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.
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.