2015 Shanahans ‘Silence is Golden’ Barossa Shiraz

Let’s be honest.  There is a lot of shiraz out there.  Heaps to pick from whether it be from the Barossa Valley (like this one), Hunter Valley, Coonawarra, Heathcote and even Tasmania (a Jimmy Watson Winner from here in 2011).  Extending that honesty, some will seem so much the same in many a punters eye.  Sometimes a shiraz comes along that actually makes you stop and think, “Whoa, hang on.  What do we have here?!”  One that makes you realise, “This has got something a bit different and I like it.”  I reckon this means so much more when it’s a shiraz from the Barossa Valley.

This is a touch under thirty bucks to buy from the website.  I think this is significant considering what you are about to read.

Lovely, lovely deep colour.  I don’t know if something can look delicious but, let me tell you, this does.  If there was anything that was obviously Barossa to me it was the aromas. Darkish fruits, pretty intense too.  Violets are present as well.  Mmmmm, looking really good so far.

It has a really good, dense, rich palate.  Black fruits, licorice/aniseed and there is something like a choc coated dark cherry flavour too.  I’ve made it sound like it’s a big wine.  It is but isn’t.  It has great fruit yet there is a certain elegance about it.  It has good length too and this is where the tannins show themselves but this told me it has a good future.  This is a bargain Barossan beauty if you ask me.

Shanahans Wines Website

Region: Barossa Valley, SA     Price: $29.95     Source: Online purchase (sort of)

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2018 Robert Stein Half Dry Riesling

As much as I loved the Dry Riesling from start to finish, this one intrigued me from start to finish.  I have to be honest and say I approached this wine with some reservation and only because I read where a portion of the wine was put into seasoned oak hogsheads to ferment (wild).  I struggled to get my head around Riesling spending time in oak regardless of it being seasoned.  Well, what a revelation it was for me.

It has a delicious citrusy aroma with a fine honeysuckle/floral touch.  The 15 grams residual is evident but gee it seems so balanced even at this early stage of assessment.  Very inviting too I might add.

Limes mainly on the palate but lemons are present as well.  Combine this with a delicate texture and palate weight and you have “moreishness”.  Now, there was something else on the palate having a say but my wife and I couldn’t quite put our fingers on it.  It was a good thing too so it became a bit frustrating.

I wasn’t sure if the texture gave it the good length or the streak of acid.  It may well have been a combination of both.  Either way, it offered up a “give-me-more”, perfect sweetness/acid balance on the finish.   Here’s your go-to for spicy Asian cuisine if ever there was one.

Robert Stein Winery Website

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

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2018 Robert Stein Dry Riesling

There is always a certain level of expectation, well for me anyway, when a wine does well at a wine show or two.  When you’re given the opportunity to try a wine that has won four trophies and five gold medals, that expectation increases and I think that’s pretty fair.

This is the wine that has won the four trophies and 5 gold medals and I don’t think the accolades are going to stop there.  The 40 odd year old vines are relishing the site which sits 580 metres above sea level and, from what I’ve read, consistently produces quality fruit.  Winemaker Jacob Stein must rub his hands with glee every time it comes into the winery.

Terrific, intense nose.  Citrus with a nice lemon sherbet touch.  There was a hint of sweetness here too that caused me to turn the bottle around and check out the ‘scale’ on the back of the bottle.  It indicated a hint of residual sugar which didn’t surprise me.  On the palate it’s dry and limey to start with and so deliciously Rieslingy (not sure if that will catch on).

The finish is something else and deserves its own paragraph.  That intensity I mentioned earlier, is not just on the nose.  It seamlessly forms part of a great, long finish where a deft touch of sweetness balances it out perfectly.

Absolutely loved this wine.  Enjoyable from start to finish.  As much as it will no doubt develop over time, this wine is irresistible now.  Take a bow Jacob Stein.

Robert Stein Winery Website

Region: Mudgee     Price: $30 (Bargain!)     Source: Sample courtesy of Robert Stein and Define Wine

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2016 Huntington Estate “Special Reserve” Merlot

How ironic is it that I was talking to a good mate of mine today and after the usual catch-up banter,  the first thing he said to me was, “Mate, I gotta tell ya, I’ve been drinkin’ quite a bit of Merlot these days.  There’s some good ones around.”  I must say, the ones he mentioned are a good place to start and, knowing my mate, it won’t be long before he moves it up a rung.  I mentioned some he should try and find, and I’ll be sure to recommend this one to him.

It’s a terrific colour.  Make sure you’re wearing sunglasses when you check it out.  If you get the wrong (or right) angle, and the sun hits the top of this wine, your pupils will constrict thanks to a lovely deep but bright sheen.  The aromas are pretty full on.  It smells ripe which I think is a good thing (Merlot can be stubborn bugger to ripen sometimes) and there is no ‘greenness’ to speak of.  Everything is falling into place already.

There’s no place for the shy when it comes to tasting it.  It’s generous, it’s giving yet I felt it was genteel too.  Terrific dark fruits.  Rich plummy flavours for sure, with some blackberry characters about and there is something akin to a cherry influence too.  There’s no ‘beg your pardon’ from the tannins but there’s no offence intended.  It’s just trying to tell you to leave it alone for a few years so you benefit from being patient for more than one or two winters.

It’s a very well made wine showcasing just how well Merlot is being treated and appreciated in Mudgee let alone Australia.

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $38     Source: Sample courtesy of Huntington Estate and Define Wine 

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2017 Huntington Estate “Special Reserve” Semillon

I don’t know if this is possible but there should be a device that activates when someone is about to drink a wine when it is way too young.  I’ve no idea what form that ‘activation’ would take but it need only to be enough to have the person think twice about opening the bottle.  I realise there will probably never be such a device but if there was, devices attached to a Semillon screwcap would be the ones most commonly activated and, after having tried this one, only reinforces the need for someone to invent one.

Gee it’s got some interesting aromas.  Not one thing dominates from a citrussy note to a subtle herb character to a peek of pear and a slight ‘hello’ from some tropical fruits.  Thinking about it and looking over what I just typed, complex is probably the appropriate word but it doesn’t quite fit with this wine.  Sophisticated is probably a better word.  What I could tell from smelling it, I was certainly going to like this wine.

Delicious and juicy tropical fruits sit atop a nice citrus/acid foundation on the palate.  It’s quite delicate and refined but still has good palate presence and persistence.  I realise I alluded to Semillons being drunk too young, but in this case, for a wine so young and with a bright future, everything seems in sync already for immediate enjoyment…and that was exactly what we did!

N.B.  I tasted this over three days and it developed slowly and very nicely over that time.  These notes were made on day two.

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $35     Source: Sample courtesy of Huntington Estate and Define Wine 

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2017 Angullong Fossil Hill Barbera

Barbera (pronounced Bar-bear-ra) is a variety that is grown in Northern Italy.  It doesn’t get treated as well as another well known variety from that region which is a shame really.  I can’t say I have tried any European versions of Barbera but I don’t think I need to when there are Australian versions like this one that have a lot to offer and so conveniently close to home.

I must admit to being surprised to read that Barbera has been grown in Australia since the 1960s.  However, there doesn’t seem to be many plantings here, equating to (very roughly but it’s the best I can come up with) 0.15% of the total area of hectares under vine.  Tiny by any stretch of the imagination.

Colour looks good!  It’s like a deep, dark cherry with a slight purple edge to it.

Nose of dark fruits, dark cherries play a part…again, it has an earthiness to it that added some intrigue for my wife and I.

Delicious, juicy, medium bodied, balanced palate.  Wow!  Those dark cherry characters take it up a notch here, blackcurrants have a say, it’s a touch savoury I think too and density and texture finishing it off very nicely indeed.  Oak and tannin are both present but the quality fruit is doing a great job of not letting either of them dominate.

I know the Italians are big fans of food and wine so, throw together a charcuterie plate of meats, cheeses, olives, sun-dried tomatoes or whatever you want really, then gather around your family and friends because this wine is made for such a gastronomic gourmet gathering.

Angullong Website

Region: Orange, NSW     Price: $26     Source: Sample courtesy of Angullong Wines and Define Wine

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2013 Clemens Hill Pinot Chardonnay

It’s been quite a few years since producers had to stop using the word ‘Champagne’ associated with sparkling wine unless it was from the Champagne region.  I think this was a good thing.  It stopped Champagne getting credit for quality sparkling wines like this one coming out of Tasmania (I say with a cheeky grin and wink of the eye).  I can honestly say I have had people tell me they have moved away from the imported “stuff” to buying bottles of Tasmanian bubbles.  It’s music to my ears but comes as no surprise.

Straight up I was presented with an attractive bead of fine bubbles rested atop the pale straw liquid that was eventually exposed as the bead of bubbles slowly disappeared.  The first thing that struck me when I smelt it was an amazing aroma of a freshly cut loaf of just warm sour dough bread.  Don’t ya just love that?!  It gets me every time.

Now this is going to sound a bit of a contradiction in terms but, the flavours are quite delicate but plentiful and rich.  Citrusy/lemony characteristics appear and that sour dough bread returns with a smidge of butter.  It’s very lively, acidic (thanks to the cool/cold climate influence) and has a terrific, long textural finish.  Check out the price!  This is a bargain.

Clemens Hill Website

Region: Coal River Valley, Tas     Price: $38     Source: Generous gift.

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