Category Archives: New Release – Wine Reviews

Juniper Estate Rebranding & Victory Point Chardonnay

Juniper Estate Rebranding & Victory Point Chardonnay

Barry Weinman: 5th October 2021

Juniper Estate

Juniper Estate have commenced a rebranding of their range to allow for better segmentation in the market. The range includes:

  • Crossing is where the entry level wines are found
  • Canvas is for their non-traditional (for Margaret River) varieties
  • Three Fields focuses on traditional Margaret River varietals and will have the greatest commercial availability
  • Higher Planes highlights fruit from the Karridale vineyard
  • Estate showcases the Wilyabrup vineyard
  • Cornerstone is the super-premium range featuring both Wilyabrup and Karridale

There are some interesting wines in the Canvas range, but for me, the Three Fields is where the value really starts to shine.

Reviewed

Juniper Estate – Three Fields – Shiraz – 2019. Brilliant colour here. Starts off with savoury, earthy notes but there is a core of delicious ripe plum-like fruit at the heart of this wine. Excellent depth and really well made, with little in the way of new oak to get in the way of the expressive fruit. Fine graphite-like tannins add texture. Delicious drinking now with a bit of air or give it five years to flesh out. 92+pts – $28.

Juniper Estate – Three Fields – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2020. Refined, elegant and polished, with precise ripe fruit that is very attractive. Excellent length of flavours and fine tannin/oak balance, with the sweet fruit really building in the mouth. Youthful and capable of aging but this is a delight to drink now. Fruit from the Wilyabrup and Metricup vineyards. 14 months in oak (30% new). 94pts – $35.

Victory Point

I wrote recently about the 2018 Victory Point reds. Superb quality at an affordable price. In this tasting, the panel also reviewed the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Pinot was a pleasant surprise, given that Margaret River is not known for the variety, but it was the Chardonnay that really caught the attention of the panel.

A superb wine for the price.

Reviewed

Victory Point – Chardonnay – 2018. Bright lemony hue. The nose is rich, creamy expensive smelling, with supple vanillin notes. The palate is precise and taut, with a near seamless palate transition. Very long, the fruit is shy initially, but peach-like fruit really builds on the finish. Slate and minerals add to what is a great drink. Combination of Mendoza and Burgundian clones; 277,96,95 & 76. Barrel fermentation and 10 months in oak – 42% new. 95pts – $55

Richard Hamilton Rebranded

Richard Hamilton Rebranded

Barry Weinman: 2nd October 2021

To coincide with their 50th year in McLaren Vale Richard Hamilton has rebranded their range with striking new packaging. The first wines in the new packaging have been released under the estate range, with the other tiers to follow.

I reviewed the Shiraz and Cabernet, and both represent excellent drinking for the price, especially given the mature vineyards from which the fruit is sourced.

Reviewed

Richard HamiltonLittle Road – Shiraz – 2020. Great colour! Pretty plum and floral cherry fruit, supported by supple, savoury oak. Hints of liquorice and pepper add interest and complexity. The fruit is vibrant yet would benefit from a few years to shake of the cloak of tannins. 16 months in oak, 30% new. 92pts – $26

Richard Hamilton Hut Block – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2019. Pretty, sweet fruit that has impressive depth and density. The power on the palate is palpable, yet this is silky, polished and refined. Gentle chocolate and cedar notes from the oak adds to the finish. 18 months in oak, 20% new. 92pts – $26

Leeuwin Estate Update: September 2021

Leeuwin Estate Update: September 2021

Barry Weinman: 27th September 2021

A trip to Margaret River would hardly be complete without having lunch at Leeuwin Estate. The combination of great wines and superb food is irresistible.

Whilst there, I took the opportunity to try (and retry in some cases) some of the recent release wines and compare these to a few back vintages.

I am pleased to report that the wines have never been better. There are, of course, vintage variations that stamp their personality on individual wines, adding to the charm!

NB. These wines were not tasted blind, so points are only a guide.

Reviewed

Leeuwin Estate – Brut – 2019. Fresh, vibrant, and zesty, with the fruit taking on a crunchy Granny Smith apple character. The palate is creamy and nicely textured, with fine lemony acidity driving the finish. A very good aperitif style. 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay component underwent barrel fermentation. Dosage a low 5g/l. $49.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series – Riesling – 2020. The purity of fruit is outstanding, with lovely lime juice aromas. The near-seamless palate structure is very impressive. Delicate and ethereal, history suggests that this will comfortably age for 10+ years. Riesling is the largest planting on estate, which is a testament to the popularity of this wine. 93-94pts $23.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series – Sauvignon Blanc– 2020. Aromatic tropical fruit, suggestive of gooseberry, lantana and passionfruit. The palate carries on the tropical theme, but this is complemented by a lovely creamy texture. Fine acidity carries the finish making for an excellent drink. 30% of the wine is fermented in oak with frequent lees steering. 93+pts – $31.

Leeuwin EstatePrelude – Chardonnay – 2020. This is such an impressive wine. The peach and nectarine fruit has intrinsic depth and power. The textural components are a highlight as is the length of flavour. 40% new oak, no malolactic fermentation. 94pts – $38.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series – Chardonnay – 2018. So intense and yet so fine, the fruit is the star here. Delicate and refined, the palate is seamless, long, supple and textured. Full review available here. 97pts – $135.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2017. Fresh, vibrant and pretty red berry fruit, but with subtle depth that sets this apart from the ordinary. So long, fine, and elegant, with a silky texture. Very serious yet amazingly, drinking brilliantly now. 50% new oak and includes 2% Malbec. 95pts – $79

Houghton 2019 Vintage Premium Reds

Houghton 2019 Vintage Premium Reds

Barry Weinman: 23rd September 2021

Superficially at least, there has been significant changes at Houghton in recent years. None more so than the sale of the original winery in the Swan Valley. But in reality, this was just a superficial measure, as the heart of Houghton had moved years ago to their winemaking facilities in Nannup.

The other note-worthy change was the departure of senior winemaker Ross Pamment in mid 2020. Whilst this had the potential to be more significant, Ross was succeeded by the very talented Courtney Treacher which is great news for fans of the Houghton style.

Courtney has been managing the Nannup facilities since 2013, and has been instrumental in crafting wines such as Jack Mann and Gladstones ever since.

Very safe hands indeed!

So to the release of the 2019 premium Houghton Cabernets. The Jack Mann is rightly considered one of Australia’s great Cabernets. Ironically, this wine comes from the Justin Vineyard in Frankland, rather than Margaret River, the spiritual home of Cabernet in Western Australia.

Also from Frankland, the C.W. Ferguson is another cracking wine, which in 2019, is the equal of Jack Mann, albeit in a slightly lighter, more perfumed style.

The trio is rounded out by the Gladstone from the Batley vineyard in Margaret River. This is a completely different beast and serves to highlight the stylistic difference between the regions. 2019 was a cooler year and this is reflected in savoury, herbal notes that complement the immensely dense fruit.

The wines spend approximately 16 months in high intensity French oak, of which 30%-40% is new.

Amazingly, over five days on the tasting bench, the fruit in these wines just got better and better, especially in the C.W. Ferguson and Gladstones.

Reviewed

HoughtonJack Mann – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2019. Gorgeous ripe redcurrant fruit that has hints of violets and blueberry. This smells expensive. The palate is silky, supple and moreish. There is great depth and density, but this is all about restrained power. The fruit slowly builds in the glass, and this took three days to really show its best. Very age-worthy. 95+pts – $175

HoughtonC.W. Ferguson – Cabernet/Malbec – 2019. What a delightful wine. The pretty blueberry fruit has great depth, supported by supple spice notes (cloves). The fruit on the palate is initially closed and retrained. With plenty of air however, the wonderfully vibrant fruit shines providing great drinkability, even at this early stage of its life. The (expensive) oak has been carefully managed to ensure that the fruit remains the focus. My pick of the range and likely to be excellent value. 96+pts – $78.

HoughtonGladstones – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2019. This is a very different style, with much greater fruit weight and density to the wines from Frankland. Not better nor worse, just different. The precise cassis-like fruit is perfectly ripe and quite beautiful., with great length of flavours. The texture is a highlight and the finish near seamless. The cooler year is reflected in supple earthy/herbal notes that complement the fruit very well. A textbook example of very high-quality cooler year Cabernet that is very age-worthy. 96pts – $100.

New Release Reds: September 2021

New Release Reds: 23rd September 2021

There were several highlights in this tasting including:

The 2017 Hutton Vale Grenache/Mataro is a bit of a treat. Great fruit quality that has been massaged in the winery. Fragrant, ripe and supple. The wine spent 24 months in oak, of which 20% is new.

Howard Park’s Abercrombie is another cracking wine from the lauded 2018 vintage. An almost equal blend of Margaret River and Mount Barker fruit aged for 22 months in French oak (60% new).

Victory Point’s 2018 Cabernet is a great effort and the cheaper Mallee Root is a knock-out for value!

Reviewed

Hutton Vale FarmEden Valley – Grenache/Mataro – 2017. A complete wine. Fine and ripe, with elegant red berry fruit supported by a web of supple, savoury oak. The balance is exceptional. The ripe plum fruit really builds in the mouth, slowly transitioning to super-fine graphite-like tannins. Great now or cellar for 10 years. 94pts – $65.

Howard ParkAbercrombie – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018. This is a bit of Jekyll and Hyde wine. The fruit is fragrant, elegant and refined on the nose, but the power really shows on the palate. Dense, intense, and impactful, this has great depth to the fruit and impressive length. Drink now with the best steak you can afford or keep for 20 years and be rewarded. Superb! 96pts – $150.

Lake BreezeArthur’s Reserve – Cabernet/Malbec – 2018. Gorgeous fruit on the nose that is ripe, supple and plush. Carries through on the palate but here the fine tannins and savoury oak act as a blanket, suppressing the fruit for the time being. Give it air or ten-fifteen years in the cellar to see it at its best. 93+pts – $45.

Victory Point – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018. This is a most impressive. Long, fine and supple, with real density to the velvety fruit. Textured, and with near seamless palate transition, this is both age-worthy and hard to resist now. 94+pts- $55.

Victory PointMallee Root – Cabernet/Malbec/Petit Verdot – 2018. Ripe blueberry fruit with hints of violets. Fine, supple and elegant, with subtle fruit and silky winemaking. A complete wine that makes me want to drink rather than taste. A bargain too. 93-94pts – $28.50.

Evoi: Pre-Release Tasting – Sept 2021

Evoi: Pre-Release Tasting – Sept 2021

Barry Weinman: 10th September 2021

I first became acquainted with Evoi wines 18 months ago at the behest of Brendan Jansen MW. He raved about the quality and value on offer. At the end of my visit, I was in full agreement.

I was also impressed that the wines had been held back and released with some bottle age.

Last week, Matt Holden (the Western Australian distributor) popped in to show off the current vintage wines and give us the opportunity to try some of the future releases.

As always with this type of exercise, it was fascinating to see how the vintage variations played out in the wines. The quality was uniformly high, but there were subtle variations in the style.

Prices for the newer vintages are on the rise, so now is a good opportunity to stock up on some of the aged wines.

NB. These wines were not tasted blind, so points are only a guide.

Reviewed

Evoi – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – 2017. On the nose, the vibrant, herbaceous SB fruit comes to the fore, whilst on the palate, the creamy, textured, near seamless mouthfeel is a highlight. An excellent wine and great drinking at four years of age. 92-93pts – $28

EvoiReserve – Chardonnay – 2016. A lovely wine where the supple, elegant fruit is perfectly framed by fine-grained quality oak. Creamy and textural, with a slight savoury edge, this is both elegant but impactful. Gentle toast notes build on the finish. Dangerously easy to drink. 94pts – $69.

EvoiReserve – Chardonnay – 2017. This smells expensive, with curry leaf minerality reminding me of a powerful Corton. The white nectarine fruit is textured, reserved and slightly chewy, with gentle tropical and pineapple notes. Minerality builds on the finish. With density and richness, the power belies the cooler year. 95pts – $69.

Evoi – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015. Serious fruit that has depth, texture and power. Impressive density of fruit for a wine at this price point and worthy of time in the cellar. A bargain. 93pts – $35.

EvoiThe Satyr – Cabernet Blend – 2014. Impenetrable density of fruit. There is so much on offer, but this is so tightly wound that you are assailed by the power without the fruit getting a chance to fully express its character right now. A special wine that demands a decade in the cellar to unwind. 95+pts – $69.

EvoiThe Satyr – Cabernet Blend – 2015. Like the 2014, there is real depth, but here the fruit has a chance to shine. Pretty Cabernet blueberry fruit, with supple oak adding complexity and texture. Not quite as powerful as the previous, making this a great medium-term drink whilst waiting for the 2014 to open up. 94pts – $69.

EvoiThe Satyr – Cabernet Blend – 2016. Here, the vibrant fruit and the skilled winemaking collide to make for a great drinking wine. Serious? Yes, but also full of life and personality. Worthy of time in the cellar, but hard to resist now. 95+pts – $69.

New Releases Whites: September 2021

New Releases Whites: September 2021

Barry Weinman: 5th September 2021

The latest Castle Rock Rieslings are a fascinating trio of wines. The fruit for the Porongurup and Skywalk is exactly the same, with the free run juice going into the Porongurup and the light pressings going into the Skywalk.

The extra skin contact for the Skywalk results in a wine with more phenolic richness and texture making it more approachable and satisfying in the short term. Whereas the pure fruit in the Porongorup needs years to really shine.

Sitting comfortably in the middle is the RS21. With 21 grams/litre of residual sugar, this is an off-dry style similar to a German Kabinett. Refreshing and delicious, this could be the perfect wine for a warm spring afternoon.

Reviewed.

Castle RockSkywalk– Riesling – 2021. Very pale. The fragrant fruit is initially a touch muted on the nose. The palate is taut and fresh, with lemony fruit balanced by refreshing acidity. There is more obvious mid-palate weight and gentle phenolic texture resulting in a wine that is great drinking now or over the next 5 years. Excellent intensity and length on the close. 93pts – $21.

Castle RockRS21 – Riesling – 2021. The sweetness is more obvious here, in keeping with a German Kabinett. Vibrant and racy, with an intense core of fruit. Delicious and moreish. Not a style for everyone but worth trying. 92pts – $21.

Duke’sSingle Vineyard – Riesling – 2021. This is pretty, delicate, fine, restrained and balanced, with excellent length of flavours. A little shy at this early stage but time in the bottle will see it blossom. 92pts.

Dancing QueenBy Merrill – Riesling – 2021 . With very pretty floral and lime fruit this is a little more aromatic than many Rieslings. Lively and fresh, with excellent acidity and good length of flavours. This would be a good alternative to a SB on a warm spring afternoon while chatting with friends. 91pts – $25

C’est Pas La Mer À Boire – Picpoul de Poul De Pinet – 2020. Lively and fresh, with excellent texture and gentle viscosity. Gentle honey and saline notes add interest. Phenolics and perhaps a touch of residual adding mouthfeel. 89pts – $22.

Sandalford1840 – Rose – 2021. Despite the very pale colour, this has impressive intensity. Fresh, floral, and pretty, with gentle berry notes. The palate is surprisingly dry and savoury, with fairly neutral fruit and excellent texture. A good effort and sure to be a hit with a platter of antipasto. 89pts – $25.

Grosset 2021 Rieslings

Grosset 2021 Rieslings

Barry Weinman: 1st September 2021

If, like me, you are a fan of Riesling, then the wines of Grosset need no introduction. After all, they have been lauded by both consumers and critics for more than two decades.

But, as a consumer it is easy to become complacent, and go searching for new experiences and new producers. In addition to the plethora of Clare and Eden Valley producers, Western Australia and Tasmania are consistently producing some exquisite Rieslings.

With this in mind, the tasting panel were almost shocked at just how breathtakingly beautiful the 2021 Rieslings from Grosset are.

I think every Riesling fanatic in Australia should try these wines, as they are the benchmark by which all other wines should be judged.

And if further proof of Jeffery Grosset’s brilliance is required, he has released a wonderfully fragrant and silky Fiano that is unlike any that I have tasted before.

Reviewed

Grosset – Springvale- Riesling – 2021. Exquisite wine. Precise, taut and restrained, but with a core of amazing fruit. Gentle lime comes to the fore, with a touch of zest adding the high notes. The silky mouthfeel is seamless, with amazingly fine and polished acidity that has the ability to carry this wine for decades in the cellar. Delicious and profound all at once. 96+pts

Grosset – Polish Hill – Riesling – 2021 . The aromatics here are a highlight. This is fleshy, juicy and packed with citrus fruit over a hint of musk. The palate is supple and has amazing intensity, with the fruit framed by slate and mineral notes. Great depth and length of fruit. With a riot of flavours, this is a super-fun wine now but also guaranteed to age for decades. 97pts

Grosset – Alea – Riesling – 2021. This is fragrant, floral and very fine, with gentle tropical fruit, berries, a touch of honey and hints of musk. The residual sugar just serves to highlight the beautiful fruit here and adds depth and mouthfeel on the finish. A complete wine that tastes like spring in a glass. 94pts

Grosset – Apiana – Fiano – 2021. This is quite superb. Fine, elegant and very long, with fresh floral fruit notes over perfumed talc and gentle spice. Length and persistence are a highlight with perhaps just a hint of residual sugar adding texture. A real surprise! 93pts

August 2021: New Releases

August 2021: New Releases

Barry Weinman: 23th August 2021

Sandalford Winery

In what must surely be the most exciting news in Australian wine this year, Ross Pamment has taken on the role of Senior Winemaker at Sandalford. Given the mature vineyard holdings that Sandalford have, I am very keen to see the results.

Below is a cross-section of some of the more worthwhile wines that the panel reviewed over the last six weeks.

Reviewed

Ashbrook EstateMargaret River – Verdelho – 2020. Comforting, user friendly and delicious. Bright tropical fruit, with gentle phenolics adding to the supple mouthfeel. 91pts – $27

Ashbrook Estate – Semillon – 2020. The nose is clean and fresh with lanolin and bitter almond highlights. The palate is textured, chewy, mouth-coating and long. Try food with a bit of spice or even chilli crabs. 91pts – $27

Ashbrook Estate – Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc – 2019. Lanolin and lemon pith from the Semillon, with bright Sauvignon Blanc fruit adding the high notes. This is a delight to drink as the balance, texture, mouthfeel and length are all commendable. 91pts – $27

FaberFrankland River – Malbec– 2020. Lots of minty eucalypt over red currant and blackberry fruit. The palate is very long, with a savoury texture and gently chewy tannins. Excellent oak use. This is quite robust in its youth, so drink it with rich food, or tuck it away in the cellar for the next 5-10 years. 92pts – $35.

FaberRiche – Shiraz – 2020. Another delicious wine under this label. Here, the ripe fruit is combined with savoury tannins and gentle savoury oak. The freshness and balance make this a great early drink, but history suggests that this will be even better with 10 years in the bottle, given the depth of fruit on show. 93pts – $30.

Giant Steps Fatal Shore – Pinot Noir– 2019. Pretty perfumed strawberry and cherry fruit the focus, yet there is depth and power sitting underneath. The textural components are aided by some whole-bunch ferment savoury characters. The palate is linear and a bit closed, but this will blossom with time in a decanter, or a few years in the cellar. 93pts – $75.

Higher Planes – Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec – 2018. Taut, with muted fruit, this is a restrained, cooler climate wine, with drying tannins adding texture. Cassis/blackcurrant fruit builds. This would work very well with food now but would benefit from 5 – 10 years cellaring. 93pts – $28.

SandalfordEstate Reserve – Chardonnay – 2019. Lithe and fresh, with restrained fruit and subtle winemaking. Complex, fine and elegant, there is subtle depth to the fruit. This may well be the sleeper of the tasting. Should open and build for a few years in the bottle. 93pts – $35.

SandalfordWilyabrup – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – 2019. An excellent wine, where the cassis/blackcurrant fruit is the focus, well supported by subtle French oak that adds a savoury lift. Decent density and power, yet with a silky texture that supports early consumption. Ultimately, the graphite-like tannins make their presence felt of the very close, so five years in the cellar should work a treat. 94pts – $22.

Trait – Chardonnay – 2020. A combination of savoury fruit and textural winemaking components, with a touch of struck match and flinty minerals. Feels like a Chablis, given the crispness of the palate and the retrained fruit. However there is excellent depth and density. Best in 3-5 years. A label to watch! 93+pts – $89.

Voyager Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2017. Polished, dense and textured, though the fruit is a touch muted at present. Very structured and reserved. Bordeaux-like, and from a cool year, this requires a bit of faith and a lot of patience to see its best. But the outcome should be excellent once the perfumed fruit has a chance to open up. 94+pts – $85.

Peccavi Estate: 2021 Release Highlights

Peccavi Estate 2021 Release Highlights

Barry Weinman: 17th August 2021

Peccavi Estate was founded by Jeremy Muller, as the culmination of a global search for an ideal vineyard location.

Muller purchased an established 16-hectare vineyard sitting in the Yallingup sub-region of Margaret River and set about adding new clones of Merlot to further improve the varietal composition.

With winemaking led by Bruce Dukes from Naturaliste Vintners, this is definitely a winery to watch.

Reviewed

Peccavi – Chardonnay – 2018. The rich fruit here is most appealing, with layers of medium toast oak adding depth and texture. The oak sits a little proud of the fruit initially, but this settles down quickly in the glass as the peachy fruit builds. Dense, serious and very long, this tastes expensive! 94pts – $65.

Peccavi – Chardonnay – 2019. A very well-made wine where the supple fruit really builds in the glass. The balance is a highlight, with the oak well matched to the fruit and the excellent acidity adding drive to the palate. The length of flavours and texture are a highlight. A cooler region, higher acidity style that will benefit from at least 3 – 5 years. Or drink it now with grilled prawns or a smoky eggplant dish. 95pts – $65.

Peccavi – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018. Great combination of ripe, elegant fruit and textural winemaking. The tannins are very fine, though prodigious, the fruit somewhat hidden on a very drying finish. But the potential is undeniable. Quality fruit and winemaking on show. 94+pts – $75

Peccavi – Syrah (Shiraz) – 2020. Brilliant purple colour! The cherry and plum fruit is bright and super fresh, with noteworthy intensity. The fruit really shines on the palate, supported by gently chewy textural notes and supple oak management. With excellent length of flavours, this lithe, supple, mid weight wine is a great drink, but is also sure to evolve for ten years if desired. 94pts – $55.