Burch Family Wines Blog

Red Wine Classification tasting at Howard Park Wines for the 2010 Reds

Wine Tasting

Most of the Wines are dry now although a few still going through malo (malolactic fermentation), 90 Reds tasted spread over two days. Overall an excellent vintage with lots of great material to work with. If there is a standout it was Shiraz from the top of the more commercial price points they were all excellent.

Cabernet and Pinot Noir showed clearly the effect of yield management. The top end cabernets were terrific with lovely ripe fine tannins while the opposite was true with some parcels where growers had boosted yields for cost reasons but struggled to ripen the tannins. Yes sugar was ripe but not tannin ripe. Glad that is not our wine and a contract job! Pinot noir was better with yield management and very clean fruit. Why do people think they can get away without managing yields? It never works and always comes out in the wine. Overall we have had a great 2010 vintage red and white in Western Australia, which follow a string of very good vintages 07, 08, 09, and 2010. Makes you wonder about 2011? Or am I just a pessimist?

Took the Howard Park Winemaking team out for a meal and an opportunity to look at some imported French Wines. Started with some beers in Margaret River at Settlers Tavern and caught up with some other local winemakers, everyone pretty happy with the 2010 vintage but moaning about the state of the market, Rudd Government’s spending wastages and how his effect on mining will even affect the wine industry.

Quickly got sick of Beer (or I did) and ordered a French Champagne “Egly–Ouriet” made from 100% Pinot Meunier grapes. Bit unusual to be 100% Pinot Meunier grapes and enjoyed by all.

Moved down to Arc of Iris Restaurant with our BYO wine carton for a drink with some food. She is great at this restaurant always friendly and welcomes the wine team. Started with a 1999 Domaine Josmeyer Riesling Grand Cru “Hengst” from Alsace, not a good start, oxidized and over the hill thought these should age? My mistake but disappointing.

Then a couple of white Burgundies the first a 2000 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne, bloody corked and terrible. I am getting sick of this as it has happened a lot, waiting to drink a wine you have aged correctly in the cellar only to pour expensive wine down the sink. Will stop buying this producer as have had a 50% failure rate with this wine either corked or premature oxidation – just not good enough.

Next wine was much better. 2002 Domaine Pinson Chablis Grand Cru “les Clos”. Typical Chablis, Young in the glass, flinty, gunpowder nose and excellent length. Enjoyed by all and lots of time to go looking at the color and acidity.

Everyone thought it was time for some red so a blanket of Red burgundies. 1999 Domaine Armand Rousseau Charmes Chambertin. This was terrific, beautifully crafted wine, classic pinot noir with balance of fruit power and classy structure. Very very young with a long life in front of it. Terrific length and a contender for wine of the night!

1999 Domaine de la Vougeraie Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Evocelles” one of Pascal Marchand's wines my neighbor in Burgundy whom I collaborate with for our Marchand & Burch label. Very young, with that Gevrey power coming through, beautiful oak handling, again young but what a great vintage 1999 was. Very attractive wine, lucky there are several bottles left in the cellar!

Thought we would slip in an old Rhone to see how Shiraz fairs after the Pinot’s. 1985 Delas Hermitage “Marquis De la tourette”, well for a 25 year old wine it was very young in the glass and still with a lot of life to go. Very surprising, it must have been pretty tough to tackle young but now it was a very attractive wine. Some lovely secondary developed characters, spicy, leather etc but still with a core of fruit and young colour. Not my favorite but had some supporters, an excellent wine. With aged cork.

Now for what I thought would be a highlight but was sorely disappointed. 1990 Chateau Laffite. Yes a great vintage, cellared perfectly at 14c pulled the cork all looking good. Poured the wine put to the nose and could not believe it. Brettanomyces! Once you know what it is and detect it you cannot enjoy a wine, the detection and sensitivity level of Brettanomyces varies with each taster, regretfully I am very sensitive to it. The smell is a bit like the smell of an old band aid, not very attractive at all. I could not believe that a wine of this pedigree would have this fault in Australia every young winemaker is taught to recognize it for what it is a wine fault and totally undesirable. It is caused by sloppy hygiene and dirty barrels. If the hygiene policies are not strict in a winery with regard to barrels and this organism gets into the barrels it is a devil to get rid of it.

Brettanomyces Test Results performed by a quality assured subcontracted laboratory:
BLEND: 1990 Lafite, DATE: 8/06/2010
4-EP ug/L: 2716, 4-EG ug/L: 416
Interpretation: Organoleptic threshold limits of detection are 300ug/l for 4EP and 30ug/L for 4EG.

Next wine was 1985 Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste another Bordeaux from a great vintage. To my horror this was even worse with a totally loaded glass of wine fully contaminated with the same Brettanomyces. While the Laffite was partfully contaminated the Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste was ragingly contaminated. What are they doing in Bordeaux during this time period? Selling wine they know was going to get worse as it aged and at high prices. I even heard someone try and justify this contamination as it adds a different level of complexity to a wine when in small amounts. Well these two wines were contaminated in large amounts and a simple laboratory test would have clearly brought it to the proprietors notice. No they were just going to rip off the Paying customer. It sure makes it hard to love Bordeaux with that attitude.

Brettanomyces Test Results performed by a quality assured subcontracted laboratory:
BLEND: 1985 Lacoste, DATE: 8/06/2010
4-EP ug/L: 3596, 4-EG ug/L: 389
Interpretation: Organoleptic threshold limits of detection are 300ug/l for 4EP and 30ug/L for 4EG.

Next some sweet wine to clear our palette 1989 Chateau d'Yquem. Lovely golden colour, dried apricots and marmalade on the nose, sweet but with good balancing and cleansing acidity, slightly more developed than expected but a lovely wine.
Followed by a Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt Josephshöfer Beerenauslese Fuder 15.This was a young little ripper terrific combination of sweetness with balancing acidity and all at surprisingly low alcohol of 7.5% drunk far too young but we had had too many failures so needed a drink.

Overall the Burgundies were my highlights with lots of love, not a good result for cork and hygiene in Bordeaux. Some very expensive wines poured down the sink. Makes you wonder how long you can keep putting your customers through pain before they give you away!

Jeff Burch


Category: Wine Tasting