(2022) A difficult harvest in Rioja, but the winery is very proud of the wines they produced in this vintage. Certainly this Crianza has a lot of love shown to it, a selection of the best fruit from high altitude vineyards, and ageing in new French oak barrels. It has an open and attractive nose, the toast and cedar of the oak evident, perhaps a slight weakness of the vintage showing through on the palate despite some very smooth and creamy tannins and acids giving it a supple character.
(2021) From very old vines planted in 1969 and silty loam soils, this wine from Yarra Yering spent 15 months in French oak barriques, 40% new. Such a different character from the Balvanes - indeed from both Coonawarra wines - with a cooler, slightly more red-fruited note to the nose, more lifted fragrance too with garrigue-like notes utterly compelling. In the mouth it is voluptuous and svelte, yet continues that medium-bodied, finessed style, all about ripe but charming, savoury edged fruit with a little citrussy spark to it, sweet and fine tannins and beautifully integrated oak and acidity. Gorgeous. Price and stockist quoted are for a more recent vintage at time of review.
(2020) The family resemblance to the big brother A1 is umissable here, that same wild and delightful perfume running the gamut from pot-pourri spice to summer berries to hints of truffle. In the mouth deliciously sweet and giving; a generous wine with ripe and supple red fruits filling the mid-palate, and the tannins a little softer and more creamy than the A1 at this stage, absolutely pin-sharp acidity though, and those subtle, gentle spices and vanilla rounding the finish. Drink now while waiting for the A1. It's irresistable. No retail stockists listed at time of review, so price and stockist is for the previous vintage.
(2019) From seven vineyards across the Swartland, all older than 35 years, mostly grown on the granitic Paardeberg mountain. Whole-bunch pressed, matured on the lees in neutral 300-litre barrels, without stirring. There’s some lemon peel and a red apple, juicy character. On the palate, racing with lemon and orange oil bitterness, beautifully off-setting the sweetness of the fruit.