Bob Mutton's Alternative Wine Styles

by Bob Mutton

Whilst I haven't tried many of the specific examples on Brian's list, I have tried and enjoyed quite a number of alternative varieties, both red and white during 2008.

Some that come to mind that I enjoyed very much include:

Trentham Estate 2005 Lambrusco Maestre - and no it isn't a sweet, bubbly red but a full bodied dry red wine - very impressed.

Trentham Estate 2004 Petit Verdot / Tannat - the Tannat gave the wine an added complexity that was very good

Mac Forbes 2004 Arneis from the Yarra Valley - an interesting and different white wine

Bleasdale 2004 Malbec - in my opinion one of the best Malbecs in Australia

Kangarilla Road 2005 Zinfandel - because I wanted to see what the Americans found so good in this variety

Hill of Memory 2002 Petit Verdot from the Riverland in Sth Aust. One of the best examples of this variety I have come across, but unfortunately not available any more. I have one bottle left in my cellar

Coriole 2004 'Earth' Sangiovese. Bottled under their export lable and excellent value for money

Richard Hamilton 2003 'Marion Vineyard' Grenache. A very good example of this variety that is often overlooked

Mulcra Estate 2003 Reserve Petit Verdot from the Mildura district

Dowie Doole 2007 Chenin Blanc. Not sure if this qualifies as an alternative style, but we loved it anyway. Don't drink it too cold!

Vintina 2003 Sangiovese from the Hunter Valley - very good.

Can I finish with a couple of Chilean Carmeneres that I tried this year. Arboleda 2006 and a Caliterra 2006 were both excellent examples of this very interesting variety, but both could do with more time in the cellar. Sorry that they are not Australian, but a straight aussie Carmenere is hard to find. One of the best aussie Carmenere blends I tried this year was an Amietta 'Angels' Share' from the Geelong region, which is a 65% Cabernet 35% Carmenere blend and is a very good wine that will improve with time.

That's my lot, so let's hope that 2009 brings some more great alternative wines.

(Bob initially commented on Brian's list. But as his comment was really a list on its own I have made its own special page, as it deserves...Darby, editor)

Comments for Bob Mutton's Alternative Wine Styles

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Jan 04, 2009
Chenin temperature
by: Leigh Gilligan

Hi Bob,
I agree with your comments about temperature - prefer to drink my white wines cool but not straight from fridge. Chenin can be quite delicate and having them too cold definitely masks the flavours. Usually get them out of fridge and leave for 10-15 mins before serving.

Jan 04, 2009
Chenin blanc as an alternative
by: Darby


Thanks for your info about chenin blanc. It is a favouite of mine but not many winemakers or drinkers take it seriously.

Unfortunately in my opinion we have wasted more than two decades in Australia with over phenolic chardonnays and anaemic sauvignon blancs. I don't think pinot gris/grigio is quite the answer either. There are few other white varieties lining up for their day in the sun as well.

Meanwhile chenin blanc is a bit of a sleeper. There is still heaps of it in WA, where it is not highly regarded. See vinodiversity's page. But a few people, winemakers and consumers, are catching on in the eastern states.

Re the best temperature. I think many whites are overchilled in Australia, especially whites with a couple of years in the bottle. Let them breathe a little and move towards a cold room temperature rather than a fridge temperature, you'll be surprised at how much complexity of flavour a good white wine can have.

Jan 04, 2009
CEO Mulcra Estate Wines
by: Mark Pavilach

Hi Bob, thanks for including us in your top 10 of alternative varieties for 2008. Petit Verdot is well suited to the Mildura region as it ripens so late and I'm glad that you enjoyed it. All the best,
Mulcra Estate Wines

Jan 01, 2009
More on the alternative styles
by: Bob Mutton

Leigh, Darby & Brian,
Great to get your feedback on my thoughts on alternative wine styles I've had.

2008 was a very good year for me as I really broadened my wine experiences with the alternative styles I tried. I have become a real fan of Petit Verdot and Chenin Blanc and look forward to trying more of them in 2009.

The Chilean Carmenere was bought as a bit of a 'punt' based on the comments of a fellow in Canada I converse with online on a wine site I use. He was so impressed with the ones he had tried I thought I would give it a go. Over Christmas we opened a bottle of the second Carmenere I bought, a 2006 Caliterra from the Colchagua Valley. It was a bit sharp on opening but settled down nicely with some time. It was as smooth and rounded as the Arboleda, but still a nice wine.

Leigh, I will certainly look out for the 08 DD Chenin Blanc and I will take the advice and leave the last couple of the 06's sit in the cellar and try them in a few years time with some age on them. We had the 07 with a light oriental chicken dish and we had the first glass straight out of the fridge. The remains of the bottle was left on the bench and by the time we had our second glass the wine was a bit warmer and the difference was amazing. The wine was more complex with more fruit flavours and smoother on the back palate. That is how we will drink it from now on.

Should all Chenin Blancs be treated the same?
All the best for '09.

Dec 30, 2008
Dowie Doole 07 Chenin Blanc
by: Leigh Gilligan

Hi Bob,
Am one of the three partners in Dowie Doole - delighted to see your inclusion of the 07 Dowie Doole Chenin in your 08 picks.

We refer to it as the "other Blanc".... if you get our drift.

The DD is from a 70 year old basically dry grown vineyard at Blewitt Springs (McLaren Vale)
Vastly under-rated variety - see what it can do in France... good sparkling, great long lived dry wines - e.g. Moulin Touchais, wonderful sweet wines.

Aussie ones can age - our first vintage (1996) still drinking well. 07 sold out but look out for the newly released 08, best since the 2002 which won a gold medal and topped its class in the first International Rendezvous du Chenin in the Loire. Also just released a barrel fermented / aged 2006 single vineyard Chenin called Tintookie.
Happy and healthy drinking in 09.

Dec 30, 2008
A good list of alternative varietals
by: Darby

Thanks Bob, for your list and comments on some interesting wines.

A couple of points in your list. I regard Chenin Blanc as an alternative varietal even though AAVWS doesn't. It is common enough in WA, although it is losing popularity over there. In SA and the eastern states it is still relatively unknown. I reckon it is a super variety. Don't be afraid to give it some bottle age.

Foreign wines are welcome in this discussion, although I don't have the knowledge, budget, time or experience to say much about them on the main Vinodiversity pages.

I've not had a Chilean Carmenere, but there are now a few producers of the variety in Australia. I agree with you about Amietta's Carmenere Blend and I am looking forward to seeing what future wines are like.

Thanks again for your contribution.

Dec 23, 2008
Bob's Alternative Wine Styles
by: Brian Winzor

Bob, You have certainly tried an interesting lot of varietals, and it was interesing to hear your comments on them.

I just went through your list, and haven't tried any of the ones you mention, although I have tried some of a different vintage. As an example:

Bleasdale 03 Malbec was really good (won a gold medal) and terrific value at the price. Yet the 05 we tried in my "Malbec Varietal Night" and was very ordinary. I note you had the 04, and enjoyed it, so there is obviously considerable vintage variation.

The 3 top Malbecs out of the eleven I have tried are Gapsted 04, Ferngrove 05, The Islander 04, with the Cofield Quartz Vein 03 close behind.

Similarly I have not tried the Kangarilla Road 05 Zinfandel which you enjoyed, but found their 04 Fleurieu Zinfandel was very disappointing. On the same night we tried an Irvine (Eden Valley) 02, and that was outstanding. Currently have KR's 06 Fleurieu, and 05 Black St Peters in the cellar to try. The best 3 Zins I have tried are the Irvine 02, Nepenthe05, Tscharke 06. The 04 Cape Mentelle had a great reputation but all ten on our Zinfandel tasting night thought it average.

I have not tried the 04 Coriole San Giovese that you enjoyed, but have tried and enjoyed both their 05 and 06 San Giovese. However, I have tried 10 San Giovese labels but have yet to find one that really gets me excited.

I have not tried the two Petit Verdot wines you mention, and apart from a Pirrimimma 03, and Ceravolo 06, which I both enjoyed, the other 7 labels I tried (including Trentham Est 03) were either acceptable, just average or worse.

I have not tried the Richard Hamilton 03 Grenache that you enjoyed, and will look to see if is still available, as I looking for contenders to hold a "Grenache Night". I have only tried 4 Grenache labels, with the Woodstock 1999 being the best so far.

Hope you find my comments of some interest. Regards, Brian.

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