Wine Reviews Archive

Jeffrey Grosset, Mount Horrocks, McNicol, Mitchell, Pikes, Voyager, Tar & Roses, Devil’s Lair, Bellarmine, Bremerton, Hill-Smith, Massena, Tim Adams, Alex Head, Wirra Wirra and more


Mount Horrocks Watervale Riesling  2016 – $28 at MyCellars where the freight is free for subscribers on any quantity (promo code BWU20). Yes, it’s a bit over the limit. I grabbed a bunch of higher-priced Rieslings for my Riesling Blog, and chose this one because Campbell Mattinson and Huon Hooke gave it 96 and 95 points respectively and both waxed lyrical about it. I don’t get the raves: it’s a pretty decent Riesling, and yes it’s pretty and floral but simple and a touch sweet. I’d buy 2 bottles of the Jim Barry 2016 instead of one of these. 92 points. Not Convinced at the price (which is well over $30 in most shops).

I have to wonder if Campbell M understands Riesling when I read: ‘Certainly there are a lot of rieslings from the 2016 season [in Clare] that are their usual same selves, nothing more, nothing less.’ Jeffrey Grosset agrees that 2016 is exceptional, calling it the ‘most exciting vintage in a decade.’

Jeffrey Grosset Springvale Riesling 2016 – $35 at MyCellars. It’s a classic Clare Riesling from a great vintage, with everything in place plus perfect poise and pitch. The surprise is how much enjoyment it delivers already. A great wine to drink over the next few years. 96 points. Just one issue: at this price I’d buy the McNicol every time.

McNicol Riesling 2009 – $35 at the winery. If you want to know what aged Clare Riesling is all about, grab a bottle of this wine. Andrew Mitchell makes just 250 cases of this from a single vineyard and mature dry-grown vines. Andrew tells us that the wine spends time in old oak barrels and maintains lees contact before bottling ‘to mellow the wine and offset its power.’

The concentration of flavour would make Grand Cru Riesling makers in Alsace shake their heads in disbelief, and the price would make them weep. The depth of flavour here is astonishing, as is the complexity, and the acid backbone gives the wine the freshness it needs for perfect balance. It’s a masterpiece. 98 points. BUY.


Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2016 – $18 at Winestar. Trophy, Best Young White at the Sydney Show 2016 (and the top gold of course), gold in Adelaide as well. 93 points and a good wrap from Campbell M at the Winefront. Really pale colour, lots of lime and talc on the nose, plenty of finesse on the palate with the faintest hint of apricot kernel, but perhaps lacking a bit of depth. 93+ points. BUY.

Pikes Traditionale Riesling 2016 – $20 at MyCellars. Neil Pike likes to keep his Rieslings lean as this one shows. 11.5 % and balanced on a knife edge of fine acid. Has all the limes and bath powder we look for, but wrapped up really tight right now. There’s excellent line and length here, and no question that this wine will improve for 10 years or more. 93++ points. BUY for the cellar.

Voyager Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014$19 at Dan M’s or Jim’s. Classic Margaret River blend, understated, stylish, elegant, long and dry, more minerals than tropicals. Will improve for a coupleof years.  Very tidy. 93+ points.


Dopff au Moulin Pinot Blanc 2015 – $14 at Dan M’s. An old favourite, a kind of Pinot Gris without the ripe pears. Nice clean drinking, but give it another 6 months or twelve to open up a bit. 91+ points. BUY.

Bremerton Betty & Lu Sauvignon Blanc 2016 – $17 at the winery. My ideas about this style are best described as those of a purist, and I often cringe when I see samples from places not known for their savvies. What a surprise this one is: fresh and crisp and grassy and lemony without any unripe hints despite the 11.5%. Rebecca Willson has really hit her straps here. 91 points. BUY. Drink this summer.

Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – $14 at MyCellars. Gets 4 stars from Raymond Chan, heaven only knows why. It has no varietal definition, no energy, no crunch, no excitement … it’s the kind of savvy that does New Zealands reputation no good at all. 86 points. Buy something else.


Bremerton Vermentino 2016 – $24 at the winery. This is the best Australian Vermentino I’ve tasted. It’s not the usual vacuous, frivolous, undisciplined fruity white, but a classy, stylish, restrained white with appealing aromatics combined with hints of lemon and brine, and good line and length. Good drinking this summer. 93 points. I’d rate it a definite BUY if it were under $20.

Topers Chardonnay 2014 – a follow-up on the super-popular 2013, which is still the only option on the website. Also, I think it has the edge on the 2014 even if the style is very similar: rich, round and full of soft goodies. 93 points.

Shingleback Salmon Rosé 2016 – $17 at 1st Choice.  Clean, uncomplicated drinking, not much flavour, dry finish. There are better Rosés around for less money. 88 points.


Wynns Coonawarra Estate Riesling 2016 – $12 at Bayfiedls. Over the years I’ve rarely struck one of these that impressed me, but the 2016 has a lot going for it. It doesn’t have the delicate aromatics of Eden Valley or Clare but serves up a decent amount of flavour, which makes it a great food wine as I discovered when I matched it with a pork filet done in the Asian style. 91 points. BUY.

Tar & Roses Pinot Grigio 2016 – $16 at Summer Hill or Dan M’s. This Gris is dripping with ripe pears and lychees, a busty wine about to fall out of its corset. There’s good fruit there but no discipline to keep it in check. 88 points. They should’ve made a dessert wine from this fruit.

Massena the twilight path 2015 – $22 at Summer Hill Wine. Fresh and fruity and interesting bistro wine, good with pizza or pasta, a bit light on for the money. 90 points.



Hill Smith Eden Valley Chardonnay 2014 – $18 at Jim’s Cellars. Eden Valley Chardonnay has a very appealing bright energy, and this one follows that style. It’s more forward and less complex than the 2013, more fruit, fewer minerals. It tastes ripe and rich yet claims a 12.5% alcohol level. Not a great chardy but seductive drinking. 92 points. BUY.

Mitchell Mataro Grenache 2012 – $22 at the winery. Fascinating wine, not aged in wood. Fruit is big but subdued, lots of dusty, earthy savoury, meaty characters from the Mataro, reminded me of a Barolo, old-fashioned style that should be great with hearty meat dishes. Over several days, I liked it less and less; that happens when you taste wines the way we do. 89 points. Not Convinced.

Devil’s Lair The Hidden Cave Cabernet Shiraz 2014 – $17 at 1st Choice. Not sure about the vintage here; Dan M has 2014 on the shelves at $2 more. The 2013 is just as good though. This is a great value red every year, and often dicounted down to $16 or less. It’s on the generous side but not blockbusting. Rich and rustic but with enough polish and that touch Margaret River dust. Great balance and good drinking already, it will improve for 5 years or more in the cellar. 92+ points.


Bellarmine Pemberton Shiraz 2012 – $20 at Summer Hill Wine. I grabbed this on the strength of the winery’s reputation and a 96 point score from Halliday. It’s a bit on the hot and spicy side, and a bit short. We had it with a hottish goulash which was a stroke of genius. 89 points. Not Convinced.

With the next group, it struck me what a difference a year or two in bottle makes. Of course this is not news, but sometimes an illustration underscores the validity of a well-known idea. The two 2015s were simply not ready to be let loose on the world, and they were $20+ reds from Head Wines and Wirra Wirra. A 2014 Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz showed better (and scored higher) simply because it had a chance to settle down for another year.

Wirra Wirra Catapult Shiraz 2015 – $22.50 at the winery. Big, rich, chunky Macca Shiraz with an apt name: it sure hits you between the eyes. Needs another year or two to find its feet. 91+points.  Gold medal in Melbourne. The 2014 might be a better bet at this time; it’s still in the shops – $20 at Jim’s.

Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz 2014 – $18 at Dan M’s. Completes Rebecca Willson’s trifecta this week, and proves the value of tasting wines over several days.This red impressed me from the moment I opened it, and got better for 4-5 days. Typical Langhorne Creek generosity of flavour, ranging form gum leaves to dark red fruits and chocolate. Full-bodied but not huge, rich but well-behaved. 93+ points. BUY.


Alex Head Head Red Barossa Shiraz 2015 – $20 at Winelistaustralia. Another pup of a red that’s still skittering all over the place with its big paws. You can see the underlying quality here, the touches that make this wine more than just another warm and cuddly Barossa Shiraz; there’s more finesse here but it needs another year or two for all the bits to get to know each other. 90++ points

Tim Adams The Fergus 2013 $21 at Dan M’s. Made from Grenache, Tempranillo and Malbec. Clare Valley goes to Spain? It’s a riot of exotic flavours and spices, from chorizo to gum leaves. Medium-bodied, would make a good bistro wine in a smarter bottle and a better price. Good to drink now but will mellow with a couple of years. 91+ points. BUY if you feel like a change from the usual fare.

Young Brute Red Blend 2014/15 – $17 for 2 bottles at Dan M’s (online special). This red was a bit taciturn when opened but much better on the second and third nights. Cabernet Shiraz from Wrattonbully, made by the Casellas of Yellowtail fame. It’s a pretty good red with good depth of flavour and a bit of grip on the clean finish. Won a trophy at the Melbourne show and a couple of golds; no idea why they’re giving it away. 92 points.

Tatachilla Partners Cabernet Shiraz 2015 – $9.50 at Dan M’s. This red won the Best Wine Under $25 at the Great Australian Red Comp 2016. I had my doubts when I opened it coz I can’t remember seeing a good wine under this label for many years, but I was surprised. It leapt out of the glass with bright energy and juicy fruit, high on drinkability. It did the opposite to the Young Brute: on the second night it was less attractive and had lost some of its vigour, more of the same on the third night when it tasted pretty tired. 89 points. BUY, but make sure you don’t leave it open too long.

What were the judges at the Great Aussie Red comp smoking? The Devils Lair Cab Shiraz above has far more class, and so have many others.


Mojo, Mitchell, Hoddles Creek, Castelli, West Cape Howe, Kilikanoon, Dopff au Moulin and lots more

We tasted a bunch of wines over in the west, but not the way we usually taste wine, so we’ve included them in our travelogue part 1 and part 2, Great Southern and Margaret River respectively.

Back home, we found a lot of samples waiting for us, a case of Mojo among them. These wines are made by Rockbare in the McLaren Vale, and it’s clearly a slick operation as the labels show. A few months back, we were impressed with the Mojo Coonawarra Cabernet 2012 which you can still buy for $13 at MyCellars– don’t ask why. Not classic Coonawarra but really good drinking for the money.

The white Mojos were a pretty consistent bunch, with the Mojo Sauvignon Blanc 2013 the least impressive. It’s a commercial style with the mandatory touch of sugar on the mid-palate. Well done but … 87 points. Not Convinced. $14 at Winestar. The Halliday camp’s 94 point score merely adds weight to our suspicions that the GOM of Oz wine has lost control of his helpers.


The Mojo Chardonnay 2012 is more convincing: it’s a round, ripe, easy-drinking commercial style, and the extra year has given it a chance to get its act together. 90 points. BUY.  $16 at Boccaccio.

We liked the Mojo Pinot Gris 2012 for its restraint. It’s made from Adelaide Hills fruit, it offers hints of almonds and pears on the nose, and just enough flavour in the same spectrum. The finish is dry and clean, and this might even improve. 90+ points. BUY. $16 at Cracka.

Jim Barry Watervale Riesling 2013 – $13 at 1st Choicegetting hard to find now. Yes, we’ve raved about this bargain but we like to check our bearings once in a while, and we were right so grab some as the 2014 is rolling into the shops already.


Claymore Joshua Tree Riesling 2013 – $14 at Kemenys. Another serious bargain Clare Riesling. Fresh limes and lots of finesse, restrained and long, fine acid, will improve for years. 93+ points. Bargain BUY

Thorn Clarke Sandpiper Eden Valley Riesling 2013 – $14 at Kemenys. This is good, steely Eden Valley Riesling, shy and fine-boned right now, give it time to breathe or a few years in the cellar. 93 points. BUY. Be aware that this wine is also sold under a Hidden Label for $11 at Kemenys.

West Cape Howe Styx Gully Chardonnay 2012 – $23 at Winelistaustralia (dozen only) or $30 at the winery. Styx Gully is West Cape Howe’s individual vineyard label, the top of the range. This is one of those gentle wines that sneaks up on you. Elegant, polished and seamless are the words that come to mind, gentle cashews and stone fruit, creamy mouth feel, good line and length, really classy wine. 94 points. BUY.

Leeuwin Estate Prelude Chardonnay 2012 – Sixty Darling Street , 02 9818 3077  This wine is closer to $30 everywhere else, and it’s worth it. Bigger than the WCH, with the oak more dominant, but will be great in a year or two. 94 points. BUY.


West Cape Howe Cape to Cape Chardonnay 2013 – $15 at Dan M’s. Good clean Chardy in the modern, elegant style. Will fill out over the next year or two. 90 points. BUY.

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – $17 at Dan M’s. Like the 2012 better. The 2013 is a bit on the bland side, lacks bite and attitude. Not up to the usual form. Not Convinced. 88 points.

Hoddles Creek Pinot Gris 2013 – $19 at Boccaccio Cellars. Pears and apples here if you look hard enough, but a bit neutral for our liking, quite subdued. Not sure there’s enough here to love or to live on. Not nearly as convincing as the HC Chardonnay from the same year. 89 points.


St Clair Pinot Gris 2013 – $17 at Dan M’s. More of the same, despite the whole Tasman separating the two. Subdued nose, very restrained, almost neutral flavour, hints of apples and dried herbs. Should fill out a bit but Not really Convinced right now. 89 points.

Castelli Riesling 2013 – $22 at Winestreet. Made by the Diletti family at Mount Barker, this is a typical steely Great Southern Riesling offering citrus fruit and minerals, length and depth and the promise of improvement for some years. 92 points. It’s a qualified BUY because there are better Rieslings around for less money.

Macon-Villages Chameroy 2012 – $19 at Dan M’s. A taste of Burgundy at a modest price. It’s not Meursault, but it’s from a good shipper (Latour). A bit hard to get your teeth into at this stage, with the fruit in hiding. Some nuts and minerals, not unlike like a Petit Chablis with more body, good with food, will get better with a year or two. 90+ points. BUY.


Dopff au Moulin Pinot Blanc 2013 – $12 at Dan M’s. The website says 2011, but the shelves offer 2013. This is another direct Dan M import, and the best of these in years: the variety sits somewhere between an unwooded Chardy and a Pinot Gris in the flavour spectrum, and this one is full of flavour and the zest of youth. What a great drinking wine! 92 points. Bargain BUY.

Kiora Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Marlborough) – $10 at ALDI (not on the website yet but probably in stores). This has good varietal expression in the drier, grass and herbs style but the finish is a bit hard and suspect. We liked the 2012 better, from memory. 86 points. Not Convinced.

Mojo Fizz Chardonnay Pinot Noir Cuvee – $16 at Winelistaustralia. These Rockbare guys are good at branding and packaging, and at picking the popular styles. This is mouth-filling rather than mouth-puckering, some richness and a hint of sweetness helping it go down easily. 89 points. It’s OK but there are much better bubbles around for a couple of dollars more.

Yalumba Y series Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – $10 at Dan M’s. Matthew Jukes put this in his top 100 Aussie wines, gave it 18.5 out of 20 and wondered if Yalumba had mixed its labels up on the production line. Can’t add much to that except that you won’t find a better  $10 BBQ red. Rich, ripe and 9 out of 10 for drinkability. 91 points. Bargain BUY.

Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – $17 at Winesellersdirect. Rich, ripe Clare Valley Cabernet with tons of ready appeal. A little more elegant than the popular Shiraz, this is a class act. Double trophy at the Clare Valley Show, and a trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards. 93 points. Bargain BUY.


Mitchell Sevenhill Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 – $25 at the winery or Dan M’s. Sevenhill is a sub-region of the Calre Valley, not a suburb of Sydney. Andrew Mitchell has been quietly making this stylish Cabernet for decades, and it’s never had the recognition it deserves. Mitchell is not one of the trendy wineries with wine writers or big city sommeliers, but Andrew and Jane just keep on making great value wines. Andrew holds these Cabernets back for 6-7 years. Both of our sources are still showing the 2006, a big, (14.5%) rich, developed red with leathery and tarry overtones, almost a Clare Valley version of a Gaja red form Northern Italy. Great food wine. The 2007 is back to the more elegant style Andrew favours, polished and restrained with cassis fruit held in tight check by fine tannins. Classy red. 94 points. BUY. If you like ‘em bigger, buy the 2006.

Thorn Clarke Sandpiper Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – $14 at Dan M’s. A smooth, cool, easy-drinking Cabernet. Drinking well already but will improve for a few years. 90 points. BUY.

Thorn Clarke Sandpiper Merlot 2012 – $14 at Dan M’s. Not a great Merlot, this. Some ripe plums and mulberries but lacks varietal character, structure and finesse. 87 points. Not Convinced.


Thorn Clarke Sandpiper Shiraz 2012 – $14 at Dan M’s. A fruit bomb like so many of the 2012 Shiraz reds from the Barossa– ripe, bordering on jammy, not our style but will appeal to some. 87 points. Not Convinced.

Richard Hamilton Lot 148 Merlot 2012 – $15 at Winedirect. Much finer style than the Sandpiper, lots going on but much less obvious. The 2011 probably has the edge, despite the crook vintage. Goes to show, doesn’t it? 90 points. BUY.

Shingleback The Davey Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 – $23 at the winery. McLaren Vale.Probably because of the vintage, the wine is pretty forward. It shows some mellow fruit on the mid palate but the finish is a bit sharp. 89 points. Not Convinced.


Red Knot by Shingleback Cabernet Sauvignon 2013$12.50 at the winery. We didn’t like this nearly as much as the Shiraz under this label. Less generosity and fruit, touch lean and mean on the finish. 87 points. Not Convinced.

Shingleback The Davey Estate Shiraz 2011 – $23.50 at Dan M (website shows 2010 which should be better). Lots of heady aromas and flavour here, and dark fruit bordering on jammy, not the smoothest wine and the acid on the finish is at odds with the rest. 87 points Not Convinced.

Shingleback Davey Borthers Shiraz 2012 –  $16 at Dan M’s. Big, ripe Shiraz with that hard, slightly bitter edge you often find in McLaren Vale, the tannins could have done with a bit more polish too.  86 points. Not Convinced.


Shingleback Haycutters Shiraz 2012 – $15 at the winery. Shingleback makes a lot of reds under different labels, and it seems the cheaper reds come out better here. This is a winner with lots of ripe fruit but held in good balance this time, and with more polish. Hard to work out but we’ll give 91 points. BUY.

I put these wines last for a reason: de Bortoli seems to be going through a bad patch. They used to deliver a lot of value in our price range but not lately. The 2013 Windy Peak Shiraz was the best of these 3 but it wasn’t as good as the 2012. More of everything here except finesse. 87 points. $10 at ALDI. Dan M still has the 2012 for $11, that‘s a better deal. The other two aren’t worth worrying about. Kim.



West Cape Howe, Shingleback, Mt Pleasant, Robert Stein, Chateau Tanunda, Heirloom, Shottesbrooke and more

We haven’t had time to write up our tasting notes from the WA trip – they’ll follow next week.

Heirloom Vineyards Eden Valley Riesling 2013 – $24 at the winery. We bought this wine for about half that price at Winedirect but there’s none left there. It’s a typical Eden Valley Riesling, tight and restrained in the 2013 style, the tart limes and crunchy acidity suggesting a long life. Another option is the 2012, which is a bit more forward and costs $22 at Winestreet. Great Riesling.

yilganiaShottesbrooke Shiraz 2012, Single Vineyard – $47 at Dan M’s. A gift from friends, this was a big disappointment given Halliday’s 97 point score. It was hot on the back palate and finish, which spoilt it for us. Jeremy P gives it 92+ but we’d be hard pushed to give it 90. That makes it an AVOID given the price.

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Leconfield, Thorn Clarke, Madfish, Mont Redon, Stefano Lubiana, Running with Bulls, Lovers not Torriadors and more

Deen De Bortoli Vat 2 Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – $10 at Winesellersdirect. Apart from the medals, there’s not much to like here. Lean and mean and unconvincing. 84 points. Don’t Bother.

Deen de Bortoli vat 7 chardonnay 2013 – $11 at the winery. Liked this better than last year’s version. Ripe, rich but not big, peaches and nuts, compact on the palate. Great drinking at this price. 89 points. BUY.

DSC_0936 MadFish Premium White 2013 – $13 at Dan M’s. The website says 2012, but the 2013 is in the shops. You can see why this wine is so popular. Very slick commercial white that slips down the hatch without effort – round and smooth and easy on the gums. Flawless. 89 points. BUY.

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Pepperjack, Teusner Avatar, Longhop, Shanahan’s Old Dog, Partisan, Leo Buring, La Boheme, Vouvray and more

We had a lot of wines to review, with the help of some generous wine friends. Among them were a bunch of Dan Murphy’s direct imports, generously supplied by the big chain to BWU$20.

The first one of these, the Domaine des Amoureux Muscadet 2012, is a different wine in every way from the whites we make here, flowery and perfumed, tasty but short on the finish. This style from the lower Loire is said to be drunk with seafood, hard to see why though. 88 points. BUY out of curiosity – $9.50 at Dan M’s.

Bourillon-Dorléans La Bourdonnerie Vouvray 2012. A much more approachable Vouvray than the Marc Bredif style that takes years to show its charms, with a mouthful of sweet, ripe fruit but plenty of the customary acid to keep it in check. 92 points. BUY. $21 at Dan M’s.


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Pinot Noir under $20 – still a real challenge

Pinot Noir is the prima donna of red varieties

She must be treated with a great deal of care, latitude and understanding. She chooses to perform where and when she wants to, but even the best tickets don’t guarantee full enjoyment. Once in a while though, she wows the audience to rapturous applause. ‘More, more, give us more,’ they cry …

Even in its native Burgundy, Pinot Noir is known for its fickle nature. Good Burgundy is expensive, more so because you have to buy 3 bottles to make sure you end up with one that’s any good. Limited production ensures high prices, and the fabled wines of the Domaine de La Romanée-Conti (DRC) can run into thousands of dollars for a single bottle.

So what do we expect for $10? Or $20?

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Shaw & Smith Shiraz – Australia’s Best Red, Pepperjack Cabernet, Kooyong Clonale Chardonnay, Lucarelli Primitivo …

The Shaw & Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2012 won Best Aussie Red in the IWC in London just now. We don’t think it’s that good – sure, it’s a smart, bright, modern Shiraz with instant appeal but it’s not complex, profound or long-lived. It is not the best red we’ve tasted this year either. We’d give it 94 points, so try it before you buy a case. $37 at Winestar

Basilisk Shiraz Mourvedre 2012 comes from the Goulburn River area, and Alister Purbrick from Tahbilk has something to do with the winemaking we think. This is a pretty straight shooting, easy drinking not too heavy, not too light red. The Mourvedre just adds a hint of dried herbs, but the wine is pretty smooth. It’s won a bunch of medals. 90 points. BUY. $17 at Kemenys – please note: the same wine under a Hidden label is a better buy at $14.

DSC_0891Mont-Redon Reserve Cote du Rhone 2011. We expected more from this wine: it spoke of all the right things but didn’t convince us, the poetry was a bit shallow. Needs a bit more muscle and depth. 88 points. Not Convinced. About $20 at Northbridge-Cremorne-Annandale Cellars.

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Helm Riesling, Wilson Vineyard, Woodlands Cabernet Franc Merlot, Xanadu Cabernet, Dogpoint Sauvignon Blanc, Mr Riggs

Helm Riesling Tumbarumba 2013 – $20 at Kemenys. Intense ripe fruit aromas here, with an almost Germanic softness on the palate. Subdued lime notes, offset by an almost peachy centre. Unexpected richness and generosity. Different from the Clare or Eden Valley style. 93 points. BUY.

The Wilson Vineyard DJW Clare Valley Riesling 2012 – $22. Chris Shanahan tells us that this wine comes from a 2.2-hectare vineyard planted by Daniel Wilson in 1997 on a fertile section of his father’s vineyard. The fertile site produced large vines, large bunches and bigger flavours than other parts of the vineyard, prompting the decision to bottle it separately.

Similar to the Helm above (making me eat my words already): soft, rich fruit, more limes than peaches though. Lovely mouthful, quite full and forward and great drinking already. Quite a contrast to its sister wine from Polish Hill River below. 93 points. It’s a BUY but there’s better value to be found elsewhere.

DSCF6439 Evans & Tate Sauvignon Bkanc 2013 – $10 at Our Cellars. It’s drinkable, shows a passing resemblance to the SSB style and shows no obvious faults. 86 points. Not Convinced.

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Teusner Independent, Wickhams Road Chardonnay, Stonier Chardonnay, Castelli Riesling, Villa Campa Tempranillo & more


As usual, an eclectic selection with some duds and some great bargains

Deep Woods Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – $13 at Winedirect. A style Margaret River has made its own, and it shows even in the cheaper examples. This is a commercial version with no rough edges and a touch of sweet fruit. Easy on the gums but we preferred the Fifth Leg (below). 90 points. BUY.

Devil’s Lair Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013 – $13 at Dan M’s. This line is often discounted to below $10 by Woolworths and Coles. This is fresh, lively and pretty true to style, a real surprise packet. Better than all those cheap Kiwis. 91 points. BUY.

DSC_0001Spy Valley Riesling 2013 – $17 at Dan M’s. The 2012 was a more impressive wine. This one is kind of round and full and nice but lacks the acid backbone a fine Riesling needs to make it racy. 89 points. NOT CONVINCED.

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Cape Mentelle Trinders, Frogmore Creek Chardy, Tim Smith GSM, Mudhouse Sauvignon Blanc, Zonte’s Footstep Malbec

We’re different from most wine reviewers. We actually buy some of the wines we recommend, and we like to check that our reviews are on the money. Last weekend, we opened a bottle of Cape Mentelle Trinders Cabernet Merlot 2011 and were bowled over.

We’d given this a rave review last June: ‘It’s hard to imagine a richer, more perfumed, more velvety red in a medium-bodied format (13.5%), with depth and length and lots of interesting touches. There’s a bit of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot thrown in to make it more interesting.’

Other reviewers at the time said the wine was introverted, shy and quietly insistent. Because we tasted wines over several days, this shy red a chance to reveal its full range of charms. We bought a half dozen right away at $20 a bottle, Kemenys’ price at the time.

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