Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Oz Wine Toons recently celebrated its 50th incarnation, so I thought I'd take a momentary break from its madness, to slightly open the vault on what goes on behind the scenes...

When I first started Oz Wine Toons, I used to just go straight from my head onto the computer screen. But then, one day, I did a quick sketch first...

My first ever Oz Wine Toon draft was born out of the question; 'how do you draw a caveman?' I was so impressed (and surprised) by my ability to translate an image from paper to screen, that I kept going.... (this particular toon remains one of my personal favourites by the way).

Similarly, the second sketch was born out of the question; 'how do you draw a guy squished into a wine bottle?'

Looking at these two images, now, I'm not sure this toon actually required text.

Perhaps because this toon was directly inspired by a fellow blogger, the original sketch here says 'Wine Front', which eventually became 'Halliday' in the finished version. Likewise, #eatwithbacon was corrected, because wine is something we're much more likely to #drinkwithbacon.

I completely changed my mind on this toon. The original shows Jesus presenting his own wine at a tasting, which I changed to an image of The Last Supper, just because I wanted to try and draw something with a bit of class for once, where it ended up taking longer to complete than any other Oz Wine Toon. The joke didn't actually change, just the scene, and the sketch here shows several punch line alternatives I was playing around with.

Oz Wine Toons at its absolute crudest. In the finished version, I wasn't happy with the character's aim, as it looks like he's missed the bottle (completely unintended by me), so I inserted the text 'Dang, missed!'

One of my personal favourites, for its simplicity and bluntness. I wish I could come up with toons like this more often.

This toon is merely an exaggeration of something I experienced in real life. With a salesman, of course.

The original sketch here depicts a crashed plane in the background, which I removed for several reasons. Firstly, I didn't think it was necessary. Secondly, I felt the plane made it look like they'd only just arrived on the island, but most importantly, I just couldn't be bothered to draw it. Not sure what happened to the coconut though...

The image in the corner shows how I had to use a reference point for getting Ronald McDonald's colour scheme right. No such problems with Grimace though.

The original sketch here shows God thinking to himself; 'Hmm... think I'll go... blizzard this time', which I later changed to 'alien attack' because it sounds a lot sillier. I was also concerned this toon might look un-p.c. if an Australian vintage is actually destroyed by a blizzard one day...

It's rare that I think a finished, digital toon looks better than its original sketch, but with this one, I did.
Additionally, I often like to sneak sly images of some of my favourite Australian wines into Oz Wine Toons. This toon depicts Karra Yerta Riesling - a real 'blogger's favourite' in my opinion, hence its appearance on a blogger's bedside table.

This one just never made it. The finished toon would've shown the diners absolutely covered in overblown sparkling red.

Another one that didn't make it. Without the text, you can't actually tell what's going on here. I remember I was going to use it on Christmas, but a little too much Christmas cheer last year led to me doing a Boxing Day toon instead...

Sunday, November 27, 2011


- Margaret River, WA
- $12-$16
- Screwcap
- 13.0%alc

The Watson Family Vineyards SBS is a collaborative wine project, born out of a desire to contradict popular opinion of sauvignon blanc.

Faintly nutty and green pea-like, with a restrained fruit scent of lemon citrus and some smoky elements, this Margaret River SBS draws a straight line down what I'd expect from the style, but it does it with good intensity, clarity and definition, all of which I expect from the style anyway. Its palate really holds back on sauvignon blanc's pungent, fruity aspects, instead opting towards a more funky, savoury, mineral and brine-like rendition of passionfruit flavour, with a viscous feel marked by a certain looseness and a subtle tartness, the latter of which lingers softly through its aftertaste of kiwifruit and brine. For all its pleasing funk, it just lacks the tightness, shape and driving acidity of the Margaret River's best, but it's definitely one of the more interesting Australian interpretations of the blend available for under $15.

ü If you're the type of person who never spends more than $15 on your beloved sauvignon blanc, you might find interest in this textured, funky wine. Whether or not you'll prefer it to your favourite cheap and cheerful Kiwi savvy is another thing. It might actually be better suited to the serious drinker on a budget (looking for an SBS?), rather than the quaffer looking for something different. A middle ground for now. Drink to 2012.
89 points

Friday, November 25, 2011


- Hilltops, NSW
- $30
- Screwcap
- 15.0%alc

Freeman's 2004 Aged Release Secco (93pts), an Amarone inspired wine where the rondinella and corvina grapes are partially dried in a prune dehydrator, has been one of the finds of the year for me thus far. Perhaps the only thing holding back the absolutely delicious 2004 Secco from even greater heights, was the lack of a truly authoritative tannin structure, a quality which, Dr Brian Freeman happily informs me he's successfully captured in the 2007. Well, let's have a look-see then...

This is the third bottle of 2007 Secco I've had and I'm finally starting to get it. Early on, it smells thickly confected and jarringly awkward, but let it decant for at least 6 hours and watch it transform into an ever changing creature of complexity, masculine beauty and intrigue. It's at once meaty, leathery and spicy, richly ripened and a flamboyant brute, baring a gruff tone of smoky oak to add savoury grunt to its deeply aromatic, valid currant-like fruit and brown leafy scents. The palate really puts its foot to the floor, leaving any concept of subtlety behind as it deposits the imposingly firm, penetrative, spiralling and intense tannin structure Dr Freeman must surely seek with this wine. Its all-encompassing backbone takes centre stage in its youth, framing and directing its smoothly set, luscious flavours of savoury-edged blackberries, redcurrants and smoky chocolate oak with real authority and drive, allowing a sly note of aniseed to linger through the finish. Rough and rugged, it's definitely a man, and almost enough to make me turn...

ü+ A real living, breathing beast. A ringing endorsement of the benefits of decanting, time, patience and repeat consumption for wine. The 2007 Secco may not be as immediately delicious as the 2004 Aged Release (naturally), but it's perhaps even more up my alley, as it's a much more serious, longer term prospect, with a spectacular tannin structure and shape rare in Australian reds. Dr Freeman's closing in on the white light here. Cellar it. Drink 2017-2025.
94 points

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


- Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
- $25-$37
- Screwcap
- 11.0%alc

Made from a single vineyard planted in 1933, the Belford was the last of Tyrrell's semillon to be picked in 2006. Now 5 years old, this 2006 Belford proudly wears 4 gold medals on its bottle, covering 4 different years between 2006 and 2010, but that amount pales in comparison to the 20+ shiny things flamboyantly flashed around by the 2005 Vat 1.

Lively as a drunk teen at schoolies but much fresher, with classically regional, mineral infused lemon/lime zest and quartz aromas stringing through emerging, savoury notes of lightly toasted white bread and flint, the 2006 Belford appears a barely adolescent semillon, which is absolutely revelling in its aromatic vitality and clarity right now. Moderately juicy flavours of green melons, pear and citrus introduce the palate, before a smooth, waxy complexity joins its mid-palate announcement of grassy/herbal tones to move the wine into a long, bright finish sparked by a penetrative and succulent, yet fairly ripe Hunter acidity.

ü+ Although not set for the super long term, I can still see the 2006 Belford gaining wonderfully textural, beeswax-like complexity over the medium term. It's well worth a look for the cellar, so long as there's not a 2005 HVD (94pts) sitting next to it in the bottle shop (as I saw). Drink to 2018.
92 points


Tyrrell's 2005 Vat 1 Semillon. A modern day show winner of almost embarrassing proportions. Wholly deserving though.

Monday, November 21, 2011


- Riverina, NSW
- $14.95
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

Strange as it may sound to some, Bill Calabria's Westend Estate is behind some truly groundbreaking reds at the moment, made from Riverina fruit, and sold for $15. Alongside Australia's only Saint Macaire (an ultra rare variety with Bordeaux origins), the shamelessly Italian inspired Calabria Aglianico is growing a steady following for its savoury nature, firm structure and food friendliness. Much like the Calabria's themselves, these Private Bin releases are doing a lot to help reshape the future of Australia's warm inland river regions.

Oh my. On first sniff the Calabria shows promising signs of being a textbook, new age Aussie quaffer, as the late ripening aglianico has produced an earthy and floral, rather savoury and feral wine by Riverina standards, that still underpins its fragrance with a slightly leathery expression of classically sun-drenched, ripe dark plums and cherries marked by dry cedar oak. Its palate unleashes a comforting mouthful of similarly dark, berry, cherry and plum flavour, capably enveloped by a back end of dusty, savoury tannins, forthright acids and a lingering note of licorice, but it doesn't quite live up to initial promise, because I detect a faint diluteness to its taste. It's a grievance that can easily be overlooked for $15, because the wine's good body, structure and length all meld together in vivid harmony, making it such an easy red to slide down the back of the throat. So long as you can handle the tannin, of course.

ü+ Despite one niggle, there's so much potential on display here, particularly in terms of aglianico's character and its suitability to the hot Australian sun. Given time, experience and increased vine age, I think the Calabria Aglianico could establish a new benchmark for inland reds. Drink to 2016.
90 points

Sunday, November 20, 2011


- South Eastern Australia
- $4-$11
- Screwcap
- 13.0%alc

The surprise packet Inheritance Chardonnay from 2009 gifted me much more drinking pleasure than I'd usually expect from a $5 wine. Were it not for a touch of heat through the finish, it would've scored even higher than the 87 points I awarded it 50 weeks ago. Taking that into account, it's good to see McWilliam's wound the alcohol back in the 2010.

Once again, it's hard to deny what's on offer here for much the same price as non-alcoholic chardonnay. Although not as well defined as the 2009, the 2010 Inheritance does reveal an inoffensive, light fragrance of citrus rind and kiwi fruit, smoothed out by a sly note of nut oil. If anything, it's a little too light on the nose, as it seems to lack varietal punch. This quibble carries over to the palate, where its cleanly textured, under-ripe melon and lemon tart flavours become more citric accented down the line, courtesy of a brisk influence of bitey, grapefruit-like acids. It's well made for the price and shows a relatively kind transition from smooth entry to crisp finish, it just needs more flavour, that's all. Drink cold.

O A very plausible, clean expression of what's essentially a generic white wine. Even though that may be its purpose in life, I was hoping for something a bit more 'chardonnay-like', like its predecessor. Drink to 2012.
85 points

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


- Southern Tasmania
- $60-$75
- Screwcap
- 14.0%alc

When it comes to maintaining a high standard of quality, across an entire range, year in, year out, Stefano Lubiana is one of Australia's strictest. Mediocre clearly isn't in the man's vocabulary. Atop his whites sits the Collina, a 'best of the best' chardonnay produced only in exceptional seasons (2003 was the only release prior to 2008). When Mr Lubiana says 'best of the best', you know he means business...

The first thing you'll notice about the Collina is its gorgeous label, and then, of course, what an equally gorgeous wine it is. It's savoury and stylish foremost, yet refined and intricately detailed, unfolding a clean and clear whiff of biscuity oak bitten by pure, mineral scents of grapefruits and lemons, with carefully placed suggestions of white flower, nougat, hazelnuts and cinnamon adding real pizzaz in a wonderfully controlled way. For a fleeting moment, my mind is cast to Champagne. That thought clearly dissipates in the mouth, where it bedazzles with an arrestingly complex yet perfect marriage of intense, penetrative structure and texture, the latter of which reveals an ethereal suppleness and fragility. To say elegant might be understating its smooth, seamless movement of restrained flavour, which slowly unravels pear, crisp vanilla biscuit, apple and citrus, all checked by stunningly clean, mouth-watering, racy acids that match its textural touch for sheer thrill. Contrasting notes of nuts and lemon sherbet in the aftertaste only add to its pleasure. I could write an essay on this, but common sense says no...

ü+ I've been wondering who's going to step forward and claim the as yet undecided crown of Tasmanian chardonnay - one of Australia's most underrated and promising modern styles. Stefano Lubiana's Collina steps forth like a casanova at a hen's party. I've never had a Tasmanian chardonnay like it. Let's just hope it's not another 5 years till the next one comes round. Brilliant. A real keeper. Drink to 2018.
96 points

Monday, November 14, 2011


- Southern Tasmania
- $45-$55
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

Easily in my top handful of Tasmanian pinot noir, Stefano Lubiana's Estate takes off from his delicious Primavera Pinot Noir and betters it - just as it should - by way of savoury complexity, texture, structure and longevity. I often wonder how many other producers would be content to classify such a wine as reserve, which of course, the Estate isn't. The 2006 was a beauty (95pts).

Beautifully bright and fragrant, with succulent dark cherry and strawberry scents bursting from the glass alongside a joyous lick of caramel oak, imbibed by a low-tone of game and a high-tone of freshly picked garden herb, the 2009 Estate doesn't quite possess the savoury complexity or finesse of the very best vintages, but its sumptuous varietal nature smells an unabashed treat. It tastes that way too, rolling out rich, almost palate staining for pinot, silky layers of cherry, strawberry and then rhubarb flavour, with the onus being on its youthful freshness and texture. Wonderfully slight, velevty tannins, which meld seamlessly into its silken core, perk up the finish beside a refreshing acidity, leaving a juicy taste of small forest berries edged by cedar to linger long into the mouth.

ü Clever winemaking from Mr Lubiana - again (does this man know how to make bad wine?). His 2009 Estate is a richer pinot noir with the depth, backbone and capacity to age, yet the sensuality to drink now. It's a classic 'each-way bet'. Drink to 2017.
93 points

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011


- East Coast Tasmania
- $63-$80
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

According to Langton's, who chose Freycinet as the sole Tasmanian pinot noir in their latest classification of Australian wine; 'The family-owned Freycinet Vineyard is recognised by collectors as the most consistent and distinguished producer of ultra fine Tasmanian Pinot Noir.' Stefano Lubiana and Domaine A immediately spring to mind as other names to consider, but wines like Freycinet's 2009 really hammer home why the east coast producer is a benchmark of Tasmanian style.

Showing lovely, spicy hits of clove and star anise that rise from the glass with stunning definition, Freycinet's 2009 displays a dark and dusty, regional set of sweetly fruited and savoury attractions, meshing redcurrants, cranberries and musk stick with meaty, herbal influences and some fragrant smoky oak. It's deep and beguiling yet intensified by its high toned spice and herbal elements, but the palate is where its true complexity takes form. Combining a fluffy suppleness with a concealed depth of dark cherry kernel, herb, clove and sour-edged red berry flavour, it's at once submissive, electrifying and pert, as its understated qualities are zipped up and driven long by an attractively youthful, crisp outer shell of structure, which provides wonderful extension courtesy of slick 'n' shiny acids peppered by ground spice-like tannins, leaving notes of nutty oak and a tart taste of cranberry to pass. Age worthiness is clearly on the cards here. It's wickedly Tasmanian.

ü+ A true, essential Tassie pinot, done the Freycinet way. All it needs is time and I think we'll be looking at a modern day Tasmanian masterpiece. Drink 2013-2021.
95 points

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


- Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
- $20-$35
- Screwcap
- 12.2%alc

Every time I attend a tasting with a decent line-up of semillon, it bedazzles me how much the Tyrrell's wines stand out. Whether the bottle be Vat 1, Stevens, HVD, Belford or anything with Tyrrell's printed on a white label, these time proven wines are always worth a look.

A real flinty kick rips the 2007 Stevens out of the glass, dragging with it scents of melons, lemon, minerals and pouch tobacco with an emerging savoury edge. It's lively, balanced and clearly opening up on the nose, reflecting Tyrrell's experience with releasing these wines at a good age. Its palate packs some rich, round, almost buttery regional character, revealing classic lemons and lanolin with juicy undercurrents and a grapefruit-like extension, but despite its fine push of flavour, it doesn't really glisten and hold through the finish, lacking the searing acidity and briskness of the very best vintages. Moving line and structure aside for a moment, its richness and taste provide fine drinking for the now.

ü From a very early vintage (third week of January!), Tyrrell's have crafted a higher alcohol than usual semillon (12.2% makes it the most alcoholic Hunter sem I've covered on this website), containing the richness, softness and classic combination of youth and maturity to make it a good early drinker. Drink to 2016.
91 points

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


- Adelaide Hills, SA
- $16-$25
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

The modern day Wolf Blass winery finds itself in an ambiguous state. Perched somewhere in TWE's overgrown family tree, Wolf Blass still maintains its place as a household name with Australian drinkers, but its ever changing range and high end products hardly excite the self respecting serious consumer. Really, all-encompassing wine quality must cut through marketing and gadgetry for the once exalted status of Wolf Blass to return. Wines like the 2007 White Label (94pts) and 2010 Gold Label Chardonnays are taking things in the right direction, but it is reds this brand is famous for...

Nutty, creamy, yeasty, perhaps vanilla ice cream cone-like and full of bright, complex character, the 2010 Gold Label Chardonnay sits right in the label's modern groove, supporting its obvious, yet charming inputs with restrained fruit scents of white nectarines, melons, lemon and spice. Showing more control of its fruit than earlier outings, its creamy palate is announced by an upfront savoury richness, pushing clean notes of nuts, brioche and lemon/lime yoghurt into a smoothly set, softly structured finish, whose length and acidity just lack the penetration and biting tightness to instigate real wow factor. Don't mind that though, because its value and style both receive big ticks.

ü+ With so much going on within Wolf Blass it would be easy to ignore the Gold Label Chardonnay. I don't know why, as its character, rich texture and balance make it so easy to like. It's an ideal entry point for proper Aussie chardonnay. Drink to 2015.
91 points


Pork scotch fillet with Chinese five spice and herb butter

Monday, November 7, 2011


- Riverland/South Australia
- $5-$12
- Screwcap
- 13.0%alc

Linked by ownership to Yalumba, Oxford Landing is a Riverland based brand whose oldest, original estate plantings happen to be cabernet sauvignon, with some vines dating back over 40 years. The back label of their 2010 Cabernet Shiraz heroically states; 'vegan and vegetarian friendly', causing me to wonder if the wine displays any warm-climate meaty aspects...

Meaty aspects? Hmm... maybe. But it's not that overcooked roast meat character prevalent to overhung, sun-drenched, warm-climate red grapes, rather, it's cured meat and herbs, spicy salami even, expressed in a style perhaps more typical to pinot noir (!?). Also in the nose are simple but fruity scents of cleanly ripened blackberries and raspberries, underlining a satisfying aroma devoid of harshness or heat. Conclusively, it's more interesting and composed than one might expect from a $7 red, which echoes into a palate whose silky softness and surprising suppleness immediately disperse any preconceived stereotypes, whilst providing an almost shameful satisfaction. Its primary announcement of charmingly fresh, juicy blackberries and red plums run smoothly into a finish baring a tiny twist of acid crunch at the end, where there's just enough structure to silence the astute without deterring the quaffers. It's a big win for anyone wanting change from a tenner.

ü+ Enlivened by balance, mouthfeel and freshness, Oxford Landing's 2010 Cabernet Shiraz is just a wonderful little red. It's simple but delicious and oh so gluggable. Go on... Drink to 2013.
89 points

Sunday, November 6, 2011


- Coonawarra, SA
- $15-$22
- Screwcap
- 14.5%alc

After mirroring the fluctuations of recent South Australian vintages, Majella's lightly oaked Musician has rebounded to top form in 2010, reaffirming its position as a chieftain amongst Coonawarra's everyday drinking class.

Dark, evenly ripened and altogether smelling deeper than previous Musicians, the 2010 still buzzes in with a fragrant vitality, or a regional intensity, revealing a vivid aroma of mint soaked in cassis and raspberry juice with shades of vanilla and white pepper, indicating subtle hints of wood and Coonawarra shiraz (44%). The palate accommodates the nose, delving with a touch more concentration and darkness than usual, however, it bares a radiating brightness to its essence-like blackcurrant, dark plum and raspberry flavours, which persist along a cleverly pitched, light-medium bodied framework aided by great length and a refreshing finish emitting a particularly polished, pulsating acidity. There is a faint, valid sour-edged meatiness through the aftertaste, but it's cloaked in sumptuous chocolate/blackcurrant flavour and emancipating acids. In all respects it's a much more complete wine than other Musicians. It's immediately delicious and then some. Top value.

ü+ Majella have taken full advantage of what could be the best Coonawarra vintage for years. The 2010 Musician contains the light, bright, racy attributes we've come to love from the label, yet still manages to fill in a few holes the other wines didn't. Excellent, modern and intensely regional. A high note for the Musician. So drinkable. Drink to 2016.
91 points

Friday, November 4, 2011


(Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Malbec)
- Margaret River, WA
- $32-$45
- Screwcap
- 13.5%alc

I continue to be gobsmacked by the value of Woodlands' deeply complex, perfumed and elegant Margaret Reserve, arguably Australia's most undersold cabernet blend. Even in a slightly off year (only by Woodlands' own lofty standards), it's simply irresistible at such a ludicrous sale price.

Absolutely enchanting, with a piercing scent of dry, spicy cedar wood cutting through its soft floral perfume of crushed dark berries edged by black olives, licorice and dry leaf, the 2008 Margaret reveals a complex combination of both aggressive and feminine attributes on the nose, but it's a happy marriage indeed. When it enters the mouth, it does it graciously and sensually, unravelling a deep, silky and supple array of blackberry, mulberry and dark cherry flavours which emanate with a seductive smoothness, depositing tastes of violets and dried herbs over melting chocolate through the finish. Complementing its progression is a seamlessly integrated, velvet-like expression of ripe tannins and fresh acids, whose inputs harness and maneuver the wine elegantly, without displaying a forceful impression of strength. It just lacks the exceptional length and tightness of the best vintages, but at $32, who's complaining?

ü+ Deliciously ripened, deep, sensual, silky and very stylish, the 2008 Margaret is thoroughly Woodlands. Young cabernet blends like this are rare in Australia. Embrace them when you can, and they might grow. Drink to 2020.
94 points


South Australian Woodlands fans rejoice! Thanks to Kane from Landhaus in the Barossa Valley, Woodlands' spectacular wines have found new distribution into our state, where they're literally finding their way into a number of our retailers. Hurrah! One such retailer is Melbourne Street Fine Wine, who recently invited Kane to come in and show off his stuff.

Woodlands' high end cabernet styles display a savoury elegance, perfume and deep, supple, texturally inspired palates which conceal their formidable tannin structures to a tee. Cabernet of such quality is rare in Australia, particularly outside of the Margaret River's Wilyabrup sub-region. If you're living in Adelaide and haven't yet discovered Woodlands reds, now is as good a time as any to do so.

On a duller note, I continue to be uninspired by Woodlands' entry level wines. Yes, for under $20 they're fair value, but the Chardonnay is a bit simplistic, the vintages of Cabernet Franc Merlot I've had appear raw and edgy, and the Cabernet Merlot, which regularly receives high praise from numerous wine critics, has never quite tipped the hat for me. The 2009 Cabernet Merlot looks to have taken a step in my direction though, in more of a ripe and juicy, dark bruiser of a true BBQ style, but conclusively, I feel there's an all too significant gap between the quality of these wines and their more expensive stablemates.

It is here I must mention I absolutely adore what Woodlands does with their premium Bordeaux inspired styles. I continue to believe the Margaret Reserve is the most ethereal sub-$40 cabernet blend in this country. Its quality makes it impossible for me to ever fork out the extra $60 for Woodlands' undeniably spectacular Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The Reserve de la Cave Cabernet Franc and Malbec, although rare, are insanely good Australian wines and well worth seeking out. I couldn't help but ask Kane if he picked up any bottles of either Reserve de la Cave for South Australian distribution - he did - and they all found their way into the wine cellar at the Victory Hotel. It's about time I organised another dinner down at Sellicks Beach methinks. . .

Woodlands tasting notes are posted below

Woodlands Chardonnay 2010 ($17) Made in a simple, barely wooded style and it shows it, and perhaps excessively so. Its fruit focused, fresh melon, lemon citrus and grapefruit characters end with slightly sharp acids. It lacks complexity in all of its elements but might make for a fair enough quaff, if not much else. I'd love to see Woodlands evolve this wine, with more winemaker induced complexity, to compete stronger with the likes of Vasse Felix and Brookland Valley when it comes to cheap Margaret River chardonnay. 87

Woodlands Chloe Chardonnay 2010 ($42) If the standard wine required more winemaker induced complexity this took it too far the other way. Ensconced by nutty, buttery, popcorn-like oak, its peachy fruit barely gets a look in. Likewise, its round and forward palate is controlled by creamy oak nuance, ending short, altogether loose and without necessary brightness or persistence of fruit. It's hard to love and disappointing for the label. Were I Lincoln, I'd be tempted to buy the two Woodlands Chardonnays for the blending bench. Where one fails, the other succeeds. 88

Woodlands Cabernet Franc Merlot 2010 ($17) 51/49 blend. Shows raw edges to its very ripe, dark blackcurrant and cherry fruits with a hint of cinnamon. Its palate also ends raw and hard edged, with its finish of coarse tannins seeming quite out of sync with its ultra-ripe, if fractionally flat, currant fruit fore palate. It's quite disjointed and unbalanced. Another let down from Woodlands' Cab Franc/Merlot, courtesy of the people who make Australia's best straight cabernet franc in my opinion. I'm pretty sure the last disappointment I had from this label was around a 50/50 blend as well. 86

Woodlands Cabernet Merlot 2009 ($17) Very ripe, juicy dark plums and currants, composed in a rich, juicy, crowd pleasing style perfectly set for the BBQ. In some respects, it's almost South Australian like. It has good length of medium-full bodied dark fruits, with a charming balance of vanilla oak to smooth it out and lithe tannins to tighten it up. Tasty. (full review soon) 90

Woodlands Margaret Reserve 2008 ($32) 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 11% Malbec. Beautifully ripened and even, with true perfume and a savoury overlay to blackcurrants, cherries, violets and cedar/mocha oak. Its classy palate exudes exceptional suppleness, depth and silky flavour, finishing bright and savoury with excellent length and fine, dry tannins. It's not the most gang-bustingly brilliant Margaret Reserve I've had, but at $32 each, I had no problems in escorting a couple of these back to my place. (full review soon) 94

Woodlands Nicolas Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($99) Wonderfully deep, with a chocolatey accent to its blackberries, mulberries, game and polished vanilla/cedar oak with maybe a hint of fresh mint leaf. It's rich and luscious, concentrated and medium to medium-full, yet beautifully measured and even. Its palate drives long and precise, with a near wave-like effect of silky, rich, fleshy dark fruit flavour ending with a truly balanced structure. The only problem I have with this wine, which I always have with this wine, is it's hard to buy one when I could have 3 Margaret Reserves for the same price. Excellent wine though. Wonderful Margaret River cabernet. 95

Thursday, November 3, 2011


- Clare Valley/Eden Valley, SA
- $17-$28
- Screwcap
- 12.0%alc

Of all Taylors' cross-regional Jaraman wines, the Clare/Eden Valley riesling makes the most sense to me. The characteristics of each region's riesling sit next to each other like beautiful sisters, whilst geographically, they're much closer aligned than the Clare Valley and Coonawarra, or the Adelaide Hills and Margaret River for that matter.

Aside from a light, limey whiff of lavender and mineral, Taylors' 2011 Jaraman is steadfastly closed on the nose, giving off little in the way of fragrant lift or perfume. Its palate is also defined by a bell-clear expression of essential citrus flavours, but it's long, clean and refreshing, with lingering notes of lime zest and lime pith dragging out a fine conclusion I'd perhaps credit more to its Eden Valley component (41%). In addition to its persistent fruit the finish also shows a smooth movement of zesty, sherbet-like acids, however, its backbone just lacks the shape and authority of South Australia's best rieslings, which, at $24.95 RRP, it's almost competing against.

O The 2011 Jaraman is quite tasty in an approachable varietal sense and not bad drinking at its low-end price, especially with many a warm day looming around the corner. It's certainly a bright spark within the Taylors range, suggesting the brand might do well to focus further on its rieslings. Drink to 2019.
91 points