(2022)
A single vineyard wine, planted in 1999 on gravels, with a mix of Chardonnay clones. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in French oak barriques (40% new), 60% went through malolactic and the wine stayed in barrel for 11 months.Most attractive, with the oak on the mint and butterscotch, rather than toasty, spectrum. Buttery with succulent stone fruits. On the palate equally posied and sophisticated, such lovely clarity here, thanks to the knife-edge acid line, but also a crystalline sense of purity to the fruit, the oak again just adding a cashew and almond finesse rather than anything too aggressive.
(2022) From the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain, Blue Lady is a selection of the best Cabernet Sauvignon from French oak barrels (25% new), where it has been aged for 27 months. Super-heavy statement bottle, the colour is a crimson-black. Again there's a ripe, buoyant feel to the fruit here, blueberry and blackcurrant, but a nice floral edge and slightly exotic spiciness. Ripe and mouth-filling fruit, there's a little more flesh and succulence, but again drying, fine tannins push through the finish, the extra year on this 2017 has perhaps helped to smooth the texture and finish, where acid, tannin and fruit are in very nice balance. Powerful.
(2021) Vasse Felix is one of the great names of Margaret River in Western Australia, and I was super-impressed by their top 'Heytesbury' Chardonnay 2019 recently (94 points), but this is their estate wine at around half the price but it runs its big brother close on style and quality. Plenty of flinty, cordite nuances to the ripe and fleshy peach and cooler Asian pear fruit, a nougat softeness adding another layer. In the mouth it strikes that lovely balance between oak-derived coffee and toast, sweet and succulent fruit, and that nervy edge of cool mineral acidity. Very stylish. Watch the video for more information.
(2021) A year older than the Left Field example, and substantially deeper in both colour and aroma. There is some straw and hay-like character here over apricot and pear. In the mouth much more exotic and unctuous than the Left Field, guava and scented, super-ripe Ogen melon, lots of tang and orangey vibrancy to the acidity too. A bit of a show-stopper for the often reserved Albariño.
(2021) Very different here, a more classical and structured style from vineyards close to False Bay and 20-year-old bush vines. From cooler south-facing slopes, there's a whiff of seaside iodine, some spice and meatiness and solid plum and berry fruit. Around 50% whole bunches in this wine. Very sweet, ripe fruit strikes the palate immediately, then a savoury, slightly salty biltong character, chewy but not overbearing tannins and keen, tangy acidity.
(2021) All barrel-fermented in new French oak barriques with lees stirring, followed by 11 months in barrel, 100% new Bordelais barriques. From the original 1970s plantings, the fruit absorbs the oak easily, retaining a floral edge to the perfume, cool but dense white fruit, and then a nutty, very lightly smoky barrel note comes through. In the mouth there is real substance here, a real grip with some skin-contact notes, but driving acidity of minerals and lemon pith, a lovely tension in this wine, the oak again just lying quietly beneath, and the tingle and tang of souring lemon acidity along with fresh fruit pushing the finish.
(2021) There's also 3% Malbec in the blend here, fermented in both open and closed fermenters with 20% whole bunches. The wine was run to new, one, and two-year-old barrels and after six months the various components were blended and matured in barrels for a further twelve months. Bold crimson/violet in colour. Very pure, gently lifted aromatics, cool blue-black fruit, the violet and crushed black berries and almost pot-pourri fragrance is deliciously inviting. The palate follows through precisely, staying dense and compact in terms of its sweet black fruit, medium-bodied and a racing, very refined axis of acid and taut tannin, but its a generous, smooth and ultimately very satisfying Shiraz.
(2020) Unlike the more austere examples of the Clare Valley in South Australia, this Western Australian wine has a gentler acid profile and the merest, softening nuance of sweetness too. It opens aromatically with lime, blossom and minerals, a touch of beeswax polish, but that little nod towards generosity sings on the palate, loads of freshness and there is absolutely no shortage of driving acidity, but the whole picture is balanced, tempered and approachable.
(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.