friendly) with this particular grouping - try to make sure you bring the best bottle of wine and whatever you do don't bring the worst one (you WILL be "paid out" on - sorry Ivan you really didn't stand a chance!).Robert is a real wine enthusiast with an very good cellar (much better than mine) and he coordinated his wine with mine. Robert also had me call Scott to put the pressure on him by asking me to tell him not to bring his normal rubbish. Rob made a similar comment to Ivan. I prepared Wine Scoring cards in advance so that we could score them in a collaborative effort.Robert provided a 1996 Orlando St Hugo and a 1996 Penfolds Bin 389, my wines provided a vertical element with the 1998 Orlando St Hugo and a 1998 Penfolds Bin 389. Scott provided a 1998 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz (ba*stard went out and bought it that day - Robert thought that was cheating) and a 1999 D'Arenburg McLaren Vale Coppermine Cab Sav. Ivan brought a couple of wines but unfortunately I can't recall what they were because, at the pleading of Robert and Scott, they were not even scored.Suffice it to say, Robert, Ivan and I were humbled in the face of Scott and his all-conquering St Henri. We will never hear the end of it!!If I get time I will share the tasting notes with you over the next little while.1998 Orlando St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon (yeah, I know it is now Jacob's Creek but in 1998 it was still Orlando)It was still reddish-purple in colour with black currents, pepper and some aniseed/fennel on the nose. The tannins were still quite big and there was reasonable length of finish. It was very enjoyable but came nowhere near the quality of the 1996 - at least in my memory of the 1996. (we tasted the 1998 before the 1996 but I have spoken of the 1996 in an earlier blog).Collectively, we gave it an overall score of 90/100and then we scored the components at 17.5/20It came in 5th position on the night!I note Ed over at Wino-sapien has tried the 1999 St Hugo recentlywinewine tastingfood and drinkcabernet sauvignonshiraz [...]

Wine Orb's demise - our gain??


For those Aussies that have heard of the demise of Wine Orb (in liquidation), you may be able to benefit. There is a clearance of their wines online at Grays Online Auctions.

The prices have been pretty good - so far. However, the main auction closes tomorrow and there are still some Parker Coonawarra Terra Rosa First Growth available (at around half price)in an auction ending Thursday.

I think the bids for Astralis (Parker awarded 99 points) have been growing fairly steadily.

Hurry, but don't bid the price up too much! If you outbid me on the lots I have bid for - look out!!

There has to be more to life!


There has to be more to life than dealing with Dividend Streaming, Capital Gains Tax and advising clients on the correct application of GST and the Margin Scheme. This is a thought I have often at this time of year, when I begin dreaming of ways to earn money from wine tasting and experimenting in the kitchen!I have discovered there IS more to life than these things, however these 'things' help pay for the things that make life that little bit more enjoyable.By the way, a little bit of interesting(sic) tax information (I can't help myself) for my dear non-resident readers, recently the Government introduced a Bill into the Parliament that, if passed, will essentially allow non-residents who own shares in companies (or units in Managed Funds) in Australia to be exempt from any capital gains tax here in the land of OZ (therefore all gains will be tax free and all dividends will only be taxed at the relevant non-resident withholding rate). The same exemption will not apply to real property. The Government is obviously trying to attract foreign investment (I would guess from large UK and US pension funds and other internationl fund managers).Whilst pondering the important questions of life such as 'should I get up from my seat in front of the TV to get the remote that the kids left on the floor because I hate this program?', 'where do all the other socks go?', I received a telephone call from one of my brothers.I have two brothers, who both live in Canberra with their families (but we still like them), and one sister. Through a confluence of events, an alignment of the planets, or more accurately an overlapping of school vacation periods between Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, both brothers and their families will be making the prilgimage north to the best city in the world - Brisbane (sorry Ed, Cam, GW, Murray, Mike, TWC and everyone else) or here.One brother, together with his wife and 4 of his 5 kids, is coming to stay with our little family for a week. It promises to be a great time! We will be eating and drinking ourselves silly - at least I hope so!To celebrate we opened with Sunday night roast dinner a Lindeman's 'St George' 1997 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (picture from Lindeman's website).Here is what the wine maker says.Here is what I reckon:There was 13.5% alcohol and it was a dark brick red in appearance. The nose was sensational filled with loads of chocolate, some cigar, plums and maybe a touch of aniseed or fennel. It was medium to full bodied with big fruit flavours, firm tannins, good length and a long dry finish that had you panting for more. This is a very nice wine with still a few more years to go. Drinking well now and should continue to do so for 3 or 4 more years yet.I gave it an overall score of 92-94/100After scoring the individual components I came up with 18.5-19/20.Would I buy it again? - yep! I hope to find some more as that was my last bottle (key sad music)winewine tastingfood and drinkcabernet sauvignon[...]

Maglieri Shiraz 2004 (McLaren Vale)


The better-half and I have been busy managing trips to doctors and the hospital as our two year old (turns two this coming Thursday) had to have his tonsils and adenoids taken out. In his two years he has had at least 15 bouts of tonsilitis with the last one being one continuous bout since May this year. As soon as any antibiotics are finished his temperature has usually been up to 41C within 24 hours. Enough is enough!

On Friday last week he went in and had his operation. I have been surprised by his recovery. Within 2-3 hours of the operation he was sitting up in bed and scoffing down as much food as we could give him - not mushy stuff either! He was having crusty garlic bread, rice crackers and other 'normal' food. What a champion. I think he has been so used to eating with a sore throat that this was no real hurdle and he was starving because he had to fast before the op. He and mum stayed in overnight on Friday while I took B1 home.

After I put B1 to bed I felt I needed a glass (or more) of wine so I pulled out a guzzler and drank, by myself, in the lounge room with lights turned low and just some music on in the back ground. After the first glass, being relaxed enough, I turned on the TV as the football was on and watched one of the qualifying finals.

This wine was a massive 15% alcohol. It was dark red with just a tinge of purple. There were blackberries and pepper/spices on the nose and you could get a slight burning of the alcohol (or so I believe - I hope I haven't talked myself into it) .

It was a true McLaren Vale with big berry flavours but again I think you can taste the alcohol a little. I think the 15% alcohol causes this medium bodied wine to be slightly out of balance.

For $10 per bottle the
Maglieri is a nice 'guzzler'. I wouldn't pay much more for it though. From memory, some of the earlier vintages were much better.

My overall rating of


was, as usual, made before I rated the individual components at


Penfold's Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2002


We tasted this wine on 27 August 2006. This was the third wine tasted at Rob's.

What another cracker!! A BIG wine! Dark red/purple and full bodied this wine exhibited a nose of berries, blackfruit with a hint of chocolate and a hint of tobacco. There were strong blackfruits and berries on the palate and a hint of 'butteriness' - is this malolactics??? Is there supposed to be a malolactic fermentation in a Bin 389??

There was really good length and intensity.

I gave it an overall rating of


and when I rated each of the components


The wine maker's tasting notes are here. (I have used Penfold's photo from their website)

Cornas Domaine Vincent Paris 2003


(image) We drank this at Rob's on Saturday night (as per previous post).

I picked this up on a whim (and the recommendation of Tony Harper at the Wine Emporium). It is my first ever French Shiraz.

It was a very dark red/purple and had a whopping 14.9% alcohol but you couldn't tell - or I couldn't anyway.

It was very very stinky. It had a very rustic nose and shouted leafy, vegetal, earthy, cabbage, mossy.

There was an amazing intensity of flavour and very good length with the flavour highlighted by black fruits of some description, that escaped me.

This was a big wine but at the same time elegant and well structured and will last another 10 years at least. It cost $65 - and to follow Murray's lead at Winetastic - Would I buy it again? Absolutely!

My overall rating was


(Rob was arguing for a 95 - possibly it was! Rob went as far as to say it was the best French wine he had tasted of the ones I have purchased recently)

Scoring the individual components I gave it


Dinner with Rob of the Up-punt


You have heard of (if you have read or heard any classic Australian poetry) Clancy of the Overflow, the Man from Snowy River and the Man from Ironbark. Well Rob of the up-punt is none of these! Remember Rob?? He is my brother-in-law and wine buddy and the originator of Robbie's Rule of Thumb. He has been 'up-punting' for some time and he had good reason to last weekend.Rob and Lisa invited us over for a lamb roast on Saturday night, and I remembered Dr Ed's sage advice and decided we needed a good Sangiovese to go with the lamb. He suggests it is a good combination because the acidity of the Sangiovese helps cut through the fattiness of the lamb.The first Sangiovese I tried was a Coriole (McLaren Vale) and it tasted much like a McLaren Vale Shiraz. Later, at an introductory Wine Course run by The Wine Emporium, I tried a 2003 Mazzei 'Badiola' from Tuscany. Ed commented that this is the type of Sangiovese he had had in mind when he advised me earlier. I loved the 2003 Badiola!Armed with the great memory of the 2003 Badiola I ventured to the Wine Emporium last Saturday to try and 'kill two birds with one stone' by picking up my 2003 Bordeauxs and a bottle of Badiola for dinner that night. I succeeded, but the Badiola was a 2004, and along the way I also succeeded in killing a few brain cells at the Southern Rhone tasting and in denting the wallet with a purchase of a Northern Rhone Syrah - Cornas 2003 Vincent Paris (or here).I ended up taking both to Rob's and he added a Penfold's 2002 Bin 389. Yep, it was a pretty good night!We started with the 2004 Badiola. It was dark red with a tinge of purple. The nose was earthy with hints of licorice, musty leather and oak and a trace of cherries. There were firm tannins and decent length but the intensity of flavour that was present in the 2003, simply was not there in this wine. It certainly had character but when the wine first hits the tongue there is almost no flavour at all, it is almost like water. The flavour builds very slowly and not very far. I was a little disappointed in the 2004 after such a good 2003.Robbie's and my overall score86-88/100and when we scored the individual components we came up with17.5/20. Rob was disappointed because the wine promised so much - it had a decent sized punt.winewine tastingfood and drinksangiovese[...]

2003 Bordeaux En Primeur


I got a call from Stewart Plant, from The Wine Emporium, the other day saying that my 2003 Bordeaux en-primeur wines had arrived and had been packed up.I have been looking forward to this for some time and already can't wait for my 2004s to arrive this time next year. I must remember to place my 2005 order - it should have been in a month or two ago.My order consisted of a number of Chateau Pontet-Canet (Pauillac), Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac) and Chateau Branaire-Ducru (St Julien).Imagine my disappointment when I went to the Wine Journal to look up my Grand-Puy-Lacoste (5th growth) only to find they didn't review the 2003 vintage. However, I did find a review by Robert Parker, who said "Dark ruby/purple-tinged with notes of pure cassis, tobacco leaf, spice box, and some background minreal characteristics, the wine is medium bodied, revealing good ripeness, sweetness, and overall fine balance with relateively low acidity and ripe tannin. Anticipated maturity 2008-2017. Score - 89-91 points" (tasted April 2004). I note it is only 13.4% alcohol.I have enjoyed my previous Pontet-Canets (5th growth), the 1995 and 2001. Robert Parker rated the 2003 at 92-94 in 2004 and dropped by one to 91-93 in 2005. Wine Spectator said "Very concentrated nose of blackberries, licorice and smole, turning to flowers. Full bodied, very rich and powerful with massive tannins, but it finishes sweet and ripe. This is muscular, but then it turns to crushed fruit. Superseductive. Best Pontet I have ever tasted. 95-100 points" Steve Tanzer reated it 91-94 and Quarin 90-91. I am really looking forward to this wine but with an expected maturity 2012-2030 I will have to wait a while.I have never tried a Ch Branaire-Ducru and took some of these on faith. The Wine Journal had this to say:"I thought this was a seriously good Brainaire. As with so many Saint Julien wines there was little on the nose. But the palate is lovely - very restrained, well-knit with a touch of black coffee intermingled with those black fruits. Good grip on the finish. Superb wine. Long aging potential. (21/25) Tasted again after bottling at the UGC in Oct-05. The nose is still very backward, with blackberry and tobacco. Good definition and freshness. The palate has crisp acdity with notes of black fruits and tar. Quite muscular and good persistency. This has medium/long-term potential. (20/25) "Robert Park rated it 91-94, Steve Tanzer 90-93 whilst others had it 88-91. Quite a wide range of scores from the experts 88-94. It will be interesting to try this 4th Growth - expected maturity 2009-2020 - as it was significantly less expensive than the other two 5th growths but rated just as well.I just love getting new wines and it is moderately disappointing/annoying to have to lay them down for a few years. Oh well, I will just have to by a few more guzzlers to make the time go faster.Has anyone tasted any of these yet?winewine tastingfood and drinkcabernet sauvignonBordeaux[...]

August is almost over. Time to celebrate? Thanks Tyrrells!!


I think I have mentioned somewhere, either in a post or a comment, that August is our biggest month of the year at the office. The audits (we don't do a lot of them - but they are painful and draining) are almost complete and the tax and consulting work is rolling in. (I only do audits because I can't stand the excitement of accounting and did not have the personality to become an undertaker.) It is a great month for our business and I love it - however I am still always glad when it is over. This year will be no exception. As usual, at the end of August, I feel I am almost hitting the E on the guage and am in dire need of rejuvenation.

Realising this, the better-half (God love her) arranged for a special dinner last night (Friday). We always try to have a nice dinner on Friday night that we can both look forward to. It certainly helps me to get through the week. We make sure the kids are in bed before we sit down to dinner, drink wine, talk and relax. This tempered somewhat on the weekends when I have to work Saturday but it still doen't stop me from looking forward to Friday nights.

Last night she prepared a mustard and lemon encrusted roast eye fillet with baked veggies. The meat was superb.

(image) What to drink with it?? I had no idea and didn't spend much time considering it but went to Shelf 3 of the Kitchener Wine Cabinet (Shelf 1 and 2 holds the really good stuff - Grange etc) and picked up the first bottle I layed my hands on - a 1997 Tyrrells Vat 9 Shiraz (Hunter Valley).

I had almost forgotten about these. I bought 6 some years ago and still hadn't touched them. I thought it would be a good test to see how they were going, erspecially as the label says the wine will develop further in the bottle until about 2007.

There was a strong eucalyptus (?), mint(?),earthy, spicy nose to the wine. It was a medium red in colour and the palate was tightly structured with firm tannins, balanced acid and a smooth, moderately long finish and exhibited spicy fruit. This wine is drinking beautifully! YUM!!

My overall rating was 90-92/100

Scoring the individual components we (I say 'we' because the better-half assisted with the review) came up with 18.5/20

Only 5 bottles left and - only five days left in August???? Naaah! Don't even think it!

Vale Len Evans OBE (1931-2006)


I did not know Len Evans personally but I have heard him speak and I have certainly read a lot of stuff he has written. Even though I did not know him I feel a sense of loss at his passing yesterday. Some called him the Godfather of the Australian Wine Industry.I don't know enough about him so I have copied the following piece about Len from the Winepros site - he will be sorely missed in Australia and, I am sure, around the world.Len Evans was awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1982 for his services to the wine industry and charity, and the AO (Order of Australia) in 1999 for his continued work in those fields.He was the first regular wine columnist in Australia (1962), wrote the first major encyclopedia of Australian Wine (1973) was the founding director of The Australian Wine Bureau. (1965)Since 1982 he has been President of The Australian Wine Foundation, (1990-1996) Chairman of Wine Australia '96, has continued to write, lecture and broadcast on numerous occasions and has been a leader in the export drive. During the '80s he was the first Australian to be asked to address the biggest event of its kind in the world, the Wine Spectator Wine Experience in New York. This led to two further invitations, which further led to being made Master of Ceremonies for the event a role he has continued to fill. He is the only non-American to be part of the annual personnel of the event. He has also been prominent in other countries, most notably the U.K, where, as in the U.S.A, he has represented Australia rather than his own companies.He has been a member of the Qantas selection panel for 35 years and Chairman of it for 30. Having judged all major wine shows in Australia before 1982, (acting as Chairman of R.A.S Sydney since 1977) Evans went on to become Chairman of the National Wine Show in Canberra (1982-90), Chairman of Adelaide (1987-90) the Hunter Wine Show (1994 - ) and remaining Chairman of Sydney. During this time the Australian Show system became the envy of wine industries of the world. Above all else, he has been instrumental in helping lift the standard of wine show judging to its present pre-eminence in the world.Evans was Chairman of Rothbury Wines since its foundation in 1969, and Petaluma since 1978. He remained Chairman of Petaluma until 1992, during which time it went from a 500 case company to one making 80,000 cases, establishing a worldwide reputation. He was Chairman of Rothbury Wines till 1996, which went from a 10,000 case company in 1972 to one of 650,000 cases in 1996, employing over 200 persons.He has been Chairman of Evans Wine Company since 1996, Evans Family Wines from 1980 and Tower Estate since its conception in 1998.Since 1957 Evans has supported fund-raising drives for charity on hundreds of occasions. Typically, in 1987 he accepted an invitation to help a function founded by Australian Associated Press (AAP) to raise money for the St Vincent's Leukaemia Unit. This led to a further call in 1988 and from that date he became involved on an annual basis. In 1993, it was renamed the "AAP Len Evans Financial Markets Day" after raising $1,000,000 in 1992. The event has raised $10,000,000 in 14 years, and many charities, including the original, have benefited greatly. Evans has personally organised many of the events, lots, cellars and collections which have become a feature of the annual auction which he conducts, as well as donating the wine for the sponsor's lunch and the actual event.1969 Epicurean Award for services to the Wine & Food Industry. 1982 Charles Heidseick Award for Wine Writing1986 Personalitee de l'Annee, Paris (Oenology section - Gastronomy)1992 RAS Sydney Medal for Outstanding Contribution 1993 Chevalier de l'Ordre Me[...]

Penfold's Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1998


I apologise for the tardiness of my posting. In my office at least August is traditionally our biggest month of the year and it has been hard to find time to do anything but work. A few coincidences have given me the time to write this short piece.

Firstly, after the biggest week in our office's history I came down with a bad headcold. Secondly, a good friend decided to have his wedding on a Tuesday (yesterday) at a small mountain hideaway. Thirdly, today is a public holiday in Brisbane and if I hadn't been (1) recovering from the cold and (2) recovering from a huge day and night yesterday, I would have gone into the office today to catch up on some work.

The wedding we went to was a magical event. The ceremony was held on a rotunda that was out in the middle of a small mountain lake. Just a beautiful setting. This was followed by High Tea (consisting of tea, coffee, cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches) whilst the happy couple had their photographs taken. To entertain the guests during this period a magician came around and performed at the various tables scattered on the verandah of this Tudor styled manor in the mountains. There was also an artist whose job it was to caricature every guest on the one big sheet of paper to present framed to the bride and groom.

The dinner, held in the dining room, of what was a very English style pub, was a great event. We were entertained throughout the meal by 3 actors playing Manuel, Basil Fawlty and Sybil Fawlty (of Fawlty Towers fame - that John Cleese made famous). They served dinner, in character, and had everyone in stitches. The food was wonderful served with 3 good wines. A 1996 Grosset Chardonnay, 1998 Petaluma Chardonnay and a 1997 Penfold's Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz.

But I digress - on to the wine review. The better half and I drank the 1998 Penfold's Bin 389 on 30 July 2006 and I can't recall the occasion and why I chose this wine. However I suspect that it had something to do with tasting the 1998 Bin 407 and wanting to see how the 389's were going.

The wine had BIG berry and blackfruit aromas (maybe even blackcurrents). I was still very dark, dark red with maybe a touch of purple (but I might have been wishing that into the wine but the lighting is not the best in our dining room at home and I remember doing the tasting notes there).

There is no mistaking that this wine is full bodied with big berry taste, plenty of tannins and good acid. It is smooth but powerful and obviously will last another 6-10 years. I hope I am right on this as I still have around 14 bottles left.

I loved this wine but interestingly it doesn't seem to scream 'Barossa', or any other place for that matter. This is something I am only starting to become aware, of in a limited way, recently.

On an overall rating I gave it 93-96/100

and scoring the individual attributes


Yarra Yarra Dinner - Restaurant II (Brisbane)


As mentioned in an earlier post, the better half and I ventured out (with wine-buddy and lawyer extraordinaire Lynton and his beautiful wife Lisa) to the remarkable Restaurant II in Brisbane to an event put on by Yarra Yarra Vineyards and in conjunction with The Wine Emporium.What a spectacular wine-filled evening!! It was hosted by wine maker and owner of Yarra Yarra, Mr Ian MacLean (pictured below) who was celebrating his classification by Langton's. We were extremely fortunate to be seated at the head table and enjoyed the company of Ian for the evening.Pre-dinner we tasted the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillons of 1999 and 2003 with small leek and goat's cheese tartlets.The main event was the vertical tasting of 10 vintages of The Yarra Yarra Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from 1993 to 2003. The numerically astute amongst you will realise that this is 11 vintages, however there was no 1996 made as the vintage was too wet to allow a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon to be made.What a great test of a wine and a wine maker! 10 consecutive vintages all tasted at the same time.The first 'flight' consisted of the 1993, 1994 and 1995 vintages tasted with pan-seared scallops and a seaweed risotto. Ian maintained his favourite was the 1993 but I have to say the 1995 was drinking particularly well and was my pick of the three. The amazing thing was that all three still had plenty of good strong acid (in balance) and there was definitely some time left in the wines. All three, but particularly the 1993, were reasonably tightly structured and very elegant. I started to score the wines on the 20 point scale and 100 point scale but was too slow and was missing most of the conversation so gave it away after 1993 (didn't even finish that one properly). But I did manage to jot down my some impressions and overall scores on the first three wines, incidentally matching their years.1993 = 90-93/100 (fresh young leather aroma, maybe a bit herbacious? tannins very gentle but I was unsure of how tight and narrow the flavours seemed - maybe it is this wine has better structure than most I am used to)1994 = 94/100 (good acid - the better half's pick of the three)1995 = 95/100 (tannins still noticeably present but gentle)The second flight of wines were the 1997, 1998 and 1999 which we had with veal fillet on a polenta base and with porcini mushrooms. Now we were talking some really serious wines with some improvement left in them. My pick for drinking well now was the 1997. Ian said the 1997 tended to polarise people - Halliday loved it but Jeremy Oliver didn't. He said he thought that of the three it had the least amount of time left. Ian's pick was the 1998, which was an elegant but powerful wine. I though it definitely had the greatest potential for longevity and improvement of the three. (On memory alone I would rate the 1997 at 96/100 and the 1998 at 97/100)The last flight of wines was the 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. Amazing! The 2000 was sensational, luscious and elegant - a 97/100 or maybe even a 98. We had the wines with lightly seared wagyu beef, carrot, parsnip and baby onions. The 2001 had an amazing intensity of flavour - more so than any of the other wines. When I said this Ian told me that the 2001 vintage was the hotest on record for them and the grapes that resulted where absolutely tiny - about the size of currents (but not shrivelled). He told me that the 2001 had rated all over the place and he felt it was generally misunderstood and that all it needed was a good deal more bottle age. I honestly cannot recall the 2002 that well (because we also had some of his 2000 merlot in there somewhere) and all I remember about the 2003 was the same fin[...]

Penfold's Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 1998


(image) This wine has 13.5% alcohol and is made from grapes from a variety of regions. It is dark red with noticeable legs. There was a slight sediment. The nose exuded strong blackcurrents and burnt toast. The better-half said she could smell toast and vegemite.

The flavours were still big and full bodied and there were plenty of tannins to go around. I wonder if the tannins at the end were bigger than the flavour.

This wine will last another 6-8 years and it will be interesting to see if the flavours develop, or whether it is just a case of the tannins softening, over time. I hope it is the former as I still have 11 left.

I gave it an overall rating of 90-94/100

When I rated the wine on its individual characteristics, I came up with
18 - 18.5/20

I apologise for the range thing happening but, as I have said before, it is a confidence thing. Because I usually taste alone I sometimes seem to talk myself into and out of various notes. Did this happen to any of you at the beginning??

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Reserve Syrah 2004


(image) I bought a case of this on the strength of GW's recent tasting notes . Despite what GW had written, I saw his high score and saw Shiraz and I think subliminally I expected something totally different to what I got. On drinking I was not dissapointed, in fact I was blown away! Even though I had read the tasting notes a few times I was still surprised.

I prepared a joint from a rib roast, seasoned in salt, pepper, garlic and chopped thyme - pan seared for 3 minutes on each side and placed into 250C oven for 15 minutes (sorry no photos).

I made a simple mash potato (no milk or butter) by mashing with a fork with some added parmesan cheese and two raw eggs (they cook in the hot potato). This becomes a very creamy potato - yum!!!

I then used the pan the meat was seared in to fry some garlic and mushrooms, which were then removed. Turn the heat way down and add some butter to the pan and when melted, gradually and carefully add 2-3 tablespoons of plain flour (one at a time and mix carefully with a roux spoon so mixture doesn't become gluggy). Then add stock, a little at a time and mix vigorously so that mixture does not become gluggy. When mixture is good gravy thickness add mushroom and garlic and juices back in with a dash of red wine.

The wine has 14% alcohol, but you do not notice. I found a floral nose with earthy undertones and maybe a hint of butter (is this oak as there was no evidence of butter on the palate??) and even the slightest hint of fresh cigar smell. It is medium to full bodied with the same earthy undertones on the palate, with blackfruits. The was great intensity of flavour and good length. The finish is superb with gentle tannins. Don't expect the gob smacking big fruit flavours and huge tannins of some of the better known shiraz. Put simply this wine has a real elegance to it - I love it.

I know my tasting notes are totally different to GW's, in fact you would think they are different wines, however I can only write it the way I see it (or smell it). If there has been an error made by either one of us, I think you can safely assume it will be mine!!

I gave this wine on an overall score of


and when I rated each of the components I came up with


The reason for the range on the component rating is because I vacillated between 2.5 and 3 (out of 3) for palate - intensity.

Yarra Yarra Dinner


A comment by Murray to my last post (and my subsequent whine) made me remember that next Friday I have something really great to look forward to.

Ian Maclean, Yarra Yarra winemaker, is hosting a dinner at Restaurant II in Brisbane to celebrate his top wine 'The Yarra Yarra' making the prestigeous Langton's classification. There will be a vertical tasting of 10 vintages 1993 - 2003 (none was made in 1996).

I am really looking forward to the evening as we have rustled up a table of 8 friends. Those that remember my wine buddy Lynton from earlier posts (the guy with laurel wreath stuck on his melon) will be pleased to know that he is also going. Our wives and two other couples will fill the table.

I saw an email Ian Maclean sent Lynton in which he said he was bringing a Magnum of Yarra Yarra surprise wine. Don't you just love surprises! If I remember, and if I am allowed to, I will attempt to take photographs. BTW the dinner is being organised in conjunction with The Wine Emporium via Stewart Plant.

The thought of this evening will help me to sail through next week - no probs.

Seppelt Victoria Shiraz 2003 (Great Western)


Another of my favourite mid-week guzzlers! It cost around $11-$12 and contains 13.5% alcohol.

There were aromas of spicy plums and other fruits. It was red, a little darker than a medium red. It was medium to full bodied. The palate showed a rich plum and fruit with moderate length.

I rated it on an overall basis at 85-88/100

and when I scored the components came up with

17/20 (again)

I think a lot of the good value guzzlers (ie under $20) are going to be in the 85-92 range. These are my everyday drinking wines and I save the better ones for the weekends and the really good ones for special occasions.

Live well and drink well!

Evans & Tate Shiraz 2001 (Margaret River)


I bought one of the Evans & Tate Margaret River Shiraz 2001 some time ago and went back the next day and bought 2 dozen. I think I paid around $12-14 per bottle. Whilst I enjoy the wine I wish I had curtailed my enthusiasm slightly.

This is a yummy wine (how's that for subjectivity) with berry, dark cherry, pepper and hint of licorice on nose and maybe a touch of mulberry (I ate tonnes of these growing up) on the palate as an aftertaste.

The intensity seems to grow (after swallowing) for a few seconds (I really love it when a wine does that)! It is a medium to full bodied wine with a moderate to long finish accentuated (how do you like that word - we ARE getting flash now) smooth, gentle tannins.

Do you get the idea that I liked this wine???

It is 13.5% alcohol and I rated it an an overall basis at


and per the components

18/20 (maybe worthy of 18.5 but I don't want to blow my high scores just yet.)

Would I buy it again?? Don't need to - still got a heap left!

Hardy's Tintara Cellars Shiraz 2000 (McLaren Vale)


On Friday night's I look forward to coming home from the office and selecting a decent wine to have with dinner.

Last Friday I turned up a
Hardy's Tintara Shiraz 2000 (McLaren Vale). The label suggests it should be best drinking in 2006. The label says 14% alcohol.

The wine was a medium red and clearly ageing toward a bricky (sic) colour. It exhibited fruit aromas that were not quite berries and not quite plums with some pepper or spice. There was also a hint of burnt toast (?). The wine was medium bodied with good fruit flavours and a gentle finish and drinking well, but with probably not a lot of time to go. Length of flavour was moderate. Very enjoyable I rated it on an overall basis at:


and rated the components:


I was really concerned with my scores as it seem the last few wines have been really close in their scores and I was wondering if I was kidding myself. I didn't post the note over the weekend because I thought maybe I was wrong and should wait a week or so and try it again. That, and the fact that I have had a huge weekend with the boys and a big night Saturday at a surprise 40th for one of my friends.

I have just had a few minutes to myself and I picked up Halliday's 2006 Wine Companion and found this note:

"Tintara Cellars Shiraz 2000 - light to medium bodied; black fruits, leather and spice. Rating 87 Drink 2010"

I am feeling much better. I have either got it right or have fluked another one - either way I am feeling better. The best part is that it was not just the score that was similar but the fact that I was having trouble trying to identify any specific fruit and Halliday just says black fruits.

I really have learned something from this, as my original handwritten notes from Friday night show under "Nose" the words 'berries' and 'plums' crossed out. This is because I initially wrote berries when there was a strong fruit aroma. I knew the wine was from McLaren Vale and I thought 'it must be berries'. In other words, I was influenced by my perception of the region and past tastings of shiraz from McLaren Vale. I crossed it out because on second smell I realised that I could not just say it was berries when I couldn't really identify the aroma. I was most pleased when I saw Halliday's note saying 'black fruits' which I take as him not being able to identify any particular fruit aroma.

Obi-wan (if this is how you spell it - I have never had to write it before), the tasting helmet exercises are starting to pay off - thanks!

Wine with Phil


My older brother, Phil, was up from Canberra for a few days last week. On Thursday some of the family came over and we had roast dinner. We had eye fillet roasted in a base of onions and in a sauce of shiraz and soy sauce.

With it we had

Taylor's Shiraz 2004 (Clare Valley)
We started with the Taylor's and it certainly had a varietal and regional nose. It was a dark red and somewhat aromatic with spicy plums on the nose and another pleasing note that I just could not describe (it was just out of my grasp - sorry). The palate was commensurate with the nose and had a certain richness to it and fine tannins.

I forgot to give it an overall score out of 100 (because the family was gabbing about different things) and felt I couldn't give an honest overall score after I had scored the individual parts, so no score out of 100 (please don't take me to see Jabba). Scoring the components (I took myself off to a quite corner) I scored it 17.5/20. Phil thought I was being a bit miserly seeing as how the bottle carried 4 silver medals!

(image) Chateau d'Armailhac 2002 (Bordeaux) - 12.5% alcohol
I found the wine to be dark red with berries, maybe a touch of soy sauce and some vegetals on the nose. I also found the nose to be somewhat closed. The wine was well structured and finely balanced with a moderately rich palate and quite dry on the finish. I must say I was a little disappointed - but this might be because I was so looking forward to the wine.

I originally gave it an overall rating of 86-88/100 and when I scored the individual components I came up with 17.5/20

The Wine Journal said
"At en primeur in Apr-03: the nose is muted: some dull earthy notes. Like Le Petit Mouton: very tannic but with a little more complexity. Black tarry fruits and cigar box notes. Quite dry on the finish. Again a little charmless. (18/25) Then after bottling at the UGC in Oct-04. A very sweet blackcherry nose with scents of iodine and Morello cherry. The palate has a svelte texture, certainly softened in the interim with moderate concentration. Blueberry, cranberry and tar. Quite linear on the finish but otherwise this is a fine sensuous Pauillac to consume over ten years. (19/25) Tasted again in May-05. A soft, supple nose that lacks a bit of character. The nose is very plush and toasty, overtly modern with a velvety sheen. No rough edges here. Fine, it lacking typicity or a sense of terroir. (19/25)"



Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away ……………there was a band of Jedi that came upon the “Knights Who Say ‘NI’” (forget mixed metaphors – I am mixing my movies). The Jedi were a peace loving group that wanted order in the cosmos whilst all the Knights Who Say ‘Ni’ wanted was ….. a shrubbery!!! (hope you all like Monty Python – but I can’t go any further with the mix because I am already lost).Thanks to all who contributed to the discussion that took place when I posed the simple questions – Why a Wine Scoring System? And Which One? The response was amazing! Being just an amateur wine enthusiast I was totally unaware, not only of the variety of systems of scoring but also, of the depth of feeling in relation to various systems. I feel I have benefited greatly from the discussion and the different points of view.I did not pose the original questions on a whim. It was very much a considered response to where I am at with my tasting and enjoyment of wine. I think I covered my reasons sufficiently in the original post so I won’t go over them again but, I will attempt to summarise the points raised by various people in the discussion and attempt to address them all in stating how I am going to approach giving any wine a score.NUMERICAL & NON-NUMERICAL SYSTEMSIt appears there are really only two streams of scoring systems – numerical and non-numerical. I would include any scale of one star (glass etc), two stars (glasses etc) as numerical scales. Non-numerical scales would include word descriptor scales (such as “Cat piss” through to “Ultimate”) or pictorial scales such as Wine Girl’s various faces. Non-numerical systems attempt to rate a wine on an overall basis whilst numerical system users are broken into those who attempt to give an overall score and, those who attempt to score the individual attributes of a wine to come up with a total score.Most disagreement in the discussion began around the value of numerical versus non-numerical scoring systems and ultimately refined to being about the objectivity or subjectivity of a system and thus its corresponding value to others who may read and/or use the score.OBJECTIVITY & SUBJECTIVITYProponents of non-numerical scoring systems appear to believe that as subjectivity is inherent in all tasting, attempting to be objective can be misleading and shouldn’t be attempted. Proponents of numerical systems appear to believe that despite there being subjectivity in scoring (whether or not an attempt is made to be objective), a numerical score is not only the most widely used standard but that there is really no difference (except possibly in immediate understandability) between a numerical and a non-numerical system, as they both rate wines along a gradient – the only real difference being the blurring or ‘rubberiness’ of the edges of each category in a non-numerical system which isn’t really available if you give a single numerical score.I can see a real honesty and intelligence in Torb’s argument that he accepts wine scoring has a subjective element to it (and in cases may even dominate) and therefore he only, and openly, provides a purely subjective non-numerical score to wines. Because he knows more about wine than many people (myself included) his subjective score is a very good indication of how good a wine is.The real problem for non-numerical systems (as I see it) comes if and when someone wants to [...]

Brown Brothers Tempranillo 2003


Brown Brothers Tempranillo 2003 (Victoria) The better-half (oh, how I pine for the days when I could refer to her as the 'leader of the opposition' and get away with it - those days ended when one of you blabbed and told my darling wife about my blog) prepared a sensational roast chicken meal this evening. (I will get back to giving recipes and showing photos in the near future).I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to road-test the Brown Brothers Tempranillo 2003. Again, this is a variety of which I know little and have tasted less than that. The bottle says to drink within 3-5 years of the vintage date and that it was good with roast chicken, so it got the call up. This was one of the wines from the Wine Society which I promised to review.I found the Tempranillo to be surprising. My first impressions were of a slightly darker than ruby red wine that was simple and not very aromatic and with no complexity. However, after about 30 minutes the wine opened slightly to one that was somewhat aromatic and smelled of berries and maybe a hint of black pepper, which would indicate a touch of richness. It was not a particularly complex wine but not as simple as I originally thought. It was well balanced and had soft tannins.At the risk of inflaming the debate that still continues in my post of 7 July (about wine scoring systems - some are debating the masses and you could say they were good mass debators - an old pun but still a goodie), I tried to evaluate this wine in two ways. Firstly I tried to provide an overall 100 point score without assessing the various components of the wine and I came up with80-85/100which on the Robert Parker scale is somewhere between barely above average (80) to half-way between above average and very good (85).I then used the Wine Values Card (at item 4) in the article by Brian Jefferies on Torb's site to score all the individual attributes and came up with:Appearance (2 + 1) = 3Nose (2 + 3) = 5Palate (1.5 + 2 + 3 + 1.5) = 8TOTAL 16/20which on the Jancis Robinson scale is 'just above average but distinguished'These two scores - one by my general impressions of the wine after taking into account aromas, taste, balance, appearance, length etc - and the other by scoring the individual characteristics have landed me in almost the same position. Mind you, one swallow (geddit?) does not make a summer, and this could have been pure luck - especially when you consider that I am not an expert on wine, I have no real experience with Tempranillo etc - however I don't think so.Most importantly - did I like the wine? - Yes I did (I wouldn't kick it out of bed ...)! Would I buy it again? - purely depends on the price. (Many thanks to Catherine Hill from Brown Brothers for the photo and the kind permisson to use it)winewine tastingfood and drinktempranillo[...]