Domaine Wachau Federspiel Terrassen Riesling 2012, Wachau, Niederosterreich, Austria

Domaine Wachau Federspiel Terrassen 2012 Riesling Austria Simple Palates Seriously

AUD$25 from PWS. This is a unique wine from the remaining coop in Wachau, which in recent year have made the commendable decision to stop producing bulk wines, and focus on the Domaine Wachau label. Do not mistake that move for equating Domaine Wachau as a low quality wine. Pale, straw yellow colour. Youthful bouquet of grapefruit, white peach, slightly grassy, vibrant and attractive. A dry-medium bodied wine, slightly oily in texture, high acidity, 12.5% alc. It has a layer composite of flavours, of grapefruit and soft peach. A clean, good-lengthed finish. Drink now – 2016. 89-90/100.

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Capbern Gasqueton 2010, St Estephe, Bordeaux, France

Capbern Gasqueton 2010 Saint Estephe Bordeaux France Simple Palates Seriously

$40 from Nick’s. The second wine of Calon Segur (the lovers’ wine), this is a 73/27 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Intense dark ruby-purple colour, dense aromas of blackberry, black plums, hint of Indian spice and dark chocolate. This is a dry, full-bodied wine, with whopping acidity, vibrant, with a moderate level of fine powdery tannins. Very nicely balanced with the robust mouthfeel matching the rich dark berry fruit flavours. Drink now – 2025. 89-90/100.

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Chilling out in Australian wine’s own Ice Age


Canadian IceWine vs. Australian, anyone?

And I’m also curious whether the artificial 4-5 day slow freezing process mimics (and to what degree) the natural freezing events in the vineyards?

Originally posted on :

1.BEFORE: Frozen Chardonnay grapes from Fraser Gallop Estate in between the chilling process and pressing.

Before: Frozen Chardonnay grapes from Fraser Gallop Estate in between the chilling process and pressing.

ICED wine styles are developing an enthusiastic following in Australia, with Iced Riesling, Cabernet and Chardonnay competing for the luxury dessert wine market. But with temperatures here unable to emulate the freezing conditions in the northern hemispheres where ice wines are traditionally made, Danielle Costley writes our winemakers are chilling out with alternatives.

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Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2010, Southern Rhone, France

Saint Cosme Gigondas 2010 Rhone Valley France Simple Palates Seriously

Saint Cosme has been riding a good streak from 2010 to 2012. They produce beautiful Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah blends, a very lovely Chateauneuf du Pape, and value-for-money Cotes du Rhones. However, if an inkling of uncertainty, go with their brilliant Gigondas! The 2010 Gigondas (60% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah) resides as an intense black ruby colour with a thin garnet rim. After 3 days, it is still exudes vibrant fresh aromas of blackcurrant, black raspberry, hint of pencil shavings. This is a dry, full-bodied wine, with high acidity, 14.5% alc, and young velvety tannins. Rich intense dark berry fruit and cassis, propped on a cushy robust frame of tannins. Delicious, and a long finish. Drink now – 2024. 93+/100.

See my previous write-up on Saint Cosme wines here:

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Let me eat cake! And may you be nice…

Let Them Eat Cake is a cake store along Cecil Street sitting diagonally opposite the South Melbourne market with an exterior looking like a cheap madeover factory block. Nothing challenges the senses like requiring you to gaze away from your natural line of sight to make sense of the store’s name, and leaves you wondering whether this is strictly a cake making class, a cake store, or a cafe. I noted no evidence of the first, inadequate evidence of the second and faint evidence of the third (the last being a largish sized table with no visible customers).

Let them eat cake South Melbourne Simple Palates Seriously1

A quick peek inside and one is naturally attracted to the brightly coloured inventions for sale, which at this time of the year, are the necessary Easter-message-carrying bunnies on display ranging for $14.50 – $18.50. Yup, that’s the price of this suburb. If you don’t like it, you can leave… but wait! Let’s see what else is on offer.

Let them eat cake South Melbourne Simple Palates Seriously4
Postage prices have gone up on these seasonal bunnies

The pastries looked delightful to be honest, and I did purchase a couple to put money into my mouth. I paid $16 for a 2″ square raspberry lamington, a baked cheese shortbread thingy, and a 1″ vanilla mini cuppy-thingy. And $17 for 2 bags of 5 gingerbread men. Those price tags are certainly on the brighter end of the spectrum. Was it worth it? Hmm.. To be honest, the raspberry lamington was very nice. The sponge was light and consistantly fluffy. It wasn’t too sweet, just sufficient enough to entice the tastebuds. The coconut wasn’t overly dense but just enough to provide a textural lift. The baked cheese shortbread was fantastic and will should be my go-to weakness. I loved the lighter weight of the shortbread, and the sweetish baked cheese flavours which would have been elevated with a scoop of yoghurt ice-cream. The vanilla cube-cup was interesting because it’s icing coat was a thin crackling layer. Again, the sweetness was edgy but not over the top and the use of sponge was near perfect.

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If cake was the main theme of this store, it’s kinda on the lower layer of priorities…

Let them eat cake South Melbourne Simple Palates Seriously2
Awesome looking cupcakes! Priced between $10.50 – $15. No, there’s no gold in them.

Let them eat cake South Melbourne Simple Palates Seriously5

So why am I experiencing dislike for the atmosphere of this establishment? It might have been the curt way the owner stopped my server in the middle of my order to get back to the prep table. It might also have been the cold service attitude. Or in general, this place simply lacked soul. Which is not to claim Chris is not passionate about his cakes. I think he has put in tremendous effort into this business, and his creations are sensually brilliant. But more effort connecting with customers is warranted. Unless there is already an adequate customer base to keep the books happy.

Final verdict, glad I tried it, but no reason to recommend.

Let Them Eat Cake on Urbanspoon

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The ever-changing tide of booze

So here’s a rather unexpected trend to tell of, total alcohol consumption has fallen for the 6th consecutive year. Well, perhaps not, with the growing awareness of the importance of exercise in our daily life, minimising the consumption of high fatty foods, that alcohol is a no-no for anyone wanting to watch their weight. Yet, there is that odd dichotomous existence of weight loss shows like The Biggest Loser, and cooking shows like Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules. All in the absence of the vital pieces of information – moderation and education.

<Insert picture of me tipping a bottle of beer and a bottle of wine down the sink>
<<Didn’t have that picture coz I washed my sink the night before>>

I find it interesting that figures are provided for drinkers above the age of 15.. as far as I know, the official legal minimum age for alcohol consumption is 18 for ALL Commonwealth states. Where did the data for 15 – 17 year olds come from, and what proportion of the data is made up of under-aged drinkers?

Not surprisingly, beer still trumps wine in terms of volume consumed, and the growing popularity of cider persists. Good Beer Week in Melbourne has grown year on year, as has the size of its crowds although I have somehow learnt to spot familiar faces. Btw, GBW is happening 17-25 May, so see you there!

Craig James, CommSec chief economist, cites anecdotal evidence that consumer habits are gearing towards quality over quantity. How is a news feed report resorting to non-factual opinions? I can counter with my anecdotal unquantified experience that desire for cheap wine in great volumes is none the more stronger given the pathetic growth in income of the younger generation. Especially university students. Just drop by the surround pubs of university campuses on Fridays and observe!

Here’s the Guardian’s reporting of these figures, in which they point out that despite beer being the king of our drinks, it has been experiencing a steady decline in volumetric consumption since the 60s.

And that can’t be good news for wine grape growers as the oversupply remains unaddressed. Consider this. Table grapes are $2.50 – $3.50/kg at the grocers. Wine grapes are being sold at $250 – $350/tonne (guesstimate). That equates to $0.25 / kg. How is that a good deal for the growers? Wine grape growers in the Clare Valley can’t the only ones still concerned certainly.

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And to think this is the expensive stuff!

(Note how Clare is spelt in the link here, amusing)

And it would be reasonable to infer that easing the process of alcohol purchase would promote increased sales volumes, such is the method of online retail stores. G&W blog has a nice post on this, with highlights of the 2014 Nielsen Australian Connected Consumers Report. I personally prefer to wander into a store to pick and choose my wine bottles, unless I’m buying for a function or event (probably at the last minute too!).

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Americas tasting UOMSWS

The University of Melbourne Student Wine Society had it’s day out in the sun a couple of weeks ago with a showing of quaffers from the Americas. To be honest, there is a decent range of South American wines to be found in Australia. Nick’s Wine Merchants does a good job bringing in bottles under $25 from Chile and Argentina. The Woolworths owned Vintage Cellars stocks up on quite a few too, and you can see that on display at their annual portfolio tastings. North American wines, on the other hand, are severely limited in the lower end of the price spectrum. Expect to pay at least $30 for a bottle, but for the more serious purveyors, check out the range available at Prince Wine Store.

UOMSWS Americas March 2014 Simple Palates Seriously
Glittering glass basking in the sunshine of South Lawn

Amalaya Torrontes Riesling 2013, Salta, Argentina
A good easy start for a tasting. Torrontes is a key Catalan white varietal typically producing fresh, light aromatic wines. It is aromatic, grapefruit and apple with sweet lifted florals typical of the Argentinian Torrontes. 15% Riesling adds structure and fruit weight. Perceived sweetness will be attractive to some. Clean, light finish, enjoy as an aperitif or a fig/rocket/walnut salad drizzled with wild honey. Or roast duck with noodles. Drink now. 87/100.

Caliterra Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Central Valley, Chile
AUD$10. A vibrant Sauv Blanc that is a step away from the vesty ripeness of typical NZ versions. Pale yellow colour with a green tinge. Rather herbaceous, grassy on the nose, with youthful pink grapefruit and gooseberry wafts. High acidity, sweeping clean the grassy gooseberry and citrus fruit flavours. A simplistic representative SB, lacking depth for further interest. Drink now. 86/100.

Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2012, California, USA
AUD$23. Fruit sourced from multiple vineyards across Santa Barbara County, Monterey County, Mendocino County and Sonoma County. Fermented and aged in old French and American oak barrels with monthly stirring of lees. Undoubtedly a fruit-driven wine, but the oak treatment imparts an old-school butteriness and creaminess to the wine. More tropical fruit on the nose, lemon curd and vanilla. Not my favoured style, but some might like it. Drink now. 86/100.

Erath Pinot Noir 2012, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA
AUD$30. Medium ruby colour. Soft aromas of red cherry and spice. A good level of lively acidity, keeping the palate fresh. Light flavours of cherry and red currants, light tannins, bit of baking spice on the finish. 13.5% alc.  Drink now. 87/100.

Caliterra Tributo Boldo Block Carmenere 2010, Colchagua Valley, Chile
AUD$15. A winery co-founded in 1996 by Californian winemaking legend Robert Mondavi. A blend of 91% Carmenere, 3% Syrah, 6% Cabernet Franc. (Chilean laws mandate a minimum of 80% of a particular variety for sole labelling) Matured for 14 months in a combination of American and French oak barrels. Intense black ruby colour. Youthful aromas of blackcurrant and mulberry with a spicy edge. A dry, med+ bodied wine, high acidity, fine tannins. 14.5% alc. Good cored flavours of black cherry and blackcurrants, earthy notes on the finish. An easy drink. 87-88/100.

Arboleda Syrah 2011, Aconcagua Valley, Chile
AUD$20. Intense black ruby colour, lifted notes of black cherry and dark berry fruit, hint of earthy spice. Dry, med+ bodied wine, moderate tannins and high acidity. Dark berry fruit, cherry, sweet anise and a savoury finish. 14% alc. Drink now – 2020. 89/100.

Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 2011, Mendoza, Argentina
AUD$15. Destemmed fruit used, 70% aged in oak. I don’t see the sense in that because the bold tannin structure is what I’d seek in a straight Malbec. The fruity characteristics come through cleanly with plums, red cherry and spice. Moderate level of dusty tannins. 14.5% alc. Simplistic wine, nothing like pure Malbec from Cahors. 82-84/100.

Bodegas Caro Amancaya Gran Reserva Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Mendoza, Argentina
AUD$17. The Argentinian version of Lafite Rothschild (look for the Chilean Los Vasco). A 70/30 Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon blend, matured for 12 months in 20% new French oak. Intense ruby colour, fresh aromas of plum and redcurrants, notes of vanilla and spice. Dry, med+ bodied wine, high acidity and a moderate level of soft, integrated tannins. A sweetly spiced wine, flavours of cherry, raspberry, and red plums. 15% alc. Good finish. Drink now – 2020. 91/100.

Valle Secreto Private Edition Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere 2010, Alto Cachapoal, Chile
AUD$20. A interesting blend incorporating Carmenere in the Shiraz-Cabernet blend which Australia is famous for. 18 months maturing in new French oak is evident on the more chunky tannins on the structure, but these should integrate with time. Attractive aromas of blackcurrant liquor, mulberry, licorice, anise and tobacco. Dry, med-bodied wine with jammy blackberry notes, blackcurrants, baking spice and anise/nutmeg. Long finish. Drink now – 2022. 89/100.

Los Vascos Grande Riserva 2011, Colchagua Valley, Chile
AUD$17. Made by the Chilean outpost of Lafite Rothschild, so they should know a thing or two about Cabernet blends, surely? A 75/10/10/5 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah and Malbec. 20% new French oak for 12 months. Intense black ruby colour, dense herbaceous aromas of blackcurrants, mulberry and tobacco spice. 14% alc. Med+ bodied wine, high acidity, fine tannins offer a solid structure, rich fruit flavours of blackcurrants, spiced preserved berry fruit, cedary finish. Persistent finish. Though not quite a style of Cabernet that I like. Drink now – 2016. 88/100.

Murphy-Goode Liar’s Dice Zinfandel 2009, Sonoma County, CA, USA
AUD$28. 7% Petite Syrah. Actually this was a let down in terms of grunt I expected from a Californian Zin. Medium ruby colour, peppery nose with cherry and blackberry fruit. Drinkable on a sunny day despite 15.5% alc, fleshy mouthfeel, but lacks complexity for further interest. Drink now – 2017. 85/100.

Zuccardi Serie A Bornarda 2011, Mendoza, Argentina
AUD$15. The use of destemmed fruit translates to a pure fruity wine, and the tannin structure is all from the fruit skins. Moderate use of oak treatment, 30% of the wine matures in 1-3 year old barrels. Dark ruby colour, notes of plum and blackberries. Dry, full-bodied wine, high acidity and a moderate load of soft chewy tannins. 13.5% alc. Solid mid-palate of dark berry fruit, black plums. Good finish. Drink now. 88/100.

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Gaelic Cemetery Vineyard Celtic Farm Riesling 2013, Clare Valley, South Australia

Gaelic Cemetery Celtic Farm Riesling 2013 Clare Valley Simple Palates SeriouslyGaelic Cemetery Celtic Farm Riesling 2012b Clare Valley Simple Palates Seriously

$30 from PWS. Pale lemon with a slight green tinge. Youthful intense aromas of freshly cut grass, lemon fruit and lime rind. Touch of steely minerality. Rich flavours of lemon, with blackcurrant trailing on the finish. High acidity bring a clean finish, with a hint of leafy herbs. Drink now – 2017, or keep for 10. 91/100.

Gaelic Cemetery Vineyard is a new Clare Valley winery to me. In typical Clare Valley tradition, it makes several interpretations of Riesling. But it also has a $115 Shiraz to boot!  If it’s as solid as this Riesling, then I’m very much looking forward to trying it!

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Parnasse Sauvignon Blanc 2011 IGP, France

Parnasse Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Pay d'Oc IGP France Simple Palates Seriously

There are truckloads of this out there, and for the better. Current vintage is 2012, but at only $11, it’s a cheap, enjoyable and more subtle alternative to the NZ SBs. Pale lemon gold colour, notes of lemon citrus, cold cut mountain grass, chalky minerals, brown sugared butter. Rich lemon citrus flavours, high level of fresh acidity. Slight note of lemon rind on the finish. A non-complex drink, easy to enjoy.. For this price, a no-brainer. Drink now. 88/100.

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How cool is VIC?

I had a chuckle reading Harvey Steiman’s recent blog post on Wine Spectator about the La Pleiade shiraz, a Heathcote wine produced by Chapoutier and Ron Laughton (Jaspers Hill). It’s also a wine which I bought the first couple of vintages of, then got completed bored with.

(Subscription required to read the wine reviews)

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Undecided Melbourne weather, clouded up, but with the warm sun parching through. Typical.

Back to my source of amusement: in Mr Steiman’s opening sentence, he refers to Victoria as the ‘cool-climate capital’ of Australia. Well, I won’t disagree that it’s certainly one of the Southerly located states.. but let’s not forget the entire island of Tasmania shall we? And it’s capital city of Hobart. There would been more cool-climate wines coming from TAS and NSW compared to VIC.

We could be slightly more objective and utilise the seasonal temperature numbers. Let’s not forget that for the period of Nov 2012 to March 2013, VIC has endured tremendously savage heatwaves. For the January and February months, the mean highest temperature in the Heathcote district was a touch under 30C. This summer, the hottest temperature in VIC was 46.3C. The highest summer temperature recorded in TAS, 40.2C at Bushy Park. For summer 2013, Hobart’s average temperature was ~23C. In comparison, Melbourne sat at about 26C. So I would have to argue that the Heathcote region is by no means a site within the cool-climate state of Victoria. I’d have less of an issue if this reference was reserved for the Mornington Peninsula or some parts of the Yarra Valley.

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Aerial-view of the Gisborne fires back in Feb’14

If we wanted to talk about cool climate wine-regions in Australia, Murrumbateman would arguably be one of the top candidate regions. This Southern zone of NSW which suffers from it’s closer proximity to Canberra had its 2013 crop decimated by frost. Its summer temperature min/max averages range 13-29C. Doesn’t stop it from producing awesome wines such as the shiraz viogniers of Clonakilla.

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