A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 636: Great Aussie Tasting

Wine Australia for Australian Wine Winter Trade Tasting brochure on tasting glasses

Sunday, February 5th: Dinner at Guy and Sasha’s. Coq au vin. Brought over two Ontario wines I had to review:

  • Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2016 ($14.95): bright straw colour; leesy, spicy nose with a light floral note; medium to full-bodied, dry, richly extracted peachy-melon flavours with lively acidity with an almond note on the finish. (89)
  • Kacaba Vineyards & Winery Cabernet 2015 (90% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon – $15.95): deep ruby colour; a plum and blackcurrant bouquet with a light vanilla oak note; medium-bodied, dry and savoury red and blackcurrant with plum flavours. Lively acidity.(88)

Monday, February 6th: A meeting with Tony Garcia at George Brown College to discuss a Grapes for Humanity a fund-raiser there. Worked on an article for Decanter magazine called “My Toronto.” For dinner, with roast chicken, C’est La Vie Pinot Noir Syrah 2015 (South of France – $12.95): deep ruby colour, earthy, cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, plum and cherry flavours with a light floral note and firm tannins. (85)

Tuesday, February 7th: Down to Verity on Queen Street East for Wine Australia’s Winter Trade Tasting, conducted by Mark Davidson

  • Grosset Polish Hill Clare Valley Riesling 2016 ($49.95): pale straw colour; minerally, petrol, lime and grapefruit bouquet; light to medium-bodied, crisply dry grapefruit flavour; very elegant with great length. (91)
  • Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Semillon 2012 ($55.95): very pale in colour; minerally, quince nose with a waxy note; medium-bodied dry, green peach and quince flavours. Will age magnificently. (90–92)
  • Tahbilk Goulburn Valley Marsanne 2010 ($18.95): bright straw colour; minerally, oily, white pepper, pear nose with a toasty note; full-bodied, dry, Asian pear flavour with lively acidity. (92)
  • Bindi “Quartz” Macedon Ranges Chardonnay 2005 ($121.23): pale straw colour; earthy, spicy, apple nose; medium to full-bodied, rich, clove, apple and toast flavours with oak predominating at the moment but with a year or two in bottle it should integrate well. (91)
  • Vasse Felix “Heytesbury” Margaret River Chardonnay 2015 ($69.95): very pale in colour; grassy, grapefruit with green herbs on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, grapefruit flavour with a note of lychees and greengage. Very elegant. (91)
  • By Farr Farrside Pinot Noir 2013 ($78.00): Mature ruby colour; minerally, spicy plum with dusty, oak notes on the nose; Burgundian-style, sweet middle palate with minty, black cherry and black raspberry flavours; firmly structured. (90)
  • Ochoto Barrels “Sense of Compression” Adelaide Hills Grenache 2016 ($86.95): pale ruby in colour; red apple and raspberry nose; medium-bodied, rich and full on the palate with lively acidity. savoury and richly extracted; finishes firmly with great length. (91)
  • Yangarra Old Bush Vine McLaren Vale Grenache 2013 ($39.95): deep ruby colour; spicy, black plum nose with an earthy note; full-bodied, dry, savoury raspberry and cherry flavours; firmly structured with grainy tannins. (89.5)
  • Brash Higgins McLaren Vale Grenache Mataro 2016 ($39.95): deep ruby colour; savoury-medicinal, herbal nose of blackberries; full-bodied, richly extracted with a sweet mid-palate of black fruits finishing firmly on a herbal note with lively acidity. (89)
  • Alpha Box and Dice “Dead Winemakers’ Society” McLaren Vale Dolcetto 2015 ($20): deep ruby colour; spicy, cherry nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, cherry flavour with a floral note; elegant, firm with grainy tannins. (90)
  • Cullen “Diana Madeline” Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 2010 (n/a): deep ruby colour; sandalwood and spicy plum nose with a floral grace note; medium-bodied, lean and sinewy blackcurrant flavour; elegant and firm (reminiscent of a St. Estephe). (92)
  • Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Syrah 2012 (n/a): deep ruby colour; savoury-herbal nose of blackberries; St. Joseph in style, firmly structured, full-bodied, high-toned and elegant. (92)
  • Rockford “Basket Press” Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008 ($94.95) dense ruby colour; vanilla oak, blackberry and blackcurrant nose; full-bodied, rich and intense, full in the mouth with dry, herbal succulent blackberry flavours and a great tannic structure. (91)
  • Yalumba “The Octavius” Barossa/Eden Shiraz 2012 ($129.95): deep purple-ruby colour; cedary, blackberry, herbal nose; full-bodied, dry, savoury-herbal blackberry flavour with lively acidity. Brilliant wine. (94)

Altogether a great tasting showing how far Australia has come from over-oaked and over-extracted wines.

Then over to the LCBO lab to finish tasting the February 18th Vintages release.

Wednesday, February 8th: Down to the Acadian Loft for a seminar on British Columbia wines conducted by David Lawrason.

BC VQA banner

  • Summerhill Cipes Blanc de Noir Pinot Noir ($32): Pale straw colour; minerally, apple and peach nose; medium-bodied, dry, elegant and well-balanced with a honeyed note. (89)
  • St. Hubertus Riesling 2014 ($17.95): pale straw in colour; struck flint and grapefruit zest on the nose; light to medium-bodied, off-dry, grapefruit and honey flavours with vibrant acidity. (87.5)
  • Dirty Laundry Woo Woo Gewurztraminer 2015 ($19.99): almost water white in colour; lychee and rose water nose; dry, medium-bodied, good varietal character; light and easy drinking with good acidity and good length. (88.5)
  • Poplar Grove Pinot Gris 2015 ($23.95): very pale in colour; minerally, peach nose; medium-bodied, dry, with a rush of sweet fruit in mid palate. (88)
  • Sperling Vineyards Chardonnay “Vision” 2015 ($32): light straw colour; spicy, oaky, apple nose; medium to full-bodied, spicy, toasty, caramel and citrus flavours; good length with fresh acidity. Needs time for the oak to integrate. (88.5)
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Winery Five Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 ($17.95): ruby colour; minerally, cherry nose with a light spicy oak note; medium-bodied, dry, cherry flavour and a firm finish. (88)
  • Moraine Cliffhanger Red Malbec and Merlot 2014 ($24.95): deep ruby colour; rhubarb and blueberry nose with a touch of oak; medium-bodied, dry, fresh and lively cranberry and redcurrant flavours with light herbal notes and lively; fresh on the palate with firm finish. (89)
  • Poplar Grove Syrah 2013 ($44.95): Deep ruby-purple in colour; spicy, white pepper and creamy blackberry nose; medium-bodied, dry, blackberry with a floral note on the palate; oak-driven and firm. (88.5)
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Malbec 2014 ($44.25): dense purple colour; cedary, blackberry nose with a herbal note; medium-bodied, dry, cherry flavour with creamy oak and a spicy finish. (89)
  • Laughing Stock Portfolio Red Blend 2014 (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot – $54.95, Licensee price): dense purple colour; cedar, floral, plum nose with an oaky note; full-bodied, dry, richly extracted, good mouth-feel, firmly structured with a spicy finish. (92)

Then into another room for a walk-around table-top tasting. Best wine there was Poplar Grove The Legacy 2012 – a blend of 35% Cabernet Franc, 23% Malbec, 22% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. (92)

Poplar Grove The Legacy 2012

Dinner with Steve Pauwels and Cathy Martin at El Tenedor to discuss the May tour to Italy.

Thursday, February 9th: Worked on “My Toronto” article.

Friday, February 10th: A winerytohome tasting at Doug Towers’s with David Lawrason. Dinner with Guy, Sasha and baby Isla to celebrate Guy’s birthday at a pizzeria on Queen East. I ordered a bottle of AnticaVigna Valpolicella 2015. It was mildly corked but I didn’t have the heart to send it back and suffered in silence. Must be mellowing in my old age.

Saturday, February 11th: Drove up to Peterborough to conduct two back-to-back dinner tastings at The Lignum. A five-course meal matched with wines. Stayed the night in Peterborough in the local Best Western.

The Lignum dinner tasting menu


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