there are some new reviews oozing though here, but we're not deckin em up all pretty til we work out an otherwise unborn style for this sleazy rube we call drankster


that's a George Grainger Aldridge cartoon ... obviously a pre-screwcap man

23 September 2008


Tim Smith Barossa Mourvedre Grenache Shiraz 2009
$28; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 9APR10; 94+++ points
This is Tim Smith’s best wine yet, which is saying something. It pulls you up. Great noses which generally sweep over glasses are suddenly brought to a dead halt when they hit this one. It’s harmonious; perfectly formed and alive, with all the right stuff in abundance: the nightshades, the carbon black, Smithy’s forge, prunes, Morello cherries, dried fig … if Castagna were to attempt this blend, it' be something like this, such is the wine's disarming vim and vigour! Buy some quickly, but drink it slowly: it needs a decade of dungeon or a day with the top off. Forget Bandol and Chateau-Neuf: this new Australian sets a standard that renders your regular GSM null and void.

Tim Smith Wines Barossa Mataro 2010
$38; 14.5% alcohol; Diam cork; tasted 11-12 JUN 12; 94++
I know it. Cubist Mataro. But a willy-willy’s gonna go through this review.  Hang on. The Smithy. Hot forge, coke, sweat, greasy leather. The great mulberry tree dropping its purple sugarbombs on the galvo roof, ticking in unison with the fresh-parked Triumph. Oil.  Petrol.  One tight beetroot fart. Nostril shit.  But it’s a drink!  Aww! Carmen Miranda.  A brief baked whirlwind of peppercorns and eucalypt.  Some of Carmen’s bananas fell off; somebody’s heel broke.  None of this fits together. Mataro is the most self-celebrating chameleon grape, leaping without moving from electric violets and gunbarrel swarf to sullen black ham meatiness, then retreating into the back of the cooling oven but leaving this kissy wrestling jello.  I like a little jello now and again. Doanchew? This one is sexy black cherry syrup with diced mulberry, spread on laurel with juniper. It scratches your nose and makes your lips slippery. It asks difficult questions of your palate. It makes you thirsty.  And it makes me friggin’ hungry!  Mataro is cubist.

Viña Cascabel McLaren Vale Monastrell 2004
($40; 15% alcohol; cork; 94+ points)
I wuz wrong, suggesting RBJ Mataro was up to this mighty wine, made by a Spaniard who knows that the architect genius Goudi built well in Mataro, Spain, but it’s hardly the source of monastrell. This one’s the top Oz: chocka with hot tar and dry blood and black road kill, like the movie Sam Peckinpah never got to make. Salty, sexy, raw. Gunpowder and sweaty leather. Over-cook the eagle, Mama, we need crunch tonight. Here’s your spare change, Sheriff. Kaboom! (25.11.6)

Tim Smith Wines Barossa Mataro Grenache Shiraz 2006
$27; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94 points
Placing him heavens above the Audi/Beemer/Benz blitz of oberweinlieutnants, Smiffy rides a Trumpy. (We won.) And he calls monastrell mataro, which is what Australians called it before we got all poofy. He loves, and understands, the wines of Bandol, on the French Mediterranean. Where it’s mourvedre. This svelte Barossa luxury smokes. Tight, slick, pin-striped to bloody near perfection, she lit up a Lucky and blew the smoke off her .38. She’s in this glass. Slightly slurry, like Breathless Mahoney slurs, but acid cut crystal smudged with lipstick perfection, basically. Marello. Kalamata. Walnuts. Purr.

Tin Shed Three Vines Barossa 2003
($28; 14.9% alcohol; screw cap; 94 points)
Seductive and intense, this wine renders all into whom I tip it unto a deep swoon. Normally reluctant noses fall back into their glasses. Earthy peat and lignite are the base tones; gloriously sweet, exotic black fruits from plants that don’t exist fill the top register. But that’s the mataro - which the Froggists now call mourvedre - doing that; there’s dux shiraz and grenache below it. It’s mellow, but’ll stay lively for years under that reliable screw. Mmmmushroomms. (4.11.6)

Yangarra Estate McLaren Vale Mourvèdre 2008
$28; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; tasted 25FEB10; 24-25MAY10; 93+++ points
Australians have always, well, misunderstood Mourvèdre. In 1862, when it was first planted just across the Onkaparinga River Gorge from Yangarra, it was called Mataro, after the Catalan Roman seaside town, whose vineyards were destroyed by phylloxera in the nineteenth century. The South Australian colonists often named their imported cuttings after the towns of their source as a mark of respect and gratitude, but the citizens of Matarơ today have no recollection of Mourvèdre or Monastrell, the common Spanish name for the variety. Traditionally a blending variety in Australia, it was usually used to bolster high-cropping Grenache in blends with Carignan, Cinsault, and perhaps Shiraz, which was usually called Hermitage. Confoundingly, these blends were called Burgundy – the early settlers learned very quickly that South Australia was too hot for Pinot noir. Because of its amazing resilience to severe summer heat, Mourvèdre was also used in fortifieds, whether vintage or tawny. Only in very recent years has it been used in 100% varietal wines, most of which seemed too ripe and overblown for my liking. Which leads to this little sweetie. Amusingly, in its infancy it reminded me of the Pinots noir of the Mornington Peninsula ace, Sandro Mosele. But it’s a different gadget now: dense and acrid, without being heavy or jammy in any sense. If Pinot is still in the conversation, it’s the intense black tea and sauvage meatiness of the biodynamic Domaine de l’Arlot. Which remain, of course, elegant wines of royal demeanour, in spite of being more surly, intense and tannic than the rest of Burgundy. Okay: into the glass we go: first, a whiff of swarf, and cracked cast iron. It flares the nostrils. Second, the sweet ozone-like sedative of lightning-struck blackberry vines, complete with the briars and ripe berries. Then, an aroma uncannily akin to an hors d’oeuvres posh ersatz beatnik types habitually served in the early seventies: a blanched, peeled almond jammed into a prune wrapped in smoked bacon, skewered on a toothpick, and grilled under the gas. Smelling it makes me think the Feds will be at the door any minute, demanding the presence of my stoned arse at the front in Vietnam. The palate is not quite what all those aromas indicate, but very close: I think it simply needs another year or two in the dungeon. It has lovely unction, the slightest hint of raspberry conserve – NOT jam: there are whole berries alive and well in here – and a delicious Medlar gel/Fruitgum lozenge of flavour that sits in the middle of the tongue whilst those tannins have their mischievous way with the cheeks, the lips, and the saliva glands. Too good: a new benchmark for Mataro! (Which is still my preferred name.) I’d love to share a slow bottle or two with Jean-Pierre De Smet!

Tim Smith Wines Barossa Mataro Grenache Shiraz 2011$28; 14% alcohol; screw cap; tasted 10-12 JUN 12; 93++ points
When the Lord smote eastern Australia with botrytis and other daggy moulds in 2011, a lot of very strange to execrable wine was made. After the first waves of unfortunate crap passed, we’re now seeing 2011 wines emerge from those who usually make the best of their district.  And the wines are, well … sorry to suggest this, but I love it as much: they’re French.  This marvel has all the black and blueberries typical of Tim Smith’s very Australian reds, but they’re set in a junkety/custard swirl of fatty acids that seem only to arise in the presence of even the smallest amounts of botrytis. As is common in France. So you have a lush red wine, bone dry, but with an illusion of sweetness and a layer of delightful puppy fat where Aussie usually provides red dust.  There’s a whisper of something approaching fennel. As far as an experience goes, this is fleshy, sensual wickedness.  Make no mistake. And it’ll show an exponential rise of more of that as it ages. MEMO FRANCE: We could well get a lot more of this weather.

RBJ Theologicum Mataro 2002
($27.50; 16% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points)
Think about alcohol. The vivacious grenache-dominant Vox Populi RBJ, which quickly sold out at 11%, (94/100) is cute. The 16% mataro/grenache (91) is porty. But the smoked wurst/black pudding of this neat mataro handles 16%. With its complex velvet dryness replacing the simple silky sheen of grenache, it’s a rival to the mighty Cascabel monastrell (Spanish for mataro). Stew pigeons with beetroot, bacon, herbs and juniper berries in red wine, and drink this. See? (18.11.26)

Yangarra Estate Vineyard McLaren Vale Mourvedre 2010
$32; 14% alcohol; screw cap; tasted 30 October to 2 November 2011; 92+++, more later.
One on level, after about 36 hours open, this wine brought to mind the cheery, glace cherry-like Pinot of Domaine Dujac, with the slightly-grilled cashew tones typical of Jacques Seysses.  But there was always a glowering King Kong lurking behind, waiting for the silly flush of youth to realise somebody’s gotta carry it when it gets tired.  Which adds up to a classic Mourvèdre, really.  On this side of the glass, it’s as if the King of Cornas, August Clape, suddenly up and made himself a Bandol.  The wine has a cheeky viscosity which teases you to fear that at any point, it might teeter over, and leave you with astringent tannin and acid, but that never occurs, and the see-saw keeps the palate highly entertained. It’s a great pity to release this wine so young.

Rudderless McLaren Vale Mataro 2005
$??; 15.9% alcohol; screw cap; drunk APR 09; 91+ points
Let’s face it. This is the wine of man who has picked late. He has waited until suddenly whack everything’s past where it was supposed to be. So he has a magnificently extracted, compacted and packaged essence. Maybe that’s what he wanted. He’s got it. There are many who love such tinctures as this, and at the right moment, in the company of the appropriate cheese, I am foremost amongst them. But they become liqueurs: drinks to have with four or six, so the bottle goes and you wonder at it and the ground from whence it came and everything, and you are still alive. This is getting far too big for you to have with your bodyguard, or your wife, and a steak. There are other great wines like this, some of which I laud, but I can’t help thinking I would have much preferred this wine if the grapes had been picked at, well, what? Twelve point five baumé? Thirteen? All the wicked florals of ideal mataro have gone by the time you’re past fourteen, surely? Still, it keeps up to its name, and I never knew a sailor who wouldn’t skoff a schlück like this in a jiff. And be grateful for it. As am I.

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