An Australian Wine Blog

Thursday, 30 April 2020

d'Arenberg The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Cedary oak over Plum - firm and assertive, riper - as the Icons seem to be this year, indeed the Ironstone Pressings GSM has been held back for now, when historically the trio has been released simultaneously.

Finer tannin profile - again consistent with the Dead Arm - coats the mouth, feeling tighter and giving that sense of brooding quality.

I've been on record. In the past that Coppermine Road has consistently been a favourite amongst the trio, and indeed McLaren Vale Cabernet in general is received favourably on these pages. 


The releases this year seem... different, is what I am saying. Finer, somewhat sullen, waiting to unfurl. I'm going to go long here, history will judge. 94 

Tasted on: Tuesday 18th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $75
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.darenberg.com.au/

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Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Ridgemill Estate Pinot G 2019

Pouring a delightful subtle bronze colour. Offering aromas of just ripe Nashi pear, subtle spice hints, a suggestion of toast (although that could be me having a stroke or the neighbour burning theirs!).

The palate shows a touch of weight against a crisper presence - you can easily see why so named, neither Gris, nor there - suggestions of spice and slight phenolic edge giving a counter to the texture. 

Adroitly negotiated variety and stylistic interpretation thereof. 91 

Tasted on: Wednesday 8th April
Source: Tasting
Price: $28
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://ridgemillestate.com/

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Taylor's Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

I do like Clare Valley Cabernet - here married to that from Coonawarra - it seems to consistently present in a brighter manifestation. There's hints of gum leaf in the mix too. Altogether it adds up to a bright and somewhat more fruity representation.

The palate shows silken tannins that cascade across the palate, hints of choc-mint bring with them blue and black fruits in an effortless flow. This would win many fans. Good to go now, and rewarding short term cellaring up to 2027. 92 

Tasted on: Sunday 5th April
Source: Sample
Price: $30
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.taylorswines.com.au/

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Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Hastwell and Lightfoot Vermentino 2019

Vermentino was the talk of the town (and twittersphere!) back in the day, hailed as one of a new breed of somewhat more sustainable varieties, better suited to the changing growing environment. 

Save that some producers latched onto this hype, with scant regard for what the variety was meant to look like from a point of origination. Not that we should always be looking to emulate a style based on a baseline reference, but if something were to differ it should at least offer something in addition. 

So it's with some relief to come across this example, where the freshness and vitality have not been sacrificed, nor have the texture and boy that makes this a refreshing joy AND a versatile match with a range of foodstuffs. 

It's a riot of fresh citrus - indeed you'd almost want a squeeze of this over your calamari, if you'd give some up that is - supplemented with fleshy tropical fruit.

It's not what consider a veluptuous offering, for it comes with a punch of phenolics and concludes on a drying tail of flavour. Cracking example. 92 

Tasted on: Thursday 26th March
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://hastwellandlightfoot.com.au/

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Rusty Mutt Shiraz 2016

Solid McLaren Vale Shiraz here, bearing the hallmark of both region and variety. 

Succulent berry profile, fruit still prime at four years. Milk chocolate and oak remnants, subtle earthen hints. 

The palate sees more of the same, except the fruit cranks it up a notch, with ripe and juicy raspberry with touches of redcurrant and their freshness to the profile. Good wine. 92 

Tasted on: Wednesday 26th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.rustymutt.com.au/

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Monday, 27 April 2020

Huntington Estate Special Reserve Semillon 2018

Preserved lemon meets something like Canteloupe melon. It's certainly that citrus vibe, supplemented with a tropical edge.

There's a waxy, textural feel across the palate, slip and slide movement that lends a sensuous sway to proceedings. It's all free run juice - the juice extracted when berries split under their own weight, before pressing - to minimise phenolics, which is my take on the feel and flow of the wine.

There's an energetic vibe to things, a cut and thrust of acidity that probes to the far reaches of the palate, giving lasting length and presence. 92 

Tasted on: Tuesday 18th February 2020
Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 11.6%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://huntingtonestate.com.au/

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d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2017

A touch of boozy warmth greets you on first appraisal, spiced oak supplementing that, giving something of a Christmas cake appeal.

That palate shows appeal, more medium than full bodied, a succulence and fine tannin threaded through. Hints of licorice, dark chocolate and latterly spice sitting over the barest glimpses of black fruit.

It's certainly dense and entrenched at this stage, yet the fine bones certainly give an impression of quality and what may lie ahead. 92 

Tasted on: Monday 17th February
Source: Sample
Price: $75
Alcohol: 15%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.darenberg.com.au/

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Friday, 24 April 2020

Jules Taylor On The Quiet Rosé 2018

OTQ, or On The Quiet, represents a reserve range for Jules Taylor Wines.

Strawberry, touch of rhubarb, boiled lolly aspect.

Crisp, tickle of spice across the palate, crunch of acidity. Seems fairly derivative for a Pinot Noir rosé, particularly given the asking price. 89 

Tasted on: Friday 20th March 
Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.julestaylor.com/

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Angullong Fossil Hill Barbera 2018

Sweet-spice against a darker manifestation of fruit, violet notes. There's a warmth, a depth, a chocolate like note of familiarity.

For the depth and bluster, the palate is fresh and bright - in stark contrast to its listed 14.5% - as one expects from a good example of this variety, native to nigh Alpine Italy.

An excellent example, drink to 2027. 93 

Tasted on: Sunday 12th April
Source: Sample
Price: $28
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.angullong.com.au/

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Thursday, 23 April 2020

Chateau Martinolles Limoux Chardonnay 2018

Immediately rich, buttery, hint of toast and with a minerally sense.

Generous, fluid, creamy hints; full malo and Battonage evident here - full and rich in style. 


Lovers of the style will be happy here. 89 

Tasted on: Sunday 12th April
Source: Sample
Price: $18.99
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.martinolles.com/

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Yangarra Shiraz 2018

So, sourced from six separate blocks across the estate, half sand and half ironstone. It's 50% whole berries and approximately 20% bunch. 

There's 20% new oak in the mix, yet it still seems evident on the palate, juxtaposed against depth of fruit concentration and subtle bunch spice. 

An incredible sense - and presence - of fruit, the depth of flavour from the fruit grown over ironstone. An exquisite McLaren Vale Shiraz, whilst a variety that seems to be steadily losing ground to Grenache in the region, on this showing consider this a fightback! 93 

Tasted on: Thursday 16th April
Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.yangarra.com/

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Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Vino Volta Methode Ancestrale 2019

Grenache based Petillent Naturel (AKA Pet Nat, mate) from WA's Swan Valley. 

Pouring more like a bronzed onion skin than the red you might think of associating with a Grenache. Offers a subtle raspberry vibe over wholemeal bready hints.

Soft and delicate, it gently rolls across the palate, bringing something like a subtle honeyed and brandy snap tail with a soft minerally tickle on the back palate. Delicate persistence on the finish too. 90 

Tasted on: Sunday 1st March 
Source: Retail
Price: $30
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Crown Seal
Website: https://www.vinovolta.com.au/

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Rusty Mutt Vermilion Bird 2014


One might suggest the retail price is squarely aimed at wealthy buyers from a certain overseas market where the number 8 is considered good luck. It appears to have been a good ploy, the wine is now sold out ex-winery - and fully justified in its asking price.

Certainly a dense and - some might say - hedonistic wine. Not a pejorative statement, it's tight and somewhat coiled. 

Tannin is fine, perhaps a touch of boozy warmth across the palate, a minor consideration on a lasting length that yields to none. 94 

Tasted on: Friday 28th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $88
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Cork
Website: https://www.rustymutt.com.au/

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Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Huntington Estate Semillon 2019

Warm days, cool nights - for a slightly more opulent and forward style. It's complex aromatically, operating in more of the citrus to pineapple zone, subtle herbal inflections lift the game further. 

The palate perhaps gives an impression of fruit sweetness - certainly if you might rather be more used to the brazen acidity of the Hunter styles. Instead the Huntington is made in a more youthful, approachable manner. The acid is still there, just balanced with some natural tension to the fruit. 91 

Tasted on: Monday 17th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $27
Alcohol: 11.9%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://huntingtonestate.com.au/

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d'Arenberg The Old Bloke & Three Young Blondes Shiraz 2015

Upon initial release this wine proved rather controversial and divisive, with Chester Osborn (perhaps the old bloke in the wine's title) bringing prime McLaren Vale Shiraz with Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne (the supposed young blondes).

Red fruit: raspberry and chocolate; fresh earth, summer sun, remnants of oak - older.

The palate shows the fruit, balanced juxtaposed against a savoury edge. Tannins are fine, nigh silty - persistent and delivering on a generous length of flavour.

Latterly, perhaps with just a little time, the 'blondes' come out to play: adding a roundness to the wine, softening the full impact of the Shiraz without sacrificing the length. More than a nod to the Northern Rhone, from the rolling hills of McLaren Vale. 93 

Tasted on: Monday 24th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $200
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.darenberg.com.au/

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Monday, 20 April 2020

Liv Zak Chardonnay 2019

Subtle stonefruit, leesy solids derived funk. 

There's a nice citrus and white nectarine vein running, gentle toast and a fine acidic line threading through. Moderate textural aspect - it's just a good all-rounder sitting in the zone. 91 

Tasted on: Sunday 16th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://warramundaestate.com.au/

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Friday, 17 April 2020

Rusty Mutt Canejo Joven Tempranillo 2018

Creamy vanilla over blue fruit. Certainly an inviting number, all too often Tempranillo can be a dried out wine, not here where winemaker Scott Heidrich crafted a succulent example.

It's fresh and bright - per the Joven label. That doesn't mean it's a simple and fruit driven number; a fine rub of tannin casts its hand across the palate bringing length.

A sheer delight, not often I say that about Aus Tempranillo. 93 

Tasted on: Tuesday 25th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.rustymutt.com.au/

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Thursday, 16 April 2020

d'Arenberg The Olive Grove Chardonnay 2019

Always a bargain, rarely a chore.

Stonefruit, doughy oak hints; figgy, Fuller of body, spiced hints, vanilla cream and stonefruit. A gentle phenolic edge add textural width add body. 

I've seen it better in recent years, but still a steal at the price. 87 

Tasted on: Monday 10th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $16
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.darenberg.com.au/

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Monday, 13 April 2020

Liv Zak Syrah 2018

Certainly conveys a cooler climate take on the variety, and certainly worthy of the Syrah distinction.  Of stem and sap, brown spice and black pepper. 

Lighter of body, slight ferrous tannin, spike of acidity for drive and length. Certainly of savoury bent, and very much in the modern vogue. Delicate and balanced offering. 92 

Tasted on: Sunday 16th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://warramundaestate.com.au/

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Thursday, 9 April 2020

Huntington Estate Barrel Ferment Chardonnay 2019

I had the pleasure of spending a couple of nights in Mudgee post Christmas - an absolutely delightful region (and the town itself), more on that later. 

Tim and Nicky Stevens - proprietors of Huntington Estate - had a devastating 2020 vintage, not looking to dwell on the bad, they sent a few samples showcasing the great quality of their whites from the prior vintage.

In addition to the textural width - and pleasure - that barrel fermentation lends Chardonnay, a little toasty augmentation is also derived. 

Here, citrus and stonefruit are married to such, certainly creating an inviting proposition. 

It's long been a fave at Chateau Vinsomniac (a grander illusion than reality). The palate offers a somewhat slicker and fuller feel, creamed nuances with moderate citrus lime of acidity. Generous as ever. 91 

Tasted on: Saturday 22nd February 
Source: Sample
Price: $27
Alcohol: 12.9%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://huntingtonestate.com.au/

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Liv Zak Pinot Noir 2018

Approachable, hints of forest floor, as if to season the fruit/savoury elements at the wine's core.

Mid-weight, succulent, fruit presence and a fine vein of acidity through the middle. 91 

Tasted on: Sunday 16th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $36
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://warramundaestate.com.au/

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Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Liv Zak Rosé 2018

Liv Zak being the second label of the Yarra Valley's Warramunda Estate. 

This Pinot based Rosé is certainly pretty in pink, pouring both a delightful hue, offering a Berry accented aroma to the imbiber. 

The palate crisp and clipped, a smart snap of acidity that brings with it a gentle edge of texture, finishing long and dry. Gentle length that tugs along, bringing the carry of berry fruit with it. 89 

Tasted on: Thursday 13th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 12.9%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://warramundaestate.com.au/

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Out of Step Wine Co Malakoff Vineyard Nebbiolo 2018

A maelstrom of red berries at its core, sitting prime and centre, imbued with a savoury edge. Epitomising the competing juxtapositions of this wine, indeed it pours with the slightly brickish edge Nebb can have, yet in glass it's bright and vibrant. 

Complexity could be the watch word for sure, the fruit yielding to toasted nuts, roasted pan juices and dark. Chocolate. The palate continues that approach, savoury and yet with a wicked line of juicy acidity that energetically propels the wine - seemingly perpetually. 

Deliciously complex, simply moreish, quite compelling. 94 

Tasted on: Wednesday 12th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $35
Alcohol: 14%
Closure: Screwap
Website: http://www.outofstepwineco.com/

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Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Terre à Terre Piccadilly Valley Rosé 2019

Berry driven aromatics lead, the wine is derived from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay initially destined as base for DAOSA sparkling wine. There's a subtle spice edge - with a floral lift, elevating the wine further. 

Delicately rounded textural palate, persistence of flavour, it's hard to pin down with respect to specific flavours. It conveys a nuttiness, something almost agave like - complex, fine, multi-faceted. 

It's exquisitely executed, composed and poised in how it presents itself. 93 

Tasted on: Wednesday 25th March 
Source: Sample
Price: $32
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://terreaterre.com.au/

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Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2016

Oak seems somewhat raw and intrusive on initial showing. Thick, heavy set, a decent portion of new one adds; (Twenty months in 50% new French oak. 85% cabernet sauvignon, 15% shiraz). 

Licorice, black fruit - at least present here, after being dominated on the aromatics. Has a somewhat curranty vibe to it. 

The palate provides a minerally, graphite structure - of fine bones about which the wine will develop further. Even at five years it still feels undeveloped, infantile - yet has both the presence and pedigree to suggest a life ahead of it. 2022-2030 92+ 

Tasted on: Thursday 12th March
Source: Sample
Price: $55
Alcohol: 14.7%
Closure: Cork
Website: https://tapanappa.com.au/

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Monday, 6 April 2020

Bremerton Special Release Fiano 2019

Florals, almond paste - it's seemingly the type of wine that shifts, offering something further with each appraisal - adding a light citrus vibe. 

Delicate lemon citrus, soft acids, just ebbs along; soft and rounded, missing a touch of drive and penetration on this showing. 89 

Tasted on: Thursday 24th January 
Source: Sample
Price: $24
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://www.bremerton.com.au/

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Main Ridge Estate Half Acre Pinot Noir 2012

A Cellar Door purchase back in 2014 on a trip to the Mornington with some legends. Oh how different the world was back then; personally, societally.

An earthen Pinot Noir, hints of mushroom and a little mulch. Suggestions of what seem a little residual oak linger, chai spice nuances add to the overall aromatic picture. It's subtle, deep and complex. 

Finesse, the wine flows across the palate, still remnants of fine tannin glide across. There's a deep and long lasting carry of flavour - without being over-wrought. Exquisite. 94 

Tasted on: Sunday 9th February 
Source: Cellar Door
Price: $75ish
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://mre.com.au/

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Sunday, 5 April 2020

Altus/ Rise Wildlight Chardonnay 2019

Stonefruit, sandalwood, hints of ginger and mace.

The palate showing white pepper, green melon, all delivered on a line of tangy citrus.


Reasonable effort for an entry level Margs Chardonnay. 87 

Tasted on: Wednesday 22nd January 
Source: Sample
Price: $24
Alcohol: 13%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://altusrise.com.au/

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Altus/ Rise Wildlight Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2019

A Margaret River blend of 75% SB / 25% Semillon.

Skewing toward the fresher and more tropical side of the blend, a classic example of a regional style: Passionfruit, lychee, hints of kaffir and lemongrass.

More of the same on the palate, a roundness to it, giving some volume as you naturally roll it across the palate, as if to contemplate: what next? 

Subtle rasp and herbal twitch across the finish. It's certainly fresh and on a stinker of a Brisbane day certainly did what was asked of it. I'd originally identified this as something to pair with a crispy skinned snapper fillet and mango Salsa. Except it's seemingly hard to find skin on. At least the wine did not fail to deliver. 89

Tasted on: Wednesday 22nd January 
Source: Sample
Price: $24
Alcohol: 12.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: http://altusrise.com.au/

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Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Castle Rock Porongurup Riesling 2019

Grapefruit, bath salts, a tropical periphery: think guava, a suggestion of Passionfruit perhaps.

Grapefruit acidity presents itself early, lemon barley even. Takes me back to watching Wimbledon as a kid that does. Acidity a touch nervy at this early juncture, one suggests it will settle. 

It's tense, poised, as if walking a razor wire tightrope - nervous tension like. I like it. A lot. 93

Tasted on: Friday 7th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $25
Alcohol: 12%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://castlerockestate.com.au/

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d'Arenberg The Derelict Vineyard Grenache 2018

Dark, earthen, hints of soy in the frame. Less about the fruit. Firmish tannin against some bright acidity. Semblance of fruit on the palate - again darker manifestation thereof - more tilled earth. 

Good carry of flavour, oak present, not obtrusive. 91 

Tasted on: Tuesday 11th February 
Source: Sample
Price: $29
Alcohol: 14.5%
Closure: Screwcap
Website: https://www.darenberg.com.au/

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