Clandestine Wines 2022 ‘Break Free’ Wines

Where I live, there is a spot that has been named Duck Park.  For fear of stating the bleeding obvious, it is all to do with the number of ducks that congregate in the area.  I can only assume they like the place because of the constant food supply from the locals and tourists who frequent the park. There also happens to be one bird that looks like a Great Australian Egret.  Although completely outnumbered by the ducks, every time I walk past the park, the Egret is hanging with the cool kids, looking comfortable, fitting in and seemingly totally oblivious to the fact he/she is different.

Natural wines, or wines as close to natural as possible, were, seemingly at one point, the odd ones out.  At the early stages, from my perspective anyway, they didn’t quite find their niche, did they?  It has now got to the point where they are definitely part of the wine landscape and can hang with the cool wine crowd.  And for many, they certainly provide an alternative from the ‘mainstream’ made wines.  This bunch from Clandestine Wines offer something for anyone and everyone, even for those who, like me, tended to be a bit wary of natural wines.

Region: Swan Valley, SA     Price: $30 each     Source: Thanks kindly to Clandestine Vineyards and Savvy Comms

2022 Petite Blancs

Quite complex aromatically, and a subtle richness to it too. The palate is quite inviting and equally intriguing.  Chenin Blanc dominant but small percentages of Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Riesling all make a contribution. There’s apple and pear, a little musk poking through (thanks to the Gewurz influence), it’s textural with a touch of lemon like citrus on a lovely dry finish. This, for me, is the type of wine that if you have someone try it, without telling them its make-up, it would have instant appeal. 

2022 Deux Rebelles Rosé

There are plenty of aromas on offer but they are subtle, delightful and enticing. The palate is similar where there is a good amount of flavour on offer yet plays the ‘Rosé’ role so very well.  Red fruits and currants are the go with a nice touch of acidity and a lovely textural feel to finish. We are dry rose fans and this fits the bill perfectly. Gee we liked this…a lot!

2022 Nouveau Cabernet Franc

Now here is a Cab Franc that feels like it has had fun added during the ferment and could easily hang with the cool kids. It’s all about cherries, plums, berries and plenty of them. Add in a modicum of pepper and spice, some nice textural feels on the palate, and you have a fresh, vibrant and juicy number that is easy to like, easy to drink and easy to share.

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2022 Clandestine Wines ‘Break Free’ Bliss Bomb

For some time, Pet Nat wines were, well I don’t know how else to put it, Pet Not wines for me.  With so many now in the market, it was only a matter of time before I would taste one, if not more, and I have tried a few now.  Unfortunately, some go just that little bit too much the Pétillant-Naturel way, if you know what I mean.  Those who get it right are worth trying and this one is definitely in the ‘give it a try’ category.

Made entirely from Chenin Blanc, it’s mainly citrus fruits providing the flavour on the palate along with a touch of pear, a hint of spice and a nice textural like feel to it too, with a nice little bit of fizz adding to the fun factor.  It’s a fresh, light and zesty number that sits at just 11.0% alcohol.  I think this particular Pet Nat will change a few minds, and taste buds, toward the style.

Region: Swan Valley, SA     Price: $30     Source: Thanks kindly to Clandestine Vineyards and Savvy Comms

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2017 Levantine Hill Colleen’s Paddock Pinot Noir

The Cypress Pine has some amazing qualities.  It is decay proof and is resistant to termites so maintains its structural integrity.  Something that is very handy in certain climates in Australia.  Being a pine, it is aromatic, light, soft and easy to work with.  It is easy to understand why it is highly sought after for construction purposes and for any furniture that is going to be exposed to the elements.

This wine has some similar qualities to the Cypress Pine.  It is beautifully aromatic, will take a lot for something to affect its integrity over time, and it will survive for many years.

However, in contrast to the Cypress Pine, this wine is certainly not light or soft.  Quite the opposite actually and in a good way.  Also, just as the Pine is easy to work with, the quality of the fruit that goes into making wines of this standard must be easy for the winemaker to craft into something very special, such as this Pinot Noir.

Great nose dominated by dark cherry, a red fruit freshness like character playing a part, with a little spicy note in there too.  This might sound odd but, the aromas have such an impact they seem to have good length on the olfactory senses!  On the palate, the generosity and richness of the quality fruit is such that it is almost tangible as well as tasty! Sleek, suave and elegant yet concentrated spicy black cherry fruit, dark plum, judicious use of oak, fine silky tannins and great great length.  I could go on…and on…and on.

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $200     Source: Thanks kindly to Levantine Hill

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2018 Levantine Hill Katherine’s Paddock Chardonnay

I’m not sure if you are familiar with the Bicheno Blowhole on the east coast of Tasmania.  It’s a section of the coast where a part of the granite coastline has been worn away underneath and the ocean has blown a hole in the ‘ceiling’ of the rocky foreshore. As the water rushes into the small cave, the pressure causes an eruption of water through the hole.  The water reaches a point of seemingly zero gravity before falling onto the surrounding rocks, splashing them with the fresh, clean, glistening ocean water, eventually cascading back into the sea from whence it came.

I likened this sort of moment to what it was like when I tasted this ripper Chardonnay, and I have no doubt it too will attract those stimulated by its sensory offerings. 

Rich, complex aromas of peaches and cream, flintiness and oak, along with refinement and class, erupting from the glass.  A terrific introduction to what this Chardonnay is about to do to your sense of taste (that is, if you can stop yourself from taking in the aromas).

Concentration and elegance abound upon tasting with ripe stone fruit flavours, fine yet racy acidity and balanced oak characters are spread over the palate like a gentle ocean wave across that granite foreshore at Bicheno.  And, before you know it, another wave of flavour coats the palate, and you realise you are yet to take another sip, such is the incredible length this wine has. A superb example of the variety.

Levantine Hill Website

Region: Yarra Valley, Vic     Price: $125     Source: Thanks kindly to Levantine Hill

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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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