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Iron fist in a velvet glove kinda stuff. A big Shiraz from Langhorne Creek.

Generous is certainly the buzz word. It's a surge of fruit from top to toe. Dense plums and blackberries, whispers of smoke and vanilla, but dangerously smooth. Some tension evident and this will settle with more time in bottle or a good decant. It just lingers and calls you back. Beautiful!

Drink now to ten years+

93/100

Region: Langhorne Creek
RRP: $33
Source: Sample

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Silky Grenache screaming value.

I had to do a double take on the price. These St John's Road wines keep banging the value drum hard. Some fruit sweetness precedes bright, juicy red fruits. It dances across the mouth with ease. Beautifully weighted, it projects an air with confidence before soft, fine spices wash through the mouth hanging long. Another glass, please.

Drink now to five years.

93/100

Region: Barossa
RRP: $22
Source: Sample

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As with many of the d'Arenberg blends, this has a big frame and the muscle to carry it. A blend of  Cabernet, Petit Verdot and Merlot 54/23/23 from McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills.

 The savoury characteristics are what I enjoy the most in this wine. Sure there is dark and plummy fruit as well as what seems mandarin peel, but ferrous and earthy elements plus dried herbs loom large too. Give it air and more layers of interest come calling. Blueberries take their time to surface and I'm pleased they did. Dark chocolate enters the fray later too. There's a big hit of tannin too drawing moisture from the mouth, This will live long.

Drink 2020 to ten years+

91/100

Region: McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills
RRP: $29
Source: Sample

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Mouth-filling Barossa Shiraz. You can't go wrong.

Good fruit from three vineyards is matched with well-handled oak spending time in a mix of 15 months, 6 months and stainless steel. Although it has an RRP of $22, I suspect you could track it down a little better than that. Plummy fruit is flanked by some blueberries, clove and soft fine spices. Pepper kicks on to a drawn out finish. Well weighted, it's a wine sure to match a range of dishes or for that simple pleasure of sitting in front of a fire or a lazy night in front of the television. Good stuff.

Drink now to five years.

91/100

Region: Barossa
RRP: $22
Source: Sample

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A Barossa Shiraz and Roussanne co-ferment (92/8) and matured in large format French oak for 14 months.

In some respects, there's a rustic feel to this full-bodied wine. There's not as much of a floral lift from the Roussanne as I expected, but still, it can be seen if you sift deep.

Swirl the glass to bring purple florals to life. A coarse rub of fruit and spices highlighted by barbecued meats and char. Dense plummy and blackberry fruit push on with touches of liquorice, cedar and faint clove.  A side of beef the match for me thanks.

Drink now to eight years.

93/100

Region: Barossa
RRP: $32
Source: Sample

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Chardonnay has been made by Windowrie for nearly 30 years at their Cowra winery. Winemaker Anthony D'Onise says he is, "Looking to produce a modern example of Cowra's most famous variety." He's ticked that box with this release.

A citrusy driven wine, lemon juice fills the mouth with white stonefruit happily playing the wingman role. Some mealy and nutty characters sit calmly in the background but do enough to be seen. Some good texture with tangy lemon acidity and ginger nut biscuit spices riding long. Throw a roast chook at it.

Drink now to five years.

90/100

Region: Cowra
RRP: $35
Source: Sample

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The entry-level XYZ Chardonnay 2018 is smart but this cranks the happiness dial up another level.


Handpicked from the old vine Casuarina Vineyard on Hermitage Road, this saw 60% new French oak for ten months. No MLF was allowed.

Barbecued peach, figs, nougat and butter cream. It's a generous and engaging wine which oozes class. There's a lot to admire with the length and width on show. Well weighted, it slides through the mouth with ease. A late cameo of real lemonade before ginger spices tickle a long and persistent textural finish. It's fair to say I had a few glasses.

Drink now to 8 years.

94/100

Region: Hunter Valley
RRP: $45
Source: Sample

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Yum factor Rosé. Lazy afternoons, social gatherings, sunsets - I dig this.

All red berries and currants here. Beautiful texture and length. Bone dry, some herby influences kick in with red apple skin feels and a rub of spice that hangs long. Dried strawberries grip on and ride all the way to the death. Some creaminess. Some white chocolate too. Acid is well played delivering a crisp wine. One of those wines you could do some damage with. Great stuff.

Drink now.

92/100

Region: Beechworth
RRP: $25
Source: Sample

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I find Pinot Noir in the $20 to $30 bracket can be a bit hit and miss. There are a few reasons for this but a good quality Pinot in that price bracket is certainly achievable. Here's a solid go-to which I spied on a restaurant wine list.


There's lots to like about its youth and energy. Bright red cherries plus some sour cherry. Scents of mushroom compost add some depth. Waves of peppery spice roll through. Licks of red plums arrive late. Quite smooth and pleasurable to finish, but overall, there's plenty of slurp factor. Good stuff.

Drink now to three years.

91/100

Region: Adelaide Hills
RRP: $22
Source: Wine List

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Meerea Park's entry-level Chardonnay is on song. I could sip this happily watching the sunset.

Yellow fleshed stonefruit kicks things off. Caramel and butterscotch leap forward before flashes of vanilla curl around the mouth all adding pleasure. A good squeeze of lemon juice purrs along leaving a tangy citrusy acidty for you to reflect on all before. Tasty stuff and a great Hunter Valley Chardonnay for the money.

Drink now to five years.

92/100

Region: Hunter Valley
RRP: $22.50
Source: Sample

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