California and Australia

This week’s tasting will feature three wines from California and three from Australia. Altogether there will be one white and five reds priced from $9.99-$18.99 Thursday night.

Grayson Cellars Winery is located in the Napa Valley. They are one of the largest family-owned producers specializing in wines of value; they do not own vineyards but purchase fruit from premium sources. We will sample their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.

From Australia we will try three red wines, all from different producers located in Southern Australia- Kilikanoon Winery, d’Arenberg, and Shoofly. These reds are robust and full-bodied, but all provide a bit of contrast for reasonable prices. They also received some nice press in the Wine Spectator; the Kilikanoon and Shoofly Shirazs got 90 points and the d’Arenberg Stump Jump got an 87.

We hope you will join us this Thursday!

Grayson cellarskilikanoonshooflystump jump

Grayson Cellars– “There are few family-owned wines from California at this price point available today. Our family’s attention to winemaking quality separate Grayson from the larger, corporate brands that dominate the market. When our family started Grayson Cellars we asked our winemaker to look throughout California’s finest growing regions for the best grapes for Grayson wines. We believe these grape sources combined with nearly 30 years of winemaking experience make Grayson wines some of California’s finest values.

The wines are carefully crafted by Larry Levin, who is among the most experienced winemakers in the Napa Valley. After completing his Enology degree at UC Davis, Larry spent seventeen years at Dry Creek Vineyard. He has since covered the globe by making wine in New Zealand, Chile, and Australia across all price points and styles. For the previous nine years Larry was head of winemaking at Icon Estates where he oversaw the Franciscan, Mt. Veeder, Robert Mondavi, Estancia, Ravenswood, Quintessa and Ruffino brands. Larry also consults for wineries in the Stag’s Leap and Oakville districts in Napa and Sonoma.”

Grayson Cellars Chardonnay 2011– California. 100% Chardonnay; aged in French oak. “The 2011 Grayson Chardonnay is brilliantly ripe and shows bright, brisk acidity and good minerality with notes of pineapple and apricot. The palate offers green apple fruit with a crisp finish showing gentle hints of apple pie and vanilla flavors.” 89 Wine Advocate- “The 2011 Chardonnay is more tropical in its aromatic display as well as medium-bodied, fresh and lively.” Tasting $9.99

Grayson Cellars Pinot Noir 2011– California. Aged in French oak. “The 2011 Grayson Pinot Noir exhibits a rich color. The aromas are exotic in raspberry and plum with a mix of cherry, violets, and a hint of sandalwood. Flavorful and silky in the mouth with good body, this wine has good texture and a lingering finish with a hint of toasted French oak.” 88 Wine Advocate- “The 2011 Pinot Noir Lot 5 is much better than its 2010 counterpart. The 5,000-case cuvee of 2011 actually tastes like Pinot Noir, which is saying something at this price point. Notes of pomegranates, plums, Asian spice, earth and herbs emerge from this medium garnet-colored Pinot. Drink it over the next year.” Tasting $13.99

Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2011– California. Aged in French oak. “The 2011 Grayson Cabernet Sauvignon shows a dark ruby color with a rich nose of blackberry, raspberries and hints of black pepper. This intense Cabernet is full of artful fruit, provides a round mouth feel and a soft lingering finish with hints of toasted French oak.” Tasting $9.99

Kilikanoon Winery– Winemaker Kevin Mitchell purchased the Kilikanoon property in the heart of South Australia’s picturesque Clare Valley in 1997 with a vision of creating his own brand. The first Kilikanoon branded wines were from the 1997 vintage and released in 1998. The wines were Shiraz (soon to become the Oracle, Mort’s Block Riesling, Prodigal Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon, with all the grapes coming from the 2 vineyards owned by Kevin and his father Mort.

Like many Australia winemakers Kevin Mitchell is highly trained in both the scientific and artistic sides of winemaking. He also comes from a long tradition of grape growing in the Clare Valley, where grapes have been grown and wine made since the 1850s.

Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz 2009– South Australia. 90 Wine Spectator, Smart Buys- “Supple, ripe and refined, offering a generous, open-textured hit of blackberry, licorice and smoke flavors that linger easily against fine-grained tannins. Drink now through 2017. 5,000 cases imported.” 88 Wine Advocate- “Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2009 Killerman’s Run Shiraz gives notes of warm black cherries and blackberries with hints of bacon, loam and cloves. Full bodied with a medium level of grainy tannins and nice backbone of acid, it has a long berry laced finish. Drink it now through 2015.” Tasting $18.99

d’Arenberg Winery– “d’Arenberg is one of the most significant wineries in McLaren Vale. In 1912 Joseph Osborn purchased the well established Milton Vineyards of 25 hectares in the hills just north of the townships of Gloucester and Bellevue, now known as McLaren Vale. Joseph’s son Francis Ernest Osborn… increased the size of the vineyard to 78 hectares. Fruit was sold to local wineries until the construction of his own cellars was completed in 1928. Dry red table and fortified wines were produced in ever increasing quantities to supply the expanding markets of Europe. In 1943 Frank’s son Francis d’Arenberg Osborn, universally known as “d’Arry”, returned from school, age 16, to help his ill father run the business, eventually assuming full management in 1957. In 1959 d’Arry decided to launch his own label d’Arenberg, named in honour of his mother, Frances Helena d’Arenberg.”

The name ‘Stump Jump’ pays homage to a significant South Australian invention – the Stump Jump plough. As well as clearing the land around McLaren Vale, it was adopted worldwide in the late 19th century because of its ability to ride over stumps and gnarled roots, saving valuable time and energy.

d’Arenberg Stump Jump Red 2010– South Australia. A blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre aged in French and American large oak casks. “It’s got a cracking nose with plum, dark cherry, game, earth and black pepper. The palate adds mulberry, raspberry with beautiful lifted spice and mineral grit. The fine, powdery, gritty tannins are fruit derived and lively, making for a long finish. There’s no shortage of flavour and it’s packed full of charm.” 87 Wine Spectator- “A refreshing style, with an open texture and dark berry flavors, finishing with refined tannins. Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre. Drink now through 2013. 10,000 cases imported.” Tasting $10.99

Shoofly– “Shoofly was founded in 2005 and our winemaking team is led by one of Australia’s best – Ben Riggs. As a native of McLaren Vale, he has been crafting some of the region’s finest for more than two decades. His vision is clear: no flabby wines, no raisins and leave the oak for the trees! The team brings decades of winemaking and tasting experience to the table, so they’ve figured out how to make a wine that will drink well to the last drop. These are fleshy, balanced wines bursting with vibrant, delicious fruit.”

Shoofly Shiraz 2010– McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Padthaway and Wrattonbully, South Australia. Shiraz that aged for 10 months in seasoned American and French oak. 90 Wine Spectator- “Polished and supple, this is brimming with red berry, black cherry and delicate spice flavors, all coursing through the expressive finish. Drink now through 2020. 5,000 cases imported.” Tasting $14.99

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