Thursday, January 29, 2009

New reviews from Philip White

The weather is a scorching forty one degrees celcius outside and I am not in a hurry to leave the computer, nor the air-conditoned room, for any reason. So it appears that the best way to spend my afternoon is to update my blogs, answer emails and print off any new reviews. So, in that respect, even though neither wines are officially released (both wines will be released after vintage ie March or April 2009) here are the latest reviews. It is our first review for our 2006 Shiraz and the second for our 2008 Riesling. Both reviews have been written by Philip White. You can read his wine blogs here: Drankster and Drinkster.

Karra Yerta Flaxman's Gully Eden Valley Barossa Riesling 2008

$20(?); unlabelled pre-release bottle; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93++ points

Alsace. Germany. Tasmania. High Barossa. Who cares? Honey and nuts; gewurztraminer and roses; spicebox and creme caramel: you'll find all these sorts of delicioso swimming round this bowl. It's not the austere crisp rapier some earlier Karra Yertas have been, but it's rich and wholesome, like some of the more Germanic rieslings made in the Barossa in the sixties and seventies, and what I imagine Petaluma tried to do sometimes during the eighties. The flavour has lovely honey as much as lemon and lime: not exactly sweet, but with an illusion of sweetness as much as your actual unfermented sugary juice. The aftertaste is a tantalising tumble of spiced mead, citrus pith, dried apple, lemon blossom and dry stones. It's like a serious spatlese riesling fermented dry. It'd be perfect with a creme caramel flavoured with a tiny squirt of lemon and garnished with citrus rind; or King George whiting fillets wrapped around a little squirt of prawn mousseline in beurre blanc. Savvy?

Karra Yerta Flaxman’s Gully Barossa Shiraz 2006

pre-release unlabelled sample; ??% alcohol; screw cap; 94+++ points

The stony, barren ridge at the top of Flaxman’s, where the ancient rocks poke through high above the Barossa, is the home of some of the world’s most expensive and elusive shiraz wines. (Think Ringland, next door. McLean’s Farm at the northern end; Mountadam at the southern.) This vineyard is windswept and wild, freezing in the winter, and even cool at night in the midst of the most vicious heatwaves. So this rare tincture has quite a lot to live up to. It has the most intense and complex bouquet, riddled with twists of beauty that seem so blacksmithed into compression they unwind in a dreadfully gradual and teasing manner. Musk, lavendar, violets, licorice, mint, cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, blackcurrant, blackberry, beetroot, morel, porcini, ancient soy, salt, schist, podsol, guano, gunpowder, swarf, burlap ... I dunno. I could go on, and I’ve only had my hooter in the glass for thirty minutes. I know now that this wine is gonna be a king hell striptease viper with a voice like Barry White and Grace Jones for a Mum. The palate’s disarming and confronting from the first sip: just mildly viscous, especially compared to the intensity of its flavours, with, yep, the lithe form of the black whipsnake slithering around your mouth like some professional girls apparently dance on poles. It’s strangely compact and intense, as I’ve said too many times, but still seems ethereal in its saucy habit of letting little shots of its myriad components just go: they’re there for a flash as they evaporate, and suddenly they’re replaced by something else. And on and on it goes. The dance of the hundred and summit veils. Sometime a long way off all these bits and pieces will assimilate and homogenise and the damned thing will be mature and formal and very, very famous, and those astonishing components will let go at the same time in equal proportions and really, really gradually, but shit, that’ll kill people, and by Bacchus I love it now. I doubt that I can stay alive long enough to drink it at its peak, and if I did, it’d kill me anyway. Karra Yerta has never hit the top ten in the glambam gobstopper any price you like stakes, but it will, and it will outshine most of those wannabeez and cooderbeenz. This is a stunning, secret wine. Gimme! JAN 09

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fantastic Plastic??

I read an interesting article today on how some wineries are choosing to put their wine into plastic bottles. In my opinion it certainly raises a debate between the benefits for the environment versus the benefits (or lack of) for our own health. There is no doubt that using glass bottles is environmentally taxing (in actual production of the glass and indeed with weight/freight/petrol consumption) hence many wineries choice to change from heavy bottles to lighter ones. Of course, human nature still leads us to think that heavier bottles mean a better quality wine. Realistically, in 2009, this is definitely not so.

In the media over the past few years there have been numerous articles on the dangers of
(PET) plastic bottles and their alleged carcinogenic chemicals that taint and poison any liquid in them. I prefer to drink out of glass bottles for a number of reasons.

The first reason being that I tend to believe that plastic bottles are not completely safe, and secondly everything tastes better out of glass as opposed to plastic. And I mean EVERYTHING. Beer, wine, water, soft drinks, milk, juice... I absolutely hate going to a football match and having to drink beer from a plastic cup. Actually, I even hate beer from a can. For me, the only way to drink beer is cold and in glass. I may be surprised in the future but for now, I prefer my wine the same way (well, not cold unless I have a glass of riesling on a hot day).

The article states that ideally, plastic bottles are for wine to drink now and not store long-term (recommended storage is only two years). As most of the wine that James and I purchase or produce is not for relatively immediate drinking, I cannot forsee that we, as consumers, would be big fans. Time will tell I suppose but I would much prefer to see wine bottles utilised in a more long-term environmentally friendly way and the bottles simply washed and re-used for things other than wine. Stelvin (screw-caps) are fine to re-use but by far the best and most visually aesthetic would have to be Henschke's latest innovation.

Yes, I can almost see my kitchen shelves full of home-made tomato sauce or proper lemonade (made with real lemons from my garden) all standing magnificently in rows, with their classy top hat of a Henschke glass-stopper. Now, if only I could save enough money to buy a bottle of Henschke for every day of the week for the next month, I would have enough bottles to start.

Things do TASTE better from glass. I am not against producers becoming more sympathetic to the world's environmental problems but I think that until PET packaging has passed the test of being safe long-term, the best option is to simply use lighter bottles as it is a benefit to the environment AND to our health, and not either or.

To read about the "experiment" of packaging wine into plastic bottles click on this link: "Vintners give plastic bottles a try"

I am interested to hear anyone's thoughts on this topic so please feel free to make a comment on this post.