Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2013

One is momentarily tempted to trot out the usual cliches when discussing this wine – that it’s difficult when young, less accessible than the Springvale bottling, and so on. None of that’s especially helpful, and it completely misses the point of this wine, which is that it’s kind of perfect.

Pleasure can be so diverse, even within something fairly limited like wine. Some wines are sloppily delightful and others, like this, are almost inhumanly well built, expressing such precision of structure that their construction becomes a source of interest and wonder. The word that comes to mind most often while tasting this is “chiselled,” and in terms of aroma this translates to a cool, savoury presence that keeps any sense of plushness under wraps. Instead, a series of shy, hard-edged notes unfold and move from one to the next, never losing momentum, always foregrounding a sense of humid minerality.

The palate is quite approachable in that it strikes me as appropriately structured given its fruit weight and intensity. As with the nose, each flavour is placed with precision and balance. It’s quite a powerful wine, yet what I find most impressive in the mouth are beautifully managed phenolics that add a chalk-like texture to the after palate. Unlike wines that are self-consciously “about texture,” this simply presents that dimension, and it adds to the pleasure of the overall package.

This is probably the last wine to convert those sceptical of ultra-dry Clare Riesling — who cares, though? I’m just happy to taste a wine of such impeccable taste.

Price: $A45
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Retail

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012

I’ve tasted this over three days and it has changed a fair bit in that time.

At first, the flavour profile and mid-palate are spot on in terms of regional character. There’s a particular fleshiness that, whatever misgivings one might have about warmer climate Shiraz (I have very few, in case you’re wondering), is undeniably generous and seductive, and a hallmark of this region. This has that particular plump mid-palate, full of plum flesh and ripe berries. It’s well-formed, as expected from a vintage generally regarded as excellent, though I also feel it lacks an element of distinctiveness; it conforms so closely to the regional archetype that I struggle a bit to see its own particular personality.

Now that I’m on day three, I can report the wine gradually loses its fleshy side and becomes somewhat more savoury and angular with air. I’m not sure I prefer it in this guise; it’s leaner (for those who like that sort of thing), its structure is more apparent and, certainly, it hasn’t completely fallen over in the days it’s been open. On balance, though, I prefer it freshly opened, its fruit pendulously full.

It’s a solid wine but, throughout my time with it, I couldn’t help but feel its edges have been just a little too aggressively sanded down.

Chapel Hill
Price: $A30
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

Gilligan Roussanne Marsanne 2013

It’s interesting to watch Australian winemakers grapple with white Rhône varieties. Tahbilk’s prototypical, straightforward approach to its Marsanne is just one of many options, and it’s fun to see everything from predominantly textural styles right through to worked, voluptuous wines. This wine falls mostly into the latter camp.

I was most remiss in not writing up the 2012 vintage of this wine; it was a taut, linear expression of these varieties and one that was very much to my taste. This swings in a slightly different direction. Firstly, it’s packed with flavour. There’s an abundance of honeysuckle and beeswax, very ripe and plush in character. Pricklier edges pervade the aroma but never distort its fundamentally generous, round shape.

In the mouth, strikingly full and mouthfilling. It has good intensity of flavour and, despite its volume, is quite sprightly in the mouth. The mid-palate is quite fleshy and fruit-sweet, leading to a tauter after palate that shows some herbal influences. Texture transitions here to a lightly raspy phase before the wine finishes on a beautifully clean, floral note.

While I enjoyed the 2012’s uncompromising palate structure, this wine is rather more approachable and should win friends more easily. In any case, a delicious expression of these confounding varieties.

Note: the same disclaimers I mentioned in my review of the current Gilligan red apply here, too.

Gilligan Wines
Price: $A22
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

Gilligan Shiraz Mourvèdre Grenache 2012

In this slippery world of wine writers’ ethics, best to begin with a few disclaimers. Leigh Gilligan, proprietor of Gilligan Wines, is:

  1. a McLaren Vale legend;
  2. a friend; and
  3. a partner in Dowie Doole, the winery with whom I did vintage last year.

That said, I had no involvement in the making of this wine and approach it, as usual, with the perspective of a curious onlooker. I’ve tasted previous vintages of this label and have always found it a surprisingly sophisticated, savoury interpretation of the GSM blend. This continues in that line and, to my palate, is the best release so far.

The aroma is as much McLaren Vale as anything else: rich plums of liquerous intensity, fairly generous oak and a fluidity of character that is the hallmark of this region’s delicious red wines. Indeed, the Vale’s tendency to impart a round, angle-less character to its reds is one of the things I like most about this region, and it’s in full evidence here. There’s a savoury depth, though, that becomes quite striking with some swirling and glass time. Having worked with Shiraz from the Old Rifle Range vineyard, I know it tends towards a dark savouriness with overtones of aniseed. Mourvèdre, too, makes a noticeably meaty contribution to the aroma, such that the whole ends up much darker and more adult than it first seems.

The palate gives more of the same, a rush of fruit onto the mid-palate its most notable feature. It’s all so easy, one could overlook the fact that there’s some good complexity of flavour at work, with licorice allsorts playing alongside vegetal Mourvèdre and some bright red Grenache fruit. I like that it’s both plush and quite savoury, and that its tannins are chalky and fine, just prominent enough to lightly dry the finish.

There’s an honesty at work here — a connection both to region and varietal composition — that translates to a generous, delicious wine. Truly a wine for drinking.

Gilligan Wines
Price: $A22
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

Yelland & Papps Second Take Shiraz 2013

Another in the 2013 Second Take range from the lovely folks at Yelland & Papps. I’ve come to expect good drinkability from this producer’s wines over the years, and this release continues in that line, adding a few twists to its flavour profile along the way.

For starters, the aroma reminds me of synthetic musk as much as fruit; you know, those gorgeously childish Musk Sticks that still provide the occasional guilty pleasure to we adults. These sweet/floral aromas overlay some fairly young-smelling berry notes and cedar oak. I like the layers to the aroma profile, though there are also angles that remind me of primary and secondary fermentation smells — I think it needs a bit more time to lose its raw edges.

Medium bodied at most, this flip-flops between a certain voluptuousness and prominent acid. On entry, it’s the wine’s rounder side that dominates, ushering fresh berries and spice through to the mid-palate. There’s a hint of expansiveness here, curtailed emphatically by increasingly visible acid as the wine moves down its line. I wish the wine’s structure were more connected to its fruit, and that its oak didn’t jut out so much through the finish; this is, though, a very young wine at the beginning of its life. For now, a good spell in the decanter or in your cellar will pay dividends. Certainly, the flavours at its core are most attractive.

Yelland & Papps
Price: $A40
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

Wendouree Cabernet Malbec 2011

Aside from an older vintage of its delightful Zibibbo Muscat of Alexandria, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never properly written up a Wendouree wine on Full Pour, despite having drunk many over the years. Time to fix that.

This, from the legendarily difficulty 2011 vintage in South Australia, represents my favourite Clare Valley regional blend. Interestingly, growing conditions have resulted in a wine that’s far more approachable and coherent than many a young Wendouree I’ve tasted. There can, indeed, be an upside to these things. The aroma’s expressiveness provides a first clue to the wine’s relative accessibility, yet it’s the aromas themselves I find enveloping and transportive. Instantly, I’m walking home from school in the suburbs, the pavement hot underfoot, each nature strip a mini-oasis of cool, gum trees releasing a gentle aroma into the air, the occasional kick of dust and tar from a driveway. Indeed, this is vivid and spacious and, somehow, so Australian.

The palate’s moderate weight suits its highly aromatic countenance well. Those famous Wendouree tannins do make an appearance, but less so than usual, and with less density and impact overall. The focus here, rather, is on fluidity of movement and complete transparency of flavour. This is so pretty, and so gentle, one goes to it willingly and is amply rewarded with bright fruit flavours, tanbark textures and a general sense of elegant ease. Some may find the acid strident; I welcome its sizzle and vivacity. Certainly, fruit flavours are intense enough to provide balance. The finish isn’t especially long, but what’s there provides a coherent closure to the wine’s line.

This would be a sensational lunchtime claret.

Price: $A55
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Retail

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Johnson’s Block Shiraz Cabernet 2003

Time to test a theory: that this wine would benefit from a few years in the cellar. I was underwhelmed when I tasted it in 2009 and, while combing through my cellar the other day, thought I’d drag a bottle out to try.

Sadly, it’s different, but not substantially better. Structurally, the edge I noted in my previous note has calmed, though it remains a fairly tannic wine through the finish. There are regional aromas of blackcurrant and dusty leaf that I appreciate, and the wine’s line shows even density. The straightforward fruit character it showed as a young wine persists, though, leading to an impression of simplicity and bluntness on the palate. There are certainly some tertiary flavours now, and these are welcome, yet the wine never transcends the lump of indistinct berry fruit at its core.

Only okay.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate
Price: $A35
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Yelland & Papps Second Take Grenache 2013

I’ve always been particularly drawn to this producer’s Grenaches, feeling they capture the easy appeal and drinkability of the variety especially well. This wine, from the Second Take range, represents an attempt to diverge from standard winemaking practices, although in this case the process used is starting to look rather mainstream: some whole bunch, no fining, no filtering. A fair bit of new French oak (36%) rounds out the regime.

Not that it’s especially evident, such is the exuberance of the fruit. This shows the expressive aromatics of Grenache to full advantage, with red fruit and flowers taking centre stage, supported by some sap, coffee grounds and spice. It’s appropriately fresh at this stage, smelling like the young wine it is and, such is the appeal, one would have to gain something pretty interesting with bottle age to compensate for the vibrancy of its youth.

In the mouth, correspondingly transparent and fresh. It’s not a heavy wine, being just medium bodied and briskly acidic. Fruit is boldly sweet and verges on confected, but steps back into a network of savoury spice and sap in the nick of time. The after palate becomes progressively tauter, with flavours darkening slightly as the finish concludes on mostly oak-driven terms, some loose-knit tannin adding welcome texture. Still, it’s a wine that will reward lovers of fruit-forward styles, and won’t dominate a meal or demand too much contemplation.

Update: holding up remarkably well after a couple of days; in fact, it’s more coherent than it was when first opened. Deceptive longevity.

Yelland & Papps
Price: $A40
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

Dandelion Vineyards Wonderland of the Eden Valley Riesling 2012

Ancient vines, single vineyard, etc. Boxes ticked, for what that’s worth. But oh, this is an interesting wine. It’s very Eden Valley in a lot of ways but is anything but middle-of-the-road, stylistically.

First of all, there are all sorts of textures going on — chalky, tingly, delightful textures that pass over the tongue in waves from quite early in the wine’s line. Working back from here, a taut flavour profile sits atop this catalogue of mouthfeels, very delicate in nature with as much minerality as fruit. It’s like a talcum powder softly fragranced with green apple, pretty but fundamentally dry and savoury. I feel a tension at play, partly a texture-flavour one, but equally between flavours, and I wonder if there’s some marginal ripeness here. Certainly, some tastes strike me as edgy and green, though this never overwhelms the experience of the wine. Acid is fine and firm, and surely contributes to the wine’s impressive length.

This certainly isn’t going to convert anyone to our dry Rieslings, but it’s a really characterful example of the intellectual end of the genre.

Dandelion Vineyards
Price: $A27.50
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Retail

Turkey Flat Grenache 2010

This has long been one of the Barossa’s ridiculous bargains: $25 buys you a Grenache made from estate vines that are about a hundred years old, by a winery that has long cultivated a slightly quirky view of how the region’s key varieties are best expressed.

In this case, there’s a scale and mid-palate sweetness that might challenge some drinkers, but for those who get the style, there’s a lot of pleasure here. It opens sweet and not-quite-confected with an expressive nose of red fruit and spice. This definitely falls on the side of Grenache as variety of approachable fruit and generosity, showing little of the extraction and density (not to mention oak) some makers strive for. In the mouth, quite a seamless palate structure that delivers clean, bright fruit onto the mid-palate, all the while framing it in quite delicious tannin and well balanced acid. With air, the flavour profile loses some of its initial boisterousness and becomes altogether more interesting, fruit stepping back into a network of other more savoury flavours like some snapped twig and a just a hint of spiced oak.

It does swell a bit with alcohol, and the wine’s character isn’t going to satisfy drinkers who simply must have Shiraz, but I feel this wine is an old fashioned one in the best sense. If you were wondering where Australia’s “Burgundies” went, look no further.

Turkey Flat
Price: $A25
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Retail