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Wine

10 strange but true wine descriptors

What do cat’s pee, sea spray and horse hair have in common? They might sound like ingredients in a witchy potion, but they’re actually all aromas you could find wafting from your wine glass. Sounds strange, but it’s true and there’s more. Check out the top ten:

  1. Cat’s pee: Sauvignon Blanc lovers might be familiar with this one. It’s particularly apparent in cool climate examples and it’s not a negative description, so don’t let it put you off your next glass of Savvy.
  2. Kerosene: This can be found in aged Rieslings and comes from the compound 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihyronaphthalene (TDN). Whether it’s a desirable trait or not comes down to personal taste.
  3. Wet stone: Take a whiff of Semillon, Riesling or Chardonnay and you might pick up this character. It describes minerality and is a savoury term, so it means you’re sniffing a great food matching wine.
  4. Sea spray: If your Chardonnay is transporting your senses to the beach, you’ve scored yourself a complex, well-made expression of the variety.
  5. Baked bread: There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread, even if it is coming from your glass of Sparkling wine. It’s a sign of secondary fermentation so it’s desirable in Sparkling and Chardonnay, but watch out if you smell it in other wines because it could be a fault.
  6. Struck match: While sulphur dioxide is a common wine additive, if you can smell struck match, the sulphur dioxide has been poorly handled. This fault can also be described as burnt rubber or mothballs.
  7. Sweaty saddle: Brettanomyces, or Brett, is a type of yeast that can, when used at low levels, can add positive attributes to a wine. However, the perception of excessive levels is a fault.
  8. Horse hair: Continuing the horsy theme, this is another description of Brett.
  9. Tractor shed: More precisely, the oil on the dirt that’s leaked from a tractor – another Brett descriptor.
  10. Mousy: Another term to describe a fault, this time from bacteria, mousy is interesting because it’s an aroma that only certain people can pick up. So if you can pick up a scent of rodent, you’re one of the chosen few!

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Wine
Howard Park Dream Vertical
Words by Paul Diamond on 30 Sep 2015
Western Australian wine is a true phenomenon.It contributes less than 5% of Australia’s total production, but in a good year, can create some of the country’s best Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. And in such a short space of time, just over 40 years, the west has come a long way.  Margaret River has an identity of “bush, blue sky and surf” combined with “pioneering spirit meets entrepreneurial drive” to create something that is completely unique, stylish and undoubtedly Australian. One of the stories that completely embodies this special identity is the Burch family that owns and operates Howard Park Wines . Like many of the great Margaret River estates, Howard Park did not start as a Burch family concern, but as a side project. In 1986, John Wade, while working as a winemaker at Plantagenet Wines, made a Riesling and Cabernet at Denmark Agricultural College and labelled them in honour of his father Howard. During this time, John attended a single bottle club lunch in Perth as a guest and sat next to Jeff Burch. Over this lunch a kinship was formed and not long after that Jeff and his wife Amy became partners in Howard Park. Two years later, Jeff Burch purchased a picturesque 138 acres of pasture in Margaret River that has the Wilyabrup creek running through it. Named Leston after Jeff’s father, it was situated in the heart of prime vine growing territory. The partnership between John and Jeff grew and in the early 90s they added Chardonnay to the Howard Park stable and started to release wines under the MadFish label. Early on, MadFish gained attention due to the striking depiction of the Aboriginal water turtle that symbolises perseverance and tolerance. Produced from cool climate fruit as approachable, contemporary and solid value wines, MadFish is now 20 years old and one of Australia’s most recognisable wine brands. A family business Over the next decade, the MadFish-Howard Park growth story accelerated. They purchased a property in Denmark upon which the first winery and cellar door were built. Jeff’s brother David and sister Lesley came on board and foundations for a new winery and cellar door at Leston vineyard were poured as the flagship single vineyard range of Scottsdale Cabernet and Leston Shiraz was released. By this stage, John had left and Howard Park-MadFish became a Burch family operation. In the early 2000s, they acquired a 200 hectare, cool climate property in Mt Barrow (Great Southern). As the wine stable grew and the quality increased, the accolades started to roll in. Jeff and Amy’s daughter Natalie joined the business, and the Burch family combined forces with Burgundian winemaker and biodynamic ambassador Pascal Marchand on a project to produce wines from both WA and Burgundy under one label. The Marchand & Burch range includes French bubbles (Cremant), Pinot and Chardonnay and Australian Shiraz, Chardonnay and Pinot. Today, family is still at the fore with Jeff CEO, Amy GM and marketing director, David managing the vineyards, daughter Natalie managing operations and sons Richard and David managing east coast sales and marketing. Tasting history Wine is the Burch family’s religion and it binds them in a way that is both humbling and inspiring. To get closer to their story, along with Wine Selectors Panellist Dave Mavor, I headed to Margaret River for a tasting with the family. In their newly opened Wine Chapel, we absorbed the family narrative through the varieties they hold dear: Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet. Howard Park Riesling 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014 Howard Park Chardonnay 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2014 Marchand & Burch Parongurup Chardonnay 2011, 2013, 2012, 2013, 2014 Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir 2012, 2013, 2014 Howard Park Leston Shiraz 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2012 Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012 First up was Howard Park Riesling from the cool climate of Great Southern, a wine that since 1986 has defined the identity of Howard Park and is one of Australia’s most collected. Stylistically, Great Southern Rieslings are quite different from those of Clare or Eden Valley in that they start out as tight and slender with positive minerality, and with age, blossom into generous and elegant wines that have wonderful complexity. The older examples of 2001 and 2004 proved that these Rieslings age wonderfully with both wines showing delicate, youthful flavours balanced by toasty development. Everyone had favourites for a range of reasons: winemaker Janice McDonald loved the 2012 for its concentration and effortless neutrality and Natalie favoured the 2014 for its refreshing zest and weight. The highly awarded Chardonnay was next, stretching back to 2003. These wines are constructed with a mixture of fruit from Mount Barker, Porongurup and Margaret River and represent the leaner, cooler side of the Chardonnay spectrum. Very pretty and elegant, they have fresh acidity and bright, clean flavours that help them age slowly and gracefully. Minerality and texture are noticeable with the standouts holding beautiful fruit flavours of melons, grapefruits and nuts with a creamy, savoury complexity. Dave enjoyed the 2007 with its fresh citrus core and Jeff loved the 2013 for its balance and length. French connection Next came the Marchand & Burch Porongurup Chardonnays. The standard was high with a lean and tight style that delivers citrus and melon flavours with complexity, minerality and finesse. Standouts were the 2013 for its crème brulée aromas and tropical fruit palate and Jeff loved the 2007 for its French leanings and flinty complexity. Pinot Noir followed with the Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow line-up. These wines showed a distinct development of style that highlighted how critical vine age is to creating wines that have weight and complexity. The 2012 was lovely, with pretty sour cherry fruit, savoury spices and soft tannins and the depth and structure built as we moved through to the 2014. Considering how demanding Pinot Noir can be, especially from young vines, the potential of the Marchand & Burch Mt Barrow Pinot is massive. Amy and Natalie were both wowed by the 2014 due to its luscious layers and fine complexity. Leston Shiraz was next, stretching back to 2000, and considering Margaret River is not known as a Shiraz region, the high quality and consistency came as a pleasant surprise and highlighted the diversity of Australian Shiraz. All the wines had a lovely soft, black fruit signature with delicate layers of spice and fine tannins. As Shiraz goes, these wines are definitely on the savoury side and the oldest wines were aging beautifully. Richard loved the 2003 for its complexity, Dave’s standout was the balanced 2005 and Janice loved the perfume and fruit integrity of the 2009. Flying the Cabernet flag Lastly came the flagship Abercrombie bracket crafted from a selection of the oldest vineyards in Margaret River, Mount Barker and Porongurup. These wines are serious; they have depth, structure, complexity and would easily rank as some of the best Cabernet Australia can produce. Named after Jeff’s great-grandfather Walter Abercrombie, the wines are earthy, savoury and full of black fruits, but have incredible finesse and harmony. Jeff was impressed with how well the 2000 had aged, Natalie loved the 2012 “just because.” The tasting was a special line-up of wines that highlighted that Howard Park, just like WA wine, has come a long way in a short space of time. The exercise was made extra special by the generosity of the Burch family in sharing their wines, their stories and proving that wine is made better with family. www.howardparkwines.com.au
Wine
Discover our Top 12 Reds of 2017
2017 was a super-busy year for our Panel who tasted and rated over 4,000 wines. With so many wines in the running, the Best Wines of the Year is always a hotly contested list and this year was no exception. From tried and true varietal champions like Hunter Valley and Great Southern Shiraz, to fabulous blends such as Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre from the Barossa, plus magical Margaret River Malbec, here are the Top 12 Reds that really stood out from the crowd and wowed all of our Panellists. View our Top 12 white wines here.
Howard Park Flint Rock Shiraz 2015 , Great Southern In the glass: Deep purple.  On the nose: Black plum, blackberry, pepper and vanillin oak.  On the palate: Black, blue and purple fruits, subtle peppery depth and great balance of tannins and acidity. Rich, flavoursome and intense yet elegant. RRP $26 or $22.10 per bottle in any dozen.   Kaesler Stonehorse Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2014 , Barossa Valley In the glass: Medium density red.  On the nose: Complex lift of dark berry, plum, cedar and earth.  On the palate: Medium to full bodied with a core of black fruit and layers of cassis and vanilla. Silken with balanced tannins giving a rich, velvety texture.  RRP $22 or $18.70 per bottle in any dozen.  Lou Miranda Leone Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 , Barossa Valley In the glass: Full red garnet.  On the nose: Bright plum, currant, cassis, mint and cedar.  On the palate: Full bodied with a core of black and blue fruit, firm yet ripe tannins and vibrant acidity. Savoury with hints of liquorice, spice and dried herb.  RRP $22.95 or $19.51 per bottle in any dozen.  Erin Eyes Gallic Connection Cabernet Malbec 2015 , Clare Valley In the glass: Deep red.       On the nose: Blackberry, mulberry, bay leaf and vanillin oak.  On the palate: Powerful yet poised with saturated black fruits, well-judged supporting oak, fine and persistent tannin drive and balancing acidity.  RRP $30 or $25.50 per bottle in any dozen.  Leconfield Merlot 2016 , Coonawarra In the glass: Bright red black.  On the nose: Powerful aromas of black cherry concentrate with flashes of spearmint and eucalypt.   On the palate: Generous kirsch, mulberry and cassis with dense inky power, a velvety core and deluxe  oak harmony.   RRP $26 or $22.10 per bottle in any dozen.  Helen & Joey Inara Pinot Noir 2016 , Yarra Valley In the glass: Pale to mid ruby.  On the nose: Pure, fresh red berry, floral perfume.  On the palate: Vibrant and silken with delicious strawberry and blueberry depth, tea-like notes, fine tannins and a complete finish. Packs so much flavour into a lighter-bodied wine. Gorgeous.  RRP $23 or $19.55 per bottle in any dozen. 
Tyrrell's Wines Special Release Shiraz 2014 , Hunter Valley In the glass: Brilliant deep purple. On the nose: Violet, plum, blackberry and black pepper.  On the palate: Shows power and finesse. Loaded with spicy black fruit depth with on-point acidity and savoury tannins driving the long finish.  RRP $40 or $34 per bottle in any dozen. Dandelion Vineyards Red Queen of the Eden Valley Shiraz 2013 , Eden Valley In the glass: Deep purple.  On the nose: Plum, blackberry, graphite, pepper and clove.  On the palate: Layered and complex, it opens with savoury black fruits, an alluring spice complexity and fine yet deep tannins. RRP $100 or $85.00 per bottle in any dozen David Hook Reserve Barbera 2016 , Hunter Valley In the glass: Medium density red.  On the nose: Plum, bramble, black olive and tobacco aromas. On the palate: Medium weight with typical varietal freshness showing vibrant plummy fruit, savoury tannins and a touch of cigar box on the finish. A lovely young Barbera with plenty potential.  RRP $30 or $25.50 per bottle in any dozen.  Kimbolton Fig Tree Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 , Langhorne Creek In the glass: Full dark red.  On the nsoe: Classic Cabernet red berry, currant, cassis and cedar lift.  On the palate: Beautifully textured and deep yet only medium weight with a varietal core of black fruit, cassis and crushed leaf.  RRP $25 or $21.25 per bottle in any dozen.  Hay Shed Hill Malbec 2015 , Margaret River In the glass: Intense red black scarlet. On the nose: Hugely concentrated black cherry with interwoven complex notes of black pepper, currant and spicy oak.  On the palate: A gentle giant with super-ripe, glossy black cherry fruit power, beautiful velvety texture and deluxe spicy oak support. Classy!  RRP $30 or $25.50 per bottle in any dozen.  Riorret Lusatia Park Pinot Noir 2016 , Yarra Valley In the glass: Vibrant mid-red.  On the nose: Sweet cherry and raspberry fruit with notes of stalk and spice.  On the palate: Vibrant and fresh, supple and juicy with ripe cherry and plum, subtle stalky complexity, warm earthy notes and integrated vanillin oak.  RRP $50 or $42.50 per bottle in any dozen.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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