(2018) Quite a different vintage from the 2015 this, with more pronounced herbal, peppery and raspberry notes joining the black fruit, a little balsamic and lifted character, all very attractive in a firmer way. In the mouth the wine has the same sense of opulence and plushness, a dark, glossy pool of black fruits inviting you to dive right in, but there's a little more of an edge too, firm, liquoricy, mocha-deep, but giving a certain tangy presence. This is a slightly more savoury, structured interpretation, and again, a very successful one. This will improve further with mid-term cellaring, whilst the 2015 is irresistible now.
(2018) What a wonderfully full and delicious wine. That could be the end of the tasting note, but perhaps I'd better expand: this is the glorious face of hedonistic Barossa Shiraz, glossy, deep and overflowing with dark, chocolaty fruit, blackberry, plum and blueberry, but there's also a brighter, red fruit lift. In the mouth the 14.5% alcohol is unobtrusive, because the sheer concentration of the old vine fruit easily matches it, and the slick, vanilla and spice underpins with creamy tannins and an agile acidity. You have the full force of Barossa, but freshness - even elegance - too.
(2018) Yalumba have long been masters of the Viognier variety, now quite widely planted outside of its Rhône Valley home, but sometimes producing wines that verge on being 'blowsy' and too alcoholic. Not here, with this 13% abv rendition from the cool-ish Riesling heartland of the Eden Valley. It doesn't miss out on the exotic and quite flamboyant aromatics of the variety, with lychee and a touch of sweet potpourri spice, nectarine fruit and yet a lightly flinty, smoky note too. In the mouth it juxtaposes sweet stone fruits with a lemon and lime-rind acidity, and that lightly salty and stony note adding definition. For more information and food-matching ideas, please watch the full video review.
(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) There's a whisp of ginger and cinnamon on the nose, then spangle-bright tropical fruit, just an edge of something green and capsicum-like. In the mouth the fruit is sweet, and for me just doesn't quite integrate as it should with the rush of a slightly green acidity. It's very drinkable, but just missing its mark for me.
(2017) The Cabernet component comes from vines planted in 1958 according to the back label, in a powerful red with lots of spice, pepper and bold black fruit, a hint of menthol and balsam too. In the mouth the fruit is sweet and rich, quite bright and not overripe or Porty, the tannins slightly rustic slightly and, like the Chardonnay, fairly abrupt acidity that for me is just not quite smoothly integrated.
(2017) GSM - Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre - is a classic blend not only of the Rhône Valley, but of McLaren Vale in South Australia. There's a lovely ripeness and roundness of black fruit on the nose - not jammy, but full and juicy, with a hint of pepper and spice. In the mouth the dry, fresh, slightly ashy character is offset beautifully by blackcurrant pastille fruit. A nice weight of spicy tannin and freshening acidity sets the whole, easy drinking barbecue-friendly style very nicely.
(2017) Alongside Grenache, Mataro - aka Mourvèdre - is now stealing a little bit of the limelight from Syrah in McLaren Vale. This has quite a similar nose to the GSM blend, a little bit of raspberry/strawberry lift to the fruit. In the mouth the spice and savoury richness of the fruit is good, a bit of chewy tannin and plum skin character, the sweetness of the fruit again nicely balanced by the acidity.
(2017) Another classic, a bone-dry Riesling from the Clare Valley, there's a nice hint of the floral and beeswax side of Riesling to the otherwise fresh and limey fruit, even a hint of exotic lychee. Rippling with salt and chalk acidity, there is nevertheless plenty of lime, sliced apple and juicy Mandarin orange fruit to balance, in a long, shimmering wine.
(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.