2014 Yalumba The Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon

There is no doubting the pedigree of this wine.  The first one was 1987 and this one is the current release.  I’ve tried a few over the years and was going to say this is the ‘greatest’ but my judgement is influenced by just how good this one is in this moment.

I could be going out on a limb here by saying this was not classic Coonawarra Cabernet when I tasted it.  It doesn’t seem to have that mintyness, that herbal/leafy note to it that we’ve come to expect and love in wines from this region.  Natalie Cleghorn has produced a wine that is so, so approachable already yet has the structure to impress just as much in a decade at least.

It’s young so the colour was no surprise.  Deep, dense, glossy crimson red and purple.  What was a surprise was the aroma.  Definitely some charming dark fruits but there was a hint of cherry blossom/floral notes here which made me wonder if there was going to be some fruit sweetness when I eventually tasted it.  I say “eventually” because it’s pretty damn good on the nose, let me tell you.

The ever important part of course is the taste of a wine.  I tasted this and thought, hang on, blackberries and blackcurrant fruits but in a lighter spectrum if that’s possible.  Still rich yet not robust or in your face.  The primary fruit is quite obvious (of course) but sitting really nicely on the tongue and inviting the velvety, (slightly bitter) dark chocolate tannins in to add to the charm and sophistication of this wine that seems to linger for a long time.  I know I mentioned dark chocolate but on the finish there seems to be a really good, high quality, milk chocolate texture too.  It is all class and has time on its side, no doubt.

Yalumba Website

Region: Coonawarra, SA     Price: $60     Source: Gift



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2015 Levantine Hill The Coldstream Guard Rubeus

What first captured my attention with this wine was, “The Coldstream Guard”.  I figured it would have some sort of history behind it and I love history (regardless of whether it had anything to do with the wine or not).

As it turns out, The Coldstream Guard is part of the Guards Division, Foot Guards regiments of the British Army.  It is the oldest regiment in the regular army in continuous active service originating in Coldstream, Scotland in 1650 (thanks Wikipedia).  I don’t know if this has anything to do with the wine but it makes for interesting reading…for some people.  🙂

This is predominately Cabernet Sauvignon but it has some Pinot Noir (true), Shiraz and Merlot in support.  Sorry, I’m not sure of the percentages but it doesn’t matter because winemaker extraordinaire, Paul Bridgeman, (to use the back label) “unites these batches to create a blend unique to each vintage that is indisputably nulli secundus (‘second to none’)”.

I liked how things started.  The cabernet influence was always going to be front and centre and it was.  Blackberries and blackcurrants aplenty on the nose but it was on the palate where these fruits really shone.  Juicy, fruity and lush but still fresh thanks to some red fruit influence.  I sense there was some whole bunch in there adding a really good, balanced, herbal dimension to the wine with just a smattering of spice at the back end.

It’s a lovely rich wine but it is such that it does not sit heavy on the palate.  This is where the Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Merlot are clearly best friends and have worked together in doing their job perfectly with this wine.  The tannins are really gentle and don’t upset what’s happening in the grape variety group.  They seem to know their place.  The Scottish Coldstream Guard will have trouble keeping this deliciously drinkable Yarra Valley blend from being snapped up by all and sundry that’s for sure.

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $50     Source:  Cellar Door Purchase


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2017 Serafino Reserve Chardonnay

I’m sure I’m not the only person who does not associate Chardonnay with McLaren Vale.  I don’t mean this in a bad way, it’s just that other varieties, mainly red, are more associated with the region.  Now, with this in mind it is great to see the time and care that goes into producing such a lesser known variety from McLaren Vale and at such a damn good price.

Being such a young wine, you get a bucket load of freshness and vitality right from the beginning on the nose and the palate.  Mind you, that youthfulness is nicely balanced by good palate filling peach and pear, flesh and texture components (I hope that makes sense) without taking anything away from the long, citrussy and minerally finish.

It won’t be long now until there’ll be more daylight and the days will be warmer.  Perfect for that relaxing, sigh of relief, end of the day Chardonnay and here is one that should be a default.

(If you live in Hobart, call into the Tasmanian Wine Centre They have the Serafino range of wines including this one)

Serafino Wines Website

Region: McLaren Vale     Price: $25     Source: Wine Tasting



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2016 Best’s Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon

There are regions in Australia that are more commonly known for their Cabernet Sauvignon than Great Western in Victoria (I was going to say more popular but that would be an incorrect assumption).  Although Great Western is known more for its Shiraz, I would not be at all surprised if the words, “Best’s Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon…of course” are not uttered around dinner tables more often.

No surprises with the colour.  A youthful, dense vibrant purple.

Plenty of berries on the nose, and I mean plenty.  I joke you not, I could’ve smelt it all afternoon.  It’s indicative of just how young this wine is.

Goodness me!  The full on flavours don’t hold back when you sip it either.  It’s unmistakably all dark fruits and berries, plums seemingly spread across the palate with ease, nuance of cloves too and the tannins don’t hide behind the quality fruit either.  As strange as this may seem after you’ve read this, I found this wine to have a certain elegance and approachability about it.  This clearly has time on its side but don’t be afraid to open one and drink it with a slab of hard cheese or a hearty red meat dish.

Best’s Wines Website

Region: Great Western, Vic     Price: $25     Sourc: Wine Tasting

Bests 2016 CabSauv

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2017 Bay of Fires Riesling

We’ve been having some bitterly cold and windy days here in Hobart over the last week.  I suppose it shouldn’t come as any surprise considering it is still winter.  Hence, I haven’t been drinking much of this variety.  Very unlike me I know.  I am so glad I happened to be in the right place at the right time when this presented itself.

It’s great on the nose.  I expected the usual citrus characters of lemons and limes and they are definitely there but there was a hint of pears as well.  I kept taking in the aromas and almost forgot to breath out!

The palate is fresh, zingy and citrusy but add texture, richness, clean acidity (don’t know how else to describe it) and excellent length and you get this delicious, beautifully balanced Riesling.  It is the complete package, simple as that.  Loved it!

Bay of Fires Website

Region: Tasmania     Price: $35     Source: Wine Tasting


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2015 Taylors ‘Taylor Made’ BDX

The term BDX should tell you this is a Bordeaux blend and it is.  A very traditional one at that.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc make up the mix and they all have a say in this.

Looks great, smells great, tastes great.  That about sums it up.  My work here is done.  What should be said is, to complete malolactic fermentation, it spent time in 50% new and 50% two year old tight grained French oak.  I find that amazing for a $25 bottle of red wine.

In case you were wondering, it’s quite a full bodied wine but it doesn’t knock your socks off.  It’s been treated with respect and it respects your palate…if you know what I mean.  Blackberries, blackcurrants, spicy dark cherries, subtle oak notes (well done to the Taylors winemaking team) fine tannins and really good persistence.

On the front label it says, “Generous, balanced, dark fruit”.  It’s all of that and more.  This is great value for money, one of the best wines I’ve tried at this price!

Taylor Made Wines Website

Region: Clare Valley, SA     Price: $25     Source: Sample

Taylor Made BDX

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2016 Best’s Great Western LSV Shiraz Viognier

I am a big fan of this blend.  Côte-Rôtie should take a bow.  It has inspired a number of Australian producers to release a Shiraz Viognier blend resulting in many fine examples.  This is definitely in that category.

It is a terrific colour.  If you think it looks plush, wait until you smell and taste it.

It’s intense and aromatic on the nose.  Dark fruits, a hint of spice and smokey/charry oak are what I found here.  So far, there was a lot to be excited about and I was yet to taste it!

The dark fruits are not as obvious on the palate because some juicy blue fruits provide a great lushness.  There is a nice touch of spice and a little licorice joins the party.  The tannins are quite smooth if just a tad dry.  There is plenty happening with the flavours yet it is still so nicely balanced.  I would have no hesitation in recommending this wine.

Best’s Website

Region: Great Western, Vic     Price: $35     Source: Wine Tasting

Bests ShirazVoignier

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