Kaesler Stonehorse - a tempestuous beast

Kaesler is another ‘century-plus-old’ cornerstone winery of the Barossa.  Founded in 1893, the first owners planted out 96 acres with Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro (Mouvedre) and White Hermitage vines. 

These days, the winery is perhaps known for premium Barossa wines such as the Old Bastard, and the Bogan – names that usually provide a chuckle, but invariably are rated extraordinarily highly by national press.  The vineyard from which the grapes for the Alte Reben Barossa Valley Shiraz are sourced, is described as a “national treasure” by James Halliday. 

If either provenance or ownership is anything that interests you as it does me, the Kaesler family sold the winery in 1968.  The current owners, who have owned it since 1990, are a small group of investment bankers who also own the incredible Yarra Yering winery in the Yarra. 

2014 KAESLER STONEHORSE Grenache / Shiraz / Mouvedre

66% G /28% S /6% M

“This is the $20 superstar from Kaesler.  The first time I tried this I was blown away by the finesse of it – it’s perfectly Barossa in its ripe fruit and spice, however it’s got more of a delicate edge than I was expecting, and certainly I was most impressed by the medium palate weight, savoury, balanced nature of it.  So too, the 2014 vintage shows a cavalcade of fruits: blackcurrant, cassis, raspberry, mulberry and blackberry, balanced by licorice, hints of juniper, and a ‘tar and roses’ vibe.  Not unlike wet asphalt after a summer rain.  The palate is concentrated, medium bodied, intense, juicy but structured and lingering through the finish. The oak is lovely around the edges- spicy, elegant. This felt like it had a bit more oomph than the 2013 vintage (no Mouvedre included), but both were/are exceptional in their own ways.  This over delivers value for the money.  Finally – a mid-week wine that confidently crosses over into the weekend… 92 points and $23”

Flowers? Again?!

Really? 

You’re going to buy your mum that same old awful present that you bought her last year, and the year before that?  The woman who gave you life.  Cooked for you.  Cleaned up after you (OK not all mum’s did the cooking and cleaning – mine made us do it).  But you get the gist. 

NO.  This year you will get her something that she really needs.  Like a bottle of Champagne. Or Chardonnay.  Or Shiraz.  Or maybe she’s a Scotch lass.  Or Gin?

Whatever it is, your local Liquor Barons store has you covered.  So this year – plan ahead.  Buy her something BEFORE Sunday morning.  Cook her dinner. Tell her you love her.  Life is short.

Here are some gift ideas if our pep talk didn’t get you going, like it did us:

Vasse Felix Celebrates 50 Years in Margaret River: A Colossal Celebration

Tasting in full swing at Vasse on Friday 5th May

Tasting in full swing at Vasse on Friday 5th May

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2017 marks 50 years since the first of the modern-era vineyards was planted in Margaret River, on the Vasse Felix property, by Dr Tom Cullity.  There is no doubt that there were vineyards planted in and around Margaret River prior to 1967 (as early as the 1830's), however none survived to be included in what we now class as the Margaret River wine industry.

To celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the region, Vasse Felix hosted a party on the lawn by the original vines.  Each person who attended (thought to be around 350) brought a bottle of wine that was produced in Margaret River in the past 50 years.    

The view from here... straight down the line - this is what 350 wines from Margaret River's last 50 years looks like.

The view from here... straight down the line - this is what 350 wines from Margaret River's last 50 years looks like.

What is good for Vasse Felix, is good for Margaret River. And what is good for Margaret River is good for Vasse Felix
— Paul Holmes a Court, Owner

This attitude of team work, and unification of the region was a strong theme running through the panel discussion on the day.  Paul Holmes A Court addressed the crowd by saying, "Friends, family and neighbours - welcome". 

Wine celebrities on the panel were: Denis Horgan (owner/founder Leeuwin Estate); Nic Peterkin (owner/winemaker L.A.S. Vino, and son of Dr Mike Peterkin - Pierro); Robert Hill-Smith (owner Yalumba Wine Company and Samuel Smith & Sons - distribution partner Vasse Felix); Virginia Willcock (winemaker Vasse Felix) and Andrew Caillard MW (winemaker Caillard Wine, Langtons, filmmaker, MW).

Two of the many premium wines on offer on Friday.  It is perhaps unnecessary to note that both of these wines were in superb form, and illustrated with grace what aged Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon can offer.  Note the interesting watermark running vertically down the bottle on the right - this was the first time Margaret River had been displayed on the label of a Vasse Felix wine.

Two of the many premium wines on offer on Friday.  It is perhaps unnecessary to note that both of these wines were in superb form, and illustrated with grace what aged Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon can offer.  Note the interesting watermark running vertically down the bottle on the right - this was the first time Margaret River had been displayed on the label of a Vasse Felix wine.

Poured here: The 1982 Vasse Felix Hermitage, the tasting table in the background.

Poured here: The 1982 Vasse Felix Hermitage, the tasting table in the background.

SEEN: Veronica Cullity and Dr Mike Peterkin (Pierro); Dan Wegener (Somm, owner of Il Lido Italian Canteen, Cottesloe); Will Berliner (owner Cloudburst wines), Glenn Goodall and Brendan Carr (winemakers at Xanadu); Julian Langworthy (winemaker Deep Woods and current Jimmy Watson trophy holder); Luke Jolieff (winemaker Stella Bella & Len Evans scholar); Ian Parmenter (former writer for Wine Selector magazine; Peter Forrestal (wine writer); fine wine retailers John Jens (Lamonts),  Moreno Berti (RE Store) and Mike Tambouri (La Vigne); Tricia Horgan, Shelley Cullen, Janet and Zara Holmes A Court, Danielle and Jeremy Gordon (owners and winemaker Amelia Park) and many many more... 

TOP 10 WINES UNDER $20 – WHITE AND RED

We all love great wine, sure we do.  But everyone needs a weekday wine.  A Monday night wine.  A ‘cooking’ wine – some of it might even end up in the food.  So here is a list of our top 10 wines below $20 to fill the weekday nights without emptying the piggybank.

WHITES:

Houghton Stripe Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2016

$9.99 – These guys get a lot of press – but they’re worth it.  You want a reliable, fresh and crisp SSB – this is it.  Change from a twenty… or two bottles – depending on how hard your day was. 90pts

Howard Park Flint Rock Chardonnay 2016

$19.99 – About 5 years ago Howard Park introduced the regionals range – same Howard Park quality that we know and love, at a fraction of the price.  Usually $25, but at LB stores for $20 91 pts

Vasse Felix Classic Dry White 2016

$16.99 – Sem Sav Blanc.  Vasse needs no introduction - a high-class outfit producing great wines consistently, year in, year out.  This is a cracker. 91 pts

Deep Woods Estate Chardonnay 2016

$17 – this is Margaret River’s best value, under $20 Chardonnay.  Great every year.  Over delivers complexity, flavour and length.  Love it. 93 pts

Bellewinter Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River 2016

$11.99 – bright, citrus fruit, grassy herbal notes and plenty of ripe tropical fruit.   89 pts

 

REDS:

Willow Bridge Dragonfly Cabernet Merlot 2015

$14.99 – Reds from the Geographe might seem exotic – but they shouldn’t.  A great region producing exciting wines, this being silky, spicy, plush and satisfying. 93 pts

Leeuwin Estate Siblings Shiraz 2014

$19.99 - Margs Shiraz is an underrated style.  Juicy and bright, full of life, spice and joy.  A great estate. 91 pts

Stoneberry Premium Red, WA 2015

$8.99 – Change from a ten.  Simple, juicy, bright – not complicated, just delicious.  Exclusive to LB stores. 90 pts

Amelia Park Trellis Cabernet Merlot 2015

$14.99 – We reckon this is the best Cab Merlot from Margs at this price.  Amelia Park are kicking countless goals right now.  Don’t miss out on the fun. 93 pts

Houghton Stripe Red Classic 2014

$9.99 - The pigeon pair to the SSB.  A blend of three varieties, cabernet dominant. Consistent like the sunrise. 90 pts

Deep Woods Estate Ebony Cabernet Shiraz 2015

$12.99 – Silky, juicy, plump and difficult not to finish the bottle. Love the sweet fruit VS the savoury spice.  Great every year.  92 pts

 

 

 

A pair of Fianos… from the same man

Fiano {said fee-ah-no, NOT like piano} is an Italian grape variety hailing from Sicily and the Campania region (think Naples), that grows very well in Australia.  Whilst plantings are still relatively sparse here, this grape has great potential within our food and wine scene.  Its aromatic, minerally and crisp characteristics make it a suitable match for most of our spring/summer dining.   This week I looked at two Fianos, both from Margaret River.  Interestingly, they are both very different from each other, despite being made by the same respected winemaker, Mark Messenger.

2016 Higher Plane Fiano, Margaret River, RRP $25

“White peach, almond meal, white jasmine florals and hints of white nectarine.  Brine.  Tight and lean on the nose, a sour green apple skin character on the palate. Surprisingly plump for the tight acidity and tingly character.  The finish leaves a powdery sensation – almost talcy.  Crisp.  Flavoursome.  Crunchy.  This wine has been met with great acclaim from wine press across Australia – all agree it is a wonderful example of Oz Fiano.  Textural and full.  This has been fermented in old oak which contributes to the texture but leaves no impression of oak on the palate. 90pts, and $25”.

2016 Juniper Estate Small Batch Fiano, Margaret River RRP $25

“At the other end of the spectrum, this is softer more floral on the nose, it has a soapy character and lacks the overt peach aromatics on the nose.  Again, very high acid! I like the salinity here though – very much.  Honeydew melon and nashi pear. Salty. Fresh. Tangy finish. Somewhat mellifluous - pretty. Delicate. Red apple skins. 20% of this wine was barrel fermented – again to increase depth and texture in the wine.  The remaining 80% was fermented in tank to preserve the clean fresh fruit characters.  On this day – the Juniper Estate wine was more to my taste.  92 points, and $25”

 

Hanging in that beautiful space...

With the weather hanging in that beautiful space between cool mornings, and sunny afternoons, the wine choices seem infinite.  Cooler night-times can call for heavier reds, or full bodied whites, and meanwhile – the afternoon sunshine is near on perfect for crisp fresh whites, or lighter bodied, nervous and vibrant reds.  So…

2016 Rieslingfreak No 3, Clare Valley

“Tight, austere and unapologetically Clare.  Beautiful length and line.  This is tight.  Cellar it.  Love it.  It’s structured and linear – hints of bath salts, lime blossom, spring florals and ripe citrus.  Fruit for this wine was ‘harvested from the family vineyard… in the White Hutt sub-region’ situated in the northern part of the Clare Valley.  This is a label to look out for each vintage: each ‘number’ indicating a different sub-region or style of riesling.  For the love of riesling – don’t miss it.  93 points, and around $26”

2013 Vietti ‘Perbacco’ Langhe Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Italy DOC

“If you’re not familiar with the great Vietti house of Italy – may I humbly suggest that you do something about this.  If you are – excellent.  The Vietti family have been producing beautiful and age-worthy wine in Castiglione Falletto (Piedmont) since the early 1900’s.  Fermented in Slovenian oak and sourced from pedigree Barolo vineyards, this is bright and fresh: the tannins are fine but assertive, the fruit is spicy, lithe, supple.  Red cherries, rosewater, cracked black pepper.  There is a rusticity here, wrapped in silk… honestly this is an exciting wine.  2013 was an exceptional vintage for nebbiolo, and Barolo. American wine writer Antonio Galloni says of the 2013’s: “The 2013 Barolos I have tasted from cask are aromatically compelling, rich and structured; in other words super-classic. At their best, the 2013s come across as slightly richer versions of the 2010s.” This is a drink-now Barolo, get around it.  Perfect time of year for it! 94 points and $58”