2015 Jim Barry The Veto Riesling

Riesling loving neighbours to dinner, fine taste in wine and generous too. The veto seems to refer to the Barry patriarch trying to keep some control when his two clever sons took over the business. Based on recent deliciousness, he should leave them to it. Rich and dry with an appealing savouriness. Mandarin, limes and stones of good weight for the lively acidity which dances on light feet. I get the feeling this is going to be extra good in time. It’s starting to loosen up but the power’s there for that rich lime marmalade on toast built on ancient chalk soil to emerge in many years to come. Wish I was as confident in my own outcome.

12.5% alcohol. Screw cap. Thanks for sharing your last bottle, D and Y.

92+ points.

2012 Wendouree Malbec

Authenticity is a funny concept, not exactly hilarious but odd when applied to wine and place. Just how do a bunch of grapes represent the place whence they come? The sort of daft question that distinguishes the wine obsessed from more sensible humans. In terms of the flavours a place can transmit through the simple ferment of sugar into ethanol, then old Wendouree does it better than most. Sure, climate change, method, style and fashion have had their way but the smell and taste of those old vines stay staunch. Malbec planted in 1898. More medium of body than twenty years ago, there’s still that wintergreen, mossy, mint and eucalyptus lift but only as a background to dark cherries and soft summer berries of profound depth. Flickers of rose perfume, spiced Dutch biscuits and fresh supple vanilla pod. The kind of chiseled acidity and tannin only the great vineyards produce, no room for excessive flounce. Wendouree seem to have added grace and subtlety to raw power. Very good of them to make things more approachable earlier as some of us run out of waiting time.

13.8% alcohol. Screw cap. $40 in 2014 on that precious mail out.

95 points.

2012 Skillogalee Basket Pressed The Cabernets Clare Valley

The Barossa gets a lot of attention for its unctuous, warm and generous Shiraz but for those of us seeking a bit more cut and austerity, it’s good to head north and up to the Clare Valley for some muscled Cabernet, best brightened like this with some Malbec berries. Red fruits, even and just ripe, cherries for example, spring of mint, Australian forest, hints of cocoa and a nutty thing that reminds me of old school linseed oiled cricket bats, call me bats. An evocative earthiness too. To complete the Clare experience, tannins like suede and a final tilt at a dry stone wall of firm acidity. Open for three days and it just got better. Firm muscles, sanguine attitude but a soft heart too.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $25 ish on release.

93 points with stamina.

2012 Jim Barry The Florita Clare Valley Riesling

An admission, after a thirty year love affair with Riesling from the Clare and Eden Valleys this is my first bottle of Florita from a Watervale vineyard planted in 1946. Despite several years in a bottle, the first sniff was one of surly reduction in the form of that odd gum derived Indian spice, asafoetida. As it clears with air the curious direct memory link between nose and brain elicited a familiar warm pleasure without being able to put a name to recognised parallel smells. As limited intellect coped with the sensory input, things like lime, wax, old stones came to mind. Leaving half the bottle for a second day proved a good move. Any shyness gone, a glorious example of all the best Clare flavours, chiseled and distilled on the freshest laser beam of pristine fruit, all controlled by the most mouth watering of perfect ripe acidity. No raw power, just precision. What have I been missing all these years?

12.3% alcohol. Screw cap. $50 or so.

Started 94 on day one, 96 day two!

1995 Galah Wine Shiraz

One of the good things about getting old is being able to spot absolute bargains from the past that hopefully elude those youngsters scanning the auction sites. From grapes grown on venerable Wendouree vines in the Clare Valley and turned into wine by Stephen George at Ashton Hills in the Adelaide Hills. A sideline that sadly ended with the 2002 vintage I think. Despite 1995 being perhaps the worst of vintages in SE Australia, the Clare Valley fared better than some. I remember driving through Coonawarra in May that year to see a good part of the crop left to rot on the vine. Aromas of Australian forest still perfume along with exotic brown spices, dark cherries and leathery caramel showing 25 years of age. Still a good red colour and plenty of broad acidity and ripe settled tannin, large but flowing so evenly, a true Wendouree treat. Touch of mint and some pepper mixed into that characteristic swell of deep fruit hint at the cooler vintage. Maybe not the full throttle of the great vintages but still a formidable mouthful. To some of us 1995 seems as close as yesterday.

13% alcohol. Cork, one of those ASA branded ones that seem to do a relatively good job. $29 at auction which is about a fifth of what a Wendouree label would fetch.

94 pushing 95 points considering age.

2011 Wendouree Shiraz

There was much bemoaning the 2011 vintage in quite a bit of Victoria and SA. Well, it was very soggy and cool for days in summer. Nevertheless, comes the test and if the vineyard’s ancient, deep rooted and seen worse, then there’s reason to believe it won’t be a waste of money to support this oversubscribed treasure. Comparisons, here we go again, are maybe less than odious if they help with context. If the 2011 Malbec had Wendouree packing up its flavours and taking them on a trip to Barbaresco to find its structure, then this Shiraz seems to have swapped the usual iron and velvet for a finer acid based frame from somewhere like Saint Joseph. In fact this is delight for those sniffy North Rhône fanciers, dark brown spices, menthol, Oz bush and bracken lift and season just ripe cherries and very ripe raspberries, harmonious and sotto voce. Floating and crisp rather than that usual firm velvet fog. Makes a nonsense of trying to fetish the favoured vintages, Wendouree way the bottle always seems too small.

13.7% alcohol. Screw cap. Thanks for keeping the faith dear C.

93 points but more soul than some bigger scores.

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.