Let’s not bullshit, the vast majority of wines made aren’t compelling. They’re not. There’s a tiny quantity that are compelling, but most are are pleasant, well made, if unexciting. And some wines are just poor.
Here are a few wines from this month that aren’t quite compelling (but some are good drinks).
Liv Zak Chardonnay 2017
The Warramunda range has some promise, especially in the whites. I’m not as convinced by this Coldstream-sourced Chardonnay, under the second Liv Zak label, though. Handpicked, wild fermented, it ticks many modern Chard boxes. Leesy and mealy, it’s surprisingly tropical for this ripeness, yet the palate is a jumble. I like the mealiness, but the sweet and sour palate isn’t quite as cohesive – I feel like this was picked early and worked for more flavour. Best drinking: Over the next two years. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12%, $35. Would I buy it? Not at that price.
Opawa Pinot Gris 2017
Opawa is part of the Nautilus stable and this is Marlborough Gris from ‘valley floor sites’. At first it’s a shy creature – just understated stonefruit. But the palate is riper and fleshy, than you’d expect proper ripe fruit, although it never pushes on into viscosity or weight. Flesh, but no hedonism, with phenolics and acidity tightening the finish. There’s a certain charisma here – it’s varietal and unquestionably drinkable. But I’m still left waiting for more to happen. Best drinking: Now or next year. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $24. Would I buy it? A glass.
Pike & Joyce Pinot Noir 2017
The eternal Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir challenge remains delivering delicacy in a region that isn’t suited to Pinot Noir (save for a few vineyards and in certain years). This Lenswood Pinot Noir doesn’t quite nail it. Ripe and raspberried, there’s that trademark bacony haunch ham hock Adelaide Hills Pinot character with a whisper of bark. The tannins are substantial, and the whole wine has drive, but it’s more dry red than beautiful wine. Good raspberried core though. Best drinking: Will appreciate a year or so in the cellar. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $36. Would I buy it? No.
Schwarz Meta Mataro 2018
Sometimes the Meta wines are masterpieces (like recent Grenache and Shiraz vintages), sometimes they’re interesting if not quite convincing. This juicy pulpy Mataro, falls just a bit too far into ‘fun wine’ and misses a little depth. 26% whole bunches and no oak influence, the flavour all fresh glacé fruit. There’s some whole bunch spice and some grip, though it’s mainly fresh blackberry jam fruit. Easy drink, but I’m looking for a bit more for this price. Best drinking: Over the next 5 years. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.8%, $35. Would I buy it? A glass.
Alkoomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Achieving perfect ripeness and balance in Great Southern Cabernet isn’t necessarily straight forward. This red has impressive power (especially for the dollars) but the contrast of mint/warming alcohol/hard tannins doesn’t quite work. No question marks about the intensity, and there is plenty of dark fruit in the mix. Hearty wine, but not an easy drink by any means. Best drinking: I’d wait for at least 3 years in the quest for integration. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $24. Would I buy it? No.
Bremerton Battonage Shiraz Malbec 2017
You want lusciousness? Step on up. A deep and lavish, oak-forward Langhorne Creek red led by vanilla bean oak and alcohol. ‘Sumptuous’ (great word that) oak, but really too much. Plush though. And warm and ripe and super smooth. Definitely not my thing, and a caricature of a wine. But I get the appeal. Best drinking: Over the next decade easy. And it will get better. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $32. Would I buy it? No.
Lou Miranda Estate Single Vineyard Shiraz 2014
Hello 2004, we have your super-premium Barossa Shiraz. Soapy and chocolatey, sweet caramel oak flavour, oak first and second. It’s like condensed milk that oak. Difficult to see much beyond that. Oak. Oak. Oak. It’s not a bad wine, and there’s fruit power. But also toasty new oak everywhere. Best drinking: I’d wait as it will get improve over time and drink well for a decade. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $90. Would I buy it? Not at that price.
Pike & Joyce Sauvignon Blanc 2018
A traditional Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc. I wonder if this style still has traction? Shaw & Smith continue to lead the category and this is ok. Cut grass and lemongrass varietal nose, slightly sour, varietal palate is fresh and grassy sort of Sauv by numbers style. Ok. A bit tart and green for these dollars though. Best drinking: Now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $26. Would I buy it? No.
Raidis Estate The Kelpie Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Coonawarra Sauvignon Blanc. Snappy, varietal Sauv that takes a very big swipe at Marlborough. Big thiol passionfruit. Slightly raw acidity, but a more convincing wine for $20 rather than $26. Ok. Best drinking: Now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 11%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Warramunda Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
An aim for serious Yarra Cab but ultimately a bit dried out. Smoky, meaty and secondary red that is so drying and cooked, the heavy palate desperately aiming for freshness, but with mintiness and meat too. There’s fruit depth here, but the ripeness and dry tannins aren’t much fun. Best drinking: Over the next 8 plus years. 15.8/20, 86/100. 13.8%, $50. Would I buy it? No.
Warramunda Estate Pinot Noir 2016
2016 was hard going in the Yarra. A very dry year, producing wines with hard tannins and a lack of flesh. This ’16 looks early picked and misses the mark. Smoky, brackish, dark berry fruit, smoky raspberry flavours and then tonnes of acid. A lumpy, sweet and sour sort of red with over and under ripeness. Harsh edges and yet curranty cooked fruit. Balance isn’t there, even if it tries very hard. 15.5/20, 85/100. 12.5%, $50. Would I buy it? No.
The Natural Wine Co. Rose 2018
Bright packaging, but lacks any soul. Central Ranges organic rosè that is sweet and sour, with tutti frutti sweetness and then just acidity. Missing cohesion and a personality. Best drinking: Now. 15/20, 84/100. 12.2%, $18. Would I buy it? No.
The Natural Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Cowra/Central Ranges Sauv. Ultra sour to the point of unpleasant and yet it’s flabby at the edges with some oxidation too. Ugh. Best drinking: Now. 14/20, 80/100. 12%, $18. Would I buy it? No.