This edition of the Almost Club is a few days late as I was busily not doing much in Noosa (photo attached. We love Noosa).
Here than are 20 wines that almost hit the mark in September 2018. Some are good simple drinks, others just ok, and a few wines that I wouldn’t clean the driveway with.
As ever, let me know what you think. Any wines in this lot you’ve loved?
Audrey Wilkinson Winemaker’s Selection Shiraz 2017
The first Winemakers Selection Shiraz since 2014 and promises much. Includes 25% whole bunches and spends 10 months in French oak. A hint of sausage meat on a very bright purple fruited palate. Glossy purple fruit, loads of acidity. Too much acid remains the gripe, despite the juiciness. I like a lot about this, except for the finish.
Best drinking: Will be a better wine in 2-3 years. If the acidity integrates. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $40. Would I buy it? No.
Chateau Tanunda The Chateau Single Vineyard Barossa Shiraz 2016
From a vineyard at Vine Vale planted in 1960. This is very much built for an export market that wants big Barossan reds. That ripeness dominates from first whiff, oak a swathe of savoury dark chocolate, but the alcohol scalps the full fruit expression. Good impact and lots will love the power, but too boozy to be great.
Best drinking: Now to ten years. 16.8/20, 89/100. 15%, $25. Would I buy it? Not me.
O:TU Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2017
The reserve wine from O:TU and no shortage of intensity. Sourced from the McKee Vineyard in the Awatere Valley. A pungent style, it’s ripe and overt with massive grassy passionfruit. Great impact but just a little OTT.
Best drinking: Now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Petaluma Chardonnay 2016
A disappointment. Obvious peach juice nose, swathes of vanilla oak and then a warm and round palate. It’s a big chunky Chardonnay with alcohol warmth and a grainy finish. Clumsy and overripe, if packed with flavour. ’16 wasn’t an easy vintage but this looks flabby.
Best drinking: Now. I guess. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $39.99. Would I buy it? No.
Yangarra PF Preservative Free Shiraz 2018
Seriously serious preservative free red (or more correctly, no preservatives added). Includes 50% whole berries, cold soak and wild ferment. No additives at any point in the process. Filtered not fined. It’s a bright purple juicy wine that is achingly young, but really quite well balanced and approachable. Nothing cynical here.
Best drinking: Now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13%, $25. Would I buy it? Not personally but if I was in the PF market this would be a lock.
d’Arenberg The Bonsai Vine Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2015
Rustic McLaren Vale GSM but not without hearty appeal. Briary nose with lipstick and plum, backed by a big mouthful of spirituous Grenache red fruit, before those trademark coarse grain tilled dirt d’Arenberg tannin. Rough edged and a bit warm to finish but gee there’s depth. Solid.
Best drinking; Will be a better wine in 2-3 years and live for a decade plus. But not sure it will ever be great. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $29. Would I buy it? No.
Harewood Flux-V Pinot Noir 2017
I love Harewood’s Riesling range, but the reds can often look a bit warm and raw. Here, there it’s all juicy squished raspberry with a little mushroom complexity. In other words, impressively varietal light red. The challenge is the tannins and the raw acidity, making for a wine that starts with fruit and ends a little hard and less than delicate. Drinkable.
Best drinking: Next year. Then a 2-3 years before the fruit fades completely. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $25. Would I buy it? A glass.
Audrey Wilkinson Shiraz 2017
The entry level Audrey Wilkinson Hunter Shiraz. Glossy blackberry and black texta fruit. Has that ’17 Hunter generosity, but then finishes with warmth and a tart finish. I’d question the added acid here – it just feels a bit scalped, despite the fruit.
Best drinking: It will live, and likely better in 2-3. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $23. Would I buy it? Too tart for me.
Balgownie Black Label Yarra Chardonnay 2016
Always a richer style, but this year it feels curiously overly restrained. Plenty of citrus fruit that is met by a finish that is crying out for more malic acid softness with a layer of vanilla oak. Elements are there, but this feels a little disjointed for the moment.
Best drinking: Next year. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $25. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Chateau Tanunda The Chateau Chardonnay 2017
Eden Valley Chardonnay that sees just 7 months in oak. It’s an old school buttery style of Chard though, with creamed nectarine and oak thrusting forward over a palate that is pure creamed peaches. Soft acidity, blunt oak. Easy going and affable in an old school buttery style with just a little warmth. Will find many fans with that palate shape.
Best drinking: Now. Don’t wait. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $38. Would I buy it? Not at that price.
d’Arenberg The Anthropocene Epoch Mencia 2017
Great to see more Mencia. This example hasn’t quite found its groove – and the cool and late vintage doesn’t help – but promise. Bright purple coloured, the nose is flush with sort of boysenberry and blueberry then black dirt, bark and bacon fat. That juicy, meaty palate bounces off the very coarse tannic bitterness and fresh acidity to make for a wine that is less easy than you’d really want, the tannins fractionally shading the light fruit. There’s appeal here if the tannins integrate and would be great to see in a ripe vintage.
Best drinking: I’m not sure if the fruit will start fading. Drink now just in case. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.2%, $29. Would I buy it? No.
Eagles Rest Gully Block Semillon 2016
Stuck in a development hole. Soapy green apple Semillon in the phase between primary fruit and developed character, with shy melon and lemongrass acid driven flavour. Come back in 2-3 years as the structure is good. Hard going now.
Best drinking: As a five year old this might be delicious. 16.5/20, 88/100+. 11.5%, $29. Would I buy it? Not yet.
O:TU Sauvignon Blanc 2017
You know exactly what you’re getting here. Pungent, tropical grassy passionfruit nose just bursts out of the glass. Off dry palate is pure tropical fruit. So ripe and generous. That acidity is a bit harsh, but it’s fresh enough to be drinkable.
Best drinking: Now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $20. Would I buy it? I’d have a glass at a pub.
Tucks Ridge Estate Chardonnay 2016
One of the last wines under the previous winemaking team before Simon Black at Montalto takes over. There’s some of that forward width you see in some ’16 Mornington Chardonnay, not perhaps helped by the blunt, old school Sao oak. The ripeness doesn’t quite work, even if the depth of flavour gives a nod to the vineyard resource at the core. In other words, it’s not a bad wine, but the balance isn’t there for this price point, but no doubt Simon will turn things around.
Best drinking: Now. It won’t get any better. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.9%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Yalumba FSW 8B Botrytis Viognier 2017
Wrattonbully Viognier. I think Viognier can make great sweet wine, but this is just a little bland. Obvious botrytis on the nose, then a simply unctuous palate. Lots of apricot fruit, if needs another layer to be supreme. Pleasant but a monotone flavour.
Best drinking: Now. But will hold and may indeed get more complex. 16.5/20, 88/100. 10.5%, $29. Would I buy it? No.
O:TU Pinot Noir 2017
Marlborough Pinot Noir that lacks some flavour. Pale fruit, slightly syrupy redcurrant, spice and then a lightly herbal palate. Lacks the fruit for this pricepoint but pleasant enough.
Best drinking; Now. 16/20, 87/100. 12.5%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
S.C. Pannell Pinot Grigio 2017
The only one of Steve’s wines I don’t like. Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio that is water clear, with expressive pear juice on the nose with a grassy edge and than a herbal, hard edge to the finish. Fresh, but just a little disjointed.
Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 13.5%, $28. Would I buy it? No.
Tim Adams Pinot Gris 2018
Curious. The sweet and sour style here derails the flavours. I guessed a little bottle shock but it didn’t improve over 24 hours. The intention is clearly to use a little sweetness to give flavor, but the palate otherwise is actually quite thin. I’m not sure of what’s happening here.
Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 12%, $22. Would I buy it? No.
Hugh Hamilton Dark Arts Agent Provocateur 2017
The Dark Arts range is named thanks to some very creative blending. Indeed this is 79% Grenache, 6% Gewurztraminer, 5% Shiraz, 5% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Viognier. Yeah odd. Floral from the getgo, with musk aplenty, the soft, gentle palate is powered by its Gewurz lychee fruit backed up by a little chocolate oak and plums. It’s a train wreck of a wine flavourwise, with the florals a contrast to oak tannins and alcohol warmth on the finish. Pleasant enough, but WTF. I’m not even sure where this would fit in on the scale either. You can’t chill it, as the tannins would be the only thing left. But the juicy fruit? Yeah, no.
Best drinking: I don’t know. 15.8/20, 85/100. 14.5%, $24.50 at cellar door. Would I buy it? No.
Petaluma White Label Pinot Gris 2017
Lacks the Petaluma soul, Cardboard and peach juice. Stripped palate has tropical fruit but no carry through the tinny finish. Crisp enough, but by the numbers stuff.
Best drinking: Now. 15.5/20, 84/100. 12.5%, $26.99. Would I buy it? No.
O:TU Pinot Gris 2017
Flavourless Gris with some some vague blackcurrant fruit, but otherwise harsh finish and no flavour. Misses the mark completely.
Best drinking: Now. 15/20, 82/100. 12.5%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Uppercut Premium Selection Shiraz 2016
Barossa Valley in region but it could come from anywhere as it lacks any heart. Stewed plum fruit. Bitter finish. Way too much added acid and no fruit flavour in sight (but plenty of alcohol). Bulk alcoholic grape juice, no more.
Best drinking: Now. 14.5/20 80/100. 15%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
St Augustus Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2017
Thin red, syrupy oak and thin fruit, lots of added acid. Very commercial and dull.
Best drinking: Now. 14.5/20, 80/100. 14.5%, $?. Would I buy it? No.