It’s no secret that I taste a lot of wine. In fact in 2017 alone, I tried more than 350 wines and wrote tasting notes for them. From sparkling wines to sweet, dry, pink and port – I tried a wide variety, yet only a smidgen, of the wonderful wines out there in the world.
There were some unusual surprises and some wines I have already bought again and again, it’s these special superstar wines that I wanted to share with you on the blog today as they are very memorable for me.
As always, I must emphasise that the below are my opinions and only mine (well a few have inputs from my dear Mr. Spittoon and some friends and family). Everyone has different taste buds, so what I find in a wine, you may not.
I also want to mention that whether I buy the wine or are sent samples, that it’s always my honest opinion. In 2017 I was challenged a few times on social media for my opinions on wines – at the end of the day, I am an honest person and this is a hobby (and I wish it to stay that way) therefore I literally don’t waste my words on not being me nor do I have the time/energy to argue with anyone what MY taste buds find in a wine.
With the housekeeping out-of-the-way, here are a dozen of the most memorable wines I reviewed in 2017 (in no particular order):
3 Drops 2017 Nebbiolo Rose (Great Southern, WA)
Nebbiolo is an Italian red grape predominately associated with the Piedmont wine region (aka Barolo, Barbaresco, etc). It typically produces a tannic lightly coloured red wine and is associated with descriptors like ‘tar’ and ‘roses’.
3 Drops 2016 Rosé was made with 25% Nebbiolo and the rest Shiraz so I was intrigued to try this full Nebbiolo rosé…
It’s a pink diamond colour on the eye with delicate red fruits, fresh watermelon and pink grapefruit on the nose. In the mouth it’s very subtle upfront then it hits you with juicy flavoursome crunchiness. It’s full of flavours of cranberries and red currants with bright acidity and a touch of earthiness in the finish. It was a great match with an afternoon platter as it seemed to go with everything from the almond dukkah to prosciutto, olives and gooey white cheese. I’ll be hunting out more for sure!
Champagne Vieille France Brut (Champagne, France)
Mr. Spittoon picked up this rather unique bottle of champagne from Dan Murphy’s last week for about $50. When he initially came home with it, I actually thought he’d bought a bottle of brandy when I spotted the short stocky bottle!
This Pinot Noir & Chardonnay blend is a rather deepish yellow with tangerine hints and soft flowing bubbles on the eye. Notes of toffee apples, crisp pear and orange zest dominate the nose for me. While on the palate it has a super smooth and delicate mouthfeel with strawberries, lemon curd and creamy vanilla custard coming through. Totally enjoyable and surprising. We’ll definitely be buying this one again!
Howard Park 2014 ‘Flint Rock’ Shiraz (Great Southern, WA)
As you may have seen, my Monday night dinner was rather tasty – jerky & Shiraz I picked the Howard Park Wines 2014 ‘Flint Rock’ Shiraz from WA’s Great Southern to go with this WA-made Chewy Mooey kangaroo jerky as I’ve heard kangaroo is a good match for Aussie Shiraz. I have to admit, it was a pretty good treat!
Howard Park are one of Australia’s First Families of Wine who Wine Selectors have put together an ‘Australian Shiraz Showcase’ of – more info here.
This particular Shiraz is a deep, dark garnet-plum colour in the glass. On the nose it’s elegant with a fresh coolness to it and juicy fresh cherries laced with vanilla. Those cherries come through on the palate backed by a lovely clean structure, silky tannins, hints of blackcurrants and a peppered finish. A super elegant cool-climate Shiraz.
Schild Estate 2015 Sparkling Shiraz (Barossa Valley, SA)
We finally cracked our last bottle of Schild Estate 2015 Sparkling Shiraz from the Barossa Valley which we picked up at the Good Food and Wine Show earlier in the year. We were lucky enough to meet Judy Schild at the show. What I found pretty funny when it came to tasting this bubbly red is that Judy referred to it as the ‘Barossa Berocca’ as apparently it’s great any time of day and is the ultimate pick-me-up! We’ve had it with brekkie and dinner so I can confirm it’s great from morning to night.
On the eye it’s a very deep garnet colour with a lovely deep red bubbly bead on top. Dark black fruits, chocolate and spice dominate the nose. While on the palate it’s über elegant with dark plum & bramble fruit flavours complimented with hints of spice and choccie. Thoroughly enjoyable and a steal at approx $25 per bottle.
La Violetta Patio Nat (Great Southern, WA)
Who doesn’t love sipping vino on the patio, it makes you ‘outdoorsy’ right? This scrumptious ‘Patio Nat’ was created by @laviolettawines and is an interesting and highly gluggable blend of Muscat and Riesling. Pétillant-naturel or ‘pet nat’ for short is essentially natural sparkling wine bottled before primary fermentation and is finished without the addition of secondary yeasts or sugars. It tastes more like a cider rather than your typical Champagne or sparkling wine. This one I picked up for $35 from the @boatshedmarket.
On the eye it’s that characteristic creamy-beige cloudy colour – looking more like ginger beer or natural peach juice than your typical bubbly vino. On the nose it’s fruity and yeasty with hints of spice and musk. On the palate it’s über refreshing and thirst quenching, fun, fresh and juicy. It’s freakin delicious!
Mt Difficulty Wines 2016 Bannockburn Pinot Noir (Central Otago, NZ)
My lovely Mr. Spittoon gave me this bottle of Mt Difficulty Wines 2016 Bannockburn Pinot Noir for Christmas with a pair of their Duskies sunnies that are in fact made out of used Pinot oak barrels! I’m familiar with Mt Difficulty as when I was at uni in Auckland and worked part-time at Glengarry, I use to sell their wines. They’ve always been known as a top quality Kiwi producer. They are located in Central Otago which is the world’s southern-most commercial wine growing region.
In the glass this NZ Pinot is a brilliant ruby-red colour with a rather farmy/earthy nose that also has notes of cherries, plums, vanilla, toasted oak and violet floral perfume. In the mouth it has a wonderful complexity to it with sweet juicy fruit, cherry chocolate, spice and elegant French oak. Definitely not a ‘difficult’ wine to drink.
Champagne Louis Roederer 2004 Cristal (Champagne, FR)
Mr. Spittoon sure knows how to swoon a girl! This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve enjoyed this exact Champagne – Champagne Louis Roederer 2004 Cristal. He proposed with it, then a year later we had it on our wedding night and then recently we popped a bottle to celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary.
To say drinking champagne of this caliber is great, is an understatement. I was literally squeezing the bottle dry and licking my glass at the very sad end of the bottle.
So here are the notes I wrote in my whimsical stare of mind…
Golden shade on the eye with a slight brass tinge and very little bubbles. The nose is full of hints of honey, creamy lemon butter, spiced pears and floral notes. In the mouth it’s über smooth and incredibly elegant with wonderfully intricate lemon acidity and hints of creamy macadamias. It’s complex yet still so fresh – aging beautifully! See you again next year I hope!
Olive Farm Wines 2016 Touriga Nacional (Swan Valley, WA)
Yumo we finally cracked into this Olive Farm Wines 2016 Touriga Nacional this week. This is the first and only (at this stage) TN produced in the Swan Valley. It’s $37 a bottle and there’s very limited quantities. If you’re a Pinot Noir drinker then this is a must try!
You can read more about OFW’s here.
It’s a brilliant red-magenta colour in the glass. It has wonderful aromatics full of red fruits, vanilla cinnamon sugar, oak and a hint of citrus. In the mouth it’s juicy and smooth with plentiful flavours of fresh berry fruits, plums and hints of baking spice. 100% enjoyable from the first sip to last drop in the bottle.
Brightwater Vineyards 2015 Chardonnay (Nelson, NZ)
Yes I admit it. I completely fell in love with the Nelson Wine Region on my fleeting visit recently. I wish I’d had time to visit Brightwater Vineyards as from their Instagram profile – it looks stunning. And this bottle of 2015 Chardonnay is an absolute stunner. It’s easy to understand why it won gold at the Air New Zealand 2016 Wine Awards!
On the eye it’s a lovely lemon yellow colour. Creamy oak, hints of lemon honey, freshly cut nectarine and smooth honeydew melon notes entice the nostrils. While the palate enjoys silky smooth texture, preserved lemon, stone fruit and vanilla. A wine I could easily spend all afternoon with! $28 a bottle approx.
Aphelion Grenache ‘Bunch’ 2016 (McLaren Vale, SA)
I was so excited to have the opportunity to try an Aphelion Wine on our Melbourne long weekend! This wine brand hails from McLaren Vale in South Australia and I came across it when following Wine Food World who started up Aphelion with her winemaker hubby in 2015. In fact Rob Mack was recently named in the Top 12 Finalists for the Young Guns of Wine!
I had the heads up from Louise that I could find their wine at a few Melbourne wine bars and lucky for us Shadowboxer Bar & Kitchen was close to where we were staying! The wine, food, atmosphere and service were top-notch – I’d definitely recommend visiting! I will blog more on Shadowboxer however for the meantime this is what I thought of the Aphelion Grenache ‘Bunch’ 2016.
There were only 300 bottles of this tipple produced. It’s unfiltered and unfined with the grapes coming from the Blewitt Springs district which is known for its old vine Grenache – the grapes used for the ‘Bunch’ come from 80-year-old bush vines.
We loved it! Both Mr. Spittoon and I enjoyed every sip of the bottle (it was a bit pricey at $70 per bottle on the restaurant wine list, seeing as it’s normally $30 retail, but it was worth it to try it). On the eye it was a pretty red-lilac colour with a juicy red fruit (especially cranberries) bouquet with hints of white pepper, lime and bark. In the mouth it is gloriously juicy with spices coming through and a nice long blackberry infused finish. It has a sort of creamy soufflé texture which meant the bottle was gone before we knew it. Not bad with those tasty duck ribs on the Shadowboxer menu.
John Kosovich 2010 Bottle Aged Chenin Blanc (Swan Valley, WA)
Have you tried an aged Chenin Blanc from the Swan Valley? If not you should! I picked up this 2010 Chenin at the John Kosovich cellar door for about $35 – I was immediately in love with the freshness and depth of flavour.
On the eye it’s a vibrant creamy yellow with toasted fruit, herb and florals on the nose. It’s super flavoursome on the palate with as I mention a lovely freshness with citrus acidity balanced by creamy fruits. It’s definitely a foodie wine that goes well with strong cheese as we found it matched the Stilton cheese we were eating perfectly.
Tyrrell’s Wines 2015 Shiraz (Hunter Valley, NSW)
I’ve never really considered matching curry with Shiraz before, but this combo was awesome!! I made a Southern Pepper Curry from The Spice Tailor’s curry kits from my local Coles with some black rice and naan on the side. The dish and wine were a match made in heaven!
This 2015 Tyrrell’s Wines Shiraz hails from the Hunter Valley. It’s matured in large old oak barrels so the fruit is highlighted and I think it’s this not overly oaked style of Shiraz that worked so well with the curry.
It’s a pretty ruby-red shade on the eye. Notes of black pepper, raspberry liquorice, blueberries and a hint of vegetal (Brussel sprouts according to Mr. Spittoon) came through on the nose. In the mouth it’s super smooth and easy drinking with wonderful fruit acidity and light tannins. A definite winner on the palate while cooking and eating curry!
Yum – who is thirsty now? All I can say is, let’s get tasting 2018! Follow my tasting adventures here.