This past year, not unlike the previous one, was both momentous and often challenging. There were a number of life-changing events in 2017, most importantly the birth of my son which put a hold on podcast episodes and Let’s Taste videos. What his birth couldn’t change was the second vintage of the now named and released Vino Intrepido brand, and it was very difficult to leave home in the months after to visit the winery. Balancing work and personal became even more challenging starting a new position with importer Enoteca Sydney, and I was contemplating putting the podcast on indefinite hiatus. That was until I was invited to be part of the Melbourne podcast network Ear Buds, which saw me get The Vincast out to a bigger audience, and also hold the first ever live recording at Noisy Ritual in Brunswick East. I’ve got big plans for 2018; more wine, more podcast episodes, more live events, more everything!
Of course many more bottles were opened on the IntrepidWino YouTube channel, and as always I feel incredibly privileged to share my impressions of how awesome Australian wine is. Many thanks to those individuals and companies who submitted samples, and thanks to the growers and winemakers who put in so much hard work to get such incredible booze into the bottle. The following wines were some of the most impactful that I opened for Let’s Taste in 2017, please let me know what you think in the comments below.
Amato Vino Nebbiolo 2014
I was thrilled to look at a few Amato wines early in the year, two outstanding Northern Italian varieties, and the Nebbiolo 2014 is one of the best examples I’ve seen in Australia. Complex and vibrant, slender but expressive, so much going on with very little inputs.
This has long been a favourite nebbiolo of mine from Australia, and it just shows that Brad has a really exceptional innovative approach, is very experienced but is not afraid to try something a little bit different.
Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz 2004
From my own cellar, after having interviewed two different winemakers who have been at the helm of Mount Langi Ghiran, this was my last bottle of Langi Shiraz 2004. One of the earliest vintages to have been bottled under screw cap I was very interested to see how such an iconic Australian red wine had developed.
Wonderful depth, really does linger quite beautifully on the palate, at 13 years old it is criminally too young… it could go for another 15 years or so. Still wonderfully fresh, very very solid sound wine from a very good vintage…
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Tasted not long after the birth of my son, I’m always honoured to receive samples from Margaret River icon Moss Wood. Another red wine from the 2014 vintage, showing how good that vintage could be in the region. Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of cabernet sauvignon, this was an exceptional example of this variety.
This is a classic cabernet vintage for Margaret River in my opinion, I’ve tasted quite a few… this is one you could drink now but you really do owe it to yourself to put it down for a good 10-20 years because it will benefit from age.
Old Mate ‘It’s Lit’ Riesling 2016
Good friend and supporter Sam Jorgensen was over from Perth with his partner Stacey, and they joined us at home for a lovely dinner over a few bottles of wine. As he brought along a bottle of his own wine from the 2016 vintage, I thought it would be a great opportunity to taste and chat about it. So two bearded reprobates are on this video, and I was thrilled to taste his awesome and unique expression of riesling from Western Australia.
A lot of freshness, good acidity to that, and I think that’s really helpful for… a nice counter to the skin contact element, but there’s enough fruit there that’s keeping it, it’s got a bit of juiciness as well.
Out of Step “Catbird” 2017
As far as daring balls-to-the-wall styles of wine, I couldn’t go past this example from good friend and mentor David Chatfield from Out of Step Wine Co. This new and highly experimental wine is a 100% whole-bunch sauvignon blanc, which doesn’t sound so wild but is not a technique used with white varieties, let alone sauvignon blanc. I trust these guys as they are one of the most exciting producers of this much maligned grape in Australia.
It’s got this kind of electricity to it, it almost feels like it has a bit of a spritz… it’s fascinating, there’s kind of a brambly character… it’s so mind-bending to see this character with a white wine.
Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2016
The first wine of a guest of the podcast this year was from Matt Holmes, chief winemaker at Bannockburn Vineyard in Geelong. They have a long pedigree of outstanding wines, particularly pinot noir, and Matt has continued this pedigree with great aplomb. I’m very excited to see what direction Matt takes the Bannockburn wines in.
It has freshness but it is… brimming with bold notes, it’s vibrant and it’s really lovely. It is a wine that’s lovely and plush, you could drink it now, with freshness it’s going to be good with food as well, you can probably cellar that for 4-5 years.
Mitchell Harris ‘Sabre’ 2013
Another guest from The Vincast who donated wine for me to taste was John Harris from Mitchell Harris Wines. With his previous experience at Chandon Australia it’s clear to see he has an incredible ability to produce great sparkling wine, and the 2013 Sabre was one of the best bubbles I tasted in 2017.
It’s very much a food style of bubbles, you could easily have this as an aperitif but I think it will be better with certain foods, because it does have a little bit of richness to it, a little bit of creaminess, some nice texture as well. Really really solid bubbles, and for the price you’re not paying enough.
Galli Estate ‘Camelback’ Sangiovese 2015
Yet another podcast guest, this time Ben Ranken who runs the operations at Galli Estate. Focusing on Italian varieties, Galli has two vineyards, one in Sunbury and the other in Heathcote. I looked at two Heathcote wines side-by-side, and was blown away at the freshness, honesty and value of the Camelback Sangiovese from 2015. Can’t wait to work with some of this fruit in 2018! Hope you enjoy this video with my 2018 tasting buddy, Oliver Scarcebrook, and also the new official Let’s Taste glass!
Fresh, juicy, really very solid in the mid-palate, not heaps of elegance but that’s one of the beauties of sangiovese is you can make these lovely juicy fresh varietal examples that talk of the variety and talk of the place… really really excellent value.
Tahbilk Marsanne 2017
I’m so excited about the quality of the white wines from 2017. There were a number of great ones I’ve seen already, but one of the highlights – particularly considering the price – was the 2017 Tahbilk Marsanne. A perennial over-achiever and one of the most famous white wines this country has ever produced, another cracker!
Really excellent drinking if you like a lighter, aromatic white wine, stainless-steel made white wine… It’s pretty hard to beat Tahbilk Marsanne, it is consistently one of the best value wines in Australia, and I highly recommend it.