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Autumn wine reviews by Tyson Stelzer

97 POINTS // $159

ST HALLETT

OLD BLOCK

SHIRAZ 2016

St Hallett’s depth of reach into great old vines across the Barossa and Eden Valleys finds its ultimate expression in one of the finest flagships of the region. Depth of black fruit is a given, but it is the craftsmanship of its structure and length of finish that define both greatness and endurance.

Dandelion Vineyards

Wonderland

of the Eden Valley Riesling 2020

Acidity is Elena Brooks’ superpower, and in a vintage like this, she could wield it to save the world. The purity, energy and concentration on display here are something to behold. Spectacular lime and lemon fruit rides a laser line of dazzling, white knuckle acidity. Masterfully crafted with consummate control and Zen-like precision (no mean feat in this warm season), it screams out for patience and will live very long indeed. Great Australian Riesling like this is every bit deserving of a premium price.

96 POINTS // $45

Turkey Flat

Grenache

2019

Barossa Grenache is a lot more popular today than when I first started buying Turkey Flat 25 years ago, and a lot more exciting, too. Turkey Flat’s 100+ year old vines continue to set the pace, and 2019 is set to go down among the greatest. Fantastically floral. Powder-fine texture. Emphatically varietal. Alluringly persistent. Downright delicious.

96 POINTS // $220

John Duval Wines

Integro

2017

A worthy newcomer to the Barossa’s A-list, John Duval credits his mentoring by Australia’s greatest winemakers and the privilege of making Grange as the inspiration for his new flagship. Very old vine Eden Valley Cabernet infuses astonishing line and length, packed with every varietal descriptor in the book. A judicious yet vital inclusion of Shiraz perfectly and seamlessly rounds the mid-palate, while top class French oak lends cedar, coffee and high cocoa dark chocolate layers and impeccably fine tannins.

95 POINTS // $125

Tim Smith Wines

Reserve

Barossa Shiraz 2018

A polished take on modern Barossa Shiraz, Tim Smith has rightly built his Reserve around classy fruit before impact or artefact. Berry/cherry/plum fruit of impressive depth is backed with layers of spice and liquorice from Eden Valley components. Dark chocolate French oak unites with bright acidity and fine, confident tannins to bring up a long finish of harmonious line.

94 POINTS // $30

Dandelion Vineyards

FairytalE

of the Barossa

Rosé 2020

The antithesis of trite pink Grenache, old vines unite with old barrels in a serious, contemplative style. Texture, tension and complexity arise, juxtaposing citrus cut with red cherry body. The savoury, vanillin mood of old barrels is present yet never hints at disrupting purity or freshness. Confidence meets elegance – and a not insignificant dose of class!

93 POINTS // $180

Two Hands

Ares

Shiraz 2017

Two Hands is a direction for lifting this big bottle! Even in the cool 2017 season, this is a looming Barossa Shiraz of unashamed coal dust, liquorice, black pastilles and dense black fruits of all kinds. For all of its glossy, black exuberance, it’s structurally polished and approachable, with well-executed, fine tannins and good persistence. Ready to drink right away, and none the less for it.

90 POINTS // $20

Mountadam

Five-Fifty

Shiraz Barossa 2018

The warm 2018 season has held impressive natural acidity thanks to the elevation of the Mountadam vineyard, charging dark and red berry/cherry/plum fruits with vibrancy and definition. Sensitively supported by French oak, tannins are supple and nicely resolved. Impressive value in Eden Valley Shiraz.

95 POINTS // $50

Chateau Yaldara
Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Barossa Valley 2016

It can be a tricky juggling act to present Cabernet’s varietal signature within the full-bodied mood of the Barossa. This is a case in point for the potential when it’s done right. As impressive as its dense cassis and blackcurrant are, bathed generously in dark chocolate French oak, it’s ultimately its crunchy cabernet acidity that defines both poise and potential. Impressive stuff.

95 POINTS // $200

Wolf Blass
Platinum Label
Medlands Vineyard
Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016

The great 2016 season heralds a powerful Platinum that exemplifies the dense exuberance of Blass within a carefully engineered framework of control and impeccable polish. Blackberry, black plum and liquorice are laid out generously on a backdrop of dark and milk chocolate. Super fine yet prominent tannins direct a very long finish and promise an extended future.

94 POINTS // $165

Henschke
Cyril Henschke
Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Embracing the idiosyncratic personality of Cyril, this is a vintage at once savoury, meaty and yet crunchy, focused and inherently varietal. Cyril always somehow smells and tastes to me a little of (nearby) Hutton Vale lamb, underscored here by a core of crunchy blackcurrants and cassis, energised equally by vibrant acidity and firm, medium-grain tannins. Impressive length infuses promise.

94 POINTS // $50

Chateau Yaldara
Reserve Shiraz
Barossa Valley 2016

The generosity of the 2016 season is well articulated in this deep, dark and full expression of black fruits and coal steam, well supported by the dark chocolate and strong, fine tannins of both French and American oak. Well engineered, it has the chassis for medium-term development.

93 POINTS // $145

Elderton
Command
Single Vineyard Shiraz
Barossa 2016

A bold and traditional Barossa Shiraz from these fabled 1864 vines. Stewed berry fruits collide with firm dark chocolate oak. Alcohol heat and firm tannin grip make for a dry and assertive finish. Oak tannins scream out for a decade to soften, but does its fruit possess the stamina to hold out?

92 POINTS // $120

Elderton
Ashmead
Single Vineyard
Cabernet Sauvignon
Barossa 2017

The cool 2017 season in the Barossa has yielded a tangy Cabernet from this 1944 planted Nuriootpa vineyard. A wide spectrum of fruit ripeness lends green capsicum, sweet and sour fruit notes and sappy acidity. Firm, fine tannins promise a long future.

92 POINTS // $30

Paisley Wines
Silk Shiraz
Barossa Valley 2018

Barossa Shiraz in all its characterful and alluring glory, with a deep core of succulent black fruit, framed in dark chocolate oak. Finely structured tannins have been nicely honed, as Derek Fitzgerald does so well, drawing out a long finish of immediate appeal.

92 POINTS // $70

Seppeltsfield Barossa
The Westing 2018

Deep and vibrant in both hue and palate, this is a generous parade of the black fruit and prune presence of the western grounds of the Barossa. Dark chocolate oak rises to the challenge, with the acid line and firm, fine tannins to uphold integrity in the presence of not insubstantial alcohol, bringing a dry firmness to a long finish.

92 POINTS // $120

Curator Wine Co
Greenock Vineyard
Barossa Valley Shiraz
2018

Curator’s new flagship is a very ripe and spirty expression of Greenock. Prune and cassis fruit are bolstered by solid coffee bean and dark chocolate French oak. Hot alcohol marks a long finish of fine tannin support. High impact Barossa Shiraz, not for the faint-hearted.

91 POINTS // $60

Atze’s Corner
Rare Black Single Vineyard
Barossa Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

The long, slow ripening of this cool vintage in the northern Barossa has produced crunchy Cabernet of varietal definition at the green capsicum end of the spectrum, while achieving crucial tannin and acid ripeness. The result is a tangy style of powerful blackcurrant fruit, well supported by cedary, dark chocolate French oak. Fine, confident fruit and oak tannins drive a long finish of considerable potential.

91 POINTS // $35

Dutschke
Jackson
Cabernet Shiraz 2018

With a wonderfully vibrant purple hue, this is an impressively bright take on the Barossa’s classic blend. Wayne Dutschke has united the crunch of Cabernet with the spicy, black-fruited generosity of Shiraz with particular finesse in 2018, set off eloquently with dark chocolate oak, fine tannins and lingering persistence.

90 POINTS // $30

Paisley Wines
Velvet Grenache
Barossa Valley 2018

Sweet red berry fruits, dark chocolate and tangy morello cherries coalesce in a ripe and dry style of warming alcohol. Derek Fitzgerald’s signature fine tannins mark out a finish of grip and persistence, promising medium-term potential.