It’s been a long month here at Graham HQ, and the next few weeks promise to be just as intense. I can’t wait for that glorious period in between Christmas and New Year where life is taken up by swimming, eating, drinking, sleeping and watch the cricket.
My favourite time of year.
In the meantime, here are the wines that almost made it this month. As you can see volumes are down and the sample pile is growing, but that will also be addressed in December/January when I have some fresh air (I promise).
As ever, some of these are just nice simple wines. The others? Well…
d’Arenberg The Sticks & Stones 2014
A bitsa blend of Temp, Grenache, Souzao and Tinta Cao from McLaren Vale. Fun. It’s very much a d’Arenberg red too, meaty, savoury, cold roast beef edged and raspberry fruity. It’s really quite secondary, with no shortage of earth and thick tannins. It doesn’t feel quite congruent, but the meaty length makes this at least flavoursome. I’m just not sure I like it much. Best drinking: Hmm. Now to five years before it gets too meaty. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $29. Would I buy it? No.
Tahbilk Marsanne 2018
Subtle and clean, it’s like staring into a time capsule, the mode lean and very much early picked, a little floral aromatics. Otherwise pure promise and just a light clean drink for now. Best drinking: Wait four years and then the magic happens. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 12%, $19.50. Would I buy it? Worth a few for the cellar. Not now.
Bugalugs By Tim Smith Grenache 2018
A very approachable young Grenache from Tim Smith. Just bottled-esque juicy, lightly confected jubey red fruit on a palate that fizzes like it’s still going through malo, then a roundness and late warmth. Juicy, plump if not really serious. Best drinking: Next year and then 3-5. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Laurel Bank Riesling 2016
In the development hole methinks. There’s a little toasty bottle development. In fact mainly toast. There’s citrus underneath, and slightly raw acidity. But not much else. It’s fresh, but lacks character. And slightly dusty to finish. It’s not a bad wine but it doesn’t feel settled at all. Hmm. Best drinking: Come back in 2 years, then we’ll talk. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.8%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Rock of Wisdom Super Fly Shiraz 2018
Young and fun Barossa Shiraz. Plump berried blackberry fruit, a plush palate and all plum jammy fun. It’s so pleasant and primary, if a bit short. A really fun quaff though. Best drinking: Now to 4 years. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Woods Crampton Preservative Free Shiraz 2018
Here’s a well made and affable PF red. Juicy musky, primary, jammy fruit bomb. It’s a little bit tart but fun. Lots of joy in this PF red. Best drinking: Right now. Don’t delay. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $24. Would I buy it? A glass.
Jacobs Creek Le Petit Rosè 2018
Light pale, crisp and flavourless. There’s some strawberry and sherbet but then it falls away to not much. Inoffensive though. Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 12.4%, $17.99. Would I buy it? A glass.
Koonara The Head Honcho 2015
Super premium super red from Koonara. The Shiraz partner is nicer. This is all Coonawarra Cabernet. Spends 24 months in oak and just 100 cases made. Dense, fudgey wine with dark fruit, vanilla bean oak and then oak sweetness and oak tannins. The bitter edge is hard to swallow and you’d be hard pressed to even pick it as Cabernet. Dense red wine from somewhere warm. Not Coonawarra Cab and not much fun to drink. Best drinking: It will live for decades. But may never be drinkable. 16/20, 87/100. 15.2%, $100. Would I buy it? No.
Laurel Bank Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Cut grass, a little melon, some acid rasp. But otherwise not much going on here. Pleasant enough but missing flavour. And a tad hard to finish. Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 12.8%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Rock of Wisdom Super Fly Rose 2018
Barossa rosè that looks more like free run juice than strictly rosè. Ripe red watermelon colour, the palate edges to a fraction too much ripe fruit and the late sweetness can’t lift it up. Ok. Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 13.5%, $20. Would I buy it? Not really.
Stoneleigh Wild Valley Rosè 2018
The variety isn’t mentioned but let’s say Marlborough Pinot. There’s a hint of hedgerow and a slight sweet and sour tang. It’s fruity enough, but just a little ‘made’. Fair. Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 13%, $19.99. Would I buy it? No.
Tahbilk Grenache Mourvedre Rosè 2018
Plump, fruity, vaguely candied pink fruit nose, simple juicy fruit, a little sweetness. Pleasant commercial style of rosé. The balance isn’t quite there on the sweet finish. Best drinking: Now. 16/20, 87/100. 12.5%, $21.50. Would I buy it? No.
Woods Crampton Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Big Barossan Cabernet. Lifted alcohol and spearmint. The palate has gruff tannins, a huge dollop of black pastille fruit and a very warm finish tending a little medicinal. Big impact, but blunt. Fair enough, but not my bag Best drinking: Now to five years easy. 16/20, 87/100. 14.4%, $21. Would I buy it? No.
Stoneleigh Wild Valley Wild Ferment Pinot Gris 2018
Sweaty nose, sweaty palate with a little sugar. Industrial Gris. Best drinking: Now. 15.8/20, 86/100. 13%, $19.99. Would I buy it? No.
Woods Crampton Sleeping Dogs Dry Red 2018
Barossa Bonvedro, Mataro Graciano with no added preservatives. So good to see. This is the least convincing wine in the new PF range, savaged by it’s oxidative flatness (oxidation is the worst kind of enemy with PF wines). Flush with licoricey jam and with a dark heart, it feels hard edged and a little flat – like a bottle left open for a few days.. So close, yet so far. Best drinking: Now. 15.5/20, 85/100. 13%, $24. Would I buy it? No.
Yalumba Y Series Pinot Grigio 2018
Not much happening in the flavour department and somewhat sweet and sour. It tastes like honest fruity white, but pedestrian. Best drinking: Now. 15.5/20, 85/100. 12.5%, $15. Would I buy it? I’d stick to the Viognier.
Silkwood Estate The Bowers Merlot 2015
I’ve not enjoyed any of the Silkwood wines to be honest. Sweet and sour, the oak a caramel swathe and a minty light palate that lacks fruit and light astringent tannins. Awkward, under and overripe and not much fun. Best drinking: Now. 15/20, 82/100. 14%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Silkwood Estate The Bowers Shiraz 2015
Brett. Mint. Bacon bits. No fruit. Raw tannins. Fading fast. Little drinking pleasure here for mine. Best drinking: Now. 14/20, 77/100. 14%, $20. Would I buy it? No.