2017 Hughes & Hughes Chardonnay

Tasmanian varieties and styles such as Sparkling wines, Pinot Noir and Riesling have inadvertently developed a high level of popularity while varieties like Chardonnay seemed to have almost been forgotten.  Not entirely but almost.

Take a whiff and flinty characters (like someone just struck a match) and stone fruits are certainly to the fore here.

I think the palate is where this shows its best.  Nectarine and peach characteristics are what I found and I can tell it’s great fruit.  Terrific texture and weight on the palate and nicely integrated lemony like acidity.  It all just seems to keep folding into itself and spreads across your taste buds.  Now I don’t think it’s built for the long haul but that doesn’t matter.  It’s great drinking now.

Hughes & Hughes Chardonnay notes

Derwent & Huon Valleys, Tas     Price: $32 (Bargain)     Source: Tasting at a mate’s place


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2016 Innocent Bystander Yarra Valley Chardonnay

I’m more than happy to admit to a weakness for Chardonnay.  The forgotten variety that sits lower on the popularity scale than Sav Blanc and Pinot Gris/Grigio.  Sadly, I can’t see this improving in the near or distant future.  It deserves better, and this one, at this price, is going to go a long way to bringing the ‘family’ back into the Chardonnay fold.

Pear and citrusy aromas get this lively little number off to a great start, even a little floral note is in the mix.

The palate is where it counts the most and it gives you plenty to consider, enjoy and talk about.  Isn’t that what wine is?  A social lubricant?

This is where you’ll find stonefruits (a broad term I’ve used before I know, sorry), pears have a say with their juiciness, lemony acidity is among it, some nuttiness probably almonds or cashews, it’s skinsy or if you’d prefer the term textural then I don’t think anyone will take you to task on that point.  To finish this little gem off there is a nice long acidic line as it eases on down the back of the tongue.  Delicious!

Innocent Bystander Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $25     Source: Retail Purchase

IB Chardonnay


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2017 XO Wine Co ‘Small Batch’ Shiraz Grenache

I tried the XO Shiraz and the XO Grenache so now it’s time to try the XO Shiraz Grenache.  Seems to be the natural order of things don’t you think?

It starts off with fresh berry basket and spiced cherry aromas.  This is so alive you’d be forgiven for looking for a pulse.  What I can tell you as well is, this is all about the fruit, no doubt about that.

Tuck in and you’ll find there is definitely red berries about, blackcurrants for sure and I tasted some juicy plums as well.  There is a nice touch of delicate spice and while it’s  medium weight on the palate, it offers plenty of flavour.

This is very easy to drink and when you add up all it offers the punter, then compare it to the price, you’re on a winner here!

XO Wine Co. Website

Region: McLaren Vale, SA     Price: $24     Source: Sample

Bottle photography as refined as your wine by CSP Creative

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2016 Huntington Estate Tim Stevens ‘Signature’ Shiraz

When you put your name to something, anything really, it’s a pretty big endorsement.  When it’s your product you’re putting your name to, you’re moving things up a rung in my view.  Not that Tim Stevens isn’t proud of the other wines he makes, it’s just with this one he has not only put his name to it, he has put his own winemaking stamp on it as well.

The perfect purple gems that have gone into making this wine are “…from low-yielding 49-year-old vines of Huntington Estate’s Block 1”.  They were treated with cold soaking for three days then allowed to ferment on their skins for another five days.  Following this, they were pressed off and finished fermenting in American oak, 60% of which was brand spanking new!  I was rubbing my hands together and smiling like a cheshire cat in anticipation even before I opened it.  I must’ve looked like a bit of a dill.

When I saw the colour, the aromas were one delicious surprise.  I thought it was going to be darker fruits and there were but with some red ones thrown in too.  Now I don’t know if it’s possible but it was such a pretty aroma.

Because of those red fruit aromas in there, I thought there was going to be some sweetness, and there was some but not much really.  The dark fruits took over, elbowing their way to the front taking centre stage.  But!  Out of nowhere comes subtle spice, some plums and blueberries.  Apart from all of this, there’s a richness to it and to use a wine cliche, it’s like an “iron fist in a velvet glove”.  Tannins contribute, just, to the all-round ‘everything’ about this wine.  The new oak is not obvious which tells me just how good the fruit is.

It sounds a bit all over the place but it’s far from it.  It’s complex and cohesive rather than complicated and confusing.  Can’t see this growing old in a hurry.

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $95     Source: Sample thanks to Huntington Estate and Define Wine



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2017 XO Wine Co Mclaren Vale Shiraz

I can’t think of a better way to start this review than by saying this is fresh, fruity and full of life, no doubt about that.  Straight away I knew I was in for something pretty good.  All the signs were there.  Okay, so they were on the front label where it said “Small Batch”, “Single Vineyard” and “McLaren Vale”.

Blackberries the main player, a sweet/sour cherry note, soft blueberry flavours heads on in to level things out a bit, there’s a delicate spice hit, hello dark chocolate and finishing with some fine tannins.  You want to try this yourself now don’t you?

This’ll will cellar for sure but I don’t think that’s necessary.  Tuck in and enjoy it in it’s youth I reckon.

XO Wine Co. Website

Region: McLaren Vale, SA     Price: $32     Source: Sample thanks to XO Wine Co.

Bottle photography as refined as your wine by CSP Creative

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2016 Windowrie Estate Family Reserve Shiraz

Let’s face it, the cover and title of a book goes a long way to attracting the attention of a reader.  I don’t think it’s any different when it comes to a wine label.  Take this one for instance.  When I first looked at it I thought nothing of it, but I couldn’t help taking another look.  For me, it reeks of understated class and so does the contents.

As you’d expect, it’s a youthful and deep colour in the glass but it’s all fresh berries on the nose.  Yum!  In your mouth, on your tongue, soaked up by your cheeks or coating your gums, it doesn’t matter.  This is the happening place for this wine.  Blackberries, dark plump cherries (like in a black forest cake but without the sweetness, if you know what I mean),  there’s some nice spiciness too and you wouldn’t pick it to be at 14.8% alcohol.  It is a little bit dry which tells me it would do better with food but I also found that the fruit and spice keep coming back to help out there.

The excellent quality fruit coupled with the slightly obvious tannins tells me this will age nicely…if you can keep your hands off it because it’s great drinking now too.

Windowrie Website

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

Windowrie Shiraz

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2014 Yelland & Papps Divine Shiraz

I heard a conversation on the radio the other day where a fellow said, “You can’t see the wind but you can see what it does.”  That is so true, obvious, but true.  You may not be able to see the wind but you can see the trees bend, people grab their hats while leaves skip across the road without knowing where they’ll end up.

This wine is similar, well sort of.  You can see it, that’s obvious.  It’s something tangible and real.  What you can’t see is what’s hidden in the colour of the juice extracted from the grapes until it exposes itself to your olfactory nerves, providing you with the aromas then the flavous of all that lies within.  This is an impeccable example of a wine that captures and enlivens every one of your senses.

Deep colour, it looks great in the glass.  Smells amazing!  Heaps going on here.  Fruits galore, spices are clearly present but not over-powering at all to the point I’m expecting this to be an elegant version of Barossa Shiraz when drinking it.

Hello again to those fruits!  Blackberries, plums, blueberries and I even sensed a slight dark cherry note in there.  A hint of licorice sidles up beside the spices (it was like someone opened my wife’s spice cupboard at that very moment) but everything is balanced perfectly by the juicy lush fruit I mentioned earlier.

It’s better than medium bodied, but gee it sits beautifully on the palate and every other crevice of your mouth and doesn’t seem to want to let go which I didn’t mind at all.  It’s also silky smooth to boot and finishes with that elegance and finesse I expected.  It is clear the fruit has been treated with the utmost respect.  A divine wine that will become mighty fine over a long time.

Yelland & Papps Website

Region: Barossa Valley, SA     Price: $115     Source: Sample courtesy of Yelland & Papps

Y&P Divine Shiraz 2014

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