23 June 2011

Leeuwin Estate 2009 Art Series Riesling

Over Lizzy's long weekend, I decided to take the family off to the beach in northern NSW. Typically, the weather sucked and it was so cold that even the bronze mermaids around the pool were sporting protuberances of impolite proportions.

To top it off, I found myself denied the basic human right of Foxtel and having to instead wander through the wasteland of regional television searching for scraps to sustain me on a wet and windy Sunday night.

After doing the rounds of all five channels a number of times, I finally settled on Masterchef - partially because I couldn’t bring myself to watch DWTS, but mainly because Gary and George appeared to have secured the services of Steven Seagal as a guest judge for the night.

Fair play, I thought - few could deny his culinary credentials after his convincing portrayal of Casey Ryback, the ex-Navy Seal turned chef, in the blockbuster classic, Under Siege.

I also vaguely recalled (perhaps from watching the scene until the VCR tape wore so thin it snapped) that Chief Petty Officer Ryback’s signature dish involved a very pretty girl from Baywatch exploding her way nakedly out of a giant cake. They did “food dreams” properly back in the 90’s.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. It turned out that the judge with the pony-tail was not in fact Steven Seagal, but rather a proper chef called Neil Perry. Apparently, amongst other things, he is responsible for the airline food on Qantas. At least we now know who to blame.

The obvious downside in all this was that there would be no exploding cakes. No Miss July ’89, Jordan Tate. And consequently no happy endings to the mystery box challenge.

All was not lost though because I had picked up a tidy little 2009 Art Series Riesling from Leeuwin Estate to drink with our Thai takeaway.

Not a lot of (good) Riesling seems to come out of the Margaret River (you’d usually look to the Clare Valley), but this is an exception. On sale for just under $20 a bottle, it’s obviously not meant to be in the league of Leeuwin’s flagship Art Series Chardy, but is undoubtedly good value drinking for a Sunday night.

The label has a pretty little painting of what is probably a frog, and which the girl behind the counter told me was the main reason she liked this wine. Hardly an inspiring recommendation, but maybe she’s just a big fan of frogs.

Anyway, what of the drinking?

In the glass, it’s light and bright and shiny and inviting. The alcohol (12%) is nothing big, but it clings thickly and pleasingly to the sides of the glass as you give it a swirl.

The nose is pleasant without being overpowering. Limey and slightly spicy, and a lot like my dinner.

It got better the longer it sat in the glass, which in truth was not that long. But probably well worth the effort if you’re more organised than me.

The drinking is tasty, and tangy, and absolutely bone dry. Deliciously refreshing, and as tight as Pippa Middleton’s backside.

At the end of the day, it’s not a world-beater by any means, but it’s certainly a good solid white to have in your repertoire.

Mmmm mmmm. Me likey.

Rating: 8.25
Drink with: Harry
Price: $20

09 June 2011

Stella Bella 2008 Cabernet Merlot

After a glut of recent reds, I was going to write up a white this week. I swear.

But Brisbane is suddenly experiencing some Pearl Harbour-like weather, and I am in need of something to warm me up.

So, instead of hearing about a multi-award winning chardonnay, you will have to make do with a slightly less medalled (but frankly, to me, better) Cab Merlot.

Both were from Stella Bella, and to give this mob their dues, I must say I don’t really ever recall drinking a bad wine from their hand.

The Cabernet Merlot pours with a stygian splash that is deep and dense, and looks more suited to knife and fork than to mere stem and bowl.

Despite being armed with only a delicate little Riedel, I dived in. Obviously.

The nose is a belligerent collision of bright, jammy goodness balanced with a savoury dusting of oak and herbs. It promises a decent hit of tannin, and then delivers it in spades.

I only need one word to describe the drinking. Solid.

Ok, maybe a few more – well-balanced, long, and bloody delicious.

Above all though, this is just a genuinely good drinking wine. You can drink it with food. You can drink it by itself. By yourself. Or just to keep your brass monkeys warm on a chilly night.

I was lucky enough to drink this with the winemaker at a nice little tasting organised by the Bar Barossa boys. Tasting events are great but, if I’m honest, you never really get enough in your glass. And so, of course, I bought a few more bottles just to help me see out the long, cold winter ahead.

A mere nine days into June, and with the mercury already hitting an all time Bris-Vegas low, I’ve had to crack another one tonight. Just to generate some body heat of course. Teamed it up with a generous slab of eye fillet that was as rare as a virgin rabbit. Double delicious.

One glass. Two glass. Three glass. Four. Before I knew it, the Stella Bella had done a Keyser Söze on me.

And like that.........it was gone.

Rating: 8.75
Drink with: A nasty nip in the air
Price: $32