With the 2019 harvest underway, I spent the morning in the winery at Helen & Joey in the Yarra Valley. Here are a few vineyard photographs and observations.
Photo above: East-west planted pinot noir, looking to the west.
Grafted merlot vines planted on north-south facing rows, and nearing harvest.
Phylloxera continues its march through the Yarra Valley. Replanting in a neighbouring vineyard in the distance on the left, together with seemingly declining vigour in the vineyard in the distance on the right.
No viticultural comment, but a nice view from the office. Mount Dandenong is the peak in the distance.
This is a very good pinot noir from Bernard Huber in Baden, Germany. Stylistically, it is much closer to Burgundy than new world pinot noir. Its aroma has herbal and cherry notes, and is both savoury and restrained. The palate has resolutely firm acidity and good length. Ready to drink now, this moreish pinot noir/spätburgunder may improve with with short cellaring. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $65. Website: na.
I've had some very good Craiglee shiraz over the years. The 2013 however appears to be a lesser vintage. Its aroma reminds of red fruits and plums, but there is little of the typical pepper of this estate. The palate is pleasant enough, although the finish is a little short and, at times, warming. Ready to drink now, this Craiglee may need more time to develop. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $60. Website: www.craigleevineyard.com.
From the very good 2000 vintage in Bordeaux, La Demoiselle is the second wine of Sociando-Mallet. The wine is initially shy in bearing with aromas of coffee grinds and old cedar. A restrained expression of blackcurrants emerges with aeration. The palate is savoury and earthy, with resolved tannins and smoke and coffee characters prominent. These latter characters affect the balance of the wine and overwhelm the fruit, a slightly disappointing outcome given the good vintage. I would suggest this wine is ready to drink now, and has nudged past its best drinking window. Rating: Good. Abv: 12.5%. Price: +$50. Website: NA.
This is a well presented, dry rosé from Yalumba in South Australia. Its aroma reminds of florals and twigs. The palate is dry, crisp and pleasant, and its alcohol low at 11.5%. Ready to drink now, this rosé suits summer drinking and is sound value at $15. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 11.5%. Price: $15. Website: yalumba.com. Source: Sample.
Petit verdot is more traditionally seen in blends rather than on its own, but it can work well in warm to hot climates and this is a very good expression of it. From Gartelmann in Mudgee, the wine has aromas of intense black fruits, prunes, licorice and dusty cedar. The palate is full bodied, with an intense and powerful expression of black fruits and good length on the finish. This is a very high quality petit verdot that is ready to drink now, but may well cellar for some years. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 15.2%. Price: $35. Website: www.gartelmann.com.au. Source: Sample.
The 2015 vintage of the "Pig in the House" organic cabernet sauvignon has an Australian bearing, with aromas of mint, eucalyptus, very ripe sweet plums and cedar. The palate is sweet fruited and viscous and somewhat warming. Ready to drink now, this wine will suit current drinking. Rating: Acceptable. Abv: 14.8%. Price: $25. Website: www.piginthehouse.com.au. Source: Sample.
This is another excellent grenache from d'Arenberg in McLaren Vale. Deeply coloured (for grenache), the 2014 vintage has savoury aromas of chocolate, liquorice and cherry. The palate is full bodied with well integrated ripe fruit and cedar characters, and very good length on the finish. Ready to drink now, this is a very good example of McLaren Vale grenache and a well priced one too, at sub $30. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $29. Website: www.darenberg.com.au. Source: Sample.
The 2016 vintage of d'Arenberg's "The Bonsai" GSM is a blend of 48% grenache, 47% shiraz and 5% mourvèdre. It is quite reticent in its aroma, with some red berry characters. The palate is baked and full bodied in impression, with sweet and savoury edges and somewhat prominent acidity. Ready to drink now, this is sound drinking. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $29. Website: www.darenberg.com.au. Source: Sample.
This is a serious chardonnay from Curly Flat in the Macedon Ranges. Yellow gold in colour, its aromas of cedar, butter and perfumed citrus resolutely speak of chardonnay. The palate is full bodied and balanced by quite fresh and minerally acidity. Ready to drink now, this is a very good chardonnay that can be approached over the next five years. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.6%. Price: $46. Website: www.curlyflat.com. Source: Sample.