Frankland Estate

I can recall the first time I tasted Frankland Estate‘s Isolation Ridge Riesling, and since then have looked forward to tasting each next vintage on release. Certainly there has been vintage variation, but generally over the past eight or so years this single-vineyard wine from the Great Southern area has only continued to improve. The recently released 2016 is probably the best yet showing intensity, purity and complexity. Like it’s earlier vintage siblings, it will age gracefully for those patient enough.

While I’ve come to expect the Isolation Ridge Riesling will show its pedigree on release, surprisingly this was not what impressed me most the the current releases from this winery. It was the general quality of all wines right across board: from the Rocky Gully range to the Estate wines, and the single vineyards. On top of that, the packaging is also first class (I’ve always liked the simple, earthy abstract element to the Rocky Gully labels).

Also impressive is that all the wines are well balanced in terms of price to quality, and if anything they all err on the side of good value irrespective of price. And the best value at the moment seems to be the pigeon-pair of the Estate Chardonnay and the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – both from the 2015 vintage, and both very good wines.

Champagne Dumangin

We were privileged to host Gilles Dumangin, the fifth generation winemaker at Champagne house Dumangin J. Fils, for an invitation only pre-Xmas tasting of the following selection:

  • Dumangin La Cuvee 17 NV
  • Dumangin L’Extra Brut NV
  • Dumangin Le Rose NV
  • Dumangin Le Vintage 2004
  • Dumangin Single Vineyard Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2006

It was a quality tasting with all wines punching well above their price points. Of interest was the personal favourites selected by attendees with a good spread across the range – testament to the overall high quality standards of the house.

For me the pick was the Le Vintage 2004, but on what was a beautiful sunny and warm Saturday afternoon the Le Rose NV was in great form and an instant inclusion on the house drinking list. All wines from the tasting will be included as standard Winecall offerings (if interested please email to

En Primeur 2015 and Family Celebrations

Recently keeping a keen eye on the Bordeaux En Primeur 2015 vintage releases, family celebrations providing an insight into the 1998 vintage 18 years on (some entering their peak drinking window, some still need more time in the cellar), Champagne (but particularly vintage and blanc de blancs), quaffing the Calabria Private Bin range, trying not to open the 2010 Barolo’s (but amazed at how approachable these wines are despite their youth), dipping into the cellar (2005 Rieslings and Chardonnays with 5 to 10 years age), and enjoying reds from the Douro, Portugal.

Three wines to build a meal around::
Dumangin Le Vintage 1er Cru 2004;
Castello di Pomino Benefizio Riserva Chardonnay 2012; and
Quinto do Vallado VALLADO Douro Tinto 2010.

As always, happy drinking!

Riesling Downunder, Trait-d-Union, Tre Bicchieri …

The first half of 2015 has included some lovely wine highlights including Riesling DownUnder , Trait-d-Union, and Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri tastings (all February 2015), a visit to Australia from Alvaro Palacios – Decanter UK’s Wine Man of the Year 2015  and hosting a wine tour to the Yarra Valley (both April 2015), assisting two wineloving customers re-build their wine cellars, and drinking from the wonderful Zalto glasses.

By way of general observation, Australian wine appears to have benefitted from a string of strong vintages (2012, 2013 and 2014), Barolo from the 2010 vintage look to be very good to outstanding with many of the 2010s approachable and enjoyable in their youth (while still capable of being cellared for years to come), and all the current releases from Alvaro Palacios’ three wineries.

As usual there’s also been plenty of beautiful wines to taste and drink. Some of the many wine highlights so far include:

– tasting the Champagnes of Jacques Selosse and La Closerie;

– two cracking 2011 chardonnays from Margaret River (Leeuwin Estate Art Series and Voyager Estate);

– Beaujolais from the 2013 vintage (including Pierre Chermette (Vissoux) Vieilles Vignes Beaujolais 2013 and Janin’s Clos du Tremblay Moulin-a-Vent 2013);

Mac Forbes‘ rieslings notably the RS7 Riesling 2014 and from his experimental batch series, the EB10 Ginger Rizz Riesling 2014;

– Palacios Remondo Propiedad 2010, Alvaro Palacios L’Ermita 2012, and DJP La Faraona 2012; and

– the ‘tre bicchieiri’ Le Monde Friuli Pinot Bianco 2013.

As always, happy drinking!

Xmas 2014

Summer, Xmas and New Year celebrations, and for many some down time and a holiday break. Hard to think of a better opportunity for some champagne and other sparkling wines. Langlois-Chateau Cremant Brut de Loire NV would have to be one of the best value sparkling wines available, and I always relish the opportunity to open a bottle (or two) of champagne. So far this year over various Xmas celebrations there have been a few including Laurent-Perrier Brut Rose NV, and Krug Vintage 2000, and I will be looking forward to some Marc Hebrart Cuvee Prestige 1er Cru NV to bring in the new year.

For whites riesling is still the first choice (Muller-Catoir’s Gutswein 2013 and Mitchell Museum Release Riesling 2005), but there are also some lovely chardonnays around (Trapeze Chardonnay 2013, and the outstanding Mount Mary Chardonnay 2012).

And there’s always rose: Capcanes Rosat de Garnacha 2013, Spinifex Rose 2014, Verget de Sud Meditterannee 2013 and Pittacum Tre Obispos 2012.

Winter 2014

Middle of winter  in Melbourne, with some seriously frosty mornings and cold windy days, required some digging into the cellar. Reds with some age provided softer warming characteristics and the opportunity to savour added complexity. Still plenty of room though for recently released reds as well. An impressive pair from Spinifex, both with fruit from the Adelaide Hills (instead of the Barossa Valley) – a 2012 Aglianico and a shiraz called La Colline, from 2010. Both excellent, approachable in their youth but will equally reward some cellaring.

I’ve been particularly enjoying aged nebbiolo-based wines, and this has prompted seeking out some replacements to hide away in the cellar for a few years. While waiting for those though, I will happily drink some SC Pannell By SCP Nebbiolo 2012 and it’s sister wine, By SCP Touriga 2012. Both very good value.

From Spain wines made predominantly from Tempranillo, Garnacha or both have also been impressive, including the Capcanes Lasendal Garnacha 2012 and a pair from Palacios Remondo, the ‘La Vendimia’ 2012 and ‘La Montesa’ 2010.

As for whites, texture has been the key element and wines such as these all have it – Mount Mary Chardonnay 2012, Onannnon Chardonnay Gippsland 2012, Farr Rising Chardonnay 2013, Domaine Paul Blanck Riesling 2013, Heymann-Lowenstein Scheiferterrassen Riesling 2012 and Brokenwood Maxwell Vineyard Semillon 2006.

Happy drinking.