The Winery, Sydney, Australia

After a few false starts at finding a proper establishment that took not just their wines but also their Australian wines seriously, I finally stumbled upon The Winery. I should have started here and so hopefully this post will help any fellow winesnobs out there get a decent start to their visit to this part of the world.

The Winery is a Wine Bar, “A quirky urban garden oasis in the heart of Surry Hills” and I would agree on all counts. It is also warm, welcoming, inviting, rustic, simple. It is as one would imagine, Australian. I was looking for a place where I could explore Australian wines. Hopefully small batch production, artisan wines. I realized this was a tall order for a big city like Sydney but I knew there had to be a few of them.

I wanted to get an overarching sense of what Australian wines are all about. There is such a thing. Similar to the overarching theme one refers to when they say “Big California Pinot” or “Napa Cab”. I also wanted to get a feel for the overall quality and hence maturity of the Australian wine industry overall.

Fortunately I arrived at the right time. They had just upgraded to a new tasting station which afforded many more wines to be available for tasting on demand. Once I explained what my objective was, my hostess was very gracious enough to let me explore wines and vintages previously unavailable for tasting.

All the Aussie wines I tried were good, well made wines. This is perhaps the single biggest overarching theme of this trip. See, in California, if you ask for an Aussie wine, you’ll most likely be presented with YellowTail… That’s like asking for a California wine and getting Gallo… Nuff said. Below are three wines that stood out the most for me as well as my notes from this outing.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Tomfoolery

Slightly fruity nose with good berry, a little plum and oak. Restrained body, mild acidity, showing good balance, structure and moderate fruit. 14.5% ABV is unnoticeable. Smooth finishes, once opened develops long gentle tannic grip.

2018 Grenache by Tarot

Clean crisp wine. But this is an illusion. This is a bid powerful wine. At 14.9% ABV, an iron fist in a velvet glove. Nose subdued with hints of strawberry, oak, cherry and the faintest of earth in the background. Oak and cherry carry through the body, introducing heat and mild tannin. A surprising amount of structure once opened. Finish throws a fake as massive spice and tannin make a late entrance towards the end. This wine is no joke. If this Tarot is any indication of your fortunes, you’d better buckle-up. 😳

2014 Shiraz by Gaelic Cemetery Vineyard

 

Trying to read this wine is akin to stepping up to an old brick building and trying to sniff the bricks. It just won’t work. The nose is very reserved, giving only hints of berry, faint raisin, cherry. Leather, mineral, licorice and black currant only momentarily when swirled vigorously. This wine does not like to be disturbed. A massive tightly integrated body proves a challenge to pick apart. Minerality is pronounced. Very structured, inky, earthy come to mind. The finish quickly gives way to super heavy massive granite tannic grip that just won’t quit! I think I just found my new favorite Aussie wine! 😭🍷

Wine Review: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Altue, Chile

Tonight’s occasion: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Altue, Chile.

We are truly living in a golden age for wines in general. I am sitting here contemplating the finer points of a great little wine from lesser known corner of the world in Chile and thinking to myself, not only is the wine well made, it is one hell of a steal. Mere decades ago, such a moment would have been highly unlikely.

Pleasant nose with plum, cherry, oak, earth, and at least one other floral note that combines to create a subtle butterscotch twist (for lack of a better descriptor). Once opened I detect a hint of minerality. This all carries forward into a mild mannered body with oak and vanilla more pronounced and fruit diminished. Minerality carries forward to the body as well. The body is light and understated for a Cabernet Sauvignon. None too acidic. It reads like a big California Pinot Noir. After about an hour the body develops a noticeable buttery caramel character. The finish is graceful and quickly fades away with a suggestion of tannin. Once opened, the cherry is more pronounced in the finish.

Overall this is a smooth wine. I love noticing the terroir in a wine. This tells me that little has been done to the wine in the way of altering its expression. It is an honest wine. Approachable. It is not overly complex. At 13% ABV it is also not a laborious, exhausting affair either. You can open a bottle and slowly follow it through your evening without suffering from palate fatigue. This is a fantastic EDC wine (EDC = Every Day Consumption). For the price Casemates Wine is offering it presents great value for the price. This is a great way to stock up your cellar.

Wine Review: 2013 La Stupenda, Barbera by Peterson

Tonight’s occasion: 2013 La Stupenda, Barbera by Peterson, Mendocino, California. Courtesy of Casemates who invited me to review tonight’s offering. I am writing this as I begin my review. My initial impressions right out of the bottle are very dark and inky for a Barbera. Barbera typically run on the lighter, ruby side of the spectrum like a classic Sangiovese or Pinot Noir. The twist-off held a very tight seal all these years and despite its journey. Making the first pour I got hit with big spice and a hint of raisin. I typically don’t care for raisin in my wines however I am pleased to confirm this rapidly dissipated. This tells me the wine is very much alive.

I was met with a medium-to-big nose, full of subtle oak, hint of berry and at least another floral note I cannot pinpoint (lavender comes to mind, not sure why), perhaps you can help me here. A hint of minerality come through after a few hours. The attack is fairly fruit forward but restrained. Up front, as with most Barbera, the body comes with noticeable spice and acidity which easily gives way once your palate adjusts after a few sips.

After about 15 minutes the body quickly becomes buttery smooth, adding the faintest hint of caramel into the mix. The finish, without doubt is a big one, starting out hot and spicy and as it opens, develops more tannic grip albeit restrained. This is by any account a big Barbera especially at 13.9% ABV. For a single VARIETAL Barbera, it is surprisingly layered, complex and balanced. A testament to the winemaker’s craft. I can appreciate its richer tone as I feel in this case it balances out the acidity typical of the varietal. Once opened up the acidity is quickly tempered by a creamy buttery expression.

This wine shows great maturity. This Barbera is well built. It commands your attention. It is aging much more gracefully than a typical Barbera. I feel like it’s time is now. It’s a somewhat different take on Barbera from a region off the beaten path that has had time and patience to fully develop. I think it presents a tremendous value. Please visit Casemates to take advantage of this deal before it’s gone. Fred and Jamie Peterson, after twirling it for a couple hours now, I like it! Estupenda!!!