Outside the box
John Dual ‘Plexus’ Barossa Marsanne-Viognier-Roussanne 2015: A Rhone-style blend that is a little disjointed at the moment, but that is only youth. By Christmas it should be drinking beautifully. It is finely crafted and has rich and dry elements that play an interesting tune as it travels. 93 points now but I think two more to come and worth $30.
Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards McLaren Vale Vermentino 2016: Callous youth is masking the wine at the moment but there are glimpses of its quality. A very mean 90 now but I think another three or maybe four points will emerge during 2016 and into early 2017. Then it will be well worth the $25 asked.
Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards McLaren Vale Fiano 2016: A wonderful nose but I couldn’t find a description for it, so will stick with “wonderful”. This is still young, but with good textual mouth feel. The youth is holding the flavour back but it will emerge, I think in spring or summer. 93 points, maybe another point to come, and worth $25.
Davis Premium Vineyards ‘Wild in the Wood’ Hunter Valley Field Blend 2016: This hails from the Peppertree stable in the Hunter Valley, though there is no mention of Peppertree on the label. The varieties are semillon, verdelho and chardonnay, grown and harvested together. I’m rather fond of these field blends. They are individual characters, one moment rustic, the next sophisticated. This tastes powerful but is only 10.7 per cent. A complex array of flavours twist and turn around themselves as they travel across the palate, presenting a many-faceted wine. The only issue I have with the wine is its youth. It needs at least until 2017 before it will come into its own, so a mean 92 points now with more to come, and perhaps then it will justify its $30 price tag.
Moppity ‘Lock & Key’ Hilltops Tempranillo 2015: I should think this is the highest grown tempranillo in Australia. It does produce a different style but not a poorer wine. “Juicy” doesn’t seem a good description but this is a wine that is light to start, then becomes ripe and juicy in the centre of the palate, but moves to a richer end. Interesting, as so much was going on. I wavered between 91 and 94 points as I tasted and retasted and in the end settled for 93. It’s at the top end of an appropriate price range at $27 but still worth it.
Allegiance Wines ‘The Fighter’ McLaren Vale Tempranillo 2014: A fragrant nose, sits pertly at the front of the palate then traverses with balance and harmony, the flavours entwining and entertaining the drinker. 94 points and value at $25.
Tar & Roses Heathcote Tempranillo 2015: Red fruits at the beginning of the journey but more flavours come in as the wine moves across the palate. There is also depth, and savoury characters. It’s a cracking wine. 94 points and a bargain at $24.
Margan Hunter Valley Barbera 2014: There are good flavours here but I found them masked by oak, which I hope will settle in time. So 91 points now but more to come. Given the time needed, $40 is a high price, but for something different it’s not outrageous.
Tar & Roses Heathcote Sangiovese 2015: This has the classic butcher shop nose, and is in turn dry, savoury, tart and rich as it traverses the palate to finish satisfying the drinker’s senses. 94 points and good value at $24.
Callie J ‘White Stripes’ Alpine Valley Sangiovese 2015: Callie J is winemaker Callie Jemmeson. It’s worth following the link and visiting the Wine Unplugged website to read how the business got started, and the parts played by Callie and the rest of the team. Read the background and you will want to be part of the fun that this group radiates. The group also makes outstanding wine. I was impressed with everything that was sent. This sangiovese is a chewy, savoury product of the earth, fabulous drinking, and went well with dinner that night. 94 points and a bargain at $23.
Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Sangiovese 2013: Light but not weak, with a beautiful perfume that not only works on first smell but also on the return once swallowed. A neat acid bite makes it work well at the table. 92 points and well worth $25.
Hesketh ‘Barossa Valley’ Negroamaro 2015: A southern Italian cultivar that has found a home in the Spanish-named Barossa Valley in South Australia, noted for its Germanic settlers. Truly multicultural. It has that damp earth nose, and the earthiness carries through to the palate, underscoring the wine throughout the journey. The raw edge is tempered with richer, dark fruit characters. It’s a wine that not only pleases but also offers some intellectual pleasure. 94 points and worth $25.
Hesketh ‘Barossa Valley’ Bonvedro 2015: Bonvedro is the Portuguese name for the Spanish parraleta cultivar. The list of synonyms around the Mediterranean is long. In Australia the small patch of vines that is now known to be bonvedro was thought to be carignan. The nose is prune and cherry. The taste is simple to start but gets complex as it reaches the middle palate. The ending is a full-on mix of flavours that intrigue. 94 points and great value at $25.
Yalumba ‘Galway Vintage’ Barossa Valley Malbec 2013: I was impressed with this wine on tasting but something was wrong about it. Sorry, something was wrong with me. I had put it in a shiraz line-up. Once that was sorted it became clear that though I had given it 91 points with a note to find out was wrong, I could easily lift it to 93 as a malbec. Delightful mulberry nuances, just 13 per cent alcohol, all parts in the right place and great value at $19 or less.
Mitolo ‘The Nessus’ McLaren Vale Malbec 2014: The Nessus wines are a new line to Mitolo, and damn fine they are (also see the shiraz review). When, after tasting, I looked up the retail price, I was surprised to see they are only $15. That is remarkable value for a wine that has interest and intrigue all along its journey across the palate. 94 points.