Archive for October, 2012

Toscar Monastrell 2011

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Spain
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Toscar Monastrell 2011

Vintage: 2011

Style: Medium to full bodied red

Country: Spain 

Region: Alicante 

Overview: The comedian Dylan Moran, once said: “There are two types of wine, essentially, and everybody knows this. There’s the one where you drink it and go, “Mmmm, well that’s ok, can we get 8 of those please? Give us 8 of those.” There’s the other one, you know, where you go “Ga…bt…jesus, WHAT is that?” Very, very occasionally I concede you will hit a subtle one. You know, where you go “Ga…ba…ah, actually that’s not that bad, that is. It’s quite nice.”

This wine did that very thing to me. When I first tasted it I thought it to be bitter and a little astringent. Now, normally in this case I would find another wine to drink but this time I was in the bath and could not be bothered, so I persevered. I found that with time this wine completely changed! At first it freaked me out; I thought my expectations were dropping, that I was getting a little too lenient, that I wasn’t being tough enough on obvious faults! But I actually found that as this wine ‘opened up’ this bitter, green character developed into a lovely, strawberry yoghurt flavour and when left open over night this wine became totally balanced and integrated.

The reason why I wasn’t expecting this was the price of the wine. I was expecting to open this little cheapie and have a nice quaffer but, as the Spaniards have done to me before I was surprised by how complex this wine became with contact to oxygen.

It you do buy this wine I insist you decant it before even tasting it, for at least 2 hours.

 

Tasting note: Plum and dried herbs on the nose. A plummy palate, smoky spice, fresh strawberry mingling with strawberry yoghurt. Good length, a decent buy for the price.

Final Say: $12-$15 a bottle, a great value wine. Will need decanting or some time in the cellar, maybe 2 to 3 years.

 

Score: 16 out of 20

 

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Also, check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

Jack Davis

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Helen’s Hill ‘The Nemesis’ Arneis 2011

Vintage: 2011

Style: Dry, lightly oaked white

Country: Australia 

Region: Yarra Valley 

Overview: Arneis is known as the ‘Little Rascal’ in Piedmont as it is a difficult variety to grow. It is as ‘Little Rascal’ to me because every time I type the word Arneis I, without fail, always spell it Arnies and then, through some kind of Pavlovian response I have to yell “Get to the chopper!” It’s a nightmare for me and anyone who is around me at the time.

Arneis is a variety made famous by the Piedmont region in Italy and can be made in a number of ways, typically fermented in stainless steel and then left on ‘lees’, the sediment left by yeast at the end of the fermentation process, this lees contact adds texture to the wine. It can also be fermented in oak to give it a bit more body and complexity. This Arneis was made in the latter style with another dimension of complexity granted by a ‘Wild Yeast’ fermentation. Wild Yeast is not some kind of crazy party animal as the name would suggest but the natural yeast that lives in wineries which can impart some very interesting characters that you can’t get from typical cultured yeast (depending on the species present sometimes Wild Yeast can be unpredictable).

The gamble has paid off for this wine. It is one of the better Aussie Arneis I have tried. Before reading the tasting notes please take a moment to think of the people around me at the time of writing this review.

Tasting note: A funky nose, pear and toasty oak. Pear on the palate, almonds, creamy with subtle oak integration. A very good food wine. Don’t bother cellaring this wine, enjoy it right now!

Final Say: GET TO THE CHOPPER! And buy this wine. $30 bucks a bottle and a great alternative to Chardonnay

 

Score: 17.5 out of 20

 

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Also, check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

Jack Davis

 

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Picante Grande Meseta Tempranillo Shiraz 2010

Vintage: 2010

Style: Medium bodied red

Country: Spain 

Region: Central Spain 

Overview When selecting this wine I was choosing something that I believed would be a simple drink. Nothing mind blowing or overly complex, just a nice drink that I could sit down, put my feet up and enjoy. It was probably the price tag that made me think this, $11.99 I think I bought it for. The wine in the glass, however punched well above its weight, floored me, put me down for the count and made me feel guilty that I was drinking this on my own and not sharing it. I should have seen it coming really, those Spaniards are notorious for making great, inexpensive red wines. Where I really discovered the great potential of this wine was when I matched it with food, the spice and fresh fruit came to life when paired with fennel seed and pepper crusted pork.

Tempranillo and Shiraz are great partners. I’ve seen many, great cheap wines of this blend out of both Spain and Italy. Both have different dimensions of fruit and spice that lend to one another. This wine does not see oak which adds vibrancy and freshness which can sometimes be missing in a red wine.

This wine has the Spitting:Optional guarantee. Try it and if you don’t like it I will not give you back any money but subject you to a stern talking to.

Tasting note: An attractive, floral nose with tones of strawberry, blueberry and white pepper these characters carry on to the palate with savoury spice, crushed rosemary and finishes with grainy tannins. It is reminiscent of a good, entry level Cote du Rhone.

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Final Say: Looking for an inexpensive wine to impress with? Look no further, pick it up for between $11 and $15 and enjoy.

 

Score: 18 out of 20 (90 out of 100)

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Castle Rock Estate Riesling 2010

Vintage: 2010

Style: Dry White

Country: Australia 

Region: Great Southern, WA 

Overview When asked what my favourite wine is I always reply with ‘It depends on the food I’m having.” I believe that I do not give into favouritism but my partner will disagree and my cellar would support this argument. Riesling is definitely the most prominent variety in my collection of white wines yet in the market place this variety does not share the popularity that it has in this house. When you ask someone in the industry what wine they think will overtake the behemoth Sauvignon Blanc most will answer, “Hopefully Riesling but probably Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay.”

Riesling is the darling variety for people in the industry, we all love it and are frustrated by the fact that the wider market place refuses to embrace this wonderful grape. Perhaps it’s like a maternal/paternal instinct, that we want to nurture the underdog, we want to see it succeed!

In the industry we’ve recently seen winemakers experimenting with Riesling, trialling barrel ferments, wild ferments and lees stirring but I have always found that it is the purity of Riesling that makes it so appealing. Which brings me to this wine. So pure it is that it should not be called Castle Rock Riesling but The Virgin Mother Riesling.

 

Tasting note: Aromas of lime and granny smith apples, these characters are evident on the palate also and are joined by a saltiness and clean, austere minerality. The racy acid on the finish keeps this wine lingering for long after each sip.

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Final Say: So pure it’s holy. A great buy for $20 a bottle. Will develop over the next 2-6 years.

 

Score: 18.5 out of 20 (93 out of 100)

 

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Also, check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

Jack Davis

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Prunotto Occhetti Nebbiolo d’Alba 2009

Vintage: 2009

Style: Full bodied red.

Country: Italy 

Region: Piedmont, d’Alba 

Overview: I have never imagined Nebbiolo as a pretty or elegant variety, it is a brute that requires manhandling to make it do what winemakers want it to do and even then it remains defiant. Nebbiolo is a variety that is lighter in colour but higher in tannins. It requires extended aging in oak for the tannins to soften. When young and unoaked these tannins would be far too aggressive to be a pleasurable drink. Imagine trying to drink a cup of black tea made from 20 teabags that had been left over night to infuse. When these tannins soften the spice and herbal characters of this grape shines but still Nebbiolo really needs a few years in the bottle to come into its own.

The most famous example of wines made from the Nebbiolo grape is Barolo. Barolo wines are produced in Piedmont of Italy and must be at least 90% Nebbiolo. Some Barolo can spend up to five years in oak and 3 years in the bottle aging. It has been said that a Barolo needs at least 10 years aging before it is approachable.

The wine in this review spent 1 year on oak but is from the d’Alba region which grows a more approachable style of Nebbiolo but in saying that I did find the tannins were quite powerful without food. With food where this wine really impresses. Tannin needs protein to bind to so have this with red meat, piles and piles of red meat. This wine is also a fraction of the price of most Barolo.

Tasting note: The brick colour of this wine could be unappealing to some but keep in mind that this is typical of Nebbiolo, it turns orange very quickly. A brambly, minty nose. This mint carries on to the palate. Pepper, chocolate and blackberry foremost on the palate which way to spicy cedar and dusty tannins.

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Final Say: Looking for a wine to throw in the cellar and forget about for a few years? Look no further. Give this brute five years in the cellar and you will be rewarded. It sells for around $45 a bottle.

 

Score: 17 out of 20

 

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Also, check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

Jack Davis