Wine Reviews

What The Experts Are Saying

2022 Grosset ‘Springvale’ Riesling - Clare Valley SA

"Curiously, in 2022, I feel the Springvale is less approachable in youth than the Polish Hill. Usually, of course, it’s the other way round.

Very intense and concentrated flavour. A bomb of lime and green apple, some floral/lily perfume, a fine white pepper dusty texture, very coiled up and firm, a whisper of aniseed, maybe, and a very long finish. Unusually tight and stony for a Watervale! An outstanding vintage for this wine."

95+ Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

"Coiled. That's what this 2022 Springvale Riesling is. It's like a compressed spring, waiting for release. The fruit is from the Springvale vineyard and shows just how GOOD Australian Riesling is. This is textural and tight, with springboards of fruit blossom, chalk, pith and zest queued up. This is a wine that needs some time to emerge from itself, but it promises to be a superstar: Grosset has managed to wedge in some restraint and some austerity into the folds of the voluminous Clare fruit. Yikes. Awesome."

95+ Points

Erin Larkin - Robert Parker

"Certified organic and biodynamic. A high-tension, fragrant Springvale release. Bright, floral perfume of lime blossom, ozone, blackcurrant and green apple. A strong spectrum of citrus flavours are the currency here: lemon, lime and a squirt of pulpy grapefruit zing with a faintly yeasty, almond-like character to finish. Quiet complexity and vitality are writ large here. Excellent."

95 Points

Mike Bennie - Halliday Wine Companion

2022 Grosset ‘Polish Hill’ Riesling - Clare Valley SA

"Grosset Polish Hill is always a supremely elegant, powerful wine with a proven track record of graceful ageing in the cellar, and a release such as this is the foundation upon which that reputation is built. This is concentrated, structured and long, with jasmine tea, saffron, lemon pith, aniseed, fennel flower, green apple skins and white pepper - all of which colour in the background for the lime flesh and Clare volume of flavour. Brilliant. Drink it now or cellar it as you normally would - it is sensational."

97 Points

Erin Larkin - Halliday Wine Companion

"Tasted twice, once within a little vertical, and, well, just now in the comfort of my own home.

Saline, lime margarita, aniseed, lemongrass and floral notes. So intense, but pure, and quietly juicy with it, all the squeezed lime and freshness, with a very long chalky finish. An outstanding release. Such energy and vivacity. Zing!"

96 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2021 Pewsey Vale Vineyard Riesling 1961 Block - Eden Valley

"I do love this wine, which is in some ways a reserve bottling of Pewsey Vale from the original 1961 plantings, although the history of the property goes back far further than that. There is a superb purity and aromatic energy to the wine with pear, green apple white flower aromas radiating out and wild ferments adding a slight savoury touch. Compact and focussed, there are layers of minerality with subtle jasmine tea, lavender and citrus pith flavours plus a gentle grip that adds heart before a long and more savoury finish. These is excellent length but it also feels far from its peak so try to put a couple away for optimal drinking."

94 Points

Angus Hughson - Wine Pilot

2018 Koomilya Cabernet Touriga - McLaren Vale, SA

“These wines have strength, intensity, and glorious grape tannins, which wind the palate together, almost like a double helix. The complex structure pulls you straight through. They
illustrate what I'm hoping modern McLaren Vale wine will be, which harks back to a tradition of what it looked like in the 1960s, without all the artice of winemaking. Above all these wines look and taste, Koomilya” - Stephen Pannell

“This is exceptional, although not for the faint of heart. A mid-weighted and immensely savoury wine that is compact, portentous and so tightly bound to a ferrous orb of tannins that it makes one revel in the anticipation of the next sip. Italian of feel. Steely of resolve. Earthenware, herb, violet, biltong and a dusty swathe of dried plum and tobacco. The tannins are reminiscent of certain Wendouree cuvées or better, great Taurasi. They are a forcefield of enticement, confidence and saliva-sucking moreishness. I want to drink this whole bottle solo, so good is it. A stellar wine hailing from a spellbinding site.”

97 Points

Ned Goodwin - Wine Companion

2018 Sato Pinot Noir - Northburn Central Otago NZ

"Minimal intervention approach, organic farming, wild yeast, not fined or filtered, from Yoshi and Kyoko Sato. These wines seem to be quite elusive. Also, there’s a lot of detailed information on the back label, which I find useful.

Sweet cherry and pomegranate juice overtones, very very gentle nose, with fresh rose petals. One of those wines that caresses the senses at the start and you know you’re in for something special. It continues with a rosehip tea and subtle blood orange lift. Oh, and it’s so fine on the palate, silky. You can feel a hint of oak (16 months in all old French barrels) as allspice/bay leaf, perhaps something more like a herb garden mix of aromas. Fruit is there, for sure, carrying flavours for a long finish and it’s all so graceful. A smooth and very very elegant lightweight touch with nuance and charm. Delightful."

94 Points

Kasia Sobiesiak - The Wine Front

2013 Ox Hardy 1891 Ancestor Vines Shiraz - McLaren Vale, SA

"This 2013 Upper Tintara Vineyard 1891 Ancestor Vines Shiraz is now (in 2022) nine years old and decries that in its color and aroma. The wine presents far younger. Aromatically, it is spicy and resinous, with charred star anise, raspberry, salted licorice, tobacco leaf, graphite, peppercorns and more. In the mouth, the wine continues as if there was never a break and flows across the palate. The tannins are incredibly silky—silken, in fact—and shape the wine through the finish. This has it all. If Benjamin Button drank wine, this would be a good match. There's still 20 years left in this with ease. Super impressive."

96 Points

Erin Larkin - Robert Parker

2021 Holyman Chardonnay - Gravelly Beach TAS

"I didn’t get to spend as much time with this wine as I would usually do, as Joe Holyman popped into the tasting rooms and poured a glass. However, because I’m so familiar with the style of wine early on, I reckon I’ve got the measure of it. Maybe.

Struck match, almond, white peach, cinnamon spice. Very tight, grapefruit and spicy oak, plenty of acidity, powdery chalky texture, lots of zip and tang, fleshy white fruit and green apple on a long zesty finish. Very good. A bit of oak showing, and very tight now, but with latent power. The line and length thing here is outstanding. Needs a little time to settle, but a very strong release."

96 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2021 Terre à Terre Crayères Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

"Hand-picked fruit from the Crayeres vineyard, whole-bunch pressed, cold settled in stainless steel for 3 weeks, fermented in large-format French oak. Matured on full lees with no bâtonnage. Settled for a month in tank prior to bottling. This is a marvel. It has all of the sophistication and line of the Down to Earth Sauvignon Blanc, but it works within a startlingly streamlined framework of phenolics. This is slippery and supple in texture, with rivulets of flavour that ripple and course through the mouth, long after the wine has left. We are lucky to have the quality of sauvignon blanc that we do here in Australia and this is one of the very best. An amazing display of class."

97 Points

Erin Larkin - Halliday Wine Companion

2021 Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay - Adelaide Hills

"This 2021 Chardonnay Tiers Vineyard is a sensational wine. Let me tell you about the vineyard, and then we'll come back to the glass. The Tiers vineyard was planted in the Picadilly Valley in the Adelaide Hills by the Croser family in 1979. The vineyard lays at an elevation of around 450 meters (1,477 feet) above sea level at its highest point, and the wine was made by Brian Croser, an important name in Australian wine. The 2021 vintage was a goodie in South Australia. The start to the season (spring and around) was the recipient of a good level of rainfall and no ill-timed events, meaning fruit set and yields were decent, and the growing season itself was without heat events or challenges, meaning the picking windows were chosen based on the fruit, with no forced hands. So, to the wine. This is powerful, concentrated and shapely, with a core of pure citrus acidity (it's zesty and pithy). The fruit speaks of yellow peach and preserved lemon and a hint of white tea. The wine undulates across the tongue and shows line and poise that elevate it to the very top of the Chardonnay tree in Australia. One of the greats. I daresay it'll be even better in 2025."

97+ Points

Erin Larkin - Robert Parker

2022 Ravensworth Wines Regional Riesling - Canberra District

"This one comes from four vineyards with a portion (large) being from the organic grown estate vines. Au naturale made. Bargain too.

"Stunning riesling, one with an alpine blast of citrusy, briny acidity, green apple freshness and gentle, nutty savouriness. Complex, beautiful, somewhat gentle, let’s say cleverly subtle, but with so much succulence and immediate charm. It feels world class from first sip, side-stepping rank and file versions that typify expectations of riesling in Australia, deeply character-filled and ultimately, delicious. Think Keller, Clemensbusch and Lauer. Or the best examples of La Violetta, Crawford River and Frankland Estate, perhaps. Anyway, it is individual, textural, glorious in its mix of fruit, savoury, spice, vitality, minerality."

96 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2020 JC's Own Rock:it - Barossa Valley

"Herbie Hancock’s track ‘Rock It’ is just awesome. Blast it loud. And one of the more sampled tracks going around. And a mere three lines of lyrics too! Don’t stop it/Rock it/Don’t stop it. But that synth! Electrifies!

A co-ferment of grenache, shiraz and mataro from three vineyards in different parishes of the Barossa. Oh, and winemaker Jaysen Collins cites some teacher of his past and rocket science as the influence for the name, by the by.

Thick set and sumptuous with concentrated, dark berry and plummy fruit characters, a little tarry/charry savouriness, sweet, cinnamon spice dusted over the lot and a swish of lapsang souchong tea in there too. Bergamot-laced, pumice-texture tannins shape a plump, round and supple flow of fruit, the perfume does a fog of ripe fruit, woody spice and dark choc-liquorice scents. A lot going on in this wine, layers and layers of flavours and texture, incredible complexity and a general sense of seriousness and depth. Evocative stuff, inky and full, done so righteously."

95 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2021 Tapanappa Single Vineyard Riesling - Eden Valley

"Typically fragrant Eden Valley riesling aromas – they really are quite distinctive – in apple blossom, musk and white flowers, with lemon and lime zest. A delicate youngster, filigree-fine acidity offsets a citrus-dominated, lively palate. Effortless in its beauty."

95 Points

Jeni Port - Wine Companion

2021 Brash Higgins CHN - chenin blanc

Colour and cloudiness, straw and nuts. This wine is wild with flavour. Citrus, saline, honey and handfuls of nuts. Lots of zip but lots of give/texture/flavour. Food-friendly and sit-and-ponder friendly. Dry and grippy on the finish, an attractive squeakiness there, and no shortage of length. It’s a ripper, really. It’s varietal but we are also in the presence of difference."

94 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2021 Brash Higgins FRNC - cabernet franc

The fruit here is beautiful, fresh and welcoming – all jubey and sweet – and it’s tempered quite exquisitely by herb and woodsmoke notes. This is one of those Modern Face of Australian Wine wines, in the best of ways, in that it balances flavour with freshness, neatness with a bit of run and flair. In short, it’s delicious.

93 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2020 Brash Higgins CBSV - cabernet sauvignon

I like what I taste here. Joyous fruit, both fresh and forthright, accompanied by a push of chewy tannin. Liquorice and boysenberry, cassis and earth flavours are the wine’s mainstay, though there’s subtle mint and sawdust notes here too. Freshness is the key though. Purity. Finesse, even. The word craft sprang to mind, always a good sign. I’d drink this young.

93 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2020 Penfolds Bin 144 Yattarna Chardonnay - Tasmania / Adelaide Hills

"Pale colour. Sublime grapefruit, white peach, pear, grilled nut aromas with fresh quartz/flinty notes. Beautifully balanced wine with pure grapefruit, white peach flavours, fine al dente textures, hint yeasty/ waxy notes, superb mid-palate volume and underlying grilled nut, marzipan notes. Finishes chalky and minerally with ample grapefruit notes. All the elements are in perfect balance. A wonderful Yattarna with superb fruit definition, complexity, richness and mineral length. Should last at least 20 years. 100% of the blend is aged for eight months in new (86%) and seasoned one-year-old (14%) oak. Drink now to 2042. 12.5% alc"

99 Points

Andrew Caillard - The Vintage Journal

"Majority Tasmanian fruit from the White Hills Vineyard outside Launceston, the proportions flipped in comparison to the latest Bin 311 variation. Immediately complex and layered, with house styled flintiness in play within a matrix of immensely attractive and seductive aromas that highlight the magic that happens when such energy-driven fruit meets the finest of oak regimes (French barriques, 86% new for eight months). Yeast buns and toasted almonds pop in and out for a nasal visit, before you enter pure chardonnay heaven as you taste: white stone fruits and yellow grapefruits in an engaging conversation with creamy elements counterpointing lifts of tangy acidity, finishing with impressive length. Everything here is of the finest design. World class."

98 Points

Tony Love - Wine Pilot

"The oak is strongly expressed in this blend of Tasmania and Adelaide Hills chardonnay. Aromas of toasted hazelnut, as well as peach, lemon, grapefruit and wet stones abound. There’s nougat and spiced bread here, too. The palate holds an intense core of ripe-peach, grilled-lemon and nectarine fruit flavor delivered in a mouthwateringly intense mode, with flavors of grapefruit, grilled lemon, toasted nuts and a bracingly fresh, unwavering drive of acidity. Drink now.

96 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

2018 Koomilya Cabernet Touriga - McLaren Vale

“This is exceptional, although not for the faint of heart. A mid-weighted and immensely savoury wine that is compact, portentous and so tightly bound to a ferrous orb of tannins that it makes one revel in the anticipation of the next sip. Italian of feel. Steely of resolve. Earthenware, herb, violet, biltong and a dusty swathe of dried plum and tobacco. The tannins are reminiscent of certain Wendouree cuvées or better, great Taurasi. They are a forcefield of enticement, confidence and saliva-sucking moreishness. I want to drink this whole bottle solo, so good is it. A stellar wine hailing from a spellbinding site.”

97 Points

Ned Goodwin - Wine Companion

2017 G.D. Vajra Barolo 'Albe' - Piedmont Italy

A lovely fruit forward and charming Barolo here. Raspberry, cherry, menthol and sweet spices. Medium-bodied, spicy red fruits, perfume and juicy flavours. Tea leaf fragrance, a bit of liquorice and bergamot, gentle brick dust tannin, affable and succulent, with a long and cool mentholated finish. Drinking well now, but a few years will see it rise and shine. Excellent.
93+ points 

Gary Walsh -The Wine Front

2021 L.A.S. Vino Wildberry Springs Chardonnay - Margaret River

2021 L.A.S. Vino "Wildberry Springs" Chardonnay

Robert Parker Wine Advocate - 95+ Points

Fruit for the 2021 Wildberry Springs Chardonnay is from Wilyabrup, in Margaret River. The wine is composed of 90% Gingin clone and 10% Davis clones 3 + 5. The wine was matured in a combination of amphora and oak (90% of the blend went into amphora, four different types, the remaining 10% into French oak). Bâtonnage was carried out on two of the four amphorae, and part of the total blend went through malolactic fermentation. The wine is mineral and pure, but with a wall of savory tannin that rises up through the ranks. This has plenty of spice in the mix—white pepper, fresh ground nutmeg, something earthy (perhaps white truffles or fresh field mushrooms) and layers of stone fruit. Beautiful. An engaging wine of precision and line. It will only get better as it emerges from its shell. - Erin Larkin

2021 L.A.S. Vino 'Barrels of Metricup' Chardonnay - Margaret River

2021 L.A.S. Vino "Barrels of Metricup" Chardonnay

Robert Parker Wine Advocate - 95 Points

The 2021 Barrels of Metricup Chardonnay is fermented wild in barrel (high solids ferment), it undergoes full malolactic fermentation and is matured for ten months in 20% new oak, (one Austrian barrel and one French) with fortnightly bâtonnage. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered, explaining the cloud in the glass. It has notes of preserved lemon, green apple skin, salted peach and layers of brine. This has nori sheets and cracked toffee and even a far-off whiff of coffee grounds. Very pretty, and the tannins hang around for a while after the wine is gone, contributing an extra layer of chew and grip to the texture. Very nice, it is savory, spicy and textural—all cool things for a Chardonnay to possess. I have supreme confidence in Peterkin's ability to craft high-quality Chardonnay; the wines are always possessed of high drinkability, too. - Erin Larkin

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon - Margaret River - 2019

2019 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon

Robert Parker Wine Advocate - 97 Points

Concentrated, silky and lingering, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is elegant and fine with salted licorice, ripe raspberry, dark chocolate and exotic spice. It's a beautiful wine that continues the legacy of Moss Wood Cabernets, albeit with a slightly softer, more lilting voice. Age-worthy in the supreme. - Erin Larkin

2021 Fatal Shore by Giant Steps Pinot Noir - Coal River Valley

"From the Nocton vineyard in Coal River Valley. Hand picked by 10.30am, into a refrigerated container. The MV6 clone (60%) is whole bunches and the D5V12 clone is fully destemmed. All barriques, 20% new. A gorgeous, bright, crimson. Perfumed and seductive, this leaps out of the glass with an array of aromas including red and black fruits, peony, Asian spices, orange peel and a hint of fresh vanilla bean. More sweet fruited and textured on the mid palate compared to the more fine-boned and linear Yarra single-vineyard pinots. Concentrated but not heavy, with ripe, gently chewy and persistent tannins rounding out an impressive and still quite tightly wound wine, that will need another year or 2 to relax and really hit its straps."

96 Points

Philip Rich - Halliday Wine Companion

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2020 Stefano Lubiana Estate Pinot Noir - Derwent Valley

"There is something compelling about the coiled reticence of a cool season on the Derwent. Intricately structured with fine-boned tannins and nicely toned acid drive, this is a vintage for the cellar. There is much more integrity, persistence and definition wrapped in its folds than first glances suggest. Its elegant rose petal and red cherry fruit will emerge in time. Patience will be rewarded."

95 Points

Tyson Stelzer - Halliday Wine Companion

"Strength to strength for Stefano Lubiana wines.

Red cherry, smoky spice, peppery notes, clove and bitter orange characters. Flavours and scents in synch. Tight and lean as an expression, tart, dry, savoury, with strong minerally characters and laid back fruitiness. Sheesh, this one is restrained. Needs time, significantly."

93+ Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2020 Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir - Gippsland

"Destemmed fruit off the South Leongatha vineyard and some from Leongatha, wild fermented, left 14 days on skins then pressed off to French oak (63% new). A best-barrel selection. It's a sterling wine. Incredibly savoury with charcuterie, dried herbs and wafts of earth and autumn leaves with the oak both etched into and bolstering the palate. Fuller bodied but not weighty. This feels quite effortless, as the plush tannins and refreshing acidity work towards a lingering, very long finish. Quite a beauty."

97 Points

Jane Faulkner - Halliday Wine Companion

2019 Torbreck RunRig Shiraz Viognier - Barossa Valley

"With 1.5% viognier. Sourced from 6 vineyards across the Barossa Valley. Aged for 30 months in French oak (50% new). Impenetrable purple red in the glass, with layers of dense dark plum and blackberry fruit of considerable purity and heft. Notes of blackforest cake, Old Jamaica chocolate, cedar, turned earth, crème de cassis and kirsch. Big, bold and balanced with a velvety flow, firm fine tannin and long dark finish of warmth and classic Barossan fruit weight."

96 Points

Dave Brookes - Halliday Wine Companion

2020 Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon - Margaret River

"With 8/3% malbec/petit verdot. Matured for 14 months in French oak (40% new). Perfumed, pure and very pretty. The three 'p's' for success. In the mouth the wine is all that the nose promised, the very fine tannins curve and shape the fruit. Very smart. Tasted alongside wines 3+ times the price of this and it still held its own. The finish is creamy and svelte."

95 Points

Erin Larkin - Halliday Wine Companion

2020 Bleasdale Generations Malbec - Langhorne Creek

"Winemaker Paul Hotker has this wine on a string, dancing to his every command. This has the gravitas of a great red wine that just happens to be made from malbec; its mouth-watering intensity of forest blackberries, cloves and black olive drawn out on the finish by ripe tannins."

96 Points

James Halliday - Halliday Wine Companion

Trophy for Best Other Varietal Red - 2021 Royal Adelaide Wine Show

Top Gold - 2021 Royal Adelaide Wine Show

Gold Medal - 2021 Royal Perth Wine Show 

2021 Giant Steps Pinot Noir ‘Applejack Vineyard’ - Yarra Valley

"Named after the Applejack eucalypts that surround the vineyard, which was planted at Gladysdale in 1997. Seven clones including 114, 115, MV6, D2V5, D5V15, Pommard and Abel! I've long considered the Applejack vineyard to be one of the greatest sites for pinot in Australia and I'm not sure I've seen a better version than the 2021. A deep, bright, crimson purple. Maraschino cherry into plum, there's an exotic and riotous amalgam of Asian five-spice and a gentle savoury, umami character. What elevates this vintage is the concentration, along with Applejack's trademark perfume and spice. Just so vibrant and fresh on the palate, the tannins are both silky and plentiful. You will have no problems opening and enjoying this now, but the wine's track record suggests you'll thank me if you still have some to drink 7–10 years from now, if not longer."

98 Points

Philip Rich - Wine Companion

"Brashly spicy and complex, this has aromas of espresso, blueberries, toasted spices and grilled bread, as well as forest wood and violets. The palate delivers alluring depth and a round, fleshy build. Acidity explodes on the finish, releasing fresh red-cherry and blueberry fruit flavors. Wonderfully layered and complete. Drink over the next eight years. Screw cap."

96 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

2021 Gentle Folk Little Creek Pinot Noir - Adelaide Hills

"This one from Little Creek.

Earthy and savoury, a bit dusty and quite autumnal, truffle and dark cherry with a bit of rugged tannin chiming in. It feels a bit grubby, albeit that sounds bad, but it isn’t, it’s just got this kind of washy, wild, brambly and undergrowth thing going on and the finish is tasting earth. Gritty in a way, muddy in a way. Savoury, let’s say. Has some mojo but of an ilk."

92 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2021 Gentle Folk Scary Gully Chardonnay - Adelaide Hills

"Out of a lot of the colour and joy in the Basket Range, Adelaide Hills, perhaps one of the most concerted and considered projects is Gentle Folk. Farming hard, and organic, careful winemaking, a lot of hand wringing and a yen for staying mostly out of the spotlight, Gareth Belton and family are making increasingly very serious wines. The new releases of single vineyard chardonnay and pin0ts are case in point. Here’s the ‘home vineyard’ expression of chardy.

It’s a ripper. I tasted with a good friend and I said ‘shades of Sorrenberg’ after initially saying ‘geez, this is flavour town stuff’, and yes, it’s rich in a way but sits fresh and sleek in the palate. There’s gentle stone fruit, casual cashew nut savouriness, preserved lemon, a faint general minerality going on. But it’s soft, mallow-mellow and cruises along at a gentle pace. Flesh, pulp, generosity but liveliness. It’s moreish and quietly complex. This is chardonnay for all the lovers of great ilks of the variety. Must do."

94 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2021 Giant Steps Pinot Noir ‘Sexton Vineyard’ - Yarra Valley

"Complex from the very first moment. Aromas of blueberries, red and dark cherries, sappy and herbal notes, as well as hard brown spices, blackcurrants and violets. The palate has such succulent and energetic style, with red and dark cherries and blueberries sitting in a very complete and layered, fine brand of tannin. The depth and plushness are both impressive. Drink over the next eight years. Screw cap."

96 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

"Vineyard is at the wonderfully-named Gruyere, planted in 1997. North-facing, exposed site.

Cherry pie, sweet and delicious, with earthier/meatier aspects. It’s like drinking sweet roasted lamb, studded with berries and herbs. Blue fruit aspects here, woodsy herbs, sweet acidity through the finish. It’s not simple but it feels like a simple pleasure, if that makes sense; it just has that drink-me-now exuberance. That said the tannin here is beautifully crafted. I’d drink this before the others in the Single Vineyard range though it may well hold for as long as any of them. Up-front pinot deliciousness, with substance, is the message here."

93 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2021 Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir
Robert Parker Wine Advocate – 93+pts

"Sexton Vineyard is planted on shallow gray dirt over mudstone. The elevation is 220 meters and shows the magic of a warmer part of the Yarra in a relatively cool year. Plum skin, chinotto, fig, blueberries and exotic spices form the backdrop to the bright strawberry/cherry fruit. The 2021 Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir is structurally quite different from the other vineyards, in that the tannins are more grainy and gravelly and provide more framework from which the fruit can hang. It is perhaps more obvious in its display of fruit and tannin, but with that comes a sonorous baritone of tannin and flavor. Impressive."

"So, to the wines. This was a very impressive release. The cooler year played slightly more into the hands of the Chardonnays than the Pinot Noirs, in my opinion, however the purity, delicacy and finesse of these wines as a group was never in doubt. The whites have achieved kaleidoscopic complexity and spice, all of it underpinned by gloriously tight acidity and very fine phenolic texture. The reds are spicy, fine-boned and driven by structure and form rather than overflowing fruit, yet the fruit is abundant (and restrained) in each of the cuvées. My favorite wines were the Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay, for its mouthwatering intensity and caper-brine quality, and a very tough split between the Applejack and Primavera Vineyard Pinot Noirs. This is a brilliant collection overall, which most importantly shows the distinct vineyard DNA of each site in harmony with the Giant Steps house style." - Erin Larkin

2021 Giant Steps Chardonnay ‘Sexton Vineyard’ - Yarra Valley

"This seemed ultra-reserved in the context of the Tarraford, which I’d tasted immediately prior.

Citrus here and red apple, with pear, the citrus both pure juice and preserved. Oak spice, and custard powder characters, are so well threaded, ginger nut/biscuit aspects rising through the finish. World apart from the Tarraford; perfect pigeon pair. The longer it sat in the glass the more those complex, juicy, apple-like characters blossomed, marzipan with them, nectarines squeezed with salted lemons. This is a wine of tight, complex power, the fruit pure and commanding, the finish taut but persistent."

95 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

"Made mainly from WA's Gingin clone and planted in Gruyere on the same grey clay as Applejack. Whole bunches pressed into French puncheons with 20% new oak. Smells tightly wound and concentrated with aromas of ripe peach and nectarine, together with just a hint of lanolin and apple custard. Equally powerful and punchy on the palate. This has more of everything, including sprightly acid and some phenolic grip on the very long, stone-fruit pithy finish. Today, this is my pick of the 4 single-vineyard 2021 chardonnays, but who knows what will come out on top in 5 or even 10 years from now!"

97 Points

Philip Rich - Wine Companion

2021 Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay

Robert Parker Wine Advocate – 96pts
"This is made with fruit from the Sexton Vineyard, at 200 meters in altitude (80 meters higher than Tarraford). Within the vineyard, the clones are dominated by Gingin (brought over to Victoria by Phil Sexton), followed by Dijon clones, planted in the 1990s. The 2021 Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay is composed of 60% Gingin. Twenty percent of the parcels went through malolactic fermentation—clone 277 and some of the 96. This is salty as anything—a very good thing in my book—and the sheer intensity of flavor in the mouth is mouthwatering. Preserved lemon and grapefruit pith lace the edges of the mid-palate. Very smart—it has the Yarra precision of acid and streamlined phenolics, but it brings concentration of flavor and thrilling phenolics. Super smart wine."

"So, to the wines. This was a very impressive release. The cooler year played slightly more into the hands of the Chardonnays than the Pinot Noirs, in my opinion, however the purity, delicacy and finesse of these wines as a group was never in doubt. The whites have achieved kaleidoscopic complexity and spice, all of it underpinned by gloriously tight acidity and very fine phenolic texture. The reds are spicy, fine-boned and driven by structure and form rather than overflowing fruit, yet the fruit is abundant (and restrained) in each of the cuvées. My favorite wines were the Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay, for its mouthwatering intensity and caper-brine quality, and a very tough split between the Applejack and Primavera Vineyard Pinot Noirs. This is a brilliant collection overall, which most importantly shows the distinct vineyard DNA of each site in harmony with the Giant Steps house style." - Erin Larkin

2021 Giant Steps Pinot Noir ‘Primavera Vineyard' - Yarra Valley

"From the Primavera vineyard at Woori Yallock, planted in 2001 on the same red soil as Wombat Creek. Both destemmed (55%) and whole-bunch components. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. A very bright crimson purple. So pure and perfumed with briary cherries, ripe redcurrants and freshly cut roses. Poised, juicy and energetic, the wine has so much tang and crunch, you barely notice that this is also structured finishing with long, gently puckering tannins. A wine with immediate appeal, but also one that will reward at least another 7-10 years in the cellar."

97 Points

Philip Rich - Wine Companion

2021 Giant Steps Primavera Vineyard Pinot Noir
Robert Parker Wine Advocate – 95+pts

"Down the hill by approximately 100 meters from the Wombat Creek Vineyard and planted on the same deep red basalt, the 2021 Primavera Vineyard Pinot Noir was made with 50% to 60% whole bunch and constructed from clones MV6 and 115. It is the leanest note of all of the wines in this collection, but my favorite wine: crunchy, strawberry, red apples, cranberry, redcurrant, red cherry...and abundance of red. The fruit is open and seductive, but it has a gentle herbal edge, like rose petals (specifically David Austin's Boscobel rose), musk sticks and Turkish delight. This is satisfying. Fleshy. Plump. Beautiful."

"So, to the wines. This was a very impressive release. The cooler year played slightly more into the hands of the Chardonnays than the Pinot Noirs, in my opinion, however the purity, delicacy and finesse of these wines as a group was never in doubt. The whites have achieved kaleidoscopic complexity and spice, all of it underpinned by gloriously tight acidity and very fine phenolic texture. The reds are spicy, fine-boned and driven by structure and form rather than overflowing fruit, yet the fruit is abundant (and restrained) in each of the cuvées. My favorite wines were the Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay, for its mouthwatering intensity and caper-brine quality, and a very tough split between the Applejack and Primavera Vineyard Pinot Noirs. This is a brilliant collection overall, which most importantly shows the distinct vineyard DNA of each site in harmony with the Giant Steps house style." - Erin Larkin

"There’s a very approachable feel to this pinot, with aromas of blueberries, blackcurrants and sweet hard spices, such as star anise. The palate has a polished feel, with a plush texture and a plump blueberry and black-cherry core. Drink over the next six years. Screw cap."

94 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

2019 McHenry Hohnen 'Burnside Vineyard' Chardonnay - Margaret River

"From the Burnside vineyard (planted 1981). All single-vineyard chardonnays here are made in the same way: Hand picked, whole-bunch pressed, full solids, wild ferment, matured 4 months in barrel (25% new), partial mlf and fortnightly bâtonnage. Mineral, crunchy acidity frames lush stone-fruit characters, both aromatically and in the mouth. This is svelte, classy and spicy, with a granitic backbone of acid structure. If you like this wine today, you'll be staggered (no hyperbole here) by it in several years time. Buy them all by the boot load – they only get better."

96 Points

Erin Larkin - Wine Companion

2020 Denton Shed Nebbiolo - Yarra Valley

"Destemmed, wild-yeast fermented and kept on skins for 15 days. Matured in 500L older French puncheons for 18 months and bottled unfined and unfiltered. An impressive, deep, ruby crimson. Highly aromatic with aromas of dark, morello cherries, chinotto, licorice root and botanicals such as juniper and bergamot. Super-fresh on the palate, this is both plush and sweetly fruited, yet has plenty of drive and those signature, structured nebbiolo tannins. A beautifully put together and well-priced wine by a winery and winemaker who have really hit their stride with this difficult-to-nail variety."

95 Points

Philip Rich - Wine Companion

2021 Adelina McLaren Vale Shiraz - McLaren Vale

"Yangarra Block 8, Kangarilla. Long maceration, a bit of whole bunch, 700 litre barrels, mainly old oak, with 25% new. Col McBryde one of the best winemakers in Australia, I reckon.

Spicy, exotic, blueberry and boysenberry pie, nutty and floral. It’s medium to full-bodied, a great set of deep gravelly tannin and a distinct ‘liquid mineral’ feel to it, if that makes any sense, with cool acidity, and a ferrous and gently saline finish of excellent length, again those tannins really impressive, finishing off the wine beautifully. And what value!"

95 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2021 Clonakilla O'Riada Shiraz - Murrumbateman NSW

O’Riada was always the one ‘we’ missed at the Canberra Regional Wine Show, in my tenure there. Savoury, firm tannin, charming rusticity, a distinct style. This one hits the mark too. So savoury, but fresh too, and all that hazelnut and clove seems very fruit derived, with layers of spice, game meat and faint herbal inflection. Texture is bright, crisp almost but for the slinky, roughed up but silky tannins. Succulence to finish, a kiss of ripe fruit and the spice trails long away. Such a beautiful wine. Wow stuff."

95 Points - Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2021 Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Vineyard Riesling - Frankland River

"Sandalwood, preserved citrus, black tea leaves and jasmine seamlessly merge into the more expected Frankland River riesling characters of lemon zest, green apple skins and chalk. In the mouth, the acidity is like a coiled spring, cushioned by voluminous fruit padding on all sides. This is svelte and streamlined, but it has presence and viscosity, too. There is subtle structural integrity and a spool of lingering flavour through the finish ... what a superb wine. This is generous, but it's tense and taut too... disguised austerity. Slatey."

97 Points

Erin Larkin - Wine Companion

"Flavour in the acidity. That’s what it’s all about here. The lines are very straight and ultra direct but they are more than that; they are conduits. Lime, talc, mandarin and florals with something almost jibe in the centre of the palate there. A trail of gun smoke enters the aftertaste. This is excellent."

94 points

Campbell Mattinson - The Winefront

2020 SC Pannell 'Smart Vineyard' Grenache - McLaren Vale

From a low-yielding vintage, this wine has such a precise and fragrant style with fresh and lively red currant, cranberry, strawberry and raspberry fruit aromas. Berry pastry and Monte Carlo biscuit here too. Vibrant and succulent palate with elegant tension to the fine, long tannins and arrow-like acidity. Raspberry finish. Uplifting and delicious. Drink or hold. Screw cap.

97 points

Nick Stock - jamessuckling.com

Perfume and pretty expression with white pepper, sappy green herbs, red cherry/currants, light-fresh feeling frame and a feathery presence of sandy tannin giving shape. Bright and vibrant expression, pure and glides along beautifully. Lovely, finer expression.

95 points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2020 SC Pannell 'Old McDonald Vineyard' Grenache - McLaren Vale

"Aromas of ripe raspberry, damson plum compote, candlewax and polished exotic wood, red lipstick, dark chocolate, Turkish delight and violets. The palate is a flavour explosion of cherry, cranberry, spice and rose petals. The tannins are like a skeleton holding the flavour together before sneaking back to the front of the palate and starting all over again. Reminiscent of young Nebbiolo." - Stephen Pannell

"A rich blueberry fruit nose with violet, dark nectarine and some exotic tamarillo and papaya too. Pungent and distinctive. The palate has a fleshy core of plush fruit with commanding tannins that have so much power and energy but are delivered with grace. The flavours are blood orange, pink grapefruit, goji and red currant and are concentrated to the very end. Refreshing and packed with interest. Drink over the next decade. Screw cap."

98 points

Nick Stock - jamessuckling.com

"A more successful vintage across the elevated sands of Blewitt Springs than Clarendon. Delicious wine. Kirsch, thyme, dried rosemary, lavender, mint and florals, tiptoeing along a balance beam of fibrous tannins and saline freshness. Nothing drying. A squeaky pucker to the finish. Aussie sweet fruit, to be sure. But tamed. Long, flowing, and sandy of aura. Bravo!"

95 points

Ned Goodwin MW - Halliday Wine Companion

2021 Dr. Edge 'Tasmania' Chardonnay

"Tamar Valley & Derwent Valley grapes. Older oak. No North, South, or East in 2021. So I guess this is North & South. This is kind of how Chablis should be, given a whole lot of it these days is too ripe and gluggy.
Saline, white peach, honeyed almond and green apple, a little umami something, maybe some preserved lemon. Tight, brisk, but has flavour, a lot of flint through a glossy texture, wheatgerm and brine, sour apple tang, intense and long. Lip-smacking and energetic, yet already complex. Wonderful wine."

96 points

Gary Walsh – The Wine Front

2021 Dr. Edge 'Tasmania' Pinot Noir

"Derwent Valley (60%) Tamar Valley (30%) & East Coast (10%). Has a bit of whole bunch, and some carbonic maceration. I’m not quite sure on carbonic in Pinot, though it does make the wines kind of pretty, kind of like dogs and their owners here, maybe.
Floral and spicy, quite pretty, also a bit meaty, with bright red fruit and almond. Light to medium-bodied, frisky and fresh, clear and precise, raspberry, cranberry flavour and crunch to acidity, fine but firm graphite tannin, and a tight and vibrant finish of excellent length. If you’re into a more delicate/delicious style of Pinot Noir, then this should suit you very nicely. I like it."

95 points

Gary Walsh – The Wine Front

2021 Aphelion Wine Co. Single Vineyard ‘Brini’ Grenache - McLaren Vale

"From a parcel planted in the 1940’s, fermented as whole clusters and aged in a single, larger-format cask. This is a shade darker in the glass than the Trenerry and has rounder and richer qualities. The nose is exuberant with pomegranate, blood orange, red berry and spice, as well as some sappy elements. There’s a subtly exotic edge to the fruit here and a deeper, richer style of perfume. The palate has such a suave, smooth and velvety mouth-feel with darker berries delivered in a smoothly rendered brand of tannin. Quite seductively plush. Drink or hold."

97 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

"Blewitt Springs.

Plenty of exotic spice and pepper, blueberry and fresh blackberry, orange zest, liquorice root. Very stony feel, firm and spicy, all pumice stone and tense feel, raspberry and dried flowers, with a sweet citrus aftertaste lending something of an amaro edge. There’s a little warmth here, but the structure envelopes it neatly. Top shelf. Intriguing."

95+ Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2021 Aphelion Wine Co. Single Vineyard ‘Wait’ Grenache - McLaren Vale

"From a parcel of dry-grown bush vines planted in the 1940s, fermented as whole clusters and aged in a single, larger-format cask. Very fragrant aromatics with sweet spices and almost flinty, dry-stony elements to the nose, together with wild raspberries, ripe red plums and sappy elements. Dried-rose and orange-zest notes, too. The palate has a very succulent feel with great length and tautness and a firmer, more intensely structured feel. More orange peel and blood orange here with red berries, too. Crunchy, almost peppery edge at the finish. Serious and delicious grenache here. Good now, but even better in a year or two."

97 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

"Blewitt Springs. Anyone who has young kids might have noticed that they say ‘No, wait’, quite a lot. It’s a curious thing, that and the increasing use of American words and pronunciation. My children say ‘Z’ as zee, not zed. Apparently Zed is Dead. It’s all so awful.

Raspberry, rosy perfume, a little spice and dried herb. It has a cranberry crunch to acidity, savoury and a little earthy, firm emery tannin, plenty of depth, and a long gravelly finish. Lovely, but very serious! Excellent."

95 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2021 Aphelion Wine Co. Single Vineyard 'Trenerry’ Grenache - McLaren Vale

"From the Onkaparinga Hills, a parcel of dry-grown bush vines, fermented as whole clusters and aged in a single, larger-format cask. This parcel was planted in the early 1970s and it has a sappy feel (whole clusters) and bright, very pure raspberries and some leafy elements on offer, as well as blueberries. The palate has quite smooth and ripe tannins, holds a fresh edge (low pH) and delivers a similar combination of red and blue fruits as seen on the nose. A little, chewy stone pop at the finish. Nuanced and elegant. Good now, but even better in a year or two."

95 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

"Onkaparinga. A wonderful word.

Plum and cherry, ripe and spicy, an earthy coal-like character. It’s firm and almost liqueur-like in intensity, with firm dusty tannin, and a dry plum and dried flower finish. Very good, but not quite as good as the other two single vineyard wines. Kind of sticky in its firmness."

94 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2021 Jim Barry Wines 'The Florita' Riesling

"Tasted alongside the Florita Cellar Release (2015) and the Wolta Wolta (2019), and never was there a more achingly beautiful trio of wines. This ranks slightly higher than the Cellar Release due to its startling clarity, and scintillating, persuasive power. It will live forever and a day, and I bet at Cellar Release time in 2027, when we see this wine again, you will be thanking your lucky stars you stocked up now, in 2022. Astounding."

97 Points

Erin Larkin - Halliday Wine Companion

2020 The Standish Wine Company - 'The Schubert Theorem'

"Roennfeldt Road, Marananga. Famous. I’ve been chatting with my mate, Erin Larkin, about these wines. Fair to say, she’s a big fan.

Oooh. A lovely choc-hazelnut bar kind of thing happening here, blueberry and blackberry, spicy too, which is kind of unusual for Roenfeldt, and maybe a character of the vintage. Lots of tannin, kind of gummy and firm, a tea-like flavour and perfume too, Really quite sticky in feel, but ample fruit flavour, lots of mouth-perfume, again the blueberry richness, and iron grip of tannin to close on a long and fresh finish. Here’s a wine of potency and power, that will need many years to roll out. Exotic spice punctuates the finish. Wow. This is intense and firm."

96+ Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2020 The Standish Wine Company - 'The Standish'

"To my way of thinking, there’s not many better producers in the Barossa than Standish. The acidity feels right, and the quality of tannin is something quite different to the mainstream. Not sure how they do it, but surely there’s a little pixie dust in the mix here? This is 100% Greenock Shiraz, from the Laycock vineyard. I live in a street with ‘cock’ included in the name, so I feel an affinity, as such.

A little vanilla and floral perfume, blueberry, boysenberry, a little earth and spice. Blue fruit, spice, shows a little creamy vanilla oak, supple but dense tannin, freshness, and a sweet tea like perfume on a long finish. Maybe some raspberry. Excellent, somewhat more approachable in style, and obvious, than the other wines from Standish in 2020, but charming and lovely all the same. More than a bit yummy."

95 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2021 Aphelion Wine Co. ‘Rapture’ Grenache - McLaren Vale

"The top expression of grenache from Aphelion, this is a combination of Wait and Brini vineyards, both containing bush vines planted in the 1940s. This is a complex wine already, with a nose that’s so enticingly complex and detailed. It has bracken, sappy elements, berry pastry, spiced notes, raspberry, red plum and candied orange peel. The palate has a very plush, complete and seamless feel. This is so commanding, yet so deliciously appealing at once. Impressive poise, with long tannins that drive and frame the red and dark-berry fruit-soaked finish. Matured in a single, neutral demi-muid. Drink or hold."

98 Points

Nick Stock - JamesSuckling.com

"Sourced from 2 lauded sites in Blewittt Springs, one owned by the Brini and the other, by the Wait families (see the single-vineyard explorations). A confluence of whole bunches, destemmed fruit and a long, intuitive ferment before circa 10 months in large French oak (700L). Pithy and firm, yet exotic, free flowing and generous, stained with blood orange, mescal, white pepper, pink grapefruit and fecund strawberry. Very long. Well amidst the pantheon of regional greats."

96 Points

Ned Goodwin - Halliday Wine Companion

Grosset ‘Springvale’ Riesling 2021

"A piercing wine that has such intense and focused lime fruit, as well as sweetly fragrant floral notes. Spellbinding intensity to the nose here. The palate sings with clarity and bright, vivid acidity drives pure lime-juice flavors long and fresh. Full of energy and a real powerhouse. Drink or hold. Screw cap."

97 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

Murdoch Hill Artisan Series Phaeton Pinot Noir 2021

"This is an alluringly fragrant, complex and spicy pinot that offers such intense red cherries, raspberries, strawberries and red plums, framed in light, bunchy tones. Some white pepper and freshly picked herbs, too. Young and vibrant palate that has finely detailed tannins and a succulent, energetic feel in the mouth. Bright, small red fruit lights the finish. Very drinkable already. Screw cap."

97 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

2021 The Wanderer Upper Yarra Valley Chardonnay

"I love the purity of this wine. And it’s only going to get better.

Pear and green apple, lactose and honeysuckle, white peach and cedar, perhaps even some shells. It feels elegant and effortless as it shoots through to a long finish. Pop this in a cool dark place for a couple of years and it’ll do better than money in the bank."

93+ Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2019 The Wanderer Upper Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

"This is a terrifically attractive Pinot Noir. In brand-new-release terms I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen such an inherently complex, and settled, release under this label. It’s expressive of undergrowth and strawberry, ripe red cherry, orange oil, sweet spice and more; not quite Unami but certainly savoury. It’s set with acid-riven tannin, which suggests that it will age beautifully over the medium term or longer, but it’s already on song for drinking."

95 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2021 The Wanderer Yarra Valley "White Label" Pinot Noir

"In the context that this is always made in the light-but-insistent style, this particular release is something of a powerhouse. It’s a powerhouse of structure, spice and intent, rather than in weight or intensity of fruit. It smells friendly enough, all berried and floral, but the palate is wild with herbs, twigs, tannin, acid, cranberry and red cherry flavour. It feels and tastes serious in a dry, tannic, savoury way, and it has nutty, smoky length aplenty. You have to like the style. of course, but if you do this is pretty damn beautiful, with the charm to go with it."

94+ Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2021 Gentle Folk Village Pinot Noir - Adelaide Hills

"Four vineyards contribute to this wine.

Serious pinot noir, structured, architectural, flowing, yes but tannin and acidity are the stars. Dark cherry scents and flavours, a bit of undergrowth and graphite minerality in play. Fragrant and firm, a vin de garde kind of wine that speaks of a maturing, considered winemaker and a desire to produce wines of significance. Oh, and it tastes great. Real great. Give it a decant for an hour or two, if drinking in the next few years."

95 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2021 Patrick Sullivan Baw Baw Shire Chardonnay - Gippsland

"Twenty year old vines of I10v1 clone chardonnay, one that usually produces fuller flavoured chardonnay, but here grown on a south facing site.

Crackles along with freshness and energy, lemon-lime, green apple, oatmeal and light, saline characters. Beautiful texture, supple and yet clean and crisp at the same time. Has this mouth-watering freshness and yet quiet richness, and structure is a word to be thrown into the mix here. Seriously good, and importantly, outrageously delicious."

94 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2021 Gentle Folk Village Shiraz - Adelaide Hills

"It’s funny, for me at least, though not actually funny, you just say that as a convention, but anyway, I was tasting the wine and I thought ‘geez this reminds me of Murdoch Hill shiraz’ and then lo and behold a third of the wine is from there (the other third Ngeringa, the other third something called Turnbull vineyard). It has this texture and sweet-meatiness that reminds me of that Murdoch Hill shiraz vibe. Anyways, perhaps more of interest is the rise and rise of seriousness from Gentle Folk wines – the metier is premium wine, fine wine paradigm, even through the prism of natural wine, heralding a maturity in Australia’s avant garde scene with a small collection of others. Nice.

Peppered game meat, sour cherry, slurpy texture with a fuzzy hum of sandy tannins keeping shape. Lots (and lots!) of perfume, floral, meaty, sweet berried. Delightful. Almost a floral lift in palate and perfume too. Magnificent feel with each sip, enveloping the palate, hugging the tongue, finishing soft but with a tug and fine chew of tannins. Very good."

94 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

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Vasse Felix Tom Cullity Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2018

"This wine is the benchmark of the latent power, grace and inherent balance of the 2018 vintage in Margaret River. Texturally similar to the classically sophisticated 2014 vintage, but with far greater density and weight. Here, the savoury tannins are countersunk into the fruit already: shapely, firm, chewy, malleable – everywhere and nowhere at once. Waves of blood plum, cassis, blackberry, pomegranate, juniper, raspberries, saltbush, bay leaf and salted red licorice crash against the rocks, as kelp, nori, iodine, red gravel and brine ride the smaller sets out the back. Sensational. Astounding. A wine for the ages."

99 Points

Erin Larkin - Wine Companion 

"A great edition of the top Cabernet blend from Vasse Felix, this has a lot of power and depth. The aromas run from red to blue and dark berries with a leafy edge and attractive, fresh florals. The palate has a core of blue-toned fruit flavor that drives so deep, with a helix-like interplay of acidity and tannin. Impressive. Drink over the next decade or more."

98 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

"Highly perfumed, blueberry, boysenberry and raspberry, baking spices, maybe a little pimento and choc-mint slice. It’s medium-bodied, fresh and lively, fragrant and succulent in fruit flavour, with a subtle bay leaf character, tannin is ripe and gravelly, and the finish is very long and firm. It’s powerful, yet graceful too, showing the excellent 2018 vintage to great effect. It’ll be a beautiful thing given time to unfurl."

96 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2020

"Not released as yet, but sneaky sneaky.

Unbelievably good. Young, but the potential is overwhelmingly potent. Floral, nutty, intense small-berried fruit, cedar, anise and sweet herb. Tight, medium-bodied, so concentrated, but light too, ultra-mineral, fresh, all the gravel and tense cabernet feel, but with perfume unlocked: so flagrant and fragrant. The length is superb. I’m taken aback by the beauty and essence-like nature of this wine. My precious. Easily one of the best wines I’ve tasted in the last decade." 

98+ Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

Domenica Wines Beechworth Nebbiolo 2019

"I might be going out on a limb here, but I’d say Domenica make the best Nebbiolo in Australia. It has the firm signature of the grape variety, not straying into ‘bold dry red’ like some.

Beautifully made. Tannin, acidity, flavour all in balance, and no sign of noisome oak sullying this most noble of red grape varieties. It has rose and almond, red cherry and strawberry, a flicker of mint/menthol, a little spice and black tea. Medium-bodied, sure-footed gently rusty tannin, and a long nutty savoury finish. It’s outstanding. Classic style and so good to drink."

95 Points

Gary Walsh - The Winefront

Domenica Wines Beechworth Chardonnay 2021

"A discreet style of Chardonnay here, with everything set to sotto voce. I minor amount of matchstick, ripe grapefruit and white peach, a little nutty, a light application of spicy ginger oak. Subtle chalky texture, a little spice and citrus, but again somewhat nutty and saline, with a zesty finish of good length. All very nice."

94 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front 

2021 Hughes & Hughes Pinot Noir - Tasmania

"Sourced from a range of Tasmanian vineyard sites. 8% whole bunch, natural yeast, held on skins for 16-21 days.

So authentically pinot. This is a beautiful wine to drink. Crushed red roses, undergrowth, sweet-sour cherry, clove and concentrated strawberry flavours have this wine singing. Fine0grained, slightly smoky tannin slips both easily and convincingly through the finish. Everything is harmonious here."

93 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2021 Hughes & Hughes Chardonnay - Tasmania

"It’s a flinty, citrussy, leaner style but it has excellent carry and an all-round elegant feel. It works. White peach and white flowers are the main flavour-drivers, along with citrus, and all the way through to the long aftertaste it feels both convincing and harmonious. There’s nothing to hesitate over here."

93 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

Billy Button Barbera 2019

Wine from the Alpine Valleys. Think olive groves and freshly turned earth, the only way to describe the aromas really. Barbera is all about red fruit and acid but this mouthful of joy has some earthy tones, hints of spicy tannins and a warm herbal note.

Very easy drinking, lighter in style and great with food.

"Matured 8 months in Flexcubes. A little ripper of a wine, full of life. You can feel the energy. Lifted perfume in sour cherry, blackberry, licorice and lavender. Masses of fruit flavour fills the mouth with a good, firm cut of acidity bringing home a clean finish. Impressive and approachable, as always."

95 Points

Jeni Port - Halliday Wine Companion

"Jo Marsh’s (aka Billy Button) wines are always so fresh, so well balanced.

This is juicy with red- and black-cherry fruit flavours though fragrant herbs play key roles as do twiggy, more savoury characters. We get the juice, we get the fruit, we get the herbs and associated spices. It’s beautifully balanced in the best of ways; it’s both generous and exuberant but it’s also controlled. It drinks, as a result, like a charm."

92 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling 2021

"As pure as a spring day and smelling of a citrus orchard in bloom. A heady mix of lime and lemon sprinkled with ginger powder are just teasers, as this is complex and beguiling. The palate is long and defined by acidity as much as the power of the fruit. It has texture, succulence and a slickness rendering it assured and impressive."

96 Points

Jane Faulkner - Halliday Wine Companion

"One of Australia’s finest rieslings; a benchmark riesling for me.

Loads of floral perfume, preserved lemon, pretty talc scents, a bit of warm river pebble, lime juice. Delicate in the palate, more lime juice here, tart and with great energy, crispness, cool herbal notes, some chalky pucker and endless mouth-watering length. Tightly wound but slightly juicy, if you get the drift. Beautiful expression, high toned saline mineral acidity, refreshing now to the max, will last a generation."

96 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

"A seriously good, young dry riesling with a striking mineral edge to the nose of fresh lime juice, wet stones and gentle herbal notes. The palate has real intensity and depth with a vivid citrus and white-peach fruit drive. Snaps dry and the flavors hold pure and long. Drink or hold. Screw cap."

96 Points

Nick Stock - JamesSuckling.com

Garagiste Le Stagiaire Chardonnay 2021

"This has to be the best value chardonnay from the peninsula matched to quality but also, this vintage has delivered the finest to date. It’s superbly balanced with pristine fruit, the right amount of flinty sulphides, savouriness, texture and definition. There’s some tension on the palate, a purity to the acidity and excellent length. What a wine."

96 Points

Jane Faulkner - Halliday Wine Companion

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2020

In warmer vintages (like 2020) the Heytesbury chardonnay has extension and flex on release, they billow with flavour and pleasure, and the oak seems to be enveloped by it early on. So goes the story here: like the 2018 (on release) this is a scintillating show of powerful fruit, mineral/juicy acidity and layers of crushed rocks, petrichore. nori, summer fig and salted yellow peaches. A superstar wine - it's closed now though: patience, or a decant is recommended. Drink by 2037.

97 Points

Erin Larkin - Wine Companion

Made from a selection of the most unique and striking plots available to Vasse Felix. To say this is a powerful wine is an understatement. Power and complexity are the takeaways from this wine, there is an explosion of fruit flavours and wonderful textural complexity stemming from the time on lees and solids. Length of flavour combined with a mineral backbone makes for exquisite drinking.

"Glorious. So much scent, so pure through the palate, complex in general and then deliciously long. High class chardonnay for high class chardonnay lovers. Flint, grapefruit, apple and vanilla characters come topped with hay, fennel and custard powder. It’s a powerhouse wine but it’s also refreshing refined; there’s great purity through the palate and yet it still feels more than a little bit fancy."

95 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

Yarra Yering Dry Red No 1 2019

Wine of the Year - Halliday Wine Companion 2022

Gold Medal - Royal Sydney Wine Show 2021

67% Cabernet Sauvignon 15% Merlot 12% Malbec 6% Petit Verdot

"67/15/12/6% cabernet sauvignon/merlot/malbec/petit verdot. The first plantings at YY into block No 1 were these cabernet and malbec vines, hence the name. Some merlot was interplanted with the cabernet and subsequent plantings in 1990 from a newly acquired neighbouring site. Petit verdot is only grown on the hillside of the new territories.

All hand harvested and sorted, only the very best berries go into this wine. Cabernet berries sorted individually before crushed. Merlot, malbec and petit verdot are whole-berry ferments. All fermented in half-tonne fermenters, hand plunged twice daily. Some of the cabernet spends more time on skins.

Components are kept separate in French oak 40% new, 15 months all up then blended just before bottling.

This is mesmerising. Do take time to bask in its fragrance – all floral and spicy with some aniseed and fresh herbs. Enjoy the poised fruit flavours of blackberries, mulberries and a hint of blueberries coated in spicy oak and tethered to the body of the wine. Pulsing acidity and beautiful tannin structure shape this and offer a promise of more to come in time. Wow – what a wine."

98 Points

Jane Faulkner - Wine Companion

Yarra Yering Dry Red No 2 2019

96% Shiraz, 3 % Merlot and 1% Viognier

"Shiraz, mataro, viognier. Hand picked, sorted and then destemmed directly to the Yarra Yering half-tone open-fermenters. As much whole-berry ferment as possible to encourage perfume. A portion of fermenters had frozen viognier skins added to the bottom.

Aged 15 months in French oak barriques 30% new before blending. It's easy to be bowled over by this wine's beauty, from its bright colour to its heady fragrance of violets, Middle Eastern spices, fresh currants and blue fruits.

Then magic happens. It is superfine, graced with perfectly formed silky tannins. The oak is seamlessly integrated, then flavours builds across the barely medium-bodied palate. While there's a lightness of touch, it's layered and complex. A complete wine full of style, elegance and substance."

98 Points

Jane Faulker - Wine Companion

Cullen ‘Diana Madeline’ Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2020

“Has the usual estate blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and malbec (92/4/3/1%), the grapes hand picked on fruit days between early February and early March, the components matured in French oak (50% new) for 13 months. The perfumed bouquet has already soaked up the new oak, the purity of the fruit in a cassis-redcurrant-blueberry spectrum. The small berries of a quasi-drought summer might have imposed awkward tannins, but the medium-bodied palate is so perfectly balanced it has a drinking span of 30 years and counting.”

98 Points

James Halliday - Wine Companion

"Great detail in that the wine comes from nine picks across fruit and flower days of the biodynamic calendar, spread across a month-ish lunar cycle. The Cullen way.

Another beautiful, soulful release, this one a bit darker, a bit bolder, a mesh of tannins over train tracks and tension, but a wine of significant pedigree and wow factor nonetheless. Dark chocolate and graphite aromas with salted plum, black olive, bay leaf and oyster shell. Flavours ripple with authority in that weave of tannin, dark choc again, panforte perhaps more apt, dark cherry, saline minerality, more bayleaf and cinnamon spice. Succulent in the finish, mouth-watering and very fresh. Compelling stuff."

96 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2020 McHenry Hohnen 'Laterite Hills' Chardonnay - Margaret River

"Hand-picked fruit from 4 southern Margaret River vineyards: Hazel's, Calgardup, Burnside and Chapman, whole-bunch pressed, wild ferment in French oak (25% new). Barrels left unsulphured over winter, a portion undergoing mlf. Matured for 10 months in barrel. Wowsers. This is super-serious. Unbelievable value for money: scintillating citrus acid line, concentrated, mouth-staining fruit and complex layers of crushed nuts, creamy tannins ... all wrapped into a long and reverberating tail of flavour. $42: speechless."

96 Points

Erin Larkin - Halliday Wine Companion

2018 Ministry of Clouds Kintsugi - McLaren Vale

"85/10/5% grenache/mataro/shiraz; 40% whole bunches, the balance whole berries. Submerged for 3 weeks (not plunged or pumped over) and fermented wild. Matured on fine lees for 18 months in mix of inert tanks and used oak. A deliciously spicy and lively bouquet, and a medium-bodied palate travelling along the same pathway to a long and juicy finish. To be gulped, not sipped, thanks to its modest alcohol."

97 Points

James Halliday - Halliday Wine Companion

Spinifex Bête Noir Shiraz 2020

From 70yo shiraz vines, whole-berries and bunches, wild-yeast fermented in wooden vats, up to 20 days on skins, thence French oak maturation. It's elegant yet powerful, ripe blackberry, licorice and a touch of plum. However long you wait, it will be there waiting for you. Bargain.

96 Points

James Halliday - Halliday Wine Companion

2021 Collector Wines Tiger Tiger Chardonnay - Canberra District NSW

"Tumbarumba chardonnay grown at between 610 and 750m metres above sea level.

Standout chardonnay. Piercing, long and complex. Grapefruit and florals, matchsticks and nectarine. There’s a keen flintiness here, a real drive, an impression that everything has been done sans compromise. There’s definitely a good deal of sulphide-funk here but the wine carries it with such authority."

95+ Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

"Trophy - Best Chardonnay of Show"

Canberra and Region Wine Show 2022, 21 Jan 2022

Brash Higgins RSM - riesling/semillon 2020

"It took me a while to get my head around these bedfellows, planted – serendipitously as it turns out – alongside each other. I can only conclude that this wine is venerable. Stunning, even. Perhaps I was falling into the dull trap of seeking varietal personality when, in fact, this is all about place and a courageous textural interplay, from grainy truffled lees traits, to candied quince, rooibos and lemon-peel skinsy chutney, a staining degree of briny salinity and Blewitt Springs sandiness. The breadth of well-positioned oak, too. This drinks and feels like a top expression from the Loire, with an ersatz manzanilla-meets-maritime veil. Formidably long, moreish and extremely impressive. Wow!"

97 Points

Ned Godwin MW - Halliday Wine Companion

2020 Brash Higgins NDV - nero d’avola amphora

"Fermented spontaneously in 200L beeswax-lined clay amphorae, where this rich wine remained across an extended maceration period, 6 months in all. Dark, spiced cherry scents meld with bitters, bergamot, anise, clove, sassafras and cardamom. The tannins, a gristly bristle, corral the teeming fruit and confer a welcome savouriness. This is a serious nero d'Avola of impact, immaculate detail and a textural precision that unravels with each sip. Far from the pulpy, vapid expressions that too often define the domestic norm. Excellent wine, here. The mandala of moreish tannins, its opus."

96 Points

Ned Godwin MW - Halliday Wine Companion

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2021 Giant Steps Yarra Valley Rosé - Yarra Valley

"100% pinot noir, hand picked specifically for this rosé, wild-yeast fermented. Vibrantly fresh aromas and flavours; rose petals, violets and delicate spices on the bouquet, wild strawberries and raspberries on the mouth-watering palate. Great wine, not just great rosé. And it will repay cellaring."

97 Points

James Halliday - Halliday Wine Companion

2020 Scout Wines Pinot Noir - Waipara

"The grapes come from Black Estate. 25 days on skins. Old oak. 30% whole bunch. Only addition is a little bit of sulphur. The wines came in a Murdoch Hill box, so I was surprised to find Scout inside. Be prepared, as they say.

Spice, sweet clod earth, dark cherry and dried herbs, even a little violet perfume. It’s fleshy and pleasingly tannic, with a sort of silty Turkish coffee texture, a savoury but plump fruit flavour profile, a little blood orange and dried flower perfume on a pretty long finish. A lot of character, and a ‘natty’ sort of feel too. Perhaps not here for a long time, though certainly here for a good time. Really like this."

94 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

Burn Cottage Pinot Noir 2019

Cherries, flowers and sweet spices on the nose. Medium-bodied with fresh acidity. Round and creamy with a caressing texture and a fruity edge. Long finish. Fresh and very fine. Elegant is the word. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.

94 points

Nick Stock, Top 100 Wines of New Zealand 2021 - jamessuckling.com

"Burnt cottage is what happened to many English people, who held property in North Wales, back in the day. I remember that well, and also the day I missed an IRA bomb going off in Warrington town centre by about 5 minutes, back in the 90s. No joke. Exciting times!

Invariably one of the nuttiest, and nattiest feeling wines from Central Otago, and no change here. Cherry pie, almond paste, spice and aniseed, with a fresh thyme, rosemary and rose perfume. It’s fleshy, silty and nutty, a scorched hazelnut and chocolate flavour, soft acidity and fine silty tannin. The finish is all wheaty, spicy and plump with dried raspberry and cherry. Delightful. So at ease with itself."

94 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

Prophets Rock Cuvee Aux Antipodes Pinot Noir 2019

"A fragrant nose of dark cherries, blueberries, dried flowers and spices. Crushed stones and tea leaves, too. Medium-bodied with tightly knit tannins and bright acidity. So pure, mineral and focused with a very fine texture."

96 Points

jamesuckling.com

2021 Billy Button Fiano - Alpine Valleys

"In all the years of Winefront – 20 years old this year – we’ve never had a fiano rate higher than 94/100, and only a select (very) few have reached that high mark.

This fiano from the Alpine Valleys is in brilliant form. It just goes Bang. It tastes of apple, citrus, wax and fragrant herbs mostly though there’s some nashi pear in there too. It has both excellent texture and intensity of flavour, and it sails confidently and emphatically through the finish. It really made me sit up and take note, and it’s not often that I say that with this variety. Due respect."

94 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2019 Crawford River Wines Sauvignon Blanc | Semillon 'Beta' - Henty Vic

"Sauvignon blanc and semillon, wild fermented, in oak and bottled unfined. Geez, this is a wine on the rise and rise.

Textural feast! A chewy, chalky (terracotta?!) number with tropical fruits, green melon, cashew and minty herbs in the mix. Potent and yet refreshing, a wine that feels very serious, structural and yet a mellow, nougat/mallow like smoothness under it all. Depth and richness with lift. Feels very fancy, delicious to drink and one to savour or pause on. Love it."

94+ Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2021 Bubb + Pooley Pinot Noir - Derwent Valley Tasmania

Coal River Valley. A wine made by lovely genuine people, which is neither here nor there when it comes to what’s in the glass, though it is nice to drink stuff that’s made by good people.

Dark cherry, violet and dried rose, cinnamon, this earthy almost wasabi spiciness too. It’s tight, but delivers dark cherry and dark raspberry in abundance, with a very specific and fetching slate/stony character, pure and cool in acidity, with a long ‘mineral’ finish. It delivers flavour, but there’s no excess here. Beautifully made. Classic Pinot Noir.

95+ Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2021 Bubb + Pooley Riesling - Derwent Valley Tasmania

From the Pressing Matters vineyard. Aged in steel and oak.

Pretty florals, like chamomile maybe, lemon zest, spiced apples. It’s juicy, and savoury with it, nuts and dried apple, a grapefruit tang and sourness, but glossy too, perfume, mint and apple on a long and chalky finish. Texture, power, fragrance. A bolder expression of Riesling, with some quinine-like bitterness to close. Excellent.

94 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2021 Bubb + Pooley Syrah - Derwent Valley Tasmania

I’ve come around to Tasmanian Shiraz these days. You tend to get this ultra-clean ‘mineral’ acidity, kind of like Ardèche Syrah, which transmits flavour so well, with a cool purple thing happening. But don’t mind me. This is from the Milton vineyard, on the East Coast of Tasmania.

Boysenberry, blackcurrant, raspberry, lots of cracked black pepper, wheatgrass and herb, just a dash of spicy oak. Medium-bodied, so fresh and spicy, juicy pomegranate crunch to acidity, fine graphite tannin, cool and clear, with a long spicy and nutty finish. So much energy and character. Wonderful.

95 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

Mallaluka Zibbibo/Chardonnay/Riesling (Riverland/Hilltops/ACT) 2021

Has that squeaky, skinsy thing going on, dominated by zibibbo floral and tropical fruity, greasy texture, quite cloying and lots of nectar and sickly floral notes to taste, albeit many will find this overtness lovely and exotic, depends where you stand. I find zibibbo delivers too much muscle in most wines, and here goes long again. That being said, if you want a carnival ride white with lots of chewy, skinsy vibes, here you go.

89 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

Mallaluka Cabernet Franc (Canberra District) 2021

Cabernet franc making an appearance from Canberra District, all done carbonic. Boing!

Has that pretty franc scent of soft, red berries, leafy herbs, white pepper, game meat. Supple texture, very juicy, crisp edged and with a splash of blood orange tang to finish. A whip clean with silty tannins lingers. Lovely stuff. Such a pleasure to drink, has enough body and flavour but also this refreshing nature. Very well done. Super, super delicious drinking.

93 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

Mallaluka Sangiovese (Gundagai/Canberra District) 2021

A bit of an ace in the hole, is Mallaluka and sangiovese. This one comes from the road to Gundagai and the road to Parliament House. A portion of this is from the estate vineyard, which grows good sangio.

Light, fresh, savoury expression. Red cherries, cola, turned earth and old leather, some clove and smoky paprika too. Grippy in the palate, flavours reflect the scents well, there’s a bit more woody, dusty spice in the mix, malt and cola come strong with hazelnut to finish. Tannins beautiful and firming to a nice, index finger-middle finger-thumb, three way pinch. Feels very Italianate.

93 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

Sami-Odi ‘Little Wine #11’ (Syrah) NV

"The vintage characteristics are distinct from the troublesome, complex 2020 harvest with its heat, fire and the like, 2021 a near perfect year for growing grapes and a small, balanced harvest – these some of the major influences in this release. The blending components go back to the start of all remaining resources (to 2015 in this instance), but a second blend occurred after letting the wine settle, and more 2021 went in. In the end, we get 2021 (46%), 2020 (18%), 2019 (16%), 2018 (2%), 2017 (9%), 2016 (5%) & 2015 (4%). Huzzah!

Dark fruited, inky and soft, maraschino and booze-soaked currants, fresh though, tannins high, a sense of concentration and depth. Gravelly grip comes through, some hazy paprika smoke notes in perfume and palate too. Fresh finish, more sweet currant and red liquorice notes, fennel, mushroom and this interesting weak brandy character. It’s beautiful, highly perfumed and hearty at once. A more intense, deeper release of this wine, but the sum of parts makes for very lovely stuff, indeed."

94 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

Sami-Odi ‘Hoffmann Dallwitz’ Syrah 2020

"Concentration, power, grace. That comes to mind immediately. Feels like it slides but the tannin profile builds in a quiet and assertive way, seamlessly in its weave of dried floral things and char finishes things off. Perfume is all pot pourri, dried cranberry, black olive, old spice cupboard and smoky paprika. Flavours similar, tannin chewy, grippy, well done. Grunty in a way, complex as all get out. An assertive expression, bolder than some years in its intensity and drive, but not without the hallmarks of great Sami Odi wines."

94 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

Stefano Lubiana Collina Chardonnay - Derwent Valley - 2019

"The wine bottle is so heavy at its base that it actually pours kind of funny, out of balance in a way. You really have to heave it, kind of. Wield it at the glass. Collina at the top end of Stefano Lubiana chardonnay tree. Biodynamic certified.

Hey hey, this is a beauty. Has this kind of understatement but distinct sense of complexity. Beautiful; salted nut scents and flavours with gentle citrus, green apple, flinty-stony notes. A sense of concentration but gentleness, softness, mellifluous flow and lingers strongly with spice and minerally flickers. Mellow and gorgeous, such ease of drinking. No missing the quality."

95 Points

Mike Bennie -The Wine Front

2020 Stefano Lubiana Estate Chardonnay - Derwent Valley

"Well, this chardonnay is automatic, it’s systematic, it’s hydromatic, it’s biodynamic, why it’s Stefano Lubiana.

Texture is the first imprint. So pleasant, supple, fresh, gently creamy and wholly fresh and bright. Aromas are rich and appealing, stone fruit, citrus, marshmallow and cashew with cinnamon spice dusted on. Excellent carriage of flavour too, riper fruit characters, a little washy though with more creamy, nougat oak and sweet spice seasoning to taste. Finishes fresh and with a light, chalky pucker. Pure class."

94 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

Stefano Lubiana ‘Primavera’ Chardonnay - Derwent Valley - 2021

"Typically a very good times chardonnay done in a traditional fashion. Shirts all tucked in. Certified biodynamic.

Ticks all the boxes for quality chardy. Stone fruits fragrant, saline mineral character energetic, toasty-gentle oak seasoning lending a hand. A juiciness, a light creaminess, a bright starburst of pulpy grapefruity acidity to follow. Tip top, wonderful drinking. Excellent."

93 Points

Mike Bennie - The Wine Front

2022 Pewsey Vale Vineyard Riesling - Eden Valley

#1 of 100 Wines

James Suckling's Top Value Wines of 2021 ($35 or less)

"It was Australia’s Eden Valley, though, that gave us our No. 1 value wine for the second year in a row with another one of its great-quality Rieslings: the Pewsey Vale Riesling Eden Valley 2021. We found this wine to be so fresh and exhilarating, with intense and balanced flavors of lemon and stone fruit. Besides being delicious, the best thing about it is that it’s priced at an average of $16 (AUD 25) and is available just about everywhere! Australian Riesling is one of the best deals in the market today, and this Pewsey Vale is leading the charge in terms of price, quantity and quality."

A very fresh, piercing nose of sliced lemon with plenty of sweet perfume, too. The palate is similarly intense and vibrant with white stone-fruit and lemon flavors, delivered in an impressively intense and balanced mode. Drink or hold. Screw cap.

96 Points

Nick Stock - jamessuckling.com

2016 Terre à Terre Crayères Vineyard Reserve

Mid brick-red in the glass, the first impression is of ripeness and there’s plenty of regional leaf, bracken and mint on offer, along with redcurrant, red plum and some subtle fresh leather. The palate is elegant, supple and medium-bodied and carries bright red berries and plums in ripe, smoothly rendered style. Drink over the next five years.

93 Points

Nick Stock - jamessuckling.com

Nocturne SV Chardonnay 'Tassel Park Vineyard' 2020

"Bit of sulphur, cashew, spice, lime and apple. Juicy but tight, a sour pineapple, not exactly a rich style, but does have flavour. A little gloss, some flinty grip, with good length and tang to close. Modern style. Better in another year or two I’d say."

93 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

Yeringberg ‘Yeringberg' Cabernet Blend - Yarra Valley - 2019

Impressively fresh floral aromas here, then a spread of red berries, blueberries and blackberries. Very pure and primary. The palate is elegantly stated and shows a restrained touch, with red-berry and red-plum flavours sitting vibrant and juicy amid smoothly honed, long and ripe tannins. Polished and discreetly powerful. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Drink or hold. Screw cap.

96 points

Nick Stock - jamessuckling.com

Charming, mulchy and autumnal with tobacco, violet and mixed small berry fruit. It’s medium-bodied, red and black fruits, fresh, with gentle chewy paperbark tannin, a little tang and bright feel, red fruits and white flower perfume on a brisk finish of fine length. Charming. Classic under-stated Yarra Cabernet. More to come.

94+ Points

Gary Walsh - - The Wine Front

Yeringberg Chardonnay - Yarra Valley - 2019

"Stonefruit, biscuit, nuts, honey, grapefruit. Intense and firm acidity through bold flavour of stonefruit and grilled nuts, perhaps some aniseed, tang and zest of citrus, and a long perfumed finish of excellent length. Yum. Minimal artifice and loads of flavour. Excellent."

"Stonefruit, biscuit, nuts, honey, grapefruit. Intense and firm acidity through bold flavour of stonefruit and grilled nuts, perhaps some aniseed, tang and zest of citrus, and a long perfumed finish of excellent length. Yum. Minimal artifice and loads of flavour. Excellent."

94 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

Yeringberg Viognier - Yarra Valley - 2019

"Hits all the Viognier markers. Jasmine, ginger, fresh apricot, lime and lemon. It’s bright, packed with varietal flavour, yet keeps itself trim and lively, succulence and perfume, heady spice and fine powdery texture, with a lychee and ginger laden finish of excellent length. All just so. Top shelf."

95 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front 

2021 Giant Steps Yarra Valley Pinot Noir - Yarra Valley

Hand-picked from the usual assortment of Giant Steps vineyards across the Yarra Valley.

Red fruit, spice, a little pepper, something of a blood orange/Campari character too. It’s slightly sappy, red cherry and spiced strawberry, again that blood orange flavour and some savoury ‘autumnal’ character. Tannin has light emery grip, and the finish is juicy/sweet/sour and slightly bitter, offering solid length. Good drink. Better again with a little more time in bottle.

93 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2021 Giant Steps Yarra Valley Chardonnay - Yarra Valley

"A blend of Sexton, Tarraford, Applejack, Primavera and Wombat Creek vineyards. 15% new oak (puncheons). About 10% malo. In other news, Mel Chester (ex Seppelt, Sutton Grange) is the incoming winemaker at Giant Steps, while Steve Flamsteed involves himself in special ops for GS, among other things.

Flavour, crunch, gloss, and all up a Chardonnay of fine balance and appeal. White peach, almond, a little fennel and lime, fine acidity, flinty texture, a cool cucumber thing happening, and clean, with a well-defined finish of excellent length. Very good in 2021."

94 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

Yeringberg Shiraz - Yarra Valley - 2019

An elegant, fresh red-fruited style that has aromas of red plums, raspberries and redcurrants, as well as some leafy, dried-woody tones. The palate has tautness, crisp fine tannin and fresh, crunchy red-plum flavour.

Drink or hold. Screw cap.

94 Points

Nick Stock - jamessuckling.com

It’s well powered and framed, it’s sealed under screw cap, and it’s from a farm noted for the longevity of the wine it produces, among other things, and yet still the back label calmly notes that “it willmature gracefully in the cellar for 5 or 6 years or more”. That’s a fair understatement I would have thought.

Red berried fruit flavours edge gently into darker tones, gum leaf and floral aspects add lift, cedarwood oak – still in the process of fully integrating – adds seasoning, and dry, fine tannin, slightly woody tannin runs through the (sustained) finish.

Everything is in good order here, and it will age well. Indeed it’s best left alone for a few years to start showing at its best.

93+ Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2021 Pooley Wines Margaret Pooley Tribute Riesling - Coal River Valley Tasmania

From the oldest plantings at Cooinda Vale, and 50% sees 18 hours skin contact in press.
'Named after our co-founder Margaret Pooley, this elegant Riesling is a great testament to the wine variety Margaret loved most. Aromas of apple blossom, jasmine and delicate citrus. A richer mouth texture with green apple acidity and a saline finish. Great balance and length of flavour. Will cellar for 15 years plus or just enjoy its freshness now.' Anna Pooley, winemaker.
Drink to 2050

"A commanding wine from the get-go with intense aromas and a wine that immediately gives a concentrated impression. There’s entrancing fragrance with intense lemon, lime, nectarine, wet stone and pastry. The palate is so pure, long and unwavering and holds a long line of fresh flavor with a fierce and lively drive of acidity that runs deep and delivers pure citrus and white-fleshed stone-fruit flavors. So dry. Wrenchingly powerful. Drink or hold. Screw cap."

98 Points

jamessuckling.com

2021 Torzi Matthews Francesca Grillo Collina Calcarea Syrah

"What a wonderful and individual wine this is, you could be in the Eden Valley, or Ardèche, or the Northern Rhône, but what you have here is a superb wine of distinction, with the quirky closure of a crownseal, made by the gentle hand of a man who makes it as a tribute to his dear Mum.

So purple. So vital. Grilled meat, spicy, blueberry and fresh blackberry, violet perfume. Medium-bodied, savoury, meaty and spicy, but pure of intense black fruit – blackcurrant, raspberry,  sage, succulent, yet tight. So fresh, hazelnut and fine-grained silty tannin, a graphite feel to it, maybe even some liquorice and Averna-like richness. Finish is long, clean and focussed. Yes. Special wine. Outstanding."

95+ Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

By Farr Pinot Noir ‘Farrside’ 2019

It’s not the brightest of pinot noirs – more of a positive than a negative – but it’s earthen, beetroot heart and dry, spicy finish are both impressive. It has the Farr family farm written all over it. A certain tang, a certain stew, enough high class oak and a confident push through the finish.

93 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Chardonnay 2019

"Jasmine and ginger, apple and nectarine. It’s saline, distinctly umami and nutty, roast chicken, with pickled ginger, apple cider and pink grapefruit flavours, a gustatory lactic tang, chalky feel and a savoury/floral finish of excellent length, with a slightly sour pucker to close. Delightful. Love it." 

94 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

"Slightly dull straw color with aromas of golden apples, pears, grapefruit zest, spices, flint and hay. Medium-to full-bodied with bright acidity and a taut, phenolic texture. Full of flavor, freshness and wild energy. Drink now or hold. Screw cap."

93 Points

Nick Stock - jamessuckling.com

Pyramid Valley North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2019

"No shortage of personality with these wines from Pyramid Valley, and they seem true to the original ethos of the winery. All the spice here, and I’m thinking nutmeg, allspice, maybe even garam masala, along with blood plum and raspberry. with an earthy character too. It’s fleshy and spicy, some roast beetroot earthiness with plum and cherry, a sappy feel too, dried rose and tamarind tang, and a slightly muddy, dried herb and orange peel finish of solid length. Heaps of character. I’d drink it now, and enjoy it for its unfettered and wild personality. Great drinking."

93 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

Raspberries, cherries and baking spices on the nose. It’s medium-bodied with vivid acidity. Crunchy and juicy with a succulent finish. Quite chewy tannins. Lots of earthy and spicy undertones with some graphite and slate undertones. A little austere at the end, suggesting that two or three years of bottle age will help. Drink after 2023. Screw cap.

94 Points

Nick Stock - jamessuckling.com

Pyramid Valley Central Otago Pinot Noir 2019

"A perfumed nose with aromas of redcurrants, sour cherries, sweet spices, cedar and violets. It’s medium-bodied with sleek tannins and bright acidity. Balanced, juicy and fleshy with a silky texture. Layered and precise with a long finish. Intense. Drink or hold. Screw cap."

94 Points

Nick Stock - jamessuckling.com

"Curiously, perhaps, I’d place Martinborough, Marlborough and Canterbury above Central Otago in my NZ Pinot Noir pecking order. Anyway, this comes from the Lowburn region of CO.

Juicy, natural feeling Central Otago Pinot here. Poached strawberry, thyme, spice and a kiss of vanilla oak. It’s squishy and subtly sappy, brown spices and more of that wild herb perfume, a clay and earthy feel, a little tamarind tang on a finish of moderate length and powdery grip. Good wine, with no shortage of interest and texture."

91 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2021

"Bannockburn has never really been out of form but I get the feeling that winemaker Matt Holmes and team have the ship about where they want it to be, now.

This is a beauty. Fragrant and attractive from the outset but then expansive on the palate as well. Earth, twigs, root vegetables and cherries with woodsy spice notes rippling throughout. Tension and flow, texture and tannin. There’s a smoky meatiness to the aftertaste, mixed in with decaying red roses, and it’s most attractive way for the wine to sail out. Drink it now, drink it later; it will deliver."

94+ Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

"Batches of pinot noir from different blocks, wild fermented with 20% whole bunches. Matured 10 months in French hogsheads (25% new). A wine of real gravitas and presence, the '21 reflects a most impressive year. Abundant, enticing aromas in pristine red fruits, maritime herbs, humus and dusty beets. The palate fairly bristles in fruit freshness and energy, the tannins pricking the tastebuds and laying the foundation for a long life. Oak? Yes, it's evident in the texture and the binding but totally integrated."

95 Points

Jeni Port - Halliday Wine Companion

Bannockburn Chardonnay 2021

"Grown on a range of vineyards across the Bannockburn holdings, from 1976 plantings through to the most recent (2016). 20% new oak, with 70% of the final wine going through malo.Bannockburn Chardonnay is never short of flavour and so to this release, though the fresh zing of the finish brings a more modern twist, arguably. Pear, grapefruit, peach, cracked wheat and cedar flavours come strong and convincing, aided by citrus and fennel notes, the latter especially notable on the finish. The flavour of tinned pear here is as strong as it is delicious, it must be noted. This is an excellent release; it’s good for drinking now but it has many years up its sleeve." 

94 Points

Gary Walsh -The Wine Front

"Whole-bunch pressed, fermented wild in French hogsheads and puncheons (20% new), 10 months on lees, partial mlf. True to the Bannockburn style which offers both power and finesse. The former is set in structure and solid in body. The latter is all about a world of marvellous fruit and oak flavours: mandarin skin, nectarine, white peach, buttered toast, almond bread, quince paste. It's dense, lifted by a citrusy acidity that is just so cleansing, so right."

95 Points

Jeni Port - Halliday Wine Companion

Massolino Langhe Nebbiolo 2019

"I seem to have missed the 2017 Massolino wines, but that's what happens when you can't get over to Italy. Anyway, had a glass of this last week after lunch at the outstanding Star of Greece, thus maintaining the great South Australian tradition of drinking full-bodied reds with lunch in summer. Cherry, liquorice, fragrant too, offering juicy red fruit, gentle tannin grip, lovely freshness set in a medium-bodied, but tightly structured frame. There's a little blood orange and aniseed in the mix too. Very nice. Yum."

93 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2020 Fetherston Estate Pinot Noir - Yarra Valley

"Strange to say, but this puts me in mind of some Pinot Noir from days of yore. Like Diamond Valley Close Planted, or something like that. I know, I’m getting on a bit when I say things like that, though I reckon CM would also see the similarity, not least because he’s much older than me. And possibly wiser. And also probably loves this style of Pinot Noir.

Spicy, minty, strawberry and autumnal. It’s fresh, crisp and kind of sappy, but in a good way. A bit of tang, some orange zest flavour too, a cool feathering of emery tannin, and a juicy red fruited finish of fine length. Really nice wine. Should age well."

93+ Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2020 Fetherston Estate Chardonnay - Yarra Valley

Typical Upper Yarra in that it has a keen acid line and an associated long finish. It brings flavour with it, green apple and green pineapple with hay, honeysuckle, lemon and meal, all delivered with a silky aspect to the mouthfeel. I was immediately impressed with this wine and am confident that it has a fine future, though it is determinedly fine-boned and lean. Give this another year or two in bottle and we’ll have something lovely on our hands.

93+ Points

Campbell Mattison - The Wine Front

Fetherston Estate Shiraz 2018

"My eyesight isn’t the greatest, to say the least, but even in bright light I couldn’t say 100% for sure what the alcohol reading is on this wine. I’d hate to be trying to read it in a dim-light bar.

The wine itself is immaculate. Full-bodied but polished, fruit-driven but complex, juicy and accessible but with the structure to age. Boysenberry, mint, deep plum, subtle herbs, smoky bacon, game and forest notes get the job done, and confidently so. Very good now. Will improve."

93+ Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2021 Pewsey Vale Vineyard Riesling 1961 Block - Eden Valley

Lime,lavender, a bit of toast and plenty of mineral. Powerful. Flavoursome. Tight but ripe acid. Powdery feel. So much juicy lime. Intense and long. Excellent. Yum factor is high.

95 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2020 Place Of Changing Winds Heathcote Syrah

We’ve already reviewed this wine – here – but this is a special second bottling, which spent extra time in oak, a full 30 months all told. It was matured in (large) 1000 lt and 2000 lt oak so the extra time wasn’t in search of extra oak flavour; if anything, the opposite.

The bottle I tried seemed quite reserved on the nose, even allowed a good amount of time to breathe, but the palate is quite something. The push through the finish here is elite. I mentioned the descriptor ‘sultana’ in my original review but I don’t see any of that now; it seems darker and more savoury, with dry licorice notes running through red/black cherry, along with smoked tobacco, along with sweet and woodsy spice aplenty. But really this wine is all about the finish, which is dynamite. It’s peacock’s tail territory. Dry, structural, plenty going on, a touch of the regal. I’m up a point, score-wise, and I’m tempted to be up by more. It’s a fabulous wine.

95 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front

2021 Stoney Rise Chardonnay - Gravelly Beach TAS

Well, the Holyman Chardonnay is what you might call a ‘classic wine’, but this offering is a bit more outré. No bad thing. Diversity of style and all that.

Saline, a slight flor-like top note of oxidative richness, ripe lemon and green apple, with a slight parmesan character. It’s fresh in acidity, savoury and mealy, fine chalky texture, and quite savoury. There’s a twist of lemon zest and green olive, a brine-like flavour, a bit nutty and spicy, with a powdery finish of tang and excellent energy. Quite different from your ordinary Australian Chardonnay, though no bad thing. Very adult wine, at a pretty modest price point.

92 Points

Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

2019 A. Rodda Cuvee de Chais - Beechworth Victoria

This blend of Bordelais grapes is one of the most stylishly understated modern reds being made in Victoria right now. It has such charming aromas of red, blue and purple berries, gentle earth and bracken, as well as super-subtle oak spice and cedar. The palate is so smoothly curated and the velvety tannins carry fresh, pillowy blueberry, blackcurrant and red-berry flavors aloft. Great wine. Drink or hold. Screw cap.

96 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

2020 By Farr Shiraz - Bannockburn Victoria

The 2018 release was shiraz with a bit of nebbiolo (style) about it; this 2019 is shiraz with a Burgundy leaning. It is just so thoroughly and gorgeously complex. Undergrowth, sweet herb/mescal, stem and roasted spice characters romp through cherry-plum, woodsmoke and violet. It’s a cracking red wine, high in fragrance, charm, character and distinction; it’s impeccably well balanced, not to mention controlled, but it’s also a wine with the wind in its hair, free and flowing. The length of the palate here is outstanding, it really is. Fabulous wine.

96 Points

Campbell Mattinson - The Wine Front