My trips to the post office to pick up wine at this time of year are always more battle than a trip.
Not only is it always raining (Yes, the La Nina summer is now spilling into a moist autumn), but there are always oceans of wine. Heaps. It also means that if I don’t keep on the opening bottles mode, the sample room becomes a sample 2br unit, hold the living arrangements.
Here then, to help address that situation, are a few drink-me-now, just-released young reds (and a trio of young white wines) that I’ve opened in the last few weeks:
Rock of Wisdom Old Vine Grenache 2021
Updated packaging on these Rock of Wisdom wines, and they look a treat. Pete Hiscock said he’s been ‘tweaking and fine-tuning what we do in the winery’, and you can see it in the lively, affable, and well-formed low touch Barossan reds. This Grenache, along with the Shiraz below, are the high points. Sourced from an old vineyard in Light Pass, this is jubey, juicy, with no noticeable oak (9 months in 25% new), and has this combination of instant, black and red-fruited Grenache appeal, but with some old vine light and shade to add complexity. There’s this licoricey seam, along with a kaleidoscope of glacé raspberry, black jube, mulberry and more that drives it. Moreish. All fruit, but proudly so. A Grenache showcase wine. My only grief is the tiny print on the back label. I had to take a photo and then enlarge it just to read the alcohol %.
Best drinking: good now and then for at least eight years. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $35. Rock of Wisdom website. Would I buy it? Yes.
Rock of Wisdom Shiraz 2020
There is usually a bit of Viognier in the blend here, but none this vintage. This Shiraz, sourced from Koonunga in the north end of the Barossa (Grange country), doesn’t smell like typical Barossa red, though the fruit all black jubes but with a mushroom and iodine edge. It’s a silken wine too, medium-bodied, not overpowering and black-fruited and savoury with some firm (stalk?) tannins to finish. Grows on you. Not insubstantial. No noticeable oak, lovely silken feel. It’s a different, more interesting take on a pretty classic style. I like it.
Best drinking: good now and for a decade, no sweat. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $35. Rock of Wisdom website. Would I buy it? Yes.
Clandestine Vineyards Hearts & Minds Grenache 2021
This is the upper end of the Clandestine portfolio and a step above in many ways. From the Jericho Vineyard in Blewitt Spring, and it’s another exuberant Grenache showcase. Warm raspberry stewed fruit with proper raspberry regional highlights and dashes of pepper in among the open ripe red fruit. Great intensity and density of red fruit. It’s a singular wine, but the appeal is high, and charisma is unquestioned.
Best drinking: good now. Probably best in the next few years. 17.7/20, 92/100. Clandestine Vineyards website. 14%, $60. Would I buy it? Worth a few glasses.
Tim Smith Wines MGS 2021
Old vine Barossan Mataro with Grenache and Shiraz. Deep purple-red and carries this plump and plummy flashiness to it that is very nice. Compared to the other wines in this lineup, it’s bigger, more purple, more mouth enveloping. A fraction warm and needs more tannins, but great intensity of dark berry fruit with minimal artifice. A genuine purple open fleshiness here. Very drinkable.
Best drinking: good now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.5%, $30. Tim Smith website. Would I buy it? A bottle, for sure.
Howard Park Flint Rock Shiraz 2018
No questioning the value here. Nor the charisma. Lots of Great Southern Shiraz flavour for very few dollars. It’s still bright ruby coloured, glossy fruited and ripe, yet comfortably cool clime with its hints of ham and bacon fat. The purple fruit is the champion, but the drying tannins and the form feel a little Crozes-Hermitage inspired. Good drinking for $28 indeed.
Best drinking: now and for the next five years, easy. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.5%, $28. Howard Park website. Would I buy it? Well worth a bottle.
Longview Yakka Shiraz 2020
A tricky vintage in the Hills and this looks lighter and a less serious Yakka than usual. A silver medal wine that is typically nudging gold in other vintages. Still, appeal is there. Dark ruby. It smells and tastes like dark red fruit. Plush, plump, plummy, with vanilla flecks amongst the ripe, polished, fleshy, dark red fruit. I kept searching for something more. Plush, plump, with just a slight bitterness to belie its cooler origins. Attractive, easy fruit, minimal tannins, much to like, even if it doesn’t hit the complexity heights this vintage.
Best drinking: it will live but might fade away over a decade. 17.5/20, 91/100. Drink it sooner. 14%, $30. Longview website. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Rock of Wisdom Mataro 2021
Barossan Mataro goes into fun and affable mode. Old Mataro is usually grumpy and dark, but this Rock of Wisdom is packed with jubey dark berry fruits. All frisky blackberry with no oak in sight. Just blackberry liqueur. Has that back palate fruit drive of good Mataro, but none of the heavy darkness. Only light to medium-bodied and built to drink now. A fun, blackberried drink it is regardless if just a little warm on the finish. I like the extra depth of the Grenache and Shiraz more, but this is unquestionably easygoing.
Best drinking: good now, and then for at least eight years. 17.5/20, 93/100. 14, $35. Rock of Wisdom website. Would I buy it? Yes, a few glasses would be good.
Chapel Hill The Parson GSM 2021
What a wine for $18. McLaren Vale Grenache fruit is the winner, as it’s chock full of bright berry fruit in a very appealing modern Grenachey form. It’s a little tart to finish, but don’t let that stop you. While it’s not trying to be deep and serious, there is no doubting the fruit is there, present and accounted for in a medium (not light) bodied mode.
Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 14%, $18. Chapel Hill website. Would I buy it? Yes, for a glass.
Chapel Hill The Parson Shiraz 2021
Spot on, again. Michael Fragos et al. do this style so well for under $20. Plump, plum drenched, oceans of dark plum fruit. It’s fresh and plummy on the palate, a smidgen tart and slightly jubey but easily attractive Shiraz with lots of fruit, minimal oak and did I mention great fruit concentration?. Easy recommend for the dollars, even if it’s a bit tart and plump for my tastes.
Best drinking: nowish, no hurry. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $18. Chapel Hill website. Would I buy it? A glass.
Vino Intrepido Dulcet Tones Dolcetto 2021
Love the name. This is dulcet drinking, as Dolcetto can be. Fruit is sourced from Mount Franklin Estate in the Macedon Ranges, with the restless James Scarcebrook getting into the silken vibe in the winery. Lovely red-violet colour, the style is very light, gentle, spritzy and easy, driven by lightness and acidity. It’s an easy nouveau style with lucid red fruits, though blink and it’s gone – there isn’t much to linger. I like the style and intent though.
Best drinking: right now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $34.99. Vino Intrepido website. Would I buy it? A glass for sure.
Plus a few whites
Longview Whippet Sauvignon Blanc 2021
It’s easy to just write off most of the generous and fruity Australian Sauv Blanc styles, without acknowledging the best from the rest. This is, indeed, one of the better wines, if judged on flavour impact alone. Gently tropical and grassy nose leads to a really quite intense palate, drenched with passionfruit and enough nettley sour yet juicy tang to be drinkable (even if it’s not exactly my bag). Good Sauv this, in the classic Hills mode.
Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12%, $23. Longview website. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Even Keel Pinot Gris 2021
A crisp, appley sort of wine this year – an earlier picked iteration that feels a bit more flinty and tight. Creamed pear, something yeasty, white fish, apples. Palate threatens to be riper and leesy but it ends up stony and lean and crisp and appley. There’s great palate length here, but it’s missing a beat in the fruit width, and then firmish phenolic finish. Good, but I wanted something a bit more round and involving myself, and the structure is all there for something great.
Best drinking: nowish. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12.5%, $32. Even Keel website. Would I buy it? A glass for sure.
Vino Intrepido Wolf in Sheeps Clothing Pinot Grigio 2021
I think some of James’ most interesting wines are all Gris/Grigio (or textured whites at least). This Grigio is from the 100 Hunts Vineyard at Tuerong o the lower bit of the Mornington Peninsula. Stony pear juice, that’s the vibe here. It says Grigio on the tin, but you could argue it’s Gris, really, with a textural width and fruit sweetness filling the back palate. Then again, who gives a shit about Gris vs Grigio semantics? Anyway, this is a very drinkable textural style though – has that mealy slipperiness of worked Gris that gives enjoyment and phenolic grip to finish, with enough flavour and enough tang to make it enjoyavle.
Best drinking: nowish. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13%, $27.99. Vino Intrepido website. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
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