(2019) long-gully-semillonIt's a common misconception that Australia is a country with a very young wine industry and, therefore, only very young vines. In fact, vines have been established for almost 200 years, and with Phyloxerra never reaching many vineyards regions it also boasts some of the oldest, still productive, vineyards in the world. The label here declares 'Ancient Vine', and that's no marketing BS: this Semillon vineyard in the Barossa Valley is an astonishing 130 years old. Made by David Franz (son of the legendary Peter Lehmann), it is unoaked, but spent 10 months on the lees in tank to build flavour and texture.


Pale lemon in colour, it opens with notes of lemon jelly and pollen, the bee theme continuing with a touch of beeswax, something a litle creamy too. On the palate it burst with vivacious flavour. There's a surge of lemon - fat and sweet rather than tart and thin - plenty more peach and citrussy, orangey flavours too, and the rich, slightly chewy texture adds to the intrigue. The natural concentration of these old vines is apparent, the intensity never letting up into a long finish, that flits with sweetness, but indeed finishes dry, licked by salt and lemons. This 2015 is listed at Harvey Nichols at time of review though not on their web site, but the 2017 has slightly wider distribution.

(2019) Don't even ask about the unusual name of this wine, but instead concentrate on a very good example of a wine in the 'orange wine' idiom, that is not too extreme and will serve both as a more gentle introduction to the style, and simply as a very nice wine. It's a blend of 66% Semillon and 34% Viognier, fermented with skin contact and aged 18 months in old barrels. The colour is an astonishing, luminous buttercup yellow, and the careful winemaking is evident: picking the Semillon a little late to avoid its sometimes herbaceous character, and the Viognier a little early to minimise it's tendency to become a little heavy and alcoholic - this has only 12.7% abv. Don't come looking for upfront fruitiness however: this has notes akin to Fino sherry on the nose, nuttiness and light kaolin, the palate dry, earthy and savoury, a bit of lemon curd and plenty of yeasty funk adding to the intrigue. A food wine for sure, watch the video for more information.
(2019) Adelaide Hills, along with Tasmania, are the two hottest spots for sparkling wines in Australia, most of those will be traditional method wines, whereas this is made by the 'tank', or charmat method, so the secondary fermentation with the lees is done in steel tanks, not individual bottles. The result is a wine that is forward and crowd-pleasing, in a style that straddles Prosecco and Champagne in a way, the pulpy, frothy strawberry and raspberry fruit is naked, not covered by too much yeasty autolysis, and yet there is a little bit of biscuity breadth and the teeniest hint of tannin in there, giving the fresh, elegant finish a bit of bite too. There is sweetness here, though it is labelled Brut, a combination of ripe fruit and a higher dosage I presume.
(2019) From the Chardonnay and Pinot stronghold of the Adelaide Hills, a Pinot Noir rosé that is crammed with sweet and summer berry aromas and flavours. Relatively deep in colour, touches of spices and watermelon sit atop crushed strawberry sundae - Eton mess in a glass. In the mouth the sweetness of the fruit is noticeable, perhaps a touch of residual sugar too, but there is a freshening blast of clean acidity and little herbaceous hint that adds to the crispness.
(2019) From a range named in honour of Max Schubert, the winemaker who created Penfolds Grange, this is Chardonnay sourced from the cool Adelaide Hills. The Hills were the original source of fruit for Yattarna, Penfolds' 'white Grange' project, which sells for £100+ per bottle, and although Yattarna is now a blend with Tasmanian fruit, the Adelaide Hills is prime Chardonnay country for Penfolds and many other top brands. This is a terrific example at its affordable price, of the precision and freshness the terroir here can give. Aged in French oak, but only 20% of it new, there's oatmeal and nougat on the nose, stone fruit aromas and a flinty whiff of Chablis-like reduction. Only 12.5% alcohol tells of early picking, which helps with that, and on the palate brings a huge surge of lemon zestiness to the ripe fruit and barrel-derived richness and toasty fullness. I found this to a very classy Chardonnay in a thoroughly modern New World style. Watch the video for more information.
(2019) Named in homage to Max Schubert, the Cabernet is sourced from three regions of South Australia: Wrattonbully, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra, and the wine aged in French and American oak, only around 7% new. It's a bold, luxurious style of Cabernet, fully ripe, licked with tobacco and smokiness, bursting with black fruit and yet with a hint of cedar and blueberry cool precision. In the mouth it has substantial presence with its 14.5% alcohol, no shortage of ripeness and plummy weight, but the smooth tannins and balanced cherry-skin acidity is very well handled. A fitting partner to the Max's Chardonnay. Watch the video for more information.
(2019) A fair example of the new approach to Australian Chardonnay this, from Coonawarra, yet 12.5% abv suggests early picking (though it is possible some alcohol reducing technology was used too - who know?). The nose is about citrus and rosy red apple, a little touch creamy richness, but fairly brisk and straightforward. In the mouth there is a dollop of sweetness: it's a dry wine because of the acid balance, but there's no missing the hit of residual sugar. Fruit verges on the tropical but always stays lemony and firm.
(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.