Several important wine critics have indicated that the Austrian white grape variety gruner veltliner presents amazing potential for cultivation in Australia. My sommelier friend James Dossan and I sit down to chat about the origin of the grape, the classic styles made in Austria, and then proceed to taste through a range of different wines from Austria, New Zealand and Australia.
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For the fifth year in a row, Margaret River producer Voyager Estate hosted a masterclass in Melbourne and other Australian cities to benchmark new releases of some of their wines. This was my second time at this event; one of my first entries on this blog spoke about the first time back in September of 2011, just before I left for my trip. The exercise is designed to show sommeliers, buyers and media that Voyager is very confident about the quality of their wine against exceptional examples from around the world. Showing even more hubris, they do this against their three key wines; chardonnay, shiraz and a cabernet/merlot blend. That’s serious chutzpah.
Gippsland Chardonnay 2010
Subtle and elegant, citrus pith. Intense lean straight elegant finesse and length. My kind of chardonnay.
Quartz Reef Pinot Noir 2010
Bright juicy floral pretty red fruit nose. Very intense and a little hot. Too concentrated.
Bannockburn Syrah 2010
Tight but very vibrant lifted aromas, juicy purple fruits but nice green spice and pepper. Bright juicy fresh yet fine and balanced in the palate.
Body Electric Sparkling Riesling 2010
Steely crisp and bright. Quite vibrant and fresh, a little maderised if that’s possible. A little bead, more frizzante.
Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Nice green herbal asparagus green beans. Very green herbaceous profile, tight and great though.
Cowley Pinot Noir 2010
Intense red purple fruits, full and a touch over extracted, under fruited. Thin.
Howell Cabernet Franc 2010
Savoury olive green spice earthiness. Juicy intense but again on the green and thin side.
Angel Flower Pinot Noir 2010
Floral fine and restrained. Juicy and intense but lifted, on the hot side and a touch too astringent.
Earth Smoke Pinot Noir 2010
More intense brooding masculine nose. Juicier and bolder but long and fine. Still too early, a little bit weedy.
Pinot Blanc 2012
Steely light fresh pure, limited white fruit notes. Some richness and depth on the palate, 6gm RS.
Pinot Gris 2012
A little richer and riper, more lifted floral stone fruits. Denser wilder earthier texture, lacking depth somehow.
Wanaka Road Pinot noir 2010
Bold juicy full and intense, very bright with soft dark fruits. Full and warm but balanced. Generosity.
Pinot noir 2011
Finer and more elegant, restrained yet concentrated. Bold but better integration and balance. Plenty of alcohol.
Back in 2011 not long before I left for my trip I attended a media lunch at Vue de Monde with Blair Walter from Felton Road, by accident. I should have been there the day before at the trade lunch but got mixed up, and somehow was able to stay with the illustrious likes of James Halliday, Jane Faulkner, Jeni Port, Dan Sims, Ben Edwards, Matt Skinner and a number of other Melbourne-based journalists and educators. Feeling very guilty and intimidated I then had the fortune of sitting next to Blair himself for the tasting of the entire range of new releases and then the insane lunch prepared by the Vue staff on the hundred-and-whatever floor of the Eureka Building. Over the many courses we were all regaled by tales from the god of Australian Wine James Halliday working the classic 1983 vintage in Burgundy, which not only put me further in awe of his legacy but also look forward to my trip in the hopes I would have even half the experience. That surreal afternoon will stay with me and created quite the connection with Felton Road wines. This week I had the chance to catch up with Blair again as he was in town for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, and taste a few of the wines.
Bannockburn Chardonnay 2011
Nice hit of lees autolysis and pithy lemon and lime, flinty volcanic minerality, very slightly toasty. Fairly rich and round, nice and creamy on the back but focused and clean acids. Fairly fruit bold and good level of ripeness. Warmish.
Block 2 Chardonnay 2011
Denser and darker fruit, more stone than citric, slightly more oak and lees characters. Fuller heavier, more fruit and denser texture. Richer, more expressive mid-palate and showing youthful oak and alcohol. Powerful yet subtle expression given time.
Bannockburn Riesling 2012
Bright blossomy florals, a touch musky with some candied citrus. Crisp yet soft with the combination of acid and RS. Gentle subtle and long, caresses the palate in a moorish way. Very long acidity certainly mineralic.
Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2012
Bright dark stalky earthy black fruits, blackberries and black cherry, very exuberant. Dense and forward, a little short on the palate for now, not integrate yet. Concentrated fruit and small bunch at that, a touch sharp at the moment.
Cornish Point Pinot Noir 2011
A little more restrained in colour. More focused and less varietal, earthy and more red in fruit, stormy and deep. More elegant and balanced on the palate, showing great mid-palate structure and exceptional length. Fruit needs more time to express itself, a bit closed under selection and barrel. Certainly more terroir-driven and individual.
|Felton Road Tasting
Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 1998
Subtle dried coconut, lemon butter, creamy oily nuts. Subtle rich and creamy texture, oily and dense. Soft mid palate, exceptionally long.
|Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 1998
Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Riesling 2004
Very oily and keroseney, kumquat quince and orange blossom. A little closed flat and thin, creamy oily lanolin, lemon butter.
|Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Riesling 2004
Josef Chromy Pinot Gris 2012
Light crisp and spicy on the nose, a little orange rind and cinnamon. Full oily and a little sweet, warmish and a little aggressive, not enough fruit to support the weight.
|Josef Chromy Pinot Gris 2012
Teusner ‘The Empress’ Riesling 2011 (Eden Valley)
Lovely crisp fresh citrussy lime and lemon, hints of white peach and green apples, slight flicks of minerality. Very vibrant fruit, juicy and full, bold in flavour and lacking in zingy acids compared to European examples, nice breadth and extension on the palate.
|Teusner The Empress Eden Valley Riesling 2011