Thomas Wines Sweetwater Shiraz 2013

Sweetwater. Sweet as! I reckon Andrew Thomas could charge double and still get it. This is class at a neat price. Gentle peppery spice and very attractive purple flower florals. Buckets of juicy red berry fruit wrapped by savoury tones. Hunter earth ringing true. Every time I go back those purple flower and powerful violet aromas create a sense of uplift and vibrance. The finish is long and laced...

Bill Crappsley celebrates 50 years of winemaking

Bill Crappsley is one of the great winemaker warriors of Western Australia.  He celebrated 50 years of winemaking this year, and added a third medal to his previous recognitions in 1999 (the George Mulgrue Award) and 2007 (the Di Cullen Award), both recognising his services to the Western Australian wine industry.  Now he has received the Jack Mann Memorial Medal, again celebrating his long...

Old Grenache – A Story Of Terroir

McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley are the prime regions for serious Grenache in Australia. But it is also interesting to compare two Grenaches from the same region, but different sub-regions, in this case in the Barossa. The two wines were the 2006 Kalleske Old Vine Grenache and the 2006 Cirillo 1850 Old Vine Grenache. Both wines are made from very old vines, at least 70 years old, but many over 100...

Moppity Lock & Key Reserve Shiraz 2012

Moppity Lock & Key Reserve Shiraz 2012 The Moppity Shiraz wines are typically festooned with medals and, judging by this bottle I can see why. It’s the sort of style that wins show medals. And fans. Purple red in colour, the nose is overflowing with red and blackberry fruits, black pepper and just a little black earth in a quite sweet form. Interestingly, It’s actually much drier...

Tscharke Only Son Tempranillo 2012

Tscharke Only Son Tempranillo 2012 Good packaging on these Tscharke wines. This looks trademark Tscharke – ripe, thick and extractive style of red with big flavours. Think bitumen, roast plums and anise. It’s more Marananga than it is Tempranillo, but the hearty, warm and chunky style will please many. For mine it’s just to big and roasted to be delicious, the heaviness of overripe...

Giallo 2013

This is the fourth release of this unique skin contact Sauvignon Blanc. Made by Tom Shobbrook, some of the detail surrounding the wine is hard to locate, such as price. Skin contact isn’t my thing. I’ve given it a go a few times and just can’t seem to find something that appeals all that much. This is different. It smells good. It tastes good. I like it! Pineapple husk, canned peach...

A unicorn wine: Clos de Tart 2012

Clos de Tart 2012 Ah Clos de Tart. For so long an enigma, but now more like a unicorn wine… I’ve been lucky to try a few vintages of this unique Grand Cru Monopole and this 2012 surely rates as one of the absolute best. What makes this particular wine – and many of the recent vintages – so very good is the polish and perfection. There’s not a single hair out of place,...

Nature’s Cruel Tricks

Sad news comes from yet another region to join those previously hit by frost and hail. The Canberra District has had a fairly challenging few years (with the notable exception of 2013) to deal with, and now a hail storm has destroyed more than one-third of the vineyards of some of the Lake George district wineries. Hail storm wreaks havoc on Lake George wineries Wet weather and hail has hit the region’s...

Kusuda Pinot Noir

After a number of mixed experiences lately, I wanted an exciting wine drinking experience. I went for the 2010 Kusuda Pinot Noir. This wine from Martinborough, New Zealand’s leading Pinot Noir region (yes!), is rare as hens’ teeth. I met the Japanese winemaker a couple of years ago, and his meticulous approach is similar to what you would experience at a Tokyo fruit market. Every grape...

Cooks Lot Handpicked Chardonnay 2013

Tasted blind in a bracket of four Chardonnay, mix of years and regions. Handpicked, whole bunch, free run juice. Barrel fermented, partial solids and wild yeast. Some good inputs there, deliberate choices from winemaker Duncan Cook, pursuing a style. Shows the barrel ferment character floating over citrus – mandarin segments even – with some vanilla creme. Good old fashioned Chardonnay:...

Ulithorne Chi Grenache/Shiraz

Ulithorne is a small McLaren Vale producer who impressed me a lot last year at a premium red wine tasting event. The wines are small production, and very carefully handled in the vineyard and the winery. I now had the 2012 Ulithorne Chi Grenache/Shiraz on its own, over dinner. The wine was good, but did not hold the interest in quite the same way as during the previous tasting. Raspberry flavours dominate,...

A lovely Barossan Grenache from Tim Smith

Tim Smith Barossa Valley Grenache 2014 Is Grenache on the way back, or is it just me? It’s hard to argue against the suitability of Grenache in the Barossa Valley really, particularly on the warm, sandy soils of the Barossa floor. Those old ‘bushies’ just keep on keeping on, even during warm vintage after warm vintage. It’s like they were made for the place. Sadly winemakers...

Chateau Leoville-Barton

The argument about the respective merits of the ‘structured’ old world Cabernets versus the new world fruit dominated Cabernets or Shirazes has been going on for over 30 years. Interestingly, the most celebrated Bordeaux vintages, like 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, are the warm ones, which produce wines approaching the new world flavour profiles. Let us test this by opening the 2003 Chateau...

Margaret River Gourmet Escape

I attended the Margaret River Gourmet Escape held on 20-23 November; the press release that follows gives some idea of the magnitude of the event, which was incredibly well organised given the multiple activities going on up and down the region. For much of the time I was based at Leeuwin Estate doing masterclasses, so was in the centre of the village activity that attracted over 13 000 people over...

Willow Bridge Dragonfly Shiraz 2013

Another bang for buck special from winemaker Simon Burnell. This Dragonfly range has serious potential to leave many other wines around the place standing with their pants down. A quick swirl of the glass and black fruit, chocolate, plums and some red fruit get going. There’s a dab of spice in there too. Down the hatch and you are flooded with smooth and soft fruits. Tannins are soft and persistent....

Urgent Housekeeping

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Domaine de l’Octavin Vin de France Corvées de Trousseau 2013

Domaine de l’Octavin Vin de France Corvées de Trousseau 2013  Welcome to the pointy end of natural wine. This Trousseau is instantly fascinating and divisive, all at once. The low alcohol (9%) dictates that this had to be bottled as a ‘vin de France’ rather than ‘Arbois’ as it doesn’t satisfy the requirements of the appellation (10% alc. minimum). Indeed Alice...

Dalwhinnie Shiraz

Some highly acclaimed wineries fall from grace. It is hard to understand exactly why and why it is not reversible. For example, in the 1980s, Virgin Hills was highly regarded for its Bordeaux blend. It went downhill from there. The wine became thin and green and could not stand up to the new wave of Australian Shirazes. I have the feeling Dalwhinnie is joining this unfortunate group of wineries, although...

Bimbadgen Estate Chardonnay 2014

This release of Chardonnay delivers rockmelon, peach and nutty aromas. It’s on the woody side so those in the no Chardy wood camp might not make friends with this. The palate has some depth and weight to it but the warmth that comes with it just sits and lurks. It’s like that friend who is always the last to leave the party – but doesn’t. Even after tasting this on the second...

Wynns Messenger Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2010 Wynns Messenger Cabernet Sauvignon is the first separate bottling from this vineyard since 1985. It achieved a lot of acclaim on release, and I was impressed by the fruit intensity as well. Drinking it now, I am less enthusiastic. The terra rossa influence still shines through on the firm redcurrant flavours, and they carry through to the back palate. The wine is quite vibrant, but the mouthfeel...