Wine Review: White Australia

19 07 2018

By Peter Vetsch

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

Sometimes your moneymaker becomes your millstone.  Australia, which had been making wine for a couple centuries without raising much of a global fuss about it, burst onto international liquor store shelf traffic jam within the past two or three decades thanks to a flamboyant, fruity, brash, ripe style of Shiraz, buttressed by a New World-friendly Cabernet Sauvignon that was easy on the pocketbook.  A mammoth export industry emerged, but typecasting of Australian wine as a whole inevitably followed, leaving those longstanding producers with histories older than the Dominion of Canada stuck in their own misleading shadow.

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Now the Shiraz spotlight has pulled back a bit, giving everyone a bit of room to breathe and again find comfort in the space of their own natural identities; for longstanding affiliates Pewsey Vale and Yalumba, this has meant a continued push to enhance the white side of Australia’s wine spectrum, and perhaps the sowing of a few carefully nurtured seeds which might ultimately settle the debate of what should be known as Australia’s signature white grape.  Two deserving contestants, from two benchmark wineries, lie below. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wine Review: 2012 Jim Barry The McRae Wood Shiraz

5 04 2016

[This bottle was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

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Serious, serious Shiraz.

I decided to have a good start to the week.  I usually hew to the age-old rule of opening nice stuff on weekends but sticking to the cheaper end of the cellar on Monday, but yesterday I said to hell with it:  forget convention, I’m opening something fun.  This led me to the upper echelon of my sample rack, and to one of the better Australian Shirazes I’ve ever had, Jim Barry’s The McRae Wood.  Excellent Monday decision.

Jim Barry’s wines are no stranger to this blog – I’ve reviewed his highly impressive entry-level Cab and Shiraz and his mind-blowing, Grange-challenging top-end Shiraz The Armagh.  This bottle is closer to the latter than the former, a reserve-level Shiraz clocking in at around $60 and often known as The Armagh’s little brother.  Jim Barry is based out of the Clare Valley in South Australia, an elevated and cooler-climate region due north of Adelaide and just northwest of Big Shiraz Mecca, the Barossa Valley.  Clare is best known as Riesling country and is about as stylistically different from the Barossa as you can get by travelling 100 km or so, producing leaner, less ripe and more elegant wines and rethinking what it means to be an Aussie Shiraz as a result.  The McRae Wood Shiraz is sourced from a special single vineyard in the Clare Valley, a 70-acre plot of land that Jim Barry purchased from his neighbour Duncan McRae Wood in 1964 to plant his very first Shiraz vineyard.  This eponymous bottling honouring the initial owner of the land was first released in 1992, making this the 20th anniversary vintage of The McRae Wood. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2009 Jim Barry “Cover Drive” Cabernet Sauvignon

18 06 2012

The second vintage of Cover Drive featured on PnP…let’s see how they stack up against each other.

I went to the Costco liquor store this week, and as always when I walk into Costco, I walked out with a bottle of the Jim Barry “Cover Drive” Cab from South Australia, one of my favourite New World value wines.  When I first grabbed the bottle, I thought it was the same wine that I had previously reviewed back in November, but on closer inspection it was in fact a brand new vintage of Cover Drive, the 2009 (my reviewed bottle was the 2008).  This provided a golden opportunity to examine a question that I’m sure many casual wine drinkers ask themselves:  how much does vintage impact the flavour and quality of a wine?  Is there really a discernible difference between the 2008 and 2009 bottlings of a wine made from the same grapes grown in the same spots?  Most inexpensive wines are made to reflect a consistent flavour profile and style year over year, but my bet was that a quality producer like Jim Barry wouldn’t try to make his ’09 Cover Drive a clone of his ’08 and would retain some of the vintage variation arising out of the changes in weather patterns, sunlight, temperature, harvest dates and more between the two years.  To find out, I wrote up tasting notes for the 2009 CD without re-reading my 2008 review, and now I’m going to retro-compare the two bottles by lining up my 08 notes side by side with my impressions of the 09.  Hopefully this actually proves interesting.  Here goes! Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2008 Jim Barry “Cover Drive” Cabernet Sauvignon

2 11 2011

Oh right, did I mention this wine is cricket-themed? All the more reason to Costco it up.

Long time no speak!  I was shocked and appalled to discover that it’s been almost a full week since my last PnP post, but rest assured that I have not been wine-slacking:  after 17 hours spent in classroom for the WSET Advanced last weekend, I’ve been spending my weeknight evenings preparing for my exam next weekend by re-reading my textbook (which we were told we should do 4 times in the next 2 weeks.  The book is 300 pages long.).  The whole experience to date has been both more intense and more rewarding than the Intermediate course that I took in the summer; I walked in Saturday morning feeling intimidated and out of place and left on Sunday feeling like I actually belonged in the class, which was gratifying.  I also thanked my lucky stars for 8 months of doing Pop & Pour reviews, because we had to sample, evaluate and identify FORTY wines blind in two days using the WSET’s copyrighted Systematic Approach to Tasting, designed to allow someone to create a quick, consistent, (mostly) objective analysis of the main components of a wine and use that to formulate an opinion on the wine’s price, quality level and identity.  It’s fun for the first few times, but increasingly taxing as you hit wines #18 and 19 of the day.  To give you a sense of the WSET tasting method in action, I thought I would write up tonight’s wine using their proprietary method…just to ensure that I don’t get sued, let me clarify again that I did NOT invent this approach and am a mere student and user of the WSET’s brilliant taxonomy.

Read the rest of this entry »








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