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.
2019 L.A.S Vino TNT Touriga Nacional Tinta Cao, Margaret River, Western Australia
Wagner’s 1876 opera, Götterdämmerung, is the last of the four musical and theatrical masterpieces that are better know as the The Ring of the Nibelung or the Ring for short. This cycle tells the story of the killing of Siegfried by Hagen with a stab in the back. Of course, this is not the first time such a killing has occurred. Consider the infamous events of the 15th of March, known as the Ides of March. Nowadays, it is celebrated as International Stab Someone in the Back Day. Before you contemplate undertaking such an act, best to grab a red and ponder your options. TNT might be one of those options to help you to work it through.
The 2019 L.A.S Vino TNT Touriga Nacional Tinta Cao is from Margaret River in Western Australia. It is a bight purple coloured wine that is served from a squat little bottle that takes two hands to pour. This has a simple and attractive nose with blackberries, spice and, as the nursery rhyme goes, all things nice. The palate is one of bright dark fruits. It is full-flavoured with blueberries, blackberries, spices, nutmeg and cinnamon. A mouthfeel that is wrapped in fine powdery tannins that are balanced by dusty notes driving a lovely persistence that is worthy of sipping on while following the fourth cycle to its bloody conclusion.
2016 S.C. Pannell Nebbiolo, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
International Nebbiolo Day is celebrated on the 5th March. Barolo in Piedmont, Italy, is the original home. The Nebbiolo grape is now considered one of the 18 noble grapes, a term given to those varieties that are internationally recognisable. It’s original style is of a wine that is light in colour belying its power. High in tannins and acid, it is also highly aromatic and flavoured, and worthy of cellaring. Nebbiolo is also now making its name in Australia and Adelaide Hills is a region of note.
The 2016 SC Pannell Nebbiolo from Adelaide Hills in South Australia is a light red in colour with an intense brightness. A delicate perfumed nose of roses, leather, cherries and cranberries. Minerals, cedar and earthenware with a touch of gaminess add depth and complexity – this built with time in the glass. The palate is of cranberries and a touch of cherries entwined in soft aniseed flavoured leather. The tannins are grippy, akin to 240 sandpaper but in a good way. The acid is sharp and flavours are light, yet intense and complex. And the persistence is gloriously noble, worthy of celebrating on its namesake day.
2019 Mac Forbes EB57 Concrete Schoolyard Pinot Noir, Yarra Junction, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Mac Forbes’s approach to winemaking starts in the vineyard. As he states, “the vines are only as good as the soil they are anchored in.” And with this, he works with the constraints of the seasons. His EB – Experimental Batch – range is a place for play. The vinification of the EB57 uses a concrete fermenter and concrete for maturation over 11 months. No oak is used. What we get to see with great clarity is the soil being expressed through the grapes of that season.
The 2019 Mac Forbes EB57 Concrete Schoolyard Pinot Noir is from the Yarra Junction sub-region within Yarra Valley in Victoria. A delightful bright deep pink to pale ruby coloured wine. The nose is playful and highly perfumed with red fruits. It draws you in. The palate is an array of red fruits that builds on a bed of ethereal tannins. It is expressive, simple, complex and playful all at once.
International Syrah Day appears to have got lost this year. Celebrated on the 16th of February, it seems to have slipped most of us by. Perhaps it was the hangover of the romance of the 14th or was it Global Drink Wine Day on the 18th. Perhaps it was due to the relatively limited use of the term Syrah that is used to adorn the bottle of our choice? Better known Downunder as Shiraz, Syrah is in fact being observed more and more as the grape that formed the wine in the bottle on the shelf. It’s use is more an attempt to describe a style; cooler climate with French oak. In the end, it is a great demonstration of the versatility of the grape and this is what deserves to be celebrated on the 14th, 16th and 18th of February.
The 2019 Soumah Syrah from the Yarra Valley in Victoria is a bright dark cherry colour in the glass. On the nose, the perfumed spices of St Valentine hang over delightfully along with touches of vanilla, herbs, blueberries and cedar-like pencil shavings. On the palate, Cupid strikes with a mix of blueberries and chocolate. It has leafy herbs that mingle with soft velvety tannins, delivering a highly appealing texture and a lingering finish that is worthy of its namesake day or any other day for that matter.
2018 Mayford Tempranillo, Porepunkah, Alpine Valley, Victoria
A puppy whining in its youth for company can drive you spare. Without giving puppy raising guidance, they need to be left alone to cope by themselves. “Let it mature with you not in spite of you,” would appear to be the mantra. So to with Tempranillo. From its ancestral home in Rjorca in Spain, it has taken up residence in a small vineyard near Porepunkah in Victoria. Here it is thriving in a landscape that is dominated by Mt Buffalo and the tempering katabatic winds.
The 2018 Mayford Tempranillo from Porepunkah which sits within the Alpine Valley region of Victoria, is a deep crimson and garnet coloured wine. The nose is highly appealing with the red fruits, cherries and figs. The palate is built on a bed of gravelly tannins that are firm and grippy, yet elegant at the same time. Red fruits, sarsaparilla and cherries excite with their youthful zest and persistence that confirm it is delightful now, while screaming for more time in the bottle. It may even whine quietly in your cellar. Be firm. Leave it alone to cope with itself and you will be rewarded.
2016 Yagarra Estate Ovitelli Grenache, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Counting crows is a pastime oft spent during the long dry Summer months. They argk and squawk as only they can awaiting a carcass to appear. Counting Crows is also an alternative rock music group from California. In “Mrs Potter’s Lullaby” they poetically proposition, “if dreams are like movies, then memories are films about ghosts.” I suspect they were sipping on a glass of Yangarra Grenache at the time as it can put you into a euphoric trance that is somewhere between a dream and a memory.
The 2016 Yangarra Estate Ovitelli is a Grenache from McLaren Vale in South Australia. Fermented in large ceramic eggs, the end result is a wine that is gloriously bright light crimson coloured as it is swirled around in the glass. The nose is highly perfumed with red fruits, spices and sarsaparilla. The intensity draws you in. The palate upon sipping weaves its magic with fine textural layers intertwining the red berries and spices. Ghosts come and go as the length and flavours rise and fall in waves and persist almost beyond what is real. As you sit back in amazement, you may find yourself quoting poetry as you count the crows.
2018 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, South Australia
The greatest wines are out of the reach of most of us. They are wines that fill your dreams. Their costs far exceed your bank balances, or the consequences of an extravagant spend far exceed the perceived benefit to the palate experience. Then there are wines that you look at and um and ah over. Their price is up there, but not stratospheric. Their reputation is right up there too, but not at the head of the peloton. You may have had it years ago and thought it was pretty special and it would be nice to see it again. It may have filled a day dream, but not a night of dreams and that is absolutely okay. Penfolds Bin 389 is one of those and a benchmark of the great Aussie blend.
The 2018 Penfolds Bin 389 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz from the benchmark regions in South Australia. Its colour is a vibrant display of ruby reds and purples that leaves you marvelling. The nose is intensely youthful like the colour. An abundance of liquorice spices, blackberries, blueberries and red fruits galore. There is an ever so subtle oak with crushed nuts, Chinese five spices and an essence of Peking duck. The palate presents flavours that are intense and mouthfilling. Red, black and blue fruits play out on a bed of velvety and emery board like tannins. It is juxtaposition between the raw and the integrated. It is imposing and approachable. It is rewardingly persistent transgressing your day dream to a marvellous shared experience.
Non-Vintage Sparkling Shiraz, Turkey Flat, Barossa Valley, South Australia
A BBQ is an Australian institution. Snags, salad and steak on a paper plate, all to be eaten with one hand and an implement. But which implement is best? What do you really need? A fork, a spoon or a knife? A splayd of course! Combining a fork, knife and spoon, this is the ultimate Australian invention that will see you get through the BBQ with aplomb. Of course, the other Australian invention you need to sip along with is Sparkling Shiraz.
The Non-Vintage Turkey Flat Sparkling Shiraz is from the Barossa Valley in South Australia. It is an almost violently vibrant, deep magenta coloured wine that is all the more remarkable for the very fine bead. The nose is rich and luscious with plums, blue berry fruits, spices and chocolate shining through. A bit of Christmas cake too. The palate has a luscious array of dark berry flavours and plums that fill the palate to overflowing. Dark chocolate, espresso, spices and glazed fruits are presented on a super fine bead that is complimented by light sandy tannins. This is a complex and lingering sparkling wine that stands magnificently next to a splayd as one of the great Aussie inventions.
2017 Simonnet-Febvre Cesar Coteaux Bourguignons, Burgundy, France
Asterix and Obelix stories tell the tale of the Julius Caesar’s Romans and their fateful interactions with the Gauls in the territories that are now France. Of course Getafix, the Druid, has access to a magic potion that keeps the Gauls and Romans in a semi-conflicted peace. The potion remains a secret, but I suspect it was a blend of Pinot Noir and Argant. An ancient variety, once thought to be introduced to France by Caesar, it was called Cesar. It’s home is in the north of the Burgundy region.
The 2017 Simonnet-Febvre Cesar is from the Coteaux Bourguignons sub-region of Burgundy in France. The colour is a very bright crimson and flashes as a potion drawing you in. The nose is an elixir of cedar, cherries, secret herbs and raspberries. The palate is driven by the herbs with raspberries and cherries. Robust rustic tannins provide the bed for length. The sharp acidity cries out for food and extends it out. Perhaps best served with wild boar to keep the peace.
2020 Dormilona Yokel Trebbiano Pet Nat, Swan Valley, Western Australia
Trebbiano is thought to have originated in Italy and during Roman times, made its way to France. Today it is one of the most widely grown varieties in the world, but will mostly be seen in balsamic vinegars and some fortifieds. It was introduced into Australia in 1832 by James Busby. From there it made its way to other regions including the Swan Valley in Western Australia. Naturally high in acidity, it is no surprise that it pairs well with hard cheeses and Italian dishes. As a Petillant Naturel, its little bit of fizz adds just a bit more excitement.
The 2020 Dormilona Yokel Trebbiano Petillant Naturel, or Pet Nat for short, is from a site in the Swan Valley of Western Australia. Poured from a clear bottle, you experience a Springtime sunset in a glass; hues of yellow and orange that excite. Add in sprinkles of a fine bead of the Pet Nat and your interest goes up a notch. An appealing nose with pears, apples, lemons and a touch of mandarin rind. The palate displays the fine bead as a light fizz, deftly swirling the flavours of peach, pear and green apples. A refreshing crispness from the acidity aides to the relaxation as the sun sets below the horizon. Time tough for another glass as twilight lingers some moments more.
2018 Coldstream Hills Merlot, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Miles is the somewhat hard to love character from Sideways, a movie that almost killed the sales of Merlot. He had some self esteem issues; best summed up when he remarked, “half my life is over and I have nothing to show for it. Nothing. I’m a thumbprint on the window of a skyscraper. I’m a smudge of excrement on a tissue surging out to sea with a million tons of raw sewage.” Ironically, his favourite wine was not allowed to be used in the movie, a Chateau Petrus Pomerol. A Merlot. With International Merlot Day on November 7, it is worth reflecting how good this grape can be.
The 2018 Coldstream Hills Merlot is from the Yarra Valley in Victoria. It is a dark red coloured wine with a bright, lively edge. The nose is of tobacco and herbs; sage and bay leaves providing the frills to the red fruits. The palate is a perfect match to the nose with some cool elegance and slightly sandy tannins. Tightly structured around plums and briary fruits, with chocolate through the middle, gives it volume that finishes with cedar notes. This is very youthful and needs time, providing you with more than a smudge of excitement in a glass.
2017 Paradigm Hill les Cinq Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
“Il fait la queue du paon.” What the? If you use your favourite translator it comes out as something like “he faith the peacock tail”. Again, what the? Apply this to wine and Pinot Noir in particular, swirl the glass, sniff, take a sip and swizzle this marvellous liquid in your mouth and suddenly it all makes sense. Of course, it is all about the flavour profile through the palate that fans like a peacock’s tail as it struts around the garden.
The 2017 Paradigm Hill les Cinq is a small section of a single vineyard plot of Pinot Noir in the Mornington Peninsula region of Victoria. The colour is bright splay of crimsons as it is swirled in the glass. The nose is an array of beautiful red fruits and savoury and earthy elements. It is perfumed and lifted delivering more and more with time in the glass. On the palate there is an abundance of raspberries, strawberries and pomegranates. Some spices, nuts and savoury notes add complexity that excites and the silky texture fans alluring leaving you to remark “il fait la queue du paon.”
2019 Coldstream Hills Deer FarmVineyard Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley
November 29 is World Ballet Day and at first glance you might think there is not much in common between this artistic pursuit and wine. Take the Arabian scene from The Nutcracker. Dancers with excellent training are the fruit. The music and lighting is the textural backdrop of the oak and an expert choreographer is the winemaker putting all the parts together for us to enjoy. Get any of the elements out of balance and you end up disappointed or at worst, falling asleep with the wine spilling down your shirt front and onto the couch.
The 2019 Coldstream Hills Deer Farm Vineyard Pinot Noir is a single vineyard site from the Yarra Valley in Victoria. The lighting backdrop splays a lovely crimson across the stage as the dancers enter. The music starts with the aromas moving alluringly above the glass; perfumed rose petals, sour cherries, cranberries, and raspberry red fruits pirouette expertly into fouettés with a sprinkling of cedar and spice. As the mood deepens, the cherries, cranberries and briary fruits port-de-bras in unison. The smokiness and oak spices grand jeté over the tight acidity and silken tannins, performing a seamless manège sequence delivering a finish that is worthy of a standing ovation. Encore!
Non Vintage House of Arras Brut Elite Cuvée No. 1501 Methode Traditionelle, Tasmania
October 19 is Champagne Day. What a great day to recognise the euphoric elixir that is a sparkling white or pink shaded wine. This day ignores the fact that the English invented the Methode Traditionelle of which, yes the French perfected. It also ignores all the wines around the world, particularly those of Tasmania, that are made using Methode Traditionelle. So, I am starting a campaign to change Champagne Day to become Methode Traditionelle Day. Use #MethodeTraditionelleDay to show your support.
The Non Vintage Arras Brut Elite Cuvée No. 1501 Methode Traditionelle is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a splash of Pinot Meunière from vineyards in Northern Tasmania. It is a beautiful deep yellow straw with a fine persistent bead that is a hallmark of Methode Traditionelle. The nose is complex with perfume of white flowers and rose petals including intense flavours of stone fruits, peach in particular. The palate has a beautiful flavour profile and mouthfeel showcasing the peach with just a hint of apricots, red berries, nougat and brioche. The bead and acidity is glorious and a perfect Methode Traditionelle to be celebrated on #MethodeTraditionelleDay.
2018 Duke’s Magpie Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Porongurup, Western Australia
Frost is a killer of crops and farming ingenuity can help manage this exposure. The best though, is a site that has a natural buffer, and the sub-region of Porongurup in the Great Southern wine region of Western Australia is one. Firstly, the Great Southern area is influenced by the Indian Ocean to the west and the Southern Ocean to the south and east. Sea breezes can work their way inland to provide cooling relief in the Spring and Summer ripening months and warming influences in early Spring. The Porongurup area is towards the eastern boundary sitting above Albany and beside Mt Barker. Granite knobs and eucalypt forests dominate a sloping landscape. With vineyards located on the slopes, a naturally created thermal blanket reduces the risk of frost as the warm air slides down pushing the cold air down.
The 2018 Duke’s Magpie Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is from the sub-region of Great Southern’s Porongurup in Western Australia. The colour is a lively and vibrant amalgam of dark dark reds and purples. On the nose, cassis shines brightly with herbs of sage and bay leaf. Touches of capsicum and hints of snap beans are complimented by a light seasoning of cedary oak. The palate is classy and elegant with intense cassis, supported by mulberries and forest floor berries. The herbs are subtle, the dark chocolate is glorious and the cedary oak is restrained deliciously on a bed of firm powdery tannins. This has some time ahead of it if you are game.
2017 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia
Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar was first published in 1969. A simple story, of 22 pages, tells a tale of a caterpillar that is hungry, very hungry. Working his way through an apple on Monday, two pears on Tuesday, three plums on Wednesday, four strawberries on Thursday and five oranges on Friday. “But he was still hungry.” Do you remember it now? He gets a stomach arch on Sunday after a self indulgent Saturday. What is not well know is that the editor in chief rejected two pages that feature the caterpillar sipping upon a glass of Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany the leaf that was consumed on Sunday where he felt much better. Here is an early draft of the two pages minus the illustration.
In the light of the setting sun, the hungry caterpillar raised a glass of 2017 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coonawarra district in South Australia. It was a dark glorious red colour with bright purple hues flashing before his multifaceted eyes. Raising the glass to his nose, he noticed one piece of cassis, two bay leaves, three bushels of tobacco and four blueberries. With a sip, he tasted five crumbs of dark chocolate, six rolled leaves of tobacco and seven bunches of herbs. The tannins were too numerous for him to count with a fine firm sandy mouthfeel. The palate was an elegant and expressive counterbalance to the leaf and he felt much better.
2019 Kalleske Old Vine Grenache, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Captain Jack Sparrow is a fictional character from the Pirates of the Caribbean series of movies. He meanders his way through the movies in a way that affects all. He is a trickster who appears drunken. He uses wit and deceit to end disputes and he is shrewd, calculating and eccentric to say the least. Whilst a pirate may lean towards rum, I reckon Jack Sparrow is a lover of Grenache for this is a grape that has meandered its way through time having arrived in our land in 1832. How would he describe a Grenache? Of course, he would have outwitted the owner out of a world class bottle.
This is the 2019 Kalleske Old Vine Grenache from vines planted in 1935 on the Kalleske farm located in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. It reminds you that not all gold and silver is treasure, mate. Now bring me this horizon with a nose that is perfumed with red fruits and liquorice. Oh all these beautiful mermaids, the seasoning of vanilla, spices and coriander root mingles with juniper berries make you raise your fist in the air and calling out ‘arr!’ On the palate, methinks this is a blend of liquorice, red fruits, sarsaparilla and rhubarb. The tannins are emery board like dancing lightly with touches of cedar. Arr, the flavours build, reminding you that if you choose to lock your heart away you’ll lose it for certain. With this in my veins, my spirit will live on.
2019 Kalleske Greenock Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Perforce is a word not oft used. A shame, as it is an elegant word that just by saying it, you understand its intent in expressing a necessity or even the inevitable. It might even mean a glass of Kalleske. Year in year out, the team team works tirelessly for us to enjoy the outcomes of their work in the vineyard and the winery. Tasting their eighteenth release of the Greenock Shiraz is an experience that leaves you thinking you, perforce, I need some more.
The 2019 Kalleske Greenock Shiraz is from a single vineyard site in Greenock, a sub-district of the Barossa valley in South Australia. It is a deep and bright purple red which, perforce, is instantly appealing. The nose is youthfully tight and complex with an abundance of plums, dark berries, coffee beans, spices and a hint of nuts that, perforce, awakens the senses. The palate is vibrant with sweet black fruits and spices. The plums are glorious. The coffee is expressive and the dark chocolate mouth coating. Charcuterie is there too, interwoven with firm velvety tannins sustaining the flavours for an extended time. It is robust and elegant in one, perforce, you will desire a second glass.
2018 Yangarra King’s Wood Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
One of the tales of the Game of Thrones that is yet to be told is that of the bastard of Robert Baratheon who was conceived in the King’s Wood. Ironically of course, our Robert was killed by a boar whilst hunting for white hart in this very wood. Back to our bastard; Edward was his name. A long line of Edwards ensued with one emigrating to Australia where he was affectionately referred to as Ted. He developed a deep understanding of the King’s Wood and an obsession for the Holden Kingswood. According to Westerosi law, the surname given to the bastards of the King’s Wood was Bullpit.
The 2018 Yangarra King’s Wood Shiraz from McLaren Vale in South Australia is a deep dark black red in colour that would match the velour seating of the prestige Kingswood. The nose is highly aromatic with earthy savoury tones meeting sweet black fruits, hints of walnuts and sprinkles of vanilla and cedar oak influences. The palate is highly concentrated with those sweet intensely flavoured black fruits and spices dangling with elegance. Cedar, nuts and earthy notes entwine with sandy tannins to deliver a palate experience that would see Ted crying out something like “what a bloody King’s Wood”!
2018 Ravensworth Shiraz Viognier, Murrumbateman, New South Wales
Cote-Rotie is a sub-region in the northern area of Cote du Rhone. This region thrives on a continental climate that is famous for its blend of Shiraz, a red grape, and Viognier, a white grape. A cool climate region that experiences cool to cold wet winters, the best vineyards are located on steep sloping sites. Murrumbateman is a sub-region within the Canberra district that experiences cold winters that are intermittently wet. It is about 150km from the coast so marginally continental, with slopes abutting the Southern Tablelands that are renowned for sheep production. The Shiraz Viognier is taking hold in this region with some fine examples for us to share.
The 2018 Ravensworth is a blend of Shiraz and Viognier from the Murrumbateman sub-region of the Canberra district. The colour is an amazingly bright crimson that draws you in. The nose is all about spices, peppers, blackberries, apricots and hints of nuts and nougat. The palate is all about the coolness and elegance of the red fruits, raspberry being the highlight, and cherries. The spices are lifted and the tannins are velvety. The flavours are akin to waves, perhaps of the sloping land in which it was crafted. The persistence is glorious and the structure delightful. Grab some while you can.
2019 Tonic Grenache, Clare Valley / McLaren Vale, South Australia
Tonic can be defined in its adjectival form as “giving a feeling of vigour and well-being.” As a noun, tonic is defined as “a medicinal substance taken to give a feeling of vigour or well-being.” Calling a winery Tonic therefore comes with some serious strings attached. Either you are a giver or a medicinal substance. There can be no in between. With Grenache, this is even truer.
The 2019 Tonic Grenache is a blend of Clare Valley and McLaren Vale in South Australia. It is a crimson coloured wine with swirls of brightness. The nose is highly perfumed with red fruits, aniseed (or was that fennel), marzipan and nougat like aromas. The palate sees the red fruits, herbs and spice with touches of plums come shining through instilling a sense of well-being. The tannins are fine and sandy driving a persistence that becomes a catalyst that gives you an understanding as to why this winery is called Tonic. This Grenache from Tonic is a tonic to beat all tonics.
Captain Spotswood was granted land in 1831 as a retired army office and thus became the area’s first settler. This land became known as Bangor in Tasmania. His house was regarded as a respectable building, sited perfectly for the views of Norfolk Bay. During his toiling, the Captain regarded the land as third rate, best suited to wheat, turnips and potatoes. Today, this site is now planted to Pinot Noir. With International Pinot Noir Day approaching on 18 August 2020, you have time to sail to Norfolk Bay and grab a Pinot Noir to celebrate this most magnificent of days and tip a glass to Captain Spotswood as you do.
The 2018 Bangor Vineyard Shed Captain Spotswood is a Pinot Noir from the geographic wine region of Tasmania. In the glass as it is swirled, a light crimson splashes lazily around. The nose is perfumed with rose petals and bright spices. Red fruits and cherries lift with air as the sails fill on the horizon. On the palate, the red fruits mingle with rhubarb and cherries; not a turnip in sight. Savoury and earthy notes sit easily against the silky tannins. Vibrant acidity plays out the long fanning finish leaving you to marvel at this grape and the toiling of nigh on 200 years.
2018 S.C. Pannell Old McDonald Grenache, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Grenache at one point was looking like forever being something you threw in with Shiraz and Mataro (or Mouvedre as it perhaps should be called). To this point, I was fascinated to hear that there had been no significant plantings of Grenache for the last 40 years. And, to think that these marvellous bush vines produce just 6% of the annual production from the McLaren Vale is something to ponder. So, when you taste a Grenache that is handled by a magician in the winery like Steven Pannell, you really wonder why this wonderful grape is not more widely planted.
The 2018 S.C. Pannell Old McDonald is a single vineyard Grenache from McLaren Vale in South Australia. The bush vines are older than 70 years and this year have produced a bright bright crimson coloured wine that swirls alluringly and magically in the glass. The nose is elegant and intense with Turkish Delight like aromas, rose water, raspberries, dried herbs and floral spices. The palate is a performance with its refined delicacy balancing the intense red fruits against a backdrop of tar and emery board like tannins. The acidity is taut and the persistence is enticing, leaving you wondering why there is not more.
2019 Jim Barry Assyrtiko, Clare Valley, South Australia
Santorini Island in the middle of the Mediterranean and Clare Valley in South Australia don’t have a lot in common at first glance. One is an island of volcanic rock that experiences about 370 mm rainfall in any one year, while the other is a valley in the middle of a brown land that experiences around 600 mm rainfall. Millenia ago, a grape variety evolved on the island and thrived. A few years ago, this grape was introduced to the brown land and is thriving. Assyrtiko is that grape. A white discovered on a holiday that is now finding its way into our homes.
The 2019 Jim Barry Assyrtiko from Clare Valley in South Australia is a bright pale lemon coloured wine. The nose, you might say, has a Mediterranean twist with its mineral and salty nuance, and influences of crisp lemon. A crusted oyster shell and zestiness of grapefruit complement these aromas nicely. On the palate there are green olives along with lemons and minerals, leaping across a textural bed with a saline edge rounded out by its crisp acidity. Not much in common, but what they have is great.
2018 d’Arenberg The Thunderstep Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Australia’s National Shiraz Day has finally been declared. July 23 is now a date for us to rejoice forever more. All we need is a patron. Sir Leslie Colin Patterson I hear has been suggested. As a former cultural attaché and Chairman of the Australian Cheese Board, he would appear to have all the credentials that are more than a match for this great grape. Like Shiraz, Sir Les is mate of the Australian taxpayer. He has a personality like no other. So, on this great day, a McLaren Vale Shiraz is a worthy showcase, encased in a cylindrical form.
The 2018 d’Arenberg The Thunderstep Shiraz is from the McLaren Vale in South Australia. The colour is a proudly strutting dark red with flashes of black. Sir Les would raise the glass to his not so insignificant nose and declare this to be a damn site better than a tie. It is perhaps as robust as McLaren Vale can be with bold red berries and spices wafting thunderously from the glass. The palate too is more than a match with its seductive dark fruits and earthy mineral flavours. The tannins roar as the flavours linger with Sir Les boldly stating Shiraz is a well liked bastard and The Thunderstep is no failure.
2009 Tyrrells Rufus Stone Shiraz, Heathcote, Victoria
One from the archives of 2012…While watching the London Olympics in full swing it seemed appropriate that a wine with ties to Great Britain and an Olympic sport be honoured as a “Wine Code Breaker” (originally published as “Wine of the Week”). On the 2nd August 1100, Sir Walter Tyrrell fired an arrow at a stag. Unfortunately, this arrow struck an oak tree altering its flight striking William II, King of England (surname Rufus) in the chest killing him instantly. Over time, the oak tree was felled and a stone now marks the spot of this fateful hunting trip and is known as the Rufus Stone. William II was not a popular monarch in his day and even now, nigh on a millennium later, much suspicion remains over the cause of his death. Sir Walter’s history is not widely known; however, it is thought his descendants eventually migrated to Australia and created the Tyrrells winery, one of the oldest family owned and celebrated Australian wineries to this day.
Tyrrell’s Rufus Stone range celebrates wines from outside of their home in the Hunter Valley in NSW. The Heathcote region in Victoria is evolving into one of the most stunning regions in our vast continent for Shiraz. The 2009 Heathcote Rufus Stone Shiraz has an intense bright colour. Aromas of plums, dark berry and herbal fruits and dark chocolate; intensity driving interest. The palate is dark and lively with expressive plummy spice fruits. Mocha, herbs, coffee and vanilla beans add complexity. A viscous brooding texture leaves you wanting more. Fortunately the palate length makes this gap between sips a relatively painless experience.
Pairing the Heathcote Rufus Stone Shiraz with slain stag? I won’t know. Pairing it with watching the archery at the Olympics? A Gold medal experience.
2016 Blue Poles Allouran Merlot Cabernet Franc, Margaret River, Western Australia
Blue Poles is an abstract painting by Jackson Pollock that was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia in 1973 for a lazy $1.3 million. A controversial purchase it was and today, this painting, originally titled Number 11, is valued at over $350 million. This controversy inspired the naming of the winery Blue Poles, a small enterprise based in Western Australia.
The 2016 Blue Poles Allouran is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from Margaret River in Western Australia. Not a hint of blue in the dark reds and blacks that abstractly swirl in the glass. On the nose there are perfumed violets, herbs of sage and bay leaves, cassis and blueberries that splash against the canvas. The palate has strokes of red and blue fruits, along with brushes of savoury and herbal notes. The plushness and tightness of tannins are firm and powdery that seemingly linger longer than the controversy of the purchase.
2015 Rockford Basket Press, Barossa Valley, South Australia
It would be fair to say that the history of the wine press is as old as wine itself. The original was no doubt the humble human foot. The most notable evolution was the development of the basket press during Medieval times (or thereabouts). Essentially, this was a wooden slatted basket with a lid that could be lowered using a large screw to exert pressure on the grapes and squeeze out the juice, gently. Too soft and your wine is pale and insipid. Too hard and your wine will be too tannic and harsh tasting. Mechanical improvements have continued over time, but the principles remain true. Also, the use of a basket press in its traditional form adds to the hand made nature to the liquid within. The most famous Australian wine that references basket press as its name is from Rockford, a very traditional wine making team, presenting the best a season can show in a very traditional bottle.
The 2015 Rockford Basket Press is a blend of Shiraz from the subregions within Barossa Valley in South Australia. It is a medium purple to deep garnet coloured wine that is nothing short of exciting to look at. The nose, with swirling and air, is a basket full of aromas including coffee, spices, blueberries, touches of Christmas cake, baking spices, boysenberry, liquorice and black pepper. On the palate, it is the deft pressing that delivers intensity of the plums and black berry fruits that excels and excites. A little touch of figs along with spices and liquorice adds to the complexity. A well crafted layering is interlaced with the velvety tannins, delivering a stunningly persistent finish that will see this wine live on for a very long time.
2019 Paralian Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia
2019 Paralian Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South AustraliaThe oldest democracy by the sea is the land they call Greece. The Paralians were the Greek people who lived on the Athenian coast in the 6th Century BC and today this is a term to describe someone who lives by the sea. The oldest landscape by the sea is perhaps the McLaren Vale region in South Australia. Stands to reason that a vineyard located in a democratic land would call itself Paralian.
The 2019 Paralian Shiraz from McLaren Vale in South Australia is a vibrant purple coloured wine that cannot help but stand out. The nose is an abundance of vibrant plums covered with ocean spray, which is balanced by this delicacy of violets wafting on a light sea breeze. Sprinkles of blueberries pierced with chocolate chards of ancient times and earthenware jars of coffee, liquorice and oak spices. The palate has a vibrancy of dark fruits, including an inkiness of an old parchment. There is a mineral complexity in amongst the fruit and oak. The flavours are presented on a sea of velvet with peeling waves of acidity that drive a persistence that would test the sailing vessels of the 6th Century BC. This one has my vote.
The first apple tree was planted by William Bligh in 1788. This was also the first apple tree planted in Australia. For Tasmania, apples became an important industry with exports these crisp and crunchy balls of joy being exported to countries far and wide. It was at its peak that Tasmania became affectionately known as the Apple Isle. Grapes were also planted in Tasmania by William Bligh in that same year. Turning those grapes into sparkling wine has taken much longer to get started with the first made in 1984. Today it has been quoted as running rings around many sparkling wines from Champagne. Matured yet? Perhaps not, but we can enjoy the journey.
The Pirie Sparkling is a Non-Vintage blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Tasmania. A lightly golden coloured wine with a fine bead persisting. The nose has peaches, floral nose and light touches of red berries. This is complemented by the aroma of vegemite on lightly toasted bread. The palate has hints of peaches, red berries and yeast of baked bread and red apples, more Pink Lady than Delicious. Crisp acidity and a fine beady mousse provides a beautiful textural platform that supports its persistence of flavours.
2017 First Creek Shiraz, Hunter Valley, New South Wales
The Hunter Valley wine region in New South Wales is Australia’s oldest. It tends to get lost when compared to the volumes out of the other regions across the country. What is remarkable, is that the Hunter Valley produces <1% of the nations crush. The leading red wine of this warm climate region is the Shiraz. The style is not a blockbuster, more of a medium bodied wine that is good now, but delightful much later.
The 2017 First Creek Shiraz from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales is a vibrant purple that flashes brightly. The nose has red berries, touches of leather and citrus zest, floral elements and herbs of cardamoms and bay leaves. The palate has those red berries coming through, with flecks of plums, spices and herbs. Its texture is grainy which combines with the acidity to deliver a remarkable persistence and longevity for the price.
2014 Devil’s Lair Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia
One from the archives of 2019…One of the earliest sites evidencing human occupation in Australia is named as Devil’s Lair. Located in the southwest of Western Australia, it is a large single-chamber cave that has had artefacts discovered dating back around 50,000 years. To help us remember this important site, there is also a winery from the area called Devil’s Lair. As a producer of fine wine from the Margaret River, it pays homage to the land, seasons and history of the area as well as providing a respectful nod to our ancient land and peoples.
2014 Devil’s Lair Cabernet Sauvignon from the Margaret River district in Western Australia is a purple garnet coloured wine that flashes brightly in a torch lit cave. The nose wafts on a gentle breeze with fresh green beans, cassis, capsicum and herbal notes including tobacco (as this is world no tobacco day, it should be noted that this is appropriate tobacco). There are also touches of chocolate and mint, but not choc mint as this is too strong a reference. Does that make sense? On the palate, the cassis really shines through; bold and elegant with complexing red fruits and herbs. The cedary oak is well balanced throughout and this delivers a wonderful persistence of flavours across a bed of fine sandy tannins. Whilst it may not last 50,000 years, it will continue to evolve gracefully over the next 50,000 hours.
Now; 19+ yrs
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2020 Alejandro (Alex Russell Wines) Saperavi, Murray Darling, Victoria
Georgia is a small country that happens to be considered the “cradle of wine”. This tag was bestowed upon Georgia with the discovery that burying grape juice in a qvevris underground for the winter creates wine. A method with historical records dating back to 6,000 BC, wine has influenced Georgian and human culture ever since. Saperavi is one of the oldest cultivars from Georgia and remains its principal grape variety. With a history as renowned as this, it is no surprise that Saperavi is making its presence known in regions far from the Black Sea.
The 2020 Alejandro Saperavi is produced by Alex Russell Wines from grapes sourced from the Murray Darling region in Victoria. A very bright purple-coloured wine, it perhaps unsurprisingly appears as if it would glow in the dark. The nose is all bramble and forest floor berries, with savoury tones and spices. On the palate, the berry flavours come with sprinkles of spices and herbs. It is a well-structured wine with high acidity, balanced by a soft texture and reasonably persistent finish. All in all, it cries out to be served on with a plate of Mtsvadi.
2019 Paradigm Hill L’ami sage Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Decanters are more than just a lump of glass or crystal sitting on a shelf. The core purpose is twofold. For younger wines, the graceful mixing of the wine with air brings forward the aromas and flavours offering you purity and an opportunity to ponder over the present and play out its future. For older wines, you can delicately separate the wine from any sediment that may be contained within the bottle. This will separate the cruddy, gritty bitterness from the delicately, patiently developed flavours of a mature wine. They also add brightness to the table as you enjoy the wine in front of you.
The 2019 Paradigm Hill L’ami sage is a single vineyard Pinot Noir from Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. As it is poured into the decanter, its colour flashes brightly as an array of crimson hues. This experience is delightfully repeated as you pour from decanter to glass, where the aromas waft gently, displaying beautiful red fruits. There are complexing floral notes, crushed nuts and earth, with a savoury and gentle cedar. The palate, now aerated, flows gracefully and crescendos with red fruits, forest floor berries, earth and delicate spices along a textural masterpiece that is silky, fanning and lingering.
2019 Thomas Wines The Dam Block Shiraz, Hunter Valley, New South Wales
The etymology of the word “yum” has been the subject of debate. One theory suggests it is derived from the Sanskrit “yum,” which is said during meditation to focus on love and pleasurable things. Another suggests it is derived from the African “nyam,” meaning to taste. More simply, it could be an onomatopoeic of a sound we make whilst eating. Whichever way you look at it, the word arrived in the English dictionaries in the 19th century and is an exclamation of pleasure or enjoyment. It is a simple and easy expression that is readily understood at all levels. Some of life’s simple pleasures can induce a reflexive “yum”. A sniff of wine can do it. A sip of wine can also do it. A sip can also re-confirm it leading to an outwardly expressed “yum”. Andrew Thomas wines is a “yum” inducing experience no matter which one is poured.
The 2019 Thomas Wines The Dam Block Shiraz is from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. A bright crimson-coloured wine hints a “yum” is coming. The nose forces you to sit up and take notice with an array of peppers; black, white, and freshly cracked. There are expressive raspberries and blue fruits that mingle easily with soy, earth,and pencil shavings. The palate is “yum” inducing with its floral fruits, raspberries, blueberries, savoury black olives, and herbs. It is deftly structured with its tannins, acidity and lingering flavours, leaving you with a sigh of “yum”.