It’s that time of the month again – time to collate a range of wines that didn’t quite make the grade.
Plenty opened this month, which is why this list is longer than usual…
Bremerton Langhorne Creek Mourvèdre 2014
More Langhorne Creek then Mourvèdre, but not a bad wine. Flashy, black jelly bean nose with vanilla oak. Round, vanilla meets rum and raisin palate is just a little warm but packs in lots of flavour. Grippy tannins. Lots to chew on and surprisingly polished. Just a bit warm and raw on the finish. Still good value and will live. Best drinking: 2018-2028. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 14%, $24. Would I buy it? Not as a young wine. but maybe later.
Pizzini King Valley Verduzzo 2015
As ever it’s a textured beast, driven by the vanilla cream of oak and lees. Initially, it’s a light and crisp style, then it gets almost caramel with oak and sour pear juice, the finish expansive. It’s just a little broad, but the richness of the finish is enjoyable, even if its an odd wine. Will likely improve with more time in bottle. Best drinking: 2017-2020. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $24. Would I buy it? A glass.
McWilliams Appellation Series Hilltops Shiraz 2014
Choc/Cherry Ripe Hilltops style with a little sour red fruit. Hearty palate is contained by acidity, the style utterly backward, spicy and even a touch herbal with sweet fruit edges but otherwise secondary and drying. Rather robust, but perhaps a fraction too spicy and firm for immediate love. Will get better. Best drinking: 2018-2025. 16.7/20, 89/100+. 13.5%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass or so next year.
Eldorado Road Comrade Victorian Nero d’Avola 2015
Fermented wild with cold soak, whole bunches and minimal intervention. 225 dozen produced. Wild purple colour. Retains some of the purple juiciness of the variety, though it seems a little light and skittish. Caramel and red berry palate has good form but the young vine musky lack of concentration derails things. Pleasant enough, but a little light for more love. Best drinking: 2016-2021. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.8%, $35. Would I buy it? Not quite.
Gundog Estate Canberra Rosé 2016
Cabernet Sauvignon from Gundaroo in the Canberra district (which is where the new Gundog Estate cellar door is). Blush lipstick light pink. Raspberry nose. Palate is initially juicy, then fills out with a strawberries and cream palate then sharp acidity To finish. Nice round open and fleshy style, with a bit of sweetness to liven things up. Fun and playful if not super serious. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $25. Would I buy it? A glass would do.
Ninth Island Tasmania Pinot Noir 2015
Mid ruby. No disguising the Pinosity here and it’s quite ripe despite the low alcohol. Lots of red cherries and red fruit with surprising furriness to the tannins. It’s just a little leafy and skinny on the finish but there is fruit flavour here. Safe sub-$20 Pinot pick, if not quite the substantial beast beyond that. Best drinking; 2017-2020. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $24. Would I buy it? A glass, sure.
Parish Hill Piccadilly Valley Grillo 2015
An oddity locally, but good to see. This is quite neutral and driven by acidity, though there’s still a leesy edge to give weight. Just a little too neutral and the acid is just a little hard to counter the light fruit. Not unattractive all the same. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $25. Would I buy it? A glass.
Pizzini Lana Il Nostro Gallo King Valley Red 2014
A blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Colorino. Hello Chianti! This has a real Chianti feel to it as well, with brick dust, red cherries, caramel oak and a real ferrousness. It’s just a bit lumpy, but the savoury appeal is obvious. Pleasant drinking and a fair price. Best drinking: 2017-2022. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $25. Would I buy it? A glass, after a decent decant.
Tahbilk Nagambie Lakes Marsanne 2016
The Tahbilk Marsanne plantings date back to 1927 and they have the largest single holdings in the world. Always need to remind myself about that resource. This is a typical modern Tahbilk Marsanne too, though it seems a little riper than some years. Understated honeysuckle kicks through onto a palate that is initially rather lean and lemony but fans out into riper melon flavours after that, the acid surprisingly sharp. It’s still a wine for the future and the style here is very much in its infancy. It could be me but this seems rather more aromatic and less cellaring-biased than previous years. The interest is still 3-5yrs away. Best drinking: 2020-2028. 16.5/20, 88/100+. 13%, $18.90. Would I buy it? A bottle for the future.
Inkwell Pressure Drop McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Handpicked single vineyard Cabernet, matured in 40% new oak for 18 months. TA 5.43g/L. pH 3.91. The only Inkwell latest release I haven’t enjoyed. Menthol, leather and a little mint. Biased towards structure, it’s firmly varietal and even a little leafy, the palate slightly too drying and leathery with an astringent finish. Not enough joy here for mine, though it may well look great in a few more years. Best drinking: 2018-2030. 16.3/20, 87/100. 13.5%, $40. Would I buy it? No.
Bremerton Estate Special Release Langhorne Creek Lagrein 2014
24 months in barrel! Deep purple red. Smells of dark berry Langhorne fruit, and tastes of more fruit in a lavish juicy style with serious oak tannins to finish. Langhorne red with little varietal characters in sight, even if the intention is to craft a heroic ‘dunkel’ style. No. Best drinking: 2018-2025. 16/20, 87/100. 14.5%, $24. Would I buy it? No.
Bremerton Estate Langhorne Creek Vermentino 2016
There’s a hint of cinnamon in amongst the pear juice, the palate chunky and driven by phenolics, even though it falls away on the spritzy finish. Quite full through the middle and then lots of acid to finish. Pleasant, neutral dry white if mono-dimensional. Refreshing thought. Best drinking: 2016-2018. 16/20, 87/100. 12%, $24. Would I buy it? A glass.
Penny’s Hill The Agreement Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Soft and fleshy, this is highlighted with melon and mango leanings on a gentle palate with broad finish and just a slight tart edge. Pleasant without being more than serviceable. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 16/20, 87/100. 12.5%, $20. Would I buy it? Not really.
Trofeo Estate Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 2015
Fermented in terracotta amphora. Curious wine this – seems a product of ideology rather than just trying to make a great wine. Neutral grapefruit nose and lemon nose gives up little. Soft and gentle palate has rice caramel richness and then serious warming alcohol. That warmth kicks in early and pulls through the phenolic finish. Broadly focused, and somewhat un-Chardonnay like. Indeed it’s almost not Chardonnay. Pulls up short on the finish. Underwhelms. I thought a bad bottle, but it showed no oxidation or cork taint and there looks to be good fruit. Curious. Best drinking: 2016-2019. 16/20, 87/100. 14.3%, $69. Would I buy it? No.
Parish Hill Piccadilly Valley Dolcetto 2015
Bright purple/light red. Initially juicy, the palate then gets bacony and tannic with some raspy bitterness to finish things off. Bright and spicy and bitter, but not quite convincing enough beyond that, and the bitterness gets tiring. Best drinking: 2017-2019. 15.5/20, 86/100. 13.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Trofeo Estate Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2015
All Estate fruit from Dromana. Fermented and matured in amphora. Rather firm and even a dash of eucalypt and menthol. Ripe and syrupy palate then tends antringent and harsh through the finish, the tannins green and hard. Unfun. Couldn’t finish more than a glass. Best drinking: 2017-2021. 15/20, 84/100. 13.9%, $69. Would I buy it? No.