Top 100 Red Wines

 

Ray_Jordan_Top_100_Reds_2015_1

This was tough; very tough. It didn’t seem to matter whether I was tasting the wines under $15 or those in the top category of $25-$40. Deciding what to leave out was difficult.

Nearly 600 red wines selling for $40 or less were entered in this year’s The West Australian Top 100 and, with most of them coming off recent excellent vintages across Australia, the competition was intense. In the end, some very difficult decisions had to be made and perhaps I have lost a few friends along the way with those wines I had to eliminate at various stages.

For the consumer it’s all good news. The quality across all price points was very good, with exceptional wines emerging from big and small companies alike.

And the prices in some cases are just crazy. When it came time to go back and reveal what I had come up with, I had to double check the prices of many wines to make sure that high-priced wines hadn’t been included in lower price categories.

I impose rigid pricing guidelines for the tasting. Producers and local distributors are invited to submit wines in various price points with a limit of two per brand per category. While I would like to include many of the smaller producers, I can’t because I am trying to find the best of the best from wines that are readily available in liquor stores throughout the State.

The wines come from all over Australia but the key thing is that they are being distributed in WA.

The prices are based on all usual taxes with a consistent mark-up applied to entrants. I have applied a slightly lower mark-up than would be the case with full recommended retail price, to try to capture a more accurate retail pricing. But even then the recommended retail price I have used may not reflect the most common price you will find. The level of discounting means that most will be a lot cheaper and, for this reason, I encourage you to shop around if you see something you particularly like in the write-ups.

A quick look around the retail shops in Perth shows that heavy discounting is still very much the norm. It means that even with the lower-than-standard retail mark-up, many of the wines I have included in the Top 100 will sell for less — a lot less.

I have to confess that many of the names I see in retail are new to me. and I see thousands of wines in any one year. It is obvious a lot of these are private-label own brands from Coles and Woolworths but also there are some famous brands that have been cut to the bone.

Some of these private-label wines are pretty good. A lot aren’t. But if price is your main determinant of what you buy then, by all means, have a look at them.

For me, I prefer to taste wines from trusted names which in many cases have built up brand integrity they are not prepared to tamper with by taking shortcuts.

But if you take price and brand out of the equation, the other important consideration is vintage. Thankfully, we are now through most of the dodgy wines from the poor 2011 vintage in the Eastern States — not in WA — so you can buy wines with confidence if they are from the more recent very good vintages.

Although the wines come from all over Australia, once again the strength of the WA wines was a highlight. While the WA industry, like that in the rest of Australia, continues to face challenges to build markets, it has never been in better shape in terms of quality of the wines.

There are some extraordinary wines being produced from all the main wine regions and, despite the stereotypical criticism that they are expensive, in many cases they are not. Competition, more access to fruit and clever winemaking all ensure we can get our hands on quality WA drinking at a reasonable price.

In a tasting such as this I’m always asked about the highlights. In this case it was the evenness across the board, both in price and also variety and style.

There were outstanding cabernets, shiraz and blends with some really impressive pinot noirs, especially at the higher-priced end as you might imagine. But also there were some very nice alternative varieties such as sangiovese and tempranillo, varieties that I have always believed should be better supported in Australia, where they are so good for our different food styles.

While it was encouraging that many smaller producers were represented, it was reassuring that wines from the stables of the big guys also shone through.

Reassuring, because the criticism is that these are production-line commercial wines. From this tasting nothing could be further from the truth as wines, albeit in big volume, from these guys had distinct regional and stylistic expression, which shows how far they are going to create points of difference.

Best Value Wine

Amelia Park Trellis cabernet merlot 2012 ($15) – 93 points

I won’t repeat here what I said after a quick sniff and then a long slurp of the Amelia Park Trellis cabernet merlot 2012. But it was along the lines of: Gee whiz, that’s really good. You get my drift even with the expletives deleted.

Here was a wine that delivered so much more than you expect in the Under $15 category – fruit intensity, richness and overall balance and poise, of the type you usually have to pay heaps more for.

The surprising thing was that is sells for less than $15, but wasn’t surprising is that it was made by Jeremy Gordon, a previous Jimmy Watson Award winner a few years ago with Flametree, and a winemaker doing some mighty good things with the premium ranges of Amelia Park. One of his other wines also made the cut in the $25 to $40 category.

The wine ticks all the value for money boxes, then a few more. It’s a thoroughly gorgeous and deliciously rich cabernet merlot blend made with just the right touch of oak and managed tannins. Black fruit with a touch of spicy liqueur choccies. Ripe and generous, delivering far more than you expect at this price point.

This is a wine to grab by the case to get you through winter.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

Best Value Runner-up

Houghton Crofters shiraz 2013 ($19) – 93 points

It’s in the next price category but for a wine that use to sell for a lot more this is another of those nutty buys that has you pinching yourself that we have got it so good.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

Best Wine

Woodlands Margaret 2012 ($40) – 96 points

David and Heather Watson’s Woodlands was one of the earlier vineyards to be established in Margaret River. It has built an enviable reputation for the quality of its fruit both in its own wines and for some years in other top names from the region.

These days the winemaking is done by the Watson’s son Stuart, who is consistently raising the bar with an exceptional suite of world class wines across the board. In this tasting the beautiful entry level cabernet merlot was excellent, but it was this fabulous cabernet dominant wine called Margaret, which blew everything else away in the tasting.

This is a wine that could easily sell for double the price, such is its impeccable quality and captivating style. IN many ways the astute use of oak takes the regional card out of the deck in the pursuit of a highly sophisticated atypical Margaret River style.

But still lurking beneath that high class oak is the powerful ripe blackcurrant and slightly tobacco leaf black olive cabernet of Margaret River.

As good as any wine yet tasted in all the years of the Top 100 reds.

Best Wine Runner-Up

Dalrymple Pipers River pinot noir 2013 ($33.95) – 96 points

Here is the perfect example of why many are looking to Tasmanian for our best pinots. A marvellous  wine from one of the stars of the Apple Isle.

Best Value Wine

Amelia Park Trellis cabernet merlot 2012 ($15) – 93 points

I won’t repeat here what I said after a quick sniff and then a long slurp of the Amelia Park Trellis cabernet merlot 2012. But it was along the lines of: Gee whiz, that’s really good. You get my drift even with the expletives deleted.

Here was a wine that delivered so much more than you expect in the Under $15 category – fruit intensity, richness and overall balance and poise, of the type you usually have to pay heaps more for.

The surprising thing was that is sells for less than $15, but wasn’t surprising is that it was made by Jeremy Gordon, a previous Jimmy Watson Award winner a few years ago with Flametree, and a winemaker doing some mighty good things with the premium ranges of Amelia Park. One of his other wines also made the cut in the $25 to $40 category.

The wine ticks all the value for money boxes, then a few more. It’s a thoroughly gorgeous and deliciously rich cabernet merlot blend made with just the right touch of oak and managed tannins. Black fruit with a touch of spicy liqueur choccies. Ripe and generous, delivering far more than you expect at this price point.

This is a wine to grab by the case to get you through winter.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

Best Value Runner-Up

Houghton Crofters shiraz 2013 ($19) – 93 points

It’s in the next price category but for a wine that use to sell for a lot more this is another of those nutty buys that has you pinching yourself that we have got it so good.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

Best Wine

Woodlands Margaret 2012 ($40) – 96 points

David and Heather Watson’s Woodlands was one of the earlier vineyards to be established in Margaret River. It has built an enviable reputation for the quality of its fruit both in its own wines and for some years in other top names from the region.

These days the winemaking is done by the Watson’s son Stuart, who is consistently raising the bar with an exceptional suite of world class wines across the board. In this tasting the beautiful entry level cabernet merlot was excellent, but it was this fabulous cabernet dominant wine called Margaret, which blew everything else away in the tasting.

This is a wine that could easily sell for double the price, such is its impeccable quality and captivating style. IN many ways the astute use of oak takes the regional card out of the deck in the pursuit of a highly sophisticated atypical Margaret River style.

But still lurking beneath that high class oak is the powerful ripe blackcurrant and slightly tobacco leaf black olive cabernet of Margaret River.

As good as any wine yet tasted in all the years of the Top 100 reds.

Here are the top 100 reds grouped by… Under $15  |  $15 to $20  |  $20 to $25  |  $25 to $40

Under $15 range

Cabernet Sauvignon

Parson’s Paddock cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($13.95) 

90/100

Langhorne Creek makes some of Australia’s most eminently drinkable wines. This ne capture the essential generous soft characters of wines from this SA region. Has a spicy slightly minty character with juicy lush fruit.

Mt Monster cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($14.50)

89/100

Fruit driven cabernet from the Limestone Coast. Has that effortless smooth finish of this cooler climate region. The tannins are fine and silky with a smooth fine grained oak influence. A little astringency on the finish adds to the completeness in the wine.

Hanwood Estate cabernet sauvignon 2012 ($14)

89/100

Another of those wines that never fails to impress. It’s light bodied with good fruit definition. Seamless and pure with integrated oak. A blast around the Barbie.

Shiraz

Seppelt The Victorians shiraz 2013 ($14.95)

92/100

 

The Big V has caused plenty of grief over the years on the football field, but when you can get a quality value wine like this for less than $15 I suppose we have to forgive them. Sourced from Heathcote where the gravelly loam characters dominate. One of my favourites in this bracket.

Penfolds Rawson’s Retreat shiraz 2013 ($11)

91/100

 

You sort of expect Penfolds to be able to make a decent red wine. Here’s one that makes a statement in the lower priced brackets. Terrific spicy fruit with a supple deep fruit intensity, supported by fine tannins. The cabernet in this range is might good as well.

Yalumba Y Series shiraz 2014 ($14)

90/100

 

Yalumba makes a bunch of wines under this label and they always hit the mark. This one from a vintage that was pretty good just about everywhere delivers that smooth textural palate with spicy and slightly savoury sweet fruit overtones.

Bird’s Eye View shiraz 2014 ($13.95)

89/100

 

Shiraz presented with all its primary pure varietal fruit characters. This is a highly fruit driven wine with a sense of raspberry and cherry characters. No overly complex, as you might expect, but mighty easy on the gums.

Wyndham Estate Bin 555 shiraz 2013 ($13.10)

89/100

 

Talk about smooth, talk about seamless and talk about delicious. This one nails all three with its medium bodied flavoursome fruit driven palate. A reliable wine that ticks all the value boxes.

Blends

Amelia Park Trellis cabernet merlot 2012 ($15)

93/100

 

Okay, we have something really special in this price bracket. I had to check the price in fact to make sure I hadn’t put it in the wrong category. Thoroughly gorgeous and deliciously rich cabernet merlot blend made with just the right touch of oak and managed tannins. Black fruit with a touch of spicy liqueur choccies. Ripe and generous, delivering far more than you expect at this price point.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

Rosemount Estate shiraz cabernet 2014 ($11)

91/100

 

This is a cleverly made wine that puts a mix of spicy and soft deliciously sweet ripe black currant fruit into the bank to pay some handsome dividends. Everything about it says drink me.

Deep Woods Ebony cabernet shiraz 2012 ($14.95)

91/100

 

This excellent vintage has managed to pump so high quality fruit into what is a terrific value for money red wine. The blend works so well with the plumper shiraz complementing the cabernet perfectly. Dusty chalk tannins and light oak treatment allow the fruit to strut its stuff to best effect.

Hardys Nottage Hill cabernet shiraz 2013 ($11.35)

90/100

 

One of Australia’s most famous names in quality value drinking. This is loaded with generous fruit with a mix of plummy black fruits a dab of oak and a fine dusty tannin balance. Absolutely seamless and smooth. The Barbie beckons.

 

Ferngrove Symbols cabernet merlot 2012 ($14.35)

90/100

 

Made as a fruity current drinking wine. A blend of these two varieties works really well with addition of a small amount of oak adding to the structure and palate complexity. It’s medium weight and would be a perfect wine around the barbecue. A little extra time between tastings has helped settle this wine down.

Houghton Red Classic 2013 ($14.30)

89/100

 

A cabernet sauvignon shiraz and merlot brand sourced from around WA. One of the best value red wines made in this State that always seems to deliver above its weight. This has a juicy fleshy character with plenty of sweet plush flavours of medium body.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

Pinot Noir

De Bortoli Windy Peak 2014 ($13)

90/100

 

One of the best value pinots on the market. Damn good in fact when you get it for less than $15. It’s typically light bodied but with admirable structure and presence. Cherry and light strawberry with a faint edge of spices and damp earthiness.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

$15 to $20 range

Cabernet sauvignon

Saltram Pepperjack cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($16)

91/100

 

Barossa cabernet showing all its best qualities. Aromatic lifted leafy fruit notes on the nose. The palate is so beautifully pulled together with stacks of black fruits supported by fine chalky tannins and some nice dusty oak. Really well made wine.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($16)

91/100

 

If you’re looking for drinkability then it’s hard to go past McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek, which have combined for the fruit in this excellent medium bodied sweet fruited cabernet. Neat oak integration has helped promote the supple smooth palate.

Rymill The Yearling cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($17)

90/100

 

Regularly comes up well in these tastings. Not surprising given the quality of the fruit available in Coonawarra. It’s medium bodied with all that minty blackcurrant character you expect from this region. Smooth and seamlessly constructed with fine chalky tannins.

Jacob’s Creek Reserve cabernet sauvignon 2012 ($15.60)

90/100

 

Leafy black currant and black olive on the nose with a little cedary oak. The palate is medium to full bodied with good oak integration. Tannins are fine and slightly sinewy and the oak is well balanced. Good persistent palate profile.

Shiraz

Houghton Crofters shiraz 2013 ($19)

93/100

 

Lots of succulent Frankland River fruit in this sumptuous shiraz that hits the mark at this price point. There is a distinct regional blueberry aromas with lighter aromatic cherry characters. On the palate the concentrated richness of plump shiraz takes over and swamps the oak to deliver a real mouthful of flavour.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

Jacob’s Creek Reserve shiraz 2013 ($15.60)

93/100

 

Such a perfectly poised and expressive Barossa shiraz. Not too big but just enough and such impeccable balance. This is a classy wine that demonstrates the depth of the Jacob’s Creek portfolio.

Wills Domain shiraz 2014 ($19.95)

92/100

 

A Margaret River producer making the next step up in terms of quality. This is a value for money wine with loads of appeal. Gorgeous cherry and violet with vanillin and plummy fruit. Velvety with grainy tannins.

Angove Family Crest shiraz 2014 ($19)

92/100

 

Angove have an excellent base in McLaren Vale from where they source some quality fruit for wines such as this. It’s a beautiful expression of sweet ripe McLaren Vale fruit. Pepper and vanillin characters create an intriguing mix. Dark fruits with satsuma plum.

Angove Wild Olive McLaren Vale shiraz 2013 ($18)

92/100

 

The generosity and opulence of McLaren Vale is well to the fore here with this intense and vibrant shiraz from an organically certified vineyard. Soft and generous with oodles of persistent concentrated flavor.

Grant Burge 5th Generation shiraz 2013 ($18.50)

92/100

 

Now Part of the Accolade stable after being purchased late last year. This is a remarkably complex wine with spicy chocolate and ripe berry fruits. Medium to full bodied packed with deep fruit displaying a slightly earthy savoury interest. Nice stuff.

Yalumba Galway shiraz 2013 ($16)

92/100

 

Oh yes. Beautiful seductive and perfumed wine. Silky smooth. It’s one of the most famous names in Australian wine and continues to deliver on its promise. 

Paxton Wines MV shiraz 2012 ($20)

92/100

 

Big ripe and juicy McLaren Vale shiraz displaying all of those generous middle palate goodies. Layers of spices and plum with a little cedary oak influence underpinning what is largely a fruit drive crowd pleaser. Soft round and delicious and all made with biodynamics.

Partisan White Label shiraz 2013 ($19)

91/100

 

Chock full of sweet and concentrated ripe fruit is this excellent shiraz. There’s a decent hit of vanillin oak and some earthy savory notes that make it so appealing.

Thompson Estate Four Chambers shiraz 2013 ($20)

91/100

 

This opulent shiraz from quite a warm Margaret River vineyard is a real fruit bomb of riches. There’s a nice savory edge to it. Deep and penetrating dusty dark plum and blackberry with a hint of mulberry. The oak is neatly weighted and the fine grainy tannins brings some structure into the mix. Quality wine for this price.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

Haselgrove First Cut shiraz 2013 ($18.95)

91/100

 

Now you want a decent bang for your buck, then you are going to love this one. Big, soft and generous with fully ripe fruit backed up by firmish tannins and neatly applied oak. There’s a stack of lush ripe fruit in here.

Brown Brothers 1889 Heathcote shiraz 2013 ($18)

90/100

 

Vibrant ripe berry fruit greets on the nose. It’s a delicious wine of intensity and compelling flavour. Grainy minerally characters on the palate are typical of this region. The tannins are edgy and sinewy while the oak adds an ample hand in support. Ripe and warm in the mouth and ideal winter drinking.

Kingston Estate Wrattonbully shiraz 2013 ($14)

90/100

 

Wrattonbully really does make some very good shiraz. This one displays a lot of the cooler climate influence with such sooth and seamless generously proportioned fruit characters. Delightful perfume with a sprinkle of spice and cedar.

Taltarni T Series shiraz 2013 ($17)

89/100

 

Fits snugly into the easy drinking zone with its medium bodied primary fruit characters. The subtle application of integrated oak adds just the right touch to hold the lines through to the pleasingly long finish.

Blends

Knee Deep cabernet merlot 2013 ($19.95)

93/100

 

Such a beautiful expression of Margaret River’s famous red blend. Leafy black currant with a hint of coffee bean and light cedar. Has terrific depth of fruit with chalky tennis and subtle oak in support.

Gipsie Jack The Terrier shiraz cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($19.95)

92/100

 

Langhorne Creek wine made by the legendary Blass winemaker John Glaetzer. Old vine fruit, with plenty of hallmark oak and so much generosity. IN some ways a throwback to a previous era but it’s oh, so good.

Juniper Crossing cabernet merlot 2013 ($20)

91/100

 

One of those wines that you always know what you’re going to get. A perfectly crafted flavoursome expression of Margaret River fruit. Sits so beautifully on the palate with those enticing dark fruit flavours held with a subtle combination of tannins and understated oak.

Vasse Felix Classic Dry Red 2013 ($19)

91/100

 

The quintessential Classic Dry Red made from a blend of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Hard to fault as a wine at this price. Classy stuff.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

Hamelin Bay Rampant Red 2012 ($19)

89/100

 

A consistently very good blend of shiraz cabernet and merlot from one of the best small producers in Margaret River. Fruit and well-rounded with a velvety smooth palate texture delivering a stack of goodies.

Stella Bella Skuttlebutt cabernet sauvignon shiraz 2013 ($18)

89/100

 

Ticks all the boxes for this style. Plenty of blackcurrant and fruity cake characters on the nose with some subtle black olive influences. Generous and flavoursome palate strikes a good oak and tannin balance.

Pinot noir

Devil’s Corner pinot noir 2014 ($19.95)

92/100

 

Hard to get a better pinot for less than $20. This is a beautiful with cherry and subtle vanillin characters. The structure is impressive and more akin to higher price wines, with such fine tannins and fine grained oak plus that essential fine lingering acidity.

Other varieties

Serafino Bellissimo tempranillo 2013 ($19.95)

93/100

 

Oh boy, I loved this wine. Strawberry and savoury characters abound. Medium bodied with great mouth feel and ideal for food. This entire range is pumping out some might impressive wines these days.

Cirillo The Vincent Grenache 2014 ($19)

93/100

 

Lovely light to medium bodied Grenache from the Barossa. Rose petal and cherry with a touch of violet. All off 80 year old Barossa vines. One of the best wines in the tasting from a pure enjoyment perspective.

Underground Black and White pinot noir 2013 ($19.95)

92/100

 

Beautiful pinot from the Mornington Peninsula. Spicy plum and cherry with a distinct earthiness. Excellent wine with the structure and definition you normally expect at higher price points.

Bella Riva sangiovese 2013 ($17)

89/100

 

A medium bodied seamless and friendly sangiovese sourced from the King valley. This is made to quaff and enjoy with all manner of Mediterranean dishes. There is a distinctive precision about the palate with a subtle sweet savory balance.

$20 to $25 range

Cabernet sauvignon

Snake and Herring Dirt Boots cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($23)

93/100

 

One of many rather interestingly named wines from these guys. This one is first rate capturing the leafy black currant and infused black olive of Margaret River. Winemaker Tony Davis really knows how to work these wines and this one is superb.

Xanadu DJL cabernet sauvignon 2012 ($24)

93/100

 

Love the leafy classically varietal cabernet characters on the nose. A touch of black olive, black currant and savouriness adds to the complexity and immediate appeal. On the palate the classic angular tight structure and linear lines provide a precise platform to carry through to the finish.

Jack Estate cabernet sauvignon 2012 ($21)

92/100

 

This comes from what used to be Jamieson’s Run in Coonawarra. There’s some pretty good fruit to play with and the result is a super wine from this outstanding vintage. Has all that cool elegance and refinement that stamps the best from this great cabernet region.

Taylors Reserve Parcel Clare Valley cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($25)

92/100

 

Taylors do a couple of limited release reserve parcel wines and I went for this outstanding cabernet. IT’s a multi-layered and densely concentrated cabernet but one with an effortless refined finish. Firmish tannins and neatly layered oak contribute to the final expression of this region.

Howard Park Miamup cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($24.95)

92/100

 

Miamup is the road that runs between Cowaramup and Wilyabrup and so it’s right in the hub of some of the best cabernet growing soils in the district. There’s a leafy tobacco like quality on the nose and a lovely elegance about the palate. Fine silky tannins and fine grained French oak make their play.

Yering Station Village cabernet sauvignon 2012 ($22.35)

94/100

 

With all the talk about Yarra Valley pinots and chardonnays the quality of their cabernet in good years can be overlooked. Mistake, because you only have to put your nose into the glass of wines like this to realise what the area can do. The taste on the palate confirms it. IT’s structured and powerful with such focus and effortlessness.

Shiraz

Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Barossa shiraz 2012 ($22)

94/100

 

Plenty of full bodied Barossa fruit in here. Soft and generous with a deep and concentrated middle palate core. The tannins are ripe and supple but provide plenty of structure and support. The oak moves seamlessly through the fruit which is loaded with savoury dark plum flavours. Textured and complete.

Sevenhill Inigo shiraz 2013 ($25)

93/100

 

A warm an opulent Shiraz from Clare Valley. Okay there’s a bit of alcohol in here but the fruit weight and all the other components have produced a balanced and not overly alcoholic wine. Spicy fruit with some cedary characters splashed across the ripe licorice and plum fruit flavours. It’s powerful and chock full of flavor to support medium term cellaring.

Battle of Bosworth shiraz 2013 ($23)

93/100

 

Great producer from McLaren Vale concentrating on developing organic vineyards. This is dense and concentrated with typically lush McLaren Vale fruit. Soft and supple with a neat core of fine tannins and oak. The colour is amazing, the flavour even more so.

Kangarilla Road shiraz 2014 ($25)

92/100

 

Ripe satsuma plum fruit notes immediately strike on the nose. There’s a little vanillin oak with a sprinkle of spices. Smooth and seamless with chalky fine tannins in support.

First Drop Mother’s Milk shiraz 2014 ($24.95)

92/100

 

Such a refined and still quite rich Barossa shiraz. Lifted aromatics with hints of dried herbs and a certain smoked meaty character. A little cherry and vanilla extract with some nice savoury notes. Balanced and poised with real presence on the palate.

Jane Brook Back Block shiraz 2013 ($25)

92/100

 

Medium bodied and highly elegant shiraz. With a lift of red berry and earthy vanillin oak characters. Fruit driven with structure and presence. This is sourced from a specific block in the Swan that produces such approachable and friendly wine yet with the potential to handle some medium term ageing.

Four in Hand shiraz 2013 ($24.60)

91/100

 

This is all about fruit. Stacks of it. A dense and highly concentrated primary fruit driven Barossa shiraz with a soft and supple palate. Ripe, pleasing palate with a little oak worked supporting the liqueur chocolate and plumy fruit.

Langmeil The Long Mile shiraz 2014 ($23)

91/100

 

Smooth and seamlessly structure young shiraz with delicious plum and spicy vanillin characters. There’s lots happening in here with those dense smoothly packages shiraz characters filling the palate. Loads of sweet fruit with spices and earthiness creates a complex palate.

Maxwell Silver Hammer shiraz 2013 ($23)

89/100

 

Thoroughly delicious full-on shiraz. Offers stacks of plush fruit on a soft and generous palate. Has a slightly juicy confectionary character but there’s heaps of goodies in there to provide great value drinking.

Blends

Woodlands cabernet merlot 2013 ($22)

95/100

 

I have long been a fan of this modestly priced cabernet merlot that consistently overdelivers but I have to say this is the very best I have tasted from these guys. It’s also got a little malbec and petit verdot. So elegant and sophisticated for a wine of this price with a seamless and velvety smooth palate structure that delivers those gorgeous leafy fruit character to a long finish.

Stella Bella cabernet merlot 2013 ($24)

93/100

 

One of the best cab merlots I have tasted from Stella Bella. Plush and rich cabernet blend. Delicious sweet ripe red fruits with some nice grainy tannins. Plump and fleshy mid-palate a feature.

Yelland & Papps Vin de Soif 2013 ($21.55)

92/100

 

A blend of Grenache and mataro with a small amount of carrignan. A lovely elegant wine with a gentle palate and plenty of persistence on a medium bodied palate. Like the talky acid on the finish which keeps it nice and focused.

Fraser Gallop Estate cabernet merlot 2013 ($24.95)

91/100

 

So much delicious fruit intensity in this cab merlot blend. All dark fruits with a sliver or two of rich dark chocolate. The palate is deep and concentrated with lovely fruit flavour. Grainy tannins and a decent helping of oak play their roles perfectly. Tidy with a slightly astringent finish.

Bird in Hand Two in the Bush merlot cabernet 2013 ($23)

91/100

 

This is from the Adelaide Hills. Soft medium to full bodied merlot dominant wine loaded with lush blackcurrant and a hint of dark chocolate. Well-structured with a long finish.

Turkey Flat Butchers Block red 2013 ($21)

91/100

 

A thoroughly gorgeous blend of shiraz Grenache and mataro. Beautiful perfumed notes with a sweet succulent middle palate. Distinctly fruit driven with lashings of plum and black fruits. Terrific wine that is just so easy to drink.

Other varieties

West Cape Howe tempranillo 2014 ($22)

94/100

 

The 2013 was a trophy winner in Perth and this one is right up there with it. Sourced from the Perth Hills and Frankland River with a welter of cherry and raspberry on the nose sprinkled with a decent amount of spices. A delicious sweet fruit palate with that dry savoury balance so good.

De Bortoli Vinoque sangiovese 2013 ($25)

94/100

 

This is produced by De Bortoli. IT’s a fabulous example of the variety from the Dixon’s Creek property of the Yarra. Beautiful texture and fleshiness with typically dry chalky tannins of this variety. Has such an easy drinking character and mouth feel.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

De Bortoli Villages pinot noir 2013 ($22)

92/100

 

Highly textural wine with excellent fine structure and presence. Fine tannins thread deep through the fleshy fruit. Attractive scented cherry and raspberry notes on the nose with some spices and sweet vanillin influences.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

mato montepulciano 2014 ($25)

91/100

 

Highly perfumed notes on the nose. This is from the quirky Stable of Brad Wehr and marks a new branding based on a number of interesting alternative varieties in Australia. The other wines in the mix are well worth checking out.

First Drop The Matador garnacha 2014 ($24.95)

91/100

 

Light to medium bodied wine with lifted plum and cherry notes on the nose. Has a sweet slightly confectionary character on the palate but there is good structure with fine dusty tannins and lightly applied oak in support. This is a producer well worth watching with its cleverly packaged and interesting range of wines.

Pinot Noir

Seville Estate The Barber pinot noir 2013 ($24.95)

90/100

 

Impressive entry level pinot noir here. Displays savoury and slightly mushroom-like characters on the nose with an underlying purity of bright cherry and raspberry fruits. The oak is well weighted and adds a spicy dimension to the picture. It’s controlled and focused with an effortlessly long finish. Best in the shorter term.

Merlot

Grant Burge Hillcot merlot 2012 ($21.70)

92/100

 

Great year in the Barossa. Impressive merlot showing both structure and typical ripe fleshiness. Dusty chalky tannins and ripe black fruits with a decent slice of fruit cake richness.

$25 to $40 range

Cabernet Sauvignon

Hardys HRB cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($39.75)

96/100

 

A blend of Margaret River, Coonawarra and Frankland River cabernet. Outstanding. Beautiful fruit expression with fundamental tannin and oak contributions. Leafy scented notes of cabernet black fruits with a trace of light floral. Stunning wine just starting to appear in Perth but you might have to ask your local bottle shop to get it in.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($39.95)

96/100

 

Another beautiful Coonawarra cabernet from this most famous of vineyards and labels. Silky smooth and immensely powerful. This is quintessential Coonawarra cabernet and why it is so revered. Loads of dark blackcurrant fruit with hints of plum and cedar. Silky smooth though firmish tannins with great oak integration. This is a wine that you will find for a ridiculously discount price if you look. Always mandatory buying.

Katnook Estate cabernet sauvignon 2012 ($40)

95/100

 

Outstanding year in Coonawarra has produced this excellent cabernet which marks a return to form after the challenging 2011 vintage. This one is loaded with that typical Coonawarra black fruit presented with a smoothly textured palate of fine tannins and fine grained oak. Touch of tobacco and a touch of dark chocolate add to that mid palate sumptuousness.

Evoi cabernet sauvignon 2013 ($29)

95/100

 

Exquisite cabernet made by experienced winemaker Nigel Ludlow. One of the best small producers in Margaret River. Leafy red berry with some spices and a touch of cedar. Sumptuous palate with those dusty tannins and fine grainy oak in excellent support.

Fraser Gallop Parterre cabernet sauvignon 2012 ($40)

94/100

 

There have been some super wines under this label since first being released a few years ago. This is another cracker. It’s cabernet dominant but with important contributions from petit verdot, merlot and Malbec. Balanced and poised with all that Margaret River power and grace.

Xanadu cabernet sauvignon 2012 ($35)

93/100

 

Tobacco leafy and black olive notes on the nose provide the introduction to this impressive cabernet sauvignon. Deep layers of black fruits with blackcurrant, plums and opulent mulberry richness. The tannins are fully ripe and the oak liberally applied to support the power of the fruit. Leaves with a thick palate coating richness through a long finish.

Langmeil Blacksmith cabernet sauvignon 2012 ($33)

93/100

 

Outstanding Barossa cabernet from this outstanding year. Rich and dense with dark chocolate and crushed blackberry fruits. Coffee bean and chocolate characters infused. Consistently delivers some magnificent wines.

Shiraz

Leeuwin Estate Art Series shiraz 2012 ($40)

96/100

 

These shiraz from Leeuwin just keep getting better and this one is another beauty showing how far there have come since re-inventing themselves with it a few years ago. Seductive spicy aromatics with beautiful red fruit scents and a touch of cedar. The palate has grainy tannins and fine-grained oak supporting beautiful fruit. IT’s balanced and poised with great potential to cellar.

Castelli shiraz 2011 ($28)

95/100

 

This is a quality shiraz. Savoury dark fruit on the nose with a decent sprinkle of black pepper. It’s enormously concentrated and dense through the middle palate with ripe firmish tannins and ample oak in support. The coffee bean edge balanced the rich dark chocolate to create a beautifully harmonious palate. Excellent wine.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

Yelland & Papps Devote Greenock shiraz 2012 ($32)

95/100

 

Love this wine from this sub region of the Barossa. So dense and concentrated yet with a smooth elegance and suppleness. Traditional basket pressing and then maturation in French oak has contributed to that velvety classic structure.

Deep Woods Block 7 Reserve shiraz 2012 ($35)

95/100

 

Another outstanding wine under this label. Gravelly and dusty with an earthy deep vineyard character. Still very young but with so much potential. The palate feel and complexity with the multi-layered oak and fruit combo really takes it home.

Juniper Estate shiraz 2012 ($37)

95/100

 

Shiraz has been a strong suit for Juniper over the years. This is a more elegant and tightly framed expression than some previously which is probably a reflection of this less opulent vintage. Has a distinctive savoury character with firm sinewy tannins and plenty of well weight oak in support. Around 40 per cent new French oak was used yet the depth and concentration of the fruit has well and truly coped.

Taylors Jaraman shiraz 2013 ($29)

95/100

 

What a beautifully easy drinking wine with a whole bunch of class. Lifted dark plum and creamy oak on the nose with a liberal sprinkling of spices and a touch of coffee grinds. The palate is lush and concentrated striking such a perfect oak and fruit balance. Fine firmish tannins add support. Has great potential in the cellar.

Seppelt Chalambar shiraz 2013 ($27)

94/100

 

A blend of Grampians and Heathcote shiraz. Depth and elegance with so much deep fruit but with that loams gravelly you get from these two areas. It was one of Australia’s most famous wines in the 50s and 60s and then lost its way. It’s well and truly back on track.

Hamelin Bay Five Ashes Vineyard shiraz 2010 ($32)

94/100

 

Remarkable how this wine has evolved since first tasted. It’s right in the groove now. Intense perfume on the nose with a mix of mulberry and vanillin oak plus a liberal sprinkle of spices. The palate is soft and generous with a plush tannin and oak combo working a treat with the seductively rich and flavoursome fruit.

Singlefile Estate Frankland River shiraz 2012 ($40)

93/100

 

Smooth and velvety shiraz drawn from the highly prized Riversdale vineyard in Frankland River. Savoury notes of earthy shiraz with seductive primary fruit influences. The palate displays a rich gravelly loamy characters with a savoury influence. Perfectly integrated oak and fruit with ripe firmish tannins in support. A firmer more muscular shiraz that will handle extended cellaring.

Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Vineyard shiraz 2012 ($35)

93/100

 

The reds from this outstanding Great Southern producer have reached a level of excellent and consistence in the last few years. You can almost taste the soils in this classic regional shiraz. Supple and soft with a gravelly loams character.

Blends

Woodlands Margaret 2012 ($40)

96/100

 

Beautiful exotic leafy tobacco characters open on the nose. There’s a trace of cedar and red berry liqueur chocolate overtones. The palate is sublime, achieving an elegance and poise you really only get with the very best. It’s a blend of cabernet merlot and malbec all held with super fine grained oak and silky tannins. Simply stunning expression and most impressive.

Millbrook cabernet sauvignon malbec 2013 ($28)

94/100

 

Margaret River sourced wine with the Malbec playing a big role in the nose with its leafy red berry influence. Full and generous with powerful with wonderful consise3ncy through the middle palate. Totally complete in every way and one of the best yet under this label.

Mitolo 7th Son Grenache shiraz 2013 ($31)

94/100

 

Lovely light and spicy nose with a distinct rose petal plum and lightly cinnamon character. On the palate the rich supple fruit of the region manifest themselves perfectly with a light touch of oak. There is regional character in every sip here in what is a terrific wine.

Moss Wood Amy’s 2013 ($35)

93/100

 

A blend of cabernet sauvignon merlot and malbec. Opens with a leafy aromatic so typical of this region. There’s a little blackcurrant and subtle red fruits in there with a trace of cedary oak. The palate is tightly held with fine sinewy tannins and supple medium to full bodied fruit. Balanced and poised through to a long finish.

Amelia Park Cabernet merlot 2012 ($29)

92/100

 

Such a stylish and impressive expression of this Margaret River blend. Firm line of cabernet and a juicy fruity middle of merlot complete a wine that says drink me. A slightly minty lift on the nose adds further interest while the smooth and seamless palate is a feature.

Check out this great WineLinx Producer here!

Merlot

Katnook Estate merlot 2012 ($40)

94/100

 

A cracking good wine that restores your faith in merlot. This has structure and poise with a commanding presence. At the same time there is finesse and stylishness. This is a merlot with some backbone that retains its essential elegance and charm.

Other varieties

Dalrymple Pipers River pinot noir 2013 ($33.95)

96/100

 

Terrific Tassie pinot from this region. Cherry and rhubarb with spices and fine grained oak. Medium to light bodied but with real power and poise on the palate. One of the finest that puts together every last piece of the pinot jigsaw.

Castle Rock Estate pinot noir 2014 ($34)

94/100

 

Another super deluxe wine from Rob Diletti. Sweet ripe fruit with a tight restraining tannin and oak grip. This is serious pinto made with a view to some extended cellaring. Still pretty tight and firm but the good years are ahead of it.

Tamar Ridge pinot noir 2012 ($31)

94/100

 

Still a very tight and controlled young [pinot. Deep intensity of classically define pinot fruit with a cloak of fine grained oak and some chalky tannins. Has a precise acid lick to the finish which is enduring.

Warramate Yarra Valley pinot noir 2012 ($27)

93/100

 

There’s a sappy forest floor and meaty character in this wine showing a high degree of complexity. I like the chalky tannins and slightly stalky character is very good. Four different clones with a combination of stalk and 100 per cent whole bunch. Has excellent structure with a savoury and slightly fleshy character. Chalky tannins tend to hold the fruit into the palate.

Abbey Creek pinot noir 2013 ($30)

91/100

 

A year in bottle has revealed a whole new array of goodies. Sourced from the Porongurups. There is a leafy earthy mix on the nose with complements the cherry and light mulberry characters. Medium bodied with a firm thread of fine tannin and neatly applied fine grained oak.

Read more reviews………

© Copyright to Ray Jordan