2017 Huntington Estate Tim Stevens Signature Shiraz

I was listening to a podcast recently of the world’s first female roadie, Aussie Tana Douglas.  Fascinating lady.  She spent time with many famous bands and musicians but what stuck in my head was when she spoke about AC/DC, but more specifically, something she said about Angus Young.  I didn’t realise but he wore quite a few outfits not just the school uniform he became so famous for.  I do remember the prison one he wore for ‘Jailbreak’ and he apparently wore a Superman costume as well.  One thing Tana said was, yes, he wore many outfits/costumes, but they were never a distraction from his talent. 

Tim Stevens, at Huntington Estate, is similar except he is a winemaker, not a guitarist (well, not that I’m aware of).  When he makes the decision to put the finished wine into bottle, then put his name to the wine, he is sending out something that definitely shows his talent.  There is no distraction.  It is there for the punter to see, smell and taste.  And, why wouldn’t you put your name to a quality wine such as this beauty.

It’s a lovely, bright and youthful colour…as expected.  It smells divine.  You can tell there is nothing but quality fruit here just by the aromas emanating from the glass.  Think dark cherry and blackcurrant characters, a savouriness there too and oak just poking through on the nose. 

Tasting this wine is based around three words.  Complex, Concentrated and Charming.  Abundant, bold, dark fruit flavours to the fore.  Blackberries, dark cherries, plums and blueberries too.  There’s a fresh red fruit ‘complementary’ factor as well (sorry, I don’t know how else to describe it) and a dark chocolate influence.  It’s rich and smooth, it’s intense yet there’s a certain, sort of, elegance about it too (that’s that charm I mentioned earlier) and lingers longingly on the palate.  Oak has certainly been well played and the tannins let you know they’re about but, with lots of swirling in the glass, they eased up and contributed perfectly to the impressiveness of this wine.  Just superb!

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $100     Source: Sample thanks to Huntington Estate

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2020 Robert Stein White Label Riesling

Smoke free zones.  They are everywhere these days.  They have even made the CBD of Hobart a smoke free zone.  Good thing too.

How good (and lucky) is it that Robert Stein wines have their own little smoke free zone in Mudgee?  Their vineyard is situated in such a spot that, when the smoke from the terrible bush fires headed in their direction, it was “funneled…away from the vineyard, ensuring the smoke didn’t settle over (them).”  As a result, Jacob Stein was able to pick the Riesling and release a wine which, “…has allowed us to retain all of our staff who continue to inspire and support the business during the ongoing challenges.”

Very interesting aromatically.  Quite floral with a touch of spice, served blind, you could be forgiven for thinking there was a touch of Gewurztraminer in the mix but then the citrus characters come through and it draws you in for a closer look.  The Palate is definitely Riesling.  Citrus dominant (more limes than lemons), apple like acidity (tangy not tart) and a nice touch of texture too.  Okay, so it doesn’t have the same intensity as previous Robert Stein wines but it’s still up there.  It’s fresh and lively, and there’s plenty to like I reckon.  Nice work Jacob Stein.

Robert Stein Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $35     Source: Sample courtesy of Robert Stein and Define Wine

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2019 Glen Garvald (by Levantine Hill) PB White Blend No.1

Did you ever watch the ABC music quiz show Spicks and Specks?  There was a segment where a small band would play songs and the contestants would have to pick the tune.  The members of the band would often play instruments that would be, let’s say, not always the usual suspects.  Now, obviously the songs would sound totally different to the original, but they were in tune, they sounded good together and were always well received by the audience.  I think this wine is similar.

In case you were wondering, this blend is made up of ‘not your usual suspects’ Muscadelle (45%), Rousanne (30%), Viognier (13%), Sauvignon Blanc (6%), Semillon (4%) and Chardonnay (2%).  That adds up to 100% impressiveness.

Very aromatic that’s for sure.  Perfume and floral like without being overwhelming, if you know what I mean.  Now, I have to say, tasting it is where this wine shines.  It’s a pretty wine yet has great palate feel, and it’s rich but not in a powerful way, more like elegance and complexity combined with lovely texture forming part of the mix.  It’s a little bit spicy, a little bit peppery but a lot characterful and personable.

Here we have a sextet of varieties that have made very good music together and are certainly marching at the same beat, and loudly too, which is a credit to its lead, Paul Bridgeman.  Take a bow Mr Bridgeman, take a bow.

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $50     Source: Sample courtesy of Levantine Hill

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2016 Huntington Estate ‘Special Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon

I was talking to someone about this wine and, for some reason, I said Cabaret instead of Cabernet.  I must admit to having a bit of a chuckle to myself because I immediately thought of the song ‘Cabaret’ by Liza Minnelli (a bit before my time I’d like to add).  I checked out the lyrics and, mostly, it’s an upbeat song.  However, there is an element of sadness to it but, if nothing else, one of the lines is, ♫Come taste the wine ♫, which I did of course, and there is no mistaking, this is a Cabernet old chum.

The colour is a lovely, shiny, deep red and you can see the life in it.  It smells beautifully plummy, blackberry-y and spicy.  There’s plenty to like when tasting it that’s for sure.  An abundance of lush, mouth-filling black fruits, it’s savoury and spicy with a slight herb and leafy character too.  As with all these wines at such a young age, the tannins are noticeable but have been tamed by the quality fruit, and gee it’s got great length.  It seems to sit there forever.  And the last words for this wine come from my version of the final line in the ‘Cabaret’ song.  ♫And I love this Cabernet ♫.

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $45     Source: Sample thanks to Huntington Estate

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2020 Glen Garvald (by Levantine Hill) Rosé

What a terrific Rosé!  Loved it!  Buy some!  Simple as that.  End of review. 

Okay, so, I probably should expand on this a little to explain why I was so taken by it, and it wasn’t just me.  Everyone I poured a taste for thought the same.  The varieties involved in this collaboration are Grenache, Pinot Noir, Carignan and Shiraz.  I would not have expected Grenache or Carignan to turn up in a Yarra Valley wine but here they are sidling up alongside Yarra staples such as Pinot Noir and Shiraz, and the result is mighty impressive.

The ladies mentioned the “…lovely colour…” as it provided red fruit and spicy aromas.  The palate is where it excited us most; I’m not sure how else to explain it but it seemed to be quite bold and have some presence about it.  Plenty of flavour was offered up thanks to ripe strawberries, red currants, spice and pepper.  There’s some texture yet a little bit of acid too, it’s dry and savoury, balanced, and the length is a pleasant surprise for a rosé.  It’s damn good!  Enough said.

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $35     Source: Sample courtesy of Levantine Hill

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2018 Glen Garvald (by Levantine Hill) Muscadelle

Confession time (this could be embarrassing).  Let me give you some background first.  So, about 3 or so years ago, I began checking out some alternate grape/wine varieties and discovered quite a few beauties.  When this wine arrived, with some others, I thought, cool, Muscadelle, a variety I’ve not tried.  Well (here’s the embarrassing moment), turns out I have tried this variety but in a different guise, as Topaque which is a delicious, fortified wine.  Surely I can be forgiven.  I have not drunk it in the form of a table wine and it is usually blended, in small percentages, with Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.  I must say, if this one is anything to go by, it should be bottled as a table wine more often.

It’s a lovely colour and very attractive aromatically too where pears, almonds and a delicate floral like aroma make their introduction but don’t prepare you for the reasonably complex palate.  Now, I say that because I pondered over the flavours for some time and I also poured it for three wine knowledgeable mates who were impressed but perplexed about it (mind you, I served it blind).  The general consensus was, it was full flavoured, viscous, textural and nicely balanced.  It was mainly stonefruity (think peaches, pears and small, slightly sweet apricots) with a little dash of spice and a nice touch of acidity.  After trying this example, I think it deserves more respect and appreciation as a table wine not just as a bit part in a white blend or as fortified wine.  Liked it a lot!!

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $35     Source: Sample courtesy of Levantine Hill

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2019 Huntington Estate Merlot

If they could think and have an opinion in the land of the red grape, I wonder if ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ would be a thing.  Do you know what I mean?  When there is a ‘Noble Variety’ and a ‘most planted in Australia variety’, I sort of wondered where Merlot fits in among these tall poppies.  It doesn’t seem to have a tag like other varieties do, does it?  It just gets called ‘Merlot’.  And you know what, when you see good examples of the variety like this one, it doesn’t need a tag or to be know by anything other than what it proudly is.  Merlot.

It’s a lovely bright crimson colour with a slight youthful purple at the rim of the glass.  It’s definitely (and proudly) Merlot on the nose with plums, black fruits with just a little sweet fruit aroma coming through.  It’s elegantly medium bodied on the palate where it shows its varietal definition.  Plums, blackcurrants, some red fruit sort of ‘freshness’ and a hint of spice to top things off.  It has a nice, smooth and lingering finish even though the tannins are a tad drying but that’s okay with me.  Very much enjoyed it and I wasn’t the only one. 

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $32     Source: Sample thanks to Huntington Estate

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2018 Huntington Estate Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon

I’m pretty sure I have mentioned before that these two varieties make for the perfect couple.  They just seem to get on so well together.  I know they are not exclusive because both have engaged in ensembles with other varieties separately and together and, thankfully, will continue to do so.  I’m happy with that because I know Shiraz and Cabernet will always come back together in the form of quality wines like this one from Huntington Estate.

A lovely deep purple/red colour shines in the glass as aromas of plums and blackberries seep into the atmosphere.  It reeks of youthfulness and freshness and it’s no different on the palate.  Heaps of dark fruit characters coat the palate and some herbs and hint of pepper complement the fruit.  There’s a top quality fine, dark chocolate like smoothness to it as well that I can’t describe better than that. It works beautifully with the abundant fruit characters.  This is a lovely wine, it really is, and for the price, incredible value.

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $32     Source: Sample thanks to Huntington Estate

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2015 Levantine Hill Sparkling Rosé

Have you ever watched a fireworks display on New Year’s Eve?  The pyrotechnicians do an excellent job organising it, sending them up at particular times, in a particular order and with just the right interval in between.  Have you noticed how there will be some subtle colourful ones, then out of the middle of those comes a big, bright, loud and colourful one that lights up the sky?  The senses of sight and sound are stimulated on each occasion and, when it’s all over, you can’t help but marvel at what you’ve just witnessed and think, “They get better every year.”

This wine was like a fireworks display in a bottle, from the opening to the finish.

The sound of the cork ‘popping’ from the bottle gets things started as the first colourful display arrives in the glass in the form of a salmon pink coloured liquid.  The fine bead providing subtle bursts of excitement, slowly fading away and allowing a layer of citrus and an abundance of red fruit aromas to come through and liven up the olfactory senses.  ‘Taste’ is next on the list of stimulated senses thanks to a perfect balance of acidity, fruit and texture simultaneously providing mouth-filling intensity and elegance.  As things seem to settle, another layer appears on the back palate where lemony citrus notes compliment the strawberry, red currant and cherry characters.  Things don’t stop there either.  It just seems to keep on giving resulting in a fittingly, long grand finale.  Delightful.  Truly delightful! I’d like know how they will “get better every year.” This wine sets the bar very high.

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $150     Source: Sample courtesy of Levantine Hill

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2018 Carillion Origins ‘Fenestella’ Shiraz

I heard someone say today that, when you have a thought, you can’t get rid of it. It’s there until another thought comes into your head. It’s true. Think about it. I know you’re going to think this is a bit strange but when I saw the word ‘Carillion’ on the label, I had a thought and it stuck with me. It was, it would be a good word to use in a similar sort of context to ‘million’, ‘billion’ or ‘trillion’, you know, like a measure of something.  I can hear a Gen Z saying, “Like, I’ve told you like, a Carillion times I don’t like broccoli.”  Do you know what I mean?  However, from a Baby Boomer (just), I could tell you a Carillion things about this wine but I’ll keep it to a paragraph.

On the nose, the wine seems serious, like it’s here to make a statement.  And it does but in a profound and polite way. Same when you taste it too.  This is a very good example of a wine that can be rich and concentrated but sits perfectly in the medium bodied spectrum.  There’s a menagerie of black, red and blue fruits providing plenty for the taste buds to contemplate in a calm and considered way.  Tannins are fine…perfectly fine, as they present on the long and elegant finish to this lovely Hunter Valley Shiraz.  Yes, everything is very primary at the moment, can’t deny that, yet it is still approachable and quite delicious.

https://www.carillionwines.com.au/

Region: Hunter Valley, NSW

Price: $60 (worth every penny)

Source: Sample courtesy of Carillion Wines and Define Wine

Origins 2018 'Fenestella' Shiraz
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