Not all wines can be great. Plenty are just ok drinks. And some are just bad.
Here is a selection of wines that almost made it in July and August 2021.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to not publish this list, as it’s basically just a shit-canning exercise to various degrees. Indeed plenty of these wines are anything but bad – they’re good, simple drinks. But ultimately I want more than just simple drinks.
What do you think? Is this list of ‘almosts’ useful? As ever, I’m interested in your thoughts. Comment, email, tweet me. Let me know what you’re interested in, ok?
Blue Pyrenees Exclusive Release Organic Grenache 2020
I’m interested in this red. I like the intention. And it’s a good drink. Bright, jubey, warm hearted, simple raspberry fruited Grenache. There’s a nice fruit vibrancy here, but not much going on below the surface. There’s the rub. I’m guessing the vines aren’t old, which contributes. But this needs more intensity for higher scores. Best drinking: over the next five years. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14% $28. Would I buy it? A glass.
Carillion Origins Semillon 2021
From the Davis family’s Tallavera vineyard, planted in 1994 from Braemore vineyard cuttings. An open, light, gently citrussy Hunter Semillon with gentle acidity. Pleasant, if a little diffuse. It just doesn’t do much, which is surprising as some of the other Carillion wines are excellent. Best drinking: I’d give it more time – maybe later in the year. Then drink over ten plus years (it will live). 16.8/20, 89/100. 11%, $35. Would I buy it? A glass.
Hungerford Hill Classic Semillon 2020
A rare 2020 Hunter Semillon in the wild! The Shiraz brother of this is excellent, but this falls flat (and I would have preferred it last year). Lemony, with some of the lemon curd mentioned on the back label (hello accurate back labels!). Broad and a bit indistinct palate, with almost tropical fruit. Easygoing, sure, and good fruit intensity, but it feels almost Verdelho-Esque. Pleasant, but not incisive. Best drinking: I’d wait a few years for it come out the other side. 16.8/20, 89/100. 11%, $27. Would I buy it? A glass.
Miles From Nowhere Best Blocks Shiraz 2019
Inexpensive Wilyabrup Shiraz from the Tate family. Spends 14-18 months in barrel, which on this showing might be too much – vanilla paste oak is the main flavour here, the mid weight red fruit palate sitting underneath. It’s moderate, svelte and ultimately oaky, but pleasant. Ok, but not great. Less oak would be welcome. Best drinking: it will get better. Drink from next year and the next eight years as a start. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $24.99. Would I buy it? No.
Taltarni Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
Pyrenees via Tuscany. An easy drink this is too, all bright ruby fruit with minimal adornments. Leather and forest berries. Great varietal character. Those tannins are a bit raw, but it just adds to the rustic charm. This feels a bit like a cheap Chianti though, and the Italians have it over this for value and style. But it’s not without charm. Best drinking: no hurry, although the tannins might just take over. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13% $28. Would I buy it? A glass.
Domaine Les Capreoles l’Hydrophobe Brouilly 2019
Mulchy, slightly muddled but ambitious Beaujolais that lacks a bit of vitality. There’s fruit here, but it’s couched in mint and undergrowth and raw tannins. I just don’t feel the fruit shines at all. Ok. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Harewood Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2020
Like stepping back in time, to when West Australian SSB (or SBS) was the king of Aussie aromatic white wine. Green, pyrazine nettle nose, the angular palate fresh and crunchy and herbal, lifted by some late riper passionfruit. No questioning the freshness, but it’s just a bit herbal and pointy. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Hungerford Hill Classic Pinot Gris 2021
Tunbarumba Pinot Gris. Banana ferment esters hang around on the nose to remind you this hasn’t been in bottle that long. Riper, but you wouldn’t guess with that crunchy acidity – pineapple sneaks out but that’s about it. I like the intention, but this ends up a bit neutral for me. Best drinking: over the next two years. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $27. Would I buy it? No.
Hungerford Hill Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2021
Fresh, grassy, zippy Tumbarumba Sauv with direct passionfruit citrus notes and an easy, crisp palate. Generic, but drinkable enough, and the riper fruit gives this body rather than harshness. Eh, it’s simple drinking. Ok. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $27. Would I buy it? No.
Karrawatta Anna’s Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Spends some time in older oak. Varietal, slightly sweaty, and sweet/sour Adelaide Hills Sauv Blanc. The stonefruit ripe fruit doesn’t gel through the finish. It’s ok, but it’s neither textural enough to be a fumé style and not vital enough for a snappy, fresh style. Best drinking: 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $34. Would I buy it? No.
Karrawatta Sophie’s Hill Pinot Grigio 2020
Fresh, varietal Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio with tart pear fruit as the singular flavour. It’s a simple, direct Grigio of easy appeal, despite the barrel ferment. A bit tart for big love. Best drinking: Now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $34. Would I buy it? No.
Longhop Pinot Gris 2021
Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris from a vineyard near Forreston. Light, driven by pear juice and just enough acidity. It’s a little subdued – Grigio leaning, rather than Gris – although some late textural grip bumps things up a bit. Pleasant, but unremarkable. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Petit Amour by Rameau d’Or Rosé 2020
Bright, fruit forward and juicy style of rosé from the south of France. Slightly sweet pink fruit palate, soft acidity. Easy appeal, but a bit generic – it could come from anywhere. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Shingleback Unedited Shiraz 2018
I had this blind and was very disappointed when it came out from the brown paper bag. This single vineyard Vale Shiraz can be such a big-boned king (the ’17 was a legendary behemoth), but this vintage it feels overdone. Lots of dark fruit, but it feels tart and over acidified too, the finish tangy and scalped. This should be magnificent, and the fruit is clearly there, but it feels stunted. Best drinking: I don’t know. Worth a few years wait to see what happens I guess. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $70. Would I buy it? No.
Taltarni Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2020
Bright, jubey and lively young Pyrenees red. All bright fruit, a whiff of vanillan oak, warmish finish with structure that grows. It’s a bright, young dry red. Lacks a bit of definiton beyond fruit oak and alcohol, but red fruit affability is high. Best drinking: nowish. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $26. Would I buy it? No.
Tim Smith Bugalugs Grenache 2021
This tastes like it has only just gone through malo, which makes sense because it likely only did recently. It’s bright, jubey, fruity and fun. There isn’t much beyond generous fruit here – and just-bottled awkwardness aplenty – but enjoyable enough. More would be more here. Best drinking: next year. It’s way too young. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $28. Would I buy it? No.
Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Generic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Green edged and a bit lean but fresh enough. Does the job, no more. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 88/100. 13%, $16.99. Would I buy it? No.
Hungerford Hill Classic Pinot Grigio 2021
Hilltops. An efficient alcohol delivery system, but that’s about it. Flavourless, save for vague estery pear. It’s inoffensive, but that’s it. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 13%, $27. Would I buy it? No.
Koonara Emily May Rosé 2021
Going off trend with a redder, off-dry style of pink, this juicy Tempranillo-based Limestong Coast wine carries jubey, red lolly fruit and a gentle finish. Easy, and will get appeal. But a bit too broad for real pleasure. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 12.4%, $23. Would I buy it? No.
Lambert Estate The Commitment Shiraz 2018
Oak. Alcohol. There isn’t enough in between to make this Barossa Shiraz convincing. Seductive vanilla bean oak, and a passing plum fruit, but the alcohol claims the finish pretty quickly. Not there. Best drinking: nowish. 16/20, 87/100. 15%, $47.95. Would I buy it? No.
St Hallett Faith Shiraz 2020
The price hasn’t changed (circa $20) but the quality isn’t there anymore. This Barossan red was once a reliable bargain icon. Now it’s just jubey, light, commercial fodder. Sure, it’s plump and pleasant, but it’s also confected and tannin free. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 14.5%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Harewood Flux II Pinot Gris 2020
Another weird wine. Sorry team Harewood, but the Flux whites often seem like odd experiments. This Great Southern white has riper pear varietal fruit but this herbal pyrazine early picked edge. It ends up as a mish-mash that is just not that pleasant, sweet and sour, herbal and riper. Nope. Best drinking: now. 15.8/20, 86/100. 13%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
McGuigan Hand Made Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2016
Wax topped and heavy bottle, so the ambition is there, but this is unbalanced. Oak is the only remnant flavour, with caramel, brick dust and oak tannins, the finish raw and oaky. No. And what’s with the Hand Made? No, just no. Best drinking: last year. 15.8/20, 86/100. 14%, $40. Would I buy it? No.
Blue Pyrenees Dry Sparkling Rose NV
Middling. Sour finish. Starts classy but it pulls up tart and the acidity gets bitter and a bit grubby. Relatively inexpensive and tastes it. Best drinking: now. 15.5/20, 85/100. 12%, $26. Would I buy it? No.
Mt Bera Wild & Free Pinot Noir 2017
From the Horner family vineyard in the Adelaide Hills. Advanced colours, the ruby already bricking. Palate is fading too, oxidising red fruit already looking autumnal and bittersweet, the finish a little resinous. Bad bottle? I don’t think so, as there is still red fruit. But firm and advanced, unquestionably. Finish becomes unpleasant after a while. No. Best drinking: a year ago, at least. 15/20, 83/100. 13%, $30. Would I buy it? No. I tipped it down the sink.
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