2016 represents another standout in the fabled lineage of Grange, a season in which unbridled power meets consummate polish, an exemplar of the impeccable balance that defines modern Grange, yet infused with all the enduring potential that its legacy embodies. The bombastic concentration and deeply characterful personality of Grange is something to behold, set apart from the outset by its potent and impenetrable black robe, intense even by Penfolds standards. Exquisite tannins of fine-grained, mouth-consuming presence are never assertive, promising longevity of true Grange proportions. A monumental and worthy benchmark of South Australian Shiraz.
The great 2015 season has built a magnificently scaffolded Caley engineered for the long-haul in the true legacy of the great Australian blend. It’s classic and medium-bodied in every way, led triumphantly by Menzies vineyard Coonawarra Cabernet (74%) of exquisite redcurrant and blackcurrant definition and fragrant rose petal perfume, impeccably and seamlessly encased in the spice of Barossa Shiraz (mostly 1901 plantings) and the chassis of top-class French oak (46% new barriques). For a Coonawarra site of higher clay content, the mineral finesse of its super fine tannins is profound, carrying a finish of honed precision and incredible carry.
Long one of my favourite Torbrecks, The Gask has risen in the presence of Ian Hongell in the great 2018 season to hitherto unknown heights, with dense iodine and blackberries over a magnificent core of super fine tannins, completed with length and line of outstanding definition.
From the coolest slope of the Pewsey Vale vineyard, planted in 1965 at 440-490m altitude. Six years marks a magic moment in the evolution of Contours, with a silky, waxy seamlessness uniting tense lemon, lime and youthful Linden blossom with the wonderfully spicy, toasty allure of maturity. Vibrancy of colour and flavour declares that its grand journey is only just beginning. For all it represents, this is sensational value for money.
Grenache on another level, with density and presence from tiny bunches, layered with red liquorice, spice and satsuma plum fruit, engineered for the long-haul with two years in 50% new barriques that will lap up time in bottle to integrate. Tannins are finely textured and slatey, reflecting the geology under the red soils of its site. A serious Grenache for the long-haul.
Co-fermented with 8% pressed Viognier skins, this is a Descendant that contrasts great definition of dense, juicy, slipper black fruits with impressively fine tannin structure and the tension of the cool 2017 season. This serves to draw out the finish with fantastic line and length, accented with pepper from both the Shiraz and ripe Viognier.
True to its black label, Oscar is Dutschke’s darkest, most brooding and most powerful Shiraz. There’s more black-fruited presence here than there is in the more elegant St Jakobi style, and this distinction is more pronounced in the cool 2017 harvest. There’s more dark chocolate oak to back it, too, yet never too much for this understated season. Bright acidity and finely poised tannins draw out a long finish.
Not that the signatory has any say, but if Yalumba chief winemaker Louisa Rose could have chosen a vintage to put her name to The Signature, I’m sure it would have been one of the all-time greats like this one. There is a regal and distinguished feel to the tension of Cabernet precision, backed with just the right level of Shiraz flesh, woven seamlessly with tiny black fruits and super high-class French oak. Finely polished tannins of powder finesse hold a finish of profound line and length. A brilliant release in the 47 year legacy of The Signature.
Classic hallmarks of granny smith apple, kaffir lime, talc and white pepper announce an impeccably crafted Julius of clarity, focus and impressive concentration. Drought, poor flowering and heatwaves obliterated yields to just 10% of average, but did nothing to diminish refined line and length or enduring stamina. The acidity of a cool February and fine, salty minerality are supported by super fine, masterfully managed phenolics. A great Julius.
An unashamed take on full throttle Barossa Shiraz, Teusner’s flagship is built around a dense core of supple, spicy, ripe, old vine black fruits, confidently supported by the dark chocolate and fine-grained tannins oak of French oak (50% new). It holds undeviating line and outstanding persistence and, heightened by the lively acid drive of this cool season, lacking nothing in integrity and generosity.
The inherently plush mood and deep purple allure of Manananga in a warm and dry vintage is scaffolded to compelling effect by Penfolds’ dexterity with both American and French oak and its signature tannin framework. The result is a deep and strong Marananga of medium-term promise that will wow lovers of Barossa density, gloss and polish.
The cool, 500mm altitude of the Heggies Vineyard infuses a core of lime and granny smith apple, defining a backbone of crystalline acidity and enduring potential. Eighteen months post harvest, it retains a youthful, pale straw hue and wonderfully vibrant freshness, its maturity lending but subtle hints of honeysuckle, spice and toast. A stunning and long-lived Heggies.
Another fantastic Heggies Riesling that delivers varietal precision, fruit concentration and energy. Even 18 months post-vintage, its tension, focus and acid line uphold exacting precision amidst impressive, spicy fruit presence, drive and cut. It’s magnificent now and will age confidently.
A classic Barossa Mataro of unashamedly medium-bodied proportions, uniting the black fruits and savoury allure of the variety with finely structured tannins and intricately poised acidity. It’s great to see this variety driven by acidity rather than alcohol, making for a style that will age long and confident.
After the uber-refined 2019, the new vintage of this beloved label is more generous and flamboyant than ever, overflowing with all of the spicy, ripe wild strawberries that characterises Barossa Grenache. It frames this in a pretty, pale salmon hue, refreshing rose petal perfume and dynamic acid drive, making for a style at once unashamedly party friendly and eminently classy.
A harmoniously balanced an uncomplicated take on Eden Valley Shiraz, built around the integrity of juicy, spicy dark berry fruits, gently and eloquently supported by a light touch of new French oak. The result is supple and fine-boned, ready to drink now.
A Chardonnay from Riesling country: vibrant, tense and elegant, tactically picked fresh and lively in late February and treated with minimal tricks in the winery. This makes lime/lemon/white peach the hero, robed in a pale straw green hue and charged with youthful, energetic acidity and understated lees texture. Eden Valley Chardonnay often looks awkward with all the bells and whistles, and this is a case in point that less is indeed more.
Impressive tension was sustained by a cool February in grower vineyards of 500m elevation, in spite of drought and a warm growing season decimating yields to just 10% of average. The result is a Peggy’s of impressive concentration and varietal definition of signature granny smith apple and lime fruit, with the exoticism of frangipane and the succulent generosity of spicy white nectarine. Impressive and ready, signed off with long-lingering, linear acidity and impeccably handled, warm season phenolics.
Merlot sits confidently in the elegant guise of the cool 2017 vintage in the Barossa, and the result is a Dutschke more red-fruited, more fragrant, more tangy, more vibrant and ultimately more varietally characteristic than ever. Its colour is paler than usual, and it’s none the less for it. Wayne Dutschke has responded sensitively, downplaying oak and emphasising fruit brightness and definition. Don’t underestimate its potential, driven more by vibrant acidity than finely structured tannins.
A precise articulation of Kym Teusner’s aspiration to tame Mataro into a succulent, juicy and approachable expression of the Barossa, this is a particularly affable and drinkable take on this at times aggressive variety. Its glossy, spicy black fruits are held in place by fine, drying tannins.