WINEs OF NOTE 21/09-01

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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 21/08-01

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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.