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Halliday Wine Companion 2021

The 2021 edition of the James Halliday Wine Companion was released this week, with a number of gold and silver medals given to recent vintages from our Australian producers.

Gold – 96 points

2015 Nest Egg Shiraz, Bird in Hand* – 96 pts
Matured in French oak for over 18 months, this is a delicious, smooth as silk, high quality cool-grown shiraz. Quite fascinating.

2017 William Randell Cabernet Sauvignon, Thorn-Clarke – 96 pts
From the cool Milton Park and St Kitts Vineyards, destemmed, open-fermented, 10 days on skins, matured for 16 months in French hogsheads (35% new). The vintage was made to measure for cabernet in this district, the wine revelling in its full-bodied guise. Blackcurrant, black olive, dark chocolate and cedar sweep you along – relax and enjoy it.

Gold – 95 points

2017 Heysen Shiraz, Rolf Binder* – 95 pts
A wander on the Heysen walking trail on the western border of the Rolf Binder estate probably elicits the same Aussie bush scents as its namesake shiraz: pepperberry, briar, touch of mint, eucalypt. It beautifully encapsulates a sense of place. Stands tall in the glass with pronounced black plums, currants, nutmeg, cloves. Palate is velvety, tannins are plush and the oak shows care.

2017 Old Adam Shiraz, Bremerton* – 95 pts
Old Adam is representative of some of the best quality shiraz produced at Bremerton. It is both complex and yet down to earth in a typical Langhorne Creek way, with layers of ripe, blackberry fruit and dark chocolate in the lead. Black olive tapenade savoury aroma notes mix with sour cherry cola. Concentrated fruit power with balanced mocha oak and focussed tannins build on the palate. A wine still in the building process. Do not disturb.

2017 William Randell Shiraz, Thorn-Clarke – 95 pts
From the estate St Kitts and Milton Park Vineyards, night-harvested, each block separately vinified in 4t open fermenters, matured for 18 months in American oak (40% new). A powerful, full-bodied shiraz with blackberry fruit, tannins and oak all driving the long palate. The absorption of the oak into the fabric of the wine is particularly impressive.

Silver – 94 points

2018 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, Trentham Estate – 94 pts
Another source of fruit from farther afield. This is a very good cabernet, exhibiting none of the green astringency and cooked fruit too often a postage stamp. The flow of blackcurrant, mint and bitter chocolate is transparent, clad by refined gentle sage-brushed-tannins and impeccably appointed oak. Highly refined. Will age. However the smooth tannin management facilitates imminent enjoyment.

Silver – 93 points

2017 Heinrich Shiraz/Mataro/Grenache, Rolf Binder* – 93 pts
Nicely concentrated, elegant even, with aromas of stewed plums, black spicy fruits, polished new leather interwoven with care. Cedar and wood smoke, velvety texture, ripe tannins, lingering warm aftertaste. A touch of class – which is to be expected as the wine is made in tribute to patriarch and founder of the Veritas Winery, Rolf Heinrich Binder.

2018 Estate Shiraz, Coriole* – 93 pts
This has an elegant touch rather than the heave-ho of so much in the region. Kudos! Fermented in open-top vessels and hand plunged before transfer to French hogsheads, the result feels more medium of density than full. The aromas more floral and succulent, than jam. Think violet scents and an effortless waft of dark cherry, iodine, anise, olive and assorted spice. A lovely flow to this.

2018 Tumbarumba Chardonnay, Trentham Estate – 93 pts
Reaching further afield to a bona fide cool region, the culture of clarity of fruit and sensitive winemaking is manifest in this streamlined, mineral clad expression. The stone fruit accents are all there, but so is nicely applied quality oak and a vitality that is sub-alpine, cool and the accelerator of good length and persistence.

Silver – 92 points

2019 Eden Valley Riesling, Rolf Binder – 92 pts
Classic Eden Valley aromas of lime zest, spice, blossom, lemon sherbet on display. A stroll through a spring garden in full bloom. Fresh, crunchy acidity combines with a pleasing mouthfeel, waxy and spicy, that goes long to the finish.

2019 Estate Fiano, Coriole – 92 pts
Among the varieties proving increasingly most appropriate to many of our viticultural zones, Fiano and Nebbiolo are arguably the most exciting. This is good. Candied lemon zest, fennel and sherbet meander across a viscous frame accented by a wash of gentle acidity. This is easy drinking.

2018 Shotfire Shiraz, Thorn-Clarke – 92 pts
Destemmed, pressed approximately 7 days later, 14 months in American oak (40% new). Rich, layered, mocha/chocolate overtones to the black berry fruits are obvious.

2018 Estate Chardonnay, Trentham Estate – 92 pts
A light yellow with green glints around the edges. Again, punching well above origin and price-point, this mid-weighted Chardonnay shuffles a deck of minerally sophistication with a hand of forward stone fruit scents, toasted nuts and the hallmarks of a wine from a far cooler zone.

2016 Heathcote Shiraz, Trentham Estate – 92 pts
Offers a generous serve of plum, ripe blackberry and elements of spice, probably ex the well handled oak. The soft, but persistent, tannins are yet another dab of paint used to complete the picture of quality Heathcote fruit.

Silver – 91 points

2017 Bull’s Blood Shiraz Mataro Pressings, Rolf Binder* – 91 pts
Forever associated with the Binder name and the winemaker’s Hungarian ancestry. Deep, dense, a wine to get lost in, it offers up powerful aromas laid out like a Christmas table with rich fruitcake, rum-soaked raisins, nutmeg, cloves, blood plums, licorice all-sorts. It’s awfully busy in the glass, an outsized personality anxious to perform with a distinctive Vegemite savouriness.

2018 Estate Sangiovese, Coriole – 91 pts
Ample fealty to the dry structural focus of Italy’s noble sangiovese manifest across scratchy, savoury tannins. These curtail dank notes of cherry, liquorice, bitter chocolate and mulch. In need of food. As should be the case.

2019 Nero, Coriole* – 91 pts
Fermented as whole berries in small wax-lined vats, the carbonic influence of exuberant violet, cranberry, sassy cherry notes, ume and a thread of delicate, grippy tannins does the job. A ‘thrills with a chill’ sort of proposition.

Silver – 90 points

2019 Mollie & Merle Verdelho, Bremerton – 90 pts
Verdelho has a long history in Langhorne Creek, around 150 years, so you might say it’s the region’s premier white grape. Rebecca Willson is a master in persuading its tropical fruit characters to remain beautifully understated, sitting just underneath clean citrus, quince and honeydew melon. Bright acidity keeps things tight.

 

* new vintage not currently available in the UK