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Wine Reviews By Barry Weinman

Wines of the Week

Hutton Vale Farm – Grenache/Mataro – 2016. The very pretty old-vines Grenache fruit has floral notes and is ripe, supple, elegant and lithe. Very refined and precise, this initially appears quite delicate. It gets a little textured and chewy on the close, as the fine tannins start to build, but this merely adds to the appeal. Will be brilliant with 5 – 10 years in the cellar. 95pts – $75. (Feb 16).

Juniper Estate – Single Vineyard – Shiraz – 2017. Liquorice and ripe fruit to the fore. Dense, chewy, textured, yet not heavy or cloying. This is a rich wine, yet it has been very well handled in the winery, resulting in a silky, mouth-coating wine with fine, texturing tannins. Impressive. 93pts – $40. (Feb 16).

Higher Planes – Malbec – 2020. Perfumed and fragrant, this is a riot of juicy fruit, with the delicious berry characters building with air. The chewy texture and gentle spicy notes make this great current drinking around the BBQ. 100% whole bunch fermentation. Excellent value. 92pts – $28. (Feb 6).

Preccavi – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2017. Very fine, elegant and supple, the gentle fruit slowly building. The mouthfeel is quite silky, with a near seamless palate transition. The dusty tannins and persistence of fruit add a sense of gravitas. 93pts. $75 (Feb 6).

Stella Bella – Luminosa – Cabernet Sauvignon– 2017. Lovely fruit on the nose that is perfumed, floral and ripe. The palate has more of the perfumed, blueberry fruit, supported by fine tannins and supple oak. Balanced, elegant, long and delicious, yet age-worthy all the same. 95pts – $90 (Feb 6).

Hutton Vale Farm – Eden Valley – Riesling – 2019. In a line-up of dry Rieslings, the residual sugar in this came as a surprise, but the panel really appreciated this wine. Lime blossom, ripe citrus and musk lead to a palate that is viscous, rich and dense. The precise acidity balances the sugar nicely. Serve chilled with Asian foods. 92pts – $35 (Feb 3).

Mount Horrocks – Watervale – Riesling – 2020. Wonderful perfume. Dry, elegant, refined and pretty, with vibrant acidity adding life. Yes, this is age-worthy, but it is delicious right now. 93pts – $35. (Feb 3).

Cullen – Chardonnay – Kevin John – 2019. An unbelievable wine that manages to combine intensity, power, restraint and finesse in the one package. A wine to make you swoon! Perfectly ripe fruit combines with pineapple acidity, providing a mouthful of joy. The finish is supple, textured and fine with great length of flavours. Elegant, restrained and very long. Brilliant now, even better in 10 years. 97pts – $135 (Feb 25).

Vasse Felix – Chardonnay – Heytesbury – 2019. Fine, elegant, taut and refined, this is the picture of restraint. Seamless palate transition and superb texture. The power builds with air. A stunning wine. 96pts – $92 (Feb 25).

Xanadu – Reserve – Chardonnay – 2018. The pale colour is deceptive – this is concentrated, intense, powerful and ripe. The muted fruit is quite pretty but needs time to open up. The acidity also needs a little time to settle back into the fruit. Give it five years and be rewarded. Magnificent wine. 96pts – $110. (Feb 25).

Recent Articles

Premium Chardonnay – First Impressions

25th February 2021

This was one of the more interesting tastings that I have done recently, as it gave me the opportunity to review a number of current release wines, as well as several excellent wines that will not be released for some time.

Bigger Reds

Barry Weinman: 16th February 2021

Hutton Vale Farm is a family run winery in the Barossa. The Angas family are pioneering farmers in the region (Is it a coincidence that they are based in Anguston???) who diversified into wine along the way.

Cabernet and Malbec New Release

Barry Weinman: 6th February 2021

The highlight of this tasting was comparing and contrasting the Stella Bella Luminosa Cabernet with the Suckfizzle Cabernet. Suckfizzle is a stand-alone brand within the Stella Bella stable and is named after the vineyard from where the grapes are sourced.

New Release Whites

Barry Weinman: 3rd February 2021

Perhaps not the most serious lineup of wines that I tried over the break, but certainly some of the more approachable, food-friendly wines.

The contrast between the racy and lithe Mt Horrock’s Riesling and the rich and viscous Hutton Vale Farm was an interesting one indeed.

Current Releases Pinot: January 2021

Barry Weinman: 31st January 2021.

Since Christmas, we have been busy tasting a number of different varieties and styles and there have been several highlights that I will share over the coming weeks.

First up, the panel looked at a cross-section of Pinots from across the globe and were pleased to see quality wines on show from Australia and New Zealand, as well as a couple of great value Premier Cru Burgundies available form Lamont’s in Cottesloe.

Champagne Bargains: January 2021

Barry Weinman: 31st January 2021

Almost everyone loves Champagne and sparkling wine. There is a touch of mystique, an air of celebration and sense of achievement. But this all comes at a cost. There is no such thing as a cheap Champagne!
But having tried a cross-section of wines currently available, there are a number of bargains out there. (I have ordered a 6 pack of each of the below, given how good the prices are).

BBQ Buddies

Barry Weinman: 24th December 2020

Now that the warm weather is well and truly set in for the summer, my mind turns to that great Australian tradition called the BBQ.

Whilst sausages and overcooked steak still make an appearance, the BBQ is now being treated as a serious culinary experience by many Australians.

Sparkling Wines for Summer

Barry Weinman: 23rd December 2020

The majority of sparkling wine produced is non-vintage, and this is for good reason. By blending years, producers can make a more consistent (house) style, less impacted by the vagaries of vintage-to-vintage variations in quality that can occur.

Wine Accessories

Barry Weinman: 16th December 2020

Wondering what to get the wine-fanatic in your life for Christmas? But don’t want to break the bank? Well here are a few items that I have rigorously tested though the year and that have become part of my wine life at home.

Wine Glasses Reviewed

Barry Weinman: 16th December 2020

Let’s be clear: glasses make a difference in two important ways.

The shape primarily affects the aromas that you perceive coming out of the wine related to surface area, as well as how the aromas are concentrated at the top. But the shape also plays an important role in where the wine lands on your tongue, which affects flavour perception as well.

Recent Releases: November 2020

Barry Weinman: 16th December 2020

My wine week has involved tastings across a number of styles, including sparkling wines and Shiraz. I will write about some of these in coming weeks, but I wanted to share a couple of refreshing wines for spring, as well as two Australian classics.

Weinman 100 Point Scale for Wine Assessment

15th November 2020

A Wolf at the Door

13th November 2020

I was asked why I continue to review wines from the bigger, more popular wineries. It was suggested that reviewing some of the funky newer producers and styles would be more interesting.

My answer? I review the wines that offer great drinking (or cellaring potential) at their given price point regardless of the producer.

Mandoon Estate: Fortune Favours the Brave

 30th October 2020

Ryan Sudano must surely be one of the most fortunate winemakers in Australia. After all, how many winemakers get to design and build their dream winery from scratch as their first task upon joining a venture?

All that Glitters is not Gold

16th October 2020

Decanter Magazine recently announced the results of their World Wine Awards. Fraser Gallop was awarded Best in Show for their 2018 Parterre Chardonnay (from almost 1,000 Chardonnays!).

Wendouree: 2013 & 2017 Vintage Review

11th October 2020

With the imminent release of the 2018 vintage, I took the opportunity to open a cross-section of wines from both 2017 & 2013 for the tasting panel to see how they are developing.

Substance versus Style

30th September 2020

In the wine industry, like in fashion, styles change over time. What is considered fashionable is often dictated by wine show judges and the major newspaper wine writers.

Leeuwin Estate: Not Just a One Trick Pony

Barry Weinman: 30th September 2020

Year after year, Leeuwin Estate’s Art Series Chardonnay garners a huge amount of praise and attention, and rightly so. After all, this has a long history of being one of the greatest white wines made in Australia, with an enviable 38 vintage history.

A multi-axial approach towards understanding the (red) wines of Burgundy

Brendan Jansen MW: 24th September 2020

The wines of Burgundy can be as seductive and beguiling as they can be confusing. This small plot of land – with the Cote D’Or comprising only about 13,000 hectares as compared to Bordeaux’s over 120,000 hectares – is infused with wine history and intrigue. The still wines of Burgundy, of both red and white incarnations, are widely viewed as the most wonderful in the world of wine. Winemakers around the world aspire to produce wines that can come close to rivalling the best Burgundy has to offer.

Clive Otto and the wines of Fraser Gallop

Brendan Jansen MW: 15th August 2020

After working at Vasse Felix winery from 1989 to 2006, Clive Otto joined Fraser Gallop wines. This is his 14th year at the helm as chief winemaker. All of Clive’s wines, even those that he makes for other growers in Margaret River, have his stamp of elegance and understated austerity.

Riesling: Southern Exposure

15th August 2020

At the end of a 25-wine tasting of very high-quality Riesling, I found myself reflecting on just how much I enjoyed the tasting. This was due to a number of factors. To start with, there was the purity of fruit, approachability of the wines and sheer quality of winemaking on show…

Penfolds Collection: 2020 Release

Barry Weinman: 31st  July 2020

Penfolds is a brand that needs no introductions. From the humble Koonunga Hill through to Grange, generations of Australians have built their cellars around these iconic wines.

The Many Faces of Cabernet Sauvignon

30th July 2020

When I think of versatile red grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon does not normally spring to mind. Shiraz, after all, is the ultimate chameleon, thriving in all but the very coolest vineyards in the country.

Chardonnay: July 2020

Barry Weinman: 18th July 2020

I am a huge fan of Riesling, a variety that can also claim the title of best value white wine in Australia. But in the cooler months, Chardonnay is my go-to white.

Faber Vineyard: Celebrating 20 years of Riche Shiraz

16th July 2020

John Griffith established Faber in 1997 after a very successful six-year stint at Houghton.

At Faber, the aim is to craft the best wine possible from grapes most suited to the region in which they are grown. In the Swan Valley, John believes this is Shiraz, Verdelho and Muscat (for fortified wines).

Swan Valley Chenin Blanc – Back to the Future

2nd July 2020

World Chenin Day last week was an opportunity to move my focus to the Swan Valley. Chenin Blanc, along with Shiraz are the most important grapes grown on Perth’s doorstep. And the panel celebrated with extraordinary tastings.

Grenache and Friends

25th June 2020

Grenache is a most versatile variety. Originating in Spain, but made famous by the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache was the most widely planted red variety in the world until the late 1990s.

Cherubino: June 2020

Larry Cherubino first came to attention in the late 1990s as senior winemaker at Houghton. Larry oversaw an expansion of the range, and was responsible for making some brilliant (and great value) wines from across the state. The 1998 Moondah Brook Cabernet is still brilliant drinking for example.