(2021) The vines here are 95 years old, on red clay soils. Made in open fermenters, aged on fine lees in steel for 12 months. Lovely pale colour, translucent on rim, quite herbal with small red berries. The fruit is firm and elegant on the palate, savoury, juicy, less overtly sweet fruited than some but has that clean, long, elegant character.
(2020) Made by Yalumba since the early 1990s, and one of the most popular wines among the Yalumba staff. There are vine components here from plantings that span the 1890s through to the 1970s, the average age of vines for the wine has been calculated as 75 years old. A hugely juicy, again leafy and earthy style, that basil or curry-leaf component is there again, and that fairly striking tart raspberry juiciness with an axis of red fruit and acid. Tannins are a little smoother than the GSM, but it still grips the finish giving that savoury appeal.
(2020) Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre is the trio of Rhône grapes on which Barossa’s reputation was partly founded. This wine was first made in 2010, and the 2016 is led by 55% Grenache (a similar blend having previously been led by Mourvèdre ). A nice, quite transparent ruby colour, there’s loads of juicy, summery fruit and spice on the nose, a little slick of vanilla smoothing things out. In the mouth there is grip here, a bit of basil and leafiness as well as a savoury fruit character, quite a creamy texture. Keen acidity and a rustic, savoury bite of tannin gives great gastronomic possibilities. This sees a mix of barrels for ageing, from barriques to large oak vats, but overall only around 15% of oak is new.
(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) 40% Grenache, 33% Shiraz and 27% Mourvedre. A dry, lightly leathery and gravelly character with small redcurrant and black fruit dryness. The palate has a fine, racy profile, spices and crunchy acid against quite sweet, but agile and savoury fruit. Drinks easily but well.
(2017) Much bigger, creamier and more chocolaty than the GSM, with coffee and spice richness and forward character. Deliciously creamy, certainly adding texture and creamy oak richness. Lovely, straightforward but delicious.
(2017) A hotter, bigger vintage. Much creamier and with a fatter black fruit but still a little ashy and smoky lift, that touch of meatiness. The palate again so sweet, plush, the tannins tight, structured and fresh acidity makes it very easy to drink, but firm at the core. A touch of that floral character on the nose also appears in the finish.
(2017) 61% Grenache from Blewitt Springs sandy soils that usefully make the vine struggle a little, around 30% Shiraz and 10% Mourvedre. Lovely bright red fruit opening, with a touch of herb and floral lift, very fresh and appealing, with hint of nutty Grenache dryness. On the palate really dry, a nice herbal streak to the small dry red fruits.
(2017) Almost all Grenache, just a splash of Shiraz "to tempt the naysayers." Bright, a touch of schisty, characoally, watercolour paintbox dry lift, some spice too with a well-tempered palate, riven with a lemony acidity, a very fine and long line to the palate, with the lightest palate of the four so far, easy on the finish.
(2017) Certainly a broader fruit character, more weight than the Wirra Wirra, with great juiciness, a nice cherry lift of brightness, fine tannins - very dry - with the freshness and nutty flavours balanced by good acidity.