Fair crack of the whip! – A Tassie shiraz takes the Jimmy Watson Trophy!

Reviewed 10 wines on offer by Crystal Wines, Le Vigne, Rubicon Reserve Wines, The Cellar Door, Underground Wines, Wine Exchange Asia.

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Tasmanian wines have well and truly been hitting the news lately, with Waterton Vineyards 2009 Riesling taking out the International Riesling Challenge in Canberra and Pooley 2009 Butchers Pinot Noir taking out the National Cool Climate Challenge. Well you’d expect that of fine Tassie Rieslings and Pinots. But a Shiraz?

When I started Tiger Wines earlier this year, it was because I expected that Tasmania would benefit from global warming, but not this quick!

The Jimmy Watson winner for 2011 is the 2010 Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Pere Tasmania Shiraz.

Here’s what Mike Bennie from The Wine Front said:

“Wow. Does it get any more exciting and out there than this wine winning the Jimmy Watson trophy in 2011? Not only a first for Tasmania, but it’s a Tasmanian Shiraz! Hooley dooley! I was lucky enough to be a judge at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show this year and it was my bust-out favourite wine of the trophy winners – a clear best of show after the (excellent) chaff had been sorted. 2010 chardonnays were a revelation, there were some contenders in the 2009 shiraz classes and cabernet and cabernet blends were on the whole exceptionally high standard from younger vintages. But only one wine takes out the Jimmy….”

Yes, Tiger Wines is lined up like everyone else to get some. In the meantime, we’ll be offering some Spring Vale Freycinet Pinot Noir next week to help quench your thirst for a Tasmanian red. Watch http://www.tiger-wines.com to see when they land.

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One lone Aussie in the bunch today.

2009 / Greywacke / Wild / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$46.40 at Crystal Wines – This  is a ripper of a wine according to The Wine Front, who give it 95 points (“exceptional”) and is my second favourite here today. RRP of around NZ$31 so price here is good. Drinking to 2015 with alcohol of 13.2%. Oh, did I mention? It’s made by the former founding winemaker of Cloudy Bay, Kevin Judd. I think I’ll get some of this.

2010 / Greywacke / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$36.80 at Crystal Wines – Looks like the little brother to “Wild” which is bit odd when you think about it. It’s nearly up there, getting 4.5 stars from Epicure (“first class”) and a “recommended” from Decanter. Bob Campbell gives it 93 points and says it’s a “classy wine”.  So you’re on pretty safe ground then. And you know, at S$36.80 you’d have to think it’s a steal compared with you-know-what. I do, so I’m getting some.

2010 / Mount Brown / Waipara / Sauvignon Blanc / S$23.90 at Le Vigne – OK, so we take a fair step down in quality here, but we’re also getting close to the price limit that any drinkable wine can go to. Remember that with that $7 tax, “two buck chuck” hits Singapore at around this price point. Look, I’m not going to tell you that this is the best wine this side of the black stump, but I can tell you that Bob Campbell said “if you like the assertive acidity (I do) the wine offers good value at this price.” That price in New Zealand is NZ$14 so the comparative price here is terrific. Just don’t expect Cloudy Bay (or Greywacke)

2010 / Wither Hills / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$35.50 at The Cellar Door – Are we done with the sauvignon blancs yet? Apparently not. This one’s not bursting with high ratings either. Wine Spectator in the US gave it 87 points (“very good’) and Bob Campbell gives it 82 (“average to good”). He felt a bit let down by this wine calling it “slightly too sweet”. No doubting the value, it’s just that on this day, it’s outclassed. Sort of like Australian horses in the Melbourne Cup.

2007 / Aunstfield / Heritage / Marlborough / Pinot Noir / S$91 at Rubicon Reserve Wines – Wow. Right at the high end of pricing for a Kiwi pinot. But Michael Cooper’s pretty happy with it giving it 4.5 stars (“excellent”) and says it’ll go to 2021. “Built for cellaring” he says. With a RRP of NZ$75, it’s right where the BBI would expect it to be at S$91.

2008 / Zema Estate / Coonawarra / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$40, S$37 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – An Aussie at last. Yeh, bit of a difference of opinion on this one. James Halliday has no qualms giving it 94 points but Mike Bennie from The Wine Front is more reserved giving it 89. He puts it down to the difficult 2008 vintage, but to give Zema a fair go, he reckons “raise your glass to the vagaries of the harvest – the wine still shows good form at the price (A$28)” And, that good form (another racing term?) carries on here too. Drinking to 2020+ ish.

The BBI call for this week is the Greywacke Sauvignon by half a length to the Greywacke Wild Sauvignon, with a short half-head to the Zema cabernet.

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WINESPEAK 101 – Waffle with the best of them. Today’s word is PUNGENT

“Vibrant purple wine with pungent green olive nose with a big hit of pepper.” – Pepper and purple give it away. It’s a Shiraz

“Distinct pungent aromas and excellent flavour length on a very sweet, slightly oily, palate.”  – Doesn’t sound very attractive does it? Anyway, they’re talking about a Chenin Blanc

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THE CONTINUING HISTORY LESSON……..

Struth! Did the French really start the Australian wine industry? Let’s find out:

“Meanwhile [in 1800-1801] the two French prisoners of war arrived. Great expectations were held for their efforts. They planted one vineyard with 7,000 cuttings but the vines could not withstand our climate and they died. The Governor gave them more land and more vines. They planted 12,000 cuttings on the side of a hill at Parramatta. The first vineyard was at The Crescent, just beyond the old Government House, Parramatta. Governor King became enthusiastic. In 1803 he wrote home; ‘Upwards of 10,000 vines are in very fine condition and it is intended to make a very large vineyard at Castle Hill.’ Next year most of the vines got the blight and died. The wine made from the grapes of the other vines seems mostly to have been drunk by the French prisoners of war. Which certainly was a just return for their labour. They were so often either drunk or sleeping off the effects that King lost his patience: in 1804 he wrote that the damned Frenchmen knew little of wine making and what wine they made, they drank; one he was sending back to England immediately. Whether the other kept up his drinking habits history does not relate.”  – The Aesthetics of Wine, March 1946

Phew!

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Wine quotations

"A good bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur

“The unexacting palates of the masses…are content to ask no question [on origin] so long as a florin or half-a-crown will purchase a roomy flagon of strong , full-bodied, fruity wine” – CE Hawker writing in 1907

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