Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Abercrombie – 2017 (18.5+/20pts). Initially shy and restrained, building bright blueberry fruit and even a touch of violets building with air. The palate is taut, dense and restrained with a core of ripe fruit that slowly builds. The tannins and oak are not obvious but make their presence felt in the way the fruit is shut down on the close. Potential. (July 30)
Higher Planes – Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve – 2014 (18.5/20pts – $40). The nose is quite seductive, the fine fruit perfumed and redolent of ripe berries and cassis. The palate is most beguiling, with mint, gentle eucalypt and a hint of dried herbs. The finish is ultimately shut down by the very fine tannins and oak, yet remains near seamless. Good value. (July 30)
Peos Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon – Four Aces – 2018 (18.5/20pts – $35). A real surprise package that is supple, restrained, elegant and fine. This is tight and dense with very polished tannins and fine-grained French oak (50% new), leaving the fruit a little subdued at first. With air though, the blackcurrant fruit starts to shine. With only two barrels produced, this is a great effort from this Manjimup producer. (July 30)
Penfolds – Chardonnay – Bin 311 – 2019 (18.5/20pts – $50). Perfectly ripe stone fruit aromas are supported by gentle pineapple, lemon pith and grapefruit notes. The palate has laser-like precision, with elegant fruit the star. Oak and lees work add depth and texture without impeding the flavour profile. Develops minerality and complex lees/barrel ferment aromas and curry leaf with air. Quite beautiful. (July 31)
Penfolds – Cabernet/Shiraz – Bin 389 – 2018 (18.7/20pts – $100). Vibrant colour and a nose that is supple, succulent and refined, showing perfumed blueberry fruit, with gentle mint highlights. The concentration of fruit is a highlight, as are the very fine savoury notes courtesy of the oak and fine tannins on a long, silky finish that is refined and polished. Needs years yet drinking well now. (July 31)
Penfolds – Shiraz – St Henri – 2017 (18.8/20pts – $135). Quite closed, with intense fruit and savoury menthol and dried herb notes. With air, the precise fruit gets better and better. The palate is outstanding. The fruit stunningly concentrated, yet remarkably elegant and refined. The velvety tannins build ultimately shutting down the fruit on the close. Balanced, long and extremely age-worthy, this is a great wine! (July 31)
Cherubino – Chardonnay – Laissez Faire – 2019 (18.5/20pts – $39). Pretty, perfumed, focussed, fine and intense. The powerful, yet sublime fruit has clear cool region characters and grapefruit acidity. The clever oak and lees work add to the appeal. Gets extra points for drinkability, as this is delicious straight out of the bottle. (July 18).
Cherubino – Chardonnay – Dijon – 2019. (18.5+/20pts – $45). Opens with complex, struck match and flint notes courtesy of the vanillin oak and supple lees work. The palate shows ripe stone fruit over complex yet supple worked characters and is very long and intense. Beautiful mouthfeel, with gentle toast from the oak and fine grapefruit acidity. Will be even better with a year or two in bottle. (July 18).
Shingleback – Chardonnay – Red Knot – 2019 (17/20pts – $15). Pristine, fine fruit that is redolent of peach and nectarine, complemented by fragrant vanillin oak notes. The palate is bright, and fresh, with gentle lees and malolactic fermentation notes. Straightforward? Sure, but this is an eminently drinkable wine and great value at $15. (July 18).
Faber – Shiraz – Riche – 2018 (18+/20pts – $27). Opens with some cooler, almost herbal notes and just a touch of tomato leaf up front. Give it some air though and the ripe, plummy fruit starts to shine. The palate is dense and textured, with spicy oak adding to the appeal. Whilst supple, round and balanced, this needs a few years to hit its straps. (July 16).
Faber – Shiraz – Reserve – 2017 (18.7/20pts – $65). Closed and restrained, but this is clearly a brilliant wine. Dense and textured, with high quality new French oak in support. The balance is a highlight, the mouthfeel aided by supple viscosity. Gets chewy and a bit closed on the finish, yet the tannins never dominate. Sure to age well, but great drinking now. (July 16).
Vino Volte – Chenin Blanc – Funky and Fearless – 2019 (17.8/20pts). Very enticing nose, with hints of pear skin, honeysuckle and tropical fruit, balanced by vibrant lime juice acidity. The gentle viscosity is a feature and a touch of phenolics adds depth and mouthfeel. Fine, long and textured, this is drinking a treat. (July 2).
Marc Bredif – Chenin Blanc – Classic – 2016 (18/20pts). This is a lovely wine. Floral and fragrant, with a touch of residual sugar that adds depth and balance on the palate. Pear, honeysuckle and gentle toast all add to the package. Complex, racy acidity builds on the close. A classic Loire Valley Chenin that will age brilliantly. (July 2).
John Kosovich – Chenin Blanc – Bottle Aged Reserve – 2013 (18.2/20pts – $36). Very long and intense, with honeysuckle, lavender and spice. Supple, textured and delicious, yet complex and focused. The balance is a highlight, with racy acidity on the finish. No oak used. Great drinking now, but also worthy of 5-10 years in the cellar. (July 2).
Yalumba – Grenache – Vine Vale – 2017 (18/20pts – $35). Somewhat muted nose at first, but with air, this is oh-so-pretty. The palate is an explosion of supple, red berry fruit. Serious enough to make you pay attention, yet delicious enough to wash down some roast duck. From 70 y/o vines. 30% whole bunch fermentation. (June 25).
Cape Mentelle – Shiraz/Cabernet- Trinders – 2018 (17.8/20pts – $31). Pretty, vibrant and perfumed, with attractive fruit that is a joy to smell. In the mouth, this is supple, fresh and elegant, with a delicious mouthcoating texture. The fruit is quite dense and structured. I have not tried this blend before under this label, but it is worth seeking out. (June 25).
Shingleback – Shiraz – Red Knot – 2018 (17.5/20pts – $15). Mint, menthol and supple plummy fruit on the nose, with gentle savoury notes. The palate is long, succulent and balanced, with just enough oak to add depth without overwhelming the fruit. A very good drink indeed, and ridiculous value from this perennial over-achiever. From Dan Murphys. (June 25).
Apostrophe – Possessive Red – 2018 (17.7/20pts – $16). Pretty, vibrant and quite seductive. The floral notes on the nose and palate are framed by supple, savoury textural components. The oak (new & 1y/o) adds depth, without impeding the fruit’s transition across the palate. Pepper and spice to close. Uncomplicated ,delicious and great value. Now – 5 years. (14 June).
The Yard – Cabernet Sauvignon – Riversdale – 2018 (18.3/20pts – $25). Dense, powerful and taut, with excellent depth. Yet remains elegant, refined and balanced, with hints of mint and eucalypt complementing the berry fruit. Somewhat linear, this really needs 5 – 10 years to open up (or time in a decanter). Shop around for a great bargain! (14 June).
Ad Hoc – Pinot Noir – Cruel Mistress – 2018 (17.8/20pts – $25). Pretty red fruit and black cherry aromas. The palate is delicious and seductive. The ripe fruit is balanced by supple mouthfeel and gentle earthy, spicy notes that add texture. Not overly complex, but a great drink and good value to boot. (14 June).
Picardy – Pinot Noir – 2018 (18.5/20pts – $45). Pretty, refined and elegant with the superb fruit the focus. The balance is a highlight, with silky tannins and fruit that lingers for some time. The savoury, structural components build on the finish adding depth. A complete and quite beautiful wine with surprising power. Now – 5 years. (May18).
Picardy – Pinot Noir – Tête de Cuvée – 2018 (18.6/20pts – $70). Whilst pretty and fragrant, there is more power, depth and structure here compared to the Estate. Made in a Burgundian style, with a focus on texture and length of flavours. Yet ultimately, the precise fruit is the star. 3 – 5 years cellaring recommended. (May18).
Shepard’s Hut – Pinot Noir – Porongurup – 2018 (18/20pts – $30). Bright and fresh, with a delicious savoury edge that adds depth to both the nose and palate. This has cherry, plum, spice and supple texture in a medium-bodied wine that deserves to be popular. Not easy to find, but brilliant value. Try Lamont’s in Cottesloe or Steve’s in Nedlands. http://shepherdshutwines.com.au/ (Nov 2019)
Sittella – Cuvee Blanc – NV (18/20pts – $32). Fine, elegant and refined, with subtle stone fruit and lovely refreshing acidity. The mouthfeel is the highlight, with near seamless palate transition and excellent length and creamy texture. A precise wine that has grace and presence. Great value. (18 months on lees, 7 g/l dosage). (May 7)
Sittella – Cuvee Rose – NV (18.2/20pts – $34). Very fine mousse in the glass and on the palate. The red fruit is more pronounced here, with fresh strawberry and cherry notes. The palate richer and more rounded, with great length and subtle power. Autolytic characters and gentle grip add depth. (24 months on lees, 6.5 g/l). (May 7)
Sittella – Grand Vintage – Marie Christien Lugten – 2015 (18.5/20pts – $42). Leaner, finer and more elegant, with citrus-like fruit and subtle yeasty notes. The palate is restrained and taut, with underlying fruit power. As it warmed up, the fruit really built. An incredibly fine wine that deserves a year or two in the cellar. (4 years on lees, 7g/l). (May 7)
Marri Wood Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Single Block – 2018 (18.5/20pts – $40). This is reserved and taut, yet the berry fruit has lovely mouthfeel and is polished, refined, elegant, and very long. A savoury, textural wine that combines high quality, perfectly ripe fruit with sympathetic winemaking. Approachable, but better with 5 – 10 years in the cellar. Great value! (April 10).
Singlefile – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – 2018 (18.2/20pts – $25). The ripe fruit is rich and intense, with concentrated berry notes. Excellent depth on the palate, with the fruit wrapped in a savoury, textural blanket. Clearly different to the wines from Margaret River, but equally worthy. An all-purpose wine that would be great with food, but even better in 5 -10 years. Bargain! (April 10).
Cullen – Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot – Diana Madeline – 2018 (18.8/20pts). Superb fruit has been massaged in the winery to produce a wine that very elegant and refined. The palate is ripe, supple and completely seamless, yet the tannins sneak up on the close, leaving a dusty, textual component that adds depth. A beautiful wine, and perhaps the best yet under this label. (April 10).
Cullen – Chardonnay – 2018 (18.8/20pts – $127). Beautifully fragrant nose with floral white peach and subtle nuttiness. The powerful and dense palate shows excellent fruit and superb winemaking. There is gentle spice, creamy, texturing French oak (50% new), citrus and tropical fruit on the mid-palate and a complex mealy nuttiness and great length on the finish. Now to 10 years. (April 27).
Domaine Oudin – Chablis – 1er Cru – Vaugiraut – 2017 (18/20pts – $80). Pretty, peachy stone fruit on the nose, with subtle minerality adding depth. The palate is supple, textured, creamy and long, with gentle toast on the close. No oak used. Fermentation and aging in stainless steel. A smart wine and very different to what we see from Margaret River. (April 27).
Woodlands – Chardonnay – Chloe – 2018 (18.7/20pts – $110). White peach, cashew and grapefruit lead both the nose and palate. The viscosity, mouth-feel, depth and subtle power of the fruit are all highlights, as is the seamless finish. From the Woodlands vineyard, wild yeast fermentation, 10 months in oak. One of Margaret River’s best Cabernet producer demonstrates a deftly crafted Chardonnay. (April 27).
Duval-Leroy – Brut – Femme de Champagne – Grand Cru – NV (18.6/20pts – $220). A most impressive wine. Very fine and subtle, this could almost be described as delicate. Yet this is supple, mouth filling and intense, with the power building on the finish. Refined acidity and near seamless palate transition to close. 87% Chardonnay. 10 years on lees. 5gm/l. (March 27)
Giovanni Rosso – Barbera d’Alba – Donna Margherita – 2016 (17/20 – $50). Pretty and floral. Really quite perfumed. A food-focused wine, where the acid and structure take pride of place on the palate. Uncomplicated, and easy to drink. (March 27)
Giovanni Rosso – Barolo – Serra – 2015 (18.5/20 – $170). Similar profile to their standard Barolo, but with greater intensity and refinement. The palate is near seamless, with the texture building in layers. Very long, with intrinsic power, yet supple enough to be drunk now. Very impressive indeed. 30 days on skins, fermentation in large concrete vats, three years in older oak. (March 27)
Bera – Langhe- Nebbiolo – Alladio’ – 2016 (17.9/20pts – $54). 2016 was a great year in Lange, and this is evident in the greater density of fruit and finer structure. The textural components are a highlight, with the slightly chewy tannins getting quite dry on the close. A Barbaresco by any other name… (March 11).
Bera – Barbaresco Riserva – Rabaja – 2013 (18.6/20 – $187). The depth and power here is something to behold. The classic Nebbiolo floral notes build and gets quite perfumed in the glass. Whilst near seamless, this is taut and closed, and needs years to hit its straps. From 35y/o vines, spends three years in oak. (March 11).
Revello – Barolo – Conca – 2016. (18.7/20pts – $187). Wonderful fruit lies at the heart of this wine. Whilst pretty and supple, there is great depth and intensity, with a near seamless finish. An ethereal wine that was my pick of the tasting. The Conca vineyard totals just three hectares, with Revello holding 1/3 of the vineyard. (March 11).
Aylesbury – QO5 – Arneis – 2019 (17.5/20pts – $30). From the Ferguson Valley in Western Australia, this has a fragrant and perfumed nose. The mouthfeel is a highlight: creamy, viscous, mouth-filling and long, with the fruit persisting to the close of the palate. The crisp acidity adds to the drinking pleasure, while the textural components are well suited to food. (Feb 21).
JC’s Own – Bluebird – Grenache – 2019 (18/20pts – $38). Very pretty fruit on the nose that is lifted and redolent of ripe red berries and cranberries. The palate continues with bright, succulent fruit, but then things get quite serious and firm on the close. Yet the balance is maintained, making this a delicious drink over the next few years. Great packaging! (Feb 21).
Auld Family Wines – William Patrick – Shiraz – 2016 (18/20pts – $50). Powerful ripe fruit has been paired to quality oak here, though the whole package is a bit subdued initially. Opens to show pristine fruit, with white pepper and a spice lift. The vibrant palate has depth and finesse, though the tannin structure makes this better suited to extended aging. Contact the winery. (Feb 21).
Amelia Park – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Trellis – 2019 (17.3/20pts – $16). An enticing nose with hints of guava, passionfruit, musk and spice. The palate is fresh and vibrant, with crisp, zesty acidity, along with decent viscosity and mouth-feel. At $12:80 from the cellar door for wine club members, this is a bargain! (Jan 29).
Amelia Park – Chardonnay – 2019 (18/20pts – $33). An elegant wine with white nectarine and peach aromas. The fine and supple palate is complex yet approachable, with near seamless palate transition and well-judged acidity. Needs a year or two to show its best but represents great value (wild ferment, no malolactic fermentation, 9 months in French oak – 30% new). (Jan 29).
Amelia Park – Shiraz – Reserve – 2016 ($65 – 18.6/20). Very fragrant nose redolent of plum, cherry and spice. Rich, textured, dense and powerful, the savoury oak (100% new French) adds depth and sits perfectly with the supple fruit, whilst the earthy, textural notes are reminiscent of the Rhone Valley. Will be even better with at least 10 years in the bottle. (Jan 29).
Piper Heidsieck – Cuvée Brut – NV (18/20pts – $62). Creamy and textured, with gentle floral peach, apple and nectarine fruit notes. I was impressed by the length of flavours and the finesse of the finish. With a dosage 9.5gm/l, this feels quite dry. The use of 18% reserve wine in this blend has had a noticeable impact on complexity. Great aperitif and brilliant value. (21 Dec)
Piper Heidsieck – Vintage – 2008 ($90). From an excellent vintage, the last stocks of this wine are in the shops now. Opens with gentle toasted nut notes, but there are still hints of pretty, fresh fruit. Excellent intensity, mouthfeel and texture, with fine acidity adding balance and drive. Not as concentrated as the best of this vintage, but great value drinking. (21 Dec).
Charles Heidsieck – Brut Reserve – NV (18.6/20pts – $95). Delicate fruit, with subtle toast/autolysis characters that hints at bread dough and toast. The palate is fine and elegant, yet with a seemingly endless cascade of flavours and textures. The tremendous depth and complexity results from the inclusion of 40% reserve wines (average age 10 years). One of my favourite non vintage Champagnes. (21 Dec).
Credaro – Chardonnay – 1000 Crowns – 2018 (18.6/20pts – $65). Whilst initially taut and restrained, this opens up to show stone fruit, pineapple and citrus notes. The finish is complex and creamy, aided by supple barrel ferment and lees notes. Brilliant balance a highlight. Now – 10 years. Spent 8 months is French oak (30% new), with wild ferment and regular battonage. (28 Nov).
Credaro – Cabernet Sauvignon – 1000 Crowns – 2017 (18.5/20pts – $85). I love the fruit here: Redcurrant, with a hint of cassis. This remarkably polished wine is vibrant and approachable. Tucked away in the background though, there is serious oak, tannins and structure, the latent power palpable. A superb wine. (28 Nov).
Vasse Felix – Chardonnay – (Gold Capsule) 2018 – (18+/20pts – $39). The pretty floral fruit is a delight and sits over a core of white peach and nectarine. Continues on the palate, with medium weight fruit, and excellent complexity from the oak and lees work. Overall, a fairly restrained style that will suit food well. (25 Nov).
Deep Woods – Chardonnay – Reserve 2018 (18.7/20pts – $55). Wow, a majestic nose reminiscent of fine White Burgundy. Perfume, minerals, stone fruit, hints of curry leaf all collide on the nose. The palate is creamy and textured, with precise fruit flooding the mid-palate. Fine acidity and oak add depth on the close. Wonderful now – 5 years. Five trophies to date! (25 Nov).
Shingleback – Cabernet Sauvignon – Red Knot – 2018 (17/20pts – $15) Ripe, plummy fruit that is fresh, youthful and vibrant, but not overly complex. Soft tannins and balancing acidity support a gentle finish. Not overly typical, but a good BBQ red. Along with the excellent Shiraz, this is a bargain given that Dan Murphy’s will discount this to around $12. (November 25).
Xanadu – Cabernet Sauvignon – DJL – 2017 (17.8/20pts – $25) Lithe and fresh, with bright redcurrant/ blueberry fruit. The palate has fine tannins and supple texturing oak that provides balance and allow the fruit to shine. Lacks the ultimate depth of the best, but fine drinking given the price. Trophy for best Cabernet at Perth. (November 25).
Plantagenet – Cabernet Sauvignon – Aquitaine – 2017 (18,3/20pts – $45). Plantagenet is surely one of the most underrated wineries in Western Australia. This is dense and inky, yet supple enough to drink now. The savoury oak adds texture and depth, without constraining the excellent fruit. Structured and cellar-worthy, so food is a must if drunk now. (November 25).
Grosset – Riesling – Polish Hill – 2019 (18.8/20pts – $60). Beautiful perfumed fruit, with floral and lime juice highlights. There is even a touch of aromatics reminiscent of a fine gin. The palate shows all of this, yet it is remarkably fine, restrained and elegant, with great length, persistence and near seamless palate transition. Exceptional.
Cherubino – Riesling – Great Southern – 2019 (18.5/20pts – $35). The floral aromatics are a highlight here with musk and gentle herb highlights. The pristine fruit is seamless and near ethereal, showing great depth. The mouth-feel is a highlight, with the elegant fruit perfectly balanced by the lemon-like acidity. Now – 10 years.
O’Leary Walker – Riesling – Polish Hill River – 2018 (18/20pts – $25). Steely, powerful and austere compared to the Grosset, this is a more traditional with lemon zest acidity defining the finish. There is excellent fruit tucked in behind the structure, but this needs years to hit its peak.
Cherubino – Cabernet Sauvignon – Frankland River – 2016 (19/20pts). Refined, elegant and youthful, with bright blueberry fruit on the nose. The palate is vibrant, supple, elegant, seamless and very long. Whilst extraordinarily fine, there is latent power that slowly uncoils in the glass. A brilliant wine that left my palate tingling with excitement. (Oct 23).
Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Abercrombie – 2016 (18.8/20pts). Pretty fruit, with mulberry, redcurrant and gentle savoury/spice highlights. The palate is mouth-coating, the textured, leading to a finish that has a savoury edge and is quite closed. With very fine (though prominent) tannins and oak, this superb wine has great power. Destined for the long-haul. (Oct 23).
Corymbia – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2018 (18.7/20pts – $60). The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard near Redgate beach, in the cooler southern part of Margaret River, which is expressed in menthol and eucalypt characters. A superb wine, with perfectly ripe fruit framed by subtle, savoury oak. The balance and length of flavours are a highlight. (Oct 23).
Stefano Lubiana – Grande Vintage – 2009 (18.8/20pts $ 80). A blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir in the cuvee, this wine was disgorged in March 2019, thus spending a whopping 8+ years on lees. A study in complexity, with lemon curd, biscuity, toast and honey characters competing for ascendency. The low dosage of 4.5g/l is ideal. I nearly fell over when Steve told me the RRP of this wine – a wine of similar quality and workmanship from France is likely to command three or four times the price! (Oct 21).
Stefano Lubiana – Estate – Chardonnay – 2017 (18.5/20pts – $58). Hand-picked, hand-sorted, whole bunch pressed, with natural fermentation in Minier Chagny barrels. Subtlety, finesse yet with power and complexity. I was pleased we tasted this at cellar temperature as it showed its evolution in the glass. (Oct 21).
Stefano Lubiana – Estate – Pinot Noir 2017 (18.6/20pts – $62). In contrast to the Primavera, this has a darker tone of cherry fruit, and is at once a more serious proposition, with spicy savoury notes. If the Primavera was more Chambolle, the Estate is more Gevrey Chambertin. The 20% new oak is but a frame and is almost imperceptible. (Oct 21).
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)