2021 was my favourite Mesh since the fabled 2002, and 2022 has gone and trumped it! The purity, precision and sheer energy on display here are something to behold, but it’s the way it unites its tension with fruit concentration that really heightens its theatrics. Crystalline lime, pure wild lemon, frozen granny smith apple – it’s got it all. And it’s poised to go down among the longest-lived of all. Kudos, Jeff and Robert.
St Hugo had its genesis in Coonawarra Cabernet, and this new single vineyard release harks back to the great, enduring wines of the past. It captures the essence of the region and the variety in wonderfully fragrant lift, pinpoint red- and blackcurrant integrity and a breathtaking, expansive plain of chalk-mineral tannins that will sustain it for decades.
There is nothing at all blockbuster about the 2017 harvest in the Barossa, but in talented hands wonderfully beguiling things were possible. There’s a contemplative confidence to this Octavius, at once full and yet understated, with a cool air that facilitates space and builds sinew. Acid works in tandem with fine, silky tannins. To its credit, it does not leap out, but rather proves its mettle on a finish of long, determined endurance. A wine of shape, integrity and considered allure.
The team of Riesling wizards at Jacob’s Creek has pitched St Hugo among their most pure and enduring propositions, a demeanour that is elevated to all new heights in vintages as tense and classic as 2022. A blend of two Eden Valley blocks, high-tensile acidity slices through pure kaffir lime, lemon and granny smith apple blossom of considerable concentration and determination. Just wait.
The cool 2021 harvest brings a wonderful fragrance, lift and lightness to old vine Barossa Grenache. The talent on display here is something to behold, not only in blending G, S and M, but in tweaking just the right levels of whole bunch, carbonic maceration and extended skin maceration to heighten spice, flesh and tannin texture. The result is a quintessential Barossa GSM and the finest under this label yet.
There is something quite wonderful about Grenache in the elegantly cool 2021 season in the Barossa, exemplified here in a magnificenly bright style of heightened florals, tangy red berry/cherry fruit and mineral-fine tannins. There’s an air of refinement here that belies its core of vines more than a century of age on the Turkey Flat Vineyard. For such elegance it lacks nothing in definition, persistence or endurance. Serve it when and as you would Pinot Noir.
The planets aligned in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Julius Riesling, setting up a pristine, cool, late harvest to give birth to one of the greatest in the lineage of this fabled label. To project such effortless coherence in the wake of tremendous, high-tensile structure and pitch-perfect yet terrifically concentrated fruit is testimony equally to legendary site, fanatical viticulture and masterful winemaking. It’s pristine from day one, and will live seemingly forever.
The mastery of blending Cabernet and Shiraz (with a little Malbec) in the regional tapsetry of the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills furnished marvelous opportunity, even in the warm and dry 2019 season. The result unites tremendous depth of glossy black fruits, liquorice and dark chocolate with a vibrancy, drive and structural poise like no other blend can muster. The glide of super-fine Cabernet tannins is something to behold in the presence of earth-shaking endurance that promises to hold it strong for half a century.
Wigan is one of the kings of Eden Valley Riesling and yet again one of the releases of the year. I’ve awaited its release for two years since first tasting a pre-release sample. The purity of granny smith apple and lemon meet a rising buttery, spicy, honeyed, roast almond and preserved lemon complexity. It’s in a wonderful place at almost seven years of age, with many years of potential before it yet. A touch of savoury, reductive character appreciates some air to dissipate.
First planted in 1882, the Medlands vineyard at Dorrien in the heart of the Barossa floor is well placed to sustain the varietal distinctiveness of Cabernet Sauvignon, even in the presence of vintages as strong and full as 2018. The result is a benchmark Barossa Cabernet of pristine blackcurrant fruit density, set in a core of regional dark chocolate and framed confidently in cedary French oak (28% new). Wonderfully refined tannins unite with bright acidity to sustain a very long finish.
There’s a grace and effortlessness to the old 1919 vines of this single vineyard in Light Pass that transcends this warm and dry season. The attentiveness and gentle hand that characterise the talented Yalumba team draw out tremendous depth of supple, glossy black fruits while upholding silky tannin flow and eloquent acid line. Classy barrel work belies 15 months in new oak. Beautifully crafted and downright delicious Barossa Shiraz.
There’s a seamless poise to the southern Barossa that unites 60% Cabernet, largely from the Cameron Vale vineyard, with 40% Shiraz from 100-year-old Filsell vines with particular flair. Crunchy black fruits of fragrant lift transcend this warm, dry season, charged with impressive energy and potential by bright acidity and beautifully resolved, firm, fine tannins. Kudos, Craig Stansborough.
Barossa floor old vines, harvested early, are resonsible for one of the most impressive and distinctive Semillons to hail from outside of the Hunter. At almost seven years of age, it upholds a pristine, medium straw hue and a wonderful core of pure lemon and preserved lemon, every so slowly evolving to buttered toast, spice, honey and lanolin. The blessing of late release makes it almost ready to drink, but its full reward is still some years away.
There’s a compelling endurance and integrity to the tension of this high (500m elevation) site that is heightened in cool, late harvests like 2022. Quintessential kaffir lime, granny smith apple and wild lemon are the themes here, carried with determination and precision on a very long finish of high-tensile natural acidity that promises great things in time. One for the cellar.
The integrity and determination of the great 2021 season in the Eden Valley is on immaculate display more than a year and a half post harvest, with a core of pristine lime and lemon fruit slowly taking on nuances of preserved lemon and spice. It upholds fantastic persisence and promise, sustained by a crystal thread of natural acidity.
Sourced from old vines planted in 1935, there’s a wild lemon and grapefruit exoticism at play here that nudges Mamre Brook a touch riper than the signature kaffir lime profile of this cool, late season. It’s nonetheless infused with a magnificently taut acid line and crystalline structure that completely belie a touch of residual sweetness (4.3g/L). With a long and graceful finish, it’s irresistible now, yet holds great potential in time to come.
A delicious blend of estate vineyards, led confidently by Shiraz. There’s a supple and seamless feel to the dark berry fruit profile at play here, quite at odds to the classic Barossa GSM blend, but rather celebrating Shiraz and building its savoury guise and firm, fine tannin confidence with Mataro. Impressive coherence and persistence complete a great value blend.
A medium-dry take on the Pewsey Vale vineyard, picked early and fermented cool to uphold freshness of kaffir lime, wild lemon and golden delicious apple. It’s this fruit integrity and acid/sweetness balance that sells it for me more than its lower alcohol per se. Pewsey Vale has long produced its Prima Riesling at 9% alcohol but this clear bottle and on-trend marketing is sure to catch the attention of a new audience.
Cabernet comes into its own in the Barossa’s cooler seasons, delivering varietal integrity and definition without losing any of the depth or impact for which the Barossa is famed. With a deep yet vibrant hue, it’s packed with compact dark berry fruits and laden with dark chocolate. Fantastic, cool season acid vibrancy marries confidently with firm, fine Cabernet tannins that promise great things in the cellar. For a street price as low as $15, it completely overdelivers.
Another cool, late season was a blessing in Eden Valley, reflected in a Riesling of tension and precision, packed with low-yield concentration. Signature cool season kaffir lime, granny smith apple and wild lemon carry presence and confidence. A good Peggy’s, with medium-term potential.