Singlefile – Chardonnay – Family Reserve – 2018 (18.7/20pts – $60). This is a great wine. Complex and creamy, with powerful fruit and very refined winemaking inputs. Peach-like fruit with citrus highlights really build in the glass. The suppleness to the palate is a highlight, with the creamy texture adding depth. Excellent fruit, oak and winemaking combine to make this a brilliant drink now, but also one that will age well for at least five years. (From a 30 y/o vineyard, the fruit was hand-picked, barrel fermented in French oak (40% new), lees stirring and only 12% malolactic fermentation). (June 24)
Howard Park – Chardonnay – Flint Rock – 2018 (17.9/20pts – $28). Whilst I was tempted to review the premium Howard Park Chardonnay, the value offered by the Flint Rock made this a stand-out. This wine is a bit deceptive, as it starts off very easy to drink and satisfying, but then starts to build greater depth and texture, with the ripe fruit perfectly matched to the oak and lees work. A fine wine with a creamy finish, the generosity of fruit makes this great drinking now. (Aged in older oak and spends 10 months on lees). (June 24)
Plantagenet – Chardonnay – York – 2018 (18.4/20pts – $40). A great way to finish the tasting. This is fine, refined, elegant and long, with supple stone fruit and citrus notes combined with impeccable (French) oak handling. The latter adds texture and depth, without dulling the fruit expression. A stately wine that is great now, but would benefit from five years in the cellar. (June 24)
Howard Park – Riesling – Flint Rock – 2018. (18.5/20pts – $28). Pretty floral notes over a core of slate-like minerality. In the mouth, this is a delight, with the floral fruit flooding the palate, with hints of tropical fruit and talc. The palate transition is quite remarkable, with the fine lemony acid only making its presence at the very close. A wine that has the potential to bring new fans to the variety. (25 April 2019).
Howard Park – Riesling – Porongurup – 2018 (18.7/20pts – $35). Similar floral aromatics to the Flint Rock, though this is a little more restrained and less obvious initially. The palate is fresh, light and pristine, with the perfumed aromatics building over time. It is the depth of fruit that sets this apart from its siblings and is a wine for the cellar. (25 April 2019).
Shingleback – Rosé – Red Knot – 2018 (17/20pts – $18). A blend of Pinot, Shiraz and Grenache. Very pale and quite savoury. The refreshing acid carries the fruit on the palate, giving the impression of a bone-dry finish. There is decent length and mouth-feel, ensuring that this would be great with food. The label says “Crisp and Dry” and this fits the bill perfectly. (April 17).
Paxton – Tempranillo – 2018 (17.7/20pts $25) Pretty red berry and floral fruit notes on the nose. The palate is bright and fresh, with delicious savoury fruit coating the palate and building in layers. The tannins and acidity keep things fresh, making for a great drink. Pizza or pasta – the choice is yours. (April 17).
Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2016 (18.8/20pts – $98). Wow, wow, wow, this has it all. Bright, fresh floral fruit and savoury notes from the oak leads into a silky finish framed by fine tannins. A joy to drink now, but sure to age well for a decade or more. Gets serious on the close, with density of fruit, graphite and tar-like notes. (April 15).
Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Trinders – 2016 (18.5/20pts – $31). Given that this wine is the entry level Cabernet from Cape Mentelle, the quality is nothing short of outstanding. The dense, ripe fruit is a highlight. This is a serious wine, with chewy, structured fruit and savoury, texturing oak and tannins. Remains supple and lithe despite the power, with blueberry fruit building with air. Great now, but also age-worthy. (April 15).
Vasse Felix – Cabernet Sauvignon – Filius – 2016. (18.2/20pts – $28). Fresh and supple red berry fruit, with hints of mint on the nose. The palate is fine and savoury, with supple tannins and acid combining on a silky finish. Fresh and approachable, this is such an easy drink now, but has enough depth and Bordeaux-like structure to allow for short to medium-term cellaring. Excellent. Aged for 12 months in French oak, this includes 14% Malbec. (April 15).
Moss Wood – Semillon – 2018 (18/20pts). Almost green tinged, this is very grassy and herbaceous, with lanolin notes. The palate is fine, though very zesty, with acidity that, whilst intense, magically allows the creamy, textured fruit to shine. Would be brilliant now with cured fish or super fresh sashimi, but will also age well. (March 24)
Singlefile – Chardonnay – Run Free – 2017 (17.9/20pts – $25). This has a little wow factor. Creamy, silky fruit and supple oak meld into a seamless package. The intensity and fruit weight are note-worthy at this price point. There are hints of pineapple and tropical fruit, but it is the melon notes that shine through. Fresh acidity ensures a lively finish. (March 24)
Moss Wood – Merlot – Ribbon Vale – 2016 (18/20 pts). A very fine wine, though this is closed and tight. The fine tannins and acid suppress the fruit, though the souring acidity adds drive to the finish. Give it a few years to open up, and 10 years to shine. (March 16).
Flametree – Cabernet Sauvignon – SRS – 2015 (18.3/20+pts). A step up in power and fruit weight, this is dense, powerful and compact. Darker fruit characters combine with serious oak on a palate that is chewy and textured, with an abundance of fine tannins on the finish. Needs years, but will be very good indeed. (March 16).
Thorn Clarke – Cabernet Sauvignon – Sandpiper – 2017 (17.8 – 18/20pts – $20). An approachable, modern wine with delicious red berry fruit, gentle spice and supple texture. Souring acidity and excellent structure add to the appeal of this excellent value wine. (March 16).
Vasse Felix – Cabernet Sauvignon – Gold Capsule – 2015 (18.5+/20pts). Refined red fruits with just a touch of mint and eucalypt. The palate is fine and silky, with the tannins gradually building, eventually closing down the fruit. This is a serious, powerful wine, where the fruit has been expertly managed to make it approachable now, yet is also guaranteed to age well for a decade or more. A complete wine with great poise. (March 16).
Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2016 (18.6/20pts). Red currant and bright blueberry fruit, with floral highlights reminiscent of violets. Long and supple, this is a charming wine now, but there is density to the fruit that would benefit from 10 years+ in the cellar. Pre-release sample. (Feb 27).
Cullen – Cabernet Sauvignon – Diana Madeline – 2017 (18.7/20pts). Intense red berry fruit over subtle mint notes. Quality is stamped all over a palate which is long, refined, supple and elegant. Will build depth with time in the glass or a decade in the cellar. A sublime wine of great charm. (Feb 27).
Leeuwin Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015 (18.7/20pts). Intense, with laser-like focus, the powerful fruit has been paired to fine oak and winemaking. Very long, with taut acidity and fine, if prominent tannins. Needs a decade or two in the cellar, or an hour or two in a decanter. Due for April Release. (Feb 27).
Leeuwin Estate – Chardonnay – Art Series – 2016 (19/20pts). What an extraordinary wine. Barely darker than water right now with subdued/muted fruit notes on the nose. The palate however is amazingly long and intense, with the flavours and textures seamlessly coating the entire palate and lasting for what appears to be minutes on the close. Is this the best Chardonnay yet produced in Australia? It might well be. (Pre-release sample). (Feb 25).
Deep Woods – Chardonnay – Reserve – 2017 (18.8/20pts). A very different wine, but just as good as anything in the tasting. Elegance and poise are the keys to this wine. The fruit quality is superb, but rather than being overt and showy, this is refined and restrained. Peach-like fruit is the main focus, with minerality and supple lemony acidity driving the finish. The textural nature of the palate attests to the finest oak treatment. Sublime. (Feb 25).
Cape Mentelle – Chardonnay – 2017 (18.7/20pts). Wow. This is a powerful wine, yet remains taut as a drum right now. The intensity of the fruit is amazing as is the way the palate seamlessly transitions from front to back. The white peach and nectarine fruit is superbly matched to high quality, fine grained French oak. Quite superb. (Feb 25).
Singlefile – Chardonnay – Family Reserve – 2018 (18.6/20pts – $50). An immense, powerful wine with great presence. Tropical fruit, peach and nectarine are all on show in this densely flavoured wine, with expertly managed oak adding texture, yet tis remains elegant and has a very long palate. Outstanding. (Feb 25).
Evans & Tate – Chardonnay – Redbrook – Reserve – 2014 ($65). Honeysuckle, melon and zesty grapefruit notes. The palate is taut and reserved, more so than the 2015. Lanolin, minerals, driving acidity. A taut, shy wine right now, this is worthy of spending years in the cellar to let the fruit express. (Feb 4)
Evans & Tate – Shiraz – Redbrook – Estate – 2016. An explosion of super sweet fruit in the plum and red berry spectrum, with spice notes building in the glass. The palate is flooded by white pepper and spice, with the structural components keeping the fruit in check. A very impressive wine that, whilst delicious now, will be much better in 10 years’ time (fruit cold soaked with a proportion of whole-bunch). (Feb 4)
Evans & Tate – Shiraz – Redbrook – Reserve – 2013. More restrained and reticent than the Estate. The palate is sophisticated and complete, with hints of mint, vanilla and supple spice. Only 20% new oak, but this makes an impact in a positive way. A textural treat that is sure to age well. (Feb 4)
Evans & Tate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Redbrook – Reserve – 2013. Inky, intense, powerful and brooding, with chewy tannins. Tight, structured, very long, with the oak barely noticeable. Needs a decade to open and will continue to improve for many more years, yet you can already see the quality of the fruit open up with air. (Feb 4)
Vasse Felix – Chardonnay – Premium (Gold Capsule) – 2017 (18.3/20pts. $37). I really like that the fruit (peach/nectarine) is the main focus. The palate has complex minerality, persistence and presence, with lees work adding texture and mouthfeel. The near seamless finish is long and refined, with subtle caramel notes to close. Will be a treat with shellfish or grilled chicken. (5 Jan).
Moss Wood – Chardonnay – Wilyabrup – 2017 (18.5/20pts. $78). Complex nose and palate. Stone fruit and grapefruit characters combine with creamy oak to produce a rich, almost hedonistic wine, yet there is enough restraint and balance to make this an outstanding drink. The seamless creamy palate and supple fruit are a highlight and there is excellent length and persistence. Very age-worthy. (5 Jan).
Veuve Clicquot – Vintage- 2008. Elegant, balanced and near seamless, with a lovely purity to the fruit.Closed and quite linear, this will reward 3 – 5 years in the cellar. Given that this is still available for around $100, this is the best value wine in the tasting. (Dec 18).
Egly-Ouriet – Grand Brut – Rosé – NV. What an impressive wine. Very rich and intense, with perfumed fruit. The palate is intense,youthful and almost chewy. A very fresher wine that would accompany richer foods nicely as well as take some time in the cellar. The base wine is from2011, and the producer has sought ripeness in the vineyard which contributes to the richness (no chaptalisation was required at vinification). (Dec 18).
Pol Roger – Sir Winston Churchill – 2006. Incredible vinosity and finesse. This is all about latent power. Very fine, this has great presence in the mouth and the thrilling acidity is a highlight. One of the best wines of the tasting. A superstar! (Dec 18).
Croser – Pinot Noir/Chardonnay – Piccadilly Valley – 2013 (18.1/20pts. $33). The mid-straw colour attests to the bottle age, as does the complex, aged notes on the nose. The palate is, long, rich, intense but balanced by bright Granny Smith acidity. A powerful, food-friendly wine with excellent mouthfeel.Great Value. (December 9).
Yarra Burn – Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Munier – Vintage – 2015 (17.5/20pts. $25). Quite a serious nose, with complex autolysis characters a feature. The palate is medium-weight, with good balance. A slightly higher dosage makes for easy drinking, but there is enough substance to the wine for those looking for a bit of complexity. Excellent value. (December 9).
Vincent Dampt – Chardonnay – Chablis – 1er Cru – Vaillons – 2015 (18.6/20 pts. $46.00). A highlight of the tasting. Refined, fine and elegant, with subtle fruit and minerality. Very long, the finish is near seamless. Gentle aromatics build and are accompanied by a steely minerality and fine acidity. An exciting wine now, but also one that is sure to age brilliantly over the next 5+ years. (Nov 8).
Sylvain Mosnier – Chardonnay – Chablis – 1er Cru – Beauroy – 2016 (18/20 pts. $45.00). Classic Chablis, with elegant, yet concentrated fruit paired to supple minerality and gentle flint/struck match notes. Excellent mouthfeel and length on the palate, with gentle toast and honey notes to close. Needs a year or two to open up. (Nov 8).
Sebastien Dampt – Chardonnay – Chablis – 1er Cru – Vaillons – 2015. (18.5/20 pts. $56.50). Taut, fine and elegant, this is an excellent wine that needs 3 – 5 years in the cellar. The balance is key here, as everything is in place, though the fruit is muted at present. Lemon, honey and fine minerality are paired to ripe tropical fruit. Super stuff!
Avani – Shiraz (Syrah) – The Earth – 2015 (18/20 pts. $85). Northern Rhone in style, with savoury fruit and souring acidity key features. Fragrant, almost floral fruit, with plum, cedar and exotic spices. Very good intensity of fruit, with dusty, chalky tannins. A wine that needs food now, or extended cellaring. (The winery has moved on to the 2016, but this can still be picked up in the trade for around $70). (Oct 24).
Brash – Shiraz – 2015 (17.8/20pts). Dark cherry fruit and cooler, herbal notes on the nose. The palate displays high quality fruit, with excellent intensity, texture and length. Fine tannins that are actually quite silky add to the balance. Needs a few years to open up, but a smart wine. (Oct 24).
Suckfizzle – Chardonnay – 2017 (18/20pts. $65 ). Attractive nose, where the flint and mineral characters are a highlight. Refreshing grapefruit flavours and acidity define the palate, though with air, the subtle stone fruit notes start to emerge. Lees and barrel ferment characters add depth. A cooler style for the cellar. (October 20).
Vasse Felix – Chardonnay – Gold Capsule – 2016 (18 – 18.5/20pts – $36). An impressive wine. The high-quality fruit is ripe and supple, with creamy oak and lees notes. The oak treatment is a highlight, the richness is balanced by fine acidity and builds on the finish. This is the sleeper of the tasting. Just a few years should see this blossom.with silky oak adding texture. Well-crafted and persistent, this could even take a few years in the cellar. (October 20).
Fraser Gallop – Cabernet Sauvignon – Parterre – 2013 (18.3/20pts. $45). Appears more serious on the nose, with high quality oak framing the fruit. The palate is a highlight, as the silky texture is the perfect foil for the ripe, cool-climate berry characters. Hints of mint and eucalyptus round out an impressive, age-worthy wine. (The winery has moved on to the 2014, but this is a bargain at $35 from Nicks). (October 8).
Higher Planes – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2013 (18+/20pts. $38). High quality fruit, with raspberry, blackcurrant and even a touch of cassis on display. Fine, texturing tannins and supple oak serve to close down the fruit on the finish a little, so give it some air, or 10+ years in the cellar. A classic Margaret River Cabernet and very good value. (October 8).
Xanadu – Cabernet Sauvignon – Exmoor – 2015 (18/20pts – $18). For an entry-level wine, this is a cracking effort and got extra points for value. Supple mulberry, dark berry and plum notes, with silky oak adding texture. Well-crafted and persistent, this could even take a few years in the cellar. (October 8).
Baron Amarillo – Tempranillo – Riojo – Reserva – 2012 (17.5/20 pts. $10). A traditional style showing earthy, forest-floor characters over sweet, red berry fruit. This is quite ripe and seductive, with cedar and vanillin characters courtesy of the (American) oak. The palate is initially firm, but the fruit lingers admirably. Almost pinot-like, with masses of red berry fruit. Perhaps a bit rustic, but this is all part of the charm of this excellent value red. Spent 3 years in oak and is exclusive to Aldi. (Sept 28).
El Toro Macho – Tempranillo – Utiel – Requena – Barrica – 2013 (17.5/20 pts. $7). Utiel – Requena is a wine district in the Valencia region of Spain. The fruit is more in the plum spectrum compared to the Amarillo. The palate is fresh and lithe, with fine tannins and souring acidity complementing the supple mouthfeel and decent fruit weight. Good length and an enjoyable drink on its own or with slow-roasted lamb shoulder. Brilliant value from Aldi. (Sept 28).
Sittella – Pinot Noir/Chardonnay – Grand Vintage – Marie Christien Lugten – 2013. ($36). Really shows just how good these wines are, with the density of fruit a feature. The Chardonnay adds drive and finesse, whilst the Pinot provides generosity and depth. From 2013 onwards, the amount of reserve wine used in the Grand Vintage has increased, adding depth and complexity. The richness of this wine allows for a slightly higher dosage of 7.33g/l. (Sept 16).
Sittella – Pinot/Chardonnay – Cuvee Rose – NV ($32). Very pretty, pale copper/bronze colour resulting from the addition of 10% still wine which was made from the same vineyard as the base wine. Complex and textured, red berry fruit is in the strawberry spectrum. This is quite vinous, with the high-quality fruit a feature. 30 months on lees and a modest 6.5g/l dosage adds depth and mouth-feel. (Sept 16).
Sittella – Chardonnay – Avant Garde – Blanc de Blanc – NV. ($45). Surprisingly restrained on the nose initially, and the palate is where this wine shines. Rich, powerful, polished and supple. The depth of the Chardonnay fruit is a highlight, with apple, lemon/citrus and gentle stone fruit characters that finish with slate-like minerality. There is tremendous length of flavours to close. A brilliant wine that will hold its own against many higher priced wines. (Sept 16).
Sittella – Chardonnay – Reserve – Wilyabrup – 2017 ($31.50). From a very cool year, with fruit that was in perfect condition when harvested. Fresh, powerful and zesty, this is all potential right now. The fruit is dense and ripe, though tightly bound and shy. The palate is supple, balanced and very long. Subtle pineapple and lemon, along with the trademark white peach fruit. Tightly coiled and powerful, there are hints of spice, citrus and minerality to close. Needs years, but a great wine already. (Sept 10).
Sittella – Cabernet Sauvignon – Berns Reserve – 2015. ($52). An amalgam of fruit and savoury characters, with brilliant red berry/cherry fruit, hints of cassis and mint and very fine, texturing tannins. Superbly made, and worthy of extended time in the cellar. Gets a little chewy to close, so give it 10 years to really start to open up. A great wine! (Sept 10).
Shottesbrooke – Grenache – Single Vineyard – 2016 (18.4/20pts – $33). This took a day to really open up, but I was rewarded with fragrant plum, cherry and bright red berry fruit that was quite captivating. The palate has it all; Density, structure, slightly chewy tannins and persistent, high-quality fruit. Long, fine and silky, this is a treat now, but will also age well for 5 – 10 years. A beautiful wine. (August 25).
Shottesbrooke – Cabernet Sauvignon – Punch – Reserve – 2012 (18.5/20pts – $60). Lovely cassis and fresh berry fruit to open, with hints of sage, rosemary and mint chocolate. The depth and density of the fruit is impressive, as is the balance, with the finish remaining lithe and supple, despite the intensity of the fruit. Very long, the oak is apparent on the finish, but is well matched to the fruit. At 6 years of age, this is just starting to open up, but is still worthy of extended time in the cellar. (August 25).
St Mary’s – Carillon – 2015 (18.3+/20pts – $40). A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Lovely bright fruit that shows, mint, eucalypt, menthol and blackcurrant with even a hint of cassis. The fruit on the palate is mouth-filling and balanced, with fine tannins, racy acidity and excellent length. This is a delicious wine that can happily be drunk now, but would benefit from 5 – 10 years in the cellar. Sealed with a good quality natural cork. (August 12).
Howard Park – Shiraz – Scotsdale – 2016 (18.5/20 – $50). Sweet, fresh strawberry fruit that is seductive and ripe on the nose, with savoury undertones of cedar and spice. The palate is firm, yet balanced, with fine tannins that frame the plum and redcurrant fruit. Hints of liquorice on a supple, textured finish. Delicious! (August 4).
Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Cellar Collection – 2016 (18.5/20pts – $35). Approachable, seductive fruit sets the scene, with a core of dark fruit and tannins that keep the mid palate in check and aid the overall balance. Aromas of mint, blueberry fruit and herbal notes add to the package. An extra half point for being absolutely delicious now, yet this would benefit from 5 years in the cellar. (August 4).
Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Leston – 2016 (18.5/20pts – $50). Impressive wine where everything is in balance. There is mint and eucalypt highlights to the bright berry fruit on both the nose and palate. It is the way that the palate comes together that is a stand out. The red fruits meld seamlessly with the fine oak and textural components from the mid-palate to the close. At the close, the tannins do shut down the fruit so give it at least 5 – 10 years to start to open up. (August 4).
Paxton – Shiraz – MV – 2016 ($15). The MV in the title reflects the fact that this wine is from McLaren Vale, but also that it is multi vineyard. Souring berry fruit is the main focus here. The savoury finish is tight and linear, with good length and chewy, textural components. The oak (10% new) adds texture, but does not cloud the fruit. With air, the fruit opens up and gets quite lively. Excellent value drinking! (July 25).
Paxton – Shiraz – Jones Block – 2015 ($30). The Jones Block was planted in 1960s, and there is more density to the fruit than any of the previous wines. Powerful and ripe, with more obvious oak and with hints of vanilla and spice. An impressive wine that has some of the chocolate-berry fruit characters that I associate with McLaren Vale Shiraz. Fine tannins and oak add texture and complexity. The fruit is hand-picked, spends 18 months in oak (40% new/60% 2 y/o) which has had medium-toast and includes a small percentage of American oak. (July 25).
Paxton – Elizabeth Jean – 2015 ($75). The Elizabeth Jean vineyard is part of the Thomas Block, and as befitting the special nature of the vineyard, the fruit is handpicked, hand plunged and pressed to French oak (50% new) to complete fermentation. This wine has a real “wow” factor. The increased concentration here is noticeable. Powerful, dense and intense, yet the finish is neither heavy nor cloying. The tannins are very fine and elegant, adding texture to the close. A superb wine that could be enjoyed anytime over the next 20 years+. (July 25).
Evans & Tate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Redbrook – 2013 (18.7/20pts – $40). This is a powerful, yet compact wine of great merit. There is seductive blueberry fruit, with menthol and a touch of eucalypt adding interest. The fine grained tannins support the fruit beautifully, with blueberry and spice the main features on the palate. Ripe and focussed, this wonderful wine has great length of flavours. Showing the first signs of development, this wine continued to improve in the glass for some time and is great drinking now (or in 10 years). Unbelievable value for money! (June 23).
Houghton – Cabernet Sauvignon – Jack Mann – 2015 (19/20pts – $100). Brilliant colour. This wine shows everything good about Cabernet. Great quality fruit, with blueberry, spice, blackcurrant and a hint of eucalypt married to fine grained cedary oak. The tannins are a treat to behold, as they add texture and depth, without detracting from the fruit in the slightest. A truly effortless wine that could be drunk with pleasure now, or any time over the next 20 years. (June 23).
Leeuwin Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Art Series – 2014 (18.8/20pts – $69). Wonderful wine! Silky red fruit is paired to an almost earthy, textural palate, making for a powerful and impactful wine. Mulberry and spice notes abound, with the fragrant fruit really building with air. Hints of cassis, minerals, and fine tannins carry the palate to a very long close. (June 23).
Woodlands – Cabernet Sauvignon – Matthew – 2014 (19/20pts – $150). Blueberry, redcurrant, violets and gentle spice on the nose. This is quite a contrast to the 2014 Tom Cullity, with an explosion of bright red fruits on a palate that is long, silky and deliciously supple, though it does get quite grippy with air. Excellent oak use supports the fruit perfectly. Whilst this is approachable now, this is a 10-20 year proposition. (June 23).
Angove – Grenache/Shiraz/Mouvedre – Family Crest – 2017 (17.9/20pts – $22). The rich red berry fruit was a little subdued initially, but this blossomed after a couple of days in the bottle! The dense, ripe fruit is textured and long, with mid-palate minerality, bright acidity and supple oak adding depth. A powerful wine that could be enjoyed with a hearty steak now, but would be best with 10 years in the cellar. (June 16)Patritti – Saperavi – 2015 (17.5/20pts – $22). Saperavi is a traditional Georgian variety that was planted by Patritti after a visiting winemaker shared a bottle with the family. Lovely ripe fruit that is at once pretty and refined, yet there is density and weight underpinning the fruit. The palate is lighter than the 2011, and more approachable as a result. Decent length and mouthfeel to close, with a hint of liquorice. Would be brilliant with home-made pizza, but also with a few years in the cellar. (June 16)
Howard Park – Chardonnay – Flint Rock – 2017 (17.5/20 pts – $28). From Mount Barker. Perfumed stonefruit, citrus and tropical notes on the nose. The palate is where this wine shines, with the ripe peachy fruit balanced by a core of pineapple-like acidity that gives the palate a zesty lift. After spending 10 months on lees, this is a little richer than the Miamup, and more approachable as a result. (May 25)
Howard Park – Chardonnay – Miamup – 2017 (17.8/20pts – $28). From Margaret River, this is subtle and refined, with creamy fruit, lemon zest and a touch of grapefruit acidity. It has a well-balanced palate, with a finish that is long and fairly tight, in the modern style. A couple of years in the cellar should see this flesh out a little, or try it with a simple quiche now. (May 25)
Cherubino – Chardonnay – Gin Gin – Wilyabrup – 2017 (18.5/20pts – $39). Gin Gin refers to the clone of Chardonnay rather than the town north of Perth. The refinement here is a treat. High quality fruit in the nectarine and white peach spectrum, with subtle winemaking inputs, make for a wine that is superb drinking. The subtle palate builds depth over time, showing great balance and power. (May 25)
Angove – Chardonnay – McLaren Vale – 2017 (17.8/20pts – $22). From 30 year old vines and treated to barrel fermentation and lees aging which add textural components. Minerals, grapefruit and masses of pretty peach fruit lead to a refined palate, with good texture and length. A smart, modern wine that demonstrates that McLaren Vale is not just about ripe, generous reds. (May 25)
Querceto Di Castellina – Chianti Classico – L’Aura 2013 (17.7/20pts – $38). The ripe fruit here will suit many Australian palates, as will the dollop of new oak sitting behind the fruit. A wine that can be drunk now with pleasure, but really needs 10 years to open up. (May 13).
Singlefile – Shiraz – 2016 (18+/20pts – $37). A wine of class and distinction that has both grace and presence. Cooler climate fruit showing cherry/berry fruit combined with souring plum acidity. Long and supple, the dense fruit is finely structured and restrained. Just a baby, this needs years to reach its peak. (April 22).
Paxton – Shiraz – Jones Block – 2014 (18/20pts – $40). This wine has a wow factor. Ripe plum and liquorice, with hints of tar and spice. The palate is rounded, yet focused, with the savoury oak adding depth and texture to the core of lovely fruit. The tannins are fine, but noticeable, so time in the cellar will be rewarded. (April 22).
Vasse Felix – Cabernet Sauvignon – Filius – 2015 (18/20 pts – $30). The second Cabernet Sauvignon released under the Filius label and a worthy follow-up to the brilliant 2014. A long and savoury wine with fresh acidity, fine tannins and chewy texture. Builds velvety fruit with air. (March 18).
Devil’s Lair – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Hidden Cave – 2014 (17.9/20 – $25). A fine, elegant wine of great charm. Blackcurrant and mint combine with fine, textural tannins and oak into a delicious package that would also take some bottle age. Excellent value. (March 18).
Petaluma – Chardonnay – 2016. Very fine and elegant nose, with subtle oak and lees aromas over peach and floral stonefruit. The intensity of fruit on the palate is a revelation, the creamy textural components serving to frame the fruit perfectly. Excellent length, there is an immediacy to the wine that is most attractive. 60% new oak. (March 11).
Petaluma – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2013. Opens with intense berry fruit over cigar box and cedary oak. On the palate the sweet fruit is defined by blueberry, blackberry and cassis. A powerful wine where the structural tannins and oak serve to shut down the fruit on the close. One for the long haul. (March 11).
Arras – Grand Vintage – 2008: A step up in both intensity and depth. Subtle autolysis notes add interest to the palate, which is a treat. Rich fruit and bright, lemony acid combine on a long, textured palate. Real power to the fruit, yet this remains elegant and poised, with the acid adding balance. (65% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 9 years on lees, 10% of base wine aged in oak, dosage = 6g/l). (March 4).
Arras – Blanc de Blanc – 2008. Similar power to the Grand Vintage, but with more noticeable stone fruit characters. Peach and nectarine are complemented by texture and depth on the palate. A superb wine that is still fresh, yet has excellent complexity. Different to a French Champagne and worth seeking out. (March 4).
Brookland Valley – Chardonnay – Estate – 2017. Restrained, taut and fine, the white peach characters are a highlight. The palate is textured, with supple oak, superb mouth-feel and excellent balance. Very long and fine, this is approachable now, but will develop depth with time in bottle as the wine builds in the glass. 2017 was a cool year, which is reflected in the fine acid balance (40% new oak). (Feb 25).
Brookland Valley – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2013: More obvious blueberry fruit, with mint and eucalypt highlights. The power and density of the fruit is palpable and the palate is textured and finely structured. Brilliant wine! (Feb 25).
Bay of Fires – Chardonnay – 2016 ($45). Restrained and elegant, with lemon curd and stonefruit notes. The winemaker’s influences are turned down, but there is still complexity and excellent depth. The supple mouth-feel is a highlight and the wine is sure to age well over the next 5+ years. Barrel fermented and aged in new French oak for nine months, with partial malo. (Feb 14).
Bay of Fires – Pinot Noir – 2016 ($45). Serious depth and power to the fruit, though there is an admirable degree of restraint on show. Cherry, earthy notes, forest floor and spice all in evidence. Great balance and excellent length, the oak adding a silky texture. From a warmer year, this sees 20% whole bunch fermentation, aged in French oak (20% new). (Feb 14).
Seppeltsfield – Grenache – 2017 (17.9/20pts $25). This is really pretty. Opens with fragrant ripe fruit that is vibrant and crammed full of red berry fruit. The palate is fresh, fleshy and fun, with cherry, berry and plum-like notes. The juicy fruit is offset by fine tannins and refreshing acidity, with no oak to speak off. Great with a bowl of pasta, or try a few years in the cellar. Drink at cellar temperature (18-20 degrees). (Feb11).
Shottesbrooke – Grenache/Shiraz/Mouvedre – Estate Series – 2015. (18/20pts -$20). Pretty, fragrant and enchanting, this wine has lovely bright Grenache fruit. There are red berries to the fore, with a seam of white pepper from the Shiraz adding depth and texture. Fleshy, vibrant and succulent with decent length, this is great early drinking. (Jan 28).
Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Estate Series – 2015 (18/20pts – $20). Firm, assertive and quite powerful, yet there is a degree of restraint to the fruit. Very long, the berry and cherry characters slowly build on the finish. A well-made wine with great density that could be drunk young, but would ideally benefit from 10 years in the cellar. From a very good vintage in McLaren Vale. (Jan 28).
Jericho – Syrah – Adelaide Hills – 2015 (18.3/20pts – $35). Fresh and vibrant, with pretty, fragrant cooler climate fruit. The supple palate is textured, long and delicious, with the quality oak allowing the fruit to shine. Really well made, this is a medium bodied Shiraz of great appeal. (Jan 28).
Jericho – Shiraz – McLaren Vale – 2015 (18.3/20pts – $35). Wonderful wine with ripe fruit, chocolate/coffee complexity and supple oak. Long, refined, supple and fragrant, the mouth-feel is a highlight. Will benefit from a few years in the cellar. (Jan 28).
Singlefile – Sauvignon Blanc – Fume Blanc – 2016 (18/20pts – $30). From the Stoney Crossing vineyard in Pemberton. Refined elegant and pretty, the fruit showing floral and perfumed notes and a touch of lemon zest. The gentle oak and lees work adds depth and texture to the palate without dominating the fruit. Silky, very long and food friendly, this is a lovely wine, and excellent value compared to a decent Chardonnay. (19 January)
Singlefile – Chardonnay – Family Reserve – 2016 (18.5+/20pts – $50). Supple, refined and elegant, with a core of ripe peach fruit complemented by gentle nuttiness. The palate is creamy and fine, with pineapple, citrus and melon fruit notes. This is a wine of great finesse, with subtle oak and lees work adding depth. Wonderful! (19 January)
Cherubino – Chardonnay – Laissez Faire – 2015 (18/20pts – $33). Attractive floral notes, with gun smoke and struck match aromas. This wine has been cleverly worked, with the smoky characters matched to quality fruit. Excellent length and depth, with a supple mouth-feel and quality oak. A powerful wine for sharing with friends over a meal. From the Porongorups. (19 January)
Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2015 (18.7/20pts – $108). Ripe, elegant and fine with wonderful depth to the fruit. Aromas of mint, eucalypt and blackcurrant, with even a touch of cassis and cigar box. The palate is a textural treat, with the fine tannins and supple, high quality oak adding depth. Very long and fine, with grace and presence, this is irresistible now, but will age for 20+ years. (19 January)
Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Abercrombie – 2014 (18.7/20 – $135). Wow, this is all class. Supple, ripe Cabernet fruit matched by fine oak and tannins. Structured and age-worthy, yet made in a way that makes this delicious now. Top wine! (December 22).
Houghton – Cabernet Sauvignon – Gladstones – 2014 (18.5/20). Plum, raspberry and some fresh mulberry for good measure. Serious, firm and tight, with high quality oak adding depth. The palate is near seamless and this is very easy to drink now. However, if you’re patient, this, will be great in 10+ years, as the fruit will have started to unwind. From the Batley Vineyard, aged in French oak. (December 22).
Juniper Estate – Cabernet Blend – Aquitaine Rouge – 2014 (18/20 – $38). Whilst there is decent quality red-berry fruit on show, this is all about savoury structure right now. A dark, brooding wine, with chewy tannins and drying acidity. This is a serious, if austere style that needs ten years to start to open up. Quality oak to close. (December 22).
Redman – Cabernet Sauvignon – Coonawarra – 2015 (17.8/20). The blackcurrant and berry fruit builds with air. Quite a serious wine that, whilst only medium bodied, has taut, structured fruit. Good length and depth, but this needs a couple of years to hit its straps. (December 22).
Handorff Hill Winery – Pinot Grigio – Adelaide Hills – 2017 (18/20). This wine is pretty, fresh and aromatic, with rose petal, pear and lemony acid. A touch of viscosity combined with the well-managed phenolics and fruit characters that linger for some time, makes for a satisfying drink. A delicious wine that deserves a spot on every table this Christmas. (December 15).
Howard Park – Jete – Brut – NV (17.5/20). Refined bead. Complex and rich, with depth of fruit to the nose. The palate is fresh, with gentle toasty notes and subtle autolysis. A refined wine that will be very enjoyable as a late afternoon drink with friends. (December 15).
Juniper Estate – Fiano – Small Batch – 2017 (17.3/20 – $27). A neutral, food-friendly wine, with enough acid to make the finish fresh. Textured, with some viscosity and a touch of phenolics. Good length. I really like the saline tang to close. (December 15).
Te Aro Estate – Shiraz – Charred Door – 2015 (18.4/20). Generous, powerful and intense fruit on the nose. The succulent ripe fruit coats the entire palate and lingers for some time. Refined, yet powerful, with the tannins really kicking in on the close. Oak matches the fruit well. A serious wine that could be drunk with pleasure now, or cellared for a decade or more. 15.6% alcohol, but takes this in its stride. Bravo! (November 20).
Shingleback – Shiraz – Red Knot – 2016 (17.8/20 – $15). An excellent wine that is focussed and precise. The fruit quality is excellent, but it needs to be coaxed from the glass right now. With air, the sweet fruit opens to show its class with liquorice and menthol highlights. Great value! November 20).
Angove – Shiraz – Wild Olive – Organic – 2016 (17.7/20 – $18). Another cracking wine from this in-form producer. There are loads of dark fruit, in a brooding, serious style. Supple fruit at first, however from the mid-palate, things are a little subdued, with the tannins and acid keeping a lid on the fruit. Will reward decanting now, or short-midterm cellaring. November 20).
Howard Park – Chardonnay – Allingham – 2016 (18.7/20 – $89). Textbook example of modern Chardonnay. Whilst restrained, the high quality fruit is a delight, with the supple oak and lees components adding depth, but not overt flavours. Great length of flavours, with grapefruit acidity that cuts through the stonefruit notes. Will develop brilliantly over 5 – 10 years and one of the best Chardonnays I have tried in 2017. (Nov 12).
Cape Mentelle – Chardonnay – 2016 (18.7/20 – $45). Complex, powerful and intense, the Gin Gin clone fruit expressing as pineapple and peach, evolving to nectarine. Very intense palate, yet the balance is superb. Great length, this wine is great now, but would also take 5 years in the cellar. Brilliant! Whilst still fairly tight, this is a richer style than I recall of other recent vintages, spending 11 months in oak (1/3 new) undergoing wild fermentation and partial malolactic fermentation. (Nov 12).
Run Free – Riesling – 2017 (18.5/20 – $25). Aromatic, perfumed and very fine. The palate is pretty, precise and a picture of restraint, with great length and lovely texture. The fruit really builds in the glass and shows hints of talc. Brilliant, youthful drinking, and this is reflected in the points given. (Nov 12).
Scotchmans Hill – Pinot Noir – 2015 (18/20 – $35). Pretty red fruits (strawberry and creaming soda) on the nose with cherry and spice highlights. This gives way to a touch of liquorice and earthy notes. A lovely wine that is quite complete, with the length and texture a feature. The acid adds zip, making for a great drink. (Nov 12).
Valli – Pinot Grigio – Gibbston Vineyard – 2016. Vibrant fruit, with a saline/iodine-like tang. The palate is bursting with fruit and spice notes, leading to a long, textured finish. A small amount of skin contact is allowed, to add texture. (October 31).
Valli – Pinot Noir – Waitaki Vineyard – 2015. A brilliant wine, with pretty, floral, perfumed fruit. The elegant fruit is a feature on the palate, and there is great depth behind the prettiness. Right on the close, the savoury tannins start to build, suggesting that 5 years in the cellar would not hurt this in the slightest. A remarkable wine! (October 31).
Koonowla – Riesling – 2017. (18.5/20 – $20). More aromatic than many in the tasting, with the lime blossom fruit a highlight. The palate is taut, restrained and firm, with the fine fruit a little subdued by the acid and structure. Will be great with food, but sure to age well. Brilliant value from this Clare Valley producer. (October 4).
Koonowla – Riesling – The Ringmaster – 2017 (18/20 – $16). A fine wine, with fragrant lemon aromas. The palate is fine and elegant, with the acid perfectly paired to the fruit, resulting in a great drinking wine. Deserves a good piece of snapper. Value! (October 4).
Faber – Verdelho –2017. Wonderful floral, perfume aromatics that are reminiscent of fine Porongurups Riesling. The floral fruit carries through to the palate, where the pretty fruit is balanced by fine acidity and delicate texture. A lovely drink now, but very age-worthy. Vintage conditions resulted in a different style to the norm at Faber, and this is worth seeking out. (Sept 25).
Faber – Shiraz – Riche – 2015. Lovely fruit here. Licorice, spice, satsuma plum, and cherry. The palate is quite closed and tight, with the oak and dusty tannins keeping the fruit in check. Gets quite chewy to close. One for the cellar. (Sept 25).
Sittela – Grenache – Avant-Garde – 2016. Very fine fruit, yet still ripe and textured. Good length, with fine tannins and acid. An elegant and refined expression of Grenache, and great drinking. (Trophy – Best Red Wine or Blend (Other than Shiraz); Trophy – Best Swan Valley Red Table Wine). (Sept 19).
Aldersyde Estate – Shiraz – 2015. Attractive, vibrant berry characters on the nose. The palate is fine and elegant, with excellent structure and mouth-feel. Almost delicate, this is a treat. (Trophy: Best Shiraz or Shiraz Dominant Blend). (Sept 19).
Stringybark – Verdelho – Chittering – 2017. Lovely tropical fruit that is vibrant and focused. Excellent length to close. Good current drinking, yet should build depth with time in bottle. (Trophy – Best 2017 Verdelho). (Sept 19).
Cape Mentelle – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Wallcliffe – 2014 (18.2/20). Initially shows grassy fruit notes, with lemon and hints of pineapple, gooseberry and lychee. The barrel ferment characters add depth to the long palate. With a little air though, the worked characters really express, with smoky, struck match components and minerality developing on both the nose and palate. A complex, serious wine that will be best with food. (Sept 10).
Xanadu – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – DJL – 2016 (18/20 – $24). A complex savoury wine, where the oak and lees characters make an impact, but do not overwhelm the vibrant fruit. A serious wine that would be great with poached chicken breast, but would also be very enjoyable on its own. Trophy for Best White Blend – Sydney Royal Wine Show 2017. (Sept 10).
Te Aro Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Pump Jack – 2014 (18.4/20). Taut and firm, the structural components add a lovely textural mouth-feel, but do shut the fruit down somewhat on the long finish. Will be an excellent match to a good steak now given the fruit and acid, but will be at its best in 10 – 15 years. (Sept 5).
Woodvale – Cabernet Sauvignon – Orchard Road – 2014 (18.2+/20). Succulent minty fruit, with a touch of eucalypt oil that is so typical of the Clare Valley. The serious fruit had decent power. The palate is defined by the ripe, lingering fruit that sits well with the supple savoury oak and dusty tannins. An impressive wine now – 10 years. (Sept 5).
Salomon – Cabernet Sauvignon – Finniss River – 2014 (18/20). An excellent wine from the Braeside Vineyard. Dense, ripe fruit with eucalypt and mint over cherry and spice. The compact, medium-bodied palate shows ripe fruit and fine tannins. The oak adds savoury notes. Excellent fruit and polished winemaking. (18 months in french oak, 50% new). (Sept 5).
Ostler – Pinot Gris – Audrey’s – 2014. Smells a bit like a wine from Alsace, with musk and ripe pear characters defining the nose. Yet there is a core of structured minerality supporting this. The acid drive on the palate is a feature, with the phenolics toned down and the fruit accessible. There is the trademark minerality on the finish. A lovely drink. (August 21).
Ostler – Pinot Noir – Blue House – 2015. Fragrant and succulent fruit on the nose. The berry fruit gives way to a firm, drying palate with sour cherry fruit and acid. An excellent drink that would be best paired with savoury food. (August 21).
Ostler – Pinot Noir – Caroline’s – 2015. More density and texture, with the acid adding drive to the palate. The fruit is vibrant and lifted, with dense cherry fruit and velvety tannins. There is a nervous energy to the wine that suggests that a couple of years in the bottle will see this fill out. Will be a treat with richer meat dishes now. With harvest dates in May, this must be some of the latest picked Pinot in the southern hemisphere. (August 21).
Howard Park – Shiraz – Scotsdale – 2015 (18.6pts – $46). Refined, elegant, finely structured and precise. Lovely fruit notes balanced by fine tannins and supple oak. Blueberry fruit is balanced by souring plum. Silky, long and near seamless this is delicious yet age-worthy. Excellent fruit and winemaking on show. (8 August).
Howard Park – Shiraz – Leston – 2015 (18.5pts – $46). Supple cherry and plum fruit with licorice, cinnamon and spice. The mouth-feel is a highlight, with souring acidity and fine, texturing tannins. Bring on the steak, or ten years in the cellar. (8 August).
Leeuwin Estate – Shiraz – Art Series – 2014 (18.5pts – $46). Very seductive nose full of red berries and plum. Supple and silky on the palate, yet retains drive and focus courtesy of the fine tannins and acidity. Irresistible; this requires no accompaniment, yet the tannin backbone will support medium term aging. ($36 at the winery). (8 August).
Te Aro – Shiraz – Charred Door – 2014 (18pts – $38 ). I really like this. Mint and eucalypt notes accompany the perfumed bright berry fruit characters. Supple mouth-feel, where the fruit is the main focus. The fresh acidity adds drive and will cut through rich sauces with ease. Excellent length of flavours. From the Barossa. (8 August).
Evans & Tate – Chardonnay – Redbrook – 2013 (18+/20 – $49). Stylistically, this sits between the lean modern styles and the rich wines of old, and is much the better for it. Subtly worked characters over ripe stone fruit aromas. Nectarine and peach on the palate, complemented by structuring oak. The lees work is dialled back here, adding depth without clouding the pristine fruit. Will flesh out with 3 – 5 years in the bottle, but is a treat now. (August 4).
Fraser Gallop – Chardonnay – Parterre – 2016 (18/20 – $39 ). This is a very good wine, in a lean and elegant style. Delicate, there is lifted white peach-like fruit that builds in layers . Intense, worked, youthful, points here are for potential. (August 4).
Madfish – Riesling – 2016 (17.8 – $18). Fresh and taut. The palate is delightful, with lemon blossom and talc. The core of acid and minerality gives the wine drive and persistence. A fine and elegant wine that will take a few years in the cellar, yet would be great with freshly shucked oysters now. Value! (July 24).
Madfish – Chardonnay – 2016 (18pts – $18). Pretty fruit that is floral and perfumed. The palate is a delightful blend of floral characters and stone fruit, with a lovely creamy texture. Quite seamless, this lingers for some time on the finish. A slightly different style, but one that is most attractive. Great drinking and excellent value. (July 24).
Singlefile – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – 2015 (18.3pts – $25). Intense and powerful fruit with the aromas coming in waves. The palate has minty cabernet fruit with spicy undertones, tar and chewy tannins power, yet retains a degree of elegance that is remarkable. A classic Cabernet that offers great drinking or short/medium-term cellaring. (July 24).
Shingleback – Shiraz – Davey Estate – Reserve – 2015 (18.3pts – $23). Textured, powerful, firm and taut, with chocolaty fruit. Powerful blueberry fruit builds in layers, complemented by a spicy edge. Textured and long, this is a superb wine that is so easy to drink. (July 24).
Angove – Rosé – Organic – 2017 (17pts – $16). Very pretty colour complements the attractive, vibrant floral fruit that reminds me of red berries and jubes. The palate is round and soft, the berry characters complemented by balancing acidity. Will be great on its own, or with antipasto. 100% Shiraz. (July 13).
St Mary’s – Pinot Noir – Limestone Coast – 2014 (17.8+pts – $35). The sense of place is a key feature of this wine. The mint, and chocolate characters are so typical of the region, yet there are still floral berry characteristics typical of Pinot. The palate is supple and textured, with souring cherry fruit. Ageworthy, this is a unique expression of Pinot that captures the terroir from which it was produced (cork closure). (July 13).
Angove – Shiraz/Cabernet – Organic – 2017 (117.8pts – $16). Attractive blue and red berries (Shiraz) over a core of structural elements (Cabernet). Excellent length and persistence, with the textural components coming into their own on the finish. At this price it is also worth putting a few in the cellar, to see how they develop over the next 5 years. A delight! (from the Riverland). (July 13).
Wolf Blass – Shiraz – Yellow Label – 2015. (17.8pts – $16). This is a wine that will please lovers of a big juicy red. Ripe plum fruit, balanced on a textured, chewy palate. The lushness of this wine is a standout. My points might be a little high, but this is ridiculous value at $10 from Dan Murphy. (July 13).
Picardy – Pinot Noir – 2014 (18pts -$40). Solid core of pretty fruit. Berry, plum and cherry characters with tar, liquorice and spice. Gentle oak adds depth with the fruit tannins and acid drive on the finish. An excellent wine that will build complexity in the bottle over the next 5 years. (June 18).
Shottesbrooke – Pinot Noir – Adelaide Hills – 2016 (17.6pts – $20). Lovely colour and aromas of ripe berry/cherry fruit. Silky, supple, decent texture and relatively fine, with cedary characters adding depth. Not overly concentrated, but a great drink. The generous flavours linger. A decent $20 Pinot is a rare commodity, but this one hits the spot. (June 18).
Bass Phillip – Pinot Noir – Crown Prince – 2015 ($59). A delicate wine that has high quality, plum-like fruit on show. The palate is elegant, supple and fine, with the acid adding drive to the finish. Superb mouth-feel a highlight. Will be great with food now, but sure to improve over the next 5 years. (May 31).
Xanadu – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2013 (18.5pts – $38). Really deep smelling fruit on a complex, yet perfectly integrated nose. There is depth to the palate, yet this is silky, refined, elegant and very long. The supple mouth-feel is a highlight and the finish near seamless. Superb and very refined, this actually smells expensive. Great now, but will live for 20+years. (May 28).
Redman – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014 – (18pts – $33). Generous fruit up front on the nose. The palate is rich, ripe and plump. T he generous fruit is matched to soft, supple tannins and savoury oak. Quite dense and tight, with an almost chewy texture to close. I really like this now, but it would also benefit from 5 years in the cellar. (May 28).
Madfish – Chardonnay – 2016 (18pts – $18). Initially quite shy and restrained, yet possessing an almost ethereal charm which makes for excellent early consumption. Gentle minerality and flint, with supple oak adding to the mouth-feel. Develops nectarine and tropical fruit with air. Brilliant drinking at the price. (May 25).
Shottesbrooke – Chardonnay – Single Vineyard – 2016 (18pts – $33). Lovely nose, with complex winemaking aromas and flavours, including struck match, flint and minerals. Fruit here is quite lean and modern, though it builds depth on the finish and is very long. Needs time, but should evolve. This McLaren Vale winemaker has produced a note-worthy Adelaide Hills Chardonnay. (May 25).
Domaine Nicolas Boiron – Cotes Du Rhone – 2012 (17.5+pts – $23). More intensity to the colour and more depth and richness to the fruit that takes on an almost cherry note. The palate is somewhat firmer, though the balance is excellent. The fruit quality elevates this above the average, whilst the supple winemaking presents the fruit in an approachable package. Will be a treat with food. (May 8).
Domaine Raymond Usseglio – Cotes Du Rhone – Les Claux – 2015 (17.5pts – $29). Pristine fruit that is ripe and very well handled in the winery. Leather, spice, menthol, red currant, lovely acidity and fine tannins. Again, this is fresh, youthful and excellent drinking. (May 8).
Cullen – Chardonnay – Kevin John – 2015. Youthful, fresh and floral, with delightful stone fruit aromatics. Slightly viscous, hints of tropical fruit and grapefruit acidity to close. Seamless oak integration and a touch of toast. The palate is complete! (May 7).
Penley Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc – Gryphon – 2014 (17.5pts – $20). The ripe menthol fruit is true to this wine’s Coonawarra origins. Mouth-filling, the fruit lingers and is complemented by tight tannins. This is actually quite impressive, and represents excellent value. (April 30).
Penley Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Tolmer – 2013 (17.8pts – $30). Powerful and brooding, with firm, chewy tannins. The fruit is inaccessible at first. Mouth-coating, with air the fragrant blueberry/mulberry fruit opens up and is complemented by a touch of cedar. A youthful, complex wine that needs a few years to open up. (April 30).
Cherubino – Sauvignon Blanc – 2016 (18pts – $35). Attractive, with grassy/tropical fruit characters. The palate has decent complexity, with the mouth-feel and texture a highlight. The slightly grippy finish adds to the feel. The winemaking is a highlight, with the barrel work adding to the overall package. A serious wine. (From Pemberton). (April 2017).
Xanadu – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – DJL – 2016 (18pts – $24). Quite a complex and textural wine. The quality fruit on the palate is highlighted by zesty lemon acidity. Excellent balance, with just enough winemaker inputs to make it really interesting. Great value and easy drinking. (April 2017).
Howard Park – Pinot Noir – Flint Rock – 2016 (17.8pts – $28). I like this wine. Fresh berry fruit, with a touch of cherry and aniseed. The palate is balanced and harmonious, with the warm fruit matched to supple oak. The acid and tannins are fine, allowing the fruit to linger on the close. Would also be good with food. (April 2017).
Juniper Estate – Chardonnay – Estate – 2015 (18.5pts – $40). Very pale colour. Refined and elegant, with supple fruit complemented by quality oak. The oak is tight and fine and will settle back into the fruit with a couple of years in bottle. The length and persistence is a feature. Really builds depth in the glass. A lovely, youthful, shy wine that was the wine of the tasting. (April 8).
Singlefile – Chardonnay – Family Reserve – 2015 (18 – 18.5+pts – $50). Middle of the road style, where the lemony fruit is accessible, though somewhat restrained. Fine oak is apparent, but not overpowering, complimented by refreshing acidity. Almost chewy, this is a textured and viscous. A powerful, textural wine that needs a few years to really shine. Whole bunch pressed, 8.5 months in French oak (40% new). (April 8).
Howard Park – Chardonnay – Flint Rock – 2016 (17.9pts – $28). Pristine, high quality fruit that is refined and elegant (pineapple, melon and grapefruit). The palate is creamy and textured, the oak and barrel-work adding a layer of complexity, rather than overt flavours. Just lacks the ultimate depth of its big brother, but represents great value drinking. (April 8).
Bird in Hand – Shiraz – Adelaide Hills – 2015 (18.5pts – $35). Wow, this is an impressive wine. There is an explosion of concentrated, almost inky fruit, with menthol and aniseed notes over a core of ripe, textured fruit. This is powerful and complex, the flavours coming in layers on the palate. The vanillin oak and tannins are well managed, whilst the acidity has been deftly managed. Great stuff! (April 1).
Hollick – Shiraz – 2014 (18pts – $25). The bright, quality fruit is a highlight (ripe plum and spice notes) as is the supple mouth-feel (fine texture, lingering tannins, cedary oak and excellent length). This wine received unanimous praise from the panel for its balance and supple mouth-feel. Approachable now, but surely worthy of a few years in the cellar. (April 1).
Salomon – Shiraz – Fleurieu – 2014 (18pts) Elegant, pretty and refined wine that has excellent balance. The lighter berry fruit characters sit well with the polished tannins. Deceptive, as this is long and quite serious, yet it slips down with ease. (April 1).
Wynns – Shiraz – Coonawarra – 2015 (17.7pts – $25). Another fine wine from this illustrious label. Restrained and well made, the red berry and menthol characters building in the glass. On the palate the fresh acidity is the main feature now, but there are ripe fruit characters underneath. Good line and length, this would be good with a rich Bolognese, but is sure to age well for 10+ years. Ridiculous value at under $14 from Dan Murphy. (April 1).
Moet & Chandon – Grand Vintage -2008 (18.3+pts – $100). Fresh stone fruits, with lifted lemon zest notes. Quite rich in the mouth, with complex lees/yeast notes just starting to poke through. A touch of astringent lemon pith/rind on the finish keeps the palate fresh and alive. Will develop more complexity for a few years, but delicious now. (March 17)
Cape Mentelle – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2014 (18.7pts – $110). Very pretty and elegant on the nose with blueberry and blackcurrant fruit. The palate is lithe and supple, with great balance and finesse. The fruit here is almost delicate, and the winemaking perfectly matched to the fruit weight. An outstanding wine that is more approachable now than most recent vintages. (March 17)
las perdices – Cabernet Franc – Ala Colorada – 2012 (18.3pts – $40). Pure fruit that is fragrant and pretty. There is a stylistic resemblance to their Malbec, but the fruit characters are quite different. This is a smart wine, with supple oak and soft, lingering tannins. Really well made, this spends 12 months in new French oak. (March 17)
Gaudio – Verdelho – 2015 (17.3pts – $18). Really interesting, with excellent balance. The grassy fruit has lanolin and melon notes, complemented by a core of refreshing acidity. Great summer drinking with light food, or by itself. (March 15).
Gaudio – Touriga National/Alicante Boushet/Aragonez/ Tinta Miuda – Classico – 2013 (17.8 – 18.2pts – $28). More fragrant, with the ripe fruit showing some pretty berry notes. The palate is defined by the angular acidity, with a vein of minerality and tannins driving through to the finish. Almost Bordeaux-like in structure, this is a smart, age-worthy wine. Closed and tight, this spends 9 months in French Oak. (March 15).
Bird in Hand – Chardonnay – Nest Egg – 2015 (18.5pts -$79). Powerful dense wine with ripe fruit married to toasted oak and lees/barrel ferment characters. The palate is textural, rich and balanced. Made in a more traditional, easily accessible style, showcasing the Adelaide Hills fruit. A brilliant drink right now. (28 February).
Cullen – Chardonnay – Kevin John – 2015 (18.5pts). This is quite accessible, with the fruit on the nose the main focus. The palate is full, round and powerful with the pineapple (Mendoza clone) and marmalade fruit framed by complex winemaking inputs including struck match minerality and tight French oak. Seamless, this is a lovely wine now – 5 years. (28 February).
Arivina Estate – Chardonnay – Wildwood Ridge Reserve – 2015 (18.3pts). Opens with gentle peach and melon aromas that build in the glass. Creamy, textured, fine and supple, this is an elegant, almost delicate wine that will build presence over a number of years. (28 February).
Paxton – Chardonnay – Thomas Block – 2015 (18pts+ – $34). (Organic). Complex, dense fruit on the nose. The palate is taut and firm, the fruit sitting behind the structural components. The balance is noteworthy. The oak and winemaking components tightly bind the fruit, the latter sitting dormant and needing some time in bottle to express itself fully. A truly impressive wine from McLaren Vale. (28 February).
Ata Rangi – Pinot Noir – 2014 (18.8). Everything is in balance here. The complex, deep smelling fruit, polished tannins, fine-balanced acidity and textural oak all sit beautifully on the near-seamless palate. A master-stroke of restraint, yet with latent power that will build with time in the glass. A magical wine, with fine, dense fruit. Powerful, yet restrained, this is a tight/sinewy wine. An iron fist in a velvet glove would be one way to describe this wine Why don’t more people make Pinot in Martinborough? (Served from magnum). (20 February).
Marchand & Burch – Pinot Noir – Mount Barrow (Mt Barker) – 2016 (18.3+pts – RRP $60). Opens with a pretty, almost delicate nose, that despite its youth, is quite full/complex. The palate is an amalgam of strawberries, cherries, plum, tobacco and spice. Really quite delicious, this dances in the mouth. The acid, tannins and M oak hold back the fruit on the finish somewhat, but this has everything in place to shine with short-term cellaring (and achieve potentially higher points). (20 February).
Picardy – Pinot Noir – 2014 (18pts). I like the forward, generous fruit on the nose. Continues onto the palate, where the fruit is complemented by fine tannins and balanced acidity. This is a serious wine that is really quite good. The mouth-feel builds with air, and a touch of grip adds depth (cork closure). (20 February).
Eddystone Point – Pinot Noir – 2015 (17.5pts). Pretty, floral fruit, supple structure and fine acidity make this an excellent drink. The bright cherry and plum-like fruit has moderate complexity, with the oak adding texture and depth. A couple of years would not hurt either. (20 February).
Heemskerk – Chardonnay/Pinot Noir – 2011 (18pts – $60). A most elegant wine, with subtle complexity. The palate is precise and linear, with excellent mouth-feel and racy acidity. Refined and fine, the fruit builds on the finish. This would benefit from a couple of years’ bottle age. Fine Australian bubbles. (Great packaging!). (Feb 13).
Seppelt – Shiraz – Original Sparkling – 2013 (17.8pts). Smells like a decent Shiraz, tastes like a decent Shiraz. Excellent fruit, with liquorice and chocolate notes. The dosage is restrained, allowing the fruit to be the main focus. Excellent length of flavours on the palate. Great with a steak over summer, or cellar for more complexity. (Feb 13).
Salomon – Gruner Veltliner – Wachtberg – Kremestal Dac – 1er Cru – 2015. (18+pts – $45). A touch more floral, with pretty stone fruit notes. The palate is a little shy initially, with zesty acidity and a strong vein of minerality. Opens with air and gets quite textured on the close. A serious wine that needs time to fully express itself. (Feb 2).
Angove – Riesling – Long Row – 2016 (17pts – $10). Floral nose with passionfruit and tropical notes. The palate is vibrant, with a touch of minerals and a slight phenolic oiliness. Generous, this is a brilliant value off-dry Riesling. (Feb 2).
Angove – Cabernet Sauvignon – Long Row – 2015 (17.6pts – $10). Pretty fruit on the nose. The palate is precise and focused, with a core of dark, blueberry fruit matched to supple oak. The tannins and acid are very well integrated, making for a polished, sophisticated wine of some charm. May even get better with a couple of years in bottle. (Feb 2).
Xanadu – Chardonnay – 2015 (18.5pts – $33). Very complex and powerful, with peach, apricot and hints of tropical fruit. The palate has minerality, curry leaf/ struck match with great depth and texture. Very long, the fruit lingers for what seems like minutes. A Burgundian style of some note, and excellent value. Simply grilled pork. (January 27).
Wynns – Chardonnay – 2015. (17.5pts – $25). Floral, star jasmine and citrus aromas. Quite cool fruit, with citrus-like acidity. Good length, with the persistent fruit building in the mouth, Decent texture too. and. Really good drinking, this can be picked up for under $12 from Dan Murphy. (January 27).
Amelia Park – Chardonnay – Reserve – 2015: The first Chardonnay to be given the “reserve” title. A tight and fine wine with ripe, though restrained fruit. Nectarine combines with lemon myrtle and melon aromas, whilst the palate is taut, with minerality and texturing oak. An excellent wine that will age very well. (January 25).
Amelia Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2013. Very refined and elegant, with mint/eucalypt over supple blueberry fruit. The palate has near seamless palate transition and has a wonderful silky texture. A superb wine. The fourth release under the reserve label, this spent 18 months in oak (40% new), with the fruit coming from the Montgomery vineyard. Good Value at $44 ex-winery. (January 25).
Flametree – Cabernet Sauvignon – SRS – Wilyabrup – 2014 (18.7pts – $65). Precise, ripe berry fruit on the nose, with more immediate generosity than the Vasse Felix. The palate is very long and savoury, with the bright acidity and remarkably fine tannins framing the fruit wonderfully. The finish gets a little tight, but really opened up with air. Whilst this will reward cellaring, the elegance, balance and poise makes this my pick of the tasting to drink now. (Dec 12).
Wynns – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot – “Red Stripe” – 2015 (17.5pts – $25). Lively, fresh and delicious, with cherry and berry fruit balanced by the fine though firm tannins. Whilst good now, this will be even better with short-term cellaring. Available for $14 from Dan Murphy, making this a bargain. (Dec 12).
Apostrophe – Shiraz/Grenache/Mouvedre – ‘14 – progressive reds – Frankland River – 2014 (17.5pts – $16). Supple, fragrant berries on the nose with hint of creaming soda. Delicious palate that is soft and slurpable, with gentle tannins and acid adding balance. Uncomplicated and eminently drinkable. Brilliant packaging for this wonderfully priced everyday red. (Nov 24 – 2016).