2015 St Hallett, Butcher's Cart Shiraz, Barossa Valley
This is a a definite contender for best-value Aussie Shiraz!! It's a dark, dense, typical textbook Barossa Shiraz - no pretensions here; it does what it says on the label. It should be no problem to pick this out in a blind tasting. Nothing wrong with that - especially when it's this good and under £20 - I paid £16.95! It will be perfectly good if left for a few more years - if you can refrain from drinking it for that long!
2005 House of Arras, Vintage Rosé, Tasmania & 2003 Late Disgorged
This is phenomenal stuff, surely sparkling wine making in Australia doesn't get any better than this!?. Could be easily mistaken for prestige cuvee Champagne in a blind tasting. Mature with lovely toasty notes mingling harmoniously with the red strawberry fruit and citrus with piercing acidity. I would guess a reasonably high dosage for a 'Brut' sparkling wine. Too cheap at this price (£26.50) but I'm not complaining! (Warning: Price hike imminent, buy it now!)
On the other hand, the 2003 Late Disgorged is the top-of-the-range expression. Just as good, if not better than the Rosé, more rich, toasty, autolytic flavours here and maybe even more sophisticated but of course, this is reflected in the more-than-double price compared to the Rosé. (I would have to go for two and half bottles of the pink stuff over the latter wine, brilliant though it is!)
2014 Devotus, Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, Martinborough
I bought this from the local wine merchant in Martinborough - they didn't export to the UK but now, thanks to The Vinorium, you can now buy it here.
A very interesting wine - delicious but unusual, maybe a result of the small-batch winemaking here. Ripe red cherries and a distinct sweet pastry element (presumably from the oak influence). The nose reminded me of a very good Bakewell tart! Medium acidity but quite soft. Probably not made for long term aging but a very classy wine and a little different from the norm. Will be good to compare with the 'Reserve' version (which is an extra £20 per bottle - this one is not too cheap at £37).
2014 Two Hands, Lily's Garden Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia.
One of their many single vineyard wines, this one from the slightly cooler coastal region of McLaren Vale. Very peppery and serious at first, typical characteristics of a cooler climate Shiraz. Interestingly, twenty-four hours after opening, the fruit is coming to the fore - blackberrys and blackcurrants along with the black pepper making this a much more satisfying all-round experience. An impressive wine, especially as you can get your hands on a bottle for under £30.
2015 San Marzano, 'F' Negroamaro, Salento IGT, Italy
A premium 100% Negroamaro from the south of Italy. Negroamaro means bitter and black and sure enough this is a very dark coloured and quite earthy, bitter variety. Here, they have evidently tried to produce a premium example with lots of extract, and judicious use of oak. This is undoubtedly a good wine. Deep, with intene dark fruits; plums, black cherry and some good earthiness for balance. However, this may be the limitation of the grape variety, but the whole experience is a bit muted. The tannins and acidity aren't particularly high, which leaves a slightly flat, one-dimensional experience. This may be the high end for Negroamaro but at this price (£25) it's not all that cheap and I could think of many more complex and satisfying options at this price level.
2012 Hardy's, Thomas Hardy Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, S. Australia