WINEs OF NOTE 22/07-01

Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2018, Barossa Valley

2018 Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River & Mount Barker, WA)

Plummy, bramble, brandied black cherry, some shellac, and roasted veal bone juicy bits. There's gentle cineole stuff, but it’s in a really positive Aussie sous bois — Aussie garrigue — way. Blackcurrant conserve deeps. Has violet, blueberry — that blackcurrant compote richness — and melty creaminess in the middle. Has fruit lusciousness and density which is framed deliciously by dusty dry, long tannins. Plummy crema mouth-aroma wafts as well among gorgeously coordinated textures. Lingers long and deserves a lengthy spell in the cellar also. 96(97)/100, 9/10, $150 cellar direct. Will become quite awesome I reckon. This is Cabernet Sauvignon of considerable class.

On learning this wine’s identity I recalled a tasting many years — decades — ago when I encountered the ’91 Howard Park. Back in John Wade’s day it was almost entirely Great Southern sourced (the ’18 is 78% Leston vineyard Margaret River and 22% Abercrombie vineyard Mount Barker). My tasting note of the ’91 included the observation of 'forest floor/bark character’: again — entirely positive. A great friend — John Syrett — popped round for dinner that evening and his first observation was ’this one smells of bark’ (he was unaware what I’d poured him). He told me he'd never employed that descriptor before. Gotta love this weird wine sensory shit.

Lake Breeze Bernoota Shiraz Cabernet 2019, Langhorne Creek

Montalto Estate Pinot Noir 2020 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Hazelnut among juicy, amber pluminess to begin, plus rose-hip, then nori. Blood orange peel. Intriguing. Gets Syrah-like rotundone pepperiness with air (which Pinot clone/s I wonder?). Really has a bacon fat pepperiness about it. Assorted caneberries building in the mouth as it sits in the glass and builds: deep juice and pippiness — juice and pips, super squeezed. There are smoky bacon fat pink peppery mouth-aromas wafts too, and it’s mouth-sucking to finish. Deciduous woodsy humus as well. Lots happening in here: if only more Aussie Pinot was this provocative, rather than complying to contemporary reduced, stemmy, (skin) extract-less trophy-winning templates. Singular stuff (sort of: see below). 95(96)/100, 10/10, $50.

I was reminded of Scorpo’s delicious and distinctive ’15 tasting this. Maybe not as powerful and chewy, but with similar spiciness. I’ve subsequently learned that the wine is significantly — 78% — from Montalto’s home vineyards at Red Hill, with the balance being 15% Tuerong and 6% Merricks. So it will be fascinating to discover in a year or so if these peppery notes appear in any of the single vineyard releases. The spice might also be the influence of the significant presence of ‘D’ clones — 42% — in 2020, which is not always so according to Anthony Jones, Montalto’s director of wine. He informed me that, ‘We more often than not use these blocks for sparkling rosé and rosé, except when we get a really low yielding year like 2020 when the bunches are smaller and the sunlight can get in.’ The balance is 31% MV6, 16% 777, and 11% 115. You find reviews of other Montalto recent releases here shortly.

Terre à Terre Cabernet Franc Shiraz 2019, Wrattonbully

Clonakilla Shiraz 2021  (Hilltops, NSW)

Wet cherry wood-like on the nose and soused morello cherry scented: reminds me of a cellar in Valpolicella filled with Amarone. Loganberry spectrum pippiness pops up also, and steak and kidney pie-type meatiness, dried yellow prunus, and bay-like ‘Aussie sous bois’. Smells really complex. It’s gentle and raspberry seed squeezy on the palate, plummy too, and although not super-powerful does build gentle, persistent, and serious, terra cotta tannins. Savoury pie crust mouth-aromas and a lick of prune ahead of a dry close. It’s not as complex in the mouth as it is on the nose presently, but is certain to become so. Perfectly weighted, and perfectly delightful. 94(95)/100, 9/10, $28.99 from Dan’s. Also available direct from the winery. It would serve any serious cellar well to acquire a magnum of the 2019 Shiraz Viognier also.

Naked Run Hill 5 Shiraz Cabernet 2020, Clare Valley

Brokenwood Shiraz 2019
(Hunter Valley, NSW)

Complex mixed-spiciness — dried Asian plum (thanks Carli) sneeking into fenugreek (like curry bush, i.e. sotolon) — and sweet, brandied cherry stone smells. Rose-hip and subtle, sourdough crusty wood. Soft and squeezed in the mouth with mulberries at its core, and the finest tannins which are seamlessly integrated with the oozing fruit. So it’s soft and gentle, but also incredibly persistent and structured in an easy going way. Mouth-sucking, mouth-aroma wafts of pippy cane berries and espresso crema. 95(96)/100, 9/10, $50 cellar direct. Like the ’17 and ’18, this will develop beautifully for the next decade, and live far longer.

Transitioning older reviews to my ‘Noted' section is something I’ll do once I’ve checked availability. When vintages have rolled so will my tasting notes. This beautiful wine is still around and what’s more is being offered at a 20% discount on the Brokenwood website currently as it’s the winery’s ‘Wine of the Month’. This reminds me that I do need to buy a few bottles of this myself. In the same 'half-blind' line-up I rated this just slightly below the ’19 Graveyard Shiraz which goes for $350 a bottle.

WINEs OF NOTE 22/06-02

Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2018, Barossa Valley

Giant Steps Pinot Noir 2021 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Candied citrus — bitter kumquat smelling — and forest berry pippy. Gets some Parma-like ham. Cracked red rock dust and (positive) match strike pong. Deep, mossy, raspberry loganberry pippy fruit flavours too, and long, dusty dry tannins. There's tongue-coating wild strawberry fruit aplenty here, which builds as the wine sits in the glass and gets slinkier. It's also sapid, young brothy tasting and the flavours linger long. 94/100, 8/10, $40 cellar direct.

There’s plenty of detail about the vintage, site sourcing, and vinification of this wine if you click the link above.

Naked Run Hill 5 Shiraz Cabernet 2020, Clare Valley

Wickhams Road Pinot Noir 2021 (Gippsland, Vic)

Exotic strawberry tangy smelling, plus flinty match strike, and sweet-smelling ham of the Christmas kind. Palate has surprising depth — far more than suggested by the nose — there’s mulberry into raspberry, wet dusty tannins, and a mouth-sucking ball of of fruit lushness in the middle. Width of fruit is an interesting feature here, so there’s plenty to suck on. Christmas candied bitter peel and quinine to close (maintaining the festive theme). As well as gentle soy umami and sourdough crusty mouth-aromas. 94/100, 9/10, $19.99 cellar direct. You can also acquire this from the d’Anna family’s wonderful deli-bottleshop Boccaccio Cellars.

As you can see I was rather taken by this little Pinot, which is Hoddle’s Creek Estate’s second label. I can’t think of anything to match it at its price point. Franco d’Anna's info sticker attached to the bottle informed me: 'Our own vineyard at Gippsland, located on an old volcano.’ You can read some more about Hoddles Creek here.

Lake Breeze Bernoota Shiraz Cabernet 2019, Langhorne Creek

Holyman Project X Pinot Noir 2018 (Tamar River, Tas)

Bread pudding spiciness, plummy sharpness, pithy peel: has an edginess and primal pinot fruit. That elusive soy-sapid smell of stems done well. The palate is bracing and high energy, with building, dense tannins with the fruit like the nose, being plum-skin sharp. There's plenty of chew and grip and salty, seaweed umami things. Has style and intent this. 93(94)/100, 8/10, $90 cellar direct.

Terre à Terre Cabernet Franc Shiraz 2019, Wrattonbully

Tamar Ridge Research Series Pinot Noir 2020
(Tamar River, Tas)

Deep and wild strawberry smelling, with darker plummy, bitumen stuff building. Gets more spicy as it sits: gentle feijoa perfume also. There's power and chew and grip on the palate — real extract (which was lacking in some of the others in this line-up). Pips and juice add a comfort, and there’s a melt about the tannins: this tastes like red wine (yay!). Mashed raspberry strawberry pippy things still abound on day two. And there’s wholesome, sapid crustiness. 94(95)/100, 8/10, $50 cellar direct.

WINEs OF NOTE 22/06-01

Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2018, Barossa Valley

Yalumba The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2018 (Barossa, SA)

Plum mulberry: deep, gently baked crumble plumminess. Rich, deep, and mellow sweet dough smelling. Sweet smelling fruit and complimentary pastry smelling oak too. There’s crispness and pippy sharp fruit density in the first third of the palate, before it becomes cherry plum muffin and brûlée-like as it flows through. Despite all the sweet fruit lusciousness it’s a bit abrupt to finish. But there’s an engaging — festive even — candied fruit, doughy stollen/panettone thing about it. Definitely on the rich, sweet fruit shiraz side of things, rather than edgy, juicy Cabernet (despite the blend being in favour of Cabernet Sauvignon by 54% to 46% Shiraz, as as I now know). With all this intense fruit it is certain to evolve well, although it may well take a decade to gain some sapidity. 92(93)/100, 7(8)/10, $65 cellar direct.

Naked Run Hill 5 Shiraz Cabernet 2020, Clare Valley

Naked Run Hill 5 Shiraz Cabernet 2020 (Clare Valley, SA)

There’s a real juiciness to this: a brightness. As it opens up: dark chocolate, a sniff of anise, baked plum pie — a background oatcakey character, but not obvious oakiness. Carbon paper too. Bursts with vibrant plum stone and flesh in the mouth, plum of the autumn gold sweet sharp kind. Becomes darker fruit and gentle spicy as it progresses and there are yielding, yet defined, building tannins. There’s a waft of Cabernet leafiness also at the back which compliments the dried plum spiciness. Not the longest, but the palate shape shows some style, and there’s a delicious sweet-sharp core. 92(93)/100, 8/10, $24 cellar direct. A bargain.

Lake Breeze Bernoota Shiraz Cabernet 2019, Langhorne Creek

Lake Breeze Bernoota Shiraz Cabernet 2019
(Langhorne Creek, SA)

Plenty of Cabernet Sauvignon curranty cassis showing through here: lush, sparkling smelling. Also a good amount of cineole-pineole Aussie sous bois ‘mintiness’, but it sits well with the exuberant fruit and sourdough crusty oak also. The palate is quite delightful with deep, dark plum pudding at its core, and lingering juicy fruit and wet textured tannins to close. Really concentrated fruit in here and more of that crusty oak cuddling up to it, with anise-cineole adding more mouth-aroma complexity. Great palate shape. 92(93)/100, 8/10, $22 cellar direct.

Like the Naked Run this is excellent value and — given the vineyard provenance — should become even more classic Aussie claret in another few years.

Terre à Terre Cabernet Franc Shiraz 2019, Wrattonbully

Terre à Terre Cabernet Franc Shiraz 2019 (Wrattonbully, SA)

Deep and dark, slightly raw woody to begin, but the fruit shimmers though and builds: there’s blackcurrant cedar, gentle liquorice molasses. This has power, great tannins, currant juiciness, richer fruitcake, and a melty, sweet oak dough character. A lovely mix of the rich and bright, the glistening and sparkly. Good length also. Should evolve deliciously over the next five years. 93(94)/100, 8/10, $32 cellar direct.A beautiful example of new Aussie claret, as is the slightly pricier Terre à Terre Crayères Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2019, a review of which will be uploaded shortly.

I do love the exactitude of the food pairing suggested on the PDF tasting/technical note for this wine: Roasted Poularde de Bresse stuffed with lobster meat, potato purée façon Joël Robuchon. Classic.

WINEs OF NOTE 22/05-03

Mayford Tempranillo 2019, Alpine Valleys

Mayford Tempranillo 2019 (Alpine Valleys, Vic)

Violet and sweet vanilla scented — a bit simple — to begin, but after fifteen minutes or so it builds richer-smelling, soused black cherries, and Jamon-like, sweet-sapid soy. Maybe more ketchup manis. As the fruit intensity burgeons the oak aromatics integrate quite naturally. It lands on the tongue with plenty of slinky sweet-sharp raspberry ketone-type fruit, and sapid-soy flavours balance the exuberant cane berry core. There's oak vanilla and toast, but it sits in harmony among the brandied cherry-stone. Tannins, meanwhile, build progressively and not aggressively. There’s also a Maillard reaction-type roast meatiness/sweetness about this, which adds additional complexity to the mouth-aromas and umami sapidity. Serious fruit and intent happening here: an Aussie medium to full-bodied Tempranillo of some consequence, which is a rare encounter. I kept returning to this in the line-up. I reckon it’ll get more complex over a few years. 93(94)/100, 9/10, $42 cellar door.

An excellent piece on umami, authored by Adam Liaw, one of Australia’s most thought- and taste-provoking writers and thinkers, has recently been published by The Guardian. It is titled, Umami 101: Adam Liaw’s guide to the least understood taste. To which you might append: Taste also being our least revered sense. Or perhaps this is better: Taste being our most misunderstood — and controversial — sense.

La Linea Mencia 2020, Adelaide Hills

La Linea Mencia 2020
(Adelaide Hills, SA)

Woodsy spicy-syrah-like, and mossy on the nose: this is most enticing. Deciduous logs an’ all. Blue plum and pong — a sort of braised parsnip pong. Maybe a bit too much of a feature methinks (the pong), but there’s raspberry, loganberry, lots of fruit that is sharp and woodsy, and glints of flinty soy. Sweet-sharp fruit on the palate too — a Souk sort of spiciness — and a solid core of edgy loganberry. Lasts pretty long this, and there’s a captivating soy woodsy umami waft to close. Loaded with character. 91/100, 8/10, $29 cellar door.

Richard Hamilton Farm Twelve Mourvèdre 2020, McLaren Vale

Richard Hamilton Farm Twelve Mourvèdre 2020
(McLaren Vale, SA)

Cedary, fruit mince pie spicy and glacé fruited, among cement. No, more wet clay. There's a ‘thickness’ to how this smells: fruit and nut. The earthy bitumen dry smell of this is most mataro-like (how’s it going to taste?). It tastes much as it smells, only with tongue-coating fruit sweetness: marzipan Christmas cake character, and deep candied cherry and a currant-peel fruit core that builds and builds. Great palate shape in this: tannin carries all the fruit along with it. Have no palate history of this vineyard, but this tastes as if it has the promise of another five years to reveal more. 94(95)/100, 8/10, $38 cellar door.

Montevecchio Rosso Red Field Blend 2020, Heathcote

Montevecchio Rosso Red Field Blend 2020 (Heathcote, Vic)

A bit of (good) reductive whiffiness at first, but this soon blows off, and things get creamy and liquorice all-sorts fruited: fun smelling. Then it becomes more serious pastrami spicy. Has Souk spiciness and red earth dustiness in the mouth: quite austere in an Aglianico kind of way (I did know there were a few Ags in the line-up. How awesome is it to be able to say that?). Among all the chewy tannin and mouth-sucking acidity it bursts with candied peel and loganberry pippiness. Quite powerful this, but in a deceptive way, and the tannins are shaped beautifully. 94/100, 9/10, $25 cellar door. This looked lovely on day two. And on three for that matter.

This wine is a real ‘field blend’: picked — hand-harvested — concurrently, and co-fermented. It’s a mix of Aglianico (55%), Pavana (23%), Lagrein (15%), Teroldelgo (4%), Piedeross0 (2%), and 1% Lambrusco Maestri. Which makes it pretty unique in Australian wine. In the world of wine for that matter, I’d hazard. This is a the kind red you should yearn to discover if your taste travels beyond the world of the major French cultivars which predominate in Australia. It’s also incredible value.

If you’re more than a little intersested in the wine grape cultivars of Italy do two things: 1. — and it won’t cost you a cent — visit ; 2. Purchase a copy of 

WINEs OF NOTE 22/05-02

Flametree Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Margaret River

Flametree Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (Margaret River, WA)

Piercing, super-pure Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon this smells of. (Okay, I know I’m tasting a bracket of Cabernet Sauvignons, and I also know there are a few Margaret River Cabernets within it — but this is so emphatically of the grape and its habitat). Habitat, I’m now thinking: isn’t this a decent English language word for terroir?
Back to the sensory track: smells deep — concentrated — and there’s dry red dirt dusty things among the fruitcake. There’s fabulous fruit and wood in here, and yet it’s easy going also — an accessible Cabernet to plunge into. There’s just the right amount of grip at the back and tannins are impeccably extracted. Concludes with a crusty crumbly character with a deep runnel of cane berry fruit at its core. A bit Garibaldi, and non-sweet Eccle’s (cakes). Melty tannins. Slight warmth, but if fits. This is what approachable Cabernet Sauvignon should all be about. 95(96)/100, 9/10, $40. If you’re inclined to buy some I’d leave it for a further five years just to see it become woodsier. But it is fabulous drinking now.

Leconfield Cabernets 2019, Coonawarra

Leconfield Cabernets 2019 (Coonawarra, SA)

Super pure with ferrous cocoa and bay — Aussie sous bois in a really positive way. Dried plum, but not pruney, and it gets roast meaty bits as it opens up. Light leafiness too, which is a component not a feature. Fabulous deep fruit in the mouth, which coats the palate all the way through. Has juiciness at the sides, density and sapidity at its core, and excellent tannins. And complex, sapid mouth-aromas. Can’t wait to see how this looks with a bit more air. 95(96)/100, 9/10, $32. And it did look most impressive on day two which is invariably a good sign. What a bargain this is.

This wine is a co-fermentation of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. And it spent nineteen months in French oak of which just 18% was new.

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wines by KT Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (Clare Valley, SA)

Has violet cassis and carbon paper (here’s a link for those who are too young to know what I’m referring to here) and gets fruitcake too as it opens up. There’s a briny sniff of the sea, and brambly black dirt dust. This is extremely interesting Cabernet. Has plenty of varietal juice and edginess, and there’s a mouth-sucking tightness about it: really crisply shaped. Sharp gold plummy and pie crusty also, with bitter chocolate edges. Has a deep loganberryish core. Lingers long. 94(95)/100, 9/10, $40. This will hit its best in a few years and hold for many more (I know the vineyard source of this wine — in Watervale — extremely well). The link I’ve provided will take you the ’17, but the ’19 will be available shortly.

As many reading this will know I’ve a rather significant disclosure to make here. KT — Kerri Thompson — is my former partner and our daughter’s mum. I’ve written about Kerri’s wines before (also with appropriate full-disclosure) in both Inside Out magazine and in one of my last columns for the The Australian Financial Review, where I wrote on the matter of Riesling and vintage variation (and how this influences every wine producer). I’ll be uploading an edited version of this 2016 piece in due course, once I’ve undertaken a tasting of ’21 vintage Clare Rieslings.

Just like the other Cabernet Sauvignons reviewed on this page the wine was assessed in a half-blind tasting (see here for an explanation of my tasting disciplines). I’ll be honest and say that I did have an inkling when I tasted this wine that it was from Clare and possibly Kerri’s — there were two other wines of the same regional origin in the line-up — but then I also made similar observations about the ’18 Howard Park Abercrombie tasted in the same line-up and it is sourced from vineyards in Margaret River and Mount Barker.

Oh, another declaration: I also designed the label which was unashamedly inspired by the branding of New Zealand streetwear label, Huffer. The KT type is Emigré's Keedy Sans which also brands one of my favourite bars, Gerald's in North Carlton.

Oakridge 864 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Yarra Valley

Oakridge 864 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
(Yarra Valley, Vic)

Has vivid redcurrant, getting blackcurranty and gold into blue plumminess. There’s a curious blue vein cheesy character about it also which I’ve observed in some other Oakridge vineyard Cabernets: it’s quite distinctive. (It was quite prominent in the ’15s my notes tell me.) This incorporates with air and as it does the nose develops a fruit mince pie mix rindiness and flinty ferruginous characters too. Smells extremely complex already. As is the palate, and perfectly weighted: it’s a mix of sweet /sharp plums and punnets of mixed cane berries. The palate is fabulous and even before I’d finished the tasting I decided I wanted to drink this. It’s ozone-charged, which makes no sense I know: it just possesses this latent energy. Serious claret. 95(96/97)/100, 10/10, $90. It’ll evolve for a decade plus.

WINEs OF NOTE 22/05-01

Orlando Printz Shed Shiraz 2018, Nothern Barossa Valley

Orlando Printz Shed Shiraz 2018 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Sharp plumminess — tangy golden plums — and souk spiciness. Becomes fruitcake deep smelling with time in the glass and there’s something in a delicate blue vein cheesy way also — in a really positive, complex way (so some well-maintained older wood in here?). And a beautiful deep core of fruit presents on the palate — powerful without being heavy — and builds fabulous wet, wide, melty tannins. Rich — yet brisk — fruit and walnut cake flavour floods the tongue and there’s fudge and rust  lingering in the finish. Most stylish this. 95(96)/100, 8/10, $34.99 on the shelf at Dan’s, $33.30 in a (mixed) six.

I’ve bought a few bottles of this as it’s damned classy stuff. But it’s not just this Orlando wine which credits the winemaking team led by Tim Pelquist-Hunt and Ben Thoman. They are responsible for a number of lovely wines out there at the moment including the ’16 Jacaranda Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, ’15 Lawson’s Shiraz (the ’16 not quite up with it), the ’19 Cellar 13 Grenache, and both the ’18 and ’19 Lyndale Chardonnays, all of which can be purchased from the Orlando store direct also. It’s as strong a collection of serious whites and reds of any large South Australian wine company. And certainly better value in these categories that those being created by Penfolds  just down the road. I’ll be posting comprehensive notes on these wines and a few others shortly.

Bull Lane Pink Cliffs Vineyard Shiraz 2019, Heathcote

Bull Lane Pink Cliffs Vineyard Shiraz 2019 (Heathcote, Vic)

Powerful, concentrated fruit on the nose here. Not especially complex as yet, but one senses it will become so. Bread pudding, pumpernickel crust and a deep, dark fruit shimmer blooming as it opens up. Despite all the power there’s a cane berry pippy lightness to the fruit on the tongue, and building, dusty, tannins accompanying it — it tastes easy and full of space. There’s bitter chocolate, contrasted by sharp, pomegranate rose-hip. Impeccably balanced red wine this and it will evolve for many years. It was still in fine form two days after opening. 95(96)/100, 9/10, $35.

This wine has long since sold out: so why am I reviewing it up front? Well, some time ago I got talking to Paul Osicka Wines’ winemaker, Simon Osicka, about the latest fabulous estate releases of the ’17 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon and ’18 Cabernet Sauvignon, and they too had sold out by the time I got around to tasting them and then contacting him. The Old Vines — planted in the 1950s — is made in particularly small quantities — two barriques tops — and has been released only 2012, ’13, ’15, and ’17. The ’22 is now the next candidate.

Anyhow, in response to my suggesting that there wasn’t much point me reviewing the wines he replied: ‘Well you could tell those who read it to join our mailing list.” So here’s the Paul Osicka Wines mailing list link. You’ll find reviews of these wines, and other more recent ones, on my site shortly (I’m going to be doing lots to my website over the next couple off weeks while I recover from knee surgery).

Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Shiraz 2019, Beechworth

Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Shiraz 2019 (Beechworth, Vic)

This shows some pong, fine pong — spent shotgun cartridge — which is a component not a feauture, and integrates with spiciness of the damp rotundone kind, and shiny sourdough crust into Garibaldi biscuit. Smells quite fabulous, in fact — suggests sapidity and sweetness. Attacks with super-squeezed cane berry pips — has beautiful juice and fine, building tannins — gently dusty, with a core of fruit sweetness. The tannins and moist spice characters keep all this fruit intensity on a sapid track and there’s sumac-sharp stuff in the mix as well. This is really mouth-sucking and yet gentle; perfectly controlled shiraz with considerable complexity and potential to age beautifully. 95(96)/100, 9/10, $75 cellar direct.


Clonakilla Shiraz 2021, Hilltops, NSW

Clonakilla Shiraz 2021  (Hilltops, NSW)

Wet cherry wood-like on the nose and soused morello cherry scented: reminds me of a cellar in Valpolicella filled with Amarone. Loganberry spectrum pippiness pops up also, and steak and kidney pie-type meatiness, dried yellow prunus, and bay-like ‘Aussie sous bois’. Smells really complex. It’s gentle and raspberry seed squeezy on the palate, plummy too, and although not super-powerful does build gentle, persistent, and serious, terra cotta tannins. Savoury pie crust mouth-aromas and a lick of prune ahead of a dry close. It’s not as complex in the mouth as it is on the nose presently, but is certain to become so. Perfectly weighted, and perfectly delightful. 94(95)/100, 9/10, $28.99 from Dan’s. Also available direct from the winery. It would serve any serious cellar well to acquire a magnum of the 2019 Shiraz Viognier also.


WINEs OF NOTE 22/04-01

Riot Wine Co. Loxton Contra Bianco d'Alessano 2021, Riverland

Riot Wine Co. Loxton Contra Bianco d'Alessano 2021 (Riverland, SA)

Has a bitter pithy tang — edgy peel — creaminess also, and quince cores. Vellum honeycomb. This smells so intriguing. Doesn’t attack with the weight expected, but there’s pear/mizuna-like bitter juiciness, plus some of the creaminess of the nose. This is fun and looks really good on day two. So you might want to decant a can or two. 90(91)/100, 8/10, $7 — or thereabouts — per 250ml can.

Matriarch & Rogue Bob Fiano 2021, Clare Valley

Matriarch & Rogue Bob Fiano 2021 (Clare Valley, SA)

Crab apple, greener spectrum rock-melon, and gently rose floral. Root veggies and citrus peel as it warms a little and opens up. It attacks really limey, bursting onto the tongue, then becomes more radish pear. So it’s sapid and edgy with just the right about of phenolic chew. It pulls up a little short, but is most tasty along the way. 90/100, 8/10, $28.

Chalmers Vermentino 2021, Heathcote

Chalmers Vermentino 2021 (Heathcote, Vic)

Peel and watermelon skin — lemon thyme scented — has a real vibrant zing about it. There’s creamy loganberry pip fudge as it warms. Smells wild fermenty in a restrained, controlled way. Zesty and grippy on the tongue, accompanied by bitter orange peel flavours and building cane berry pippiness. There’s an easing sea salty break at the back among the creaminess, and then a delicious bitter tweaked denouement. Complex things happening on the palate here. 94/100, 9/10, $27.

Stoney Rise Savagnin 2021, lutruwita, Tasmania

Stoney Rise Savagnin 2021 (Tasmania)

Smells elemental: iced white rock, oyster shell, crab apple, fennel seed. Yet the palate surprises with an exuberant burst of tangerine and grapefruit, and then gruyere rindiness — lees-derived I’m assuming — and fine chew and extract though the last two thirds. This is glutamate loaded but there's also bracing, mouthwatering tang. A somewhat sadistic pleasure ride this one. 93/100, 9/10, $40.

WINEs OF NOTE 22/03-01

Penfolds Reserve Bin 20A Chardonnay 2020, Adelaide Hills

Penfolds Reserve Bin 20A Chardonnay 2020 (Adelaide Hills)

This has a mouthwatering intensity about it on the nose, but also restraint. Top notes of iced, dried citrus rind and then primal, fractured yellow peach kernel. There are transitory dapples of fine, white, sourdough crusty-smelling oak; wafting in and out as the fruit rises, melts, and glows. (Can’t wait to get this is my mouth.) Attacks super-tight and edgy on the tongue, but the sea-salty acidity breaks harmoniously across the palate — both wide and long. Understatement here, but intensity also: iced pear, tangerine rind and (white) nectarine kernel. Edgy, intense flavours are what I’m alluding to, and it lingers long and mouth-sucking. Has structural echoes of wine one…(in the randomised line-up in which I tasted it and which turned out to be the ’19 Bin 144 Yattarna). 97(98)/100, 10/10, $125.

Having tasted the 13A not so long ago, and the 7A not much before that, I don’t reckon I’d be far wrong in suggesting this will be hitting its stride in around five years. It should be noted, however, that the Bin A Chardonnays are not single vineyard wines and so it’s more speculative to plot an evolutionary trajectory than it is for wines made from identical plots year after year.

The Reserve Bin Chardonnays are, however, blends of stylistically compatible, highly regarded, mature vineyards across a number of Adelaide Hills sub-regions. The 20A, for example, is fifty percent from Sam Virgara’s vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley. The 17A was one third from Carmine Pepicelli’s vineyard in the Kenton Valley, which is one of winemaker Kym Schroeter’s favourite Hills’ vineyards. Both the Virgara and Pepicelli Chardonnay are a mix of I10V1, and Bernard clones 76 and 96. Sadly, Pepicelli’s beautiful grapes for the ’20 harvest were lost as a result of the Cudlee Creek bushfire in late December 2019. It would be lovely one day to experience a Reserve Bin Chardonnay with both these vineyards included in the blend: 21A, 22A?

Hills Collide Bright White Riesling Grüner 2021, Adelaide Hills

Hills Collide Bright White Riesling Grüner 2021
(Adelaide Hills, SA)

Creamy and exotic fruit smelling: some sea spray. A bruised, papaya gently floral Fiano-like smell. There’s lime and Meyer lemon rind too. Has zestiness on the palate too with a Bosc pear granular feel about it; so it’s just a little rough before the juiciness seeps out. There’s plenty of lingering fruit to finish, and bitter Italianate bits adding interest also. Has some style this: a kind of Aussie Soave, which I wrote — or at least stated — when label unseen I first tasted the ’20 vintage of this wine. 90/100, 8/10, $30.

The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Saturno family’s Longview vineyard in Macclesfield which provides fruit for a number of different producers. The vineyard's Grüner Veltliner is especially distinctive and makes up a good proportion — 30-40% each vintage — of the Hahndorf Hill's White Mischief, the 2020 vintage of which took out The Dr. Rod Bonfiglioli Best Wine of Show at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show.

Also: a declaration of interest to be made here. 

Oakridge Barkala Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Yarra Valley

Oakridge Barkala Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
(Yarra Valley, Vic)

Dark red rock smelling, with raisin sourdough shiny crust. Hot bricks. Terra cotta and plum skin. Fine oak in here too. Dark fruit cake, but plum skin fresh and deciduous autumn leaf also — the woodsiness here is absolutely right. Gentle on the palate and loganberryish — there’s a strong cane berry influence here — and the fruit is held by dry, brick-dusty tannins. There’s an almost a nebb-like crossover in the shape and interleaving of tannin and acidity. ("Any Italian clone Merlot in this?”, I was thinking while tasting, but no.) Finishes delicately woodsy cedary and with deep blackberry/blackcurrant sweetness at its core. Quite lovely now, but deserves a decade in the cellar. 95(96)/100, 9/10, $44.


Brokenwood Shiraz 2019, Hunter Valley

Brokenwood Shiraz 2019
(Hunter Valley, NSW)

Complex mixed-spiciness — dried Asian plum (thanks Carli), sneeking into fenugreek (like curry bush, i.e. sotolon) — and sweet, brandied cherry stone smells. Rose-hip and subtle, sourdough crusty wood. Soft and squeezed in the mouth with mulberries at its core, and the finest tannins which are seamlessly integrated with the oozing fruit. So it’s soft and gentle, but also incredibly persistent and structured in an easy going way. Mouth-sucking, mouth-aroma wafts of pippy cane berries and espresso crema. 95(96)/100, 9/10, $50 cellar direct. Like the ’17 and ’18, this will develop beautifully for the next decade, and live far longer.

WINEs OF NOTE 22/02-01

Giaconda Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2019, Beechworth, Victoria

Giaconda Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2019
(Beechworth, Vic)

Well this is a sublime way to begin a bracket of wines (the Giaconda happened to be the first nosed in a randomised half-blind line-up): so, so complex. Iced white nectarine kernel and flesh, subtle matchstrike, and lees gruyere. Candied and cut Meyer lemon peel too. Super-deep. Not quite as edgy as expected on the palate, indeed there's a softness and ease about it: fabulously — luxuriously — so. Bitter peel, mouth-sucking at the edges: lime, kernel, shiny sourdough crustiness. Concentrated grapefruit pith mid-palate. This is fairly —actually, incredibly — awesome — like wine no. five 5 (which turned out to be the ’19 Shaw and Smith Lenswood). But has the edge in core density, rather than the ozone edginess. This will grow gloriously. 98(99)/100, 10/10, $270 is the average price on Wine Searcher.

Hardys HRB Chardonnay D682 2018, Yarra Valley, Pemberton

Hardys HRB Chardonnay D682 2018 (Yarra Valley Pemberton, SA)

Pear-mango-peach wrapped in short croissant pastry — fruit packed — and there’s a touch of fresh-picked creamed corn too. Quite obvious and (tweaked) old-school in style, but one which many Chardonnay lovers will adore. Delivers tastes in accord with its smells: burnished corn and glowing peach, flavours which are dense across the tongue. With air — and especially on day two — it builds deep salamandered pineapple. There’s more Danish pastry-style comfy crustiness and deep fruit to finish — and it lingers long. This is oodles of — serious — fun. 94/100, 8/10, $31.99 from Dan's.

Orlando Lyndale Chardonnay 2018, Adelaide Hills

Orlando Lyndale Chardonnay 2018 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

This smells exciting and edgy. A touch of match-strike and tight mendoza-like baby pines and ruby grapefruit. (Really want to stick this in my mouth: quickly!) Gets deeper in the crusty sourdough department as it sits in the glass. Lots of complexity here from fruit and artefact (subtly worked lees and lovely wood). Plenty going on across the palate too, both fruit length and width wise. Bitter, tangy grapefruit, and mouth-sucking peach stone. Understated like the above, but so much more packed with flavour and texture. The oak is — perhaps — a little obvious, but is also transitory — and meanwhile the fruit intensity remains constant! Seriously smart this. 95/100, 9/10, $49.99. It’s also available at Dan’s.

Oakridge 864 Drive Block Funder & Diamond Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, Yarra Valley

Oakridge 864 Drive Block Funder & Diamond Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Intense and gently complex: baby pines, lime peel, and integrated ponginess. Subtle and nutty, with white sourdough crustiness. The palate is incredibly powerful: tight, compressed nectarine, crystallised peel. On release this had an almost painful to suck on core of fruit and acidity, but macadamia creaminess and white peach fuzziness have evolved and mellowed things, although the fruit retains its incredible persistence. I admire and respect this wine rather totally adore it, but its getting there and I can’t wait to taste it again with another five years (and more). 96(97)/100, 9/10, $94.99 ($90.30) from Dan’s. It was tagged as $75 on release.

WINEs OF NOTE 22/01-01

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Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir 2019
(Mount Barker, WA)

Masses of fruit mince pie peel and currant fruit on the nose. Fine oak evident too, which is a bit up there to begin, but with half an hour or so in the glass it incorporates seamlessly, as the deep fruit builds and builds. Mince pie crumbly pastry. Sumptuous smelling. There are subtle, bitter smelling ruby grapefruit peel Cappelletti* aromatics also. It’s a component though, not a feature. Attacks with sumptuousness too: rich, fruitcakey flavours getting juicy kumquat bitters as it builds, but this character doesn't overwhelm the finish. The tastes are dense yet tangy; the texture slinky but supported by fine, rye sourdough-crusty tannins. There are positive bitters among the mellifluous poached pear and brandied cherry flavours. Glorious decay. Gentle Pinot Noir this, but powerful at its core and seriously addictive. 96(97)/100, 10/10, $60. Looks radiant on day two and will surely evolve like the ‘14 (more here).

(*If there’s a tasting descriptor frequently deployed for serious Pinot — in Australia at least — which I am on the record as stating irritates me more than a bit, it is the comparison with Campari (for wines with an apparent whole bunch component). Look, I love a Negroni as much as the next boozehound, but why use a descriptor for distinctive, small-volume, single-vintage wines which compares them to a beverage — as lovely as it is — made week on week in goodness only knows how many gazillions of litres? So, I recognise that I’m something of a hypocrite here in finding some of Cappelletti’s awesome Vino Aperitivo Americano Rosso when smelling this wine. But I did. I’m currently attempting to fix Imperial Measures Ruby Bitters into my palate memory and much enjoying the experience. And, while I’m at it, great thanks to Imperial Measures for being one of the first —maybe the first — to develop and provide hand sanitiser — Gin Hand Tonic 🤣 — to their customers, friends and colleagues in hospitality. Also thanks to the Campari Group for its Shaken Not Broken campaign of hospo solidarity and support.)

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Ashton Hills Cemetery Block Pinot Noir 2020 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

As I’m nosing this in a masked line-up I’m thinking that I really shouldn’t be enjoying the experience. There’s raspberry rhubarb compote fruit aplenty. Frangipani strawberry tart. But also pronounced sappy green stems (although it doesn’t smell grassy). There’s a transitory cuddiness, but mainly its flinty stemmy smokiness (not smoke taint). None of these things presents in my ideal Pinot Noir, yet it’s most alluring. On the palate it’s more of the same with kumquat bitterness and sharp loganberry rhubarb flavours. There’s a warmth about it too, which appears more stemmy phenolic than alcoholic. Get’s slinkier overnight. This is not especially my style, but it is most intriguing. And those that like a bit of stem action should adore it. 91(92)/100, 7/10, $55.

(There have been suggestions from some quarters — Gary Walsh and Mike Bennie of Wine Front via Max Allen here — that the 2020 pinots of Ashton Hills are smoke tainted. I do not see this character in any of the ’20 releases, which I assessed in a half-blind randomised bracket of eighteen wines with pinots from the Adelaide Hills and other regions, from both the ’19 and ’20 vintages. What I did observe was more apparent stemminess in the AHV pinots from this vintage. The ’20 Reserve, however, is — almost — up to its exceptional best, but this has now sold out. Which is why I’ve chosen to plonk this wine up front. The 2020 Ashton Hills Chardonnay ($40) is also not smoke tainted and quite excellent. I’ve had a good chat, and exchanged correspondence, with Ashton Hills winemaker Liam van Pelt and you will find a bit more background to this story here shortly).

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Montalto Estate Pinot Noir 2020 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Hazelnut among juicy, amber pluminess to begin, plus rose-hip, then nori. Blood orange peel. Intriguing. Gets really Syrah-like rotundone pepperiness with air (which Pinot clone/s I wonder?). Really has a bacon fat pepperiness about it. Assorted caneberries building in the mouth as it sits in the glass and builds: deep juice and pippiness — juice and pips, super squeezed. There are smoky bacon fat pink peppery mouth-aromas wafts too, and it’s mouth-sucking to finish. Deciduous woodsy humus as well. Lots happening in here: if only more Aussie Pinot was this provocative, rather than complying to contemporary reduced, stemmy, (skin) extract-less trophy-winning templates. Singular stuff. 95(96)/100, 10/10, $50.

(I was reminded of Scorpo’s delicious and distinctive ’15 tasting this. Maybe not as powerful and chewy, but with similar spiciness. I’ve subsequently learned that the wine is significantly — 78% — from Montalto’s home vineyards at Red Hill, with the balance being 15% Tuerong and 6% Merricks. So it will be fascinating to discover in a year or so if these peppery notes appear in any of the single vineyard releases. The spice might also be the influence of the significant presence of ‘D’ clones — 42% — in 2020, which is not always so according to Anthony Jones, Montalto’s director of wine. He informed me that, ‘We more often than not use these blocks for sparkling rosé and rosé, except when we get a really low yielding year like 2020 when the bunches are smaller and the sunlight can get in.’ The balance is 31% MV6, 16% 777, and 11% 115. You find reviews of other Montalto recent releases here shortly.)

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Moorooduc Estate The Moorooduc McIntyre Pinot Noir 2019 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Seriously deep and powerful this one: real red wine, serious Pinot Noir. There’s fruitcake and molasses, but still edginess. A fig paste smell to it also, but with gentle raspberry leaf. (Can't wait to taste this.). It is wonderfully rich and powerful on the palate too and — dare I write this — there’s something a bit new-fashioned Burgundian about it (as broad as that observation is). There’s classy sourdough toasty oak in the background and this integrates seamlessly with the incredibly intense fruit as it uncoils and builds: there is just so much to suck on and ponder in here. To finish there’s tangy dried fruits and crystallised bitter peel adding briskness and cut, and it lingers incredibly long. This is super-stylish stuff. The ‘Duc’s bollocks, in fact. 97(98)/100, 10/10, $80.

(Back in whenever it was — actually I’ve just checked and it was September ’97! — I attended a tasting presented by the Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association at Lindenderry — now Lancemore Lindenderry — in Red Hill. Richard McIntyre of the eponymous Pinot above was one of the winegrowers in attendance and I seem to recall that in my typical blunt tactless fashioned I queried the pricing of many of the wines on show, especially the Pinots. And that I subsequently mentioned this in a column I wrote following my visit which — full disclosure — was entirely covered by the association. Well much has changed since then — me included — and what I will emphatically state now is that this wine, and all the other current crop Moorooduc releases I’ve tasted recently — Chardonnay and Pinot — are worth every cent.)

WINEs OF NOTE 21/12-01

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Rogues of the Resistance Pecorino 2021 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Deep, tangy, dehydrated tangerine and pineapple — exotic — then becoming — sort of — cold ramen brothy. Some hessian. There’s a yeasty glutamate character too (so intriguing this). Ruby grapefruit and dried tangerine tastes too, among sea salty, ozone -charged, sapid flavours. Chew too, and nourishing tasting. This is a wonderful white wine completely out of the common run. 95/100, 10/10, $40. Leave it to open up for a day and you will discover — really — a Pecorino cheesy character. So fabulous.

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Oliver's Taranga Fiano 13/182 2021
(McLaren Vale, SA)

Granular pear — smells dry between juicy cells — white peach, plus rose florals (if this is a Fiano it is right on the denari*). Gentle Turkish Delight, sweet braised carrots, snow pea. Has florals in the mouth also with honeydew melon skin fruit and a good bit of chew. Get’s bitter bite at the back, but there’s still plenty of plump pear/nashi at its core. Gently gushing granular juiciness, cut with an edgy bite. 92/100, 8/10, $27.

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Stargazer Tupelo 2021 (Coal Valley, Tas)

There’s a pear and gorgonzola bavarois character about this (which I associate with gris — Pinot Gris). And crumbly patissieres pastry smells too. Papaya — that musky, sweaty papaya which both attracts and slightly repels, like so many wonderful things we smell in nature — with rose on top. Excellent weight in the mouth with a delicious thread of bitter peel around some rougher — but sweet-sharp — yellow stone fruit kernel. Has plenty of texture to hang on to and finishes dry, and with just the right grippiness. Really good in the middle this — gets plump and poached — although just dips a bit at the back. No mind: this is incredibly alluring. Bring on a Gang Sap Nok King Orn. 93(94)/100, 9/10, $35.

(This vintage of Tupelo is Pinot Gris dominant and there’s excellent detail about its creation available here. NB Ever since the peerless Michele Round of — just as peerless — Pinot Shop (Launceston, Tasmania) pointed out the inconsistency in describing the Coal Valley as Coal River Valley — we don’t write Derwent River Valley, Huon River Valley, or Tamar River Valley — I’ve been following her lead.)

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wines by KT bianca vermentino 2021 (Clare Valley, SA)

Lime peel, some lees cheese rindiness (by which I mean something semi-hard like Gruyère). There’s wax and floral — frangipani — wafts also. And it’s just a little beeswax scented (which I reckon is very Vermentino). Delicate on the tongue, gently grippy with dried lime rind and a floral riesling-like prettiness. Bracing too with subtle muskiness, and delicate, tongue-coating silkiness. Pretty white wine this. 92/100, 8/10, $29.

(And I now know that it does indeed contain a little splash of riesling from Polish Hill River. Vermentino and Riesling do work well together in my blending experience. I reckon that ColleMassari’s Melacce from Tuscany is often a bit Riesling-like in its bitter lime pithiness. And Fèipu dei Massaretti’s Pigato from Liguria: both producers’ ‘15s especially. Trembath and Taylor ship these wines to Australia and they can be purchased retail here.)

WINEs OF NOTE 21/11-01

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Vasse Felix Shiraz 2019
(Margaret River, WA)

Deceptive to begin this. A gentle twist or two of — white into black — pepper, gradually developing along with black cherry stone, raspberry pips and leaf. Really pristine fruit which keeps slowly evolving in the glass. Sapid cured-meat smelling. Hot red bricks. If you love a sniff or two of rotundone this will be for you (and me). Bursts on the tongue with squeezed raspberry pippiness, plum skin mouth-sucking tannin, and builds powerfully across the palate. Not in a ‘big’ way fruit-wise, but intensely flavoured and evolving complex, sweet-sapid Jamon mouth-aromas. There’s mandarin peel juiciness and brick dustiness to finish too. Excellent on day two. 95(96)/100, 10/10, $37. They’ve rolled to the ’20 on the Vasse Felix store, but the ’19 is still out there.

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Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz 2019
(Limestone Coast, SA)

Plummy, spicy, a bit tanky. Wet, white pepper although not especially complex despite the rotundone. But there’s a mouthwatering pomegranate-plum sharpness. Has plummy flesh and juice, and a gently pulsing middle. But the delicate fruit gets a bit sucked up in the oak toastiness and rather rough tannins. Has plenty of width though and there's a good punnet or two of cane berry - loganberryish - fruits in here. 89/100, 6(7)/10, $12.50. This is a remarkable price for such a tasty medium-bodied red. And it gets even more so as Dans are offering it as an online special for $65.35 per case of 6. $10.89 a bottle!

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Le Sorelle Shiraz 2019
(Heathcote, Vic)

Sweet-sharp plum crumble, soused cherry smelling. Red cracked rock and bracing brininess. There's a briskness and dusty wetness to this (if that makes any smell sense). White pepper spice. This energy transfers to the palate too, with vibrant rose-hip and redcurrant. The tannins are firm but get wetter and yield at the back. There’s squeezed cane berry pippy density: juice and chew. This is Aussie Chianti. 92(93)/100, 8/10, $26 direct from Chalmers. The label states an unfashionably high 15%, but I didn’t feel any heat: just a satisfying warmth.

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Brokenwood Shiraz 2019
(Hunter Valley, NSW)

Complex mixed-spiciness — dried Asian plum (thanks Carli), sneeking into fenugreek (like curry bush, i.e. sotolon) — and sweet, brandied cherry stone smells. Rose-hip and subtle, sourdough crusty wood. Soft and squeezed in the mouth with mulberries at its core, and the finest tannins which are seamlessly integrated with the oozing fruit. So it’s soft and gentle, but also incredibly persistent and structured in an easy going way. Mouth-sucking, mouth-aroma wafts of pippy cane berries and espresso crema. 95(96)/100, 9/10, $50 cellar direct. Like the ’17 and ’18, this will develop beautifully for the next decade, and live far longer.

WINEs OF NOTE 21/10-01

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Oakridge Vineyard Series Henk Chardonnay 2019
(Yarra Valley, Vic)

Intense smelling. Pear skin, peach skin and stone with some thyme. Get’s a bit more bruised — puckered — white peach-like as it warms* (in a totally pure, clean way). A tangy kumquat undertone. How it tastes, but intensified: poached (Meyer) lemon dense, with sapid-sweet short crust pastry crumbly bits holding it. Lots of space for textural reflection in here. Chewy bits that bite a bit at the back. And bitter grapefruit skin and nectarine kernel tang. Fabulous tastes of grape intensity allied alongside artefact understatement. In a way too intense and ‘painful' to taste right now: needs a few years. 96(97)/100, 9(10)/10, $44.

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Moorooduc Estate Robinson Vineyard Chardonnay 2018
(Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Pure, peach fuzzy, flesh and stone, plus some benzy* lees stuff. But it's deep fruit to the fore. There’s lemon thyme and rainwater frozen in the head of a barrel. But also warm, gently salamandered yellow peach skin glow. So much fruit flavour and slinkiness on the palate here — it glides — don't say that often of Chardonnay. Fruit is poached yellow peach, but with ripe skin cut, set against comfy oak bread crustiness, and gruyere lees mouth-aromas. Fabulous palate power. 96/100, 9/10, $60.

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Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay 2020 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Smells classy: compressed white peach, grapefruit and baby pines, plus understated sourdough crusty oak. Celery leaf and peach kernel. Energy, depth and space. There's some glacé pear fruit too. High volume. How it tastes too, with fabulous pear skin flavours and texture: a juiciness of the fruit cellular crunch kind (which is as much expectation before the juice seeps from your lips). Lots of fruit flavour here, intense, albeit simple — just lacks real complexity fruit-wise or texture-wise. White sourdough crusty mouth-aroma wafts amid considerable fruit intensity to finish though. Not the complexity of the ’17 or ’19, but way more fun than the ’18. Will check this out again in another six-eight months.
93(94)/100, 8/10, $52.

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Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2020 (Margaret River, WA)

Grapefruit, yellow nectarine tangerine, with a Sauvignon edge to it. Not herbal, but most certainly tangy. There’s a red berry fruitiness in here too (wild ferment?). And a richness and shimmer to the palate with tangy nettle-citrus rind and gently resinous sage, around a pure core of white-yellow peach stone and flesh. It breaks and melts easily at the back, with plenty of zingy peel among the gentle creamy wobble. It’s a bit of fun this and — in short — would be a fab first foray for someone who’s a bit uncertain as to whether they should be venturing into Chardonnay. 91/100, 8/10, $29 You’ll find this at Vintage Cellars for $23.

WINEs OF NOTE 21/09-01

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Hoddle's Creek Estate Syberia Chardonnay 2018
(Yarra Valley, Vic)

Compressed, chilled yellow peach skin and stone: flinty, fennel seed ice. Has serious fruit depth. Palate has incredible density and texture in the mouth also, with lots to suck on and yet with a reserve — an austerity — about it also. It’s a Chardonnay which is more about density and complexity of texture than exuberant fruit expression, although there’s still mouthwatering peel and white stone fruit kernel and fuzz aplenty to finish. Can’t recall giving a wine — and a seriously complex tasting one — so many points with so few flavour descriptors. 95(96)/100, 9/10, $60. More here.

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Penfolds Cellar Reserve Chardonnay 2017 (Adelaide Hils, SA)

I bought some of this on spec as I rated the Reserve Bin 17A extremely highly. Deep white peach, cucumber peel and dried tangerine with a shiitake-like sulphide pong adding considerable complexity. Has sweet-sapid, root vegetably fruit accompanying compressed white nectarine; a Chardonnay of serious intensity and extract. Mouth-aromas of pistachio shell and shiitake over lingering kernel-dust fruit concludes the sublime proceedings. 96/100, 9/10. At $55 this is incredible value, and can be had for $44 if you’re a cellar club member. More here.

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L.A.S. Vino Wildberry Springs Chardonnay 2020
(Margaret River, WA)

Has creaminess and restrained struck match; tight, bitter lime pith, pistachio shell. Nah: more kumquat than lime. Some thyme herbals. Clotted cream also. Attacks zesty edgy on the tongue, becoming slinkier with crème brûlée caramelisation at the sides, and panna cotta wobble in the middle. This is over a deep, crystallised citrus peel core. There’s a slight balsamic tweak* at the back, but it sits quite naturally as the fruit unfurls. Decadent creamy texture that demands spiced food accompaniments*. 92(93)/100, 6(8)/10, $75. More here.

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Brokenwood Stanleigh Park Vineyard Chardonnay 2020
(Hunter Valley, NSW)

Restrained, serious smelling, and with curious — intriguing — dried spice: iced crushed fennel seeds. Caraway even. Interesting this: really interesting. Can’t get away from the iced whole souk spice thing. There’s cucumber peel type fruit and it’s bitter smelling with an Italianate restraint. This is how it tastes too: bracing acidity, sea salty, restrained corella pear and crab apple fruit, and snapped Asian celery-like. There’s gentle chew, and — well — an utter moreishness about it. Sapidity, and plenty of space between flavour and texture.
92(94)/100, 10/10, $66. More here.

WINES OF NOTE 21/07-01

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Hills Collide Grüner Veltliner 2020 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Smells gently musky, with pear skin, cut Butternut pumpkin. Deep, but delicate, with a transitory bruised peach floral note. Creamy palate with good things to suck on, although not especially concentrated. Slightly musky with exotic South-East Asian fruit mouth-aromas — durian (muted) meets green mango. And then gently breaking sea saltiness pulling things along. 90/100, 8/10, $35.

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Wangolina A Series Grüner Veltliner 2020 (Mount Benson, SA)

White peachy, gently floral, some radish and swede. Also: some delicate, slightly (Toma) cheesy pong and nettle-y peel. This smells like a bit of fun. And so it tastes too: grapefruit zest, compressed white nectarine (skin and flesh); a deep core with sea salty, mouth-sucking properties. Finishes with lingering, edgy, just-ripe white stone fruit; and gentle grippiness entwined with beautifully even, building acidity. Stylish wine this. And a lot of fun. 94/100, 9/10, Sold out at cellar door, but here’s a link anyway. $28.

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Mordrelle Reserva 'Basket Press' Grüner Veltliner 2020 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Has a sniff of white pepper among the corella pear and crab apple. Attacks deep and has sweet root veggies. Crab apple and tinned grapefruit flavours too and then light wafts of pepper. There's a serious core here and a lees-inspired creaminess which breaks gently at the sides. Not especially long, but plenty of width and a good bit of grip. Has intriguing texture as well as flavour. So moreish this. 94/100, 9/10, $35.

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Undhof Salomon Wieden Grüner Veltliner 2017 (Kremstal DAC, Austria)

Cucumber flesh and skin, plus peel and parmesan rind. Bracing, icy rock smells. White peachy, plump, and slippery across the tongue with just the right amount of grip. A gentle chewiness grip which compliments the creaminess. There are lovely mouth-aromas of cream cheese brûlée to close. 92/100, 9/10, $39.

WINES OF NOTE 21/04-01

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Penfolds Cellar Reserve Chardonnay 2017 (Adelaide Hils, SA)

I bought some of this on spec as I rated the Reserve Bin 17A extremely highly. Deep white peach, cucumber peel and dried tangerine with a shiitake-like sulphide pong adding considerable complexity. Has sweet-sapid, root vegetably fruit accompanying compressed white nectarine; a Chardonnay of serious intensity and extract. Mouth-aromas of pistachio shell and shiitake over lingering kernel-dust fruit concludes the sublime proceedings. 96/100, 9/10. At $55 this is incredible value, and can be had for $44 if you’re a cellar club member.

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Protero Nebbiolo 2018 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Smells juicy — curranty — but there’s also coal dusty blackness. Sweet wet ferrous, bitter chocolate; with air there's raspberry leaf and fruit mince pie (filling and pastry). Tastes glistening and sparkly also, with a core of rustic soused black cherries: bitter pits, rose. The tannins melt gradually in classic nebb fashion at the sides, but are still easy and approachable. Mouth-aroma wafts of sourdough crust and dark glacé cherry to close. 94(95)/100, 9/10, $38 I could drink quite a bit of this — and already have — and it’s been priced so that it can be poured in bars and restaurants at a reasonable price also.

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Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard 1.5m Chardonnay 2019 (Piccadilly Valley, SA)

Exotic, dense, sapid smelling. Iced white peach kernel. There’s a just-milled Egyptian Gold flour fruitiness about it. So, so dense. Plenty of fruit concentration evident on the palate too, although the flavours themselves are reserved and primal — like the apple and blackberry of a serious, ‘grower’ Blanc de Blancs. This has real extract, and lingering white stone fruit kernel among sea saltiness to finish. And a nourishing oatcakey thing about it too. Singular Chardonnay. 95(96)/100, 8/10, $55.

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Shaw and Smith Shiraz 2018 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Autumn plumminess and genuine peppery—more white—rotundone things. A fascinating maritime—a rockpool—smell about it too; and flint, flake tobacco, and oyster sauce sweetness. Gets more damp black peppery and dark plummy juicy as it unwinds. Gentle and open in the mouth with mossy, forest floor and graphite-type tannins. There’s comforting roast beefy edges and dashi brothiness. So: umami-loaded, but punnets of raspberries still abound. Flavours linger long at the back, although I’m uncertain how well this would cellar, given all the tertiary tastes already. But should I care? 96/100, 9/10, $49.

WINEs OF NOTE 21/02-01

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Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2019 (South Australia, SA)

Restrained this—gentle dried apricot—nothing over-the-top or canned juice smelling as can be so with Viognier in our neck of the woods, and it also has a wheat-germ, mixed-nutty edge about it. There’s some reductive pong, which gives a bit of complexity, and also makes for a pretty sophisticated smelling wine given the price point. A sniff of lime-like dried peel with air. How it tastes too: restrained, but with tasty, yellow stone fruit kernel flavours and some dried tangerine. It’s not especially long, but is sapid and has just the right amount of Viognier slinkiness. An absolute bargain: so too the Pinot Grigio in this range. 90/100 (e), 8/10 (h), $15. Best to buy this at Dan’s where you’ll get it for $12.

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Topper's Mountain Nebbiolo 2015 (New England, NSW)

Aussie sous bois smelling, but in a subdued, decomposed barky way: a distinguishing component, not an overarching feature. Fruit is deep violet-loganberry-currant with a lip-smacking tangy edge to it. Plus a boot polished, soft leather sheen. Glistening fruit cake in the mouth with woodsy, humus mouth-aromas, and serious tannin density: although melty, wide tannins, rather than long ones. Gains greater expression and fruit sparkle with air, so slop it around a bit. 94(95)/100 (e), 9/10 (h), $45.

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Frankland Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (Frankland River, WA)

Shellac, currant, star anise and roast meats. Some loganberry. Dark, violet, and—seemingly—older wood Stilton skin complexity. And so it tastes, with sharp forest berries, black and red currants, in a powerful matrix of super-firm, wet carbon paper tannins. There's a concentrated runnel of coulis berries which builds and fills out at the back-palate, before mouth-aromas become wholemeal crusty. There’s both rusticity and polish to this. 94(95)/100 (h), 8/10 (e), $30.

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Thistledown The Vagabond Old Vine Grenache 2019 (McLaren Vale, SA)

Beautiful dried orange and Turkish Delight smells: deep, pure, distinct garnacha pomegranate. Getting jamon Iberico as it evolves. Blackberry jelly too. Deep and intense in the mouth with dried fruit and nuts, and cherry pit bitterness. There's plenty of forest pippy juice too among the gentle chew and grip. Not so much long, as wide and mouth-flooding. Perhaps not quite as formidable as the ’18, but a delightful follow-up and an alternative expression of this special part of the vale. 95/100 (e), 9/10 (h), $60.

WINEs OF NOTE 21/02-02

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Brokenwood Forest Edge Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 (Orange, NSW)

Plenty of exuberant, bursting pear and grapefruit although it’s quite direct and simple to begin. But then it slowly curls open: nettle, oyster shell, macadamia…subtle details keep emerging. And how it tastes too, with deceptive build through the middle, getting stone fruit kernel nutty as it evolves, chewy too and mouth-sucking. There’s nothing in your face about this; it just gets more delicious as it sits in the glass. A subtle surprise this one and right up there with the ’16 (which I adored). 95(96)/100 (e), 9/10 (h), $66.

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Paul Osicka Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (Heathcote, Vic)

Exuberant, glistening and sparkly fruit. A mix of the sweet and sapid; the succulent and preserved. Like a fruit mince pie with really short pastry. With comforting wafts of Aussie sous bois, which is entirely in character. So, it smells absolutely delicious, but is still a little while away from revealing its most complex best. Big and deep on the palate: fruitcake soaked in black mercury with powerful, red-rock dusty tannins running through it. There’s plenty of juice and chew, and warmth in a good way. This will be even lovelier in four to five years, so hold onto a few bottles if you can secure some. 95(96)/100 (e), 10/10 (h), $35.

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Yarra Yering Underhill 2018 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Deep and pure, with concentrated plum-raspberry compote-creamy fruit. Fabulous, mossy spice in it also—beguiling pepper spiciness—with some struck flint. There's a fabulous coffee crema character too (from the seriously swanky oak I reckon). Oak, however, which you don’t really taste because the fruit has guzzled it all up. There’s bitter chocolate cake, soused black cherries, and long, dry tannins ensuring nothing drips over the edges. Fabulous, mouth-sucking juice builds and builds, and there are mouth-aroma wafts of soy, pepper, and mixed souky spices. And did I mention that this smells and tastes fabulous? 96(97)/100 (e), 10/10 (h), $120  Could—and should—be even more fabulous in a decade from now.

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Salomon Estate Braeside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (Fleurieu Peninsula, SA)

Sweet smelling blue plums, blueberry, and palm sugar. Raspberry leaf at the edges. There's a cassis core that becomes more dominant as it opens up. Distinct Aussie sous bois also, but entirely in keeping with the cool nature of the fruit. Deep, bright and pure across the tongue, with an edgy caneberry juiciness and density. There are waves of complex, concentrated currant and leaf fruit which break on wet, carbon paper tannins. Damp forest humus and fruitcake mouth-aromas last long. This could grow…94(95)/100 (e), 9/10 (h), $33. More detail here...

WINEs OF NOTE 21/01-02

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L.A.S. Vino Albino PNO 2019 (Margaret River, WA)

Smells a bit like ‘…a strawberry panna cotta with a pomegranate glaze…’ to borrow from inmate T-Bone (Tom Davis) in Paddington 2. Fabulous strawberries and pineapples, lime zest and creaminess, getting macadamia nutty as opens up. So plenty happening on the nose, but also in the mouth (which is not always so with even high-rated rosés). Has a grippy, sea-salty texture about it and mouth-aromas of dried peel, pistachio shells, and compressed white stone fruit. Brisk, lip-smacking, and—well—awesome. 96/100 (e), 10/10 (h), $45. Don’t quite know why I’m putting this in here as it’s all sold out at the L.A.S. Vino store. But there’ll be a few bottles out and about, no doubt. And Langton’s lists it as available. Read more here and to learn of a beautiful L.A.S Vino red which is still out there...

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Michael Hall Roussanne 2018 [Barossa Valley, SA]

Gentle, tangy, mixed citrus peel, just-ripe mango and fuzzy golden-yellow, peach skin. And then it lands on the tongue. With an exotic-fruited, panna cotta creaminess: it quivers. Deep glacé, tangerine peel and mouth-sucking, sea saltiness: tongue-coating, yet bracing. So sexy. 95(96)/100 (e), 10/10 (h). It’s (remarkably) still available from Michael Hall Wines for $40. More here...

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Thomas Wines Individual Vineyard Belford Shiraz 2018 (Hunter Valley, NSW)

Blackberry pips and flaky pastry: savoury steak and kidney pastry. There's warm blue fruit, but also citrus peel cut. Eccles cake and gentle peatiness. Gets better and better this as it lingers in the glass. How it tastes too, with somewhat Italianate tannins: but they’re not, they are wetter. They’re Hunter tannins. Poached, long-soused plums, then dried peel and Inca berries, getting cocoa dusty to close. Fabulous tannin structure nurturing things along here, and the fruit lasts long: so, so long. Will begin to reveal its complex best in a decade. 96(97)/100 (e), 10/10 (h), $45. Join the Thomas Wine Club and get up to 20% discount. And access to cellar release wines. Read more here...

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Patritti April Red Grenache Pedro Ximenez 2020 (Adelaide, SA)

Boysenberry, poached pear: pretty perfume plus. Has a sort of dried muscatel lift about it. There’s poached pear on the palate too and wet/dry pomegranate/sumac sharpness, with tannins distributed in a (gentle) coal dusty way. A bit abrupt to finish, but nevertheless a charmer. 90/100 (e), 8/10 (h), $24 from Patritti’s Dover Gardens urban winery (est. 1926).

WINEs OF NOTE 21/01-01

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Mordrelle Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (Adelaide Hills, SA)

Bruised green appley. Paw paw, yellow peach: skin and stone. Sweet sapid smelling and deep. Gets lemon thyme scented with air too. Smells like it’s going to taste tart and mouth-watering which it does: lip-smacking, juicy gooseberry, tight and edgy, gently salty, and with understated gruyere-rind leesiness. The fruit is dense and pithy; the acid melts deliciously. 94/100 (e), 9/10 (h), $30 at the Mordrelle store. More here...

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Oakridge Chardonnay 2018 (Yarra Valley, Vic)

Dried exotic fruits and yellow peach fuzziness: gentle creamy smelling things also. Sun-touched skins, ozone and icy kernel: subtle match-strike. Has mouth-sucking density, sweet-sapid serrano, then dried peel and yellow stone fruit flavours. Struck flint mouth-aroma wafts too. A bit abrupt to close, but the first two thirds just pull you in, and it really benefits from warming slightly in the glass. 92/100 (e), 9/10 (h), $30, or $25.50 if you’re a club member. So great value. More here...

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Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir 2018 (Mount Barker, WA)

This is luxurious smelling: sumptuous brandied black cherry fruit and ravishing, rye sourdough crusty oak. Wood subsides and fruit deepens with time in glass, which is always a positive thing. There's complex, souk spiciness too. Tongue-coating, soused cherry and glacé orange peel fruit on the palate; deep, patined, leather-textured tannins which are dense, but yielding. Succulence and sapidity: a thrill to taste; a whole lot of  pleasure to drink. 96(97)/100 (e), 10/10 (h), $60 direct (less if you’re a club member). Hang on to it for five years if you can. More detail here...

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Chalmers Aglianico 2016 (Heathcote, Vic)

Baked, sharp plum crusty; damp coal dust and dried physalis. Sniffs of fennel seed and sage resin. Smells primal and mouth-watering: deep fruited, but not in an obviously fruity way. Bracing acid and tannin on the tongue—lean and austere—but charged with sour cherry and just-ripe loganberry. Edgy and mouth-watering with a core of subliminal juiciness. A most delicious Australian translation of Italy’s south. 95/100 (e), 10/10 (h), $43. Order directly from the Chalmers websiteMore detail here...

WINEs OF NOTE 21/02-03

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Terre à Terre Crayères Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2019 (Wrattonbully, SA)

Creamy, exotic glacé peachy smelling with yellow skin fuzz, plus compressed pineapple. Yellow stone fruit kernel too. Has tang and peel on the tongue and serious white wine grip; there's real energy and fruit density in here, and length to match. Pistachio shell nutty and salty Reggiano rind mouth-aromas to close. Serious white and seriously lovely. 96(97)/100, 10/10, $50.

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Wangolina Syrah 2019 (Mount Benson, SA)

Raw plummy and with subtle pepper and positive pong. Pretty raspberries pop up as it sits in the glass. Gentle plums with a whiff of blue-vein cheese skin which I always associate with older, seasoned wood. Smells lovely this. Has mouthwatering forest pippy juiciness on the tongue, gentle pepper again, and a sort of spent shotgun cartridge character (which I often find in Heathcote shiraz). Tannins have a delicious, melty property about them. Not especially long, but sapid and satisfying, with some sumac spiciness and sharp pips to finish. 95/100, 9/10, $32

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Montalto Merricks Block Pinot Noir 2017 (Mornington Peninsula, Vic)

Deep, heady perfume: so beguiling. Baked pear-apple, pre-ferment soak-like poached pear smelling stuff, with a fudgey top-note. How it tastes too: slinky and seductive, but with abundant, gentle tannins that are still persistent and dry: these really cohere the palate. There’s lots of mouth-sucking candied peel and forest berry drupelet stuff, and these flavours linger long. Along with shiny, white sourdough, raisin-toast crustiness. The red equal in sexiness to the Michael Hall Roussanne. 97/100, 10/10, $70.

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Frederick Stevenson Piñata 2020 (Barossa Valley, SA)

Smells fun and fruity. But also spicy and a little bit serious. A perfect early release red combo. (It’s been out since August last year). Dried citrus peel, plus juicy damson-type fruit. Gentle peppery spice on the palate too, and delightful dusty tannins. These tannins are perfectly extracted for a wine of this weight, which is something that requires considerable craft (and a shit-hot palate). With a little air more juiciness kicks in and this looks especially good on day two. So take it for ride: it’s got a taste that can’t be beat. (Ouch). 92/100, 8/10, $28.