Author Archives: Weinman on Wine

Wines to Watch – February 2024

Wines to Watch – February 2024

Barry Weinman: 18th February 2024

I have not seen anything on the Mandoon Estate 2023 Wild Bunch Chenin, but it is a cracking wine and one that is sure to be crazy value given that it is a Swan Valley white wine.

The 2022 Leopold is not exactly current release for riesling, but there is still stock available online. A fine Tasmanian riesling that will deliver much joy young or old.

Whilst the 2019 is the current release, there are still stocks of the 2018 Yalumba The Signature floating around. An opulent wine with great appeal.

Reviewed.

Mandoon Estate – Wild Bunch – Chenin Blanc – 2023. I love this wine. It has all the crunchy freshness of chenin blanc, but with greater textural components than most. The way the flavours and textures evolved as it warmed up in the glass showed just how versatile these wines can be. (Straight from the fridge it was crisp and refreshing and, as it warmed a little in the glass, the textural components and richness built). 94pts – $TBC.

Leo Buring – Leopold – Riesling – 2022. Pristine and very fine, this appears delicate on first impression. But underneath the lemon essence notes, the thrilling acidity brings the palate to life. Perfectly balanced, with length, precision, poise and elegance. A great drink now, but also age worthy. From Tasmania. 12% alc. 93-94pts – $37.

Yalumba – The Signature – Cabernet/Shiraz – 2018. A beautifully constructed wine that has significant depth and density. This is in a style that is different from southwest Western Australia, as there is greater viscosity and a degree of earthy, chocolatey complexity. Yet at its core there is purity to the fruit that is quite captivating. Drink any time over the next 20 years. 14.5% alc. 94-95pts – $70.

Champagne: Off the Beaten Track

Champagne: Off the Beaten Track

Barry Weinman: 27th December 2023

At this year’s Taste Champagne, I took the opportunity to try as many grower/cooperative/lesser-known Champagnes as I could, given the amount of attention that this section of the market has been getting of late. So, with a somewhat heavy heart, I ignored the likes of Charles Heidsieck, Veuve Clicquot, Moet and Roederer, and headed to the grower tables. (The heavy heart came from ignoring Charles Heidsieck, which is one of my favourite wines).

And what I found was a real mixed bag. There were a number of idiosyncratic wines, some of which worked better than others. however the best were excellent wines and worthy of your attention.

In no particular order, here are some of the wines that stood out.

Philipponnat

The NV Rosé was a highlight for me. Lively and fresh, with hints of strawberry fruit adding to the appeal. A mid-weight wine with excellent length and texture, aided by gentle astringency that boosted the mouthfeel. Food friendly.

Royal Reserve – None Dose – NV. This had a lightness in the palate that was most appealing. Lively and fresh, with lemon zest highlights. I am not usually a fan of zero dosage wines, but this is an excellent drink, with the ripe fruit characters balancing the dry finish.

Barons De Rothschild

The Rothschild family’s entrance into champagne has happened at great speed. The first vintage was only 2010, yet they have already acquired 72 hectares of vineyards.

My overall impression was that these are, first and foremost, serious wines, with more power than many on show.

The Concordia Brut NV is a complex wine with gentle stone fruit and lemony fruit leading to a creamy mouthfeel and very long, fine finish. An elegant wine. 4yrs on lees, 6g/l dosage, 40% reserve wines, 60% pinot/40% chardonnay

The Blanc De Blancs NV was more powerful, dense and textured, and a meal in itself.
The Rose NV traded some of the power for increased complexity and subtle intensity. A charming wine. 4yrs on lees, 6g/l, 85% Chardonnay.

Domaine De Marzilly

Another newcomer to Champagne, founded in 2012. The key differentiators here are the reliance on pinot meunier and universal barrel aging. The Lot 7 NV is a different interpretation of Champagne, with depth, richness and a chewiness that is more common in still wines. Excellent length of flavours. 80% pinot meunier and only 3g/l dosage.

The L.P.M. NV takes things even further, being made from 100% pinot meunier. Good drinking, but I prefer the Lot 7.

Bruno Paillard

The 1er Cuvée MV (has up to 50% reserve wines) spent 3yrs on lees and, with only 5g/l dosage, is being referred to as an extra brut. Plenty of citrus characters here and an excellent aperitif.

The highlight in the range for me was the Rosé MV. This has hints of red fruits and subtle power, but what stood out here was that it was a good drink. Not the biggest, richest, or most showy, but a very enjoyable wine.

Jean Vesselle

There was only one wine on tasting (Extra Brut) and it was a highlight. Intense, rich, rounded and long. This was a great drink and one I recommend trying.

Le Brun De Neville

This was another winery that I had not encountered before, and I am glad that I did. Of the five wines on tasting, the following were my picks.

Cote Blanche NV. I loved the nose here. Fresh stone fruit and wonderful baked bread aromas supported by minerality and gentle development. The palate has depth, texture and power, and possesses excellent balance. Base wine from 2018, 100% chardonnay, 8g/l dosage.

La Croisée Des Chemins MV is a single vineyard wine that is fresher and livelier, with citrus notes. This is a more elegant style that, whilst lacking the power of the Cote Blanche, is a better wine overall and worth seeking out. 75% Chardonnay, 2016 base wine, 4 g/l dosage.

Autolyse Noirs and Blancs NV. This has spent an incredible 11 years on lees and, whilst lively and fresh, is a rich and powerful wine with a core of minerality. Very fine indeed!

Forest-Marié

A highlight of the tasting was the wines of Forest Marié. The Brut Tradition stood out for its balance of freshness with richness and texture. Good length, gentle grip, creamy mouthfeel and fine acid drive combine in a great drinking package. 9.6g/l dosage, a high proportion of reserve wines used.

Brut De Blancs NV has more of the brioche/bread dough characters due, in part to the 6 years on lees this spent in the cellar. A complete wine that is fine and elegant, with excellent length and minerality.

Cuvée Saint Crespin NV is remarkably fresh for a wine that spent seven years on lees. It is the rich, powerful fruit on the palate that is the key feature here, supported by hints of musk, spice and gentle autolytic notes. Disgorged in 2021. 100% pinot noir, 4.8g/l dosage.

As it turns out, I also had time to visits a few of the Grande Marques and was floored by the quality of the wines from Roederer and Charles Heidsieck.

Roederer

The Roederer Collection 243 NV is intense, powerful and rich, with great length of flavours. The acidity is a little taut right now, so I would suggest giving this a year in the cellar to unwind a little bit. But is a lovely wine all the same.

The Vintage Brut 2015 has plenty of rich, powerful fruit, but it is the near seamless palate and wonderful mouthfeel that sets this apart. A superb wine.

I was also impressed by the Brut Nature Philippe Stark Blanc 2015. Despite being zero dosage, this chardonnay dominant field blend is a great drink, and is defined by its chalky minerality. Only the 4th vintage of this wine that was produced from the fruit of three blocks of vines.

Charles Heidsieck

Charles Heidsieck is one of my all-time favourite Champagne houses and the current releases are just brilliant. The Brut Reserve NV has the trademark power and intensity of the brand, combined with superb mouthfeel. Disgorged in 2022.

The Blanc de Blanc NV turns things up a notch, with a healthy dose of minerality adding to the intense fruit.

The overall wine of the tasting for me was the outstanding Millésime Brut 2012. A stunning Champagne.

Budget Champagne Uncovered: December 2023

Budget Champagne Uncovered: December 2023

Barry Weinman: 27th December 2023

Those who know me well know that I have a particularly fond spot for sparkling wines and Champagnes in particular. And over the festive season, my consumption (or at least the amount I open) increases further.

The only problem is that this is not a cheap hobby. A good bottle of Australian sparkling wine can easily set you back $50+ and well recognised champagne typically sells for north of $70. I have also noticed that prices of Champagne have been increasing of late.

So I set myself the challenge of finding a great value Champagne that I would be happy to drink for under $50 and headed out to the big box retailers to see what I could find.

Much to my (and the panel’s) surprise, there were several wines that were actually a good drink. We were also surprised to see a number of these cheaper wines sporting the Premier Cru ranking, suggesting that some effort was made on the part of the producers (often cooperatives) to focus on quality.

The wine that stood out for me in terms of quality and value was the Veuve Monsigny Premier Cru Brut from Aldi. Whilst this is all about zesty freshness and vitality, there is enough autolytic characters to make for an excellent everyday Champagne. And at $40 (for a limited time) this is the bee’s knees.

First Choice and Vintage Cellars have the enjoyable Baron De Villeboerg Brut NV for $37, which seems more than fair for a quaffable Champagne that is fresh, levely and refreshing. Not a lot of complexity, but an enjoyable drink at the price.

My local VC had two batches of this. An older one with a cream label and the current batch with the Red label. As compared to the fresh bottle, the older one had more depth and impact, with autolytic characters building. My preference (and the review) is the fresh shipment.

The Veuve Rozier Brut NV was the least expensive wine reviewed at $33 from Dan Murphy. This was defined by attractive fresh fruit characters, with peach and gentle citrus notes. With decent length and gentle autolytics, this was considered a good all-rounder, as it was fresh enough to have on its own, but with enough weight to carry some lighter foods.

The good news is that none of the other wines reviewed were outright bad, it was just that the ones reviewed were better. This could be a reflection of the age of stock sitting in stores, with some wines appearing obviously more developed than others.

November 2023 New Releases

November 2023 New Releases

6th December 2023

The temptation to try the latest releases from the fabled Wendouree winery proved irresistible, so into the tasting they went. These wines never fail to surprise me in just how medium bodied and elegant they are. Relatively low alcohol levels are a feature and reflect the finer style.

One of the key features of all the wines was the beautiful colour in the glass. Vibrant, vivid purple/red.

Yields in 2021 were tiny, reflecting the seemingly never-ending run of drought years that have beset the region. My entire allocation was three bottles, so I am grateful to Terry for sharing some of his allocation to make this tasting possible.

Aside from the Wendourees, there were several other wines that stood out. None more so than the superb Roennfeldt Road Cabernet from Greenock Creek. So different in style from what we see in the West, but no less worthy of praise. The icing on the cake for this wine was the fact that it is an irresistible (if very expensive) drink right now.

I also very much enjoyed the rieslings from Hutton Vale Farm. It is great to see wineries successfully producing off-dry rieslings. Bravo.

Reviewed

Wendouree – Cabernet/Malbec – 2021. The colour here is a highlight. Fine, elegant and refined, this is almost gentle in the way the fruit presents. But make no mistake, there is great depth behind the subtle, medium-bodied façade. The acid and the ultrafine tannins keep the fruit in check, with the tannins building on the very close. 94pts – $70.

Wendouree – Shiraz/Mataro – 2021. I love the colour. Whilst closed and taut, this has amazing intensity to the medium bodied fruit. Elegant and poised, the fruit is completely unadorned with winemaking artifact. This is a wine that requires patience and is for sipping and thinking, rather than drinking at this stage. Very fine tannins keep the finish subdued. Needs time and air to show its best. 13% alc, 93pts – $70.

Wendouree – Shiraz – 2021. Unlike the blends, this is so, so delicious at this early stage, but is also serious and age-worthy. The way the fruit intensity builds on the palate is something to behold. That a wine with this intensity barely makes it above medium bodied, is something to marvel at. Supple, with perhaps a hint of pencil shavings. This has the finest of tannins that, whilst prodigious, remain in balance. And the colour! 13.8% alc, 95pts – $80.

Wendouree – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2021. There is so much goodness in this wine. The cabernet fruit is ripe, and there is a degree of approachability/accessibility that is quite charming. But there is a more serious side to the inky fruit. A lovely drink, in a more serious style that demands aging. The length and persistence of flavours are admirable. 13.3% alc, 93pts, $80.00. (My points seem a little stingy, as this wine is sure to blossom with time in the bottle).

Hutton Vale Farm – Riesling – 2023. A very intense style that is bursting with fresh, zesty fruit, supported by thrilling acidity. This is a great drink and will be superb with gently poached salmon, as the acidity and freshness will provide the perfect foil to the richness of the fish. Just off dry, with a bright mid palate, this is not overly complex right now, but this will flesh out with age. In the meantime, enjoy it for its youthful exuberance. 12.5% alc, 93pts, $35.

Hutton Vale Farm – Off Dry – Riesling – 2023. A delicious, albeit unusual style in the Australian context, as there is obvious sweetness to the palate. This is supported by fine acidity and the combination results in a delicious wine that would be ideal served chilled on a warm day. And the lower alcohol means that a glass of this mid-afternoon is not going to set you on your ear. Give me a straw 😊. 10.5% alc, 92pts, $35.00.

Greenock Creek – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2021. Pretty, fragrant and alluring, this is an exercise in restraint. Supple, silky texture combines with juicy/plump fruit makes for an awesome drink. A characterful wine with excellent palate weight. 14.5% alc, 94pts.

Greenock Creek – RoennFeldt Road – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018. This is a big boy that is absolutely jam packed with flavours. Berries flood the palate, supported by bright acidity, supple tannins and impactful oak that adds some chocolaty, savoury notes. This is no shrinking violet, it is a full bodied, full throttle wine that floods the senses. And all the while, it manages to remain balanced and fresh. Remarkable. A style that is very different to MR, but an amazing wine. 14.5%. 96pts, $300.

Sevenhill Cellars New Releases: Spring 2023

Sevenhill Cellars New Releases: Spring 2023

I previously wrote about the changes that are afoot at Sevenhill and the rejuvenation continues with some cracking wines in the current releases.

Interestingly, the highlights for me came from the lighter style wines such as the Riesling and Rosé, rather than from the traditional red wines for which the winery is know for.

One of the highlights was the wonderfully textured Pinot Gris from the Adelaide Hills. Excellent drinking this summer.

Reviewed

Sevenhill – Pinot Gris – 2023. Floral and pretty with musk, ripe pear and talc notes expressing on both the nose and palate. This is a lovely wine that has an almost ethereal nature. There is density to the fruit, complementing the near seamless palate transition. A wonderful summer afternoon drink that would also accompany food very well. 12% alc, 93pts, $28.

Sevenhill – Riesling – 2023. This is classic Clare riesling that is quite taut and restrained, with mouth-tingling acidity that builds in layers across the palate. The fresh lime notes build with air and the palate never gets aggressive or harsh. A very age-worthy style that would be a great match with grilled prawns at this early stage of its life. 12% alc, 94pts, $27.

Sevenhill – Rosé – Grenache – 2023. This wine is totally fit for purpose. There is enough fruit here to make it interesting, but the savoury notes are the key feature adding depth and texture to the palate. Good length and persistence, with refreshing acidity to keep everything in balance. An attractive wine that is excellent drinking on its own, or with a plate of tapas on a warm afternoon. 12% alc, 91pts, $27.

Plantagenet Winery: Wyjup Collection: Spring 2023

Plantagenet Winery: Wyjup Collection: Spring 2023

12th November 2023

I wrote about the changes at Plantagenet at this time last year and I was keen to see how the wines were evolving, as Mike Garland’s influence increased over time.
2022 was the first vintage where Mike was involved at every step of the process, and the riesling and malbec are the first wines to be released from this vintage.

The Wyjup range starts with the Blanc de Blanc from 2021. A high-quality sparkling wine, where the pristine chardonnay fruit has been preserved and is the defining feature. There is little in the way of secondary/autolytic characters, allowing the fruit to shine. Will be just as at home with richer foods as it would be as an aperitif.

The riesling and the chardonnay both stood out for their quality.

The 2021 pinot noir is a new-world style that is defined by the approachability of the cherry fruit. Delicious now, but will build depth and power with time in the cellar.
By contrast, the 2019 shiraz is dense, powerful and almost impenetrable at this point. It really needs a decade to hit its straps.

For me though, the two highlights of the new releases were the succulent 2022 Malbec and the age-worthy 2019 cabernet.

Reviewed

Plantagenet – Wyjup Collection – Riesling – 2022 is pretty and fragrant, with gentle savoury notes building around the edges. But it is on the palate where this wine shines. Not so much the flavours, but the amazing silky texture that envelops the senses, supported by fine lime acidity and supple minerality. An impressive wine. 12% alc, 95pts – $45.

Plantagenet – Wyjup Collection – Chardonnay – 2021. This is an impressive wine. Intense, powerful and compelling, with rich stone fruit characters complemented by complex winemaking inputs. The way this all comes together on the palate is quite brilliant. Whilst the rich winemaking notes stand out on the nose, there is a degree of restraint to the fruit, and the worked notes complement rather than dominate the flavours on the palate. The oak is fine and adds depth. Another year or two will really see this fill out, and five+ years in the cellar will do this no harm at all. 13% alc, 95pts – $80.

Plantagenet – Wyjup Collection – Malbec – 2022. Inky, briary and intense, this is a cracking wine stuffed full of high-quality juicy fruit, complemented by gentle savoury notes that add depth and complexity. Not overly dense or cloying, and is all the better for it, allowing the fruit to sit front and centre under the spotlight. Just so delicious, no aging required! If you see this on a wine-list, I recommend you try it. 14% alc. 94pts – $80.

Plantagenet – Wyjup Collection – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2019. First impressions are silky and fragrant, but this rapidly shuts down and the wine gets all dark and brooding. This is an intense, powerful wine that is built for the long haul. Having said that, at no time does this get harsh or aggressive. With patience, this will be a star. A complete wine. 14.0% alc. 95pts – $80.

Highlights from the tasting panel: October 2023

Highlights from the tasting panel: October 2023

Barry Weinman: 6th November 2023

2021 vintage represents the 50th release of the Vasse Felix cabernet, and what a wine it is. Surely the best wine ever released under this label and at $55, an absolute bargain on the world wine stage. I could not resist drinking a glass (or two) at the end of the tasting, such is the quality and approachability.

The panel was also very impressed by the current Flametree Chardonnays. The S.R.S. is a serious, age worthy wine, whilst the standard release makes for excellent early drinking.

Reviewed

Flametree – S.R.S. – Chardonnay – 2022 This is really well made though, initially, it appears quite compact and restrained. The palate is both subtle and supple and starts to build impact the longer it lingers on the palate. The peach-like fruit really builds with air and is supported by fine acidity and supple oak. Whilst possessing excellent length, this remained closed in the glass, and only really started to hit its straps after being open for 24hours. One for the cellar. 13.0% alc. 95pts.

Flametree – Chardonnay – 2022. This is very complete, if not overly concentrated. There is decent fruit weight and excellent winemaking. Very accessible and ready to go now on a warm afternoon or with a simple pasta dish. 13.0% alc. 90pts.

Vasse Felix – Cabernet Sauvignon (Gold Capsule)– 2021. Fine, elegant and refined, this is textbook Margaret River cabernet. The medium bodied precise ripe fruit has been sympathetically handled making for a wine that is almost magically, supple and approachable today, yet simultaneously being capable of long-term ageing. With air, the lifted aromatics of the ripe, yet restrained fruit was a highlight. Celebrating the 50th vintage of the Vasse Felix cabernet and possibly the best wine released to date. Includes 14% malbec. The components spent 17 months in barrel (37% new). 14% alc. 96pts – $55.

First Impressions – Reds: Spring 2023

First Impressions – Reds: Spring 2023

Barry Weinman: 25th October 2023

Here is a summary of some of the highlights from a recent trade show that I attended. You can find the whites here.

I have not pointed the wines as it is hard to be completely objective when the winemaker is telling you just how good his wines are :). But I would be more than happy having a glass of any of the wines.

In terms of affordable and approachable wines, both the Red Claw pinot and Yangarra’s Noir were right on the money. I would be very happy having a glass of either of these wines with a casual meal.

The Dog Point and Yabby Lakes were the stand-out pinots for me, and the Credaro 1000 Crowns Cabernet was one of the wines of the tasting.

Reviewed

Nanny Goat – Queensberry – Pinot Noir – 2022. Whilst the standard Pinot is a good drink, this is a real step up in terms of quality and impact. Fresh, vibrant fruit is supported by refreshing acidity. There is excellent length and depth, and the finish is really supple. Drink any time over the next five years.

Dog Point – Pinot Noir – 2020. This is clean, fresh and really perfumed, supported by fine tannins and acidity. The fruit is initially shy, but builds with air. Excellent texture and mouth feel. The red fruits here are supported by gentle, earthy notes. A fine wine.

Shaw & Smith – Pinot Noir – 2022. Fresh, silky and very fine with subtle intensity, velvety texture and a seamless finish. A lovely wine.

Red Claw – Pinot Noir – 2022. There is decent depth and intensity here, but this is so approachable and such great drinking. Delicious straight from the get go and sure to be good value. Made by Yabby Lakes.

Yabby Lakes – Pinot Noir – 2022. This has similarities to the Red Claw, but has much more power, depth and intensity. Amazing length and persistence, and really silky to boot, with a seamless finish. A beautiful wine. 96 pts.

Yangarra – Noir – 2021. A grenache blend which is fleshy, supple and excellent drinking. Not serious, but textured and fun.

Yangarra – Kingswood – Shiraz – 2021. A lighter style which is subtle and elegant, with weight more akin to Pinot Noir than Shiraz but very good all the same.

Yangarra – Iron Heart – Shiraz – 2020. Much more of everything here, and very good, indeed, with powerful fruit and excellent texture supported by souring acidity that leads to a finish that’s chewy, long and elegant. The tannins are very, very fine but prodigious.

Credaro– 1000 Crowns – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2021. Intense, concentrated, dense and powerful, with amazing length and persistence. Yet somehow, this is also excellent drinking. This amazing wine comes from new plantings in Wilyabrup that are only seven years old. The vineyard is close planted with Houghton and 337 clones.

First Impressions – Whites: Spring 2023

First Impressions – Whites: Spring 2023

Barry Weinman: 25th October 2023

Here is a summary of some of the highlights from a recent trade show that I attended. I have not pointed the wines as it is very hard to be objective when the winemaker is telling you just how good his wines are.

But the fact that they have been reviewed here means that I am very happy to recommend and drink them. Most would score between 93 & 95 points.

Thanks to Troy and the team at Joval Wines for hosting this tasting.

Reviewed

Yangarra Estate are best known for their High Sands Grenache, the fruit for which comes from the original 1946 vineyard. But the High Sands is just one of a number of high-quality wines produced from an expanding portfolio of vineyards.

Yangarra Estate – Roussanne – 2022. The ripe apricot fruit has been allowed to pick up a little ripe phenolics resulting in a wine that is viscous, textured and really quite delicious. The acid provides the cut through to keep this fresh and vibrant. Would take food well.

Giant Steps – Sexton – Chardonnay – 2022. Ripe stone fruit floods the palate and there is power behind the fruit. Yet this is seamless and very fine. Precise without being lean. 95 pts.

Dog Point – Sauvignon Blanc – 2022. I like this as there are complex, almost funky notes over the right tropical fruit. It’s crisp clean and fresh with lemony acidity and decent texture. Excellent drinking.

Dog Point – Chardonnay – 2020. There’s lovely ripe stone fruit here, but the winemaking notes are the real highlight. Complex minerality and struck match support a palate that is really intense and with excellent length. Gentle almond, supple phenolics and fine acid round out very smart wine. The predominantly Mendoza clone fruit is blended with a proportion of Dijon 95. Spent 18 months in Oak (10% new).

Credaro – Kinship – Chardonnay – 2022. Bright, fresh and zesty with decent texture and fruit intensity that builds in the mouth. 30% new oak, three months of battonage, no malolactic fermentation.

Credaro – 1000 Crowns – Chardonnay – 2022. Complex intense and powerful with the winemaking influences (minerality/struck match) contributing to the excellent depth and texture. A very good wine which saw 35% new oak, plenty of barrel work and no malolactic fermentation to keep the finish crisp and balanced.

Craggy Range – Sauvignon Blanc – 2022. I should drink more wines like this! It is clean, fresh and vibrant with lovely tropical fruit, gentle texture and excellent length of flavours. Underwent 15% barrel fermentation which really adds to the mouth feel. An excellent wine.

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.

Reviewed

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.