2015 Huntington Estate ‘Special Reserve’ Shiraz

No point in waffling on about this wine.  It is great.  Loved it.  Simple as that.

I must apologise for not being able to show you the colour of this wine.  Gee it’s deep and, if something can look lush, this can.  Rich blackberries and plums give plenty when it comes to the aromas.  This is exactly what it tastes like too…except it keeps on giving.  Fresh dark fruits galore and it fills every nook and cranny of your mouth and it doesn’t stop there.  It keeps presenting over and over again.  It’s sort of layered but it’s also nicely integrated as well but then again, complex too.  It’s a fascinating wine that had my attention for start to finish.  I wrote some notes but they looked so much like hieroglyphics not even a doctor could’ve worked them out.

This is a great wine now but the potential is endless.  I had no one to share it with and I can’t say I was disappointed (I drank it over three nights I might add).

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $42     Source: Sample courtesy of Huntington Estate and Define Wine

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2017 Angullong Fossil Hill Riesling

Riesling.  It’s an interesting grape isn’t it?  So versatile.  It can be a dry as a bone food wine or have its fermentation stopped at any stage leaving varied levels of residual sugar in it to the point of it becoming a dessert wine.  I’ve tried some that have had wild fermentation treatment and some that have spent time in old oak casks.  Whatever form it is poured into my glass, I rate it…big time.

This one was interesting.  I wasn’t quite sure where it fitted in that ‘scale’ if you like.  The aromas were equally as interesting.  It was quite subdued giving only hints of it being a Riesling but one with some age.  My wife picked up a hint of kerosene (which she doesn’t like in a Riesling) as did I which seemed to be fighting with the slight citrus and honey/floral/blossom aromas.

The palate was definitely better.  The citrusy characters are more obvious,  there is some nice weight and feel in the mouth, finishing with drying grapefruit acidity and it lingers too.  I liked this wine but it’s a food wine, keep that in mind.

Angullong Website

Region: Orange, NSW     Price$24.00     Source: Sample courtesy of Angullong and Define Wine

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2017 Angullong Fossil Hill Chardonnay

This time of year is very exciting for many.  Kids mainly for reasons that are blatantly obvious (Santa Claus, presents, school holidays, pestering the parents).  I think it is a very exciting time as well.  The weather gets a bucket-load better, the days are longer and white wine comes into its own.

I’m sure I’m not the only who relishes a Sunday afternoon on the deck with a wheel of camembert, crackers and a bottle of chardonnay (I bet you’re thinking about it right now).  This is the ideal, bargain chardy that fits perfectly as one third of that equation.

This is all about cool climate chardonnay.  The nose has stonefruits aplenty and oak gives the impression it’s going to be player in the next phase of the experience.

The palate is very generous thanks to those stonefruit characteristics with the addition of subtle pear notes.  The acidity and oak are in perfect balance with the fruit and there’s some delicious, smooth, silky texture adding to a persistent finish.  It’s a terrific wine!

Angullong Website

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

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2016 Grava Martinborough Pinot Noir

When I visit a wine region familiar to me but one I have never visited before, various things attract me to a winery.  It could be a familiar winery whose wines I’ve never tried, it could be the name of a wine that jolts my memory, or a winery I’ve never heard of and wines I’ve never tried and probably will never get to try again.

Martinborough is situated in the southwest area of the north island of New Zealand.  The first thing we did when we drove into the town was find a wine map.  Knowing we were only going to be here a short time, I decided to mix up it up a bit.  A visit to some ‘known’ and some ‘unknown’ (to me) wineries seemed the sensible thing to do.

One of the unknowns was this one, Grava (meaning gravel in Spanish).  What a great little find this was!  We were made feel very welcome at cellar door by Karla (one of the owners and wife of winemaker Alistair Gardner) who was great to speak with and happy to pass on information about their wines and provide generous tastings to be able to really appreciate the wines.  Their range consists of a Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Rose and Pinot Noir.

Regarding their pinot noir (I’m pretty sure Karla told us this but it was easier to cut and paste it from their website) “The three clones of Pinot Noir grapes grown at grava are the Dijon clones 115 and 777 and Abel (the “gumboot” clone). The Pinot Noir wines made are clone blends – offering optimum aroma and flavour characteristics, making grava Pinots excellent examples from a region famous for this variety“.  It is also unfined and unfiltered.

This particular wine from their range was a standout for me.   A lovely deep yet translucent ruby colour to get things started, add to that a beautifully perfumed and aromatic nose of dark fruits and I was impressed without even taking a sip.  Loads of flavour when tasting it with (definitely) dark cherries, blueberries were about with nice, ripe, juicy plums saying something mid palate.  Even though there is plenty of flavour, it is still elegant, graceful and true to the variety and really good length too.  Gee I enjoyed this wine!

Now, unfortunately these wines are not available in Australia and it is pretty expensive to get them sent over from New Zealand but, do yourself a favour, if you make it to Martinborough, put this cellar door on your list.  It may not have been on ours but we are so glad we found it.

Grava Wines Website

Region: Martinborough, New Zealand     Price: $40     Source: Cellar Door Tasting

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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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