2017 Huntington Estate ‘Tim Stevens Signature’ Shiraz Cabernet

I know this sounds bizarre, but have you ever been in a situation where you thought time just stood still?  I realise this is not possible, but people say things like this has happened to them in some situations.  How about an experience where there was a certain stillness in everything around you, yet what you were doing or feeling seemed like the only thing happening.  Has a wine ever done that to you?  This one seemed to do it for me.  What an amazing wine this is.  Grabbing and owning my attention for the whole experience…seriously!  That’s not an easy thing to do which says a lot about this wine.

Now, I have to admit to having certain expectations about this wine.  I was lucky enough to try the 2016 Tim Stevens Signature (which is a straight Shiraz) and was blown away by it.  Add to that the price and I don’t reckon I’d be criticised for having high expectations.  Well, after trying it,  I am of the view this wine should increase in price commensurate with its quality, just like certain other premium Australian wines.

A beautiful, youthful purple colour of course.   Delightful aromas of juicy red and blue fruits, herbs and a pleasant oak influence (not surprising considering the 60% new American oak used for the shiraz) but you can tell this is just a tease for what is in store.  ‘Exuberance’ would be the number one way to describe what you find when tasting it.  A close second would be luxurious.

It has all the freshness and up front fruit of a young and exciting wine.  Abundant black and blue fruits partnering up nicely with the oak providing a balanced and lush feel on the palate.  Smooth, suave and sophisticated tannins add to the class of this wine as it shimmies and saunters its way to a terrific length.  If you couldn’t tell by my notes, I loved this wine.  It seems so complete now (with a bit of air time) yet has a great future as well.  The best of both worlds!

Huntington Estate Website

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


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2017 De Iuliis LDR Vineyard Shiraz Touriga

I recently mentioned in another review that there is only one state in this mighty fine country of ours that has wine regions that I am yet to visit.  In case you didn’t read it, New South Wales is that state I was referring to.  Now, I’m not sure how that came to be and I have no excuses or reasons, it’s just how things have played out over the last 20+ years.  As fate would have it, my wife and I now have very close family (our 2 grandsons and their parents) living in Sydney.  As a result of that, there will be frequent trips to see them and the distinct possibility of factoring in a journey ‘out west’.  I simply have no excuse anymore.  It’ll be the perfect opportunity to visit wineries like this one and experience tasting terrific wines just like this one.

A very pleasant floral nose with added aromas similar to a berry basket full of ‘fruits of the forest’ too.  The palate is pretty darn good! Fresh, fat, rich and juicy ripe fruits galore.  There’s plums, blueberries and blackcurrants with a creamy vanilla and milk chocolate kind of texture.  It’s beautifully broad on the palate, the tannins are lovely and fine, and there’s plenty of length to please many a punter.  This is a super delicious, yummy wine that is very well, almost ridiculously priced.

De Iuliis Wines Website

Region: Hunter Valley, NSW     Price: $40 (Seems wrong but it can be picked up cheaper if you shop around)     Source: A gift from a generous mate who certainly knows his wine, Steve Lezynski


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2014 Robert Stein Reserve Shiraz

We caught up with a small group of friends recently, all of whom have travelled.  ‘Extensively’ would not be quite right but they get about.  The discussions revolved around where in the world we had all seen (not that we have seen that much of it) but it quickly came back to how much of Australia we haven’t seen.  For my wife and I, it even got down to how much of Tassie (our home state) we are yet to explore.

Our friends know my interest in wine and the subject came up about the wine regions in Australia.  They all assumed I had been to them all.  When I mentioned how I had been to all except any of the regions in New South Wales, they were a bit shocked to say the least. One of the couples had been and, yes, they spoke of the more “well known” region in NSW, but they were very complimentary about Mudgee and surrounds.  Yep, Mudgee.  They said it just seemed more personal and intimate and not so touristy.

I know I’ve mentioned this before but, thanks to Dave Cumming of Define Wine, I now have more of an appreciation of the wineries of the Mudgee area and the wines being produced.  It is indeed on list of places we must visit, and sooner rather than later.

The first thing that captured my attention was the age of this wine.  It doesn’t resemble a five year old wine, certainly not when it comes to the colour and aromas.  It seems so fresh on both counts (apart from a slight earthy aroma on the nose).  There is a sweet fruit (blackcurrant?) note on the nose with a complimentary cedary oak character too.

There’s a lot to like with the flavours even if it is only medium bodied (and I mean this in a good way).  Rich black fruits, a plummy mid palate (I like this in a wine) and a licorice/fennel sort of influence as well as it trails off on a long, smooth finish.

Bearing in mind this is a quality, premium wine designed to be drunk with a bit of age, expect some tannin (quite delicate but showy) and oak at this point in it’s youth.  They are simply part of the structure of the wine and, at this adolescent part of its life, it’s doing very well considering.  To be fair to it and yourself, give it some time in a decanter.  Otherwise, may I suggest you buy some for your cellar.  It will reward patience.

Robert Stein Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $50     Source: Sample thanks to Robert Stein Wines and Define Wines

Robert Stein Reserve Shiraz


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2015 Gartelmann Wines ‘Jesse’ Shiraz

I caught up with a mate yesterday.  Admittedly, it had been a while mainly due to us both taking different paths in our lives a few years back but we always kept in touch in one way or another.  Anyway, we got talking and naturally wine came up in the conversation and, well, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather!  He said, and I quote, “I don’t like shiraz anymore, it’s just too strong for me.”  Now I accept that tastes change over time  but, as he reeled off the wines he “used to drink”, I had to tell him that things have changed since he last had a shiraz.  As it turns out, the timing of our catch up was perfect.  He and another mate are riding their motorcycles to New South Wales soon for one reason and one reason only; wine.  The Hunter Valley is one of their destinations and now Gartelmann Wines is on their list of places to visit.  I suggested he try all of their wines, but I specifically recommended he try this shiraz.  It’ll bring him back to the ‘shiraz’ fold for sure.

Definitely plums and blackberries on the nose with just a slight minty aroma.  Rich and dense flavours on the palate.  Dark fruits, blackcurrants are the fruits to look out for with something like plum pudding/black forest cake (but nowhere near as sweet) in there too and the oak has been very well played.  Tannins are a touch influential but thankfully the fruit is juicy and bold and this just adds to the nice long finish.  A really good wine!

Gartelmann Wines Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $30     Source: Sample thanks to Gartelmann Wines and Define Wine


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2017 Robert Stein Reserve Chardonnay

I read an article recently by the learned Winsor Dobbin about Chardonnay (link here).  It is a very good read.  I have to admit to liking those buttery monsters, at the time, but I moved on.  As much as the article focuses on a different region to where this Chardonnay was produced, I think it is relevant to most Chardonnays made in Australia at the moment.  Approachable wines with the ability to age, nice texture, good fruit intensity, balanced acidity, character and complexity are now more prevalent and, as it turns out, has had a positive impact on Chardonnay sales.  I’ll drink Chardonnay to that!

Goodness me.  The aromas are divine.  Typically stonefruit with a hint of oak and buttered toast but this descriptor does not do it justice.  ‘Typically’ seems so wrong here.  It’s better than that.

Palate pleasure is palpable thanks to rich and generous flavours.   Peaches are present, there’s a lemon/citrusy influence and a smooth creamy textural finish that is persistent and more-ish with the addition of nicely balanced acidity.  Actually, the whole wine is beautifully balanced.

This has seen 50% new French oak.  Yep, that’s serious stuff and it does show, just, which is fine because this tells me the fruit is bloody good.  Actually, it’s like the fruit is holding the oak in its arms cradling it very gently, controlling its influence.

Simply a gorgeous Mudgee Chardonnay.  I wonder how many more trophies it’s going to add to the three it’s already picked up.

Robert Stein Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $40     Source: Sample thanks to Robert Stein Wines and Define Wines

Robert Stein Reserve Chardonnay


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2018 Gartelmann Wines Benjamin Semillon

Just the smell of this wine brought back terrific memories of certain things I liked about being a kid (a few years ago now).  That memory being lollies or sweets depending on where you grew up.  Who remembers the Sherbet Fountain?  That yellow cylinder of sugar, I mean sherbet, with a tube of licorice in it.  I didn’t bother too much with the licorice.  It was all about the ‘buzz’ you got when you ate the contents.  And what about Wizz Fizz?  That bag of fine powdery sherbet that contained a (way too little) spoon to eat it with.  I’d ditch the spoon and just tip a heap of the sherbet in my mouth.  It’d be gone in 6 seconds and after that I’d be a hyperactive imp for 6 hours!  Ah, the good ole days.

This smells fresh and citrusy with that lemon sherbet aroma I alluded to in the first paragraph.  Similar on the palate, but boy, the flavours are intense and plentiful!  Those citrus characters are the star of the show for sure with great support from slight mineral notes and just a hint of texture.  But it’s the fresh, juicy, vivacious and tight acidity that really gives this wine great structure to develop for some time yet (if you can keep your hands off it).  Delicious Hunter Semillon to a tee.

Gartelmann Wines Website

Region: Hunter Valley, NSW     Price: $27     Source: Sample thanks to Gartelmann Wines and Define Wine

18 Gartelmann BenSem

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2018 Pig in the House Cabernet Sauvignon

I love the name of this wine, Pig in the House.  It conjured up so many thoughts of an introduction for this review before moving onto the tasting notes.  Politicians and Parliament came to mind and I even thought about having a bit of a dig at myself and my occupation.  But alas, in this politically correct world, I decided I’d better do the right thing and not go down that path for fear of upsetting someone, so this is the best I can do for an introduction.

It’s a very deep, yet pretty colour and, stating the obvious I know but, youthful as well.  The aromas are just as primary with red and black fruits dominating.  Tasting and drinking it is all about the sweet-fruit nature of the wine.  Blackcurrants and blackberries are the lead vocals from a wine that just sings “Drink me, don’t cellar me.”  There’s a green, more of a herbal note but nothing that was too obvious.  It was part of the ‘backing vocals’ if you like.  Tannins? There’s none of those to concern yourself with.  It’s all about the fruit for sure.  A very good wine I have to say, which leads me to the question: how do they do it for the price?

Pig In The House Shop

Region: Cowra     Price: $25     Source: Sample thanks to Windowrie Wines and Define Wine

Pig in the House Cabernet

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