2018 Levantine Hill Estate Syrah

I heard a line recently that went something like, “Fits in anywhere, stands out everywhere”. However, I can’t remember where or what it relates to.  What I can say is, when I tried this wine, it was the line that immediately came to mind. 

It is clearly a standout among its peers as it, and previous vintages, consistently collect well deserved medals and trophies here and overseas, along with other accolades from wine writers and critics.  It would also fit in anywhere too.  From a pub wine list to a backyard barbecue to a fine dining restaurant, this wine would easily find a place among any culinary demographic.

It starts off fresh and fruitful with a heightened sense of divinity on the nose.  A wine of substance and elegance on the palate with lush dark fruits, a delicate spiciness, complementary oak, silky smooth tannins and terrific length! Its impressive medium-bodied palate, fruit-flavourful presence and exquisite balance all add up to an eminently approachable wine that will also happily sit in a cellar. 

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $80     Source: Thanks kindly to Levantine Hill

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2019 Carillion Origins ‘Feldspars’ Orange Region Shiraz

I can’t say that a piano accordion is one of my favourite instruments, but I can’t say I dislike it either.  If you’ve walked through small villages in some European countries, you hear them quite often and they blend in very well with everything else that is happening at a local market or town square.  To work properly the bellows are expanded and compressed causing air to go across the different reeds that produce different sounds, helped by pressing the keys on the keyboard.

Air can make quite a difference to a wine too.  Not that a wine can produce music, of course, but giving it some ‘air’ can certainly make the characteristics and components more harmonious.  I tasted this wine over a couple of days and, each time, gave it a good swirl in the glass.  My opinion only of course, but I think this wine is in the category of needing air, which tells me it has great cellaring potential.

An attractive, lovely and youthful deep purple colour in the glass. I really like the good berry fruit aromas lifting from the glass on pouring and it promises much.  There’s plenty of fruit flavours on the palate.  Dark plums and cherries, and red berries to the fore.  It has a savouriness and subtle oakiness, the tannins are fine, if a little drying, and it finishes on a pretty good length.  I do like this wine and I think you will too.  You just need to give it a chance by decanting it, giving it a damn good swirl in your glass or laying it down for a while.

Carillion Wines Website

Region: Orange Region, NSW     Price: $60     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Define Wine and Carillion Wines

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2021 Dr Edge Riesling

I read a quote by David Bowie recently: “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”  He certainly was an enigmatic individual and true to his word.  Throughout his career he would push boundaries of convention, be it through his music, his personas, or the costumes he wore.  As a fan of his music and, hearing there was going to be a new David Bowie song, I always wondered just how thought provoking it would be.

Pete Dredge is someone who keeps you guessing.  Don’t try to pick what you’ll get in the next bottle of wine he produces.  He is a winemaker who, at times, is not afraid to push the boundaries, not afraid to try something different to pique your interest, and that’s what he does when he releases his wines.  If you’re like me, you can’t wait to see what’s in store when you open the next new release wine because you know “…it won’t be boring.”

This is a very interesting Riesling indeed.  A bit of funk ‘n’ fun on the nose cued the curiosity in me.  It seems so soft and subtle on the palate to start with but then out comes a delightful citrus tang that takes things up a notch.  Delicate acidity, ubiquitously textural and good carry on the palate too as the flavours stick around for a while with every tantalising taste.

Dr Edge Website

Region: Tasmania     Price: $39    Source: Gift (Thanks Pete)

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2018 Levantine Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

When I first tasted this wine, I couldn’t help but think, this is Cabernet and a serious one at that.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a seriousness about it but, the more I tasted it (and I couldn’t help but do that), it seemed more of a relaxed style.  When I say ‘relaxed’, I don’t mean ‘laid back in the chair, feet up on the desk’ relaxed, more of ‘I’ll just go about my business’ relaxed.  Well, I like the way this wine goes about its business with such ease and sense of style, and a measured level of confidence too.

This says “Hello Cabernet” the moment you swirl the glass and take in the aromas.  Gorgeous black fruits coupled with a herbal/leafy note start the show.  Abundantly flavoured on the palate where blackberries, blackcurrants and a juicy plum fleshiness fills out the mid-palate nicely. It is medium bodied, smooth and quite lush enabling it to be enjoyed now but has the fruit quality, lovely oak feels and fine yet structurally supportive tannins to sit comfortably in your cellar.

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $80     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Levantine Hill

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2021 Bay of Fires Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

I was fascinated by a story about female stage performers in the late 1800s and early 1900s and it was such that there were not many of them around.  A good example is a lady by the name of Gladys Shaw.  At the time, she did a lot of things women of her time were not supposed to do and one of those was whistling, and she was a very talented one at that.  She could whistle the national anthem of many countries around the world.  The trouble is, this was frowned upon, even to the point of a proverb being penned, “A whistling girl and a crowing hen is loved by neither god nor men.”

There doesn’t seem to be much said or written about women winemakers in the annals of the Australian wine industry, that I could find anyway.  This was until Pam Dunsford ‘broke the shackles’ at Roseworthy College in the early 1970’s and became the first female to be enrolled there.  These days, there are many talented, highly skilful and respected female winemakers doing great things for the industry. I have it on good authority that winemaker, Penny Jones, is not a whistler, but she and her team can certainly make very special wines.

Bay of Fires Website

Region: 100% Tasmanian      Price: $61 & $58 respectively     Source: Generous gift

2021 Pinot Noir

Delightful on the nose where it exudes confidence and class even before it triggers the taste buds into action. The palate is so so elegant while exhibiting terrific fruit intensity and restrained yet expressive power (a contradiction in terms I know but that’s what it’s like).  Generously rich and textural with great persistence, it keeps presenting long before the curtains are drawn with encore after encore after encore.

2021 Chardonnay

Here is a wine that has grace, poise and presence, all in one.  A wine that goes about its business in such a humble yet proud way, with an ability to express its abundant fruit flavours, its understated opulence, its toasty characters and bright acidity in a laconic yet concise manner.  It will have you unwittingly attracted to its profound generosity while enjoying its company and conviviality right to the very long and memorable finish. A standing ovation and resounding applause from me!

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2017 Huntington Estate Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

There is a certain charm to old buildings. I often wonder about the history that has soaked into their walls over time. However, it’s the ‘foundation stone’ upon which they were built, which is what really interests and fascinates me. Was it built on history, on integrity, on hard work, or a bit of all of those? Depending on what the building is currently being used for, I wonder if that same ‘foundation’ still exists in the company or institution that now occupies it? Sometimes it tends to get lost as time as go by, generations move on or ownership changes.

In 1969 Bob Roberts planted the Huntington Estate vineyard on a ‘foundation stone’ of “…making some of Australia’s best wine at affordable prices…” and “…make extraordinary wines of great flavour and interest…”  Since purchasing the property in 2006, Tim and Nicky Stevens have built on that ‘foundation stone’ by not only honouring the history of Huntington Estate and maintaining the integrity of the wines, but also hard work. I raise a glass of this Cabernet to them and their team.

It’s a lovely dark colour in the glass which, for many, would indicate a big red wine is about to bombard the senses of smell and taste.  Hold that thought. Generous aromas of dark berries with a little oak poking through and you can’t help but dive your nose back in.  Fruit purity and power are present on a delightfully medium bodied palate.  An abundance of all sorts of black fruits and berries provide the foundation with a little herbal note, a gentle oak influence and obvious but fine tannins adding to the structure as it finishes long and smooth.  Terrific!

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $50    Source: Samples thanks kindly to Huntington Estate

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2017 Grey Sands Pinot Gris

I was not familiar with the term ‘ear worm’ until very recently.  It comes from the German term, ‘ohrwurm’.  As it turns out, it’s generally associated with music where a song or melody, good or bad, gets stuck in your head and becomes an irritation.  This seems to happen a lot with me and, more often than not, it’s not a song I like and, there are not many songs that irk me. 

I’m thinking this needs to be turned around and used for good.  How about the term ‘ohrwein’, meaning ‘ear wine’.  Where you’re in a café or restaurant and, regardless of what is on the wine list, you immediately think of one of your favourite wines.  My wife and I were out to lunch recently and, after ordering our food, decided to peruse the wine list and, fair dinkum, this wine jumped out at us.  It was like it was in 26 size font, in bold and underlined!  It’s one we have always enjoyed, have drunk a lot of and never tire of.  Needless to say, we ordered a bottle, it was everything we expected it to be. 

It’s invitingly bold aromatically with baked pear and just a hint of banana (maybe?).  The palate is rich and layered with ripe pear, a hint of peachiness, a deft touch of spice, and terrific texture and mouthfeel.  The finish is so beautifully persistent that it was like the flavours dropped on my palate and took a long, slow dawdle to the back until it had no choice but to gently fall away.  I haven’t stopped thinking about it since our lunch.  It has become an ‘ohrwein’ (he says with a big grin on his face).

Grey Sands Website

Region: Glengarry, Tasmania     Price: $55     Source: Café Wine List

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2016 Moorilla Estate Muse Cabernet Sauvignon

I can remember as a very young kid playing the game, ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’ You know, the one where someone is out the front with their back to a group who utter the words, “What’s the time Mr Wolf?”  The person out the front says a time like “3 o’clock” and the group take three steps towards ‘Mr Wolf’.  This continues until ‘Mr Wolf’ says, “It’s dinner time” and chases the group with the intention of catching one of them.

It wasn’t quite like that with this wine but, it was like it was playing a game with me.  Each time I put the glass down, turn around for a few minutes and went back to it, it revealed another of its dimensions, but instead of having to chase it, it wanted me to catch it, get to know it and experience it. 

It smells so divinely of cool climate Cabernet Sauvignon.  Lots of dark berry fruits with a hint of herbs and a chocolaty note.  The palate is showing black and red fruits of the currant type and there’s a ripe red cherry flesh feel to it too that seems to add a freshness and lift.  Now, while the oak is a little forward and the tannins a little drying, they fit in nicely with the fruit and tell me it still has some time ahead of it still.  This is no ‘Mr Wolf’ and there will definitely be no running from it, just towards it.

Moorilla Website

Region: Tasmania     Price: $44     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Moorilla Estate

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Moorilla Estate Sparkling Releases

I haven’t seen the movie ‘Gone with the Wind’ and I don’t know many people that have.  In my defence, it was released way before I was born.  However, everyone seems to know the famous line, as said by Rhett Butler (played by Clark Gable) “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  It was in response to a question from Scarlett O’Hara (played by Vivien Leigh) that was, “Where shall I go? What shall I do?”  I listened to the line and, Rhett is not particularly pleasant when he utters those words.  I think, it would have softened the blow had he have lifted a glass of bubbles at the same time and, instead said, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn because I’m drinking Champagne.  Maybe you should do the same.”

Now, I’m not saying that a glass of bubbles should be the way to resolve a situation or used to ignore the feelings of others.  It should be the drink of celebration and contentment, of honesty and forth-righteousness, for good times and not so good times.  These two from Moorilla Estate’s star line-up cover every base in that respect and do so with aplomb.

Moorilla Website

Region: Tasmania     Price: $52 each     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Moorilla Estate

2017 Moorilla Muse Extra Brut Rosé

A lovely pale pink colour in the glass, topped with a fine bead of bubbles that gives it a sense of liveliness.  Quite generous on the palate thanks to ripe but delicate strawberry and red berry flavours, a nice creamy biscuity feel, stonefruit/peachy characters are in there too, and lovely acidity playing a perfect role on the good lengthy finish.  Good, good, good!

2017 Moorilla Muse Extra Brut

This is the go.  It looks pretty in the glass as the fine bubbles entertainingly burst in excitement for those about to experience it.  That bursting bundle of bubbling beauties provide an aromatic introduction to what’s ahead for the taste buds.  The palate.  And that’s where the party’s at! It’s bright, it’s fresh, it’s lively, it’s smooth, it’s elegant, it’s flavoursome (and them some) and it’s damn delicious. 

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2016 Levantine Hill Blanc de Blanc

It is such that sparkling wine (Champagne if you like) is the wine for a celebration, and rightly so. “I just won the lottery; break out the Riesling” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?    It seems to inexplicably add ‘special’ to special occasions.  The gathering and building of the bubbles as it is poured, the tingling sensation on your face as the bubbles burst and, the type and shape of the glass unknowingly adding to the special occasion.

Goodness me!  The aromatics are divine.  Simply, invitingly divine.  I do not feel I need to say anything more.  The palate is rich in flavour yet so refined across the taste buds.  Smooth, creamy, peachy and citrusy, all bundled up in a nicely balanced, magnifique Blanc de Blanc.  The winemaking team, lead by Paul Bridgeman, have captured vivaciousness, intensity and elegance, and there seems to be no end to it.

There is a certain, je ne sais quoi, about this wine that made it the perfect celebratory bubbles for a milestone I reached recently and, I have to say, it did add to the occasion, and it did make it special.  Thank you Levantine Hill.

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $80     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Levantine Hill

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