Wine Talk, June 2006 Winter Red Edition

Hi Everyone

It's finally hit Winter where I'm sitting here in Sydney after a pretty mild start to the cooler weather season. It was inevitable that it was eventually going to get cold even though my surfboard only got packed away a few weeks ago and the heater only came out late last week. Not that I'm complaining as it has given me more time to spend around the house, inside in the kitchen experimenting and whipping up some hearty, heavier and richer dishes.

Most importantly it also has given me plenty more excuses to bring out the red wine to match with this type of warm comfort food in order to complement it. So whilst I've been cooking up some great lamb stews, gloriously cooked beef casseroles, slow roasted lamb shanks and crackling hot roast pork dinners, I've also been spending a fair bit of time working out what red wine goes with each delicious dish (and have a great time at it).

Oh and let me say there is some pretty amazing stuff out there at the moment when it comes to good Australian red wine, that is just such really good winter drinking. Be it a varietal such as Pinot Noir from Tasmania, Merlot from the Barossa Valley, Shiraz from Central Victoria, Cabernet Sauvignon from the Margaret River, or a Shiraz Viognier blend from the Hunter Valley or perhaps something more exotic such as a Gamay from the Yarra Valley or a Tempranillo from North East Victoria, there is something for everyone to suit all palates, tastes and budgets. The quality of the red wine out there particularly from the 2003 and 2004 vintages at just about all price points from just about all regions, demonstrates why Australian wine drinkers have never had it so good.

Can I suggest buying a few extra bottles while you are at it and that you also consider creating your own cellar as you will find a few years bottle age is going to make such a difference particularly with some of the bigger reds such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, to smooth them out for better drinking and food matching. A cellar will also allow you, in time, to show off to your friends at dinner parties with a carefully nurtured older vintage bottle of red (that won't have broken the bank). So feel free to email me at if you would like a copy of a "how to cellar wine" article I recently wrote or my free wine newsletter that is packed with plenty of wine news and information.

Go on, experiment try something different, buy something in a higher price bracket than usual - but seriously there has never been a better time to buy and drink Australian wine.

So here are a few reds that I can recommend to you that I have tasted over the last few months that I am happy to give you the thumbs up on and that should put a smile on your face!

Until next month. Happy Reading and Drinking.

Under $15

Baritone Cabernet Shiraz 2003

(1 litre) - A new larger format bottle with a classy looking label. This one comes from Bill Moularadellis from the Kingston Estate stable. The blend is an often neglected one that has long graced this country but has in recent years fallen from marketing and consumer popularity however Bill has embraced it here again. It is made to be a full bodied drink now red to have with family and friends over a pizza and some pasta. All typical varietal blackcurrant, blackberry and plum in aromas and flavours. Spice and earthy as well. Easy drinking now at a bargain price of about $11.

McWilliams Hanwood Estate Merlot 2004

Very young upfront fresh and fruit driven aromas emanate from this gorgeously crimson purple coloured wine. The purity of the satsuma plum is seductively intoxicating with a touch of violet and mulberry adding to what is quite a complex and interesting nose. What follows is soft smooth blackberry and plum fruit characters and quite a well rounded wine. At around $10, this is a very good value easy drinking Merlot to have with char grilled chorizo sausage.

Rolling Cabernet Merlot 2004

From the Central Ranges region of Western NSW. A gorgeous purple crimsony violet plum coloured wine, the nose is just alluringly vibrant and earthy with good oak and black fruit spice character. The fruit component is deep, strong, potent and well blended. The supporting tannins are velvety, well rounded making the wine approachable in its relative youth. Mouth filling berry and blackcurrant fruit and plum jam flavours just linger in sync with the subtle oak. Have with roast pork. Drinking now for 3-4 years. At around $13, excellent value.

Water Wheel Vineyards Memsie Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2004

A blend dominant in fruit driven Shiraz with Cabernet and Malbec playing supporting structural roles. Deep mid dark purple crimson with a big powerful nose. Vibrant and intense spicy fruit with a quite big tannic structure and obvious distinct deep concentrated fruit. A long aftertaste ensues. Spice, toffee and mocha on the palate. All of the wine comes from estate grown grapes. At around $12, a bargain red. Have with bbq rump steak. Drink now for up to 5/7 years.

Seppelt Victorian Shiraz 2004

A cool climate Shiraz. Deep dark crimson red in colour. Impressive and vibrant with persistent spicy fruit characters. Quite a distinctive wine with hints of blackberry, pepper, fruit spice. Some ripe fruit characters and quite a stylish drop. Smooth and well rounded on the finish. Soft mouth filling blackberry, plum, chocolate and liquorice flavours. Fine lingering tannins follow. A good oak influence. Have over the next 5 years with some bangers and mash. Good value at under $15.

Primo Estate Merlot "Merlesco" 2005

Talented winemaker Joe Grilli from this excellent Adelaide Hills winery has crafted this brother wine to the "La Biondina" Colombard. This Merlot was made to be a young fresh and bright wine to be drunk young with food. It is a ripe plum in colour with crimson hints. Emanating from the McLaren Vale region, the dominance of sour dark cherry lifts florally and fragrantly from the nose. Ripe plums and mulberry characters follow. Earthy and lightly spiced as well. Soft, fruity and easy drinking - well rounded with a medium finish. Have with a rack of lamb. At around $15, good value.

St Hallett Gamekeepers Reserve Shiraz Grenache 2005

One excellent wine from this Barossa Valley producer. A gorgeously uplifted intense dark berry fruit nose ensues. Spicy and so fruit driven in nature. Think lots of blueberries, plums and blackberries - with a violet fragrant bouquet. Satin smooth in delivery - well rounded with a silky mouth feel. Lingering length of finish making it ever so drinkable. Try it with lasagna and enjoy now over the next 3-4 years. Outstanding value at around $12 plus.

Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise Shiraz 2004

Classically varietal Shiraz aromas and flavours despite being topped up with some Cabernet and Petit Verdot. Blackberry, plums and blueberries on the nose. Fruit driven, upfront and delicious to savour. Smooth dark berry fruit with mulberry and plums dominating. Soft and lingering in length. Try over 2-3 years with some of Kenny's superb salt and pepper marinated bbq pork ribs. Under $15.

Between $15 And $25

Oyster Bay Merlot 2005

One brilliant fruit driven Merlot from the Hawkes Bay region of New Zealand. A gorgeous deep violet purple that demonstrates the intensity of the fruit in this wine. Deep sour cherries with ripe plum. Fresh, distinctive and fragrant. Balanced - still youthful and very delicious. A well rounded wine with a lovely aftertaste. Subtle smooth oak. Drinking beautifully now and for the next year or so. Have with a gourmet pie and vegetable. Around $19.

Wynns Coonawarra Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

Deep dark red with youthful purple hints. Aromatic classic blackcurrants flow and present in an elegant, floral upfront manner. The fruit is ripe and young. The acidity is fresh and the oak seems integrated. Neither overly ripe nor big in structure. Fine silky tannins with a good length, the palate delivers a well rounded array of berry fruit flavours. Should cellar 7-10 years plus. Drink with bbq pork spare ribs. Around $22.

Kay Brothers Amery Merlot 2003

A youthful wine that exudes a delightful purple crimson colour. Classic varietal Merlot aromas emanate of rich ripe plum with dark blackberry and red cherry fruit. Chocolate, plum and a hint of mint linger on the palate. The oak is apparent but well integrated and the tannins that emanate are fine and grainy. Quite lovely to drink now with its soft velvety smooth mouth feel and finish. Well balanced and a good food friendly wine to have with bbq lamb cutlets. Should drink well over 3-5 years. Around $22.

Bremerton Special Release Malbec 2004

Emits gloriously intense aromas of violets, lots of them. Floral and fragrant, it also exudes ripe cherry and deep dark plums with an intoxicating aromatic richness. The nose is just beautifully vibrant and fresh. What follows is smooth well rounded succulent fruit on the palate, secondary characters of chocolate and coffee which leads to well integrated oak and a soft velvet finish. Drinking perfectly now with lasagna, and over the next 5 years. Around $25.

Tim Adams Shiraz 2004

Mid garnet red with purple hints. Blackberry, blueberry and cedary oak with touches of spice, white pepper and coffee mocha and toffee. Good alcohol, soft and smooth on the palate - with a mellow finish and fine ground tannins. A medium bodied wine with quite a short finish. Easy drinking for now and up to 3/4 years. Around $24, try with lasagna.

O'Leary Walker Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

A sensational great value top quality red. Dark purple crimson red indicating its veritable youth. Vibrant and fresh in composition and structure. Pure red currants flow from the aromas. Lightly spiced with a touch of liquorice. Soft blackberry, plum and blackcurrant flavours fill out the palate providing a well roundedness, fine grainy tannins and well integrated oak. One very drinkable red that is still in its infancy. Try over next 7 plus years with grilled lamb fillets. A bargain at around $22.

Schild Estate Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Young and a touch raw at first, the restrained nose opens up very nicely with time revealing layers of black cherry, cassis and black olive aromas. There is also a hint of tealeaf and a touch of mint that provides a savoury dimension. The oak is coffee orientated with some tobacco and quite classic in its composition and structure. The wine has a good long length with plums and blackcurrants ensuing. Lingers long on the finish. Try it over 3-4 years with a nice cut of roast beef. About $24.

Smithbrook Merlot 2002

Smithbrook have some of the most mature and established vineyards in the Pemberton wine region of Western Australia. This Merlot is indicative of the TLC that has gone into the vineyards. A luscious cherry red with crimson hues in colour. The nose is quite complex and developed with blackberry, rich dark plums, hints of black olive and truffle. Luscious and well rounded on the palate with dark berry fruits, fine grainy tannins and good oak make this a very food friendly wine. Drinking well now with some maturity but should cellar about 3-5 years. Try with steak and kidney pie. A very good Merlot at around $24.

Over $25

Euroa Creeks Reserve Shiraz 2004

Winemaker David Lloyd from Eldridge Estate winery in the Mornington Peninsula makes this wine. It comes from a single tiny vineyard in Euroa in Central Victoria from which only 250 cases have been produced. Purple crimson exhibits its youthfulness along with tight restrained aromas. Deep dark intense berry fruits - pure tightly knit blackberry fruit. The oak is young, firm and enmeshed into the fruit. The tannins are slightly raw and youthful. This wine needs decanting before drinking folks - thereafter the purity of the fruit resonates. Plums then start to flow from the nose, rich ripe ones. The structure of the wine is elegant, the alcohol is in check and the quality is there. Pure, fruit driven, well balanced berry fruits which open up on the palate lingering long and elegantly. Should develop over 7-10 years. Around $42.

Wandin Valley Estate Bridie's Reserve Shiraz 2003

This is typical Hunter Shiraz - one that you can hold up and say - yep this is the way it is supposed to taste. Deep dark blackish purple. Pure blackberry fruit, liquorice and earthy in aromas. Intensely spicy. Brooding, upfront and floral. Delicious smooth well rounded blackberry and plums on the palate - well structured, firm tannins and good oak. A gloriously long length of finish. Cellar 5-7 plus years and try with American meatloaf. Price at around $30.

Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Deep dark crimson red. Intense, brooding and spice filled aromas. Think blackcurrant, smoky bacon and cedary oak. Quite savoury in characters. The tannins are youthful, the oak is quite firm and pronounced - this is a wine that will go the distance and develop complexity. An impressive and distinctive drop with deep dark berry fruit ensuing. Silky smooth tight berry fruit, good alcohol, quite well balanced as the fruit flavours meld with the oak on the palate. Cellar 10 plus years. Try with Wagyu beef. About $72.

Hillcrest Premium Pinot Noir 2004

This is a superb wine. Cherry garnet red. Quite floral and fragrant yet complex as well. Cherries, earth characters, forest floor, truffles and fruit driven in style. Lively, vibrant and fruity. Soft yet with a good solid acid backbone. Fine tannins with youthful rounded fruit flavours - cherry and plum. Try over 5- 7 years plus with some spicy lamb rissoles - A beautiful wine at around $48.

Panorama Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir 2003

A glorious rich deep ruby red with lovely crimson hints, the wine exudes its current youthful fresh state. Resplendent luscious indulgent essences of fruit driven rich ripe cherry, fresh strawberry and deep dark Satsuma plums emanate. Complex secondary characters featuring hints of fruit spice, gameness and exquisite truffles flow, and the flavours are just so entwined together to deliver a smooth silky velvety taste on the palate. The wine just keeps developing after opening and builds in terms of complexity but always remains eminently drinkable and its berry fruit driven characters just support it to the end. At the least, 5 plus years and perfect with roast leg of duck. Around $40.

Paul Ippolito writes about wine for publications across Australia, overseas and the Internet. He speaks on radio and writes a free monthly wine newsletter for consumers. Paul can be contacted by email at where you can also request to be placed on his mailing list for his newsletter. or visit his website at:

2007 Reviews

Wine Talk - January 2007
Wine Talk - February 2007
Wine Talk - March 2007
Wine Talk - April 2007

2006 Reviews

Wine Talk - January 06
Wine Talk - February 06
Wine Talk - March 06
Wine Talk - April 06
Wine Talk - May 06
Wine Talk - June 06
Wine Talk - July 06
Wine Talk - August 06
Wine Talk - September 06
Wine Talk - October 06
Wine Talk - November 06
Wine Talk - December 06

2005 Reviews

Wine Talk - March 05
Wine Talk - April 05
Wine Talk - May 05
Wine Talk - June 05
Wine Talk - July 05
Wine Talk - August 05
Wine Talk - September 05
Wine Talk - October 05
Wine Talk - November 05
Wine Talk - December 05

Meet Paul Ippolito - The Mystery of Wine Tasting



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