2017 Hastwell & Lightfoot Montepulciano

When I was trying this wine, I got to thinking.  Back in the mid 1800’s when vines were starting to be planted in Mclaren Vale, I wonder if John Reynell and/or Thomas Hardy ever thought to plant Montepulciano vines?  I could be wrong but from what I’ve read, when it came to red varieties, it was mainly Shiraz, Cabernet and Grenache that filled the vineyards.  About 100 years after Messers Reynell and Hardy did their bit for the region, Italian immigrants realised varieties from their homeland would thrive in the Mediterranean climate of the ‘Vale’.  After tasting this Italian varietal, I think we have a lot to thank them for.

Beautiful deep dark colour.  Lots of dark fruits on the nose but elements of red fruits, like cranberries or raspberries, that act like a balance buddy when it comes to the aromas.  I love this wine already just on how it looks and smells!

My taste buds relished the opportunity to be used and abused when it came to trying this wine.  Slightly sour dark cherries aplenty, blackcurrants and blueberries have a say, licorice adds to the mix, and dark chocolate (my favourite) completes the nice flavour package of this wine.

There is some acid on the finish and the tannins are a tad grippy, but the beautiful fruit carries both of theses with ease.  It’s rich in a ‘plenty of flavour’ way but medium bodied in a ‘crowd pleaser’ way.

Hastwell & Lightfoot Website (currently undergoing maintenance)

Region: McLaren Vale, SA     Price: $25     Source: Sample thanks to Hastwell & Lightfoot and Define Wine



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2017 Windowrie Family Reserve Chardonnay

Here we are half way through March and the weather is still being very kind to us.  Even here in Hobart we are having glorious sunny days and warm evenings, extending the use of our outdoor dining area into the Autumn months.  Not that this scenario deters me from opening a bottle of red wine but it tends to have me reaching for a good bottle of white wine in the first instance.  In this situation, Chardonnay tends to be the ‘go to’ for us and it’s always great to be introduced to one from a region I didn’t know had Chardonnay vines.  That shows my ignorance a little, because from what I’ve read, it is their most famous variety.  I hang my head in shame as I type this.

In case you were wondering, grape vines were planted in the Cowra district in the early 1970’s with Chardonnay being the main variety.  The Windowrie family have been putting one into bottle for nearly 30 years and, if this one is anything to go by, I hope there isn’t a 30 year gap before I get to try another one of theirs!

Now, I’m going to go out on a limb a little here; not so far that the limb breaks and I suffer the consequences by saying this, but if I was served this blind, on first taste I wouldn’t have picked this as a Chardonnay.  The reason being, it has a lovely citrus dominant nose although has a touch of peach in there too (which is a good indicator it is a Chardy, I know).  I was immediately hooked.  My palate certainly welcomed the mouth watering lemon and stone-fruit characters it presented.  A smooth, creamy texture provided some good palate weight as it eased its way to a persistent, dry finish.  There’s a delicate touch of acid that suggests it won’t hurt to let it cellar for a little while either.  This is a very well made, nicely balanced Chardonnay that I could drink a lot of…easily!

Windowrie Wines Website

Region: Cowra, NSW     Price: $35     Source: Sample thanks to Windowrie & Define Wine


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Clemens Hill Vineyard & Wines

My wife and I are ‘view’ people.  By that I mean we like a view of most things, whether it be the ocean, rivers, mountains, valleys or vineyards.  Speaking of views, valleys and vineyards, you need to make an appointment (by clicking here) and visit Clemens Hill vineyard in the picturesque Coal River Valley, about a 20 minute drive east of Hobart.

They don’t have an actual cellar door, but they have a lovely courtyard, a terrace area and an amazing room where you’ll not only get to experience some of the best views in the valley, but also a more personal tasting of their award winning wines.  As you drive up to the home of owners Rob and Maria, past the vineyards to your right, you’ll see the valley open up and welcome you to all its majesty.

The north-east facing vineyard at the property was established over twenty years ago, plus the Tashinga Vineyard at Mt Rumney, produce exceptional fruit which is evident in the resultant wines.  I read on their website where the owners, Rob Ware and Maria D’Ettorre, make sure the wines are made to express the ‘place’ ahead of the desire to win awards.  Now, when you see the amount of medals and awards the wines have won, it speaks very highly of  ‘place’.

My wife and I have visited on two occasions, both as part of the Southern and Eastern Vineyards Open Weekend.  Rob and Maria have been most welcoming and not because they have to be, it’s just how they are.  Down to earth, affable, genuine and generous people.  Their wines have two of these traits;  genuine and generous.  You can read about the 2013 Pinot Chardonnay bubbles here, the 2013 Aurelia Chardonnay here, the 2015 777 Clone Pinot Noir here, and the 2015 Old Clones Pinot Noir here.  Let me tell you about some of the others.

The 2016 fume blanc is lovely and rich with citrus characters, plenty of flavour and very good length.  The 2018 Riesling (new addition and loved this) smells divine with some floral notes and definite lemon/lime influence, but it shines on the palate where it’s vibrant, fresh and citrusy with a perfect soft acid finish.  The 2018 Rosé (another new addition) has a great cherry and strawberry nose and palate with a hint of spice and a nice dry finish.  Lastly, the 2016 Pinot Noir had a lot to live up to after the multi awarded 2015.  Bright crimson in colour, quite perfumed and aromatic red cherries and a bit of spice leads to a light to medium bodied fruity and savoury palate, gentle tannins and pretty good length.

To use a Molly Meldrum cliche, do yourself a favour.  Make an appointment to visit Clemens Hill and try their wines.  I guarantee you won’t leave empty handed.


Clemens Hill Website

Region: Coal Valley, Tasmania     Price: Wines range from $20-$55

Posted in Cellar Door, Chardonnay, Other Whites, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sparkling Wine | Leave a comment

2016 Ridgemill Estate The Lincoln Shiraz

I’ve written about me having preconceived ideas regarding wine before, however on this occasion, the focus is on a couple from Western Australia, who are good friends of mine, and work in the hospitality world.  Visiting my home, they were keen to try some Tassie wine.  The main reason being that it’s not that readily available in WA and they knew they’d get to see some rippers at my place (sounds conceited I know).  We spoke about other regions as well, and of course, I mentioned Queensland.  They were, let’s say, not particularly cognisant about Queensland wine regions, the industry there, or the wines.  So, I decided to throw a bit of a furphy in the mix; this wine.

Now, I didn’t mislead them,  I just didn’t say it was or wasn’t a Tassie red, and they didn’t ask.  It was the last wine they tried and they loved it!  When I told them what they had tasted, they were obviously pleasantly surprised.  They didn’t say ‘wow’, but you could see it on their faces.  It was priceless.  Next, they started googling Queensland wines.  Enough said.

Great dark fruit colour and huge whiffs of them on the nose.  The palate is the place where the juicy fruit party is happening.  Blackberries galore, black cherries, there’s a fruits-of-the-forest flavoured yoghurt sort of creaminess too, hints of white pepper, and some texture rounding out a pretty good finish.

This is a delicious, very easy to drink Shiraz, and would be a versatile food wine too.  It has enough richness to hold its own with a nice cut of steak at your local hotel, yet would be comfortable paired up with a pepperoni pizza on a Friday night in front of the telly.

Ridgemill Estate Website

Region: Granite Belt, Queensland     Price: $30     Source: Swap


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2016 Sidewood Estate Mappinga Adelaide Hills Chardonnay

I’m pretty sure I have previously and unashamedly mentioned that I am an Aussie Chardonnay fan.  I have to admit to being bias towards those from my home state, but I’m lucky enough to have tried excellent examples from Coonawarra, Margaret River, Hunter Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Orange, Mudgee, McLaren Vale, Granite Belt, WA’s Great Southern and any other place I have failed to mention.  Having just read the last sentence over again, we have some pretty good Chardonnays coming out of many a wine region.  Keep it up I say.

I didn’t mention the Adelaide Hills in the paragraph above only because that is where the grapes were grown for this wine but it’s a region that definitely can not be forgotten.  I have tried many from this picture perfect place on the outskirts of Adelaide and they never fail to impress…much like this one from Sidewood Wines.

Looks so, so young and smells delicious!  Citrusy, peachy and fruit salady.  Not dissimilar when tasting it, where it exudes that deliciousness!  There’s peach characters, some pear notes and the texture is palate pleasing too.  As the flavours slip away quietly, a nice, crispy grapefruity acidity plays a part, yet it’s beautifully soft on the finish.  The oak has been slurped up by the abundant quality fruit which is definitely the star of this wine.  Have I mentioned it’s delicious?!

Sidewood Estate Website

Region: Adelaide Hills, SA     Price: $35     Source: Purchase

Sidewood Chardonnay

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2018 Sandergrove Estate ‘Straw Boss’ Adelaide Hills Riesling

It wasn’t that long ago I got into a mates car expecting it to be just like any other version of that particular car but alas, no.  Apart from being built the same, looking the same, having the same name and same everything else (probably), it seemed to have these little idiosyncrasies of its own that made it unique.  Over the years my mate had ‘made’ that car his car and he was proud of it and nobody knew it better than he and gee it was good to ride in.

I don’t remember trying any rieslings from the Adelaide Hills and I’m beginning to think, after trying this one, that the producers in the Hills think the same about this variety as my mate does about his car.  It’s unique, they’ve made it their own and mighty proud of it…and so they should be if this is anything to go by.

It was a bit shy on the nose to start with but a nice bit of citrus character introduced itself before too long.  Off to a good varietal start that put me in a happy place.  The palate was not what I expected for a riesling though.  It may be the Adelaide Hills influence but there was some pear and honeydew melon fruits chiming in with a deft touch of something like the diet version of Bickfords lime cordial as well adding a nice but delicate hit of citrus notes on the palate.  Texture plays a nice little bit part with this wine on a better than medium length finish.

This is a very easy drinking riesling that would no doubt please the discerning riesling drinker and, I’d go as so far to say, would bring back the discontent riesling drinker of the past.

Sandergrove Estate Website

Region: Adelaide Hills, SA     Price: $24     Source: Sample thanks to Jen & Pete of Sandergrove Estate

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2017 Yalumba ‘Samuel’s Collection’ Barossa Shiraz Cabernet

This Shiraz Cabernet is part of the, soon to be released, ‘Samuel’s Collection’ range also consisting of a Barossa Shiraz, Barossa Bush Vine Grenache, Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mataro, Eden Valley Viognier, Eden Valley Chardonnay and Eden Valley Roussanne.  Sporting a very classy new label featuring the Yalumba Clocktower, the Collection “…celebrates the legacy established by Samuel Smith 170 years ago when he planted some of Australia’s first grape vines here in Barossa,” says Nicky Gameau, executive director of marketing for Yalumba.

This may seem an odd way to start a review, however when I sat down with a drop of this in my glass intending to write some notes about it, I got to thinking; had I ever had a Yalumba wine I outright didn’t like.  Before I even took a sip of this one I decided to have a good think about it while going through the range wines on the Yalumba website Considering I have been lucky enough to have tried a few of their wines over the years, I could not recall one that I wouldn’t buy again.

Terrific colour!  The nose is just as terrific with beautiful aromas of a mix of red and black berries and just a hint of oak poking through.  The palate is simply gorgeous.  It’s rich, it’s generous, it’s lush, it’s fruitful and I think I’m in love!  After a bit of time in the glass and with a bit of air swirled through it, the abundant fruit (consisting of blackberries, plums and blueberries) swallowed up the 14.5% alcohol and touch of oak easily.  Add the fine, soft tannins and the result is a beautifully balanced, very approachable, youthful wine with a bright future.

Yalumba Website

Region: Barossa Valley, SA     Price: $28     Source: A generous mate

samuels collection shiraz cabernet sauvignon

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