Not all wines can be great. Plenty are just ‘ok drinks’, and some are just bad…
Here is a collectin of 15 wines that almost made it in October 2022.
As ever, I’m interested in hearing whether you value these ‘almost’ lists. Would you prefer them to be integrated into varietal/regional posts instead?
Let me know. Anyway, the wines:
Castel Firmian Pinot Grigio 2021
Solid Italian Grigio. I can’t quite see the value, but hey it tastes autentico, all pear and stonefruit flesh on an easy palate that feels broader and more open-knit than the low alcohol would suggest. The varietal flavour bumps this up from most of the genre, but that’s where the excitement stops.
Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12.5%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Escape Room Vermentino 2021
The Escape Room is a new lofi label from Chapel Hill and there is some honest drinking (and some interest) in the range. This is Fleurieu Peninsula Vermentino fermented wild with full malo and no additions bar sulphur. Fun! Hazy light gold, it smells of dried lemon and lemon skins and apricot, before a light, crisp, but gently grippy palate that goes alright. Just the right amount of grip for what is lightish fruit and a whisper of lanolin oxidative character. I’d love to see this with a bit more intensity actually. That’s what is missing. Turn up the dial a bit and this would be even better. Good summer drink with some thought behind it.
Best drinking: nowish. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12%, $25. Would I buy it? A glass.
In Two Minds Reserve Shiraz 2021
In two minds is a new label from Kate Day & Kathyrn Day (who met at uni and are also sisters-in-law. True story) made using fruit from all over the country. This is the Reserve Shiraz, made using Heathcote fruit, although I can’t see a non-reserve wine. So lets just call this their first Shiraz. Anyway, it’s all pulpy purple fruit – juicy with a little carbonic plumpness. It’s an easy wine to like, with light tannins, jubey (a little carbonic/whole berry maceration) purple fruit and simple fun. I’d love to see this more of a ‘reserve’ wine as that fruit is pretty attractive. Regardless, easy going, but not much to it.
Best drinking: over the next five to eight years. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $35. Would I buy it? A glass.
Rotari Riserva d’Oro Brut 2015
Chardonnay fruit in this sparkling, sourced from the hills above the river Adige in the Dolomites. Golden straw, hay and lemon, leesy and a bit sweet and sour. Pretensions of grandeur perhaps, with the cheesy, sweaty lees development giving this a sugar hit of density and richness. Underneath it’s a bit too chubby to be refreshing, even if it packs no shortage of complexity. A big mouthful of bubbles, although probably better younger.
Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12.5%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Yangarra Roux Beaute Roussanne 2020
Controversial. Honestly, this is just a hard wine. Biodynamic McLaren Vale Roussanne, matured in concrete egg. Light straw yellow, it’s so tight and angular loaded with phenolics and acidity fighting the fruit, almost to the point of resinous grip. I kept waiting for the fruit to drop, but it never did – it’s too tightly wound. Preserved lemon, ultra drying concentration with just oceans of phenolic grip. Super length, but gee it’s a hard wine to love. Come back later, no doubt.
Best drinking: later. Maybe late next year for a start. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 13.5%, $68. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Clandestine Vineyards Break Free Bliss Bomb Pet Nat 2022
Another cool new label, with the Break Free wines showing the lofi style of Clandestine Vineyards. This fizz aims high, sourced from 1985 planted Chenin Blanc in the Swan Valley. All free run juice, wild fermented in steel and then bottled. Very light fizz. It’s a bit too dry and lean for real delight, that’s my gripe. The pear juice nose suggests it’s going to be more generous, but it ends up as a fresh and crisp style with just a note of oxidative funk. Drinkable and well made, but it feels a bit stunted.
Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 11%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Gundog Estate Off-Dry Semillon 2022
I still don’t get this wine (although I bet it’s a superstar at cellar door), and I don’t love that it keeps getting sweeter. Hunter Valley Semillon, made off-dry. It doesn’t smell sweet, but the sweetness is all I can taste on the palate, a seep of syrup to fill all the holes. It’s well made and fresh enough (hence the bronze medal score), but ultimately a diffuse white of sweetness as a singularity.
Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 8%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Rotari Gran Rosé Brut 2016
Region not stated, but I’m assuming it’s more northern Italy – or we can just call it bottle fermented Italian sparkling. Very light orange, the nose is a direction, showing that this is a simple grapefruity thing. Think leesy development over a pink fruited, crisp and gentle palate of citrus and gentle sweetness. Easy drinking, if a bit sweet and sour to be profound.
Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Yalumba Galway Vintage Shiraz 2020
Great to see the old-school label. This is great BBQ fare too – what $15-$18 Barossa Shiraz should taste like. Coffeed and yet plump and plummy palate is pretty egalitarian, even if the oak feels clumsy and gritty while the acid tart and fizzy. This is going to be a hit for few dollars, even if it’s a bit of rough-edged red in the scheme of things.
Best drinking: over the next five years. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $18. Would I buy it? Probably not. But lots of people I know would love it.
Clandestine Vineyards Mourvedre Rosé 2022
The trend to more savoury rosé is mostly a good thing. But it does deliver a few ungenerous wines. This pink is McLaren Vale fruit, with some pink grapefruit edging into meaty, Pink fruit melting into herbal and unripe Mourvedre fruit on the finish. Dry enough, but I can’t get past the herbal edge – it ends up hard.
Best drinking: now. 16/20, 86/100. 12.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Logan M Cuvée 2019
A bad bottle? Could be. This Orange premium sparkling certainly looked more golden than previous releases. The nose is a bit progressed and nutty too, even if the palate is holding some green fruit freshness. I’m calling it as a miss now, but another look at this wine down the track might be useful.
Best drinking: now. 16/20, 86/100. 12.5%, $42. Would I buy it? No.
Mezza by Mezzacorona Italian Glacial Bubbly Rosé NV
Extra Dry Rosato Vigneti Della Dolomiti according to the label. Packaging is spot on – light bottle, complete with clear label. Foam clears pretty quickly, then underneath its light, off-dry, fresh drinking although the sweetness ultimately gets tiring despite the natural acidity. It’s not a bad wine though – good commercial appeal.
Best drinking: now. 16/20, 86/100. 12%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Cellier des Dauphins Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2020
A bit tired for mine. Pale, flat nose with just a bit of grapefruit and weak lemon. A bit of cardboard and some washed-out watermelon but otherwise, it looks a bit stripped before gritty acidity. I didn’t find this fresh or enjoyable enough.
Best drinking: now. 15/20, 83/100. 12.5%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Quartz Hill Mencia 2020
I kept waiting for something to happen. Muddled. Pan juices and cranberry on the nose with an oxidative edge. Tart, slightly oxidised palate with a blood and bone edge, the whole package a bit murky and lacking vitality. Bad bottle? Maybe, but I can only call this (screwcap-sealed) wine as a I see it.
Best drinking: now. 15/20, 83/100. 13%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Yalumba Gen Organic Chardonnay 2022
From Yalumba’s new contemporary organic range and something of a miss. Flavourless, really, Hay and lemon but not much else. Washed-out stonefruit palate offers little of anything. I just don’t get this style – who wants to drink it?
Best drinking: now. 15/20, 83/100. 12.5%, $22. Would I buy it? No.
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