M. Chapoutier Les Incontournables Crozes-Hermitage and Luberon 2016

Here are two sound releases from M. Chapoutier, both from the 2016 vintage.  Luberon sits between the southern Rhône valley and Provence, whilst Crozes-Hermitage is in the northern Rhône and quite different in style.  The 2016 vintage appears sound in the northern Rhône and a great vintage in the southern Rhône.  I find Jancis Robinson’s website useful for vintage reports, although they can be on the tough side.  See here www.jancisrobinson.com/learn/vintages.

Luberon Les Incontournables 2016
This is pretty good for $14.  A grenache blend, it has fruity aromatics and an intensity that could place this wine as from Australia.  There’s sweet fruit, herbs and chocolate by way of aroma.  The palate is full bodied, with good length and a hot finish.  Rating: Good. Abv: 14%. Price: $14. Website: www.chapoutier.com

Crozes-Hermitage Les Incontournables 2016
This is quite a lovely Crozes-Hermitage release.  Less deeply coloured than the Luberon, it has fragrant aromatics of perfume, roses, florals and apricot.  The palate is quite primary with some jammy fruit and approachable tannins.   This wine is ready to drink now.  Rating: Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $28. Website: www.chapoutier.com.

Triennes Rosé IGP Méditérranée 2017

The number and variety of Provençal rosés available in Australia seems to be increasing.  This is the best I have tried recently.  A blend of cinsault, grenache, syrah and merlot, it is from the Méditérranée  IGP region, which includes the Provence wine region in southern France.  The label was founded by some serious names, the founder of Domaine Dujac and Aubert de Villaine.  In the glass, the wine has salt, mineral and floral overtones.  The palate has good and refreshing acidity.  This wine is recommended.  Rating: Good. Abv: 12.5%. Price: $20. Website: www.triennes.com.

Artea Alpes de Haute Provence Rosé 2016

This Provençal rose (from the Alpes de Haute Provence IGP in France) is so pale it almost resembles a white wine in colour.  Grape varieties are not specified.  However, this region is known for grenache, syrah and cinsault blends, so this is presumed.  Its aromatics remind of gentle florals.  The palate is flavoursome with nectarine notes and fresh acidity.  A pleasant rose for immediate consumption.  Rating: Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $20+. 

Hardy’s new release 2015 and 2016 sub regional McLaren Vale Tintara reds

I recently tried Hardy’s new release sub regional Tintara reds, all from McLaren Vale.  These are all very high quality wines and present great value for money at the premium end of the market.

Hardy’s Tintara Blewitt Springs Shiraz 2015, McLaren Vale 
This shiraz is from the Blewitt Springs, which is the furthest part of McLaren Vale from the sea and sits at approximately 200 metres of altitude.  In the glass, it is a very classical expression of McLaren Vale shiraz.  A deep purple colour, the 2015 vintage has aromas of licorice, boysenberry, gentle vanilla and juicy ripe blackberries.  The palate is full bodied with great length and reminders of juicy black fruits, dark plums.   Soft tannins and long length complete the picture.  This wine sits comfortably at this price and can be approached now, or cellared for a decade or more.  Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $80. Source: Sample.

Hardy’s Tintara Yeenunga Shiraz 2015, McLaren Vale
This is an outstanding first release of this label, with the grapes sourced from an old vine single vineyard in the north of McLaren Vale.   Deeply coloured in the glass, it has a rich aroma of saturated plums and (well judged) cedar.  The palate is full bodied and viscous, with notes of soy and licorice.  It finishes with long length and some firm tannins.  Joyously approachable now, this wine will also reward long cellaring.  Rating: Outstanding. Abv: 14%. Price: $80. Source: Sample.


Hardy’s Tintara Reserve Grenache 2016, McLaren Vale
The best grenache, in my opinion, does not really resemble grenache but takes on a different and substantial character.  McLaren Vale is one of the few regions where this is achieved, taking an international perspective.  This wine is McLaren Vale grenache at its best, with aromatics of meats, pepper, spice and red fruits.  The palate is full bodied, with long length and a spicy and peppery aspect.  This is a serious grenache that can be approached now or cellared for at least five years.  Rating: Very Good to Outstanding. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $70. Source: Sample.

d’Arenberg The Ironstone Pressings Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre 2015

d’Arenberg’s The Ironstone Pressings is a benchmark GSM from the McLaren Vale region.  The 2015 vintage in the glass here has aromatics that remind of black fruits and cedar, the latter particularly well handled.  The palate is dry, the tannins are firm and the length long.  This wine supports my thesis that grenache (and its blends) represent some of d’Arenberg’s (and McLaren Vale’s) best wines. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $70. Source: Sample.

Domaine Gayda Figure Libre Freestyle Vin de Pays d’Oc 2015

The picture shows the 2016 vintage.  The 2015 vintage is reviewed here.

This is another interesting Vin de Pays d’Oc from the south of France.  Organically grown, it is a blend of 40% syrah, 40% grenache, 10% carignan and 10% mourvèdre sourced variously from Roussillon, Corbières and La Livinière and is a deep purple in the glass.  The wine opens to aromatics of pepper and spice, but mostly spice.  The underlying fruit is ripe, fresh and fruity.  The palate is full bodied and the length and savoury balance satisfying.   Rating: Good. Abv: 14%. Price: N/A. Source: Sample.

Domaine Gayda Chemin de Moscou Pays d’Oc 2014

A blend of syrah (60%), grenache (35%) and cinsault (5%), this is a moreish and enjoyable Vin de Pays d’Oc from the Languedoc region in the south of France. It’s a “vin biologique” too, i.e. organic. In the glass, it is fruity, yet also earthy and savoury. The palate is medium-full bodied, fruity and a touch of tannin. This is very much a high quality Vin de Pays wine. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 14%. Price: $68. Source: Sample.

Chateau d’Astros Côtes de Provence Rosé 2014

This is a typical Côtes de Provence rosé from Chateau d’Astros from the south of France. It’s a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cinsault, grenache and syrah, and has been pressed after a short maceration on skins in terms of winemaking. In the glass, it has saline and lightly herbal aromatics. The palate is medium bodied, light of touch and savoury in impression. Rating: Good. Abv: N/A. Price: ~$20 (in half dozen). Source: Sample.

Some good new release McLaren Vale grenache from d’Arenberg

Here are six new release wines from d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale that are between $15 and $29.  All of the wines were tasted blind, and the two grenache based wines stood out for their quality.  This tasting confirmed my view that the best grenache departs from the primary fruit/jube/high alcohol renditions of this grape variety, and presents almost like a different grape variety grown in the right places and raised by the right hands.  It also provided further evidence to support my view that grenache is a jewel in d’Arenberg’s offering.  
Grenache and blends
The Derelict Vineyard McLaren Vale Grenache 2013
This wine has good intensity of colour for a grenache.  It opens to quite attractive smokey aromas.  The palate is sweet fruited with dark plums, licorice and eucalyptus in the background.  There is towards long length on the finish, firm tannins (for grenache) and a not unattractive bitter character. This is an interesting and complex wine that it is a very good example of McLaren Vale grenache. $29 is well spent on this wine. Rating: Very Good. Abv: 14.2%. Price: $29.

The Bonsai Vine McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2015
Here’s another good grenache, this time a GSM blend. Medium intensity of colour.  The aromas of this wine are quite jammy, with plum and popcorn oak notes. But mostly of primary fruit. The palate is medium to full bodied with quite fine tannins and medium length.  Rating: Good to Very Good. Alc 13%. Price: $29
Whites
Lucky Lizard Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016
Switching now to chardonnay.  Lemon in colour.  Pleasant aroma of lemons and florals. The palate is dry with a touch of oak influence. Mediumish body and acidity. Nice length and a very light spritz to freshen palate. A sound chardonnay. Rating: Good. Abv: 13.7%. Price: $25.
Hermit Crab McLaren Vale Viogner Marsanne 2016
Very fragrant with mandarin, herbal, sauvignon like aromas and green apple suggestions.  A smidgen of oak is there.  The palate is dry, medium bodied with talc and almond notes and some spritz and gentle length on the finish. Hard to fault at $15. Rating: Good. Abv: 13.3%. Price: $15.
Shiraz and cabernet

The Footbolt McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015 
This is deeply coloured next to the grenache. There is an aroma of cedar, herbs and cedar. There some evidence of oak, some new. The palate reminds of olive and mint characters.  Acids and tannins present firmly.  Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $18


The High Trellis McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Deep colour. It opens to aromas of olive and brine, and initially proves quite pungent. Varietal characters of earth and licorice emerge with time in the glass. The palate is full bodied, the length quite good, and tannins quite overt and powdery.  Decanting recommended. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Alc: 14.8%. Price: $18.