The wine and jazz appreciation society news, vol 5, no 1, 1/2/99

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Hours: lunch from midday-2.30pm Mon-Fri; dinner 6pm-10pm Mon-Thurs, 6pm-11pm Fri-Sat

Bill: about $72 for two (two courses and coffee), plus drinks

Cards: AE DC V MC BC
Scores: 1-10: unacceptable, don't bother. 11-12: just OK, some shortcomings. 13: getting there. 14: recommended. 15: really good. 16: really, really good. 17: excellent. 18: an outstanding experience. 19-20: approaching perfection, Victoria's best.


A man goes to see his doctor complaining of multiple body pains. “ Look” he said as he poked himself in the arm, leg, and torso and head “It hurts whenever I touch any of these spots”. The doctor explained gently that the man’s finger was broken.
The Rainbow on a Monday night is a regular event for quite a number of people, the place has that friendly feel that comes from catching up with friends. Paul Williamson’s band has had an unbroken Monday residency of 7 years, and it’s not difficult to see why they continue to draw such a good and loyal following. The band’s energy, humour, and technical prowess are always in evidence, despite the length of time they’ve performed together.
Paul on sax (tenor and baritone) and vocals, Tim Neal (Hammond organ), and Mike Jordan (drums) form the core of the band to which a guest is added each week. The guest is often a guitarist, but various horns and reeds, and sometimes keyboards have been used to complete a quartet lineup. On this night it was Craig Beard, playing the Mussen vibraphone. I have seen Craig before, playing with a mainstream jazz band - the Lucas Michaledis Quintet at Bennetts, with Lucas (guitar), Lachlin Davidson (woodwinds), Ivan Rosa (bass), Greg Ryan (drums). It was interesting to see him play in a bluesier setting, and of course always intriguing to see how the guest will survive when Paul calls the tunes, with a minimum of notice.
The vibes is an acoustic instrument; the air is disturbed by hammering the keys, and vibrates at a frequency determined by the length of the tube below each key. The “keyboard” is piano-like with two rows of keys, the furthest row comprising the sharps and flats. Like a piano, it has a damper pedal but also has a set of rotating valves (one above each pipe) to produce that lovely vibrato effect – a characteristic from which the instrument’s name derives. In a relatively noisy setting, the vibes are amplified – here through the placement of two mikes above the keys. These need to be high enough to prevent interference with the flailing sets of hammers wielded by Craig, yet close enough to pick up enough sound to amplify. This proved a difficult compromise, and Craig’s instrument was inclined to be submerged by those of his colleagues. In his solos however, Craig was able to be heard (at least from my prime position), and proved quite comfortable and adept at playing blues and some swinging jazz.
Expanding the repertoire is one way that this band continues to hold one’s interest. It also helps that the selection of new tunes maintains a continuity of balance between light and shade, introspection and exuberance, jazz and blues. A few numbers I hadn’t heard from the quartet before were gems – Percy Mayfield’s “The Voice Within”, Dizz Gillespie’s “Manteca”, and, Red Holloway’s “Brother Red”. Of the well worn, a fiery version of “Sack O’ Woe produced an unusually frenetic drum solo from Mike – a truly sustained kinetic assault upon the pigskins – someone must have gotten up his nose that day.
Joined by Hoodanger clarinetist Chris Tanner for the final set, a couple of tunes that involved lovely to-ing and fro-ing between sax and clarinet were “Dig”, and the profoundly beautiful “Lullaby of the Leaves”. As ever, a terrific night – and next Monday, the guest is Geoff Achison – a collaboration not to be missed.
And congratulations to Geoff Achison are in order. Recently at the Continental Café, he won an Australian Songwriters Award (jazz/blues section) for his song 'Comin' Ta Getcha' off the Gettin Evil CD. Apparently there were over 1000 entries up for nomination for all categories. All of Geoff's CD'S are now available online

Through Chaos Music at

Geoff’s Gig List follows:

Mon 11th Rainbow Hotel Fitzroy with Paul Williamson's Hammond Combo

Weds 13th, 20th, 27th Muddy Waters Cafe, solo (9521 1181)

Thurs 14th, 21st, 28th Vic Cafe, Arts Centre, solo

Sat 23rd St Andrews Hotel/ nite with souldiggers

Tues 26th Armadillo's- w/Justin Brady

Fri 29th St Andrews Hotel/ nite with Souldiggers

Sat 30th Wangaratta Jazz Festival

Sun 31st David Traeger Winery, Nagambie with Bob Sedergreen

Wed's 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th Muddy Waters Cafe, solo

Sat 6th St Andrews Hotel- solo arvo, nite with Souldiggers

Fri 12th Armadillos with Classically Blue Trio

Sat 13th St Andrews Hotel- arvo with Classically blue Trio, nite with Souldiggers

Sun 14th The Continental with Classically Blue and string quartet. Dinner and show bookings essential Ph. 9510 2788)

Thu 18th The Grace, with Dave Steele

Sat 20th St Andrews Hotel- arvo solo, nite with Souldiggers

Fri 26th Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, with Souldiggers.

NICKS WINE MERCHANTS - VINTAGE DIRECT EMAIL NEWSLETTER ISSUE No. 21 email: 10-12 Jackson Court East Doncaster Victoria 3109 Australia. Phone: 613 9848 1153 Fax: 613 9848 4422
Hermitage, a place in paradise, rootzone drying and 'rhone syrah culture' make for heaven on earth.

Region: McLaren Vale, South Australia.

The 1998 Hamilton Gumpr's Block Shiraz is made from 100 year old vines whose exceptional qualities are equally influenced by the tradition of the Rhone Valley and science. The debate is vigorous, if not academic, as to who planted the first syrah vines on the hillside of Hermitage. Some say it was Phocean Greeks, as early as 600BC, others say it was St Patrick, whilst the locals maintain that a priest, Brother Benedict had a vision on his death bed and was visited by a group of angelic vignerons, carrying grapes which instantaneously turned into wine - a vision from Paradise. There is more certainty of early viticulture in South Australia, with the first vines being introduced by John Barton in 1837, followed by plantings in 1838 by Richard Hamilton and John Reynell. Hamilton, it appears was interested in the tonic qualities of wine, rather than their commercial potential. Shiraz has found its finest expression in the Rhone Valley and South Australia. The wines being produced from McLaren Vale are so consistent and flavour filled that it is difficult to find better value for money. The cliche that a great wine is made in the vineyard is proving to be very true, as Australian scientists conduct research on improving quality. Irrigation used to be a dirty word in the 1960's and 1970's because more often than not it meant flooding the vineyards with water and consequently getting lots of shoot growth and big dilute bunches of grapes.
However, in the late 1990's all that has changed. Scientists observed that shoot vigour would be reduced and water efficiency improved if parts of a vine’s root zones were not supplied with water for a period. They developed a system called 'partial root zone drying' (PRD if you're in the trade!). Instead of the single drip irrigation tube, researchers used two tubes in parallel, one on each side of the vine. The drippers are turned on alternatively, thus allowing half the root zone to partially dry out and inducing stress on the vine. The up side is much better fruit quality, smaller berries and less leaves - what the scientists have done is to teach the vine to drink in moderation. The Richard Hamilton Gumpr's Block Shiraz has indeed drunk water in moderation, and the result is a wine of extraordinary quality and concentration. Not only were the grapes harvested in perfect condition, but during the winemaking a very unusual strain of yeast was used called the 'Rhone Syrah Culture'. This yeast has given the wine a very powerful earthy nose and palate that is comparable with the best of the Rhone Valleys Hermitage wine.
Tasting Notes: Monumental construction, in the tradition of the great McLaren Vale reds of the past. Superb opaque mauve crimson colour, which has an incredible cling to the glass. The nose displays a profound influence of the Rhone Syrah yeast culture, giving the wine a degree of earthiness not seen outside Hermitage. In part the aroma is reminiscent of the traditional farmyard smells that emerged from the Hunter and McLaren Vale wines in the 1970's, but it is more than that - it is a wonderful juxtaposition of ripe shiraz flavour and winemaker's influence. Rich ripe plum fruit, ripe raspberry, pepper and spice are interwoven with the flavour of earth, leather and game. The palate is mouthfilling and for a moment the earthiness overrides the fruit and entwines itself between the fine, firm persistent tannins. Perfect balance with exceptionally long, earthy, plum and liquorice aftertaste. Cellar 8-10 years. Stocks are limited.

$17.99 each or $210.00 per dozen

There is also still some 1998 Hamilton Lot 148 Merlot left in stock - $17.99 each or $203.88 per dozen


Region: Mt Barker & Margaret River, Western Australia.

Made from a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, the wine was matured in new Seguin Moreau Troncais French oak barriques for 24 months. Deep brick red colour. Superb nose with aromas of earth, blackcurrant, cedar and spice followed by a hint of violets. The palate structure is fairly tight, with the tannin and acid levels asserting themselves for the long haul. The palate has very distinct Bordeaux influence with flavours of earth, leather and cedar enhancing the blackcurrant fruit flavours. Whilst the tannins are on the firm side, they do, nonetheless remain in balance. Very long, cedar, leather and spice aftertaste. An excellent wine. Cellar 10-12 years.

$64.99 each or $768.00 per dozen


Region: McLaren Vale, South Australia.

The Dead Arm Shiraz has established a reputation for being able to deliver consistently concentrated wines. d'Arenbergs ability to make a virtue out of a potential disaster is to be applauded, however, we do not have their philosophy that wines with phomopsis (dead arm) are a natural part of vineyard life - however, that aside, this is a very impressive wine indeed.

Opaque crimson mauve colour. Aromas of vanilla, cedar, blackpepper, blackberry and plum followed by a hint of confectionary. The palate is mouthfilling with excellent concentration of flavour - which has been carefully integrated with new French and American oak. Intense flavours of spice, blackpepper and plum with a slight hint of 'tar', chocolate and liquorice filling the palate. Perfect balance, superfine tannins, with very long aftertaste of spice, chocolate, plum, blackberry and pepper - which lasts for minutes. Cellar 8-10 years.

$52.99 each or $624.00 per dozen

Region: Keyneton, South Australia.

The Mount Edelstone vineyard, meaning gemstone, was planted in the 1920's on the eastern slopes of the hill of the same name, located in Keyneton, high in the ranges east of the Barossa Valley. The Mount Edelstone wines are a model of consistency having received awards at National Wine Shows every year since 1956. After two drought years, the 1996 vintage saw a near perfect growing season which resulted in above average yields. The cooler conditions experienced during this vintage also allowed for a long, slow ripening period which resulted in very good flavour development in the grapes. Made from 100% old vine Shiraz grown in the Eden Valley wine region, the wine was matured in a combination of new and seasoned American and French oak for 18 months. Deep crimson mauve colour. Aromas of plum and stewed fruit with an earthy background and just a hint of leather. The palate is filled with ripe fruit flavours to which

complexity is added by earthy / leather overtones. Excellent weight and texture, fine silky tannins and long earthy leather finish. Cellar 5-8 years.

$52.99 each or $624.00 per dozen


Region: McLaren Vale, South Australia.

Another extraordinary vintage - in fact the 105th from this tiny 4 acre vineyard block. The 1997 vintage yielded only 8.78 tonnes, that's equivalent to 2.19 tonnes an acre and a guarantee that this wine will be an essay of concentrated flavour. Opaque crimson purple colour. There is a magnificence on the nose that is reminiscent of the 1971 Penfolds Grange - a tiny trace of volatility that lifts the fruit to a new aromatic height. Wonderful aromas of vanilla, spice, ripe blood plums, blackberries, liquorice and liquorice allsorts. A great whiff! The palate is everything that can be expected from grandfather vines that are cropped at a very low level. Super ripe concentrated flavours of blood plums, rich ripe blackberries and blackcurrants with doses of fresh liquorice and pronounced blackpepper in the background. Fine grained tannins, near perfect, with excellent balance and long lingering aftertaste of blackberries and spicy plums. The production in 1997 is about half that of previous vintages and thus stocks are extremely limited. Cellar 8-10 years.

$39.99 each or $456.00 per dozen


Region: Coonawarra, South Australia.

Notes sourced from Southcorp.

Whilst 1996 was one of the coldest growing seasons on record, the months leading up to vintage were very favourable. Warm ripening conditions produced grapes with good structure and balance. Cabernet fruit saw a higher bunch count than usual, compensating for erratic fruit set. "Our Cabernet this year has good, strong varietal character and is very rich in flavour," said Winemaker Greg Clayfleld.

Made from a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon the wine was matured in new American oak barrels and hogsheads for 16 months. Dark plum-red colour. The nose displays aromas of black pepper with classical mint-like Cabernet overtones and hints of vanillin oak. The palate is full bodied and displays a firm tannin structure but is in balance to the rich ripe intense Shiraz fruit. Long aftertaste and good concentration. This wine has the potential to rival the outstanding vintages of '86, '90 and '91 and is still quite tight in structure and will benefit from at least 5 years further cellaring. Winner of the 1999 Arthur Kellerman Trophy. 13.0% alcohol volume.

$34.99 each or $408.00 per dozen


Region: Coonawarra, South Australia.

Notes sourced from Southcorp.

Fruit for this individual vineyard wine is sourced from the 12 hectare St George Vineyard which was re-planted in 1969 with specially selected Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings taken from the oldest and best clones of Cabernet in the district.

In 1996 November and December proved to be the coldest months on record and from verasion onward, the summer months remained unusually cool. Fortunately, the grapes achieved sufficient ripeness and the Cabernet came in with a higher bunch count than usual. According to winemaker Greg Clayfield "Cabernet was without a doubt, the best performer in the Coonawarra for 1996,"

The wine was matured in new French oak hogsheads and barriques for 15 months. Dark purple-red colour. On the nose there are pronounced cedar and green-leaf Coonawarra Cabernet fruit characters. The palate has full-bodied concentrated varietal Cabernet flavours with very good structure, length and soft tannins from extended skin contact, which nicely compliment the spicy fruit. Will gain further complexity with 5-8 years cellaring. 13% alcohol volume.

$34.99 each or $408.00 per dozen

Region: Clare Valley, South Australia.

This is the sixth release of the Jim Barry McCrae Wood Shiraz. It is often referred to as a "little brother" to the Jim Barry's flagship wine, The Armagh Shiraz. It is a softer style than the Armagh and does not have the same cellaring potential, however, it still retains the rich intense flavours of Armagh grown fruit. Opaque crimson colour. Superb, lifted nose, perfumed, with aromas of violets, spice and confectionary followed by a ripe plum end note. Mouthfilling palate. Superb refined structure and flavours of chocolate, spice, plum, liquorice, vanilla and blackpepper finish. Excellent balance. Very fine tannins, followed by very long vanilla, spice and plum aftertaste. Cellar 8-10 years. An Outstanding wine.

$33.99 each or $399.00 per dozen


Region: Coonawarra, South Australia.

The Orlando St. Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon has been a consistent performer in the past and this is a very credible vintage. Very deep crimson colour. Aromas of ripe blackcurrant, spice, cedar, ripe plums and chocolate. Full bodied palate with flavours of blackcurrant, liquorice and toasted oak with a plum chocolate background. Fine grained tannins, excellent balance, followed by long spice, chocolate, liquorice, blackcurrant and cedar aftertaste. Cellar 5-8 years.

$29.99 each or $348.00 per dozen


Region: Barossa Valley, South Australia.

Initialising the name of the grape varieties is becoming a bit trendy, it all started with Rosemounts GSM, (Grenache Syrah Mouvedre) and now Elderton has jumped on the band wagon. CSM is Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot. This is a beautiful bottle of Barossa opulence made from a blend of 60% Cabernet, 30% Shiraz, 10% Merlot and matured in French and American oak for 18-24 months.

Deep crimson brick red colour. Lifted nose of mulberry and blackberry followed by plum, spice and cedar notes and finally a whiff of violets at the very end, and just when you think that's all the Merlot decides to make a last minute earthy contribution to the nose. Full bodied voluptuous fruit flavours with mouthfilling plum, liquorice, blackcurrant and cedar flavours. Fine grained tannins, excellent balance with a slightly firm finish and just a touch of 'tarriness' emerging, however, it does not detract from the totality of the wine. Long ripe, blackcurrant, plum, chocolate and liquorice aftertaste. Cellar 5-8 years.

$27.99 each $324.00 per dozen


Region: Avoca, Victoria.

A superb example from Blue Pyrenees. Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this unusual combination of grapes has proved to be a consistent performer for Blue Pyrenees. Deep crimson colour. The nose is refined, a touch restrained at first, but blossoms into aromatic bliss and is reminiscent of a basket of Summer berries, all blended together into a new harmonious whole. Behind the blackcurrant, blackberry, mulberry and raspberry fruit aromas lies a sophisticated use of new oak, providing coconut and cedar notes, followed by Bordeaux like violets. Concentrated, mouthfilling palate flavours, sophisticated with outstanding length and depth. Fine dry tannins, persistent whilst maintaining a superb balance with the fruit, yet retaining their assertive edge. Exceptionally long aftertaste of mixed berry, vanilla, spice and confectionary. Cellar 8-10 years.

$26.99 each or $312.00 per dozen


Region: Barossa Valley, South Australia.

This wine is named in honour of St. Hallett's winemaker, Stuart Blackwell who sources the best parcels of old vine Barossa Shiraz to produce this wine. The superb 1996 vintage conditions have resulted in a wine with greater weight and richness than has been the case with previous vintages. Deep crimson colour. Aromatic nose of aniseed, liquorice, spice with blackpepper and plum in the background. The palate is full bodied with flavours of vanilla oak, plum, spice and confectionary dominant, with a trace of blackpepper at the end. Fine grained tannins, followed by plum, liquorice, chocolate and spice aftertaste. Cellar 5-8 years.

$26.99 each or $312.00 per dozen


Region: Coonawarra, South Australia.

Balnaves of Coonawarra is a small family owned and operated winery whose focus is on the production of small parcels of high quality wine. The vines were planted in 1975, however, the first wines were not released under the Balnaves label until 1990. The 1997 Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon was made from Balnaves Old Morris vineyard and Walker blocks in Coonawarra. The wine received extended post (4 weeks) fermentation on skins prior to pressing, giving the wine its fine tannin structure. Opaque crimson colour. The nose displays aromas of cedar, blackcurrant, violet and toasted oak. Outstanding palate, mouthfilling flavours with superb concentrated fruit and excellent integration with new and one year old French Oak. Flavours of blackcurrant, cedar and chocolate explode in the mouth and whilst tightly knit the tannins are very fine and create a perfect balance with the component parts. Very long blackcurrant, cedar, liquorice and spice aftertaste. Cellar 8-10 years.

$29.99 each or $348.00 per dozen


Region: Coonawarra, South Australia.

The fruit for this wine came from 22 year old vines of the original Balnaves Shiraz block. Various fermentation techniques were employed to give the wine added complexity. Some parcels were hand plunged in small one tonne fermenters, whilst others were fermented in conventional vinomatic fermenters. The wine was matured for 14 months in American Hogsheads.

Opaque crimson mauve colour. Superb nose with aromas of vanilla, plum, violets, chocolate, blackberry and spice. Mouthfilling, generous ripe fruit flavours filled with blackberry, spice and chocolate. Excellent length and persistence, perfect balance, fine grained firmish tannins and very long chocolate, plum, liquorice and blackberry aftertaste. An excellent example of Coonawarra Shiraz.

$24.99 each or $288.00 per dozen

Region: Clare Valley, South Australia.

An excellent Annie's Lane and a return to form of the 1996 vintage after a disappointing 1997 vintage. As a result of the excellent vintage conditions in 1998 the fruit for this wine was picked at its optimal level of ripeness which has in turn resulted in a wine with a wonderful depth of flavour. The wine was matured in a combination of new and seasoned French and American oak for 12 months. The Cabernet Sauvignon for this blend was sourced from the Annie's Lane vineyard in Polish Hill as well as selected Clare Valley growers, while the merlot component came from the Quelltaler vineyard adjacent to the winery. Opaque crimson mauve colour. Delightful violets, blackcurrant and spice aromas - a great sniff. Mouthfilling liquorice, blackcurrant and spice flavours. Excellent length, fine grained tannins and perfect balance, followed by a long blackcurrant, spice, liquorice and mixed berry aftertaste. Cellar 5-8 years.

$13.99 each or $167.88 per dozen


Region: Clare Valley, South Australia.

The 1998 vintage in the Clare Valley was one of the best in the last decade producing wines of incredible intensity. David O'Leary is right on top of this vintage and has produced a wine that has strong parallels with the 1996. The wine was matured in a combination of new and seasoned American oak hogsheads for 18 months. Outstanding mauve purple colour. Magnificent nose of vanilla, spice, ripe blackberry, plum, liquorice and confectionary. The palate is mouthfilling, loads of flavour and superbly integrated with French and American oak. Liquorice, vanilla, confectionary, ripe crushed inky blackberry and blackpepper. Fine dry tannins, perfect balance and very long peppery, plum, blackberry aftertaste. Outstanding value. Cellar 3-5 years.

$13.99 each or $167.88 per dozen

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