A great mix of Anything but Shiraz!
Clos Clare ‘The Hayes Boys’ Grenache
We start with one of my favourite wines at the moment; I have been hooked on this variety since I really started drinking them about 10 years ago. The first bottle is from the Clare Valley, South Australia, and is a great Grenache. This wine is grown using biodynamic practices, and grown at low yields on vines that have just turned 40 years old.
An amazing colour, the Grenache has a great purple hue as well as the amazing aromas of wild red fruits and ‘brambly’ forest floor/earthy overtones. The palate is extremely well balanced, with red fruits, mocha herb and fresh acidity. This wine will go fast once it’s in the glass.
92 /100 - Jubey and juicy, with cherries and raspberry rope, floral and aniseed lift – this wine smells delicious. It has medium weight with pleasant loose knit grainy tannin, some savouries and a pleasant dryness, but the fruit is seductive and tasty with a pervasive taste of aniseed throughout. And its smooth finish is what makes it a dangerous sort of wine - you could belt a bottle with bowl of slow cooked oxtail, or similar, in no time flat.
Marq Margaret River Malbec
With this next wine, I fell in love with this wine years ago and I had already had love of Malbec from Argentina. This wine is intense very similar to the wines from South America with possibly less acid because Margaret River doesn't have the elevation or the 'Andes' shadowing the region, but it does has cool southern ocean influences which is good for nature acidity as well. Cracker wine every vintage is great !!!
'Hearty but well-balanced. A thick slice of flashy/creamy oak rests on a bed of plum-shot fruit. Spice notes stroll throughout. Assertive tannin cracks through the latter third of the wine. Substantial from every angle.' James Halliday 94/100
Kaesler Barbera d’Anunda
Next we head back to the Barossa for another juicy wine - I love the variety from the traditional home of Italy, but this 120 year old producer nails the style, is bigger and juicer than its Italian counterparts (more sunshine), but still shows classic Barbera floral aromatics and red fruit. The palate hits the bulls-eye on the variety, and it’s quite elegant but supple, with great sweet red berry fruit and classic sour cherry undertones. Combined with a hint of spice, this wine is well balanced with a medium weight. Not as large-bodied as some of the other wines here, but very big on flavour. There was very limited production on this wine, and it’s completely unfiltered.
Trevelen Farm Frankland River Reserve Merlot
This next wine I have been a big fan of for over 15 years, and I love the people who make the wine. This wine has a nice following; it’s always rated highly by Australia’s top wine writers, as is the producer. But when come to the variety it is usually regarded (in Australia) as a softer variety to Cabernet Sauvignon - it fills the mid palate hole, and shares similar fruit nuances. And it can have monstrous tannins in some examples (especially from Bordeaux).
This wine, however, is not a soft/medium weight wine; it’s a full-bodied Aussie version, but still shows great varietal fruit flavours and tannin structure.
91/100 – Bright colour; generous and plump red fruit bouquet, with a fresh herb complexity. The palate is firm, focused and fine, with fleshy red fruits winning out over the structure in the end.
For our fifth wine we head to the Yarra Valley, for what has to be a must for this pack. It is owned by one of Australia’s most Iconic producers, Yarra Yering, and the vineyard is just down the road, made at the YY winery by the same winemakers. It’s a classic Cabernet Sauvignon (with a little Cab Franc), and is estate grown off one of the first vineyards planted in the region, with low yields and dry grown. The wine is packed full of flavour, classic cassis and red fruits, with great tannin structure and a nice acid balance - this wine over-delivers on flavour.
94/100 - An estate-grown blend of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, this wine has excellent colour and a great deal more complexity and intensity than the price might suggest; cassis fruit is the standard bearer, but there are also notes of redcurrant and even a little plum to be found. The tannins are neither too firm nor too light, and will play an equal role with the wine's natural acidity as it ages. Special value!
Last in our pack is a wine that’s produced by a family who has been in the Rutherglen wine industry since 1909, where they planted their first vineyard. Family members have worked for some of regions best known producers, including like All Saints and Seppelts.
I was only introduced to these wines early in 2015, and even after 30 years in the industry I hadn’t previously heard about them, so I’m really happy to put in a wine from this family producer. This wine is, again, an Italian variety, and seems to really thrive in hot conditions; the fruit is quite large, and has thicker skin than other wine grapes. The variety is quite aromatic and ‘Pretty’ on the nose, the palate has blackberry fruit and grainy tannins, which is a trait of the variety. It’s made in the medium spectrum; I would suggest - having seen this variety in full bodied style - that they’ve hit the mark to drink the wine in its youth. A great style, all you need with this wine is some salami and a good cheddar.
91/100 - At the prettier and lighter end of the Rutherglen durif spectrum, though the strike of grainy tannin is a giveaway. The flavours include violets, red and blackberried fruit and licorice. Mid-weight and attractive as a wine when drunk young, but it will also cellar well.
Well that does the pack; hopefully there is something you will find interesting and surprising, and you will still be able to sit down with your ‘I only drink Shiraz friends’ to drink them.