Three wine producers this week, based in Margaret River, McLaren Vale and the Victoria High Country. There are four wines from each.
Vasse Felix was established in 1967 so is coming up to its half century. It produces four ranges of wines. All are represented below, and as can be seen, all are top quality. To put it another way, Vasse Felix’s lowest tier is often above others’ top tiers.
Gapsted draws a lot of fruit from the King Valley but also incorporates fruit from other regions. It is in a significant year, having been established in 1996 by seven friends who were wine professionals.
Shingleback is owned by the Davey family, and they are a wonderful, fun bunch of people, as well as being quality grape growers and top winemakers.
Vasse Felix ‘Filius’ Margaret River Chardonnay 2015: Clean, defined chardonnay nose. It’s generous without being pushy. The same applies on entry. It strolls at a leisured pace across the palate, pleasing all the way. 94 points. The suggested price is $28, which is OK, but it can be found at Dan Murphy’s for $22 and $21 in any mix of six wines, which is very good value.
Vasse Felix Margaret River Chardonnay 2015: This has a chardonnay nose but is also seductive. All parts are there, but youth was preventing their combining at the time of tasting (October 2016). Therefore a very mean 92 points now, but I think three more to come during 2017. $38 is the recommended price. Again, that’s OK, but Dan’s has it for $35 and it can be got down to close to $33 in a mixed six.
Vasse Felix ‘Heytesbury’ Margaret River Chardonnay 2015: The king of the VF trio of chardonnays. The nose is pure delight. There are hints of various fruits and the lightest oak. It is young and time will improve it overall, but there are so many good points as it travels across the palate that it already rates 95 points, with another two or maybe three waiting. For the serious chardonnay drinker $80 is well worth paying.
Vasse Felix ‘Classic Dry Red’ Margaret River Red 2014: This is red fruit on the nose and soft red fruit characters in the mouth. A 98 per cent shiraz wine, it’s very approachable, yet makes the impression that a quality wine should. 93 points. It can be found at prices between $14 and $19 so shop around. If paying $19 you are not being robbed, and $14 is a great bargain.
Gapsted ‘limited Release’ Victoria Pinot Grigio 2015: A classic description for PG on the nose is pear. I didn’t get that. In fact, I didn’t get a lot on the nose apart from fresh, clean and wholesome. On the palate it was like biting into a pear that is not yet ripe but not that far off: very crisp with oh-so-delicate flavours that trip around the mouth like nuns around the cloister. 94 points and an OK price at $26 only available from Vinomofo.
Gapsted ‘Ballerina Canopy’ King Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016: Easy all the way but enough interesting points on the journey to lift it above mundane. 92 points, and pushing the limits at $19.
Gapsted ‘Tobacco Road’ King Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016: It’s clean, crisp sauvignon blanc, and drinks well as a simple glass of dry white wine. 90 points and plenty of competition at $16.
Gapsted ‘Ballerina Canopy’ King Valley Chardonnay 2015: A soft approach, easy to drink and hard to criticise. It’s a Volvo wine. All parts are in the right place and very safe, but it’s not that interesting to drive. 91 points and there’s a lot of wine around at $18, much of which has more zip.
Shingleback ‘D Block Reserve’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: Can a wine’s nose be dark, deep and mysterious? Not really. But that’s how it struck me, so forgive my writer’s imagination. Full, textured wine with rich layers of flavour throughout. 95 points and worth the $55 asked.
Shingleback ‘D Block Reserve’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012: A wine of vitality, this gives pleasure every step of the journey. Full, rich sensuous flavours swirl around the palate, leading to complete satisfaction on the finish. 95 points and worth the $55 asked.
Shingleback ‘Haycutters’ McLaren Vale Salmon Rose 2016: Salmon in name and salmon in colour. A real mix of varieties, with pinot noir leading the way, followed by shiraz, a spoonful of grenache and a pinch of mourvedre. The recipe works well. 93 points and worth $18.
Shingleback Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2015: This is the new, tighter style of chardonnay that has pushed riper chardonnays into the “past their time” bracket. There is still room for richness, but not fat or overripe styles. Having said that, this is a good wine and will find favour with many. 92 points and worth $24 (available online or cellar door)