2016 Robert Stein Mudgee Reserve Chardonnay

This may cost me dearly, but I had not heard of Robert Stein or his wines until I received an email from Dave Cummings of Define Wine.  Apart from the name, the other thing about this wine that poked my curiosity was ‘Mudgee Chardonnay’.  It’s known around the traps I like my Chardonnay but, Mudgee?  Now here is a different beast.

This wine started on a high and stayed there. Warm melted butter on fresh sour dough bread (stay with me please).  Stone fruits? Yep, but don’t spit the stone out too quickly, it adds a nice dimension…you’ll know what I mean.  Throwing 50% new oak at it was a big call but the fruit was such that it took it in its stride and just kept going…and going…and going.

Between the three of us who were present when I opened and tried it, the bottle became an empty receptacle forming an innate part of the recycle bin.  Enough said really.


Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $40     Source: Sample courtesy of define wines

Robert Stein Chardonnay


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2013 Huntington Estate Shiraz

Many years ago I worked in a land far, far away.  Not really but it may well have been.  A place called Queenstown on the West Coast of Tasmania and, if you know the place, you’ll understand what I mean by far, far away.  Where is this headed?  This is not the place I expected to have my first experience of Huntington Estate Shiraz.  No, it wasn’t available in the town, it just so happened some friends from Dubbo visited and brought a bottle with them.  It impressed me enough that I gave them some money and they sent some back to me when they returned home.

I was pretty excited when this arrived on my doorstep.  Although I can’t remember what the first wine of theirs I tasted was like, I knew with the current reputation Huntington Estate had, this was bound to be a good drop.

A terrific deep colour in the glass, it promised heaps.  It was a bit shy to start with, the aromas taking their time to come out (decanting recommended) but when they did, vualá!  Lovely, juicy black fruits and plums on the palate were no suprise after the nose revealed itself and then everything seemed to move up a notch.  It just seemed to open up and show its class the more I swirled it in the glass.  Very friendly tannins contribute to good length on the finish of this full bodied and dead-set honest shiraz.


Region: Mudgee, NSW     Price: $26 (Cheap!)     Source: Sample


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2015 Chateau Yaldara Retro Adelaide Hills Shiraz

I’m a sucker for tradition.  I’m a sucker for nostalgia.  I’m a sucker for a good red wine.  Put all these ‘suckers’ together and I am THAT kid in the candy store.  This wine has everything that took me back a few years (understatement) and it was a pleasure.

It’s a pretty attractive package when you have it in your hands.  A nice tall bottle with a very cool label.  That’s the way to get things started.

The aromas are going to delightfully fill your sinuses so be very mindful of that because you’ll need to move on to the good bit of tasting it.

This is deliciously Adelaide Hills when you drink it.  It’s not full on, more “I would like to get to you know you better” style.  A smooth and sophisticated sort of thing.   Medium bodied, plums, ripe dark cherries, a nice touch of spiciness and it all comes together on a persistent, elegant finish. Yep, it won’t leave you alone in a hurry.


Region: Adelaide Hills     Price: $35     Source: Sample

CYaldara Shiraz

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2014 Tatachilla Foundation Shiraz

I don’t know about you but I get frustrated when a wine teases you about its future, but it’s worse when it teases you about its ‘now’!  This one does exactly that and, I’m not saying it’s the case but, it’s almost like the winemaker has done it deliberately because I kept going back to it to try and delve into its intriguing complexities.

Inky and dense. That’s it.  I honestly don’t know how else to describe the colour.

It’s pretty full on, beautifully rich, but I’m guessing that’s what was intended.  This is a quality wine so nothing would have been spared in its creation.  It has ‘black-as-the-ace-of-spades’ fruit but gentle on the delivery.  Plums pull it back a bit and provide some fruit balance (that sounds odd so try it and you’ll know what I mean).  Creamy oak makes it pretty slippery, lush and very moreish.

If there is one thing I did notice, the tannins still need to integrate.  They are a bit intrusive at the moment but, coupled with the quality fruit, it tells me it has a bright future.  The other option if you can’t put it away, decant it and offer up some protein (like I did).  A match made in my little piece of heaven.


Region: McLaren Vale     Price: $57     Source: Swap


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2009 Grey Sands Merlot

All this talk of dual citizenship!  I want you to think about this for a minute.  Imagine if a winemaker had to be ‘Australian’ to make wines in Australia?!  The repercussions would be huge.  Thankfully, it’s not the case and there’s nothing we need to worry about.  Let’s not mention it shall we.

So, what on earth has this got to do with this Merlot I can hear you thinking.  Bob & Rita Richter (has to be European but I stand to be corrected) are the proud owners of this little piece of Tassie heaven.  Rita has links back to Italy.  If the aforementioned rule was applied we, me and you, would not have the pleasure of tasting and drinking this wine.

This may be 8 years old but the colour will have the pupil, iris, lens and retina teaming up, sending messages to the optic nerve that will let the brain know.  The brain will no doubt send a message back to the eyes to confirm the vintage.  Yep, 2009.

Now, as expected everything about the nose and palate tells you this is merlot at this point in it’s life.  It’s a youngun’, no doubt about that.  Plums, obvious, but some clean and fresh black fruits too.  There is a nice little spicey touch on the palate that, I think, sits under the fruit where I also think the tannins sit at the moment because the fruit is so good.  A bit convoluted sorry, so I hope you know what I mean.  Add to this good palate length and you have a nice package that is easy to drink now but will clearly enjoy lying in a cave for a few more years yet.


Region: Glengarry, Tasmania     Price: $50     Source: Sample courtesy of Grey Sands

Grey Sands 09 Merlot

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2015 Serafino McLaren Vale Shiraz

Let’s be honest.  Shiraz is common when it comes to wine in Australia.  Very common.  So much so, when I go into a bottle shop, I’m sometimes tempted to put on an Akubra style hat with corks from bottles of Chablis to stop shiraz getting in my face.  Okay, that might be stretching the truth a little bit.  I actually don’t mind shiraz in my face…I’d even bathe in it when it is this good!

It hits the ground running with the colour and aromas.  When it was poured, my mate could smell the ripe black fruits and he was a couple of metres away!  Just gorgeous.  It doesn’t lose its stride when you taste it either.  It’s the upper end of medium bodied, a plumminess seems to fill out the palate and the fruit is so good, the tannins jut get a look in sharing the last bit of attention with the oak.

One for the quaffers, collectors and everyone in between, you really need to, at the very least, try this wine.  Mark my words, you’ll be going back for more.

P.S. James Halliday liked it so much he included it in his 2017 Top 100, one of only 8 Shiraz that made the list.  Says a lot I reckon.


Region: McLaren Vale     Price: $28 (bargain!)     Source: Friends

Serafino Shiraz

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2013 Thistledown The Basket Case Old Vine Shiraz

I went to a wine tasting recently.  I know, I know, so what’s new?  Well for me, it’s these guys and their wines.  Unfortunately I didn’t try them all (and what I tried was mighty impressive) but I’m so so glad I tried this one.

I’ve no idea how long the bottle had been open but boy did it have a great nose!  I’m not talking Klinger from M*A*S*H ‘nose’, I’m talking ‘dive your nose into a basket of fresh dark berries’ nose.  I reckon you could pour this in a vegemite jar (clean of course) and it would shine.  Love a good start to a new wine.

It’s all black fruits, a bit of aniseed, savoury, soft flowing tannins and good length…but…a good ‘but’ though.  Here’s the ‘but’ bit;  it comes across as a big wine yet, dare I say it, iron-ish fist in a velvet glove (cliché, sorry).

I remember trying a Cabernet and two of their shiraz.  Impressive.  This one is very well priced and I reckon if you are patient, it’ll sit quietly until it scratches at your cellar door to be  let out and opened.  It has that personality about it.


Region: Barossa Valley     Price: $43     Source: Tasting

Thistledown Shiraz

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