An Australian Wine Blog

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Yelland and Papps Second Take Roussanne 2017

Next level Roussanne. More than a Second Take, now firmly established in the Australian winemaking scene, an increasingly colourful landscape where the rule book isn’t even considered and the winemaker instead turns to a bag of tricks and techniques to extract a different language from varieties.

Has an aroma that reminds of mandarin segments, lemon juice with perhaps a peppery - almost like a bloody mary white pepper - aspect to it. 

There’s a sharpness, an acidity - almost like verjuice - that is an initial focal point to the wine, a precision beam. I actually wouldn’t mind a shot of this with a drop of Gin, a little cleanser to awake and enliven the senses.

Delivers to the very end. As always, an excellent addition to the winemaking scene. 92 

Tasted on: Monday 26th March, a Flower to Leaf day
Source: Sample
Price: $40
Alcohol: TBC
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.yellandandpapps.com/

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Friday, 23 March 2018

d'Arenberg The Laughing Magpie 2013

Still scratch the ol' noggin that this $29 wine is released as a 5y old and yet the premium icons ($70) are released at 3. Anyway, primarily Shirazzle (94%) with a little Vajazzle (6%).

Tell-tale vibrancy in glass, the Viognier doing its thing visually and aromatically. Softer aromatics on display, yes it's the red fruit thing going on, with more delicate elements akin to stonefruit. 

Richer, voluptuous, nigh chewy wine on entry. Spiced, good tannin structure, lasting carry of flavour. Latently the darker, plummy fruit comes through further, supplemented with some tapenade. 

It's all more prominent in its form, buoyed by the spice. Looking a good release 91

Tasted on: Tuesday 20th March, a Leaf to Fruit day
Source: Sample
Price: $29
Alcohol: 14.6%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.darenberg.com.au/

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Huntington Estate Special Reserve Semillon 2016

It's labelled a Special Reserve and is produced from free run juice only. Sees a bit of extended bottle time too, all that said it’s a fairly approachable price given what some ‘standard’ Semillon go for.

A: Citrus and grassy hints in the main, there’s a suggestion of musky lychee notes in the frame too. It’s certainly relaxed in its frame, not the most expressive initially.


P: It’s got a bit of width and weight to it. The acid isn’t shy and carries a fine vein of citrus to boot. There’s good texture from a bit of extended time on lees, gives it gravitas. It’s not your “battery acid in youth” Semillon, possessing a good balance and moreish aspect to it. Good wine, good length, giving and with a suggestion of a phenolic edge. 91

Tasted on: Wednesday 21st March, a Fruit day
Source: Sample
Price: $28
Alcohol: 11.8%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://huntingtonestate.com.au/

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Thursday, 22 March 2018

Robert Stein Mudgee Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Peachy funk. Fair bit of work on this one, complex aromas of exquisitely handled oak over meal, almond and that stonefruit.

Creamy initially, stonefruit and supplemented with citrus before an altogether rather sudden flinty aspect. It's as though the wine was in a hurry to demonstrate all that it had to offer. The eager beaver with oak well handled. 

Long, richly satisfying, balanced - offering much and delivering all. 93  

Tasted on: Monday 19th March, a Leaf day 
Source: Sample
Price: $40
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://robertstein.com.au

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Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay 2016

The Tiers vineyard is an impressive sight to behold as you stand looking at it with the winery behind you. It's gently rising slope gives away little from afar as to the history and pedigree of the site. 

The pedigree is evident in the glass. From the off there's an immaculate and harmonious presentation of spiced oak over peach and cream. The tastiness is just so, sensuous and opulent. 

The representation on the palate is more of the same, carefully crafted layers that sit with each other: oak, fruit, acid - all tuned. There's still a coming together and you'd probably be cautious in suggesting a ten year drinking window.

The fact it's good to go now only enhances its appeal, it's certainly in the Champions League of Australian Chardonnay 96

Tasted on: Tuesday 20th March, a Leaf to Fruit day
Source: Sample
Price: $79
Alcohol: 13.8%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://tapanappa.com.au

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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Gartelmann Benjamin Semillon 2017

Lemon sherbet lollies, lemongrass; fresh, fragrant and a suggestion of florals in the mix too.

Has the sharpness of fresh lemon, like sucking on one (minus the pips, thankfully). Fresh, racy, zippy - fair cracks on through the palate at a rate of knots.

Alright length, and finishes with a burst of citrus derived intensity. 91 

Tasted on: Tuesday 20th March, a Leaf to Fruit day 
Source: Sample
Price: $27
Alcohol: 10.8%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.gartelmann.com.au

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Yelland and Papps Second Take Vermentino 2017

Spends a whopping 271 days on its skins, to put that into context, ordinarily a white wine might spend 2-3 hours on skins, a Rosé something up to 24 hours (for a little colour extraction) and a red wine, anything between 8-20 days (dependent on how much colour, flavour, tannin extraction the winemaker is seeking)*.

Always intriguing to see what extended skin contact throws up aromatically, gone out of the window the conventional aromoids per the base variety. Here, something approaching tinned mandarin segments meets pickled/cured ginger. Aromatic spices are certainly thrown up a fair bit here, white pepper and mace spring to mind. 

Slippery textured, fair glides across the palate with incredible ease. Citrus is the dominant flavour, in this lemon barley and sherbet manner. It's actually quite a delicate wine, for all its bluster - a little peach juice in the mix softens things up. 

It's always interesting to see where it's wild ferment ride has taken it, it's a beaut and stands up incredibly well even 24hours after opening! 92 

Tasted on: Sunday 18th March, a Leaf day 
Source: Sample
Price: $40
Alcohol: 11.6%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.yellandandpapps.com/

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* Durations a rough guide. Winemaker intent and grape variety all play a part in the actual duration spent on skins.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Juniper Crossing Chardonnay 2017

Classic regional Chardonnay, stone fruit a-plenty here with some oak derived spice bringing up the rear.

There’s not as much definition on the palate as the Estate offering (link), yet the wine does not want for more stone fruit and spiced hints. It’s crisp and clip, the partial barrel fermentation adding a level of detail and welcome complexity to what is otherwise an approachable fruit driven style. 90

Tasted on: Thursday 15th March, a Root to Flower day
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.juniperestate.com.au

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[21/03/18 14:31 This post was edited to reflect a slight name change to the wine]

d'Arenberg Ironstone Pressings 2015

Chester's lovechild (Grenache, 48%), blended up with Shiraz (47%) and some Mataro (5%) providing some bass to the signature and rhythm.

It's deep on the nose, as deep as the Vale soils from whence it was hewn. It's all raspberry, hibiscus with some redcurrant in the mix. There's the black earth of McLaren Vale, no escaping that - deep and resonant in how it presents itself.

More of the fruit mix presenting itself on entry, just before an onslaught of spice. Boy does it give, yielding for no one a magnificent presentation of fruit, fine mouth-coating tannin and the merest suggestion of well-handled oak.

Impressive release, the Icons are looking good in 2015 on this showing. 93

Tasted on: Saturday 17th March
Source: Sample
Price: $70
Alcohol: 14.3%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.darenberg.com.au/

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Monday, 19 March 2018

Yelland and Papps Second Take Grenache 2017

Always hotly anticipated across the Vinsomniac tasting bench*, still remarkable value at $40 - a price it has held since the 2013s were first released (this marking the ranges 5th release by my shoddy maths).

Sees a fair whack of whole bunch (64%), not that you'd really know. It's all freshness and berry goodness leaping out of the glass. Yes there's a little bit of the savoury, sapid undertow that really - for me - provides for the scaffold for the wine to hang off.

The bunch is more evident on the palate for me; savoury intermingling with fruit, minerality and acidity. It's a wonderful unison of the elements coming together, the whole is greater than the individual parts: raspberry, sarsparilla, redcurrant against darker Asian spiced hints. Giving, generous, the spice lingering and haunting.

It truly is a wonderful thing. 93

Tasted on: Saturday 17th March
Source: Sample
Price: $40
Alcohol: 13.9%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.yellandandpapps.com/

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* May or may not be a bench

Ferngrove Independence Pinot Noir Rosé 2017

Smart new packaging from the Ferngrove crew. Colour on this wine is interesting, it's nowhere near as Fuchsia pink as the image to the right suggests, more like onion skin in bottle.

Pretty aromatics, all rose and strawberry wafting out here. Has that creaminess too, like those lollies of old.

The creamy aspect flows onto the palate too; it's soft, layered, almost cushioned on the palate. Manages to retain a little fruit sweetness, yet really is bang on bone dry with a little of the savoury edging toward the finish. 91

Tasted on: Saturday 17th March
Source: Sample
Price: $23
Alcohol: 12%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.ferngrove.com.au

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Sunday, 18 March 2018

Mr Mick Cabernet Merlot 2014

Jeez, cracker on the aromatics here. What you want in a youthful, fruitful Cab blend: Plum, cassis, throw in a little violet and a suggestion of mint.

Medium bodied, the playful fruit and mint make themselves known again, kind of an easy going languid vibe to this. Depth is added via some coffee and mocha notes that provide a little bite on the back palate. 


Crazy that a $17 buck wine is released as a 4 year old. That's not a slight on its joyous, youthful stance and freshness that it still delivers. 90 

Tasted on: Thursday 15th March, a Root to Flower day 
Source: Sample
Price: $17
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: mrmick.com.au

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Yelland and Papps Vermentino 2017

From one of the early producers of the variety, grapes are hitting their late teens now, planted in the early noughties.

Opens with what appears to be a little smokey, burnt citrus - it's fleeting, before the fresh citrus show launches itself onto your olfactory organ and bursts forth. 

It's the palate where the real magic happens. It's a riot of citrus, backed up with suggestions of Meyer lemon and guava-esque tones. Tropical it ain't, but it is really about freshness personified.

It marries acidity and a little textural nuances, giving - primarily - length, aided by a little width. 91

Tasted on: Friday 16th March
Source: Sample
Price: $28
Alcohol: 12.3%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.yellandandpapps.com/

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Saturday, 17 March 2018

Juniper Estate Crossing Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Juniper Estate started life as “Wright’s” back in 1973, one of the early pioneers of what we consider the Margaret River region. Juniper Estate is centred around the premium producing sub-region of Wilyabrup and Crossing is its second tier of wines, after the Estate range.


Interestingly, despite the Semillon (55%) taking the lead billing here, it's the passionfruit and Gooseberry of the Sauvignon Blanc (45%) that make themselves known.

There's a little texture and depth of interest, courtesy of a small portion of the Semillon being barrel fermented. The palate offers up further fruit, by way of pear, apple and herbal hints flecked through.

Spice and latent texture add something to this wine and acid gives it carry on a good length. A real summer delight. 90

Tasted on: Thursday 15th March, a Root to Flower day
Source: Sample
Price: $22
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.juniperestate.com.au

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Mitchell Watervale Riesling 2017

2017 was a mixed vintage, cooler and thus later. Summer rains, warmth and humidity all posed their challenges. A vintage for the assured winemaker, and with something approaching 40 vintages under its belt, the Mitchell Riesling exhibits the hallmarks of the variety and region.


Exuding a classic lime profile, it's more bickford's than Tahitian. There's hints of crisp apple, acidity that cuts a swathe across the palate, and - unusually - there are textural elements, as though the wine has softened a little.

There's a bath salt and mineral undertow that get things racing along too. Zip, zest, verve and swagger. It's got something for all. 92

Tasted on: Friday 16th March
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.mitchellwines.com

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Friday, 16 March 2018

Matriarch & Rogue Mary Tempranillo 2016

Plum and morello cherry vibe going on. Has fruit at the fore, a suggestion of tart blueberry too, vanilla in the mix too.

The palate carries that line of fruit, initially, before segueing to the subtle savoury elements. Residual oak remnants, akin to leaf matter and small twiggy notes


you'd suggest it's more in the 'Joven' mould, fruit first with the savoury bringing up the rear. Just an absolute joy to drink. 90

Tasted on: Monday 5th March, a Flower to Leaf day
Source: Sample
Price: $28
Alcohol: 13.8%
Closure: Screwcap 
Website: http://matriarchandrogue.com.au/

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Pig in the House Chardonnay 2017

Pretty pure Chardonnay on offer here, less of the artifice, more of the varietal expression. It’s all about stone fruit singing and humming its tune, supplemented with a suggestion of limey citrus.

Clean, classic lines on the palate too. There’s a little spice that provides a gentle tickle across the palate line, acid as a guide through to the finish.

It’s pleasant, on the back of a good length. 89 

Tasted on: Sunday 11th March, a Fruit day 
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.piginthehouse.com.au/

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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Robert Stein Half Dry Riesling 2017

Lime, brown lime juice, strong citrus aromatics.

Delightful balance, the (barely, for it's only 10g residual sugar) medium dry sweetness nicely offsetting, or rather working with, the acidity within. It's got power and drive, yet retaining enough delicacy to remain a really attractive proposition. 

Pitched this against a home made Thai green curry with the chilli dialled up a little, a perfect match for the semblance of sweetness inherent. 92 

Tasted on: Sunday 11th March, a Fruit day
Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 11%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://robertstein.com.au

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Cape Jaffa Mesmer Eyes White and Red blend 2016

Either my eyes deceive, or this wine - made of both red and white grape varieties - clocks in at 15% alcohol!

Curious aromatics, has that musky, rose and bergamot scent I so often see (seek?) in skin contact wines. 

It's lavish, thickly textured, berry driven palate. Something like macerated strawberry, and tinned peach syrup. I initially had this chilled as if a white wine (4c) and then allowed to come up to room temperature (19c) and preferred somewhere as a mid-point. At the lower temps it was rather suppressed; warmer it became a little viscous and a hint of bitterness creeping in. 

Creative and curious, adding colour to a shifting wine landscape. 90 

Tasted on: Sunday 11th March, a Fruit day 
Source: Sample
Price: $29
Alcohol: 15%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.capejaffawines.com.au

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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Alkoomi White Label Shiraz 2016

Bit of smokey reduction - meets chocolate, wafer oak. Nicely layered, more than a fair whiff of the spice grinder. 

Plummy depths, spice, flash of acid for freshness. Powder fine tannin. Faint hint of licorice like bitterness on the finish, a contrast as opposed to a quibble. 89 

Tasted on: Tuesday 6th March, a Flower day 
Source: Sample
Price: $15
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.alkoomiwines.com.au/

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Matriarch & Rogue Dot Riesling 2017

Classic Clare Riesling, the ying to Rex's yang. Down the line with lime on the profile.

The palate has more of the explosive citrus, lemon and lime with sherbet giving expression on the palate. More the laser focussed Riesling, a guidewire of acidity off which the classic Watervale flavours hang. 

Length to boot, and some. Great example. 91 

Tasted on: Sunday 4th March, a Root day 
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 10.8%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://matriarchandrogue.com.au/

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Monday, 12 March 2018

De Bortoli Deen Vat Series No 8 Shiraz 2014

Touch of blackcurrant pastille about this, black fruit for sure - if perhaps not much else.

Simple, no-nonsense, crowd pleaser for sure. It's ripe and has a creaminess to it, fruity to boot. For the bucks this just delivers, if not the most complex offering. 87 

Tasted on: Friday 21st July, a Root to Flower day
Source: Sample
Price: $12.90
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.debortoli.com.au/

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Patina Riesling 2016

As some 2018 Rieslings won't be too far off the market, this 2016 from Patina in Orange is just released. 

Winemaker Gerald Naef is a bit of a self-confessed Riesling nut: "I consider it my mission in life to get people drinking Riesling again, so I have escalated my crusade by making three different styles of Riesling showing off its vibrancy and versatility." A very noble pursuit if you ask me.

Citrus oil and blossom, floral hints - Jasmine, like the onset of Spring. Minerality, a tickle on entry, snap-crackle-pop as it performs its merry dance across the palate. Soft and somewhat generous in nature, there's acidity present - softer, mellowed. 

Perhaps some additional bottle time has allowed for some flesh along the bones. Give it some time and it gives fruit, tropical in nature, something like glacé pineapple. Good length, gentle, giving, look to see it flesh out further with time. 90 

Tasted on: Monday 5th March, a Flower to Leaf day 
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 11.1%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.patinawines.com.au/

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Sunday, 11 March 2018

Gartelmann Wilhelm Hunter Valley Shiraz 2015

Depth of black fruit presenting itself here, segues to more of an earthen character, freshly tilled sods. Liquorice, residual oak, coffee-mocha.

The fruit presence sits square on the palate too. Renders as a medium bodied style, somewhat juicy. Acid still present, less of the earthen character one associates with the region.

Reasonable length. More of a languid, easy-going nature. 89

Tasted on: Monday 26th February, a Flower day
Source: Sample
Price: $28
Alcohol: 14.3%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.gartelmann.com.au

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Saturday, 10 March 2018

Terlan Lagrein Rosé 2015

From Italy's Alto-Adige (one of the coolest sounding region names IMO), imported by Arquila.

Of a light and juicy Berry aroma, fresh and clean. Possesses a depth, chewy on entry, roll it around the palate and succumb to its depth and intensity of flavour. 


Fruit, latent hints of spice, generous length 91 

Tasted on: Tuesday 27th February, a Flower to Leaf day 
Source: Private Purchase
Price: $Unknown
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Cork
Website: http://www.cantina-terlano.com/

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Thorn-Clarke St Kitts Vineyard Malbec 2008

The Plum and black fruit aromatic depths are married to oak, still prominent at ten years. 

Fruit is subsiding on the palate, spice and tannins are more prominent. Past its best, it's all a bit angular and hollow, the stuffing knocked out if it. 

That said, its still carrying a good length and presence. Would have been good in its prime. Unrated.  

Tasted on: Saturday 24th February, a Root day 
Source: Cellar
Price: $35
Alcohol: 
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.thornclarkewines.com.au/

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Friday, 9 March 2018

Matriarch & Rogue Maurie Clare Valley Vermentino 2017

Very expressive take on Vermentino here from the Clare Valley. It’s all lime, florals and a smattering of what comes across like blackcurrant leaf and even hints of passionfruit. Dunno, perhaps i’d tasted too many Sauvignon Blanc before it!

It’s certainly fresh, expressive - grapefruit acidity holds a line before textural, mineral elements (via some barrel ferment one suggests) chime in toward the back end.

Certainly distinctive as far as the variety goes. 90 

Tasted on: Wednesday 28th February, a Leaf day
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 13.3%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://matriarchandrogue.com.au/

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Barossa Boy Wines Double Trouble Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Double trouble indeed. These two scally-wags, the kings of the region have been throwing their weight around for some time now.

Deep, earthen, fudgey aromatics ooze their way out of the glass. It's almost like you can sense the muddy, fudgey mass that sloshes its way around. 

Slick and nigh silken, there's a fair throw of fruit and spice on the palate, black pepper in particular towards the final third. A liberal spread of mintiness makes itself known too, just right at the junction of the long finish. Good juice. 91

Tasted on: Friday 9th March
Source: Sample
Price: $30
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.barossaboywines.com.au

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Main Ridge Pinot Meunier 2012

2016 bottle image
Pours a light, matte garnet; translucent, nothing to hide and plenty to enjoy. 

Still retaining fruit, primarily. It redolent of slightly under-ripe raspberry, perhaps a little mint and assorted spice in the mix. 

Even at 6 it is still primary. Fruit is present, it sits beautifully in the palate, almost hovering just-so. The fruit makes way for spice, somewhat intensely - it veritably expands across the palate, and though giving length does truncate the fruit. 91 

Tasted on: Saturday 24th February, a Root day 
Source: Cellar
Price: $65
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: 

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Thursday, 8 March 2018

De Bortoli Down The Lane Shiraz Tempranillo 2015

Spanish inspired label, Pamplona meets Verona.

Rubbery, bit of reduction, meaty - funk and fugue. Similar vein on the palate: juice and funk, gummy, resiny, fermenting meats. 

Primary and raw, cherries - calls for charcuterie, even olives. Joyous, share food and indeed the fruits of this labour. Not the most complex wine. Flows easily. At the $ you'd not be unhappy either. 88 

Tasted on: Friday 7th July, a Leaf to Fruit day
Source: Sample
Price: $12
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: debortoli.com.au

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Yelland & Papps Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Deep, rich, strong - it certainly manifests itself as a fuller bodied version of Cabernet based on its aromatic introduction.

Blackcurrant, plummy character; there's a certain sheen and polish to it. It suggests more new oak treatment than its 18m in seasoned oak, the slickness, smoothness and sheen to proceedings making it seem more substantive than it actually is. 

Biggish, whilst it has an immediate presence, a lighter hand then shows - the Y&P mantra - followed by fruit. Fine rub of tannin; rich, dark chocolate on a good length. 90

Tasted on: Tuesday 6th March, a Flower day
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 13.2%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.yellandandpapps.com/

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Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Giant Steps LDR Shiraz Pinot 2017

Expressive mix of damsony fruit, tartness of cherry, smokey, reductive,  savoury elements of earth.

It certainly lives up to its LDR (Light Dry Red) billing, having the faintest of touches. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir (51%) from the famed Primavera and Syrah (49%) from Sexton vineyards.


The fruit gives way to spice, the two seemingly then working in tandem. Faint tannin adds some substance and structure. Holds a chill very well, and easily sloshed back with abandon. 92

Tasted on: Saturday 24th February, a Root day
Source: Private Purchase
Price: $30
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.giantstepswine.com.au

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Wirra Wirra The Lost Watch Riesling 2017

A tang, an almost sour and tart impression against a like and herb lift. 

Freshness personified. Beautiful acid that awakens the palate. A lemon, lime balance. There's a little phenolic edge to proceedings - adding an extra to the palate. Good release. 91

Tasted on: Saturday 12th August, a Leaf day
Source: Sample
Price: $24
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.wirrawirra.com

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Tuesday, 6 March 2018

De Bortoli La Bossa Merlot 2016

Smells like a solid, jammy red - a generous wine, pencil shavings and a smattering of vanilla. Solid start. 

Palate not so sharp. A bitterness pervades, as opposed to the fruit one might expect given the aromatics. Ripeness understood given the level of stated alcohol.

Still, a rub of tannin across the palate. Look, it sits well in the mouth and is well poised. Mustn't grumble at the dollar. 86 

Tasted on: Wednesday 26th July, a Fruit day
Source: Sample
Price: $9.99
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: debortoli.com.au

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Woodlands 'Margaret' 2007

Beautifully poised blend of 67% Cabernet, 17% Merlot, 16% Malbec that spent 18m in French oak (2/3 new, balance 1yo), looking sharp at ten years of age.

Classic nose of a maturing Cabernet blend. Balancing residual freshness with gum, hints of pencil shaving, cassis. It's just wonderfully enticing, balanced - exactly what I want from a 10yo Cabernet blend. 

Exquisitely medium bodied, resolved graphite tannin. There's still a generous plummy fruit presence in the middle, lending an immediate presence before a length of fine tannin. 93 

Tasted on: Sunday 9th July, a Fruit day
Source: Cellar
Price: $Cannot recall
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.woodlandswines.com.au

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Monday, 5 March 2018

Angullong Chardonnay 2016

Fairly simple in its approach, yet it delivers a satisfactory experience in its simplicity. 

Primarily about citrus in both aroma and form. There's enough about the palate to satisfy, enough flesh about the bones, so to speak, a spine of acidic drive. 

Not the most complex of wines, it doesn't ask much of you, and for a modern Chardonnay it's not asking much at $20. 87 

Tasted on: Monday 26th June, a Leaf day
Source: Sample
Price: $20
Alcohol: TBC
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.angullong.com.au/

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Windowrie The Mill Chardonnay 2016

Stonefruit and kernel imbued with a subtle citrus and seasoning from some time under wood. 

More of the same on the palate, a pronounced acidity that gives some drive and a little substance. It does feel like it's wanting for more, yet its freshness gives it some resolve and the palate some relief. 


Good tang to it and its conclusion. 88 

Tasted on: Saturday 22nd July, a Flower day
Source: Sample
Price: $20
Alcohol: 12.8%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.windowrie.com.au

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Huntington Estate Barrel Ferment Chardonnay 2016

Classic Chardonnay in a good place. Oozing Stonefruit, with that golden wheat, cashew profile. 

The barrel Ferment gives that fuller profile in the mouth, aiding width to the acid derived length. There's toast, a creaminess to proceedings, a resurrection of the stonefruit. 


Good length, giving - not so much driving. Enjoyable. 92 

Tasted on: Monday 24th July, a Leaf day
Source: Sample
Price: $24
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://huntingtonestate.com.au/

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Sunday, 4 March 2018

The Lane Vineyard Block 10 Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Classic Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc. Gentle herbal, grass and citrus aromas that convey their origin. Hints of lime, more than lemon, suggestions of blackcurrant leaf and passionfruit.

Palate carries the acid, taught and lean, buoyed by a little carry of the fruit. Pleasing length. 89 

Tasted on: Wednesday 28th February, a Leaf day
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.thelane.com.au

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Margan Aged Release Semillon 2012

Sem game is strong here, a deep oily citrus, preserved lemon, comes across as waxy, initially, for it opens up revealing remnants of herb and grass, long from youth. 

Naturally with an aged release - and don't we all - it has fleshed out a little. Gone the Verve and swagger, glimpses of youthful minerality and acid serve to remind of what once was. 

Generosity of length give the wine carry and memory. 91

Tasted on: Thursday 22nd February, a Fruit day 
Source: Sample
Price: $50
Alcohol: 11%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.margan.com.au

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The Lane Vineyard Gathering Sauvignon Semillon 2016

The aromatics suggests a smokiness, like smoked butter meats preserved lemons, subtle depth on approach. 

Texture and mouthfeel are exemplary, acids backs up the palate and the barrel ferment character makes itself known again, a little bite and minerality toward the back palate. Lemongrass, lemon thyme - both make a gentle presence known. 

It’s not a wine that is about fruit, or necessarily about the winemakers guiding hand. It’s a wine best summed up as a gentle representation of these aspects. Gentle tugging length. Spot on! 92 

Tasted on: Wednesday 28th February, Leaf day
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: www.thelane.com.au

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Saturday, 3 March 2018

Chateau Yaldara - The Seventy Year Old Start-up

Image from Chateau Yaldara
(c) Stuart Robinson, 2017
"Für Sorgen sorgt das liebe Leben
und Sorgenbrecher sind die Keben"

"Cares are part of our lovely life
but an antidote to care is available in grapes."


The buzz and enthusiasm around Chateau Yaldara is palpable, such that the internal joke is that they're a "seventy year old start-up".

Their story is one that largely mirrors that of the Australian wine industry and, truly, to even begin to consider its future, you need to appreciate the past.

Its past can be traced back to the period immediately post-war (the second great war, that is) when Georgian refugee Herman J Thumm found himself in Australia via a rather colourful and somewhat tortuous journey. Not wanting to gloss over Thumm's journey to Australian shores, Thumm's own "The Road to Yaldara" covers it in sufficient detail.

Reading that publication gives the sense of determination inherent in Thumm, for his arrival in Australia was not without drama and setbacks. Overcoming such issues was to become one of Thumm's defining characteristics. That and his sense of self-importance and belief in his guardian angel.

Chateau Yaldara
Whilst working as a winery hand in the post-war Barossa Valley, Thumm recalls his first encounter with the property that eventually became Chateau Yaldara: " we came to a river crossing named Paraford; we passed an old ruin on the left and a cottage on the right....spontaneously the thoughts flashed through my mind: that could be my winery, my new home".


Image courtesy of 1847wines.com
There's no denying Thumm's efforts in turning the ruins he chanced upon in 1940s Lyndoch, into the baroque styled masterpiece it is today.

Thumm's Yaldara was one of hard work, of tenacity, of producing a range of lauded fortified wines, as was the trend in Australian wine at the time, through the 50s and 60s.

Indeed, the winery to this date still holds significant stocks of fortified wines, an embarrassment of riches and richness, if you like.


Yet Thumm did not just rest on his laurels and follow the industry trend for fortified production. He also sought to broaden his customer base through the production of non-alcoholic beverages along with 'value add' products such as spreads made from the by-product of wine productions. He, naturally in his own humble opinion, pioneered a method for the bulk production of sparkling wine.

Thumm also sought to establish his own routes to market, partly through necessity, for the retail chain at the time was rather a closed affair. 

Thumm, with somewhat mixed fortunes established his own drive-through bottle shop - interesting parallels with Yaldara's existing ownership, but more of that later - in Sydney during the 70s. Again ahead of the curve, Thumm also pioneered a direct-to-consumer "wine club" as a means of growing revenue.

All said, Chateau Yaldara was a successful business domestically, and that financial success is where the middle part of Chateau Yaldara's story comes into play. As if to further reinforce Chateau Yaldara's claim as a microcosm for the Australian wine industry, it won't surprise to learn that a change of ownership was on the cards.

Corporate Life
In 1999 Thumm sold Chateau Yaldara to McGuigan wines. It was a tough on the brand. Chateau Yaldara effectively served as a production and administrative facility for McGuigan in the Barossa. Certainly the pioneering and experimental work of Thumm wasn't continued and the period further serves as a reference to the wider corporate concentration of ownership that was occurring in the industry during the period.

2014 - The Year of the Horse
So Chateau Yaldara's 15 year ownership under the McGuigan helm came to an end in 2014 with its acquisition by Sino-Australian businessmen Zhitai Wang and Kuifen Wang.

And that's where Chateau Yaldara's story gets interesting again. The Wang's - paralleling Thumm's own efforts in Australia - own a significant chain of liquor outlets in China, branded as 1847wines.com (Chateau Yaldara's now parent company).

Whilst this channel has given Chateau Yaldara access to this lucrative market, the neglect of McGuigan has left its name in Australia a distant memory for many, and perhaps at best a footnote in the changing fortunes of the Australian wine industry.

I spoke of the palpable excitement within the business at the opening of this piece, and that was very evident in being shown around the property by Brand Ambassador Steve Lindner. Lindner spoke of the change and opportunity within the business and of the sense of appreciation for the legacy for the brand.

Product
Recent vintages have seen Chateau Yaldara adjust its positioning in the Australian market place. Less of an emphasis on fortified wines and a shift away from the bombastic, hedonistic, fruit-forward and oak driven styles to wines more towards the current vogue.

The recently released 'retro' collection is, both a nod to the past, in addition to one eye to the future. A classically, retro, styled range, seemingly just one step in an attempt to re-establish itself as a name on Australian shores.

The seventy year old start-up indeed.

Those interested can read reviews on Chateau Yaldara wines published on these pages in the past here [Samples].

~

Disclaimer
I was the guest of Chateau Yaldara in May 2017, staying in accommodation on their property for the duration of a private stay and visit to the Barossa.

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