2019 Golden Grove Estate Granite Belt Vermentino

I’ve spoken to quite a few friends about the wines coming out of the Granite Belt and, not surprisingly, they were quite surprised to hear of the type of climate they have and how long they have contributed to the wine producing world.  I have to admit to being surprised about the alternative varieties they grow and bottle in the area.  If this example is anything to go by, Vermentino clearly thrives in the region, and winemaker Ray Costanzo knows exactly how to bring out its best.

I invited three of my wine mates over to try this for two reasons.  Firstly, because I know they don’t get to try wines from the sunshine state very often, if at all.  Secondly, it’s a variety that tends to not get much space on bottleshop shelves down here.

I’m going to get things started with a congratulations to the Golden Grove team on the new labels.  Very cool indeed.  I have to say (sorry guys), they are much more inviting than previous ones.

The aromas are very cool and inviting too.  Stonefruits and a slightly floral aroma are where this wine kicked off but the abundant flavours were what my mates and I were mighty impressed with.  Peaches and honeydew melon were the fruits to the fore for me, slight limey notes played a part and there’s like a spicy/savoury touch that I didn’t expect.  Nice!  A creamy ‘lees influenced’ textural dimension adds to the attraction of the wine, then acid doesn’t miss out on the show adding to the very persistent and long finish.

I’ve tried quite a few Vermentinos now and I could definitely drink a lot of this.  It’s a lovely wine.  Talk to your friends, family and work colleagues and order some of this in readiness for summer.

Golden Grove Estate Website

Region: Granite Belt, Queensland     Price: $30 (great value buying)     Source: Sample thanks to Golden Grove Estate (Ray Costanzo)

GG vermintino

Posted in Other Whites | Leave a comment

2018 Yelland and Papps Second Take Grenache

We have a lot to thank our forbears for when it comes to adages.  They came up with many a saying or two that are still used today.  One that I thought of straight away when I read the email from Susan Papps about the Second Take range was, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.  The reason for thinking this was, their motto of “New world wine done the old world way”.  Because of this range of wines, you could almost come up with a new saying of, “You can teach a new dog old tricks” because, from what I can tell, that’s what’s happened here.  The (almost) new dog, Michael Yelland, has adopted the old tricks (of the winemaking trade) and produced a bunch of wines that are quickly becoming crowd favourites.  You almost feel like you want to give Micheal a good scratch behind the ear and a biscuit to say, thanks mate.

I love the smell of this Grenache.  It’s a terrific array of fresh sweetish red fruits, attractive spicy notes alongside a dab of funky personality (yes, it’s an aroma in the context of this wine if you don’t mind).  Beautifully balanced on the palate thanks to characters of blackberries and blueberries which are lush and smooth.  Then there’s the slight hint of spices that comes as no surprise, yet nothing steals the limelight away from the fruit for me.  It really shines in this wine.  When it comes to the tannins, they are like vanilla ice-cream on a white plate (I can’t take credit for these words).  You know they are there but hardly noticeable and blending in perfectly.  Damn good drinking here!

Yelland & Papps Website

Region: Barossa Valley, SA     Price: $40     Source: Sample courtesy of Yelland & Papps

Y&P @nd Grenache

Posted in Other Reds | Leave a comment

2016 Hastwell & Lightfoot Cabernet Sauvignon

I love food.  Mind you, I don’t know many people who don’t.  When my wife is in the kitchen doing what she does so well, cooking (amongst other things of course), and working her magic, the aromas that spread throughout our home definitely make my mouth water, and I just can’t wait to see and eat what is going to be served up.

I also love wine.  When I poured this one, the aromas were such that they made my mouth water, honestly.  Fresh red berries and dark cherries are the attraction on the nose without taking anything away from the beautiful dark and glossy appearance in the glass.

Flavours are quite rich with lush dark berry fruits to the fore, there are some herbs in there too, creamy vanilla characters thanks to the expected time in oak (some new?) and the tannins are present but part of that which is the wine.  There’s no doubting the fruit is the star here and I’m guessing the wine has benefited from the vine reconstruction .

I can see why Hastwell & Lightfoot’s motto is “Wines Made for Eating”.  You could dine on this for days.  But if you have enough of it in the cellar, you could dine on it for a years.

Region: Mclaren Vale, SA     Price: $25 (bargain)     Source: Sample thanks to Hastwell & Lightfoot and Define Wine

Hastwell & Lightfoot Website

H&L CabSav

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon | Leave a comment

2017 Hastwell and Lightfoot Shiraz

First up, let me tell you, I am not a fan of roses.  I’m sorry, but I can not bring myself to like them.  A few years ago when my wife and I purchased our home, there were heaps of rose bushes around the place.  Due to some excavation work, some of them disappeared among the rubble that was carted away.  When it came to the others, I thought if I ‘prune’ them level with the ground they will die.  How wrong was I?!  They grew back and seemed to be better than before I cut them back.

I was reminded of this when I read the notes that came with this wine.  The viticulturist at Hastwell & Lightfoot cut some of the vines back to the trunk letting them regrow.  I’m sure this practice goes on quite a bit but I’ve not heard of it before.  Anyway, from what I’ve read, it has worked a treat for the vines, the fruit and the resultant wine. It seems to me that everyone’s a winner from this process.

For your information, 70% of the fruit which has gone into this wine came from vines that were cut back.

The colour was certainly promising, nose too, with mainly red fruits, a bit plummy and spicy.  The palate was a little subdued, but with a bit of coercion, it eventually presented much better.  Dark-ish fruits stood out for me, with nice peppery characters and good fruit weight that would keep punters going back for more.  It has length too even if it does finish a bit dry.  Osso Bucco and this shiraz would make perfect midweek meal partners.

Hastwell and Lightfoot Website

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


Posted in Shiraz | 4 Comments

2018 Lino Ramble Grillo

There are a number of Australian producers/winemakers out there who are satisfying my desire to try wines made from alternative varieties of grapes.  Thanks to Andy and Angela from Lino Ramble for finding and bottling this gregarious, yet humble Grillo.  In its native country, Grillo is picked late and bottled as Marsala. However, it’s now being made into a table wine thanks to the young progressive winemakers of Sicily who have seen the potential of this grape. Salute to them.

In my opinion, it is almost like the DNA of Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Gris has been mixed together then wrapped up inside grape skins, the result of which is an intriguing, complex and pretty cool wine.  It’s textural and viscous, with apricot, peach and pear characters  aplenty on the palate, a slight flinty note in there too and just a deft touch of acid.  It’s quite rich but lush at the same time providing lovely weight on the palate.  There is a very nice, sort of, grip on the medium to long finish that keeps the interest level high.  I must say, the group I served it up to all agreed it was, as the Italians would treat it, a definite food wine.  It’s like you want to eat more so you can drink more of this…in a responsible way of course (insert smiley emoji here).

Lino Ramble Website

Region: McLaren Vale, SA     Price: $30     Source: Generous gift (thanks Andy & Angela)

LR Grillo

Posted in Other Whites | Leave a comment

2016 Huntington Estate ‘Basket Dried’ Shiraz

Tim Stevens, the Huntington Estate winemaker, picked the grapes for this wine at 12.9 baumé.  Normally this translates to a wine with about the same alcohol content by the time it finds its way into bottle.  The thing is with this wine, he then air dried the fruit (amarone and/or passito style) for about a month and the resultant alcohol is 15.5%.  How labour intensive, let alone stressful must this winemaking method be?  This level of alcohol may seem a bit scary for some punters but the concentrated fruit flavours  have produced a lovely, beautifully balanced wine.  Tim has got this method down pat I reckon.

Richness and concentratedness (another new word of mine) begin on the nose.  There’s one hell of an introduction to this wine right here I must say.  Mind you, it’s like it says to you, “Don’t be afraid,  I’m a friendly beast”.

Same when tasting it.  Full on, but gee, everything seems so in-line without being rigid and all the usual wine components seem harmonious already.  I just realised that the word for this wine is, as I’ve said before, balanced.

Plenty of dark fruits such as blackberries and (dark) plums are the ones that’ll grab your attention, herbs have a say and creamy milk/dark chocolate creaminess seem to fill out the palate.  Actually, I think you’ll find it feels quite luxurious in the mouth like I did.  There’s almost something akin to a delicate acid involvement (for want of a better word) too that does not detract from the flavours, but more impresses its potential.  Tannins are present as I expected but with such a terrific concentration of fruit flavours, they are not an issue apart from being a tad dry.  To round out this truly delightful wine, the whole lot comes together for a long, lingering and intense finish that had me shaking my head in amazement.

(Sorry, the pic is of the 2015 vintage but the 2016 label is the same)

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $75     Source: Sample thanks to Huntington Estate and Define Wine

Huntington Estate Website



Posted in Shiraz | Leave a comment

2018 Yelland & Papps Second Take Shiraz

Pillow menus.  They seem to be in a lot of hotels these days.  There seems to be every ‘pillow possibility’ covered with every filling, firmness, softness and size available to suit every man, woman and child ensuring everyone gets a good night sleep.

It’s similar with Shiraz these days.  There are Shirazes from different regions, different elevations and grown in different soil types.  They are made in so many different ways too, such as whole bunch, whole berry, wild ferment, fermented in barrel, in stainless steel, blended with other varieties and so on.  There is even sparkling and fortified Shiraz out there (Make sure you find some of both.  They are so good).  In this country, there is a Shiraz to suit every man, woman and child (over the age of eighteen of course).  This one from the Yelland and Papps husband and wife team is definitely a crowd pleaser regardless of your preferred style.

To start things off, it smells fruity, juicy and delicious and, as a matter of fact, that’s what it’s like when drinking it too but even better.

Dark berries are everywhere with plums and blueberries scattered among that lot.  It’s savoury, it’s spicy and it also carries a little bit of sweetness in there too, plus there’s a smooth creamy sort of feel about it on the palate.  Tannins are so soft and have a delicate touch on a pretty good length.  It’s certainly better than medium bodied thanks to the Barossa fruit, but it’s been so well tamed thanks to judicious use of whole bunch, wild ferment and a deft touch of (15%) new oak combining to produce a simply delicious drink.  Without a doubt there is lots to like about this wine.

Region: Barossa Valley, SA     Price: $45     Source: Sample thanks to Yelland & Papps

Yelland & Papps Website

Y&P 2nd Shiraz

Posted in Shiraz | Leave a comment