Following on from my post about 2015 vintage generalisations, here is a roundup of a swag of 2015 reds from Victoria and South Australia that have passed the desk recently.
Mornington and Yarra the winners here, but with plenty of outliers. Plenty of warm wines for that matter too…
Schwarz Wine Co. Thiele Road Barossa Grenache 2015
Jason Schwarz has a deft hand with Barossa Grenache and this is delicious. From the Thiele Road Vineyard planted in 1941. 15% whole bunches. This has that balance between limpid fresh vitality and unquestioned depth, with little hints of fern and game meat, a spicy edge to the tannins and with proper fine tannins. Savoury and smoky but retains that juiciness too to fill out the middle. Very nice, and even better next year. Best drinking: 2018-2028. 18/20, 93/100+. 14%, $38. Would I buy it? I’d go a bottle.
Balgownie Estate White Label Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2015
Each year the Balgownie Yarra wines get better. Matured for 9 months in 30% new oak. Lots of juicy red, soft red pastille raspberry fruit flowing right through the middle, with a little sawdust oak highlights but largely spicy fruit and a little alcohol warmth. Good drinking: 2017-2022. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.5%, $45. Would I buy it? Yes, a bottle easy.
First Foot Forward Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2015
Big fan of these First Foot Forward Wines. Much much wine for $25. Really concentrated ripe red fruit here too – you could almost imagine you’re in Central Otago. Low acid raspberry fruited wine with pronounced fruit sweetness, if a fraction broad. It’s rather delicious broad red fruited style tho and easily delicious. Best drinking: 2017-2021. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.5%, $25. Would I buy it? Sure would. A bargain.
Best’s Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Varietal plus. Ripe Cabernet berries with a little hedgerow, the palate plusher than expected with vanilla paste oak, and expansive warm ripe fruits. Not quite the varietal expanse on the palate, but dense berry fruit, complete with a little capsicum and drying tannins. Maybe a little mixed ripeness? Good solid Cabernet, if not perfect cohesion. Needs time for sure. Best drinking: 2019-2030+. 17.5/20, 91/100+. 14%, $29. Would I buy it? Not yet. In time, sure.
Hahndorf Hill Blueblood Adelaide Hills Blaufrankisch 2015
Such a serious Blau, and quite a contrast to the more Pinot-esque style. At first this opened up too tight, the slick of vanilla oak coating that black cherry fruit, the alcohol and tannins a full stop to the finish. By two it was more open, the oak had folded in more and it was more composed. Anything but a light and simple wine, its going to need a few to come together. Almost too much extract here methinks, but definitely long. Best drinking: 2019-2026. 17.5/20, 91/100+. 14%, $45. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Montalto Pennon Hill Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2015
Light and fragrant – but not un-serious – entry level Mornington Pinot with light, tangy raspberry fruit and some fine tannins to finish. Lots of pinosity for the dollars, even if it is just a little light. Plenty to like. Best drinking: 2017-2021. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $32. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Passing Clouds Bendigo Shiraz 2015
It’s curious to see the change in style for the Passing Clouds wines. Gone is the grandiosity for something much more modern and polished. This is the pick of the ’15 releases, with deep purple mulberry and plum fruit that fills out the middle nicely. It’s a little bit confected and the alcohol adds some unwelcome bitterness on the tail but a good mouthful of red. A fraction made and acidified perhaps? Lots of ripe juicy fruit though. Best drinking: 2017-2030. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.6%, $34. Would I buy it? Not quite.
Polperro Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2015
Ultra light colours. Soapy, low acid, raspberry fruit style with drying edges. Just a fraction warm on the finish. An oxidative style that, on its own, looks like its all arms and legs (thanks to the tannins), despite the impressive length. It’s serious wine, Jim, that is going to need time in bottle to resolve. Best drinking: 2018-2023. 17.5/20, 91/100+. 13.6%, $55. Would I buy it? Not yet, but this could be a star next year.
Wirra Wirra The Absconder McLaren Vale Grenache 2015
This is almost painfully young. It’s very Grenachey, reductive and jubey, the impression of a stillborn barrel sample such is the youth. There’s some curious mint in there, but the core is expansively red fruited. Experience says this will gain weight in bottle and I’ve got no doubt this is just too young – though the alcohol warmth may also be cutting off the flavour. Wait. Best drinking: 2018-2028. 17.5/20, 91/100+. 14.5%, $70. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Balgownie Estate Bendigo Black Label Sangiovese 2015
A modern Chianti from a warm site. Close your eyes and you could believe that here, except the hint of eucalypt gives the game away. Otherwise an appealing medium bodied red with lots of forest berry fruit, drying tannins and a savoury style. It’s not perfect (it doesn’t flow or pack the intensity of a good Sangio), but still good drinking. Best drinking: 2017-2022. 17/20, 90/100. 13.5%, $35. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Best’s Great Western Bin No.1 Shiraz 2015
Looks every bit of its 14% alcohol this year, with dark red purple red fruit that is super concentrated and very glycerol rich. You’d almost pick this as coming from further north in Rutherglen such is the red fruit concentration and warm, spirituous finish. That said there is still plenty of squishy purple fruit, even if it’s awfully sugar sweet and simple this year. It will likely still be a juicy wine in a decade, even if I found it just a little much at the moment. Best drinking: 2017-2030. 17/20, 90/100+. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? I’d save the dollars and go for the exceptional Bin 0 instead.
Passing Clouds Graeme’s Bendigo Shiraz Cabernet 2015
Lovely juicy blackberry fruit again here, but then it all just sort of melts away – surprisingly light given the alcohol and again feels overacidifed. Real juicy fruit with a dash of pepper. Pleasant, but too warm and curiously underpowered when this was never a light wine. There’s still lovely fruit, but the rest of the package isn’t quite there. Best drinking: 2017-2030. 17/20, 90/100. 14.7%, $34. Would I buy it? No.
Pizzini Nonna Gisella King Valley Sangiovese 2015
Entry level Sangio from Pizzini that’s not shit. Light ruby red, it’s like a Sangiovese Pinot with soft berry fruit, bark and then proper tea leaf tannins. This is charming Sangio – retains light tannins but sans hardness. Maraschino cherry express. Best drinking: 2017-2022. 17/20, 90/100. 13.5%, $21.50. Would I buy it? I’d go a glass or two.
Hither & Yon McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
A big wine as ever. All the Hither & Yon wines are big on flavour, helped along by vineyard sources at the southern end of the Vale known for ripeness. The Leask’s know how to craft big wines too. This has a huge punch of surprisingly varietal fruit. Pencil shavings, sweet cocoa butter oak and then full blackberry fruit before grainy tannins. Lots of chewy lush berry fruit, even if it’s a bit hulking and boozy. You’d expect this to look even better in a year or so. Best drinking: 2018-2028. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? A glass would do.
La Bise Adelaide Hills Sangiovese 2015
Warm, caramel edged Sangio style with sticky red fruit and a light furry bitterness. It’s a little bitter sweet, but this is real Sangio, if just a bit too ripe for mine. Best drinking: 2017-2023. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Passing Clouds Macedon Pinot Noir 2015
Without sounding like a broken record, this is both under and overripe. Bright red fruit with a shot of pepper and green tomato. There’s just a little mint here, a hint of greenness to counterpoint the red jam fruit. Raw, serious finish is a counterpoint to the fleshy fruit too. Balance is just slightly off here. Best drinking; 2017-2021. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13%, $47. Would I buy it? No.
Schwarz Wine Co. Barossa GSM 2015
Important to consider the price here. Lots of red raspberry fruit. Great raspberry fruit generosity! It’s just a bit too glycerol sweet this year though, the flavours surprisingly simple and curranty, showing the stamp of a warm and concentrated season, complete with a sweet finish. Really surprised by the shape of this given the alcohol. Admirable juiciness but it got a bit much after a while. Best drinking: 2017-2020. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.9%, $20. Would I buy it? Just a glass.
Seppeltsfield Barossa Shiraz 2015
Always great to see the Seppeltsfield name out there again. This is deep purple coloured too, suggesting a biggun’. Curiously, the palate profile doesn’t match the alcohol – this is surprisingly medium weight. The nose suggests a big purple berry surprise and yet the palate is still brought down a notch by stunting acidity. Has a solid drinkability, even if the whole wine feels like it’s missing a gear or two through the palate. Best drinking: 2017-2023. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.8%, $38. Would I buy it? No.
Jacobs Creek Reserve Limestone Coast Shiraz 2015
Don’t be fooled, this is big company wine but done well. Dark purple colours, the nose has slick vanilla bean oak before descending into a dry and extractive – rather than fruity – hearty finish. It’s a bit minty, warm and rough edged but it also feels substantial for just $17.99, and that’s really what counts. Best drinking: 2017-2022. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $17.99. Would I buy it? Not really, but still recommend.
Mayhem & Co. Blewitt Springs Syrah 2015
I’m a big fan of the label but I don’t get this wine. From the Springs Hill Vineyard. 100% new French oak for 14 months! 106 cases produced. Curious to see such overt vanilla oak. It’s like a creamy caramel berry oak surprise. Bright red berry fruit underneath. But what’s with the creamy vanilla oak? A bold red, but warm and sweet and the oak just makes it feel even more like a caricature. What the? It may well get better. Best drinking: 2018-2028. 16.5/20, 88/100+. 14.3%, $36. Would I buy it? No.
Tahbilk Victoria Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre 2015
Juicy and lithe style with bright raspberry fruit, a vein of vanilla oak sweetening up the palate and then a lightly warm finish. Oak plays a dominant part here, with dusty red earth for good measure and a warmth to finish. Plenty of juicy raspberry Grenache flavour, in a simple mode. Just too simple for higher points. Best drinking: 2017-2026. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $25.70. Would I buy it? No.
Jacobs Creek Barossa Signature Shiraz 2015
A miss. Red plum fruit with some caramel oak influences. Lumpy, rough and tumble style with hearty edges. Hard going and feels raw, even though there is plenty of flavour. Best drinking: 2017-2022. 15.5/20, 84/100. 14.5%, $19.99. Would I buy it? No.