2019 Mitchell Watervale Riesling

A little reduction to start, clears quickly but there’s still some just made and bottled yeasty savour. Below there be masses of lime cordial, fresh lime and kaffir lime zest, lots of lime really. Some green apple juice and steely flint. A power of fruit floats on ripe, succulent and mouthwatering acidity. Generous Watervale and looking forward to one in the heat of February next year when it settles and thence for years more. Dry grown, organic principles, hand picked. Cellar, bargain, winner.

12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 589 gms glass. $19 Dan’s members’ special.

93+ points.

2004 Wendouree Shiraz

To remind myself why patience is very much a virtue while waiting for the annual mail, as in snail, purchase from my favourite Australian red wine producer, must be time to open one. Wendouree Shiraz always commands the highest price on the secondary market but its first amongst equals position is debatable, especially with the fascination of vintage variations. The cork is well behaved, letting deep flavours of brown spices, linseed oil and biscuits emerge. Lurking like a dark foreboding presence under a calm sea is a sinking depth charge of profound red fruit. This detonates splendidly after twenty four hours, spreading very spicy chunks of cherry fruit all over the mouth. The kind of ripe full but caressing tannin that only great grapes possess. Perfect firm acidity. Just as it finishes there’s a flickering glimpse of the first signs of caramel decay or maturity depending on how much you like old things. A lot in this case.

13.3% alcohol. Cork. $45 in 2006. The mail out also notes grapes from 1919 Eastern vineyard and 1893 Central vineyard.

Started about 93 points ended up the high side of 95.

2010 Pikes The Merle Riesling

Pikes’ premium Riesling with some age. Still a bright young thing to look at, reserved aromas of turpentine, lime and some more lime and vanilla pod. With time and who doesn’t have plenty of that now, the lime seems more concentrated, then brown toast, and some Meyer lemon slide on through. The acidity’s a bit grapefruit mouth drying but it just gets over the ripeness line. Despite the initial intensity, the flavours flatten out a little towards the end perhaps. Lovely to drink but not quite up with their best. Considering the price point where some great Germans start their climb up the scale, it’s amazing value. So reliable the one with the fish on the label.

12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $37 at auction, current release not much more.

93 points.

2018 Adelina Shiraz Mataro

Proper Australian names for a Syrah Mourvèdre blend. Smells of old linseed oiled cricket bats, that’s also something the French might not recognise, polished walnut and leather in an old Rover motor, blackberry and damson preserves. Old England without the airfare. Second day, there’s some nougat oak which sinks into bright nutty cherry red fruit bowled up on a good length. Background notes of darker fruit, licorice and dried woody bush land. Typical firm Clare acidity and furry ripe tannin close the deal. It’s that full whack shiny, almost honeyed, red fruit that proves its value. Pretty label, real wine.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $26 at Langton’s on line store, good value.

93 points.

2010 Adelina Grenache

A winery with an address on Wendouree Road East which could be an indication of grape quality, especially as it seems the vines are eighty years of age. Here the Clare Valley puts its stamp on a Grenache, making it less plump and generous, more sinewy and lithe. Starts with the instantly recognisable smell of doing dusty bottle time, then breathes some faded rose, mint and cherry. Despite a pale colour for Clare, it builds well with these flavours sweetened with age. Finest of satin tannin and delicious twist of Campari acidity. Bony structure but flesh too. Made by gentle infusion more than rough extraction perhaps and better for it. The relatively high alcohol had more effect on the drinker than the flavours.

14.8% alcohol. Screw cap. Lucky auction win for $25.

92 points.

2006 Wendouree Cabernet Malbec

Some generous wine loving people bring the most delicious things to the dinner table. Wendouree at its zenith. All those alluring smells, Oz bush after rain, rich cherry, cassis and whilst I’ve no idea why, the word mossy comes to mind. A soft explosion of all these things in the mouth as what must be the Malbec builds and builds a rose and bramble intensity. Structurally, the tannins are perfectly ripe and full of comfort. The acidity perfect. Expletives and pleasures galore.

13.7% alcohol. Cork. Thanks for sharing.

97 points, yes really.

2010 Skillogalee The Cabernets

Clare Valley Cabernet blends are part of Australian wine heritage, particularly if they have some Malbec adding sweet berry fruit to that stern old Cabernet. There’s also some Cabernet Franc here too but the back label is coy about percentages. Opening with all the correct clean smells of strict winemaking, cassis, red fruits, mint, tobacco and a dab of coffee and vanilla oak. Broad shoulders, square of jaw and firm of handshake. Open and guileless. It’s the depth of sweet berry red fruits that convinces, all set against firm, no nonsense tannin and acid. It’s the lingering mouth perfume of cassis that beguiles, showing beautifully ripened Cabernet. Little age weariness, just a smooth mellowing. Very tasty and firmly Clare. Nothing fancy.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. Was about $26 on release.

93 points.

2004 Wendouree Cabernet Malbec

One from the cellar. The tree bark came out a little bit too easily but still seemed to have done its job. Such a volume of those typical Wendoree smells, Australian forests after rain, choc mint, cherries, blackcurrant, and something involving iron and liquorice. Huge in the mouth but still disciplined by fresh, natural acidity and a solid wall of frowning skin tannin. A reminder of Wendouree from the last century. A lasting fruit perfume smooths the structure and maybe there’s finally a suggestion of age starting to calm the austere Cabernet scaffold or is it that round Malbec swell of sweet berries? In no way diminished on day two. The 2018 vintage mail out on real paper in an envelope is due in the letter box soon. A few for the cellar and some optimism about living long enough to enjoy them.

13.2% alcohol. Cork. About $45 on release.

94 points.

2011 Wendouree Malbec

If the choice was limited to only one Australian red wine producer, then it would have to be Wendouree. Even in the most unloved of vintages and 2011 certainly qualifies so far for this millennium, those old vines produced a wonder. Since the change to screwcap, there’s been a move to the less extractive and the more chiseled in shape. The 2011 dampish vintage only emphasises this. Opens like it’s only a couple of years old with fresh red fruits perfumed by roses. Only with considerable air do the more typical mint, Australian bush and mossy background appear. Appropriately for Easter, this was still very much alive on the third day, palpably at its best. The increasing depth of flavour wasn’t short of gobsmacking. The change in style and the cool year give the fruit an astonishing clarity and fragrant charm. Built more on fine acidity than rumbling tannin, although they’re still there and gently ripe. It’s like the Aussie muscle car chassis has been unbolted and replaced with that of a taut Italian two seater. Imagine the rich fruity essence of Wendouree built on the cool savour of a good Barbaresco, not in flavour but in structure. Modern Wendourees may not please the traditionalists but they’re an expletive worthy expression of vintage and vine. Depth and clarity, say it again, what a treasure.

13.5% alcohol. Gualia screwcap. $45 ish on the snail mail list.

95 finessed points, Wendouree and finesse, say what?

2006 Wendouree Malbec

Sometimes a cork does what it should, horoscopes align, it’s a fruit day or it’s luck. Whatever the reason when a Wendouree is this good, it can take its place amongst the great. Not least as it’s a quintessential wine of place. Profound depth of menthol, wintergreen, damp Australian forest, rose oil and sun warmed blood plums. Great weight and stately Rolls Royce power but no heaviness. Length disappearing into the far distance. Perfect ripe melting tannin and a completely natural buoyancy make it hard to believe it’s already thirteen years since harvest. Great wine and big thanks for opening, decanting and generous pouring.

13.50% alcohol or thereabouts. Cork. Generosity beyond money.

Definitely 96 points. Possibly 97.