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Wine Reviews

Château Capbern Saint-Estèphe 2015

We see so few Bordeaux wines in Australia that are from the left bank appellations of Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Margaux and Saint-Julien and are not a cru classé. This is a mistake, as with the improvements and price increases in Bordeaux, there is wonderful value in these villages at below cru classé level. This wine, from the excellent 2015 vintage and Saint Estèphe, has typical cigar box and blackcurrant aromas. The tannins are firm, but ripe, with a certain chewiness and appeal that speaks correctly of the village. Substantial length on the finish completes a favourable impression. Approachable now or over the next decade, this is lovely drinking. Rating: Good to Very Good. Website: wine-searcher.com. Reviewed: September 2020.

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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

Chateau Yaldara Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Having tasted their shiraz, GSM and now their cabernet sauvignon, the house style at Chateau Yaldara is focused on wines that celebrate ripe fruit supported by new oak (but not overwhelmingly so).  This Barossa Valley cabernet sauvignon is another high quality wine. It has aromas of iron and cedar.  The palate is full bodied with ripe, plush tannins and long length on the finish.  This is a near outstanding wine that can be approached now or over the next decade.  Rating: Very Good.   Website: https://www.1847wines.com; wine-searcher.com.  Source: sample. Reviewed: August 2020.   

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Wine Reviews

Gartelmann Cabernet Merlot 2016

From Mudgee in New South Wales and a vineyard at 630 metres, this is a very good cabernet sauvignon merlot blend from Gartelmann.  It has attractive leather, leaf and licorice aromas, and a brooding expression.  The palate is full bodied with soft tannins, piquant acidity, and a leaf/eucalyuptus character on its long finish.  The alcohol is 14.7 and does not overwhelm.  This wine is ready to drink now, but can be approached over the next 8 years or more.  Rating: Very Good.  Website: https://www.gartelmann.com.au; wine-searcher.com.  Source: Sample.  Reviewed: August 2020.

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Wine Reviews

Rockford Rifle Range Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

This is the current vintage release and early to have opened a Rockford Rifle Range. The wine, a cabernet sauvignon, presents in something of a jumbly fashion. The aroma points in different green directions, none with certainty. Weeds, clove, cedar and green capsicum each present their case. The palate offers medium tannins that are fine in texture. Importantly its finish is between medium and long, suggesting its future is a bright one. This Rifle Range is too early to approach and I would suggest a further 3-4 years in the cellar for it to show its true character. Rating: Good. Website: https://www.rockfordwines.com.au. Reviewed: July 2020.

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Wine Reviews

Château Baron de Pichon-Longueville Pauillac 1994

The 1994 vintage of the Pichon Baron is a mature claret that remains in its drinking window at 26 years of age. The 1994s are considered a more modest vintage for left bank Bordeaux, but the better producers produce better wines, as usual. In my experience, drinking modest Bordeaux vintages from good producers (from long tasting, Pichon Baron is unquestionably in this group) at the right time can be as enjoyable as drinking wine from the great vintages.

The 1994 Baron has tertiary and fully developed aromas of old cedar, earth and soy. On the palate, the tannins are very fine, but still firm and build with time in the glass. The length on the finish is gentle, persistent and long, and the balance exquisite. This is a graceful and mature Baron that is ready to drink. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.5. Price: $100+. Website: https://www.pichonbaron.com/en/. Reviewed: June 2020.

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Wine Reviews

Rockford Rod & Spur Shiraz Cabernet 2017

The 2017 release of Rockford’s Rod & Spur shiraz cabernet has aromas of licorice and cassis. The palate is medium bodied and has fine, almost unnoticeable tannins. This is a very balanced wine and is approachable now. In fact, its principal attribute is balance – this is not a blockbuster Barossa style, and intentionally so. It is quite young, so may develop further. Rating: Good. Abv: 13.9. Price: $30s. Website: https://www.rockfordwines.com.au/. Reviewed: June 2020.

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Wine Reviews

Réserve de la Comtesse Pauillac 2016

This is a delightful Pauillac from Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande’s second label, the Réserve de la Comtesse.  It has an aroma of blackcurrant and refined, unobtrusive cedar.  The palate is medium bodied, with subtle length and a refined bearing.  Ready to drink now or over the next decade. Rating: Very Good.  Abv: 13.0.  Price:  $95. Website:  http://www.pichon-comtesse.com/. Reviewed: May 2020.

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Wine Reviews

Bowen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

This is the best new release Bowen cabernet sauvignon I have tasted in years. A deep purple in colour, it has aromas of blackcurrant and well integrated cedar. The palate is full bodied with pleasingly firm but ripe tannins and long length on the finish. Approachable now, but will be best with medium term ageing. An outstanding release. Rating: Outstanding. Abv: 14.5. Price: $28. Website: http://www.bowenestate.com.au. Reviewed: April 2020.

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Wine Reviews

Château Potensac 2015

Potensac’s 2015 vintage is a very refined and balanced wine. It has gentle and well integrated blackcurrant and cedar aromas. The palate is medium bodied with fine grained firm tannins that build to a crescendo with time. This is an excellent release from this producer. It will suit ageing for at least a decade. Rating: Very Good. Abv: NA. Price: $60. Website: http://www.domaines-delon.com/en/potensac-chateau_potensac_vins.html. Reviewed: April 2020.