Syd's love letter to Sylvaner

My friend Syd from Thick as Thieves in the Yarra Valley not only makes wonderful wines he also is super good at naming them? The Love Letter, is his current release King Valley Sylvaner it has a touch of Gewurztraminer marc ( the skins and seeds made into brandy). Super dry with great rich aromatics and fine texture on the palate. 

We are pouring this at Cakes and Ale and the moment feels right for this variety to start to make head ways onto the Australian market, it's a much more expressive grape than Pinot Gris with a whole lot more character and in this case a whole lot more "Love"?

Here is a link to Syd's website you can buy diirectly from him if you so desire just like we do.  

Beaujolais Piron

Last week after a long day at work I thought that I deserved a drink of something a little special over dinner. Luckily I have access to the restaurant cellar at Cakes and Ale as it was slightly later than most people eat dinner, so there was no option other than to snaffle a bottle off the shelf. I chose Domaine Piron "Chenas Quarts" a really wonderful expression of Village Beaujolais grown in the smallest of the appellations of this Burgundian region. 

Chenas is classified a Cru Beaujolais. There are 10 villages or areas in Beaujolais permitted to use their names on the label. Chenas is the while being the smallest cru has the structure for aging a decade or more in a great vintage. 

Ten years ago, Piron purchased a Chenas vineyard from the Lameloise family, owners of the renowned Burgundy three-star Michelin restaurant of the same name.

Piron added the word quartz, reflecting the significant amount of that mineral in the vineyard, the wine really lives up to its name and has a  wonderful stony mineral backbone highlighting the plush ripe raspberry and black cherry flavours with great savoury length. You can really tell this guy knows what he is doing might have something to do with his family owning vineyards in Beaujolais since 1590 (so hard to imagine really). 

Thanks Patrick Walsh from Cellarhand for importing this into Australia, Yummo!

Life is a Cabernet

Both Barossa Valley and Cabernet are words that instill a level of fear into me when asked to taste them. I have tried so many bad wines with both of these words on the label that I now have a reluctance to them. While Cabernet is one of the French "noble grape" varieties and when it is good it can be great (Link to an article about Cabernet production), so many wines made with this grape are unbalanced, green and thin. 

So when I was poured a glass of Kaelser 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon a week or so ago I was not very excited to say the least. But thanks Alex at pure wine for forcing it upon me, with gentle fine tannins softly cradling the ripe plummy dark fruit and a heady rich purfume engaging with you as you drink it, this wine is all it should be. 

Old Vine Chardonnay

Today we listed a wonderful Chardonnay from the appellation of Pouilly - Fuisse in the Macon region of Burgundy. It is from a combination of vineyard sites around the villages of Pouilly, Solutré and Fuissé.  There are no premier cru sites in this region of Burgundy, it is said that when the AOC was being drawn up no one applied to have any vineyards recognised as Premier Cru, this means that you really need to look at each individual wine and judge them on their own merits. 

The wine we have listed is Collvaray et Terrier 2011, our Dutch friend at Prancing Horse vineyard on the Peninsula is the importer of this wine.  I thought that this Chardonnay was really drinking well it has a great palate weight, nice fine structure and amazing length. We are pretty excited to find a Burgundian white which has some much charm and which we can sell for under $90 dollars. I feel that the character of the wine has a lot to do with it being  wine made from older vines "vieilles vignes", for those of you with French as bad as mine this is some thing to look out for on labels. 

Here is a link to the <vintage report for white burgundies for 2011> for those of you who wish to find out more about the year. (thanks to Decanter magazine) 

Here is a link to the tasting notes on the < producers site> ( I think that it is interesting that they do not talk about what vintage these notes are for..)

I love this chinese prancing horse .......

Australian Nebbiolo

Yesterday we recieved a new wine to add to the list, Quealy Nebbiolo 2012.

This wine is from a central Victorian vineyard in the Pyreneese mountain (read hills not alps) range. I have tried a few wines of this variety and vintage lately and feel that it may become a real presence on many wine list and bottle shop shelves over the coming little while. So I though I might write a little about this wine, grape and producer.


I really like what Kathleen has done with this wine, it has a lively bright palate with the famous purfume that this grape is so highly regarded for. The colour is bright and brick red and still very vibrant. Often when I am enjoying nebbiolo I am looking into a very different liquid in a glass, this is because the Italians love to create structure using oak to balance that wonderful fine acidity that the best vineyards and winemakers of Piemonte have in their wine. This oak really needs time to integrate into the wine and so the fruit colour has really dropped away by the time these wines are released.

She has used both Amphora and barrels when making this wine the Barolo DOC rules mean that the Italians can not use this method but I have tried a couple of Nebiolos from further north closer to the Swiss border that have also been fermented in concrete and remember that they seemed to have a similar supple fresh character to them.


Here is a link to Kathleens web page if you would like to find out more about her.

Here is a link to some of my favorite Barolo producers  (GAJA )page if you want to get your hand on some of these I suggest MW muesum store to buy wine that has been super cellared and is ready to enjoy now (once it has settled down after transport to your house 2 weeks or so I think is best)

movable wood sculptures by Astigiano artist Sergio Omedé, owned by the Gaja Family and in their Barolo winery

movable wood sculptures by Astigiano artist Sergio Omedé, owned by the Gaja Family and in their Barolo winery


Patrick Puize Terroir

We have just started listing at Cakes and Ale a new producer from Burgundy named Patrick Puize. This interesting winemaker is a French Canadian ex bar owner who decided to move to the heartland of French Chardonnay wine making, Chablis and start making wine.

I think that being a person whom has worked on the coal face of wine sales where he interacted with Joe Public on a daily basis in his bar serving customers drinks and seeing their reaction to the wine, has created a really interesting influence on Patrick Piuze. I find that even though his wines are most certainly complex, interesting and thought provoking, they are also approachable and therefore of interest to Joe Public with out heaps of wine knowledge because they make a damn fine drink.

Yesterday we opened a bottle of his terroir  ‘Terrior de Chichee’ 2012 vintage, this wine had such a wonderful fine acidity, soft green apple notes on the palate with a restrained bitter almond finish that just had the most amazing length. 

This wine is part of a series of different terroir based village wines from Maison Patrick Puize each made in a style to really showcase the individual charateristics of the vineyard sites.

Here is a link to the Puize web site, if you are in the restaurant game in australia Domaine Wine Shippers are the importers for these wine. We will try to keep a couple of these wines on the list so if you are in the Sorrento area come in to Cakes and Ale and have a bottle or two?

Above is some crazy good Burgundian furniture design, those annoying Frenchies can also craft things other than wine. 


Wimbleton Winter & Gin

The thing with the Wimbleton fever that hits us each year in Australia is that we are on the other side of the planet and therefore in the midst of winter ( I think that that is why the weather looks so damm good), which is a pity as I can never really muster up the right level of excitment about the most famous of all gin drinks the Pimms no 1. (the un-official lawn tennis drink) , In summer it is a different story, the Pimms flows out the door, we planted some borage last year so that we could make the drink in the real traditional sense with borage leaves and flowers, fruit, berries and not mint as is the way it is done in most bars these days.  

While it is not currently the most famous gin drink around, the Melbourne Gin Company is totally on the up and up these days, Andrew Marks who is the creator spent many many evenings in our last bar ( the panama dining room) testing all the gins we had on offer while playing pool, hopefully they helped not hindered the creative process.

I am a bit of a purist when it comes to gin cocktails and at the bar we love to serve up a dry martini with our home grown olives.

Here is a link to Andrews Twitter account ( get on board and buy some if you see it around, it is in Dan Murphy's now ). I think is the best Martini scence in any recent movie, is in the lamest of all food movies Julia and Julia, where Merryl Streep is making them by the jug full I really wish we could do that at Cakes and Ale but the law really would not approve I think. The images below are by an english artist  named Hogath and they are a early piece of political propaganda relating to a law restricting gin, here is a link to an articla about the paintings


All Gone

Today we sold the last bottle of the 2008 Moss Wood Pinot which we have had kicking around for a while. Delicious and quite a different kettle of fish to the Western Australian Pinot of the same vintage (this was their first east coast wine made on the Mornington Peninsula), I think that the fruit with its slower ripening was quite a bit more complex than the WA version, maybe thats why Mornington is all about pinot noir and the West is caught up in Cabernet, Slower ripening, later flowering and generally more difficult as a grape variety. Any way the final bottle of the 2008  vintage  makes our waiting for the new museum wines, that we have on the way quite exciting as they are almost all Pinot Noir, I am most excited about the 2005 Bindi.....

Any way here are some links about the Moss wood if you ever see it on a list I really recommend stumping up for

And a little link to Michael Dillion's web site if you are not familiar, he has a light touch with his winemaking and I really enjoy drinking his work , did not like stepping on bindis when i was growing up, I remember them filling the bottom of my thongs and  the crunching sound when walking over the concrete on the veranda at home when I was living in the sticks!

if you google " jean" "basquit" "wine" this is the image that you get....... Hmmmm I was thinking something else may have come up...



ladies love it, should you?

This is the first daily blog post about the wine we encounter in our restaurant.

I thought that I would write about our most popular wine currently on the wine list, strangely as it is the middle of winter this wine is white in colour and light in flavour, go figure? 

Do the punters not like a challenge or is this wine just super easy to have two glasses of?


We get some wonderful ripe pear characters and good texture but of course the nose is super restrained as is often the case with Pinot Gris.  

I have not seen many wines from this part of South Australia on the lists here in Victoria, which after tasting this wine seems a shame, the soils impart a wonderful minerality to this often bland flabby and grape variety. ( a friends father who grows some of the finest Shiraz in Australia calls Pinot Gris "Blancmange" ) This wine is streets ahead of many local Pinot Gris, and I feel like I might just have a second glass myself.

Here is a link to the growers site, and for all of you restaurant people out there that have access to wholesale wine buying get in touch with Libby Bentley at Bentley Wines here, she has some really excellent growers in her portfolio including these guys and Craiglee to name two.

Check out this post about pinot gris very interesting for those who want more details about the variety Thanks again to Jancis for your website & research.