It’s 3 days late I know, but here are a few wines that almost hit the mark this month. Some are just good, simple drinks. Others are genuinely average to poor…
Hand Crafted Montepulciano 2016
From Geoff Hardy’s extended stable and all Limestone Coast fruit. This is such a juicy wine – I can see no shortage of appeal for Monte like this in the future. There’s a huge torrent of mulberry plum flavour – a riot of generous black and red fruit with a liberal painting of oak. It’s a jubey wine, with fruit through the middle and medium grip and then firm acidity and warm alcohol. That finish is the stumbling block, the acid harsh, the alcohol too warm. Otherwise a likeable wine. Best drinking: Good now and will live for a decade easy. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $30. Would I buy it? Not personally.
Jean Luc & Paul Aegerter Chablis Vielles Vignes 2015
Classic Chablis from a riper vintage that just needs a bit more focus. Wet stones and a little custard on the correct nose, the broad palate has toasted brioche with a citrussy and sunny edge. It’s a friendly wine but lacks the real incision and detail to be great. Affable with its creamy lemon palate though. Best drinking: Now or the next three years. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12.5%, $58. Would I buy it? I’d drink it but steep for this sort of quality.
Grigori Family Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Old school Coonawarra red from a label I know little about (and scant details anywhere). Awash with spearmint and dark chocolate, it’s a hearty and minty wine with both dried fruit and some greenness. Oak sweetness fills in the palate holes and gives punch, but I’m not sure the slightly weedy, mixed ripeness of the fruit is is up to it. Still plenty of flavour, but not quite balanced. Best drinking: Better in a few years and will go for a decade easy. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, No idea on the price – nothing on the label and little info out there. Would I buy it? No.
Hither & Yon Grenache Mataro 2017
An easy Hither & Yon drink that’s still just a bit too youthful. 65% Grenache from a vineyard on Hunt Road, 35% Mataro from Sand Rd. Lifted black fruit with a volatile hit, it’s a big, fruit juicy and slightly bitter wine that could be even more of a gummy juicy pleasure but it’s attenuated by alcohol heat. Good, but less alcohol would be better. Best drinking: Come back next year. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $27. Would I buy it? No.
Pertaringa Undercover Shiraz 2016
Such big wines these Pertaringa reds. Quite ‘made’ too. A big black slick of licoricey black fruit here, though, for all it’s purple fruit it’s actually a little thin through the middle. High yields? Tart acid. Soft and plump though. A good commercial style with easy soft purple fruit and plenty of appeal. Best drinking: Will be better in 2-3yrs. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $22. Would I buy it? No.
The Vinden Headcase Charmless Man 2017
I like the concept of these unusual Vinden Headcase reds. This almost works too. A blend of single vineyard Pinot Noir and Alicante Bouschet 60/40. Wild fermented and spends 2 weeks on skins, 10% whole bunches for Pinot, 50% whole bunches for Alicante. There’s a skinsy, earthy tang on the nose here with a dose of blood and bone. A distinctive, very Hunter wine. Tangy, acid shaped palate has more blood and bone, cranberry and lots of wild mushroom. It’s already secondary, but polished too, the tannins late and pithy. It’s not a truly easy drink in any way, but it’s an interesting wine – pushes the boundaries with its meaty edges. Best drinking: Will be better next year at least. 16.5/20, 88/100+. 13%, $30. Would I buy it? Not personally.
By Geoff Hardy Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2016
I haven’t seen this wine locally before. Export? More McLaren Vale than Adelaide Hills in style, the oak heavy, bitter licorice palate is shaped by its heavy handed charry oak and oak tannins. Then alcohol. Balance isn’t right, despite the big flavour impact. Best drinking: Can go now but will benefit from a few years in the cellar. 16/20, 87/100. 14.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Ferngrove Frankland River Malbec 2015
Another Ferngrove disappointment. The ripeness just isn’t right in these recent releases. Mint meets forest berries here. Lots of juicy fruit, but with both a minty astringency and more warmth than expected. This can be a much better wine. Best drinking: Next year at least. It will go for 10 as well. 16/20, 87/100. 13.5%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Feudo Arancia Grillo 2016
Sicilian Grillo and a by-the-numbers white wine. A €4 white, just for much more dollars thanks to our crap taxation system. There is a little sour pear juiciness, but it’s a subtle neutral white with chalky acidity. Fresh, but for simple consumption. Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 13%, $17. Would I buy it? I’d have a glass in an airport lounge.
Mr Mick Vermentino 2017
Clare Valley Vermentino. I like the idea, but this a basic wine. A flash of pear juice then celery and grapefruit acidity. There’s some lime flavour here and no shortage of acidity, but otherwise a neutral and somewhat featureless wine with vaguely washed out definition. Young vines and yield defines the quality. Best drinking: Now. 15.8/20, 86/100. 11%, $17. Would I buy it? No.
Pertaringa Stage Left Merlot 2016
I am always intrigued when I see ‘Adelaide’ used as a GI. So broad. Maybe it means more dollars on the export market? This has bright plum fruit but with a sort of oak chocolate background. It’s a big plump and plump plummy style with some volatile violets too. That palate is so shaped by oak, a heavy toastiness that is the first and second character, then plum and then alcohol. It could be any wine, not just Merlot, the oak giving sweetness but then bitter phenolics before drying acidity. It’s not harsh or heavy but it’s a heavily made wine – and gee it’s unfun. Best drinking: From next year and then eight years. 15.8/20, 86/100. 14.5%, $22. Would I buy it? No.
Shottesbrooke Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Bright and lively modern Sauv no more, no less. It’s a bit green and lettucey, very delineated and fresh but pulls up short. Ok, but a middling wine in the scheme of things and you’d have either wine below for less dollars and get just as much. Best drinking: Now. 15.8/20, 86/100. 13%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Toi Toi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2017
This isn’t bad for $10.40. Grassy nose with a bit of banana aromatic yeast and passionfruit before a slightly sweaty, if clearly defined palate. Acidity is raw, but there’s enough fruit to carry the wine. Pretty solid value all said and done. 15.8/20, 86/100. 13%, ‘from $10.40 per bottle’ says the sticker. Would I buy it? I’d have a glass on an aeroplane if I was thirsty.
Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Another wine that is well worth the dollars. Pyrazine-laden nose jumps out of the glass. Lime and passionfruit on a brisk, snappy palate. Simple sharp fruit and angular but lots of crisp fruit. You could do much worse. Best drinking: Now. 15.5/20, 85/100. 10.5%, $8.99. Would I buy it? I’d have a glass if it was handed to me.