2011 Iron Pot Bay Wines Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon

Established in 1988, Iron Pot Bay is located on the western side of the beautiful Tamar River at Devoit, northern Tasmania. It is the only vineyard that grows Semillon commercially in Tasmania. The 0.16 of a hectare planting is used as a blending partner with Sauvignon Blanc, making the final product unique to the Tamar Valley Region and to the island itself. 

Semillon is better known in warmer regions such as the Hunter Valley, Barossa Valley and Margaret River but its proximity to the river lessens the risk of frost and has some effect on heat summation, generally helping the grapes to ripen well. With considerable plantings of Sauvignon Blanc in Tasmania, the blend offers punters something different and distinctive. 

This wine is vinified by Jeremy Dineen, Chief Winemaker at Josef Chromy Wines since 2006 and whose impressive track record has seen him complete vintages at Margaret River, McLaren Vale, Victoria's Goulburn Valley and southern Tasmania over many years. 

Pale straw in appearance. There are subtle lifted notes of lime and passionfruit but it's green capsicum aromas that dominate. More on the herbal or vegetal side than fruit-driven style. The palate is fairly one dimensional with green capsicum, green beans and lemongrass at the front end supported by a fine flinty minerality and refreshing vibrant acidity across the tongue. I like that the Semillon has given the Sauvignon Blanc a softer dimension while not cancelling out its individuality given that some Sauvignon Blancs from down south can be quite pungent and acidic. Overall, nicely textured, good mouth feel with a crisp, lively finish. A wine for early consumption rather than cellaring. Worth trying as something out of the ordinary from Tasmania.

Source: Retail Purchase. Alcohol: 12.4%. Closure: Screwcap. Rating: 89+ Points. 

2008 d'Arenberg The Sticks & Stones Tempranillo Shiraz Tinta Cao Souzao

A quixotic blend from d'Arenberg's avant-garde genius Chester Osborn. Predominantly an Iberian-inspired blend from McLaren Vale grapes, the Spanish Tempranillo provides the bulk (47%) with parcels of the black Portuguese varieties Tinta Cao (15%) and Souzao (15%) with Shiraz (23%) completing the quartet. In previous vintages, Grenache was utilised in lieu of the Shiraz but it changes quite a bit depending on the year, according to the ebullient Osborn.  

Both the Tinta Cao and Souzao are prized grapes used in the production of Port wine and are native to Portugal's Douro Valley Region. The d'Arenberg Winery celebrates its centenary this year and if these varieties were around as long may have formed the basis of port wine, Australia's preferred 'tipple' of yesteryear. There are 0.6 hectares of each variety since they were introduced in 1999 with the first Sticks & Stones released in 2002. What these rare varieties bring to the table are pungent aromatics and a complex mix of red and dark fruit flavours and according to the winery, have a greater influence upon the blend                                                                    than their relative percentages would suggest.  

The wine's drawn-out name relates to vine sticks grown in stoney ground but probably more to the point is the quirky reference to the proverb from our youth. Some reviews have questioned the inclusion of the two Portuguese varieties but to paraphrase a famous quote, seeing things as they are and asking why and dreaming of things that never were and saying why not, may go to explain Osborn's thinking behind their presence in this complex, brooding blend. This is one of the things that is so admirable about our winemakers, the preparedness to push the envelope.   

A profound red-purple colour, almost inky in the glass. Mouth-watering aromatics of dark chocolate, fresh violets, dark berries and tea leaves. Medium to full bodied, there is a wonderful amalgam of plum and red current fruit flavours, sour cherry, licorice and star anise spice that give the palate an intense yet seamless and voluptuous texture. A good amount of earthy or rustic notes and soft leather. Secondary flavours of dried herbs and vanilla oak. Powdery tannins add to the overall complexity. There is spicy acidity through to the finish, which although lingering was too hot at the back end. A lot to like nonetheless about this rich and generous blend that kicks like a port. A wine to match a carnivorous feast ! 

Source: Retail Purchase. Alcohol: 14.2%. Closure: Screwcap. Rating: 90+ Points
Website: http://www.darenberg.com.au/