Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reviews

This will be the first of several Key Review of Wine reports I will dispatch in January and February. After that they will settle down to one perhaps two a week.

The issue has been the increase in samples for review I have been sent combined with the lack of space in each weeks Key Report to publish them all.

The outpouring in January/February will be a cleansing of all the reviews I have written but not published. Some points to note and FAQ answered

As yet I do not charge for reviews. Perhaps one day I might

No, I will not send you a copy of the review for your blessing before I publish it.

I really do want retail price on the bottle. I am currently working on a new website that will mean the sender of the wine fills in an on-line form with all appropriate details

Sorry, I can’t inform you when a review is published. It’s up to you to look at TKR or the new format each week to see if your wine has been reviewed.

Yes, you can use the review in any which way, so long as true accreditation is given to me and The Key Report/The Key Review of Wine.

My approach to evaluating is all wine starts at 100 points. In my mind it can be no other way. Today’s Australian wine, even low priced commercial wine is on average of a high standard, very rarely can I justify dropping below 85 points. Most is 90 or above, what the reader of the review has to work out is the bridge between 92 and 95 is a lengthy one, if that’s hard to understand, so be it.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the king and queen of grape varieties according to some. I might not go that far but wouldn’t offer counter argument.

I’ve said before how far Australian chardonnay has evolved and I really do believe challenges Burgundy. I’ve also said some have gone too far down the austere road. Flabby chardonnay I do not want but nor do I require skin and boney chardonnay following a perceived fashion.

Australian pinot noir is also improving at a rapid rate but still has a way to go before it matches Burgundy pricing. Which makes a lot of Australian PN a very good purchase $50 is outstanding value considering a lot of Burgundy trades in the hundreds of dollars a bottle, anyhow the reviews tell all.


Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Chardonnay 2016: Very sound wine well-made and drinks well from first sip to final swallow, 92 points and value at $16 or less

Kangarilla Road Adelaide Hills ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay 2016: What I enjoyed most about this chardonnay was it not being in the new high fashion tight style, this has curves, it sways across the palate, caressing the parts that should be caressed, 94 points, top of its price sector at $40

Thistledown ‘Suilven’ Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2015: A most intriguing nose that changed from fruit notes to slightly feral and back to fruit, being safe I will stick with complex. That’s complex good not complex poor. A wide spectrum of flavour across the palate but still holding back, there is more to come from this wine and the structure is there to support it ageing. I’m on the mean side pointing it at 93 but feel two if not three or four more points to come within the next three years, it might appear pricy at $70, but I’ve paid three times that price for a Burgundy not as good

Thistledown ‘Great Escape’ Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2014 and 2015:  The 14 first: Classic chardonnay on the nose, maybe with a hint of nectarine, or unripe peach (couldn’t pin it) tight structure all across the palate as if the wine was tense, it could do with loosening up a little, I found it better at the table where food seemed to fill the wine out, 92 points and OK value at $25

The 2015, younger but giving more 93 points, again OK on price

Margan Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2016: Full and generous Hunter Chardonnay, no way fat and flabby and a joy to drink, 92 points and good value at $18/20

Tallarook Central Victoria Chardonnay 2015: Unripe white peach at the moment, a very classy wine but needs more time in bottle to fill out, that in no way says it’s a poor wine just youthful, 93 now but I think a couple more to come OK price at $38

Handpicked ‘Collection’ Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2013: This needs to be drunk very cool but not too cold as it has rich flavours and subtleness both need to be experienced and too cold or too warm dims one or other, no doubt about it, this wine is striking, a pedigree all the way 95 points and worth $45

Howard Park ‘Allingham’ Margaret River Chardonnay 2015: Let’s get the price over with, $89 and worth every cent, not at the moment but for putting away for a few years: It’s not an easy wine but it’s a fascinating one, each aspect from first sniff to final swallow has to be searched for. All we are allowed at this stage is a glimpse of the greatness and those glimpses are what I have based my judgment on, its tight and the acid is dominant but there is so much going on, it’s going to grow into a great wine and will be a contender for the greatest Australian chardonnay, a very mean 94 now but I have full confidence this will go to an easy 97 possibly higher.

Howard Park ‘Cellar Collection’ Margaret River Chardonnay 2015: If the Allingham is beyond your price bracket don’t fret as the Howard Park range of Chardonnay’s is extensive. This wine is more forward than the Allingham softly encircling the palate like a python around its prey.  If that is too graphic think of sinking into the arms of a lover. The flavours  flow across the palate hitting the parts they should hit, great wine 94 points and worth $35

Flowstone Margaret River Chardonnay 2013: Good now but on the way to extremely good maybe great. Tight but will fill out in time 94 points now but more to come as it develops worth $36

Pinot Noir:

Handpicked ‘Collection’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012: It was light on the nose, but boy once on the palate it was feral PN all the way, it bowled me over on tasting and later when drinking slightly chilled was a pure delight, 96 points and worth its $60 

Handpicked ‘Collection’ Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2013: It has a stinky feral nose that I love on PN followed by thought provoking fruit/savoury characters across the palate 95 points, top price at $60 but for pinot lovers worth trying

d’Arenberg ‘The Feral Fox’ Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2014: As in its name it has the feral edge I enjoy in pinot noir, fortunately there was no foxy taste, great perfume and a long return journey well balanced in acid and tannin a well put together wine 94 points and worth $30

Delatite Mansfield Pinot Noir 2014: Cool climate pinot that drinks well at the present but has a depth to it that will emerge and develop into a more complex wine. It also works well with a mixed platter of hors d’oeuvres 93 points OK price at $35

Allegiance Wines ‘The Artist’ Tumbarumba Pinot Noir 2015: light and fragrant but far from my ideal style of PN, I like feral, horse shit and damp dank earth. For me this is just a light red wine better drunk chilled, 89 points and I would spend $30 elsewhere.

Windowrie ‘Family Reserve’ Orange Region Pinot Noir 2015: The grapes come from a high altitude vineyard (950 meters) cool climate indeed, the question does it work? Silly answer; yes and no. Yes its well-made wine that has a lightness as it flits across the palate and no because I expected more intense flavours to impact themselves as it travelled, perhaps it’s youth so a mean 91 now and wait and see how it develops, $30 is about right for this pinot.

Norfolk Rise Mount Benson/Tasmania Pinot Noir 2015: It’s a very good light red wine and deserves 89 points its enjoyable to drink slightly chilled and a very fair price of $16. For pinot noir fanatics it lacks definition and character

Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015: Fruit on the nose which is slightly disappointing as for pinot I’m looking for earthier, mushroom, smells.  The palate is light but has hidden depths that come to the fore as the wine travels and delight 93 points and worth $23

See Saw Orange region Pinot Noir 2016: Medium in all departments, but that does not mean bland, it has a fresh plum nose, is medium weight in the mouth, progresses in a cool measured way across the palate and ends by pleasing the senses and refreshing, 92 points and worth $25

Nocton Vineyard Tasmania Pinot Noir 2015: It has the quality’s I look for in pinot noir, it’s not the greatest pinot and I could nit-pick but let’s not, its 93 points and worth the $29 asked

Gapsted Wines ‘Tobacco Road’ King Valley Pinot Noir 2016: A very pleasant red wine, light in style and with PN character, 91 points and value at $16

Howard Park, Flint Rock Great Southern Pinot Noir 2016:  Good pinot nose, easy across the palate has a deeper flavour vain but not complex 93 points about the right price for PN at $28

Gapsted Wines ‘Limited Release’ King Valley Pinot Noir 2016: Good PN nose, and enough feral characters across the palate to please m. admittedly I tasted it on a hot day and it would have been better chilled but for such a young PN it was showing remarkably well 94 points and at $32 a bargain

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