Davids-reviews-June-2017

WINE REVIEWS BY DAVID SLY – JUNE 2017

Deviation Road Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris 2016

Too often a mangled style, pinot gris is approached with grace and intelligence by Kate Lawrie. A pleasing whiff of honey over nectarine and pear leads you to a fruity palate showing the same notes, along with mandarin and sharp grapefruit. However, it’s all about the lush texture and full body, with a sexy roll in the hips and firm phenolic grip balanced by a clean seam of refreshing acid.

Alc: 12.5%

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Tim Smith Wines Barossa Mataro Grenache Shiraz 2016

With mataro driving the bus, it’s the dark, spicy notes that sparkle, although terroir defines this blend. A sandy Vine Vale vineyard on the Barossa floor promotes bright juiciness in the berries that wrestle with gnarly old vine grunt in a lean and lively meld. It’s kept clean and delicious thanks to bright fruit acids.

Alc: 14.5%

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Tim Smith Wines Barossa Valley Mataro 2015

The perfume is surprisingly lively – orchard blossoms with a whiff of fragrant plums – which leads to a warm embrace of Chinese five spice on a palate rich with black cherries. The flavours keep dropping through intriguing layers of dark fruit and mouth-coating tannins, amplifying a moreish, chewy texture.

Alc: 14%

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Tim Smith Wines Barossa Shiraz 2015

Reaching for a flavour profile which steps aside from conventional Barossa shiraz, Tim Smith sources a mix of Barossa and Eden valley fruit from eight vineyards. It brings white pepper, elegance and great length to dark berry flavours. Concentrated without plodding weight, its fruit retains both bright and savoury characters, thanks to the measured pull of ripe tannins.

Alc: 14.5%

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Tim Smith Wines Barossa Valley Grenache 2016

Two old Barossa vineyards provide delicious grenache that’s bright, fresh and juicy – almost defying its heritage due to its sprightly profile, but then the vine age shows by giving powerful grip to both the flavours and texture of this wine. It cleverly embraces a slender modern style, while still acknowledging sinewy old vine muscle.

Alc: 14.5%

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Tim Smith Wines Bugalugs Barossa Shiraz 2016

Bottled earlier than TSW Barossa Shiraz, it’s aiming to capture juicy freshness in a wine still packed with dark cherry, red berries, licorice and vanilla. Add a bit of dry sage and you have familiar Barossa character dressed up in skinny mod trousers, with the pull of enough fine-grain tannin to ensure a satisfying finish.

Alc: 14.5%

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Tim Smith Wines Bugalugs Barossa Grenache 2016

Canny winemaking draws lengthy flavours from old vine fruit but deliberately keeps the wine looking youthful in the glass. Tim Smith never overstates the case in his wines, preferring this to remain medium bodied, fresh and juicy, but with restrained power in its persistent raspberry and plum flavours.

Alc: 14.5%

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Tim Smith Wines Reserve Barossa Mataro 2015

Not many Australian winemakers truly celebrate the dark beauty of mataro, but they don’t have the extraordinary old vine fruit that Tim Smith has to work with. Great poise and character in this worthy reserve wine has big black fruit notes, licorice and spice in check – fresh, juicy and lip-smackingly moreish – producing a lithe, medium-bodied drink with surprising depth and layers.

Alc: 13.5%

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Lake Breeze Arthur’s Reserve 2013

With Lake Breeze cabernet sauvignon continuing to win more wine show trophies, the brand’s patriarch cabernet blend often gets unnecessarily overlooked – though it demands and deserves great respect. It combines 90 per cent cabernet with a splash of petit verdot adding pretty violets to the bouquet, and some malbec contributing earthy grunt in the tail. With a lot of new French oak used, it’s opulent and built to last.

Alc: 14%

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Adelina Shiraz Mataro 2015

Rich red earth shapes the framework around this mighty Clare blend, built on 56 per cent shiraz from mostly 80-year-old vines. Long maceration brings complexity to the palate, with rich blackberry and dark plum joined by roasted nuts, spice, and a sprig of mint. Mainly old wood for maturation ensures savoury notes drive the inky palate, while a strong acid line keeps the flavours true and long. This will shine after at least five years in the cellar.

Alc: 14.5%

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Singlefile Frankland River Single Vineyard Shiraz 2015

Surprisingly funky and pungent black fruit with a whiff of musty forest floor, challenging you with a defiant sneer. It’s a different spectrum for a lean-bodied, spicy shiraz from southern Western Australia; you’ll need to roll with the grunt of this one.

Alc: 14.5%

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Singlefile Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2015

Boom! The sum of the parts makes for a big initial flavor hit, and the pleasure follows through to a tight, taut finish. It’s all about bold cabernet on the nose, boisterous blackberry being tempered by juicy red fruits in the mid-palate, and very taut blackberry grip at the conclusion.

Alc: -

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Singlefile Great Southern Chardonnay 2016

Clean and bright with fresh citrus on entry, this is still a solid style of chardonnay mainly defined by its oak usage. Yes, the fruit speaks in a measured, deliberate voice, but the savoury bite of toasty oak is louder, taking only cautious half-steps towards a truly modern style.

Alc: 13.5%

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First Drop Wines Mother’s Milk Shiraz 2015

Always generous and rounded with rich, plummy fruits, the Mother’s Milk recipe remains consistent and true – ripe but rolling like molten chocolate on the palate. Sweetness, spice and much that is nice within a friendly, big-framed wine.

Alc: 14.5%

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First Drop Wines The Matador Garnacha 2016

Ruby red, clean and juicy, this is grenache framed in a delightfully playful, lean style – a joyous picnic wine that shows no sign of heft, despite its sturdy 14.5% alcohol. There are lots of raspberry and cranberry licks, but no lolly confectionary, finishing lean and taut with deliberate tannic grip.

Alc: 14.5%

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St John’s Road PL Chardonnay 2016

Winemaker Phil Lehmann drew serious attention for the delicious wild yeast chardonnay he made at Yalumba and Teusner. Now he’s applying the same technique with aplomb for the big WD Wines portfolio that he drives with the Hesketh family. Lees stirring builds complexity and structure into a fruit-driven wine that has strong presence yet a supple, intriguing mouthfeel.

Alc: 14%

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St John’s Road Prayer Garden Barossa Grenache 2016

Cuttings from the Riebke family’s 120-year-old Prayer Garden vines, planted in deep red soil within Resurrection Vineyard at Ebenezer, has provided fruit showing extraordinary depth and complex flavours. Ripe cherries, dried sage, tangy raspberry, red earth, plum, baking spices – it’s all here, and more. Volumes are limited, so act fast to secure this great value wine.

Alc: 14%

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St John’s Road The Evangelist Barossa Shiraz 2015

A mix of old vines from Eden Valley, Stonewell and Ebenezer provides exemplary fruit, and this impressive sum of the parts retains important elements from all three sites, with black fruits, rich red earth and fragrant anise. Forward without being pushy, it has a sumptuous mouthfeel and rich, rewarding flavours while remaining under the command of firm, sturdy tannins.

Alc: 14.5%

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Karrawatta Adelaide Hills Anth’s Garden Chardonnay 2016

Grapegrower-turned-wine producer Mark Gilbert keeps expanding the range of his fledgling Adelaide Hills brand, now issuing his first chardonnay, and pricing it as a serious positioning statement. It has great intensity and tension between sharp citrus and stone fruit flavours against a spark of mineral tang, with serious oak pulling its grapefruit-framed palate into a taut corset.

Alc: 12.5%

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Deviation Road Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2015

Holding the wine back longer in barrel before release results in a more complex, textural drink, and it has been expertly handled to ensure lovely poise through a careful balance between fruit and oak. White peach with a trace of ginger influences the fine bouquet, but is more deliberate on the palate, through tightly wound textural layers that envelope long, lingering flavours.

Alc: 12%

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Wicks Estate Chardonnay 2016

Clean and forward in its primary fruit character, the front palate is quite loud and peachy, though never broad. The seemingly sweet and obvious clean flavor profile takes a sudden turn, though, with toasty oak grip ensuring savoury pull at the conclusion. A difficult marriage, not quite achieving harmony.

Alc: 12.5%

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Shottesbrooke Estate Series Chardonnay 2016

Expansion of this ambitious McLaren Vale winery sees the introduction of its new Hills Seekers series, showing off its purchase of a Kuitpo vineyard to enable stronger cool climate white wine expressions. Matured mostly in stainless steel on yeast lees, with a portion in new French oak going through malolactic fermentation, it achieves the combination of clean stonefruit notes with rounded texture and grip in the body; a careful each-way bet.

Alc: 13%

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Shottesbrooke Single Vineyard Series Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016

The nose suggests a tight, powerful expression, being rich in dark, toasty oak, and roasted chestnuts, before the palate opens up to show clean and lean golden fruit. Having been sourced from a high altitude vineyard near Meadows (540 metres), the acidity is high and speaks through the wine, with oak ensuring firm savoury grip. It’s austere and built to last.

Alc: 13%

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Coriole McLaren Vale Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

A significant step up from Coriole’s entry-level Songbird cabernet, this builds on the winery’s long-held style that aims for neatly balanced satisfaction and depth of rounded flavours. The aromas are clean, bright and sharp, while generous red earth warmth completes an affectionate embrace of rich blackberry and redcurrant.

Alc: 14.5%

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Coriole Mary Kathleen Cabernet Merlot 2013

A gorgeous harmony of compatible grapes meshes cabernet’s muscular strength with merlot’s supple appeal. Blueberry meets cedar in a big-framed palate that still remains elegant and seamless. Great flavor length is entwined with fine and proud tannins, built for long duration in the cellar.

Alc: 14.5%

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Coriole Lloyd Reserve Shiraz 2013

Not what you’d expect from McLaren Vale shiraz, showing extraordinary poise within a cloak of dark power. The palate possesses a graceful, silky flow through a swirl of concentrated black fruits, although there’s extraordinary power and persistence in the tight, muscular finish, suggesting a very long life ahead.

Alc: 14.5%

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Pikes Premio Sangiovese 2015

Here’s an example of what smart Australian sangiovese looks like with the benefit of vine age, and a more restrained hand in the winery. Settling for medium palate weight allows vibrant notes of cherry and dark chocolate to roll around a core of tight-grained oak. Sustained by clean acid, and with a hint of dried sage atop drying tannins at the finish, this begs to be in the company of roasted porchetta, or at least a plate of pork and fennel sausages.

Alc: 14%

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Mitolo Jester McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

For many years, winemaker Ben Glaetzer has made this brand notable for providing generous flavours at a very attractive price, and so it continues. Bright, lush and juicy, it has a big body – underlined by Amarone technique used to dry 20 per cent of the fruit. This gives immediate, mouth-filling pleasure, tempered by gravelly tannins preventing the big flavours from being overblown.

Alc: 14.5%

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Reschke Rufus The Bull Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Deep, dark notes of blackcurrant and mulberry are bound up in leather, with the whiff of cigar box, cedar and baking spice. It finishes dry with hints of earthy black olive among chewy tannins. This is serious Coonawarra cabernet presented at an attractive entry-level price.

Alc: 13.8%

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Irvine The Estate Cabernet Blend 2014

Ruby red and juicy, this has easy approachability. The addition of 15 per cent merlot with 5 per cent petit verdot ensures brightness and length to the supple body of Barossa cabernet. The bite comes in the tail, when distinctive cabernet tannins show true varietal character.

Alc: 14%

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Irvine Springhill Merlot 2015

With increasing interest from new school winemakers about how to approach Australian merlot in a more serious manner, it’s interesting to look at this benchmark Eden Valley merlot producer. Plummy and rounded on the palate without being chubby, it’s the silky, supple texture that has you reaching for a second glass. Not so much mellow as gently seductive.

Alc: 14.5%

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Yalumba Virgilius Eden Valley Viognier 2009

The reason for this unusual review (an older vintage, not currently available commercially, although stocks remain in Yalumba’s cellars) is to illustrate the surprising and pleasing cellaring potential of premium viognier. Complexity in the middle palate is alluring – like mature semillon of high pedigree – as stonefruits and bright citrus meld with delightful rounded notes of honeysuckle, and gracefully persist through superb length.

Alc: 13.5%

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Yalumba The Caley 2012

This first release of a super blend from Yalumba brings together exceptional components from a superior vintage – 50 per cent Coonawarra cabernet, 25 per cent Barossa cabernet and 25 per cent Eden Valley shiraz. It’s a careful and wise selection, with shiraz fitting comfortably inside the rich Coonawarra tannin profile. It has deep rumbling power, yet still boasts vivacious, bright primary fruit, which also influences its seductive perfume. But the star attraction is the seamless transition through cabernet’s dry, firm bite and velvety blackberry to the plush blueberry of shiraz within a sturdy, formidable structure. Will last an age in the cellar.

Alc: -

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Yalumba The Steeple Vineyard Shiraz 2012

From a biodynamic vineyard at Light Pass, this fruit boasts a magnificently rich nose, with black fruits riding over ripe red berries. The resulting wine is open and generous, cheery and big-hearted, finishing with dancing spice and nice bright fruit acids, held in balance thanks to close attention of French oak usage.

Alc: -

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Big Easy Radio Fiano Vermentino 2016

The mildness and polite, effortless glide across the palate seems initially rather underwhelming, but then the onion skin layers begin to show themselves; milky chocolate, a lick of red earth, a hint of mintiness, the taut pull of oak, the silky red roll of merlot over plush blackberry. Its charms unfold the longer it lives in the glass. Don’t worry; be happy.

Alc:14.5%

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Big Easy Radio Touriga Malbec 2016

Justin Lane and Matt Head like making blends from Langhorne Creek alternative varieties, and champion their delightful drinkability. These two varieties are split evenly, with big ruby coloured malbec producing chew and grunt, but touriga’s bight top notes of plum and cinnamon setting the agenda. Spiciness adds grip and punch to the back palate, closing off a very satisfying bistro drink.

Alc:-

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Big Easy Radio Fiano Vermentino 2016

This shows the great potential of alternative whites from Langhorne Creek, especially in zesty blends. The vibrant entry benefits from a bright squeeze of citrus freshness, but there’s grip in the textual mid-palate, thanks to some lees stirring of the fiano component while in barrel. The sum is a smiling food wine with a bit of strut and purpose.

Alc:-

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Big Easy Radio Garnacha 2016

Sourced from McLaren Vale’s Seaview region, this vintage of grenache was probably not as ripe at the winemakers would like. While it opens with a clean, forward fruit expression, all bright cherry with a lick of juicy raspberry, the flavours are a bit abrupt; like a short, curt conversation. Incredibly lean and savoury but with a very soft grip, it closes gently with powdery talc on the finish.

Alc:-

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Kirrihill Piccoli Lotti Montepulciano 2016

From a Mount Lofty Ranges vineyard, this small batch offering has alluring perfume and bright raspberry freshness but also carries traces of sootiness and a lean, leathery grip. There’s plenty of spice among the berries and a lick of licorice, with the whole slender unit staying lean and taut. It’s an impressive, disciplined take on the variety, and slick new packaging will encourage tasters to look at this Kirrihill offering afresh.

Alc:14.6%

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Kirrihill EB’s The Settler Watervale Riesling 2016

Watervale style is writ large in this riesling with notable length and persistence of flavour. There’s the fresh, zesty zing of tight lemon juice over lime, then a long slately lick at the finish, completing the palate with acid carrying the bracing minerality through a long, lean ride.

Alc:11%

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Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Strong nose, strong colour, strong presence. There’s serious concentration within clipped blackberry and peppery spice that provide deep, dark bass notes to this cabernet from the Seaview district, renowned for its generous flavours. Big ripeness robs the wine of finesse, but the burly berry notes drive hard through the palate, straight and true.

Alc:14.5%

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Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015

Huge purple colour in the glass suggests a hefty punch, but there’s silk woven through the palate along with big, brawny fruit. Winemaker Michael Fragos finds a sensible balance between plummy sweetness and find black tannins, with flavor volume turned up high, but also a touch of tenderness.

Alc:14.5%

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Forage Supply Co Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015

From the Rogasch family’s biodynamic vineyard in Tanunda, contract winemaker Tim Dolan captures rich, earthy blueberry and blackberry with the roll of luscious Barossa chocolate in the glass. Weighty, slightly jammy fruit sits heavily on the palate, although a prickle of spice rises in the tail, along with some funky black tannic bite.

Alc:14.5%

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Forage Supply Co Barossa Valley GSM 2015

Ruby red in the glass, this union of Barossa and McLaren Vale fruit carries a pleasing lick of licorice and tobacco from mataro, although the grenache lacks necessary fruit intensity to drive the blend. It takes a while to open in the glass before the oomph of shiraz makes an effort to fill the gaps in a lean, sinewy palate.

Alc:14%

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Mitolo The Nessus Shiraz 2016

Showing significant depth of flavor and rich purple colour, this is weighty shiraz with a gentle touch, benefitting from maturation in older oak. A meld of dark chocolate and blackberry rolls around with soft, silky tannins, ensuring a plush, generous mouthfeel.

Alc:14.5%

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Terre a Terre Crayeres Vineyard Reserve 2014

Wrattonbully cabernet is mightily impressive for exhibiting rich cassis notes, but this first release from the 10-year-old Crayeres vineyard is especially surprising for the maturity and depth in the wine. Winemaker Xavier Bizot achieves wonderful purity of flavor, with the addition of 5% cabernet franc adding pretty floral lift. Slender on entry, it hits warm, rich bass notes in the tail, held in place with clean, fine tannins – the full cabernet package in a slim, lithe palate.

Alc:14.1%

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Oliver’s Taranga The Hunt For Mrs Oliver Fiano Methode Traditionale

As an enthusiastic and worthy advocate for fiano, Oliver’s Taranga has created a sparkling version – a fun experiment constructed seriously, based on methode traditionale. There are pretty blossoms and floral lift on the nose, while the tight, lean palate combines the crunch of pear, the bright zing of citrus, and the warmth of roasted cashews. Tiny amounts have been made, which are now being sold en primeur, with delivery in late November.

Alc:12%

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Gemtree Luna de Fresa Tempranillo Rose 2017

Named after the strawberry moon that reflects its biodynamic harvesting, this vibrant rose style is more about a seductive waft of rosewater that strikes the nose rather than strawberry. The fruit’s brightness and cleanliness is tempered by some spicy grip in the palate that allows the pretty tempranillo flavour

Alc:12.8%

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Gemtree Luna Temprana 2017

Here’s one of few Australian takes on a joven style to really get the gist of what tempranillo grapes do best. Picked early and lean, it’s a careful balance of bright black plums with the seduction of cinnamon and nutmeg notes. The flavor profile is tall, lean and proud – a young matador in his finery, with a spring in his step but steel in his attitude. Olé!

Alc:12.9%

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Gemtree April’s Dance Sparkling

A playful take on a different sparkling style, combining estate-grown savagnin with chardonnay. It’s made in the lively, light style of prosecco, but with more complex flavor combinations – fleshy honeydew melon showing over bright lime and a lick of fresh grapefruit in the tail, ensuring zesty, puckery zing for a bright final note. June 2017 David Sly

Alc:10.5%

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RAY'S WINE GUIDE 2017