From the Ventoux in the southern Rhône valley, this is a delicious grenache and syrah blend. It reminds of soft red fruits and has a plush, moreish palate. Ready to drink now, this is great value at $19. Rating: Good. Abv: 14%. Price: $19. Website: delas.com.
This a pleasant carignan and syrah blend from the south of France. It is soft and fruity, providing simple drinking at a fair price. Rating: Acceptable. Abv: 12.5%. Price: $15. Website: NA.
This is a very drinkable grenache, syrah and mourvèdre blend from the Côtes du Rhône. There are aromas of red fruits, and a balanced palate with soft tannins. Ready to drink now, this wine is best served chilled. Rating: Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $21. Website: NA.
Villa Antinori’s Toscano Rosso continues to be a great value wine. The 2015 vintage is quite the blend, featuring sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, syrah and merlot. Yet it retains a sense of place, and is identifiably Italian in style in the glass. The 2015 vintage is deeply coloured in the glass, with aromas of earth, blackcurrant and cedar. The palate is savoury and has good balance and length. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $20+. Website: www.antinori.it.
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.
Thousand Candles was launched in the Yarra Valley with a lot of hype, an on trend ethos of site expression, a stellar price ($100) and some gushing reviews. I think some of those reviewers might be a bit embarrassed now. 2011 was the first vintage of Thousand Candles and it’s an unorthodox blend of 92% syrah, 6% pinot noir and 2% sauvignon blanc. 2011 is a poor red vintage in the Yarra Valley, so this must be factored in. In the glass, the wine has quite an unusual aroma that reminds of mushroom (not things like mushrooms, actual mushrooms), earth, red berries, leather, damp rosemary, grass and tinned peas. The contribution of the sauvignon blanc and the whole bunch fermentation is undeniable, though ultimately, I found these characters more grating than enjoyable, as the tinned pea and the damp whole bunch aromas simply overwhelmed. The palate is better. It’s delicate, with medium length and a nice silky balance to it, but seems to lack intensity of fruit expression and is unexpectedly light and simple, a victim of the vintage. It certainly appears to have reached its drinking window. Indeed, I wouldn’t keep this wine much longer. Overall, this is a disappointing wine, that promises much and delivers more smoke than fire. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: not recorded. Price: $100+. Website: www.thousandcandles.com.au.
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.
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+.
This syrah from Riversdale Estate is from a different vintage (2015) and is quite different in style to their 2017 syrah reviewed here. It opens to distinctive aromatics of brine, wet rosemary and sea salt. The palate is wild, gamey and spicy. Some length is there under the layers. Light to medium bodied, this wine can be approached now, but may benefit from further time in the cellar. Rating: Acceptable to Good. Abv: 12.5%. Price: $55+. Source: Sample.
Riversdale Estate is in the warm (for Tasmania) Coal River Valley region. Their 2017 syrah is pretty good. As befits the climate, this syrah is northern Rhône like in terms of style rather than South Australian (think Saint Joseph) with aromas of red fruit, pepper, cloves, mineral and gravel. The palate is medium bodied, with fresh acidity, bright raspberries and plums and has a lovely peppery character. There’s good length on the finish. This syrah is an enjoyable wine that is ready to drink now. Rating: Good to Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: $40. Source: Sample.