Stricken by flu, then a nasty encounter with the major pandemic can really damage your mood, your sense of smell and any confidence in a return to anything like objective tasting, should there be such a thing? A gentle and familiar toe in the water then in good old Wynns Shiraz. Still so enormously discounted that there’s no serious loss if it tastes as bad as my normal coffee drink did for a while. Phew, it tastes like red wine. In particular, starts with low key blackberry and plum jam with a touch of earthy tar all put firmly in place with a rasp of lemony acidity and green herb fine tannin. In time, there’s more bright red fruit, pepper and the acidity tends to freshen instead of jar. Tannins are nicely bound. A friend fancied the 2021 Reframed Shiraz x Riesling version brought to mind the North end of the Rhone valley. There’s a parallel here maybe in terms of just over the line ripeness and freshness within the boundaries of local flavours. Still a bargain with a sense of real grapes rather than an industrial recipe. Coffee tastes good too now.
13.6% alcohol. Screw cap. $13.
This and Wynns Shiraz are often discounted to below $15 which perhaps makes them amongst the best value Australian red wines. From a cool year with a late burst of glorious autumn weather, this opens with a pretty purple red colour and smell if colours have perfume? Thick in texture and fragrant with sweet earth and green herbs, Tart blackberry and blackcurrant that just qualify as ripe with much fruit sweetness and a tweak of Cabernet leafiness. Lots of extract helps the feel of soft tannin and gentle acidity but doesn’t hinder the impression of Coonawarra claret as it was last century. Just ripe enough but some will perhaps prefer more fruit sweetness rather than the savoury and earthy side of a La Niña season. For the price the discussion could be a bit precious.
13.7% alcohol. Screw cap. $13.25 in a Murphy six.
Despite TWE’s marketing department thinking a psychedelic paint factory explosion will be an improvement on a proven brand label, it’s the contents of the bottle that’s thankfully true to such good a winery. Not sure what the x means either, other than Franc is the parent of Sauvignon, thus some form of multiplication? Fashion, what’s old is new again as the idea that lower ripeness, less oak flavour and extraction seems oddly like Wynns reds were in the eighties. Nice to be back where we started apart from a bit of whole berry ferment maybe? Leaps out of the glass and straight into the olfactories with loads of leaf, raspberry and darker blackcurrant. Despite plenty of clean flavour in the weight of warm fruit, there’s a flash of savoury sweet leaf that triggers memories of the Loire. Just to remind us where it’s really from, the finish does have a cuddly, sweet earth, Coonawarra claret dimension. The acidity has a little tang but the tannins are ripe and satisfying. Good to see less artifice and more refreshment. Does the brand need yet another range? Not sure TWE know how to get the message to us?
12.9% alcohol. Screw cap. $20 at best. Dan’s $24, discounting awaited.
Another year, another trial bottle of a longtime favourite label. Actually three trial bottles. The first left an impression of flabby fruit and a washy unsatisfying end, oh well. The second was a happy freebie from TWE and their Cellardoor.co subscribers’ rewards program. Wouldn’t have recognised it as the same wine. Fresh, punchy and full of raspberries with a crunch of acidity sitting a little bit high as it finished. A little bemused, I thought a third in order to see if a Dan’s sourced bottle could be as good as the second? Sort of. Rich with ripe plum, berries, spice and a hint of tar. Clean but not as fresh as the second but the acidity cleans instead of rasping and the tannin’s ripe, sweet and broad. Perhaps less of the Coonawarra mineral salt than usual. Again for the money, an extraordinary example of large scale viticulture and perhaps the variability of large volumes? Life’s a bit too short but if someone were to line up most Australian Shiraz under $20 and endure a blind tasting, I’d be betting on this stalwart to place well with its quiet composure. Depending on the batch.
14% alcohol. Screw cap. $13.60 on special at Murphy’s, sometimes less.
Thank goodness for Winefront. An Australian Cabernet for $12.95 would not normally rate high on the scale of potential buys but a good review and a discount at Dan Murphy’s which makes a mockery of the letters RRP and why not? Proper savoury and tart fruited Cabernet here. Opens a bit sweaty, clears to earth and gravel, black olive and iodine, leaf and tart red berries. Almost that come hither savoury invitation of dare you say, Bordeaux. Over three days it looks far more Australian, particularly Coonawarra as scents of minty Australian shrubbery and that distinct smoky salinity emerge. Shouldering their way through the savoury are just ripe red fruit and hints of black currant. Good even brush of ripe acid and sandy tannin. Yet more evidence of Wynns producing large amounts of commercially important wine that still resonate place and season. Might just have to upgrade to a bottle of the 2019 Black Label which would be the 34th vintage to find its way into my glass. Creak.
13.6% alcohol. Screw cap. $12.95.
91 points for me, 92 for the more accurate Winefront.
From the initial three bottles bought six or so years ago but I did notice it as a Dan Murphy’s cellar release for $20 if you want to join the fun for still not much, notwithstanding the quality of the storage, of course. To repeat myself, again, not sure how this has so much character for something made on a large scale. Savoury and earthy to sniff and taste. Brown spice, blackberries, earthy in a red dirt way, tar and that saline, mineral water thing that seems like an alkaline Coonawarra marker? Just medium bodied, even acidity settled into good firm tannin and a touch of nougat from subtle oak. The label’s even older than I, not many of those left in Australia. Would be great if they went back to the original white label, still calling it Hermitage might be a push but maybe Syrah to be..er..self consciously modern.
13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $12 discount on release.
Well, the WordPress platform can be odd. I tried using an ampersand between V and A as it appears on the label and when it saves it turns into & …..bizarre. So, “and” it is. Conjunctions aside, this is an elegant, for want of a better word, fresh and sort of subtle Shiraz, an antidote to the high alcohols of the late nineties and early two thousands. I can clearly remember a 1980 Leconfield Cabernet drunk in the nineties that was the essence of sweetly perfumed pillow softness and somehow this echoes the memory. Starts with noticeable oak, albeit not too raucously so, then in sweeps pepper, spice and just ripe red fruits that last and perfume the mouth. Soft but positive tannin and acidity match the composed flow of flavour. Even after a couple of days oxygen, it stayed tightly bound, suggesting a future of slow resolution in the best tradition of great claret wherever it’s made…..and no buts about it.
13.1% alcohol, AND better for it. Screw cap. $35 Dan Murphy clearance, thank you very much.
Heritage on a week night budget. Still fresh as the air hits, a little age seems to have rounded the fruit and softened the bones. Complete sweet spice box, lots of very ripe fat plums, dark berries, tar and a regional hit of mineral water salinity. Tannin ripe and soft. It’s just amazing how such broad acre, economy of scale production produces something so authentic and tasty for so little cost. It’s been a long time since the 1986 vintage that first won my heart.
13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 584 gms of glass. $15 Dan’s cellar special.
Something like the thirty third vintage of this to have ended up in my glass and making me feel quite vintage too. Opens dark and rich, certainly warmer and more upfront than the 2017, with road dusted blackberries and spiced plum with a nudge of noticeable mocha vanilla. It does however avoid simple fruit sweetness with some earthy, saline Coonawarra dirt. Nice fruit tannin and the acidity isn’t ungainly unlike some large production Australian Shiraz. Enough oomph over a couple of days to suggest a rest somewhere quiet, cool and dark won’t do any harm. Good old Wynns.
13.6% alcohol. Screwcap. $10.40! Charitable Woolies pricing a favour to the wine budget if not the brand so much.
90 points plus a bit for old time’s sake.
The 60th vintage of a most reliably true to its roots Cabernet which is produced in what could be described as substantial quantity. For the last 25 years or so the same remarkable team of wine maker and viticulturist have been coaxing possibly the planet’s best value Cabernet into the bottle from vineyards where the machine does most of the work. Cost input relative to genuine product seems amazing. This vintage is a wonder. Not in a blockbuster way but just perfectly even ripeness showing the reserve and grace of good Cabernet. Sure, there’s cassis and berries and a hint of green leaf but there’s a gravelly, menthol finesse, all naturally settled into good fine ripe tannin and acidity. Only medium bodied at first, a thicker richness develops over a day or three with a touch of deeper earthy flavour and that saline, almost oyster shell Coonawarra reserve. Professorial authority in a bottle. Best maybe since 1986 or 1991?
13.8% alcohol. Screwcap. $25 when super discounted but a RRP of $45, happily Treasury Wine Estates don’t treasure this enough.