A large review section this week, with 18 wines from nine producers (two from each). Eight of the producers are family affairs.
Mount Avoca is a family-owned winery that also offers accommodation in the Pyrenees region west of Melbourne, a wonderful place worth visiting.
Mount Avoca ‘Moates Lane’ Victoria Chardonnay 2014: Lean but not mean and skinny. A clean, elegant expression of chardonnay. 93 points and I think one or two more to come. Very good value at just $15.
Mount Avoca ‘Estate Range’ Pyrenees Chardonnay 2015: It’s clean, defined chardonnay on the nose. On the palate it’s closed at the moment due to youth, but will flower in a year or so. A mean 92 now with more to come, and it will be worth the $32 asked.
The St James range and Grant Burge brand are owned and made by Accolade Wines. The links are to Dan Murphy’s, which sells both brands at very good prices.
Sir James Brut de Brut NV & Sir James NV: These two wines, which can be found around the $12-$15 mark, are among the best value sparkling wines in Australia. They have balance, travel gracefully across the palate and have a long flavour. 91 points.
Grant Burge ‘Cuvee Brut’ NV: Well made, easy across the palate with crisp apple tastes, and good flavour on the return. 93 points and a bargain price at $15.
The following two wines are produced by Wine Unplugged. Go to the site. It’s a joyful experience. To quote: “We’re just two chicks making wines we love to drink and share with friends and loved ones. Boom!”
Callie J ‘White Stripes’ Alpine Valley Pinot Grigio 2015: To find out about Callie and the crew follow the link. This is sound wine that started slow but grew in stature and points as it travelled across the palate. 92 points and an OK price at $22.
Pacha Mama Victoria Pinot Gris 2016: Gris in a rich style that I love. My notes say “sensuous”. I note, reading the back label, that the same word is used. I was surprised how forward this is for such a young wine, but it has the maturity in flavour and texture to be very drinkable now. 94 points and $22 is good value.
The Burch family from WA make a vast array of wines, with quality uppermost across all the brands. I am never disappointed and have huge respect for the consistent quality they achieve, year in, year out.
MadFish Western Australia Sauvignon-Semillon 2015: Vibrant, full of life and flavours. It’s well made, well blended and well priced at $18. 94 points.
Howard Park Margaret River Sauvignon-Semillon 2016: Young but bursting with vigour and promise, this is not a long-term cellaring wine, but another few months will see it fill out a little, so 93 points now and one more by Christmas. Worth the $28 asked.
Yalumba needs little introduction. It’s Barossa based but makes wine in many states from grapes grown in numerous regions, and from specific sites within those regions.
Yalumba ‘Samuels Garden’ Eden Valley Roussanne 2015: Very attractive green/gold colour, light at first on the nose but persistence brings forth a slight hint of hay or fresh straw. Its texture is full, but the taste is refined. For me, it’s an incredibly beautiful wine, yet not a beauty that is false. There’s no Botox or implants, just honest beauty, and as we have been told, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 94 points and good value at $24.
Yalumba ‘Samuels Garden’ Eden Valley Viognier 2015: Yalumba is very proud of its viognier portfolio. It’s the largest producer in Australia, possibly the world, of this underrated variety. I say underrated, but I find few of the people I offer a glass are as keen as I am. Maybe because it is a rich wine that has huge textual mouthfeel. Anyhow, this is a seductive beauty and I can’t get enough of her. I fell completely under her spell, and enjoyed every sensual moment. 94 points and well worth $24.
From white to red
Most articles that mention John Duval inevitably say he was the winemaker/custodian of Penfolds Grange for many years. He might still be if it weren’t for the awful pressures that the awful management at the time was imposing on the whole company.
Anyhow, the point is that John Duval is now John Duval Wines, and making wines that rival the top-end Penfolds and stand very much on their own two feet.
John Duval ‘Entity’ Barossa Shiraz 2014: Black fruits on the nose up front, but there’s more going on behind, which is yet to emerge. The complexity from first sip is impressive. A taste goes a very long way and gives pleasure on the journey. There is some more development to come but an easy 94 points now with perhaps two more in the future. Full price is $50 but Dan’s has it at $45. It’s a price bracket this wine deserves to be in.
John Duval ‘Eligo’ Barossa Shiraz 2013: Complex nose. Many words could be used to describe this, and no doubt other reviewers will go the full hog. I will restrain myself, but the mingling multitude of smells is pure beauty and intellectually stimulating. The flavours stretch out from the point of entry in a lazy, sensuous way that is cat like. The persistence of flavour is impressive and the return perfume outstanding. It has a way to go but already sits at 98 points and in global terms $120 is cheap. This really needs to join the ranks of Grange and Hill of Grace.
Thorn-Clarke is another Barossa-based, family-owned winery.
Thorn-Clarke ‘William Randell’ Eden Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014: It’s harsh to say this is an ugly duckling, but be assured it will grow into a very beautiful swan. Youth is working against it at the moment, but all the elements are there. It just needs time for all the parts to come together. A very mean 93 points now, but I think three if not four more points are to come, and $60 in global terms for this quality of wine is cheap.
Thorn-Clarke ‘Sandpiper’ Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2014: Sound, solid cabernet, with a hint of that famous Barossa chocolate character. 92 points and value at $19.
From the Barossa we move to Adelaide, and Patritti, which was established in 1926, and is the only fully operational, 100 per cent family-owned winery and cellar door located in an Australian capital city. The five-acre property is just 10 minutes from Glenelg and all 20 staff work from the original 1930s Patritti family winery.
Patritti Adelaide Hills Barbera 2012: Mushrooms come to mind, both on nose and palate. It’s a rustic style with lots of savoury character, and may be too much for those wedded to richer, fruit-style wines. It needs food to balance its austerity. 92 points. For those into the style, it is worth $20. To others, maybe not.
Patritti Barossa Valley Saperavi 2012: The grape originates from Georgia, where it makes dark red wine that is tart to taste but is said to be able to live for some time. This has dark and deep colour for sure, and is not as tart as one might expect. The strange aspect of this wine was that it reminded me strongly of Bordeaux. Not today’s Bordeaux, but those from the 1950s through to the ’70s, when they were less fruit driven and vintage variation played a bigger part then it does today. I really enjoyed this, but recommend that everyone should make their own mind up. For me it’s a 91-point wine and great value at just $20.
We move across the border into Victoria and up into the high central Victoria region. Established in 1968 by Robert and Vivienne Ritchie, Delatite is now run by their son David.
Delatite ‘Donald’s Block’ Mansfield 2012: Such an individual wine. My review can only be mine and mine alone. Cutting to the chase, I like it, but think others may not, as it has a strong character of mint. It has a lot of attraction for me and is better when decanted, but I recommend it with caution, especially as it’s $75. Buy a bottle before buying a case, and if possible share a bottle with friends to garner wider opinion. I give it 92 points and believe more will come as it ages.
Delatite ‘Devil’s River’ Cabernet Merlot Mansfield 2012: This is an individual style, and one I enjoy a great deal. It’s a French-Australian wine that shows both eucalypt on the nose and the classic Bordeaux cigar box smell. It’s very elegant across the palate, and because of its cool-climate origins, vastly different from other Australian wines hailing from warmer climes. Good finish with fine perfume on the return. 94 points and worth $35.