Thursday, April 26, 2007

The first Corbie Street Winner

In the dinner I mentioned recently we tasted a number of other wines. Scott brought the 'winning' wine - ie the wine we all (collectively) rated as the best on the night. It was a Penfolds 1998 St Henri Shiraz.

The AFL gives an award of the Norm Smith medal for the Best on Ground during the grand final. Maybe we should start giving just the 'Norm' award for best wine of the night?? If so, Scott was a worthy 'Norm'. Don't worry too much mate, be thankful we didn't name the award Dick, Bevan or something worse. 'Norm' is better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick!

We have already discussed the other wines, being Penfolds 1998 Bin 389 Cab/Shiraz and the Orlando 1998 St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon.

Penfolds 1998 St Henri Shiraz
Our notes for the evening show: The wine was dark red to purple in colour with a big caramel and burnt toffee on the nose. Medium to full bodied with big fruit flavours, firm tannins, and well balanced with good length. Overall rating of 92-95/100 and scoring the various characteristics 18-18.5/20. Other reviews here.

The other wines we drank on that night were:

Orlando 1996 St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon
Red to dark red. Blackcurrents on a very subtle (or somewhat closed) nose. The wine was described by my compadres as "luscious"and "elegant" and definitely had soft tannins and quite a long finish. The only drawback was the intensity of flavour was not there. 90-92/100 or 17.5/20

Some other reviews are here.

Penfolds 1996 Bin 389 Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz
Dark red with pepper, black fruit and a hint of acetone (? - wierd). Little intensity of flavour and we were obviously either half-cut by then or just not too impressed as there are hardly any notes to the wine. I do recall thinking that it was past its prime. It may have just been this bottle. 88-90/100 and 17/20.

Other reviews here.

d'Arenburg 1999 The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark red to purple. Big spicy pepper nose. Good fruit flavours but falling flat of the promise of the nose. Firm but gentle tannins with little length. Again somewhat disappointing. 88-89/100 or 17.5/20.

Other reviews here:

I have cleared the decks from this dinner by posting the rest of the wines as we have since had another dinner with the same Corbie Street crew and want to get to those wines asap.

Well done Scotty - this time. It will be hard to keep it up as everyone else is out to beat you next time.

Drink Well - Live Well!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Milford Track - Back on Deck!

As mentioned previously, together with 3 mates and leaving our wives behind, I recently walked the Milford Track in the SW corner of the south island of New Zealand. The track starts at Lake Te Anau and finishes at Sandfly Point on Milford Sound, takes a little over 3 days and is around 60 km or 35 miles of trekking through pristine wilderness. You cannot get there by road but must be dropped off by boat and picked up at the other end by boat.

(This photo is from the boat heading to our drop off point at the end of Lake Te Anau.)

For the next day and a half we trekked along the beautiful Clinton River valley and scenes like the next were commonplace. (This next photo is one I 'stitched' together from 4 photos of the Clinton River. I am intending to have it blown up to poster size, framed, and placed on the wall of my office as a reminder of the beauty and tranquility of the place)

Here is the Wine Amateur nearing the top of Mackinnon Pass with part of the Jervois Glacier in the background.

To the right is the view from Mackinnon Pass of the Arthur River valley which is where we were headed forthe next day and a half or trekking.

To the left is a photo of some of the many cascading waterfalls and rock pools we saw heading down the other side of the pass.

There were quite a few interesting people in our group and we made quite a few friends on the trip including some great people from St Petersburg, Florida - G'day Stan, Claudette, Mike and Julie. We made Stan an honorary Australian because he smuggled booze onto the trip and certainly drank beer like an Aussie. We also discovered that NZ has fantastic Pinot Noirs.

The next two photos are of Milford Sound which is a true fiord that you come to at the end of the track and the 4 of us ready to hop in a helicopter and fly over the mountains and glaciers on our way back to Queenstown.

I hope you don't mind the wee departure from wine discussions, but I will get back to them.

After all the serenity and beauty it was really hard to go back to the office. The lads and I are planning another escape next year - maybe to Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. Some of the boys want to do Kokoda but I really don't think I am up to it yet.

Enjoy life!!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1998

A couple of posts ago I shared with you some of the goings-on at a recent dinner at our place. As a group we tasted 6 wines and I talked, in that post, about the St Hugo's 1998.

The other day I noticed the very good Dr Ed (
the Wino-sapien) recently gave his tasting notes on the 1998 Penfolds Bin 389. As this was one of the wines we tasted on that night I thought it would be good to share our (Scott, Robert, Ivan and I) notes and see how they compare.

Ed said:

"Dark, vibrant purple. Dense nose with blackberry, blackcurrant, malt, meat and the faintest hint of dried herbs and lavender. Rich, soft and structured. Lovely weight, length and shape in the mouth. Plush. The tannins are firm, chewy and lingering.Excellent.

18.5/20 (95/100).

Drink now - 2017."

Our notes (of January 2007) said:

14% alcohol. Deep red-purple with strong blackberry on the nose along with other big black fruit aromas. Luscious (it is hard to get all the adjectives that 4 tasters use into one note) and big (but not too bold) but smooth on the palate. Very firm tannins leading to a long dry finish. Well balanced and structured with plenty of time left to go.

Overall rating =92-94/100

Rating the individual components = 18/20

Interestingly enough I have notes of a tasting of this wine before-in July 2006 and I wrote about it.

I said (July 2006):

"The wine had BIG berry and blackfruit aromas (maybe even blackcurrents). I was still very dark, dark red with maybe a touch of purple (but I might have been wishing that into the wine but the lighting is not the best in our dining room at home and I remember doing the tasting notes there).There is no mistaking that this wine is full bodied with big berry taste, plenty of tannins and good acid. It is smooth but powerful and obviously will last another 6-10 years. I hope I am right on this as I still have around 14 bottles left.

I loved this wine but interestingly it doesn't seem to scream 'Barossa', or any other place for that matter. This is something I am only starting to become aware, of in a limited way, recently.On an

overall rating I gave it


and scoring the individual attributes


It is interesting that the latest tasting my rating has slipped back somewhat. Am I a harder marker no? Or, is it just a different bottle? Oh well - only one way to find out - MORE EXPERIMENTATION!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wine Amateur goes trekking!

Following a recent health scare, the Wine Amateur has been busily getting into some sort of shape (you too could have a body like mine - through sheer neglect!) preparing for the great adventure.

Together with fellow wine buddy
Lynton, his brother Warwick and mutual friend Justin, we have ditched the old girls and are doing the 'blokey' thing in New Zealand. We are going to hike, or if you come from New Zealand, "tramp" the Milford Track. It is 58 kilometres of wilderness with beech forests used in the filming of Lord of the Rings, mountains, rivers, lakes etc (some more photos here).

Who knows? If we enjoy it (and survive) we may do more. The lads are talking about Cradle Mountain, Mt Killimanjaro, part of the Appalachian Trail, or even the Kokoda Track (Trail) which almost seems to have become some sort of spiritual rite of passage for Australian males.

It appears that I am following a few weeks behind Mike from Shirazshiraz blog and I certainly hope to be trying a lot of the wines out while I am over there.

Coming from Queensland we do not see a lot of cold weather but I have had to prepare for the hike as it has been snowing in the Mackinnon Pass (which we will reach on Day 3). It is hard to find weather information for the track but the nearest town (Queenstown) gives us some idea.

Hopefully I will have my own photos and wine reviews to share when I return.

Drink well, live well!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The drought is over!!!

For those not aware, our great State of Queensland has been suffering from a prolonged period of lower than average rainfall. It isn't really a drought because it is still raining and everything is green however, there hasn't been good rain in the catchment areas of the dams servicing SE Queensland for a few years.

I would like to announce that the drought is finally over! Is it raining?? No, but after about a 7 week period, where I was on strict instructions from a host of doctors to drink no alcohol, the really bad, gut-wrenching drought is over. I have celebrated in style this last week.

Over the past 7 weeks my wife, sister and brother-in-law (Rob of the 'up-punt') have continued to consume great quantities of red wine and continually waving their glasses under my nose. I think my appreciation of the various aromas has increased ten-fold.

Just prior to the drought I caught up with a few friends from Corby Street, Ashgrove (near to where I used to live - and one of my favourite streets in Brisbane). Scott, Pauline, Robert, Pru, Ivan and Jennifer came over for dinner and the odd wine or 8. There is an unspoken challenge (but very friendly) with this particular grouping - try to make sure you bring the best bottle of wine and whatever you do don't bring the worst one (you WILL be "paid out" on - sorry Ivan you really didn't stand a chance!).

Robert is a real wine enthusiast with an very good cellar (much better than mine) and he coordinated his wine with mine. Robert also had me call Scott to put the pressure on him by asking me to tell him not to bring his normal rubbish. Rob made a similar comment to Ivan. I prepared Wine Scoring cards in advance so that we could score them in a collaborative effort.

Robert provided a 1996 Orlando St Hugo and a 1996 Penfolds Bin 389, my wines provided a vertical element with the 1998 Orlando St Hugo and a 1998 Penfolds Bin 389. Scott provided a 1998 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz (ba*stard went out and bought it that day - Robert thought that was cheating) and a 1999 D'Arenburg McLaren Vale Coppermine Cab Sav. Ivan brought a couple of wines but unfortunately I can't recall what they were because, at the pleading of Robert and Scott, they were not even scored.

Suffice it to say, Robert, Ivan and I were humbled in the face of Scott and his all-conquering St Henri. We will never hear the end of it!!

If I get time I will share the tasting notes with you over the next little while.

1998 Orlando St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon
(yeah, I know it is now Jacob's Creek but in 1998 it was still Orlando)

It was still reddish-purple in colour with black currents, pepper and some aniseed/fennel on the nose. The tannins were still quite big and there was reasonable length of finish. It was very enjoyable but came nowhere near the quality of the 1996 - at least in my memory of the 1996. (we tasted the 1998 before the 1996 but I have spoken of the 1996 in an earlier blog).

Collectively, we gave it an overall score of 90/100

and then we scored the components at 17.5/20

It came in 5th position on the night!

I note Ed over at Wino-sapien has tried the 1999 St Hugo recently

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wine Orb's demise - our gain??

For those Aussies that have heard of the demise of Wine Orb (in liquidation), you may be able to benefit. There is a clearance of their wines online at Grays Online Auctions.

The prices have been pretty good - so far. However, the main auction closes tomorrow and there are still some Parker Coonawarra Terra Rosa First Growth available (at around half price)in an auction ending Thursday.

I think the bids for Astralis (Parker awarded 99 points) have been growing fairly steadily.

Hurry, but don't bid the price up too much! If you outbid me on the lots I have bid for - look out!!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

There has to be more to life!

There has to be more to life than dealing with Dividend Streaming, Capital Gains Tax and advising clients on the correct application of GST and the Margin Scheme. This is a thought I have often at this time of year, when I begin dreaming of ways to earn money from wine tasting and experimenting in the kitchen!

I have discovered there IS more to life than these things, however these 'things' help pay for the things that make life that little bit more enjoyable.

By the way, a little bit of interesting(sic) tax information (I can't help myself) for my dear non-resident readers, recently the Government introduced a Bill into the Parliament that, if passed, will essentially allow non-residents who own shares in companies (or units in Managed Funds) in Australia to be exempt from any capital gains tax here in the land of OZ (therefore all gains will be tax free and all dividends will only be taxed at the relevant non-resident withholding rate). The same exemption will not apply to real property. The Government is obviously trying to attract foreign investment (I would guess from large UK and US pension funds and other internationl fund managers).

Whilst pondering the important questions of life such as 'should I get up from my seat in front of the TV to get the remote that the kids left on the floor because I hate this program?', 'where do all the other socks go?', I received a telephone call from one of my brothers.

I have two brothers, who both live in Canberra with their families (but we still like them), and one sister. Through a confluence of events, an alignment of the planets, or more accurately an overlapping of school vacation periods between Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, both brothers and their families will be making the prilgimage north to the best city in the world - Brisbane (sorry Ed, Cam, GW, Murray, Mike, TWC and everyone else) or here.

One brother, together with his wife and 4 of his 5 kids, is coming to stay with our little family for a week. It promises to be a great time! We will be eating and drinking ourselves silly - at least I hope so!

To celebrate we opened with Sunday night roast dinner a Lindeman's 'St George' 1997 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (picture from Lindeman's website).

Here is what the wine maker says.

Here is what I reckon:

There was 13.5% alcohol and it was a dark brick red in appearance. The nose was sensational filled with loads of chocolate, some cigar, plums and maybe a touch of aniseed or fennel. It was medium to full bodied with big fruit flavours, firm tannins, good length and a long dry finish that had you panting for more. This is a very nice wine with still a few more years to go. Drinking well now and should continue to do so for 3 or 4 more years yet.

I gave it an overall score of 92-94/100

After scoring the individual components I came up with 18.5-19/20.

Would I buy it again? - yep! I hope to find some more as that was my last bottle (key sad music)

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