Two local drinks

2011 Oakridge Limited release yarrawood Riesling 8.0%
Oakridge in the Yarra Valley has excelled with its Chardonnays- struck-match galore but with increasing fruit presence; winemaker David Bicknell has access and the capability to preserve special sites – this one still in the Yarra Valley but from from Yarra Glen.

2011 was a particularly challenging year in Victoria, with widespread rain and humidity wreaking havoc on most of the red wines; whites fared much better.

2011 oakridge botrytis riesling

It’s a bright light gold colour, and delivers botrytis dustiness and slightly bitter almond, along with an array of apricot, yellow peach and twangy acid to hold interest. This is a crazily sweet wine (around 180 g/l) but has the bracing acidity that delivers forgiveness (and a bit more). Its absurdly easy to consume; cumquat and citrus marmalade are highlights on the palate, with varietal ripe apple flavours joining the party

When botrytis takes hold, the yield diminishes; pressing and fermentation involve significant challenges, and marketing is another conundrum.  This is a winemaker’s small-volume indulgence.

A touch of furniture polish scents, plus a suspicion of caramel and toffee holds my score back. For my taste, drink soon (to 2023); and 90 points

1982 Chateau Reynella Vintage Port 20%
Made from McLaren Vale Shiraz, this 38-year-old wine still has plenty to offer.

Bottle 4155 had a dense red colour, expressing liquorice, raspberry, chalk and almond meal. Luxuriant brandy integration. Sweetness correctly led to an evaluation of Australian origin, and more likely South Australia. The red-fruit impacts made me incorrectly dismiss Reynella and Hardys where I associate stern blackberry notes.  Not this time!

Youthful and very enjoyable.

Drink to 2030,  91 points.


Snippets from the cutting room floor

Here are several wines enjoyed in the last few months that haven’t shown up in this blog – not terribly thematic but  too good  to ignore – no scores, but assume a minimum 94.

NV Krug Rosé Champagne

Confession time again- due to problems with oxidation, and poor VFM, I ceased purchasing rosé champagnes many years ago. A tasting class late last year rekindled my interest in this complex style.

Krug is fully priced, and this wine is available if you have a lazy $500. But it’s fantastic. Apparently 2006 base vintage plus reserves back to 2000. 59% PN, 33% Chardonnay, 8% P Meunier, partial mlf on 2/3 parcels, 7 g/l residual). PN Fermented on skins, uses small oak casks.
Red fruits- strawberry, raspberry, candied glace fruits, and some lemon too; not merely the overt bread/dough/pastry of most Champagne There is some complexing light vanilla (oak) and the palate is a very fine layered, textured style. It is delicate but there is tension and power to spare, and even some tannin. Beautifully constructed, I cannot really imagine a better example of this rosé style, and no rush to drink this.

2002 Salon Cuvee ‘S’ Les Mesnil Champagne  Blanc de blancs

no malo– disgorged early 2014
Brisk, energy, drive! Acidity will propel this for many more years.
As it warmed, the initial reticence uncoiled, showing ripe apple, some slightly browned sugar, cinnamon stick, crystallized lemon, and light yellow honey. The palate had the immaculate pure citric drive plus minerals, and was just astonishingly fine. Length was amazing.  Revisit in at least 5 years for an even better result. But it costs around $750.

2002 Ayala Blanc de blancs
Honey, citrus, some earthy oyster mushroom age characters; high and clean acidity, lots of minerals, energetic.
From an excellent year, but not a producer I’m familiar with; this was all class, and one to watch for.

2000 Mt Mary Triolet 13%
Vineyard plantings are 75% Sav blanc; 20% Semillon, 5% muscadelle
Mainly old oak, for around 11 months, lees stirring etc. $42.50 on release
Bright clear yellow colour; toast, honey; abundant fresh lemon, and some “juicy fruit” tones.
Grapefruit on palate, fresh, long, delicious – A super Yarra Valley wine that improved over a few hours before fading

2005 Mt Mary Triolet, diam cork
Sauvignon blanc, Semillon and a dash of muscadelle, this Yarra wine has proven cellaring ability.
Lemon colour, and amazingly fresh; passionfruit, gooseberry, tropicals; plus grapefruit and some spiciness from oak. Hard to describe, but has fruit freshness, oak and some honeyed aged complexity. At a lovely stage which should hold for at least another five years. Outstanding. Fruit drive, zippiness and complexity.

2007 Nigl “privat” Riesling 13.5%, screwcap!
From Kremstal in Austria.

Still pale in colour- with a mystery floral bouquet of green apple, nettle, lime. It’s ferociously acidic, yet balanced on the youthful layered palate; there is some grip, and waves of dense zesty refreshment, and nervousness. Complex grass, green and red berry flavours. Unmasked, its identity makes sense, but impossible -blind- to identify this with certainty as Riesling – it’s a high acid yet high alcohol white, quite unlike Australia, Germany or Alsace.  Very highly recommended; prospects are excellent for another 20 years.

2004 Crawford River Riesling , screwcap (Henty, Victoria)

Outstanding. A pull of lime but the undertow of acid pulls us back to Victoria.  Great length, minerals and a compulsion for “more!”. Another 20 years of superb drinking in prospect. Battles with Seppelt Drumborg as Australia’s most consistent outstanding Riesling producer. There are flashes from Tasmania sometimes, from Great Southern sometimes, Canberra sometimes, and the Peter Lehmann Wigan.

2009 Hardy (Eileen Hardy) chardonnay 13%, screwcap
Outstanding. Fruit from Tasmania.
Still a pale lemon colour, it exudes ripe nectarine, lemon peel and a touch of smoke. The palate is rich, alive with stony flinty characters, with a background of classy lightly nutty oak. The fruit flavours are stonefruit – white peach plus some grapefruit. With its abundant natural Tassie acidity, this wine has years of drinking enjoyment ahead.

2004 Seppelt St Peters Shiraz (screwcap)
Outstanding wine. Its a dense dark ruby colour, so fragrant and layered; pepper, dark cherry, blackberry, raspberry.
There is fine-grained tannin on the fleshy, voluptuous palate, and more dark fruits while the finish lingers, and continues. Concentrated without being ridiculous. This Grampians wine is drinking brilliantly, and should maintain this form for another ten years – conservatively. Easy gold medal. Irresistible, and a lesson in balance,


Plus some chardonnays tasted blind in a line-up of 20. Instant gold medal scores to

  • 2013 Oakridge 864 F&D (Yarra Valley)
  • 2014 Vasse Felix Heytesbury (Margaret River)
  • 2014 Penfolds 14a (Adelaide Hills)

They sell for about $60 per bottle, but vividly demonstrate the beauty of modern Australian Chardonnay across 3 different States, and provide wonderful complex drinking now and over at least the next five years.

Chardonnays at Oakridge (Yarra Valley, Victoria)

Oakridge has just picked up a few trophies for Chardonnay at the recent  Melbourne Wine Show. David Donald very knowledgably walked me through a terrific selection of the Oakridge wines.

Oakridge has the luxury of releasing perhaps 6 different Chardonnays, from several sites, and blocks within these sites. The “864” range sits at about twice the price of the LVS (local vineyard series. All the wines are made from the same clone, no malo, and are low-oaked. This does not mean they are mean or lean.

The 2013 Willowlake Chardonnay showed neat melon-rind aspects, but the 2013 Guerin had more energy, fluffy texture and citrus drive. I was contemplating purchase until I tried the multi—trophy 2013 Barkala ridge; apart from the gunflint araomatics, it had more density, savouriness and a pebbly saline edge, while still clearly Chardonnay. Very fine and an easy buy ($36). My usual Oakridge “go-to” is Lusatia Park, but its not released yet.

Two different 2013 “864” Chardonnays, “Lusatia” block A, and ”F&D drive block” came next. I admired them side-by-side; both with defined minerals, length and citrus, I preferred the more embryonic and less funky Lusatia, but both sit in the vanguard of Australian Chardonnay, and at $75 (or less if careful) are fairly priced.

The track record of the age-worthiness of these wines (I have recently drunk 2006 and 2009 examples), and compelling ongoing  wine show results are encouraging – and well-deserved. If you haven’t experienced Oakridge Chardonnay, “do yourself a favour”.

After this display of Chardonnay brilliance, any wines to follow would truly be a let-down, but the “864 Lusatia Park” Pinot Noir was a flashy floral macerated liqueur cherry style, and the 2014 Shiraz was an exhibition in wild red berry and raspberry; fine chocolates and a tow of fine tannins lurking.