It’s that time again!
These wines haven’t quite made it into full review status this month. I’m a bit behind (living out of a suitcase does that), hence why this list is longer than normal.
Ten Minutes by Tractor Wallis Pinot Noir 2013
Single vineyard Pinot from Ten Minutes by Tractor. Hand picked, wild fermented and 22 days on skins. 16 months in new and old French oak.
Plum compote aplenty here. It’s a warm year wine writ large. Vanilla bean in the background on the nose, along with sappy redcurrant and a dash of caramel. Heavy for Ten Minutes by Tractor with a warm finish. The syrupy viscosity is initially a bit over the top but the power of this has a place. Long too. Still, I would prefer to wait for the ’15. Best drinking: 2016-2018. 17/20, 90/100. 13.8%, $75. Would I buy it? I’d go a glass, that would be enough.
Hentley Farm Barossa Zinfandel 2015
Light ruby/raspberry red, this has loads of redcurrant and anise. Interestingly. the palate is anything but the stereotype Zin – it could be labelled Primitivo! Red and black fruit, a hint of anise, and lots of primary fruit. Not wildly complex but enjoyable. Best drinking: 2016-2020. 17/20, 90/100. 14%, $39.50. Would I buy it? Not quite.
Three Dark Horses GT Grenache & Touriga 2015
McLaren Vale sourced. Includes some whole bunches in the wild ferment, with no oak used for maturation. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Bright dark purple, this is all about plum and blueberry fruit in a joyous joven style. Not serious but not insignificant – a whole lot of purple fruit. Fun . Best drinking: 2016-2019. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? I’d go a few glasses.
Schwarz Wine Co. Meta Barossa Grenache 2015
Handpicked and wild fermented this includes 72% whole bunches(!) and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. Sourced from Bethany and Marananga. 1900 bottles produced.
Light ruby red with just a hint of orange, this is all about whole bunches. The wine is dominated by them, actually, with a ferrous nose marked with slow cooked meat and leaf litter before a palate with some raspberry tang. Quite ferocious stem tannins on the finish make this a slightly awkward, tomato and stemmy proposition now, though the length is good. Too much of a good thing, which is a shame as there is glory here. Is it just a phase I wonder? Length is still good. Hmm. Best drinking: 2019-2026. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 13.6%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Dodgy Bros The Dilemma 2014
A blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Merlot, all from McLaren Vale. Franc and Merlot was matured in big old oak, while the Cabernet Sauvignon saw new oak.
Dark ruby coloured, you can see the leaf and redcurrant from the Franc. Very much a drying and astringent style on the palate with plenty of acidity and just a slightly awkward green nose and palate astringency. I don’t think it’s fatally flawed, but question marks about whether this will integrate or stay looking leafy. Time needed to decide that. Best drinking: 2020-2030. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $29. Would I buy it? No.
Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards Cabernet Merlot 2012
A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. High quality treatment in the winery, with berry sorting and 20 months in barrel! Woah.
Medium plum red with hints of purple. Dusty and utterly varietal nose, with red currant fruit and a little eucalypt . Slight edge of cooked fruit though. Dry and very structure led palate is firm and just a little desiccated, with great length but also alcohol and rawness. Chewy, but at least it’s varietal. I was expecting a bit more finesses here. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $27.50. Would I buy it? No.
Leeuwin Estate Siblings Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2015
66% Sauvignon Blanc and 34% Semillon, with a portion of the blend barrel fermented.
Pungent Sauv nose – lime, grass, passionfruit. Sharply defined and sour palate is hard work though. Like an old-school, early noughties Kiwi Sauv. with aggressive acidity and a pyrazine heavy nose. Lots of flavour but just too raw for mine. Best drinking: 2016-2018. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $22.50. Would I buy it? No.
Gundog Estate Hilltops Shiraz No. 1 2015
Probably my least favourite of the ’15 Gundog releases. This is sourced from the Freeman Vineyard at Prunevale. Has that scorched plum fruit of Hilltops fruit with a black pepper edge, but I found this a bit skinny and light on the finish to be anything more than pleasant. Best drinking: 2016-2019. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Yelland + Papps Barossa Vin de Soif 2014
Blend of 74% Grenache 17% Mataro and 9% Carignan. Wild fermented and spends 18 months in old oak.
I’m not convinced this needs so much time in oak. There seems to be a vague caramel flavour about this that robs it of the fruit freshness. Almost too winey and not fruity enough. Still, it’s pleasant table wine. Just not exciting. And a bit sweet and caramel. Best drinking: 2016-2019. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.9%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Three Dark Horses McLaren Vale Mataro 2014
From a single 50yo vineyard. Whole berries, wild ferment. Spends 18 months in seasoned French oak.
Plum and blue fruits with some furry undergrowth. Seems like the structure is overtaking the fruit here, all black licorice and firmish tannins. Could use some Grenache or something to lift it up – hard going and lacks some joy. Best drinking: 2018-2028. 16.5/20, 88/100+. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Yalumba Y Series Barossa Riesling 2015
Lots of intensity for a $12.99 wine. Quite forward and toasty nose, lemon lime and more lime. Not especially long but distinct Riesling flavours for few dollars. You could do much worse and pay much more. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 16/20, 87/100. 12%, $12.99. Would I buy it? I’d go a glass.
Vinea Marson Heathcote Sangiovese 2011
Very advanced. There’s tawny in the red here. The lightly earthen/brickdust nose smells of very old school, long aged Tuscan red. It tastes Italianate too, with a gentle palate, caramel lolly sweetness and light tannins before a hint of liqueur on the sherried finish. There’s a gentle charm here, but this tastes on the edge of life, if in a gently attractive oxidative style. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 16/20, 87/100. 13.5%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Hentley Farm The Stray Mongrel Grenache Shiraz Zinfandel 2015
Red cherry purple. Light musky red fruit and a dash of vanilla. Intense and very ripe red fruit. Cordial. Redcurrant cordial. Pleasant but that’s about it. Best drinking: 2016-2018. 15.8/20, 86/100. 14.7%, $28.50. Would I buy it? No.
Gartlemann Stephanie Orange Pinot Gris 2016
Named after Jorg Gartelmann’s daughter. Water clear, it smells of apple juice and sherbet, the palate vaguely sweet and surprisingly broad. Middling and oddly unbalanced. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 15/20, 84/100. 13.1%, $25. Would I buy it? No.