WSR Wine Blog

Wine tasting reviews, trips and stuff

Sharing our trip to Australia and New Zealand

At the risk of boring you, I am sharing the scrapbook of our recent trip to Australia and New Zealand.  After keeping you informed of the 6-week sojourn, I thought there might be bits and pieces some of you might enjoy, either to bring back memories of your own visits, or in case you don’t find your way there in the future.  The photos have captions which provide at least some explanation of what you see, and we hope they provide at least some measure of enjoyment. 

The link for the picasa website is:

As we said at the outset, we went to places this time that we missed in our trip from 20 years ago.  Thus, no Sydney, Great Barrier Reef, south Island of NZ.  Also, as I put these together and did captions, I was reminded once again that we wished we’d spent more time in the Perth area, and wished we had taken more photos of the countryside in that region.  The only cross-over we had was in Adelaide and Victor Harbor.  Our Thanksgiving visit to Victor Harbor involved dinner and staying with Meredyth Cunningham who we had met 20 years ago on the Nindethana Sheep Station north of Mildura.  She and her husband sold the station, moved to a farm at Keith.  He subsequently died and Meredyth found a home in Victor Harbor, a delightful location, and at the same age as Judy, has returned to teaching school.  What a retirement!
For those who might have only passing subject matter interest, here is a breakdown by slide number
Koalas – 214, 216, 233-237
Kangaroos – 379, 404-407
Emu – 422-424, 441, 486-487
Dolphins – 459-470, 473-476
Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas – 342-359
Alice Springs (which I described as Barstow w/red soil) – 365-369, 334-340 (I never did take a shot of downtown, it’s really a nice place with about 25,000 population)
Wineries and vineyards:
-New Zealand 29, 32, 34-37
-Yarra 92-97
-Tasmania 140-146
-Coonawarra 280-287
-McLaren Vale 300-308
-Margaret River 381-403, 411-412
-Pemberton 426-429
The only places I had winery appointments were d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale SA and Leeuwin in Margaret River WA.  Both were excellent visits and a great insight into Australian culture and business.
Several have asked what we enjoyed the best.  For me, I loved the Hawkes Bay area of NZ, and driving the Great Ocean Road was a singular experience, akin to driving the Big Sur coast in CA.  We loved Port Fairy.  We also enjoyed the Southwest, but I must admit the flies did get to us a time or two.  Funny that we avoided them on the trip 20 years ago, but we sure discovered the “Aussie salute” this trip.  Finding Hillier Bay was also a singular treat for me.
I hope they don’t bore you to death, and if you decide to make your own trek, we can offer all sorts of hints and advice.  After we got home, Judy opined that it never seemed we’d been away from home.  Australia, moreso than NZ, has really become an almost carbon copy of the US, except for the driving on the left side and the funny accents, and the wonderful expressions, like “Good on ya, Mate,” when you do something well.


January 29, 2010 Posted by | Australia, Road Trip, Wineries | Leave a comment

January WSR Tasting – So. Rhone at Scott’s

January’s tasting as Scott’s took us to the “South” but which “South” was the question?  There were many answers but in the beginning the Southern Rhone was not a guess!   The tasting ventured off to Vacqueyras, Gigondas and Chateauneuf du Pape (CDP) in Southern France.

 I don’t remember in the past years of the group tasting wines from Vacqueras and Gigondas but IMO they showed up very well to the CDP’s.  Besides price points being much less than the big boys of CDP they had very good structure and elegance that would be worth picking up a few to put down for a while to see how they evolve. 

The flights were divided up to three wines each and included newest release year of 2007 and one older in each group to see if any improvements were gained in time.  I think as a whole the 2007’s showed up as being very accessable  and drinkable now.

Cheeses and pates of France accompanied the opening Champaign and sparkler. Dinner was served at the end of the second flight of Julia Childs Beef Boeuf Bourguignon, noodles and green beans.  I think it was a good evening had by all if I do say so myself.  The wine list is below and can be purchased at Wine Exchange.

O1) – Mumm Napa Brut Rose ($16)
O2) – Montaudon Champagne – Grande Rose  – Reims France   ($23)
 1) – 2007 – Domaine Le Couroulu – Vacqueyras  ($17)
 2) – 2007 – Colline St. Jean – Vacqueyras   $20)
 3) – 2005 – Montirius – Vacqueyras  ($25)
 4) – 2007 – Chateau De Saint Cosme – Gigondas ($36)
 5) – 2005 – E Guigal – Gigondas ($24)
 6) – 2007 – Domaine Brusset – Gigondas    ($37)
 7) – 2005 – Domaine Du Vieux Lazaret  – Chateauneuf du Pape  ($30)
 8) – 2007 – Domaine Raymond Usseglio  – Chateauneuf du Pape  ($40)
 9) – 2007 – Delas Haute Pierre – Chateauneuf du Pape  ($30)
10) – 2007 – Le Vieux Donjon – Chateauneuf du Pape  ($60)  
11) – 2007 – Roger Sabon – Chateauneuf du Pape  ($38)
12) – 2003 – Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe – Chateauneuf du Pape  ($36)

January 6, 2010 Posted by | Bubbly, France, Group Tasting Notes, Red Wines | Leave a comment

Wines enjoyed over the 2009 Holiday

Hope you all had a great Christmas and memorable New Years.  Now that the 2009 holiday season has come to a close it was time to do some clean- up……of wine bottles that is, from the past few weeks of gathering with friends and family. I thought I would take a quick inventory of what I tasted and enjoyed with good food or just a bottle for dinner. Mind you this was over the last 3 weeks time period not in any particular order and enjoyed by many.

  • Roederer Estate Sparkler – Anderson Vally $20
  • Schramsburg Cremant – $27 (favorite)
  • Veuve Clicquot Brut St Supery – 2006 Merlot, Rutherford
  • Domanie Pichit – Vouvray 2007 (France)
  • Wildhurst – 2008 Savignon Blanc
  • Ferrari Carano – 2008 Fume Blanc
  • William Selyem – 2005 Pinot Noir, Russian River (very nice and better than the Serene as I remember)
  • Andrew Murray – 2006 Syrah, Black Oak Vineyard (yummy)
  • Domaine Serene – 2005 Pinot Noir Evenstad Reserve, Willamette Valley
  • MacMurry Ranch – 2006 Pinot Noir
  • Barrel 27 – 2006 Viogior/Roussane/Marsanne – high on the hog, French Camp
  • A Rafanelli – 2006 Cabernet – Dry Creek (big red)
  • Wine Gurrella – 2006 Zinfandel, Sonoma

What did you drink this season and was it memorable?

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Bubbly, Other Tasting Notes, Red Wines, White Wines | Leave a comment

Champagne notes (Tim’s tasting)

Additional information on Champagnes poured at WSR, December 18, 2009

I reviewed the Champagnes that Tim poured in my two reference “bibles,” Hachette Guide des Vins-2009, and Classement (now called Les Meilleurs Vins de France 2009), both French references.  I have found the latter is more generally respected, and it will provide a listing of multiple products of a cave or house.  Omission from Hachette may indicate one of two things—either the wine submitted did not rate high enough to be listed (the judging panels are generally local producers), or the producer never submitted a sample to be judged.  One never knows.  Classemente rates the producer.  It has 3-star, 2-star, 1-star and listing only.  Getting listed here is significant in that the guide lists only the very best from each region—there is not “entry.”  It takes it one-step further in that it will assign a numerical score to the producer’s portfolio of wines, using a twenty-point scale.

1.  Moncuit.  Listed in Hachette, received 1-star.  From the Côtes-des-Blancs (CB) south of Eparnay.  Sells for between 15 and 23 euros in France.

 2. Guy Charlemagne.  From CB. Listed in Hachette, no stars, indicated at 15-23 euros.  The house is listed in Classement, the particular wine was rated at 14/20.

 3. Colin Cuvee.  Not listed in either reference.

 4. Agrapart.  From CB.  Listed in Hachette, no stars.  Sells for between 46 to 60 euros, with Tim’s pouring at $37—a good buy for the producer.  Classement lists the producer at 1-star, and shows this product at 15.5/20, selling for 20 euros

 5. Henriot.  Hachette lists only the 1996 vintage product, not the blanc Souverain NV that Tim poured, though it does get a mention in the Hachette text.  Located in Reims.  Source of grapes not stated, but it has no acreage.  Received a two-star rating as producer (high respect).  The Champagne Tim poured received a 16/20.  Sells for 30 euros, so the $39 in US is a fair-priced buy.

 6. Larmandier-Bernier.  No mention in either reference.

 7. Duval-Leroy.  Located in CB, south of Eparnay.  The producer is listed in Hachette, but only the 1999, not the 1998 vintage.   The house is listed in Classement, getting a 1-star rating.  The 1998 was rated at 15.5/20, and is sold at 43 euros.

 8. Guy Larmandier.  Located in CB, south of Eparnay.  Producer is listed in Hachette, but only a Champagne called Cramant, in reference to a village on the highway that parallels the Côte des Blancs, though Larmandier’s address is Vertus, another village along the same highway.

 9. J. Lasalle.  Not listed in either publication. 

 10. Ruinart.  Only the 1998 vintage is listed in Hachette, but that received 3-stars.  The producer is listed in Classement with a 1-star rating.  The particular wine that Tim poured received a 13/20.  Sells for 36,60 euros.

 11. Henri Billot.  Not listed in either publication.

 12. Jacquesson.  Located near Ay (north of Eparnay, on the north side of the Marne).  Not listed in Hachette.  Listed in Classement, with a two-star rating (indicating a really highly respected producer).  The particular Champagne Tim poured scored 18/20.  Sells for 53 euros, so the $110 Tim paid is a bit high.

FYI – Producer ratings in Champagne in Classement:

3-star (Outstanding)
– Bollinger
– Egly-Ouriet
– Krug
– Jacques Selosse

2-star (Excellent)
– Billcart-Salmon
– Charles Heidsieck
– Deutz
– Dom Pérignon
– Henriot
– Jacquesson
– Larmandier-Bernier
– Pol Roger
– Louis Roderer
– Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin

1-star (Very Good)
– Agrapart et Fils
– Paul Bara
– Barnaut
– De Sousa
– Duval-Leroy
– Gatinois
– Pierre Gimonnet et Fils
– Gosset
– Alfred Gratien
– Jean Lallement et Fils
– Laurent-Perrier
– Marie-Noëlle Ledru
– Lilbet-Fils
– Mailly Grand Cru
– Pierre Mncuit
– Franck Pascal
– Joseph Perrier
– Philipponnat
– Roses de Jeanne-Cédric Bouchard
– Ruinart
– Soutiran
– Taittinger

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Bubbly, Group Tasting Notes | Leave a comment