For the final post in my ‘wines that moved me in April’ series comes this final collection – that I’m calling the ‘better reds that aren’t Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Pinot Noir’.
In other news, there will be sporadic updates over the next week or so as I’m off to Beijing, judging in the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles wine competition.
This is the first time that the Concours Mondial will be held outside of Europe, and also my first visit to mainland China. I’m excited.
There will be much duck and hopefully I’ll encounter some great Chinese wines. And eat more duck.
Hotel wifi might not help, but I’ll attempt to update with some photos and more next week.
Eldorado Road Comrade Nero d’Avola 2016
Eldorado Road is a winery you should be watching. Good people, making great wines from a vineyard halfway between Beechworth and Wangaratta at Eldorado. The Eldorado Road Durif is one of the country’s best and this Nero is right up there too. Excellent. This ’16 Nero is made from 6 different ferments, some whole bunch, some whole berry, some early and late picked plus different time on skins, all matured for 18 months in old oak. A recipe of a restless winemaker, but it works here. Bright purple coloured, it’s all blackberry fruit through the middle and then that classic tarry Nero finish. There is genuinely lots going on in this full bodied red though, the tannins start picking up late in the piece and then gets finer and grippier. What a delight. A wine of punchy power and weight, but enough restraint too. A template for how to deliver rich but refined Aussie Nero and I could easily drink plenty of this. Best drinking: Good now, better in two years and will no doubt live for a decade plus. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.9%, $37. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Longview Nebbiolo Riserva 2015
I think Nebbiolo could be the right grape for the Longview vineyard and this wine proves it. Handpicked, cold soaked and matured in all older oak. There is so much that is ‘right’ about this wine – the correct colour, for a start. There’s this slightly odd gluey characters on the nose, but also bright red cherry, a hint of tar and then sweet vanilla oak. The tannins are just a little on the light side if you put it in a Piedmont context, but this plump wine carries not only fruit but all the proper Nebbiolo shapes (even balanced acidity). A winner, and great packaging too. Best drinking: Hold for a few years and then drink over up to 15 years. 18/20, 93/100. 14%, $50. Would I buy it? Yes.
Terre à Terre Cabernet Franc 2015
Great to see genuine Cabernet Franc taken seriously. From the close planted (4,444 vines/hectare) Crayères Vineyard in Wrattonbully, with this block grafted onto rootstocks in 2008. 75% of the blend was fermented wild with 20% whole bunches sounds matured in old oak. The other 25% was in new oak. Both lots matured for 22 months in barrel. Interesting again to see the numbers: pH 3.46. TA 5.7g/L. It’s a plush and ripe wine this vintage, with a Christmas cake intensity of heady flavour and plum fruit aplenty. It’s still medium bodied and has great tannins too, with the only question mark about whether it’s just too ripe, the varietal stamp lost in the alcohol. Regardless, this is classy wine that perhaps would be even better if it was less warm, but the genuine article all the same. Best drinking: This will live for twenty years if you let it. Will be more composed in 3-5 years. 18/20, 93/100. 14.7%, $40. Would I buy it? I’d go a bottle for the cellar.
Coriole Sangiovese 2016
Varietal Sangiovese from a winery that have been doing it better, for longer, than most. This comes from 9 different clones which is Pinot-esque clonal complexity. There’s lots to like about this too – black cherry fruit (tick), lovely fruit tannins (tick) and has energy even though it’s ripe (tick). Savoury, but still has a plumpness to it that carries and convinces. Apparently includes a greater proportion of whole berries this year, which I think helps give this a bit more prettiness. Enjoyable wine at a fair price. Best drinking: Now to ten years plus. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.4%, $28. Would I buy it? Yes.
Eldorado Road Quasimodo Nero d’Avola Shiraz Durif 2015
The little brother to the straight Nero above, but hardly second rate. A blend of 41% Nero, 37% Shiraz and 22% Durif. Includes declassified 2015 Old Vine Shiraz too. Bright red purple colour, it’s jubey, with an onslaught of red and black berries in a delightful juicy, medium weight but chunky in a way that is more Rutherglen than Beechworth, the wine then completed by fine tannins. This is such a well made and carefully balanced style – especially with the smouldering background tarriness threatening to make it beastly. Real character and so well priced – I’m a fan. Best drinking: Now and will live, but I’d prefer drinking it within the next 5-8. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14%, $29. Would I buy it? Yes.
Hither & Yon Touriga 2017
Please, more McLaren Vale Touriga. This is the first crop off Malcolm & Richard Leask’s Touriga plantings and its a winner, with bright, gummy bear purple fruit and a just a hint of soil. It’s so vital! Great fine tannins too. Every time I try these well balanced, energetic fruity Touriga Nacional styles I’m reminded how good they are. Delicious, fruity wine. It’s not wildly serious but an enjoyable drink with acidity, tannins and flavour. Best drinking: Now to seven years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.2%, $27. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Hither & Yon Tempranillo 2017
Another varietal ‘17 Vale red from Hither & Yon team. Molten, dark berry nose – it’s not Rioja but but gee it’s expansive and thick fruited with that southern McLaren Vale inky density. At first I thought this might be too ripe and slick sweet, but the tannic depth and wafts of choc berry carries this forward. A genuinely substantial McLaren Vale Tempranillo. Best drinking: Wait a year or so to see it at its best and drink in 10. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.5%, $27. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Juxtaposed McLaren Vale Sangiovese 2016
Wes Pearson’s wines don’t just have great labels, they’re handy wines too. This blend of 88% Sangiovese and 12% Cabernet Franc is picked early and includes 30% whole bunches in the blend. There’s a real Sangio tang here with red berry fruit and a sweetness of fruit, oak very much in the background and the style gently juicy before a softly tannic finish. That first berry character in abundance. There’s a sweetness here, a caramel note which you’d assume is oak but it’s not. Gentle, rounded and soft, it’s fun but the soft tannins don’t quite punctuate it enough for mega high points. 17.5 13.3%, $29
Longview Nebbiolo Rosato 2017
Yes, I know it’s not red. But this serious savoury rosè is a smart drink. Pale orange, it packs a surprising volume of varietal character in there. There’s a dash of citrus, a waft of mush and even some roses, the dry and almost hearty palate dancing with a phenolic tang. While it’s not a delicate wine, this has a substantial feel to it – real rosè indeed. Best drinking: Now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $25. Would I buy it? Yes.
Mr. Riggs Montepulciano d’Adelaide 2016
Montepulciano is another grape that could be well at home in South Australia. The Abruzzo coast feels a little like the Vale as well. This Monte comes from the Amadio Vineyard (Amadio make a great Monte) in the Adelaide Hills and the Pollux Vineyard in McLaren Vale. It’s a generous and plump varietal style, packing in some of that Monte heartiness and with a plush red fruit middle – it’s round, it’s ripe and it’s bold, then with plenty of acidity on the finish. The only thing working against this wine is that it feels just a little too warm and the acid feels raw and unnatural. Otherwise lots and lots of appeal – this is a very likeable wine. Best drinking: Give it a year or so in bottle and then drink for up to 15. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.5%, $30. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Topper’s Mountain Wild Ferment Tannat 2013
My dad lives not far from Topper’s (in Armidale) and I can tell you, it’s very much cool climate wine territory – and not exactly your usual Tannat climate. Still, this is an intriguing oddity, with some incredible stats to match. 12g/L TA!!! 3.4pH even though the final wine is 15.8% alcohol! Ignore the numbers and this is interesting wine. For all that alcohol there is an quite attractive cherry character on the nsoe, plus leather and mint and blood and bone. It’s less about obvious fruit and hardly an easy wine, but the layers of flavour make it quite beguiling, the acidity counterbalancing the alcohol, that cherry fruit lithe and the tannins not abusive (as Tannat tannins come be). I’m not sure how much you could drink of this, but I can appreciate a complex and unique drink when I see it. Best drinking: I don’t even know. 17.5/20, 91/100. 15.8%, $38. Would I buy it? I’d have a glass.
Gattavecchi Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2013
A wine that proves the rule that Vino Nobile should be rustic. This is ferrous, with a nose of red earth, fish oil and coffee oak. Chewy and drying, the appeal here is that despite the heartiness, there is a layer of red fruit too, plus anise and drying tannins. It’s not an immediately charming wine, but the savouriness and length make its case nicely. Best drinking: Drink from five years until forever. 17/20, 90/100. 14%. Would I buy it? A glass.
Mr. Riggs Yacca Paddock Tempranillo 2016
Plenty of life in this juicy, modern Tempranillo. Lots of raspberry fruit, it’s really rather fruit-forward with a blackberry and lipstick nose, all backed by earthen tannins. Lacks a little mid palate punch, but there is fun here – it’s a great example of an easy Tempranillo, even if the acidity is again a bit raw. Best drinking: Within eight years. 17/20, 90/100. 14.5%, $30. Would I buy it? A glass.
Tim Adams Reserve Tempranillo 2009
Great to see a wine with this sort of bottle age still available. It’s a leathery and secondary style, the fruit just starting to peak, the acid natural and the style quite refreshing. It’s not super varietal, but there is an easy red wine charm here. Not going to get any better, but gentle savoury appeal. Best drinking: Within five years. 17/20, 90/100. 13%, $29. Would I buy it? A glass.