2021 Eden Road The Long Road Chardonnay, Tumbarumba, New South Wales
There is a Latin saying, in vino veritas. In wine, there is truth. Of course in too much wine, there is ruin. Too little, and there is a riot. This is precisely what “International Stab Someone in the Back Day” advocates. Not heard of this day? Surprising. It is better known as the “Ides of March”. This day calls for wine that can balance on a knife edge, posing the questions without the slaying. Tumbarumba is a region that can do just that. Its cool climate, high sunshine hours, bright sunlight and cold Summer nights, combined with slow ripening, deliver wines that keenly balance flavours and piercing acidity.
The 2021 Eden Road The Long Road Chardonnay is from the Tumbarumba region in New South Wales. It is a light golden-coloured wine that reflects sunlight back to your eyes. The nose has aromas of white peach and cashews offset by taut grapefruit. The palate mixes the peach with oatmeal, cashews, ginger spice and subtle oak influences. Rounded creamy tannins walk on a sharp blade of saliva-inducing acidity to deliver a lingering and flavoursome finish.
2022 Pewsey Vale Riesling, Eden Valley, South Australia
Australia’s early economy was said to have ridden on the sheep’s back. John Macarthur is credited as the first to introduce the merino breed that led to the boom on the back of wool. What is less known is that in 1847, Riesling cuttings from his Camden Park farm on the outskirts of what is now Sydney were collected and planted in the Eden Valley in South Australia. Moving forward 100 plus years and one could say we are riding on the back of a bottle of Eden Valley Riesling as it is world class.
The 2022 Pewsey Vale Riesling is from the site where the original cuttings were planted way back in 1847 within the Eden Valley in South Australia. It is an almost clear colourless wine with a slight yellow green straw marking its presence in the glass. The nose is bright with citrus blossoms sitting deftly against the citrus zest, herbs and a talc-like minerality. The palate plays out the citrus flavours with lemon and lime in equal abundance. It is a lightly oily texture where the minerals evolve against the slinky acidity to deliver excellent persistence and mouthfeel, confirming we continue to ride on the back of our agricultural pursuits.
2021 Mac Forbes EB80 G-Train Grenache, Yarra Valley, Victoria
The evolution of the Grenache style away from a blockbuster, high octane jube driven palate continues to amaze. It may even be a revolution. These wines are highly perfumed, textural, tauter / leaner framed while retaining the raspberry and blackberry fruit that makes it such a delightful wine. They are reminiscent of a warmer climate Pinot Noir that suggests Grenache makers are perhaps frustrated Pinot Noir makers. A twist in this story is the growing of Grenache in cooler climate areas of Australia where Pinot Noir has been making its mark for some time. Perhaps I had it wrong all along and Pinot Noir makers are frustrated Grenache makers.
The 2021 Mac Forbes EB80 G-Train Grenache is part of his Experimental Batch of wines from the Yarra Valley in Victoria. This is a light crimson coloured wine, beautiful and glowing. The nose is highly aromatic with attractive spices, dark berries and the perfume you hope to see in a Grenache. Touches of thinly sliced fennel adds complexity and further attractiveness. The palate builds around the fennel, berries and spices with cherries and kirsch. The tannins are light and sandy, dancing and lingering oh so nicely. What an experiment, or is this a revolution in the making!
2021 Mac Forbes Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Victoria
What has the colour pink got to do with Pink Floyd? Nothing. Pink was in fact Pinkney Anderson, a blues guitarist who went by the name Pink. The Floyd part came from Floyd Council, another blues guitarist. A spur of the moment decision by Sid Barrett created The Pink Floyd Sound in 1964 to avoid confusion when two bands turned up at the same gig to perform under the same name, The Tea Set. The “Sound” part was quickly lost and so grew the legendary band that has been one of the most inspirational bands of the last century. Incidentally, it was estimated that at one point, 1 in 12 people owned a copy of Pink Floyd’s seminal album, The Dark Side of the Moon. This album turns 50 in 2023.
What has the colour pink got to do with the 2021 Mac Forbes Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley in Victoria? A lot, starting with the attractive simple pink label and capsule. Upon pouring, the colour presents as a delightful deeper variation of pink; perhaps you would call it light crimson. The nose is attractively perfumed with pink rose petals, rose water, lightly crushed raspberries, along with a little influence of cream and earth. The palate is light to medium bodied and is flavoursome and textural. Pink fruits, silky tannins, savoury and earthy notes leave a lingering sensation that makes me think Pink Forbes has a great ring to it.
2021 Cherubino Uovo Grenache, Frankland River, Western Australia
The phrase “afternoon delight” has over time become a reference to a dangerous liaison between two lovers when everything’s a little clearer in the light of day. This is all thanks to the Starland Vocal Band’s hit song of 1976, Afternoon Delight. A more recent version of the famous song was by Ron Burgundy, the legendary anchorman. This was his attempt to describe what love is, in a way that only Ron Burgundy could do. A recent experience now sees this phrase taking on a whole new meaning.
The 2021 Cherubino Uovo Grenache from Frankland River in Western Australia is a wine that has been crafted from an egg-shaped clay cement fermenter. The end result is a gorgeous crimson-coloured wine with a highly perfumed nose. Fresh red fruits, liquorice and stewed red fruits evoking wild thoughts in the early afternoon. The palate moves the experience along to another level. Shaved slices of raspberries mixed with a little cream and rhubarb offer some rusticity and shine against the emery board and talc-like tannins lingering into the evening. You could say that this is a textural delight, skyrockets in flight, afternoon delight.
“Would you like some fruit salad”? “No thanks, I already have some” as I sniff and swirl a glass of wine. Does a wine with four or more varieties count as fruit salad? Blending multiple varieties together is to build on the synergies, ensure the counter points don’t conflict and deliver a wine that is more interesting that its individual parts. The synergies will be flavours, texture and acid. Stuff these up and it will be somewhat akin to the juices left in the bowl after the fruit salad is finished.
The 2022 Tupelo from Stargazer in Tasmania is a blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gewurtztraminer grown in the Coal River area. It flashes brightly in a glass with its light green yellow hues. A highly aromatic and appealing nose with citrus, Turkish delight, a little bit of lychee, a nip of peach, a dash of guava and a pinch of spice. These flavours flowing effortless into the palate. It is delightful with a structure that brings you back for more; oily tannins, dancing acidity and flavours lovingly linger. This is my kind of fruit salad.
2022 Longview Macclesfield Grüner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
The recent elevation in grunting from the TV speakers marks the arrival of the tennis season to our shores. Why all this noise? Well, there is scientific evidence that proves the dynamic velocity and isometric force of both serves and forehand strokes increases with grunting. That extra bit of power on the ball may be the difference between a winning passing shot and an easily returned rally shot. Warning, do not be confused when someone with a glass of wine in their hand watching the tennis exclaims with glee “what a grunter!” No one really likes watching grunters, but many love tasting a Grüner Veltliner (aka grunter).
2022 Longview Macclesfield Grüner Veltliner is from the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. A bright pale green and yellow coloured wine that on the nose has a lovely briney note of crushed oyster shells, finger limes, floral rose water and apples; apples more on the Granny Smith side. Green olives adds a savoury component. The palate sings with the lime and apple fruits offset against a grassy herbaceous and savoury notes. The lightly oily tannins counter balance the acidity that delivers a superb passing forehand down the line for a winner. “What a great grunter!”
2019 Windows Estate Basket Pressed Petit Lot Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia
“One Day Like This” by Elbow, an English band, is a song that builds and lingers gloriously. Starting with piano and strings, the lyrics begin with thoughts of a dawning day. Ultimately it is a song that muses about falling in love crescendoing with a chorus that is uplifting, inspiring and reflective. Just one day like this can see you through a year or perhaps even for life. Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon can evoke such thoughts.
The 2019 Windows Estate Basket Pressed Petit Lot Cabernet Sauvignon is from Margaret River in Western Australia. In the glass it is vibrant with hues of reds and blacks that you have you drinking in the morning sun. It’s looking like a beautiful day. The nose has an array of aromas; I can only think it must be love. How could it not be with chocolate eclair like nuances mingling with blackberries, blueberries, fresh crisp snap beans and touches of bay leaves. It’s looking like a beautiful day. The palate left me stumbling over what to say. Holy cow I loved the chocolate and caramel, the dark berries, mocha and herbs. Throw those curtains wide as the powdery tannins and layering of flavours deliver an elegant wine that lingers gloriously. This is a beautiful day.
2019 SC Pannell Aglianico, McLaren Vale South Australia
Nebbiolo and Sangiovese are probably the two most oft Italian wine varieties mentioned in the Australian context. Others though are catching up. Aglianico is one and it is surprising to learn that, in Italy, it is considered the third greatest wine after the aforementioned Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. Its origins are a little mysterious; sometimes reported to have been brought across by Greeks, others suggest it is endemic to the volcanic soils of the Basilicata and Campania regions of southern Italy. Either way, its introduction to Australia is proving to be rewarding.
2019 SC Pannell Aglianico is grown on the ancient soils of the McLaren Vale region in South Australia. It is a deep bright red coloured wine that is highly appealing when swirled in the glass. The nose is intoxicatingly rustic with its mix of earth, leather, spices and dark fruits. Ironstone, cherries, almonds, baking spices waft above the glass having you think that this could be a cross between a cherry danish and an almond slice. On the palate, these aromas build as flavours moving through a backbone of bitter chocolate and minerals. The defining feature is the balance between the taut tannins and building acidity that play out the rusticity masterfully. All this suggests the vines are loving their new home.
2021 Coriole Sangiovese, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Sangiovese is a grape that has its origins in Tuscany, Italy, but it was not until the 18th century in this region that it would gain widespread attention. Coriole is one of the first Australian vineyards to give this grape a go and has vines dating back to a mere 1985. It could be argued that Coriole has had but a pittance of time to understand the nuances and vagaries of the Sangiovese vines established in McLaren Vale across some 30 odd vintages. This experience and ongoing releases says they are pretty happy with how this grape is performing and all the better for us.
The 2021 Coriole Sangiovese from McLaren Vale in South Australia is a deep red with magenta hues. Its nose displays cherries, earthy, savoury and herbal notes. There is also a touch of brambly red fruits that really compliments. On the palate, there is a Cherry Ripe-like flavour with an earthiness that plays delightfully against a backdrop of the gravelly tannins. The palate lingers longing suggesting there are many more vintages for us to to enjoy in the years to come.
The forbidden fruit can be many things. Your own forbidden fruit appears to depend upon your cultural leanings, educational curiosity and life experiences. Figs, apples, pears, pomegranates and grapes all get a mention. As an aside, it is highly amusing to discover that apple in Latin means apple, but when the same word is borrowed from the Greek, could also mean evil. A theological joke on us perhaps! And so we come to our Apple Isle where grapes are grown and fermented for our pleasure. The Forbidden Island has many temptations and Pinot Gris is just one that could be labelled as a forbidden fruit.
The 2021 Ghost Rock Pinot Gris is produced from a vineyard in northern Tasmania. It is a mostly clear wine that is lightly hued by a yellow pink and grey. The nose floods the senses with figs, pears and an intoxicating blend of honeydew and rockmelons. Crushed minerals and almonds add an enticement to the palate. The texture is lightly oily, yet grippy, which parts the seas allowing the flavours to be expressed elegantly and in abundance. This is forbidden fruit in a bottle.
2019 Bird in Hand Montepulciano, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
We first meet Zorii Bliss on the frozen planet Kijimi. Of course, her fame as a spice runner is well known. Her passion for Italian varietals, not as much. During her years running spices around the galaxies, she had been known to drop into the Adelaide Hills from time to time to stock up between gigs. It also helped soften her rage towards Poe Dameron for rejecting her all those years before. Zorii kept meticulous notes of her spice running missions and as it turns out, her wine musings.
The 2019 Bird in Hand Montepulciano was secured from a secret rendezvous to Adelaide Hills in South Australia, planet Earth. This wine is a dark crimson colour that opens up with dark fruits, earth and spices. There are some cherries, herbs and briary notes, mysterious and whimsical, a little like the early years with Poe (sigh). The palate brings these together with leather and lemon zest across a bed of spices and tannins that are almost Tatooine-like in their sandiness. A sharp acidity with flavours persisting, reminding me that I am not alone. This one is okay!
May the fourth be with you on this upcoming Star Wars Day.
2018 Mount Monument Pinot Noir, Macedon Ranges, Victoria
The most famous mamelon is a breast-shaped hillock in Sevastopol. It was made so during the Crimean War of 1853-1856 (a war that is reported to have been started over an argument about a key) due to its strategic location. A less famous mamelon was formed eons ago from an eruption of thick syrupy lava flowing through a vent in the bedrock of the Macedon Ranges. This site provides the strategic canvas for a vineyard with its 630 metres of elevation, volcanic soils and aspect.
The 2018 Mount Monument Pinot Noir from the Macedon Ranges in Victoria requires no key to open. Once poured it is quite a deep, crimson-coloured wine. It has a floral perfume to the nose with cherries, black olives and citrus peel dipped deftly in balsamic vinegar. The palate has those bold cherries on a backbone of sinewy silky tannins. Blueberries, black olives and savoury oak add complexity and provide a broad, fanning finish that would be a perfect accompaniment to celebrating the summit.
2021 Bird in Hand Sauvignon Blanc Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Cat’s pee can be detected at 50 paces and assails one’s nostrils with such force that no other odour is able to be perceived for days. Poorly made Sauvignon Blanc can do something similar. At its least offensive, it is flabby and insults the senses. At its worst, you get cat’s pee. At its best, however, Sauvignon Blanc can be exciting with its freshness and vibrant aromatics combined with crisp, crunchy acidity make it a truly attractive wine.
The 2021 Bird in Hand Sauvignon Blanc from Adelaide Hills in South Australia is a very pale straw colour that flashes brightly. The nose is highly fragrant with guava, white peach, gooseberry, passionfruit balanced by a touch of herbaceous cut grass and green bean nuance. The palate is all guava, gooseberries and citrus that combined are striking and intense. Against a tight texture, these flavours are balanced neatly by its crisp acidity, culminating in a finish that is far from flabby.
2018 Protero Capo Gumeracha Nebbiolo, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Adelaide Hills is a remarkable region as it seems to have pockets that mirror some of the world’s great wine growing regions. Altitude and valleys create a landscape of microclimates that play with the coolness across the dry ripening periods. Add a bit of fog during harvest and they are the sites that are perfect for Nebbiolo. Of course, this is the grape that is thought to have a name derived from ‘nebbia’, Italian for fog. And so, perhaps Adelaide Hills is a home away from home for the grape of Barolo in Italy.
The 2018 Protero Capo is a Nebbiolo from a single vineyard named Gumeracha in Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Its colour is a bright crimson that swirls proudly in the glass. The nose needs time for air to reveal its aromas; cherry fruits, earth, leather, spice, and a perfumed pot purri of rose petals sprinkled with desiccated cola. Oh, this is something special and this early conclusion was confirmed by the palate. The cherry, earth and spice flavours roll around in waves with coffee and sarsaparilla adding more complexity. The tannins are fine and firm and the acid crunchy aiding a long lingering finish. An aptly named wine as ‘Capo’ is Italian for boss!
2018 Frankland Estate Shiraz, Frankland River, Western Australia
Frankland River as a wine region is the one closest to a Mediterranean climate in the Antipodes. An inland area that experiences warm dry days and cooling nights. The soils are a blanket of gravel ironstone above the mattress of hills and river valleys. The beds divided by the rivers Frankland, Gordon, Kent and Tone provide the calming influence to the vineyards that sleep and thrive through the seasons.
The 2018 Frankland Estate Shiraz is from the Frankland River subregion of Great Southern in Western Australia. The colour awakens you immediately as it is poured; deep crimson with a bright purple hue. The nose is a caffeine hit to the senses with its distinct cool climate aromas including cherries, blackberries, black olives, cloves, herbs and a hint of chocolate that arouses further interest. The palate takes the cherries and blackberries to another level with some iodine, mineral and charcuterie. The fine velvety tannins are what lifts this wine to the next level as they wrap up the flavours and roll them gentle along on akin to the rivers flowing peacefully through the landscape.
2019 Ravensworth Hilltops Nebbiolo, Canberra District
The 15th of March is an auspicious day on our Gregorian calendar as it celebrates International Stab Someone In the Back Day, figuratively speaking. Harking back to less tolerant times, it is of course the Ides of March when Julius Caesar resigned to the smell of betrayal as the blade slipped all too easily between the ribs of his back. On this day, if you feel the urge, do what the modern day Romans would do and pour yourself a glass of wine.
The 2019 Ravensworth Nebbiolo is from a vineyard in the Hilltops region of New South Wales, not too far from the nation’s capital. The colour is a light crimson and flashes brightly along the edge of a blade. The nose is glorious with floral notes, rose water, red berries and hints of tomato relish dripping with savoury tarry nuances. The palate is keen with a balancing of lightness and power. Red fruits, tar, earth and savoury tones build in volume, splaying beautifully against the sharp tactile bed of tannins. Its persistence is alluring, calming and disarming; perfect for the day.
2020 Passing Clouds Pinot Noir, Macedon Ranges, Victoria
Growing grapes in cooler to marginal areas is tricky business. Let’s face it, agriculture is a tricky business where you can be confronted with frost during bud forming, managing light into the canopy to help with ripening and preventing disease in the canopy itself. Add into the equation the fickle Pinot Noir and it is tricky business indeed. The Geneva Double Curtain trellis system, or GDC, is a possible solution. They are a little higher than traditional systems so you gain a little more protection from frost. Secondly, it splits the canopy in two and trains it to fall downwards in the guise of two curtains. This automatically thins it to help increase light and airflow through the precious bunches as they form and ripen as well as preventing disease.
The 2020 Passing Clouds Pinot Noir is from a GDC trellised vineyard in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria. A bright, deep, crimson-coloured wine that immediately confirms this is not going to be tricky business to enjoy. The nose is spicy, charry and perfumed with a base of sour cherries. The palate is elegantly balanced that curtains cherries, cream and nuts on one side and silky, slightly chewy tannins on the other to draw a long fanning finish.
2019 Musk Lane Vineyard Nebula #2 Nebbiolo, Macedon Ranges, Victoria
The Carina Nebula is the largest of the nebulae that adorn our night skies and is visible only to residents of the Southern Hemisphere. A complex system with many features, it is amazing we do not hear more of its wonders. The Eta Carinae, Homunculous Nebula, Keyhole Nebula, Mystic Mountain and WR 25, which happens to be the Milky Way’s brightest star… And then there is the Defiant Finger. Yes, this is the system that gives the “finger” to all systems surrounding it and if you look very carefully you will find it adorning the label of a defiant Nebbiolo from Victoria.
The 2019 Musk Lane Vineyard Nebula #2 is a Nebbiolo sourced from a vineyard on the fringes of Bendigo and Macedon Ranges in Victoria, about 8,500 light years below the Carina Nebula. Of course the positioning is relative but the colour is not. A light crimson that is easily seen from both hemispheres of the glass bowl. Its aromas are far from nebulous; floral red fruits, leather, tar, nuts, earth and a hint of cola fill the atmosphere. The palate is light yet intense, with an interesting and appealing sappiness threading through the red fruits. The tannins, akin to fine sand, are firm and stand out proudly, giving the crunchy acidity the finger as it marches defiantly along the palate, lingering and fading in unison.
2008 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, South Australia
Cellaring a single bottle of wine has its risks and rewards. Tasting it in its optimum drinking window is the spiritual experience that you are aiming for. Keeping it too long and you will be disappointed. Conversely, drinking it too young and you are regretful. And so, here I was staring at an older vintage of wine and I called upon the angel number 389 to guide me. As my intention was to embark on a spiritual journey, I now had my angel’s full support with an impulse made known. I went for it with all my heart.
The 2008 Penfolds Bin 389 is a multi-regional blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz from South Australia. Upon opening and decanting, it showed a deep red cerise colour that retained brightness at its core. The nose was glorious and inviting; plums, Chinese five spice, dark berries and an enticing entwining of liquorice and cassis. The palate whispered and roared with rich, voluptuous blackberries, black currants and those spices, this time with a plummy complexity. The tannins are fine and lingering somewhere between emery board and velvet. The persistence is spiritual and I am thankful for my angel’s guidance and support. There is no regret.
The Grampians dominates the township of Halls Gap in western Victoria. An imposing ancient sandstone mass with Dreamtime stories calling out the fallen giants that carved out the mountains, escarpments and ravines that the area is known for. And it is this landscape that provides a buffer to the afternoon sun for vineyards nestled at its foothills on elevated blocks. These sites benefit from the warmth of the day which abates early for a longer cooler period for ripening. This is a good thing for us.
The 2019 Fallen Giants Shiraz is from a vineyard at the base of the Grampians National Park located within the Grampians wine region in Victoria. It is a deep dark purple in the glass and you can do nothing else other than like it right there. The nose is a sea spray of spice, plums, soy, herbs and violets; highly appealing. The palate has a cool climate thread through it with cherries, plums, blackberries, spices, pepper and a hint of mocha. The tannins are velvety and elegant supporting a remarkably long persistence of flavours. It summary, this is a very good thing for us.
2021 Granite Hills Riesling, Macedon Ranges, Victoria
Burke and Wills set out on their remarkable, yet tragic, journey from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria, facing their first challenge in the winter of 1860 when traversing the Macedon Ranges. This is a range that is dominated by granite outcrops that rise and fall 300 to 800 metres with icy chills to match. 1860 is also the year that some small vineyards were established. The industry, if you could call it that, waxed and waned until the depression of 1890 where it faded away. A revival occurred in 1971 with Riesling at the helm.
The 2021 Granite Hills Riesling is from a pioneering winery started by Gordon Knight in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria. It is almost clear with a light tinge of green in the glass. With swirling there is an immediate interest on the nose with guava, limes, passionfruit, grapefruit and minerals. The palate is more than a match, including some juicy lemons and an intensity of flavours that is aided by the zingy acidity. A long lingering textural finish affords you time to pay homage to pioneers of past and present.
2018 Oakridge Vineyard Series Henk Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Victoria
The colour of a wine is seen as a marker of its quality. It can be enhanced through the winemaking process with a number of options available. Ultimately it will come down to the quality of the grapes. When it comes to Pinot Noir, there is a saying that the colour is irrelevant. This fickle thin skinned grape is alluring with its perfume and enticing with the way the flavours bounce around in amongst silky tannins. The colour too can bounce around from a light to deeply coloured variation of red.
The 2018 Oakridge Vineyard Series Henk Pinot Noir is from a single vineyard in the Woori Yallock, a sub-region within the Yarra Valley. It is a gloriously cerise coloured wine that has a nose that is an enticing mix of a little perfumed, a little fruit and a little earth. When put together, it makes for a bewitching nose. The palate presents a beautiful array of cherries and cranberries that clashes marvellously with the earth and lightly savour oak. The tannins are silky. The persistence is captivating. The whole package is delightful.
Walking into a French patisserie is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It can be a dreamy experience, particularly where there is une tarte aux pommes involved. The lightly crusted pastry, the apple and glazing…need I say more. Imagine if you could turn this into a sparkling drink. How would you go about it? My approach was to puree the tart until it was a fine, free-flowing liquid and transferring it to a Soda Stream. From past experience I did this outside and the result was, well, an explosive emulsion covering the freshly rain-cleansed Camelias! The easier way is to start with grapes and follow the traditional method, or Methode Traditionelle, for the crafting of fine sparkling wines.
The 2017 Ghost Rock Vineyard Zoe is a Brut Rosé that is made using the traditional method from a Pinot Noir dominant sourced from vineyards in Northern Tasmania. The colour is a delightful salmon pink with an attractively alluring fine bead. The nose is quite floral with strawberries, red apples and crisp skin influence in amongst rose petals. Hints of dough and yeast wafting gently are reminiscent of freshly baked pastries. The palate is crisp and creamy, with red and green apples that builds from a core of strawberries. The pastry-like dough adds to the complexity and the crunchy acidity the balance. A lovely, persistent finish that was significantly more pleasing than my Methode Stupide.
Grenache from McLaren Vale like other areas of Australia has evolved over the years into something that is very different from where it started. Amazing to discover that Grenache accounts for only 6% of the annual crush of this amazing region. From bush or trellised vines, there is something that the growers and wine makers are doing now that we, the consumers, are loving. Picked a bit earlier with less sugar and vibrant acidity, add a little stalk for some whole bunch ferment, be gentle with the oak, leave it for a bit, put it in the bottle and stick a label on it. Sounds pretty simple really, but that is the trick.
The 2020 Ox Hardy Grenache from the McLaren Vale region of South Australia is a vibrant lightly coloured crimson that instantly appeals. The nose throws out dry spices, red fruits, bay leaves, rosemary and hints of earth as they are gently coaxed with swirling. The palate is deft and expressive with those spices and herbs along with hints of cola and sarsaparilla. Finely textured with emery board tannins, it delivers a long pleasing finish giving you time to ponder how good this 6% is.
2021 Rieslingfreak No. 4 Riesling, Eden Valley, South Australia
The word freak as a noun refers to a very unusual and unexpected event or situation. As a verb, freak is to behave or cause to behave in a wild and irrational way. Coming across a winery that is called Rieslingfreak does get you wondering. Is it because the wine being offered causes you to behave in a wild and irrational way due to a very unusual situation in response to the contents of the bottle? As it turns out, it is called Rieslingfreak as the winemaker is obsessed by all things Riesling.
The 2021 Rieslingfreak No. 4 is, unsurprisingly or unfreakishly, a Riesling that comes from the Eden Valley in South Australia. The colour is almost clear with just a pale green tinge on display. The nose is intensely aromatic with fresh citrus, mostly limes, and green apples with a delicate wafting of blossoms. The palate carries the intensity of the nose through. This is when you start to feel an overwhelming need to freak out as the crisp acidity clashes triumphantly against the lively, lightly oily texture with talc notes splicing through. You are left breathless as the flavours linger for what could be seen as an unusually or freakishly long time. What a freak!
2012 Yalumba Tri-Centenary Grenache, Barossa Valley, South Australia
One from the archives of 2018…I have been lucky enough to have met Kevin Glastonbury once. Often referred to as KG, he is a winemaker from the Yalumba team. I made the mistake of calling him Wayne and those around at the time burst out in mirth while my face became somewhat Grenache-coloured in embarrassment. Getting over this, we had a great discussion over Yalumba’s wonderful reds and in particular, KG’s approach to Grenache. KG left me with the impression that he was a frustrated Pinot Noir winemaker and issued strict instructions to seek out the Tri-CentenaryGrenache. It took me a couple of years, but better late than never.
The 2012 Yalumba Tri-Centenary Grenache from the Barossa Valley in South Australia is a bright garnet and purple-coloured wine that is made from bush vines dating back to 1889. The nose immediately appeals with its earthiness, spices, herbal and floral bouquet. Wonderfully alluring. Moving to the palate and you will feel compelled to make like a wolf by howling at a full moon. It is an impressively broad-flavoured palate supported by grainy tea-like tannins and red earthy fruits that have a degree of leanness to them. Liquorice and spices intertwine with touches of mocha, hints of coffee beans to name but a few elements that are present. Intense and elegant, it is amazingly complex and stunningly delicious. All must pay homage to those vines that have survived and straddle three centuries and to a winemaker who treats their precious fruits with the utmost respect. Onya Wayne…oops, Kevin!
2015 Dexter Pinot Noir, MorningtonPeninsula, Victoria
One from the archives of 2017…When I heard Dexter mentioned, I immediately thought of the mini-series of the same name. A character who is an expert in the reading of crimson hieroglyphs and perversely hungry for justice. You constantly wonder if he is a hero or monster? Is he authentic or socio-path? Either way, he is a conflicting character that challenges the senses. Pinot Noir too can challenge the sense in a heroic and perverse sort of way. Its colour can range from light to deep, but in the end is irrelevant. The nose and palate can be confrontingly light, and conflictingly big in flavour. In the end, this is irrelevant as either way, it is a hero in the glass that confounds the senses leaving you desiring more.
The 2015 Dexter Pinot Noir is from a single vineyard site in Mornington Peninsula in Victoria that is surrounded lightly rolling hills carpeted by gum trees. It is a lightly crimsoned coloured wine that flashes very brightly. The nose is of rose petals, cherries, pomegranates, dried herbs and savoury notes that include green olives. Touches of pencil shavings only heighten the yearning for a taste. A lighter ethereal feeling wine that dances deftly across the palate. The fruit is there, but the leading performers are the savoury flavours and tannins combing heroically leaving an elegantly fanning finish. Having now met Dexter the winemaker, it is clear that he is an expert who is authentically passionate about making good wine.
The location; a series of paddocks woven into a tapestry of rolling hills abutting the Bass Strait. A small single vineyard paddock within this quilt hugging a hill is planted to Pinot Noir. The weave of the vines endure, survive and thrive as the seasons pass. The soil and the interplay of the roots transports water and nutrients into a canopy that offers protection and vitality to the bunches as they form and ripen. The location; Oulton.
The 2020 Ghost Rock Oulton is a single vineyard Pinot Noir from a paddock just outside of Devonport in northern Tasmania. The colour is bright cerise with glints of rubies. The nose is all red fruits with cranberry and pomegranates standing tall amongst raspberries, strawberries and hints of cherries. Earthy tones, white pepper, smoky sap and savoury oak add complexity. The palate is an amalgam of the influences of the variety, the place and the winemaker. The deft hand of the maker is clear where the flavours of variety and place are not overshadowed on a soft silky texture. Crisp acidity drives its persistence giving you time to look around. The location; Oulton.
2019 Nocturne Cabernets, Margaret River, Western Australia
A nocturne has two meanings in relation to the arts. On one hand, it can refer to a short musical composition that is romantic in nature and evocative of the night, typically for the piano. The other references a picture of a night scene, romantic or otherwise. There is a third reference that is gaining notoriety and this one brings pleasure to a third dimension of our senses.
The 2019 Nocturne Cabernets from the Margaret River district of Western Australia is a hauntingly beautifully coloured wine with its deep purples, reds and blacks. It is best poured with a Chopin nocturne rising and falling in the background. The nose against an artist’s night scene, real or imaginary, presents cassis, herbs, and spices that lovingly tease the senses. The palate is not to be rushed. Once tasted, it crescendos the berry fruits with trills of bay leaves, dark mint chocolate and freshly slivered fennel. The firm tannins and acid provide the structural elements for a long lingering and sensory pleasing finish as the last notes of Chopin drift away into the night sky.
2020 Kalleske Greenock Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Greenock I recently discovered is a small village on the mouth of the Clyde River in Scotland. So small in fact that there is one road in and out. The road out of course sees very little use with most of the residents having never felt an urge to see what is yonder. If you are looking for it, you have to take care with its pronunciation for no one will know where you are referring to. Go with Grrreeeeen-noock. Grrreeeeen-noock of course is also a sub-region of the Barossa Valley that was once known as Little Scotland. I have begun to ponder how an Scottish emigrant from Grrreeeeen-nock arriving today would describe one of this region’s famous bottles of Shiraz. With apologies to the Kalleske Prussian heritage, here goes…
Th’ 2020 Kalleske Greenock shiraz frae th’ Greenock sub-region in Barossa strath in Sooth Australia. Stunningly deep crimson coloor ‘at draws ye in loch a black hole. th’ beak has th’ hallmark black fruits, spices wi’ coffee, mirk chocolate an’ tooch ay a savoory black oli’es. th’ palate heids towards th’ broodin’ wi’ th’ mirk fruits lurkin’ an’ risin’ in waves ay firm velvety tannins. th’ peaks ur spices, th’ trooghs ur savoory. th’ finish lingers glorioosly an’ wi’ wee doobt, Greenock shiraz shoods be pronoonced Kalleske!
For those who struggle with the accent, the translation…
The 2020 Kalleske Greenock Shiraz from the Greenock sub-region in Barossa Valley in South Australia. Stunningly deep crimson colour that draws you in like a black hole. The nose has the hallmark black fruits, spices with coffee, dark chocolate and touch of a savoury black olives. The palate heads towards the brooding with the dark fruits lurking and rising in waves of firm velvety tannins. The peaks are spices, the troughs are savoury. The finish lingers gloriously and with little doubt, Greenock Shiraz should be pronounced Kalleske!
2019 Yangarra Estate Old Vine Grenache, McLaren Vale, South Australia
International Grenache Day is celebrated on the 17th September each year and it is an opportunity to celebrate all that is good about Grenache. It can be lightly crushed for a rose, blended with Shiraz and Mataro to create a GSM or vinified on its own. On its own, Grenache can swing from light and ethereal to bold and voluptuous. Balance though is the key for whatever style is the winemaker’s whim. At the high price point, complexity, longevity and persistence are the keys. At the lower end, it is its drinkability. Across all, yumminess is a feature.
The 2019 Yangarra Estate Grenache from McLaren Vale in South Australia is at the in between price point presenting a bright red coloured wine. On the nose, it is highly perfumed with spices, earth and liquorice; lovely and attractive. The palate brings out the red fruits; raspberries and pomegranates mingling on liquorice and spices with an earthiness that is the backbone. The flavours float effortlessly on a fine bed of obvious sandy tannins delivering a finely tuned wine that appeals as a marvellous example of the Grenache grape.
2017 RockBare Grenache, McLaren Vale, South Australia
In the arts, a fine piece is one that is said to have light and shade. Simply put, light and shade can be a metaphor for things that evoke an emotional response. In wine, light and shade can be the colours as they are swirled, the aromas as they rise and the flavours and textures as they wax and wane in waves. Grenache can do all these things.
The 2017 RockBare Grenache from the McLaren Vale in South Australia is lightly crimsoned, sparking a raised eyebrow. The nose is awash with rose petals, raspberries, cherries and liquorice that rise and fall with the swirls of the glass. A hint of nuts adds complexity and intrigue. The palate brings little waves of flavours that surprise. It is deceptive with its lightness, where touches of raspberries, blackberries and earth mingle and build with savoury notes, cola and a dusty oak. Its texture is something to marvel at as a bed of emery board-like tannins clashes delicately against the crisp acidity, leaving you with an emotional response that is best described as a sense of awe.
2019 Tobin Estate Max Shiraz Block Two, Granite Belt, Queensland
If you come by someone who has a property in the Granite Belt area and innocently ask them what they grow, their response might be “granite”. It is an area where the parent material pokes out through the soil as mounds that can be anywhere from small to enormous. Finding a site for a vineyard becomes that little bit harder and then managing it within the constraints imposed by the climate gets a tad more challenging. Get it right, or perhaps having the conditions to get it right, and the granitic soils become a haven for cool climate wines that will more than please the senses.
The 2019 Tobin Estate Max Shiraz Block Two is from the Granite Belt region in Queensland. An at once vibrantly coloured wine that splashes bright dark reds around the glass. The nose is highly perfumed with plums and cherries transitioning to blueberries as the dominant fruit. Herbs of rosemary and bay leaf play with a quite spicy lift of white pepper, vanilla, fennel and cardamoms. On the palate, the blueberries and spices mingle easily within a tapestry of super fine tannins. A delightful mouthfeel is aided by the lively acidity. This and the persistence of flavours belies the efforts it has taken to get this to a glass.
Rating: 93 pts
Drink: Now; 3-10 yrs
Tasted: August 2021
Source: Sample from Tobin Estate. This is featured because it was delicious.
2019 Paradigm Hill Les cinq Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
When is a single vineyard wine not a single vineyard wine? Perhaps it is when it is only a row or two from within the vineyard. Many wineries are starting to appreciate the complexity of their vineyard particularly where there is a desire to present a sense of place. You buy a block, put a fence around it and plant rows of vines. The rules of the slopes and soils do not follow the rules of estates. Of course this observation is not new. The vineyards of Burgundy in France have spent a millennia working through this process. The strict keeping of records aided their seasonal observations and we thank the monks for starting us off down this path.
2019 Paradigm Hill Les cinq is from Pinot Noir grapes that were sourced from a couple of rows with a single vineyard site in theMornington Peninsula region of Victoria. It is a light crimson coloured that is at once pretty and teasing to the senses. The nose is shy at first but easily encouraged blooming perfumes, red fruits, cherries and delicate spice. An earthy savoury influence builds its class. The palate dances delicately and delightfully with raspberries and cherries. It is a silken texture that supports a crescendo of flavours yet retains an elegance that is quite superb. We pause to thank the grower and maker for their efforts to capture detailed observations across the seasons that selected these few rows.
2019 School House Headmaster Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia
A sheep station and a hotel were established to the north east of Penola in 1850 and both were but one of a few. Grape plantings followed soon after in 1861. With sheep and grapes there came jobs and with these, workers, and with workers, there came families. Families needed schooling and so in 1888, Comaum School became a small rural school on this sheep station to support this growing community. Today, this site is now a vineyard that teaches us the lessons of Coonawarra, the wine region.
The 2019 School House Headmaster Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra in South Australia is a brightly coloured crimson wine. The nose is at once varietal and regional; spicy cassis, touches of mint and herbs wafting above the glass. On the palate, there are blackberries that are dark, ripe and classy. The texture is firm with fine chalky tannins that creates an elegant and persistent palate. This glass is a class a lesson in Coonawarra Cabernet that is worth attending.
2018 Shaw + Smith Shiraz, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
National Shiraz Day is marked down as the 22nd of July and I hope you celebrated this day in style. This day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how Australian Shiraz has evolved in becoming the sheep’s back of the wine industry. It provided me with an opportunity to wonder if I taste and drink too much Shiraz…what better way to do this than over a glass of Shiraz.
The 2018 Shaw + Smith Shiraz is from the cooler climate area of Adelaide Hills in South Australia. Its dark garnet colour provides a mesmerising backdrop as I ponder if I taste and drink too much Shiraz. The aromas lift longingly from the glass; plums, cherries, blackberries, a little chocolate and herbs. A little soy and spices too, with time to pause and ponder if I taste and drink too much Shiraz. The flavours gently caress the palate with waves of blackberries and plums and cherries as cocoa, soy and herbs wax and wane. Its texture is velvety. Its persistence is remarkable, leaving me almost breathless with ample time to dismiss the thought that I taste and drink too much Shiraz.
2017 Garden of Earthly Delights (by Syrahmi) Nebbiolo, Heathcote, Victoria
The “Nebb Off” highlights are completed with a comparison of the fruits. As with all grapes, the flavours will be a function of place and season. The warmer the climate, the fuller and rounder the fruits will be. The cooler will be finer, perhaps more elegant. With Nebbiolo, you still get to see the tar, leather and earth, but you may also see variations around the red fruits and the spectrum they can splay before you.
The 2017 Garden of Earthly Delights Nebbiolo is from Heathcote in Victoria. A lightly coloured crimson wine as it splashes as alluring as the first apple offered to man. The nose has leather and earth entwined through a mix of sarsaparilla and cherries. Some oak deftly placed in the background. The palate has the tannins and acid pulling against each other yet appearing to act in union. The raspberry is less cola, yet highly appealing against the cherries and tar presenting a long lingering finish.
2018 Prōterō Gumeracha (by SC Pannell) Nebbiolo, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
The “Nebb Off” highlights continue where a comparison of tannins can be made. Nebbiolo tannins are inherently obvious and if mishandled, will dominate to deliver a chunky and chewy wine that will just not soften. Handled deftly, the tannins will balance the fruit and acid, giving you something to sip and marvel at.
The 2018 Prōterō Gumeracha (by SC Pannell) is a Nebbiolo from Adelaide Hills in South Australia. A light crimson-coloured wine leads into a nose that has tar and leather, delightfully contrasting the cherry fruits. Of course the tannins are firm, yet dance lightly across the palate where the acidity is the seesaw that teeters the cherries, cola and sarsaparilla. Lovely persistence that is a marvel.
2017 Mac Forbes EB40 Flaming Nebbiolo, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Ever heard of a “Nebb Off?” No? Let me explain. With the increased interest in Australian Nebbiolo, a “Nebb Off” is a flight of wines at a tasting that are, of course, Nebbiolo. A recent “Nebb Off” allowed for a comparison of Nebbiolo across three different regions. Needless to say, this was good fun with a highlight below.
The 2017 Mac Forbes EB40 Flaming Nebbiolo is from the Yarra Valley in Victoria and is a light cerise in colour. The nose of the Experimental Batch is perfumed, herbal with leather and earth. The palate sees the leather paired with tobacco, earth, and coffee beans on a tapestry of firm tannins, stitched together by crunchy acidity making it a “Nebb Off” standout.
2020 Spinifex Garçon Grenache, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Spinifex is a grass that is critical in holding back coastal foredunes from erosion in a harsh environment. It appears delicate, yet can withstand much of what mother nature can throw at it. It covers the surface of the dune and can be severely impacted by one storm, yet resilient enough to bounce back from the large swells that can pound the sand. Human pedestrian traffic though can cause irreparable damage, so best to tread carefully along the dunes. Spinifex is also the name of a winery that produces fine delicate wines from an environment that could be called harsh. They too are resilient, robust and tendered with care for us to marvel at.
The 2020 Spinifex Garçon Grenache is from the Barossa Valley in South Australia. It is a beautiful light crimson-coloured wine. The nose is perfumed of raspberry and spice with hints of graphite, earth and white and grey peppers. The palate is delicate, with red fruits including raspberries, red currants and pomegranates. Dry spices and white peppers float easily across the palate with fine emery board tannins that along with the flavours lap gently against the dunes for a long, peaceful and lingering finish.
2017 La Petite Mort Marsanne, Granite Belt, Queensland
La Petite Mort is the celebrated album by James, a British rock band. Incidentally, my favourite song from this group is Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) but that is another story. This album is influenced by the recent deaths of a family member and friend of the band. The lyrics of the album could be described as confronting, polarising, a conversation piece. La Petite Mort is also the name of a small batch winery that produces wines that could also be described as confronting, polarising, a conversation piece.
The 2017 La Petite Mort Marsanne is from the Granite Belt wine region in Queensland. It is a bright, light green tinged wine. The nose is a touch confronting with nashi pear, honey and lanolin. It may polarise some, but it moves into a conversation piece with the palate. Those nashi fruits shine with crunchy textural features mingling with some green fruit notes. A lovely, expressive wine where the melons, minerals and honey drive the persistence. Confronting, polarising, a conversation piece, and this makes me walk like you.
2019 Shadowfax Mondeuse Noir, Port Phillip, Victoria
Mt Blanc in France is the highest mountain in the Alps of Europe. In its shadows is the Savoie wine region of France. This is the home to the Mondeuse Noir (or Noire) grape that the Gaul’s claimed “ripens amongst the snow.” Then there is Werribee, located within the Port Phillip wine region it has one of Australia’s largest plantings of Mondeuse. It has been in Australia for over 100 years but you wouldn’t really have known. It has been seen more as a blending variety elevating the acid and colour. More recently, this grape is being showcased on its own to highlight its rustic and acid driven characteristics.
The 2019 Shadowfax Mondeuse Noir from the Port Phillip region in Victoria is a bright ruby purple coloured wine. The nose is instantly herbal followed by blackberries, spices, black olives as the savoury element and orange zest giving it a real appeal. The palate has the dark fruits and black olives coming through mingling with a somewhat sappy crunchiness to the tannins. The acidity brings it into balance and is better with a rustic plate of charcuterie and breads. This is not a wine for all, but is one of interest and worth trying.
2020 Giant Steps Wombat Creek Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Hello Possums! Dame Edna Everage is our beloved megastar who is like no other. Hailing from Moonee Ponds, our Dame’s life experiences are something to marvel at. Her love of gladioli and outfits, whilst teetering on the fine line of outlandish and stylish, pale in comparison to her personality and cutting insight. She is sorry, but she cares. I have heard rumours Gladysdale in the Yarra Valley is a spiritual retreat for our megastar housewife for it is close to Wombat Creek. Why, this is the highest vineyard in the Yarra Valley and produces some stunning wines that are fit for our megastar and ourselves.
The 2020 Giant Steps Wombat Creek Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley in Victoria wears a bright crimson colour with remarkable ease. The nose balances out Edna’s gladioli with its cherry perfume, red fruits that are tending toward pomegranates, earth and soft spices of the oak. It is a gentle creature on the palate with elegant splaying of the red and cherry fruits across a bed of red rose petals, savoury spices and cedary tones. The velvety texture counter balances the crisp acidity to deliver a beautiful fanning tail that leaves you aglow.
2016 Printhie Super Duper Chardonnay, Orange, New South Wales
The Orange wine region is located about 300km due West of Sydney. It is an elevated landscape that belies its altitude. Dominated by Mount Canobolis as there is nothing higher to the West. A cool climate region that is relatively new, yet producing some stunning wines with pure fruit and regional zing.
The 2016 Printhie Super Duper Chardonnay from Orange in New South Wales is a bright golden coloured wine. The nose appeals instantly with its peaches, cumquat and other citrus elements. There is oatmeal and honey with a touch of caramel. The palate has the citrus, nuts and white peaches. It is a complex palate with a creamy texture that provides its persistence. It is cool, it is elevated, it is zinging with deliciousness.
2019 Fighting Gully Road Sangiovese, Beechworth, Victoria
The making of wine is a process that clashes the technical with creativity and music can help meld the two together to deliver something delicious. I have recently wondered if you had a winery located in a former lunatic asylum, would you play Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on repeat? This seminal album begins with a heartbeat and takes the listener on an immersive experience through the various stages of life before ending with a heartbeat. The themes explored within the album would no doubt relate well to the vintage process as there will be ups and downs along the way. A glass of Sangiovese from Beechworth made in an abandoned lunatic asylum is perhaps a worthy accompaniment to this wonderfully thought provoking album.
*Heartbeat* The 2019 Fighting Gully Road Sangiovese from Beechworth in Victoria also contains a small amount of Colorino. Speak to me is what you will think of the dark crimson coloured wine in your glass as you raise it to your nose. Breathe (in the air) from the glass and cherries will appear on the run with a wow of raspberries, herbs and dried flowers. With time, there is a delicate and lively balsamic note that may metaphorically send you to the great gig in the sky. The palate though is where the money is; the cherries and balsamic will have you thinking us and them thoughts as the savoury thread, herbs and spices present as any colour you like. A little espresso may appear to give you brain damage as you start remembering games and daisy chains and laughs. It is without doubt the winemaker kept the loonies on the path as the gravelly tannins and crisp acidity drives its persistence that is this glass’s eclipse. I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon with a Fighting Gully Road Sangiovese. *Heartbeat*
2016 Castagna la Chiave Sangiovese, Beechworth, Victoria
Regions that have been put on the map by some wonderful examples of Shiraz are now being put back on the map, or their spot on the map is enlarged, with Italian varieties. Beechworth is one. A region founded on golden known for its cool climate Shiraz, you could say is now being re-pegged for Sangiovese. This region’s cool climate, a bit of elevation and dry Summers combining with the grape deliver flavours with sharp acidity that builds the wine.
The 2016 Castagna la Chiave Sangiovese from Beechworth in Victoria is a bright crimson coloured wine. The nose acts as a key opening with balsamic and leather moving through to cherries, blueberries, herbs and a little bit of tomato. On the palate, the entrance expands with espresso and cola notes mingling with plums, cherries and leather. These flavours are highly attractive on a mid weight palate, yet the golden nugget is its gravelly tannins complimenting the lively acidity that suggests this grape has a firm place in the region’s future.
2019 Singlefile Family Reserve Chardonnay, Great Southern, Western Australia
The Zephyr of Great Southern has struck again. This Mistress of the Winds plays with the steep hills and valleys of the region and the Great Southern Ocean to deliver moisture laden breezes that cool the winters and warm the dry summers. The vines grown on gravelly sandy loams benefit greatly to produce deeply flavoured grapes with crisp acidity. Chardonnay is a highlight of this region.
The 2019 Singlefile Family Reserve Chardonnay from the Denmark area of Great Southern in Western Australia is a bright, lightly golden-coloured wine. The nose is gloriously complex with freshly sliced peaches sprinkled with grapefruit on a bed of oatmeal and oak spice. On the palate, the grapefruit pith balances out the white peach and ginger spice with hints of savoury nuttiness. The creamy lees texture and its crisp acidity brings out an elegant and intensely flavoured lingering finish that leaves you thanking Zephyr for her favours.
Rating: 96 pts
Drink: Now; 3-10 yrs
Tasted: February 2021
Supplied by Singlefile as a guest panelist for their release. It was delicious and is thus highlighted.