Wine Reviews: Ripping Reds

As we head into winter, Dave Brookes selects some ripping reds perfect for the cooler months, including a McLaren Vale Shiraz favourite and some lesser-known varieties making an impact in Australia.

MV Sami-Odi Little Wine #4 RRP $50 Kiwi-born Fraser McKinley is cranking out some smokingly good wines from one of the northern Barossa’s best plots – the renowned Hoffmann Vineyard – which makes its way into some of the Barossa’s iconic wines. Now, there are two wines in the Sami-Odi portfolio: a single vintage offering from a patch of gnarled 1912 planted vines, and the Little Wine where Fraser gets to play with blending across vintages. A blend of 2012, 2013 and 2014, this is one of those wines where the whole is more than the sum of its parts. There’s depth to the fruit here, purity too with beautifully detailed ripe dark berry and stone fruits studded with sweet spice, scattered herbs and an almost dried tangerine-like note wafting in with some air. Textured, it flows like a spiced, dark-fruited river across the palate; tannins just right, keeping the flow in check, finishing unctuous, pure and vibrant. A wine of great vitality and energy with a core of rich northern Barossa fruit that is just a joy to drink. Stunning wine. Beautiful packaging, too.   Hahndorf Hill Winery 2013 Blueblood Blaufränkisch RRP $40 Although it sounds like a robust sneeze, Blaufränkisch is in fact Austria’s second-most-planted red grape variety and a delicious one at that. You’ll also find it planted in Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and a smattering of other European wine-growing countries, but here in Australia it is Adelaide Hills winery Hahndorf Hill (also champions of other Austrian varieties Gruner Veltliner and Zweigelt) who produce a wonderful, blue-fruited rendition that is winning many fans. There is a high-toned, floral mist enveloping the bright blue fruits on display here; musky perhaps, with a touch of orange blossom and purple flowers. Cherry, blueberry and crunchy cranberry make up the fruit profile with touches of gentle spice and a hint of freshly sliced fennel bulb thrown in for good measure. It’s fresh as a daisy, energetically flitting across the palate with great drive and clarity; gentle, chalky gypsum-like tannins and sprightly acid line wrapping things up nicely. Seems the variety has found a fine home in the Adelaide Hills. Ausgezeichnet!   Chalmers Wines 2013 Nero d’Avola RRP $29 In its home turf of Sicily, Nero d’Avola relishes in the hot, dry climate, so is it any wonder that it is gaining so much popularity here in Australia? No one has done more for the championing of alternative varieties in Australia than the lovely Victorian-based Chalmers family. Their nursery supplies wineries far and wide with the cuttings for some hard to pronounce varieties that we now see appearing in our glasses. Luckily for us, they also happen to make some lovely wines. The aromas that spring from the glass are all about juicy cherry, plummy fruit and earthy spice. Notes of licorice, fennel and dried herbs add to the aromatic depth yet some high-toned aromas of dried orange rind and purple flowers brighten the earthen landscape. Medium-bodied, with an energetic line in the mouth, it is again about cherries and plums, spice and earthy nuance, but it’s light on its feet and sprightly thanks to a line of bright acidity driving it along. Gentle, fine chalky tannins are a nice finish.   d’Arenberg 2011 The Dead Arm Shiraz RRP $65 The latest release of d’Arenberg’s flagship Shiraz comes from the challenging South Australian 2011 vintage, a vintage that won many fans for the spacious nature of the wines with their increased detail and food-friendly demeanour. There is something about the 2011 vintage. It copped a hiding from some wine critics but I’m a big fan. For starters, all the characters we love from the d’Arenberg Dead Arm are there in spades — blackberry and dark fruits; ripe plums dredged with clovey spice, roasting meats and rich earthen notes that resonant of their McLaren Vale roots. In the mouth it opens up, some light flows in and the weight is more in the realm of middle-bodied with a lovely, fine grainy texture and pleasing flow across the palate. I’d expect it to age well over the medium term, perhaps longer, but it is certainly approachable and delicious drinking right now.

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