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 April 2022.
What’s always important, I think, is that ok drinks are still ok. The Grigio below is a great example – fresh, crisp, bronze medal drinking, just lacking some excitement. All these wines would scrape in for at least a bronze, so nothing faulty or technically undrinkable, just none interesting enough for the silver medal pass mark, especially from this grumpy, low scoring bastard.
Howard Park Flint Rock Pinot Noir 2020
Ripe and sappy in the luscious Great Southern dry red style. Gee making Pinot in WA is a thankless task. Just graft it over to Mencia or something! Anyway, this is all blood orange and plum, edging towards something meaty and smoky with alcohol that feels much bigger than 13.5%. Dry red masquerading as Pinot, with the sort of hulking ripeness that marks the genre. Lots of flavour at this price though. Just buy the Shiraz.
Best drinking: nowish before it dries out. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 13.5%, $28. Would I buy it? No.
Longview Queenie Pinot Grigio 2021
Classic, somewhat flavourless Grigio from the Adelaide Hills. Not much on the nose. The palate is a bit innocuous too. It’s varietal, sure, with crisp pair juice, and the acidity is well handled too. Texture good, overall effect, almost remarkable (but not). Maybe I’m being a bit harsh?
Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13%, $23. Would I buy it? A glass.
Pikes Olga Emmie Riesling 2021
Off-dry Riesling from the Pikes Vineyard at Polish Hill River. It would be much better as a dry wine, but I figure I’m not the target audience. Juicy limey fruit in abundance, the sweetness makes this more fun and very easy. Length is good, fruit attraction is there. Bound to be popular at cellar door. But the sweetness doesn’t make it a more enjoyable drink – a single glass wine.
Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 8.5%, $26. Would I buy it? No.
Terre à Terre Crayères Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2020
A victim of its stage in life, not quality. I well know this will look good with more bottle age, but it’s awkward now, and I’m judging it on now, not later. Barrel fermented Sauv Blanc from Wrattonbully, aged on full lees with no battonage and then matured in old oak until early 2021. 750 six-packs produced. Some gluey old oak hessian on the nose, but it blows off into a wine of texture but not fruit. Citrus, underplayed melon maybe, but mostly it’s acidity and some barrel bits. I had it cold and it was not much fun. In other words, don’t go too cold. It’s stuck in a transitional phase on the palate too, just prickly acidity and that’s really it. Come back later, as it’s not great right now. The structure and intensity underneath suggest something much better in a few years.
Best drinking: wait two years and then drink over five. This will live. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $50. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Clandestine Vineyards Pinot Noir 2021
Adelaide Hills Pinot from the Tomich vineyard. Ripe, with fruit tending towards stewed plum with drying tannins and a bacony edge. Earlyish picking stops it from becoming a dry red, but sappy firm and inelegant. What happened to be ungenerous at this alcohol?
Best drinking: nowish. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $30 Would I buy it? No.
Dalfarras Sangiovese Rosé 2021
Central Victorian Sangiovese fruit turned into juicy pink wine. Blush pink colour too and you’d pick it as sweet by the nose. Yet it’s more fruity than sugar-sweet despite the low alcohol. Simple, a bit of phenolic to finish and easy strawberry and grapefruit flavours. Pleasant, simple fare with good generosity.
Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12%, $19.70. Would I buy it? No.
Hungerford Hill Preservative Free Shiraz 2021
Hunter Shiraz, now without preservatives! This is a pretty good effort given for a sans SO2 release, even if it’s not as defined as the other HH Shiraz wines. From the Sweetwater Vineyard and super-duper purple bright fruit. Impressive colour! A little stink when you first open the bottle. Underneath its a bright, fruity, slightly confected Hunter red. There’s a little murkiness on the finish, but not a deal-breaker. It does what it means to, and with good palate weight – the mid-palate brightness and width is great for a preservative-free red. I just wanted the promise to keep delivering on the finish.
Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $35, Would I buy it? No.
Meerea Park Indie Marsanne Roussanne 2021
Hunter fruit and has a suggestion of something ripe with the yellow gold. Honeysuckle expression starts well but there’s a muddling layer of hessian and bay to counter the gentle apricot fruit, before a phenolic finish. A bit of a halfway wine – not ripe enough to be delicious but also too grippy and phenolic. Ok.
Best drinking: nowish. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Smith & Hooper Pinot Grigio 2021
Wrattonbully Grigio. Wild fermented, which is always impressive for the pricepoint. Ripe pear fruit, but a crisp finish. No alarms, but a pleasant Grigio with varietal character. A single tone, and done ok.
Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $21, but I’ve seen it for $15.99. Would I buy it? No.
Steels Creek Estate Cabernet Franc 2016
From a vineyard planted in 1980 in the Yarra Valley. A producer that I barely ever see too is Steels Creek, and not to be confused with Steels Gate (which is at Dixons Creek). This is the current vintage, which is also curious. No barcode on the back, so small volumes. Age hasn’t really done it any favours, as it just tastes more like an aged Australian red, brick dust oak with red fruit in the background, the finish a bit sweet and sour, hard to pick a variety. It’s ok, but region, variety etc is just not prominent enough. Meh.
Best drinking: now, I guess. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $36. Would I buy it? No.
Dalfarras Pinot Grigio 2021
Generic Grigio. Tinned pears. Diffuse fruit. Crunchy finish. It’s ok but a $15 wine.
Best drinking: now. 15.8/20, 85/100. 11%, $19.70. Would I buy it? No.
Dalfarras Prosecco 2021
Dusty, grapey and a bit sour Prosecco from somewhere in SEA Australia (God I hate that lazy GI), with the simple green fruit a bit tinny and the palate short. Misses the mark.
Best drinking: now. 15.5/20, 84/100. 11%, $19.70. Would I buy it? No.
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