Gemtree Vineyards

There hasn’t been much newor thrilling in Australia for a while. Bottles over twenty bucks havepretty much stopped selling. Despite the fact that one of the largestand most exciting Australian portfolios more or less imploded, nobody hasreally stepped up to fill the vacuum. As I’ve mentioned before, theestablished brands that were selling well before the bubble are stillmoving nicely now, but outside of that core, there just isn’t muchinterest in the category. Which all seems like a shame to me becauseI am still drawn to the area. I think Australia offers plenty ofpleasure, value, promise and an underreported level of variety.

With all that in mind, checkout these four new picks from Gemtree Vineyards, an Australianproducer who has been around for a while, but is new to Binny’sshelves. Value is key here. This is all McLaren Vale, a region knownfor intensity. Also, Gemtree uses 100% biodynamic farming, if that’syour thing. These Gemtree wines roll out at Binny’s stores thisafternoon:

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New From Australia & The Cellar

New from Australia

 

   With Spring here, we are receiving a lot of great, hard to find wines. I tasted a few Australian wines worth mentioning. It’s been a good while since I’ve had something from Australia that’s really knocked my socks off.

 

2006 Elderton Command Shiraz

   It’s not every day I get to taste a $90 bottle while on the clock.  This is a huge wine, with blueberry liqueur, vanilla and a toasty mocha note in the nose.  In the mouth, it is full bodied and has mouth coating tannins.  It is young, but is nicely balanced.  This would be a great bottle to age 15 years.

 

2008 Rocky Gully Shiraz/Viognier

   To me this is what an Aussie wine should be. The ripeness is there, but everything is in balance. The nose is expressive, with blueberry, cracked pepper and noticeable smokiness. In the mouth, bright red and blue fruit and medium acidity. It’s on sale for $12.99 for the rest of the month. It is a steal!

 

 

New From the Cellar

 

2009 Loring Pinot Noirs 

   The more I taste, the more I like the wines from Loring.  His single vineyard Pinots really do showcase the fruit coming out of the respective vineyard.  The Rosella’s Vineyard was one of the best Pinot Noirs I’ve had in the past year and a half.  Not syrupy sweet and not wimpy, either.  At $40 for Brian Loring’s single vineyard Pinot Noirs, they are in a sweet spot for high quality and well priced.  

 

2009 Biale Black Chicken Zinfandel

   During prohibition, “black chicken” was a code for alcohol or wine.  Sourcing from older Zin vines in Oak Knoll, the Black Chicken always delivers a beautifully ripe and rich Zin.  It matches up well with pretty much anything off of the grill. 

 

2008 Ramey Pedrigal Vineyard

   Sourced from Oakville, this monstrosity will cellar easily for 15+ years. 

 

2007 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet

   From their storied estate in Calistoga, the Montelena Cab generally needs a few years to mature before it’s really ready to go.  The price is hard to argue with coming from the great 2007 vintage. 

 

2008 Continuum

   This is sourced from one of the most beautiful spots in Napa, Pritchard Hill.  Producers like Bryant Family and Chappellet also source from there as well.  Even though the Continuum label has only existed since the 2005 vintage, this will be a long lived bottle of wine from a well respected fruit source.

 

Please contact your favorite Binny’s for availability. 

Unapologetic Reds From R Wines

   I’ve mentioned before that there seems to have been a sort of blowback against Australian wines in the last couple years, following a decade of popularity. The sales of Australian wines are down, especially in the $20+ range. Maybe I’m reading into things too much, but in my tastings, I’m starting to notice that Australian wines in more recent vintages 2008 and 2009 tend to show a little more restraint and a little less alcohol and plush, ripe fruit.

   As I’ve stated before, this is a trend that puzzles me, especially considering the fact that consumers are flocking toward other fat, hot, new world wines, such as Argentinian malbec, Spanish red and modern California Cabernet.

   This was on my mind when tasting through some new offerings from R Wines and their sub-labels Southern Gothic and Marquis Philips, newly returning to Binny’s shelves. When tasting through these wines, I began to smile, smirk, and even giggle a little.

   The lineup is unapologetically plush, with massive fruit and eyebrow-raising alcohol levels. The 2008 Poor Thing Grenache is a super-modern lightweight with notes of strawberry candy on the nose, with basic light cherry candy on the palate and touches of spicy oak. The 2008 Southern Belle Shiraz is ridiculously jammy, showing tons of weighty fruit on the palate blackberries and currant in an overblown style. This McLaren Vale shiraz spent time in Bourbon barrels. Seriously.

   I was surprised at how these wines contrasted with my experiences with past vintages. Their prices have been cut almost in half (down to $18.99), and they have taken a stylistic shift from slightly Rhoney and subtle to massively modern and fat. Mr Jay Miller of The Wine Advocate said of the massive Southern Belle, “It lacks only complexity.”

   The 2008 Marquis Philips GG Grenache is even fatter than the shiraz, with an incredibly wood-influenced nose of cedar and red fruit, and a palate of chocolate covered cherries and then more chocolate. It shows crazy weight, boasts an alcohol of 17.6%, and is almost unrecognizeable as grenache. Mr. Miller again: “It is what it is.” This is a steal at $19.99, again for fans of the style.

   But the show stopper was the 2008 Grail of Lisa Shiraz. Available only in limited quantities, this wine impressed me most with its thickness. I don’t mean that it has a full texture, I mean this liquid is the most viscous wine I have ever had in my mouth that does not claim to be a dessert wine. The fruit is black cherry, plum and currant and obliterates any possible subtlety. The alcohol is 18.3%, which is a lot of alcohol, but it doesn’t seem hot for all its weight. This wine is unreal; it is a caricature of over-the-top Australian shiraz taken even farther over the top, all the way to the other side, and it is completely unapologetic in doing so.

   I once had the fortune of meeting the winemaker of these wines, Chris Ringland. He is a humble and softspoken guy who doesn’t seem to hold any misconceptions about what he does, which is to make wines that people can enjoy right now. That’s how I see this particular lineup. They aren’t classic wines, but they are worth the time (and the twenty bucks) of any fan of wine as an experience unlinke many others.