Tag Archives: Rhone Valley

The Vincast with Ben Haines from Mount Langi Ghiran

Ben Haines wasn’t sure what he wanted to do as a career, but his father sensed that the wine industry would be a great option. After studies and experience in viticulture, he discovered that quality doesn’t stop once the grapes are harvested, it continues all the way through to bottling. Postgraduate studies in winemaking lead him on a career path that would include vintage experiences overseas, and eventually led he was appointed chief winemaker at famed Grampians estate, Mount Langi Ghiran. Ben spoke about his journey on this episode of The Vincast.

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Ben Haines from Mount Langi Ghiran

Ben Haines from Mount Langi Ghiran

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Sunday Tasting Group – Northern Rhone wines

The Bentleigh Tasting Group has reconvened recently, and has also relocated thus necessitating a name-change. It’s been a while since I’ve joined this group of mostly sommeliers, so I’m a bit rusty on my blind tasting. It’s also been even longer since I’ve delved into the Northern Rhone Valley, not really since I was actually there in May of 2012. I found myself thinking back to my visits and tastings, considering the specifics of each appellation. But as always, the notes are from my blind tasting finishing with my guess as to the origin and vintage, and you can see how close I was. Some pretty amazing wines and a really interesting cross-section of styles in this one.

Doing it in style at The Point Albert Park

Doing it in style at The Point Albert Park

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The Vincast with Peter Scudamore-Smith MW

Peter Scudamore-Smith was Australia’s second ever Master of Wine, the most illustrious title and qualification one can receive in the wine industry. He has led a fascinating life of wine, and he joined me on the first episode of 2015 to discuss his origins in wine, working in both Australian and European wine markets, and how his love of Italy and France has led him to take tours there as part of his business Uncorked and Cultivated.

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Peter Scudamore-Smith MW

Peter Scudamore-Smith MW

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Eurocentric Tasting – 9/07/2013

Neville Yates imports wines from Europe, South Africa and New Zealand under his Eurocentric banner. I was first introduced to him when I was the wine buyer for King & Godfree, tasting a few of the wines with him. On my journey I visited some German wineries and caught up with several more at Prowein, leading me to surmise that he has one of the best collection of German producers in Australia. His range is eclectic at times with more than a few ‘natural’ producers that come up with some interesting examples. He was showing some of the new arrivals at Pei Modern in Melbourne.

Francesco Scanavino Diamant Blanc 2008
Very classic metodo classico nose. Generous fruit, fairly simple and clean on the front, hint if creamy texture.

Lancelot-Pienne Blanc de Blancs
Fairly developed open autolysis notes, very yeasty bready. Nice oxidative citrus.

Champagne Geoffroy Expression Brut
Cleaner tighter yeast notes. Rounder more earthy savoury dark berry notes, heavier on the pinot noir?

Champagne Secret Rosé
Open generous ripe red fruit nose, but tight fine and crisp savoury texture on the palate.

Champagne Chartogne-Taillet Rosé Brut
Fine pure but very complex cheesy charcuterie nose. Bold full expressive combination of red citrus and subtle savoury meats.

Benoit Ente Bourgogne Aligoté 2009
Oak dominant chardonnay style. Soft gentle vanilla creamy texture, some white peach.

Gautheron Chablis 2011
Sharp fig kiwi skin, overly leesy. Flat and dull.

Domaine Oudin Chablis 2009
Rich creamy buttery chardonnay openness. Overworked flabby lacking focus and crispness.

Domaine Arnaud Tessier Meursault Casse-Tetes 2010
Nice developed stone fruit and oak maturity integrated. Bold and generous but not heavy or hot, fairly rich and creamy from malo, but elegant and complex.

Arnaud Ente 2008 Meursault
Much more exuberant and flintier, more citrus than stone. Fuller smokier toaster, better malo integration, dense.

Dombeya Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2011
Big whack of ripe creamy juicy pineapple. Fairly soft subtle but showing that sweet vanilla pineapple crumble character.

Domaine Montvac Mélodine Vacqueyras 2011
Spicy quince apricot kernel. Open light round spice fruit friendliness.

Willi Schaefer Graacher Trocken 2011
Clean pure lime sherbet. Crisp very light pure and excellent for the price.

Schloss Lieser Dry 2011
More intense mineralic ripe deep fruit notes. More intensity and character, fuller fresher.

Emrich-Schönleber Monziger Halenberg Trocken 2011
Slightly earthy red soil minerality, subtle orange sherbet. Bold texture, generosity and density of fruit and acid.

Rebholz Kastanienbusch GG 2011
Open savoury earthy natural wild style. Subtle subdued broad. Singular.

Pierre Frick Riesling 2010
Candied oxidised pear banana caramel. Nondescript middling Alsace wine.

Grunhauser Bruderberg 2011
Intense quince floral kumquat notes. Density of viscosity and sugar, nice bite of acidic quince notes.

Emrich-Schönleber Lenz 2010
On the stripped side, de-acidified? Flat on the finish.

Forstmeister Geltz Zilliken Riesling 2009
Nice density and ripeness. Great depth and character, dry sweet well-balanced.

William Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Kabinett 2011
Spicy savoury mineral complexity, nice lively fruit profile, round and yet brisk.

Fritz Haag Brauneberger Kabinett 2011
Very quiet subtle nose, but delivering plenty on the palate, wonderful length and focus, but plenty of personality.

Rebholz Birkweiler Kastanienbusch Spätlese 2011
Wild green pepper spice fig. Generosity yet exquisitely balanced sweetness. Loving this producer.

Schäfer Frölich Halenberg Spätlese 2009
Nice talcy flinty lifted citrus floral minerality. Bold full viscous sweetness, but just a hint of complex savouriness.

Schäfer-Fröhlich Halenberg Spätlese 2005
Nice generous soft rich ripe but not heavy. Still plenty of life but looking simple currently.

Dombeya Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch 2012
Tight green under-ripe.

Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc South Africa 2012
Big tropical passion fruit. Delivers exactly what people want and is very good to boot.

Sebastian Riffault Akmèniné Sancerre 2008 (naturel)
Smells like pure honey. But still dry. Interesting, not sure it’s great though. Hipster wine?

Intellego Chenin Blanc 2011 Swartland
Interesting texturally. Different in terms of fruit to Vouvray etc.

Domaine de la Tournelle Trousseau des Corvées 2011
Clean sharp precise but good personality. Most certainly a food wine.

Roland Pignard Beaujolais Villages 2010
Strawberry spice. Very lovely.

Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Les Charmes 2011
Lean spicy under-ripe.

Pierre Thillardon Chenas Les Boccards 2010
Mean and lean, sharp.

Emile Ballard Le Grand Chemin 2008
Nice soft berry notes. Still on the sharp acidic side, a little aldehydic.

Scanavino Barbera d’Asti 2011
Tight brisk, great balance of dark fruits and spicy mulberry.

Domaine Des Espiers Cotes Du Rhone 2011
Bright fresh sufficiently savoury spicy but light and friendly with a touch of length.

Domaine Des Espiers Gigondas 2010
Earthy savoury spice, base of dark fruits underneath. Round soft yet fresh savoury red berries.

Domaine Faury Syrah 2011
Quite spicy and peppery. On the boring side…

Domaine Faury Saint Joseph 2009
A tad too much sweet oak.

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Cave Roger Sabon – 21/05/2012

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2011
Nice juicy green fruit nose, slight floral edge. Good volume and texture, freshness, pear dried peach and apple. Good balance, alcohol well handled, depth and expression, delicate fruit.

Cotes-du-Rhone 2010
Classic CDR spice, earthy savouriness, good cured meat notes with blackcurrants. Very full bold juicy and warm, mouth-filling fruit , sweet plump and juicy, very generous and plummy, not in the least bit subtle. Lingering spiciness on the palate.

Lirac 2010
More ruby juby and floral fruit-sweetness, violets honey and sweet smoky ham. Soft velvety opulent and concentrated on the palate, generous forgiving tannins, subtle spice, extension, breadth and freshness.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reserve 2009
More subtle closed nose, integrated oak and earth elements, wonderful concentration yet elegance. Subtlety, complexity of oak earth, savoury spice, almost like a four-course meal. Plump berries, fine tannins, extension on the back palate, approachable yet ageable.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Prestige 2009
More oak influence, chocolate & banana jaffle, darker berries, jammier concentration. Fuller more extractive, oakier texture, still very elegant balance, good freshness and approachability.

Le Secret de Sabon 2006
Very subtle and restrained maturity, still bright in the berry notes, not plummy or fat at all. Juicy and concentrated, full and weighty, purity of fruit, well managed oak and alcohol, concentrated acidity, but still needs a lot of time.

Cave Roger Sabon

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Chateau La Nerthe – 21/05/2012

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2011
Nice grassy green citrus apple and pear notes, minerality and sunlight. Wonderful texture volume and depth, breadth character expression and power. Very bold fruit but also very young.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2008
Deep dark fruit, earthy and leathery, wild boar spice, yet very precise and fine. Wonderful complexity depth and also savoury, looking very young and exuberant, opulent and accessible with velvety tannins.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2007
Darker ruby floral elements, juicier nose, less earthy complexity. Very full generous and powerful, yet with soft tannins and fruit. Good volume without the same extension, both fresher and simpler.

Cuvee des Cadettes 2006
Clearly a big oak influence, chocolaty blackcurrant plum, very fruit- and oak-sweet nose, creamy nutty caramel spice. Wow concentration of tannins and fruit, very bold and powerful with a nice velvety finish. Needs a lot of time.

Chateau La Nerthe

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Chateau de Beaucastel – 21/05/2012

Roussanne Vielles Vignes 2010
Spicy floral apricot and honey with some nashi and cumquat. Ripe rich fruit-full and bold, very textured warm and spicy, youthful and heavy, very powerful.

Chateau de Beaucastel Rouge 2009
Spicy violets, crushed red earthy flinty mineral rhubarb. Fresh bold bright and vibrant, good clean tannins, full warm and powerful, elegant yet approachable.

Chateau de Beaucastel Rouge 2005
Denser and earthier, quite full and still quite tight yet picking up some maturity on the nose. Full teture and depth, generous yet developing leathery tannins.

Chateau de Beaucastel Rouge 2001
Stinky reductive and funky, showing bret notes, greatly developed yet subtle. Showing a lot of complexity, balsamic, slightly faecal, quite long with subdued fruit, very shut-down on the palate.

A large bottle of Chateau de Beaucastel

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Clos des Papes – 21/05/2012

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2011
Very creamy, rich with vanilla and biscuit, quite textural ripe and carrying some residual sugar. Melon, pear, apple fruit, creamy thanks to malolactic, wonderful depth and purity.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2004
Starting to get some mature notes of apricot blossom, honey, dried fruits, a little like mature riesling in fact. Rich volume, fruit sweetness, creamy almonds ice cream, rich fulla nd evolved.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2010
Olive (black) oil, very spicy peppery with blackberries. Extremely tight and bold, very concentrated, crushed herbs, cumin, brambly and tight.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2009
Rubier fruitier plummier and bolder, more simple chocolate pie. Bold jammy fruit explosion, face smash, alcohol, well integrated clean finish. Power and restraint but very big.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2004
Showing the bottle development on the nose, stinky earthy wild fungal but still subtle. Silky refined elegant and savoury on the palate, gentle caressing tannins, still fresh and young however.

Clos des Papes

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Neither here nor there (Rhone Valley, France – Day Seven)

After seven days in the Rhone Valley I feel much more comfortable with the wines, people and terroir. Of course there were a number of very cult producers that I would have liked to visit, but they are notoriously difficult to get appointments with. I think it is more important that I visited a number of key producers that work across many appelations, so that I can see how interpretations may differ or be similar. I’ve certainly had my fill of syrah and grenache based wines, but would like to get more experience with the white, rose and sweet wines of the region. It is so interesting to see how different philosophies and approaches can both produce outstanding but different wine. Take the last two appointments I had in the region; the first was with a producer that not only has vineyards in both the Northern and Southern Rhone Valley (quite rare), they also have vineyards in other regions in France, Portugal and even Australia, producing millions of bottles each year; the second producer is a much smaller cult producer only working with fruit from three appelations in the Northern Rhone Valley.

Hermitage vineyards above Tain l’Hermitage

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Alain Voge – 28/05/2012

Harmonie Saint Peray 2010 (100% marsanne)

Floral white peach pear and apple aromas. Bright fresh and very tight acid structure, generous volume with bright freshness and crispness, textured salinity and minerality.

Terres Boisees Saint Peray 2010 (100% marsanne)

Honey cheese and citrus aromas with clear barrel fermented character reminiscent of white burgundy. Textural yet lifted finesse on the palate, a tad reductive and closed for now with some green fruit notes that will develop over time.

Fleur de Crussol Saint Peray 2010

Very tight mineral limestone notes, with flinty complexity and citrus green apricot fruits. Textural depth, concentration and density, very young and deserving of cellaring.

Saint Joseph 2009

Intense violet aromas with earth and spiced meat over black fruits. Very tight and focused on the palate, showing intensity but also finesse, youthful and exuberant.

Cornas Les Vielles Vignes 2008

A challenging wine from a challenging vintage. Spicy pepper, red cherries, pomegranates and dark floral notes on the nose. Gentle sweet tannins yet pure precise and linear, delicate integrity with finesse and length. Stunning.

Cornas Les Chailles 2009

Ruby juby and sweet dark fruit, red liquorice with sweet Indian spice on the nose. Bold broad but high on the palate, dense tannins with a slightly astringent finish from youth, quite forward and full, needs to settle in the bottle more.

Cornas Les Vielles Vignes 2009

More savoury red spice roasted notes aromatically, with elegant violets, dark fruits and chocolate. Gentle mellow and bright on the palate, juicy voluptuous tannins and elegant softens, approachable yet fine and bold.

Cornas Les Vielles Fontaines 2009

Very subtle black fruits, florals and some sweet oak aromas. Full accentuated expression, very warm and powerful in structure and tannins, dark and masculine, big and intense.

Cornas Les Vielles Vignes 2010 (barrel sample)

Youthful and exuberant, wonderful concentration and balance, powerful fruit expression that carries through the whole palate. Amazing potential for ageing, will live for at least 40 years.

Saint Peray Cremant

Bright peach and apple fruit aromas, very fresh and fine acids. Pleasant profile and bead.
Cornas tasting at Alain Voge

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