Reviewed by
Jim McMahon

It’s not every day a French winemaker or should that be an Englishman comes to town plugging his wares, but recently I caught up with Martin Krajewski from Chateau de Sours in Bordeaux. Martin, a former City of London banker, divides his time between London and Bordeaux, where he owns and manages Chateaux de Sours. His winery sits atop a plateau just to the south-west of Libourne and Pomerol and faces St Emilion, all hallowed grounds in the wine world.

Chateau de Sours Reserve de Sours 2009 sparkling rosé was so nicely packaged it could have been mistaken for champagne. A vibrant violet rose colour with a fine persistent bead, the nose was quite expressive with aromatic black currant and raspberry flavours. Sipping the wine out of old champagne coups instead of tulips was quite something. The palate was very intense with mouth-watering acidity, the merlot and cabernet sauvignon fruits really giving the wine grip. The finish was dry and long with balanced acidity. It was a perfect summer afternoon and what a drink with which to start the tasting.

Chateau de Sours 2010 blanc is a mixture of 80 per cent sauvignon blanc and 20 per cent semillon. Pale green/lemon in colour, the nose offers restrained lime, pineapple and green apple flavours. The palate is as dry as a bone with citrus and vanilla spice more than evident. The French oak adds texture together with a rounded mouthfeel. It has a dry, crisp, acid finish and has a completely different style to what we’re used to here in Australia.

Chateau de Sours 2011 rosé is amber rose in colour with merlot grape being the dominant partner. The other classic red Bordeaux grape, cabernet franc, adds a touch of earthy spicy notes. The nose was vibrant and perfumed with raspberry and black currant flavours. The palate was dry with spicy rhubarb and raspberry flavours with mulberry/plummy notes also showing through. A refreshingly crisp, dry style rosé, I found it very appealing with my organic pork cutlet, caramelised apple, artichoke with tarragon and vinaigrette dressing.

The 2010 Chateau de Sours rouge is made up of three classic red Bordeaux grape varieties 85 per cent merlot, 10 per cent petit verdot and five per cent merlot. The wine displayed a deep crimson/purple colour with a magnificent pink hue. The bouquet was very expressive with a delicious array of vibrant red/dark berry fruits. The palate was soft and silky with velvety tannins combined with a richness and generosity of fruits, which were judicious. The wine displayed a very good mouthfeel and length. The acid/oak/tannin structure offered further complexity while this medium bodied wine finished dry and intense on a voluptuous finish.

The fact Martin came 12,000 miles to show off his wines tells you something about the man. I hope it was worth the effort for him as the wines, which all retail for around $28 a pop, were worth every cent and more.

Hunter Valley-based Hungerford Hill Vinefire 2012 chardonnay was named the Official Wine Partner of the 2013 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Pale straw in colour with a vibrant green tinge also showing through, the nose offers ripe melon and apricot flavours. The palate is crisp with the same ripe melon and apricot flavours together with a touch of peach coming through. The finish is dry and fruit-driven with firm acidity (rrp $15).

The grapes that go into making Berton Vineyards 2010 Reserve pinot noir come from Tasmania while Berton Vineyards is situated in the Riverina. Light, see-through purple with a lovely pink rim, the nose has a distinct aroma of coffee with wild raspberry and blackberry flavours. The palate is soft and flavoursome with spicy earthy notes together with cherry ripe flavours. The finish is dry, light to medium bodied with soft silky tannins. It’s a sit-up and take note style of wine with grapes selected from a premier region noted for this variety. It’s an excellent pinot and at the paltry price of $20, it’s a steal!

I was looking through my tasting notes recently and noticed that I don’t often review cabernet sauvignon, a style that perhaps over the years has waned a little. This style of wine is famed in both the Coonawarra and Margaret River, and in the case of the Berton Vineyards Reserve 2009 Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon, the grapes are taken from the famed Coonawarra region. Black inky purple in colour with a fading pink hue, the nose offers a myriad of dark berry fruits with some tobacco and hints of capsicum and cinnamon flavours. The palate is soft and fruity with cassis and plummy, rhubarb flavours in abundance. The oak is nicely integrated as are the tannins. The finish on this medium bodied wine is soft and long and fruit-driven (rrp $20).

The Yarra Valley-based Dominique Portet Fountaine 2012 sauvignon blanc is a “savvie” that’s a little left of centre. Personally, I’m not a fan of sauvignon blanc per se, but you do what you have to do when reviewing them and that is, review them without bias. This grape variety is “king pin” at the moment having enjoyed phenomenal success over the past five years. I say, each to their own. This wine displays a pale lemon colour with a green tinge. The nose is quite restrained, it’s neither in the tropical fruit spectrum or green grassy camp. It offers restrained limey, grapefruit flavours. The palate is as dry as a bone with melon, banana and vanilla flavours. The palate is nicely textured which leads me to think the wine could have had some oak treatment or lees stirring. It’s a pleasant wine all the same, and a completely different style of savvie with soft acids on the finish. I highly recommend the wine and could certainly drink more of it (rrp $22).

Dominique Portet hails from France and has made wine at both Taltarni and Clover Hill in Tasmania before settling in at his Yarra Valley property in 2000. Now retired as winemaker, his son Ben has taken over the winemaking role with his father Dominique looking after the marketing. In the past, I have had the pleasure of being taken through a private tutored tasting with Dominique. Here I offer you the Dominique Portet Fountaine 2011 shiraz/cabernet sauvignon/merlot. Deep purple in colour with a thin pink veil around the rim of the glass, the nose is expressive with dark berry fruits and cinnamon spice, together with a slight eucalypt herbaceous lift. The palate is dry, firm and intense with a myriad of fruits such as plum, black currant and red currant. The oak French, of course offers vanillin spice and adds body and texture to the wine. The finish is long and intense with silky dry tannins nicely interwoven (rrp $22).

Jim McMahon teaches hospitality at Sutherland TAFE.