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Wine Reviews

Terre à Terre Crayères Vineyard 2016

I rather sensed that this producer and vineyard were headed towards producing a fine wine. This wine has seen considerable attention to detail and is outstanding. A blend of 68% cabernet sauvignon, 16% shiraz and 16% cabernet franc, it is from the Crayères vineyard in the Wrattonbully region on the South Australian/Victorian border. In terms of the winemaking, it has been aged in mostly new and old oak for 11 months (84% new) and then old oak for a further 17 months. In the glass, the wine has an aroma of dark plums, licorice and blackcurrant. But it is the palate which shines. Its singular feature is its prodigious length on the finish, perhaps more than a minute. Supple medium but very fine tannins and a graceful balance complete the picture. This is an outstanding wine that can be approached now and over the next decade. Rating: Outstanding. Website: https://terreaterre.com.au; wine-searcher.com. Source: Sample. Reviewed: September 2020.

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Wine Reviews

Sauvion Les Roches Cachées Chinon 2016

This wine is textbook Chinon from the Loire Valley.  It has aromas of crisp red raspberries and strawberry, a medium body and a dry, high acid finish with a twist of tobacco.  A fresh and enjoyable style that is ready to drink now.  Rating: Good.  Price: $29. Abv: 12.5. Website: https://fr.sauvion.com/. Reviewed: May 2020.

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Wine Reviews

Covert Farms Family Estate The Bluff 2016

This is an excellent wine from Covert Farms in the Okanagan Valley in Canada. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot and from the 2016 vintage, its style is reminiscent of a left bank cru bourgeois Bordeaux from a ripe vintage. In the glass, there are earthy, blackcurrant aromatics. The palate has very fine tannin that builds with time. Approachable now, it will suit cellaring for 5 years or more. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14.3%. Price: $45. Website: covertfarms.ca. Reviewed: January 2020.

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Wine Reviews

Terre à Terre Shiraz Wrattonbully 2016

Labelled as shiraz, this is in fact a blend of 88% shiraz and 12% cabernet franc. I cannot easily think of where this blend might otherwise appear in the world. It opens to an aroma of game, clove, plums and spice. The palate is full fruited, with cedar undertones (oak is 10% new). Rating: Good. Abv: 14.3%. Price: $40. Website: https://terreaterre.com.au. Source: Sample. Reviewed: September 2019.

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Wine Reviews

Terre à Terre Cabernet Franc 2016

This is the most serious and high quality expression of Australian cabernet franc that I have tasted. The wine is from Terre à Terre in Wrattonbully, near Coonawarra and the border between South Australia and Victoria. The soil here is terra rossa limestone and the vineyard is known as the Crayères. This is a region to watch for cabernet franc on this tasting. Saint-Emilion rather than Chinon in style, in the glass, the wine has typical cabernet franc aromas of tobacco, red fruits and spices. The palate has prodigious length, well judged cedar and firm tannins. Built to last this wine can be approached now or over the next decade. A bargain at $40. Rating: Outstanding. Abv: 14.2%. Website: http://terreaterre.com.au. Source: Sample. Reviewed: September 2019.

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Wine Reviews

Frédéric Mabileau St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil 2016

You don’t see many St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Loire Valley wines in Australia. I spotted this one, a 100% cabernet franc, and it is a sound example of its style. In the glass, it has an aroma of blackcurrant and sour cherries. The palate has firm acidity and is ready to drink now. At $42, it presents as modest value in the local market here, but if you enjoy this style of cabernet franc and favour seeing more of it, as I do in both cases, it’s worth a look. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 12.5%. Price: $42. Website: http://www.fredericmabileau.com.

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Wine Reviews

Bartier Bros Cabernet Franc Okanagan Valley 2016

I have tasted this wine a few times now, and it is a very good cabernet franc.  From the Okanagan Valley, its aromatics are restrained, reminding of blackberries and cedar.  The palate is balanced, with hints of tannin.  Ready to drink now, this is an enjoyable wine.  Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13.7%. Price: $30. Website: www.bartierbros.com

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Wine Reviews

Hester Creek Block 3 Reserve Cabernet Franc Okanagan Valley 2016

Cabernet franc from the Okanagan Valley presents as a more robust interpretation of this grape, more right bank Bordeaux than the Loire Valley.  Hester Creek produce a good one.  Its aromas remind of red fruits, while the palate has evident tannins and good balance.  Rating: Good. Abv: 14.1%. Price: $27. Website: hestercreek.com.

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Wine Reviews

Mission Hill Family Estate Compendium Okanagan Valley 2014

Mission Hill have fashioned an outstanding cabernet blend here from the Okanagan Valley in Canada.  It’s a classic Bordeaux style blend of 45% cabernet sauvignon, 37% merlot, 16% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot.  Perhaps more than any other wine I have tried to date, this wine showcases the region’s considerable potential and puts Canadian red wine on the map.  The colour is deep and the aromas remind of blackcurrants and tobacco leaf.  The contribution from 15 months in French oak is well judged.  The palate is medium bodied, with savoury and firm tannins, bright fruit and the length on the finish long.  36 barrels produced.  Rating: Outstanding. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $80+. Website: www.missionhillwinery.com

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Wine Reviews

OKV Okanagan Vineyards Cabernet Merlot 2016

This is a sound wine at less than $10 from the Okanagan Valley.  A blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, it has a simple fruity aroma of red berries.  The palate is dry, with some soft tannins, gentle fruit and the finish in balance.  A safe choice at this price.  Rating: Acceptable. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $9. Website: n/a.