Mike Press Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2011

mike press chard

So, back on the Chardonnay wagon (unwooded, this time – no oak here!) and there’s nothing like having someone else do the work for you. This wine was suggested by Adam Easterbrook through the magic of Twitter. Adam even sent me a list of retailers of this wine!

I picked up the Mike Press Adelaide Hills Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 (that’s one seriously long name there!) from Cellarbrations at Brighton for the princely sum of $9.99. Yes – that is outside my $15-20 price bracket for this exercise, but packing punch for price is what this exercise is all about …

In the glass the wine is pale gold and with quite a pronounced nose. I’d actually go so far as to describe this wine as surprisingly aromatic. Yes – that’s not a word you’d normally associate with Chardonnay but it’s very apt for this wine. The wine is very tropical fruit – pineapple, mango, some sweet citrus (think pink grapefruit) and maybe even some banana. And the wine tastes of those same tropical fruits as well as some ripe stone fruit – think pineapple and nectarine. The wine has some good, refreshing acidity and nice length and weight.

At just shy of $10 a bottle this wine is really good value – or perhaps it should be ‘insanely good value’. The wine is not for those after something oaky, and nor is it for the occasion where you’re after a restrained, cool climate specimen. However, if you have friends who are Chardonnay nay-sayers (and particularly any obsessed with Sauvignon Blanc) then this is a great wine to show them. Drink it with fish and chips, roast chicken, roast pork … or, indeed, just by itself.

If you have a favourite Chardonnay that everyone should be drinking … let us know!

Bay of Fires Sparkling Tasmanian Cuvee Brut NV

A slight hiatus in wine reviews and this week not a still Chardonnay. I actually did have one lined up for you but unfortunately a bit of early winter flu very much got in the way of constructive wine tasting. No point in bringing you a tasting note that reads “I felt sick, the bottle of wine sat open in the fridge for three days, it tasted OK”.

So this week I bring you a sparkling wine from Tasmania and at just under 44% Chardonnay it almost fits the Chardonnay brief. This non vintage wine from Bay of Fires is a blend of the three traditional Champagne grapes: Pinot Noir (48.5%), Chardonnay (43.9%) and Pinot Meunier (6%). The wine is made by Fran Austin and Ed Carr (Ed Carr of Arras fame) with grapes coming from some of Tasmania’s best growing areas. This is a good pedigree to start with!

The wine is pale gold with plenty of fine bubbles* in the glass. The nose is quite pronounced with yeasty, bready characters, a touch of citrus and also strawberries and cream. On the palate there is good acidity and the citrus is more pronounced than on the nose – it’s definitely lemon. There are also bread and dairy characters. The back label suggests yoghurt and if you think of a natural, unflavoured and unsweetened yoghurt, this is a pretty accurate description. The wine has good length and the palate finishes with some suggestion of savoury characters.

I really liked this wine and while its RRP is $31.50 you can pick it up for under $30 if you do some research. I haven’t had my favourite sub $30 sparkling wine for a while so I’m not sure if this knocks it off its pedestal or not (yes, that does sound like an excuse to go out and buy more sparkling, doesn’t it?). Definitely a good wine and reasonable value for money.

* The important thing with bubbly is not the size of the bubbles per se but how long they hang around. The smaller the bubbles (the ‘bead’ in winespeak) in theory the longer they’ll take to dissipate.

Adelaide Hills Day Out


date of day out: Saturday 5 May 2012

A group of friends recently organised a day out wine tasting in the Adelaide Hills. We had a reasonably modest agenda for the day – lunch and three, maybe four, wineries.

For me, the day proper began at lunch time. Our original food plan was scuppered so, at the last minute and with no warning, twelve of us descended on the Charleston Hotel in a tiny town (population 120, apparently) called … Charleston.

Luckily for us, the dining room was empty because by the time we’d sorted out our table, only a handful of other diners could have squeezed in. We obviously massively swamped the poor kitchen (the rumour at the table was that there was one person working there) so yes, our food did take a while to come out and no, it didn’t all come out at once. But we quickly figured out what was happening so people had the good sense to start eating. From where I was sitting I heard only one complaint about the food which concerned a very disappointing looking bar meal of spaghetti bolognese. The disappointment was compounded because the individual concerned had considered ordering the awesome looking lamb burger.

I was pleased to note that, for $13, I could order a ‘half size’ schnitzel (topping/sauce extra). I don’t think I’ve had a pub meal where the schnitzel has not been ridiculously huge and I’ve often commented that the children’s sizes have looked sufficient. All the schnitzels (even the half sized ones!) were generously proportioned and thick. This meant they were juicy – no dried out cardboard here. The salad was definitely above par (although, as usual, drowned in dressing) – it was Greek style complete with feta.  And I very much enjoyed my glass of Kersbrook Hill Shiraz too!

The accommodating nature of the businesses around Lobethal was further demonstrated when we turned up at Golding Wines. The cellar door man didn’t bat an eye at our large group – he herded us towards a large table, lined up the entire range and led us through it. If you want a welcoming cellar door, I can think of few places that do this better than Golding*.

Next up we headed to Bird in Hand, where our large group most definitely caused a problem. “Have you booked?” … er, well, no. “Hmm, that will be $10 a head” … er, well, no. The cellar door was full of a bus load of tourists and obviously we represented hard work. While I realise that large groups arriving unannounced can cause problems there must be a more delicate way of dealing with the situation. As locals, it means that we’re unlikely to take guests (either overseas or interstate) to Bird in Hand in future …

We wrapped up the day with Barristers Block, where we were treated to some further Adelaide Hills hospitality. The tasting here was a lot less formal than at Goldings with everyone trying whatever they were interested in. Which worked well because by the end of the day the two cellar dogs were garnering a lot more attention than the wines from some people!

I’ve been all inspired to work my way through the wineries of the Adelaide Hills – I just can’t work out which end to start!  But hopefully there’ll be some more cellar door tales soon.

* I have been there several times before and I’m a fan of their Last Hurrah sparkling and Handcart Shiraz.

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