Taste of Spain

We finally dusted off the wine tasting cobwebs last night and had a dinner with some friends at Delicado in Blues Point. 

Jamie, the wine store manager, had generously given Jeff and I a spontaneous tasting a few weeks before when we randomly popped in one Sunday morning to buy some Vermouth. That tasting was so awesome we asked if he could do another one for us over dinner at the attached restaurant. 

So Friday night. Over tapas that Jamie put together, we had some cider, a cab from Navarro, a Mencia (my favorite of the night with it’s nose of clean men’s soap), a Tinto di Toro, and a Petite Verdot blend. Plus some Pedro Ximenez Sherry to go with the churros and chocolate fondue at the end. Burp. 

Social weekend

One of our more social weekends to date. Haha. Well if started with errands – we are moving house in a couple weeks!

Saturday afternoon, the rain clouds more or less held, so some friends came over for tennis. We were more or less playing at the same (low) level, so it made for a fun three hours of much laughter and ball chasing. After, everyone trooped back to our place and we whipped up some vegetarian dishes, aided by the dependable Marley Spoon. Then out came the board games, drinks, and raucous laughter that somehow extended till the wee hours of the night.

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Oof, had probably too much to drink, first time in a long while. I pretty much had to nap the whole day Sunday, outside of the lunch we had with Donny downtown; he had just flown into Sydney to go up to Newcastle for work, and happily managed to catch up with him.

In the evening, we hosted another group of friends for dinner, but took it way easier on the wine this time. Haha the five of us couldn’t even finish the bottle! It didn’t affect the quality of the conversation though, which somehow ranged from whale exploding to squatty potties. You just had to be there I guess.

Wine Tasting in Yarra Valley

Just doing a bit of spring cleaning, and found these wine notes from our recent trip down to Yarra Valley. Missing the notes from Tarrawarra though, but better than nothing. Really good wines overall! We were quite impressed by the breadth and quality. Some really delicious Chardonnays, and Roussannes. Red wise the Pinots were good, as were a couple of Cabernet Sauvignons. 😀 We didn’t buy too many though, since it was summer and we had to drive back to Sydney, and were stopping along the coast for a few days.

 

Oakridge:

Oakridge Local Vineyard Series

2013 Fumare – Guerin & Oakridge Vineyards $32: Nice acidity with rounded finish. Pretty clean

2014 Arneis – Murrummong Vineyard $26: Fermented on skin. Oilier on palate. Herbaceous on nose. Very bright, should be good with food

2012 Chardonnay – Guerin Vineyard $36: Volcanic soil, 11 months in oak. Stinky; good with some cheese / pasta

2014 Chardonnay – Willowlake Vineyard $36: Not as stinky as the Guerin Chardonnay. So much lighter, easy to drink on own

2013 Pinot Noir – Willowlake Vineyard $36: Color is somewhat brown. Not bad

2014 Pinot Noir – Willowlake Vineyard $36: Sharper nose than the 2013, brighter, more tannins

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – Oakridge Vineyard $36: Raisins, no stems in nose but in mouthfeel. Tannins

864 Single Block

2012 Chardonnay – Funder & Diamond Vineyard, Drive Block $75: Stinky nose, acidic body but finish is kinda meh. Just falls off. Tasting room guy said maybe it’s going through a dumb phase

2013 Chardonnay – Funder & Diamond, Drive Block $75: some funk, but stone fruit, bright finish. Smoky, fuller body

2012 Syrah – Oakridge, Winery Block $75: nice finish, more elegant than the 2014 Shiraz

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – Oakridge Vineyard, Winery Block $75: Good backbone

 

Yering Station

Large winery with enormous tasting room. We were served by a guy who didn’t know much, if anything about wines. It was his first day on the job. When we asked him what grapes made up the sparkling he poured us, he nervously said, um watermelons? That said, the lineup was yummy.

NV Creme de Cuvee $30: Yummy, not too acidic. Off dry, round finish. We picked up a bottle to ring in the new year with.

2013 Marsanne $24: Linestome, some nuttiness, beautiful round finish. Full bodied. Picked up a bottle too

2012 Village Chardonnay $24: Butterscotch. Nice wood, rounded. Nice acidity

2010 MVR $28: Stinky, a bit bitter

2011 Estate Chardonnay $38: More acidity in the mouth than in the Village Chardonnay. But nice big finish, more grapefruit.

2012 Village Pinot Noir: Nice. Good nose, body. Smooth tannins, but the finish was just a bit thin.

2014 Estate Pinot Noir $40: Good nose, nice body, spicy finish. Mmm. Jeff deemed it a gentle wine

2013 Nebbiolo $30: Grippy tannins, fruit in the front

2012 Shiraz Viognier Estate $40: Fruit, tannins, aromatic

2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $40: Eucalyptus! Strawberries. Spice. Yum!!

 

St Huberts

2010 Blanc de Noir $39: Yeasty. Small bubbles, bit toasty

2015 St Huberts Roussane $33: Yeasty nose, aromatic, lively, rich, citrusy

2014 St Huberts Chardonnay $27: Buttery, figs, pineapple

2013 St Huberts Pinot Noir $33: Spicy nose, more elegant fish and mouthfeel than the 2015. Some tannins

2012 St Huberts Cabernet Merlot $27: Sweet, jammy. Raisiny. Also tasted the 2014, which was even sweeter!

2013 St Huberts Cabernet Sauvignon $39: Raisiny, rich. Not too hot / tannic

2015 St Huberts Late Pick Viognier – 375ml $30: Hard not to love a late harvest viognier. Yum!

 

Coldstream Hills

2012 Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay $35: Acidic, big bubbles, yeasty

2013 Sauvignon Blanc $33: Apples, bit bitter in the finish

2014 Chardonnay $35: Good aroma. Bit punchy in the mouth, bit bitter

2014 Pinot Noir $35: Strawberries. Bright light color. Good nose. Could be softer in the finish

2011 Deer Farm Vineyard Chardonnay $50: More subtle nose. More acidic. Cooler site

2014 Rising Vineyard Chardonnay $45: Asparagus. Acidic, but not as much as the Deer Farm

2014 Reserve Chardonnay $60: So good. Great nose. Beautiful acidity. Nicely rounded. Definitely an ageable wine

2013 Reserve Shiraz $60: Sweet, tannins, heat.

Wine Tasting Weekends in Tasmania and Wellington

We were craving some good Pinot, and rather spontaneously decided to book a couple weekends away in Pinot land: Launceston in Tasmania and Martinborough in New Zealand.

Thank goodness for winter air fare discounts – although we got quite lucky with regards to the wineries in Launceston. A lot of them are still closed during this lull season, but some had reopened beginning August, which was when we visited.

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Because we were only there for just a day and a half, we just crammed the itinerary with winery visits. Managed to hit 8 in that time frame, and went a little nuts buying over two cases of Pinot, Rieslings, and Pinot Gris. Three of our hits: Goaty Hill, Sinapius, and Velo. Actually, our top favorite Pinot was Velo’s 2010 Reserve Pinot. Such a beautiful example with beautifully balanced notes of earth, spice, strawberries, and a silky mouthfeel. Would have loaded up, but we’d already shipped two cases of wine back!

This past weekend, we went off to Wellington and Martinborough in New Zealand, to continue our Pinot trail. This time around however, we strove to limit our purchases, given our excesses in Launceston, and because shipping back to Sydney wasn’t free. Nonetheless, we still managed to come back with 6 bottles (plus a bottle of Moon Over Martinborough’s lovely olive oil!).

Martinborough is only an hour’s drive from Wellington, but what a gorgeous windy, mountainous route through verdant cliffs shrouded in light mist and fog. We made our way across mid-morning, having only arrived in Wellington past midnight and sleeping only at 330am. But the wineries in Martinborough are tightly packed together just at the outskirts of town, so we left our car there and wandered around on foot.

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In this way, we managed to hit 6 wineries in 4 hours, and bumped into many of the same wine tasters who were also making their winery hop on a drizzly Saturday. Favorites of the trip were Margrain (amazing Gewürztraminer!) and Schubert (their Pinot and Con Brio, a Bordeaux blend, were standouts).

We had an early afternoon flight Sunday, so decided to explore the many parks in Wellington instead – if only we’d more time to do a bit of a tramp along the non-urban stretch of the Te Araroa trail!

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Easy evening in

Nothing like an evening in with some wine (2012 Greenock Creek Shiraz Seven Acre, thank you very much), opera (medici.tv starring Anna Netrebko, Elena Zhidkova, Jonas Kaufman, Thomas Hampson, Ildar Abdrazakob, again, thank you very much). Makes learning R programming all the more enjoyable.

Man, I miss good wine and opera. Not that I’m complaining about life Down Under…

Wine tasting in Barossa and McLaren Vale

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Over the Easter holidays, we took a short trip down to Adelaide down in South Australia, with the primary aim to check out the different wine regions. We’d planned the itinerary such that we visited Barossa on Thursday, hiked over Good Friday, and visited McLaren Vale on Saturday. Fortuitously so, because when we arrived we learnt that most places shuts down completely on Good Fridays!

Anyway, the point of this post is create a repository of sorts of the wineries we visited, and the standout wines for us. We barely scratched the surface on our exploratory trip. There’s still the whole of Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra! But it was a good teaser. While we found Adelaide itself a pretty unremarkable sleepy but green town and its nearby seaside town of Glenelg little more than a tourist trap, the wine regions are world class. The restaurants we hit were all really good as well.

In total, we visited 9 wineries. A few standouts: Greenock Creek, Torbreck, and D’Arenberg. The others had a couple wines that we loved too, but those three had a wide range of well made wines.

The one place whose wines we were quite disappointed with, Kaesler, also happened to be the one place that actually charged us for tasting. They charged us $30 for two people, even though we had elected to share a single glass. Unfortunately, their wines mostly seemed unbalanced, either too hot in the nose or in the mouth, with a bitter sort of finish. It was a letdown, particularly since the wines had come at the recommendation of a wine broker who was the boyfriend of one of Jeff’s acquaintances.

First stop of the trip was Two Hands. We’ve been a fan of their Garden series, but had never tasted the rest of their line up, so we were excited for the opportunity. But although we were the first ones in the cellar door, our host seemed most distracted, pouring our tastings then disappearing into the next room for long minutes before he popped back out to refill our glasses. That kind of put a damper on the experience. In all, we tasted 7 bottles there, with the favorites being:

1. 2013 Samantha’s Garden $60 – velvety tannins, quite restrained

2. 2013 Bella’s Garden $60 – brighter, more fruit that Sam’s. Bigger tannins

3. 2012 Secret Block Moppa Hills Barossa Valley Shiraz $100 – delicious. HUGE nose with silky, silky tannins

We didn’t buy any wines though, in part due to our lukewarm tasting experience.

We stopped at Greenock Creek next, where again we were the first tasters in the cosy cellar. Our host there was much more affable, and enthusiastically talked us through his lineup of 6 wines. Favorites:

1. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $38 – capsicum, beautiful tannins, smooth

2. 2012 Apricot Block $38 – the wine was so named because the parcel of land on which it came from used to be an apricot plantation. Anyway, beautiful wine, with smooth tannins and bright fruit. Granite soil

3. Seven Acre Shiraz $48 – really elegant!

4. 2005 Roennfeldt Road Shiraz $200 – HUGE! Big nose of spice. Big body, with a bit of port/prune because of the high alky (17.5%). Looooong finish

It’s interesting to note that Greenock, going forward this year, has decided to revert all their closures back to cork. Previously, they had used stelvin closures for most of their wines intended for domestic consumption, but have since decided that cork is the way to go. We left with their Cab and the Seven Acre. Would have bought more but we wanted to play it safe since we still had a bunch of wineries to visit.

Torbreck was next on our list, where, from their extensive wine list, we picked 12 to taste. We were really taken with 3 bottles in particular:

1. 2011 The Steading (56 Grenache, 23 Shiraz, 21 Mataro) $37.50 – French style, light bodied, smooth tannins

2. 2012 The Pict (100% Mataro, single vineyard, Greenock) $75 – loved the nose. Spicy. Beautiful structure

3. 2012 The Gask (100% Shiraz) – very elegant!!!

At Torbreck, we were also given the opportunity to taste some of their more premium wines alongside their museum collection. 🙂 We are always so appreciative of cellar doors that do so, because we aren’t likely to shell out good money for something we aren’t sure how it tastes! Anyway, we tasted the $125 2012 and 2002 The Factor Shiraz side by side. Both were quite yummy, with notes of blueberries. The 2002 felt like it could still stand a few more years in the bottle! We also tried the $125 2012 Descendant (92 Shiraz, 8 Viognier, co-fermented) – soooo smooth. And the $235 2006 and 2012 Run Rig (97 Shiraz 3 Viognier). While the 2006 had mellowed out to yield notes of blueberries, the still-to-be-released 2012 was still very young and close, albeit with smooth tannins. These were well made wines, but The Pict stood out for us the most, in part because we found it the best bang for the buck. Departed with a bottle of that; would have bought The Steading and The Gask as well, but we were still cautious of how many bottles we wanted to hand carry back.

A brief stop for lunch at FermentAsian to refuel, then we hit up the aforementioned Kaesler. We did like their $150 Alte Reben Shiraz, and found it to be beautifully balanced, especially in comparison with their other wines heh.

Maybe because we were feeling quite sleepy after a full and delicious meal at FermentAsian, but we didn’t feel quite inspired by the wines at Rockford. I mean, we couldn’t find any fault with them, but my notes were mostly scribbled of “nice”. That’s well, pretty sedate as far as recommendations go. But I’d like to think though, they should be in fact quite lovely, especially the $59 2011 Basket Press Shiraz, with its notes of white pepper and spice.

Our last stop in Barossa was at Grant Burge. They didn’t give free tastings of the Meshach (of which we have, and love, the 2002), but we did taste a bunch of their other wines, my favorite of the lot being the $75 2012 1887 Shiraz – smooth tannins and beautiful structure.

Saturday morning, we drove the 45 minutes from Adelaide to McLaren Vale. Compared to Barossa, McLaren Vale is so much more picturesque, with its gentle rolling hills of golden vines. We were again the first customers in the tasting room, this time at D’Arenberg, and enjoyed the attention we were given, especially since the tasting room filled up a half hour into our tasting.

As we started on the whites – of which the winery has a long list for tasting – our host pointed out a stack of cases in the corner. Those were entry level Stump Jump Shiraz meant for export to Sweden, he told us, but the exporter cancelled the order at the last moment. Because they had already slapped on labels designating export to Sweden, the winery couldn’t sell them to domestic retailers here and was thus offloading them at steep discounts to customers. Haha we snapped up a case. It will make for great everyday wine at fantastic value!

We spent over an hour at D’Arenberg. We started off picking a few to taste, but our host kept enthusiastically recommending more to try; who are we to decline?

Our favorites:
1. NV DADD Sparkling $28 – made in the traditional champagne method, a serious bready wine. Yummy. We may have picked up two bottles

2. 2013 The Witches Berry Chardonnay, cellar door exclusive $18 – we picked up a couple. Very clean, with just a hint of wood, refreshing

3. 2013 The Money Spider Roussanne $20 – good lemony, easy to drink

4. 2006 The Twenty Eight Road Mouvedre $40 and 2010 The Twenty Eight Road Mouvedre $29 – we enjoyed both. Lovely berry nose. Bought two back (no holds barred now, since shipping was free haha)

5. The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon $65 – it is doubly lovely to taste a cab in between all that Shiraz. The backbone and structure that the cab provides is all the more refreshing. Gorgeously balanced. We also tried the 2006 vintage, which would have benefitted from a longer decanting (we opened a new bottle to taste). Still, the tannins were still pretty robust in the 2006, so this is a wine that will keep. Bought a bottle

6. The Blind Tiger Single Vineyard Shiraz $100 – so elegant, so delicious. Floral nose, with notes of blue berries. Super smooth tannins. We tasted this along side The Other Side and The Swinging Malaysian, also single vineyard Shiraz at $100. The other two were more restrained, with grippier tannins, but still quite yummy. Bought a bottle of the Tiger

Popped over to Mollydooker next door after. Their tasting room set up is very different. Instead of a bar that you stand at, we shuffled around long tables set in a rectangle, moving from one bottle to the next. Mollydooker’s Carnival of Love is their signature wine; their 2012 was most recently rated #2 wine of 2014 on WineSpectator. We tasted the 2013 vintages. The Carnival of Love, at $75 a bottle, we found still quite closed. Smooth tannins, but restrained. In comparison, we really liked the Blue Eyed Boy Shiraz ($49). Velvety tannins, lovely dark fruit. Beautifully balanced. Just delicious. Picked up a bottle. Their Gigglepost Cabernet Sauvignon ($49) was a great example of Cab as well.

We decided to take it easy on the wine tasting, and visited one more stop before we drove back into the city for lunch. Coriole was our pick. I’d never heard of the winery before, but chose it after browsing online for suggestions on where to go in McLaren Vale. The winemaker seems partial to Italian grapes. They have wines from Fiano, Barbera, and Sangiovese. Our favorites though, were the 2013 The Dancing Fig Mouvedre Grenache Shiraz ($25 cellar door only wine) and the 2013 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon ($30), both of which we bought. The Dancing Fig was lively and vibrant, with lovely mouthfeel of blueberries. The Cab had a gorgeous smoky and spicy nose. Great structure.

Overall, we were really very impressed with the quality of wines that we tasted – and yes, they were more exciting than the Hunter Valley wines in general. Just have to find another time to visit!

*All prices in AUD btw

Enjoying Aussie Wines

In our move, from Chicago to Singapore to Sydney temp housing, to our current rental, we have managed to lose our prized collection of waiter’s cockscrews. Boo! Pretty bumped about that, particularly since I had a beloved on that PS got me more than 10 years ago from him study abroad in Paris.

Ah well, on the bright side, Australian wines are mostly screw caps. And that’s mostly what we’ve been drinking. So we haven’t needed to utilize any of our implements at all.

It has been fun tasting our way through wines here. Our huge wine fridge from home has arrived, along with the rest of our furniture, but we’ve been guzzling down wine at a faster pace than we can load up, a good problem to have.

One recent night, we popped open a bottle of Pewsy Single Select Chardonnay, a full bodied, smooth and buttery liquid gold that was such a pleasure to wash down with homemade hearty chicken noodle soup.

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I poured the dregs of it into the saucepan of mince pork and carrots, celery, garlics and onion. Then opened up a bottle of Holm Oak Pinot Noir from Tasmania to round off the dinner.

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My favorite red, and I think I can say this unequivocally, is a silky smooth and soft and blush-red Pinot. With a heady bouquet of freshly turned wet earth, strawberries and chocolate covered cherries. It dances on your tongue, the wine; supple and vivacious. And the finish: quiet but lingering, and you wait for it to fade out before picking up the glass again. This Holm Oak Pinot, while it doesn’t quite get up there on my list of favorites, provides quite a bit of bang for the buck. Yummers.

Enjoying a glass (or two) of Barossa GSM

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We have a little wine shop right by our train station. Its family run, and their selection is mostly Aussie centric. They are a really nice bunch though, very helpful, and whenever we pop in to pick something up for dinner, they are always quick with a suggestion. Best of all, they don’t upsell. I went in the other day to buy a bottle we could bring to ny aunt’s place (or first cousin once removed if you will). I asked for a recommendation of something in the $30 range, but they kept on gushing about this $16 Light & Finniss Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro (GSM) 2012 from Barossa Valley.

Intrigued, I bought this back for ourselves. Decided to open it tonight. What a treat! What a find! One of the tastiest wines we have had here to date, especially at this value. Very plush, soft, and refreshing, with just a hint of spiciness of the shiraz and mouvedre at the end. Will just have to pick up a few more bottles!

Weekend Wine Tasting in Hunter Valley

We broke tradition and didn’t go skiing for my birthday weekend this year, since it’s summertime Down Under. So we went wine tasting in Hunter Valley instead. 🙂

In the past, when we’ve gone wine tasting, we pack 7-8 wineries to visit in a day. This time however, Jeff asked that we take it easy, since quality wine country is now just a couple hours’ drive away.

Take it easy, we did. We picked up the rental car and left Sydney around 930am. Smooth drive up; not too much traffic. After checking into our accommodations at Vine Valley Inn, we headed up to Keith Tulloch Wine, where they had an adjoining restaurant, Muse Kitchen, which had rave reviews. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch al fresco. In the shade, it was nice and cool, but once the sun hit us, we could feel its intensity. It’s odd – the heat on our skin isn’t the usual sweltering hot kind of heat, where you sweat loads, but rather like a slow oven bake.

Lunch was light and refreshing. We split the dishes – a fig and ricotta salad, baked cod with heirloom tomatoes, and a dessert called coconut cloud gate with passion fruit sauce that dissolved in our mouths.

Keith Tulloch Wine
This was the only winery we went to this weekend where we had to pay $5 for a tasting (which was refunded if we bought wines). It was totally worth it though. We got to take the 11-wine tasting at our leisure on their verandah, overlooking the vineyard. Some of the wines we had:

2014 Semillon $28
Sourced from Hunter Valley estate. Zesty, green apples, grassy. Nice acidity with a rounded finish. 2014 was widely heralded in the Valley as the best season on record – a far cry from this season, where the current harvest is threatened by relentless rain.

2013 Cairn Vineyard Tumbarumba Chardonnay $40
I liked this Chardonnay. White peach, honeyed. Buttery with vanilla notes – the wine spent 3.5 months in oak.

2014 Hunter Valley Chardonnay $30
Jeff liked this one. It was more lemony than the Cairn.

2013 Shiraz $32
Lovely perfume of rose and violets and spice. A little too harsh in the finish though.

2013 Forres Blend $38
We liked this one. It’s a blend of Shiraz (20%), Petit Verdot (12%), and Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon (63%), and Cabernet Franc (5%). You could definitely smell the petit verdot in the nose – strong fragrant violet notes and green leafy stems (so happy that we went to Bill’s nez du vin tasting because I know can easily associate that aroma to that of violets! Who knew?). The Cabernet Sauvignon lent that structure and backbone to the Shiraz; beautiful soft tannins in the mouth. And the Cabernet Franc lifted the finish, with some minty, herbal notes.

2013 ‘The Wife’ Shiraz $55
This was the first edition released, in the style of red favored by the winemaker Keith’s wife. Bright berries, lavender. Personally, I wasn’t too much of a fan – it seemed a little too thin, too bright.

2011 ‘The Kester’ Shiraz $85
I liked this one. The highlight of this range of tasting. Lots going on in the nose – of violets, earth, black cherry, pepper, chocolate. Lots of tannins, nice and long finish.

We headed to Tyrrell’s Wines next, where we were handed a sheet crammed full of wines to choose from. Decided to just concentrate on the Semillon and Shiraz.

Jeff and I split a tasting, but our pourer was understanding and let us taste side by side a flight of Semillions and Shiraz, so we could better distinguish the differences between them. Haha, mentioned to TPR how we were flabbergasted by how different the wines tasted from different vintages and different vineyards, and she was like, erm but that’s so inconsistent! Haha, but to us, that’s just the beauty of it. How earth, weather, and the winemaker’s touch all contribute to the variances in a bottle of wine.

Anyway, some favorites:
Vat 1 Semillion 2010 $80
This is Tyrrell’s signature wine, made from 120 year old vines. The age of the vines, coupled with a few years in the bottles, have softened the acidity of the Semillion considerably. The wine tasted full bodied, and buttery. Delicious.

Vat 8 Shiraz Cabernet 2011 $77
I liked this one – more rounded than the following Vat 9 that we tried, but still a bright finish.

Vat 9 Shiraz 2011 $86
Jeff preferred #9. It was bright, fruit forward in mouth and finish. Cherries.

Stevens Hunter Semillion 2010 $35
A little more sugar than the HVD we tried in tandem

HVD Hunter Semillion 2010 $35
Most acidic of the 3 that we tasted

Belford Hunter Semllion 2009 $35
Loved this. Best of the three we tasted in tandem. Maybe it’s to do with the extra time in the bottle, but we felt it had the most floral nose, and was most mellow, with a honeyed finish.

Brookdale Semillion 2013 $20
Big wine – shows its youth. Green apple notes, huge acidity

Next up, we visited Brokenwood. We had a really friendly pourer, who, upon hearing that we had just arrived in Sydney, offered up a list of handwritten suggestions on what we should do in the Blue Mountains, where she grew up. Again, we had a long list of wines to taste, but we just picked out a few. Some standouts:

2009 Latara Vineyard Semillion (Hunter Valley) $55
Nice earthiness to it. Toasty. Acidity at end.

2013 Indigo Vineyard Shiraz $65
Woah, does this wine have a big ass finish!

2010 Wade Block 2 Vineyard Shiraz $65
Gorgeous perfume in the bouquet

Since it was only 4pm when we left Brokenwood, and wineries closed doors at 5pm, we decided to pop by one last one. Picked Lindeman’s at random, since we drove by it. Our pourer was most gracious – and looked like Prince William! – but none of the wines really stood out for us. But then Lindeman is a huge wine producer, and produces decent, consistent table wines.

On Sunday, we continued the tastings at two wineries. The first, Audrey Wilkinson, was recommended by both the proprietor at Vine Valley Inn and one of our friends. Beautiful wines, and they have one of the most scenic grounds in Hunter Valley. They are situated on top of a rolling hill, with neat rows of vines running down the sides. There’s even a helicopter pad for guests to fly into for a bit of tasting and enjoying a picnic on their sprawling grounds before flying off to the next tasting!

Some favorites, from the long list we again had the luxury to choose from:

2014 Winemakers Selection Semillion $26.50
Green apple in the nose, lemon in the mouth. Grassy

2013 Winemakers Selection Verdelho $26.50
Verdelho is one of the other popular white grapes grown in the Hunter Valley, which was rather surprising to us since we mainly associated it with Portugese wines. Like the Semillion, the wine has a nice long acidity, though in general we find it more fuller bodied. This was nice – stone fruit and grass in the palate.

2011 Audrey Series Hunter Valley Shiraz $22
Gorgeous nose – of cherries and violets. Sweeter than the other two Shirazs we tasted in tandem.

2013 Winemakers Selection Hunter Valley Shiraz $36.50
Spicier than the Audrey Series. with stronger chocolate and violets in the nose. Chewier tannins, but that could be because it’s younger

2011 Lake Shiraz
LOVE this. Bright nose, though mixed with cocoa and earth notes. Silky tannins. Cherries and spice in mouth.

2013 Winemakers Selection Hunter Valley Malbec $65
We tried this, even though we didn’t think Hunter is known for their Malbec. But, I don’t know if it’s in part due to palate fatigue of tasting all these Semillions and Shirazs, but I really, really liked this Malbec. Thought the structure was just beautiful. Smooth tannins, deliciously well balanced. Chocolate, coffee and spice. Delicious!

Following, we visited Gundog Estate, a strong recommendation by one of the couples we met on our hot air balloon ride (that’s another entry) earlier that morning. It’s a small winery, in a shall we say, grungier setting on the valley floor, but top notch wines!

Gundog Estate
2014 Poacher’s Semillon $30
Gundog’s traditional style. Floral, nice acidity, beautiful structure. One of the most balanced Semillon we had this weekend. Went away with a bottle to bring home for dinner

2014 Hunter’s Semillon $25
Gundog’s modern style. We tasted these next three wines one after the other, which again was fun to see the different styles. Round finish, nice acidity.

2014 Wild Semillon $30
Wild fermentation, some skins left on for fermentation. More residual sugar than the Hunter, not as bright.

2014 Off-Dry Semillion $25
A bit of fizz on the tongue. Sweet in the palate; finish falls off rather quickly.

2013 Indomitus Rutilus and 2014 Indomitus Shiraz $90 for the two
They sold these wines as a set. Grapes were sourced from Canberra and made in a very different style than their Hunter Valley labels. The Rutilus is a Semillon with a tinge of Gerwurtztraminer, and tasted super round, full bodied. Some stone fruit and spice in the mouth. The Shiraz was mixed with a bit of Viognier. Jeff liked it a lot. Lots of spice in the nose and sharp, tangy fruit. Smooth tannins and a long spicy finish.

2014 Hunter’s Shiraz $35
Sweet nose, but a bright palate. No earth.

2013 Squire’s Shiraz $30
Fruit produced from Canberra. Spicier, fuller bodied nose than the Hunter. Blueberry and black pepper in the palate. More grounded

2013 Estate Shiraz $40
One of my favorite Shirazs of the weekend (we picked up a bottle). Amazing nose of spice, eucalyptus, black fruit. Smooth tannins

2013 Markman’s Shiraz $60
A finer version of the Estate Shiraz. Lots more chewier tannins than the Estate. Not as spicy. More notes of violets. Fuller texture.

20yr Old Tawny $50
A sherry fino nose. Palate of almond, oranges, cashews. Sweet.

It was just noon when we were done, but having woken up at 4am (and 3am the day before), we were exhausted. Decided to call it a day, and we started the drive back to Sydney. But we’ve left plenty more wineries to come back to explore!