RECENT WINE REVIEWS BY KEN GARGETT

RECENT WINE REVIEWS BY KEN GARGETT

Redman Coonawarra ‘The Last Row’ Shiraz 2014

A lovely dusty glass of red that makes you feel as though you have a handful of that famed terra rosa soil in your glass. Some nice regional choc mint notes with warm earth tones. Good fruit here. A wine well structured and with balance. Does have a slightly austere note right on the finish. Cherry notes on the finish. Definitely one to chase.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: 8 Years Alc: 14%

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Redman Coonawarra ‘The First Divide’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Initially comes across as quite tight, even a little closed. It is crying out for time and it would not be out of place to leave this in your cellar for 10 to 15 years. It is all black fruits with cloves, black olives, licorice and a hint of axle grease (a good thing). Good intensity here with length, balance and power that keeps on keeping on.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: 15 years and more. Alc: 14.8%

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Redman Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013

A classic Bordeaux/Coonawarra blend, this is one of the more impressive Redman’s of recent years. Spice, cassis, black olives, blackberries, all to be found here. Good structure, a seamless style. Length and silky tannins to be found in this youthful and very attractive wine. Will age impeccably.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: a decade. Alc: 13.6%

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Redman Coonawarra Shiraz 2013

Shiraz from the Redmans seems to impart a slight dusty, warm earth and clove character, which is thoroughly appealing. It moves on to black cherries, mushrooms, blackberries and much more. Plenty of grainy tannins. Good flavours here and reasonable length. Won’t age for the same length of time as the Cabernets, but will provide lovely drinking in the interim.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: 4-6 years. Alc: 13.8%

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Redman Coonawarra ‘The Redman’ Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2006

While it is fabulous to see wineries holding back stock in order to release these aged wines, a crumbly cork did set the alarm bells ringing. Fortunately, it was no issue at all. A wine with alluring dry herbs, dark chocolate and truffle characters. Even a slight whiff of mint. Fine tannins, plenty of length and good acidity. If you do not have a cellar full of older wines, this is a nice way to experience one.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: now for five years. Alc: 14%

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Redman Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Anyone wanting to experience how a wine might age over time, grab a case of this. Try one a year for the next decade or so – have no fears that it won’t age: it will sail past that and more – and watch the development. Then pick the stage at which you are most enjoying it. Black olives and cedary notes here and well backed by the acidity. Will get better and better.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: a decade and more. Alc: 13.4%

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Rusden Barossa ‘Christine’s Vineyard’ Grenache 2015

Grenache has been a marvellous workhorse for the Aussie wine industry and in the last decade or two has also seen its time in the sun (something it very much enjoys) as a single varietal. They can be hit and miss. This one is not bad, but it does not make the greatest hits list. Florals and animal fur, red fruits and a pleasant red cherry finish. A little hollow on the mid-palate. Easy drinking.

Score: 88/100 Best drinking: now for three years. Alc: 14.9%

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Rusden Barossa ‘Chookshed’ Zinfandel 2015

If you like subtle and elegant, run for the hills. If waves of flavour, concentration and power is your thing, stock up! Easy to see a blokes’ long lunch knocking back a truckload of this with some great steaks. Opaque colour. Licorice and chocolate. Powerful and rich. Plenty of length. It is a little chunky, but it does not pretend to be anything else. Some will absolutely love this.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: a decade. Alc: 15.4%

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Heartland ‘Director’s Cut’ Shiraz 2014

Cracking wine from Ben Glaetzer – of the Glaetzer clan that has made so many fabulous wines. From the Langhorne Creek region. Inky black and offering layers of blackberry and sweet dark chocolate. Ripe, youthful, though with a good future, and with plenty of tannins. All nicely balanced. Put simply, leave aside the notes and tech stuff, this is a delicious wine.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: over the next eight years. Alc: 14.55%

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Twisted Gum Chardonnay 2014

Grenache has been a marvellous workhorse for the Aussie wine industry and in the last decade or two has also seen its time in the sun (something it very much enjoys) as a single varietal. They can be hit and miss. This one is not bad, but it does not make the greatest hits list. Florals and animal fur, red fruits and a pleasant red cherry finish. A little hollow on the mid-palate. Easy drinking.

Score: 88/100 Best drinking: now for three years. Alc: 13%

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Twisted Gum Verdelho/Semillon 2015

Not a blend one often encounters, but more than worth a look. Dry herbs and citrus notes, tending towards grapefruit. A minerally texture. A wine that does linger in a very pleasant way and one that should age nicely for a few years. This would be an ideal match with oysters.

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

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Twisted Gum Pink Moscato 2017

I'm not even sure that this qualifies as a wine, at a miserly 6.5%, but it is a fun drink. A dazzling neon pink colour with aromas of Turkish delight and confectionary. Fizzy, foamy, very simple, but so easy to drink. Ideal for chilling on a summer’s day. Thoroughly refreshing and not nearly as sweet as I suspected it might be. Exactly the sort of thing one feels one should instinctively dislike, but it is simply too appealing.

Score: 88/100 Best drinking: now. Alc: 6.5%

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Twisted Gum Shiraz Cabernet 2014

The traditional Aussie blend with a Granite Belt slant. Spices, lots of black fruits, a minerally texture with a slightly grippy finish. Good acidity, though the wine is a touch drying on the finish. A focused style and one with the structure to ensure it will drink well for some years to come.

Score: 88/100 Best drinking: five to six years. Alc: 13%

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Twisted Gum Shiraz 2014

A mix of red and dark fruit, with some spice notes. Florals and a hint of Morello cherries. It is quite an expressive style and has excellent length. Nicely balanced. Has a future. For me, the Granite Belt reds usually tend to shadow the whites, with Shiraz usually the star. And so it is with the wines from Twisted Gum.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: four to six years. Alc: 13.5%

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Twisted Gum Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Youthful purple hues. This is a little broader than some of the Twisted Gum wines. And softer. Offers a little of the varietal herbaceousness one so often sees in Cabernet. Has some cherry characters. Mid-length with very fine tannins. A pleasing attractive wine with a future. This, and any in the range, are a good introduction to the Granite Belt for anyone unfamiliar.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: next half dozen years. Alc: 13%

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Xanadu ‘DJL’ Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

A terrific Cabernet from the West. Fine structure, though it started in a slightly restrained mode and benefited from a little warming-up (damn Brizzy winter). Lovely cherry notes and hints of dark chocolate. Noticeable tannins do give it some grip, and it does offer some persistence. Some now, some in the cellar.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: 6 to 10 years. Alc: 14%

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Allegiance ‘Fortuity’ Orange Prosecco 2016

An attractive minerally prosecco with a little twist of citrus. Good fizz but not overwhelming. A soft clean finish, which lingers in a most agreeable way. And there is an unexpected but pleasant, slightly toasty note on the finish. An enjoyable prosecco and one which makes it easy to see why this is such a hot category at the moment.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: for now. Alc: 10.5%

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Allegiance ‘Tamana’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016

This is unmistakable as a full-flavoured Sauvignon Blanc – one of the most recognisable wine styles on the planet. Quite pungent. Some passionfruit, tropical notes and a little grassiness. Soft finish. It is a little short and drops away before one might wish, but should be quite the crowd-pleaser.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: next half dozen years. Alc: 13%

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Leeuwin Estate ‘Art Series’ Margaret River Riesling 2016

A fresh and youthful style with a slightly brassy note. Lots of flavour on the palate; a Riesling that is a little broader than some but the more all-encompassing, riper flavours will appeal to many. Nice flick of acidity, mid length style. Has a few years ahead of it, but just as pleasant now.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: 3 to 6 years. Alc: 12%

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McNicol Clare Valley Riesling 2009

Great to see wineries releasing aged wines, for those who do not have cellars full of them. Not only does such a program give clues to future development for their younger wines but, more importantly, they often provide terrific drinking. And so it is here. Still a slightly youthful, light gold hue, but exhibiting some attractive developing notes on the nose. Lemon butter on toast. Finely balanced, excellent length, good acidity and a wine with years to go. 2009 is a brilliant vintage in the Clare and this shows why.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: a decade or more. Alc: 13.5%

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Mitchell ‘Watervale’ Riesling 2016

The region’s typical steely backbone is on show for all to see here. Fresh and tight and exhibiting early alluring Riesling characters on the nose. There is good acidity carrying the flavours – florals and citrus – through to a very long finish, which maintains its intensity. Clean, pristine Riesling. Long future ahead and nothing but good things to come.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: 10 to 15 years. Alc: 13%

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Larry Cherubino ‘The Yard’ Riesling 2016

A steely, minerally, coiled Riesling from the Frankland River region in the West – outside the Clare/Eden Valleys, surely our leading district for this glorious grape. Spices, florals and notes of dry honeycomb. Nicely balanced with good acidity and length. A wine which will offer even more in years to come.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: five to ten years. Alc: 11.8%

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McNicol Clare Valley Shiraz 2007

Another fine aged release. The nose immediately screams a serious wine of quality (and one that is totally delicious). Plums, cherries, black fruits, a little leather. Balanced, persistent and with good intensity. Very silky tannins. Has a very long future ahead of it. Loved it. The rest of the sample bottle did not go to waste. Chase this.

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

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Freeman ‘Robusta’ Corvina 2012

If you are after something different, look no further. An Amarone style from the Hilltops region of NSW, Australia's only Corvina. It has the whopping alcohol level found in Amarones. It is big, rich, ripe and complex with leather notes, florals, chocolate and black fruits. Big and powerful. Has grip, good acidity and length. Love it! Really worth tracking down a bottle.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: ten to twenty Alc: 16.6%

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Wynn's Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

The good people behind Wynn's recently took a few of us through all 60 vintages of this iconic wine, back to the first from 1954. There were many superlative wines. If it proved one thing, these wines can live for decades. The latest release, the 2015, is a most worthy addition to the range. Not quite as expressive as the 2014 at this very young stage, but it will only get better and better. Seamless and tight.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking:the track record of this wine suggests that several decades are the least it will manage. Alc: 13.8%

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Joseph ‘La Magia’ Botrytis Riesling Traminer 2016 (half)

Delicious sweetie. Lovely honey notes, glacéd lemon, spices. There is an underlying bright acid vibrancy running the length. Nicely balanced and with some exuberant sweetness. Seamless and a long gentle fade. An 85/15 blend – which raises the interesting question, as they could have simply named it a Botrytis Riesling, why the name it for the blend? A marketing decision? No matter. Lovely wine.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: a decade. Alc: 11%

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Wynn's Coonawarra Estate ‘Johnson Block’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Top notch Coonawarra Cab. Cassis, black cherry notes. Ripe and dense and yet finely balanced. Delicious. Very fine tannins. A medium bodied style which lingers beautifully. Supple texture. A famous vineyard in Coonawarra, first planted with Cabernet in 1954 (and Shiraz much earlier). Exciting stuff.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: twenty years. Alc: 13%

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Allegiance Taruna Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Quite a pungent style of Savvy. Nettles, grass clippings and even a little of that tell-tale cat’s ‘character’. Seems a little residual sweetness on a soft and gentle finish. This is quite a drinkable, if rather simple, style that will please many. Chill it before drinking.

Score: 85/100 Best drinking: now. Alc: 12.5%

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West Cape Howe Mt Barker Riesling 2016

Citrus notes, with a lovely lime blossom character. Lemon zest and confectionary. This is a fine-boned, well structured Riesling with very good length. Good crunchy acidity. It also offers the very earliest hints of that lovely dry honey that the region so often reveals with time. Should age very well.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: now for 8 years. Alc: 12.2%

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Claymore ‘Clare Valley’ ‘Superstition’ Reserve Riesling 2016

One is immediately struck by the gorgeous perfume notes here. Citrus blossoms and florals. Lime notes. This is delicate and yet steely. A wine which combines power and length and has exceptional balance. Very, very long, with a promising future. This is a seriously good Riesling. Love it.

Score: 96/100 Best drinking: now and over the next 15-20 years. Alc: 13%

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Tyrrells Hunter Valley Semillon 2017

Masters of the style, this is yet another very fine effort. Lanolin, hay and lemony notes. Bright and vibrant, yet pleasingly soft. A wine that does fan out on the finish. Offers refinement now but will undoubtedly age impressively. Always amazes me that so many drool over Savvy and yet ignore wines like this.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: now and over the next 8 years Alc: 11%

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De Bortoli ‘Vinoque’ Heathcote Greco ‘Chalmers Vineyard’ 2016

Greco is a grape rarely seen here but on the evidence of this rare offering, one very much worth persevering with, in the future. Tight and minerally, yet offering some peachy notes. Full of flavour with good length. Nicely balanced and with fine acidity. This is a fine example with lots to like.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: 3-4 years. Alc: 13.5%

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Pikes ‘Luccio’ Clare Valley Fiano 2017

Another of the Italian whites that are making a mark in Australia. Rose petals, garden herbs. Spices. A lovely layered style and there is a textural note which is reminiscent of a light egg custard. Refreshing, cleansing style with good acidity. Bright and fresh. Ideally suited a seafood buffet!

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: 2-3 years. Alc: 13%

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Pikes Clare Valley ‘Luccio’ Sangiovese Rose 2017

Lovely neon pink colour. Nicely perfumed and offering fragrances of rose petals and various florals. A mid-length style, of moderate length. Quite attractive – suggests that the variety will work very well in this style. Chilled well, this is a summer garden party in a bottle.

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

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De Bortoli ‘Villages’ Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2016

Interesting wine, not least because de Borts are as reliable as any winery in Australia – almost always quality and value, so rarely a letdown. This, for me, is one of the very few. There are melon and spice notes, but it comes across as a little hot and short. Pleasant flavours upfront but it does fall away.

Score: 84/100 Best drinking: now. Alc: 12.5%

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West Cape Howe Chardonnay 2016

Floral and melon notes are intertwined with a little citrus and the gentlest touch of oak. Well balanced with good acidity, this is a wine that lingers. This is a terrific value wine from the West and one that is definitely worth chasing.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: now for four years. Alc: 13.3%

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Port Philip Estate ‘Red Hill’ Chardonnay 2016

A single site wine which has attractive peach, stonefruit and melon notes, all swirling about in harmony. A concentrated style with more power, perhaps even slightly burlier, than many Chardies. There is impressive length. It does leave one with the impression of a wine which is superior on the palate to what is offered on the nose. Attractive.

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

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De Bortoli ‘La Boheme’ ‘Act Two’ Yarra Valley Pinot Noir Rose 2017

A rose showing that most appealing very pale, slight salmon, onion skin colour, which is becoming so popular – good thing, too. Clean and gentle, think aromas of freshly cut flowers and the lightest dusting of raspberries. Good acidity, this is a delightfully drier style of rosé. Ideal for a Spring afternoon. A cracker.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: now for three years Alc: 12.8%

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West Cape Howe Tempranillo Rose 2016

It seems that the grapes for this wine have been sourced from a number of vineyards throughout the region. The result is a wine that is bright pink, offering red fruits and a little bit of an earthy note on the nose. Not as expressive as one expects. The palate moves more to raspberry and cherry characters. There is, perhaps, a little more fruit sweetness than some might find ideal.

Score: 87/100 Best drinking: now. Alc: 13%

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Allegiance ‘Fortuity’ Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV

Bright and fresh, this is a real Aussie style of sparkling, slightly old-fashioned. Lots of flavour, but not quite as much finesse as one would like to see. A wine of moderate length, with flavours of citrus and a slightly brassy note. A simple style for immediate enjoyment.

Score: 87/100 Best drinking: Now. Alc: 12%

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Bremerton ‘Betty & Lu’ Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Lots of very good things come from Langhorne Creek, but I'm not certain that Sauvignon Blanc is one of them. Still, it is popular with customers and makers (a real cash cow for many) so no surprise. Lots of very good things come from Bremerton as well, but again, not certain that this is one of them. Grass, limes, lemony notes. There is a slightly sour finish. Mid-length wine, but it never really maintains intensity.

Score: 85/100 Best drinking: Now Alc: 11%

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Bremerton ‘Molly & Merle’ Verdelho 2017

Very pleasant citrus notes here with a good flick of acidity and plenty of carry-through. A wine that is nicely balanced. A variety that does seemed suited to Langhorne Creek. This is an ideal wine for some delicate seafood. Certainly, a youthful style but a grape with a track record of being able to age extremely well. Probably better young, though.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: Now for three years Alc: 12%

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d’Arenberg ‘The Hermit Crab’ McLaren Vale Viognier Marsanne 2016

Nutty and cashew-like notes with lovely stonefruit characters underneath. These two Rhone varieties traditionally make a great combo and they work well together here. The wine has a really appealing layered texture and shows decent length. Loads of fruit here and that lovey textural note. A wine that is fabulous value.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: now for five years. Alc: 13.3%

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Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2016

From Margaret River, the famous classic West Aussie blend has rarely been done better than the wines offered by CM. Spice, citrus and a touch of nettle. These two varieties fit together like a hand in a glove. Good persistence here and a lovely clean finish. Should drink well for several more years. These styles have been pushed out of the market by the Sauvalanche but they deserve better.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: now for three years Alc: 13%

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Brokenwood Semillon 2016

One of the world’s great exponents of dry semillon, this Hunter Valley star never misses. A tight style with spice, hay and citrus notes. Well balanced, great length, good acidity. A seamless effort that seems to go on forever, this is a wine that should age brilliantly. Love it.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: up to fifteen years Alc: 10.5%

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Jacob’s Creek Barossa Signature Riesling 2016

Interesting wine as the fine print on the label reveals the source as Eden Valley vineyards – surely, it would make more sense to have that splashed across the label, rather than ‘Barossa’, when it comes to Riesling? No matter, this is a lovely wine. Spices and citrus. Good piercing acidity, excellent length and nicely balanced. A very fine Riesling.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: now . Alc: 11.5%

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Jacob’s Creek Barossa Signature Chardonnay 2016

From vineyards in the Eden Valley region and with time in French oak, this has nutty, vanillin, cashew notes. For me, the immediate impression is a wine with a little much oak. And oak which protrudes a bit much. Others might be a little more tolerant, but I felt it could be so much more with less.

Score: 85/100 Best drinking: now Alc: 12.3%

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Tyrrells Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2016

One expects Hunter Chardonnay to be big and bold and exuberant and too often lacking subtlety. Flavour first, elegance later. This one is a pleasant surprise, more restrained than most, but with reasonable length. Some vanillin notes but the stonefruit and peach take precedence. The flavours build incrementally. This is a nicely constructed and very enjoyable Chardy.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: now Alc: 12%

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Bremerton Batonnage Chardonnay 2015

12 months barrel fermentation for this impressive Langhorne Creek Chardy. Even with a couple of years under its belt, this is still very much a young wine – restrained, tightly wound. Stonefruit notes, nuts. This has good complexity and good length. A lovely wine. And one with time ahead of it.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: for three plus years Alc: 13%

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Bremerton Batonnage Shiraz/Malbec 2015

Pleasing blend from Langhorne Creek, with generous flavours with a lovely bold plushness. Those flavours move through cigar box notes, black fruits and tobacco leaf to attractive clove characters. There is a touch of austerity on the finish, tying it all together. Soft tannins, lots of length and good intensity.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: for eight years Alc: 14.5%

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De Bortoli ‘Black Noble’ ‘Barrel Aged 10 years’ NV

The label says an average age of ten years for the material in this cracking fortified. It gives the impression of being considerably older. This is a really delicious, lovely old Tawny. Treacle notes on the nose, molasses. Richly flavoured and while it is very sweet, there is no cloying note on the finish. Love it.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: endless. Alc: 17.5%

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Curly Flat Pinot Noir 2015

Every year, the Curly Flat Pinot forces one to address two questions. Is this the best they have ever made and are there any better Pinots in the country? To the first, if it is not then it is certainly in the final. To the second, perhaps, but none that are better value. Seductive and supple, complex. Forest floor notes, gamey characters, animal skins, old leather. A lovely sappy style, there is some whole bunch character here but it is done so well, it forms an integral part of a delicious and exciting Pinot.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking: Will easily handle ten years. Alc: 14.2%

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Frankland Estate Riesling 2017

These guys are Riesling specialists from the Frankland River region, which does not mean one should neglect their other wines, producing an exciting range which includes some single vineyard efforts. This, their standard (‘standard’ meant in anything but a pejorative sense), is young, taut and with a minerally texture. There are lavender hints and some pleasing limey-ness. Fine acidity, slightly restrained and with moderate length. Too young now but has promise.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: 5 to 8 years Alc: 12%

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Frankland Estate ‘Rocky Gully’ Riesling 2017

A rather aromatic Riesling with a lifted nose – florals, spices and a pleasing fragrance of something resembling icing sugar. Very alluring. This is more upfront than most of the range, slightly more obvious, though there is good acidity. More of an early drinking crowd pleaser, though that does not preclude it from several years improvement in the cellar.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: now for 6 years Alc: 12%

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Frankland Estate ‘Isolation Ridge’ Riesling 2016

Put simply, this is surely one of this country’s greatest Riesling vineyards, producing an immaculate and exciting wine every vintage. The latest joins this illustrious line. Powerful, with citrus/lime notes and wet stones. A noticeable chalky tone, underlying the length of this piercing, youthful wine. Beautifully balanced, excellent length. Mouthwatering acidity. This has everything in place for a long life.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: a decade plus. Alc: 12.5%

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Frankland Estate ‘Poison Hill Vineyard’ Riesling 2016

On the occasions one sees this vineyard, it always impresses. Isolation Ridge may be the pinnacle of their range, but there are vintages when this vineyard soars and for me, this is one of them. What I loved was the finesse, elegance and delicacy of this release (sometimes, it does seem a little more powerful, but finesse is never a bad thing). Fine acidity, great persistence, a lovely lean, well-knitted Riesling with mineral notes and a hint of matchstick. Would be perfect with a subtle piece of seafood. Will age well – a decade plus.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: a decade Alc: 11.3%

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Pikes ‘Luccio’ Pinot Grigio 2017

From the Clare Valley, this wine reveals those immediate and obvious Nashi pear notes that so characterise this variety. Toss in some spices, pebbles and lemony touches, but there is an overriding grapefruit character throughout. Bright acidity. A simple, but a very good Pinot Grigio.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: now for a year or two Alc: 11.5%

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Nepenthe Pinot Noir Rose 2017

A pale pink Rose from the Adelaide Hills, the fragrance is of rose petals and gentle dry herbs. A wine that is of moderate length. It might be rather simple, no crime in that, but it is a most refreshing style. Not a wine one is likely to remember or discuss at length, but it will provide plenty of pleasure.

Score: 87/100 Best drinking: now. Alc: 13%

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Fox Gordon ‘The Empress’ Chardonnay 2016

From the Adelaide Hills, a Chardonnay with entrancing peach and melon notes. There are some vanillin touches from the oak but they form part of a well-integrated whole. There are tropical mango notes lingering on the palate. Offers a supple texture. This is a lovely Chardy which works well now but has some years ahead of it.

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

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Fox Gordon ‘The Dark Prince’ Nero d’Avola 2016

Nero d’Avola is yet another of the many exciting Italian varieties now making their mark in this country. This one is from the Adelaide Hills. Still very young, with cloves, soy notes, dark cherries and a little warm earth. Ripe. Does have lovely soft tannins and a seductive texture. Reasonable length and plenty of time ahead.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: six years Alc: 14.5%

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Pierro ‘Fire Gully’ Chardonnay 2016

The Fire Gully wines are alternative offerings from Pierro in Margaret River and offer good value and delicious drinking. The series sports attractive new labels. This one is exhibiting honeysuckle, grilled nuts and rockmelon notes. The oak is quite subtle and the flavours in this wine are very much to the fore. It is mid-length at best.

Score: 88/100 Best drinking: now for 2/3 years. Alc: 14%

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Pierro ‘Fire Gully’ Shiraz 2014

A hint of pepper – white pepper – emerges from this West Aussie Shiraz. Margaret River Shiraz is so often ignored in favour of the more illustrious Cabernet. It means there are some very fine wines sneaking along under the radar and this is one for them. Cherry and raspberry notes here. It is more expressive on the palate than on the nose, and there are lots of lovely cherry characters to be found there. Soft tannins and a lingering finish.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: for four years Alc: 14.5%

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De Bortoli ‘Riorret’ ‘Lusatia Park’ Chardonnay 2016

From one of the premium vineyards in the Yarra Valley, this is a fine and elegant Chardy. Orange blossoms and subtle fragrant citrus notes. Understated oak carries the flavours to a persistent finish. Good acidity here. A wine which offers plenty now and will continue to do so for the years to come.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: six to eight years Alc: 12%

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De Bortoli ‘Riorret’ ‘Lusatia Park’ Pinot Noir 2016

This exciting Yarra Valley vineyard does Pinot Noir as well as it does Chardonnay, perhaps even more so. This is a cracker. Plums, earth, slightly sappy notes with some animal skin complexity. Licorice and dark fruits. Satiny tannins and excellent length. This is no simple Pinot; this is seriously good. Should age well for a decade or more.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: a decade. Alc: 13.5%

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D’Arenberg ‘The Ironstone Pressings’ GSM 2014

So many flavours here. More kept emerging every time one went back to the glass. Exciting wine. Chocolate, spices, cloves, black olives, mint, coffee beans, aniseed and black cherries just flooded out. Rich, dense, a wine with a near black colour. Real power and concentration, very good length, firm tannins – a wine that will age very well.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: 15 years Alc: 14.5%

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D’Arenberg ‘d’Arry’s Original’ Shiraz Grenache 2014

A lovely, full-flavoured, generous, soft, delicious McLaren Vale red. Tannins aplenty. Quite a bit of appealing chocolate comes in on the finish. This is not a subtle style but it is not pretending to be. A wine that could and will, if allowed, age for a very long time. Simple, but simply delicious.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: Now for an easy twenty years Alc: 14.5%

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D’Arenberg ‘The Galvo Garage’ Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Petit Verdot 2013

The blend is split 56/19/15%. The name is even longer than the finish. Notes of earth intermingled with dark fruits. This is a four square style of wine, quite chunky, with a lot of grip. Blocky. A lot of fruit here and it is somewhat attractive but perhaps not as compelling as it might be.

Score: 88/100 Best drinking: Will continue to drink over the next 8 to 10 years. Alc: 14.4%

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Allegiance Wines ‘The Artisan’ McLaren Vale Tempranillo 2016

A very good Tempranillo, which is exhibiting oodles of blueberry notes. Some florals, notably rose petals, and dark cherry characters. Lovely fragrances. Seamless. It is lacking a little on the finish, which is what holds it back. Reasonably acidity. Worth chasing, despite the slightly short finish.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: over the next three years Alc: 15%

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Allegiance Wines ‘Unity’ Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

A thoroughly enjoyable Coonawarra Cab and one that is true to both variety and region. Dark berry notes, spices, blackfruits, fine tannins and good balance. This is a seamless wine with a seductive texture. Everything in place for a good long life. Lots to like here.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: eight years Alc: 14.5%

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Allegiance Wines ‘Unity’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015

Another wine from this team which reflects both varietal and regional typicity. A taut, tight wine with generous flavours, underlying power and fine tannins. Smoky, meat delicatessen characters. Quite intriguing. A mix of red and dark fruits, though mostly the latter. Some leather. A wine that lingers.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: Will ease through a decade. Alc: 14.5%

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Allegiance Wines ‘The Artisan’ McLaren Vale Tempranillo 2016

A very good Tempranillo, which is exhibiting oodles of blueberry notes. Some florals, notably rose petals, and dark cherry characters. Lovely fragrances. Seamless. It is lacking a little on the finish, which is what holds it back. Reasonably acidity. Worth chasing, despite the slightly short finish.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: over the next three years Alc: 15%

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Jacob’s Creek Barossa ‘Signature’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

A pleasant offering, with flavours of tobacco leaf, florals and spices. Quite expressive aromas. There is no great length, but decent flavours which make this worthwhile. Unfortunately, it really does fade too quickly, certainly quicker than one would hope. Overall, pleasant but not stellar.

Score: 87/100 Best drinking: next couple of years Alc: 14.6%

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Jacob’s Creek Barossa ‘Signature’ Shiraz 2015

This is a step-up on its sibling, the Cabernet. Ripe dark fruits here, especially blackfruits. Hint of aniseed with dark plums and leather. Carried along well by the underlying acidity. Fine tannins here and much better length than sibling could manage.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: 6/7 years Alc: 14.5%

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Henry’s Drive Syrah 2015

From Padthaway, this is definitely worth a look. A lovely aromatic nose which offers florals, notably violets. Dark fruits, spices and some chocolate notes. Terrific value and exhibiting superb balance (especially for a wine in this price range). Nice length. Has very fine tannins. Impressive.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: 8 to 12 years Alc: 14%

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RAY'S WINE GUIDE 2017