Mount Pleasant Rosehill Hunter Valley Shiraz 2009

A longer overdue post on some good wines. I have had a few (well more than a few) in the last couple of months, but life has intervened and I have just not had time to write about any of them. One that I should write about is the 2009 Mount Pleasant ‘Rosehill’ Hunter Valley Shiraz. I have a very soft spot for Hunter wines in general and for ‘Rosehill’ in particular. The 1991 Rosehill was one of the first ‘good’ wines I can remember drinking and I have drunk a lot of the great vintages of this wine over the years. The only problem is Rosehill is typical of all Hunter wines in being totally vintage dependent. To say the Hunter Valley does not have a reputation for consistency is a massive understatement. If it was not for its geographical location a couple of hours north of Sydney then I am sure that all the vineyards in the Hunter would have become coal mines long ago. Despite this when the conditions are right (unfortunately far too rarely) it can give birth to some of the best wines in Australia.

The upside to all this inconstancy is that no Hunter wine can command the prices that it should when a good vintage comes along. The 2009 vintage is a great vintage and is one of those years where there are many hunter bargains to be found. There is probably no greater bargain than the 2009 Rosehill. This is a traditional hunter shiraz at a price ($26) far below where it should be for the actual wine in the bottle. My advice is run (don’t walk) and buy as much of this wine as your wallet (or wife) will let you. Bargain of the year so far.


Cost: $26
Value: +$50

Clonakilla O’Riada Shiraz 2009

Tim Kirk from Clonakilla is one of the better Australian winemakers (just a slight understatement). Clonikilla flagship Shiraz is rightly considered one of the best Australian wines, but at $100 a bottle is a little outside my budget. Last year I saw a new wine from Clonikilla – the O’Riada Shiraz at $35. The second wines of great winemakers in good years are normally bargains and this wine was the perfect example of this theory. The 2009 vintage is everything you could wish for at this price and is better than most wines I have had that cost more than twice the price. I was only able to grab 3 bottles and Dan Murphys were not able to get any more in for me (unfortunately the 2010 is not anywhere near as good). I had my last bottle tonight with roast rib eye and it was perfect – smooth, powerful and in harmony with the meal. Now if only I could get more :(


Cost: $35
Value: >$70

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

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.


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.