Here’s a selection of wines that were almost great.
Some are just good, solid wines that are occasionally unready, through to slightly underwhelming/unexciting, and rounded out with a few wines that miss the mark completely.
Why post a collection like this? Consistency. Life isn’t always rosy, and most wines aren’t superstars.
Calabria Estate Three Bridges Durif 2015
This is always one of Calabria’s best value wines, though in a rough-around-the-edges mode. Good people the Calabria Family too. This red is so full and pulpy it could almost be a barrel sample. Purple coloured and purple fruited, there is lots of alcohol, lots of oak and a faintly rubbery reduction too. There’s heaps of chewy flavour here but the winemaking gets in the way. All that toasty oak and added acid tends to rob this of its glory. Still, the depth of flavour is excellent, and history says this should be great in 5 years time. Best drinking: 2020-2030. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $25. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Coriole Picpoul 2017
Just the third commercial vintage for Picpoul at Coriole. One of the last whites picked and comes off Mark Lloyd’s own Vineyard above McLaren Flat apparently. pH 3.1. Fragrant and yet still tightly reined. There’s a grapefruit freshness here, though the varietal stamp is just missing a step. Almost like a Riesling, with vague lime undertones and a dry palate. Pleasant, fresh drink, but not much more – I’d wait for the vine age as it’s a bit too simple for the moment. Best drinking: 2017-2018. 16.8/20, 89/100. 11.8%, $25. Would I buy it? I’d go a few glasses.
Long Rail Gully Four Barrels 2013
I’m not sure of the varieties here, but its a combo of the four best barrels in the winery. Heavy and chocolatey, oak is really driving the flavours here, with a drying, faintly animal edge before the red berry fruit fighting through, all finishing a bit raspy. Lots of power and richness aplenty but not enough grace. Best drinking: 2017-2030. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $60. Would I buy it? No.
Longview Vineyard Vista Adelaide Hills Shiraz Barbera 2016
A juicy and fun blend from Longview. Plenty squishy berry with a hint of ferns, this smells like Barbera. Slick, berry fruit through out with a press of vanilla oak tannins and some grip to give bite to the finish. Great packaging and some fun, though the oak tannins through the finish are just a bit intrusive. Will be much better in 12 months. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 13.5%, $23. Would I buy it? No.
Mr. Riggs Battle Axe McLaren Vale Sparkling Shiraz NV
A multi-vintage sparkling Shiraz that taps into a full solera style system. Shows a dollop of liqueur sweetness, before a red fruited palate that has a real aged sultana and raisin development edge to it with an oxidative edge. Just a little too sweet for mine, but interesting enough. Best drinking: 2017? 16.8/20, 89/100. 12.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Mr. Riggs The Gaffer McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015
Curious wine this. Feels a little stunted. Light juicy Shiraz, the acid dominates things a little, but has some mid weight, slightly meaty, honest Vale Shiraz appeal. Acidity is a bit overwrought though. Best drinking: 2017-2028. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Seppeltsfield Eden Valley Riesling 2016
The reinvented Seppeltsfield powers on! This light, lemon yellow wine has the backbone but looks altogether too forward for its youth. Grapefruit and lemon on the nose with a surprising level of toast. Palate is driven by acidity rather than fruit, with a structure that suggests the future. It will get better, but already shutting down. Good not great. Best drinking: 2021-2030. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 11.8%, $22. Would I buy it? A glass.
Tim Adams Fergus 2014
The Fergus has been a bit up and down in recent years, and the changes in blend haven’t really helped. This is Tempranillo, Grenache and Malbec. Minty red fruit. Lots of mint. Mid weight and you can see the dusty Temp this year, though the caramel ripe edge is a bit heavy. Plenty of flavour, though it also feels raw throughout the warm finish. Doesn’t hit the heights this year, lacking definition to get over the hump. Best drinking: 2019-2030. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $24. Would I buy it? No.
Villa Maria Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2012
A study in how Pinot in this mode doesn’t really improve with time in bottle, though this is released as part of a mature wines program. Bony and a fraction autumnal, with bacon bits and red fruit. There’s some real concentration and ripe fruit, but tt’s fading a little, with cherry fruit tending meaty on the back. Tastes warmer than 13.5% too. Would have been a better wine 12 months ago. Best drinking: 2017. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%. Would I buy it? No.
Alkoomi Frankland River Chardonnay 2016
Alkoomi are more than adept at producing well priced wines. This just looks a little too immature. All estate fruit, it’s fermented in new, one and two year old oak for 8 months. Vanilla bean whisper on the nose, leading to a lemon cream palate with a prominent oak stamp. Pleasant wine but it’s all about oak over the fruit for the moment. Will improve. Best drinking: 2018-2020. 16.5/20, 88/100+. 12.9%, $24. Would I buy it? A glass.
Andevine Reserve Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2015
Made by Andrew Leembruggen. From a single vineyard in Mt. View. Whole bunch pressed to tank. 20% new oak. 6 months in oak and 12 months in tank. Broad and expansive nutty, banana nose. Something of a disconnect before the vaguely creamy palate that is both richly oaked but sharply acidic. The balance isn’t quite there yet. Best drinking: 2018-2021. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.3%, $40. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Balgownie Estate White Label Bendigo Chardonnay 2015
From the original vineyard at Bendigo. A full and opulent style, this is all nutty peach juice, the warm palate hit hard with the alcohol stick and just lifted up by ripe peach juice. Looks like malo held back and oak handled lightly. But alcohol warmth makes this less of a compelling drink. Best drinking: 2017-2019. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.8%, $40. Would I buy it? No.
Calabria Family Wines Aglianico 2015
These are genuinely good value wines, just a bit raw. Dry, rustic and tangy style with cherry flavour with a slightly warm, boozy finish. Rusticity aplenty, if a fraction bitter. Genuinely varietal. Good chew for the $$ and has real punch, even though its very much rustic table wine. Best drinking: 2018-2021. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $14.95. Would I buy it? No.
Calabria Estate Nero d’Avola 2016
Another easy Calabria wine, though the thin edge suggests high yields. ‘Red cherry and dried herbs’ says the label. Juicy berry fruit, if just a little skinny, the style juicy and jubey if not much depth. Pleasant black fruited wine for immediate drinking. Best drinking: 2017-2020. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $14.95. Would I buy it? No.
Deviation Road Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris 2016
A maker doing very good things on the sparkling front. This is partially barrel ferment, the aim to lift up the texture. Indeed it has some palate breadth, which is surprising given the low alcohol, though without the viscosity to carry it off. It’s sort of round and forward but then tight all at once, the balance not quite there. Best drinking: 2017-2018. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $30. Would I buy it? A glass.
Glandore Estate Regional Series Rosè 2017
Great to see these Glandore Wines again. Semillon is excellent. This juicy, slightly off-dry style is an easy commercial style. Juicy red fruit aplenty, a flush of red raspberry fruit, soft acidity and well handled residual sugar. Simple and easy drinking. Best drinking: 2017-2018. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.8%, $23. Would I buy it? Not really.
Longview Fresca Nebbiolo 2017
Absolutely glorious packaging. The best. Comes in a short squat bottle with no punt and a cool label. A1 packaging. A1 intention too, though the wine doesn’t quite work. Nebbiolo that is cold soaked for 5 days, fermented cool in tank and only goes through partial malolactic fermentation. Numbers. pH 3.63, TA 5.7g/L. There’s some syrupyness to the fruit here, a spritz and then rather gruff Nebbiolo tannins and a very dry finish. What a disconnect. An odd, slightly dour wine in many ways, it feels incomplete, the classic tannins and juicy fruit not meeting in the middle. I like some of the elements of this wine, but it’s just not a convincing drink. Should have just left it in barrel, or even leave some residual sweetness or something. Expensive too. Best drinking: I don’t even know. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $36. Would I buy it? No.
Ogier Les Safres Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010
A disappointment from my cellar. A blend of 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre and 10% Cinsault from Safres (Limestone marl- sand) soil. Bright red colour with brick edges. The alcohol has taken over this, leaving the lovely sappy red Grenache fruit stunted in its wake. There’s class in here, but the balance is no longer perfect. Best drinking: 2017. 16.5/20, 88/100. $70. Would I buy it? Wish I hadn’t.
Taylors Riesling 2016
Love the temperature panel on the back of these Taylors wines. A great initiative. Ripe and limey style Riesling, this is forward and soft despite the late phenolic grip. That soapy edge robs this of some definition, but its a fair drink. Best drinking: 2017 or wait until 2020+. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Toi Toi Clutha Central Otago Pinot Noir 2015
A Dan Murphys exclusive apparently. Juicy sappy raspberry nose, slightly sour and light palate with furry, faintly bitter edges. Underpowered and not perfect, but great value authentic entry level Central Otago Pinot. Best drinking: 2017-2019. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $17.95. Would I buy it? I’d go a glass.
Topper’s Mountain Wild Ferment Tempranillo 2012
As ever with Topper’s, this has character. Yield of just 1.6t/ha!! Cold soak and wild fermented, it spent 15 months in old oak. Brick red edges and brick dust on the nose. There’s tomato leaf and plum, the palate quite developed and earthen, the tannins long and drying too. It’s arguably just going to dry out more from here, even if there is some plum juiciness through the middle. Best drinking: 2017-2018. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.7%, $32. Would I buy it? No.
Vigna Cantina Rosato di Sangiovese Barossa Rosè 2017
Grown on Domenic and Tracy’s home Vineyard at Mount McKenzie. A dash of vanilla cream and some juiciness to this style. Dry, lightly phenolic, plenty of acidity and a real tang. Definitely more rosato. Just a little tart and slightly raw, but has flavour. Best drinking: 2018. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Witchmount Sunbury Chardonnay 2016
What a pleasure to see the Witchmount wines in the sample pile. This uses handpicked fruit and spends 9 months in 33% new oak. Light and peachy style, with apple fruit and some sulphide funk. Pleasant, appley wine with a layer of vanilla pod oak. Lacks some penetration but crisp and easy enough. Best drinking: 2017-2019. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $32. Would I buy it? Just a glass.
Yelland & Papps Second Take Mataro 2016
From Yelland & Papps wilder label. 73% whole bunches. 17 days on skins. 9 months in 23% new oak. Meaty and wild with a decent slick of brett on nose and palate. It has grip and chunky fullness to the palate, the Brett distracting but not enough to destroy the lovely richness. Drinkable, even if technically it’s not going to win trophies. Best drinking: 2017-2020. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.8%, $40. Would I buy it? No.
Andevine Reserve Hilltops Nebbiolo 2016
Hand and foot plunged, matured in the oldest oak Andrew Leembruggen had. Earthen, red juicy fruit. Not a helluva lot of flavour or varietal character here. A dash of tar and roses in there, but little else. Not quite convincing. Best drinking: 2018-2022. 16/20, 87/100. 14.5%, $45. Would I buy it? No.
Jacobs Creek Barossa Signature Riesling 2016
The middle tier for Jacobs Creek Riesling. Brisk lemon grapefruit acid shaped style. It’s quite fleeting, a flash before it’s gone, the acid and faint grapefruit tang a very last stop. Big hole in the palate here. Pleasant enough drink. Best drinking: 2017. 16/20, 87/100. 11.5%, $19.99. Would I buy it? No.
Jeanneret Cabernet Malbec 2015
Clare Valley in the big and bold mode. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon 35% Malbec, it spent 45 days on skins. 15 months in barrel. Dark maroon. Volatile, faintly baked nose, firm, drying palate finishing warm and a fraction hard. It’s bold, and packs a punch through the thick middle but the balance isn’t here, the fruit already fading and alcohol a bit intrusive. Would have been better picked earlier, despite the length and impact. Best drinking: 2017. 16/20, 87/100. 14.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Juxtaposed ‘Mr Furley’ Pinot Meunier Rosé 2017
As ever, with a super cool label. This is the only one of Wes’ wines I don’t like. Piccadilly Valley fruit. This tastes like sparkling base. Strawberry fruit on the nose, but it’s not sweet or ripe – indeed it’s too dry, early picked sparking base lobbing up untamed acidity, with not enough generosity to carry the wine. Not quite there. Best drinking: 2017. 16/20, 87/100. 12%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling 2016
The most planted grape at Leeuwin! Minimally pruned as they want a huge canopy to protect from sunburn. Broadly defined. Generous middle and tart finish with citrus through the middle. A curious wine this – a simple drink but barely varietal. An oddity in the scheme of things and I couldn’t drink it. Best drinking: 2017. 16/20, 87/100. Would I buy it? No.
Lino Ramble Blind Mans Bluff McLaren Vale Bastardo 2016
From the Chalk Hill Vineyards. 56 cases produced. As a small batch tester this is good to see. Varietally it’s difficult to quantify, as it is no Jura Trousseau. Still, this has some fun light berry flavours, a flash of vanilla bean and then some grippy tannins and warmish alcohol to finish. A few holes here, and it’s light and thin, but hey it’s early days. Best drinking: 2017-2018. 16/20, 87/100. 13.8%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Terre à Terre Rose 2016
The only non performer in the Terre à Terre range. 65/35 Pinot Chardonnay. Sparking base pressings based, barrel fermented. Light with just a little strawberry sweetness, though phenolic finish. I feel this would have been more interesting a yr ago. Best drinking: 2017. 16/20, 87/100. 13%, $32. Would I buy it? No.
Wirra Wirra Original Blend Grenache Shiraz 2016
McLaren Vale fruit. It’s very Grenachey. There’s an edge of hessian on the nose (old oak I guess), before red licorice and raspberry in a liquered form – it feels just a little spirity around the edges. Extreme youth is not helping, but the hot finish isn’t pretty either. I didn’t enjoy this as much as expected. Best drinking: 2017-2020. 16/20, 87/100. 14.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Calabria Wines Saint Macaire 2015
Rhubarb aplenty in this bitter earthy wine. Acid is very tangy and sharp, as are the tannins, but the contours are shapely for a Riverina style. A little softer (and less acid) would be great. Best drinking: 2017-2019. 15.5/20, 85/100. 13%, $14.95. Would I buy it? No.
d’Arenberg Stephanie The Gnome With Rose Tinted Glasses Sangiovese Shiraz Rosé 2017
An old school style of rosé. Bright, lurid raspberry lolly pink. Simple, slightly short palate has some candied sweetness up front before a tight and drawn finish. Simple refreshment here, no more. Best drinking: 2017-2018. 15.5/20, 85/100. 11.8%, $18. Would I buy it? No.
Blue Wren No.716 Single Vineyard Mudgee Merlot
I can’t see an actual vintage on this, but the notes say 2016. Very light, volatile and spiritzy, Beaujolais attempt with furry red berry fruit and surprisingly grippy drying tannins. Such an odd one. Light and sweet fruited, but tannic as hell. The notes call it robust but it is definitely not. I can’t see the market for this at all. Odd. Best drinking: 2017. 15/20, 83/100. 13.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Harewood Estate Flux 1 Shiraz Tempranillo 2015
Deep colour. Has a curious mixed ripeness on the nose. Minty and hard. Palate is sausagey, firm and astringent, with meaty, fatty, mixed ripeness before ridiculous alcohol. Unbalanced and ultimately unpleasant. What a miss from a winery with a portfolio of smart wines. Best drinking: 2018-2022. 15/20, 83/100. 15%, $27. Would I buy it? No.
Blue Wren 1015 Mudgee White Port 2015
Hello white Port! It is even labelled as Port! Verdelho based. Very light colour – it’s a primary fortified style, with a slightly cardboardy (over filtered?) style. It’s dryish and the acid and alcohol are a massive clash. Distinctly underpowered and the balance isn’t quite right. Not much fun. Best drinking: 2017-whenever. 14.5/20, 81/100. 17.5%, $25 375ml. Would I buy it? Oh no.