Tim Gramp Basket Pressed Cabernet Sauvignon 2013


The facts

Watervale Cabernet Sauvignon from Tim Gramp.
Purchased at the cellar door, $23.
Closure: screwcap.
Alcohol: 14.5% abv.

The waffle

I bought this wine at the cellar door when we were up in Clare for the Gourmet Weekend last year. I spent the Saturday ‘working’ and Andy & I stayed overnight, allowing us a leisurely drive home on the Sunday. My first pro tip is that if you’re heading to the Gourmet Weekend this year, you probably should have already booked your accommodation. Definitely don’t leave it til a week or so before!

I’m not a huge fan of crowds when I’m trying to taste wine so on the Sunday morning, after breakfast, we decided to seek out a winery that wasn’t participating in the main activities. I’d first visited Tim Gramp when I was in uni and a bottle of Riesling purchased then was one of the (sadly few) wines that survived my nine year sojourn in the UK. I have a soft spot for these wines so I was happy when we arrive at the cellar door about 10 minutes before opening and the crowds well and truly elsewhere.

The Riesling was sold out but the reds were impressive – we tasted the Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz (no Grenache on tasting, if I recall correctly). We bought a mixed case. I suspect it’s all more or less drunk. The combination of price point and quality is compelling.

The wine

In the glass, its colour is intense and incredibly youthful. While not purple, its dense ruby is definitely on the purple side!

The nose is pretty pronounced but doesn’t have the overt cassis which you’d commonly associate with Cab Sav. There’s black berry fruit along with leafy, stalky characters. There’s licorice too.

The palate shows an abundance of juicy black fruit and is much more blackcurrant-y than the nose. There’s good acidity, the tannins are definitely there but they’re not brutal and lovely length. The wine rounds off with a delicious hint of vanilla. Despite the high alcohol, it’s well integrated and doesn’t stand out at all.

It’s delicious!

Yalumba The Scribbler 2012

Yalumba The Scribbler
Yalumba The Scribbler

The Facts

Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (54%) & Shiraz (46%) from Yalumba.
RRP $22
Closure: screwcap
Alcohol: 13.5%

The Waffle

Oh, there is none. Finally some cool weather in Adelaide so finally I want to drink some red wine!

The Wine

In the glass, moderately intense and sitting somewhere between purple and ruby in colour.

The nose is reasonably pronounced with lots of mostly black berry fruit: blackberries and cassis. There’s a touch of something minty and stalky which gives it some extra interest. There is a bit of warmth showing too.

In the mouth, lots of juicy black fruit with some good acidity and some well structured tannins. The length isn’t bad either but there is some warmth from the alcohol. The flavour profile is a little too straightforward for me to get overly excited about so I’m unlikely to rush out and buy a case. Having said that, I’d consider ordering a glass from a wine list or, indeed a whole bottle if it was a big table. This is absolutely a wine that will have very broad appeal – and rightly so.

WayWood Wines Shiraz Cabernet 2007


I’m sure I’ve mentioned before about my local bottle shop. At a high level, its range is standard – there are lots of wines at the ‘under $20′ price point, there’s a small selection of ’boutique’ wines (small wineries, unusual grape varieties) and a reasonable selection higher shelf reds. It’s not my ideal wine shop but shopping there is not a dire experience, either.

The really cool thing about this shop is that every now and then you can discover absolute gems. You know when you watch antique programs on tv (programs about antiques, not programs that are themselves antiques!) and the presenters often talk about someone having ‘a good eye’ – well, that is how it is with wine and our local shop. It’s less about the eyes and more about a gut feel that the price and the label just don’t really match up.

So quite a long time ago now I was recovering from a cold and was still quite bunged up so I was very keen to spend under $20. I actually did have a particular wine in mind but wasn’t able to find it so I was wandering around the shop in a slightly still-full-of-cold befuddled state when I spotted the WayWood Shiraz Cabernet 2007 marked down. Having met Andrew Wood, WayWood’s owner and winemaker, a couple of years ago I picked it up.

That evening, I opened it, poured myself a glass and realised that while I still couldn’t actually taste very much, it tasted pretty good. I shoved the glass to Andy and asked for his expert opinion. As ever, his expert opinion was tempered by “how much did this cost then?” but between us we decided that the price I paid was significant bang for buck. I checked pricing with Andrew and then headed back to the bottlo the next day to relieve them of the remaining three bottles.

Since then, I have, on and off, been able to enjoy this wine and earlier this week, I opened the last bottle. My last opportunity to write a tasting note.

The wine

Intense, deep ruby in the glass.

The nose shows pronounced licorice, blackcurrant and blackberry with a touch of violet and some spice and fruitcake. It is pleasingly complex and not overwhelmingly fruit-driven. It is starting to show a little maturity.

On the palate, things look really good. There’s good acidity and the tannins are still nice and grippy. This, combined with the ton of juicy black fruit suggests that there’s no rush to drink this wine. Combined with that lovely rich black fruit is some spiciness and even a slight smokiness (or is that smoked meat?). The length is excellent and that attractive fruit is really persistent. There is a touch of alcohol heat there but it is by no means intrusive or detrimental to how much you will enjoy this wine.

The chances are that the only place you can now find this wine is at the WayWood cellar door and it could well cost you considerably more than it cost me.

WayWood Wines. Purchased as a bin end at < $20 per bottle. Limited availability as museum stock at the winery.
14.5% abv.

Brown Brothers Patricia Cabernet Sauvignon 2004


At the moment, I’m in the middle of teaching a WSET Level 2 course. Although it’s three very long Saturdays it’s also a lot of fun. One of the best bits of running the course is choosing the wines beforehand. The WSET issues guidelines about the wines we should show, so I don’t have carte blanche, but the suggestions are broad enough to allow lots of diversity for me.

When wines are working well, I will use them repeatedly (hello, Georges duBoeuf Beaujolais Villages!) but sometimes a wine doesn’t show well or, for some of the more premium wines in particular, I struggle with availability.

One wine that changes almost every course is the premium New World Cabernet Sauvignon. Naturally I ALWAYS show an Australian wine and I always try to choose a wine with a bit of age on it. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to have a few bottles of 1996 and 1997 Wynns John Riddoch in my cellar. Using them in a course is a great way to actually open them (rather than sitting around waiting for the perfect moment) and hopefully it is also a treat for the students. This no doubt says something about South Australian palates … but these wines are always amongst the best received in the whole course.

Anyway, with no gems left in the cellar, I had to buy. I chose the Brown Brothers 2004 Patricia on a bit of a whim. It had some age and I have a lot of respect for the wines that Brown Brothers produces across their range. Don’t take this as meaning I unilaterally love everything that the company produces, but overall they are amongst my ‘safe’ picks.

The Patricia wines are Brown Brothers’ flagship wines and are named after the family’s matriarch, Patricia Brown, who died in 2004. Brown Brothers doesn’t release these wines every vintage and the wines get the best treatment. So you expect something good.

And my goodness me – this wine totally over delivers on that promise. It might be almost 11 years old (the back label says its cellaring potential is 6-10 years) but it is an unbelievably vibrant and youthful wine. In a word – it is DELICIOUS. And absolutely worth every penny of its $59 price tag. I only wish I were wealthy enough to drink this kind of wine on a very regular basis.

It was also extremely handy that the current class has someone from a (well known) winery who had tasted that winery’s back vintage Cabernet Sauvignons the day before. Apparently the Patricia put a lot of those wines firmly in the shade so I am not alone in my admiration for this wine.

The wine

In the glass, it is ruby and very deeply & intensely coloured. Even at 10+ years, it is looking young.

The nose is pronounced and the fresh fruit is starting to drop off, being replaced with a very attractive cedar, tobacco and worn leather character, there is also some warm spice such as clove or nutmeg.

The palate is positively bursting with fresh fruit, there is good acidity and the tannins are very firm but pleasantly chalky, rather than mouth strippingly drying, fresh blackcurrant, blackcurrant jubes, some vanilla, touch of baked black fruit, and some milk chocolate.

I wrote this tasting note on the second day and it was still showing such vibrant, fresh fruit – an absolutely beautiful wine.

Purchased from the Ed Cellars, $59.
13.5% abv.

Evans and Tate Metricup Road Cabernet Merlot 2012


As the new year ticked over I promised myself that this year I would pay more attention to my wine blog. As I write, we’re on the cusp of 1 June – not technically at the half year mark, but so close that the lack of posts appals me.

While there’s no excuse, the irony is that this year, while blogging has been relatively neglected, I feel like I’ve done a lot of writing. Not much of it has been about food and wine, and none in print (the Rioja article in the current James Halliday’s Wine Companion Magazine was written last year – but do go out and buy, read, enjoy). So while writing is not difficult, or even necessarily time consuming, finding some sacrosanct moments when I can think (so not after a full day writing microcontroller code, I can tell you!) has been tricky.

One of my wine drinking aims is to find those wines which punch above their weight. A bottle which costs $50+ and has been cellared carefully for the optimum amount of time blah blah blah should bloody well taste good. But the fun in wine drinking is finding those bottles that are sub $20 that you’d be more than happy to have three of (not in one hit – responsible drinking please!) to every $50 bottle. Yes, you do have to kiss a few frogs but I’d rather burn $20 on a frog than $50.

If you’re interested in wine, you end up reading lots of lists and, in my case, promptly forgetting them, meaning that visits to wine shops are pretty haphazard, but not truly random, affairs. Because I tend towards the esoteric, I’ve created my own list of “wines to try” that (hopefully) will mean I try wines that are more commercially approachable, as well the offbeat. Don’t worry – only this evening I picked up a Kangaroo Island Saperavi, so there will be quirky too.

Anyway, the other night, Andy was heading home from work via Dan’s and I was able to make immediate use of my newly created list and put in my order for the Evans & Tate Metricup Road Cabernet Merlot 2012 (my first pick was the Shiraz which was out of stock). Dan’s will sell it to you for $18 a bottle ($17 if you’re buying six or more).

Evans & Tate, now part of the McWilliams group, is based in Western Australia’s Margaret River. Margaret River has a climate similar to Bordeaux, and both are home to some of the world’s great Cabernet Sauvignon based wines. Cab Sav is often blended with Merlot: Merlot can soften Cab Sav’s tannins, balance the palate (the palate of CS is often described as a doughnut, with Merlot being the filling of the hole) and make the wine much more approachable at a younger age.

At $18 a bottle, I’d hope you wouldn’t be planning on cellaring a bottle of the Evans & Tate Metricup Road. Which is fine, because straight of the shelf and into the glass it is a wine that over delivers.

It is dense purple in the glass (yep, it’s young!) and on the second day (when I wrote the tasting note) the really over cassis notes of the first day had dropped away slightly. There was still cassis (blackcurrant) with black plum, a hint of licorice, some smoke and undergrowth.

The palate matches this: a lot of fresh black fruit – including blackcurrant, with good acidity and reasonably firm tannins. While you notice the tannins they’re not grippy or mouth puckering. There’s also a hint of licorice and chocolate.

The length of the wine is not bad at all and what does impress is the fact that the 14.5% alcohol doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

This is a textbook wine. You probably wouldn’t get excited if you spent over $30 but at the sub $20 mark it over delivers. It’s well balanced and typical Cabernet Merlot but lacks the complexity you might expect of a pricier wine. But it’s not a pricier wine – it’s one I found approachable, pleasantly surprising and definitely delivering on bang for buck.

Drink with a protein rich mid-week dinner. A steak, lamb chop or even a pizza won’t be amiss.

$18 from Dan Murphy’s, Pasadena.
14.5% abv.


Henry’s Drive 2009 The Trial of John Montford Cabernet Sauvignon


As I received this as a pigeon pair with the Dead Letter Office Shiraz, I thought it reasonable to taste (and post) them close together.

This wine is named for a local bushranger, John Montford, who was convicted for robbing a mail coach near Naracoorte. He had covered his face with a brown hanky, holes cut out for his eyes and this was recovered from his swag, thus providing the evidence for the conviction. CSI south eastern Australia style!

Anyway, that provides the wine with a colourful back story which is only well and good if the wine can deliver.

In the glass, a quite intense ruby red.

The nose was similarly intense, with blackcurrant and vanilla the most dominant notes, but also some minty and stalky characters along with a touch of soil and licorice.

In the mouth, there was a ton of juicy fresh blackcurrant, with some licorice and a touch of warm spice. The acidity and persistent tannins were well balanced and, despite its 14% abv, there was no heat.

I really liked this wine: I found it approachable, enjoyable and really lovely. I preferred this over the Shiraz by just a whisker (although my other half disagreed).

It looks like the only place you can purchase this wine is through Henry’s Drive.

And just so you know how subjective this wine tasting mullarkey is, this wine received 89 points in the James Halliday Wine Companion (2013), where it is described as “soft, simple and accessible” and yet Lisa Perotti-Brown MW (Wine Advocate) gave it 92 and wrote “this wine offers complex flavours”.

Proof that you need to make up your own mind (no hanky needed).

This wine was a sample.  RRP is $32.
14% abv.

WBW80: Dry Rose


I was pretty pleased to spot a discussion about the return of Wine Blogging Wednesday on facebook. Wine Blogging Wednesday, after running for ages, has had something of a hiatus but in its earlier incarnation I was a reasonably regular participant and I often found it a good excuse to try something very left of field.

Of course, a bit more regular writing* and engaging with the wine blogging community is no bad thing – especially as I’ll be heading off to the Digital Wine Communications Conference in a couple of months.

I won’t lie – I was pretty disappointed that the theme for the return of WBW was dry rosé. Here in the southern hemisphere it’s the middle of winter and rosé is the last thing on my mind (especially this week – our twenty year old hot water service has just given up the ghost!).

But if nothing else I figured it would be good practice for summer. My initial thoughts had been to head out and find some new, quirky, different, small batch … and then I ran out of time to hit the shops where I’d be able to find such gems. I ended up with a bottle of 2013 Turkey Flat Rosé, from South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

Turkey Flat is a well known, established and well regarded winery with some seriously old vines. Last time I was up there (yes, I’m privileged enough to about an hour and a half’s drive away) we came away with a few reds so I was expecting good things.

Still, enough waffle – and on to the wine, a blend of Grenache, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Dolcetto. Make of that what you will.

In the glass, the wine is a very pretty pale salmon pink.

The nose is pretty pronounced but I didn’t get a lot of fresh fruit. Think confected: pink lollies, sherbert and musk.

On the palate the wine is dry (residual sugar is actually 4.8g/L so some may detect the merest hint of sweetness) with good, refreshing acidity. Although the palate starts off reflecting the confected nose, there is some tannic structure and (hoorah!) some fresh strawberries and raspberries.

If you can’t tell, I was a bit disappointed in this wine. Not because it’s a bad wine but because it’s a style of wine that just doesn’t appeal to me. I know there are tons of people for whom this style works and they will love this wine but I look for something a bit more steely, serious and stern in a rosé.

If you’re looking for something fun, pink and relatively uncomplicated to drink this summer (wherever you are!) this could definitely be for you.

This wine was purchased from Dan Murphy’s for about $17.
Closure: screw cap.
Alcohol: 13% abv.

* If you’re worried about my blogging commitment, I do write a food blog, Eating Adelaide, and I know the DWCC organisers are keen to get more involvement from food bloggers … talk about hedging your bets!