2019 Nightfall Wines ‘Draco’ Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon

The word ‘courage’ gets used these days mostly to describe somebody’s actions in a positive way where they have shown “the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” (Merriam-Webster) but the original meaning was, “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” 

The basis for the word ‘courage’ comes from ‘cor’, the latin word for ‘heart’.  Upon reading this, I couldn’t help but think that winemaker, Sam Brand, has shown courage by releasing a luxurious Coonawarra Cabernet at a high end price.  I also feel, after tasting this wine he has put his ‘cor’, his whole heart, into the crafting of this wine from the vineyard to the bottle. 

An intensely concentrated wine with immense appeal to three of the five senses.  Sight, smell and taste.  And during the exploration of this captivating wine, I couldn’t help but use these three senses over and over again, and in a different order each time.  A deep, dark, ‘primary’ purple colour in the glass that seems to expel the dark fruit aromas into the atmosphere for all to experience. The palate is a complex array of generous flavours that stimulate the taste receptors. Black fruits, dried herbs, a hint of mint, smooth quality dark chocolate, lovely integrated oak, smooth tannins and terrific length.

As much as this wine is named after the constellation, Draco, I can’t help but think ‘Cor Meum’ (‘My Heart’) would also have been appropriate as a testament to Sam’s dedication and commitment to showcasing the heart of Coonawarra and the quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon to the wine loving world.

Website: nightfallwines.com.au

Region: Coonawarra, SA     Price: $250     Source: Thanks kindly to Sam Brand and Nightfall Wines

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2021 Grey Sands Rosé

Straight up, I have to say, when I saw the colour of this Rosé I thought, this is going to have some attitude.  I mean, it has a serious yet lovely, deep-ish copper colour (the photo doesn’t do it justice).  When I tasted it and discovered that, yes, there was intent, boldness, and body, it proved to be in the ‘good attitude’ realm thanks to an overarching freshness across the palate.  There’s generosity of flavour from a bundle of red berries, a nice soft spiciness and texture, and good ‘weight’ to it too while finishing long and dry.  This is not a ‘shrinking violet’ of a Rosé but it maintains its appeal as a refreshing, year-round, chillaxing style of wine.

Grey Sands Website

Region: Glengarry, Tasmania     Price: $45     Source: Generous gift

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2019 Nightfall Wines ‘The Balance’ Dry Red

Work life balance, a balanced diet, team balance, balance the books.  We tend to hear all about ‘balance’ these days and don’t get me wrong, it is an important aspect of our lives. For me, it is just as important when it comes to wine, and by that I don’t just mean balance between fruit and tannin and acid and all the technical things used to make wine. 

For example, when it comes to bringing particular varieties together with the intention of making red wine blend.  Each variety brings a different nuance to a wine, so they need to complement each other and to be able to get that ‘team balance’ if you like.  I think this is more of the type of ‘balance’ people need in their lives.

This has quite a pretty nose, a little perfumed, and red berries come through nicely indeed.  Plenty to like on the rich, fruitful palate.  Soft yet concentrated black fruit flavours are front and centre for me when tasting it and then other characters come in supporting this lovely fruit.  There’s a little herbal/leafy note, nicely played oak, and the tannins are nice and fine on the lengthy finish.  After tasting this wine, I think Sam Brand has got ‘The Balance’ just right. 


Region: Coonawarra, SA     Price: $80     Source: Thanks kindly to Sam Brand and Nightfall Wines

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2022 Mayfield Vineyard White Wine Releases

“A bottle of wine begs to be shared: I have never met a miserly wine lover.” – Clifton Fadiman (American intellectual, author, editor, radio and television personality).

As much as Clifton Fadiman is not familiar to me, this quote sums up two things perfectly, relative to me.  Firstly, a bottle of wine should, where possible, be shared.  Secondly, and for fear of sounding conceited, I am not a miserly wine lover.  I have always enjoyed sharing wine, especially with those who appreciate it, even with those whose knowledge isn’t great but are keen to learn.

When these wines arrived and I tried them, I made my notes and realised there was still quite a bit in each of the bottles.  For those who don’t know, I live and work in a wine producing area of Tasmania.  I know a few of the producers and thought I would offer to share them with a winemaker and a viticulturist at one of the vineyards, not knowing if they had tried wines from Orange.  It was well worth it, and all three wines were well received.

Region: Orange Region, NSW     Source: Samples thanks kindly to Mayfield Vineyard and Define Wine

2022 Backyard Riesling

This Riesling had me excited right from the moment the aromas lifted from the glass when I poured it!  And those aromas continued on the vibrant palate where it was limey and a little passion-fruity and a mouth-watering apple like acidity was beautifully balanced by nicely played residual sugar.  It had a really good ‘feel’ to it across the palate as well which had me smiling broadly as it lingered for some time after swallowing it.  A lovely Riesling indeed. Price: $34 (bargain!)

2022 Sophie’s Godmother Sauvignon Blanc

It takes a fair bit for a Sauvignon Blanc to get me interested and this one did after I’d taken in the aromas that were definitely varietal.  Green peas, asparagus and a little herbal note were present on the nose and continue on the fresh, flavoursome palate where they coalesce with tropical fruit notes, then a little texture and a citrusy hit on the finish for good measure.  All in all, it’s a pretty good wine that doesn’t let team Sauvignon Blanc down that’s for sure. Price: $28

2022 Eighteen Fifteen Chardonnay

The nose was a little shy to start with but soon opened up with a little coaxing after a good swirl in the glass. Good stonefruit characters coming through with a touch of oak too.  The palate has great balance of peach, melon and oatmeal like flavours with good citrus characters providing a lovely freshness.  Add to this some creamy, textural feels, pretty good length, and you have an impressive, young chardonnay. Price: $37

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2018 Grey Sands Byzantine

We have a great bunch of friends from different backgrounds, various ages, likes and dislikes.  That is what makes them, them.  The old saying, “If everyone was the same, the world would be boring” rings true.  The good thing about having such a diversity in our friendship group is, each and every one of us brings a different opinion, view and perspective on whatever it is we talk about which is accepted and respected.

I can’t help but think that this is what it must be like when a winemaker brings certain varieties together. They would respect the individual variety’s positive qualities added to the blend, which is what has happened with this blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Malvasia.

The result is a wine with lovely aromatics, concentrated flavours, beautiful texture, and great length.  Stone fruits bring plenty to the party with a ‘ping’ like hit of citrus fruits giving a little ‘zip’ to the palate.  There’s a delicate spiciness that adds a poke of savouriness to the generous fruitful feel this wine has.  Here is a wine that will bring healthy discussion and respected opinion.  And don’t expect to put your glass down in a hurry.  You’ll be putting it forward for a second taste.

Grey Sands Website

Region: Glengarry, Tasmania     Price: $45     Source: Generous gift

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2012 Grey Sands Pinot Noir

How rare is it to see a platypus in the wild, their natural habitat. From what I understand, it is nigh on impossible. Those who have, should consider themselves very lucky indeed. I was listening to a podcast recently and a fellow was saying how he and a friend managed to see one but pretty much only got a glimpse of it, mainly because if a platypus is startled it dives under water and can stay there for extended periods of time. What it came down to was, patience, plain and simple.

Old pinot noirs in the market are also a rarity. Those who spend time looking for them know they have to be patient, know that they will show up eventually and the wait will be worth it. Here is one that has popped out of the wilderness and onto the Grey Sands website for all to see. 

This wine is still a lovely colour in the glass and the dark fruit aromas are such that you would struggle to pick this as a ten-year-old Pinot Noir. On the palate, dark cherry and mouth-coating plums shine for me with a nice level of exuberance and, while ‘time-tamed’, gives the impression of more to come. The tannins may be a little drying but there’s still a good amount of fruit in support to carry them through on the nice, long finish. It is definitely worth treating yourself to something as beautiful and rare as an aged Tassie Pinot Noir like this one.

Grey Sands Website

Region: Glengarry, Tasmania     Price: $90     Source: Generous gift

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2009 Huntington Estate Special Reserve Shiraz

This may sound a bit strange, but tasting this aged wine gave me a glimpse into the future.  What do I mean by that?  Well, back in July of this year I was lucky enough to try the 2018 vintage of this particular wine.  It is common knowledge that the Huntington Estate wines age very well, so, to actually get the opportunity to try the same wine at 13 years of age gives me a glimpse of how the 2018 vintage is going to look in the future.    

As a wine, I love how this presents at the tender age of 13 years.  Yes, it’s showing some aged characters, albeit slightly, which is to be expected but, there is also a good bunch of nice dark berry fruits coming through with dark cherry and plums helping out the flavour factor.  The tannins are just there, but for the most part, integrated, and it’s all wrapped up in a cloak of confidence to age for a few more years yet even though it is sitting in a very nice spot right now.  A most enjoyable experience indeed!

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $?     Source: Thanks kindly to Huntington Estate

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2022 Huntington Estate Pinot Rosé

At the moment there are so many things that constantly make me think, I can’t wait for summer!  The current unseasonal rain, cold mornings leading into cool days, and let’s not forget the terrific Rosés starting to appear on the wine landscape.  Yes, we have some occasional sunshine encouraging the desire to open a Rosé, however, some warmth in the air wouldn’t go astray. Of course, it’s not critical to have warm, sunny days to drink Rosés, especially when you come across wines of this calibre. It’s just as inviting while dining with friends, or simply relaxing in the warmth of your comfy lounge.

I’ll start with four words. Give. Me. More. Please. So much flavour yet remaining light, vibrant and so moreish. A basket full of red berries providing the fruit flavours, delightfully smooth across the palate, the finish is lovely and dry but gee, that flavour just keeps giving. I’m more than happy to confess, there was not a drop left in the bottle of this rollicking Rosé. I started with four words. I’ll finish with one. Buy!

Huntington Estate Website

Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $27     Source: Sample thanks kindly to Huntington Estate

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Robert Stein 2022 Rieslings

As a kid, I can remember mucking about with the hose when the water would all of a sudden stop.  I don’t know why but, as a naïve young boy, I looked at the end of it.  It was not uncommon for one of my brothers to be watching from the tap and, as I did this, they would then turn the tap back on.  It is easy to imagine what the result of that stunt was.  Yep, a gush of cold water to the face causing me to quickly point the hose in a different direction and take a deep breath in.  On a warm summers day, that was definitely a welcome relief but initially it was a bit of shock to the system.

Trying these two wines caused a similar reaction but that was due to the cool, intense and refreshing impact they both had on my olfactory and taste senses. 

Robert Stein Website

Source: Sample courtesy of Robert Stein and Define Wine

2022 Dry Riesling

Riesling at its very best. It’s slightly floral on the nose but it’s the citrus aromas that get your mouth watering right from the get-go.  The palate is pure, fresh and full of life.  Juicy limes don’t hold back providing the intense yet refined flavour, the acidity crisp and graceful at the same time, the finish, so so long. It’s the type of wine that has you drawing in your cheeks to get every last bit from the inside of them so as to experience every last drop of it. This is such a lovely, lovely wine and has two gold medals around its neck already. Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $40

2022 Half Dry Riesling

What a wine to follow the dry Riesling!  I can’t begin to tell you how lucky I feel to have been given the opportunity to try these wines again. It has all the hallmarks and varietal characters you’d expect from a Riesling with citrus characters of lemons and limes, lemon sorbet, a slight textural feel and a great finish. It might have 15 grams of residual sugar but, due to the fine and focused acidity, this is one lovely balanced beauty. Loved it! Region: Orange, NSW Price: $50

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2016 Grey Sands The Mattock

Taking nothing away from the big wine producers and their expansive cellar doors, I do enjoy visiting the smaller wineries and their cellar doors that could be a converted barn, former homestead or something as simple as a trestle table set up in the winery.  For me, they seem to have a certain charm, genuineness and uniqueness to them.  And, when you visit the cellar door, there’s a chance you will be greeted by the owner and/or winemaker, who is happy to spend the time, share their wine and convivial conversation with you.  This is exactly what happens when you visit Bob & Rita Richter at Grey Sands vineyard.  It is always a pleasurable visit as you sit on their veranda, taste wine at their outdoor table as you take in the view, and you can’t help but go away feeling like you’ve made new friends.

I do very much enjoy this particular wine in the Grey Sands line-up. It is very giving on the palate in the form of dark fruit characters that are plush, generous and mouth-filling.  The tannins are always fine and nicely integrated with the abundant fruit making for a wine that is congenial and approachable already, but with plenty of age-ability tucked in under all of that too. Here is your hearty red meat dish or hard cheese partner all under the one cork.

Grey Sands Website

Region: Glengarry, Tasmania     Price: $45     Source: Generous gift

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