Category Archives: Aussie Aces

This huge country makes great shiraz, old-vine grenache and smart white blends with more pedigree and character than the big-bin cheapies. Follow us on a walkabout to its pioneer vineyards, artisan labels and genius winemakers. With so much wine from Oz it’s hard to keep track of what is great and what isn’t. No worries, B-21 sorts them out.

Penfolds’ Voluptuous Secret: 2008 St. Henri Scores 95 Points

Buy 2008 Penfolds Shiraz St. Henri, South AustraliaSt. Henri is Penfolds’ other icon, a Bordeaux-styled shiraz that is friendlier than Grange and just as old. Darn impressive at one tenth the price. It has always had its own cult: Penfolds lovers seeking elegance saw beautifully good value in a rich shiraz with a lot less waiting. The secret is that Penfolds adds a punch of cabernet to the shiraz and raises it in old wood vats. Naked flavor of grapes, not oak. No better example than the 2008 vintage: WA called the ’08 Grange a 100-point wine, but and you’ll spend 15 to 20 years and $700 to enjoy it. Yet Neal Martin assesses St. Henri as a gorgeous and gregarious 95-pointer. So it’s five points shy of perfection, at 95 still a rare jewel and at my price you can buy enough to get through years of waiting on Grange.

2008 Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz
…copious layers of black cherry, cassis, cedar and just a hint of fresh beetroot. The palate is full-bodied with a dense carapace of primal blackberry and cassis fruit. …well balanced and offers great delineation… Drink 2024-2045.
95 points, eRobertParker.com

Pure Pyrenees Shiraz from Oz!

Pure Pyrenees Shiraz from Oz! First vineyards were planted in the Pyrenees back in the 1850s. Course we’re not talking about the Spain/France border, but a similar geological formation that separates two very different cultures in Victoria. This region is a great source of more refined shiraz and cabernet. The thin and bony soils yield wines that are more articulated in their nuance and balanced by a cooler climate influence. Barossa or McLaren Vale it ain’t.

Buy 2010 Pyren Broken Quartz Shiraz, PyreneesRegion: Pyrenees
Varietal: 100% Shiraz
Vintage: 2010
Yield: 1.9 tons per acre
Soil Type: Gray & Brown Loam with Shattered Quartz
Alcohol: 13.6%
Oak: 10 months in seasoned French & American barriques
Production: 1,000 cases
Score: 91 points Wine Spectator

As the name suggests, quartzite is a significant component of the soils here in the Pyrenees. What separates this from say a Barossa Shiraz is that it’s grippy, tense, balanced but tight. Cool climate for sure. Nose smells of elephant or bandages, very serious. Brilliant acidity, tangy, cool. Great oak work employing both American and French oak. Serious value.

2010 Penley Phoenix Ascends from the Ashes

What can I say? My customers love this wine. So easy to drink and so easy to buy that it’s hard for me to keep in stock. Penley’s Phoenix Cab is rich stuff, blackberry and currant, sturdy structure, the earth of Coonawarra and the distinctly Australian texture that embraces you like an old lover. The right oak softens it; the minerality makes for a firm core. You don’t need James Halliday to tell you it’s a 93-pointer, you just know it (and buy me out of it!). You know there’s more to Oz than shiraz, this cab may the best varietal Penley makes and its pedigree is purely Australian. The terroir is Coonawarra, where the Limestone Coast is topped with the red earth called terra rossa, the best cabernet district Down Under. The name behind it has terrific Oz breeding, too: Kym Tolley (some of you got to meet him here last year) who not only worked decades for Penfolds under legend Max Schubert, he is a descendant of the first Penfolds and of the Tolleys, another old pioneer wine family. Hence the name Penley.

 

2010 Penley Phoenix Cabernet

Vibrant deep crimson; a punchy and expressive cabernet bouquet with redcurrant, cassis, clove and olive on display; the palate is medium to full-bodied, fleshy and manages to create a long and even finish…

Rip-Roaring Shiraz Hops on the Scene

The Aussies have a lingo all their own. Same with the wines. Sometimes we Seppos (Aussie speak for Yanks) understand neither. Thankfully, the kind folks over on the edge of Oz in far out Geographe, Western Australia have come to our rescue with their shiraz, “The Ripper.” Pretty easy to deduce the meaning, but for clarity’s sake, ripper means great, and just like Rhett’s beloved dog of the same name, The Ripper is super! Grown in cooler climes than the massively structured wines of Barossa, this beauty lures you in with taut tastes of blackberries, mulberries, and spice balanced in a framework of gorgeous herbes de Provence, Zin-like ripeness, restrained thanks to great cool climate acidity, the finish fresh and long-lasting. You’re gonna want that.

 

2009 Hope Estate The Ripper Shiraz

…Full bodied, ripe and concentrated, the rich berry and spice flavors are well supported by a medium-firm backbone of chewy tannins and refreshing acidity, finishing with long lasting notes of toast and cedar….

“The Proof Is In The Bottle” with Zonte’s Footstep

I like the company mission statement at Zonte’s Footstep: “The truth is out there in the vineyard… but the proof is in the bottle.” Yes, it is. One of the mavericks of modern Aussie wine is involved here. …Yup, Ben Riggs. That slogan fits his work here in Langhorne Creek, where more cabernet is planted than shiraz, for good reason. It is revealed with a pointed shovel. The subsoil here is a 40 million year old alluvial plain with red sand over ancient limestone yielding cabernet that resembles an excellent Haut-Medoc from Bordeaux; solid plump cabernet that is juicy, not too grippy. Langhorne Creek Cabernet, this is a textbook version. Take note. You’re gonna want that.

 

2010 Zonte’s Footstep
Avalon Tree Cabernet

Supple cabernet, with a seamless impression of French oak… lovely cabernet here from an excellent vintage. Blind tasted, I would think this was a Haut-Medoc Bordeaux, and that is impressive…

Dandelion: These Aussie Wines Will Blow You Away!

A tour of Oz’s Adelaide awaits you with Dandelion Vineyards, and I don’t know of a more affordable way to taste the place or a better assembly of wines having such pedigree and value. The Riesling is sourced from Eden Valley, lying to the east of Barossa, and at a higher elevation with a varied terrain composed of quartz, rocks and sand that give the wines more “freshness” and mineral drive, perfect for Riesling. Southwest from Eden Valley on the coastal Fleurieu Peninsula is the source of Dandy’s Cabernet, a remarkable rendition of cabernet in a classic Bordeaux sense. Lionheart of the Barossa is a classic Shiraz from serious old vines and just what you expect. The Red Queen Shiraz from Eden’s cooler lands has a bit more poise and focus because of the cooler temps and the difference in soils. For dessert, check out the Pedro Ximenez, a Barossa “solera” dating back to 1944, nutty with dried fruits and good acidity. I was blown away Dandelion’s wines and you will be too!

 

2011 Dandelion Wonderland
of the Eden Valley Riesling

Riesling was first planted in Eden Valley in 1820… Intense concentration on the nose, slate nose, rich, viscous, bone dry mid palate, very pure nose of mineral and wet stone. I defend Australia.

 

2010 Dandelion
Pride of the Fleurieu Cabernet

…not unlike much of cabernet in Bordeaux. Very Pauillac in style. Lafite comes to mind and that is remarkable…. This wine will cause a double take. This is an astonishing value with breed. I defend Australia.

 

 
2010 Dandelion Lionheart
of the Barossa Shiraz

Old vine shiraz from God’s End Vineyard planted in 1926 on clay and limestone. This is classic Barossa Shiraz; dense, full, stunning wine for less than $20. French oak, 25% new, impressive. I defend Australia.

 

 
2009 Dandelion Red Queen
of the Eden Valley Shiraz

This vineyard was planted during [Teddy] Roosevelt’s second term…. Planted on broken schist… More balance and poise compared to a Barossa shiraz, towards elegance. Excellent. I defend Australia.

 

N.V. Dandelion Legacy of the
Barossa 30 Year Old Pedro Ximinez

…Nutty nose; more at Piedmont hazelnuts with that drying finish as in walnuts on the palate married with dried fruits that has acid and drive, not cloying as too many dessert wines are. I defend Australia.

 
Dandelion Vineyards “Fine And Dandy” Six-Pack Sampler

Contains six bottles:

1 – 2011 Dandelion Wonderland 90RAS

2 – 2010 Dandelion Pride 93RAS

1 – 2010 Dandelion Lionheart 92RAS

1 – 2009 Dandelion Red Queen 94RAS

1 – NV Dandelion Legacy 30yr PX 93RAS

 

Zonte’s Footstep – “The Proof is in The Bottle”

I like the company mission statement at Zonte’s Footstep: “The truth is out there in the vineyard… but the proof is in the bottle.” Yes, it is. One of the mavericks of modern Aussie wine is involved here, yup, Ben Riggs. That slogan fits his work here in Langhorne Creek, where more cabernet is planted than shiraz, for good reason. It is revealed with a pointed shovel. The subsoil here is a 40 million year old alluvial plain with red sand over ancient limestone yielding cabernet that resembles an excellent Haut-Medoc from Bordeaux; solid plump cabernet that is juicy, not too grippy. Langhorne Creek Cabernet, this is a textbook version. Take note. You’re gonna want that.

 

2010 Zonte’s Footstep
Avalon Tree Cabernet

Supple cabernet, with a seamless impression of French oak… Magical work. Ben Riggs has fashioned a lovely cabernet… Blind tasted, I would think this was a Haut-Medoc Bordeaux… impressive…

Boxer or Brief? Down Under They Prefer Boxer by 92 Points

Bountiful Boxer, boxes and boxes of 2010 Mollydookers! You’re in luck if you love first class Australia winemaking. I love to do the Mollydooker dance or drink to their success. I get a kick out of their cartoon names and labels (silly even by ‘stralian standards), but it’s the serious wine from Sparky and Sarah that wins me over. Wins over The Wine Advocate as well: Parker’s crew has named the Boxer “Best Value in the World,” and given 99 points to five other Mollys. Jeb Dunnuck, sole author of the Rhone Report publication, and newly appointed reviewer for the Wine Advocate, goes wild for this Boxer. There is no doubt that 2010 is a classic vintage (as is 2012), so stock up. But whatever wine they make, whatever year, you are guaranteed remarkable texture, almost velvet, and twice the flavor for the price. You know that, of course. I don’t need to sell you on Mollydooker. Let me just say that this 2010 is excellent, the reviews are great, and my price better than ever.

 

2010 Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz

…aromas of espresso roast, charred beef, pepper, and licorice, with a hint of mint providing freshness and lift on the nose… full-bodied, rich texture, it has a surprisingly firm, structured core, with solid acids…

Pure Pyrenees Shiraz from OZ

First vineyards were planted in the Pyrenees back in the 1850s. Course we’re not talking about the Spain/France border, but a similar geological formation that separates two very different cultures in Victoria. This region is a great source of more refined shiraz and cabernet. The thin and bony soils yield wines that are more articulated in their nuance and balanced by a cooler climate influence. Barossa or McLaren Vale it ain’t.

As the name suggests, quartzite is a significant component of the soils here in the Pyrenees. What separates this from say a Barossa Shiraz is that it’s grippy, tense, balanced but tight. Cool climate for sure. Nose smells of elephant or bandages, very serious. Brilliant acidity, tangy, cool. Great oak work employing both American and French oak. Serious value.

 

2010 Pyren Broken Quartz Shiraz

…grippy, tense, balanced but tight. Cool climate for sure. Nose smells of elephant or bandages, very serious. Brilliant acidity, tangy, cool. Great oak work employing both American and French oak….

Zonte’s Footstep: “The Proof is in The Bottle”

I like the company mission statement at Zonte’s Footstep: “The truth is out there in the vineyard… but the proof is in the bottle.” Yes, it is. One of the mavericks of modern Aussie wine is involved here, yup, Ben Riggs. That slogan fits his work here in Langhorne Creek, where more cabernet is planted than shiraz, for good reason. It is revealed with a pointed shovel. The subsoil here is a 40 million year old alluvial plain with red sand over ancient limestone yielding cabernet that resembles an excellent Haut-Medoc from Bordeaux; solid plump cabernet that is juicy, not too grippy. Langhorne Creek Cabernet, this is a textbook version. Take note. You’re gonna want that.

 

2010 Zonte’s Footstep Avalon Tree
Cabernet Sauvignon

Supple cabernet, with a seamless impression of French oak… Magical work. Ben Riggs has fashioned a lovely cabernet here from an excellent vintage… impressive at this price. Classically constructed….

Aussie CdP Rocks: Gorgeous 95 Point Duo

Well, it’s Aussie month here. And I gotta tell you about this property in McLaren Vale. I was in Philadelphia last month at an Aussie symposium, tasted at least 100 wines in 24 hours there. A few properties really stuck out. From McLaren Vale it was Samuel’s Gorge. Their motto is “To smell is to see, to taste is to know.” Gotta tell you, that wasn’t the case for me. When I smelled these wines I was seein’ Chateauneuf du Pape and tasting Domaine Pegau’s Grenache and Beaucastel’s Mourvedre. Impressive! With that perspective, it’s clear these are world-class wines and if that’s true, they also represent solid value. Glad to get these wines back to the USA, these are irresistible.

 

2010 Samuel’s Gorge ”Cadenzia” Grenache

A single vineyard, 80 years of age… yielding, as old vines do, less than 2 tons per acre. This is a dead ringer for Chateauneuf du Pape from the likes of Pegau or Giraud. Full, ripe, this is excellent….

 

2010 Samuel’s Gorge Mourvedre

Stunning wine. Gorgeous, powerful intensity with balance. 45-year-old vines planted on pebbly, alluvial soil… Captivating wine. The finest rendition I have ever tasted of Aussie Mourvedre. Classically styled….

Dandelion: Aussie Wines That’ll Blow You Away!

A tour of Oz’s Adelaide awaits you with Dandelion Vineyards, and I don’t know of a more affordable way to taste the place or a better assembly of wines having such pedigree and value. The Riesling is sourced from Eden Valley, lying to the east of Barossa, and at a higher elevation with a varied terrain composed of quartz, rocks and sand that give the wines more “freshness” and mineral drive, perfect for Riesling. Southwest from Eden Valley on the coastal Fleurieu Peninsula is the source of Dandy’s Cabernet, a remarkable rendition of cabernet in a classic Bordeaux sense. Lionheart of the Barossa is a classic Shiraz from serious old vines and just what you expect. The Red Queen Shiraz from Eden’s cooler lands has a bit more poise and focus because of the cooler temps and the difference in soils. For dessert, check out the Pedro Ximenez, a Barossa “solera” dating back to 1944, nutty with dried fruits and good acidity. I was blown away Dandelion’s wines and you will be too!

2011 Dandelion Wonderland
of the Eden Valley Riesling

Riesling was first planted in Eden Valley in 1820… Intense concentration on the nose, slate nose, rich, viscous, bone dry mid palate, very pure nose of mineral and wet stone. I defend Australia.

 

2010 Dandelion
Pride of the Fleurieu Cabernet

…not unlike much of cabernet in Bordeaux. Very Pauillac in style. Lafite comes to mind and that is remarkable…. This wine will cause a double take. This is an astonishing value with breed. I defend Australia.

 

2010 Penley Phoenix Rises from the Ashes!

My customers love this wine. So easy to drink and so easy to buy that it’s hard for me to keep in stock. Penley’s Phoenix Cab is rich stuff, blackberry and currant, sturdy structure, the earth of Coonawarra and the distinctly Australian texture that embraces you like an old lover. The right oak softens it; the minerality makes for a firm core. You don’t need James Halliday to tell you it’s a 93-pointer, you just know it (and buy me out of it!). You know there’s more to Oz than shiraz, this cab may the best varietal Penley makes and its pedigree is purely Australian. The terroir is Coonawarra, where the Limestone Coast is topped with the red earth called terra rossa, the best cabernet district Down Under. The name behind it has terrific Oz breeding, too: Kym Tolley (some of you got to meet him here last year) who not only worked decades for Penfolds under legend Max Schubert, he is a descendant of the first Penfolds and of the Tolleys, another old pioneer wine family. Hence the name Penley.
2010 Penley Phoenix
Cabernet Sauvignon

…deep crimson; a punchy and expressive cabernet bouquet with redcurrant, cassis, clove and olive on display; the palate is medium to full-bodied, fleshy and manages to create a long and even finish…

Rip-Roaring Shiraz Jumps Into the Fray

The Aussies have a lingo all their own. Same with the wines. Sometimes we Seppos (Aussie speak for Yanks) understand neither. Thankfully, the kind folks over on the edge of Oz in far out Geographe, Western Australia have come to our rescue with their shiraz, “The Ripper.” Pretty easy to deduce the meaning, but for clarity’s sake, ripper means great, and just like Rhett’s beloved dog of the same name, The Ripper is super! Grown in cooler climes than the massively structured wines of Barossa, this beauty lures you in with taut tastes of blackberries, mulberries, and spice balanced in a framework of gorgeous herbes de Provence, Zin-like ripeness, restrained thanks to great cool climate acidity, the finish fresh and long-lasting. You’re gonna want that

2009 Hope Estate The Ripper Shiraz

…Full bodied, ripe and concentrated, the rich berry and spice flavors are well supported by a medium-firm backbone of chewy tannins and refreshing acidity, finishing with long lasting notes of toast and cedar….