2017 Castle Rock Estate ‘A & W’ Reserve Riesling

I know you are used to me starting a review with some sort of story or carry on about something or ‘other, but not this time.  I simply need to cut to the chase with this Riesling.

Magic.  Pure magic.  This is delicious!  The best three tonnes of Riesling fruit from the Estate vineyard has produced a superlative wine.

An intense citrussy nose is a terrific introduction.  The flavours are clean, varietal, spot on and just as intense.  More limey than lemony but both play a significant part in proceedings.  It’s minerally and the acid is pure and lively.  Throw in a deft touch of texture, a mouth-watering and long finish and, as I said before, magic!  A definite ‘Wow’ factor wine for me with a great future.

“That’s all I have to say about that” (Forest Gump 1994)

Castle Rock Estate Website

Region: Porongarup, WA     Price: $35     Source: Samples courtesy of Castle Rock Estate and Define Wine


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2015 Huntington ‘Bin 25’ Cabernet Sauvignon

There’s plenty of ‘new wave’ things around these days.  At my age, I have trouble keeping up with all the new gadgets and gizmos in the high tech world.  To a certain extent it’s no different in the wine world.  Take a minute or two (but you’ll probably need many more than that) and check out the (relatively) new grape varieties being grown in Australia that eventually find their way into bottles.  I’m not saying this is a bad thing, far from it.  But what I would like to say is, not one of these varieties is ever likely to make the ‘Noble Variety’ list like Cabernet Sauvignon.  When you see Cabernets of this nature and stature being made, maybe they need to be rewarded.  They have the ‘Nobel Lauretate’, how about something along the lines of ‘Noble Wine Laureate’?  Just a thought.

This is the second of the new release ‘Bin’ wines (this was the Bin 18 shiraz) by Tim Stevens who got a bit excited about a couple of barrels of Cabernet and simply could not blend them away.  Thanks again Tim for looking after uspunters.

A lovely deep colour.  Plenty on offer aromatically.  Dark fruits galore and some (cedary?) oak on the nose got things underway.  I have to admit, I was initially a little concerned about the upfront oak but I felt the abundant fruit would sort it out.  Sure enough, it didn’t let me down when I tasted it.

Rich and generous black fruits, mid palate plumpness (don’t know if that’s a word but that describes it for me) and a slight herb character puts its two bobs worth in with the fruit.   It has a smooth, creamy feel on the palate and judicious tannins have a bit to say on the finish.  Yes, it has plenty of everything.  Yes, it offers more of everything.  But everything is perfectly in balance already.  The timing couldn’t be better for the release of this wine what with the cooler weather about to make its presence felt.

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $32     Source: Sample thanks to Huntington Estate and Define Wine


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2015 Huntington Estate ‘Bin 18’ Shiraz

I would love to see the look on a winemaker’s face and her/his reaction and excitement at finding a barrel or two of something just that little bit special.  A wine that shows that extra ‘something’ about their vineyard.  I wonder if they would yell out to others to come see and taste, or would they look around furtively to see if anyone is looking then joyously jumping while punching the air before composing themselves and taking another sip just to check it again.

With all due respect to Tim Stevens, Winemaker at Huntington Estate, I don’t reckon he did any sort of jumping when he tasted a sample of this wine while in barrel.  Whichever way he decided to ‘celebrate’ his discovery,  he made the decision that,  “there were a couple of barrels” he “couldn’t blend away and so bottled (them) separately as a ‘Bin’ wine.”  Good decision Tim and thank you.

Looks divine, smells delicious, tastes great!  That about sums up this wine but there is more to it than that.  Allow me to continue.

The deep and dense colour from the core to the cusp got my attention immediately.  Swirl it about and that density is evident even on the nose, although a better word is probably richness.  Black fruits and plums are the obvious aromas for me and there’s some oak on show here too.  On the palate the oak is a little bit more obvious, but the lush blackberry and plum fruit are up to the challenge while a spicy element adds a nice touch.  To finish things off, it’s smooth and long with a creamy sort of mouthfeel. The tannins aren’t shy either.  This just shows how it portends well for it’s future development.

These “…small parcels of wine that offer an interesting difference to the core range of wines” could well prove to be a popular player in the Huntington Estate range.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $32     Source: Sample thanks to Huntington Estate and Define Wine


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2018 De Iuliis Hunter Valley Semillon

It’s interesting the reactions I get when I mention to people how I have always been a fan of Semillon.  Well, maybe not always.  More so since the first time I tried it which would be over twenty years ago.  Most of the wines I tried those many years ago were young, newly released versions and I can remember being captivated by the variety.  That enthusiasm has not waned (although I do love one with some age on it as well).  I know I’ve mentioned this before but, it is such a shame it tends not to be appreciated at the level it should be.

This De Iuliis Semillon looks and smells bright, clean, fresh and inviting.  A lovely citrusy nose dominated by lemons and limes that move seamlessly onto the palate.  Here you’ll find those same citrus fruits again with a slight minerally note.  There’s plenty of bang for your buck when it comes to flavour on the palate, that’s for sure, and then in comes a terrific line of acidity that gives it great persistence.  A bargain, gold medal winning (2018 Royal Melbourne Wine Show), Hunter Valley Semillon that rates highly on the pleasure scale.

De Iuliis Website

Region: Hunter Valley, NSW    Price: $20     Source: Generous gift thanks to Mike De Iuliis

2018 De Iuliis Estate Semillon

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2018 Pig in the House Shiraz

I get more than a little frustrated when people say, “Life’s too short to drink cheap wine”.  I can fully understand it when people say, “Life’s too short to drink bad wine”, which makes much more sense to me.  I have been lucky to have tasted and drunk many good value-for-money wines (I prefer this over the word cheap).  The Pig in the House range from Windowrie is a case in point.  Add to this, the fact that the wines are made using organic principles, and you have a nice, neat and all-round attractive package.

Up front freshness, juiciness, liveliness, youthfulness and dark fruit richness.  All the ‘nesses’ you want in one sentence.  Blackberries, blueberries and peppery notes add to the exuberance.  Did I detect a licorice note?  There’s a creamy textural element that makes the fruit sit lovingly long on the palate.  Crikey, it’s got lots of flavour without being full bodied, making it approachable, gluggable and affordable all in one.  A lot to like here!

Pig In The House Shop

Region: Cowra, NSW     Price: $25     Source: Sample thanks to Windowrie Wines and Define Wine

Pig in the House Shiraz

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2017 Huntington Estate Cabernet Shiraz

It’s been said over and over again; Cabernet/Shiraz, or Shiraz/Cabernet, is the classic, quintessential, Australian ‘Claret’.  It doesn’t matter what the proportions are of each, it still deserves the term ‘classic’.  This particular wine is not just classic (my popular word at the moment) because of the varieties.  It’s thanks to Bob Roberts, the original owner and winemaker at Huntington Estate, who established the vineyard 50 years ago with Cabernet Shiraz blends being virtually part of the family from the beginning.  I have no doubt he’d be mighty proud of what current winemaker, Tim Stevens, has produced with this wine.

Deep, dark and gorgeous colour gets things off to very good start.  It’s all black fruits on the nose, but that is just a small introduction to the rich, juicy flavours this wine has.  Blackberries galore and they are perfectly ripe and lush.  Blueberries and plums are about too adding some delicate but precise middle palate richness.  The tannins are obvious and a bit drying, but the abundant fruit soon puts paid to that little problem bringing it home to a good, lingering finish.

The thing about this wine is, it doesn’t seem big.  The plentiful fruit and tannins I mentioned may give that impression, but it’s not like that.  It has an elegance and smoothness about it thanks to the two varieties working so well together.  Tim Stevens has nailed this classic combination.

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $32     Source: Sample thanks to Huntington Estate and Define Wine


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2017 Grey Sands Blanc de Noir

Dare to be different.  We see it everyday.  It could be the way some people dress, colour their hair, cut their sandwich or position their driver’s seat.  But it is only different to us because it’s not how we wear our clothes, do what we do with our hair, eat our food or drive our car.

There was instantly a ‘wow’ reaction from my guests, followed by “that’s different” after tasting this wine.  When I queried why they thought it was different, the response was, “well, it’s a white pinot noir, different to a normal pinot noir.”  The comment was due to the colour of the pinot noir, not the wine itself.  Don’t get me wrong, it is different, but only because it’s not what we are used to seeing.

Just like that person with the ‘different’ haircut or wearing the ‘different’ coat are now seen as part of the ‘norm’ these days, this ‘different’ pinot noir could become, let’s say, not so different.

From the website, “…whole bunch pressed to old French oak barrels, indigenous yeast ferment then nine months lees contact before bottling.”  It’s a wine that almost demands interest.

It’s a beautiful colour, so very attractive.  It has very pretty aromas too.  Not entirely sure how else to describe it, however, there is a red fruit character that reminds me of it’s varietal origins if you like.  There is heaps of flavour which doesn’t let up.  It’s like strawberry and apple juice but with alcohol included, in a complementary way, but not sweet at all.  There’s some lovely texture too that seems to spread and coat the palate with just a delicate touch of spice that lingers long.  It’s another delicious wine in the Grey Sands stable that is definitely worth seeking out.

Grey Sands Website

Region: Glengarry, Northern Tasmania    Price: $40     Source: Generous gift

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