From solid drinks to faulty train wrecks (and everything in between), the Almost Club is for wines that didn’t hit the Australian Wine Review ‘recommended’ mark (17/20, 90/100) in August 2018.
Note that there is friendly simple wines here and some passable junk.Why publish reviews for wines that aren’t necessarily great? Because life isn’t always smiles and rainbows…
Chapel Hill The Parson Shiraz 2017
This is great value Shiraz. $18 well spent. Blackberry jam, spiced with pepper – more spice this year, the palate just medium bodied and finishes with well handled tannins. A different, lighter wine this year compared to previous vintages but pleasure aplenty at a great price.
Best drinking: Now to six years. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $18. Would I buy it? Not me personally, but definitely worth a purchase.
Longview Vista Shiraz Barbera 2017
Great packaging on this Longview red. A blend of Adelaide Hills Shiraz and Barbera it’s a light, bright pulpy red full of raspberry and boysenberry fruit completely with a little brackish fern from the Barbera. A primal palate follows that is all fruit and then firm Barbera/cool vintage acidity. Fun, fruity and not unsubstantial wine if a bit sharp edged to finish.
Best drinking: Now to six years. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $22.99. Would I buy it? A glass.
Riversdale Estate Syrah 2017
From younger vine Shiraz fruit on the Riversdale property. Bright purple edges, glossy blueberry and raspberry fruit. Lifted juicy perfume fruit is the star here with all berry fruit. But underneath it falls away beyond the juicy fruit start, with no tannins to speak of. Needs more stuffing – always a challenge with Tasmanian Shiraz – but certainly lithe and easy.
Best drinking: Now to five years. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $40. Would I buy it? A glass.
Terzini Pecorino 2016
Abruzzo Pecorino, which is hard to make into something more than neutral white wine. I spent a week or so on the Abruzzo last year and the mercati are full of sub 10 Euro Pecorino that is made for drinking. This fresh, nutty edged, neutral white is what you’d want in the style and has pretty handy length. A good example of the genre.
Best drinking: Now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $26. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Topper’s Mountain Wild Ferment Nebbiolo 2014
A tricky grape in a tricky place to grow grapes (New England, NSW). Spends 18 months in old oak, and already the colour is ‘bricking’ in classic Nebbiolo style. Varietally correct, the nose is all meaty rosewater, backed by a palate that is just as dry and long, if perhaps too earthen. More fruit would be very welcome to to counter the super savoury ferrous tannins, but unquestionably serious. Perhaps too so.
Best drinking: Now to whenever. But the tannins may well take over in 2-3yrs. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.4%, $38. Would I buy it? A glass.
Chapel Hill The Parson GSM 2017
Affable red fruit in a lightly juicy mode. Definitely cast in a prettier, confected raspberry style this year – a fun and fruity Grenache blend for immediate drinking.
Best drinking: Now to 3 years. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $18. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
De Bortoli Rosé Rosé 2018
I’ve been to 3 big rosé tastings in recent weeks of mostly Provence pinks and interesting that De Bortoli have adopted one of the dimple bottomed Provence bottle shapes here. Packaging is king with these styles! Clever. For all that, this is not Yarra Pinot like other De Bortoli rosé and I think it suffers in the delicacy stakes. Instead it’s King Valley Sangiovese backed. There’s a binous and slightly leafy nose, the palate softer and prettier than the nose suggests with the hint of strawberry shortcake fruit sweetness, but capped off by slightly raw phenolics to finish. Well made and well-packaged, but I found myself craving less phenolic grip and a little more gentleness.
Best drinking: Now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.8%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Ferngrove Frankland River Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Correct and fresh Sauv. Varietal melon and passionfruit ripe fruit nose, juicy melon and tropical fruit palate. Easy fruit appeal.
Best drinking: Now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Martins Vineyard Shiraz 2016
McLaren Vale Shiraz in a monster form. The RRP seems to be arbitrary but hey.. Ultra deep inky black purple red, the nose loaded with American oak, the palate all oak too, the finish warm. Lavish and oaky, if not much beyond that. Not unappealing, but all about oak.
Best drinking: Now to ten years plus. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $100. Would I buy it? No.
Silkwood Estate The Bowers Pemberton Pinot Noir 2017
Nailing Pemberton Pinot Noir is really hard. Few get it right. This is a good attempt though and well priced. Ruby red fruit, mulchy edges to the fruit, the palate edging towards dry red territory with bacon bit and furry tannins. Late cherry fruit helps make it attractive, but lacks the delicacy and brightness to be a champion.
Best drinking: Now to five years. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass.
Trentham Reserve Tasmania Pinot Noir 2015
Sappy redcurrant, surprisingly high acidity underneath the glacé raspberry with a background lick of oak sweetness and a twist of herbs. Solid, but lacks a little cohesion – tannins, acidity, oak all seems separate.
Best drinking: Now to four years. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $28. Would I buy it? No.
Chapel Hill The Parson Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Trophy winner at the Sydney Wine Show but didn’t do it for me. Minty and fragrant McLaren Vale Cabernet driven largely by tannins. There’s some width through the middle but it needs body to be more convincing.
Best drinking: Now to five years. 16/20, 87/100. 14.5%, $18. Would I buy it? No.
Curtis Cavaliere Shiraz 2016
McLaren Vale Shiraz. Deep colour, Heavy inky fruit lifted up by lavish oak, finishing with vanilla etched oak tannins and added acid on the tail. Lots of flavour, lots of everything. Feels completely overdone.
Best drinking: Now to eight years. 16/20, 87/100. 14%, $70. Would I buy it? No.
Lt Vespa Rosato 2017
King Valley blend of Sangiovese, Barbera and Nebbiolo. Coppery pink colour, it’s a savoury and dry pink that is perhaps a little coarse but a fun cheap pink. Affable enough for the dollars.
Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 12%, $15. Would I buy it? A glass.
Trentham Estate Reserve Chardonnay 2017
Tumbarumba Chardonnay. Creamed peach juice – like apple pie and cream, the oak character sitting on top of the appley fruit like a cake with too much cream. Doesn’t nail the balance but it’s fresh enough.
Best drinking: Now to five years. 16/20, 87/100. 13%, $28. Would I buy it? No.
Curtis Limited Series McLaren Vale Grenache 2015
Hessian and raspberry, the nose and palate sweet and sour with rough oak tannins, caramel oak filling out the middle, then a raw finish. Lots of flavour, but lacks the fruit stuffing to cope with the oak. Sweet oak finish. Rough and raw, if plenty of flavour.
Best drinking: Now to ten years. 15.5/20, 85/100. 14%, $70. Would I buy it? No.
Trentham Reserve Heathcote Shiraz 2015
Purple fruit with some gloss, light purple fruit palate has acidity but lacks flavour, vague peppery edge. Missing the richness to combat the acidity and alcohol, but not unattractive.
Best drinking: Now to six years. 15.5/20, 85/100. 14.5%, $28. Would I buy it? No.
Curtis Cavaliere Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
McLaren Vale Cabernet. Lavish, oak lifted nose is very ripe with raisined fruit, the palate heavy and not particularly fresh with oak tannins and ripeness the only key characters. No.
Best drinking: Now to ten years. 15/20, 83/100. 14%, $70. Would I buy it? No.
Curtis Cavaliere GSM 2016
McLaren Vale GSM. Volatile with some dirty oak, backed up by a short palate, the fruit fighting behind excess added acid and tannins. Concocted, not crafted.
Best drinking: Now to eight years. 15/20, 83/100. 14%, $70. Would I buy it? No.
Trentham Estate The Family Pinot Grigio 2017
Generic Pinot Grigio. Cardboard, pears, crisp acidity, short and slightly rough finish with some late sweetness. Ordinary.
Best drinking: Now. 15/20, 85/100. 12%, $18. Would I buy it? No.
Curtis Heritage Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Mclaren Vale fruit. Deep red, the nose laden with red fruit but the palate thin and lacks much flavour save for residual sugar sweetness. Contrived.
Best drinking: Now. 14.8/20, 82/100. 14%, $22. Would I buy it? No.
The Enthusiast Clare Valley Cabernet Blend 2016
Cabernet, Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot. 18 months in oak. Opens up very reductive. There’s a sulphide character here I can’t get past and it invades nose and palate – well into mercaptan territory. I left it overnight and no change. A bad bottle? Perhaps. Unpleasant.
Best drinking: No. 14/20, 78/100. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? No.