(2020) Mencia, the favourite grape of the Bierzo region in northwest Spain, is much rarer in Australia. Often associated with Italian varieties, here the Oliver family present an approachable red that is a really good expression of the variety. Like a turbo-charged Beaujolais in a way, it is crisp and juicy, packed with vivid cherry, red plum and a wisp of smoke and tobacco, there's abundant creaminess too, the palate supple and deep, but never losing that edge of energy and freshness. Unfortunately no UK stockists are listed for this limited release wine at time of review.
(2020) Part of English M.W. Giles Cooke's small not-for-profit wine range, where all proceeds go to support charities close to his heart, this is a blend of Shiraz and Grenache from Barossa and Langhorne Creek, that pours a deep crimson/violet colour with aromas soaring from the glass: all crushed raspberry and pomegranate, some spice and peppery notes too, and all very appealing. On the palate there's a glorious uncompromising sweetness of juicy, crunchy, ripe berries, some chocolaty tannin smoothly supporting and the acidity elegant and well-judged. A fabulous barbecue or winter casserole wine.
(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.
(2016) A Grenache Mourvédre Shiraz blend from Torbreck, it is creamy, spicy and deeply red fruited, a little whisper of something meaty and peppery too. In the mouth the sweetness of the fruit is immense, though perhaps the acidity, alcohol and grippy tannins feel just a touch more astringent in the finish than I might hope for.
(2016) Majestic often sources a number of 'when it's gone, it's gone' parcels, on sale whilst stocks last, this coming into stores for autumn 2016. It is mostly Grenache and Shiraz, aged 12 months in French oak. It's black as pitch and delivers full-on spice and blackcurrant, plum and tobacco, a muscular and deep aroma leading to a similar palate, the sheen of oak underpinning savoury vine fruitiness and the bittersweet twist of plum-skin grippy tannins and acidity. Very nicely done, and note that the price drops to £9.99 if purchased as part of a mixed six. Watch the video for food matching ideas and more information.
(2016) The Lodge Hill Shiraz is a strapping, spicy, sweet mulberry fruited red with plenty of coffee and vanilla, but the sheer concentration of fruit is what drives the palate. Sweet and ripe, all the time it is buttressed by quite big, beefy tannins and fresh balancing acidity.
(2015) Wakefield is a model of consistency, with its varietal wines all excellent expressions. From their own vineyards, this is a Merlot with a bit of stuffing and serious intent, ageing in French and American oak adding layers of cedar, spice and coffee to rich fruits and a certain grown-up character of game and graphite. In the mouth there's plenty of juicy plum and cherry brightness, but that grippy, rustic core of spice and earth, smoothed by vanilla, is balanced and appealing. Will cellar for five to 10 years too.,
(2014) The 'GSM²' refers to the blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mataro and Merlot, from McLaren Vale in South Australia. It is aged for a year in various sizes of French and American oak, and weighs in with a moderate 13.5% alcohol. Pouring a rich but not opaque earthy red, it has a lovely perfume: immediately fragrant with exotic spices, Sandalwood, bright red fruits and briar. It flirts with floral aromas in a very distinctive profile. On the palate there's a full and rich core of sweet berry fruits, but it retains that little edge of spice and woodland earthiness, the soft but grainy tannins and the balanced cherry acid bite give very nice balance too.