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Tasting notes of Australian wines
(Prices and stockists in the UK are listed in brackets; as a rough guide £1 = US$1.50. Date of tasting is indicated at the end of each note as month/year.)

see also

Frankland Estate Olmo’s Reward 2003 Frankland River, Western Australia
This is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, with a bit of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon in the mix, and it’s brilliant. Lovely ripe, aromatic nose with fresh, intense black fruits and a minerally edge. Expressive. The palate shows real poise and elegance with ripe, dark fruits and fresh minerality. Structured and savoury. 94/100 (£16.75 Berry Bros & Rudd) 06/08

Linda Domas Wines Boycat Merlot 2006 McLaren Vale, Australia
Slightly reductive on the nose, with a hint of burnt rubber, but also some really fresh, vibrant berry fruit, as well as a hint of gravel. The palate is juicy and medium bodied, with delightfully expressive, fresh, sweet red berry fruit, a trace of blackcurrant, and also some spicy tannins on the finish. I guess that the McLaren Vale isn't the best place in the world to grow Merlot, but this is still a very attractive, supple, sweetly fruited wine of some appeal. Elegant and very berryish. 88/100 (£8.99 Marks & Spencer) 07/08

Howard Park Chardonnay 2006 Great Southern, Western Australia
Fresh but warm nose of buttered toast, spice and citrus fruits. The palate is concentrated and taut with classy, toasty oak combining well with rich tropical fruits offset nicely by herby, lemony freshness. A refined, pure expression of new world Chardonnay that needs a year or two longer to show at its best. Finishes with lovely grapefruity acidity. This is a million miles away from overdone, blowsy Australian Chardonnays of yesteryear. 13% alcohol. 91/100 06/08 (http://www.bibendum-wine.co.uk/)

Shaw & Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2006 Australia
This is pretty impressive. It has a fantastic peppery, cool-climate Syrah character, with some meatiness and raspberry fruit. There's also a darker blackberry fruit character, and some spicy oak in the background. At the moment this is quite tight-wound and tannic, but I'm very impressed by the freshness and definition. This is pretty serious. 93/100 06/08

Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot 2005 Margaret River
Lovely expressive well-balanced nose showing elegant blackberry and dark cherry fruit. The palate is ripe with lovely freshness to the sweet, berryish blackcurrant fruit, which is backed up by spicy tannins. Delicious stuff, with freshness, ripeness and balance. A delicious, expressive Margaret River red in quite an elegant style. 91/100 (£10.50 Majestic, Tanners, Christopher Piper) 05/08

Vasse Felix Shiraz 2005 Margaret River
Weighing in at 15% alcohol, this is a dense, deep coloured red with a nose that shows sweet dark fruits, but which is tight wound and spicy, too. The palate is sweet and dense with ripe, intense blackberry fruit and some firm spicy tannins providing a counter for this sweet, lush fruit. There's also a bit of a chocolatey, coffee-ish richness. Pretty serious stuff. 92/100 (£10.50 Hennings, Hailsham Cellars, Cambridge Wine Merchants) 05/08

Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Margaret River
This spends 18 months in French oak. An intense, sweet ripe nose showing blackcurrant fruit with some lovely earthy, chalky, spiciness and lush intensity. The palate is sweetly fruited with lovely depth and a really attractive minerality. A refined, fresh Cabernet of real depth, this has good medium term ageing potential. Intense but balanced. 94/100 (£14.50 Hailsham Cellars, Selfridges, Direct Wines) 05/08

Howard Park Leston Shiraz 2005 Margaret River, Australia
Vibrant red/purple colour. The nose is distinctly Australian, with some mint, eucalyptus and tarry spiciness, along with sweet red and black fruits. The palate shows lovely freshness, with tight dark fruit and good acidity, along with well integrated oak. A really fresh, juicy style of Shiraz with real precision – I reckon this will age well. It’s a classically Australian style, but with more freshness and focus than most. I reckon this will be peaking in five years but good for 10 more. 91/100 (£14.50 Bibendum) 04/08

Stamford Brook Shiraz Viognier 2006 South Australia
Made for Sainsbury by Angoves. Lovely fresh sweet dark fruits nose with a bit of pepper and some meaty richness. Really focused and appealing. The palate is pure, peppery and bright with great balance. It’s not at all confected or soupy. For the price, this is really good: as well as sweet fruit, there’s a fantastic savouriness and a bit of old world peppery Syrah character that I really like. Delicious. 88/100 (£5.99 Sainsbury’s) 02/08

Howard Park Riesling 2007 Great Southern, Western Australia
I reckon this is one of Australia’s very best Rieslings. It has a beautifully expressive, elegant limey nose, with a bit of floral perfume. The palate is bone dry but not at all phenolic or rough, with concentrated, delicate (but not fragile) citrussy, minerally fruit. There’s a hint of grippy tannin on the finish, which is pretty dry and perhaps a little bitter (but not overly so). A versatile, stylish and potentially long-lived Riesling of great appeal. 12.5% alcohol. 92/100 (£12.50 Bibendum) 04/08

Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2007 Clare Valley, Australia
A drought vintage, with much warmer temperatures than the average (heat summation 1556  degree days versus long-term average of 1332 degree days), but this is still a superb wine. Attractive lime and tangerine peel nose is fresh and balanced. The palate is hugely concentrated with a dry citrus-pith character and minerally length. There’s some real richness and power here, but the delicacy of the variety persists. A beautifully balanced wine with some real weight and potential for further development. 13.5% alcohol. 92/100 04/08 (£10.99 Oddbins) 04/08


Yalumba Organic Shiraz 2006 South Australia
Certified by NASAA and the Soil Association. This is quite a bright, fresh, medium-bodied plummy red wine with a fresh spicy twist and a hint of meatiness. It’s not at all heavy or confected – rather, there’s fresh bright fruit and a nice savouriness, which makes it really food friendly. 13.5% alcohol. I found this a bit tight and reduced on opening, but after decanting and leaving overnight the fruit was much more expressive the next day. 88/100 (£7.99 Waitrose) 02/08

Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz 2006 South Australia
Sarah and Sparky Marquis’ Mollydooker wines are a bit controversial, largely because they are pretty alcoholic: this Shiraz, from McLaren Vale, Padthaway and Langhorne Creek, weighs in at 16% alcohol. Deep coloured, it has a nose of sweet dark fruits together with a hint of tar, medicine and vanilla. The palate is smooth and rich, with more sweet dark fruits, some warmth, and very soft, almost non-existent tannins. It’s a seductive, easy-to-drink style, but the alcohol is a little intrusive, adding heat, sweetness and a bit of bitterness to the finish. 87/100 (£13.99 Hedley Wright) 10/07

Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvée NV, Australia
One of the most widely available and consistent of Aussie fizzes, this is crisp, bright, quite fruity and well balanced. Krug it isn’t, but this is much better than most Cava and represents a great all-purpose sparkling wine that’s great for celebrations, but also works surprisingly well with a variety of foods. 85/100 (£7.99 Asda, Bargain Booze, Booths, Budgens, Co-op, Londis, Morrisons, Nisa, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Thresher, Waitrose) 12/07

Jacob's Creek Sparkling Shiraz NV South Eastern Australia
Visually this is gorgeous, with the bubbles foaming up a beautiful pink colour over the dark red black core of the wine. This wine shows lovely pure, sweet plum and blackcurrant fruit with a nice dark, meaty edge to it. It finishes with a nice spritzy tang from the bubbles. There's a bit of sweetness here which adds to the texture, making it feel quite weighty. It's very ripe, but the alcohol is quite low at 12.5%. A very interesting, unique style of wine: it's perhaps just a little too sweet to serve with most foods, although with its low tannin and sweetness it works pretty well with cheese. 89/100 (£8.49 Sainsbury's) 11/07  

Nepenthe ‘Tryst’ Cabernet Sauvignon/Tempranillo/Zinfandel 2005 Adelaide Hills, Australia
Not all Aussie reds are big heavy blockbusters. This is a juicy, vibrant blend of Cabernet with some Tempranillo and Zinfandel, and it has a pure, focused nose of blackcurranty fruit, with just a hint of mint. The palate shows ripe, sweet berry and blackcurrant fruit with nice freshness and a bit of a spicy plummy twist on the finish. Highly drinkable, although it still weighs in at a hefty 14.5% alcohol. 88/100 (£8.99 Tesco) 01/08

Yalumba Y Series Sauvignon Blanc 2007 South Australia
Fresh, pure, bright nose with subtly green herbal fruit. The palate is crisp and tight with nettley, herby fruit and a rounded, fruity finish. Quite a stylish effort that’s modern and commercial, but not too in-yer-face. Only 11% alcohol. 86/100 01/08

Yalumba Y Series Riesling 2007 South Australia
This is fresh, bright and fruity, with a crisp limey edge to the generous, slightly herb-tinged fruit. There’s a nice richness to the fruit here: it isn’t as bone dry tasting as some Aussie Rieslings, but I don’t think there’s much residual sugar – rather, the richness comes from some ripe fruit which adds a tropical edge to the limey zestiness. 87/100 01/08

Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay 2007 South Australia
This is crisp and fresh, but with some nutty richness, too. But I’m not really sure about it. There’s a bit of a minerally reductive note on the nose and the palate seems a little hollow, finishing with some bitterness. I guess it’s OK, but I don’t enjoy it all that much. 80/100 01/08

Heggies Botrytis Riesling 2006 Eden Valley, Australia
From grapes hand-picked in May grown in vineyard at 550 metres in the Eden Valley. Open, sweet and herby with a rounded sweet apple and lemon character. This is sweet, grapey and richly textured. Attractive but not too complex. 86/100 06/07

Sanguine Estate Shiraz 2004 Heathcote, Australia
This is a really expressive Heathcote Shiraz with a sense of place. The nose is quite fresh with sweet dark fruits together with a bright peppery, meaty character. It's aromatically alive and fruit driven, with a really appealing, almost floral complexity. The palate is ripe, sweet and delicious, but there's a lovely freshness to the dark fruits which prevents it from becoming over-the-top. It's definitely a warm climate wine, but it's also fresh and expressive, too. 92/100 (£16.95 Great Western Wine) 12/07

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier 2004 Yarra, Australia
Fantastic stuff, combining ripe red and black fruits with a lovely vivid, spicy, peppery freshness, and tight focused structure. This is quite European in style. Flirts with a hint of greenness, but in the best possible way. A brilliant cooler-climate Aussie Shiraz that should develop well over the next five years. 93/100 (£13.99 Tesco, Oddbins) 06/07


De Bortoli Heathcote Shiraz 2004 Victoria, Australia
Bright, fresh dark fruits on the nose with some vivid raspberry notes. The palate is quite fresh with high acidity giving it a lively character. Nice forward fruit here with some Syrah pepperiness. Vibrant with real definition and presence to the fruit. A lovely wine. 90/100 (£7.99 Oddbins) 08/07

Leasingham Magnus Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Clare Valley, Australia
This is a brilliant Aussie red in a full-on style from the Clare Valley. There’s lots of fruit and plenty of oak, but the result is balanced and very appealing. The nose shows some typical American oak, with spice, tar and a hint of dill. The palate is dominated by very rich blackcurranty fruit and some spice. Very satisfying. 89/100 (£7.99 Thresher but £5.33 if you buy 3) 08/07

Penfolds St Henri 1989 South Australia
This particular bottle went through Penfolds’ recorking clinic in 2004 with Peter Gago. Dark coloured, this is smooth and intense with rich spicy black fruits and a refined spicy structure. Savoury and spicy with some earthiness and still quite a bit of tannin. Refined, elegant and drinking brilliantly now. 91/100 03/07

Marananga Dam Old Vines Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre 2005 Barossa Valley, Australia
From celebrated producer Torbreck, this is a really interesting, articulate expression of the Barossa. The Grenache grape, which is the major portion of this blend, is a good variety for communicating Barossa terroir. Shiraz and Mourvèdre add depth to this voice. The wine has a wonderfully aromatic sweet, herby, spicy nose with an almost liqueur-like richness offset by peppery freshness. There’s just the faintest hint of mint, too. The palate is sweet, spicy and a bit herby. It’s one of those wines where you think its sweet and simple one moment, but then have to revise your judgement the next when some Barossa-penned complexity sneaks up on you. A thought-provoking wine for current drinking. 90/100 (£9.99 Marks & Spencer) 08/07

Bethany Grenache 2004 Barossa, Australia
Sweet liqueur-like red fruits nose has a bit of spice to it. The palate is spicy and sweet with a hint of medicine and some earthiness. Sweet, forward and accessible in a vivid style. 85/100 (£6.99 Coop) 04/07

Henschke Louis Semillon 2005 Eden Valley, Australia
Made from vines up to 50 years in age, this is a stylish, complex Semillon with precision and balance. Tight, minerally nose shows a lovely, perfumed lemony character. There’s a bit of toast and even a hint of struck match. The palate is concentrated and quite complex with lovely spicy, herby character, waxy richness and a fresh lemony finish. 92/100 (Waitrose £12.99) 05/07

Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2004 Wrattonbully, South Australia
Sweet perfumed nose of red and black fruits with a bit of Coonawarra-like minerality. There's really nice balance here and it is smooth and complex. The palate has sweet rounded fruit countered by firm but silkily-textured tannins. It comes across as quite new-worldy in its sweetness, but there's good depth and complexity here. The hallmark of this wine is superb balance: unlike many Coonawarra Cabernets, there's less of the minerally, gravelly greenness, and the extra ripeness makes this a more complete wine. 94/100  11/06

Tapanappa 'Etages' Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay 2005 Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, Australia
650 cases made. This is boldly flavoured and quite minerally, with nice complexity. On the nose there's a persistent mineral note behind the tight but full flavoured fruit and well integrated toasty oak. There's some lemony freshness. It's nicely poised with complex flavours and some freshness: lots of potential for development here. 93/100 11/06  

Jacobs Creek Riesling 2006 Southeast Australia
A nice crisp fruity white with a pleasant limey edge. Delicate and precise. Nice and fruity. 84/100 (£5.48 Asda) 02/07

Marks & Spencer Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Australia
Concentrated, savoury and quite deep with a nice minerally freshness to the fruit, with a chalky edge. It’s rich but balanced, with lots of berry fruit. 84/100 (£7.99 Marks & Spencer)

Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2004 Barossa, Australia
From 70 year old vines and aged in old French oak. Sweet, almost lush red fruits nose with a nice meaty, earthy, spicy sort of character. The palate shows open spicy red fruits with some nice tannic grip and a bit of pepperiness. It's ripe and sweet, but quite food friendly. Not at all heavy. 90/100 11/06

Peter Lehmann Clancy's Red 2004 Barossa, Australia
Bright, bold blackcurrant fruit on the nose, accompanied by some spicy oak. Finishes with good acidity. A nicely balanced traditional Barossa red with a tarry edge. Easy going sort of personality. 84/100 (£6.99-£7.99, Coop, Oddbins, Waitrose, Vin du Vin, Abbey Fine Wine, Portland Wine, Four Vintners) 11/06

Deakin Estate Brut NV, Australia
Sealed with a crown cap, this is an attractively packaged fizz showing bright, delicate lemony fruit and nice acidity. A very fresh, almost transparent style of sparkling wine. It's not the most complex example of its genre, but at this price it's a great value all-purpose fizz. Very good 84/100 (£6.99 Oddbins, 6 for the price of 5) 04/07

Heggies Vineyard Chardonnay 2005 Eden Valley, Australia
Close planted Bernard clones grown at an altitude of 550 metres. Hand picked, gently pressed, wild ferment in French oak. 14% alcohol, tin-lined screwcap closure. This has quite a delicate nose (for an Aussie Chardonnay, at any rate), showing fresh, complex spicy, lemony fruit with a fine creamy and delicately bready edge. The palate is quite light - almost transparent - with a fine toastiness adding richness to the nicely phrased lemon, pear and vanilla flavours that work well together. I hate to use the term 'Burgundian', but that's where this wine is headed, although the cleanness and alcoholic depth might have given its new world origins away. But this really is a sophisticated, understated effort. Very good/excellent 92/100 06/07

De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir 2005 Yarra Valley, Australia
A delicious, affordable Pinot from Yarra star De Bortoli. Sweet, open bright cherryish fruit is the main player, but it’s well balanced and nicely countered by some spiciness. There’s a bit of Pinot medicinal character and some structure, too. An impressive expression of the New World Pinot style. Very good+ 89/100 (£8.99 Oddbins) 01/07

Tatachilla Growers Grenache Mourvèdre Shiraz 2004 South Australia
Really tasty: not a big, dark Aussie, but more a lighter, drinkable food-friendly style. It shows nice aromatic, peppery aromas with juicy, vivid fruit, a bit like a cross between a Beaujolais and a Chateauneuf du Pape. Lovely. Very good+ 87/100 (Waitrose) 02/06

Bridgewater Mill Chardonnay 2002 South Australia
Combining fruit from Petalumafs vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra and Clare Valley, this is a Chardonnay that has seen better days. Beautiful quality cork, though. A full yellow colour, it has a rather off-putting nose that combines buttery richness with a tinned pea/herbal character. The palate is equally uninviting, with some disjointed alcohol, bitter herbs and the beginnings of an oxidative honeyed and appley character. Itfs not undrinkable by any stretch of the imagination - I mean, it won't kill you, and it has some alcohol to numb the pain - but it doesnft offer pleasure, and should have been drunk a few years ago. 74/100 (in the Bibendum sale, http://www.bibendum.co.uk/, but even at £4.28 this is a pass) 02/07

Marks & Spencer Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2006 Australia
I really like this Hunter Chardonnay, which is made by Twin Wells (is this a pun on Tyrrells?). It combines the usual toasty, spicy, buttery richness of Chardonnay with a delightful citrussy freshness and a subtle warm herbiness. The oak is well in the background, and therefs a pronounced mineralic twang. The only slight negative is a subtle bitter character to the fruit on the finish, but this doesnft detract too much from whatfs a delicious wine. 13% alcohol. Very good+ 89/100 (£7.99 on offer at 5.99 7 March–9 April 2007, Marks & Spencer) 02/07

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Riesling 2005 South Australia
Sweet limey fruit on the nose, which is quite spicy with a nice savoury presence. The palate is bright and has a lovely spicy liminess, along with a rich texture. It’s dry, but with enough weight and richness for it not to be at all austere. A versatile wine that has the advantage of being available just about everywhere. (£6.99 Morrisons, etc) Very good+ 87/100 01/07

Lowe Zinfandel 2004 Mudgee, Australia
Deep coloured. The nose is really striking, combining ginger and pepper with a taut sort of herbal dimension, along with a bit of leather and some dark fruits. The palate has more of the ginger spice character, together with some savoury, spicy tannic structure and more tobacco and herb notes, along with curranty berry fruit. It finishes quite dry and dusty. It's not your usual Aussie fruit bomb: there's more savoury depth here. I think it needs food to show its best, but it's good to see something with a bit of individuality to it. Very good+ 89/100 (in the UK this is available from www.strathardlefinewines.co.uk) 02/07

Jim Barry Armagh 1996 Clare Valley, Australia
I remember that at the time, this was the most expensive wine I’d bought—it was £35 from Oddbins Fine Wine store in Faringdon. It’s still a baby, and I opened it before its time, on a whim. Dark, smooth complex nose of tarry, spicy fruit with a bit of cask-like richness. The palate is concentrated, spicy and mouthfilling with fruit and spice, together with firm tannins and fresh acidity. Give it time. Very good/excellent 92/100 08/06  

Spinifex Indigene 2005 Barossa Valley, Australia
Spinifex is one of the ‘new wave’ of Barossa wineries, the brainchild of well well-regarded Kiwi Pete Schell, who was previously the winemaker at Turkey Flat. It’s a blend of 55% Mataro (which is what the Mourvèdre grape is known as in the Barossa), with 45% Shiraz, made in small open-top fermenters and aged in a mix of old and new oak barrels. The result is a pretty serious red wine, with a rich nose of red and black fruits that shows a vivid spicy edge that is presumably largely down to the high Mataro content. On the palate this is juicy and rich with good structure and some lovely spicy freshness. This wine is delicious now, but it has the potential to develop well in bottle over the next decade. A new Australian classic. 94/100 (£24.95 winedirect.co.uk) 09/07

The Old Gentlemen McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005 Australia
The modern face of Australian wine, here: old vine Shiraz, picked very ripe and aged in French oak. It has a pure, sweet nose of dark fruits with hints of tar and spice. The palate is smooth with more sweet dark fruit, backed up by some minerally tannic structure. It’s a seductive sort of wine that avoids being over-the-top, and it really needs a bit of time to pick up some complexity to add to the pure fruit it currently displays. 89/100 (£14.99 Marks & Spencer) 10/07

Pewsey Vale Riesling 2005 Eden Valley, Australia
Crisp, fresh lime and lemon fruit nose with a minerally edge. The palate is brightly fruited with a slightly rustic phenolic edge. Savoury with high acidity. Nice but could do with a bit more refinement. Very good+ 87/100 08/06  

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling 2005 Margaret River, Australia
Very fresh, limey nose is a bit reduced at first. Bone dry, intense, savoury and limey on the palate. Good acidity finishes what is an archetypal Aussie Riesling in an intense, dry style. Needs food. 88/100 07/06

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Eden Valley Shiraz 2004 Australia
Beautifully focused nose of sweet dark fruits, with a hint of lemony freshness and some meaty, spicy notes in the background. The palate is very smooth and rich with a lovely texture to the soft black fruits, together with a hint of vanilla. Very ripe but with a balancing freshness and smooth tannic structure. Behind the friendly exterior lurks a serious wine. 94/100 07/06

De Bortoli Reserve Pinot Noir 2004 Yarra Valley, Australia
(From a cleanskin, pre-release.) Quite a tight, focused Burgundian nose with spicy, intense, slightly undergrowthy notes, fresh red fruits and just a hint of greenness. The palate is focused and savoury—ripe, but not too sweet—with a bit of tannic structure and fresh acidity. Not at all what you’d expect from an Australian Pinot Noir, and with all the capacity for ageing, I reckon. Very good/excellent 94/100 08/06  

Philip Shaw No 19 Sauvignon Blanc 2005 Orange, Australia
A powerful, intense Sauvignon. Striking, dangerous nose of green, grassy, herbal, lime-tinged fruit. The palate is concentrated, vibrant and full with good balance and a savoury streak. Very cool climate in style, with pure fruit. 91/100 (£11.99 Waitrose) 07/06

Longhop Old Vine Reserve 2004 Adelaide Plains, Australia
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (65%) and Shiraz (35%) from vineyards planted in the 1950s. Initially on opening, as with many screwcapped reds, this is a bit jammy and primary, showing lots of oak. But give it an hour or two of air and complexity emerges. It’s a dark, concentrated red/black wine with a sweet, smooth, dark spicy nose. The palate shows a huge concentration of sweet pure blackfruits with some spicy complexity and quite a bit of smooth tannic structure. This is a very ripe, intense style but it’s in balance, and over the next few years I’d expect the weight of fruit to subside a little and the firm tannins to relax their grip, resulting in a more complex, thought-provoking red. Impressive stuff. Very good/excellent 92/100  09/06

Yering Frog Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2003 Yarra, Australia
From superstar winery Yering Station, this is a really nice affordable Pinot Noir. Quite light coloured. Lovely perfumed nose of sweet cherry and raspberry fruit. Nice freshness; not jammy. The palate is bright and fruity with a touch of meaty, spicy complexity to the sweet red fruits. Good acidity and overall balance. Very good+ 88/100 (£6.99 Majestic) 01/06  

Faldo Collection Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Australia
Made by Katnook, this has an expressive, classic Coonawarra nose, with gravel and spice backing up the blackcurrant fruit. The palate is restrained with freshness and minerality to the fruit. Earthy and gravelly. A delicious wine. Very good/excellent 90/100 07/06

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Riesling 2006 Eden Valley, Australia
A subtle, precise wine, verging on the lean. Perfumed, quite complex aroma with lime, honeysuckle and summer meadows. The palate is lean, crisp and bone dry with high acidity. It’s not phenolic, but it does have a slightly bitter edge. A citrus-driven wine that’s best with food. Very good/excellent 91/100 07/06  

Peter Lehmann ‘The Black Queen’ Barossa Sparkling Shiraz 1997 Barossa, Australia
Remarkable stuff: sweet, quite complex nose of strawberries, blackcurrant, spice and tar. The palate is semi-sweet with ripe, meaty fruit and a nice spiciness, kept fresh by the fizz. A fairly serious wine that would work well with gamey or mildly spiced dishes. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£13.99 Noel Young, Oddbins, Jeroboams) 12/05

Two Hands Brilliant Disguise Moscato Bianco 2005 Barossa, Australia
Sweet and fizzy with fresh, grapey, slightly spicy flavours. Lovely tangy presence. Joyful and fun but with a hint of seriousness. Very good+ 89/100 (Oddbins) 10/05

Jim Barry The MacRae Wood Shiraz 2003 Clare Valley, Australia
A really fantastic traditional-styled Aussie red with lovely pure, sweet well balanced fruit backed up with some classy oak. Sweet, fresh red and black fruit nose with some spicy, chocolatey complexity. On the palate there’s great concentration of pure fruit, some creaminess to the texture and oak providing effective support. Nice tannins, too. No Armagh was made this year, which could explain why this wine is so good. Very good/excellent 93/100 08/06

Yalumba Barossa Shiraz Viognier 2004 Barossa, Australia
Shiraz cofermented with 5% Viognier. Midweight with sweet, slightly perfumed pure fruit. Savoury spicy edge to the palate. Perhaps a touch dilute? Pleasant but not great. Very good+ 87/100 08/06

Little Penguin Shiraz 2005 Southeast Australia
Bright fresh ripe fruits nose, which is sweet with pure red fruit and a subtle green freshness. Full, smooth sweet palate is nicely balanced. An accessible commercial style. Friendly and fruity. Very good 81/100 (£5.99 Somerfield) 08/06

McHenry Hohnen Vintners Shiraz 2004 Margaret River, Australia
Sweet, pure ripe slightly jammy red and black fruits nose, with very little oak influence. Fruit driven. The palate shows sweet ripe fruit with a smooth texture and some grainy tannins. It’s a forward, quite seductive style, with some chocolatey richness to the fruit. Very good+ 88/100
(£8.99 Handford, Flagship Wines, Wine and the Vine, Tanners, Nethergate Holdings, Weavers, Amps, The Grape Shop, Quellyn Roberts) 11/05

Peter Lehmann Eight Songs Shiraz 2000 Barossa, Australia
Powerful sweet spice and menthol edge to the rich dark fruits nose. The palate is full, spicy and minty with a medicinal edge to the rich fruit. A distinctive full-on style very much in the Grange mould. Quite oaky. It will be interesting to see how this baby develops. Give this a higher rating than I have if you like the style. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£21.99 Oddbins, Waitrose, Van du Vin, Nidderdale, Theatre of Wine, Lanchester Wines, Portland Wines, Laytons) 11/05

Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz 2004 Barossa Valley, Australia
Enticing sweet nose of blackcurrant and raspberry fruit with a creamy vanilla edge and some spice. The palate shows good balance between the smooth tannins and spice, with good acid, too. Nice freshness to the sweet fruit. It isn’t over-ripe. Lovely balance, and some chocolatey character. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£15.95 Great Western Wine) 11/05

De Bortoli Show Liqueur Muscat NV Australia
A fantastic rich, sweet wine. Brown colour. Very sweet with raisin and christmas cake flavours and a hint of old furniture and lemon. Very concentrated: sweet, spicy and long. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£8.99 Majestic) 12/05

Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Coonawarra, Australia
Initially there’s a big minty blast on the nose; this is followed by minerally, chalky, tarry berry and blackcurrant fruit. The palate shows nice fresh blackcurrant fruit with good acidity and tannins, together with a bit of freshness. It’s ripe and full but fresh and minerally at the same time. A delicious, thought-provoking red wine, and one that is potentially long lived, also. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£12.99 Waitrose, £14.99 Oddbins) 12/05

St Hallett Faith Shiraz 2003 Barossa, Australia
Deep coloured. Tight spicy, tarry, sweet black fruits nose. The palate is well defined and fresh with nice black fruits and a slightly bitter, savoury, tangy finish. Good acid. Nice clean, pure fruit dominates, but there’s high alcohol evident. Very good+ 88/100 09/05

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling 2005 Margaret River, Australia
Initially on opening this is quite reduced, but after a while aromas of lime, citrus pith and minerals emerge. On the palate it's bone dry, with bright, limey fruit. High acid makes this very savoury. It really needs food, but it's a very well done Aussie-style Riesling with good concentration. Very good+ 88/100 (UK agent Domaine Direct) 07/06

Tamar Ridge Limited Release Botrytis Riesling 2005 Tasmania, Australia
This goes remarkably well with raspberries. Try it! It is sweet and viscous, yet light and fresh at the same time. Lots of complex, sweet apricot and lemony fruit with a nice spiciness, some honeyed notes and high acidity. An impressive, precise sweet wine with some future ahead of it. Very good/excellent 91/100 (UK agent Vinus Vita) 07/06

Spinifex Indigene 2004 Barossa, Australia
A blend of Mataro (aka Mourvedre, 64%) and Shiraz (the remainder), this wine reminds me why Pete is one of the most highly rated Barossa winemakers at the moment. It's ripe, and initially on opening seems a bit fruity and alcoholic. Give it a while, though, and that wonderfully tight, focused spiciness that is typical of Mataro begins to show through. This is quite a tannic, complex wine. There's structure here for this one to go the distance. It's a bit like a super-ripe Bandol. I really like it, and I reckon that Mataro/Mourvedre is a real geek's grape variety - it makes serious wines that aren't upfront and immediately appealing. But this wine is not one for opening now: I'd give it a couple of years' respect before popping the cork, if you want to get the best out of it. Very good/excellent 93/100 UK availability: The Cellar Door. 06/06

Peter Lehmann Eden Valley Riesling 2005 Australia
Perfumed, persistent, savoury nose of lime, grapeskin and citrus pith. The palate is crisp, brightly fruited and quite tangy, with a citrussy character and a savoury bite. It finishes bone dry. Like many Australian Rieslings it is just a bit too dry and assertive for drinking on its own, but this would be a perfect mealtime companion with modern fusion cuisine. Refreshingly, this is just 12% alcohol. Very good+ 88/100 (£8.49 Noel Young, T Wright [Bolton], Abbey Wines, Taurus Wines, Cheers, Wines of the World) 07/06

St Hallett Unearthed Touriga Nacional 2005 Barossa
Wonderful nose: sweet, forward, intoxicating raspberry and blackberry fruit with a lovely spicy lift. Very pure and pretty. The palate has deep, smooth, slightly jammy fruit with wonderful richness and purity. There's a spicy backdrop, and very little oak evident - it's all about the pure, sweet, almost self-indulgent fruit. Quite delicious. A wine with some distinctive Barossa personality (ripe and sweetly fruited) plus some varietal character (floral and spicy). In flavour profile, it's quite like a souped up Gamekeepers Reserve. Still pretty primary, I wonder how this will develop (it's sealed with a tin-lined screwcap). Very good/excellent 92/100 (£14.99 Waitrose, but will be on offer at £9.99 until 24 September) 08/06

Rolf Binder Wines Heysen Shiraz 2002 Barossa Valley, Australia
I get the impression that I've opened this one before its time: it's quite serious, but the nose is initially dominated by coconut and vanilla from the new American oak - it's hard to get past this to the concentrated, spicy and rather complex fruit. There's also a touch of alcoholic heat showing: it's a wine that isn't currently at ease with itself. But don't let this put you off. If you have the patience to stick this away for five years, I reckon you'll be rewarded by a complex, expressive Barossa red of real intensity. As well as the deep, pure fruit there's some good tannic structure, and the oak will likely subside into a supporting role with a couple of years in the bottle. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£12.74 www.surf4wine.co.uk) 08/06

De Bortoli Pinot Noir 2003 Yarra Valley, Australia
Bright cherry, spice and undergrowth nose. Quite fresh. The palate shows savoury, spicy cherry and red berry fruits with some good acidity. Not overdone at all. Spicy complexity and fine grained, grippy tannins complete the experience. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£13.99 Oddbins) 12/05

Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay 2002 Margaret River, Western Australia
Yellowish with very subtle green glints. Lovely nose: complex and bold. Quite taut and a bit minerally, but also with some bready, toasty richness and ripe fruit. It's well disciplined. The palate combines complex tropical fruits with fresher citrus notes, well supported by almost structured oak (with a bit of vanilla) and good acidity. It's intense, complex and quite tight, even at four years old, with great poise. A really superb example of Chardonnay. Blind I think I'd go new world, but it's at the top of the new world pile. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£35 Waitrose) 09/06

Croser 2002 Picadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, Australia
A fizz composed of Pinot Noir (76%) and Chardonnay (24%). Nice fruit nose with notes of marmalade, honey, toast and lemon. The palate is soft and quite full with good fruit and a honeyed toasty richness. Some complexity. It’s quite new world in style. Very good+ 88/100 10/05

Tamar Ridge Pinot Noir 2003 Tasmania, Australia
Really appealing sweet, supple berry fruit nose: quite elegant and perfumed. The palate shows good concentration, nice acidity and some grippy, spicy tannins, but the fruit is ripe and elegant. Overall, this is a very convincing new world Pinot of great purity. It may well develop interestingly. Very good/excellent 90/100  01/06

Jim Barry The McRae Wood Shiraz 2003 Clare Valley, Australia
A really fantastic, traditional-styled Aussie red with lovely pure, sweet, well balanced fruit backed up by some classy oak (largely American, but some French too). It has a sweet, fresh red and black fruit nose with some spicy, chocolatey complexity. On the palate there is great concentration of pure fruit with some creaminess to the texture. Great balance: the oak supports the fruit very effectively, making a classically styled Aussie Shiraz of real appeal. Very good/excellent 93/100 (retail around £15, UK agent Negociants UK) 08/06

Yalumba's Hand-Picked Mourvedre Grenache Shiraz 2004 Barossa. You know, Mourvedre and Grenache may be the Barossa's two best grape varieties. This wine doesn't knock your block off, but instead charms with elegant ripe, sweetly spiced red fruits. There's something of the southern Rhone about it. It seems absurd to liken Grenache to Pinot Noir, but I really think - as Dave Powell of Torbreck suggested to me - that Grenache is the Pinot Noir of the south. Mourvedre adds to the pepperiness and sweet fruit of Grenache a lovely spiciness and savouriness. And I reckon the Shiraz fills in the gaps. This is quite a convincing wine, albeit at a price (around £18 retail). A wine that I'd love to try in a decade. Very good/excellent 90/100 08/06

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2004 Canberra, Australia
Deep coloured, this shows lovely pure, smooth, aromatic red and black fruits. It’s hauntingly pure. The palate is smooth and concentrated with a nice spicy complexity under the fresh dark fruits. Pretty serious stuff: I guess this shows that the purity and aromatic richness of the more expensive Shiraz Viognier from this producer isn’t all to do with the Viognier addition, more the quality of the fruit. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£13 Andrew Chapman) 08/06  

Fox Creek Duet Cabernet Merlot 2003 McLaren Vale, Australia
Ripe, spicy chocolatey red wine with some subtle leafy-edged savoury blackcurrant concentrate character. On the second day it comes together to yield something a little more structured and earthy with savoury bite. Very good+ 85/100 (£7.99 Oddbins) 12/05

The Standish 2001 Barossa, Australia
Rich, dark, chocolatey spicy nose with pure black fruits and some meatiness. Rich and savoury. The palate is super-concentrated and spicy with warm black fruits and tangy acidity. It’s at a slightly awkward stage but has promise for the future. A striking wine, and this rating may prove a little low with time. Very good/excellent 92/100 11/05

Angove’s Unwooded Chardonnay 2004 South Australia
Minerally, flinty edge to the fresh fruit nose. Palate is nice, fresh and fruity with good weight. A fresh fruity white, currently a little reductive. Very good+ 86/100 (£4.49 Waitrose) 11/05

Palandri Boundary Road Riesling 2005 Frankland River, Western Australia
Riesling is currently experiencing a bit of a revival, and wines like this show why. It’s brilliantly fresh, with aromas of grapefruit, lime and herbs. In the mouth it is bone dry, crisp and assertive, intensely fruity with a minerally finish. With its high acid this is a great food wine. Very good+ 88/100 (£5.99 Co-op) 11/05

Tin Shed Melting Pot Shiraz 2003 Eden Valley, Australia
An interesting, slightly unusual red wine. Pungernt, ripe, pure blackcurrant fruit nose with a sweetness to it, and also a slightly herbal almost green steak, together with some faintly eggy notes. There’s a dusty, spicy character under the fruit. The palate is concentrated with fairly tight, dense black fruits dominating. Very pure with a long spicy finish. It’s a hard wine to call. The relatively cool climate of the Eden Valley is evident in the purity of the fruit. I reckon with a decade this might be very interesting, as long as the slightly eggy reduced note doesn’t develop.  Very good/excellent 91/100 (£13.95 The Cellar Door) 07/05

De Bortoli Chardonnay 2004 Yarra Valley
De Bortoli are currently one of the pace setters in the Yarra, making impressive wines. This Chardonnay has a pungent nose of figgy pineapple fruit with some smoky, toasty oak. The palate is striking with concentrated fruit and some spicy oak. Good acidity. Quite an extreme style, with a hint of coffee. Very good+ 87/100 (£12.99 Tesco, Oddbins) 11/05

Zonte’s Footstep Verdelho 2005 Langhorne Creek, Australia
This is a pretty white wine that avoids being tarty. Wonderful open nose of lively limey fruit, with some melon and honey depth. Striking stuff: fresh and pretty. The palate is full with rich savoury spicy fruit and some sweetness, along with tropical fruit richness. This combines well with the lemon and lime freshness. Very good+ 89/100 (£6.99 Somerfield) 12/05

Peter Lehmann Grenache 2004 Barossa
I love this wine: it’s honest and it’s fun. Quite a light colour for a red wine, it has a fabulous aroma of sweet raspberries together with a lovely spicy pepperiness. In the mouth, it has summer pudding flavours backed up by a nice spiciness. Delicious and very easy to drink. Very good+ 88/100 (£4.99 Oddbins, Tesco, Morrisons, Unwins, Budgens) 11/05

Stonier Chardonnay 2004 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Bored with Chardonnay? Well, try this superb example from a cooler part of Australia, near Melbourne. It combines really fresh herb-tinged fruit with the nice toast and spice notes that come from fermentation in oak barrels. Stylish and quite complex. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£9.99 Sainsbury) 08/05

De Bortoli Shiraz Viognier 2004 Yarra Valley, Australia
This is fantastic. It’s an Australian Shiraz, with a bit of white grape Viognier thrown in, that tastes a bit like a wine from France’s northern Rhône, where this style was first developed. It shows lovely fresh, vivid red and black fruit with peppery, spicy freshness and some savoury black olive character. The combination of intense fruit and meaty savouriness is almost irresistable. Very good/excellent 93/100 (Oddbins £13.99) 11/05

Beresford Shiraz 2003 McLaren Vale, Australia
Dark coloured, this has a sweet, open alluring nose with a vanilla and coconut sheen to the dark fruits. Very sweet and soft fruit on the palate with a distinctive sweet coconut character and some spice. A rather extreme style with concentrated sweet fruit and prominent American oak – whether or not you like this wine will depend on your appreciation of this rather extreme style. Very good+ 88/100 (£8.75 H&H Bancroft Wines) 11/05

Lenton Brae 2000 Wilyabrub Valley, Margaret River, Australia
A blend of 83% Cabernet and 17% Merlot, hand picked and estate grown, aged for 20 months in French oak. Wonderful nose of open blackcurrant fruit and earth, with a sort of minerally, gravelly edge to the sweet but not OTT fruit. The palate is savoury with a lovely earthy undercurrent to the fruit and a nice smooth but prominent structure. It’s brilliantly balanced and quite elegant: a marriage of old world elegance with forward new world fruit. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£12.95 H&H Bancroft Wines) 11/05

Tin Shed Eden Valley Riesling 2004 Barossa, Australia
A delicious, elegant style of dry Riesling that is more complex than most of its peers. Beautifully poised nose with some herbs, limey freshness and a hint of spice. The palate is crisp and concentrated with a lovely spicy finish. Quite elegant and thoroughly delicious. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£13.95 Cellar Door, Bordeaux Index) 07/05

Mount Billy Antiquity Shiraz 2001 Barossa, Australia
Very dark coloured, this has a serious nose of sweet dark fruits, tar, spice and herbs. Complex yet still quite fresh. The palate is sweet and dark with a peppery, spicy edge to the dark fruits, backed up by good acidity. A really nice Barossa wine that’s spicy and full. Lots of character. Very good/excellent 93/100 (Cellar Door, Bordeaux Index) 08/05

Yering Station Shiraz Viognier 2003 Yarra Valley, Australia
Inky dark red/purple colour. Brooding smooth, slightly sweet spicy dark fruits nose. The palate is concentrated and rich with bold fruits but lovely freshness and definition. Avoids being at all jammy. A delicious, rather serious wine. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£9.99 Sainsbury) 09/05

Zonte’s Footstep Shiraz Viognier 2004 Langhorne Creek, Australia
Dark coloured, this appealing red wine shows a lovely perfumed blackcurrant and raspberry fruit nose. It’s pure, intense and inviting. The palate is dominated by fresh, vivid, sweet red and black fruit. Pure, supple and quite intoxicating with wonderful purity of fruit. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£7.99 Sainsbury) 10/05

Madfish Unwooded Chardonnay 2004 Western Australia
Unoaked Chardonnays are often a bit simple and taste of little more than fruit salad. Here’s one that is a little more serious. Smoky, slightly cabbagey edge (hint of reduction from the tin-lined screwcap?) to the ripe, fresh herbal nose. There’s some tropical fruit richness too. The palate shows fresh, concentrated peach and melon flavours with a bright lemony edge. A good fresh style but with some richness too. It works. Very good+ 89/100 (Bibendum) 09/05

Henschke Lenswood Giles Pinot Noir 2002 Adelaide Hills, Australia
Very sweet ripe red and blackcurrant fruit nose. The palate is supple and sweetly fruited with a subtle herby edge. A new world style. There’s a slightly sweet and sour finish to it. Very good+ 88/100 (£25 Waitrose) 04/05

The Standish Shiraz 2001 Barossa, Australia
Impressively packaged, this is one of the best of the new wave Barossa wines, made by Dan Standish whose day job was until recently as winemaker with Torbreck. It's a fantastic effort: bold, powerful yet expressive. The nose is sweet, dark and intense, leading to a smooth, rich palate of massive concentration. They don't come much better than this. Excellent 95/100 (c.£30 Bordeaux Index, The Cellar Door) 02/05

Petaluma Coonawarra 2000 Coonawarra, Australia
A 50:50 blend of Cabernet and Merlot, this is perenially one of Australia's top red wines, and I think it is substantially underpriced, and thus a bargain. The 2000 was a short crop, and it has produced a dark wine with a sweet, smooth ripe nose that is quite elegant, showing some chocolatey richness. The palate is quite dense but with lovely expressive dark fruits. Fantastic fruit and lovely structure. A brilliant effort. Excellent 95/100 (c.£20 Oddbins, Bibendum) [If you can't find the 2000, the 1998 and 2001 are almost as good - I rated both of these at 94.] 02/05

Henschke Lenswood Giles Pinot Noir 2002 Adelaide Hills, Australia
Very sweet ripe red and blackcurrant fruit nose. The palate is supple and sweetly fruited with a subtle herby edge. A new world style. There’s a slightly sweet and sour finish to it. Very good+ 88/100 (£25 Waitrose) 04/05

Oxford Landing Viognier 2004 South Australia
Deep perfumed nose is ripe, smooth, peachy and floral. The palate is rich textured, fruity and soft with lovely balance. A brilliant effort. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£5.49 Waitrose) 04/05

Henschke Coralinga Sauvignon Blanc 2003 Adelaide Hills, Australia
From the Coulter vineyard at 550 m, total acidity 7.2 g/l, pH 3.12. This has a lovely fresh minerally, grassy nose that’s very bright and forward. The palate is lively and concentrated showing lovely fresh lemony fruit. Fresh and pure. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£12.99 Waitrose) 04/05

Yering Station Reserve Shiraz Viognier 2003 Yarra Valley, Australia
Very dark colour. Vivid bright sweet liqueur-like nose. The palate shows swee, intense, concentrated dark fruits of mind-blowing intensity. Very fruity, vivid and bold. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£25 Waitrose) 10/05

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2004 New South Wales, Australia
Very dark colour. Vivid, intense pure dark fruit is the dominant feature here, with nice weight and lovely purity of fruit. Bold, full, rich and expressive with perhaps just a hint of reduction. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£13.49 Waitrose) 10/05

Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Rosé NV, Australia
There’s something special about pink fizz, and this Aussie blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes is one of the good ones. It’s great fun, with some creamy softness to the berry and citrus fruit. Fresh, bright and accessible, it’s a hard wine not to like. Very good+ 86/100
(£7.97 Asda, Tesco) 10/05

Wyndham Bin 555 Sparkling Shiraz, Australia
Sparkling Shiraz, a peculiarity of Australia, is weird but wonderful. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. This one is a remarkably dark colour, and shows lovely sweet, intense, meaty fruit with a smooth spicy character. It takes a while to get used to the idea of fizziness in a red wine, but this fizz gives a zip to the sweet fruit that helps keep things balanced. Delicious but odd. Very good+ 89/100 (£7.99 Morrisons) 10/05

Yalumba Viognier 2004 South Australia
Engaging, perfumed nose of sweet honeysuckle and lemon notes. The palate is fresh, fruity and grapey. Not as ‘fat’ as many Viogniers: quite a fresh style but still with some of that Viognier lushness of texture. Quite alcoholic. Very good+ 87/100 (£6.99 Waitrose) 08/05

d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2004 McLaren Vale, Australia
This rich white wine has a lovely nose that’s fresh and perfumed with lemon and peach notes. The palate is broad and full with rich, subtly herby melon and peach fruit. But it’s not too fat: there’s plenty of freshness. Very good+ 88/100 (Waitrose £7.99) 06/05

Palandri Pinnacle Shiraz 2002 Australia
Very open, enticing sweet blackcurrant and red fruits on the nose, with a subtle chocolatey, spicy edge. The palate has good concentration and intensity with pure fruit and a sweet, spicy character. Very accessible with a hint of seriousness. Very good+ 86/100 (£4.99 Waitrose) 06/05

Tim Adams Shiraz 2002 Clare Valley, Australia
Screwcapped. Deep coloured. This shows a nose of vibrant blackcurrant, violet ands spice aromas with a strong vanilla and coconut overlay. Immediately on opening the bitter plummy fruit on the palate and the strong American oak makes this almost undrinkable to me. An hour later there’s much more pure rounded fruit and the oak is a bit less obvious. Still a slight bitterness on the finish. Judgment reserved. (£9.99 Tesco) 01/05  

St Hallett Gamekeeper’s Reserve 2004 Barossa, Australia
This is an unoaked blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Touriga Nacional. It has a lovely, immediate nose of sweet ripe raspberry jam, with some subtle, darker, spicier notes keeping it from being too jammy. The palate is rounded and quite spicy but the dominant theme is lush, forward fruit that is defined by some spicy structure. Alas, the price you pay for such ripeness is 14.5% alcohol, and I couldn’t help thinking the wine might be better say at 12%. Very good+ 89/100 (£5.99 Waitrose [currently on offer for £4.49], Majestic) 04/05

Jacobs Creek Shiraz Cabernet 2002 South Eastern Australia
I’m normally a critic of branded wines, which often disappoint. This is surprisingly good, though. Quite a forward, ripe, spicy tarry nose displays sweet berry fruits. Very rounded and balanced. The palate is brilliantly balanced with the spicy, tarry notes offsetting the ripe berry fruit very well. A rich, generous, fruity wine that’s ripe with just a hint of greenness, and even that isn’t offputting. (Tesco £5.49, but it’s available just about everywhere) 09/04

Lowe Hunter Valley Shiraz 2000 Australia
A classic Hunter Valley Shiraz: aromatic, spicy, tarry nose with sweet ripe red fruits. The palate is rich and spicy: quite elegant with high acidity. The balance is just right between the sweet fruit, high acid and the spicy tannins, with some earthy undercurrents. A lovely wine showing great typicity. Very good/excellent 93/100 (not sure of the price - I'll check - www.strathardlefinewines.co.uk) 07/04

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Shiraz 2002 Eden Valley, South Australia
This is the first vintage of this exciting new wine, which was made in a rather unusual Italian-inspired way. Prior to crush the handpicked fruit was dried on racks, before fermentation and then ageing 18 months in a mix of new and old French and American barriques. The first thing that you notice about this wine is its colour: it is a dark red/black without some of the vibrancy seen in young wines. The nose is very striking, dominated by clearly defined black fruit aromas, together with some earthy spiciness. Great fruit purity. The palate is very concentrated, sweet, lush and smooth, with a spicy black cherry edge. Great length here, with a seamless elegance to the intense fruit. A drinkable yet serious wine with a distinctive personality, it will be interesting to see how this evolves. Tried twice, with consistent notes: it kept its shape very well after opening and was still superb three days later. Excellent 95/100 (Available from the Cellar Door in Hampshire, www.thecellardoor.co.uk, price to follow) 09/04

Teusner Joshua 2003 Barossa Valley, Australia
An elegantly packaged unoaked blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre. Lovely open nose dominated by distinctive peppery fruit (primarily cherries and berries) with a liqueur-like sweetness, and a hint of earthiness. The palate is ripe and open with sweet peppery, spicy berry fruit. The finish is spicy and earthy. Quite a distinctive wine and almost southern Rhône-like. Not too obvious - I really like this. Very good/excellent 93/100 (£12.95 The Cellar Door, www.thecellardoor.co.uk09/04

Peter Lehmann Barossa Semillon 2001 Australia
Taut, dense and savoury lemony white with lovely crispness. Very good+ 87/100 (£5.99 Oddbins) 11/03

The Willows Vineyard Semillon 2000 Barossa Valley, Australia
From 64 year old Semillon vines and aged in new American oak. Pungent toasty lemony nose is taut but full, with some hints of vanilla and coffee. The palate is structured and savoury with high acidity and rich lemony fruit. It’s a powerful, slightly awkward wine with lots of flavour. Very good+ 86/100 (£9.99 Thresher) 11/03

Jacobs Creek Dry Riesling 2002 South Eastern Australia
Is Riesling the new Chardonnay? Perhaps. If you are faced with a limited selection of branded wines, you could do a lot worse than opt for this Jacobs Creek Riesling. It's not a great wine, but it's far more interesting than a branded Chardonnay at this price point, offering subtle, slightly perfumed spicy lemony fruit. Crisp and balanced - a good food match. Very good+ 87/100 (£5.60 Tesco; widely available elsewhere) 04/04


Older notes (arranged by producer alphabetical order):


See The wines of Tim Adams, Clare Valley

Tim Adams Semillon 1997 Clare Valley, Australia
Lovely forward open nose with a bright lemony edge, subtle herby notes and some vanilla spice from the oak. Nice, savoury intense palate with bold flavours and some lemony fruit, together with more vanilla and spice. Very good/excellent 90 04/03

Tim Adams Riesling 1999, Clare Valley, Australia
This is establishing itself as one of Australia's top Rieslings. Huge floral nose with sweetness and a citrus edge. Soft, intense, expressive palate with prominent lime and apple fruit. Very good + (£7.69, Tesco) 8/00

Tim Adams Semillon 1998, Clare Valley, Australia
Tim Adams refuses to work with Chardonnay; instead, he makes superb Riesling and Semillon. A yellow/gold colour, this fine example of the latter has a striking nose of lemony fruit, coconut and herbs. Complex and savoury on the palate, with powerful fruit flavours and a savoury, herby edge. Unusual stuff: with great concentration and intensity, this is a super food wine. Very good/excellent (£7.99 Majestic) 10/01

Tim Adams Cabernet 1997, Clare Valley, Australia
A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc, aged in a mixture of French and American oak. Full, soft, attractive nose is quite oaky. Ripe palate shows nice balance: this is drinking well now. Very good (£8.99 Majestic) 10/01

Tim Adams Shiraz 1999, Clare Valley
The forward nose shows minty, liquoricey, menthol laced fruit, with a bit of alcohol poking through. Rich and ripe on the palate, with a satisfying chocolatey richness, but currently a bit awkward: the acid and alcohol stand out a bit and are unintegrated. Let's hope it all comes together with some time in the bottle. Very good+ (£8.99 Tesco) 09/01

Adnams Selection Australian Chardonnay 2000, Langhorne Creek, Australia
Pretty restrained for an Aussie Chard, with spicy, savoury character and good balance. Good concentration and moderate oaking. Very good (Adnams £6.50) 11/00

Allandale Verdelho 1999, Hunter Valley, Australia
Individual vineyard wine from old vines. Verdelho does really well in the Hunter, and it's catching on there-- just about every winery is making a Verdelho, along with Semillon and Chardonnay. A characterful white showing ripe, tropical fruit and melon notes, with good acidity. There's perhaps a touch of bitterness on the finish, but this full-flavoured wine has good food compatibility. Very good (£7.50 Bentalls) 10/00

Annies Lane Shiraz 1998, Clare Valley, Australia
From a winery owned by the mighty Behringer- Blass, this is an unshowy, balanced Aussie Shiraz that's just pushing the limits of value for money at a tenner. It's quite restrained, with the spicy oak meshing well with the focused berry fruit on the nose. The mid-weight palate shows ripe fruit, an attractive spiciness and good acidity. Firm tannins on the finish suggest this may evolve quite nicely. Very good+ (£9.99 Oddbins) 01/02

Ashton Hills Riesling 1997, Adelaide Hills
From one of South Australia’s upcoming ‘cool-climate’ regions comes this attractive, rounded Riesling. It’s a bit shy on the nose, with just a hint of lime fruit, but on the palate it is well rounded and shows good balance between the citrus fruit and acidity. Very good. 1/01


See also: the wines of Bremerton, Langhorne Creek, Bush Piper, Orange

Balgownie Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, Geelong
Red/black colour, slightly faded in intensity. Restrained nose shows berry fruit with a slightly minerally edge. Savoury, rich concentrated palate is not overblown or too fruity. Chalky, rich tannins. A classy wine. Very good/excellent (01/02)

Balgownie Estate Shirax 1999, Geelong
Muted red/black colour. Rich, herby nose with some lush berry fruit and a chocolatey edge. Concentrated, savoury chunky palate shows great balance: it is lush but savoury and still showing some restraint. Very good/excellent (01/02)

Bannockburn Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 1995, Geelong, Australia
Very attractive nose: soft, fragrant and aromatic. Successfully combines rich fruit with herby complexity and some complex leafy elements. It's a bit like a ripe, open Bordeaux and is drinking beautifully now. Very good to excellent. (Oddbins Fine Wine, £13.99) 4/00

Banrock Station Colombard Chardonnay 1999, South Eastern Australia
This bargain basement branded white is made by Hardys. Fresh and crisp, with a boiled sweetes nose that technological whites often seem to have. Some fatness on the palate from the chardonnay, and a rather bitter finish. This is mass produced jug wine, and it's a little too technological for me. (£3.49, most supermarkets) 1/00

Banrock Station Chardonnay 1998, South Eastern Australia
This won a gold medal at the 1999 International Wine Challenge, for what that is worth. It has an incredible soft, buttery, fat texture. Very smooth and will really appeal to people who don't like wine that much. I find it a little technological, like many of the cheap Aussie jug wine offerings, but there is no denying this wine's upfront allure. (£3.99, Fullers among others) 1/00

Banrock Station Chardonnay 1999, Riverland, Australia
Soft, buttery industrial Chardonnay with ripe, tropical fruit. There's some appeal here at £3.99, but nothing to interest wine geeks. OK. (Widely available £3.99) 6/00

Banrock Station Chardonnay 2000, South East Australia
You know what to expect from this sort of wine: Buttery, tropical fruit on the nose, and a ripe, modern palate with a splash of oak. Good commercial winemaking but frighteningly dull. Good/very good (£3.99 Tesco) 09/01

Barramundi Limited Release Marsanne 1999, Griffith, New South Wales
Forget the naff branding, this is a surprisingly good savoury white wine packed with chunky character. The expressive limey, floral nose leads to a thick textured palate showing citrus fruit with a complex vanilla and marmalade edge, together with some toasty oak. Very good+ 02/01

Barratt Pinot Noir 1998 Picadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills
Light red/purple colour. Nice leafy/herby nose with well balanced, cool-climate fruit. This is backed up on the palate with some well judged, spicy oak and high acidity. A nice wine, and one of the best Aussie Pinots I've had to date. Very good+ 03/01

Jim Barry Unwooded Chardonnay 1996, Clare Valley
Intense fruit flavours, with honey, peaches and minerals. Medium bodied, fresh and quite concentrated. Cool climate in style it would make a good food wine.  (£5.99 Oddbins fine wine) 1/99

Jim Barry Unwooded Chardonnay 1998, Clare Valley
Deep yellow. Nose of peaches, honey and bread. On the palate it is ripe and concentrated, with a luxurious texture and notes of peach, melon, honey with a mineralic edge. It is a delicious wine if you like the style, but it is definitely not Burgundy (if you are the sort that believes that Burgundy is the only valid expression of Chardonnay). Unlike may 'unoaked' Chardonnays, this is a complete wine without the oak, although that is not to say that well judged oak might not have helped add a little structure. However, I think it is pretty good stuff, and a whole league ahead of most Chard at this price. (£5.99 Oddbins) 9/99

Jim Barry Lodge Hill Riesling 1996, Clare Valley
Not all Aussie Rieslings age. This one, which has been carefully cellared, has fallen apart badly. A deep gold colour, there's still a touch of citrus fruit on the nose, together with that Riesling aroma that is often described as petrol or kerosene. But the palate is honeyed and oxidised. 1/01

Basedow Barossa Chardonnay 1996, S Australia
Attractive golden colour ith well integrated oak, bright acidity and fresh fruit. However, this is ageing quickly, so drink up now.  (Bibendum £7.49) 6/99

Best’s Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 Congongella Vineyard
Quite an unusual wine. Deep purple/red with rim starting to brown a little. Unbelievably sweet nose of pure blackcurrant. Soft intense fruit on palate with a spicy edge – the sweet fruit and sweet oak combine nicely together. There are also bitter cherry notes and moderately high acidity. This is very appealing but it will probably horrify purists. It is also evolving fast, so not one to cellar. There is 15% Merlot. (£9.99, Tesco) 9/99

Best's Great Western Dolcetto 1994, Concongella Vineyard, Victoria
Made from 130 year old vines. Deep, opaque purple/red. Really intense wine with cherry fruit and a strong herbal/medicinal component. Really interesting variety of flavours, with a bitter cherry finish and a shed load of sediment. Sadly the whole package is so full of odd flavours I found it distinctly unappealing: the bottle went in a coq au vin after just one glass! (Fullers £7.99) 2/99

Bethany Grenache 1999, Barossa Valley
Pungent, fruity and ripe. Sweet and rich; a little confected, but joy-filled. Good + (£6.49 Majestic) 10/00

Bethany Shiraz Cabernet 1999, Barossa Valley
Soft, rich and ripe. Very approachable, but a little confected. Good+ (£7.99 Majestic) 10/00

Bethany Chardonnay 1999, Barossa
Attractive ripe nose with a rich, unusual, figgy character. Extremely fruity and ripe on palate without too much oak. Impressive but a bit overblown? Very good + (Majestic £7.99) 10/00

Bethany Riesling 1999, Barossa Valley
A really appealing, full flavoured Riesling at a great price. Almost overpowering nose of citrus fruit. Full, rich, concentrated citrus-laden palate. Delicious, full-on wine. Very good+ (Majestic £5.49) 10/00

Bethany Riesling 2001, Barossa Valley, Australia
Unusual, lifted, lemony perfumed nose. Rich lime and spice characters on the palate; fresh and full. A striking style. Good/very good (£5.49 Majestic) 10/01

Bethany Semillon/Riesling/Chardonnay 2000, Barossa Valley
Ripe fruit but with an off-putting confected edge. Full flavoured and a little sweet on the finish. OK. (Majestic £5.49) 10/00

Bethany 'Pressings' Grenache 1998, Barossa
Made with fruit from old bush vines, this is a bit of a disappointment. Quite a light red colour, with up-front cherry and cranberry fruit flavours. It is quite light bodied, with a touch of pepper and some herbal notes, but overall it is a little too one-dimensional and fruit driven. (£5.99 Oddbins) 12/99

Wolf Blass Chardonnay 1999, South Australia
Lean, savoury Chardonnay, but extremely oaky, even by new world standards. It's got some restrained, lemony fruit underneath all the oak, which makes it a good food accompaniment, but avoid unless you are keen on lot of oak in your wine. OK (£6.99 Sainsbury) 8/00

Brokenwood Graveyard Hermitage 1991, Hunter Valley, Australia
Archetypal Hunter Shiraz. Splendid nose, with leathery, gamey, herby, animal notes. The secondary ageing characters dominate on the palate, with tarry, herby fruit and high acidity. Still deep coloured and lively, but I'd drink now while it's peaking: if the fruit recedes further the acidity may well begin to dominate. What a tragedy this is my last bottle. Very good/excellent 9/00

Brokenwood Cricket Pitch Sauvignon blanc/Semillon 1999, South Eastern Australia
Brokenwood is a well regarded winery from the Hunter Valley; this wine is one of their range produced from bought in non-Hunter grapes, and has seen some American oak. Nicely packaged in a bottle embossed with the figure of a Victorian-era cricketer. Pale yellow colour, with a zingy nose of boiled sweets and a touch of lemon. On the palate, good acidity supports a modern-styled but food friendly wine. Perhaps a little overpriced, but clean, pleasant and full-flavoured. (£7.99 Oddbins) 2/00

Brown Brothers Tarrango 2002 Victoria, Australia
Light fresh, juicy red fruits are the order of the day here. Simple and uncomplicated with a sweet edge. Nice glugger and easy to drink. Very good 82/100 (£5.99 Tesco, Sainsbury) 11/03

Brown Brothers Graciano 1997, King Valley, Victoria
From their Milawa Estate in the cool climate King Valley region of Victoria, Brown Brothers make a huge range of varietal wines, most of which are made in relatively small quantities. Thus it was a little surprising to find this wine turning up on Tesco's shelves a while back. Graciano is a Spanish red grape grown in the Rioja region; although it has plenty of character it is tricky to grow, and with most Rioja producers showing a distinct preference for quantity over quality in recent decades, it has been on the decline. Expecting great things from this Brown Brothers' interpretation of this grape, I was a little bit disappointed: while it's a nice enough wine, it's a tiny bit anonymous, tasting a bit like many other Brown Brothers wines (for example, the Barbera). A bright red/purple colour, it has a dusty, spicy nose with some ripe berry fruit and oaky notes. The nicely balanced palate shows ripe fruit, high acidity and vanilla and spice from the oak. There's an undercurrent of herby, leathery notes. On day two it has taken on a minty, sawdusty character. Tastes a bit like an Italian wine; a bit overwooded. Very good (£8.99 Tesco) 06/01

Brown Brothers Late Harvested Orange Flora and Muscat 2000, Victoria, Australia
Very pretty, sweetly aromatic nose with floral and citrus elements. Sweet, slightly musky palate is lemony with a slightly confected finish. Tastes a bit chemical: lovely nose, odd palate. Might work well with fruit-based desserts but I found it hard work. Good (£5.99/half widely available) 01/02

Brown Brothers Shiraz 1998, Victoria
Deep purple/black in colour, this is a delicious, elegant Aussie Shiraz, with a chocolatey, spicy palate. The relatively high acidity balances the attractive, cooler-climate fruit really well: it doesn't taste too big or over-ripe. Very good+ 03/01

Brown Brothers Barbera 1996, Victoria
My only previous experience with an Australian interpretation of an Italian grape variety was the disastrous 1994 Dolcetto from Best's. However, this is a delicious wine. There is high acidity, but a dollop of new oak provides a nice foil to the rich fruit. There is a bit of Italian character here, but there is plenty of Aussie-style flavour, too. A good food wine, and in my opinion the most successful red in the Brown Brothers’ portfolio. (£6.99, Oddbins) 10/99

Grant Burge Summers Chardonnay 2001 Eden Valley/Adelaide Hills
Perfumed lemony, figgy nose with a hint of coffee. The palate is rich and savoury with figgy, nutty, mealy fruit. Some cool climate character: nice depth and intensity. Very good+ 03/03

Grant Burge Old Vine Shiraz 1997 Filsell Vineyard
Made from 80 year-old vines, this is a deep red/black wine with a seductive nose of American oak. On the palate there is sweet, concentrated fruit flavours and hints of menthol, liqourice and pepper. Concentrated, intense and tasty, but perhaps a little too reliant on the American oak. Good. (£8.99 Fullers) 12/99



See also: The wines of Cape Mentelle (Western Australia) with David Hohnen; The wines of Coldstream Hills (Yarra Valley); the wines of Chain of Ponds (Adelaide Hills); the wines of Clarendon Hills, McLaren Vale

Campbells Old Rutherglen Muscat (NV)
Rutherglen Muscat is a unique wine style, perhaps only paralleled by the wonderful Pedro Ximenez sherries that make rare appearances on retailers shelves in the UK. Rich, aromatic and complex, this raisined dessert wine is smooth and deep. It is soft and beautifully integrated, but you won’t want more than a glass, or else it becomes a little cloying. It is like drinking liquid Christmas pudding. This is an old oak solera begun in the 1950s. (£13.99 Oddbins Fine Wine) 10/99

Campbells Old Rutherglen Muscat NV, Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia
Incredibly rich, raisined old wine, with very sweet, complex flavours of nuts, Christmas cake and burnt sugar. One glass is more than enough though: it's just a little too soft and sweet. Very good. (£13, Oddbins) 10/00

Capel Vale Riesling 1999, Western Australia
Relatively restrained when compared with some of the other, bolder Australian Rieslings. Lean and acidic with a savoury, citrussy palate. A bit austere now, but may well have a brigt future ahead of it. Very good. (£7.49) 10/00

Capel Vale Sauvignon/Semillon 1999, Western Australia
A lovely wine. Startling nose of gooseberry and grapefruit nose. Ripe and impressive stuff with high acidity and good balance. Reminds me of the equally impressive but more expensive Cape Mentelle Sauvignon/Semillon. Very good + (Majestic £6.99) 10/00

Capel Vale Verdelho 1999, Western Australia
Tasty, ripe, slightly exotic dry white wine, with tropical fruit and blackcurrant on the nose, followed up with a ripe, full palate. Very interesting with good acidity holding everything in check. Very good. (Majestic £7.99) 10/00

Capel Vale Howecroft Merlot 1997, Western Australia
Stunning, powerful menthol and herb laced nose. Exotic palate with firm acidity and medium density. A big wine and a winemaking triumph, but to me this seems to lack some real personality. Very good+ (£17.99 Majestic) 10/00

Capel Vale Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 1999, Western Australia
For some reason, the Bordeaux-style combination of Semillon and Sauvignon is a great success in Western Australia. This is a lively, aromatic white wine with zippy acidity and bags of flavour, the citrussy Semillon underpinning the slightly herbaceous gooseberry character of the Sauvignon. A great food wine. Very good+ (£6.49 Majestic) 1/01

Cape Mentelle Chardonnay 1998, Margaret River, Western Australia
A full-flavoured, complex wine with a toasty nose of honey and spice, followed up with a rich, spicy, nutty palate. There's a rich mineralic streak, and the noticeable oak is well balanced by the intense fruit flavours. Memorable stuff, but drink it now rather than cellaring it. Excellent. (£11.25 Bentalls) 8/00

Cape Mentelle Semillon/Sauvignon blanc 1998, Margaret River
The fresh citrus character of Semillon (50%) is combined beautifully with the grapefruit and gooseberry character of Sauvignon blanc (50%). This wine has opulent fruit and fresh bracing acidity in harmony. Clean, fresh and complex, this is very good. Excellent food compatibility for modern bistro-style cooking, too. (£8.75 Bentalls) 10/99

Cape Mentelle Semillon/Sauvignon blanc 1998, Margaret River
Beautifully lifted nose with citrus, gooseberry and elderflower notes. Rounded palate with smooth texture and crisp juiciness. A portion of this wine was barrel fermented, which has contributed a lovely rich texture that nicely counteracts the crispness of the fruit. Very refined, complex and well balanced. (Bentalls £8.75) 1/00

Chain of Ponds Riesling 2000, Adelaide Hills, Australia
A producer with a good reputation for their whites, but I don't quite get this. It has a bright, slightly confected nose, together with some subtle spicy notes. The rich, youthful, lemony palate has a rounded character. Too confected for me. Good/very good (£7.93 Bibendum) 11/01

Chapel Hill Shiraz 1996 McLaren Vale, Australia
Spends 20 months in French and American oak. Quite a deep colour. Displays sweet raspberry and blackcurrant fruit: very smooth and harmonious with some tarry, spicy oak influence and a juicy, tannic edge. With spicy and creamy notes this is drinking very well now, but I wouldn’t leave it too much longer. Archetypally Aussie in style. Very good/excellent 05/02

Chapel Hill Unwooded Chardonnay 2000, South Australia
A fresh, slightly spritzy wine with lemon, fruit salad, grapey and honeyed notes on the rounded palate. Currently very youthful, this may well gain interest and complexity with a year or two in the bottle. Very good (£6.99 Tesco) 06/01

Chapel Hill Eden Valley Riesling 1994, Australia
Aussie Riesling has a reputation for ageing, and this is still alive, but I don't actually like what it has turned into much. A full golden colour, this has quite a subtle, evolved nose that is petrolly, bready and with a savoury citrus edge. Palate is still quite crisp and fresh, with a marmaladey edge and a bone dry finish. Good/very good 12/01

Coldstream Hills Chardonnay 1998, Yarra, Australia
This winery was founded by James Halliday but is now owned by Southcorp; they have 75 ha of hillside vineyards in the Yarra region of Victoria. This, their regular Chardonnay cuvée is a nice, full flavoured wine but perhaps showing more development than you would expect from a two year old. The sweet, honeyed, toasty nose leads into an intense palate of savoury fig and butterscotch tinged fruit, with a reasonable amount of complexity. The high acidity means that this is probably best matched with food. Very good (£7.99 Oddbins) 03/01

Cranswick Estate Reserve Selection Botrytis Semillon 2000 Riverina, Australia
Limey nose with some slightly confected crystalline fruits and a sweet spicy character. The palate is sweet and rich with a thick texture, good acid and sweet, lemony, apricotty fruit. This is a good budget-priced introduction to the world of botrytised wines. Very good+ (£4.99/half Sainsbury) 02/03  

Cranswick Estate Director's Reserve Marsanne 1998, Riverina, Australia
An interesting concept: a more ambitious wine from an irrigated region better known for producing inexpensive blending wine, this Marsanne comes from a single vineyard and has been matured in French oak barrels. It is lean and savoury with nutty, toasty elements. A restrained, taut wine that may need time to show its best. Good. (£4.99, Tesco) 7/00

Cullen Estate Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 1998, Margaret River, Australia
Organically produced and barrel fermented with natural yeasts. Classy white with a sophisticated toasty nose and seamless palate, with ripe, complex fruit. Really impressive stuff, but not cheap. Very good/excellent (Adnams £11.95) 11/00


(See also: The wines of Dromana Estate, with Gary Crittenden; the wines of D'Arenberg, McLaren Vale)

D’Arenberg The Footbolt Old Vine Shiraz 1996 McLaren Vale, Australia
A wine that’s been cellared for a while. Quite an attractive earthy, spicy nose with some savoury, tarry, leathery notes. The palate is savoury and spicy, quite woody, with some sweet herby notes and a hint of coca cola. It is evolving, but I’m not quite sure it’s altogether. The fruit is receding a bit. Good/very good 03/03

D’Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier 2000 McLaren Vale
Inky dark colour. Rich, liquorice and mint-tinged tarry berry fruit combine well with intensely spicy American oak in a heady concoction backed up with some firm tannic structure. Very appealing in a full-on McLaren Vale style. Very good/excellent (£9.99 Oddbins) 03/03 

D'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
Surprisingly, still available on the UK market at opening price, despite being awarded 96 Parker points some while back. Rich, exotic nose is quite striking, showing complex notes of tarry, liquoricey fruit and menthol-edged new oak. The palate is rich and dense with lush fruit, hiding a whack of tannin. It's a substantial wine, potentially very good indeed in time. I'd buy a few bottles of this and tuck it away for a few years. Remember, in the USA this sells for at least twice the UK price. Very good/excellent (£17.33 Bibendum) 11/01

D'Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 1996, McLaren Vale, Australia
Deep purple black colour, with a nose of cinnamon spice, sweet herbs, blueberry and liquorice. On the palate there is some tannin and oak; the bold primary fruit has begun to recede a little to reveal the substantial structure. It will be interesting to see how my remaining bottles of this mature. At the moment, this is going through a gawky adolescent phase and it's a little disappointing. Good/very good. (Was £14 from Bibendum a couple of years ago) 9/00

D’Arenberg Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, McLaren Vale
Concentrated purple black colour. Fiercely tannic in its youth, this is a huge wine. Pure cassis, lots of fruit and big tannic structure. Needs a long time, but may be absolutely sensational in a decade-- perhaps more so than even the excellent Dead Arm Shiraz from the same producer. (Oddbins Fine Wine, £14.99) 5/99

D'Arenberg Custodian Grenache 1996, McLaren Vale
Deep, rich, complex, concentrated wine. It has that distinct, burnt rubber Grenache nose. On the palate the lush fruit is countered by dry, chalky tannins and a touch of spicy oak. There is a port-like concentration, but it avoids being too 'soupy'. I think this is one of D'Arenberg's best efforts, but don't be tempted to hold on to it for too long. Excellent. (£7.99 Oddbins) 12/99

D'Arenberg Vintage Fortified Shiraz 1997, McLaren Vale
A dense, purple/black colour. Incredible, wild nose of freshly crushed raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and licqourice. Concentrated and intense primary fruit dominates. Firm tannins and not too sweet, this is incredible, knockout stuff, which is really way out on the fringes of acceptability: some will love it, some won't be able to drink it! Personally, I think it is wonderful stuff, preserving by fortification the essence of the freshly crushed old vine Shiraz grapes. (£11.99 or £6.99/half, Oddbins) 12/99

D'Arenberg Twenty-eight Road Mourvèdre 1996, McLaren Vale, Australia
From a 4 acre plot of elderly bushvines, this is the first separate bottling of Mourvèdre by D'Arenberg: these grapes previously went undiscosed into other wines. Deep red/black colour, with a big, sweet, lifted nose of cinnamon and spice. On the palate, this is spicy and rich -- concentrated but still quite medium bodied -- with flavours of cinnamon and licqourice, assertive but smooth tannins and some oak influence. Apparently, there are different clones of Mourvèdre, each contributing different flavour character. The clones used in this wine convey soft, spicy character, whereas others have more of a gamey, animal edge to them, which is absent in this wine. It is a tasty and unusual wine and well worth checking out. (Bibendum £8.49, also stocked by larger branches of Oddbins). 1/00

De Bortoli Noble One 1995 Botrytis Semillon, New South Wales
From the Riverina, a region better known for mass production of cheap gluggers, comes Australia's premier Sauternes-style botrytised wine. A deep orange/brown colour. Lovely, spicy flavours of crème brulée and marmalade; sweet and richly textured. Ripe and dense with good balance between sweetness and acidity. Very good/excellent 11/00

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 1999, Australia
The latest vintage of Australia's most famous botrytised sticky, this is a deliciously complex dessert wine. An attractive honey and apricot nose leads to a lovely spicy, citrussy palate. It's intense and full, with good acidity that keeps everything in balance. Drink soon while it is lively and fresh. Very good/excellent 06/01

De Bortoli Rare Dry Botrytis Semillon 1996, South East Australia
This is an unusual wine from the producers of the renowned Noble One: like Noble One, it is botrytised, but instead of being lusciously sweet this is bone dry. It has a big 'botrytis' nose of apricots, marmalade and a streak of lime. On the palate it is dry with rich flavours of honey, marmalade, citrus fruit and barley sugar. An oddity, but really nice. I don't know quite when you'd serve it, though. Very good/excellent (Handford Wine £9.49) 1/01

De Bortoli 1996 Rare Dry Botrytis Semillon, South Eastern Australia
De Bortoli are famous for their sweet botrytised 'Noble One', but they also make this oddity, a dry white wine made with a proportion of Botrytised grapes. It's a full golden colour, with a remarkable nose of honey, citrus fruit, spice and marmalade. The palate is spicy and bone dry, with more of the distinctive marmalade/apricot botrytis character. A very unusual wine, but one with real appeal -- so unusual, it is likely to make just as many friends as enemies. Very good/excellent (£8.95 Berry Bros) 2/01


(See also: the wines of Evans & Tate, Margaret River)

Elderton Golden Semillon 1997, Barossa
Sweet caramel nose with a spicy, marmalade-laced palate. Rich but balanced; not particularly concentrated but very attractive none the less. Very good+


(see also: the wines of Fox Creek, McLaren Vale)


(See also: the wines of Greenock Creek, Barossa Valley, Gold Dust, Orange, Grosset, Clare)

Glenguin Orange Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 Australia
Remarkable stuff: savoury, full on and complex, but uncompromising. Huge open nose of ripe, tarry fruit with menthol and mint notes. The palate is concentrated with rich tarry, spicy fruit, some noticeable oak and good acidity. Quite firm with lots of savoury personality. Very good/excellent 91/100 09/03

Glenguin Shiraz 1998 Individual Vineyard, Hunter Valley
A lovely wine from this small Hunter producer, made from a dry grown, low yielding vineyard in Polkobin. It is big and dense, with spicy, earthy fruit, firm tannins and high acidity. Very youthful and vigorous, with a promising life ahead of it. As it evolves in the glass the characteristic Hunter Shiraz trademarks of old leather and tea emerge. A top class Shiraz, proudly displaying its regional identity. Very good/excellent. (£10, Bibendum). 8/00

Glenguin Cabernet Sauvignon 'Orange Vineyard' 1998, Orange, NSW, Australia
From a cooler vineyard site, at an altitude of 700 m in the Central Highlands of New South Wales. It's a lovely, earthy, tannic Cabernet with real intensity. Deep purple/black with a lovely ripe forward nose of blackcurrants and a touch of cinnamon and spice from the oak. Concentrated, nose and tannic on the palate with noticeable (American?) oak. Firm dusty tannins finish off what is a uniquely Australian wine. Very good/excellent. (Bibendum £10) 8/00

Glenguin Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Orange Vineyard’ 1998, Orange, NSW, Australia
From low yielding vines in the high altitude (700 m) Orange region of New South Wales. A dense, dark purple/black colour. Full nose showing clean ripe blackcurrant fruit with some sweet, spicy elements. Lovely palate with firm tannins and spicy oak (American?) backing up the rich, tarry fruit. Very tannic. It’s a big, focused wine with good acidity: quite stern at the moment. It will be good to track its evolution. Very good/excellent (from Bibendum some time ago) 12/01  

Glenguin Shiraz 1999, Australia
Confusingly, boutique Hunter winery Glenguin make three different Shiraz wines. There's the Individual Vineyard Shiraz (which in 1999 became the Pokolbin Vineyard Shiraz) and the top cuvée Aristea (both of which are of Hunter Valley origin), and this less expensive label (I'm not sure where the grapes come from for this). It's a deep coloured wine, with a slightly muted nose of pure berry fruit. Palate shows a good concentration of pure blackcurrant and raspberry fruit, with some spicy oak. Needs time to open out. Very good+ (£7.45 Bibendum) 11/01

Glenguin Semillon 1996 Hunter Valley, Australia
Made from grapes grown at the River Oaks vineyard at Broke, and unoaked. Lemony nose with quite a rich nutty, slightly coconutty edge. Very savoury. Lean, lemony fruit on the palate with incisive acidity. An interesting wine that really needs food. Very good 05/02

Tim Gramp Grenache 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
The light cherry colour is a bit unexpected in an Aussie wine. This shows ripe, herby, strawberry-tinged fruit. It's sweet and tasty, and despite the first impressions is actually quite complex. Very attractive. Very good+ (Adnams £8.95) 11/00

Green Point Brut 1996, Domaine Chandon, Yarra Valley, Australia
Australia's classiest fizz? The rear label discloses that this is 55% Pinot Noir, 44% Chardonnay (I wonder what the missing 1% is?), aged for 30 months on the yeast lees. A full golden colour, this has a rich, yeasty, bready nose. The intense, creamy palate shows lovely balance and good acidity, with attractive butterscotch undertones. One of my favourite new world sparkling wines. Very good/excellent (£11.99 Oddbins) 02/00

Green Point Brut 1996, Yarra Valley
This is probably the best champagne style wine I’ve tasted from the New World. It is complex and interesting, with savoury, toasty flavours and good intensity. Very good. (Oddbins £12.99) 11/99

Green Point Pinot Noir 1996, Yarra Valley, Australia
This is a complex, serious Pinot which is showing nicely with a bit of bottle age. Attractive light red with a brick rim. Full, sweet leafy nose with cherry fruit, and hints of undergrowth and gamey animal notes. Full herby and cherry palate with good acidity. Complex and mature with a powerful presence on the palate. Interesting, full and complex. Very good/excellent 11/00



(see also: the wines of Hamilton's Bluff, Canowindra; Heritage Wines, Barossa, Henschke, South Australia)

Eileen Hardy Shiraz 1997, McLaren Vale/Padthaway, South Australia
Complex, expressive nose showing vivid tarry fruit. Very rich and open. The palate is concentrated and rich with a mint and menthol edge to the ripe forward fruit character. A big wine that represents a great example of this style. Very good/excellent (£40 Waitrose) 10/02  

Hardys Stamp of Australia Chardonnay Semillon 2000, South East Australia
Really attractive Aussie white plonk at its best. The Semillon contributes a nice citrussy crispness to the fuller, riper fruit flavours of the Chardonnay. There's also a nice smoky edge to the fresh fruitiness. Full flavoured with good balance. Very good+ (£4.49, Tesco, Sainsbury) 12/00

Hardys Nottage Hill Chardonnay 1998, South East Australia
Soft, full flavoured Chardonnay with a touch of oak and some yeasty aromiatics. Good example of its genre, but the 1999 version, which should be on the shelves already, will be a bit fresher. Personally, I find this sort of thing rather technology driven and bland. It does a job, though. (£4.99, Sainsbury)  1/00

Hardys Nottage Hill Chardonnay 1999, SE Australia
Fresh, full flavoured Chardonnay with good balance, attractively put together with just a touch of oak. Just shaded by Lindemans Bin 65 in this category, but it’s a close call. (£4.99 widely available) 8/00

Heggies Vineyard Botrytis-affected Riesling 1996, Eden Valley, Australia
148 g/l residual sugar. Elegantly packaged, this wine possesses flavours of citrus and marmalade wrapped up in a luscious texture. There is a botrytis-derived spicy tang, and overall it is pure and quite subtle. Good. (Oddbins £7.99) 4/99

Henschke Lenswood Green’s Hill Riesling 2001, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Lenswood is a happening sub-region in the Adelaide Hills, and Henschke have produced an attractive, open Riesling from their vineyard here. Very impressive, striking limey aromatic nose. The palate shows good balance with vivid, limey, sherbetty fruit. Very good+ (£14 Waitrose) 10/02




see also: the wines of Jasper Hill, Heathcote

Jacobs Creek Chardonnay 1999, South East Australia
Fresh and soft at the same time, with 'boiled sweets' and a touch of tropical fruit. Industrial stuff, but reliable enough. Not really recommended for wine lovers. (Sainsbury £4.99) 2/00

Trevor Jones Virgin Chardonnay 2001, Barossa
Unoaked, this has a richly tropical fruited nose. The palate is very ripe and lush with sweet fruit and a rich texture. Attractive in a forward, concentrated style. Very good+ (01/02)  


see also: Knappstein Lenswood Vineyards, South Australia

Kangarilla Road Chardonnay 2001, McLaren Vale, Australia
70% fermented in stainless steel, 30% in new French oak barrels. A delicious, full-flavoured Chardonnay, yet showing admirable restraint despite its concentration. Intense, tight, fruity nose leads to a rich, herby, fruity palate. A bold style with the oak influence right in the background. Very good+ (£7.99 Majestic) 10/01

Katnook Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, Coonawarra
This is completely over the top, but it's delicious. Opulent, exotic nose is quite startling, showing lush ripe blackcurrant fruit with menthol, herb and caramel notes. Rich, ripe concentrated palate is quite sexy and lush. I'd be tempted to call it hedonistic. Very good/excellent (£24.99 Bibendum) 11/01

Kilkanoon Prodigal Grenache 1999, Clare Valley
Lots of alcohol on the nose. Savoury style. Concentrated, extracted palate but too hot with alcohol and unbalanced. Good/very good (01/02)

Kilkanoon Oracle Shiraz 1999, Clare Valley
Opaque purple black colour. Rich nose is quite alcoholic but also shows lush, savoury, liquoricey fruit. Extracted palate is chunky but a tiny bit unbalanced. Very good (01/02)

Knappstein Clare Valley Chardonnay 1999
Barrel fermented in 75% new French/25% new American oak. Deep coloured with a full barrel-ferment nose: quite stylish. Nicely structured on the palate; I'm quite keen on this style. Very good. (Majestic £7.49) 10/00

Knappstein Riesling 2000 Clare Valley, Australia
Sealed with a screwcap, this shows deliciously intense limey, savoury fruit. Good concentration and a nice rich texture. Interesting stuff. Very good+ 05/02   

Knappstein Clare Valley Riesling 1997 Australia
Another cellared wine. Distinctive petrolly, limey nose. Palate is quite savoury and citrussy with nice balance and good density. Nicely savoury: a good food wine. Very good+  03/03


See also: the wines of Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River, Western Australia

Lake Breeze Bernoota 1999, Langhorne Creek
60% Shiraz, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep coloured. Very rich, exotic nose is liquoricey and intense. The palate is bold and lush with rich chocolatey fruit. Very good/excellent, if you like this somewhat extreme style (01/02)

Lake Breeze Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, Langhorne Creek
The nose is rich, liquoricey and a bit alcoholic. Rich palate with a savoury edge to the fruit. Boldly styled but a little awkward and not very together at the moment. Very good (01/02)

Peter Lehmann Chenin Blanc 2002 Barossa, Australia
Lovely creamy, herbal, straw-like character to the lemony fruit. Varietally very true. It’s hard to describe the savoury characteristics of good Chenin, but they’re here. Appealing. Very good+ 85 (Waitrose £4.99) 06/03

Peter Lehmann Barossa Semillon 2001 Barossa, Australia
Gently herby nose shos lemony fruit. The palate is crisp and fresh with a citrussy tang. Crisp, fresh and quite expressive. Appealing with a slightly bitter edge. Very good+ (£5.49 Sainsbury, £5.99 Oddbins) 02/03  

Peter Lehmann Clancy’s 2001 Barossa, South Australia
Very sweet, coconutty oak dominates the berry fruit here. It’s smooth, soft and approachable but rather commercial, and ‘dressed up’ with the oak. Good/very good 79/100 (£6.99 Sainsbury) 11/03

Peter Lehmann ‘The Barossa’ Grenache 2001, Barossa, Australia
Quite pale in colour. Lovely sweet herby nose with some pepper spice on the nose. The palate shows appealing herby edged strawberry and raspberry fruit. Very moreish and nicely savoury. Very good+ (Sainsbury £3.99) Oddbins and Tesco both have the screwcapped 2002, which is at least as good, but costs a pound more: still highly recommended. 04/03

Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 1996, Barossa, South Australia
Striking intense nose is lush with rich liquoricey, menthol-edged fruit. This is huge. Bold, vividly fruited palate has a rich, tarry, oaky character, but it works pretty well. A monster style showing lots of concentration and oak, and why not? Very good/excellent (£30 Waitrose) 10/02  

Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 1993, Barossa, Australia
This is the flagship Shiraz from Barossa father-figure Peter Lehmann. It is a huge wine which has plenty of ripe fruit, but even more new oak! Spicy, rich and full, it reminded me of some Californian Cabernets in its structure. Very good, but avoid if you are sensitive to oak. (£16.95, Oddbins Fine Wine) 4/99

Peter Lehmann, 'The Barossa' Semillon 1998, Barossa, Australia
Yellow gold colour, with a lovely nose of lemon and lime fruit. On the palate it has racy citrus fruit and fresh acidity, coupled with a nice smooth texture. There may be a touch of oak (undisclosed) filling the wine out, but certainly not too much. A rounded and tasty wine. Highly recommended. (£5.49, Oddbins) 1/00

Peter Lehmann 'The Barossa' Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
Rich, chocolatey, ripe blackcurrant fruit combines with nice spicy oak to produce a very attractive wine with good concentration and depth. Very accessible and more-ish: delicious stuff. Very good+ 02/01

Peter Lehmann Vine Vale Grenache 1999, Barossa
A good example of the sort of joy-filled wine Grenache is so good at producing. Soft and herby (cinnamon and pepper), with medium body. Full and rounded, this is ideal barbecue fare. Quite a complex nose. Not a tannic, structured wine, but more in the style of a good Côtes du Rhône. (Sainsburys £4.99)

Peter Lehmann Seven Surveys (Mourvedre, Shiraz, Grenache) 1997, Barossa
Fruity, soft and porty, with generous depth of chocolatey fruit and low oak. Watch out, it's 15% alcohol, though. Typical soft Barossan style, a nice barbecue wine. (£5.99, Oddbins) 12/99

Peter Lehmann The Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, Barossa Valley
A seductive wine that's dangerously easy to drink. Sweet menthol-laced oaky nose leads to a soft, balanced palate with bags of luscious sweet fruit. Very good+ (Sainsbury £6.39; normal price is £7.99) 05/01

Peter Lehmann Barossa Semillon 1999
A lovely, refreshing, full flavoured white wine at a good price. Full but delicate nose of citrus fruit with a touch of herbiness follows through to the clean, rich palate. There is high acidity and a nice herbal streak; good balance and concentration. I often find that Aussie Semillons can sometimes share the citrus streak typical of young Rieslings. Very good+ (£5.49 Sainsbury, Oddbins) 12/00

Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2001 Southeast Australia
Quite a deep yellow colour. Pure nose of melon, peach and tropical fruit. There’s a bit of spiciness on the palate from the subtle oak, and a coconutty edge to the fruit. Quite rich textured. Like many commercial Chardonnays there is a bit of bitterness on the finish, but otherwise it is nicely balanced. Very good (Widely available for £5.49, although this is commonly discounted – Majestic are currently offering this at £3.99) 02/02

Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2000, Australia
Quite a lot more evolved than when I last tasted this in the Summer. The rich nose has tropical fruit notes and some toasty oak influence. The savoury palate has hints of coffee-like richness along with tropical, figgy fruit. Full flavoured and tasty, but drink up soon. Apparently this hasn't been selling so well at the newer elevated price of £5.99, which probably explains why were not yet seeing the 2001 vintage on the shelves. Very good (£5.99 Majestic) 10/01

Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz 1999, Australia
The ripe, lush, fruity nose gives way to a ripe, fruity palate with some sweet caramel notes. Quite tasty, if a little simple, but a good bet at the offer price of £3.99. Good/very good (£5.99 Majestic) 10/01

Lindemans Cawarra Chardonnay 2000, Southeastern Australia
Flawlessly put together commercial Chardonnay. The fig and melon fruit is backed up by relatively high (but well judged) acidity. OK, it's not exciting, but I'm happy to drink this sort of wine. (£3.99 Sainsbury) 03/01

Lindemans Limestone Coast Chardonnay 1998, South Australia
New brand that fills the gap between Bin 65 and Padthaway Chardonnays in the Lindemans range. Lifted tropical fruit and boiled sweet nose, followed up with soft, creamy fruit flavours. Fresh and fairly classy at this price, without obvious oak. (Sainsbury £5.99) 6/00

Lindemans Padthaway Reserve Chardonnay 2001, Padthaway, Australia
A new label for this wine, but is it as good as previous vintages that I’ve enjoyed? Yes is the short answer. Wonderful nose of honey and tropical fruit with a slight nuttiness and a touch of honey. Rich, full flavoured palate with ripe tropical fruit and a coconutty edge. A very rich style with just enough acidity to provide balance. Wonderful fruit quality. Very good/excellent (£8.49 Thresher) 05/02

Lindemans Padthaway Chardonnay 1998, South Australia
This may sound like a daft assertion, but I rate this as one of Australia's finest Chardonnays, even though it is not in the super-premium bracket. Each time I've tried this Padthaway wine (a small region in South Australia that specialises in Chardonnay), I've been bowled over. Stunning nose and palate of ripe, tropical fruit, coconut, melon and spicy oak. Great balance and depth of flavour. Great value for money, very good/excellent. (£7.99 Unwins, £8.49 Thresher). 10/00

Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 1999, Southeast Australia
Served well chilled, this is a delightful, full-flavoured lemony Chardonnay with a touch of spice and some restrained tropical fruit character. Lightly oaked, with a nice texture. You can't get much better for a mass produced sub-£5 Chardonnay, and in its genre this is the best. (£4.99, widely available) 4/00

Lindemans Coonawarra Botrytis Riesling 1997
Golden colour, with a lovely nose of limes, marmalade and apricots. These are joined on the palate by spice and honey. Fat, luscious and complex, there is just enough acidity to hold the wine together. Very sweet, and with botrytis character aplenty. I like this, but purists may find it a bit 'full-on'. Very good. (£5.99/half Oddbins) 3/00


See also: the wines of Charles Melton, Barossa; The wines of Mount Horrocks, Clare Valley

Maglieri Shiraz 1996 McLaren Vale, Australia
Very sweet vanilla edge to the nose with a distinctive coconutty edge. Palate shows more sweet coconutty fruit and an attractive spiciness. Nicely balanced but very obvious and oak dominated. Very good 05/02  

Magpie Estate Mourvèdre Grenache 1998, Barossa Valley
Deep coloured, with a sweetly spiced nose. On the palate, rich chocolate-laden fruit combines seamlessly with a touch of oak. This wine is unbelievably soft-textured, yet it is full and concentrated, making it very easy to drink. Good. (£8.49 Noel Young Wine) 11/99

Charles Melton Shiraz 1994, Barossa, S Aus
Complex and rich, this wine combines dense fruit with new American oak, and there’s a hint of earthiness with a touch of eucalyptus. Very attractive.2/99

Geoff Merrill Mount Hurtle Bush Vine Grenache 1996
Really pleasant wine, with rubbery, minty, raspberry-laden fruit. There is hardly any oak, and the wine has good concentration and nice structure. A great advert for an often underrated grape variety. (£5.99 Oddbins) 7/99

Michelton Reserve Marsanne 1994, Victoria, Australia
Deep gold. Strong nose of coffee and honey. Thin and tannic on the palate. To my mind this wine is clearly oxidised. It is dead beyond recovery. Avoid. (£8.99 Oddbins) 3/99

Millfield Hunter Valley Semillon 2000 Australia
The Hunter Valley is the home of Semillon in Australia, and this is one of the best I've tasted. It has an intense lemon and herb nose with a straw-like edge - it's almost Chenin-like. The palate is rich, savoury and fruity with great balance and good acidity. Quite complex with a toasty edge. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£ ... Corney & Barrow) 11/03

Miranda Rovalley Ridge 'Left Field' Red 1998, Barossa, Australia
Made from Tinta Cao grapes, a Portuguese variety seldom encountered in Australian table wines. A medium bodied red with a lifted nose of pepper, mixed herbs and cloves. Quite light on the palate, with high acid, but very juicy and supple: a good food wine. Interesting and very good for the price. (£4.99 Tesco) 12/99

Miranda 'The Pioneers' Raisined Muscat 2000, South East Australia
Made from partially dried Muscat grapes, this is fresh, grapey and sweet with nice balancing acidity and some spicy notes. Delicious well chilled. Very good (£4.49/half Majestic) 04/01

Mirrabrook Chardonnay 1999, South Eastern Australia
A soft, buttery, full flavoured Chardonnay. Easy to drink and a bargain at this price: a good party wine. (Majestic £3.29) 8/00

Mountadam Estate 'The Red' Cabernet/Merlot 1996, Eden Valley, Australia
A bit of a monster wine, with a huge, sweet, ripe, menthol-laced wine. On the palate there is sweet minty fruit, and huge concentration. A little bit overdone? For those who like power, ripeness and concentration in their wines. Very good + (Adnams £19.95) 11/00


Nepenthe Riesling 2002 Adelaide Hills, Australia
Intense, fruity, citrussy nose. Quite rich citrussy fruit on the palate: a bold style. Very good+ 88/100 (£8.99 Waitrose) 04/03

Normans Lone Gum Chardonnay 1997, Murray Valley
Oaky Chardonnay with some buttery, rich fruit and a nice savoury edge. Good for the price, but beware if you are averse to oak. (Oddbins £4.99) 5/99

Nottage Hill Chardonnay Brut 1998, South East Australia
Attractive, full flavoured fizz. However, the bubbles disappear fast, and it bears more resemblance to an Aussie Chardonnay than to anything from Champagne. Accessible fizz for all occasions, but unlikely to be of interest to serious wine nuts. Good. (£6.99 widely available) 8/00


Old Penola Estate Botrytis Geurztraminer 1997, Coonawarra, Australia
This is a super botrytized wine for a very good price. Golden colour. Lovely nose of honey and spice. Rich, fat-textured palate with butterscotch, honey, spice and apricots and a sweetness well balanced by acidity. There is a touch of oxidation, but not too much. This will be too fat for some, but offers a chance to try a good example of the complexity that botrytis can bring for relatively little expense. (£4.99 Tesco) 2/00

Orlando St Hilary Chardonnay 1997, Padthaway
Golden colour with a full nose and palate of figs, melon, butterscotch and coconut. Richly textured, this is a full, complex Chardonnay at, or slightly past, its peak: drink up soon. Quite a serious Aussie Chardonnay, and a bargain at this discounted price. Very good+ (£4.45 Somerfield, special offer) 10/00

Osborns Cabernet Merlot 1998 Mornington Peninsula
A family owned winery in the Mornington Peninsula. Frank and Pamela Osborn planted their first vineyard there in 1988, and now have 6 hectares. Sweet forward nose of minty, spicy fruit with cinnamon and vanilla notes. Palate shows nice balance between the berry fruit, spicy tannins and acidity. Quite savoury in style despite the sweet oak influence: this wine relies heavily on new oak for its flavour, but it is very appealing if you don’t mind this, with some cool climate character. Very good (£11.95 Berry Bros) 03/02

Oxford Landing Chardonnay 2002 South Australia
Quite a rich, buttery style. Good commercial Chardonnay, but a bit forgettable. Very good 80 (£4.99 Sainsbury) 11/03

Oxford Landing Limited Release Viognier 1999
A brilliant example of super-trendy Viognier at an attractive price. Luscious ripe nose with varietally true characters of peach, melon and apricot. Soft, full and fruity on the palate, showing nice balance. A bargain. Very good+ (Majestic £5.99) 10/00

Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc 2000, South Australia
This branded Aussie Sauvignon fails to convince: it's just a little too processed and confected. The big, fruity gooseberry nose has a green tinge to it (perhaps the only way to retain the freshness in the fruit was to pick a little too soon). It's quite an attractive, fresh white wine, but just a bit manipulated. Good 1/01


See also: The wines of Penfolds, South Australia; the wines of Pipers Brook, Tasmania; the wines of Pierro, Margaret River; the wines of Primo Estate, Adelaide Plains

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 1993 South Australia
Sweet concentrated coconut and dill notes on the nose, which blow off after a while to reveal tarry, minerally, spicy character. The palate is evolved with soft, spicy fruit and cedary, minerally notes. Nicely weighted structure. Drinking well now, I wouldn’t hold it any longer. Very good+ 88/100 05/03

Penfolds Rawsons Retreat Bin 21 2000, Semillon/Chardonnay/Colombard, South Australia
Bright, fresh white wine with a nose of boiled sweets and a clean fruity palate. Very modern and crisp, but quite technologically driven. Good/very good (Widely available, about £4.49) 2/01

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2000, South East Australia
Penfolds are famous for their reds, but their white wines are no slouches. The citrussy palate shows rich, figgy, nutty notes and some subtle oaking. Full flavoured and nicely complex, this is a well balanced commercial Chardonnay with some interest. Very good+ (£5.99, widely available) 04/01

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 1999, South East Australia
Full flavoured Chardonnay with a rich texture and noticeable oak. Very savoury -- nice, archetypal Aussie Chardonnay, but perhaps a tiny bit crude on the finish. Very good. (£5.99 Oddbins) 10/00

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 1993
Nicely mature wine with sweet American oak and cassis fruit combining well with soft tannic structure to produce a complex and nicely poised wine. These Penfolds reds really do benefit from cellaring for a few years after release to show their best. Very good. 1/00

Penfolds Clare Valley Red 1993, Clare Valley
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc, aged for 14 months in French oak.Youthful purple/black colour but beginning to brown a bit at the rim. Lifted, cedary nose. On the palate the primary fruit has receded a little and it has gained some spicy secondary complexity. Quite prominent lemony acidity and still fairly tannic. This is a complex, enjoyable wine, but it is hard to tell whether it is peaking yet: it is certainly more claret-like than many of the other Penfolds reds. Good. 8/99

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet 1998, South Australia
Penfolds are the masters of multi-region blending, and the 1998 is the best Koonunga Hill for a long time. A deep, satisfying wine, it shows great balance between the rich, spicy berry fruit and well judged oak. Classy and worryingly easy to drink, it is good value at £6.99 (widely available). Very good/excellent 03/01

Penfolds Rawsons Retreat Riesling Bin 202 1999, South Australia
Bright citrus and spice nose. On the palate it is quite light, with more citrus elements. Pleasant stuff, but just a little light compared with a whole bunch of better Aussie Rieslings that aren't a lot more expensive. Good/very good. (£4.49 widely available) 10/00

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2001, South-East Australia
Fresh, crisp nose with a bit of toasty nuttiness. Palate shows nice balance between rich tropical fruit and a grapefruit/citrus freshness. Well crafted, this is a solid commercial Chardonnay and good value at the discounted price (although the regular price has crept up disturbingly in recent months: I've seen this for £6.99, at which price the value for money isn't there). (£3.97 from £5.97, Tesco) 11/01

Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz-Mourvèdre 1999
A deep purple/black colour this chunky blend has a sweet spicy nose with ripe berry fruit and a minty edge. The full flavoured palate has ripe, accessible fruit and notes of spice (especially cinnamon), herbs and leather. Tasty, with good concentration -- archetypally Aussie. Very good+ (£6.99 widely available) 5/01

Penfolds Bin 389 1993, South Australia
This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, matured in American oak (including the ex-Grange barrels), is unashamedly Australian but delicious with it. The sweet American oak and fruit on the nose balances beautifully with the dense, spicy flavours on the palate. Still quite tannic but now fully opened out, this is superb stuff if you are in the mood for it. Very good/excellent 04/01

Penfolds Rawsons Retreat Semillon Chardonnay 2002 South East Australia
Fresh lemony, limey nose with a slightly spicy, confected edge. Broad, full flavoured palate with a limey character. Very accessible but a little bit confected. Good (Widely available £4.99) 01/03

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 1999 South Australia
Deep red/black colour. Sweet, almost exotic nose with liquorice and menthol laced blackcurrant and berry fruit. Spicy edge. The palate shows good concentration with some firm tannins and spicy oak character. It’s appealing and rich but slightly unconvincing on the finish – it doesn’t really hold together. It will be interesting to see whether this ages well – I suspect Bin 389 isn’t as good as it used to be. Very good+ (£15.99 widely available) 01/03

Petaluma Tiers Chardonnay 1999, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Tight, crisp, nutty/herby nose is quite refined. Elegant palate is rich and savoury. Brilliantly balanced with well integrated oak, this is a classic among Australian Chardonnays and all the better for not relying on power for its effect. Excellent (£40 Waitrose) 10/02

Petaluma Coonawarra Cabernet Merlot 1996, Coonawarra, Australia
66% Cabernet Sauvignon/33% Merlot. This classy red has a lovely nose of pure blackcurrant fruit and a nicely balanced, restrained palate showing firm tannins and minerally complexity. This isn't you usual Aussie blockbuster -- instead, it's very much in the Bordeaux style, with elegance winning over power. It has further development ahead of it. Very good/excellent 04/01

Petaluma Bridgewater Mill Shiraz 1998, South Australia/Victoria
The fruit for this wine is 63% South Australian/ 37% Victorian; it is aged in new French oak for 15 months and bottled unfiltered. Very distinctive nose of eucalyptus, mint, vanilla and menthol – it really jumps out of the glass. It’s quite medium bodied for an Aussie Shiraz: although there’s some sweetness to the fruit, there’s a cool-climate mintiness too. The French oak adds a touch of class. Quite an unusual wine, and worth a pop at the sale price. Very good+ (£6.35 Sainsbury, reduced from £7.99) 5/01

Pewsey Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Eden Valley
At an altitude of almost 500m the Pewsey Vale vineyards are pretty much 'cool climate': the fruit was harvested as late as May. This wine has a lovely full, evolved nose of creamy blackcurrant fruit with a leafy edge. The palate shows chocolatey berry fruit and softening tannins, with juicy acidity. Probably drinking at or near its peak. Very good+ (£7.99 Tesco) 06/01

Pewsey Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Eden Valley, Australia
With good concentration, this is a lovely 'cool climate' wine. Bright blackcurrant fruit is the dominant feature here, with high acidity and a spicy edge. There are also dry tannins and high acidity. It's slightly off the beaten track: lean and savoury, but full of flavour, this is a clearly defined wine with plenty of food compatibility. Very good+ (£7.99 Tesco) 7/01

Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 1998, Australia
Huge, fresh, exhilarating nose of lime fruit. On the palate this is concentrated and intense, with fresh citrus fruit and some honey notes. Nice, crunchy intensity and good balance. Australian Riesling can age well, but I'd drink this while it has its youthful freshness. Excellent. (£5.99 Oddbins) 1/00

Pewsey Vale Riesling 1998, Eden Valley, Australia
Huge lime-laden nose is followed up on the palate by complex lemony fruit. Real character. Lovely and intense. Very good and super value. (£4.99 Oddbins) 6/00

Pewsey Vale Riesling 1999 Eden Valley, Australia
Fresh, light and spritzy, with bright citrus fruit and good balancing acidity.Good, but not as impressive as the excellent 1998 incarnation of this wine. (£4.99 Tesco) 7/00

Pipers Brook Pellion Pinot Noir 1997, Tasmania
This varietal pinot noir from the largest of the Tasmanian producers is a real let down. Youthful looking with high acidity and good concentration, it is spoiled by a funky, medicinal edge and harsh tannins. Virtually undrinkable now, I doubt it will improve. DNPIM. (£13.95 Tesco) 2/99

Pirramimma Premium Shiraz 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
An opaque red/purple colour, this has an exotic, ripe, lush nose with some new-oak-derived menthol notes. The thick, inky palate shows ripe, liquoricey, almost Port-like fruit. It's quite delicious in the full-throttled McLaren Vale style: very oaky, but the fruit can just about handle it. Very good/excellent (£9.99 Majestic) 10/01

Pirramimma Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
Another deep coloured, dense wine, there's an attractive spiciness to the nose. On the palate this is quite a chunky effort: rich blackcurrant fruit combines well with spicy American oak. Perhaps a little over oaked? 

Pirramimma Shiraz 1997, McLaren Vale, Australia
A huge wine with prominent new oak and ripe, sweet, spicy fruit. Bold and full flavoured with impressive concentration, but a real oak monster. You have been warned… (£9.99 Majestic) 9/00



See also: The wines of Rosemount Estate; The wines of Red Edge, Heathcote

RBJ Theologicum 1997, Barossa
(Grenache/Mourvedre blend.) Beautiful smoky/meaty wine, in a savoury Southern French style. Purple/black in colour. Not overripe, but good concentration. And guess what, no obvious new oak! There is some meaty/farmyard element, but I would wager that this is not brett, but rather the Mourvedre speaking. After a while in the glass the rubbery, peppery Grenache begins to come through. A super wine, with real personality, at an affordable price. However the best thing about this wine is that it gives me some hope for Australian fine wine. I've drunk an awful lot of Aussie red wines, cellared quite a few, but recently have become disillusioned by the endemic over-oaking and sometimes clumsy acid adjustment. There are few premium Aussie red wines that would not have been better with a little less oak. The over-oaking, if anything, is accentuated by age when the primary fruit recedes. This RBJ wine gives me real hope that the whole premium Australian wine market isn’t stuck in one huge rut, and I look forward to trying a premium Aussie Shiraz that isn't heavily cloaked in new oak. 9/99

Robinvale Wines Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc/Chenin Blanc 1998 North Western Victoria
A biodynamic wine from Australia. Whatever next? This is a pleasant but unremarkable wine made from an unusual trio of grape varieties: the Chardonnay appears to contribute ripe, tropical fruit notes, the Sauvignon a nice tangy edge, but I'm not sure what the Chenin adds. Clean and modern, but I'm not overly keen on this. Good/Very good 2/01

Rockford Dry Country Grenache 1996, Barossa Valley
This has the typical Grenache characteristics that are quite hard to describe: the nose is peppery and rubbery, slightly burnt, with spicy raspberry-like fruit on the palate. It is juicy and delicious, and the fruit partially hides quite a substantial structure. Complex and interesting, this is excellent stuff. (£8.49 Fullers) 10/99

Rosemount Chardonnay 2001, South Eastern Australia
Fresh, almost aromatic nose with figgy, grapefruit-tinged fruit. Palate is quite fresh with tropical fruit and a buttery edge. There's a bit of bitterness showing through on the finish. A commercial style. Good/very good (£6.99) 01/02

Rosemount Chardonnay 1998, South Australia
Yellow gold. This seems to be paler and less oaked than previous vintages. It is a good commercial chardonnay with refreshing acidity and boiled-sweets flavours. Well balanced, it reminds me of Lindemans Bin 65, but this example is £2 more expensive. A crowd pleaser.  (£6.99 Thresher) 3/99

Rosemount GSM 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
This blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre is a dense, spicy red with concentrated flavours of sweet berry fruit, nicely balanced by spicy tannins and good acidity. Impeccably made, this more-ish wine is almost irresistible with its savoury liquoricey, herb and olive complexity. Very polished commercial winemaking. Very good/excellent (c. £15, widely available) 10/01

Rosemount Shiraz 2000, Australia
Fruit sourced from Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale and Mudgee; matured for 8 months in American oak. The enticing, sweet nose shows rich, sweet, spicy berry fruit. The palate is sexy and full, with a rich, spicy character: it manages to be both savoury and sweet at the same time. A real crowd-pleaser. Very good+ (£7.49 Majestic) 10/01

Rosemount Show Reserve Chardonnay 1998, Hunter Valley
A rich, buttery Chardonnay, with toasty oak and honeyed fruit. Sophisticated stuff, showing good balance and refinement. Very good + (Majestic £9.99) 8/00

Rosemount Estate Semillon 1993, Hunter Valley
An inexpensive, unoaked Semillon that has been cellared for some 5 years (I don't imagine anyone ever intended this stuff to be cellared), this has developed very nicely. Deep golden colour with a savoury citrus and toast nose. On the palate there is firm acidity and lean, complex citrus and toasty flavours. It hasn't oxidised, and shows nice balance, developing along similar lines to the more expensive Hunter Semillons that are made with ageing in mind. Very good. 11/00

Rosemount Hill of Gold Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1998, Mudgee, Australia
From the upcoming Mudgee region in New South Wales comes this full-throttle stunner by Rosemount. Dense purple/black wine of huge extract. Nose of ripe berry fruit and charred new American oak is followed up by a concentrated palate of dusty fruit and dry, firm tannins. A ripe, blockbuster Cabernet if you are not too shy of oak. Lovely now, but really needs a couple more years. Good value for money. Very good + (£9.99 Waitrose) 7/00

Rosemount Estate Shiraz 2000
A deep coloured, medium bodied wine with lively flavours of spicy berry fruits, together with sweet cinnamon and vanilla oak elements. This is all backed up with firm acidity. It's a sexy, up-front, seductive red: a real crowd pleaser. Very easy to drink. Very good+ 04/01

Rymill Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 Coonawarra
Beautifully perfumed nose showing leafy blackcurrant with cedar notes and a mineralic core. The palate is full, with lovely fruit and some real complexity: no new oak apparent. A delicious drop. Very good/excellent (£8.99 Majestic) 04/01

[See also the wines of Rosemount feature]



See also: Stonier, Mornington Peninsula; Shaw & Smith, Adelaide Hills; St Hallett, Barossa; Shadowfax, Victoria

St Hallett Semillon Select 1998 Barossa, Australia
Quite a deep gold colour. The nose shows bright citrus fruit with a savoury toasty edge. Very evolved. The palate is very savoury with mature toasty, nutty edge to the high acid citrussy fruit. Interesting food wine showing good varietal character, but worryingly mature. Very good (£3.99 Majestic, on offer) 02/02

St Hallett Semillon Select 1997, Barossa, Australia
Quite subtle lemon and citrus flavours mix well with prominent vanilla and coffee-edged new American oak. Quite a savoury, full flavoured wine that would work well with substantial food. Drinking well now and less evolved than the prematurely ageing 1998. Very good 03/02 

St Hallett 'The Garden' Chardonnay 2000, Barossa, Australia
Made with fruit from the Barossa and Eden Valleys, fermented and aged for 10 months in new French oak. A yellow/gold colour, this has a rich nose of nutty vanilla and coconut, some figgy notes and a fresh lemony edge. The palate is rich and quite savoury: this is a full flavoured style with nutty oak and lemony/peachy fruit. Very Australian but quite classy with it, and a stunning bargain at the offer price. Very good+ (£3.99 Majestic) 01/02

St Hallett Riesling 2000, Eden Valley, Australia
The technical data on the back reveals that this wine has 7 g/l acid, 6.5 g/l residual sugar and a pH of 2.94. Really arresting limey nose with quite a delicate floral edge and a touch of honey in the background. The palate is full flavoured and savoury with a backbone of steely acidity. Very minerally; the touch of residual sugar gives nice balance. Very much in the Eden Valley style and showing good concentration. Needs food. Very good/excellent (On offer at Majestic for £3.99; normal price is about £8) 03/02

St Hallett Poachers Blend 1999, Barossa, Australia
A blend of Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, bottled with an attractive yellow screwcap. This is a lovely fresh white wine with a floral, citrus and tropical fruit nose. The palate is almost spritzy, with some bright fruit flavour. This is a very attractive option at the price, and I suspect the screwcap may have helped to keep the wine fresher for longer. Very good (£4.49 Tesco) 6/01

St Hallett Old Block Shiraz 1993, Barossa Valley, Australia
This is a real crowd pleaser, beginning to show its best. The combination of dense ripe fruit and upfront American oak is irresistable, unless you are sensitive to new oak, in which case you'll find this too much. Beautifully evolved nose of sweet fruit and vanilla/coconut from the oak, followed up on the palate by dusty, spicy fruit, dry tannins and a dry finish. Drinking really well now, with some life ahead of it. Very good + (Current release is £14, widely available). 7/00

St Hallett Poacher’s Blend 1998, Barossa
A blend of Chenin/Semillon/Sauvignon blanc/Riesling, picked by night to retain freshness. Crisp, aromatic and fruity, with waxy and citrus notes, this full flavoured white that makes a great food match with modern cuisine. At £4.99 this is now competitively priced. Good stuff, and comes with a Stelvin (screw) cap which makes it ideal for picnics. (£4.99 Tesco) 11/99

Seaview Shiraz 1997, McLaren Vale
Really well put together, serious Shiraz with ripe fruit, pepper and nicely judged sweet oak. Excellent for the price, this is a real crowd pleaser that had people coming back for more and more when I served it at a recent family gathering. (£5.99 Oddbins) 9/99

Seaview Brut NV, Australia
Lemony edge to the fruity nose. Fresh, high acid palate. Nicely judged and perfectly adequate fizz. A tempting prospect at the offer price. Very good (£6.99 Majestic) 10/02

Seaview Rosé NV, Australia
Nice pale salmon colour. Good herby, fruity nose leads to a crisp, fruity high acid palate with nice herbiness. Very good+ (£6.99 Majestic) 10/02

Seaview Brut NV, Australia
Golden colour. Fresh, yeasty, complex and tasty: a bargain fizz for all occasions. (£5.99 Oddbins, also Sainsburys) 12/99

Seaview Brut NV, Australia
Bottle fermented sparkling wine. Crisp, dry fizz with some yeasty, toasty character combining with pleasant citrus elements. Savoury, full flavoured and a bargain. (£4.99 Sainsburys) 2/00

Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz 1996, South Australia
A bottle fermented Shiraz, this is pretty weird stuff and I'm not sure whether I like it or not. The nose settles down a bit after a while, to show sweet, ripe berry fruit with a spicy edge and some tarry notes. The palate is a little like a caricature of an old fashioned Aussie Shiraz with a fizzy, spicy edge. There's a bit of tannin, and noticeable residual sugar. Full flavoured and unusual. Very good (£8.99 Oddbins) 10/01

Shaw and Smith Unoaked Chardonnay 1999, Adelaide Hills
I’m a big fan of the classy white wines of Shaw and Smith, but this one was unconvincing: difficult vintage conditions, perhaps? There’s a faint herbal, vegetal trace to the nose which is unattractive and suggestive of unripeness. However, it’s crisp, clean and full flavoured, but the classy winemaking can’t disguise the shortcomings, alas. It’s almost a lovely wine… The 1998 and 2001 are much, much better. Good (Tesco £8.99) 04/02

Shaw and Smith Unoaked Chardonnay 1998, Adelaide Hills, Australia
I'm not normally a fan of the 'unwooded Chardonnay' style of wine, but this is a stunner. A light gold colour, it has a spicy, honey nose. On the palate it exhibits intense fruit flavours, with spicy and honeyed complexity coupled with a pronounced minerality. Excellent. (£9.29, Tesco) 8/00

Smithbrook Chardonnay 1998 Early Release, Pemberton, Western Australia
Made by Brian Croser of Petaluma, this makes it on to my 'worst wines of 2000' list by a comfortable margin. It displays powerful, pungent flavours of lemon, smoke and bitter, waxy notes, with a tinned peas character. It's odd and unappealing, with unintegrated flavours. Ambitious, but doesn't work. Tried twice with consistent notes. Very poor. (Tesco £8.99) 11/00

Snake Creek Chardonnay 2002 SE Australia
Lots of ripe mango and melon notes here in this vividly fruited Chardonnay. It’s well made without any obvious oak influence. Fresh and easy to drink. Very good (Oddbins £4.99) 06/03

Somerset Hill Pinot Noir 1999, Denmark, Western Australia
A family owned winery with 9 hectares of vineyards (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sémillon, and Sauvignon Blanc) planted in 1995. Denmark is quite a cool region and Somerset Hill's vines are the highest-located in the area, the last to be harvested each vintage. Quite a pale ruby red colour. Slightly cloudy. Striking herby, sweetly spiced nose with just a touch of undergrowth about it. Palate shows more spicy, herby character. Quite woody. Works quite well but it is an unusual, full flavoured wine: subtlety is not its strong point. Very good+ (£10.95 Berry Bros) 03/02 

Stonyfell 'Metala' Vintage Port 1971, Langhorne Creek, Australia
A fascinating chance to try this venerable old wine. It's a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, matured in 500 gallon oak casks for 2 years and then bottled in May 1973. In the region of 4000 bottles were made. Surprisingly dark in colour, this inky wine has a nice, woody, spicy nose. On the palate it is sweet, rich and soft-textured, with some raisiny notes and hints of cinnamon. Spicy and fruity, this is wonderful stuff. Very good/excellent. 12/00

Summerfield Reserve Shiraz 1999, Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia
An inky red/purple colour, this is a very individual wine. It has an exotic, sweet nose showing liquorice-laced, herbal, chocolatey fruit, with some cassis and cinnamon spice notes. In contrast to the sweet nose, the palate has a very dry, austere edge to it with some spicy oak and a slightly alcoholic (this baby weighs in at 15%) high-acid finish. Very concentrated, this is quite an unusual wine with real character. May develop and integrate better with time. Very good/excellent (£19.95) 11/01


Featured producers: Torbreck, Barossa; Two Hands, Barossa

Tatachilla Merlot 1999, Adelaide Hills, Australia
Adelaide Hills is one of Australia's 'cool climate' regions, and is developing a bit of a reputation for Merlot. From a single vineyard these grapes have been given a fairly traditional treatment (open top fermenters), and this is lovely stuff. A concentrated purple colour, the nose shows ripe, creamy blackcurrant fruit. The dense, bright fruit on the palate has a spicy edge. It's an attractive, modern-styled wine. Very good/excellent (£8.99 Majestic) 10/01

Tatachilla Foundation Shiraz 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
No apologies for recommending another Tatachilla wine. This one's a hugely dense red/black colour. The ripe, liquoricey nose has some menthol notes from new oak. The palate is super-concentrated with spicy oak, firm tannins and a touch of cinnamon. Tasty stuff, and relatively good value to boot. Very good/excellent (£11.99 Majestic) 10/01

Tatachilla Grenache-Mataro 1999, South Australia
A sweet, herby cinnamon-spice nose leads to a herby, spicy palate with some noticeable alcohol. It's like a supercharged Châteauneuf du Pape with a new world twist. Interesting, but a bit over the top? Very good 10/01

Tatachilla McLaren Vale Chardonnay 1999
Rounded, buttery nose. Refined, rich and quite oaky on the palate. Soft, ripe fruit makes a pleasant Aussie Chardonnay. Very good. (Majestic £6.49) 10/00

Tatachilla McLaren Vale Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 1999
59% Sauvignon and 41% Semillon, this is a bright, unoaked white with simple, fresh fruit flavours. Good quaffer. (£5.99) 10/00

Tatachilla 'Breakneck Creek' Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, South Australia
A lovely, rich, soft easy drinking Cabernet, showing sweet berry and blackcurrant fruit with a touch of vanilla. It has good concentration and a rich, creamy texture. A nice cheapie. Very good (On offer at £4.79, Sainsbury) 5/01

Tatachilla Foundation Shiraz 1998, McLaren Vale
A remarkable, inky black wine with an enticing, ripe nose of blackcurrant, mint and eucalyptus. Dense, licqouricey and balanced on the palate: a huge wine, but approachable now. Very good/excellent. (£15.99 Majestic) 10/00

Temple Bruer 1992 Shiraz (75%)/Malbec (25%), Langhorne Creek, S Aus
Tarry, meaty red with moderate acidity that is softening up after a few years in the bottle. Distinctly Australian, it is good and is not overoaked. Again, evidence that decent Aus reds realy do improve with a couple of years bottle age. 6/99

Tyrrells Old Winery Pinot Noir 2000, Australia
The grapes from this wine come from just about everywhere: Hunter Valley, McLaren Vale, Barossa and Coonawarra to be precise. Quite deep coloured, this is very new world in style but still quite balanced. The spicy, herby nose shows some cherry fruit and leads to a palate with herby berry fruit and good acidity. Dry, spicy tannins provide structure. Very good (£6.99 Majestic) 10/01



see: the wines of Voyager Estate, Margaret River

Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 1999, Western Australia
This wine kicks in with a big nose of ripe, seamless fruit and oak, with some toasty, bready notes. The palate is dry, savoury and oaky: there's plenty of oak apparent, with vanilla, lime and toast notes. Good acidity. Full on and delicious, this is a lovely wine with classy oaking. Very good/excellent 06/01

Vasse Felix Heytesbury 1997, Western Australia
(Tasted blind, note as written) A deep purple/black colour, this is a big, concentrated wine. The attractive, smoky/spicy nose has some minerality to it, tarry notes, and bold blackcurrant and plum fruit. The palate is full and ripe, with firm, spicy tannins, a lovely mineral edge and good acidity. It's a Cabernet Sauvignon from the new world with a few years' age: possibly from South Africa? Very good/excellent (c. £20) 08/01

Veritas Heysen Vineyard Shiraz 1997, Barossa Valley
A concentrated, rich wine with real Barossa character. Deep, soft, sweet nose. Beautiful sweet fruit, almost port-like in character. There is some tannin, but it is hidden underneath the rich, complex fruit: there are notes of raspberry, cinnamon, licquorice and chocolate. Dusty tannins. Very good + (£11.99 Noel Young) 5/00

Veritas Heysen Vineyard Shiraz 1997, Barossa Valley
Huge, sweetly fruited chocolate-laden Shiraz. Soft texture and rich, complex, seamless palate make this very more-ish stuff. It is a big wine. There is plenty of oak and some might find it a bit soupy, but I find this style immensely reassuring on a cold night in late Autumn. (£11.99 Noel Young Wine) 11/99


Wakefield 1999 Shiraz, Clare Valley, South Australia
A beast of a wine, but not without some chunky, rugged charm. There's a massive blast of vanilla on the nose from the crude oaking, followed up on the palate by creamy, rich fruit and firm tannins. Sweet, rich and pungent, not for the timid. Good/very good, but beware. (£6.99 Oddbins) 10/00

Wakefield Shiraz 1997, Clare Valley, S Australia
Pungent, intense nose combining rubber, stink, medicinal notes and lots of fruit. On the palate this has minty new American oak and fruit to spare, and a whopping 14.5% alcohol. Big and bold, I think this is a great, unsubtle wine for the price. (Oddbins £6.99) 5/99

Wakefield Shiraz 1997, Clare Valley
A monstrous, unsubtle wine. It is rich, deeply fruited, licqouricey and concentrated, with plenty of sweet new American oak. I recommend it, but only if you are in the mood for something over-the-top! (£6.99, Oddbins) 12/99

Wirra Wirra Original Blend 1997, McLaren Vale, Australia
A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Shiraz. Medium bodied cherry red colour. Lifted nose of vanilla and sweet cinnamon. This is a rich, sweetly fruited wine with a spicy, soft edge. The rubbery, peppery Grenache character is present. Quite like a ripe Châteaneuf du Pape, and packs a big 15% alcohol. Good at the sale price of £6.99 (normally two pounds more expensive). (£6.99 Oddbins) 1/00

Wirra Wirra Chardonnay 1998, McLaren Vale, Australia
Made from small batches of fruit, some of which were fermented in new French oak, some in 1 year old French oak and some in stainless steel. Lovely smoky/toasty nose gives way to rich fruit on the palate, with figgy, buttery and mineralic notes. Pure and complex, this is superb stuff, without too much oak. Excellent. (£9.99 Waitrose) 4/00

Wirra Wirra Original Blend 1997, McLaren Vale, Australia
A blend of 70% dry-grown Grenache and 30% Shiraz, this is a little disappointing. With rich peppery fruit, and showing come herby and cinnamon notes on the nose, it comes across as alcoholic and a bit simple. Medium bodied, this may mature into something interesting, but at the moment it’s a bit one dimensional. (£8.99 Oddbins) 4/00

Wirra Wirra W2 1998 Riesling, Fleurieu Peninsula, Australia
Sweet perfumed nose with a technological edge. On the palate this is dry and floral with a touch of residual sugar. Soft and easy drinking, not typical of Aussie Riesling -- a good jug wine but not much more. (Oddbins, £4.99) 3/00

Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz 2000 South East Australia
Sweet intense nose with tarry, menthol notes. The palate is very fruity with tarry, oaky notes. Very concentrated, this is quite a crowd pleaser. Well made in its style: Aussie blockbuster. Very good+ (Majestic) 10/00

Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz 1998, South East Australia
Do you like full-flavoured, oaky Australian Shiraz? If so, you'll love this wine, which is one of the best moderately priced examples of this genre I've come across. It is dense coloured, with a pungent, slightly medicinal edge to the nose that adds some interest. On the palate it shows sweet, dense fruit with noticeable oak and great concentration. Delicious, full-on stuff if you like this style. Very good/excellent (£5.99 Majestic) 1/01

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1993, Coonawarra
Wynns 'black label' Cabernet has a great reputation for ageing well. This eight year old example shows a wonderful nose of chocolate, herbs, mint and sweet blackcurrant fruit. The palate is firm and minerally, but the fruit has receded and the drying tannins are now dominant. Deliciously savoury but the austere tannins put it a bit out of balance. I'm not sure whether it will ever be completely harmonious, but still very good+. 04/01

Wynns Riesling 1993 Coonawarra, Australia
Mature now, this is deep coloured with distinctive honey and citrus flavoured palate. Not oxidised, it’s almost like a slightly botrytised wine in character. I’m not sure I like it, but it’s still alive and isn’t oxidised. Very good 11/02

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 1996, Coonawarra
Purple black but not opaque. Lovely nose of tarry fruit and American oak. Tasty palate of ripe Shiraz (damsons, spice, raspberries) and sweet oak, but the downside is the high lemony acidity. Not sure how this will age, but it is a classy wine for the price if you don’t mind the acidity. (£5.99 Oddbins) 9/99

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Coonawarra, Australia
Deep red/black colour, concentrated and opaque. Lovely lifted nose of sweet oak and tarry forest fruits. On the palate this is approachable already, with firm but accessible tannic structure and tarry, ripe fruit with a minty, herbal edge. Plenty of new oak and a dry tannic finish complete what is a traditionally Australian styled package. Pretty good, and will reward two or three years cellaring. (£9.99 Sainsbury) 2/00



Yalumba Oxford Landing Chardonnay 2001, South Australia
Fresh, youthful nose of spicy tropical fruit, with a creamy edge. The palate is quite rich with good acidity and slightly buttery tropical fruit. Quite good for a commercial Chardonnay; I'm happy to drink this. Chill it well down to get the best from it. Very good (widely available £4.99) 11/01

Yalumba Oxford Landing Limited Release Viognier 1999, South Australia
Trendy-grape Viognier is a speciality of Yalumba, and this Aussie interpretation of the Condrieu grape is a real success. The perfumed nose shows apricot and grapey floral notes. The palate is dry and rich, with a touch of spice. It's rare for inexpensive Viognier to show this much varietal character, and unlike some new world versions it's not too heavy and alcoholic. Very good+ (£5.99 Majestic) 1/01

Yalumba Viognier 1997, South Australia
A surprising recent release: normally inexpensive new world whites are sold as soon as they are made, and I was a little worried that this three year old Viognier would already be over the hill. However, it is a clean, attractive wine, with bright, tasty flavours and more than a little varietal character. With a delicate, flowery aroma, on the palate there are attractive flavours of spice, lime and honey, balanced with crisp acidity. Very youthful for a 1997. (£4.99 Sainsbury, Tesco) 6/00

Yarra Ridge Chardonnay 1997, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
Part of the Mildara-Blass empire. This is another new world white that should have been drunk some time ago. The deep golden colour is alarming considering that this wine is less than three years old. Still drinkable, despite its premature sensecence, this wine has a smooth palate with complex nutty and honeyed notes, supplemented by elements of coffee and spice. No malolactic fermentation was allowed, but despite this the wine is low in acid and dying fast. Some may enjoy it, but I was disappointed. (Oddbins, £5.99, down from £7.99) 1/00  

Yarra Yerring Dry Red Wine No. 2 (Shiraz) 1992, Coldstream, Australia
Odd but delicious. Lovely, powerful nose of ripe strawberries, rhubarb, red fruits and leather. The palate displays earthy cherry fruits, with herby, spicy, medicinal complexity: it's nicely evolved, but still firm. A really interesting Aussie wine that is just about drinking perfectly now. Very good/excellent 9/00

Yarra Yerring Dry Red Wine No. 1 (Cabernet Sauvignon) 1992, Coldstream, Australia
There's a big blackcurrant kick on the nose of this dense, concentrated wine. This is followed up with complex mineral and cedar notes. The palate has pure fruit notes, a creamy texture, little noticeable oak, and more of those lovely mineral notes. There's a little hint of greenness from some unripe fruit, but it is not strong enough to be a negative character. Firm tannins keep this wine youthful tasting. A little more conventional than the No. 2, but just as good. Very good/excellent. 9/00

Yellowglen Vintage 1998 (Victoria, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale)
This is a hugely impressive Aussie sparkling wine, made from two-thirds Pinot Noir and a third Chardonnay, grown in various high-quality vineyard areas in South Australia and Victoria. A pale yellow colour with a fine mousse, the nose shows classy yeasty and bready notes. The palate is subtle and balanced, with good acidity. Very good/excellent (£9.99 Oddbins) 05/01