Autumn wine reviews by Tyson Stelzer

97 POINTS // $135


St Henri

Shiraz 2018

The darling of the current assemblage of Penfolds heroes, the Barossa takes the lead in this effortless and unassuming style of self-assuredness. Accomplished, spicy, glossy black fruits of grand integrity unfurl to magnificent effect in the glass, contrasting a fine-boned frame of rigid yet graceful, powder-fine tannins, carrying a finish of long-lingering line and alluring appeal. An adorable St Henri that exemplifies all that this label stands for, I look forward to spectating from the sidelines as it continues to grow in magnificence over the decades to come.

95 POINTS // $95

Laughing Jack

Carl Albert

Single Vineyard Barossa Valley

Shiraz 2018

With a lifted violet air and layers of mixed spice, this high site lends a measured tone to the palate, streamlined, focused, and guided equally by energetic natural acidity and fine-boned, powdery, well controlled tannins. There is a delightful detail here uncharacteristic of the far western Barossa. Great potential.

93 POINTS // $75

Word Play

41 Across

Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

The cool 2017 season coaxes out a panoply of varietal distinction in crunchy redcurrants, roast capsicum, bay leaf and cedar. It culminates in the ripeness and density of cassis. Furry tannins will come together in sufficient time – it holds the line, length and integrity to go the distance. A side project for Seppeltsfield winemakers Fiona Donald and Matthew Pick, this is a generous and characterful take on Barossa Cabernet.

93 POINTS // $35



Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

A powerful Barossa Cabernet of deep blackcurrant and blackberry fruit is a fitting tribute to the great 2015 vintage. Solid dark chocolate and coffee bean backing from new oak scaffold finely poised tannins, making this a vintage for the medium term.

92 POINTS // $28



Bush Vine Grenache 2019

All the plump strawberries, raspberries and rubarb that lend varietal succulence are tactically held obediently in line thanks to a brilliantly managed trail of super fine tannins. From vines at least 35 years of age, this is a quintessential Barossa Grenache.

96 POINTS // $80

St Hugo
Sub Regional Ebenezer
Barossa Valley Shiraz 2017

A classy and exact take on the fabled Ebenezer district of northern Barossa, this is a consummately ripe and pure expression of the cool 2017 season. A deep, vibrant purple hue is infused with pristine blackberry and black cherry fruit. At once plush, polished and scaffolded, it is carried very long and accurate by intricate tannin filigree and bright natural acidity.

95 POINTS // $75

Hillside Vineyard
Grenache 2018

Elegant red berries and spice are accurate and captivating, but it’s the supple mouthfeel and intricate texture that really stands out here. Perfectly ripe, polished red cherry liqueur fruit is impeccably set off by the creaminess of large oak foudres. Tannins sit so comfortably in this interplay that you’d forget they were here at all, yet they hold a very long finish. This is signature Barossa Grenache, carefully executed in a strong season.

95 POINTS // $50

St Hugo
Barossa Shiraz 2018

Leading out with a full, vibrant purple hue, a deep and compact yet bright core of crunchy blackberries, black cherries and satsuma plum hails a great vintage in the Barossa. High cocoa dark chocolate French oak has been strategically and expertly deployed for long-term endurance. An impressive vintage for St Hugo, possessing impressive promise.

94 POINTS // $60

Bin 138 Barossa Valley
Shiraz Grenache Mataro 2019

A blend that leads out with inviting appeal and concludes with the structural framework that declares Penfolds. Bathed in glorious black fruit depth, trumping drought season dryness; the tannin sophistication on display here is rarely seen in this blend, a super fine splay of mineral texture that weaves a fabric of endurance, drawing out a finish simultaneously graceful, confident and enticing.

93 POINTS // $40

Vine Vale Grenache 2018

From a single site of 1949 vines, this is a Grenache of complexity, dimension, elegance and grace. Supple berry fruits have taken on savoury character of dried herbs and game, enhanced by  8 months in old French oak hogsheads. Fine-grained tannins and bright acidty complete an unashamedly medium-bodied finish.

93 POINTS // $55

Quin Wines
Barossa Valley Shiraz 2018

Black and red fruits of all kinds, mixed spice and an enticing violet fragrance, nicely lifted by a careful touch of whole bunch. Dark chocolate French oak sits squarely behind the fruit. Balanced acidity and medium-grained tannins coast through a long finish. The spicy, characterful mood of Greenock Creek comes alive in the great 2018 harvest.

93 POINTS // $75

Hutton Vale Farm
Eden Valley Barossa Shiraz 2017

The developing style of this cool vintage lends layers of sweet leather to a long finish. The star of the show is dense blackberry and blueberry fruit, met evenly by generous high cocoa dark chocolate and coffee bean oak. Firm, fine tannins will hold it for the medium-term.

93 POINTS // $69

Hentley Farm
The Quintessential
Barossa Valley Shiraz Cabernet 2019

The blackcurrant crunch of Cabernet is the perfect foil for the spicy, dark berry breadth of Shiraz. Generous and ripe proportions push into prune fruit and hot alcohol on the finish, though it upholds line, length and integrity. Shiraz and Cabernet are made for each other in the Barossa, and wines like this exemplify why.

93 POINTS // $75

Marble Angel
Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

All the hallmarks of Cabernet are on parade, framed in the dusty, rustic dryness of a drought season that immediately transports one back to a summer’s afternoon outfacing the north wind in the back blocks of Light Pass. Serious tannin architecture begs time. A Barossa Cabernet that speaks of its place, its season and its variety with unbridled clarity.

92 POINTS // $35

Schoff's Hill
Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Skilful winemaking has made something impressive and varietally accurate of drought season fruit. A contrast of the less ripe end of the Cabernet spectrum of leafy/grassy/green capsicum tension with the full alcohol and cassis character of ripeness. Fine-ground tannins and balanced acidity both display impeccable ripeness, well supported by dark chocolate French oak.

92 POINTS // $75

Hutton Vale Farm
Eden Valley Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

An approachable vintage for Eden Valley Cabernet, rounded and complete, yet with the fine tannin poise and natural acid line to hold for the  medium-term. An eloquently savoury and lifted mood typifies the cool 2017 season, exemplified here in fresh bouquet garni. Crunchy, sweet blueberry and blackberry fruit is well backed by supple milk chocolate French oak.

92 POINTS // $250

Hentley Farm
Clos Otto Barossa Valley Shiraz 2019

A powerful and dense Barossa Shiraz of full impact and vibrant purple hue. Sweet, ripe, spicy berrry fruits are lifted by nuances of exotic spice, even fruit mince spice. Firm, extractive, blocky tannins conspire with solid oak to lay out a rigid framework to a long, sweet-fruited finish.

92 POINTS // $50

The Rose Grower Nebbiolo 2017

Rose hip, red cherries and savoury, sun dried tomato notes are carried by tart morello cherry acidity and nicely presented, fine-ground tannins. Sensitive winemaking has fostered harmony, balance and allure, without downplaying the natural tension of the season, assuring medium-term longevity. Nebbiolo’s more elegant side has been coaxed out to refreshing effect by the cool 2017 vintage.

92 POINTS // $85

Curator Wine Co
Marananga Vineyard
Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Brassy, bold and brooding Barossa Cabernet of full red purple hue. Loaded with mocha and coffee bean oak. Layers of liquorice, cassis, coal and cherry liqueur. Firm, medium-grained tannins, warm alcohol and chunky oak speak louder than fruit, yet it nonetheless holds its form and persistence.

90 POINTS // $55

Quin Wines
Barossa Valley Grenache 2019

The potpourri, rose petal and dried herb spectrum of whole bunch fermentation brings an impressive overlay to the elegant raspberry, strawberry and raspberry jube personality of Grenache. Tannins are slightly sappy, yet fine and confident.

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