WILLUNGA 100 MCLAREN VALE SHIRAZ/VIOGNIER 2007

Viognier Grapes

Willunga 100 is in McLaren Vale, south of Adelaide. The grapes come from a range of selected vineyards in McLaren Vale and Adelaide, including some over 50 years old. Winemaker Stephen Pannell uses modern equipment alongside traditional winemaking techniques, including open-top fermenters, to ferment small parcels of fruit as they arrive at the winery.

Vineyards: The sandy soils provide lifted aromatics to the wines, while darker soils including “Terra Rossa” types contribute to the rich, bold tannins. The vineyards are carefully managed, with only the best parcels of fruit going towards the production of Willunga 100.

Vinification: Parcels of Shiraz were harvested in March with the Viognier ripening slightly later. This allowed for the full ripening of the Viognier which ensured quality integration with the Shiraz. The two grape types were fermented together in open-fermenters where it was plunged and pumped over at least twice daily. Following fermentation, the wine was matured in French and American oak.

Tasting Notes: The 2007 vintage is deep ruby in colour with purple hues. Very upfront on the nose, with a touch of peachiness from the Viognier and buckets of juicy, bramble fruit from the Shiraz, along with spicy notes and underlying vanilla. This is a well structured wine, with smooth, ripe tannins, great depth and a lingering finish.

€14.99.

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ALTOS LAS HORMIGAS MENDOZA MALBEC 2009

PRODUCER: Alberto Antonio and his Tuscan friend, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The vineyards and winery are situated in Lujan de Cuyo, one of Mendoza’s premier vine growing areas. The estate covers 216 hectares, of which 40 were planted between 1996 and 1999. Altos Las Hormigas are known as Malbec specialists with a reputation as one of the countries top five producers of this variety, a fact which was recognised by the recent Decanter Gold medal for the Reserva 2007.

VINTAGE INFORMATION: A mild Winter was followed by a very dry Spring with average temperatures. Summer was very hot and dry, giving a powerful character to the vintage. Irrigation management was crucial to extend the ripening process and ensure good quality of grapes. The grapes were picked in late March/early April.

VINIFICATION: Grapes from different vineyards were vinified separately before the final blend. After de-stemming and crushing, fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel at 28C. During the 15 day fermentation-maceration process the must was pumped over and punched down for optimal extraction of ripe tannins and good colour. A brief period of oak treatment was carried out to emphasise the natural spiciness of the variety. The wine was bottled without fining or filtration and was released after three months in bottle.

TASTING NOTE: Deep purple-red in colour with a youthful rim. On the nose it has aromas of smoky cherries and a hint of violets with a touch of spice. Powerful and generous, it has a lovely structure, with smooth, ripe tannins, chunky autumnal fruit characters and a long finish.

€14.99

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Whisky of the Month

Glenmorangie 10yr Old, Single Malt

On the nose sherry notes with strong fruit aromas – melons, red apples. Dry, with herbal, bracken aromas. Sweet palate, winey with oak and hop flavours. Some heather blossom (honey) elements.

Usual price €45….now €39.99

Dr

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Is This The Ultimate Chaser?

For their whisky, Highland Park slowly malts its barley on the stone floor, turning it by hand for a more balanced flavour. Following this, it is smoked over local hand-cut peat from Hobbister Moor to bring a unique fragrant heather character to the whisky. Then it is placed in sherry oak casks from Spain, which impart a natural colour and flavour, and left to age for 12 years.

Tasting Note: A glowing amber colour. On the nose a heather honey sweetness and peaty smokiness followed by some fruit notes – pineapple/apple/pear. On the palate a rounded, smoky sweetness and a full malt flavour, leaving a gentle smoky feeling with a long, lingering finish.

“The greatest all-rounder in the world of Malt Whisky” – Michael Jackson, Malt Whisky Companion.

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Ola Dubh Reserve 12 (8%abv)

This Scottish beer is brewed using Highland Park  12yr Old single malt Scotch whisky casks to give a balanced, smooth and subtly smoky drink.

Tasting Note: A dark beer with a tan-coloured, espresso-like head and appetizing toasted cereal aromas. On the palate, dried fruit tart with orange oil, a suggestion of vanilla, some cocoa and hints of peat.

Surely this connection makes for the ultimate whisky/beer chaser!!

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Not Just Another “Cheap” Prosecco

I hear you already – all cheap Prosecco is awful! Firstly let’s refrain from the word cheap – inexpensive sounds so much nicer. Secondly, I would have agreed with you, but there always seems to be that one exception.

So here goes – an inexpensive Prosecco that really delivers – and don’t just take my word for it!

* Robert Parker (The Wine Advocate) has awarded this wine 90 points

* Best Prosecco of the year – Il Mio Vino 2010

* International Wine & Spirit Competition 2010 – silver medal

* International Wine Challenge 2010 – commended

– and the wine – Riondo Prosecco Frizzante Spago – a pale lemon colour with fine persistent bubbles. Fresh crisp aromas with some floral notes. It has a very attractive off-dry palate with a good balance between the ripe fruit and crisp acidity. A great sparkler for the fast approaching festive season or any occasion – and whisper the price – €7.99)!!

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Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir

The Process – grapes are harvested by hand and after careful selection the bunches are destemmed with care taken not to crush the berries. The fruit is then placed in open top tanks where it undergoes carbonic maceration at low temperatures. Later the grapes are foot trodden and colour extraction is enhanced by manual cap immersion. After fermentation is complete the wine is aged in new French oak barrels for 14 months approx.

Carbonic Maceration – in this process rather than crushing the grapes to start the fermentation, as is usual, the whole grapes are carefully placed in vat and covered by a layer of carbon dioxide. This stunts the yeasts and causes the grapes to start fermenting from within. This type of fermentation creates ethanol and various appealing aromas. Wines produced  using MC (also known as “whole grape fermentation”) are generally lower in tannins and acidity, lighter and more fruity.

The Wine – an elegant and voluptuous Pinot with a deep ruby red colour. A very complex nose showing leather with tobacco hints and undertones of bitter cherry and raspberry. On the palate the fruit comes to the fore – a mix of red berry fruits, strawberries, raspberries & cherries with smoky notes and a hint of eucalyptus. Great fruit extraction with a deliciously long and soft finish. This is very much a New World wine in an Old World style – at its best with food.

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Not To Be Trifled With!

Its such a shame that a wine with such diverse styles as Sherry can’t seem to capture the imagination of the wider public. From a crisp fino served as an aperitif or with tapas to a luscious dessert style Pedro Ximinez so good with blue cheese, why is it in this country it is most often encountered in a trifle.

Sherry often draws comparison with Champagne. Both are white wines produced from grapes grown in chalk soil, which gives them their distinctive characteristics. Both require very particular traditional treatment to produce their very distinctive final styles. Also, if this is not enough, both are usually enjoyed as refreshing aperitifs. Although you will find, if you are lucky enough to spend anytime in Jerez or Champagne country, that the natives will drink their wine anytime between breakfast & supper!!

Their I’m afraid the comparison ends as while Champagne seems to have it’s niche on International markets, Sherry has yet to find it’s way into the hearts of the masses.

The three main categories of Sherry are:

Fino – delicate, crisp & fresh, usually made 100% from the Palomino grape. Chilled it makes a perfect aperitif, but once opened should be consumed, as the wine will decline quickly. Manzanilla, produced from grapes grown in the Sanlucar de Barrameda area (as opposed to Jerez), is another fino style. The sea winds here provide a higher humidity and more consistent temperature and the Manzanilla Sherry has a very distinctive and attractive salty tang.

Amontillado – the best of these are fino wines that have developed with age. They are a darker amber colour, quite powerful with a lovely nutty character. Again the best are dry wines, but often the ones found on International markets are sweetened versions.

Oloroso – At their best these wines have great ageing potential. They are dry and full bodied with great complexity due to age. Some sweeter (as in dessert style) versions are also made.

Another style that does seem to have found some popularity is Pedro Ximinez. Pedro Ximinez is actually the name of the grape that produces this very sweet, dessert Sherry. PX is traditionally produced as a sweetening agent to be used in the production of the varying styles of Sherry but is now gradually giving way to less expensive varieties for this purpose and being produced in its own right – giving stunningly, powerful wines, sweet, succulent with rich ‘Christmas Pudding’ type characteristics.

Other styles not so widely available on this market, but worth looking out for and trying if you find them, would be Palo Cortado and East India.

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