A mixed case
A dozen wines from regions across Australia, and one from New Zealand. Red, white, rosé and a sparkling wine: all sorts of wine offering a multitude of taste and flavours. Grateful thanks to Tash Stoodley, brand manager at d’Arenberg, for the photograph.
Vasse Felix ‘Classic Dry White’ 2016: This is a semillon-sauvignon blanc blend, and delightful. It dances across the palate, laying down tantalising flavours as it travels, and has more gravitas at the end. Very smart wine, 94 points and a bargain at $19, but incredible value at Dan’s, where it is only $13.25 in a mix of six.
Allegiance ‘Alumni’ Clare Valley Riesling 2016: Too young to do itself justice in the August 2016 tasting (other 2016 rieslings will be tasted in January 2017), but all the signs are there, peeping through the acidity. A rather mean 91 now, with more to come as it ages. $25 is about right for the 2016 Australian rieslings.
Tâmana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015: It is what it is, and what it is, is full-on New Zealand SB. It’s well made but predictable. 91 points and I think pricey at $25.
Robert Channon ‘Reserve’ Granite Belt Chardonnay 2015: Pleasant is the simple description. There is more to the wine, but it has to be looked for and worked out. I could say it’s a delicate drop, as delicate appears a better word than pleasant. The point being: I had to search to find whatever the wine was offering, and I’m not sure consumers will want to look that hard. 92 points and there are a lot of chardonnays at $35.
Angullong Orange Region Pinot Grigio 2016: This has the classic pear nose and is so balanced at the front of the mouth that one wonders if it’s going to be dull. Dull it is not. As it travels it becomes lively and interesting: the perfect travelling companion. 94 points and great value at just $20.
Mitolo ‘Jester’ McLaren Vale Sangiovese Rosé 2016: Pale salmon pink in colour, with a faint but delightful nose that I can’t pin down. Very gentle on entry and genteel across the palate, but behind the silk there slowly emerge flavours that interlock in a wonderful way. 94 points and worth $22.
Gapsted ‘Limited Release’ Sparkling Saperavi NV: Saperavi is a grape native to Georgia, and gaining ground in Australia, though according to James Halliday’s Varietal Wines, published 2015, it only amounts to five hectares, shared among 28 producers. It’s rare, and rarer still to see it in a sparkling format. This I believe to be the only one in Australia. For red wine to be sparkling there needs to be a goodly amount of residual sugar. This softens out the harsher elements of saperavi, leaving an intriguing and mysterious array of flavours: dark chocolate and prune with a hint of savoury. A truly rewarding experience, 96 points and worth the $37 asked.
St John’s Road ‘Prayer Garden’ Barossa Valley Grenache 2015: Do you remember as a kid certain lollies, such as sherbet, exploded in the mouth, coating all parts in one explosive moment of pleasure? This is no lolly, and no kids’ drink, but the pleasure is instant and holds all the way to the end. 95 points and great value at $30.
Sandalford ‘Prendiville’ Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2014: Richer than many Margaret River cabernets, but that is neither detriment nor positive. It’s young, too young to give it the points that it will deserve in the future, so a extremely mean 93 now with several more to come. One wouldn’t be disappointed if drinking it now, but tuck it away for five years and an outstanding beauty will be revealed. Few can afford $90 for a bottle of wine, but if you can buy some, it’s worth it.
Star Lane Beechworth Shiraz 2014: As I write up my tasting notes, the cat (Bugger) is sitting on the arm of the chair. It’s hard to say who is purring the loudest. This wine is closed on the nose but persistence pays off, and dark leaf mould and wet earth smells slide out of the glass. In fact, the wine throughout tasting is gentle in its approach, but only in approach. It’s smouldering, and the flavour bursts through somewhere in the middle of the palate, and onwards to the end. Quality without doubt, and very food friendly, which a lot of shiraz isn’t. An easy 94 points, with perhaps another one or two to come as it ages. The winery sells this at cellar door for $50, which is pricey. However, I have heard it may be available for less than $30, and that would make it very good value.
Majella ‘The Musician’ Coonawarra Cabernet-Shiraz 2014: Youthful and lighter than the other wines in the Majella stable, but this is no second-rate wine. It stood shoulder to shoulder with other wines in the tasting, several of which were more expensive. 93 points and very good value at $17.
Margan ‘Breaking Ground’ Tempranillo Gracano Shiraz 2014: A field blend of the three varieties, grown, picked and fermented together. On the nose it’s earth, leaf mulch, excellent. On the palate it’s a complex mix of flavours that is more Europe than New World. Tannin and acid add dimensions that make this one wonderful wine. It’s not fully together yet, so a mean 93 points now, with more to come, and it’s worth $40. I’m sure this will become an icon.