I’m fighting through one of those nasty hangovers that just attacks your stomach today, the sort of morning after where you just feel like someone has punched you in the guts.
How does one slay such a beast? With red blends, of course:
Tahbilk Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2014
This has always looked like a bit of an outsider in the Tahbilk range. Less Tahbilk-like. Indeed this ’14 vintage is so juicy it could be a cheap Barossan GSM. A magenta purple red colour; it smells of sweet red fruit and vanilla oak. Very sweet. The generous, gentle and round palate is all fruit, with vanilla milkshake and raspberries with a gentle round finish. Plenty of round fruit, if not much else. Drink: 2015-2022. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $25.
Bill Byron Organic Shiraz Cabernet Merlot 2013
A new name to me, but Bill Byron Wines is the largest organic vineyard in Mudgee. Planted in 1998, with organic conversion in 2009. This is the first fully certified organic release. Winemaking is performed by James (good) Manners, who’s pretty hand at crafting decent Mudgee reds. Full red with a little purple, there is a great regionality to the nose, with black earth, Redskins, red berries and some pepper steaky meatiness. The dry, medium weight palate is coated in earth, the fruit lifting it up from Mudgee mud into something savoury and Gigondas-ish, if with some candied fruit at the edges. Just 13.2% alcohol this feels quite timeless in a Mudgee way, though it’s hardly going to jump out at you and seduce – it’s just a little sweet and sour for that. Good form and length though and those tannins are typically stern enough to hint at a long life. Drink: 2017-2030. 17/20, 90/100+. 13.2%, $22.95.
Farnese Fantini Edizione 14 Cinque Autoctoni VDT
This bad boy comes in one of the great big fuck off bottles that you could also use as a weapon once the bottle is empty. From Abruzzo and Puglia, this is a NV blend of Montepulciano, Primitivo, Negroamaro, Sangiovese and Malvasia Rossa that spends 13 months in barrel. Deep, thick dark purple in colour, it smells of ultra rich red and black berries, lots of oak sweetness, and blackberry jam. The hugely concentrated, caricature of a palate is dripping with more vanilla oak, complemented by ultra black rich fruit and loads of drying tannins. Elegance is nowhere to be seen, and this really could be a blend of any red grapes in just about any warm region made in a modern winery. It’s not terrible, and it’s certainly concentrated, but why bother? Drink: 2015-2024. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $75.
Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc 2012
I always look forward to Brian Croser’s Tapanappa wines, if purely to see the detail on display. Brian’s press releases and vintage summations are some of the best around for that matter. This 2012 iteration of the Whalebone Merlot Cab Franc comes off a warm and dry vintage, with perhaps the weight to show for it. Dark red, the nose here carries the mark of ultra high quality oak, woven into the ripe fruit to form something deep, dark and brooding. There’s just a hint of molasses on the palate, along with a concentrated, rumbling thickness of deep fruit, toasted oak filling in the few holes before more soft but thick tannins. It’s just on the good side of the ripeness knife edge, though you wouldn’t want it to go much further. At first the bulk and burliness of this wine is a bit too much, but it’s length and unquestioned breadth signals absolute fine wine territory. It will live for decades, the (also high quality) cork perhaps the only possible limitation. Drink: 2018-2035+. 18/20, 93/100. 14.6%, $79
Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2012
Each year I play the ‘which Whalebone do I prefer’ game and in 2012 this wine is the winner. Dark red coloured, the nose carries a similar oak stamp to the Merlot Franc, but the Cabernet swallows up the oak better. Again this is a big, warm and opulent wine, perhaps even too thick and rich. What helps this wine, however, is the more seamless feel. It’s no thick blob, the tannins very real, the chocolatey richness rather becoming, the refinement high. Right Bank Bordeaux, just with a little Wrattonbully eucalypt and more chocolate. The length is what kicks the real goals here and this really lingers. My only reservation is that it’s a fraction porty. Would it be a better wine picked just a little earlier? That is the question. This wine is still fine and its future promising. Drink: 2018-2035. 18.1/20, 93/100. 15.1%, $79.