2013 La Cantina King Valley Tempranillo

La Cantina or "The Cellar" in Italian is a family enterprise situated in the heart of the King Valley. The Corsini family started growing grapes in 1980 with La Cantina opening in 1995 and are part of the rich Italian heritage in the region. Grapes are allowed to slowly ripen in the cool climate to bring out true varietal characteristics with no preservatives or filtration in the wine-making process.

Medium crimson red colour with mauve hues at the rim.

Dark cherry, blackberry, tobacco, cola and earthy tones highlight the sweetly-spiced bouquet of this Tempranillo.
The palate is invitingly soft and warm with juicy blackberry spiciness, dark cherry, leather, subtle earth notes that are framed by a fine tannic balance. Flavours linger long after the final sip. 

Well crafted and good value for this better than average quaffer.

Source: Winery. ABV: 14.5%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $17.00. Rating: 90 Points. 
Website: http://lacantinakingvalley.com.au

2015 Ballabourneen Hunter Valley Chambourcin

As a wine drinker one of the 'dilemmas' is what table wine goes with chocolate, particularly dark chocolate ? What matches chocolate that is high in cocoa content, is already tannic and can be bitter ? Whites usually don't do it and some reds and fortified wines will cope. But I'm throwing an interesting and overlooked red variety into the mix: Chambourcin. 

After a friend said to me recently that she thought this combination of dark chocolate and Chambourcin worked really well together, I did the due diligence and came to the same conclusion. Dark chocolate has a great synergy with Chambourcin. It's not a sexy, hip, wannabe variety by any means but it's a box ticker when you combine them both. Velvety lusciousness. So go try.

Chambourcin is a dark-skinned teinturier French-American hybrid grape available since the early 1960's that is more at home in the United States and Australia than in its native France. Capable of withstanding fungal diseases in humid, sub-tropical growing conditions, the variety is found throughout most New South Wales and Queensland wine regions where such conditions prevail.  

This wine from Ballabourneen Wine Company is sourced from vineyards at Lovedale and Broke-Fordich in the Hunter Valley and exhibits opaque dark brooding crimson hues.

Blood plums, black cherries and herbaceous spice aromas with notes of what can be described as a fur coat factor. Yes ! Don't ask but there is a waft there of some small, furry animal. Not unpleasant, just different. There are subtle red earth, chocolate, earthy beetroot, pepper and dark red fruits flavours across a medium bodied palate. It's all fresh and juicy, sweet fruited and subtle in texture. Length is fine and velvety with dark chocolate and dusty tannins on exit. The wine to me sits between a rustic Pinot Noir and the smooth qualities of a Merlot, it's got that personality.

Really tasted better as the evening progressed. An extra point for solving the 'dilemma'. Well-crafted wine from a variety that undeservedly gets a bad wrap in Australia. Very good.

Source: Sample courtesy of Ballabourneen Wine Co. ABV: 14.5%. Closure: Screw Cap. 
Price: $26.00. Rating: 92 Points. Website: https://www.ballabourneen.com.au


2014 Ferngrove Frankland River Limited Release Malbec

International Malbec Day - Sunday 17 April 2016

In 2011 Argentina established this day to celebrate Malbec as its flagship variety as well as to showcase its wine industry to the world. Each year since then the day has evolved exponentially worldwide as a celebration of Argentinian culture and oenology with Malbec at its centre.  

To mark this auspicious day, I've jumped onto the bandwagon with an example of Malbec from Ferngrove Estate in Western Australia's isolated and cool climate Frankland River region. The winery has championed the variety since 1998 not just to play a supporting role to Cabernet but as a varietal in its own right.   

The wine pours a deep crimson colour into the glass.

Blackberry, mulberry, damson plum, violets and spice. Smoky overtones too on the nose. Full-bodied, generously flavoured with dark berries, violets, juicy plum and spice. The silky mouthfeel with its well-balanced structure gives it elegance and drinkability. 

Powerful example of dark, ripe concentrated fruit flavours with drying tannins that go right to the end. Good value, very enjoyable wine that should do well over the next few years. Watch Malbec take off in this region !

Source: Retail. ABV: 13.5%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $18.00. Rating: 92 Points.