Seppelt St Peters Shiraz 2006

I read this article about it being the 150th anniversary of Seppelt and the 50th release of the iconic St Peters shiraz which provided me incentive to see how the 2006 vintage had developed in bottle. Seppelt is located in Great Western country VIC in the heart of the Grampians, about a 3 hour drive North West of Melbourne. Previously, Treasury Wine Estates announced they were ceasing operations prompting a furore of dissenting and disapproving voices. Besides the St Peters shiraz, the Drumborg chardonnay was also under threat. As were the heritage-listed 3km long network of underground cellar tunnels which make a great touristic stop. Luckily, a local businessman saved the cellar door which will remain open despite wine productions being relocated to the Barossa Valley.

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I have to admit that this has never been a regular addition to my stash. I’ve never been particularly captivated by this style of shiraz, although I was really into Barossa Valley shiraz a decade ago. And the St Peters has never been hot property off the shelves, it is well-known within VIC circles but has never transformed into a solid buy. Its premium price tag of $60 was quite a turn off back then, and is doing no favours now. Nonetheless, the longevity of the wine is historically proven. A testament to the vineyard, the Grampians micro-climate and excellent winemaking.

Clear dark purple colour, the perfume is notably toned down. Attractive aromas of spice, old black pepper, black cherries, dark berries. Gone is the alcohol and any abrasive mish-mash. Medium+ bodied wine, lovely silky smooth texture, vibrant acidity still present. The tannin is well-eased into the background now but remain sufficient to provide a well-rounded structure to the drink. Rich dark berry flavours, sweet spice. But there is that core of excitement or personality that I think is absent. A very nice drink given the age. Drink now. 92. I had it with fried braised pig trotters, yum.


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Roger Pike’s Marius 2014 releases

It takes a good effort to get me posting again, and that was delivered last week in a brown paper carton. Roger Pike has a strong following through the mailing list, and the wines have been selling out quickly in previous years. Marius wines personify what the McLaren Vale is capable for, and what I’d use to dispel the perpetual myth that South Australian wines are undrinkable highly alcoholic wines. I can vouch for the quality of these wines, which continue to be very well priced. 1 to keep, 1 to drink. Always.


Marius 2014 releases

Simpatico Shiraz 2014, McLaren Vale SA
Dark ruby-purple colour, what a lovely fresh youthful perfume. This is a wine that will grab your attention right out of the bottle. Sweet dark cherries, raspberries, bit of candy, then as it opens up you get hints of old pepper and Indian spice. A med-full bodied wine, the tannins are young, grippy initially then step back for the savoury dark fruit flavours to kick in. Moderate acidity, the overall structure of this wine is excellent. The 21 months of maturation in French and American hogsheads brings class to the glass. The back palate ends with a drier touch, the subtle long finish would make it perfect with lambs chops with a herb salad. Drink now – 2023. 93/100.

Symphony Shiraz 2014, McLaren Vale SA
The Symphony is made from a small parcel of fruit from Roger’s 4 acre ‘home block’ vineyard. Inky black purple colour, first impressions of this on the nose is that it’s more intense, it’s bigger, if it had more alcohol vapours you’d be tempted to think Barossa Valley. But the restraint is obvious, the wine is held back in leather straps. Warm aromas of blackberry, stewing cherries, cool summer floral scents, faint olive wash and tanned leather. Just like a comfy couch. What a yummy wine! First, the young tannins are obvious, still structurally taut, but the extended maturation time shows in the moderate influence on the mouthfeel. This is more serious with the wine maturing for 21 months in a mix of new and one-year-old French oak barrels. Lovely acidity refreshes the palate, then here comes the dark blackberry, cherry, olive flavour kicks. A long finish, this works so well with a nice medium-rare steak, just because you need some of those juices running. Drink now – 2030. 95/100.


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The Dogs, New Town, Edinburgh


This was my second attempt at dining at The Dogs. The first, a couple years ago, was an unfetted failure with no prior reservation for a 10pm dinner. I had heard about this no nonsense clear cut cooking restaurant that was cheap as chips. The owner I was told was unmoved by restaurant reviewers and critics could well, bugger off. David Ramsden cuts an nice smiling character in his press photos, but woah, has now grown out his beard and his gruffalo reputation precedes him. I have to admit that knowing who he was as he came to our tabel to take our order, not a word. He walked over, and we knew we had to order. What?! Change or mind?? … err… he might just take an axe to your head and there’ll be brains on tomorrow’s menu. let’s just stick with whatever we ordered. We’ll eat, and we’ll be liking it.


Walking into the establishment, you are greeted by two massive stone dogs. As you make your way past the couch in the corner (why’s it even there?), you wind up the stairs to be greeted by antlers and a cute dog in a frame. The dining area is brightly lit through the windows overseeing Hanover St in New Town. Get a table by the windows and you can even wave to the busloads of tourists that course through Edinburgh each day.


The menu is a simple one pager of rustic scottish fare. Crispy pigs ears salad with almonds, sundried tomatos and rocket. Pea and smoked ham hough soup. Soup of the day was a thick lushcious pumpkin soup with toasted pumpkin seeds. Devilled ox liver with camerilised onions, bit of bacon on a tost, all slather in this sweet and sour syrupy reduction. Mussels tossed in fennel and pumpkin, with a touch of chilli.


I had the Cumberland sausage stovies, chunks of meaty juicy sausage with potato halves, onion. Sure, sounds like and looks like my occassional sunday lunch conjoured up form saturday’s bbq leftover. But the combination, the delicious mouthwatering rich sauce enveloping the entire dish was simpky awesome. The chicken and mushroom pie was crusted in a fantastic pastry. Flavourwise it was rather mild, but the chicken breast meat was tender and succulent.


And the damage? Lunch for two, under £25. Take that you tofsy high-wannabed overpayers!

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Winner or stinker? My Singapore transit

Changi Airport duty-free Dom Perignon 2006 SGD$205 (AUD$216) *winner*

Food Centre Chinese coffee $0.80 *winner*

$5.80 for a large cup of weak flat white *stinker*

$3.90 lunch of rice and 3 dishes *winner*

Serve size was half of what it was 3 years ago *stinker*

Dinner at Odette, National Gallery Museum *winner*

Crispy skinned Kinmedai with charred Frementle octopus and Bouillabaisse

25MBPS home network *winner* hello NBN?

Humid warm 6am runs *stinker*

Half a Hainanese chicken with rice at Shunfu market $11.40 *winner*

Dinner at Summer Pavilion, Ritz-Carlton *winner*image
Braised Boston lobster, HK noodles and lobster broth

6 egg/onion roti pratas at Sin Ming for $9.90 *winner*


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Chardy Friday


Clonakilla Chardonnay 2012, Murrumbateman, NSW

One from the office stash, forgot how much I paid. Pulled it to lift my draggy week. Solid as ever, the Clonakilla 2012 chardonnay exemplifies Tim Kirk’s wine crafting skills. A blend of high altitude fruit from Tumbarumba with single barrels from Clonakilla and Murrumbateman vineyards, whole bunch pressed, lees stirring and 11 months in French oak. Light yellow with a slight tinge of green. Vibrant nose, grapefruit and orange citrus notes, cashew puree and struck match. Reminds me of a warm vintage Chablis. A delicious wine, ripe grapefruit and mandarin flavours, doesn’t feel thin at all, rounded mouthfeel. 12% alc. The acidity is not prominent but is certainly in the back palate. Persistent finish. Great with a seafood chowder. Drink now – 2020. 94.

Stonier Chardonnay 2014, Merricks, Mornington Peninsula, VIC

Yup, it’s been that kinda week. Home and munching on Japanese peanut snacks, I reach for one of my go-to wines, Stonier’s chardonnay. As customary, this is a blend of tank and barrique fermented wine, creating an interesting layered drink. Light yellow colour, soft restrained nose of mandarin citrus, waxy lime leaves, warmed talc perfumed by white florals. High acidity, that sheer bite on the tongue is refreshing, yet perhaps that slight bitterness does take away from the soft fruitiness and residual minerality. The mouthfeel is tight initially, but gets rather broad too quickly. This would work really nicely with the thin lean winter oysters, not those fat creamy ones. Generous splash of Tabasco of course. Drink now. 89.

Montalto Chardonnay 2013, Red Hill, Mornington Peninsula, VIC

What the heck, good things come in trios yea? Another bottle, another year. My experience with Montalto is very limited. As in, I’ve visited once. Nice winery, nicely developed cellar door with fresh oven pizzas, beautiful expansive vineyards to wander by and appreciate the sculptures.  But I recall wondering whether the pricetags were justified. 2013 was marked by a warm spurt towards the end of vintage, expect that ripe intense surge. So here goes. Light yellow colour, fragrant honeymelon and slight grapefruit notes. Young refreshing mouthfeel, zippy acidity, delicious sweet crunchy melon flavours with that residual citrus bitterness. Overall, an enjoyable solid wine to drink right now. Would I buy for $42 (current vintage 2014), erm…. hmmm.. Note that Montalto has three tiers of labels, Pennon Hill, Montalto ‘estate’ and singe vineyard wines.

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