New Release Reds: October 2023

New Release Reds: October 2023

Barry Weinman: 7th October 2023

Here are some of the highlights from tastings over the last few weeks.

The cabernets showed particularly well, led by the astonishingly good Woodlands ‘Eleanor’ Cabernet. A truly great wine.

Another star was the 2018 Rolling Stone from McHenry Honen. This must surely be one of the last releases from the much-lauded 2018 vintage.

I was also very impressed by the stylish Hutton Triptych and the approachable and more affordable Flametree Cabernet.

In a very different style, Hutton Vale Farm produced a cracking shiraz in 2019. Closed under screwcap this vintage, this is a strong cellaring prospect.


Shepherd’s Hut – Michael Mayo – Pinot Noir – 2022. There is a lot going on here, with complex, earthy winemaking inputs complementing the ripe, savoury fruit that floods the palate. Whilst the fruit is very much the focus, this is also quite serious, with the winemaking inputs (proportion of the fruit undergoing whole bunch fermentation) adding depth and texture. One to watch. 13.5% alc, 94pts – $65.

Mud House – Claim 431 Vineyard – Pinot Noir – 2020. This is intense, yet silky and supple, but comes across as very closed straight out of the bottle. But it is very impressive, with the fine fruit expertly handled in the winery to add texture and mouthfeel. Near seamless palate transition supported by silky tannins linger on the periphery to add texture, but do not impede the flow of the fruit one bit. 13.5% alc, 94pts.

Felton Road – Cornish Point – Pinot Noir – 2022. Very good indeed, and especially suited to food given the fine, refreshing acidity that cuts through the finish. This is powerful, intense and dense, yet is not heavy or cloying. It just needs time (preferably 5 – 7 years) to start to open up and approach its drinking window. But is a superb wine all the same. 14% alc, 96pts.

Hutton Vale Farm – Shiraz – 2019. There is fantastic fruit quality here. Lifted ripe plum fruit is complemented by supple cedary oak notes. The palate is quite superb, with great intensity of chocolate and coffee-tinged fruit. The expansive palate is supported by mouth-coating texture that is dense, yet silky and supple. 14.5% alc, 95pts – $75.

Flametree – S.R.S. – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2020 This is much more closed and subdued right now, with the gravely tannins and chocolatey oak casting a shadow over the high-quality fruit. But I am confident that with time, this traditional Margaret River cabernet will provide plenty of drinking pleasure. 94pts.

Flametree – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2020. A riper, more accessible style with excellent balance and skilful winemaking. The fruit is initially closed on the palate, with the powdery tannins building from the mid-palate onwards, but there is no denying the quality. Refreshing acidity is the thread that keeps the whole package together and makes for a very enjoyable drink. A mid-weight, approachable wine that ticks all the boxes. 95pts.

Hutton Vale Farm – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2019. This is a bigger, richer wine that, whilst loaded with powerful fruit, is unyielding right now. After three days open on the bench, this transformed into something quite special, so if you are going to drink it young, please give it plenty of time in a decanter. Or drink the shiraz while waiting for this to evolve in the cellar. 94pts – $70.

Hutton – Triptych – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2022. This is a superb wine, but this is all about structure and texture now. Intense, inky blackberry fruit combines with fine, texturing tannins. The supple oak adds depth and breadth to the palate. The finish gets a little chewy, but is never aggressive or harsh. This will be brilliant with food now and has a very bright future indeed. Houghton clone fruit, 25% new oak, production only 92 dozen. 14.1% alc, 95pts – $50.

Woodlands – Eleanor – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2020. Opens with supple blueberry and blackcurrant fruit, gentle cedar and hints of spice. The palate is intense, and powerful, with inky fruit flooding the palate. At this early stage, the acid and tannins combine to keep the fruit quite subdued, but it is only a matter of time before this blossoms into something quite spectacular. The length and persistence of flavours are second to none, with the impact of this wine being felt long after the last drop has been drained from the glass. 20 months in new French oak, 13.5% alc, 97pts $200.

McHenry Honen – Rolling Stone – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018. Yep. This is good. Actually, this is very good indeed. Supple berry fruit floods the palate, supported by texturing, savoury winemaking inputs. There is excellent length and persistence in what is a fine wine indeed. Sappy, savoury notes add to the mouthfeel in a very positive way. A hint of menthol? perhaps, but this is all about the high-quality fruit. 14.4% alc, 95+pts – $135.