Mayford Porepunkah Shiraz 2009


The facts

Shiraz from Victoria’s Alpine Valleys, by Mayford Wines.
Purchased at auction, not readily available (current release is $40).
Closure: cork.
Alcohol: 14% abv.

The waffle

I bought this wine knowing nothing about either Mayford or Porepunkah. The price was right and it had some good reviews. I still know next to nothing – although I am at least now across the fact that Porepunkah is in the Alpine region of Victoria. Near Bright. Which is near Mt Hotham. And I like skiing.

This bodes well as I have a weakness for cool climate Shiraz.

The wine

Tasting note written on day 2.

In the glass, super intense. If a wine could be pitch black this would be it. It’s a youthful dense cross between ruby and purple.

The nose is pretty pronounced. Fresh black fruit, black olives, peppery spice and even some licorice and fresh tobacco.

All that black fruit is on the palate, blackberry jubes, peppery spice, just like the nose. It’s full and weighty and structure is amply provided by acidity and fine tannins.

This is absolutely delicious with plenty of life left in it. If I had case loads I’d be gobbling them up though because that’s just how I am.

The current vintage of this wine looks to retail for about $40 and if it looks anything like the 2009, it’s money well spent.

I see plenty more Mayford and Alpine Valleys Shiraz in my future.

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.

Taylors Winemaker’s Project Clare Valley Shiraz 2012


A second wine from the TWP series of wines. Almost a month ago I wrote about the Viognier so now it’s the turn of the Shiraz.

Clare Valley Shiraz is quite a ‘thing’ and one which sits all too firmly in the shade of the much lauded, and generally excellent value, Rieslings. As the region is cooler than the more Shiraz-famous Barossa you do see a considerable difference in style. Think of the Barossa wines as the bubbly, bright, out-going but perhaps ever so slightly in-your-face counterpart to Clare’s quieter wines, more thoughtful perhaps, a slightly more elegant or understated dresser. They can be different wines for different occasions and I generally find that those who loves the fullness of a Barossa Shiraz find cooler climate wines more difficult to deal with.

Personally, I have a bit of a thing for cool(er) climate Shiraz so wines from Clare are often right up my street and I’ve been lucky enough to taste some stellar wines with some reasonably serious age on them.

Of course, this wine is a current release and something of a baby. In this respect, it looks very approachable and I reckon that dyed in the wool ‘big’ Shiraz drinkers will be quite happy. In that respect, I think it’s an excellent introduction to Clare Valley Shiraz and should open plenty of punters’ eyes to Clare’s offerings other than Riesling.

The wine

In the glass, intensely purple. The nose is pronounced and comes across as a little hot. It is all about plums, fruit cake, sweet spice, licorice and dark chocolate.

The palate very much reflects the nose: tonnes of fresh fruit – plums and blackberries – along with some vanilla which didn’t show up on the nose. It does also seem a bit hot here too – but, interestingly, this heat really backs off give some time in the glass, so I wonder if decanting this wine (with a good splosh to get some air through it) would be worth the effort.

The wine is well balanced, with some reasonable acidity and very soft tannins and reasonable length.

Initially I had some misgivings about the heat of the wine but time in the glass really sorted that out. The wine has plenty of oomph, so it will work well with a range of food – particularly barbecue over summer.

And on that note, I’d also like to draw your attention to a new Taylor’s campaign/initiative regarding wine service temperature, Better By Degrees. With red wines, in particular, should not be served at ambient temperature when it’s 43 degrees in the shade.

Taylors Winemaker’s Project Clare Valley Shiraz, sample. RRP $25. Again, a cellar door exclusive so online may be your best bet.
14.0% abv.



Matthieu Barret Billes Noires Cornas 2007


A wine from my most recent WSET Level 2 class and one that I bought insanely cheaply at auction (yes, there are still auction bargains to be had). The bottle noticeably big and heavy. The label sparse but sophisticated. The whole thing screams class (bar the rather clumsy back label put there by the importer).

Cornas is a northern Rhône appellation so the wine is Shiraz based. In fact, it is solely Shiraz (no white grapes are permitted, unlike some of Cornas’s northern Rhône neighbours, such as Côte Rôtie or even Hermitage) and the appellation itself consists of just 90 ha.

When I lived in the UK and drinking wines from this part of the world was not such a luxury, people would quite routinely proffer the opinion that Cornas could represent far better value for money than some other appellations in this region. Of course, here in Australia our options are sadly limited and were you to walk into a bottle shop and be able to buy this wine, it would set you back around $200. Not my definition of “good value” …

As I bought this at auction, opening the bottle was even more fraught than usual and I held my breath, fingers crossed that the wine would be neither corked nor overtly bretty.

Thankfully it was neither. The wine received a resounding thumbs up in class and I loved it. My caveat here is that I am rather partial to this style of Shiraz so, as with any wine, especially one with age, your mileage may vary.

The wine

In the glass, very deep and still quite ruby in colour, so not showing its age quite as much as I expected.

The nose was quite pronounced, and the black pepper which you’d expect to see on a cool climate Shiraz is indeed there. There is also black fruit, licorice and anise. Everything looks promising.

On the palate, it delivers: the black pepper, blackberry and licorice are all there, accompanied by chocolate and cedar. There’s acidity and fine tannins with good length and altogether drinkable. It is, to use the most technical wine term available, yummy.

To the super sensitive there may be an argument that this wine showed a little teensy tiny bit of brett. Not in quantities to bother me.

I am just saddened that when I bought it there was just the one bottle for sale.

Matthieu Barret, purchased at auction.
13.0% abv.

Yalumba Single Site Schiller Vineyard Shiraz 2007


Another 2007 wine and completely by accident. Whereas last time we were in McLaren Vale, let’s shift north to the Barossa.

I first came across the Yalumba ‘single site’ Shirazes at the Negociants’ Working with Wine Shiraz masterclass last year. I can’t remember now exactly the wine we tried (and I don’t have my handouts immediately to … hand) but I was sufficiently impressed by the wine to spot this offering at auction. On release, this was $60 a bottle but I can see now that you can pick it up slightly more cheaply. I ended up paying around $55 – so a small saving.

For a while it has been sitting in our wine fridge (hmmm, another topic I’ve been meaning to write about for a while!) waiting for an appropriate occasion. Generally, ‘appropriate occasion’ in our house means that someone is thirsty. I also have the philosophy with my auction purchases that we only check out the price/value AFTER we’ve opened the bottle – that way we avoid the agonising over whether we really should open it …

The wine

In the glass, garnet and intense in colour – both as you would expect for an eight year old Barossa Shiraz.

The nose did seem quite muted but this may be a very unfair assessment as our house is most kindly described as bloody cold and I’m finding that wine tasting in winter is something of a challenge when it comes to service temperatures. Despite being shyer than you’d expect, the nose showed plenty of black fruit with a touch of licorice and vanilla.

The palate was a lot more forward – lots of black fruit and vanilla, with a meat and leather finish. There was good acidity and some pleasant soft tannins and the wine showed good length. I particularly liked that the savoury, slightly developed characters kicked in at the end.

The wine definitely has plenty of life left in it so if you are in possession of one or more bottles there is no need to rush.

We both felt that the $50-60 mark was a trifle high. Yes, this wine has been scored highly and reviewed well but my gut feeling is that there are other Barossa Shirazes out there at an equivalent price point which show a bit more complexity and character. Of course, I’m not comparing directly like for like, as the wines I am thinking of are all younger so be aware that this is a slightly unfair comparison …

Yalumba. Purchased at auction for ~ $55.
13.5% abv.


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.

Greenock Creek Seven Acre Shiraz 2012


Greenock Creek is, for South Australians at least, a very well known Barossa winery. Greenock is one of the small Barossa towns/villages and the eponymous winery is a small, family run and estate driven outfit that has built a formidable reputation. The website makes the point, almost emphatically, that only the winery’s own grapes are used, so wine stocks are completely in the hands of the weather gods.

This wine was from a WSET Level 1 class. This is an introductory class which showcases a small selection of wines, including a premium Shiraz. Without fail, I choose something local for this wine because it is always enjoyable to show local wine lovers an excellent example of a style with which they are familiar.

I hadn’t actually tried this wine before – I have enjoyed (very much so) a back vintage of the Alices Shiraz (a couple of price points down) so I was more than happy to take a punt.

Everyone’s eyes lit up when this was poured and everyone in the class enjoyed it. Without a doubt, this is a wine that will not be harmed by some time in the cellar. At a retail price of around $55 a bottle, I suspect that few of us will be splashing out on a case but if you’re in the position to drink now, then you can do so because it is delicious.

The wine

In the glass, intense and inky, almost still purple in colour – looking young.

The nose was quite pronounced, showing plenty of plum and licorice, plum jam, sweet spice and even a tiny touch of sweet spice.

On the palate, the plum and licorice are there and the spice is more apparent. There was a hint of black fruit sweets. The tannins were quite soft but offered plenty of structural support. The wine was rounded out by good acidity and length.

What really stood out (in a good way) with this wine is that even though it’s a big 15.5% abv this, even at just 3 years old, is beautifully integrated. It might show up a touch on the finish but it’s impressively unobtrusive.

Purchased from the Ed Cellars, $55.
15.5% abv.

Kaesler The Bogan Shiraz 2007


Reviews of expensive wines sometimes seem a dime a dozen. When you head to industry events, the big guns are always cracked out – which is fab, don’t get me wrong! – but at the same time not indicative of how most people really drink. And, sadly, it’s also not indicative of how I drink. In some ways, I wish money were no object when it came to wine, but actually I enjoy seeking out wines which over perform.

And this is some kind of justification for now writing about a wine which, if you head out to buy it, will be difficult to track down and will set you back around $50. Sorry for that.

Over the years, I’ve worked for quite a few different companies in my ‘proper’ job and the quality (or dearth) of Christmas gifts has always been an interesting insight into management pysche. One small company gave us all a whole case of wine one Christmas, one company gave us nothing, and one gave us this wine, a bottle of 2007 Kaesler ‘The Bogan’* Shiraz from the Barossa Valley.

Kaesler is a privately owned winery in the Barossa, and the first vines were planted in 1893. It releases wines in three ‘series’: Stonehorse, Estate and Limited Release. The Bogan falls under the Estate banner and its Shiraz grapes come, in part, from a vineyard over 100 years old. It’s a carefully crafted wine, built to age, and one that, at just seven years of age, you’d expect to be something of a baby.

And in the glass it looked like a baby: very intense and a deep, inky purple. The nose was pronounced, complex and showing slightly more development. Licorice and tar were first off the rank, backed up by blackberry, chocolate and tobacco and there was something ever so slightly green and stalky.

In the mouth we’re talking about a lot of black fruit – lots of blackberry, with anise, licorice and a hint of black pepper. Good acidity and tannins that are slightly grippy and chewy provide excellent structure and mean that you needn’t be in a hurry to drink any spare bottles you have lying around. While the alcohol is apparent it is not intrusive or particularly unbalanced and the wine has a lovely, complex length.

Yes, this is a delicious wine with a good future ahead of it. Would I rush out and pay $50 a bottle for it? I’m on the fence here, but I’m very grateful that there is another bottle in the cellar that I can revisit in a couple of years.

Corporate gift.
15.5% abv.

* For non-Australian readers, ‘bogan’ is Australian vernacular for an ‘uncouth or unsophisticated person’.  It is, naturally, derogatory.

Tim Smith Wines 2010 Barossa Mataro Grenache Shiraz


My notes now reveal I am just two months behind in my typing. At this rate, I’ll never be able to share with you any gems beyond the tasting notes themselves.

On several trips to the bottle shop I’ve noticed the small selection of Tim Smith Wines on the shelves and thought I should try one. If I recall correctly, at least one is outside my mid-week spend limit, but seeing a write up of the wines in general in a local paper, motivated me to actually get around to
buying one.

The blend of grapes is one which is comfortably familiar: Mataró, also known as Mourvèdre or Monastrell, Grenache and Shiraz are very often seen as a GSM blend and if you ever find yourself trying a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or other Southern Rhône appellations, then you will most likely be drinking a similar blend. To see the M as the dominant grape variety is a little quirkier, but referring to it as the more pronounceable and spellable Mataró. While you’ll often see the grave accent on the French Mourvèdre, you’ll less frequently see the acute accent on the Catalan Mataró. Monastrell is Spanish and, really helpfully, between the two Iberian variants, they are also synonyms for other grapes. You have to keep your wits about you.

Now you’re confused … what about the wine? My notebook indicates that these notes were written on the second day the wine was open.

In the glass, appearance is medium intensity and a youthful ruby with just a touch of purple about it.

The nose shows berries, berry leaves and complexity in the form of licorice, tar and aniseed. On the palate, these aromas are rather reversed with the savoury characteristics, especially the spice and a cedar finish, outshining the fresh red and black berry fruit. I did note that the fruit was, unsurprisingly, a little diminished on the second day.

The wine has a good structure: acidity, tannins and alcohol are all in balance and the wine has a good length, with that lovely savoury finish.

As I typically prefer wines with something other than a bowlful of fresh fruit on the palate, this was right up my street. And, of course, immensely food friendly.

As is often the case with our local, this wine is a back vintage, but the current release (2012) is available from Tim Smith Wines for $28.

$25-$30 from Cellarbrations, Flagstaff Hill.
14.5% abv.

Pertaringa 2010 Undercover Shiraz


I feel like I should put a disclaimer on this – I’ve met socially a couple of people involved in Pertaringa and they’re really lovely. Of course that is going to colour how I feel about the wine. In addition, I don’t think I’ve had a wine from the Pertaringa/K1/Geoff Hardy stable that I haven’t enjoyed – and I have tried a few. If you’re a fan of alternative varieties, then these labels are a good place to start looking.

We don’t normally drink a lot of big South Australian Shiraz – we’re both much more likely to plump for a different variety (why, hello, Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo) and when we do drink the typical South Australian Shiraz it is usually something at a slightly higher price point with a bit of age on it.

All well and good but I was clearly in the mood for a big red when I bought this waaaay back in July. I have to say that at $19.99 (which is what I paid) this is definitely in the value for money bracket. You can easily pay more for a Shiraz that delivers less interest. This wine is very food friendly and approachable and that will make it a clever option for any time you need to take a wine somewhere. I figure that at this price point, a wine has to not make enemies. You should drink it, enjoy it and be sufficiently impressed that you would take it round to your mate’s house on the weekend for a BBQ or round to your mum’s house for Sunday roast. And by those criteria, the wine scores a big tick.

In the glass, the wine is intense purple-ruby in colour – it is young after all!

The nose is reasonably pronounced and shows vanilla, warm spice, blackberry and both black and red plum, with the black dominating.

In the mouth, I found this wine a trifle hot and this heat did rather dominate the wine’s finish. But it did have a ton of juicy black fruit, an almost over generous whack of vanilla and an ever so slightly savoury edge to it, adding a bit of interest. While the tannins were actually pretty grippy they do drop away so don’t be buying this wine for extended cellaring.

$20 from Cellarbrations, Flagstaff Hill.
14.5% abv.