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Ken’s recent reviews

WINE REVIEWS BY KEN GARGETT – April 2017

Pike & Joyce ‘Methode Cuve’ Pinot Noir Rose NV

The colour is a pleasing orangey pink. Lots of aromatics to be enjoyed here – strawberries and florals. This is a sparkler brimming with summer freshness. Clean, lots of fruit, excellent length and a nice touch of tartness on the finish to tie it all together. Also, boasts an attractive creamy texture.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: Now Alc: 14%

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Pike & Joyce ‘Methode Traditionelle’ Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2009

Price alone would suggest one should prefer this to the Rose but the sheer drinkability of the pink bubbles gets it the nod. Not that this is anything other than a fine fizz as well. It is undeniably more subtle. There are spices, lemon and grapefruit notes. A crisp, clean style with mid-length. Very pleasant drinking.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: now for two years. Alc: 12%

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Henschke Mt Edelstone Shiraz 2014

A seamless, supple, enchanting wine of great length. There is a slight dustiness at the moment, but the components are all still melding together. The flavours range far and wide, but look especially for plums, black fruits, cloves and black cherries. Very, very fine tannins, leaving the impression of endless plushness. Surely one of the great Mt Edelstones. Just glorious.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking: well cellared, it has three decades and more ahead of it. Alc: 14.5%

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William Downie Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2015

Bill Downie is a pinot specialist and it is wonderfully reflected in his three wines, from three different Victorian regions. Which is “better”? Each year, personal preference will play a role and with the superb 2015 vintage, this Yarra Valley effort gets the nod for me. Stunning stuff. Spice, red fruits and florals – just gorgeous aromas that explode from the glass. A dense core of sweet fruit which sings, backed by good acidity by the balance is key. Lovely seductive texture. Seamless. A wine which dances.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking: now for 8 years. Alc: 13%

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William Downie Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2015

All three of Bill’s pinots reveal the glories of the grape. Here we have more forest floor, a wine more rustic and ripe with a smoky campfire note. An alluring richness here and real length. This is the pick for the long haul. Great length and silky tannins. Exciting stuff. A few bottles of this in the cellar will bring rich rewards. 2015 was so good in Mornington Peninsula that this could not help but be a stellar effort.

Score: 96/100 Best drinking: over the next decade. Alc: 13%

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William Downie Gippsland Pinot Noir 2015

Perhaps the ‘prettiest’ of the three pinots in the portfolio, it is delightfully vibrant. There are floral notes and a touch of the variety’s trademark undergrowth character. Aromas and flavours merge into herb garden notes, spices and florals. Finely balanced and with impressive length. Really worth lining all three up and finding your own favourite.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: now for six years. Alc: 13%

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Pizzini Arneis 2016

Not often encountered, this Italian white variety does very well in the King Valley. Look for a medley of peaches, almonds, stonefruit and orange rind. A nicely rounded palate with an underlying vibrancy. It offers more weight than many and there is some complexity starting to build here.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: now for three years. Alc: 12.5%

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Pizzini Verduzzo 2015

Another rarely seen Italian variety that has made a home in the King Valley – expect to see much more of these grapes in coming years. Opens with peach kernel notes. There is a touch of oak still evident and the texture is soft and well-rounded. Offers decent length. Lot of flavour for the money here. Top value.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: now for two years. Alc: 13.5%

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Pizzini Pinot Grigio 2016

Tying up a neat trio of King Valley ‘Italian’ whites, this offers classic pinot grigio fresh flavours, crisp pear, citrus and a pleasing minerally underlay. Some grapefruit and wet stone characters as well. This can be a neutral grape, but no such concerns here. Oodles of flavour. Crisp finish, though no great length. A very pleasant summer drink.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: now Alc: 12.1%

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Deviation Road Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Adelaide Hills has proved itself as our top sauv blanc region, though it so often seems little more than a footnote in comparison to New Zealand’s Marlborough district. This offers immediate tropical notes, backed by some minerality and a touch of dustiness. Some ripe gooseberry hints. The texture is a little flinty, which works, but it does come across as a smidge tough on the finish. Does offer some length.

Score: 87/100 Best drinking: over the next year. Alc: 12.5%

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Deviation Road Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris 2016

There is no mistaking the crisp, fresh pear notes that this variety just exudes. In this wine, it offers a supple texture and the impressive length that seems to be the hallmark of DV wines. Finely balanced with a nice flick of acidity to tie things up neatly. A fine example of pinot grigio.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: now for two years. Alc: 12.5%

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Deviation Road Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2015

A quality chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills. Opens with appealing lifted aromas and a noticeable nut/cashew character, with some gentle guava, stonefruit and tropical tones. The oak is perhaps a little upfront at the moment, but it will surely meld with some time. Juicy acidity, nice balance and good length but be in no hurry.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: leave for three to four years. Alc: 12%

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Deviation Road Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2015

This is a youthful, tight, red-fruited pinot looking to burst its restraints. Coiled power is just waiting for the passage of some time. Very youthful at this stage, there are some appealing red cherry, floral and slightly sappy notes here. Good length, balance and real potential. For me, looking at almost any DV wine in the year or two after release, does it a disservice. These are wines that will age gracefully and in almost all cases, deserve higher scores with time.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: leave it for five years. Alc: 13.5%

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Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Gruner Veltliner 2016

This Austrian variety is proving a hit in the Adelaide Hills and I doubt few makers do it as well as these guys. This effort offers a delightful mix of citrus, florals and even some stonefruit. There is a pleasing supple texture, with decent length. Fresh, and although no great complexity, this is a really delicious wine. It will drink well for several years.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: now for three years. Alc: 12%

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Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016

This came across as surprisingly muted at this stage but it is very young. Quite a restrained style. Look closely and there are notes of stonefruit and a little lemon pith, but it is rather straightforward. A pleasant Chardy but the value is with the gruner veltliner or go upscale with the ‘Nest Egg’ Chardonnay.

Score: 89/100 Alc: 13.5%

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Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills ‘Nest Egg’ Chardonnay 2015

A much more serious and impressive wine than the ‘standard’, as it should be at twice the price. Only around 300 cases made. It is elegant, yet focused, and has the underlying power one might expect in a fine wine. There is quality oak integration, good acidity and inspiring length. It offers an array of gentle flavours, nothing dominates, but there is a lovely supple lemony note which is a highlight. Concentration and balance here. Very fine.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: will drink well over the next eight years. Alc: 13.5%

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Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2015

Dense and opaque, this is a full-flavoured style with big and bold strokes in every direction. Lovely aromatics. It is spicy and floral with purple fruit characters. Good intensity. There are notes of beef stock, black olives, cloves and soy. Abundant tannins, though they are quite fine. There is length and balance here. This is a wine with a future.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: four to twelve years. Alc: 14.5%

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Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Montepulciano 2015

This savoury, spicy Italian variety is the flavour of the month and it has found a home in the Adelaide Hills. Some lovely dry herb and salami characters. Nice weight on the palate but it is soft, delightfully so. And gentle. A hint of vegemite on a lengthy finish. Really like the wine but it deserves better packaging surely? A clear bottle, taller than a riesling bottle, wrapped in an all-encompassing plastic coating that, when two bottles are next to each other, looks like someone has put ‘Where’s Wally’ socks on a pair of crutches.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: up to five years. Alc: 14.5%

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Bird in Hand Adelaide Hills Nero d’Avola 2015

Another fine wine, more dodgy packaging. Nero d’Avola is another Italian variety making a name for itself in Australia, though early days. More floral and with an appealing cherry confectionary note. Ripe and juicy, though it is quite forward. A delicious drink, but, while it will surely hang around for several years, there seems no real reason not to enjoy its fruity freshness.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: now for two years. Alc: 14.5%

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By Farr Chardonnay 2013

The Farrs, Gary and Nick, have always made exemplary Chardonnay, though often you have to work for the rewards they can offer, as the wines can be wonderfully subtle. This is quite a muted style on the nose, but is more expressive on the palate – elegance with attitude. The oak is perfectly integrated and there is fine acidity backing it. Impressive balance and serious length. A classic chardonnay with a more exciting future ahead of it than most.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: up to a decade. Alc: 13%

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By Farr Shiraz 2013

I’d be interested to know if the Farrs think they have ever made a better shiraz – if so, not sure I’ve seen it. Love this. Wonderfully expressive. Delightful and yet intense, cool climate shiraz with florals, spices, a sprinkle of black pepper, a note of licorice and coffee beans on the finish. Supple and seamless texture with juicy acidity. Very long.

Score: 96/100 Best drinking: 15 years with ease. Alc: 13.5%

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By Farr Viognier 2013

A viognier very much in the more elegant and moderated style, eschewing the apricotty exuberance (and often blousiness) that so many offer. Florals and stonefruit notes with an underlying smoky/mineral character. Fine acidity and a better balanced wine than most examples of this variety.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: now for two years. Alc: 12%

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Castle Rock Estate ‘Skywalk’ Riesling 2016

Rob Diletti is now firmly ensconced as one of the West’s superstar winemakers, even if perhaps not as well known in the East as he will surely soon be. This is a really impressive riesling from the Great Southern region and fantastic value at around twenty bucks. A hint of oystershell and seaspray, florals, spice and wet slate. Nicely balanced, terrific persistence. Maintains its intensity on a long finish.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: will see fifteen years without blinking. Alc: 11.5%

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Clonakilla Riesling 2016

Hard to believe that Tim Kirk, who has been making such stellar wines at Clonakilla in the Canberra region for so long, does not have some form of divine help. His riesling is rarely discussed, left in the shadow of the amazing ‘Shiraz Viognier’, but it deserves far more attention. Wet stone, minerals, pears, citrus, florals. Builds nicely on the mid-palate. Good acidity and length. Will age, but can be enjoyed earlier than some.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: over the next decade. Alc: 12%

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D’Arenberg ‘The Anthropocene Epoch’ Mencia 2016

Never let it be said that Chester Osborn ever made things easy for those who enjoy a simple label. Concentrate instead on the wine – from McLaren Vale, this is a rarely seen Spanish variety offering oodles of flavour – cranberries, raspberries, spices, plums. It is ripe, fresh and savoury with bright flavours. Good length. May age, but there seems little point. Delicious drinking as a young, flavourful wine.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: now and for three years. Alc: 14.2%

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Ocean Eight ‘Aylward’ Pinot Noir 2015

Their flagship pinot noir, from vines yielding a meagre one tonne per acre. 25% new oak, a mix of puncheons and barrels, and more dependence on the MV6 clone. It is from one of their warmer sites, which has been providing fruit for the reserve wine for nearly a decade. Red cherry notes, supple texture, good acidity. Slightly richer and deeper than the ‘standard’. Terrific effort.

Score: 96/100 Best drinking: for a decade. Alc: 13.5%

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Ocean Eight ‘Grande’ Chardonnay 2014

A small production – 150 cases – flagship chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula, from a mix of four clones, aged in one-year-old puncheons and made with close to 100% malolactic fermentation. This is a nicely integrated wine, richer than the ‘Verve’, but well balanced. Richer fruit notes and even a pleasing custard-like character. A fine, complex chardy with a good future.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: 3 to 6 years. Alc: 13.2%

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Ocean Eight Pinot Gris 2016

Pinot gris has proved a winner for this impressive Mornington Peninsula winery, moving from 200 cases in 2004 to over 4,000 now. This was made with by way of whole bunch press and a little oak, all to add some extra complexity and it works nicely. A hint of stonefruit on the mid-palate and a flick of acidity to finish. A very good pinot gris.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: now for two years. Alc: 13.5%

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Ocean Eight Pinot Noir 2015

A beautifully fragrant, perfumed Mornington pinot noir, which offers red fruits in abundance, raspberries, some spices and a hint of nutmeggy oak. Well integrated and a slightly savoury finish. Impressive length. Made from vines yielding a mere two tonnes per acre and from a mix of clones, this is a pinot revealing the glories of the region.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: should drink superbly over the next eight years. Alc: 13.5%

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Ocean Eight ‘Verve’ Chardonnay 2015

This wine was originally made with no malo but in recent years, that has increased to 50%. Old barrels are still the go. This is a delightful, lean, citrussy Chardy, much more Chablis-like than some of the richer styles. There is a hint of melon but the citrus notes dominate. Good concentration and length. A fine example of the modern style of chardonnay.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: now for five years. Alc: 12.5%

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Petaluma ‘Hanlin Hill’ Riesling 2016

One of the most famous of all Clare riesling makers is right on form here. Lovely wet slate, river pebble notes. Hint of a lanolin-like character. Crisp acidity and excellent length, but where this wine really shines is on the palate where the flavours explode into life. Attractive citrus and floral notes, this wine perhaps offers fuller flavours than some.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: will be a joy over the next 12 to 15 years. Alc: 12.5%

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Pikes ‘The Merle’ Riesling 2016

Neil Pike is not one to seek the spotlight, but the fact that he has steadily been earning a reputation as one of the Clare Valley, nay Australia’s, finest riesling makers has thrust him firmly into centre stage. The Pikes Riesling is simply one of the most reliable and best value wines found anywhere. ‘The Merle’ is their flagship riesling and it sits comfortably with our best. This vintage is a stunner. Concentrated, immaculately balanced. Pears, florals, citrus, minerals. Great length. An absolutely classic Clare riesling.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking: will age brilliantly for decades. Alc: 12%

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Seppeltsfield ‘Para’ Grand Tawny NV

A famous old Aussie fortified which is in top form. The colour has hints of bronze/orange. A lovely aged tawny style. The flavours have that appealing rancio touch with some golden syrup notes. Good length. Not overly complex or intense, but it has impressive length and, put simply, is a joy to drink. Delicious.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: store it well and it will keep endlessly. Alc: 21%

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Tim Adams Riesling 2016

A fine Clare Valley winery, with a track record of excellent riesling among other grapes, this vintage is still so closed and tight that it seems to almost disappear within itself. Spring freshness here. Clean and pure with decent length on the finish. There seems little point in drinking it now – far better to cellar it for as long as you can and reap the rewards.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: leave for five to eight years and then drink over the next decade. Alc: 11%

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Yalumba Octavius 2012

The Octavius is always a class act, but one that needs time to reveal itself. These days, the oak, a mix of French barriques and Hungarian hogsheads, has been relegated to a support role and the wine is all the better for it. Fine example of a powerful Barossa shiraz (2/3rds from the Eden Valley and the rest from the Barossa floor) from old vines, but it is one for the cellar. Raspberry, floral and even blueberry touches here.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: not before ten years and then for another decade or more. Alc: ??????????

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Yalumba Signature ‘Andrew Murphy’ 2013

The 55th release in the series of the classic Aussie of cabernet and shiraz, this time honouring their current director of wine. This is a step up on a very good 2012, with an extra core of power and richness. Plums, dry herbs, licorice. Darker fruits and powerful tannins. Lovely ripeness, but a wine that really needs time. The oak is a mix of French, American and Hungarian.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: five to fifteen years. Alc: 14.1%

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Yalumba ‘The Caley’ 2012

Yalumba’s new super-blend, from vines dating back as far as 1901. A mix of Coonawarra cabernet, Barossa cabernet and Barossa shiraz. One for the cellar. Finely balanced, tight and with length. There are dark fruits, hints of old leather, cloves, black olives and much more. Great intensity here, with real persistence. Abundant yet silky tannins. Not a foot out of place. An Aussie classic.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking: Any time over the next three decades. Alc: ????????????

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Yalumba ‘The Menzies’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Yalumba have been offering a premium Coonawarra cabernet since 1987 and this is one of the best of them all. It is tight and still very youthful, with pleasing blackberry notes and a slight earthiness. Lovely supple tannins, though they are well structured for the long term, and excellent length. A floral note weaves its way in and out. A cracker Coonawarra cab.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: A long term proposition, up to 20 years. Alc: 14.1%

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Yalumba Tri-Centenary Barossa Grenache 2011

Grenache still seems to be everybody’s poor cousin, but it really can make exceptional wine, especially if from the right sites, old vines (bush vines) and usually dry grown. Not every vintage suits it and, while 2011 was perhaps the ‘least’ vintage in recent history, it worked well for this variety. This is fragrant with strawberries and warm earth notes. Nice flick of acidity to carry it.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: over the next half dozen years. Alc: 13.2%

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WINE REVIEWS BY KEN GARGETT – March 2017

Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz 2014

Australia has yet seen from the 2014 vintage anywhere. Warm earth, florals, roses, cigar box notes, hints of chocolate and black olives. Richness, complexity, fine balance and great length. Has a great future. Brilliant. Should even exceed the great ’86 Graveyard.

Score: 99/100 Best drinking: 8 to 40 years. Alc: 13.5%

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Brokenwood Rayner Vineyard Shiraz 2014

Brokenwood’s intriguing exploration of McLaren Vale fruit was much lamented – this is the first release of this wine since the 2007 vintage. A pleasing mix of black and red fruit notes, touches of aniseed, cloves and dry herbs. Finishes with considerable tannins but nicely balanced with the richness of the fruit. Lovely depth. It is the fruit flavours that are key. Toss in a little chocolatey characters. Drink or cellar? Depends on preferences. Hard to go past the lovely expressive flavours as they are now, but with time, more complexity will add to the pleasure.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: : five to fifteen years. Alc: 13.5%

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Brokenwood Hunter Valley Shiraz 2014

Stock up on all the 2014 Hunters you can find. Drink them now, by all means, but please put as much as you can in the cellar. This is – as they say, a bit of all the top vineyards – a joy, but well-structured and has years ahead of it. Choc and tar, warm earth, orange rind, dark berries.An array of ever-emerging flavours. Plenty of grip on the finish. This has power and persistence. Don’t miss it.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: 4 to 25 years. Alc: 13.5%

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Brokenwood Beechworth Pinot Noir 2014

Strawberries, root vegetables, raspberries. A soft and yet finely crafted Pinot. This is elegant, delicious and persists nicely. Finely balanced.A medium weight style which will give greatest pleasure in its younger years. There is a small percentage of whole bunches which add to the complexity. A thoroughly enjoyable Pinot.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: now for five years. Alc: 13%

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BrokenwoodLatara Vineyard Semillon 2009

Aged Hunter Semillon is one of the great joys of the wine world but has never gained much traction outside this country (and far less than deserved within). A wonderfully complex wine which is still fresh and bright. Good acidity behind some delightful lanolin and lemon pie flavours. Terrific length.Stunning stuff. Drink now but it has years ahead of it. /p>

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: now for five years. Alc: 11%

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Penfold's Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling 2016

A strong argument can be offered that this is the finest Bin 51 Penfold's have ever made. Intriguing aromas of perfumed lemons and Iced VoVo biscuity notes lie over slate and mineral characters. Bright and bracing with its vibrant acidity, this is nicely balanced with piercing length. A delightful fresh summer style, but has a glittering future ahead. Fantastic value.

Score: 96/100 Best drinking: Now for 20 years. Alc: 12%

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Penfold's Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2015

Gentle perfumes here.A pretty wine, rather than an imposing one. Lovely upfront fruit notes but lacks serious length. It does offer some very pleasant lemon touches and hints of grapefruit. There is a whiff of oak, as the wine seems to be still coming together. This is an attractive style and an enjoyable drink, but it does not measure up to their best Chardies, at least not with this vintage.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: Now for four years. Alc: 13.5%

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Penfold's Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2015

By releasing their top two Chardies, this and Yattarna, from different vintages, Penfold's gives the wines the chance to shine on its merits and we find that preferences can vary from year to year. Yattarna has always been the always-proper school prefect, not a foot wrong, while Bin A is the unruly wild child. Wonderfully complex with struck match, flint and funky notes, this is a fine example of the style. Great texture and impressive length.Will get better. Love it.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: 8 to 10 years. Alc: 13%

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Sirromet ‘Signature Collection’ Shiraz Viognier 2014

Attractive style from the Granite Belt, this is soft and juicy with lots of red fruit notes, a good balance with the underlying acidity and a wine with length. Mid-weight at best, but fresh and fragrant. This works as a lovely aromatic style when one is not chasing a heavily extracted blockbuster.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: 2 to 6 years. Alc: 14%

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Turkey Flat Grenache 2012

A delightfully soft style with notes of cloves and black fruits. Plenty of tannins but they really are very soft. Nice length. A Barossa Grenache from vines which are mostly over the century in age, or touching on the ton. The flavours really do linger nicely. The key is the freshness and vibrancy of the wine. A very fine example of the style from a good year.Pleasure to drink now.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking:Now for 6 years. Alc: 14%

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Arras Blanc de Blancs 2004

8 years on lees has contributed to the texture and the complexity of this classy fizz. Has weight and depth. Stonefruit notes with a Crème Brûlée and lemon sorbet touch. Balance and length. This is a superb Aussie sparkler. Not a foot wrong. It shows what a gem we have with winemaker, Ed Carr, and the sheer quality of the best fruit from Tasmania.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking:Now but will hold for 5 years. Alc: 12.5%

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d’Arenberg ‘The Laughing Magpie’ Shiraz Viognier 2012

There might be only 7% Viognier in the blend but it is apparent, lifting the perfumes. Lovely soft red fruits, the wine has that note of stonefruit that this blend often exhibits. Florals.Very fine, soft tannins, seriously impressive length. Key to it is the immaculate balance. A lovely expressive wine, terrific persistence and a delight to drink now. It will age but I'm not sure that it will ever be much more enjoyable than it is now.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking:Now for 6 years. Alc: 14.4%

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d’Arenberg ‘The Footbolt’ Shiraz 2014

A much loved and always useful McLaren Vale Shiraz, always top value.That red stripe instantly recognisable.Soft and juicy, slightly dusty tannins, nice length. Flavour falling over itself. Not a classically structured style; just a glass of flavour and joy. A case or two in the cellar and you have a terrific drink for fabulous value, any time over the next decade.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking:Now for ten years. Alc: 14.6%

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Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 2005

For most of us, an aged Hill of Grace is something long forgotten or all too rarely encountered, but as there was no release for the 2011 vintage, as the grapes just did not step up to the requisite level of quality, the Henschke family came up with the idea of re-releasing a couple of older stars as a package. So you can grab the 2005 and 2006 HoG’s from the Henschke cellars! Inevitably, they are not cheap but both are stunning wines. The 2005 is beautifully fragrant, seamless, balanced, exquisite. Cloves, olives and spices.Superb.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking:Still has 30 years ahead of it. Alc: 14.5%

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Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 2006

Part of the package deal, the ’05 and ’06 have long tussled for supremacy but on this occasion, 2006 ruled. Black cherry notes, plum pudding, dry herbs and spices. This is complex, classically structured, concentrated, offering underlying power and finishing with cashmere-like tannins. Glorious and still offering refinement. This is a brilliant wine by any standards. On this evidence, it will even outlive the 2005.

Score: 99/100 Best drinking:Now for 40 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Henschke Tilly’s Vineyard 2015

A blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, this feels a little like an attempt to fight back against the Kiwi sauvalanche. That might be a bit futile, but this has always been a popular wine. It has moved to a more aromatic style than previously and it does have a slight vegetal note to it. Leafy, slightly green, but it is fresh, bright and juicy.

Score: 88/100 Best drinking:Drink now. Alc: 13%

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Henschke Louis Semillon 2014

Trying to shift non-Hunter Valley Semillon can’t be the easiest gig in the world (I suspect trying to shift Hunter Valley Sem is only marginally easier), but this effort from the Eden Valley might turn a few heads. The vines are half a century old. The result is a muted style, tight but with some vibrant acidity. There is a dry vegetal note that some may find appealing; others will not. Hold off for now. This has ageing potential.

Score: 88/100 Best drinking:3 to 8 years. Alc: 12%

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Henschke Archer Chardonnay 2015

For those wondering where this has come from, it used to be called the ‘Crane Chardonnay’. Slightly lower key than the Croft, it is more of a fresh lighter style. Has been built with a little malo influence.From the Lenswood sub-region of the Adelaide Hills, a fine, bright offering with a nice lingering finish. Drink it while ageing the Croft, if you want Chardy in your cellar.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking:Now for three years. Alc: 13%

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Henschke Croft Chardonnay 2015

A mix of seven clones and both new and older oak in this absolutely terrific Adelaide Hills Chardonnay. It has benefited from careful site selection and the result is seamless and compelling. It is complex, beautifully persistent and is offering the gentlest touch of oak. Notes of limes and lemons, as well as florals, pears and spices.Impressive.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking:1 – 7 years. Alc: 13.5%

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Henschke ‘The Alan’ Pinot Noir 2012

Site selection from the Lenswood vineyard in the Adelaide Hills has resulted in this seriously impressive Reserve Pinot. It is subtle, restrained and wonderfully elegant. Red fruits, warm earth, red cherry notes. Really has terrific persistence and the tannins are as soft as cashmere. A Pinot of which to be proud.And one to enjoy for many years to come.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking:2 to 15 years. Alc: 13.5%

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Henschke Henry’s Seven 2014

The ultimate ‘north meets south’ Rhone blend – the South providing the GSM component and the North, the concept of blending in some Viognier, as is done in Cote Rôtie (65% Shiraz, 20% Grenache, 10% Mataro and 5% Viognier, for those who like to know such things). Flavours of black olives, soy, cherry, sarsaparilla and a tiny hint of stonefruit. Supple with masses of fruit and yet retains an elegant opulence, a very fine line to tread.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking:2 to 12 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Henschke Johann’s Garden GMS 2015

A traditional Rhone blend, but one where Grenache dominates; Mataro is the support act and Shiraz little more than a cameo.Strawberries, mulberries, nutmeg, choc/earth notes. Ripe and plush and of moderate length with quite fine tannins, this is an enjoyable Barossa Grenache, made from old vines. It should have no trouble ageing for a decade or more.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking:4 to 20 years. Alc: 14.5%

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HenschkeTappa Pass Shiraz 2014

Most wineries in Australia would be delighted to have this fabulous wine as their flagship, rather than stuck in the pecking order behind Hill of Grace, Mt Edelstone and possibly others. From three sub-regions in the Barossa/Eden Valley, this vintage offers wonderful fragrances and flavours of mulberries, rose petals, notes of dark chocolate, blueberries. Seamless and supple.A reasonable, if not especially long finish.Fine tannins.Under vinolock.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking:5 to 20 years. Alc: 14.5%

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d’Arenberg ‘The Money Spider’ Roussanne 2016

Lovely fresh and flavourful wine.A real nuttiness to it.Hazelnuts, almonds.Backed some appealing stonefruit notes. Good acid bite. Has a depth of flavour that raises it above the pack. Good drinking now, but expect it to build in flavour, mellowness and complexity over the next few years. That Roussanne is a much underrated variety is evident when one sees wines of this calibre.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking:now for four years. Alc: 12.7%

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Best’s Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

If one may be permitted, this is more of a New World style of Cabernet, much more richly flavoured than some, with none of the weedy greenness that can bedevil poor examples. Cassis, oodles of cherry notes, good grip, even a hint of austerity on the finish but only enough to indicate good structure rather than anything that might diminish the wine. Good length.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking:four for fifteen years. Alc: 14%

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Jim Barry Assyrtiko 2016

This is the first commercial release of this Greek variety in Australia. The Barry’s have been working hard with it for some time – there was a pleasant but experimental ’15 – and now 1,000 dozen of this first commercial release. The result is absolutely delicious and a perfect summer drink. Fresh with bright acidity, a hint of lemon and lovely texture, quite minerally. Just a slight saline note to tie it all together. Will it age? Unknown at this stage, but it really should do perfectly well for a few years.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking:Now for two years. Alc: 12.5%

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Margan Aged Release Semillon 2011

Opens with appealing fresh notes of green apples.Some citrus, more grapefruit than lemon.Fine acidity here. Still youthful, it is finely balanced with plenty of length. Perhaps a little riper than some in the line-up but none the worse for that. There are touches of cashew/nuts and the texture is a delightful creamy and supple one. Some early development is evident, but many years ahead of it.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking:now for twenty years. Alc: 11.5%

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Margan Shiraz Mourvedre 2014

A great Hunter vintage and this is reflected in the Margan reds from ’14. Not a foot wrong. This blend is bright and fresh with an array of flavours including spices, red apples and raspberries. Good intensity and a lovely plushness. Long and juicy. This is a cracker. A wine that is terrific drinking now, but will become more complex over time. Up to you as to which you prefer.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking:now for twelve years. Alc: 14.5%

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Margan Breaking Ground Barbera 2014

Hands down the best Barbera the Margans have released (a vertical – the first ever vertical of Hunter Valley Barbera – confirmed this). Aromatics of cherries, spices and raspberries.A youthful wine with good concentration, fine acidity, soft tannins and very good length.A complete wine. Well-structured and has depth, but retains a delightfully appealing lightness. Will age and impress for many years.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking:4 for fifteen years. Alc: 12.5%

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Claymore Wines ‘London Calling’ Clare Valley Cabernet Malbec 2015

A punk rocker may not often grace a wine label, so perhaps this is a first. Youthful wine but oodles of flavour – cloves, black olives, leather. Black fruits abound. Malbec does well in the Clare Valley, perhaps as well here as it does anywhere in Australia, and this is a successful blend. Good underlying acidity, plenty of grip, nice length. Good value style with time in its favour.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking:2 to ten years. Alc: 14%

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Stonier’s Reserve Chardonnay 2014

Very fine Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay. Peaches and stonefruit notes. Quite an intense style, but it maintains its elegance – a fine tightrope. Some fresh underlying acidity.A very attractive style of Chardonnay. 2014 saw a change in the way Stonier’s handle these wines – including a move to puncheons as it allows more control over MLF, less new oak, more lees stirring and experimenting with different yeasts. It’s working.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking:Now for 6 years. Alc: 13%

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Stonier’sLyncroft Vineyard Chardonnay 2014

Moving into the single vineyard range, this is a seamless and supple example of MP Chardy. Very appealing and a style that is very drinkable. Flavours move through stonefruit, grilled cashews, a hint of oatmeal and ripe peaches. Impressive length. These are Chardonnays that will age both gracefully and well.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking:Now for 8 years. Alc: 13.8%

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Stonier’s KBS Chardonnay 2014

My favourite of the range from this year’s Chardonnay releases. Offers a touch more complexity than the others. Flavours range through florals, noticeably jasmine, beeswax, nuts and stonefruit. There is some vanillin oak but it is integrating well. Good concentration, fine balance and a real underlying minerally intensity. A great deal to like here.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking:Now for ten years. Alc: 13.5%

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Stonier’s Thompson Vineyard Chardonnay 2014

First made in the 2012 vintage, this wine is a soft, slightly broader Chardonnay than some in the range. Florals, nuts and minerally notes to be found here. It is neither as fine nor as focused as some, but rather, is a little more forward. The flavours are very appealing, though the finish is shorter than with some

Score: 90/100 Best drinking:: now for four years. Alc: 13%

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Stonier’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2014

Brightly perfumed, a hint of cowhide with strawberry notes, all adding to the complexity.A lovely soft, elegant Pinot of reasonable length, the sort of thing that Mornington Peninsula does so well.Very fine tannins. There is an ever-so-slight bitter almond note right on the finish. A wine with time ahead.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking:: Two to ten years. Alc: 13%

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Penfold's Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling 2016

A strong argument can be offered that this is the finest Bin 51 Penfold's have ever made. Intriguing aromas of perfumed lemons and Iced VoVo biscuity notes lie over slate and mineral characters. Bright and bracing with its vibrant acidity, this is nicely balanced with piercing length. A delightful fresh summer style, but has a glittering future ahead. Fantastic value

Score: 96/100 Best drinking:: Now for 20 years. Alc: 12%

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Penfold's Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2015

Gentle perfumes here.A pretty wine, rather than an imposing one. Lovely upfront fruit notes but lacks serious length. It does offer some very pleasant lemon touches and hints of grapefruit. There is a whiff of oak, as the wine seems to be still coming together. This is an attractive style and an enjoyable drink, but it does not measure up to their best Chardies, at least not with this vintage.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking:Now for four years. Alc: 13.5%

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Penfold's Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2015

By releasing their top two Chardies, this and Yattarna, from different vintages, Penfold's gives the wines the chance to shine on its merits and we find that preferences can vary from year to year. Yattarna has always been the always-proper school prefect, not a foot wrong, while Bin A is the unruly wild child. Wonderfully complex with struck match, flint and funky notes, this is a fine example of the style. Great texture and impressive length.Will get better. Love it.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking:8 to 10 years. Alc: 13%

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Penfold'sYattarna Chardonnay 2014

73% Derwent Valley, 27% Adelaide Hills, 70% new French oak. This is the more refined of the top two Penfold'sChardies, immaculately crafted. It is leaner, tighter and with a nice flick of refreshing acidity. Impressive length and the intensity is maintained throughout. Lemon, citrussy notes. There is oak evident but the wine is still integrating. Superb Aussie Chardonnay, but even better in a few years. This is a superb Yattarna, one of the best.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking:8 to 12 years. Alc: 13%

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Penfold's Bin 23 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2015

Free run juice, wild ferment, 7 to 8 clones, no filtration, minimal new oak, some whole bunch and nine months on gross lees – all those non-big company things one expects from boutique Pinot producers. And it works. A slightly funky style with sappy notes, woodsmoke, strawberry, blueberry characters. Supple tannins but the highlight is the amazing length. Not a bump.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking:5-6 years. Alc: 14%

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Penfold's Bin 2 Shiraz Mataro 2014

This is perhaps a red more suited to those who like a slightly old-fashioned style of wine, one that is perhaps a little chunky. But there is much to like. Slightly rustic with campfire, cold tea, black cherry and dark chocolate flavours entwined. At this stage, very young. It is solid and powerful at this stage, but the patient will be rewarded.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking:8 to 10 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz 2014

As Peter Gago said of this vintage of Bin 8, they “were empowered to make it better”. Nice lifted perfumes. A generous style, especially on the palate, although this is more restrained than 389. Florals, plums and blackfruit notes. The fruit is the dominant factor here and an array of different characters kept emerging. Lovely drinking already, though no rush, but you can happily enjoy this wine now, if you want to cellar other wines from the release.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking:Two to six years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's Bin 138 SGM 2014

Always one of my favourites of the annual release and a wine that never fails to drink well above its price. 2014 is no exception. Dark fruits here, blueberries and blackberries.A complete wine, with excellent length.Supple, rich, ripe and exuberant. Barossa SGM is a blend that works seamlessly (64%, 21% and 15% respectively). A joy to drink now but has years ahead of it.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking:: 4 to 10 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2014

A lighter, more austere style than most of the wines in the annual release, this has red apple notes and some red fruits. There is a hint of blueberry, but it is very much more raspberry. There is still a splintery touch of oak and reasonable grip on the finish with its fine tannins, though it is a smidge hollow in the middle. Lacks the vivaciousness of some but will reward patience.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: 4 to 8 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2014

The Kalimna Shiraz might be named after the famous Barossa vineyard, but that is pretty much where the link ends – this wine is from all over South Australia. 12 months in old American oak hogsheads. Thoroughly enjoyable now, but it is built to age for many years. We have notes of chocolate, blackberry, warm earth and spices. Soft tannins and decent length, this is more generous than some and is well balanced, concentrated, seamless and very attractive.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: 8 to 12 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2014

One of the rarer wines of the release in that it is a sub-regional offering, from Marananga in the Barossa. The colour is an inky black with purple rims. Chocolate and cocoa dominant up front.Concentrated but expressive with a sweet core of fruit.Ripe, juicy and delicious. Should have a good future, but there is lots to like now. If one wanted to be really picky, the intensity does fade a touch towards the finish, but by that stage, it will seem largely irrelevant.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: 10 to 12 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Every time, I really try and like this wine but every time, it leaves me a little flat. And given the price it pulls these days, it should surely do better? Leafy notes, dry herbs, fruit notes from the darker fruit end of the spectrum, some leather, a little of the Cabernet austerity. Lacking some length. Fair at best, for me. A wine that rarely inspires and this vintage is no exception.

Score: 88/100 Best drinking:2 to 4 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2014

Always a star and deservedly one of Australia’s most popular fine wines.Amazing quality for a wine that tops the 100,000 case mark annually.Chocolate, spices, black fruits, axle oil, and well-integrated oak.Has excellent length, fine tannins, good balance and a taut, appealing texture. It may not be the ridiculous bargain it once was, but it is still great buying. Every cellar should have some.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking:: 5 to 30 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's St Henri Shiraz 2013

A wine with poise and exquisite balance. Other end of the spectrum from the powerful, richly extracted styles which people tend to associate with Penfold's, this has finesse, balance and a classic structure. St Henri always ages well and this one will certainly do that. There are spice notes, florals, a hint of a saline character. Thoroughly appealing. The ’13 will have to compete with the two recent great St Henri’s, ’10 and ’12, but it is off to a flying start.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking:10 to 30 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's Magill Estate Shiraz 2014

A rare single vineyard wine in the portfolio – and an even rarer wine than most as it comes from a suburban vineyard that has managed to avoid the ever-encroaching swell of humanity – long may it do so. Notable oak notes here, but they are integrating well. It is a mix of French and American oak, all new barrels. Dark fruits, spices and earth but a core of finely balanced sweet fruit. With time, this will sing.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking:8 to 25 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's RWT Barossa Shiraz 2014

Originally dubbed ‘RWT’ for ‘red winemaking trial’, when the first vintage, the 1997, hit the shelves, it has outgrown that and we’ll now see it gradually start to be called ‘Bin 798’. 17 months in French hogsheads, just 70% new, ensure a very different style to the all-American, all-new oak Grange. Mulberries, a lovely slightly smoky note, spices, dark chocolate. Good grip and excellent length. This is a cracker wine.

Score: 96/100 Best drinking:5 to 25 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

17 months in new American hogsheads, this Cabernet is from the Barossa (including fruit from the legendary Block 42), Padthaway and Port Lincoln. If you are seeking an Aussie Cabernet to stand the test of time, there are not many better choices than Bin 707. The power in this wine is immediately apparent. Black fruits, florals, spices, dark chocolate, dry herbs and hints of bitumen. Terrific length of flavour here and the intensity is maintained throughout. A stunner.

Score: 98/100 Best drinking:8 to 40 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Penfold's Grange 2012

2012 Grange will be forever compared with its great sibling, the 2010, much like 1990/1991 and ’02/’04 (pity the poor 2011). 98% Shiraz, dominant Barossa, this is undoubtedly a great Grange. Powerful and intense, black fruits, florals, black olives, axle grease, cloves, chocolate and oolong tea. Heavily packed with tannins, but the overall impression is of a wine that is near perfectly balanced. Supple, seamless and concentrated, but nowhere near as approachable as the 2010 at this early stage. One for the cellar. If you have enjoyed Grange over the last decade, you'll love this.

Score: 99/100 Best drinking:12 to 50 years. Alc: 14.5%

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