This is a well presented, dry rosé from Yalumba in South Australia. Its aroma reminds of florals and twigs. The palate is dry, crisp and pleasant, and its alcohol low at 11.5%. Ready to drink now, this rosé suits summer drinking and is sound value at $15. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 11.5%. Price: $15. Website: yalumba.com. Source: Sample.
A slightly garish label, this wine is another from the BWS/Woolworths stable. It opens to ripe and fruity aromas of cherry and jam. The palate is full bodied, has seen some wood and presents as fruity and flavoursome, suitable for current drinking. Rating: Good. Abv: 14.0%. Price: $18. Source: Sample.
I recently tasted through Yalumba’s new 2017 vintage of “Y Series” whites. All the wines are $15 and all five wines from different single varieties. As a group, these wines evidence the new modern Australian style – lower alcohol, more medium than full bodied and no discernible oak influence. The sauvignon blanc for example weighs in at only 11.5%. The search for restraint in warmer climates can lead to a loss of varietal character, but the viognier and riesling shone through as good examples. The chardonnay and pinot grigio were more neutral and dry whitish. Overall, this is a well made set with an evenness to the wines and provides sound drinking at a modest price.
Yalumba Y Series Sauvignon Blanc South Australia 2017
Mid range aromatics of florals, gooseberry and grass with air. Dry, some raspy sauvignon blanc acidity and fresh style. Rating: Good. Abv: 11.5%. Price: $15.
Yalumba Y Series Riesling Barossa 2017Attractive aromatics of stone and florals, with a slight savoury roundness. A floral, dry, medium bodied palate with not quite fully linear acidity and nice length. Rating: Good. Abv: 12%. Price: $15.
Yalumba Y Series Chardonnay South Australia 2017Muted aromatics of pear and quince. No discernible oak. Medium bodied, dry and mid range acidity. A little neutral and dry white in expression. Rating: Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $15.
Yalumba Y Series Viognier South Australia 2017Richly aromatic, all talc, ginger and apricots. The palate is towards full bodied, dry with a phenolic impression and good length. Recommended. Rating: Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $15.
Yalumba Y Series Pinot Grigio South Australia 2017Muted aromatics of stone. Nectarine and stone characters on the palate with a between medium to full bodied impression. Rating: Good. Abv: 12.5%. Price: $15.
A multi-regional blend of cabernet sauvignon sourced from Coonawarra and the Clare Valley. This wine (also tasted in the tropics where it may have been given a light cooking) tasted a little jumpy. Blackcurrant, ribena and blueberry characters feature. The palate is towards full bodied and is sweet fruited in impression. Pleasant enough. Rating: Acceptable to Good
This is an interesting montepulciano from Alex Russell Wines’ smartly labelled “Alejandro range”. You don’t see too much montepulciano in Australia, and you will see even less on the label due to my photographical skills, unless you are inclined to look particularly closely. The vine is most widely planted in Abruzzo in Italy, where it is able to produce deeply coloured wines with robust tannins. The grape variety is late ripening and therefore prefers a warm climate. On Australian soil, it stands to reason that it will perform best in a similar climate, and it seems to have found one here in the very warm Riverland region in South Australia. The 2014 release of the Alejandro Montepuliciano works rather well. It has aromatics of chocolate, spice and violets. The palate is fleshy, interesting and balanced with fresh acidity. Punches above its weight for only $14.
Price: $170 (for a dozen)
Vendors and website: http://www.alexrussellwines.com.au
Checking Penfolds’ website for winemaking notes, there’s a more than passing resemblance to the websites of the Bordeaux chateaux although thankfully no music. It proves a good source of notes on back vintage wines. The Bordelaise resemblance I suspect is not entirely a coincidence in terms of the marketing strategy. The 2007 Bin 407 is a 100% cabernet sauvignon, with fruit sourced from Coonawarra, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek. It is showing well at the moment, with rich aromatics of licorice, plum and blackcurrants. The palate also has a licorice character, supplemented by plum skins and anise. Overall, a good release with quite a few more years on it yet. Good to Very Good
Abv: 14%, Price: $50s, Vendors and website: http://www.penfolds.com, Tasted: 2015
Below are first impressions of some of Penfolds’ new release wines.
Penfolds Bin 28 Kalmina Shiraz 2012
Cedar, black fruits, plum and vanilla. Mid weight, acid poked out a little (but a morning tasting), medium length. Somewhere around the “good” mark on my scale. I unexpectedly tasted the 2012, rather than the current release 2013.
Abv: 14.5%, Price: ~$27, Tasted: 2015
Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2013
More refined, plum, sweeter shiraz impression. Licorice. Mid range length, fine grained tannins, youthful impression. Much too soon for this wine and probably will age (and improve) over a long period. “Good”, probably more.
Abv: 14.5%, Price: ~$56, Tasted: 2015
Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2012
Plum, leathery savoury note, pepper and spice. Mid weight impression, medium length, plum, plum skins. Moreish almost food friendly impression. Between good and very good on my scale. There’s probably enough here to buy some for the cellar.
Abv: 14.5%, Price: ~$71, Tasted: 2015
Jim Barry’s Cover Drive cabernet sauvignon is a reliable wine. Only the GI of “South Australia” is claimed on the label. The 2007 vintage, tasted here with 8 years of age on it, has aromatics of sweet plums, licorice and vanilla. The palate is mid length, with a sweet fruit and leafy expression, and some developing hints of earthy mulch. This wine is good now, and I would suggest has reached its peak. Drink up. G
Abv: 14%, Price: ~$20, Vendors and website: http://jimbarry.com, Tasted: 2015
Few Australian wines are so rich in anticipation as a bottle of Grange. The 1986 Grange here is a blend of 87% shiraz and 13% cabernet sauvignon and, as is usual for Grange, the grapes were sourced from all over, including for this vintage from the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale and a vineyard it would seem in Adelaide. That Grange is capable of prodigious ageing is well known, and here it didn’t really even cross my mind that at almost 30 years of age the wine might be properly in genteel decline (which of course it wasn’t). This is a period of time that few wines survive, let alone improve over. Which brings me to the wine.
Initially, a little reticent to tell its tale, it transformed itself in the glass to reveal nuanced aromatics of coffee, spiced plum, earth and clove. The palate too started quietly, but a second taste brought with it some incredible depth and length of flavour with notes principally of plum, cedar and coffee characters. An outstanding vintage, this Grange is ready to drink now and I think there’s plenty of time left in it too.
The Langtons auction house classification tasting has quickly become one of the “must attend” tastings on the Australian wine calendar. The Langtons classification is a ranking of 123 of Australia’s best wines in the categories “exceptional”, “outstanding”, “excellent” and “distinguished”. To make the grade, the wine must have at least 10 vintages, and a judgement is formed (by Langtons) as to track record and reputation measured through market presence, consistency, volume of demand and price. There are few Australian wines of repute that are not on this list.
The tasting involves taking a glass and wending your way through the melee of Australian wineries pouring their classified wines (generously, I might add) into said glass. To have the benchmark wines of Australia (think Penfolds Grange, Hensche Hill of Grace, Bass Phillip Pinot Noir, among others) all freely available within metres of each other makes for an extraordinary event.
To follow are my impressions of the wines tasted. I have not offered gradings on the basis that in a huge tasting such as this, out of a single glass, it seemed more accurate to note down impressions and glimpses, rather than a serious study of each wine.
My wine of the night:
Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir 2010, Gippsland
I don’t often say this, but wow. And wow again. Aromatics of game, smoked meats, cherry and dried herbs. On the palate, opulent cherry, long length and game and bacon characters at the edges. The obsessive Phillip Jones at Bass Phillip has nailed this wine. Simply outstanding, and the wine of the night.
Three wines of great interest:
Penfolds Grange 2007, South Australia
I preferred this to the 2008 Grange. Similar aromatics to the 2008, except with dried herbs more evident. On the palate, the length was long and the balance and depth of plum fruit outstanding. A complete and outstanding wine.
Yarra Yering Dry Red No. 1 2008, Yarra Valley
Very left bank Bordeaux like, with medium intensity aromatics of blackcurrant and cedar. Very likeable. On the palate, blackcurrant, a touch of leather and medium to long length. Impressive.
Penfolds Grange 2008, South Australia
This is the fabled “100 point” Wine Advocate wine. It attracted much public interest – whether it was because it received 100 points, or was simply because it was “a Grange”, is probably moot. A medium to pronounced intensity saturated purple in colour. Aromatics of vanilla, plum, cedar, black brooding mulberry. The palate has medium to long length, with plums and a touch of stalk, and yet is full flavoured with the dash of cabernet sauvignon used to good effect. A little more austere than expected. Needs time.
And many more wines of interest:
Jim Barry Armagh Shiraz 2008, Clare Valley
Aromatics of dried tea leaves, ripe plums and a medium intensity expression. The palate is soft and plush, with between medium and long length, and plum flavours dominant. I found this wine quite attractive already, with the expression almost merlot like.
Henschke Hill of Grace 2005, Eden Valley
Bottled under screwcap. Unusually for someone writing about wine in Australia, I am a screwcap agnostic. This particular Hill of Grace has some odd aromatics that might be attributable to its screwcap closure, as its expression is quite reductive, with strong notes of herbs and asparagus. The palate though is outstanding, with long length and lovely plum and Christmas cake flavours that run deep.
Yalumba Signature Cabernet Shiraz 2009, Barossa Valley
Aromatics with a touch of menthol, bay leaf and blackberry. The palate sees licorice, aniseed, black olives and unresolved chalky tannins.
Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir 2010, Macedon Ranges
Bramble, stalk and cherry aromas in an alluring expression. Restrained cedar. On the palate, medium length, maybe a little more, and flavours reminding of stones and cherry. The palate seems intermingled with a mineral edge with acidity at the sides. A good wine, maybe even impressive.
Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir 2000, Macedon Ranges
From jeroboam. Now, I don’t say that too often. Its aromatics are of game, smoked bacon, receding cherry, spice, dried thyme and herbs. Quite complex really. The palate has supple resolved tannins, and a quite ripe expression of cherry.
Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2008, Margaret River
Quite austere aromatics of capsicum, bay leaf and blackberry. The palate tastes youthful, with some plushness, medium to long length, bay leaf, and quite savoury. A good wine.
Jasper Hill Emily’s Paddock Shiraz Cabernet Franc 2006, Heathcote
Aromatics of pepper and peppermint. The palate is brooding, with notes of mulberry, plum, dried herbs, “Heathcote” peppermint and medium to long length. Of interest.
Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz 2006, Heathcote
Quite muted in expression, with plum notes. A structured palate with perhaps bitter tannins and plums to the fore.
Cullen Diana Madeline 2011, Margaret River
Dried herb, blackberry and some unexpectedly bright fruit by way of aromatics. On the palate, bay leaf, blackberry and fine tannins. Good without being outstanding.
Domaine A Cabernet 2006, Tasmania
Aromatics of mushroom, earth, leather and game. Some brett? A Bordeaux like expression of blackcurrant and dried herbs on the palate.
Dalwhinnie Eagle Series Shiraz 2010, Pyrenees
Aromatics of plums and dried herbs. High acid on the palate, and seemed to thin out a little. But otherwise pleasant.
Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet 2010, Coonawarra
Licorice, iron and blackcurrant aromatics. On the palate, medium length – maybe a bit more, with notes of blackberry and licorice. This is an intense but closed wine at this point in time.
Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz 2009, Barossa Valley
I’ve said this before, but what’s with South Australian wine labels? Aromatics of bright red juby fruit. The palate also speaks of red juby fruit and medium to long length. The wine felt quite taut and pulled against the edges, reminding of a southern Rhone blend.
Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir 2008, Gippsland
Aromatics of dried herbs, cherry and thyme, presenting in a restrained fashion. Smoke, cedar, cherry and spice. This is a good pinot noir, but the 2010 is stunning.
Vasse Felix Heytesbury Cabernet 2010, Margaret River
Austere aromatics of bay leaf, cedar and blackcurrant. The palate reminds of French oak, cloves, blackcurrant, and is structured and closed with medium to long length. Early days.
Clarendon Hills Australis Shiraz 2008, Barossa Valley
Fruity aromatics of ripe plum. The palate is all about primary fruit purity showing plums with long length and full flavour. It’s a bit obvious in what it does but it nails the brief.
Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2010, Barossa Valley
Thyme, dried herbs by way of aromatics. The palate has medium to long length and a dense plummy expression. A bit broody at this point, but certainly fruit driven.
Yarra Yarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Yarra Valley
Aromatics of leather and blackcurrant. A leathery palate, with soft pleasant blackcurrants. Brett?
Balnaves The Tally Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Coonawarra
Ripe blackberries by way of aroma. On the palate, medium to long length, structure and firm tannins. Of interest, but too young to drink.
Wild Duck Creek Springflat Shiraz 2011, Heathcote
My question as to why Heathcote’s star didn’t to me appear to be shining quite as brightly as it should be was parried away with denial. Aromatics of peppermint, plums. The palate shows eucalyptus, peppermint, plum, high acid and some structure.
Giaconda Shiraz 2010, Beechworth
Aromatics of clipped herbs and cloves. Quite pungent green/herbal aromatics. On the palate, this is a mean, lean and green shiraz.
Disclosure: I attended this tasting as a guest of Langtons.
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