Friday, August 27, 2021

Wendouree Shiraz

 Every serious drinker of Australian wine should drink a bottle of Wendouree Shiraz at least once. It is a true icon of the rise of Australian still wine production during the last 50 years. In some ways, it is an old fashioned wine, with power rated higher than elegance, but subtle changes have been made over the last 15 years, in particular to make the wine more attractive for earlier consumption. The 2010 Wendouree Shiraz, reviewed here, even comes screw capped.

This wine opens up with concentrated fruit, blackberry and dark plum flavours. It is a full-bodied wine, of course. What stands out on the palate, is the purity of fruit from this excellent vintage. Then the palate gets hit by a wall of firm and coarse tannins. On the finish, they are mashed with the intensity of the fruit.

Score: 94/0

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Seppeltsfield Great Terraced Vineyard Grenache

 When I did my field research in the Barossa close to 10 years ago, I marveled at the old Shiraz and Grenache vineyards of Seppeltsfield. At the time, the Shiraz vineyards were leased to Fosters, later Treasury Wine Estates, I believe. The Grenache went into fortified wines, still. A few years later, a series of still wines of Shiraz were launched, with moderate success. The business changed ownership, and now Seppeltsfield has released a series of premium Shiraz and Grenache. I have not tried the Shirazes yet. They seem quite full-bodied and ripe. However, a few days ago I tasted the 2020 Seppeltsfield Great Terraced Vineyard Grenache.

The vineyard is very close to the Torbreck Les Amis vineyard. It was originally planted in 1855, and replanted from 100 years later. I am not sure what you make of the label. Blue does not work for me on wine bottles.

The first thing to say is that if you plan to drink this wine soon (which I would not recommend), decant the wine for at least two hours, and leave some for day two.

The wine presents many different fruit flavours on the palate; raspberry, but mostly dark fruits like blackberry and mulberry. There are savoury notes, in particular licorice and graphite, as well as spice. This is a moorish, full-bodied wine with a lot of complexity. At the same time, it has the typical brightness and vibrancy of Grenache. The tannins are dry and hold a firm grip on the wine's structure.

This is an attractive ripe and powerful Grenache with a long finish. The components have not quite come together just yet, but I have no doubt they will in two to three years.

Score: 95/++ 


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

5 Underrated Red Wine Varieties of Australia


To create a bit of variety, I am publishing a guest post by Natasha K of Just Wines  

 Over the years, Australia has established itself as a wine-producing country around the world. Without any doubt, it produces tonnes of wine on a daily basis which has made people of the country consume it in a similar way. However, this has made some categories of wines quite popular over others. Wine varieties like Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc have been recognised as the ‘Superstars of the Wine industry’. They certainly have those qualities but there are some other great grape varieties too which are equally flavourful yet less recognised.

 Today, let’s know about five underrated red wine varieties of Australia that deserve their due.


 Australia’s interpretation of this wine that is thought to have originated in Spain is by its blueberry and plum characteristics. A meaty, rustic and full-bodied red variety, it has many different names. This earthy and rustic wine grew popular in Australia in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale region after a decline in the 1980s. The grape’s natural, full-bodied character grows well in Australia’s warm climate and rich soil.


 Tempranillo found a second home in Australia after hailing from Spain. It became a great match with the diet and climate of the country. A medium to full-bodied wine that quite conveniently balances earthy and fruity flavours like cherry, leather, plum and cedar. When oaked, one can expect to get some spicy and vanilla flavours too. If you like Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, you will find Tempranillo as a great option.


 Grown in warm and cool regions in Australia like Margaret River, McLaren Vale, Rutherglen, Hunter Valley, Orange, Mudgee, and Swan Hill, Malbec can be your favourite wine if you are fond of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. This medium to full-bodied wine boasts of bold fruit characters and has an easy-drinking style. Flaunting an intense purple colour with deep mulberry tones and a magenta-tinged colour around the rim, it emanates lifted dark berry and raspberry aromas along with subtle spice and mocha overtones.

 Nerello Mascalese

 Originally from Sicily, Nerello Mascalese was brought to Australia by the Chalmers family in the late 90s. Ever since then, it has been seen as a very promising grape for Australian vineyards. Wines made from Nerello Mascalese are usually quite structured with high acidity and fairly grippy tannins features.

Often characterised by red berry fruits, wild strawberries and cherries in a sour spectrum along with woodsy herbs, dried florals and minerals. Nerello Mascalese is a late-ripening variety, and most vines are trained in the traditional bush-vine training method.

 Petit Verdot

 The potential for this grape variety has been recognised by Australian winemakers. Famous regions like  Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek are excelling in this style. On the other hand, wine regions such as Perricoota, Murray Darling and Hunter Valley have their location characteristics to offer to the Australian Petit Verdot. A late-ripening bold grape variety, it is rich in dark fruits. Black cherry, violet, plum, sage and lilac notes are common. A full-bodied structure wine, it has strong and firm tannins and spices that emerge due to the small berries and thick skin of this variety. If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre and Zinfandel, you will love this style.

 Give these intriguing and flavourful wines a try from the comfort of your home, for example by looking up Just Wines. 



Sunday, August 15, 2021

Kumeu Village Chardonnay

 Drinkers of Australian Chardonnay never had it so good. I do not review many value wines, because I do not find them satisfying, but with Chardonnay it is different. Flametree and Hoddles Creek featured on my blog as great value Chardonnays. Perhaps the most exciting actually comes from New Zealand's best Chardonnay producer: Kumeu.

The 2020 Kumeu Village Chardonnay is an excellent wine. It is delicious on the palate, richer than others, but not overly so. Citrus, white peach, and passionfruit flavours vie for your attention. But what is really attractive in this wine is balance. The fruit is perfectly matched by fine acidity, and there is also balance between richness/roundness in the mouth and linearity/drive down the palate. Highly recommended.

Score: 93/+++ 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Grace Kayagatake Koshu

 When it comes to alternative varieties, most people think of wines from the Mediterranean; Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece even. Close to the top of my list is Koshu, Japan's indigenous grape variety. The Grace Winery is one of Japan's best with a variety of wines. This review is of a single vineyard wine, the 2019 Grace Kayagatake Koshu.

The wine has a light and bright colour. Citrus and minerality dominate, but the main impression is the purity of the fruit. Medium acidity delivers good energy of this balanced wine. The closest would be a light Chablis. This relatively low alcohol wine (11.5%) is delightful to drink.

Isn't it interesting how indigenous wine often matches the food in the country perfectly, for example Chianti and Pizza or northern Italian food and Nebbiolo. This wine is perfect with raw fish, sashimi or sushi.

Score: 93/+++


Sunday, August 8, 2021

by Farr Farrside Pinot Noir

 This will be a more radical review of this highly acclaimed wine - a perspective you may not find on commercial review sites. The review is for the 2014 by Farr Farrside Pinot Noir.

The colour of this wine is purple with a brown-orange overlay. It looks like this wine is quite developed already.

But what is more significant is the flavour of this wine, whose grapes are grown on a vineyard of dark volcanic soils. On the palate, this is a very savoury wine, not in a forest floor way, but in a uncharacteristically masculine and powerful way for a Pinot Noir. The flavours are of black olive, licorice, smoke and charcoal meat. There are saline notes on the back palate. There is nothing wrong with this profile in principle, but is this what a Pinot Noir should taste like? It is certainly quite extreme and would split consumers of fine Pinot Noir.

Score: 94/0

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon

 I commented on the impact of Magnum bottles under cork in my last post. But what about when the closure is a screw cap? To find out, I opened a 2007 Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon Magnum.

This wine is still very aromatic, with blackberry, blackcurrant, and mulberry flavours. Mocca notes on the mid palate. The flavours have dried a little, but this Cabernet is fresh for a 13 year old wine. The wine has a balanced and elegant mouthfeel. The tannins are firm, and have mellowed a little. This Abercrombie is drinking beautifully right now. 

What is the Magnum impact? Probably not much. I have certainly had 13 year old Margaret River Cabernet in a standard bottle and under screw cap with similar characteristics. My view is the benefit of the Magnum is not present here. The attraction would be restricted to a dinner party or similar.

Score: 94/+++