Aug 102014

IMG_4648.JPGI’m traveling to France this year via Qatar, and flying Qatar Airways on Business class. Their amazing wine list on the in flight menu had a Bordeaux wine just screaming to be tasted!

This Haut-Médoc wine takes its name from the commune of Saint-Estèphe, the northernmost of the six communal appellations in Médoc. Since 2003 Château Phélan Ségur has been listed as one of the nine Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnels. This wine is an 8 year old Bordeaux, with a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend.

I chose to pair it with an in flight meal choice of lamb shanks and cheese for dessert. First off I had to try the wine up front without any food influencing the taste.

IMG_4651.JPGAfter a refreshing sparkling water, I took in the bouquet of a glass left sitting for 10mins and got an intense chocolate, cigar and tobacco highlight. This no doubt comes from the Cabernet Franc blended into this release. A second smell and I’m getting earthy boquet with hints of mint. A very complex nose!

Tasting this wine is a smooth almost dry/chalky sensation, however the smoothness of this wine is so apparent that one could drink this all day. Bitter chocolate and plum stand out as the main flavours, no doubt due to the merlot content.

Trying the qatar in flight lamb shank makes the palate much lighter and makes me think of a younger Shiraz. It’s amazing how matching this with a red meat changes the flavour of this left bank Bordeaux.

Moving on to the cheese, I had a platter of three cheeses as part of the in flight offerings. Blue, Brie and a semi hard cheese. The wine is overpowered by blue cheese and does nothing but intensify the moldy taste of the blue. I wouldn’t recommend to drink this with blue cheese.

Combining it with the Brie, and it makes for an acidic palate. Not really matching with soft cheeses. However the semi-hard cheese is much better. It highlights the original smoothness experienced when tasting this wine on it’s own. The fattiness of the cheese cuts through the previously experienced dryness of this wine on it’s own. The combination of the semi-hard cheese and this Bordeaux is recommended.

This wine would stand up in it’s own, match perfectly with red meat – particularly game (or even duck!) or go as a perfect accompaniment for a selection of hard and semi hard cheeses.

A great wine, and a very enjoyable tasting session was had with this single glass of Château Phélan Ségur. This 2006 vintage is perfectly placed to drink now, but will improve over another few years out to 2018.


Aug 032014


2011 Tatler Archie’s Paddock Shiraz, Hunter Valley, NSW

This wine was collected on a trip to the Hunter in 2012 and laid down at home until recently opened for dinner with the mother in law.  A good ruby coloured wine that had a very pleasant nose of berries and a fine touch of tannins. Having been aged for 15 months in French and American oak barrels, 

I expected the wine might be a little too strong for the ladies.  However, we were all pleasantly surprised by its smooth taste and gentle lingering on the palate.  Overall, this was a very pleasing wine which went well with a variety of dishes and was enjoyed by everyone. It should cellar well for another 5 years or so.

Vasse Felix

2008 Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, WA

This wine was opened in April 2015, having been cellared in my wine fridge for 5 years.  A quite dark red colour in the glass, it had a slightly earthy taste which probably resulted from its 18 months maturation in French oak barrels. 

This also gave the wine a pleasing complexity with the strong berry and olive flavours and tannins remaining on the palate for some time.  I am inclined to consume this vintage now as I am not certain that it will cellar much longer.


2010 Saltram Mamre Brook Barossa Shiraz, Barossa Valley SA

Saltram shiraz has been one of my favourites over the years and was one of the first full bodied reds that I introduced by wife to may years ago.  This vintage did not disappoint either of us and we enjoyed it at a dinner of roast lamb. 

The deep red colour and full body of the wine is complimented by the dark berries and olives nose and fine tannins which reflect the aging in oak for 18 months.  Probably a more full bodied and stronger wine than I would normally serve to my female dinners but it was still a hit with them. It will probably cellar well for a few more years.

Barton Estate

2006 Barton Estate Georgia Shiraz, Canberra Region, ACT/NSW

Canberra’s cool region wines a winning a great deal of respect both in Australia and overseas. This wine is a good example of the region, with a good dark red colour and full bodied structure. 

It has peppery spice overtones and a hint of blackcurrants but does not overwhelm the palate with strong tannins.  Opened nearly 9 years after bottling and kept in a wine fridge most of the time, I feel it is at its peak now.


2005 Taylors Cabernet Sauvignon, Claire Valley, SA

Taylors generally produce wines of good quality at reasonable prices and wines that suit all occasions and tastes. This wine is one of those reliable wines that, aged in French oak, deliver full fruit flavours with interesting undertones of berries and spice.

A good ruby colour and light tannins complete a wine suitable for any meal. This bottle seemed to have cellared well enough but I would not leave it any longer.

Jul 222014

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Inside Sage Dining Rooms

Last Friday night, AWG and his darling wife were fortunate enough to be able to dine again at Sage Restaurant in Braddon, ACT. 

Since we last dined at Sage back in 2012, they’ve made a few changes, such as the introduction of a Chef’s Pick – 5 mystery courses from the menu.  Naturally, we opted for this option in addition to the wine paring option (for one).


As the designated driver, AWG opted for a single glass of Burgundy (above) but sampled tiny tastes during the degustation.

Trip Advisor, at the time of writing, ranks Sage as the #1 restaurant in Canberra, and it’s hard not to agree.  The food is second to none, and the wine pairing by renown sommelier Abel Bariller is simply inspired.

Course 1 – Sugar Cured Ocean Trout, avocado, wasabi, olive, citrus


Perhaps being the first plate of the evening left an indelible impression, this dish was a real triumph – great texture and flavours, complimented by being paired to a light French wine, which I think was a grenache gris (I forgot to note it down).

Course 2 – Butternut Pumpkin Soup, chestnut cream, parsnip crisp


The next course was a delectable pumpkin soup, which had a beautiful silken texture, paired to a local Lark Hill chardonnay.  The soup was very well made, and a perfect addition to a winter menu, I might add!

Course 3 – Glazed Pork Belly, cauliflower, radish, green ginger wine


Pork belly is my achilles heel when done right, and the craftspeople in the kitchen at Sage know exactly how it should be prepared.  This evening was no exception, the serving was succulent and juicy, and well met by a drop of Italian nebbiolo.

Course 4 – Pressed Lamb Neck, gnocchi, charred broccoli, quince, pecorino


Our last savouriy dish was a very impressive serving of pressed lamb, perfectlly complimented with an arrangement of well thought out textures, particularly the gnocchi (an AWG favourite) which absorbed some of the strong flavours from the lamb. 

Does it get any better than this?  Perfectly paired to a surprise – a Brazillian cabernet sauvignon satin, which continued our ‘wine tour of the world’.

Intermission – Peach Sorbet with strawberry snow


A customary palate cleanse arrived not long after, and we were treated to a lovely sorbet in chilled ceramic bowls. 

Course 5 – Caramel Popcorn Parfait, pickled blueberry, peanut, burnt butter snow


To finish the evening, our meal was completed by a texture/flavour explosion of caramel, popcorn and peanut accompanied by a Rutherglen muscat.  The strong muscat sat perfectly with the sugary force from the dessert – a beautiful match both in texture and taste.

A big thanks to the management and staff at Sage for accommodating us at short notice.  We were very late in securing a reservation, and they were kind enough to fit us in.  Although it was a very busy night, the food, the wine and the service were top notch, and as always, we were impressed.

No doubt we will be back to Sage in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

Sage Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Jun 142014


Aussie Wine Guy is blessed with generous friends who, from time to time, gift bottles of liquid gold – ice wine – mainly from Canada.

This bottle, from Canadian vineyard Rivière du Chêne is aptly called “Monde”, which translates to “world” in English.  This is a world-class dessert wine, and embodies all the characteristics dessert wine lovers cherish – layers of juicy fruit and a refined sweetness which doesn’t wash out the caeful fruit combinations.


‘This brilliant sticky wine lives up to the vaunted expectations when it comes to one of Canada’s best exports.  Using Orrefors dessert glasses (pictured above), the wine produced a good viscosity on initial swirls in the glass, whilst producing a beautiful golden hue.

The first sitting, it was paired with home made salted caramel parfait which provided a salty bedrock against the perfectly crafted fruit combination of the ice wine.  Afterwards, we vulgarly finished off the bottle without any accompaniment because it was that damned good!  Highly recommended.