Simple palates, Seriously

Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania & NSW

Battely Syrah 2005, VIC $60-70. The Battely shiraz is one that comes up again and again in annual shiraz-offs. And no wonder too! This is one line that has consistently delivered at multiple levels. Fermentation is individually conducted in 1 tonne fermenters and the 4% viognier is co-fermented. The juice spends 21 days on skins before a basket press, then into French barrels (25% new, various coopers) for 18 months. Bottles are left for 8 months before release, allowing the wine to come together and show off better right from the start. You can get more information off the Battely website. Lovely nose, picked up primary notes of aniseed and raspberries. Clean palate of ripe dark fruits balanced with soft persistent tannins. The aftertaste is good, but overall this doesn't make too much of an impression on me and doesn't warrant the price tag. I think the 2004 is a better buy. 89/90/100. Tasted August 2007.
Chardonnay by Farr 2007, Bannockburn $55-65. A Chardonnay driven by mineral characteristics but very primary and lacking in personality and depth. 85/100. Tasted May 2009.
Chestnut Hill 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Mt Burnett, VIC Soft lemon talc and citrus notes with a straight forward, yet intense lemon/mandarin flavours with a high level of acidity. Rich finish with a hint of pith. Drink up. 88/100.
Sangreal by Farr Pinot Noir 2007, Bannockburn $60-70. ~15 year old pinot noir vines. A volatile cherry aroma that unfortunately doesn't last the length, red berries, cherry oak, hint of stalks. A weak pinot noir that is lacking in any interesting complexity. 84/100. Tasted May 2009.
Shiraz by Farr 2007, Bannockburn $55-65. ~2% viognier blended. A definite cool climate shiraz with soft aromas of earthy spice, reduced fruit but lacks the weighty component often found in Australian shiraz. Burnt red fruit flavours, and I'm sensing an extra touch of sweetness, from the viognier perhaps? The tannins are long but abit overbearing for the fruit at the moment. Might improve over 5 years. 87/100. Tasted May 2009.
Tout Pres by Farr Pinot Noir 2007, Bannockburn $90-110. A densely planted vineyard just under 10 years of age. A much more enjoyable aromatic profile than the Sangreal, it's more whole and rounded with hints of dark berry hidden in warm forest undergrowth. However, my interest is lost thereafter as this wine lacks complexity and any finish dissipates all too soon. 87/100.  Tasted May 2009.
Viognier by Farr 2007, Bannockburn $50-60. A simple, linear wine with a hint of the exuberance that a typical viognier should have. 84/100. Tasted May 2009.
Castagna Genesis Syrah 2004, Beechworth, VIC $75-90. Castagna is a biodynamic vineyard in Beechworth that is reliant on wild-yeast fermentation, having never used cultured yeast since their first vintage in 1998. Julian Castagna has managed to create a explosive wine that doesn't destroy your tastebuds and throat. Aromas of savoury violets with a dash of white pepper complement flavours of blackberries and cedary oak. An aftertaste that goes on for quite sometime without the alcohol heat but with a balanced touch of tannins. That said, I'm not sure the price is the best reflection of the quality of drink you're getting in the bottle. 90/100. Tasted August 2007.
Chambers Rosewood Light Muscat 2006, Rutherglen, VIC
Picked this up last weekend at the Food and Wine Show. Their crops have been reduced to 50% this vintage. Anyway this light muscat is a perfect summer's drink. About 5%, crystal pink in colour. Light and sweet, very refreshing served cold. 92/100 Tasted end March 07
2005 Chambers Rosewood Walnut Muscat, Rutherglen, VIC
Into the glass, and you straight away pick up on the lush aromatics wafting upwards. Rose syrup notes, this rich muscat (lighter texture than usual muscat standards) has a rich raisiny flavour with an aftertaste that goes for about 20secs and doesn't leave you gasping for a rinse of water. 91/100 Tasted end March 07
Chestnut Hill 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Mt Burnett, VIC Soft lemon talc and citrus notes with a straight forward, yet intense lemon/mandarin flavours with a high level of acidity. Rich finish with a hint of pith. Drink up. 88/100. Tasted August 2009.
Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz, Canberra 2006
$25-30. Berry notes with hints of fresh mint, youthful medium-bodied feel in the mouth with good fruit structure. Very good value for money! 91-92/100. Tasted 16th June 2007.

$25-30. 3500 cases produced. I was apprehensive about the quality of the 2007 wines, based solely on what I had heard about the draught, frost, ripening conditions. Well, obviously I know nothing about winemaking because this Hilltops is quite a ripper! Dry growing conditions reduced yield, but the fruit that made it through had concentrated sugars and flavours. An opulent blackish-red colour to this one, focussed and dense aromas of perfumed dark fruit wafting from the glass. Good flavour profile of liquorice and dark, ripe berries followed by a compact and pleasing finish. I think this will drink well over the next 5-7 years, but maybe have a few lying around for longer? 90/100. Tasted June 2008.
Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2005, Canberra
Appears to be from a completely different world away from the main style of aussie reds (being barossian or Heathcote) but shares the stratosphere with Torbreck's Runrig. Aromatic perfumed, what it lacks in fruit-driven punch, it more than picks up the slack in terms of elegance. Berry, floral notes with a moderate aftertaste centred towards the front half of the pallet and tip of the tongue. Tannin levels are perfectly balanced, and merely an afterthought as you savour this juice. I decanted for an hour before drinking, and the wine stood the test of time by holding perfectly for 48 hours across 24 degree days on the dining table. Clonakilla is argued to make the best viognier down under, and not many may offer equivocal alternatives although the straight viognier is rather pricey ($47 - yet to have this). For $70, the QPR appears to be imbalanced, but considering how lovely this wine is (I won't forget this in a hurry), it's certainly worth having a couple bottles of this beauty tucked away. 97-98/100
Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2006, Canberra ($70-75) Poured from 750ml bottles, surprised to see this format as only magnums were offered in the latest mailer. Dampened down aromas of viognier, flows into the mouth beautifully, with silky tannins and a touch of French oak. I thought it could be more forward and perfumed from my own personal experience from other shiraz viogniers, in particular if compared to the 05 version. 91-93/100. Tasted 16th June 2007.
Clonakilla Syrah 2006 $80-95. 1200 cases produced, straight syrah from the Murrumbateman vineyard that had been blended into the shiraz-viognier. Whole bunch ferment in native yeasts, 3 weeks maceration on skins followed by 20 months in 40% new French oak. A strange one to me, quite like a Hermitage, there are aromas of sullen red fruit and smoked meat. A fine drink no doubt, lighter in structure than you'd anticipate, flavour-wise soft and elegant with a touch of bitterness at the end. I'm not sure how this would turn out, Tim suggests cellaring for 5-10, while Campbell Mattinson says 2016-2028. 92-93/100. Tasted June 2008.
Clonakilla O'Riada Shiraz 2007 $35-45. 240 cases produced of this first-timer named after John Kirk's Irish musician cousin. Fruit selected from 5 vineyards around the district, pre-ferment maceration, some whole bunches, warm extended ferments, 2% overall co-fermented viognier and 12 months maturation in 35% new French oak. Nice aromatic nose of blackcurrant, red berries, touch of savoury spice. Lively drink, medium-bodied, a decent level of fruit, tannins slightly softer than the Hilltops. Drink over 5 years. Some magnums available. 91/100. Tasted June 2008.
Clonakilla Nouveaux Viognier 2008 $23-27. 212 cases produced, fermented in stainless steel tanks and bottled early, this has captured a good proportion of the crisp, fleshy fruit flavours of viognier. I thought the colour on this was a shade darker than the usual, in a light golden way. Aromas of line, slatey talc powder with rich fruity flavours, lemon and lime rind, then finishing very long. 92-93/100. Tasted June 2008.
Clonakilla Viognier 2005, Canberra
2005: $47.This exudes an aroma of musky ripe apricot spiced with ginger, reminding me of a damp mossy undergrowth with rays of sunlight streaming in through the cool overgrowth. It's full bodied in the mouth giving off an exotic sensation. This is amazing stuff from the Canberra district which does provide the ideal growing conditions for this variety. Unfortunately word is that the current crops have been severely damaged by bouts of frost, however we've still got a fantastic 2006 vintage to look forward to. I've said that $47 is really pricing this beauty out of a lot of leagues, but if you're looking to indulge this summer, this baby is IT! 95/100. Tasted 10th Dec 2006

2006: ($42.50-50) Boxed up aromatics with a sharp punch of citrus flavours. Not the most subtle of viogniers. 85-87/100. Tasted 16th June 2007.
Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2005, Margaret River, WA $80-95, 74% cab sauv, 16% merlot, 5% malbec, 4% cab franc, 1% petit verdot. Nose of light violets, cedar, dark fruit with hints of red berries. Medium-full bodied, smooth and fresh texture with layer upon layer of fruity flavours and chalky tannins (which aren't offensive). This is the first WA wine that I've been excited about in a LONG time. Brilliant effort boasting an elegant structure with sophisticated aromatics. Certainly a keeper, dare I say 15+ years? 92+/100. Tasted 7th July 2007.
Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot 2006, Margaret River, WA $80-100. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and touches of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Matured for 15 months in 40% new French barriques. A wafty effort and clearly a wine that doesn't warrant this price. There is some amount of dark fruit but it's not smooth and feels like a couple of barrels merely sifted together then stirred with the soiled head of a pheasant. 85/100. Tasted May 2009.
Curly Flat Chardonnay 2007, Macedon Ranges Pale straw colour with a tinge of green, soft aromatics of mainly white peach skin with grapefruit and a mix of citrus flavours that hang onto the backend of your palate. Decent level of acidity in this one, but somehow I thought that the oak was a little chunky down the middle and this impended further enjoyment of the fruit. 88/100. Tasted March 2010.
By Farr Chardonnay 2006, Geelong, VIC

$55-65. Lightish yellow, soft mineral nose, damp stone and slight primary fruit in the nose. Taste is simple, not creamy. Good acidity and overall a weak drink for me. 87-88/100. Tasted March 2008.

A quick note about the new 2006 releases by By Farr, the Bannockburn/Geelong winery. According the to report by Gary, the 2006 vintage was warm with below average rainfall and harvest was about 1.7tons/acre (28hL/ha). "... good replication of site and soil conditions, great finesse and strength of flavour with complexity"

By Farr Pinot Noir 2006, Geelong, VIC $57-68. Rich full nose but lacks the honest earthiness that I'd expect from pinots, especially given that this is coming from a 'cooler climate'. Simple fruit flavours with light fine tannins with a decent finish that leaves one expecting more for this price. Not my style of pinot. 87-88/100. Tasted March 2008.

A quick note about the new 2006 releases by By Farr, the Bannockburn/Geelong winery. According the to report by Gary, the 2006 vintage was warm with below average rainfall and harvest was about 1.7tons/acre (28hL/ha). "... good replication of site and soil conditions, great finesse and strength of flavour with complexity"

By Farr Sangreal 2006, Geelong, VIC $59-70. Subdued nose of red berry bouquet. Rich dark red colour, very fruity, but again, this isn't what pinot should be about. Too primary and simple for my liking. Better off buying a couple of entry level burgs. 88-89/100. Tasted March 2008.

A quick note about the new 2006 releases by By Farr, the Bannockburn/Geelong winery. According the to report by Gary, the 2006 vintage was warm with below average rainfall and harvest was about 1.7tons/acre (28hL/ha). "... good replication of site and soil conditions, great finesse and strength of flavour with complexity"

By Farr Shiraz 2006, Geelong, VIC $55-65. This has got 3% of viognier in it. Certainly a cool climate shiraz. Bland flavours mingled with savoury and earthy oakiness and tannins which when settled, probably still won't reveal too much else about this wine. 88-89/100. Tasted March 2008.

A quick note about the new 2006 releases by By Farr, the Bannockburn/Geelong winery. According the to report by Gary, the 2006 vintage was warm with below average rainfall and harvest was about 1.7tons/acre (28hL/ha). "... good replication of site and soil conditions, great finesse and strength of flavour with complexity"

Farr Rising Chardonnay 2007 $30-35. No fruit from the Bannockburn vineyard was harvest for the 2007 release. Instead, fruit was sourced from the Mornington Peninsula and Adelaide Hills. The wine was aged in 30% new French oak for 12 months. A restrained wine with peach and nutty notes no doubt associated with the barrel ferment. This blend is an interesting attempt but the wine is obviously confused. It lacks depth and is struggling to figure out that personality it's trying to exude. 82/100.  Tasted May 2008.
Farr Rising Geelong Pinot Noir 2007, Bannockburn $35-40. Aged in 30% new French oak, this medium bodied wine has dark fruit overlayed with sweet spice. Pinot Noir made in a reduced style with gamey notes and ripe tannins. 87/100. Tasted May 2008.
Fraser Gallop 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, WA
$25. Lovely black plum colour with a dense perfume of sweet cedar oak and smoky blackcurrant topped with whiffs of pencil shavings and cigars. I also picked out a sense of savoury juices of a fat beef steak. This is primarily a CS but there is petit verdot (5%), cabernet franc (4%) and malbec (3%). The texture is silky smooth and you are greeted with an immediate flush of tingling, spicy plum flavours. A robust wine with firm tannins that fade out for plum jam flavours to kick back. That ended a little too soon for me although the aftertaste does linger around very nicely on the back palate. This is certainly a good wine that is drinking very well now and will do so over the next 5 years. 91/100. Tasted Sept 2009
*I have revised my notes (rating and estimate aging potential) after following this wine over 3 days*

The name of Fraser Gallop was added to the growing list of Aussie winners at the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards by taking out the Red Bordeaux Varietal over £10 earlier this year. The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (so labelled despite 12% of the wine being a blend of other varietals) is tremendous value at $25 and is an easy recommendation for a case for keeps.
Fraser Gallop Chardonnay 2007, Margaret River, WA This has lovely aromatics but appears to be a light-weight. There's a buttery, lime rind nose akin to a lemon tart base, with an overlay of toasty vanillin oak. Ripe and developed flavours of green lemon citrus. There's a well-rounded limey zing which dances around your mouth. Drink 2-5 years. 91/100. Tasted October 2009.
Giaconda McLay Road Shiraz 2006, Beechworth, VIC $34-40. Fashioned by winemaker Rick Kinzbrunner in the style of Cotes du Rhone, Crozes Hermitage, so one should expect a young and fresh flavoured wine. The vines of Giaconda live in a cooler Victorian environment than their Northern counterparts in Heathcote and Grampians. Detailed information about the vineyards, soil composition and fermentation methods can be found on the Giaconda website. Exotic nose of sweet spices, plum and mulberries. The palate is very pleasant, exuding ripe primary fruity flavours with a touch of sweetness. The finish is long and satisfying, with no overt unripe tannins coming through; however, despite all that going on, I somehow feel that this lacks some element of depth. 91/100. Tasted August 2007.
Giaconda Nantua 'Les Deux' 2006, Beechworth, VIC $42-50. The vines of Giaconda live in a cooler Victorian environment than their Northern counterparts in Heathcote and Grampians. Detailed information about the vineyards, soil composition and fermentation methods can be found on the Giaconda website. Consistently ranked amongst the top aussie Chardonnays, the Nantua Les Deux is a blend of 93% chardonnay and 7% roussanne from the Nantua and Warner vineyards. Barrel fermented in 30% new French oak. The blend proportions have changed from previous vintages (starting in 2000, used to stand at 85/15%). Light off-yellow in colour, this has a nice nose of buttery sweet fruits. The structure of this wine is reminiscent of Old World Burgundian chardonnays as it's a mild, softer drink with a lemony taste. The aftertaste is pleasant, and the crisp acidity so typical of WA chardonnays is missing. 90-91/100. Tasted August 2007.
Giaconda Chardonnay 2007, Beechworth, VIC $80-95. Rick Kinzbrunner runs a stellar operation down in Beechworth, but are his wines really worth their price tags? Only one white wine will be released for the 2007 vintage due to a reduction in crop volume. There will be no Nantua release, and fruit from that vineyard has been blended with the Estate Vineyard together with 11% Roussanne from the Aeolia. The result is a soft, yet elegant blend with notes of lemon citrus, creamy textures which are quite full on the palate and a rich aftertaste. 92/100.
Giaconda Shiraz 2006, Beechworth, VIC $80-95. Notes of graphite and bristle-brush, freshly cut fleshy stone fruit with chewy tannins. Not bad stuff. 92/100.
Heemskerk 2008 Coal Valley Chardonnay, Tasmania $50. Fruit for this wine comes from a single Tolpuddle vineyard with 20-year old vines  in the Coal Valley. Planted on the higher elevation of a slope of silt on clay with an Eastern facing, cool inland winds play a part in the slow, even ripening of Chardonnay grapes on this site. Whole bunch pressed and fermented in French oak, the wine is somewhat complex with a generous nose containing young lemon and melon with a sprinkle of quartz. It's fresh tasting with rich, crisp acidity and citrus flavours. An excellent finish to boot. Released in Nov09. Drink 2-5 years. 92/100. Tasted August 2009.

Heemskerk (named after the lead ship of one Abel Tasman who circumnavigated the island) was established in 1975 and is now part of the Foster's Group with the very lovely Anna Pooley holding the reins of winemaking responsibilities.
Heemskerk 2008 Derwent Valley Pinot Noir, Tasmania $55. The Lowestoft vineyard is located north of Hobart on the edge of the Derwent (Celtic for clear water) estuary which is unfortunately having a couple of environmental issues of its own. This wine gives the sensation of a moss carpeted forest floor with flowers. Lovely, fresh ripening red berries with even tannins that is in balance with the overall weight of the wine. Good finish, have this over the next 5-7 years. 91/100. Tasted August 2009.
Holly's Garden Pinot Gris 2005, Moondarra, VIC
~$28. Wild fermented and at 14.5%, this beauty is more dry than the sweet 06 release, and now's the perfect time to crack open a few as the weather warms up over spring. This hails from the Moondarra region, and is grown at altitude (850m) on volcanic soils of the Whitlands plateau. Notes of honeysuckle and melon. Perfect as a starter or the casual glass. 7/10
Jamsheed Heathcote Shiraz 2006, Heathcote $35, 120 doz. produced. Early picked and co-fermented with a small amount of viognier. Tight nose, I think this will open up in 3-4 years perhaps. Still, hints of blueberries and red fruit. Good fruit core, tannins are ripe right now, which is a further hint that this wine might blossom with some careful aging. 91/100.

A fairly recent addition to the Yarra Valley family, Jamsheed was vintaged in 2003 by Gary Mills as a small boutique winery offering a limited offering of three shirazes and a rosé. Gary has got good experience under his belt having spent several years with Ridge Vineyards in California. All this wines are currently 100% whole bunch ferment, but from 2008 there will be an expansion to explore 80% and 50% whole bunch from other sites in the Yarra Valley. The current releases are only the second vintage as the 2004 and 2005 vintages were declassified. However, there are all the right signs that point to solid future releases.
Jamsheed Great Western Shiraz 2006, Great Western $35, 140 doz. produced. Fruit is from vines planted in the 1950's. Dense blackish colour, blackberries with a touch of spice and pepper. Flavours of lightly salted black fruit (like within the hour of the preserving process), chewy dry tannins become more prominent with the finish. 89/100.
Jamsheed Yarra Valley Shiraz 2006, Yarra Valley $35, 250 doz. produced. 80% whole bunch ferment. Cooler climate shiraz from the Southern tip of the Yarra and on elevated land. I got a sensation of under-ripened fruit, due to the climate? largely obscuring a mineraly component that is curtained in the far background. Nice dark cherry flavours together with sappy tannins. Enjoyable. 90-91/100.
Kiltynane Estate Pinot Noir 2006, Yarra Valley, VIC $42-50. An interesting biodynamic operation run by Kate Kirkhope in Tarrawarra. Vines are hand-picked in the coolness of the early morning, then 10% whole bunch goes toward cold maceration in a cold room which is followed by a warm wild fermentation stage. This wine is focussed, nice aromatic profile of undergrowth and ripe strawberry. Fruit-forward drink that is akin to the 2005 Burgundies sans the chewy raw tannins, although there are fresh tannins in this one which hold up the wine quite nicely amongst all that dark fruit flavours. But what's with all the over-priced decent Yarra drinks? Pick this up for $35-40. 91/100.
Kooyong Farrago Chardonnay 2006, Mornington Peninsula $62. Fruit from 11 year old vines, whole bunch pressed, natural barrel fermented and matured for 12 months in 30% new French oak. Pale gold colour, 13.5% alc and with an aroma of apple, lime zest as well as a strong waft of phosphorus. Good acidity, minerality is solid with lime and white stone fruit flavours which drops off into the oak at the end. Store for the next 2-3years, drink by 2016. 88/100.

Sandro Mosele is yet another example I can use when I argue my dreams of ditching my mainstream science career to pursue the life of vineyards, villas and vino. Armed with a genetics degree, Sandro has built the stellar reputation that comes with the Kooyong Estate name, one which is fairly recent, with its first vintage barely a decade ago (1999). The winery is located at the Northern end of the Mornington Peninsula and chases the typical Mornington crops, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, while maintaining a policy of shoot and crop thinning to limit yields to two tonnes per acre. Emphasis has also been placed upon the individual characteristics of the various clones, and for that purpose, the estate has a range of single vineyard labels to allow the drinker to distinguish and appreciate the clonal properties and discern between the influences of the individual sites (part of the magnanimous concept of terroir).
Kooyong Faultline Chardonnay 2006, Mornington Peninsula
$62. Fruit from 11 year old vines, whole bunch pressed, natural barrel fermented and matured for 12 months in 30% new French oak. 13.5% alc, bright gold colour, rich nose of ripe melon and peach. Much more forward and enticing than the Farrago with its intense honeydew flavours, fleshy stone fruit. If you want to have fun, this is the one to drink. But I guess you should keep a bottle right next to the Farrago for a comparison in 2015. 89/100.
Kooyong Meres Pinot Noir 2006, Mornington Peninsula $62. Fruit from 12 year old vines, de-stemmed and open-vat fermented before 18months maturation in 30% new French oak. Bright burgundy red in colour, 13.5% alc, this sexy drink exudes aromas of blackberry, cold washed berries and a light touch of cassis. Solid, supple tannins which don't over-power the flavours of cherry and strawberry, a fruit-forward drink that reminds me of the 2005 Borgourne Rouge entry-level offerings. 91/100.
Kooyong Ferrous Pinot Noir 2006, Mornington Peninsula $70. Fruit from 12 year old vines, de-stemmed and open-vat fermented before 18months maturation in 30% new French oak. Red with a tinge of black core in the colour, 14.0% alc with fleshy black cherry and dark red berries on the nose. This is more open and expressive than the Meres. Quite sweet with rich, dark berry flavours and the tannins don't make their presence felt at all. The finish is generous and pleasing, this might be another interesting one to lay down for the mid-long term. 93/100.
Kooyong Haven Pinot Noir 2006, Mornington Peninsula $70. Fruit from 12 year old vines, de-stemmed and open-vat fermented before 18months maturation in 30% new French oak. Lower in alcohol than the expected at 13.0%, this earthy red coloured wine has a nose of dark fruit and wild strawberry which while still perfumed, carries a softer core element than the other two offerings of this vintage. Rich flavour of vibrant fruit with a touch of grainy tannins which is good to give this wine a structural lift. Good acidity. Another one for the mid-long term cellar shelf. 94/100.
Luke Lambert Nebbiolo 2007, Heathcote The current Nebbiolo fruit is sourced from a single 2-hectre Heathcote vineyard and trucked into the Yarra Valley. Luke says this isn't ideal and already has Nebbiolo vines grafted near his Syrah vines in the Yarra which will be ready for a 2009 release. $33 at cellar door. 180 dozen produced. A tarry nose of dark plum, cherry fruit. 13.4% alc, medium-bodied with a good core of red fruit backed by prominent, dry tannins. 88/100.

Luke Lambert (Luke Lambert Wines) has brought a Piedmonte approach to the Yarra Valley with wines showcasing the characteristics of the originating fruit by keeping with minimalistic oak influence. He also pulls in some Nebbiolo from Heathcote, although plans for a Yarra source are in place. The wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts and processed under an old-school 42-day post ferment maceration. Unfiltered and unfined wines that offer a different edge to what you'd expect from Victorian wines. Worth a punt. 
Luke Lambert Syrah 2007, Yarra Valley $33 at cellar door, 130 dozen produced. There will also be a 2007 Reserve shiraz (100% whole bunch) released in the future. Handpicked fruit from a single vineyard in St Andrews. 50% whole bunch, 12.6% alc, this had a funky nose and in my opinion is rather linear and simple. The lack of exciting fruit makes the dry tannins so much more prominent and renders this offering rather boring. 86/100.
Mac Forbes Chardonnay 2008, Yarra Valley

A blend of fruit from Yarra Glen, Gruyere and Woori Yallock wineyards. 323 cases produced. Fermented for 10 months in 7% new French oak with occasional stirring of lees. Coming in at 12.5% alc, this fine wine is pale straw colour with a greenish hue and emits soft, sweet aromas of lemon curd and soft lime chalk stone. Fresh grapefruit citrus flavours with steely acids quite balanced with the weight from the oak influence. 89/100. Tasted March 2010. 

Mac Forbes Woori Yallock Chardonnay 2008, Yarra Valley 196 cases of this single vineyard WY chardonnay was produced. 10 months ferment in 22% new French oak with occasional stirring of lees. Overall, this is softer and more delicate than the blend. Lean and focussed citrus flavours with vibrant acidity and a splash of minerality like crushed gravel. 90/100. Tasted March 2010.
Mayer Bloody Hill Chardonnay 2007, Yarra Valley $28. Only three barrels of this wine was produced, extended time on less in old oak and doesn't go through malolactic fermentation. Tight nose, with some fruit peeping out. Linear, simple drink. 86-87/100.
Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir 2007, Yarra Valley $50. This was eye-catching due to its label that is similar to Roussea-Chambertin. A 40% whole bunch fermented wine, this has expressive, dense aromatics followed by big fruity flavours that are supported by well-balanced tannins. A solid wine. 88/100.
McHenry Hohnen 3 Amigos Marsanne Chardonnay Rousanne 2005, Margaret River, WA
$23-28, a trio blend, mainly Marsanne from the McLeod Creek and Calgardup Brook vineyards, Chardonnay from Rocky Road and Rousanne from McLeod Creek. Similar to the wine regions on the western coast of California, these southerly located vineyards on the southern half of the MR receive the cool ocean winds blowing in from the Great Southern Ocean. Aromas of young green herb and white nectarine. At 13.0%, this light - medium bodied wine has firm acidity with lean structure, and clean flavours of lemon rind and white peach. Flavoursome, but abit on the lighter side for me, would have liked it more if it had more going. Dry, crisp finish of a reasonable length. 89/100. Tasted August 2007.

The second vintage of McHenry Hohnen offers an exciting lineup of tradition and new tastes to the table. David Hohnen is the co-founder of Margaret River's famed Cape Mentelle and has also dabbled with the hugely successful Cloudy Bay in New Zealand. McHenry Hohnen is a venture with his brother-in-law Murray McHenry and to keep it in the family, his daughter Fraya Hohnen is the wine maker. An impressive 18 different varietals are grown on four separate vineyards in Witchcliff, along a south flowing and an east flowing stretches of the Margaret River. The range comprises of the MR-associated Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, but also includes Marsanne, Rousanne, Grenache, Graciano, Mataro, Shiraz and Tempranillo.

McHenry Hohnen 3 Amigos Shiraz Grenache Mataro 2005, Margaret River, WA
$23-28, a beautiful blend of ~46% Shiraz, 26-30% Mataro and topped up with Grenache. 14.0%, light ruby colour, a whiff brings the clear savoury smell of shiraz and the floral notes so typical of grenache. Medium bodied, dry with fine tannins, flavours are a bit towards the muted side for me, I was expected more based on the intriguing nose. But a good finish. 88-89/100. Tasted August 2007.
McHenry Hohnen Calgardup Chardonnay 2006, Margaret River, WA $32-38, very interesting to note "grapes are harvested in the cool of the night", whole berry pressings fermented by natural yeasts, partial malolactic fermentation and aging in mainly older barrels. 12.5%, this light wine exuded notes of sweet tomato soup, with light apple flavours and finishing with a slight tingle. 88/100. Tasted August 2007.


McHenry Hohnen Rocky Road Zinfandel 2005, Margaret River, WA $32-38, vines were grown off the original imports that came from Lodi, California (the adopted motherland of Zinfandel). A very difficult variety to work with, and David deserves applause for having the guts and patience to give this one a go. Wine growing climates would be similar to the Californian coast in some aspects. At 14.5%, glad to see it's not in the high alcohol'ed style that emerging in the USA. Rich, dense flavours, primary fruit showing through. Maybe a bit of a dulled finish, with a nice tingling sensation. 88-89/100. Tasted August 2007.
McHenry Hohnen Tiger Country Tempranillo Petit Verdot Cabernet 2005, Margaret River, WA $25.50-30, another interesting blend on offer comprised of 50% Tempranillo from McLeod Creek, 32% Petit Verdot and the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon both from the southern half of the MR. Some notes from a handout, and as mentioned before, these vineyards get the cool humid ocean winds from the Great Southern Ocean which have "an important role for ripening in the cooler part of autumn". Vines take root on land of granite soil with medium to low fertility, and grown on a single bi-lateral cordon with vertically trained canopy. Notes of dark red fruit with raspberry coming across, medium-bodied drink comes in at 14.0% and is an interesting comparison to the 3 amigos red blend. It's a balanced drink, very simple, certainly good to be paired with food. Maybe a bit too much oak for it's own good contained within, but might settle in 2-3 years? 88/100. Tasted August 2007.
Merricks Creek Close Planted Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula 2004
Lighter in colour than the 2007 release but clearly darker than the 2005 is the 2004 release of Merricks Creek Pinot Noir. Much more depth in this one, with dark red berry, fresh bark and toasted spice. Nice long finish. This should be fine for the next 5-10 years. 89/100. Tasted May 2008.

The 2005 closed planted pinot noir is clearly 4 shades lighter than the 2007. Much lighter in colour, yet this surprises by possessing much richer and more fluent red berry fruit characteristics. The tannin weight is balanced providing this wine a good backbone and it should evolve a further step over the next 2-3 years and drink well over the next 10 years. 88/100.  Tasted May 2008.

$55-65. Whole fruit crush with 20% whole bunch, cold-ferment for 16 days before 19 months of maturation in 100% new French oak. More intense nose than the other Farr Pinot Noir releases. Dark, red current fruit with hint of earthiness. The tannins are soft but a touch out of sync at the moment probably due to its recent bottling. A decent drink. 87/100. Tasted May 2008.
Merricks Creek Pinot Noir 2007, Mornington Peninsula $40-50. Whole fruit pressed with 25% whole bunch, cool-fermented for 16 days followed by maturation for 19 months in 50% new French oak. Earthy aromas, savoury with raspberry and a hint of crushed herb. This fruit forward drink does have a finish that seems a little out of sorts for me. 87/100.
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Margaret River, WA $90 - 110. Cabernet Sauvignon blended with cabernet franc, petit verdot and merlot (% unknown to me, probably available somewhere online). A nose on par with the Cullen, waft of creme de cassis, cedar and violets (recurring smell of the day?), the addition of other grape varietals makes this a deeply complex wine, with neat layers of pure clean fruit flavours. A frank drink ready to go right now, but would be great many years from now. 92/100.
Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Margaret River, WA $95-115. Having tasted through the past decade of this release, I wonder why I'm disappointed with the 2006 release. The aroma profile is fragile as the fruit dissipates all too quickly. This is on the lighter-side of medium-bodied wines, almost to the point of thinking this is watered down. The fruit disappears by the time the tannins kick in. This is a hint of fruit on the finish but I have been left with a hollow sensation. Quick, someone give me a drink! 86/100. Tasted May 2009.
Mt Langi Ghiran Riesling 2006, Grampians, VIC ($17-20): Weak nose, not much aromatics, acidity a bit on the high side to suit the flavours of poached stone fruit (white fruit/peach?). 13.5%. 87/100. Tasted 19th May 2007.
Mt Langi Ghiran Shiraz 2004, Grampians, VIC ($45-55): after skipping the 2003 vintage, the Ghiran shiraz is back. Subdued and carpeted perfume, it's an okay drink. 88-89/100. Tasted 19th May 2007.
Mount Mary Quintet 2005, Yarra Valley, VIC $125-150. A blend of cabernet sauvignon (46%), merlot (26%), cabernet franc (18%), malbec (5%) and petit verdot (5%). Typical cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc nuances on the nose. It's like drinking a crushed up piece of sandpaper, rough edges everywhere, lean, high acidity and too greenish for my liking. There is an odd funk in this, like something wrapped up in clingwrap. 84/100. Tasted May 2009.
Paradise IV Batesford Shiraz Cabernet 2006, Geelong VIC $30. There's an earthy funk to this one, with cherry as the major fruit aroma, mingled with faint herby notes. A moderate fruit load, the tannins are on the higher side for a soft shiraz blend. I think this is still a disjointed drink some what, but who knows how this will develop. 88/100.

This is one winery I'm not familiar with. Winemaker Doug Neal has drawn praises from Campbell Mattinson of The Wine Front who expressed his keen anticipation of these 2007 releases. But surely the Geelong climate is all wrong for shiraz and cabernet sauvignon?
Paradise IV Chardonnay 2007, Geelong VIC $40. 14-year old chardonnay vines, affected by the frost that set in during Sept Oct 2006 followed by the lack of rain in summer. 80% of the total crush underwent malolactic fermentation. Matured in 20% new oak barrels where it underwent further malolactic fermentation, and the wine sat on lees sans stirring until it was ready to be bottled. Stored in underground cellar for 1 year before release. Firm but sharpish acidity in this one for me, and I can taste the greenish fruit on the lean palate. This is clearly not my style of chardonnay as I prefer my chardonnays to be open and expressive whilst maintaining a decent fruit load. It's all about balancing the fruit with acidity without having to compromise one for the other. 86-87/100.
Paradise IV Chaumont 2007, Geelong VIC $40. Made from 14-20 year old Cabernet and Cab Franc vines with 6-14 year old shiraz. Cold soaked for 4 days, then fermentation occurred over the following 9 days before pressed off into barrel where malo was completed. Matured in 40% new oak, 30% 1-year oak, rest 2-3 years. The greenish cabernet characteristic is prominent, mellowed out by the Cab Franc. I'm not convinced the shiraz is contributing much significant overall. 88/100.
Paradise IV Dardel Shiraz, Geelong VIC

Ok, there's fruit, and there's tannin.. that's about it for me.. 87/100.

$40. The 14-year old vines were heavily cut back at the end of the 2006 vintage, and I think there is a slight improvement, coupled with more selection for this 2007 offering. From vines sited on clay soil on mid-slope, drought has affected the fruit resulting in a small quantity. Whole berry ferment in one tonne open fermenters with 1% viognier to give it some lift. Pressed after 8 days and matured in 40% new oak where it finished malolactic fermentation. Racked twice, stored underground for 10 months prior to release. A darker wine than the 2006, more concentrated in flavours. Doug thinks the 2008 will be even better than the 2007. 88/100.

Paringa Estate 2005 Riesling, Mornington Peninsula, VIC ($15): The 3rd estate release from 16-yr-old vines off the Callanans Rd vineyard. Tank fermented, the wine has retained a lot of its original ripe fruitiness and unadulterated acidity. Very fragrant, floral and light lemon with a hint of kerosene. Palate of citrus fruits, crisp acidity, flavours go on and on. Can't get any better value for money! 91+/100. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Paringa Estate 2006 Estate Pinot Gris, Mornington Peninsula, VIC ($20): Aroma of pear, high level of malolactic acid, with apple flavours and finishing shortly with clear acidity. 89/100. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Paringa Estate 2005 Peninsula Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, VIC ($18): Blend of fruits from several vineyards around the area. Fruity aromas of citrus and stone fruit, nectarine. Palate has similar characteristics. Good acidity. 90-91/100. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Paringa Estate 2005 Estate Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, VIC ($35): A notch up from the Peninsula version, clean citrus and stone fruit flavours but with a slight creamy nut flavour. Aftertaste stays for awhile with malolactic acid. Will definitely improve with age. 92-93/100. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Paringa Estate 2006 Estate Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, VIC ($55): Only bottled 2.5 months ago, but cellar door has started to release it as the 05s have sold out. Notes of dark cherry with the new oak showing significantly. Savoury flavour on top of  dark fruits. Revisit in 5 years. 91/100. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Paringa Estate 2004 Peninsula Shiraz, Mornington Peninsula, VIC ($25): Nose of ripe blackberry (mulberry?) fruit. Taste is clearly a cool climate shiraz, lacking in the warm heat typical to so many other VIC shirazes. Medium-bodied with plum flavours and a hint of pepper. Soft tannins. 88/100. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Paringa Estate 2005 Estate Shiraz, Mornington Peninsula, VIC ($50): 3% viognier added, but I don't understand why I got no hint of the viognier aromatics that should be present. Co-fermented, aged for 15 months in new and one-year old French oak. Plum flavours. Drinkable. 88/100. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Pettavel Evening Star Late Harvest Riesling 2005, Geelong, VIC
Amazing stuff out of Geelong. Rich roman-golden colour with mixed rich equatorial notes of ripe papaya and sugar pineapple. Sweet orangey finish minus the harsh acidity and citrus sugars. Tropical punch in a glass. 92-3/100.
Punch Lance's Chardonnay 2005, Yarra Valley, VIC 100 dozen bottles produced, $40 CD/mailing list. Two rows of 1977 chardonnay joined by a further 0.8 hectares were hand-pruned and hand-harvested. Bright yellow with a tinge of greenishness, broad aroma profile on this one with expressive fruit and a whif of black chicken essence. A good fruity core of grapefruit supported well by the oak treatment. Enjoyable. 88-89/100.

In recent times, James Lance has quite successfully punched his way out from the shadows of Diamond Valley (his father James made a solid chardonnay) and established Punch Wines as a label backing reliable pinot noirs and chardonnays. The key word for James is 'linearity', a structural property he has endeavoured to imbue in his wines by vine trellising, wild yeast fermentation, whole berry crush, and a shift in choice of oak. All effective moves resulting in wines that are less 'ripe' and with lower alcohol levels. The flagship wine is the 150 dozen bottles of Close Planted Pinot Noir from the St. Andrews region which carries a flying price tag of $80.
Punch Lance's Pinot Noir 2005, Yarra Valley, VIC From vines planted down in 1976, vineyard expanded in 1998. Another limited production of 100 dozen bottles, $50 CD/mailing list. Earthy ruby colour, the nose is soft but tight, more earth than fruit is expressed. Youthful fruit core, light plum flavours with spice kicking in with the finish. Soft as I personally prefer my pinots to be more expressive. 87/100.
Sanguine Estate Heathcote Shiraz 2004, VIC
($31) Opened and left for 1 hour in bottle standing. Juice carries a deep intense blackish-purple and gives off a masculine nose of subtle perfumed berries. This medium bodied wine is not like the hunky stuff that you'd expect from the ancient heathcote soils of Victoria. Very well-balanced with the tannins and acidity in good harmony. Notes of plum, masked white pepper that concentrates to the back of the pallet and the middle of the tongue. Reasonable aftertaste.
Left O/N on the table, but alas the weather was terribly warm which took away an element from the wine, so I didn't make any notes. But certainly a bottle I'd pull out for a casual drink. 7.5/10
Sanguine Estate Heathcote Shiraz 2005, VIC The 2005 version of the Sanguine Heathcote shiraz saw an extended length of time in oak compared to the 2004 release, up to 18 months. The end-product is indeed different, and this release has a much more velvety and softer aromatic profile. (92-94/100). Tasted 24th March 2007.
Sanguine Estate Quattro 2005, Heathcote, VIC $25. A typical Bordeaux blend consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot, its nicely perfumed with a velvety texture (92-94/100). Tasted 24th March 2007.
Sanguine Estate Chardonnay/Viognier 2005, Heathcote, VIC $25. This interesting blend has 10% viognier, so I expected more exotic fruity notes to come across. Instead it had a deep buttery nose with a slightly harsher texture due to the viscosity imparted by the viognier 88/100.  Tasted 24th March 2007.
Sanguine Estate Progeny 2004, Heathcote, VIC $25. The grapes that go into Sanguine Estate's second tier shiraz - the Progeny - comes from a parcel of light soil right next to the dark soils that hold the Heathcote shiraz fruit and sits on a slightly higher elevation along a slope. This was indeed a younger version of the Heathcote shiraz having only spent 12 months in oak (the latter also had a significant amount of new French oak), but it's got the same dense fruit backdrop within. Tasted 24th March 2007.
Savaterre Chardonnay 2004, Beechworth, VIC A light, stingy nose paired with a tight lean structure. Still closed at the moment. Have to revisit in 3-4 years. 85-6/100. Tasted at offline in July 2007.
Savaterre Chardonnay 2005, Beechworth, VIC $65-75, Milder than the Giaconda Nantua chardonnay. Weak hint of butter on the nose with an orange cake finish. Nice, worth a follow-up in just under a decade's time. 89/100. Tasted August 2007.
Savaterre Pinot Noir 2005, Beechworth, VIC $65-75, notes of clear sweet red berries. Tannins linger on the palate and there's a bit of fruit in there somewhere. Honestly, for the 2005 pinot vintage, you're just better off buying entry level burgs. 87-88/100. Tasted august 2007.
Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz 2006, Grampians & Bendigo, VIC $30. A consistent label for Seppelt since 1953. A blend of 39% Grampians fruit with 61% Bendigo fruit, combining the cooler climate, floral properties of the Grampians with the strong, fruit flavours of the warmer Bendigo fruit. Total of 18mths in 50% new French oak. 14.0% alc, it has a nice black crimson colour, astute nose of cedar wood, dark berries and red fruit. A medium-bodied drink of dark berries, plum and a touch of spice, this is still a bit on the soft side for me. 88-89/100.
Seppelt Benno Shiraz 2005, Bendigo, VIC $60. The 3rd vintage for this label spent 21mths in a combination of new, 1st year and 2nd year French oak barrels. It is black red colour, aromas of hedge fruit, violets, blackberry, clove? and sweet spice. At 13.5% alc, tannins feel a touch dry but backed up by good plum fruit flavours. Again, the tannins are probably a tad young right now, and this should show off even better once they freshen up with maturity. 88-89/100.
Seppelt St Peter's Shiraz 2005, Grampians, VIC Similarly treated as the Benno, this spent 21mths in a combination of new, 1st year and 2nd year French oak barrels and comes in at 13.5% alc. Dark crimson colour appeals to the dark fruit aromas along with hints of pepper and spice. A medium-bodied drink, flavours of mulberry and blueberry, a load of pepper spiciness with the finish. Fine tannins, satisfying finish. 90-91/100.
Smiths Vineyard Cabernet Merlot 2005, Beechworth, VIC $25. Two-thirds Cabernet, one-third merlot which gives this blend a bit of a lift structurally. A lighter styled wine with notes of plum and capsicum and followed up with red berry flavours and spice backed by soft tannins. Good, should drink well over next 5 years. 89/100.

This small operation is the oldest in existence in Beechworth, a region that produces quality chardonnay, pinot noir and riesling and more commonly associated with Giaconda. Residing at 550m altitude, Smiths has been around since 1978 when they grew grapes for Brown Bros. and has now turned to focus on producing a small turnout of 1500 cases from a mere 3.2hec overseen by winemaker Will (no, he's not a Smith but look out for his Flamsteed label produced with his brother).


Smiths Vineyard Chardonnay 2006, Beechworth, VIC $34, 400 cases produced. Matured in 15-20% new French oak coupled with ~10% malo and a wild yeast ferment. Clean yellowish tinge for a colour, there a uplifting nose of citrus, melon and stone fruit. Good flavours present in this elegant wine which should live for the next 5-7 years.
Smiths Vineyard Shiraz 2006, Beechworth, VIC $25, to be released in Feb 08. The first vintage of a shiraz/viognier blend from this winery. The shiraz is from 14yo vines with 3-4% viognier added via whole bunch coferments, followed by 12 months maturation in 2nd year round French oak. Uplifting perfumed nose, but comes across as being a feather weight which is elegant and soft. Turns out to be medium-bodied on the palate with soft tannins and decent fruit levels. Good finish. 90/100.
Stonier Cuvée 2003, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $35, 6 bottle limit. Premium-quality fruit in a blend of 60/40 chardonnay and pinot noir that spent 3 years on lees and disgorged in Nov 2006. Light gold in colour with notes of sweet almond, strawberry and honey. A crisp and refreshing drink, lovely fruit flavours lifted by focussed acidity and a sweet aftertaste. 91/100.
Stonier Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2004, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $28: Fruity, slightly dry on the palate. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Stonier Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2005, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $28. Fruit for this sparkling concoction was hand-harvested, cooled down then gently pressed into stainless steel fermentation tanks. After 18 months on lees this was disgorged in late 2007. A lovely aperitif that's light straw in colour with soft aromas of lightly toasted almond and honey, lovely ripe fruit flavours in a creamy mousse texture that finishes off dry. Drink 2-3 years. 90/100.
Stonier Chardonnay 2005, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $23: fruit from 10 year old vines, 80% fermented in 3-4yr old French oak, 20% in steel vats. High malolactic flavour, very fruity, but the acid levels might be on the slightly higher side. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Stonier Chardonnay 2006, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $25. Handpicked, destemmed fruit from 14 year old vines were matured in 80% 3-4 year old French barrels with lees stirring and 20% stainless steel. Pale gold in colour with a tinge of green, aromas of butter cream, crushed leaf, and some oak comes through with green fruit. Sharp acids with good fruit load and creamy mid-palate feel. Drink within 2-3 years. 91/100.
Stonier KBS Vineyard Chardonnay 2005, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $60. This single vineyard of I110 vines is 100% whole bunch processed, matured in 75% new oak over 15 months. Pale straw in colour, aromas of fresh lemon and fig, coriander juice. The lemon flavours comes through in a rich, mineraly palate. Drink within 7 years. 92/100.
Stonier Reserve Chardonnay 2005, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $39: fruit from 21 year old vines, fermented in brand new, or 1-2 yr old French oak. Very aromatic, notes of ripe melon?. Fragrant and good lingering aftertaste. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Stonier Reserve Chardonnay 2006, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $42. Fruit from vines planted in 1978, barrel fermented in 30% new French oak barriques with monthly lees stirring during the 12 months in barrel. This is a richer, fuller styled chardonnay, citrus and peach aromas compliment the citrus, lime flavours before the long finish with firm, fresh acids. Drink within next 5 years. 92/100.
Stonier Pinot Noir 2005, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $24: young vines into old oak, hence a very herby young and tight nose. Structure is lean, cherry. Drink over 2-3 years. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Stonier Pinot Noir 2006, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $28. Whole berry crushed with stalks added back in after for the fermentation process, then matured in French oak for 11 months. Light ruby colour, cherry earthy musk nose with flavours of lovely cherry, hint of spice and smooth, firm tannins coming through at the end. Drink within 2-3 years. 89/100.
Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir 2005, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $45: old vines (planted 1982) into new oak, small portion whole bunch fermented. Tannins are very high now, quite dry and harsh. Retaste after 4-5 years. Tasted 31st May 2007.
Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir 2006, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $50. 50% was put through extended skin maceration and 5% was whole bunch ferment before matured in 30% new French oak. Generous, expressive floral aromas with dark cherry and a touch of spice. Rich, spiced, cherry flavours with softer tannins to finish. Drink within 2-3 years. 90/100. 
Stonier Windmill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $60. Single vineyard of NV6 clone planted down in 1996, 75% whole bunch ferment, 15months in 50% new French barrels. Red in colour with a tinge darker on the earth tone, aromas of stewed wild raspberry, sour cherry and forest flour, the tannins are soft again, but balanced to give a persistent fruit finish. Drink within 7 years. 92/100.
Stonier Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Mornington Peninsula, VIC $20. Fermented in stainless steel, this has quite a different aroma profile which is bigger and more expressive. Rich fruit flavours persist with clean acidity. Drink within 2 years. 91/100.
Tatiarra Culled Barrel Shiraz 2008, Heathcote VIC, Australia $25. There is more 2008 on offer than ever before Ben Riggs stringently declassified 70% of barrels for the other Tatiarra labels. Purple black colour, not the darkest with some translucency. Notes of blackberry liquorice and raspberry pastel with a hint of spicy oak. Good weight in the mouth of dark berry fruit and plum with dusty, fine ground tannins. Gives a sense of a warm red earth in summer heat. Drink over next 3-5 years. Good value. 89/100.
Tatiarra Cambrian Shiraz 2008 Tatiarra Cambrian Shiraz 2008, Heathcote VIC, Australia
$40. Inky black colour with a dark ruby edge. Enticing black cherry, purple flower and sweet spice aromas with a hint of anise and heated iron filings. This is warmer than the Culled Barrel. Dense, textured cotton-like structure with blackberry liquorice and blackpepper flavours the most out-standing. This  robust wine is very much approachable right now (with the standard decant). The tannins are well-integrated and are a mere afterthought as you go through the bottle in a single sitting. Drink 7-12 years. I think of grilled, juicy lamb chops with artichoke flower and zucchini salad. 92/100.
Tatiarra Caravan of Dreams Shiraz 2008 Tatiarra Caravan of Dreams Shiraz 2008, Heathcote VIC, Australia
$60. There is no Trademark release for 2008 as the McLaren Vale component was deemed not up to scratch. There are about 200 cases of the Caravan for 2008. Pitch-black core with a crimson edge, notes of crème de mure, loads of dark berries and a hint of vanilla. A stirred soup pot of dark cherry, ripening blackberries with a generous dash of blackpepper on the finish. The tannins are happy to sit back to lend support and drag out the aftertaste just that little bit more. Drink now till 2025. 95/100. 
Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier lieu dit Malakoff Shiraz 2004, Pyreness, VIC
. I think this is the first release from this joint project. Opened last night. first notes of currents, but I decided to leave the bottle for 5 hours given the style of Chapoutier creations so it felt quite closed initially. After 5 hours, there was a musky smell of bitter chocolate around the table, within the glass, more cherry. Medium-bodied with a second of ground coffee. Good lasting aftertaste.
Next day, getting a sense of it being a cool climate shiraz, unlike your big Barossa or Heathcote ones. Nice drink, but it's mellowed quite a bit. 6/10
Thomas Kiss Shiraz 2006, Hunter Valley, NSW $45-55. Rich blackcurrant aromas mixed with some blackberry, this is a sleek, fruit-driven wine with spice dark berry flavours, touch of organic earth backed by the soft, ripe tannins. Elegant and savoury. 91/100.
Wedgetail Estate Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2006, Yarra Valley, VIC $32-36. Winemaker Guy Lamothe has produced quite a beauty from this single hill-side vineyard. Quite decent tonnage, 2ton/acre which is hand-picked in the coolness of the early mornings. Spent 10months in barrel, 25% new French so there is a clear presence of oak in this one. I'm getting floral scents mingled into sweet talc and light fruity aromas. Fresh fruity flavours, some acidity but I think it could do with a bit more as its finishes with a bit of fat on the sides. A decent, lively Chardonnay certainly, but I see this more as a $25-value. 89/100.
Wedgetail Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005, Yarra Valley, VIC $38-45. This is another interesting offer from Wedgetail Estate. A single vineyard Pinot Noir, cropped at 1.5ton/acre and sees 25% new French oak for 12months. The final product is a fruit-forward, easy to drink pinot with aromatic notes of black cherry and slight touch of over-ripe strawberry. Only 5% whole bunch going in, so the level of tannins are into the ignorable level. Again, I feel this should be slightly cheaper for the market, probably $30-35. 90-91/100.
Yering Station Willow Lake Chardonnay 2007, Yarra Valley, VIC $60. Fruit from 24 year old P58 vines on a 2.4ha site of clay loam soil in the Upper Yarra region at 350m elevation. Wild yeast barrel fermented and does not undergo malolactic fermentation. This is only 10.8% alc, a pale hay colour, this is very linear in its fruit properties, lacks a firm structure and is steely at the end. 86/100.

The original Victorian vineyard, Yering Station was planted down in 1838 and underwent a phase of re-development in 1996 following its sale to the Rathbone family. It boasts a modern cellar door which has won several tourism awards and is usually a site of drunken stupor during the Yarra Valley Grape Grazing festival. But only ordinary wines are on tasting there and we're only interested in the serious stuff right? The current winemaker is William Lunn who brings with him experience from Petaluma, Shaw & Smith and Argyle Winery (Oregon, USA).
Yering Station Combe Farm Chardonnay 2007, Yarra Valley, VIC $60. Fruit from 20 year old Mendoza vines on a 2.7ha site of sandy, clay loam soil in the Coldstream region. Hand-picked and whole bunch pressed into a stainless steel tank. Cool, wild-yeast fermentation commenced at 16°C and no malolactic fermentation. Lees stirred in tank once a month for 2 months, then racked into 1 and 2 year old French 500litre barrels for 6 weekly lees stirrings. Straw colour, this is a marked upgrade from the Willow Lake chardonnay with unripe, white peach aromas and freshly planed wood with a touch of aqua spritz. There is good acidity and structure to this drink. 89-90/100.
Yering Station Inverness Ridge Pinot Noir 2007, Yarra Valley, VIC $60. 9 year old MV6 vines from a 2.4ha site cropped at 5.9tonnes/ha. Handpicked and de-stemmed into a stainless steel open fermenter, inoculated with BGY yeast, malo was completed in barrel followed by 12 months in 30% new 225litre French barrels. Light coloured, nose of wild-strawberry and forest musk. For something so delicate, the oak and the tannins are simply overpowering. 87/100.
Yering Station Carr C Block Shiraz Viognier 2006, Yarra Valley, VIC
$60. A shiraz blend with 5% viognier and aged over 23 months in 100% new French oak from the cooler, elevated Coldstream district and 10 year old vines cropped at 1.2tonnes/ha. A very curious wine with no hints of the viognier at all. I wonder whether the viognier was necessary at all? The nose is of pepper, dark berries and wood varnish? Not in a bad way, and I was sure this wasn't a bad bottle. I conferred with a fellow taster just in case my nose was mucking up and got a positive confirmation. Overall, blueberry fruit flavours dominate this robust wine while there is good use of oak to prop it all up. Again, was there a point of any viognier? This SV will be blended with the Smedley Lane and another old vine component to produce the Reserve. 89/100.
Yering Station Smedley Lane Shiraz Viognier 2006, Yarra Valley, VIC $60. Another shiraz blended with 5% viognier and aged over 23 months in 75% new French oak but from the lower lying regions of the valley. Blueberry crumple on the nose with vanillin oak. The tannins are raw and this wine stops short of the cliff but skids off. This SV will be blended with the Carr C Block and another old vine component to produce the Reserve. 87/100.
Yering Station Yarra Edge Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Yarra Valley, VIC $60. This is an attempt to get back to the roots of the Yarra, classic Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2006 vintage was the hottest in history, and the late ripening cabernet certainly thrived well. Handpicked fruit from 23 year old vines from a low-lying 2.9ha site in Chirnside, this spent 23 months in new French barrels. This exudes french-like dark berry fruit, sweet herb and a whiff of tobacco. Sweet fruit flavours with a touch of cassis, opulent ripe fruit flavours are backed by a good level of tannins right at the finish. Up to 7-10 years. 92+/100.

The views expressed on this page are exclusively my own, unless otherwise stated. An offence caused is regretted, and will be retracted if, after discussion, is deemed reasonable.