(2019) A new release from Our Fathers, a label created by British MW Giles Cooke, with all profits going to a small number of charities that have a very personal connection to Giles and his family. The 'big brother' Our Fathers Shiraz is a cracking wine, made from a 125-year-old vineyard in the Barossa Valley, but it sells for £30 per bottle. At just £14, that same Shiraz fruit is blended with juicy Grenache to make a slightly more easy-going but delicious wine, packed with ripe plum fruit, hints of tobacco spice and chocolate, and that nutty character from the Grenache. It's silky and creamy in the mouth and the sweet fruit is so well balanced by the svelte tannins and juicy acid. Available only from the ourfathers web site, by the six-bottle case. Watch the video for more information.
(2019) There's decent varietal and regional expression here too in a wine costing less than six pounds, a juicy and buoyant cherry and plum nose, a touch of pepper and spice, and good, strong aromatics. In the mouth that sweet, ripe, mouth-filling fruit dominates, the soft-ish tannins and acid giving good balance. Good value this.
(2019) A Coonawarra Cabernet, so an absolutely classic combination of site and variety for South Australia, this is arguably the star of the selection tasted here, from its intense youthful colour to its expressive aromatic lift of green pepper, blackcurrant and spice. On the palate it has a rich black fruit character, lots of cassis-like sweet brightness, a rasp of plummy acidity and some smooth tannins gives a bit of tension, and whilst there's evidence of a slightly dilute character, the fruit giving way to lip-tingly spice in the finish, it is very good at the price and authentic.
(2018) A robust and chunky Shiraz from the vineyards of Willunga winery in McLaren Vale, just outside Adelaide. A proportion was aged in French oak and that gives a nice touch of cedar and smokiness on the nose, but it's more about bold, confident black fruit and a wisp of freshly-cracked pepper. In the mouth there's a big, rumbling layer of tannin on which sits some of that pleasing oak-toast quality and good fruit, sweet and ripe but with a savoury edge. It's the sort of straightforward, big-hearted red that makes a good burger or barbecue go down rather nicely.
(2018) Sourced from the Limestone Coast of South Australia, the back label peels off to reveal a recipe for an Aussie beef barbecue which is a neat touch. In the bottle, a fairly deeply-coloured crimson wine with nicely buoyant aromas of white pepper and cherry, and a gamy and earthy background which is pleasing. On the palate it is a very juicy style, the 14.5% alcohol adding a touch of heat to the finish, but the peppery and spicy black fruit pushing through to the finish, which is roughened nicely by a plum-skin rasp of tannin.
(2018) From the Thistledown Wines team, a Grenache (well, with around 10% Mourvèdre) that marches to a different beat from it beer-bottle style 50cl container to its crown cap. Inside is a heart-warming an gluggable red, perfumed with violet, raspberry and blackcurrant, and filling the mouth with sweet and easy-going fruit. The perfect barbecue companion. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) If you catch up with winemaker Giles Cook at my Glasgow or Edinburgh Festivals of Wine where Thistledown are pouring their wines, he might well be sporting his 'Gorgeous Grenache' tee-shirt. A zealous advocate for the quality of old vine Grenache in Australia, Giles has sourced old vine fruit from across South Australia for this entry-level bottling. It's a truly lovely wine, brimming with ripe black fruit, spices and a chocolate depth, soft tannins and a hint of gingery heat, finishing with pert cherry acidity. That all adds up to an easy-drinking but deep and soulful red, heaven sent for summer barbecues. Even better, buy two six-packs from M&S at time of review and the price falls to a bargaintastic £7.50 per bottle. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2017) The recently launched 'Max's' range from Penfolds is of course an homage to Max Schubert, the first Chief Winemaker for Penfolds, and the man who created Grange. As is usual with so many of Penfold's premium wines, fruit is sourced widely across South Australia, and the wine is aged 24 months in older American and French oak barrels, with about 10% in new French oak. It's made to be accessible early, but it is still a wine with a bit of grip and structure, the plush blackcurrant and blueberry aromas framed by sandalwood and vanilla, before a mouth-filling palate of sweet fruit but with a bittersweet twist of liquorice acidity and tight, grippy tannins as well as a touch of alcoholic heat. A few years in the cellar will do this no harm.
(2017) The Cabernet component comes from vines planted in 1958 according to the back label, in a powerful red with lots of spice, pepper and bold black fruit, a hint of menthol and balsam too. In the mouth the fruit is sweet and rich, quite bright and not overripe or Porty, the tannins slightly rustic slightly and, like the Chardonnay, fairly abrupt acidity that for me is just not quite smoothly integrated.
(2017) Alongside Grenache, Mataro - aka Mourvèdre - is now stealing a little bit of the limelight from Syrah in McLaren Vale. This has quite a similar nose to the GSM blend, a little bit of raspberry/strawberry lift to the fruit. In the mouth the spice and savoury richness of the fruit is good, a bit of chewy tannin and plum skin character, the sweetness of the fruit again nicely balanced by the acidity.
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