While I am slowly wearing down the mountain of samples that have arrived at Graham HQ over the past few weeks, it has still required frequent raiding, and today’s target was alternate reds.
As ever when we’re in the ‘alternate’ end of the Australian spectrum this is a motley lot, but no questioning the potential – particularly the Montepulciano.
On that topic, what do you think the next alternate variety that will become mainstream? Tempranillo? Nero? Temp. certainly has the early runs on the board, but will it stay that way?
Lethbridge Henty Pinot Meunier 2014
Something of a homage to the old Meuniers of the mid 1800s that Victoria used to be known for. Bring back the Meunier! Dark ruby with a smidgen drop of purple, the nose seems meaty, earthen and ferrous, the style robust and even a bit hot, the palate enlivened by red fruit, but still finishing firm and just a little bacony. Sophisticated structure and good length, but this is just a bit gruff than you’d really like, even despite the red raspberry edges. Length gives it more points and love, even though it is clearly in need of time. Best drinking: 2017-2022. 17.5/20, 91/00+. 13.5%, $42.
Calabria Wines Private Bin Riverina Nero d’Avola 2014
There’s a nice tie in here, as Nero d’Avola is also known as Calabrese, a nod to the Calabria family origins. It’s a bargain wine too – a bright, light purple coloured red drenched in sticky blackberry jam and black jubes. All fruit, it’s lightly tannic and lifted up by vanilla oak essence before a juicy finish. Never heavy or sickly, this trounces over many more expensive Tempranillo. Great value. Best drinking: 2015-2020. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $15.
Heartland Langhorne Creek Dolcetto & Lagrein 2013
$1 from every bottle of this goes to Marriage Equality (read more on the Heartland facebook page). Nice work Heartland folks! Dark red coloured, this smells more of Langhorne Creek than is Dolcetto or Lagrein, but digging a little deeper and there is some of the sappy licorice spice of Lagrein poking out, even if the coconut oak and warm alcohol is something of a distraction. A solid regional wine in the thick and extractive, hearty Langhorne style, this would be even better if a bit lighter, though that might derail the thickness and core appeal. Best drinking: 2016-2022. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $23.
Calabria Wines Cool Climate Series Hilltops Tempranillo 2014
Plum purple red with light edges, this smells undergrowthy, the nose of ferns and spice meeting red berry before a light, high acid palate and a slightly dried finish. Does the job, but not all that varietal and rather sour and awkward, the concentration not up to the task. Negative. Best drinking: 2015-2019. 15/20, 83/100. 14.5%, $15.
Calabria Wines Private Bin Riverina Montepulciano 2013
I’ve got high hopes for Montepulciano in our warmer regions. Mid red with light edges, this smells of brandy soaked plum nose, over a gentle, black fruited palate. The appeal here is all about dusty, chocolatey Monte tannins, a hint of toasty staves giving palate weight. Not bad really, if a fraction light. Best drinking: 2015-2018. 16/20, 87/100. 14%, $15.
Tscharke Project Barossa Montepulciano 2014
Hand picked, 100% whole bunch wild fermentation. 12 months in French oak, unfiltered and with minimal sulphur. Nice wine it is too. Dark red with just a little purple, this has a slightly volatile, blackberry nose – loads of blackberry in fact, over a dusty, dry and warm black fruited palate. It tastes much warmer than 13%. Minimal sign of the whole bunch besides some clove and spice, which is very promising. Nice drying finish, if edged with vanilla oak. I like the juiciness here, even if it’s just a little firm and wound. Would look even better with another 12 months under the belt. Promising stuff! Best drinking: 2016-2025. 17.7/20, 92/100+. 13%, $40.