A night of Aussies in SF last week.....winner takes all - Printable Version

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- TheEngineer - 04-17-2007 01:55 AM

I went to a wine tasting at a Friend's house one evening last week. It was his annual wine "every person has wine to drink" night and this year's theme was Australian wine.....something I know absolutely nothing about. People few in for this event held in SF from as far away as Hong Kong and Boston (Your's truly). This friend is tremendously knowledgeable about Californian wines and has been my mentor over the last year for Californian wines......along with everyone on this board!! [img][/img]

So the theme this year was sub $100 Australian wines that would wow a Californian wine focused crowd (Every single one of these people loved Californian wines first)...... $20 buy in and winner takes all except for the $5 which would be given to the person with the highest placed lowest cost wine of the night.....(somewhat subjective.....)

Here is our list in order from Winner and then down.

2004 Warrabilla Parola’s Durif Limited Release (Winner!!!) I've never had Durif (varietal) before but I'mn looking out for this one. Very nice textured wine, great complexity but the only downfall was a slight hint candy type of sweetness in the wine)
2003 Kaesler Barossa Valley Shiraz Old Bastard (Close second but the other was showing better but we anticipate that this would ultimately be better and more serious)
2004 Torbreck Barossa Valley The Stuie (My contribution)
2004 Mitolo G.A.M McLares Vale Shiraz
2005 Hewitson Private Cellar Shiraz Mouvedre
2004 Penfold’s Bin 407
2006 Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon (We knew someone was going to do this...but what does it say about the rest....$5 winner here.)
2005 D’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie (we were ALL surprised at this one....)
2005 Domaine Terlato & Charpoutier (Corked...too felt like such a NICE bottle...the body of this wine was unbelieveable even though it was corked but I will look for a bottle to try again)
2005 Leeuwin Estate Art Series (what the hell were they thinking at WS when they gave it a 91 points.....)
2003 Kilikanoon Clare Balley Covenant (difficult to swallow this one)
2002 Reynella Grenache (Very hard to drink this wine.......)

AT the end of the evening, to let us go away on a happy note:

2004 Caymus Special Selection, Napa Valley Love this ...04's are so much better than 03's

2003 Chateau Angelus: Lovely. not fat at all, low in acidity sure but not fat, great nose but I'm sure that I would have preferred a less atypical year.

I wonder what he is planning for next year? Whatever it is...I'm going....

[This message has been edited by TheEngineer (edited 04-17-2007).]

- Innkeeper - 04-17-2007 08:57 AM

Durif is Petite Sirah, or I should say Petite Sirah is Durif. Warrabilla used to call their Durif, Petite Sirah. We have two bottles of the regular 1999 bottling of Warrabilla Petite Sirah that we plan to pop sometime this year.

- winoweenie - 04-17-2007 10:00 AM

Eng if you look back at my posts on Santa Cruz Mtn Vineyards you'll find that this property makes one of the finest Duriffs in the USofA(IMHO). The founder, Ken Burnap, was the first to use this idenity for the grape and his 1977 was one of my defining wine moments. WW

- wondersofwine - 04-17-2007 12:49 PM

Sounds like a really fun time. I have had a Kilikanoon wine that I did really like--I think it was called Medley although it may have been the Oracle Shiraz. Kaesler Shiraz has been popular at Carolina Wine Company tastings but has not been one of my favorites from Down Under. Were you surprised that the D'Arenberg wine rated so far down the list? or surprised by something else about it? Some of us at the prior Finger Lakes offline (2004) had a tasting pour of '94 Caymus Special Selection thanks to Winoweenie. It was my second favorite after the Beaulieu Vineyards Georges De Latour Private Reserve. I also had a few sips of the 2000 Angelus at a tasting and really loved it but couldn't afford to purchase any.

- TheEngineer - 04-17-2007 02:46 PM

Thanks for the info on Durif! I never know...was gonna add that to my century club list... [img][/img] I won't now... But that is interesting because the Warrabilla did not taste like the agressive, grab-em by the neck and shake the hell out of the drinker wine that I would have expected, especially for an 2004. It was really nice drinking, abet full-on wine.

Very few of the group had a lot of knowledge about Australian wines and we were basing it on some of the writeups where D'Arenberg's appear to rate highly yet it was pretty much agreed upon that the bottle that we had none of us liked much.

- brappy - 04-18-2007 04:54 AM

Great tasting Eng! Except maybe the Yellow Tail.

So, some questions...

Where is someone getting the "Bastard" for less than $100?

Which Leeuwin Estate Art Series did you taste?

Which Covenant?

And some thoughts:

Kilikanoon makes some great wines. Don't give up on this producer. the '04s were killers. Especially the Cabs.

The Leeuwin Estate Art Series really shines with the Chardonnay and the Riesling. This is from Western Australia and in a completely different style from the rest of the wines from Southern Australia.

I'm surprised the "Laughing Magpie" didn't show better and I wonder if the bottle may have been flawed.

Kaesler "Old Bastard" is a great wine, even if I can't find it for less than $100. Keep going with this producer. The "Bogan", "Old Vines", etc are all great. Seriously great wine.

Again, great tasting, wish I was there....


- newsguy - 04-18-2007 12:59 PM

agree that kaesler makes very nice wines at all price points. my favorites, especially considering cost, are "the bogan" and "old vines."

surprised no one's talked up torbreck yet on this thread. david powell makes great juice at all price points as well, but at much smaller production levels than kaesler. (and he seems to be a really nice guy, too.) my favorite, value included, probably is "the struie". his flagship "run rig" bottling can match up with an aussie wine out there, bar none.

and FYI: california dominates my wine purchases, but australia is the clear no. 2.

[This message has been edited by newsguy (edited 04-18-2007).]

- brappy - 04-18-2007 03:11 PM

You're right. David Powell is a great guy; one of the best tastings one could do is a horizontal tasting of his wines.

We could keep going.

Mitolo is crafted by Ben Glaetzer, who is following in the footsteps of his father - who makes Glaetzer wines. It's great tasting through a line-up of these wines as well.

Hewitson is no slouch either. Though I believe the line-up of these wines falls into a more refined, or old world style, I still have about 1.5 cases left of the '03s and '04s. Also great juice.

And then on to Penfold's. Bin 407 is the value selection Cab Sauv and is great for the price. but move up to the 707 and you'll see what they're capable of. Even Grange has a small percentage of Cab every vintage. However Shiraz is where they really shine as evidenced from there value line-up bins 28, and 128. Then there's the St. Henri. But for a real treat, RWT, which is Gago's baby, is the best value which just seems to get better every year.

Sorry, I'm rambling....


- winoweenie - 04-18-2007 08:10 PM

Dint we fergit the 389? WW

- brappy - 04-18-2007 11:31 PM

That one and many others. Last summer I tasted a Koonunga Hill Claret '76. This baby was showing beautifully. I tasted this with Peter Gago and he told me this was released for about $.85/bottle. So a case for $10.20. Hindsight is definately 20/20. But then again, I was 7yrs old. [img][/img]

- newsguy - 04-18-2007 11:46 PM

brappy: i'm with you on the RWT, for sure.

WW: i've been disappoint with the 389 for a few vintages in a row (including the '01 and the '02, which were very good years). i think the quality of the juice they're using simply has gone downhill. what do you say? i'm just VERY glad i have a few '96s and '98s left! [img][/img]

- TheEngineer - 04-19-2007 12:49 AM

Brappy, the Old Bastard was brought in from Hong Kong by an older gentlemen who was good friends with a merchant. Regular price would be higher than $100. As it was, it was REAAAALLLY close to $100...had to watch the daily spot rates to make sure it fit.

It was really fun and all of us were really looking forward to it. Most of us did a bit of research in order to find a bottle to match the palate.... [img][/img] We were hoping that someone would show up with an old Grange that fit in the price catalogue, or a Penfold 707 or a number of others but none of us were surprised with what showed up, except for the Combo with Chapoutier. Has anyone else tried this??

- winoweenie - 04-19-2007 09:46 AM

Newsie I was actually referring to the 92 389 that I put in depth in the cellar. Haven't bought too many Aussies outside of the 707 since 96. WW

- wondersofwine - 04-19-2007 02:33 PM

I was thinking I had tried the Torbreck Run Rig at a tasting but perhaps not. The top Aussies on the night in question were a Veritas "Hamish" Shiraz and a Three Rivers Shiraz--both excellent.

- brappy - 04-19-2007 04:24 PM

Haven't tried that one Eng. Do you know where the wine is made? Or at least where the grapes are grown? The other night I had a '94 Chapoutier Cote Rotie. Didn't score real well with the critics but scored beautifully on my palate. I'd like to try something from Chapoutier made in Australia.


- TheEngineer - 04-19-2007 05:52 PM


The grapes and wine are from Australia (kinsa like a Lurton in Argentina). Chapoutier is a partner in the company and lends expertise. I've never seen this wine in the US. It was brought in specifically from Australia for this event....