Pio Cesare Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese 2009

I am a bit of a sucker for new things (at the supermarket if it say “new” I will buy it). On this basis I bought a bottle of Pio Cesare Grignolino del Monferrato Casalese 2009. I of course had never heard of Grignolino before (who has), but what the heck I thought why not try this wine. Price is usually a very good indication of quality (unfortunately) and at $30 I thought it should be drinkable. I am glad I took the risk as the wine is very,very drinkable. It is rather difficult to describe (Grignolino is apparently a rather rare, but distinctive Italian wine according to my google research), but I guess the closest would be to say it can fill the role of a pinot while being different. If you are looking for a medium bodied, yet robust, wine that can pair up well with food then this is something to try. If I had to sum it up  in one word then that word would be yum. I will certainly be buying more.

Price $30

Value $45

Edit. Dan Murphys has dropped the price on this down to $19.90 so it is even better value than before.

The Hut by Dalwhinnie Shiraz 2010

This is a great food wine. Too many wines are made to drink on their own and not enough are made to have with food. A good food wine should have flavour and depth without overpowering the great meal you are eating. The Hut by Dalwhinnie 2010 Shiraz is one of those wines that manages to be meet both requirements. This is not a wine that needs to be cellared for 20 years before drinking – it is one of those wine to open and enjoy now.

One thing I rather like about this wine is the label. It manages to be different without trying too hard. Pick some up from Dan Murphys before it all sells out.

Cost. $23

Value. $30

Installing Windows 7 on Mac Mini without a MacOS X Lion Partition

The Apple Mac Mini make a rather nice silent and quite powerful Windows box (there just isn’t any other hardware out there as good). The first problem is if you install Windows 7 you have to keep a Mac OS partition if you use BootCamp which is a waste of drive space. The second problem is the new mac minis don’t have a DVD drive anymore so it is not possible to install from a Window 7 DVD. The final problem is you need all the drivers that Apple supplies, so even if you manage to install from an image it would not work.

It occurred to me that it might not be necessary to keep the MAC OS X partition if I installed from the BootCamp created USB installer. This would allow me to remove the Mac OS X partition in the Windows install process. I gave it a go and it worked. The basic procedure is as follows:

  1. Boot into Mac OS X Lion and use BootCamp to create the USB installer with the Apple drivers. You will need a Windows 7 .iso image and a USB drive. I am not sure of the capacity you need for the drive, but the drive I used was 16 GB. Make sure you don’t have anything you want on the USB drive as it will be deleted in the process of creating the installer.
  2. Restart the Mac Mini holding down the option key and select to boot from USB drive.
  3. Windows 7 should start up and take you through the installation process. Select Custom Installation and when it shows the hard drive delete all the Mac partitions and create a new partition for Windows. Continue with the installation as per normal.
  4. Once you are in Windows 7 go to the USB drive and install the Apple drivers.
  5. Now you have the drivers installed you can download and install all the Windows updates – so much fun :)

Leasingham Bin 61 Shiraz 2006

The Leasingham Bin 61 Shiraz 2006 is one of great bargains out of Dan Murphys cellar release program. On release a few years back I must have bought two or three cases of this wine and one of my big wine regrets was that I did not buy more. It is great example of a Clare Valley Shiraz and in a good year one of the best value wines out there. While 2007 & 2008 were not great vintages, the 2006 vintage was fantastic. The 2006 vintage has really settle down into a great food friendly wine. It amazes me how little extra Dan Murphys charges for some cellar release wines since this is only a few dollars more than the release price. Grab some before it all goes.

Bin 61

Price: $23
Value: $30

Pirathon by Kalleske Barossa Shiraz 2009

Thankfully 2009 was a much better vintage in SA than the drought disasters of 2007 and 2008. One of the better wines to come out of the Barossa Valley is the 2009 Pirathon by Kalleske. At around $20 it is has all the great qualities of a good, food friendly Barossa Shiraz at a pretty reasonable price. My only complaint is Pirathon has decided to spend a fortune on the bottle, cap, and label. The bottle is a custom design with their logo and name embedded in the glass, the label has metal print, and even the cap is customised and embossed with their logo. I know this makes for a great looking bottle, but I would have preferred we instead got the same wine in a standard bottle for $15 or $16. It is what is in the bottle that matters.

Kallleske Shiraz

Price $20
Value $30

Update. I have tried the 2010 vintage of this wine and it is nowhere near as good. I am very glad that I bought several cases of the 2009.

Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir 2009

Australia is blest with a great climate, that not only make it a fantastic place to live, but also means that our good wine makers can turn great wines year after year. Although we can expect a certain level of quality when we buy a known wine, on occasions the elements conspire to produce something extraordinary. Just such an example is the Massale Mornington Peninsula 2009 Pinot Noir produced by Sandro Mosele of Koyong Estate. Sandro creates great wines year to year, that while above my normal price threshold, really offer great value. His Massale Pinot Noir is such a wine. The 2007, 2008, and 2010 (current vintage) are all great examples of  minimally oaked Mornington Peninsula pinots, but the 2009 is truly extraordinary. I managed to pick up a bottle on release and was blown away. By the time I headed back to buy more (two days later) the vintage had sold out. After cursing myself for not buying more when I had the chance, I tried to cheer myself up with the thought that at least I had got to try one bottle.

I recently managed to track down four bottle on the net and so had the chance to try it again. It certainly lived up to my memory with a concentration and balance that brought to mind that description of a great pinot as being a “iron fist in a velvet glove”. I have tried to find why Sandro managed to make such a great wine in 2009 and it appears that grape yield was well below average for this vintage. It seems to be a classic of example of quality being inversely proportional to production.

Koyong

Price $27

Value $50

Watershed Margaret River Sense Shiraz 2007

In Eastern Australia 2007 was a disastrous vintage – it was far too hot and resulted in a huge number of overly alcoholic (15%+) prune wines. Thankfully we have Western Australia to save us from bad wine. 2007 was a great vintage in the west (2008 wasn’t too bad either) and one of the better reds to come out of the west is the Watershed Margaret River Sense Shiraz 2007. This wine is a great example of a Margaret River Shiraz from this year – silky smooth with a beautiful depth and balance. Unfortunately the 2008 vintage is no where near as good as the 2007, but you may be still able to find the 2007 if you hurry – my local Dan Murphy’s had it in stock until a few weeks back when I grabbed what they had left.

Price $17

Value $25

Clos Pierre Pinot Gris 2009

The Clos Pierre Mornington Peninsula Pinot Gris 2009 is by far the best Pinot Gris I have had in the last 12 months. It is made by Pierre Naigeon for Dan Murphy so it should be pretty easy to find around the country. I am not a great fan of white wine, but this is one of those white wines that doesn’t taste like cheap white wine. Pinot Gris is a delicate wine that can easily be ruined by cheapskate wine makers adding other grapes (especially sauvignon blanc) that often makes them taste like a watered down version of another wine, but not this wine. It has that lovely stone fruit/quince flavour of a great Pinot Gris with an amazingly smooth and balanced mouthfeel. Every time my wife and I finish a bottle we both wish for more. In one word – Yum!

I was able to pick up the first half dozen for only $11.50 a bottle which was an outrageous steal. Unfortunately someone in Dan Murphy’s must have noticed this anomaly and it is now selling for around $17 a bottle. This is still a great price for what is a massively undervalued wine.

Price: $17

Value: $30

Wine Reviews

I like love wine, but one of the great challenges is to find great wines on a budget. There are a huge number of wines out there, but it is hard to get reviews that aren’t compromised by commercial interests. The few real reviews that do exist are typically of wines tasted on their own and not with food. A wine that might standout when tasted alongside 200 other wines is often undrinkable with a meal. Because of this I have basically given up looking at reviews and have taken to buying random bottles that I think might be interesting. Of these about 25% are terrible and get tipped straight down the sink, 50% are drinkable, but I would not buy them again, 20% are good and worth their price, and around 5% are fantastically undervalued. I intend to write about the two extremes – the sink tippers and those that are massively undervalued.

I think it is better to give my estimate of what the wine is worth in dollars rather than some silly point score out of 100, or a long string of pretentious adjective like “cigar box” or “aroma of violets”. Like 99% of people I really don’t care what flavours are present in a wine, only if it is worth drinking or not. After all once you have moved up from drinking Passion Pop you know what the various wine varieties taste like – what I really want to know, for example, is if this Clare Valley Shiraz that I am thinking of buying is great value or undrinkable swill. Concentrating on price/value should be much more useful, since unless you are hedge fund billionaire you have to make compromises with what wines you buy. If your budget is $12 a bottle then you want to know which $12 wines really should have been priced at $20 and which should never had been put in a bottle. My budget tops out around $20 so most reviews will be of wines priced under this, but if I think a wine offers great value I will stretch a little above this.

Installing CentOS 5.5 on a Intel Mac Mini

If you want to install centos 5.5 on an intel mac mini it is pretty easy. My guess is the same process applied to other Apple computers, but I have not tried it on anything other than a mac mini. The mac mini is a really nice little server that takes up no space and is totally silent – much better to live with than the dual xeon space heater I had to move out of my office.

  1. Boot off the Mac OS X Install DVD or from an external drive (I have a firewire drive with Mac OS X installed on it so this it is what I did). Go to the  Utilities folder in Applications and launch Disk Utility if booting off an external drive, or if booting off the Install DVD select  Disk Utility from the Utilities menu.
  2. Click on the disk you want to install CentOS on to, then select Partition tab, then select 1 partitions and choose MS-DOS (FAT) as the format. Then click options and select Master Boot Record. Then click on Apply when you are done. Don’t click outside of this tab before pressing Apply or you will lose the MBR setting.
  3. Once the partitioning is complete insert the first CentOS CD and reboot the mac mini.
  4. Go through the standard centos install as per normal.

On tip to watch for if you are behind a proxy like me is to not select to install the CentOS extras packages. What happens if you do is you get hung at this point of the install and will have to start over again from scratch. You can always install the extras latter by modifying the yum.conf file in /etc.