Here are a few of the wines that have passed the desk this month and almost made the grade. Some weren’t far off the mark, others are absolute disasters.
A few big disappointments of note:
- The I am George/George wines are genuinely underwhelming. Good packaging, but nearly every wine was hot/cooked/unbalanced.
- Shottesbrooke can do much better
- That Greystone should be a much nicer wine. The overt oak is just a blight.
- My run of middling Burgundy continues. We can only hope that the Jean Chauvenet was a bad bottle.
Amadio Shiraz 2016
Almost. From the Kersbrook Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, this sees largely American oak. It’s a big wine for the Hills, as befitting a warm site, with plums and a little volatility, the palate heavy with spreading red fruit and then a bitter finish, alcohol and acidity shutting down the finish. There’s flavour here, but the dried edges are less giving and it finishes just a bit hard. Less would be more. Best drinking: Better in 2019 then drink for at least a decade. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $28. Would I buy? A glass.
d’Arenberg The Ironstone Pressings GSM 2014
72/25/3 Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre. Roast beef aplenty here, with the tilled black earth a d’Arenberg stamp. No shortage of bright red fruit though, with gummy Grenache aplenty. So much more lavish than expected, but so sweet and vanillan etched. It’s ultimately too much, the fruit and oak overtly rich and treacly, though the tannins underneath suggest glory to come. Hold. Best drinking: 2020 then it will live and live. At fifteen years old it will probably be in a good place. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 14.5%, $65. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Dromana Estate Pinot Noir 2016
Easy and open Mornington Pinot that has soapy, glycerol red fruit ripeness to this before a warming lightly bitter finish. Lots of expansive, lightly cooked dusty red fruit with alcohol warmth slightly stunting the finish. Pleasant, if a bit broad. Best drinking: Now to four years. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Greystone Thomas Brothers Pinot Noir 2013
A selection of the best barrels at Greystone and such a serious wine. Meaty, chocolatey and dark blackberry fruited wine that has super licoricey concentration, but smothered by so much oak oak that it dries out the palate and finish with a hard edge. Serious pretensions, but it’s heavy going and I enjoyed less than I would expect. I do wonder if this was a good bottle. Best drinking: No question it will get better, but will it ever be great? 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $120. Would I buy it? No.
Gundog Estate Rosé 2017
Canberra Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Dark colour with pink heading to red raspberry, the palate is just off dry with raspberry fruit heading towards red cordial. A pleasant and fun drink, even if I want this to be a little drier. Best drinking: Now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? A glass.
Harewood Estate Denmark Pinot Noir 2017
Lots of freshness with these Harewood reds typically, but the peppery light fruit/astringent tannins mishmash doesn’t quite work. It’s savoury and has sour cherry fruit, but the angles are well, a little angular. Best drinking: Wait until next year at least. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 13.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Hither & Yon Saviour 2016
A blend of McLaren Vale Temp., Grenache (Garnacha) and Mourvèdre (labelled here as Monastrell). Thick and a tad bitumen like in its tarry concentration, there’s a strong black licorice tang but the raw finish is a tad jarring. Best drinking: Ready now onwards. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Jean Chauvenet Nuits-Saint-Georges ‘Les Vaucrains’ 1er Cru Rouge 2010
I’m officially not buying red Burgundy any more. Dark colours here, then raisins, red fruit and a palate that shows some earthen structure led style. Ultimately, however, this lacks generosity, the fruit a distant figure behind the tannins. Best drinking: It will make old bones, but will it be better? Probs not. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%. Would I buy it? Glad I don’t have any more – not worth the dollars.
Jim Barry Annabelle’s Rosè 2017
No variety listed. Very pale pink, the delicate nose gives away nothing. The palate feels like it’s stuck, the flavours more red wine-like despite the colour, complete with firm phenolics. Does the job, but more delicacy required for a compelling pale rosè. Best drinking: Now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12.5%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass.
Mr. Riggs Outpost Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
A slap of green veges, plenty of acidity. It’s not unripe, and nicely varietal, but the slightly sweet and sour style just doesn’t leave a great taste in your mouth. Solid enough. Best drinking: It will get better with two more years in bottle. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Mr. Riggs McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014
Plump and chocolatey, plenty of commercial appeal here, that palate has flavour, but the acid sticks out through the raw finish. Feels just a tad made. Best drinking: Will be a better drink next year. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $50. Would I buy it? No.
Neudorf Toms Block Pinot Noir 2015
Not there yet. Spicy red fruit, only medium bodied and it feels drier and a bit leaner than it really needs too, the tannins firm and dry. It’s very serious, but the fruit can’t keep track of the tannins. Will get better but its a way off yet. Best drinking: From next year. I have faith it will be a better integrated drink with time. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 13.5%, $35. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Schwarz Wine Co. Chenin Blanc 2017
Sprightly grapefruit style with such a tang. It’s almost all lemon juice and acidity, but that tang makes for a very refreshing simple drink. Easy. Best drinking: Now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 11%, $25. would I buy it? A glass or so.
Schwarz Wine Co. Rosè 2017
Very light pale pink. Lean but not mean palate with just a splash of pink fruit. Fresh, light and fun, if just a little lean. Best drinking: Now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12.9%, $25. Would I buy it? A glass.
Voyager Estate Project Rosé 2017
Light ruby coloured, the palate has raspberry fruit and a little late sweetness, something of an old school fuller style. It’s not ugly but I want more vitality. Best drinking: Now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13%, $24. Would I buy it? No.
Crabtree Watervale Shiraz 2016
Handpicked, basket pressed and spends 14-18 months in new and used French oak. For all that effort though this falls down on the fruit ripeness – the nose spirituous, the palate heavy and shows both minty edges and a little raisining. A shame as the oak handling seems convincing, though it can’t get over the harsh bitumen edge. There’s so much quality in the making. But it’s not quite convincing. Best drinking: It will look better in five years time. 16.5/20, 88/100+. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Ferngrove Dragon Shiraz 2015
Single vineyard red. Ripe but with a dash of mint, the fruit just a little scorched at the edges. A little green edge to the finish too. Balance isn’t there for higher points. 16.5/20, 88/100. Best drinking: Will be a better wine in two years. 14%, $32. Would I buy it? No.
Fuedo Arancio Nero d’Avola 2015
Has that blackberry toffee caramelised Nero fruit, the palate bitter and chunky. It’s not a shrinking violet, even a bit scorched, but solid drinking Sicilian Nero for BBQ action. Best drinking: Good to go. 16.5/20, 88/100. Would I buy it? No.
Jacobs Creek Barossa Signature Riesling 2017
There’s a sense of a plump style in the wings here but it’s pulled back by grapefruit acidity. If anything it’s a bit thin. Fresh though and very drinkable, with a dab of well integrated sweetness to make for an easy drink. Solid and good value. Best drinking: Now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 11%, $19.99. Would I buy it? I’d recommend this in the scheme of things. Simple, but drinkable.
Passing Clouds Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2016
From a vineyard at Musk at 742m. Autumnal and reserved nose, with a lean palate cut with vanilla. It’s just too reserved, earthen for that oak and the acid just in too, the fruit unseen. Not quite. Best drinking: Maybe from next year. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $47. Would I buy it? No.
Penley Estate Atlas Shiraz 2016
Love the labels of these new Penley wines. This is all minty plum juice. softer and juicier than the more expensive Hyland, the purple fruit lighter but the extra juiciness and less raw tannins make it a more pleasant experience. Still not exactly soft and the fruit is just a little hot. That finish is the derailer, ultimately, making this less balanced the closer you look. Best drinking: Will be better next year and still alive in a decade. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Penley Estate Hyland Coonawarra Shiraz 2016
Deep inky red with a layer of vanilla. Drenched red fruit that is heading towards porty, then more vanilla and a raw finish. The balance isn’t great, even though the potential is there. Less acid and alcohol would be welcome. Best drinking: Wait at least two years. Then at least a decade of drinking. 16.5/20, 88/100+. 14.5%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Tahbilk Marsanne 2017
Peer into the future. Sometime in five years time this will transform from a painfully neutral simple white with notes of white flowers and marzipan into a beautifully honeyed glorious white. Score is where it is at right now. Best drinking: From 2023 onwards. 16.5/20, 88/100++. 12%, $19.50. Would I buy it? Only if I can leave it in the cellar for a while.
George The Fixer Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Announces itself with a hint of raisined currant fruit. Drying palate has tannins and added acidity but no flavour. There’s length here but the balance is off and it makes this less enjoyable to drink at all. Best drinking: It will get better in 2 years. 16/20, 87/100. 14.4%, $24.99
George The Unbound Barossa Padthaway Shiraz 2016
Bitumen cooked plum fruit with a generous dose of mint. A plush palate with warm and dried fruit flavours, the soft finish offset by drying bitter overripe flavours. Why push the ripeness so far? Best drinking: It will get better and live for a decade. 16/20, 87/100. 14.7%, $24.99. Would I buy it? No.
Hither & Yon Petit Blanc 2017
Muscat based McLaren Vale white, it’s water clear, the palate musky and tropical at first, but the palate is dry and ultimately lacks oomph. A fresh simple drink that could probably do with a bit more varietal flavour. Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 12%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Jacobs Creek Le Petit Rosè 2017
An acid driven style with crunchy just strawberry fruit. The hard acid is jarrring, but as an entry level pink it does the job. Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 12.4%, $16.99. Would I buy it? No.
Jacobs Creek Signature Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Smoky menthol with a little tobacco leaf and then dried blackberry. The sour, slightly green palate has a heartiness and full flavours, even if it’s just a little astringent on the edges. The balance isn’t there, but it does have some power. Best drinking: Will be better next year, and for at least five years. 16/20, 87/100. 14.2%, $19.99. Would I buy it? No.
Kangaroo Island Trading Company Merlot 2015
Amadio’s Kangaroo Island brand. Deep maroon, the nose is minty and stout yet clearly driven by ripe berry fruit. There’s a fight on the palate though, the fruit both under and over ripe with raspy tannins and just a little excess warmth on the finish. Varietal and has decent length, but it tastes like a battle. Best drinking: 2019 for starters. 16/20, 87/100. $39. Would I buy it? No.
Shottesbrooke GSM 2015
Medium ruby red. A slightly thin and reductive nose, no noticeable oak and a syrupy, lean palate. Commercial wine that has fruit juiciness but missing intensity and depth. Made for a pricepoint? Best drinking: Now onwards and then within five years. 16/20, 87/100. 14.5%, $19.99. Would I buy it? No.
Swings & Roundabouts Rosé 2017
By the numbers Margaret River rosé. Tangy, light orange pink with spiky acidity and minimal flavour. Not there. Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 12.5%, $24. Would I buy it? No.
Tahbilk Viognier 2017
Surprisingly lean given the alcohol. It’s too lean and a bit mean. Just acid. Where’s the flavour? Not much happening here. WTF? Best drinking: Maybe next year. 16/20, 87/100+. 14%, $20.60. Would I buy it? No.
I am George Limestone Coast Shiraz Cabernet 2015
Sappy and just a bit hard, the palate sweet and sour with overt acidified flavours and sticky tannins. Just a bit awkward and rough edged. best drinking: Next year on for at least 8yrs. 15.5/20, 85/100. 14.6%, $19.99. Would I buy it? No.
I am George Limestone Coast Cabernet Merlot 2015
Black and overripe, the palate heavy with overt added acidity, the fruit both under and overripe with green tannins. No. Best drinking: It should get better. 15/20, 83/100. 14.7%, $19.99. Would I buy it? No.
Jacobs Creek Reserve Limestone Coast Shiraz 2016
Ripe plums lacquered with vanilla oak. The bold and heavy palate is hot, over-acidified and drying. There’s impact here but it feels manufactured and lifeless. Too much. Best drinking: Drink it now. 14.5/20, 81/100. 14.3%, $17.99. Would I buy it? I’d prefer water.
Jacobs Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Limestone Coast sourced. Sour, hard and minty red with jarring acidity and green tannins. Added acid off the charts. No thanks. Best drinking: Maybe next year on. 14.5/20, 81/100. 14.6%, $17.99. Would I buy it? More water please.