If you had to pick a single wine style that is most highly coveted in the Graham household, it is the early drinking red. Pinot, Grenache, Gamay, some Tempranillo, a little Nebbiolo etc. Something that is easy drinking, but ideally with flavour and sophistication. We’re fancy like that.
Here then are 15 of the better drink-me-now red wines opened this August 2022.
Crittenden Estate The Zumma Pinot Noir 2020
The Crittenden family’s top Pinot echelon and it’s a lovely wine – sourced from the oldest plantings on their Mornington Peninsula vineyard. Correct colour – ruby with suggestions of orange. Open, generous, flattering sort of nose too, in that style that the Peninsula does so well – like a swell of sappy, ripe, but not heavy raspberry and cherry fruit. I have such a soft spot for Mornington Pinot that tastes like this. There’s a little mulch for complexity here, on a palate driven by raspberry, something meaty and undergrowth at the very edge, but largely a flow of fruit, then proper fruit tannin. Mid-weight, fleshy, with excellent mid-palate concentration and that olive/mint hint. Just a really enjoyable wine. Best drinking: now, no hurry. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13%, $57. Crittenden Estate website. Would I buy it? Worth a bottle.
Deep Down Pinot Noir 2021
While some of the early releases were variable, these new Deep Down wines are excellent. Organic, lo-fi Marlborough wines of vitality and texture. Superstar energy in this Pinot, especially given there is no SO2 added. Love the colour – a vibrant purple. Brightness to the palate, too – beetroot, mulberry, a little c02, a whisper of leaf litter. Driven by acidity but with the fruit to carry it off, this is a delicious wine of real energy. Just a little rasp to the tannins, but that’s a trade-off for the untouched style. I’m a fan. Best drinking: good now. 18.5/20, 94/100. 12.5%, $60. Deep Down website (imported into Australia by Single Vineyard Sellers). Would I buy it? Sure would.
Apricus Hill Pinot Noir 2021
This is the best Apricus Pinot to date. Previous vintages of this Great Southern Pinot have looked a little dry-reddish, but this is so brighter. Well-formed strawberry fruit showing perfect ripeness and lucidity. There’s still that hint of bark and bacon bits that I always see in this wine, but it’s so much more moderate and less extractive and silken this year. An instantly enjoyable Pinot that rises above the Great Southern norm. Best drinking: now. 18/20, 93/100. 14%, $35. Apricus Hill website (via Single Vineyard Sellers). Would I buy it? Sure would.
Soumah Syrah 2021
Strong vintage, strong release of this Yarra Syrah. It feels like a proper ‘Syrah’ too, not a Shiraz, if we want to go into some style discussions – just medium bodied, driven by purple blueberry fruit, the palate glossy but pointed, all mulberry blueberry and light to finish. Syrah meets Pinot. A real, berried juiciness is the champion here. It’s not tannic, more pure fruited, making for a very wine and surprisingly persistent. Best drinking: now. 18/20, 93/100. 14%, $40. Soumah website. Would I buy it? Worth a bottle.
Juniper Estate Cornerstone Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
An aged release of the top dog Juniper Estate Margaret River Cabernet. Spends a very serious 20 months in oak, and you can see it – plenty of oak richness. But it makes this list because, at six, it’s mellow and composed. Regional mint in amongst the oak touched red berries, the tannins fine, the whole feel of a soft and riper styled Margaret River red. Indeed, it seems warmer than 14%, and that makes it diffuse – some nice gentle choc mint blackberry fruit, though. A big, warm-hearted, expansive Margaret River Cabernet. I wanted more definition, and less alcohol, but I’ll take the drinkability. Best drinking: good now and will still be alive in a decade. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14%, $90. Juniper Estate website. Would I buy it? Just a glass at this price.
Rising Pinot Noir 2021
Another wine of lightness and delicacy under the Rising label. I’m all for it. This is lightly twiggy but never unripe, Yarra Pinot with sappy red raspberry fruit. Acidity is front and forward, with just a light rounding of vanilla oak which also help buff the palate edges. A smidgen underpowered, maybe, but it translates into acidity and freshness. An enjoyable, effortless drinking wine. Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13%, $35. Rising website. Would I buy it? Yes.
Hewitson Truffle Row Carignan Syrah 2021
Named after a row of hazelnut trees that apparently have no truffles. Dean Hewitson has been playing with Carignan for a while now, this is one of the better releases. Purple colours and purple fruit. It’s juicy but with a line of stalk and tang though this giving just a faint herbal edge (and interest). It’s just mid-weight, surprisingly contained for the Barossa, really. Fractionally angular through the finish, but again lots of appeal. Good. Best drinking: good now, no hurry. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14%, $30. Hewitson website. Would I buy it? A few glasses.
Rising Bad Earth Light Dry Red 2020
The LDR movement gains pace! This is Yarra Pinot & Shiraz from the Rising Vineyard. Coppery red, it smells of stems and orange peel and rust and then red fruit. The palate is more generous than you’d expect but still autumnal. Fuller than you’d first expect too (and more serious) though the tannins are inescapable. An enjoyable light red with more than meets the eye. That bitterness is going to be a little divisive, but this red has breadth and underlying power. Good. Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13%, $28. Rising website. Would I buy it? Worth a. few glasses.
Vinatero Grenache 2021
Aldi exclusive. Another bargain too. Old vine McLaren Vale Grenache from a block planted in the 1940s. Glossy red fruit, it’s a little phenolic and raw, but the core of open fruit is spot on. That fruit is the hero – you could almost taste the little bullets off old bushies. Pay twice the price and it would be well priced. Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14%, $11.99. Would I buy it? At this price, shit yes.
Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Shiraz 2019
I wouldn’t normally see this Barossan red as an early drinker, but now with a good two years in bottle, and from a warm vintage, and it’s a drink-me-now wine. Plump, cosseting in its flourish of cooked blueberry fruit, easy on the edges if a bit warm, an expansive, ‘Fruits of the Forest’ berry pie on the palate. Just a fraction bitter and coffeed at the very edges. Maybe a smidgen too easy for big points but there is flavour here and unquestioned intensity. A plush, yet not overdone, generous Barossa red. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.5%, $28. Yalumba website. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Running With Bulls Tempranillo 2021
Always juicy, and right on form here. Barossa Tempranillo i a proper joven mode. Juicy. Jubey. Little oak to speak of, but all fruit. Good vibes. Varietal too, and sweet fruited all the way. Great commercial appeal – such easy fun drinking red wine. Tumbler in the park stuff. Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 14%, $25. Running With Bulls website. Would I buy it? A few glasses.
Rising Gamay 2021
From the Roundstone Vineyard in the Yarra. A different style this year – I was surprised to see the sweet vanilla oak and ripe red fruit here. A slightly more burly wine this vintage. Cinnamon and raspberry varietal stamp though and drinkability underneath is spot on. Just give it a good swirl. A proper Gamay, in a cru Beaujolais style. Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 13%, $35. Rising website. Would I buy it? A glass.
Silkwood Estate The Walcott Pinot Noir 2020
Pemberton Pinot. A plush and chunky wine it is too, with plenty of caramel oak. Tarry red berry underneath – it’s quite ripe. Not lacking in Pinosity, but ia plush and chunky wine. A Pinot with breadth and reasonably long, even if it could just as well be a Shiraz. Best drinking: nowish. 17/20, 90/100. 13.5%, $30. Silkwood Estate website. Would I buy it? No.
Tokar Estate Carafe & Tumbler CST 2021
An odd blend for the Yarra – Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz & Tempranillo. Dark colours – a dark plum red. Mint and cloves, but the palate is juicy thanks to the carbonic fermentation – fresh, frisky, light-bodied, Booj-esque. A nice tonic bitterness but with red licorice too. Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 14%, $30. Tokar Estate. Would I buy it? A glass.
Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Barossa Bush Vine Grenache 2020
Ruby colours. No oak in sight. Ripe but still slightly tart rhubarb/cranberry/raspberry fruit. Pure fruit, even if it feels a little more hollowed out this vintage – the alcohol is there, the fruit too, but maybe not the usual generosity. Still good. Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 14.5%, $28. Yalumba website. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
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