Ray Jordan’s weekly reviews

Saturday Magazine 6th October 2018

Henschke Hills of Grace 2013 ($825)

Only a tiny amount of this wine made from a very dry year. Deep purple colour. On the nose lots of spices with coffee, sage and bay leaf characters sliced with a little black olive. Seamless chalky tannins and fine oak infusion. It’s a most stylish wine with great length and velvety smooth structure. The five spice and dried herbs character lift from the nose. A complex and majestic wine for the ages.

Score: 98/100 Best drinking: Now to 2045 Alc: 14.5%

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Henschke Abbott’s Prayer cabernet sauvignon merlot 2015 ($105)

This is only the third vintage to be cabernet dominant. Opens with a spices and dried herbs character within the complex bouquet. Chalky tannins cut through the cherry, raspberry and plummy palate influences. Grainy texture with a gravelly feel a very good wine.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: Now to 2032 Alc: 14.5%

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Henschke The Wheelwright shiraz 2015 ($130)

This is the first release of this wine from a 50-year-old Eden Valley vineyard planted by Cyril Henschke. It’s an immensely powerful wine with oak playing a more significant role even though only 10 per cent was new. Has a spicy character and is quite different to both Hill of race and Mount Edelstone. Sage and bay leaf with a distinct iron filings complexity.

Score: 96/100 Best drinking: Now to 2038 Alc: 14.5%

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Henschke Keyneton Euphonium 2014 ($60)

A bright and brilliant wine brimming with ripe plummy fruit cake characters and a little stewed prune complexity. A decent dollop of dark chocolate adds further rich feel to the palate. An appealing wine for the medium term.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now to 2028 Alc: alc:14 %

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Henschke Henry’s Seven 2016 ($37)

This is a blend of shiraz with smaller contributions from grenache and mataro and a splash of viogniet to spice things up. This is one of the best I have tasted of this wine. Has a beautiful fruit purity with spicy gingery character. The perfume emerges so beautifully from the bouquet with other spicy bright fruit aromas. Appealing seamless palate.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: Now to 2028 Alc: 14.5%

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Saturday Magazine 29th September 2018

One of the great joys in life is drinking old wine, that has been kept well and has reached a point of optimal maturity – perhaps even a little past it. With really old wines you are drinking more than an engaging liquid; you are drinking a piece of history, something created when great events which shaped the world took place.
But another even more direct and tangible link to those times past are the vines which helped create those wines. Vines which have stood through World Wars, drought, floods, good times and bad, and which are still pumping out fruit. They are old, very old, quite fragile and so precious. But lie still courses serason after season.
Australia has some of the oldest producing vines in the world, many of them in the Barossa, including shiraz, grenache, mourvedre and cabernet sauvignon.
The reason is that in the nineteenth century a tiny bug wiped out most of the vineyards of Europe, while doing much the same in some parts of Australia.
Fortunately, the vineyards of the Barossa survived and some like Langmeil’s The Freedom, which was planted in 1843, are continuing to feed some of the best wines we make in this country.
This week I have featured the Langmeil wine along with four other excellent South Australian shiraz from both the Barossa and McLaren Vale. It shows the quality and range of styles and prices.
There is a current trend towards lighter style shiraz, often defined by the synonym syrah, and while many provide a pleasing alternative, I think my heart remains with the fuller and more robust styles of these two regions.

Langmeil The Freedom 1843 shiraz 2016 ($135)

This extraordinary shiraz is sourced from one of the world's oldest shiraz vineyards. Deep, concentrated and immense in every aspect. Yet the fruit has been handled so well to achieve a high degree of elegance and charm. It’s bright and energetic with a brilliance and vitality. Layer upon layer of favours reveal themselves as it breathes.

Score: 98/100. Best drinking: Now to 2040 Alc: 14.5%

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Leconfield shiraz 2017 ($26)

Such a beautiful and engaging shiraz from McLaren Vale. Perfumed aromas on the nose are immediately captivating with spices and plummy notes with a drop of vanilla essence. The palate has a velvety feel with fine grained powdery tannin support and neatly applied oak. This is so good now but it will cellar beautifully.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: Now to 2028 Alc: 14.5%

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Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz ($45)

Brilliant crimson red color. The nose is all blueberry and blackberry notes with a little coffee grinds and licorice. The palate is plush and polished with a smooth elegant mix of plush ark fruits with a lavish coating of dark chocolate. Gets both French and American oak which work beautifully. Fine chalky tannins contribute to the long finish.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now to 2030 Alc: alc: 14.5%

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Yangarra Estate Vineyard Ironheart shiraz 2015 ($105)

A beautifully constructed shiraz from McLaren vale with some interesting winemaking. Handpicked and a quarter whole bunches used in the ferment where it was plunged regularly. It's had nearly half new French oak treatment. Has a slightly dusty ironstone character with a minerally finish. There's a strong sense of place and vineyard here with its dry dusty finish.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: Now to 2033 Alc: 14.5%

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Yelland & Papps Devote Greenock shiraz 2016 ($40)

Deliciously rich and flavoursome shiraz sourced from the Greenock subregion within the Barossa. Treated with wild yeast fermentation, open fermentation and basket pressing. So smooth and seamlessly structured with only a small amount of new oak.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: Now to 2026 Alc: 13.5%

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Saturday Magazine 22th September 2018

There are some who might suggest to geologist Steve Hall, that some of the rocks he explored and examined for much of his working life must have found their way into his head. After all, why invest in a small Denmark vineyard when he had a perfectly good career in oil and gas with a major company.
It happened by accident one long weekend when he saw a ‘for sale’ sign on the vineyard. He reasoned, mistakenly he now admits, that Australian rural property would follow a trend he had seen in the UK and launch into a boom.
The property boom never happened, but Hall remains pleased with his acquisition of Matilda’s Meadow, which he has renamed Rockcliffe, after the 100m high granite rock cliffs along the eastern end of Denmark’s main bay nearby.
“The place was pretty run down and had been simply ticking over after the original owners had moved interstate,” he said. “I started to think this was an opportunity and after negotiating the purchase, changed the vineyard by pulling out the unsuitable cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot and cabernet franc, while retaining the pinot, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.”
He has since invested more into the place by building a winery as production has grown, resulting in a decision to leave the oil and gas industry a few years to focus full time on Rockcliffe.
The wines have impressed, from the value for money Quarrum Rocks range, through the Third Reef to the Single Site, with pinot noir and chardonnay especially good.

Rockcliffe Single Site pinot noir 2017 ($60)

A thoroughly delightful light to medium bodied pinot that ranks with the best these guys have made. Heady aromas of cherry and violet with a raspberry nuance. The palate is pure joy. Soft, supple fruit flavours supported with fine chalky tannins and super fine oak. A little earthy mushroom character adds some complexity. This has structure and power combined with that lovely vibrant velvety fruit.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: Now to 2028 Alc: 13.5%

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Rockcliffe Single Site chardonnay 2016 ($60)

Has a creamy rich and powerful line through the palate and the slight struck-match, flinty character adds to the complex aromas. Light stone fruit, with a roasted cashew and brioche, creme brulee influence fills the palate. Excellent oak treatment. The dry savoury finish complements things. Impressive wine.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: Now to 2025 Alc: 13.5%

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Rockcliffe Single Site cabernet sauvignon 2015 ($60)

This is a lovely well-structured wine displaying most attractive primary blackcurrant fruit characters. Fine grainy tannins and a slightly ironstone and minerally influences. A touch of oyster shell adds a typical cabernet varietal touch. An excellent wine of structure and poise.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now to 2028 Alc: 14.5%

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Rockcliffe Single Site riesling 2016 ($35)

This is from the Forest Hill vineyard in Mount Barker, so you know there’s some quality fruit sitting here. It’s dry and crisp with fine talcy, bath salts characters. Has plenty of power, which you expect from this old vineyard, and it delivers with a tight focused control. Good weight and length. 93/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2028; alc: 12.5%)

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: Now to 2028 Alc: 12.5%

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Rockcliffe Third Reef pinot noir 2017 ($30)

This is another very good value for money pinot noir. Has sour cherry notes on the nose with hints of sage and earthiness. Seamless satiny palate with fine chalky tannins and fine-grained oak. A lingering precise acidity sustains the palate profile.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: Now to 2023 Alc: 13.5%

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Saturday Magazine 15th September 2018

It was inevitable that Robert Gherardi would end up in the wine industry. As a child he picked grapes in the Swan Valley and remembers the big lunches with his extended family and cousins that were part of his Italian way of life after a morning in the vineyards
His life’s journey took him to Margaret River, where he worked for producers such as Moss Wood and Cullen, and then to Italy where he was exposed to the traditional Old-World winemaking techniques in Barolo and then Valtellina of Northern Lombardy, from where both sides of his family originated. .
Those wines and how they are made continue to influence his approach to making wine in Margaret River under his own label, Mr Barval, a name which combines the MR or Margaret River, the Bar of Barolo and the Val of Valtellina.
His approach is both traditional and natural, though not to be confused with some of the natural faulty concoctions masquerading as wine. His aim is to make wines that reflect their vineyard and regional origins, with minimal winemaking intervention. He uses only indigenous yeasts and adopts a very gentle basket pressing technique with both his reds and whites. And he ensures the wines are stable and clean.
I was mighty impressed with the wines at a recent tasting. There is a purity and delicacy here, combined with lovely mouth feel and texture. Check our independents in Perth or go to www.mrbarval.com.

Mr Barval cabernet merlot 2016 ($40)

There’s a little bit of petit verdot in this cab merlot blend form Wilyabrup and Wallcliffe. Enticing aromas of blackcurrant and leafy black olive and chocolate notes displaying a beautiful purity of expression. It was wild fermented and then had 21 months in oak of which 22% was new. Seamless palate profile with fine tannins and gentle oak providing complexity and support.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now to 2030 Alc: 13.5%

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Mr Barval chardonnay 2017 ($40)

Love the edgy minerality on the nose. It's loaded with fruit displaying light stone fruit creaminess and a grapefruit cashew impact. The oak is well managed and the wild fermentation adds another layer of complexity. Finishes with a dry savoury edge.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: Now to 2024 Alc: 13.7%

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Mr Barval Nebbia 2017 ($35)

This combination of Yallingup and Capel nebbiolo is a light to medium bodied wine capturing so many of the essential characters of this Piedmonte variety. The oak plays a part in the maturation but is understated in the finished wine. It's dry and savoury with some nice red fruit characters and a fine bone-dry finish. Love the subtle dried herb influence on the nose.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: Now to 2024 Alc: 13.9%

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Mr Barval Vino Rosso 2016 ($30)

A really appealing wine for drinking in the short to medium term. It's a blend of petit verdot and merlot from Wilyabrup and it's been given 21 months in older oak. Love the smooth textural feel in the mouth with the silky-smooth tannins and lightly applied oak working perfectly together. Has a bright energy about it with a sustained finish.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: Now to 2025 Alc: 14.5%

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Mr Barval Mistral viognier marsanne 2017 ($30)

This blend of the Rhone varieties viognier and marsanne has been picked early to create a tighter less opulent style, but one which still uses the natural fruit intensity of these two varieties. It was pressed straight into French oak and then left on les for 12 months, creating a tight and keen edge to the palate.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: Now to 2025 Alc: 11.9%

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Saturday Magazine 8th September 2018

The premise makes sense. Choose the varieties you want to produce and then stick them in the regions where they do best. Okay, not exactly of Descartes of Nietzsche philosophical complexity, but nonetheless logical.
That distinguished site concept was the premise behind the founding of Petaluma in 1976 and remains to this day the foundation of Petaluma’s wines. But that concept has evolved to another level of detail with individual site selection, based on aspect, soil, rainfall and other factors, considered.
The company has come quite a way too from when Brian Croser started it and is now part of the massive Accolade umbrella, although it retains a healthy autonomy.
The wines are made from fruit sourced in three main areas - Clare for riesling, Coonawarra for cabernet sauvignon, and the Adelaide Hills for chardonnay.
And the wines under chief winemaker Andrew hardy continue to evolve as he seeks to leverage the quality of those vineyards. For instance, the Hanlin Hill riesling from Clare is picked about a month earlier than it was in the 70s, a result of climate change and the pursuit of a more approachable modern floral wine. And the Coonawarra wines are being tweaked with refinements in oak handling to seek more elegance, while the chardonnays from Piccadilly have been brought into a more modern style with subtle winemaking changes, that include less new oak influence.
The result is an impressive range that begins with the highly appealing and good value White Label range through to the Yellow label and Tiers and Evans vineyard wines at the top end.

Petaluma White label chardonnay 2017 ($26)

This is a nice little entry level chardonnay from Adelaide Hills vineyards, including the renowned Piccadilly vineyard. It’s a lighter and finer style with less oak influence that’s a result of non-intrusive large format oak. It’s tank fermented, which is important in producing a wine for immediate enjoyment.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: Now to 2022 Alc: 13%

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Petaluma White label Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon 2016 ($28)

This terrific year in Coonawarra has contributed to a classically refined an elegant cabernet. The quite simple winemaking approach has captured the berry essence characters and harnessed the fine chalky tannins into the focussed palate structure. Excellent drinking over the next few years.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: Now to 2023 Alc: 14.5%

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Petaluma Coonawarra merlot 2015 ($65)

A substantial bold merlot. Opens on the nose with a driving impact of blackberry and juicy plummy fruit. The palate is a powerhouse of deep and concentrated fruit with firm assertive chalky tannins and plenty of supporting oak. Seamless palate structure is a feature. Plush blackberry with a liberal spicy dried herb influence. It will handle long-term cellaring. 92/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2030; alc: 13.4 %)

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: Now to 2030 Alc: 13.4%

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Petaluma Evans Vineyard Coonawarra 2013 ($75)

This is a serious statement of Coonawarra. It’s a blend of 73 per cent cabernet with 19% merlot and 8% shiraz. It gets 100% new French oak. This super year in Coonawarra has yielded fruit that the new oak has lapped up. Fine grainy tannins and a decent hit of oak which might be lightened up in future vintages. This is a wine built for extended cellaring.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now to 2032 Alc: 14.5%

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Petaluma Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay 2017 ($46)

Comes from the Piccadilly Valley which produces some of Petaluma’s best chardonnay. It’s a wine with excellent richness and texture through the palate. The oak has been backed off although it still gets 50% new oak. It’s all put through malolactic fermentation which brings a high degree of texture and palate richness into it. Sits somewhere between the buttery and finer lemon zone.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: Now to 2026 Alc: 13.5%

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Saturday Magazine 1st September 2018

It was one of those chance happenings that can change the course of history. Bass Phillip’s owner Phillip Jones was attending a wine conference in Albany in the late 70s which required that he visit an early pinot noir vineyard in the region.
He remembers little of the vineyard, apart from those pinot noir vines, which he noted were somewhat spindly and devoid of much foliage vigour. At that point he was about to plant his newly acquired vineyard in South Gippsland but had already become concerned that the Bordeaux varieties he initially intended for the site would be too vigorous because of the fertile soils.
He reasoned that a variety less vigorous, with different ripening times that might be better suited to the rich soils of South Gippsland, where you could plant a few bricks and bits steel and masonry and grow a house, such is the fertility and richness of the soils.
Jones decided then and there that pinot noir and chardonnay would be his vines of choice. And the rest, so the cliché goes, is history. Bass Phillip has evolved to become Australia’s greatest pinot noir producer, drawing global acclaim and creating a status of almost mythical proportions.
Jones, himself, has achieved similar status. At a tasting there is an almost audible “that’s him over there” from wine lovers wanting to taste his wine and maybe score a sip of his legendary and expensive Reserve pinot noir.
He combines curiosity, scientific discipline, passion and frightening, uncompromising commitment to quality over quantity. And he admits: Yes, I’m just a little bit crazy too.”
But the result has been an extraordinary catalogue of truly great wines. His vineyards have been organic since 1993 and biodynamic since 2002.
He hates chemicals which he describes as poison. And when he speaks about his wine, he does so with words such as energy, vibrancy and life, which he attributes to the impact of cosmic rhythms that guide his approach to his very low-cropping close planted viticultural practise.
For Jones, his wines are about nature and the vineyard and his traditional minimalistic winemaking approach is designed to capture the essence of that vineyard. Jones is driven by the pursuit of perfection. He might not get there, but he will go mighty close. Check out Lamont’s Cottesloe or go on line at www.bassphillip.com

Bass Phillip Old Cellar chardonnay 2016 ($38)

Nice entry level wine for Bass Phillip. Opens with white peach and fresh cream aromas. There is a tight minerality and finesse of structure here. Has a long chalky palate with a lingering finish. A most complete refined wine that is the result of a barrel cull in the winery. Oak is understated, so this is about vibrant fruit.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now to 2024 Alc: 12.2%

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Bass Phillip Premium chardonnay 2016 ($99)

This super wine is from five rows planted in 1979. It’s a small production wine, with only three barrels made each year. And it is one of the few Aussie chardonnays getting 100% new oak. Jones calls it a stupid wine because even at close to $100 it is not a commercially attractive wine for him to make. Combines power and delicate structure with a penetrating long chalky finish.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking: Now to 2028 Alc: 12.7%

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Bass Phillip Crown Prince pinot noir 2016 ($65)

This is the biggest production pinot for Jones with about 1000 cases made. It’s about the quality of the fruit and there is no new oak used, with most of it quite old. It’s lightly structured with a sweet and sour cherry character sustained by a fine chalky acidity, with good depth in the middle palate.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now to 2028 Alc: 12.8%

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Bass Phillip Estate pinot noir 2016 ($79)

A highly structured and brilliant wine displaying a silky pure textural profile. It’s wonderfully integrated and seamless with a balance of firmish tannins and fruit and only a tiny amount of new oak adding a little spice. The oak is primarily used to balance the wine. It’s a wonderful example of Bass Phillip’s pinot from a very good year. The palate is simply drop dead gorgeous.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking: Now to 2033 Alc: 12.8%

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Bass Phillip Premium pinot noir 2016 ($219)

This is where Bass Phillips moves into another zone. It sits one rung below the legendary Reserve. A most expressive wine displaying the seamless structural integrity that has made these wines so revered. There is power here and yet it’s delivered with such effortless finesse and understatement. Anyone with even a passing interest in pinot noir should try this wine. And they cellar for many years.

Score: 98/100 Best drinking: Now to 2035 Alc: 13.2%

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Saturday Magazine 25th August 2018

The Penfolds Collection is the most important catalogue of Australian wines released each year. The annual tasting, which has little trouble enticing most of Australia’s wine writing fraternity, contains some of our most iconic wines.
Sure, there’s Grange, but then there is St Henri, a stylistic opposite expression of shiraz to Grange, Magill Estate, which comes from a vineyard that is now almost part of the CBD, and the famous Bin wines such as 707, 389, 128 and 28.
Grange quite rightly is the wine everyone wants to see. But Grange can be predictable. You know the style, you know the vintage and you know that it is going to be, well, err, Grange. With notable exceptions such as 2000 and 2011, it is consistently outstanding. You almost want to call it reliable, but that tends to do its greatness and place in Australian wine lore a significant disservice.
It’s the other wines that live in Grange’s mighty shadow that get me just a little excited some years.
So, this week I have highlighted five of the other wines. In particular, the Coonawarra Bin 169 cabernet sauvignon and the RWT shiraz are fabulous wines, both scoring higher than Grange on my sheet.
For the record, Grange gets 97 points, and it is a very good wine. But at $900 a bottle, it should be.

Penfolds RWT shiraz 2016 ($200)

Fragrant and delightful Barossa shiraz that gets 100% French oak of which around 3/4 was new. This is gorgeous stuff. Elegant and stylish with dry chalky tannins and fine-grained oak in support. Has a density and concentration yet it delivers it with so much poise and polish. This is a classy expression of Barossa shiraz that goes outside the tradtional Penfolds boundaries. The palate is defined by incredible length and driving persistence.

Score: 98/100 Best drinking: Now to 2043 Alc: 14.5%

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Penfolds Bin 169 cabernet sauvignon 2016 ($360)

This is a tight and powerful Coonawarra cabernet. A little breathing helped bring it out of its shell, but this wine is one for the long haul. It's been given 13 months in new French oak hogsheads. The oak is clearly taking control now but with time it will all come together. It is more in the tight and tart cranberry zone than the black fruits generally associated with this variety. Has an extraordinary deep core with so much drive and energy coiled within. A wine with great ageing potential.

Score: 98/100 Best drinking: Now to 2043 Alc: 14.5%

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Penfolds Bin 389 cabernet shiraz 2016 ($100)

One of Australia's most famous cabernet shiraz blends and this is a beauty from this excellent vintage. It's from several different regions with Barossa dominance and gets all American oak with about 37% new. It is a distinctive expression of this blend with a meaty blueberry character plus a sprinkle of coffee grinds and vanilla essence. The balance is superb, and it retains a poise and elegance that is reserved for only the best vintages. There’s a lovely soy sauce character that lifts those meaty characters.

Score: 98/100 Best drinking: Now to 2043 Alc: 14.5%

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Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga shiraz 2016 ($100)

This distinctive shiraz was introduced a few years ago as a specific subregional wine, in this case from the Marananga subregion. Strikes with a distinctive minerality and ironstone character which seems very site specific. The fruit has a most pronounced blueberry character on the nose. The palate is a stunningly integrated and powerful wine that retains its elegance and poise through to a sustained finish. Love the subtle sprinkle of spices and clove which just finish off a marvellous statement of shiraz.

Score: 96/100 Best drinking: Now to 2033 Alc: 14.5%

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Penfolds Reserve Bin A chardonnay 2017 ($125)

This is a stunning chardonnay. Nose of light toasted cashew and savoury notes. A little creme brulee in there for richness. Trace of struck match. Its had eight months French oak of which 40% was new. Trace of pear and citrus. Cuts such a fine line to a very long finish with structure and poise. There’s a minerality as well. A complete and complex chardonnay demonstrating the best of this variety.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking: Now to 2028 Alc: 12.5%

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Saturday Magazine 18th August 2018

Arimia is one of those places that takes you back…way back. You drive a kilometre or so down a gravel track off Caves Road at Quininup, to find a rather quaint, leafy restaurant and cellar door environ. There is none of the grandeur and opulence of some of the region’s famed cellars, but it is immediately engaging and welcoming.
I found myself there largely on the back of one wine – a mourvedre I first tasted last year. It was a mighty impressive wine that I logged in what is left of my memory and when the next vintage of this classic Rhone variety was presented to me this year, a decided it was time to investigate further.
The property, which claims to be Australia’s most westerly vineyard, was bought by Ann Spencer in 1997 and subsequently planted to a Heinz mix of varieties that provides plenty of winemaking opportunities.
The wines are made from organically grown fruit and designed to sit harmoniously with food and not blow it away with too much firepower. And that’s a good thing as the restaurant is excellent and relaxed – I’ll leave critical examination to my colleague across the page – and it’s dog friendly.
The wines are currently made by Mark Warren, but from next year the reds will be made at Arimia. The intention is to have both the grape growing and winemaking certified organic.
My advice is to make a booking for the restaurant and check out the entire range at the cellar door before you start.

Arimia chardonnay 2017 ($40)

Fragrant and highly scented chardonnay. Nectarine and grapefruit characters entwined with other notes of spices and brioche with a little custard tart. The palate is beautifully structured and balanced. A crunchy squeeze of lemon on the finish sits neatly with the richer creamy textured flavours. Nice wine. 94/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2024; alc: 12.9%)

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now to 2024 Alc: 12.9%

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Arimia mourvedre 2015 ($40)

Love the mix of spices and cherry on the nose with just a faint hit of graphite and gravelly earthy characters that are both vineyard and varietal. Smooth linear palate displays good mid-palate fruit sweetness with a dry balancing savoury finish.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: Now to 2026 Alc: 13.8%

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Arimia Rose 2018 ($25)

This is a delightful modern style of rose. It's very pale onion skin blush colour. It's all from grenache which is a variety so well suited to this style with its high aromatics and perfumes. Fine rose petal and savory characters on the nose with a lifted fragrance overall. The palate is fine and long and perfect for summer drinking.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: Now  Alc: 13.3%

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Arimia GSM 2014 ($32)

This is a grenache dominant GSM blend that shows how well this style can work in Margaret River. perfumed and highly aromatic with spicy red fruit notes. Has a plush middle palate with a savoury dry finish. A little touch of mintiness adds to the fish. Nice wine in the shorter term.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: Now to 2022 Alc: 13.9%

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Arimia cabernet merlot petit verdot 2013 ($32)

This is a most appealing and drinkable wine for the short to medium terms. Plenty of plush ripe fruit with sappy plummy characters and a spiciness that adds some lift. It's had 20% new oak to balance things and bring a bright energy into the mix. Its medium weight and ripe fine tannins.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2023 Alc: 14%

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Saturday Magazine 11th August 2018

It required hell to freeze over to get the Eagles (the band) back together and we’re still waiting for the guy from Nazareth to return and the Dockers to win a flag. But I suggest an even more unlikely event might be the great riesling revival.
This wonderfully pure and precise aromatic variety is embraced by winemakers and scribes but shunned by consumers who prefer to dabble with sauvignon blancs, pinot grigios and other varieties which quite frankly don’t breathe the same air as quality riesling.
We loved it once but a combination of bag in box rubbish, substituting sweetness for flavour, and enzyme trickery to bring them forward, conspired to do irreparable damage the riesling brand. And it’s never recovered, nor is it likely to.
So why do I blurt all this from my vinous pulpit? I was reminded of the quality of our Great Southern Rieslings by Wine Show of WA chief judge Sam Connew who said “ one of the standouts for me and the judging team was the exceptional 2018 rieslings with six gold medals being awarded out of a field of 44 wines.” “These wines show a breadth of different styles from classic linear purity to funkier, slightly worked wines.”
Can’t say it better myself, so this week here are five wonderful expressions of Great Southern riesling. Please give them a go.

Castle Rock Estate Porongurup riesling 2018 ($27

Beautiful young riesling showing the qualities of the 2018 vintage in the hands of a master riesling maker in Rob Diletti. Fine spicy notes with a trace of bath salts and lemon zest. Fine lingering minerally finish with beautiful fresh acidity. Lovely wine for now or the cellar. 94/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2028; alc: 11.5%)

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2028 Alc: 11.5%

BUY HERE

3 drops riesling 2018 ($26)

Another cracking good 3 Drops riesling, with the added benefit of being from a great year. Love the delicate combination of spices, bath salts and lemon zest on the nose. The palate is so perfectly balanced with good flavour intensity that carries effortlessly to a long finish.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2028 Alc: 13%

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Poacher's Ridge riesling 2018 ($26)

Gorgeous riesling from one of the best makers of this variety. Captures the vintage so perfectly. Dep fruit intensity on the palate with a minerally lime infused character carrying to a very long lifted finish. Will easily handle extended cellaring. 95/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2030; alc: 11%)

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2030 Alc: 11%

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Ferngrove Cossack riesling 2018 ($23)

This little vineyard at Ferngrove produces some of the finest riesling in the State. This is a stunner. Driving intensity of lemon zest and spices with a fine minerality. Has a beautiful acid line that strikes through to a very long finish. Has tremendous ageing potential. 95/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2030; alc: 12.5%)

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2030 Alc: 12.5%

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Mount Trio riesling 2018 ($22.50)

Great year for riesling and this beauty captures it perfectly. Aromas of bath salts and minerally lemon zest get things started. Into the palate the deep persistence of the fruit carries through to a crunchy lively finish. This is why riesling is such a good variety. Lovely stuff. 93/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2025; alc: 12.5%)

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2025 Alc: 12.5%

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Saturday Magazine 4th August 2018

Steve James presented his wines with a mix of modesty and understatement. I sensed he was pretty pleased with them, but any excitement was masked by reserved consideration. I almost expect him to apologise for them being so good. James prefers to pour, sit back and wait. He is as interested in how they look as you are.
Hyperbole is not part of his lexicon. But after tasting through the line-up he presented to mark the 40th anniversary of Voyager Estate, I provided more than enough gushing adjectives, with the odd expletive for extra effect, for the two of us.
To say the wines are impressive is gross understatement. The wines are the result of vineyard and winemaking changes, that have included the beginning of transition to total organic farming due for completion in 2021, with a specific focus on individual vineyards.
The move underpins Voyager Estate’s long-term commitment to the environment and wine quality in the vineyard and at the winery, including carbon footprint reduction, use of renewable energy, recycling, land rehabilitation and re-vegetation activities, plus its 100% carbon neutral stance.
All laudable stuff, but equally important is that the wines represent a window to the future, highlighting the possibilities for this southern Margaret River estate with ground-breaking expressions of style.
Perhaps appropriately he chose the 40th anniversary to showcase this transformation. Originally called Freycinet Estate by the Gherardis when they planted it in 1978 it was acquired by teetotalling Michael Wright in 1991.
Money was no object for Wright thanks to a little patch of iron ore his father helped discover in the north of the State, but the aim of the investment was always on making great wine. The winery remains in the Wight family with equally committed daughter Alexandra Burt leading the estate’s new era.
In recognition of Michael Wright’s energetic commitment, Voyager’s top tier wines, previous called Tom Price have been renamed and repackaged as MJW.
While the MJW and individual project wines are stunning, the estate chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, previously called cabernet merlot, have edged up a notch into a new level. Your best bet is to head to the cellar door where most of these wines are available.

Voyager Estate chardonnay 2016 ($50)

Classically defined naturally fermented chardonnay, combining the delicate elegance of this southern area with the underlying power intensity of the region. Butterscotch, grapefruit and cereal notes swirling through the nose. The palate has a lovely fine charry minerality that has been deftly placed within the refined medium-bodied fruit. Poised and sustained. 95/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2026; alc: 13.5%)

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2026 Alc: 13.5%

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Voyager Estate cabernet sauvignon 2014 ($80)

Sourced from fully ripe cabernet that has delivered a mass of deeply concentrated blackcurrant and dark chocolate fruit with a leafy tobacco character. There's an admirable degree of restraint here that harnesses the fruit to deliver a stylish extended palate. Chalky tannins and fine-grained oak work in harmony to focus the effortless line to the long finish.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2038 Alc: 14%

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Voyager Estate Broadvale Block 6 chardonnay 2016 ($65)

From a small 1.1 hectares on a gentle north-east slope. This is a finer style of chardonnay. Has a beautiful mealy character. Whole bunch pressed and then to barrel with natural fermentation with full malolactic fermentation. So beautifully balanced and handles that level of new oak perfectly. Has a tight minerally chalky mouth feel with a briny sea salt character. 96/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2025; alc: 12.5%)

Score: 96/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2025 Alc: 12.5%

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Voyager Estate MJW chardonnay 2016 ($110)

This is quite different from the rest of the chardonnays. It’s chosen as a best barrel selection therefore this might vary from vintage to vintage. Has a very tight framework but an incredible intensity of fruit. Power and delicacy provide a partnership of harmonious contrast. It’s largely Gingin clones with about 25% Dijon clones.

Score: 98/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2028 Alc: 14.5%

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Voyager Estate North Block U12 cabernet sauvignon 2014 ($105)

All handpicked fruit off uniform gravel sols and open fermented and hand sorted. Gets 18n months in 50 % new and 50% second use oak. There is a beautiful varietal fruit purity here with a high natural defining acidity. Powdery tannins work with the integrated oak in perfect harmony. Ethereal perfumed notes with a mix of graphite and oyster shell varietal character. There is a real sense of the vineyard here which James puts down to the organic transitioning.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2026 Alc: 13.5%

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Saturday Magazine 28th July 2018

A new lease of life has been breathed into a well-established Swan Valley vineyard, bringing with it an exciting new expression of what is possible in the State’s oldest wine producing region.
Riverbank, which was established by Perth medical specialist and committed viticulturist Robert Bond before being sold to the Lembo family of Caversham House in 2017, has started to make an immediate impression with its range of traditional and alternative varieties.
Bond planted a real Heinz range of varieties when he set the place up in 1988, and this forward thinking approach will form the basis of the broad range of wines that are emerging from this small producer, which sits next to the old detention centre that may still bring back memories to some. The Rebellious and On the Run ranges take an obvious lead from the old detention centre.
At the head of winemaking is Digby Leddin who cut his teeth at Lamont’s for 20 years. He brings a refreshing approach to the wines with varieties that he believes strongly suit our cuisine and climate.
For instance, his vermentino is already a trophy winner and others such as fiano and nero d’avola, which has been grafted in the vineyard, present equal promise.
I am delighted to see Leddin’s success with vermentino as this is a variety that I think will certainly suit the Swan and appeal to those who are looking for a subtler and almost neutral wine with none of the intensity of a Riesling or sauvignon blanc for instance.
Because of the floods that hit in early 2017, some of the wines have been supplemented with fruit from other regions, but all in a way that suits the Swan style.
This is going to be a name to watch in the future.

Riverbank Estate Rebellious vermentino 2017 ($25)

This is a variety with a real future in Australia and it seems it has found a suitable home in the Swan Valley, if this excellent little wine is anything to go by. It's fruity with cutting grapefruit and fleshy guava with a trace of lemon. But it is textural as well. Perfect light drinking.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: Now   Alc: 12.5%

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Riverbank Estate Rebellious rose 2017 ($25)

Delightful blend of shiraz, malbec, tempranillo and grenache makes this a thoroughly enjoyable rose style. Fragrant notes of Turkish delight, cherry and grenache influenced rose petal. Light bodied palate has a dry savoury edge which is perfect for matching with food. Super example of the style.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: Now  Alc: 12.5%

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Riverbank Rebellious grenache 2017 ($25)

This is a quite beautiful example of this variety. It's made from fruit that survived the floods of early 2017 and some additional fruit from Blackwood Valley. Been treated rather sensitively with whole bunch and hand plunging. Shows some delightful raspberry and cherry notes with a rose petal character that is typical of this variety. Well managed oak. Scored gold in Hobart and the Swan with a silver in Perth.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2024 Alc: 13.6%

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Riverbank Estate Rebellious verdelho 2018 ($25)

THis beaut little Verdelho is a slightly different take on the variety than the previous vintage with a little residual sugar to balance and fill the palate. With this variety that works so wonderfully well. Has all the tropical fruit with a crisp acidity to finish. This is summer drinking heaven.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2022 Alc: 13.5%

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Riverbank Estate Rebellious petit verdot 2017 ($25)

The striking aromatics are a feature of this beautiful varietal expression of this variety. Sourced from Riverbank and another nearby vineyard it has depth and richness with masses of sweet juicy fruit characters. It's generous and supple but it is also structured with firmish threading tannins and subtle use of oak. This is aa variety that needs warm climates and the Swan is a perfect environment to make it.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2026 Alc: 14.3%

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Saturday Magazine 21st July 2018

The newly released WA Wine Guide 2019 contains features the best collection of WA wines ever assembled for this annual publication. Two of the wines – the Leeuwin Estate Art Series chardonnay 2015 and the Vasse Felix Tom Cullity cabernet malbec – each scored 99 points and battled for the title of wine of the ear.
The title was given to the Leeuwin by a whisker but sitting behind those two great wines were so many other outstanding reds and whites which provide further evidence that by any measure WA is making the finest fine in the land.
This is the 19th edition of the Guide and is the only book that focusses exclusively on the wines of a single State. And the reason for that is the quality of the wines which each year continue to go from strength to strength.
Sometimes overlook is the fact that WA also produces many exceptional value for money wines and this week I have chosen five which feature strongly this year, delivering quality at an affordable price. A full list of the top 20 value for money reds and whites in in the Guide as are tasting notes for more than 600 of the best in WA wine drinking.

Marq Wines sauvignon blanc semillon 2017 ($25)

Mark Warren gives this excellent SBS a decent going over in the winner with wild east and extensive yeast lees work. The result is a complex and richly textured version of this blend that delvers so much more than the usual simple fruit driven style. Persistent and powerfully maintained palate is a feature and it will age.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2028 Alc: 12%

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Mandoon Estate Block 1895 verdelho 2018 ($24)

Sourced from vines that are now more than 100 years old. It's hard to say how much they influence the wine, but the result in the glass is compelling evidence they make some difference. Pure and pristine form of Verdelho with intense tropical fruit balanced with a refreshing clean crisp acid. Just bewdiful.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2023 Alc: 13%

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Talisman Arida 2018 ($20)

Such a super little rose here. It's made from barrel fermented cabernet. Perfumed aromas of raspberry and subtle orange peel. The palate is deliciously appealing with complexity and texture packed into its tight frame. So much happening here. Takes rose to another level.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2023 Alc: 13.2%

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Leeuwin Estate Siblings shiraz 2016 ($24)

Bright and fruity shiraz that delivers well above its weight. Medium bodied with spicy sweet red fruits showing a subtle lick of oak and fine grainy tannins. Perfect current drinking wine.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2022 Alc: 13.5%

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Hamelin Bay Rampant Red 2017 ($25)

This is always a winner when it comes to value for money for a quality red wine. It's shiraz cabernet an malbec with a little merlot for good measure. Punches out all the right notes with plush fruit intensity supported by chalky tannin and a lick of oak to complete the set.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2021 Alc: 13.7%

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Saturday Magazine 14th July 2018

There was a time when you could have been accused of popping one cork too many if you mentioned Australian sparkling wine and champagne (the real French stuff) in the same breath. And with good reason. The gulf was wide.
But such is the quality of Aussie fizz, driven by outstanding winemaking and the sourcing of better vineyards, especially in Tasmania, there are now many Antipodean wines that are more than a match for the French.
This is especially the case with a lot of vintage bubbles, where the extended time on lees, allows them to capture the autolysis characters that are an intrinsic part of quality fizz.
The challenge is to convince drinkers entrenched in bias and snobbishness that these wines are indeed every bit as good, and in many cases better than a lot of champagnes, which offer little in the way of true champagne qualities, apart from some bubbles and the right to have the word ‘champagne’ on the label.
One of the Aussie leaders has been Ed Carr with his Arras range based on Tasmanian vineyards. Carr is recognized globally as one of the world’s great sparkling wine makers and in the lead up to Christmas, a range of wines in magnum have been released. They are not cheap and in short supply - the Grand Vintage 2007 is $250, the EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2004 $200, the EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2003 $400 and the Blanc de Blancs Museum Release $350 – but they are wonderful examples of what can be achieved.
This week I have featured a couple of the more modestly priced Arras wines with examples of the Jansz and Croser ranges.

Arras Brut Elite ($52)

A beautiful blend of Tasmanian fruit made up largely of equal amounts of pinot noir and chardonnay withe small amount of pinot meunier adding some spine. Richly textured with creme brulee and stone fruit. The palate is complete and very long with a sustained crisp flaoursome finish. Most impressive wine for this price.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2021 Alc: 12.5%

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Arras Grand Vintage 2008 ($84)

This is always a winner when it comes to value for money for a quality red wine. It's shiraz cabernet an malbec with a little merlot for good measure. Punches out all the right notes with plush fruit intensity supported by chalky tannin and a lick of oak to complete the set.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2021 Alc: 13.7%

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Jansz Vintage Cuvee 2014 ($47)

Lovely vintage style sparkling wine made from Tasmanian chardonnay and pinot noir. It’s had about three years on lees to develop complexity and palate intensity which it has done perfectly. Creamy brioche and meaty notes on the nose with a powerfully structure palate. This is a serious sparkling wine that cries out from some decent interesting nibbles.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2022 Alc: 12.5%

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Jansz Premium Rose ($30)

Excellent example of a pink sparkling wine sourced from Tassie. Notes of strawberries and cream on the nose with a succulent mix of sweet fruit and savoury edges on the palate. Persistent fine bead and a crisp acidity complete an excellent wine for current drinking.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: Now Alc: 12%

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Croser 2013 ($38)

A powerful plenty of pinot noir and chardonnay displaying an engaging biscuitty brioche and creamy aromatic. The palate yields a riper apple with the full malolactic fermentation adding richness and texture. IT’s had four years on lees and then has been progressively disgorged as needed.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2022 Alc: 12.5%

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Saturday Magazine 7th July 2018

I overheard someone in the gym the other day saying it was going to be a hot summer. Well, der, it is Australia and it is summer. But it reminded me that at this time of the year most people are looking for white wines to slake their thirst.
These days joining the ranks of the stock standard chardonnays, sauvignon blancs and SSBs is a whole swag of newbie – well new to Australia - varieties like arneis, vermentino and fiano that are providing greater variety and choice.
Fiano, in particular, is a variety I really enjoy and the version from the master of drinkability Stephen Pannell is a beautiful example of the style.
Its also hard to ignore chardonnay, so this week I really nice example from Leeuwin’s second label, that offers a degree of restraint which I think sits well with drinking in the warmer months.
Now sauvignon blanc id a variety I can take or leave – and mostly eave – but the Howard Park wine this week using some oak fermentation to add texture and structure takes this sometimes humdrum variety into a new zone of enjoyment.
And finally, a couple of cracking Rieslings. I chose two because I love Riesling. Each will drink superbly this summer but if you kept some, they would be equally delicious in the summer of 2030.

S.C. Pannell Fi Fi fiano 2018 ($28)

Love this highly textured but deliciously lip-smacking and drinkable fiano from the master of drinkable wines. Some of the wine was naturally fermented in older large oak to add some of that texture. It's lively with a crunchy lime and guava nuttiness. You'll be calling for more of this one with the calamari.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2020 Alc: 13%

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Leeuwin Estate Prelude chardonnay 2017 ($35)

If the Art Series is beyond your budget, you certainly won’t be disappointed to be drinking this excellent chardie from Leeuwin. It's been refined in recent years to be more delicate and restrained while still capturing the natural fruit intensity of the region. Savoury with hints of grapefruit and subtle nuttiness. Long effortless palate profile. Great current drinking.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2023 Alc: 13.5%

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Howard Park sauvignon blanc 2018 ($31)

Now this is a savvy that I can really enjoy. The key is the quality of fruit from this excellent vintage, but then coms the separate batches of hand-picked whole bunch pressed fruit that was fermented in oak. This is the complexity that sets this terrific wine apart. Drink now or try in a few years. My preference is now.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2021 Alc: 13%

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Hardy HRB Riesling 2018 ($35)

Opens with a distinctive limey talcy character on the nose. The palate is a tight and bracing style with intense driving length through to the finish. There are some nice floral notes in it with a touch of lemon curb and pith. It has a little residual sugar with great texture and mouth feel. A wine that will cellar very well. Handpicked and whole bunch fermented in tank.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2030 Alc: 12.5%

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Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2018 ($58)

The power and intensity is evident from the initial sniff of this wonderful riesling from this exceptional year in Clare. Crisp and pure with typical tension. Has palate texture which you often only get in the best years. Long and precise with a subtle floral lime character.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking: Now  to 2033 Alc: 12.7%

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Fresh Cellar Notes 6th September 2018

Paul Conti Margaret River cabernet sauvignon 2016 ($22)

You get a decent bang for your buck with this Margaret River cabernet. It's had a small amount of softening malbec tossed in. Leafy floral cabernet on the nose with understated blackcurrant fruitiness. The palate is structured and carries excellent varietal intensity. Chalky fine tannins work well.

Score: 90/100

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The Sum cabernet sauvignon 2016 ($19)

A structured medium bodied cabernet sauvignon sourced from Margaret River. Blackcurrant fruit with chocolate and plummy nuances. A slightly savoury meaty character infuses with a light cedary oak finish. Smooth easy drinking young wine.

Score: 89/100

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Metala White Label Shiraz Cabernet 2016 ($23)

There is a beautiful combination of minty pure fruit with blackcurrant and plum. A little spice and subtle vanillin oak in harmony with the fruit. Nice balanced wine for the short term. Consistently one of the best value red wines you will find. Pays to shop around on this one.

Score: 91/100

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Fresh Cellar Notes 9th September 2018

Vidal Hawkes Bay merlot cabernet sauvignon 2016 ($15)

Highly perfumed red fruits on the nose. There are some tarry ripe characters. Brilliant and bright aromatics and colour with hints of purple. Dry sinewy tannins and a little dab of oak in the middle palate. Tannins have a slightly chalky character. There's flavour and intensity with a smooth seamless palate structure.  There's a freshness about it which is so appealing.

Score: 92/100

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Bleasdale Bremerview shiraz 2016 ($20)

A juicy vibrant fruit laden shiraz from Langhorne Creek. Loads of spicy plum and blackberry fruit of medium body. Fine supple tannins and a touch of oak in support complete a neat wine.

Score: 88/100

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Sittella Tinta Rouge 2017 ($20)

A most beautiful combination of shiraz, tempranillo, petit verdot and grenache. It's a fruit driven style with lots of sweet supple fruit on the palate with slightly chalky balancing and supporting tannins. Here is a wine for immediate enjoyment.

Score: 91/100

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Fresh Cellar Notes 2018

1st Quarter Tim Adams Riesling 2018 ($22)

Start with this light dry Riesling. Adams only uses free run juice in this wine. It retains such a beautiful purity with floral minerally notes and a dusting of lemon zest. Palate is crisp and racy with a precise long finish.

Score: 93/100

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2nd Quarter Robert Oatley Signature Series chardonnay 2016 ($23)

You can move into something more robust as the game hots up. A delicate and finely crafted chardonnay from Margaret River. A little white peach character with a minerally citrus tang worked with the light touch of oak. It's largely fruit driven and great as a wine for the short term.

Score: 90/100

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3rd Quarter Millbrook grenache shiraz mourvedre 2017 ($25)

Time for some red with the half time pies or snaggers. Surprisingly few wines of this combination made in WA. This one shows why we should consider doing more of them. Typically generous and flavoursome with soft and supple fruit flavours on the palate balanced with a dusty oak and chalky tannin addition. The sweet spicy fruit is the key here.

Score: 91/100

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Fresh Cellar Notes The Final Siren 2018

Howard Park Petit Jete Brut NV ($32)

Time to celebrate or drown your sorrows. This is a racy little sparkling wine made from chardonnay sourced out of the south of the State's cooler areas. It's a lighter style and yet there is good flavour intensity held with a precise structural acidity. Like the subtle biscuity characters with a little twist of lemon. Has such a great mouth feel. Terrific meal starter.

Score: 91/100

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Pinelli La Tavola grenache 2017 ($21)

Another of the varieties the Swan Valley does so well. This one is a beautiful expression of grenache showing plenty of flavour intensity with a medium body. IT's spicy and fragrant with a soft and supple mid palate generosity.  Nice chewy tannins are perfect as a food combo.

Score: 89/100

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Faber Vineyard verdelho 2018 ($19.50)

Terrific year for Verdelho and this is yet another one from John Griffiths at Faber. Loads of tropical fruit with a crunchy acid and deliciously richly textured palate delivering so much persistence through the palate. Has a subtle bath salts finish which completes a classic statement of the Swan.

Score: 94/100

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Moondah Brook verdelho 2017 ($16)

Such a perfect example of this Swan Valley variety and style. It's a generously flavoured wine with abundant tropical fruit on the nose and palate. A cutting edge of citrus adds to the picture with a slightly passionfruit influence completing it. Drink now or keep a few years for another experience.

Score: 92/100

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Houghton White Classic 2017 ($13)

Probably Western Australia's most famous wine, having been created by Jack Mann in 1937. It's chenin bases with other varieties added for complexity and balance. Attractive mix of tropical fruit and citrus that provides a mouthful of flavours. It also handled a few years in the cellar rather well.

Score: 90/100

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Houghton Crofters Chardonnay 2017 ($20)

Another excellent value for money under this label which continually pumps out marvellously drinkable wines. Creamy and toasty with a fine crisp edge to keep it balanced and controlled. Has a savoury stone fruit character with subtle citrus notes. A perfect wine for current drinking or over the next year or so.

Score: 90/100

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Houghton Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2017 ($20)

A zesty and lively fruit driven style that captures this blend really well. Has a nice citrus passionfruit character with a trace of herbaceousness. Punchy palate delivers to a long finish.

Score: 89/100

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Rockcliffe Quarram rocks shiraz cabernet 2016 ($21)

Nice bright fruit on the nose. Red and black fruits with wild berry and a leafy character. It's sourced from Mount Barker. Like the chalky tannins and lively fine and focussed fruit. Finished and well balanced.

Score: 90/100

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Rockcliffe Quarram Rocks sauvignon blanc Semillon 2017 ($21)

Bright and crunch with a nice crisp sustaining acidity. Touch of tropical fruit with passionfruit dominance. Has a talcy acid with a focused fine finish. It’s perfect current summer drinking.

Score: 88/100

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Rockcliffe Third Reef cabernet sauvignon 2017 ($30)

This is a quality medium-bodied cabernet from Mount Barker. It's elegant with blackcurrant and oyster shell black olive edginess. Fine firmish tannins showing a slightly sinewy edge.  Leafy aromatics with a vibrant high energy palate.

Score: 92/100

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Fresh Wine Notes 2nd September 2018

Xanadu Exmoor chardonnay 2017 ($18)

Bright and pure fruit expression here with just a little help from the oak. Creamy with stone fruit and a splash of citrus to add some spice. Ideal as a current drinking wine.

Score: 90/100

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Evans & Tate Gnangara shiraz 2017 ($15)

Ripe plummy fruit dominates this made to drink now wine under this famous brand name. Has a lift of cherry and rose petal with savoury spicy notes. The palate is soft and supple with understated tannins and subtle oak. Balanced and ideal for drinking over the next few years.

Score: 88/100

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Capel Vale Debut cabernet merlot 2017 ($17.95)

One of the best wines under this range within Capel Vale. Ripe fleshy fruit with stacks of blackberry and mulberry flavours augmented with a little oak and supported by chalky tannins. Fits the drink now category perfectly.

Score: 89/100

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Fresh Wine Column September 2018

Manoro primitivo 2017 ($20)

This is a tidy generous little wine from Puglia. Has a bright lively colour and a deep and intense aroma of violets and dark chocolate, splashed with a little spic. It's soft and supple with lush flavours across the palate. Nice wine for current drinking. Check out Old Bridge Cellars and Swanbourne Cellars for all these wines.

Score: 90/100

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Talo Primitivo Di Manduria 2016 ($28)

A generous and opulent full bodied primitivo from Puglia. Loaded with liqueur cherries and vanilla bean with a syrupy chocolate richness. The tannins are quite fine and angular keeping the palate controlled and focused. Lovely violet notes add to the overall appeal.

Score: 91/100

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Ferraton Pere & Fils Samorens Cotes Du Rhone 2016 ($28)

This is a blend of grenache syrah and cinsault from the Cotes Du Rhone. Has a bright garnet color with aromas of minerals and red fruits showing a liqueur cherry and glazed fruit character. The palate is medium bodied with red and blue fruits plus a liberal sprinkle of herbs. Nice wine for drinking in the next few years.

Score: 92/100

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Fresh Wine Column August 2018

Canapes generally call for lighter style wines with little or no oak influences. So, Italian varieties like pinot grigio and fiano are ideal as is a bright and cheerful rose. I think these ones will do nicely. If you have a big win on the Cup you can move into something more substantial later.

Flametree Frankland River pinot grigio 2018 ($25)

Here is a pinot grigio with a little more complexity and palate interest largely because of the extended time on lees with some fermentation in older oak puncheons. The combination provides so much more interest and yet the vibrant pear and spicy citrus characters are still preserved. excellent wine for the next few years.

Score: 92/100

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Jericho Family Wines fiano 2017 ($27)

An excellent example of this variety which is such a good food wine. The texture comes from the fermentation on lees and further time on lees in tank. So, there's no oak and plenty of richness and density through the palate. Creamy and flavoursome with a crisp sustaining acid.

Score: 89/100

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Hay Shed Hill Pinot Noir Rose 2018 ($20)

A light and aromatic rose from pinot noir. Has a lifted raspberry and subtle cherry note on the nose. The palate is crisp and bright with lively fruit flavours of light body. Perfect summer drinking served chilled.

Score: 89/100

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Pikes Traditionale riesling 2018 ($26)

Gosh this is a lovely example of Clare riesling from a very good year. Intense lemon lime notes on the nose and palate with a spicy minerality threading deep through the palate to a long finish. It's crunchy with bath salts and wet pebble characters and just a faint background of stone fruit.

Score: 93/100

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Jericho Family Wines GSM 2016 ($27)

An excellent spicy medium bodied GSM blend from McLaren Vale. The dominant variety is grenache with 86 % which brings that beautiful perfumed rose petal character and subtle elegant textural palate. Excellent wine.

Score: 93/100

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Pinelli Reserve verdelho 2018 ($18)

Perfect example of verdelho from the Swan Valley. Loads of tropical fruit balance with a splash of citrus and finished with a fine lingering acidity. Clean and fruit driven this is a pure expression of the Swan Valley.

Score: 90/100

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Fresh Wine Column July 2018

Robert Oatley Signature Series chardonnay 2016 ($23)

A delicate and finely crafted chardonnay from Margaret River. A little white peach character with a minerally citrus tang worked with the light touch of oak. It's largely fruit-driven and great as a wine for the short term.

Score: 90/100

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O'Leary Walker Polish Hill River riesling 2018 ($25)

This was a slightly early vintage, yet these wines show wonderful finesse and fruit purity. This has the distinct minerality and wet pebbly characters of Polish Hill River. It's fine and linear with a long finish. Love Rieslings from this region.

Score: 93/100

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Wirra Wirra Hiding Champion sauvignon blanc 2018 ($24)

This comes from a single vineyard in the Adelaide Hills. Crisp and fruity with a passionfruit tang that is excitingly appealing. The tropical fruit sweetness has a lip-smacking feel while the acidity carries it towards a long please finish.

Score: 91/100

BUY HERE

RAY'S WINE GUIDE 2017