2020 Pig in the House Organic Shiraz

This may sound a bit odd, but when I opened this wine, poured it, smelt it and then tasted it, the first thing that came to mind (with a grin on my face) was, gee this is a cheeky little bugger. I couldn’t help but think about my (nearly) 4 year old grandson who does and says things that are so cheeky, yet so innocent that you can’t help but love him for it. 

This wine seemed to do the same for me in that it presented everything from the start in such a way that I couldn’t help but smile and nod my head in appreciation, almost like it looked at me out of the corner of its eye with a coy look on its face telling me, “You like me don’t you?”  Damn right I did.

As you’d expect, it smells fresh, youthful and so, so primary.  Red fruits aplenty and a little spicy too.  BUT (capital letters are deliberate) tasting it is where you really get to know this wine.  Dark cherries are balanced out by the freshness of raspberries, there’s a mid-palate plum like textural feel with a delicate spice character note too.  This may not make sense, however, there is modest richness about the flavours making this wine such a congenial and affable, yet cheeky youngster. 


Region: Canowindra, NSW     Price: $25     Source: Sample courtesy of Windowrie and Define Wine

Pig in the House Shiraz 2020
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2021 Carillion ‘Lovable Rogue’ Vermentino

Another lovable rogue to get your mitts on, gee I enjoyed this Vermentino and so did my better half.  It was such that we both even took the time to contemplate it, consider it and briefly talk about it together.  Not that that is unusual, but it actually speaks volumes of the wine.

The aromas are a very good introduction to this wine.  It’s fresh, citrussy, a little floral too.  Those aromas hang around as you take your first sip where it’s rich, vibrant and textural on the light to medium bodied palate.  It’s a little complex too when it comes to the flavour profile.  It has a subtle zing to it like lemon sherbet but an apricoty character providing a nice mouth feel.  A refreshing apple like acidity and a hint of a spicy note also present as part of the complete package, finishing off nice and long.


Region: Hunter Valley, NSW     Price: $30    Source: Sample courtesy of Carillion Wines and Define Wine

Lovable Rogue 2017 Vermentino
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2021 Carillion ‘Lovable Rogue’ Fiano

A work colleague asked me what interesting wines I had drunk lately and, amongst others, I showed him a photo of this wine.  His response, “I’ve never heard of Fiano.”  I had a bit of a chuckle because he pronounced it like ‘piano’.  In his defence, he doesn’t drink a lot of wine so it is an easy mistake to make.  He proceeded to ask me about it and, after providing him with a bit of information, he genuinely thought it sounded like a wine he and his wife would probably enjoy.  I couldn’t help but encourage him to do so.

I found this to be a very interesting yet very enjoyable wine.  It was nice and fruity (think stonefruits and pears) with a bit of a citrusy zip (grapefruit like) to it, a hint of residual sugar and some good texture to boot.  It seems to linger on the palate too where that texture and delicate acidity combine perfectly with the fruit to provide balance and pretty good length.  I have long been a fan of Fiano and this one just reinforces why.  A lovable rogue indeed!


Region: Hunter Valley, NSW     Price: $30    Source: Sample courtesy of Carillion Wines and Define Wine

Lovable Rogue 2021  'Abboccato' Fiano
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2021 Golden Grove Estate Brosé Rosé

I think the days of rosé being a light red wine and not being taken seriously are long gone.  Even the term, ‘Rosé Revolution’ seems to have faded off into the wine horizon.  Rosé stands alone as a wine style in its own right now and so it should.  Many are consistently receiving high scores from critics, being draped with medals, awarded trophies and featured in magazines.  I’ve been lucky to have tried many excellent ones over the last couple of years or so and here I go again!!

A blend of mainly Sagrantino with a good portion of Vermentino and a small percentage of Sauvignon Blanc, this is all geared up to provide great aromatics (and it does) and plenty of flavour (and it does this too).

Lovely fresh strawberries dominate the aromas, but the other varieties contribute a slight stonefruit and herbal like characters.  The palate is the place to get excited though.  That freshness continues with strawberries again the main player with a hint of red cherry in support.  Again, like the two previous Golden Grove Estate wines, texture is a beautiful part of the whole of this wine.  Combine this with the fruit flavours that linger longing on the taste buds, and it is not hard to keep topping up your glass.

Golden Grove Estate Website

Region: Merbein, Victoria     Price: $26    Source: Sample thanks heaps to Golden Grove Estate (Ray Costanzo)

2021 Rose Brose
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2021 Golden Grove Estate Vermentino

I sometimes see on social media where people I went to school with have done quite well for themselves.  Interestingly though, they were never a ‘shining light’ at school.  They were not a teacher’s pet nor a star sports person, just one of the students in the class.

My opinion only of course, but Vermentino is a variety that seems to fit in this category.  Amongst all the other white varieties, and I realise it is not the only one, it seems to have risen in popularity in a quiet, unassuming way and it’s done it on the back of top quality wines like this one.

Delightfully fresh and aromatic, things got off to a very attractive start with this Vermentino.  On the palate there is plenty of flavour on offer yet it seems so smooth, subtle and self-effacing.  It’s peachy, peary, slightly citrusy and creamy too.  There’s texture, mouthfeel and very good length adding to its ‘all-round, damn good wine’ status.

Golden Grove Estate Website

Region: Granite Belt, Queensland     Price: $35    Source: Sample thanks heaps to Golden Grove Estate (Ray Costanzo)

2021 Vermentino
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2021 Golden Grove Estate Sauvignon Blanc

A few years ago now, I said some unkind words about Sauvignon Blanc.  In my defence, it was said when the market was flooded with cheap and nasty ‘stuff’.  Around that time, my exposure to the variety would have been fairly broad but it seems, sadly, the not-so-good experiences clouded my ongoing view.

Thankfully, in fairly recent times, I have been lucky enough to try some Sauvignon Blancs from Australia and New Zealand.  What I am more than happy to admit is, I’m quite enjoying some of them.  You could probably say that my initial comments have come back to bite me on the backside.  This one, crafted by Ray Costanzo, is one that I rate up there with one of a small group of Sauvignon Blancs I would drink again.

A lovely aromatic wine with tropical fruits and snow pea like characters showing through.  The palate is fresh, juicy, flavoursome and textural where those tropical fruit flavours (mainly passionfruit) shine along with delicate herbs, fine acidity providing some nice structure and a pretty good length.  Considering the vines are 30 years old, I feel the last four lines don’t seem to do it justice.  There is a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about this wine that really impressed my wife and I.

Golden Grove Estate Website

Region: Granite Belt, Queensland     Price: $35    Source: Sample thanks heaps to Golden Grove Estate (Ray Costanzo)

2021 Sauvignon Blanc
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2016 Brand & Sons Family Reserve Coonawarra Cabernets

Have you ever travelled through a city on a Sunday morning and heard the sound of church bells ringing?  If you are like me, I always thought it was like there was no actual tune to it, almost like just a heap of bells making a bit of noise (and dare I say) spoiling a perfectly nice Sunday morning.  However, I was totally wrong.  Bell ringing has been around for hundreds, probably thousands, of years and there is indeed a system to the ringing of the bells, known as ‘Change Ringing’. Every bell in the belfry plays a significant role in the sound that emanates across the town and there’s an art to ringing the bells.  You can’t just walk in and start ringing one of them.

As much as Cabernet Sauvignon (77%) makes the most ‘noise’ with this wine, the smaller components of Merlot (15%) and Cabernet Franc (8%) chime in producing a wine with structure to allow it to last for, not hundreds of years but certainly, plenty more years to come.

A lovely deep, glossy, inky colour.  You can tell right from the start this is quality even as a 5-year-old wine.  Still lovely and youthful on the nose, there’s plenty of dark fruity aromas, a little herbal and oaky too but definitely not overly so.  The palate has an abundance of lush black fruits that fill the mouth, there is a smooth chocolately feel, a delicate herbal influence, the oak rings true, and it finishes long and persistent.  It has a certain richness about it but elegance as well, almost like a restrained power if you know what I mean. 

Ring the bells in the Brand & Sons belfry (metaphorically speaking) and let the masses know.  This multi medal winning wine is very good!

Winery Website: https://brandandsons.com.au/

Region: Coonawarra, SA     Price: $85     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Brand & Sons and https://savvycomms.ninja/

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2019 Castle Rock Estate Shiraz & Pinot Noir Releases

I decided to do some research on Rob Diletti to find out if he had any pastimes.  When I googled him, plenty of good information came up; twice being a finalist in the Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year, and he took out the inaugural James Halliday Wine Companion 2015 Winemaker of the Year.  What I was hoping to find out was if Rob had any hobbies; things he did when he had some downtime from making wine, but nothing came up. 

I am sort of wondering if he is a darts player.  If he was, you wouldn’t want to take him on as the bullseye would cop a hammering due to his pinpoint accuracy.  I say this because, he seems to always hit the mark with the wines he makes.  I have tasted and enjoyed quite a few and they have all been on point with these two being no exception.

2019 Porongurup Pinot Noir

A very pretty ‘pinot noir’ colour, I loved this even before I experienced the aromas and/or flavours!  Taking in the aromas was quite something.  It’s bright, it’s fresh and inviting thanks to strawberries, cherries and ripe raspberries, and it’s a little bit earthy too. Similar on the palate but those flavours take it up a notch to the ‘terrific’ level.  This is very, very good!!  Those fruit flavours are joined by some darker fruits like plums and blackberries.  There’s a lovely smoothness to the palate where the oak just shows itself, the tannins are perfectly in tune with everything else about this wine and it has great length too.  Bullseye!!

2019 Great Southern Shiraz

Again, a lovely colour.  Youthful would be the best way to describe it because it is, simple as that.  Same with the aromas and palate actually.  It’s just so fruity and delicately spicy with just a hint of oak poking through.  Tasting it was just so special!  Offering plenty, perfectly rich (if that’s possible) and so moreish.  Blackcurrants (a little sweetness from theses guys), blackberries, plums, a little peppery, so very smooth and mouthfilling.  I have to say, even though the oak and tannins make themselves known, this is so very nicely ‘together’ and it keeps letting you know on the nice, long finish.  Another bullseye!!


Price: $34 (bargain buying)     Source: Sample courtesy of Castle Rock Estate and Define Wine

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2019 Serere Wines Beechworth Syrah

What a delightful wine.  Just delightful!  I realise this sounds odd, but it was more like I was meeting this wine and getting to know it rather than just tasting it.  I feel this wine has been so well ‘parented’ from the embryotic stage of the grape, to a youthful wine now in bottle. I was warmly introduced to aromas of mainly red berries with a small interruption by a savoury/spicy note. It’s like it has manners as it boldly presents the fresh blackberry, red cherry, blue fruit and spicy flavours on the palate, however in such an honest and polite way.  At the same time, there is poise and precision on the palate where the tannins are fine and oak is barely present as the ‘conversation’ continues long after the ‘meeting’.  You soon realise you’ve met a wine that is very likeable, amiable and with a bright future.  It was a pleasure to get to know this wine and I have a feeling we will be seeing more of each other in the years to come.

Serere Wines Website

Region: Beechworth, Vic     Price: $42     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Serere Wines.

Beechworth Syrah 2019
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Shanahans Wines 2019 Barossa Valley Shiraz Releases

One time, as part of my job, I had to do some door knocks (no, I’m not a Seventh Day Adventist or Mormon).  There was an address in the street that was a group of 10 stand-alone units all of which looked exactly the same. I’m guessing the same builder used the same floor plan for each one.  Anyway, long story short, when the door was opened, I could see just how different they were inside.  No two were the same.  Each of the occupants had made it their own.

These two wines have the words ‘Barossa Valley’ and ‘Shiraz’ on them and, yes, both were crafted by the same winemaker.  I have no doubt that, and no disrespect intended, the regular punter would see these as just a couple more Barossa Valley Shirazes.  What they need to do is look past the glass and the label, and look at what is under the screwcap.  They would see just how well winemaker, John Harris, has made these two wines, from Australia’s most famous Shiraz region, expressing their own individuality.

2019 ‘The Old Dog’ Shiraz

Glossy and inky in the glass, this looks like it has plenty of get up ‘n’ go.  The aromas give me that impression as well.  Fresh and juicy dark fruits leap from the glass.  This theme continues on the palate where there is plenty of flavour but without being too full bodied, if you know what I mean.  Dark berries galore, mid-palate plummy richness, a little spicy and savoury balanced by a slight sweet fruit like character too with a really smooth, long finish.  This is a lovely wine that I really enjoyed and great value too!

Price: $23 (A bargian)

The Old Dog Shiraz

2019 ‘Silence is Golden Shiraz

As with the previous wine, this looks great in the glass.  So youthful and vibrant in colour.  This is no shrinking violet on the nose let me tell you.  It’s pretty rich but not scary rich, more elegant rich, if you know what I mean.  There’s plenty of blue fruits and plums showing the way with just a hint of oak showing itself.  This is terrific on the palate!  A bold, bolt upright, chest out sort of wine yet approachable and generous at the same time.  It’s more ripe black fruits here with blackberries, blackcurrants and dark plums plus dark chocolate, liquorice and spice like notes.  It’s lovely, smooth and mouth-filling and has great persistence on the finish.  The pure elegance of this wine reminded me more of an Eden Valley or Adelaide Hills shiraz rather than Barossa Valley. 

Price: $30 (Also a bargain!)

Shanahans Wines Website

Region: Barossa Valley, SA     Source: Samples thanks kindly to Shanahans Wines

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