Summer Wrap: Drinks (Part 1)

Summer Wrap is a series of my highlights and favourites from summer. A collection of eating,drinking and dining that captures the sunny warm weather of a Perth summer to a ‘T’. This two part post was the inspiration for this series as I have recently been looking back over this past summer and all the things I have enjoyed doing in and around Perth to do with drinking and dining. This post will be split over two entries as it was getting a little long. This post will be on wine and other drinks with follow-up entry coving my go-to summer drink – cider!

With summer winding down in Australia I have been looking over the past few months for my favourite drinks, places to eat and things to cook during the season. With the warmer weather I found myself gravitating towards and embracing white wine a lot more this summer than I have in the past. I also found the hot summer weather was perfect for drinking a few ciders with friends on the weekend.

Wine

With the warmer weather a dry white wine was my go to. I found myself seeking out dryer white wines, often a Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend or a Riesling. Castelli had a stall at UnWined WA last year and is where I ended up falling in love with their Riesling. If you are looking for a nice riesling and want it to be local I have yet to try a Great Southern reisling that I did not like!

Castelli Whites.

Castelli Whites.

I have also been enjoying a few bottles of bubbly with friends this past summer. Bubbles is a drink that is acceptable at all hours of the day from straight up or in a Mimosa for brunch right through to toasting and celebrating at the end of the night. I am loving Prosecco and Australian bubbles. A local favourite I tried at the start of summer last year was Sitella’s sparkling chenin blanc, this is a great bubbly with a twist! Highly recommend checking this wine out at their cellar door if you are visiting the Swan Valley or keeping an eye out for it on wine lists around Perth.

Sitella Sparkling Chenin Blanc

Sitella Sparkling Chenin Blanc

Lastly for those red wine drinkers who cannot give up their beloved red even in the heat of summer. I have found that chilling my red wines, especially lighter reds such as Pinot Noirs to be very enjoyable. Another option is to swap out your glass of red for a glass of Rose. I tried a lovely 2013 dry Rose called Cajones Muy Grande (a Grenache and Mourvedre blend) from Bakkheia Wines in the Geographe Wine region at a wine showcase last year, it was my favourite wine I tried that night.

IMG_3275

Cocktails

When I was dining out with friends this past summer I found myself often gravitating towards a cocktail with my meal. When ever I am dining out at a beachfront location I always find myself in the mood for a cocktail. At Salt on the Beach just behind the dunes at Port Beach in North Fremantle I stumbled across a delicious and simplistic lychee cocktail. At The Pickled Fig off South Beach in South Fremantle I tried their Earl’s Punch cocktail and enjoyed its refreshing flavour. Lastly if you are in the CBD looking for a cocktail and meal combo you cannot go past Jamie’s Italian and its whole package. I have tried quite a few of the cocktails at Jamie’s and have yet to have a bad thing to say about any of them on their flavour and they are well priced!

Keep an eye out for the second instalment of this post up later this week!

 

Advertisements

Perth Wine Group: Fourth Meet

Hi everyone,

To see what wines we have tried so far you can check out my blog posts on the first (unofficial meet) along with our second and third meets (official meets). A month ago I caught up with some fellow Perth wine lovers and bloggers for the third official Wine Century Challenge Meet. This meet was held at Steve’s Food and Fine Wine. The wines that we tasted this night seemed to have a trend of the nose and palate of the wine being very contradictory and polarised many of us at the tasting. Notes for the wines are under the categories of eye (E), nose (N) and palate (P) as usual for these tastings.

WHITES

2011 Giró Ribot, Muscat de Frontignac. Pendés, Spain (13%) (RRP $20)

IMG_2454

E: clear, pale lemon wine in the glass.

N: very punchy, fruity (sweet pear), nutty, and slightly sticky after notes. This wine was warm and inviting.

P: zingy/zesty, fresh, young, clean and a good crisp finish.

2011 Sepp Moser, Gruner Veltliner, von den Terrassen. Krenstal, Austria. (12.5%) (RRP $26)

IMG_2453

E: clear, pale lemon wine in the glass.

N: heavier nose than the first wine, toasty, savoury, ginger.

P: mineral spritzy, zesty, crisp, acidic, ginger, lacked fruit and floral flavours, and was a slightly flat wine.

There was a lot of discussion around the table as to this wine transitioning from it’s primary to secondary characteristics.

2010 Phinca Durmiente, Rufete Blanco. Hormilla, Spain. (13%) (RRP $55)

IMG_2455

E: clear deep yellow wine in the glass.

N: sticky sweet, mandarin, honey, stewed fruit, toasty.

P: criso, very dry, acidic with some fruit sweetness.

2012 Michael Hall, Roussanne. Barossa Valley, Australia. (13.5%) (RRP $43)

IMG_2452

E: clear, pale lemon wine in the glass.

N: nutty, toasty and earthy.

P: smooth, fresh, lacking (likely due to its age), oak and vanilla.

This wine was one which I and many others felt needed a little more time in the bottle before it would be at it’s best for drinking. Those who had tried older vintages of this wine raved about those so I do hope this wine follows in the footsteps of its older vintages as it did show the potential to be a great wine.

REDS

2010 Phinca Encanto, Rufete. Hormilla, Spain. (13%) (RRP$55)

IMG_2459

E: brick red, still slightly youthful wine in the glass.

N: spice, light oak, alcohol, warmth and berries.

P: vinegar, cleansing, acidic, sour cherries, ‘grippy’ wine with no tannins.

This wine was quite disappointing for me as I quite liked the nose of this wine but the palate was such a disappointment. I much preferred the white we tried from Phinca (Durmiente).

2010 Castel Firmian, Lagrein. Trentino DOC, Italy. (13%) (RRP $26)

IMG_2461

E: brick/ruby red, tired wine in the glass.

N: berries, oak. Spice, warm and inviting wine.

P: tannins, tired fruit (perhaps giving the wine a little longer to breathe may have helped overcome this), herby and a smooth wine.

2010 Castel Firmian, Marzemino. Trentino DOC, Italy (13%) (RRP $26)

IMG_2451

E: ruby/plum red, clear wine in the glass.

N: spice, oak, earthy and quite an enveloping nose.

P: rougher, grippier, lots of tannins and acid.

I personally preferred this wine to the one above and felt this would have gone very nicely with a very meaty dish.

2010 Zuccolo, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso. DOC of Grave del Friuli, Italy. (12.5%) (RRP $24)

IMG_2457

E: clear ruby red wine in the glass.

N: spice, oak, a vibrant and earthy wine.

P: bitter, spritzy, acid, little tannins, savoury and tired fruit.

I could see this wine being pared with a cheese platter to bring the best of this wine out.

2009 Agricola Querciabella, 100% Sangiovese, Chianti Classico DOCG, Italy. (13.5%) (RRP $52)

IMG_2460

E: clear brick red wine in the glass.

N: berries, spice and oak.

P: tannins, berries, spice and a good finish.

I adored this wine and it was my favourite red for the night.

2004 Salvatore Molettieri Vigna Cinque Quercie Ruserva, 100% Aglianico. Taurasi DOCG, Campania, Italy. (14%) (RRP 480)

IMG_2456

We had to open 2 bottles of this wine as the first one we tried was corked and very disappointing. Thankfully Steve’s had another bottle of this vintage on the shelf, which we were able to open up.

E: deep ruby red wine in the glass.

N: berries, leafy, herby, stewed fruit, and aniseed.

P: very dry, tannic, acid and berries.

This wine is a drink now, rather than a store for a later date and would go very well with a nice hearty wintery meal.

2008 Chalmers, Sagrantino. Heathcote, Italy. (14.5%) (RRP $32)

IMG_2458

E: clear, brick red wine in the glass.

N: spice, tobacco, and oak.

P: warm, dry, tannins, and lots of stewed dark fruits.

Until next time!

Wine(s) of the Week: University (week 6)

Hi everyone,

I started off the week with a glass of Brown Brothers Rose Crouchen Riesling with dinner after work one night. The wine had a touch of sweetness but finished refreshingly with enough acid. Strawberries and tropical fruit came through on the nose and palate.

IMG_1790

Another wine I had with dinner over the week was De Bortoli, 2010, La Bossa Shiraz Cabernet Merlot. This wine had ripe berries and a hint of oak on the nose, medium bodied with some fruit flavours on the palate along with some oak and tannins. An alright wine, went well with food.

IMG_1792

Another wine I had a glass of over the week was Coward and Black, 2009, April Harvest Semillon, Margaret River. This wine was not as sweet as I was expecting given that it was an April Harvest. Lots of tropical fruit on the nose and palate. The wine as well felt a little tired and it would have been I think a lot more appealing for myself had I of tried a younger vintage. Would reconsider trying this one again if I came across a more recent vintage.

IMG_1791

Working in a bottle-shop means that I need to sample wines from a variety of price brackets, I decided to open a bottle that I had purchased from my $5-$10 price range at work. The bottle of wine was a 2011, Wolfblass, Eaglehawke Cabernet Sauvignon. I found this wine to be young, unbalanced and it had a funny taste which BF noted also and was sort of reminding me of ‘menthol’. I think my preferences regarding wines has been elevated too quickly as all I could see this wine being used for was cooking at best.

IMG_1793

I did also attend another Wine Century Challenge Meet, I will do a write up of those wines soon.

Until next time!

Wine(s) of the Week: University (week 5)

Hi everyone,

For Valentine’s Day I ended up leaving First Choice with a new red wine varietal from Sicily for myself along with some beer for BF. The grape varietal I ended up selecting 2011 Nero D’Avola from Feudo Arancio. I had no prior knowledge of the wine and ended up selecting it as I did not recognise the varietal and the fact that it came from Sicily intrigued me. This wine was quite a treat for me also as it was my first non-sparkling wine that used a cork rather than a screw-cap that I had bought in Australia. Once I had reacquainted myself with the bottle opener and a bit of muscle from BF I set about trying this new varietal. On first sips the wine had a lot of fruit flavour and some oak with a medium body. After breathing for a few minutes the wine opened up in spiciness and body and really impressed me overall.

IMG_1747

I caught up with some girlfriends from school at Perth Print Hall’s Fine Dining Restaurant. One of my friends had previously been to the restaurant and said I would enjoy their wine list, she was not wrong in that statement. I was seriously impressed with their wine list and cellar however the standout of the night was the sommelier who recommended a delightful bottle of wine for us. From our request of a medium bodied red wine with cherry flavours and some oak he recommended the 2010 Sorrenberg Gamay ($95 at the restaurant). For all the wine lovers in Perth this place is a must for the experience of trying something new as the range of wines they stock is extensive and impressive to say the least. The wine from the first sniff to the last sip had enough body to keep me (a medium to full bodied red wine lover) content to my friend who enjoys her lighter bodied red wines and my other dining companion who wasn’t all that bothered. The fruit flavour was filled with luscious cherries, with enough tannins at the end of the palate to pair with our meals. I will have to get my hands on a few bottles of this for sure! If anyone has seen it in a bottle shop in Perth do let me know!

Sorrenberg-Gamay-generic

My last wine for the week was one which was had with a barbecue lunch with some old family friends. They brought over a bottle of Vasse Felix Classic Dry White. This wine was well balanced between the juicy apple and citrus flavours in the wine and the zesty to dry refreshing finish. Vasse Felix has consistently impressed me every time I have tried it and this time was no different.

IMG_1746

Until next time!

Wine Education Centre Up-Coming Courses

Hi everyone,

Since I’ve begun to settle into my new routine with my graduate studies, I’ve been back on the Wines of Western Australia’s website looking at their classes and courses for this year.

408014_258259104243679_1472112713_n

Wine Basics

($90 for a 3 hour class 10am-1pm)

This class offers a basic introduction to wine tasting and appreciation. These classes can make for a fun weekend event with friends.

Upcoming Dates: 16 March 2013, 4 May 2013, 25 May 2013

Wine Essential Course

($295 for 4 weeks 6-8pm: includes 6 different wine tastings per week, three course meal in the final week and a private group tour of a winery)

This course is the one which I completed last year and my reviews of the wines I sampled in the course can be found in the links below. This course is good for people ranging from beginners to those like me who knew something about wine but wanted to refine and add to their wine knowledge repertoire. Overall I was impressed with the course and it’s value for money as well as the chance to meet with other wine enthusiasts in Perth. My final thoughts can be found in this blog post.

Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Winery Tour

Upcoming Starting Dates: 6 March 2013, 3 April 2013, 8 May 2013

Wine Essentials Plus Course

($395 for the course, includes the textbook, A Taste of the World of Wine and the option of completing an industry certified, theoretical and sensory examination.)

This course is for those who want to learn about wine regions and the finer points of wine such as cellaring and faults. This course is aimed at people in the wine and hospitality industries, along with people who have acquired some wine knowledge already.

Upcoming Starting Dates: 7 May 2013

Wine Varietals Course – Combined or Individual Red and White Wine Courses

($265.00 each for the individual 4 week courses 6-8pm, or
$425.00 for the courses combined into an 8 week course 6-8pm)

This course focuses on using blind tastings to develop your wine palate and knowledge. Three of the four weeks in each of the courses is structured for a comparison and contrast between two different varietals, with the final class being a review of what has been learnt. This is the course I have been eyeing off since finishing the Wine Essential course last year, as did many of the people who were on the course with me.

Upcoming Starting Dates: 21 February 2013 (Wine Varietals White), 9 May 2013 (Wine Varietals White), 28 March 2013 (Wine Varietals Red)

If you have anymore questions or wish to book in to one of these courses you can contact the Wine Education Centre on (08) 9284 3355 or via email: WEC@winewa.asn.au

Until next time!

Wine(s) of the Week: Blackwood Valley Wine Show

So as you all know I spent Saturday evening at the Blackwood Valley Wine Show awards ceremony and tasting function. There was quite the selection of wines involved in this year’s show, which was also their 10th year of running the wine show. Judged this year by Tony Devitt from Ashbrook Winery as chief judge, along with Di Miller and Peter Stanlake as the other judges, and David Johnson and Nigel Ludlow as assistant judges. There were 255 different wines entered into this show from 55 different producers, with over 55% of the wines at the show receiving a medal.

Due to having to drive back to Busselton that same night I stuck to sampling only those which won a gold medal along with a few others that caught my eye. From those I tasted the standout wines for me were:

Rockcliffe’s “Third Reef” 2011 Chardonnay (gold)

It was a smooth and pleasant chardonnay which took home the Best Boutique Wine and Best WA White Wine trophies at the show.

Mandoon’s 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (gold)

Had an interesting bouquet which I could not place at the night – I guess I will just have to try and get my hands on a bottle of it in the near future to have another taste!

Harewood Estate’s 2012 Mount Barker Reisling (gold)

It was a dry Reisling which wasn’t too dry for my personal taste and had a lovely refreshing apple bouquet! Will happily try this one again!

Bulter Crest’s 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (gold)

Had elements of limes and passionfruit in both the bouquet and on the palate and was smooth overall!

Firetail’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (gold)

The Cab Sav was oaky and smooth. However there was a slight roughness on the palate which a little maturing/ageing of the wine should do away with hopefully!

Mandoon’s Research Station Reserve 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (gold)

Again another oaky Cab Sav, which was well balanced and lacking the roughness that the 2011 Cab Sav’s seemed to have. Still was however lacking, a little breathing would have definitely helped this wine along.

Overall the Harewood Reisling and the Mandoon Cab Sav were my favourites of the night, but there was plenty of excellent wines there that I didn’t have the chance to try! The night also gave me the chance to get to know the community and people behind some of these wineries and it was truly an eye opening experience! To realise that the region is still suffering from the GFC and they are predicting to suffer for many more years to come with some wineries not having produced any wine in the last three years due to the lack of exportation opportunities. It was also interesting to discover that many of these wines survive from private sales and the exportation of their products into countries such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the UK were the more commonly mentioned. This was a point raised by Tony Devitt when he spoke to those attending the event and the uncertainty that the 2013 vintage faces.

Tony Devitt spoke briefly about the wine region of South Western Australia, he spoke of the quality of the grapes being exceptional and that the winemaking techniques needed to be on par with the grapes’ quality to extract the true potential of the region. He also touched upon the need for the boutique wineries in the region to collectively communicate between each other and to the national and global community the high quality and regional variance that Western Australian and in particular South Western Australian wines have to offer, for recognition and success to be achieved.

Overall the night was an interesting introduction into the South Western wine industry and to many new wineries which I hope to get more intimately acquainted with over the summer months! For those who want to see the full list of wines and those who won awards it is published on the Blackwood Valley’s website or can be found by following the links.

Until next time!

Wino 101: Like This? Try That!

Welcome to the first edition of ‘Wino 101’! Working in a bottle shop I often have customers coming in who do not know much about the different grape varietals and are often unsure about how they can branch out to try something new. This blog will hopefully leave you more informed next time you want to try a white wine a little ‘outside the box’ or next time the shop assistant is offering a recommendation/advice you won’t feel so lost.

Like Sweet White wines? Try a Chenin Blanc!

(For example the well known Chenin Blanc by Amberley – pricing tends to be $10-15 in bottle shops in Perth. Amberley no longer has a cellar door due to the estate being sold in 2011.)

Chenin Blancs are dryer than your typical sweet wines such as Moscato, Crouchen Riesling, Traminer Riesling, Soft Fruity White, etc. But what makes a Chenin Blanc a nice difference is its greater ability to be paired with a meal, as well as the lack of a syrupy aftertaste that some sweeter wines have left me with in the past after a few glasses. The higher alcoholic content (from less sugar remaining for the sweetness) is also a plus if you want a bit more of a kick from your glass of wine. Chenin Blancs tend to have more fruitiness than the sweeter wines to make up for the lower sugar content, as well as just a hint of zesty acidity to balance out the fruitier flavours.

Like Sauvignon Blanc? Try a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Gris/Grigio!

(For example a Margaret River SSB/SBS – pricing tends to be $15+ in bottles hops in Perth)

Sauvignon Blanc has really been put on the map from the wines coming out go the Marlborough region in New Zealand. A Sauvignon Blanc (SB) tends to be zesty, with grassy and tropical fruit notes to it. By adding a Semillon to the SB you produce a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (SSB) or a Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (SBS) depending on which is the dominant grape in the wine blend. The addition of Semillon will add a more a more citrusy flavour. Margaret River is well known in Australia for producing SSBs and SBSs, there is little variation between the different wineries with regards to overall flavour of the wines produced in the region, the greatest variety can be seen in their varing degrees of quality.

(For example – Pinot Grigio/Gris from Australia, NZ or Italy – pricing tends to be around $10-15 in bottle shops in Perth.)

Pinot Grigio/Gris (originally the name varies as to whether you adopt the Italian or French name for the grape and its subsequent wine) is a very rich fruity dry wine. In Australia it seems ‘grigio’ is used to imply that it is dryer than a ‘gris’ wine, however the term is often used so interchangeably that there has been talk of doing away with one of the terms. If you are wanting to try a much fruiter alternative to your SB then give the grigio/gris a try.

Like Chardonnay? Try what I’ve recommended in this post!

Generally if you’re a Chardonnay fan like myself you’re not big on the acidity that comes with drinking a SB, this can be overcome by avoiding the SB’s and even the SBS/SSB’s to an extent, the Pinot Grigio/Gris while being slightly acidic has much more emphasis placed upon the fruitiness of the wine, and the Chenin Blanc is a more sweeter and less fruiter alternative to the Pinot Grigio/Gris.

If you think I’ve missed a wine and think that I should include it, feel free to comment below and let me know! Look out for the red wine version of ‘Like This? Try That!’ to come in the near future, depending upon requests. Let me know if you take any of the recommendations on board how it goes.

And as always, until next time!