(2021) From Victoria in Australia, a take on the Italian/French variety Vermentino (also known as 'Rolle'). It is scented and citrussy, a little floral aspect but bright and zesty. The palate follows a similar course: citrus, but more lime and orange or pink grapefruit rather than sharper lemon, good texture and a fine, reasonably long finish.
(2020) The State of Victoria in Australia is home to some of the best Pinot Noir wines in the southern hemisphere, and the Mornington Peninsula, just south of Melbourne, is a prime spot. From estate vineyards planted in 1999, this was fermented in open vats using wild yeasts and matured for a year in older oak puncheons (larger, 500-litre barrels). It's a fairly full and ripe style of Pinot, but not too 'solid', retaining lovely Pinot energy and freshness, a pert cherry fruitiness and orangey tang to the fruit and acidity, the briskness of the tannins adding the fleet-footed character, in a fruity and charming Pinot for drinking now I'd guess.
(2020) There's 269g/l of residual sugar in this wine, where the average age of barrels in the blend is seven years, and vines are aged from 15 to 100 years old. Aged in a variety of oak, ranging in size from 220-litre barrels to 5,500-litre casks - some of the casks 100 years old. Considerably darker than the Cambells Classic, and darker aromatically too, with polished wood, dark winter spices, and more shellac, prune and raisin characters. In the mouth this is super-slick and thick, positively glycerine rich, with a darker, apparantly drier profile, but such intensity, such depth and richness of flavour, edged with dark and dusty cocoa into a very long finish.
(2020) The average age of wines in this solera-style blend is five years, with vines 32- 52 years old. Residual sugar runs at 220g/l. Lovely tawny into toffee colour, beautiful nose of intense rum-soaked sultanas and walnuts, just a tantalising hint of briny shellac. On the palate it is thick and viscous, liquidised sultanas and raisins are delicious, a little orange and toffee, and a very smooth finish, the sweetness persisting to the end. A Christmas pudding or mince-pie treat, or with any chocolate dessert.
(2020) Stanton & Killeen's Classic wine has an average age of 12 years in the solera, vines planted in 1921, 1968, 1985, 1996 and 2002. It has 282.5g/l of residual sugar and is aged in large oak casks. Another dark wine, amber on the rim, and the aromatics brighter than the Chambers, but there's a dry, nut husk note that grounds the aromatics, maybe something like physillis, coffee and raisins. In the mouth fabulous richness and a lovely edge of red apple acidity to this that balances the sumptuous sweet, dark, raisined vine fruits and lusciousness.
(2020) From the 'Rare' category of Rutherglen Muscats, the average age of wines in this blend is 20 years, the vineyards betwen 15 and 50 years old. It matures in a variety of barrel sizes, and has 312g/l of residual sugar. Easily the darkest of the samples here, just a little tawny at the rim, but the glass stained toffee-brown as you swirl the wine. Shellac, polished wood and old crackling varnish, the depth here speaks of the wine's passage of time, not so much of the fruit. The palate is thick as engine oil, like a PX Sherry maybe, fabulous dark Muscavado sugar and raisins, such depth touching on espresso and Seville orange, nutty, and so warming into an endless finish with such intense sweetness.
(2020) Moving on to the class of 'Grand' Muscats, the average age of wines in this blend is 18 years, the vines up to 36 years old. The wines spend time in a variety of barrel sizes, and stay there for between three and 30 years. It has 297/l of residual sugar. The darkest wine so far, but still with amber on the rim. A more subtle, coffee-touched, deep and fudge-like aroma, there is dark vine fruit and polished wood. In the mouth a thick, super-concentrated and intense wine, toast and rum and raisin fudge, Christmas cake fruit and spices, but staying so espresso-dark and toffeed too, it finishes with a blast of lip-smacking citrus acidity.
(2019) A keen price in Sainsbury's for that Australian peculiarity, sparkling Shiraz. From the reliable de Bortoli, it is aged for only around six months in tank, but these wines are not about long lees exposure: with 17g/l of residual sugar it is designed to be an inexpensive crowd-pleaser. Deep, saturated red in colour, the nose is the melange of forest berries and chocolate that one expects from this genre, the palate exhibiting more of that dark, cocoa, berry and plum fruit. The sweetness sits against quite a bitter tannin and acid framework, and for me this really needs to be matched to some strong flavoured food - try a bittersweet chocolate dessert, or maybe even a powerful Indian curry.
(2019) Sealed with soft, yellow wax (and closed with a DIAM cork), this looks immediately inviting and, on opening, the fragrance just leaps from the glass: lots of redcurrant and cherry, but floral notes, spices, hints of gaminess and roasted chestnuts, altogether it displays a dazzling complexity and lots of charm. In the mouth it is substantial and yet ethereal. Grounding tannins and spice are layered through the decisive acid structure, yet there is gorgeous sweetness to the juicy red berry fruit, a tang of grapefruit or bitter Seville marmalade orange, and a hint of smokiness weaves through the finish. It's a classy Pinot that has everything: all-embracing sweet fruited charms, structure, gentleness and unfolding finesse. Terrific.
(2019) A wine that brought a smile to my face, Cienna is a cross of Summol and Cabernet Sauvignon, here the fermentation stopped at 7.5% alcohol, to leave this deep red wine distinctly sweet and mildly spritzy. Aromas of cola, cherry and chocolate are echoed on the palate, where plenty of sweetness moves this into the dessert wine category for me, though Brown Bros suggest Indian Curry is a good match. Interesting, though I couldn't be a regular drinker of it I confess.