WINE REVIEWS BY KEN GARGETT – MAY-2017

WINE REVIEWS BY KEN GARGETT – May 2017

Oakridge ‘Over the Shoulder’ Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2016

A youthful but delightful pinot from the Yarra Valley. Fresh flavours with a sweet core of fruit, raspberry notes, hints of cloves and even a touch of chocolate. Supple. This is simple but simply delicious. Mid length. Chief winemaker, Dave Bicknell, is one of our finest and that comes through, even in his more commercial wines.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: Now for three years. Alc: 14.4%

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Heartland ‘Sposa e Sposa’ 2014

An intriguing mix of Italian varieties, lagrein and dolcetto. These two are not permitted to be combined in the same wine in Italy, due to the draconian and often odd European wine laws, but work well together here and, in a nice segue, one dollar from each bottle sold will be donated to the cause of marriage equality. This Langhorne Creek wine has chocolate, cloves, tobacco leaf and dark fruit notes. Soft and supple. Very fine tannins. A thoroughly enjoyable mid-length style.

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

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Bests No 1 Shiraz 2015

From the Great Western region in Victoria, lots to like here. As soon as it was opened, the room filled with lovely plummy red fruits. Soft, appealing and generous with flavours that do linger. Soft tannins. Not overly complex but balanced and delicious. A real winner.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: now for 6 years. Alc: 14%

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Tim Adams ‘The Fergus’ 2014

A blend of tempranillo, grenache and malbec. Quite tight on opening, before some raspberry and black cherry notes emerge. Dash of cloves, black olives and leather. Does have some oak evident but has melded well. This seems to have more dark fruits than some past vintages. Fine tannins. A bold style.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: over the next eight years. Alc: 14%

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Cullen’s ‘Diana Madeline’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Brilliant! A Margaret River stunner. A classic Cabernet-based wine. Blackcurrants, cloves, leather, dark chocolate. Real depth, ripe yet balanced and perfectly structured. Has extraordinary length. Very fine, silky tannins. Supple and seamless and already exhibiting plenty of complexity. What a great wine. Lives up to its reputation as one of Australia's greatest. If you do not love this, you are wasting your time with Cabernet.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: 30 years if well cellared. Alc: 13%

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Moss Wood ‘Amy’ 2015

This is well down the chain in comparison with Moss Wood’s wonderful Cabernet, at least in terms in price, but you’d never know with the quality. Love this. A Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot blend. Very dark fruits here. Some regional black olives with black cherries, leather and cloves. Dense palate but fine tannins and real power. Core of lovely sweet chocolatey fruit. Lots of tannin but well balanced.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: now for a decade. Alc: 14.5%

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Tyrrell’s ‘Brokenback’ Shiraz 2013

A very appealing soft style of red. Very gentle. Raspberry notes dominate. This is very much a red fruited style. Lots of red cherry hints. Precise focus and silky tannins, a wine which lingers impressively. Youthful, clean and fresh. Enjoyable drinking while waiting for the brilliant 2014 vintage.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: over the next ten to twelve years. Alc: 13%

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Henschke ‘Hill of Peace’ Semillon 2012

Eden Valley is not the first name which springs to mind when one thinks Semillon, but this small production (600 bottles only) release suggests it is worth more attention. From vines planted in the Hill of Grace vineyard (contrary to common belief, the vineyard is not solely planted to Shiraz) in 1952, farmed by way of organic and biodynamic means, it sees ten months in oak. The wine offers a mix of lanolin, lemon, gentle nut and apricot kernel notes. A hint of dry herbals. Some early complexity. This fruit is usually blended into other wines but in 2012, the Henschkes considered it “too special”. Easy to see why.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: should age superbly for two decades. Alc: 12%

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Henschke ‘Giles’ Pinot Noir 2014

For me, this is the best Giles the Henschkes have ever made. It is the 25th anniversary vintage from their Lenswood vineyard. Wonderfully aromatic with animal hide, forest floor, florals and the tiniest hint of tomato stalk, mixed together with delightful red cherry characters. Silky tannins, excellent length, knife-edge balance. And a wine which lingers beautifully. So elegant.

Score: 96/100 Best drinking: now for 8 years. Alc: 13%

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Henschke ‘The Bootmaker’ Mataro 2015

A world class Mataro. Kicks off in that typical understated Henschke style but moves through to ripeness and exuberance. Seamless style, absolutely oozing with cherry notes. Fine tannins, good length. There is also a note of blueberries and a touch of an Ouzo-like character. Plenty of power here. A really delicious wine.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking: has 15 to 20 years. Alc: 14.5%

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Henschke ‘Five Shillings’ Shiraz Mataro 2016

Two-thirds Shiraz and a third Mataro, sourced from the Barossa and Eden Valleys. From much more youthful vines, ten years old here, than many of the Henschke wines, but still showing more depth, concentration and character than most wines can offer from young vines. Blueberries, black cherries, chocolate. Quite plush and ripe, though still a little more upfront, rather than showing any real length. Lovely wine.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: five to eight years. Alc: 14.5%

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Henschke Tappa Pass Shiraz 2015

It is a rare vintage when Tappa Pass does not rate very highly among my favourite Henschke releases, and the 2015 is right up there with the very best. Glorious aromas and a wine that is utterly seamless and supple. Black fruits, spices, quality dark chocolate and florals. The silkiest of tannins. An absolutely brilliant wine, which lingers with intent. The Henschkes see this vintage as sitting alongside the great 2002.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking: should sail through a couple of decades. Alc: 14.5%

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Henschke ‘Hill of Roses’ Shiraz 2010

A cult classic, cellar door only, made from Shiraz from the famous Hill of Grace vineyard, but from vines which are considered as still too young to make that iconic wine, though that still makes them older than found in many flagship wines. The Henschkes loved the 2010 vintage and see characters in this wine which link it to Hill of Grace, characters they have not encountered in previous vintages (perhaps the vines are maturing into an age where they might be considered for HoG). Intense aromatics, more red fruits than in some of their wines. Roast meat notes, some choc/cherry characters and vanillin touches. Good oak, but it did seem as though it was still in the process of integration. This is more primal than many of their wines. High quality, though.

Score: 96/100 Best drinking: leave it for a decade and then drink over the next couple. Alc: 14.5%

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Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ 2012

So how did one of our most iconic wines fare in a great year? If anything, it exceeded the enormously lofty heights expected of it. Technically, 85% French oak, the remainder American. 58% of all oak was new. 18 months in the oak before the separate parcels from the vineyard were blended. Great intensity, complexity, immaculate balance, extraordinary length. Black cherries, aniseed, bacon fat, animal hides, soy sauce and an eerily smoky note that weaves amongst the flavours. So silky, you feel that you’d slip if you tried to get a hold of it. This is undoubtedly a great HoG, but only time, and lots of it, will tell if it is the greatest of all. It is a contender.

Score: 99/100 Best drinking: how long have you got? 30 years? 40, 50? Alc: 14.5%

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Henschke ‘Peggy’s Hill’ Riesling 2016

A quality Eden Valley Riesling, which seems deceptively forward but which will surely age gracefully and slowly, while maintaining its impressive intensity. Pleasing rose petal notes, underlying citrus/lime touches. A fine minerally palate. Texture, depth and length. Henschke whites too often sneak below the radar. They deserve better.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking:fifteen years Alc: 12%

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Henschke ‘The Rose Grower’ Nebbiolo 2013

The traditional description of Nebbiolo is ‘tar and roses’. Naming this ‘The Rose Grower’, one had to wonder if the family were indulging in a little subliminal nudging, but apparently the vineyard was originally managed as a dairy farm by the Roesler family and in German, Roesler means ‘rose grower’. There are certainly florals in the aroma, along with spices, warm earth, cherries, dry herbs and a lovely delicatessen character. Well-structured with fine acidity. Slightly grippy tannins. A good Aussie example of what can be achieved with Nebbiolo here.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: 5 to 8 years. Alc: 12.5%

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Henschke Noble Rot Semillon 2015

Eden Valley Semillon which was naturally infected with the famous noble rot and which then spent time in a combination of French oak and tank. Offers honey and beeswax notes. Maintains its intensity while not conceding the elegance that makes it so appealing. A fine example of a sweet wine in this style.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking:five to ten years. Alc: 10.5%

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Henschke Noble Gewurztraminer 2016

A late harvest style of sweetie, which makes for a nice contrast with their noble rot Semillon, and a wine which honours its varietal characteristics impeccably. Turkish Delight, musk, a mix of fresh and canned lychees. It is a delightful wine to enjoy now, but it is perhaps a little simple and could do with more length. Very pleasant though.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking:one for drinking sooner, rather than later, despite the family’s recommendations. Alc: 11%

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Seppeltsfield Barossa Vermentino 2016

From the Cellar Door Collection, this is all florals, minerals and citrus. Fresh and very pleasant, though it is rather simple. Medium length. A little nectarine/cumquat touch sneaks in towards the end. Nice acid underneath. One for enjoying young, but there is certainly lots to like.

Score: 88/100 Best drinking: Best now. Alc: 12%

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Larry Cherubino ‘Laissez Faire’ Fiano 2016

From the Frankland River region, this offers lots of appealing aromatics, mixing hints of nuts and stonefruits. Seductive texture and has a good flick of acidity. A mid-length style, which offers a pleasing nutty note on the finish and also some apricot kernel characters. Overall, a welcome style.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: No need to wait. Alc: 13.5%

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Longview ‘Kuhl’ Gruner Veltliner 2016

It seems that this famous Austrian white variety has found a new and very welcome home in the Adelaide Hills. The initial impression is pears and minerals and there is good, if slightly punchy acidity. Supple, with good length and a fine, clean finish. Good persistence. Expect to see this grape edge towards the Aussie mainstream in coming years. And for those interested, this is a great introduction.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking:Now for the next 2-4 years. Alc: 11.5%

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Yangarra Roussanne 2016

From McLaren Vale, a biodynamic version of this Rhone variety, stirred on lees, a small percentage of natural fermentation and seven months in oak. All this gives us nuts, orange rind and complexity. Lovely texture and impressive length, all contributing to a compelling version of this variety. This is a really good roussanne.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking:should easily handle 6-8 years. Alc: 13.5%

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Mountadam Vineyard ‘Eden Valley’ Gewurztraminer 2016

All the old textbooks would tell us that the easiest variety for beginners to pick blind was gewurztraminer. They were right. Impossible not to recognise lavender, spices, bath salts and with this one, especially the Turkish Delight, that are the hallmarks of this variety. This is fresh, has good acidity and length, and finishes with a slight bitter almond note. A fine example of this once popular grape.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: drink fresh. Alc: 13.5%

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Sirromet Rose 2016

A delightful fresh style made from Nebbiolo grapes. Has the currently trendy pale onion skin colour and is pleasingly fragrant, with rose petal and strawberry notes with a sour cherry character on the finish to tie things together. A mid-length style which is clean and relatively dry. Not your typical Aussie Rose but encouragingly, a style becoming more and more popular.

Score: 88/100 Best drinking: Now. Alc: 12.5%

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Pizzini Rosetta 2016

A pale orange rose, made from Sangiovese. At this stage, it is slightly muted. There are gentle flavours, mostly of cherry notes with some floral touches. A wine which lingers. Some juicy acidity. This is a refreshing summer style, pleasingly dry. Named after winemaker Alfred Pizzini’s mother.

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

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Moss Wood ‘Ribbon Vale Vineyard’ Merlot 2014

A good example of an oft-derided variety. Dark fruits with notes of black olives, licorice and chocolate. It is a little blocky but still enjoyable. Aniseed and plum pudding notes. It is a firm style of wine, well-structured and quite powerful. Reasonable length and certainly one for the future.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking:4 to 12 years. Alc: 14%

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Rusden ‘Black Guts’ Shiraz 2014

Is there a more evocatively named wine around today? No one is ever naming a Pinot Noir ‘Black Guts’! And a big, bold, intense, chock full of flavour wine, it is. Lots of dense, black cherry flavours. Rich and oozing character, but it retains balance and has impressive length. Probably too expensive ($85) for most for your average barbecue but serving it with a big steak is a match made in heaven. It will age well for years but can already be enjoyed.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking:2 to 25 years. Alc: 14.9%

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Best’s ‘Bin 0’ Shiraz 2015

From vines planted in four sites around the estate, some of which were originally planted back in 1866. Weaves between good concentration and a lovely plushness. Seamless with excellent balance. Good ripeness here. Spices, dark fruits and dry herbs. New leather and a hint of lemony acidity underneath to carry it. Excellent structure and a wine that became more and more expressive in the glass.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking:will age superbly for two decades Alc: 14%

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Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2015

Open a bottle and a chorus of angels take voice. A glorious wine already exhibiting early complexity. Immaculately balanced, there are red fruit notes, a touch of white pepper, bergamot and the merest hint of stonefruit. Fabulous stuff and the flavours come in waves. So complete and so balanced. Tim Kirk has made many great wines but few match this one.

Score: 97/100 Best drinking:any time over the next thirty years. Alc: 14%

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Serrat Shiraz Viognier 2015

Tom Carson is one of our very best winemakers, well known for his efforts at Yering Station, Heathcote Estate and Yabby Lake, but this is from his personal vineyard. Quantities are small and hard to find, but the search is worth it. There is some evidence of the stonefruit usually associated with the viognier component of these wines but it forms an integral part. Attractive aromatics with tobacco leaf and warm earth notes. Impressive wine.

Score: 93/100 Best drinking: a good decade. Alc: 13%

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Shaw & Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2015

This is always a class act and inevitably one of the very best wines of the Adelaide Hills region. Fragrant florals, spices, dry herbs and cloves, all interwoven through red fruit notes. Enticingly perfumed and with a lovely softness. This is a more elegant style, with more finesse, than some of their past efforts. Abundant though very fine tannins. There is a 40% whole bunch component here, but it melds well and adds to the impressive complexity. Good length, medium body and nicely balanced. A superb wine.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: has fifteen years. Alc: 14.5%

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Shaw & Smith ‘Balhannah Vineyard’ Shiraz 2014

The immediate impression on tasting this wine is that there is a much higher component of whole bunch material. It is a little more stemmy, more herbal, and those who enjoy that style will adore this wine (for me, a smidge too far, though there are lots of other things to enjoy here). There are also notes of cloves, spice and tobacco leaf. It has interest and quality fruit, a mid-length style, but it does need time to mollify the whole bunch notes.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: leave for five years and then over the next fifteen Alc: 14.5%

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Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards Tempranillo 2015

Florals, rose petals, cherries, olives, spices, warm earth, plums and roast meats. Great aromatics and an array of new flavours that kept emerging every time one looked at it. A lovely combination of the sweet and savoury. A wine of mid intensity and decent length. Augurs well for tempranillo in McLaren Vale.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: over the next five years. Alc: 14.5%

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Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards Grenache 2015

A pale red hue. Soft florals here with gentle raspberry notes. Quite a juicy wine and one which is pleasant drinking, though one which should age deceptively well. There is a nice flick of acidity underlying the fruit. Fine tannins. An enjoyable and easy drinking style which may seem a little underwhelming, but is worth the perseverance.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: now for ten years. Alc: 14 %

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Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards Corrina’s Shiraz Cabernet 2015

The traditional Aussie blend is done very well in this effort from McLaren Vale. Dark berries, chocolate, spices and dry herbs are all lingering here in this rich, ripe and quite intense style. Good weight and good intensity. This is a well-balanced wine, which is full of flavour and life.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: any time over the next 12 years. Alc: 14 %

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Sirromet ‘Le Sauvage’ Chardonnay 2010

At $85, this is most likely the most expensive white wine out of Queensland’s Granite Belt, so much is expected. It does not disappoint. Citrus, figs and a pleasing grilled cashew note, all mix very well with some exuberant tropical notes, with pineapple and banana noteworthy. Nice flick of acidity holding things together. They have used 100% new French oak, but it is very well integrated. Soft texture and good focus.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: two to five years. Alc: 12 %

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Moss Wood Chardonnay 2015

An absolutely cracking Chardonnay from Margaret River. Intensity, texture and complexity all shine. The key is that this is a wine which is immaculately balanced. Flavours of nectarines, pears and hazelnuts, with a slight chalky undertow, adding to that complexity. A soft, seductive palate. Love it.

Score: 95/100 Best drinking: five to seven years. Alc: 13.5 %

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Morambro Creek Chardonnay 2015

From the Padthaway region, an enjoyable Chardy. Kicks off with notes of pears and green apples with a minerally note underneath. There is bright and quite vibrant acidity running the length and a slight bitter almond note on the finish. The wine has reasonable persistence and will hold up for several years, providing enjoyment all the way.

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

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Flowstone Cabernet Touriga 2012

A rarely seen but intriguing blend from the Margaret River region, combining the traditional Cabernet with the Portuguese Touriga, a variety more commonly associated with the great fortifieds from the Oporto region. Dark fruits and blueberries, a range of spices. This is fresh and fruity. A ripe, mid-length style. Lots to like.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: now for six years. Alc: 14 %

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Tellurian Heathcote ‘Tranter’ Shiraz 2014

A single vineyard wine from Heathcote, this is showing all the positives the region can offer. Perfumed plushness. Opened beautifully with chocolate, mulberries and ripe berry notes. Juicy, delicious and with very soft, cushiony tannins throughout. Revisited the wine the following day and it was looking even better.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: Has a good decade ahead of it. Alc: 14.5 %

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Tellurian Heathcote ‘Redline’ Shiraz 2015

This is very much the youthful, easy-drinking style, freshness foremost. Bright and quite vibrant with oodles of red berry notes and also touches of chocolate on the palate. Designed for drinking young with red fruits dominant. One to enjoy, but one which probably won’t linger too long in the memory – and nothing wrong with that.

Score: 87/100 Best drinking: over the next year, perhaps two. Alc: 14.5 %

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Tellurian Heathcote ‘Pastiche’ Shiraz 2014

The third of the Tellurian trio, and the middle child, despite which, it should not be discounted. Attractive aromatics, an appealingly supple texture and flavours ruled by the red fruit/red cherry end of the spectrum, with some spice notes. It could possibly do with a little more length but overall, a very pleasant wine.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking:will drink very well till the end of the decade. Alc: 14.2 %

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d’Arenberg ‘The Hermit Crab’ Viognier Marsanne 2015

Does any winery in Australia have quite so many labels and blends? Certainly, none have so many with ‘curious’ and often extremely tenuous names, but it is always difficult to suppress a smile with these guys. As for the wine, it offers stonefruit notes, lots of flavour. A touch of ginger? Surprising length, punchy acidity and a minerally texture all elevate it well over what would be expected for this price.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking:now for three years. Alc: 13.1 %

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Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards ‘HJ’ Shiraz 2013

This is a really impressive and delicious McLaren Vale Shiraz, offering depth and class. Great aromatics with dark fruit and chocolate notes. Great intensity, excellent length, fine tannins and a lovely supple texture. A great future ahead, but so attractive now. If you like McLaren Vale Shiraz, you'll find it hard to do much better.

Score: 94/100 Best drinking:now, but even better in five to eight years and will go well for at least fifteen, likely more. Alc: 14.5 %

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Frog Choir Shiraz Cabernet 2010

Has a deep, opaque, purple colour. There are lovely aromatics here, but there is certainly an impression of oak – some will love it, others perhaps less so, but I'll confess, I thought it just right. A fine Margaret River blend. Black fruits, deep chocolatey touches and an appealing plushness. Black olives, cloves. The tannins are not obtrusive, the wine has reasonable length and it is seamless.

Score: 92/100 Best drinking: two for ten years. Alc: 14.2 %

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Frog Choir Shiraz Cabernet 2011

Always interesting to examine consecutive vintages of the same wine, especially when they do offer noticeable differences. This younger wine is more raw, more primary, with more power and more cellaring potential. And it appears to exhibit more Cabernet character, with capsicum notes. Both have delightful black fruit characters. The 2010 is more refined. Worth trying both.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: five to fifteen years. Alc: 13.9 %

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Allegiance Wines ‘The Artisan’ Coonawarra Cabernet 2015

A delightfully approachable Cabernet, for such a youthful wine. Spices and that tell-tale hint of mint, though it is certainly not intrusive. Dark fruits. Juicy acidity and very fine tannins, in a nicely balanced wine. A focused effort with good length. A classy Coonawarra Cab. One that will cellar well.

Score: 89/100 Best drinking: ten years. Alc: 14.5 %

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Allegiance Wines ‘The Foreman’ Coonawarra Cabernet 2015

The little brother to the Artisan, but an impressive wine in its own right. Exhibits an array of dry herbs, dark chocolate notes and coffee beans. Plenty of ripeness in this youthful offering. A little fresh oak ties to together rather neatly. Nicely balanced. This is a slightly deceptive wine – a little more emerges every time one goes back to it. Good value.

Score: 90/100 Best drinking: over the rest of this decade and most of next. Alc: 14.5 %

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Allegiance Wines ‘Limited Show Release’ Barossa Shiraz 2015

Dark colour here, in this classic Barossa Shiraz. A delicious mix of deep, dark fruits with tones of warm earth, cloves, black cherries and spices all weaving in and out. There are plenty of tannins, as well as well-integrated oak, with everything in balance. A mid-length wine and one which has a good future.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: a good decade ahead. Alc: 14.5 %

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Allegiance Wines ‘The Tiger’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015

A good value offering from McLaren Vale, from the region’s signature variety, Shiraz, and one which nicely reflects what the district can offer. A satisfying mix of red and dark fruits, plenty of soft tannins, gentle chocolate and cherry notes. A wine that lingers nicely and one which has a good future, though it is perfectly acceptable right now.

Score: 91/100 Best drinking: now and any time over the next eight to ten years. Alc: 14%

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RAY'S WINE GUIDE 2017