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Balnaves Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2017 edition review of New World Cabernets (see blue link below).

Balnaves Coonawarra Cab Sauv 2011 - April 2017 Decanter review 

The Balnaves' family vineyard is situated at the southern end of the famous Coonawarra 'Terra Rossa' strip. Planted in 1975, the vineyard is 48 hectares in size and has been in the family for three generations. The predominant variety planted is Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker Pete Bissell was the Qantas Winemaker of the Year 2005 and Balnaves was James Halliday's Winery of the Year in 2008.

Blended from Walker, Quarry and Avery vineyards, the wine spent 19 months in 100%, tight-grain French oak, in a mixture of hogsheads and barriques. The barrels were made by St Martin, Saury, Taransaud and Sylvain cooperages, before bottling in December 2011. 

Deep rich red in colour, the nose is intense with aromas of ripe cassis, liquorice, and some spicy leather notes, combined with fine smoky French oak. The palate is solid and structured with a fine tannin finish.

£23.20

Berton Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2014 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage has been awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).

Berton Reserve Shiraz 2015 - August 2017 Decanter review

For those unable or unwilling to wait, Exel discussed the relative merits of the 2014 and 2015 vintages with Berton owner, Bob Berton, in person, a few weeks ago at the London Wine Fair. It is Bob's view that the 2014 is the equal of the 2015 but was simply not submitted for review at the previous DWWAs.

The Reserve Shiraz is deepest dark red with a very youthful and vibrant garnet hue. The aromas are powerful and complex with a wealth of fruit ranging from ripe black cherries and blackberries with hints of eucalypt and spice. The rich and full palate displays soft flavours of plum skin, mulberry and hints of vanilla and blackberry, These abundant flavours are underpinned by fine vanilla from the oak and defined by exciting spicy tannins.

£12.55

Berton Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).

Berton Reserve Shiraz 2015 - August 2017 Decanter review

Established by Bob and Cherie Berton in May 1996, Berton Vineyard's estate covers 30 hectares of land located on gently rolling hills at 450 metres above sea level, in a subregion of Eden Valley in South Australia. The superb Reserve Shiraz and Reserve Chardonnay wines are still sourced from this plot. In 2007, Bob purchased the Yenda winery in the heart of the Riverina. This state-of- the-art facility has the capacity to process 20,000 tonnes and enables Berton Vineyard to produce value for money wines which sit alongside their premium single vineyard offerings.

Shiraz 93%, Durif 4%, Cabernet Sauvignon 3%. The grapes come from the Barossa Valley, in South Australia. Situated at a latitude of 34° South, the region is made up of rolling hills and valley floors. The growing season often sees hot, warm weather with temperatures of 35°C, which can result in vine stress, helping to concentrate the flavours in the berries. The wide diurnal temperature differences help to retain balancing acidity. Some of the grapes come from Berton's original vineyard in the Eden Valley, where the climate is cooler. The vine age is varied, but all vines have been spur pruned and are generally trained on a single wire cordon trellising system. The vines are planted at approximately 1.8 metres apart with 3.6 metres between the rows, to allow machinery access. The soil styles in the vineyards are varied, ranging from clay, to limestone and sandy soils, with each terroir adding its own characteristic to the final wine.

The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks with regular skin submersion in order to extract the required colour and flavour from the grapes. After fermentation, the wine was pressed off into stainless steel tanks where it completed malolactic fermentation in the late autumn. The wine was then racked off into both French and American oak barrels resulting in a rich, spicy complex Shiraz. 

The Reserve Shiraz is deepest dark red with a very youthful and vibrant garnet hue. The aromas are powerful and complex with a wealth of fruit ranging from ripe black cherries and blackberries with hints of eucalypt and spice. The rich and full palate displays soft flavours of plum skin, mulberry and hints of vanilla and blackberry, These abundant flavours are underpinned by fine vanilla from the oak and defined by exciting spicy tannins.

£13.20

Berton Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 96 points and rare Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2017 edition review of New World Cabernet Sauvignons (see blue link below) in which it emerged as the runaway Number One.

Berton Reserve 2014 - April 2017 Decanter review

Sourced from vineyards in the prized Terra Rossa region of Coonawarra: here the warm days are moderated by offshore breezes and the rich red loam over well-draining limestone soils are the foundations for Coonawarra's justified reputation for producing premium-quality Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

This Coonawarra beauty (97% Cab Sauv) has an intense, ripe berry bouquet with hints of chocolate and liquorice. The palate is brimming with crushed blackcurrant fruit flavours enhanced by subtle eucalyptus and mint notes characteristic of this region and is beautifully complemented by elegant French oak notes.

£13.90

Berton Winemakers Reserve, Padthaway, The Black Shiraz 2016 (1x75cl)

Selected for its deep colour and intense flavour, this rich, dark red Shiraz has lifted aromas of dark cherry, blackberry and delicately integrated oak. The generous and concentratd palate is velvety with firm tannins and flavours of ripe cherry, plum and mocha over hints of smoky oak.

£10.00

Bonsai Shiraz Cabernet High Eden Berton Vineyard 2013 (1x75cl)

This intense, rich and full flavoured Shiraz blend with well integrated oak, shows lovely plum fruit, coffee, chocolate and white pepper on the palate. The flavours are supported by juicy soft tannins to create a beautiful layering of texture and taste, that continues to a long lingering finish.

£20.60

Bonsai Shiraz Cabernet High Eden Berton Vineyard 2015 (1x75cl)

This intense, rich and full flavoured Shiraz blend with well integrated oak, shows lovely plum fruit, coffee, chocolate and white pepper on the palate. The flavours are supported by juicy soft tannins to create a beautiful layering of texture and taste, that continues to a long lingering finish.

£22.30

Branson Coach House Shiraz 2005 (1x 75cl)

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical note from the winemakers themselves.

Branson Coach House 2005 - fiche technique

The small, intimate winery of Branson Coach House was established in 1998. Together with other investors, Richard Mintz and Michael Twelftree, of Two Hands Wines, purchased the vineyard and winery in 2001 with the sole aim of creating and establishing one of Australia's greatest estate grown and made wines. The winery and vineyard are located in the Western Barossa. The emphasis on single-vineyard, estate-grown wines drives Branson Coach House's philosophy: to keep yields low, and to practice "minimal intervention." This means that from the vineyard until bottling, the fruit is carefully monitored, but that the unique terroir of the region will be at the forefront of the wine.

Originally planted in 1990, the Branson Coach House vines thrive in the trademark, red clay soil of the Western Barossa. The results are truly phenomenal — power, intensity and the ability to age gracefully. The release of its first vintage, from 2002, led to quick admiration from influential wine enthusiasts. The emphasis on single-vineyard, estate-grown wines drives Branson Coach House's philosophy: to keep yields low, and to practice "minimal intervention." This means that from the vineyard until bottling, the fruit is carefully monitored, but that the unique terroir of the region will be at the forefront of the wine.

This is a stunning, single vineyard, Barossa Shiraz that spent 20 months maturing in French oak that would be a fanatstic addition to your cellar or wine rack. It is now a mature, thoroughly drinkable wine and is a stunning glass to enjoy with a special meal.

A simply outstanding Barossa Shiraz-Syrah. Really deep colour with a brown hue. Sweet blackberry, fresh morning coffee and toast with a hint of truffle rush to my nose. Dense, concentrated and savory on the palate. Soft tanins, complex layers of black fruits, spices and smoky flavours but still spectacular balance. A masterpiece, doubly so at this price.

We like this because it is a hidden gem that we adore and this will possibly be your last chance to indulge in one of the Barossa Valley's greatest wines from this phenomenal vintage. We bought stock of this some time ago, knowing its potential: it has exceeded all of our expectations now that it's entered its peak condition/drinking window. It is well rounded and full bodied with superbly integrated tannins, black fruit character and a trademark hit of spice. It envelopes your tastebuds with its velvety texture and rich flavours - one glass simply isn't enough!

£36.00

Brokenwood Cricket Pitch Red Blend 2014 (1x75cl)

Medium colour and density. Aromas of red cherry, spice and sweet oak. Mid-weight palate with Cabernet Sauvignon cedar up front leading to soft Shiraz richness. Some vanillin on both nose and palate with a long sweet finish. Excellent fruit flavours and balance being the features that will be maintained under the screw cap packaging.
A drink now style that will further soften with medium term bottle maturation.

£17.55

Bush Telegraph Shiraz Viognier 2014 (12x 75cl)

A deep magenta coloured wine, displaying aromas of blackberries and violets. The palate is full bodied with blackberry brambly fruits and coffee flavours intertwined within a soft tannin structure.

£70.65

Charles Melton `Grains of Paradise` Shiraz 2013 (1x 75cl)

Charles Melton Wines has produced premium Barossa red wines since 1984. At that time, Charlie and a small band of Barossa winemakers turned their winemaking efforts to what were then considered a couple of unfashionable varieties: Shiraz and Grenache. These wines were initially styled on those from the Rhône but are now considered leading examples of the varieties in their own right.

Fruit from one of the vineyard's finest Barossa blocks makes up the majority of this wine. The single vineyard, which is located in the heart of the Barossa Valley, dates back to the early 1900s. It is a more elegant style than traditional Barossa Shiraz but still retains the warmth and generosity of the Barossa. No chemicals have been used for over five years.

2013 saw one of the driest growing seasons in recent memory. After reasonable winter rain, there was very little subsequent rain in the following months. Temperatures were high at the start of the new year but then cooled down. This enabled the fruit to ripen gradually and a lovely mild harvest period resulted in a very small crop of intensely flavoured small berries.

During fermentation, a mix of hand plunging and pump over techniques in the traditional style influenced this wine. The wine is finished in barrique with all the press wine included. American oak is sent to France for a 36-month European seasoning before being coopered into barriques using the immersion bending technique. The wine is then aged ‘sur lie’ to give an interpretation of the traditional Barossa style with a contemporary twist.

A wonderful expression of the traditional Barossa style. Deep in colour and softly perfumed with excellent melding of vanillin and cedar oak aromatics and rich Barossa Shiraz fruit. Intense coffee and mocha flavours are supported by firm tannins and richness of mouthfeel.

£32.20

Charles Melton Nine Popes 2014 (1x 75cl)

Charles Melton Wines has produced premium Barossa red wines since 1984. At that time, Charlie and a small band of Barossa winemakers turned their winemaking efforts to what were then considered a couple of unfashionable varieties: Shiraz and Grenache. These wines were initially styled on those from the Rhône but are now considered leading examples of the varieties in their own right.

The Grenache fruit in this blend comes principally from old, dry grown bush vines, the Barossa being one of the last areas to contain such a rich resource. The Shiraz and Mataro are a mix of trellis grown and bush vines of similar age. All grapes are dry grown and harvested from the winery's prime Barossa vineyards as well as from a select group of grape growers. Yields are extremely low and the vineyards are truly old, with many exceeding 80 years.

A fiery start to the vintage, with one of the warmest summers since 1908. Fortunately, mid-February brought 90 millimetres of rain which refreshed all the vines and brought the fruit back into superb balance. The next eight weeks saw the most temperate, sublime autumn harvest weather seen for many years.

Charlie Melton uses a range of different techniques in the production of Nine Popes, including hand-plunging and whole-bunch fermentation. Wild as well as cultured yeasts are used in a mix of both co-fermentation and mono-varietal fermentation. The fermentation temperature is kept moderate at 18-22ºC to help retain fruit flavours and elegance. After pressing, the wine was aged predominantly in older oak on its lees, with only 25% new oak used. No fining agents were used.

Deep bright crimson in colour, this wine opens with sweet Grenache perfumes which intermingle with liquorice spice on the nose. Beautifully balanced with soft tannins, it culminates in a long savoury finish.

£35.65

Charles Melton Voices of Angels Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2014 (1x 75cl)

Charles Melton Wines has produced premium Barossa red wines since 1984. At that time, Charlie and a small band of Barossa winemakers turned their winemaking efforts to what were then considered a couple of unfashionable varieties: Shiraz and Grenache. These wines were initially styled on those from the Rhône but are now considered leading examples of the varieties in their own right.

This wine is sourced from the Mount Pleasant vineyard which sits on the boundary of Eden Valley and the Adelaide Hills. Technically, this wine is from the Adelaide Hills, but spiritually the fruit is Eden Valley.

2014 was not without its challenges, with small crops due to some unsettled weather during flowering. In mid‐February a string of half a dozen hot days ended with a significant amount of rain over 24 hours. The following four weeks of dry, mild and sunny weather from late February was just what the vines needed, and the results are very exciting.

10-15% of the grapes are fermented as whole bunches. 4% of Riesling, from the same block and of the same vine age as the Shiraz is added to the blend, giving the wine its stylistic consistency. The wine is aged sur lie for the full maturation period in 100% new French oak. This builds the structure and mouthfeel of the final wine.

On the nose, this red has a mixture of dark fruit notes, with aromas of cedar from the 100% new French oak ageing. The palate, has finesse and elegance, with a defined density.

£35.75

Clarendon Hills Blewitt Springs Grenache 2005 (1x 75cl)

Winemaking: Low yielding, dry grown vines planted in 1920 are hand picked and a wild yeast fermentation is cultured thereafter. Typically ferments run for a few days and all pressings are the returned to the barrel and bottled onsite without fining or filtration.

Maturation: 18 months, within a hierarchy of 1-5 year old tight-grained, first-class French oak barriques that are specially produced for Clarendon Hills. Racking occurs as required. Each barrique is individually examined repetitively to gauge the site’s expression and organic evolution.

Nose: Lifted and layered. The evolving nose reveals at first, fresh forest berries with a mixture of softly perfumed rose petal aromas, whose mixture of Turkish delight and strawberries and cream is truly attention grabbing. On decant, a vineyard-unique salty/brine character begins to nuance with subtle anise and earthy notes to create an entirely more dramatic and sophisticated expression. An entirely hedonistic perfume whose suggestion of effortless power and wealth becomes apparent with time.

Palate: Layers of playful cherry, boysenberry and red currant fruit play throughout a long, orchestral finish. The extremely fine boned, talcum like extract presents itself as it appears to ‘tap the brakes’ across the mid-palate before finishing across a long, creamy finish. Mouth-watering, bright natural acidity highlights the exquisite fruit quality whose balance of savoury, raw fruit like, character is neither sugary or jamy. Its just sweet.

Clarendon Hills state, of their current 2013 Blewitt Springs, "The remarkably concealed yet omnipresent super fine tannin will safely sustain this gorgeous 95-year-old, single-vineyard example for another decade" (ie from 2018). The 2005 vintage in McLaren Vale was incredibly strong (and its ageworthiness greater still) - see the Parker vintage guide here which rates 2005 as the best McLaren/Barossa year of the 40 listed there and 'ready to drink' - so, in 2018, this sits very well within a similar 15-year, quality drinking window.

We would make the point that this is an aged New World Grenache: its aged flavours are distinct and not for everyone, but this is a bottle very much in condition for those that appreciate aged Grenache, and, at that, one of the greats of the New World. We greatly recommend decanting and a few hours of breathing. 

£36.00 £27.00

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2016 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their February 2018 edition article 30 Great New World Buys under £30 (see blue link below).

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2016 - Feb 2018 Decanter review

Dr John Kirk founded Clonakilla vineyard at Murrumbateman, 40 kilometres north of Canberra, in 1971 after his scientific curiosity led him to question why vines were not being grown in this area. His research showed that the soil and climate seemed suited to certain varieties. Clonakilla means 'meadow of the church' and is the name of theDr Kirk's grandfather's farm in County Clare, Ireland. In 1997 Tim Kirk, the fourth of John's six sons, took over responsibility for winemaking. Today, Clonakilla is recognised as one of the leading estates in Australia. Tim was named Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year in 2013.

The grapes for this Shiraz were selected from four vineyards in the Hilltops district around Young in New South Wales, the Canberra District’s closest neighbouring wine region. The altitude is marginally lower than Canberra so the grapes tend to come in around two weeks before those grown on the estate. Soils are deep red loam over light clay, giving distinctive blackberry and blackcurrant notes to the wine.

The grapes were destemmed and fermented warm in a variety of open fermenters from 1t to 10t. Each batch has either nil or up to 20% whole bunches and are soaked on skins for 2-3 weeks and then pressed to barrel. The wine is matured for 11 months in central forest Allier oak barriques and puncheons, 15% new and the balance 2-5 years old. The wine was racked once during its maturation in oak, blended in November and bottled in late February the following year.

The 2016 vintage continues a run of warm vintages for the Hilltops region. The vineyards appear to take the heat in their stride however. The vines responded by producing rich black Shiraz with great depth of flavour.

Plenty of ripe dark plum and blackberry fruits on the nose. Chocolate and mocha too. The palate has bright, mid-weight red plum and cherry fruits wrapped in lithe, supple tannins. The Hilltops Shiraz 2016 has a nice balance and is really approachable. 

Drink now or cellar with confidence. This wine may surprise and delight you with five to ten years in the bottle.

£20.75
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