Not all wines can be great. Plenty are just ‘ok drinks’, and some are just bad…
Here is a selection of 48 wines that almost made it in August 2022.
With this assortment, it is crucial to reference the sell price vs the score. Some of the Aldi exclusive releases below are inexpensive, simple wines that will never score high marks, but for the very few dollars required, are actually winners. They’re Almost wines on pure quality, but if you flip the script and want to look for value, then there is happy hunting throughout this selection.
Of course, that is tempered by a few wines here that should be much much better for their price point…
Carillion Origins Feldspars Orange Shiraz 2019
Part of a series that includes Orange & Hunter Shiraz, both with premium intentions. Both miss the mark, which is frustrating as recent Carillion releases have been better than this. Curious. Anyway, Orange fruit, 30% whole bunches, 10 months in 2nd and 3rd use oak. You wouldn’t know it, though – the oak sits like a chocolate sheath on top of the more fine-boned cherry fruit. It obscures the edges of what might be a graceful wine and adds a layer of oak tannins too. I don’t get it, despite the fruit underneath. I also don’t get it, given this is largely second and third-year oak. This will get better but should be a more balanced proposition now. Best drinking: wait another year or so, then drink over the following decade. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $60. Would I buy it? No.
Feudo Arancia Nero d’Avola 2020
While this might be a bit rough-edged, it does have loads of Sicilian Nero character at a fair price. Sicily. Dusty bitumen, cooked red berries, a tarry palate and grippy dark tannins. You can chew on this dark red. It’s inelegant, raw-edged, but so authentic too. I can warm to the length, even if it’s rugged. Best drinking: over the next five to eight years. 13%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Feudo Arancia Terre Siciliane Rosato 2020
Sicily, also. Great packaging, great partridge eye orange colour. It’s a surprisingly juicy wine, too – with Jaffa, rose water, pink grapefruit, orange juice, red apple. The acidity is low, the flavours plump and easy. It starts to look a bit chubby and sweetish to finish, but an easy drink with flavour conviction. Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12%, $20. Would I buy it? No, but I can see the appeal.
Fowles Are You Game Pinot Noir 2021
Victorian fruit, although Folwes are based in the Strathbogie Ranges. This is a good drink. light ruby raspberry red. Juicy raspberry fruited wine it is, too, offset with some jubey ripe generosity and a little mint. It’s a light, pretty wine, without a helluva lot of penetration, but certainly lithe and elegant. Not bad for $18.99, even if it’s not profound for more than a bronze. Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.6%, $18.99. Would I buy it? Yeah, I’d go a glass for sure.
Hewitson Miss Harry Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2021
Just misses the mark. Glossy, Grenachey, and a little scorched, lots of purple fruit, maybe a bit murky, and a bit awkward with alcohol and bitterness. Lacks generosity for this alcohol really, but not without appeal. Best drinking: nowish, before it starts losing and alcohol starts winning. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Jules Taylor Chardonnay 2021
Marlborough Chardonnay. Plump and chubby fruit at first, the palate a bit shapeless and both banana eatery and peachy, before a tight, no malo finish. That oak seems chippy and raw too. Yeah, it mainly misses the mark. Best drinking: maybe better next year. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Jules Taylor The Jules Rosé 2021
Marlborough fruit. Bone dry with a little red fruit, the palate raw and lean but refreshing enough. Could do with a bit more softness, but the commercial appeal is there. Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13%, $25NZ. Would I buy it? No.
Juniper Three Fields Shiraz 2019
Just graft it over to Malbec/Tempranillo/Cabernet/anything but Shiraz! Sorry Margs Shiraz, but you’re often disappointing. Anyway, this largely comes from the dry-grown Cowaramup plantings, some of Margs’ oldest Shiraz. Short maceration, 9 months in nearly all old oak. Just a bit reductive, and underneath, it never feels quite right, the tannins heading towards astringent land, which doesn’t work for a mid-weight and spice-driven style. It’s trying to be juicy and easy, but the structure ruins that. Look, it’s ok, but hardly the easy drink it’s trying to be. Best drinking: maybe in a few more years? I’m not sure. It will live, and perhaps two or three years, and it will even out more? 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $29. Would I buy it? No.
Oakridge Horst Riesling 2021
Mosel via Wandin East. Green apples and sugar sweetness. The tight, acid shape palate clashes with the blunt residual sugar, and it all feels a long way apart. I get the intentions (and super packaging), but this isn’t cohesive. Best drinking: nowish, I guess. 16.8/20, 89/100. 11.5%, $45. Would I buy it? No.
Taltarni Dynamic Heathcote Shiraz 2020
14% on the label, 14.5% on the sticker. Choose your own alcohol level! Matured for 12 months in oak. Feels 14.5%, though. Spirity and luscious, alcohol kicks in from mid-palate, oak adding an extra layer of sweetness. It feels a bit cooked at the edges, fortified-like, dry port-ish even. There is a substantial hit of flavour, but it’s also overripe. Best drinking: it will go for a decade, and if the alcohol doesn’t take over still look good then. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Voyager Estate Shiraz 2019
Grippy and warm and bitter-edged, I don’t love this. There is some sausagey red fruit and some white pepper Rhonish spice – lots going on! But the tannins are unripe and the whole thing feels a bit forced and hard. No questioning the length, which pushes the score to a high bronze, but I do wonder if it needs to be this pointy. Best drinking: likely later. I guess. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14%, $38. Would I buy it? No.
A.C. Byrne Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2020
Aldi exclusive. Comprehensively regional and varietal. Bay leaves, mint, pencil shavings, and dark berries. All of that for $10 a bottle? This edges a bit too far into leafy savouriness – a little More oak sweetness wouldn’t go astray. Can’t fault the flavour intensity given the pricepoint. Just a little bit more fruit depth to offset the tannins and mint and it would be a winner. But hey, $9.99 a bottle? For this price, it’s pretty solid already. Best drinking: sooner rather than later. Best drinking: nowish. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $9.99. Would I buy it? I’d have a glass and recommend it all day long.
A.c. Byrne & Co. Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2022
Aldi exclusive. Incomparable value, really. Grass, a little passionfruit, but mainly more open melon fleshiness with a sufficiently taught finish. No bells or whistles, but exactly what an affordable fresh white should be, although a little bit more definition is what is needed for higher points. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.8%, $8.99. Would I buy it? A glass, and again would highly recommend.
Blackstone Paddock The Player Barossa Shiraz 2019
Aldi exclusive. Typecast Barossan and proudly so. Lots of chocolate oak – it’s the first, second and third flavour besides plum fruit. Finish sort of tails off into alcohol, although there is plenty of impact. It’s a pretty clumsy sort of singular red, really, but the flavour is going to win fans. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $13.99. Would I buy it? No.
Carillion Origins Fenestella Shiraz 2019
I’m so surprised by these wines. This is the Hunter Shiraz, and looks like a throwback to another time in the Valley. Bright colours, leathery bark and dark fruit on the nose, the palate concentrated, but also fuzzy and drying too, the finish a drying leathery thing too. Dried out. Where is the mid palate generosity? Meh. Best drinking: later, I guess. 16.5/20, 88/100+. 14%, $60. Would I buy it? No.
Cellier des Dauphins Val Soleu Rosé 2021
Great packaging. Organic pink from the IGP Drôme, which is technically part of the Vin de Pays (even though I’ve seen this wine called ‘Provence’ all over the net. Also, Vintage Cellars has Provence listed in Italy). Partridge eye orange pink, over a juicy, of sweaty red apple palate. There’s a sweaty berry bitterness here that is less attractive, despite the bright red fruit. Still, it’s fresh enough, even if there is just a little industrial feel to the back end. Ok. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Cré Wines Nouveau Syrah 2021
Yarra Shiraz goes light and very frisky. 10.9% and looks it, Good colour for what is an early picked red – pretty purple. Stems, capsicum, cooked veggies, loads of pepper. meat juices, cloves. But not strictly unripe. I expected no SO2, but it’s conventional (ie, with sulphur additions). The palate is herbal and yet with a frizzante too, which lifts the palate up in a way that is almost like rustic Lambrusco. Finish is again not unripe, but herbal and not exactly easy tannins. There is interest here, but not an easy drink despite the intentions. Best drinking: right now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 10.9%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Jules Taylor Pinot Gris 2021
Something of a blunt object, this plays at a riper, more viscous style but delivers something stretched and lacking in fruit generosity – there’s a big hole in the middle of the palate. Still some shape to it, which raises it to a solid bronze. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Rising Bad Earth Petillant Naturel 2021
Yarra Pet Nat. Chardonnay, Semillon, Savagnin, Sauvignon Blanc & Gewurztraminer from the Rising Vineyard. Fully ripe, but seems a bit muted on the palate – more textural than fruit, the oxidative edges giving the palate breadth, and the skin contact gives bite but not much generosity. The froth is well tamed, though. I think this would have been better as not a pet nat, despite the intentions. Obvious quality in the making – a very grown-up pet nat – but not cohesive. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $32. Would I buy it? No.
Six Acres Pet Nat 2021
Yarra Pet Nat. Lean nose, despite that background pet nat apple cider oxidative edge. Fresh and frisky without being hard on the palate. Despite the froth and apple juicy fruit sweetness, there isn’t much going on when you really dig into the palate. Finishes fresh, though, which ups the smashability. Still, blink and you’ll miss this wine. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 11.5%, $32. Would I buy it? no.
Smith & Hooper Pinot Grigio 2021
Wrattonbully fruit. Crisp pear juice, which makes it a classical Pinot Grigio, I guess. A little of estery lifted notes on the nose, then some richer fruit through the middle too. Definitely riper, yet very much dry and even a bit jarring to finish. Correct but angular and a bit wishy-washy at the same time. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $21. Would I buy it? No.
Taltarni ‘Dynamic’ Mourvedre 2020
Includes 12% Shiraz. Pyrenees fruit, as ever. Light ruby colours and yet this threatens to be confected, the reductive nose fighting with pepper spice that goes right through to the finish. It’s a pleasant lightish red, it feels like 8/10ths of a Pyrenees Mourvedre should be. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $28. Would I buy it? No.
Astrale Chianti 2021
Inoffensive Chianti. Malt and a little cherry/mulberry leather and some volatility on the nose, the leathery palate has varietal character and familiar Sangio raspy tannins. It leads with fruit, but ultimately this just feels a bit rough-hewn in an inexpensive Chianti sort of way. Meh. Best drinking: nowish. 16.3/20, 87/100. 13%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Heggies Vineyard Cloudline Chardonnay 2021
I’ve never understood this Eden Valley wine. It’s just a bit of a nothing Chardonnay. Peach juice, a passing flash of vanilla and sawdust, then tinny acidity. Why so lean and mean? Best drinking: now. 16.3/20, 87/100. 12.5%, $22. Would I buy it? No.
A.C. Byrne Organic McLaren Vale Shiraz 2021
Aldi exclusive. Jubey, juicy Vale Shiraz that is all about sweet fruit, pushed along by the sweetness that comes from fruit pressed off skins early to give more juiciness (and perhaps a little residual sugar). Uncomplicated, affable, plump. I find the sweetness hard going after a while, but this is exactly what a $10 organic Shiraz should taste like. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 14%, $10.99. Would I buy it? No.
Astrale Prosecco Extra NV
Extra Dry, the ultimate Italian Prosecco misnomer. This is off-dry, dusty and juicy, the sweetness lingering through the finish and not in a good way. I don’t see the balance here. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 11%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Chateau Les Maurins 2020
Aldi exclusive. Inexpensive Bordeaux based on Merlot & Cab Franc. Plump and ripe, you could easily pick this as new world, not Bordeaux. The pencil shavings, mint and the push of the light tannins are more classical, but that juiciness is very modern. Jubey and a little coinfected, but entirely serviceable for $9.99. Best drinking: nowish. 16/20, 87/100. 14%, $9.99. Would I buy it? No.
Corte Carista Chianti Superiore 2018
Aldi exclusive. Rustic but authentic, furry Sangiovese blend from Alberto Antonini. Furry, ferrous tannins and a drying heartiness. It’s already drying out but typical inexpensive Chianti. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 13%, $11.99. Would I buy it? No.
Corte Carista Prosecco NV
Aldi exclusive. Extra dry on the label, but this tastes sweet and juicy. Generous and affable and super clean it is, but the sweetness is candied and makes this too singular. Still going to win friends. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 11%, $9.99. Would I buy it? No.
El Toro Macho 2019
Aldi exclusive. Tempranillo Bobal blend from Utiel-Requena. Pretty authentic, inexpensive Spanish red. Leather and redcurrants, lots of gruff tannins, only just medium bodied. That red fruit and leather style is unquestionably attractive in its mode, but still light and simple commercial. Spot on for the price and intentions, though – a relative bargain. Best drinking: nowish. 16/20, 87/100. 12.5%, $5.99. Would I buy it? No.
Pommery Brut Royal NV
L22001037 according to the back label identifier. Whatever, this wasn’t great. Flat-footed, the dosage really sticks out here, the palate disjointed with an acid tang that doesn’t marry up to the sweetness. Don’t bother. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 12.5%, $75. Would I buy it? No.
Sensi Primitivo 2021
Aldi Exclusive. Big volume Puglian Primitivo. Tarry, burnt toffee that seeps through the palate. The whole palate feels scorched, drying and mouth-sapping. It has intensity, but you’re looking at Primitivo at its guttural and black edge without the fruit intensity to be really satisfying. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 14.5%, $9.99. Would I buy it? No.
Silkwood The Bowers Pinot Noir 2022
Single vineyard Pemberton Pinot. Bright ruby. Simple soapy fruit, in a style that feels like it has only just gone through malo, and the fruit struggles to beat the bitterness. Not much fun, yet, but maybe come back later. Best drinking: maybe next year. 16/20, 87/100+. 13.5%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Sutherland Estate Tempranillo 2021
Yarra Tempranillo from the Daniel’s Hill Vineyard. 21yo vines. Early picked and looks it, though not unripe, just underpowered. Leathery purple-red berries wash through the palate, and then the tannins and acidity take over. It’s an easy fresh drink but falls away beyond the mid-palate. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 12.6%, $?. Would I buy it? No.
Hill-Smith Estate Chardonnay 2021
Eden Valley Chardonnay. Tinned peaches, nose is a bit muted, the palate is more Riesling-like with its lemon citrus, than Chardonnay. Raw finish. Again, like the worst days of unwooded Chardonnay. Best drinking: now. 15.8/20, 86/100. 12.5%, $22. Would I buy it? No.
Neve Sauvignon Blanc 2021
Aldi exclusive. Hawke’s Bay & Marlborough fruit. Sour, pineapple lemon thing with a real sour lemon gooseberry thing. Good intensity, but that palate is so sweet and sour. Again, I look at the price, and then the wine, and realise you’re getting plenty for your money. Best drinking: now. 15.8/20, 86/100. 12%, $6.99. Would I buy it? No.
One | Road Cabernet Merlot 2020
Aldi Exclusive. Goulburn & King Valleys. Muted nose, just a bit minty. Plenty of fruit on the palate though – a big slurp of dark berry mint and jagged acidity. It’s a bit rough and tumble, but lots of fruit for very few dollars. Best drinking: now. 15.8/20, 86/100. 14%, $7.99. Would I buy it? No.
South Point Sauvignon Blanc 2022
Aldi exclusive. Super value. Fresh green melon and citrus fruit, enough acidity to keep the flavours fresh, green melon and even a little grass and passionfruit. Seriously good for $4.99. Best drinking: now. 15.8/20, 86/100. 11.5%, $4.99. Would I buy it? No, but would recommend it.
Earthworks Grower Gatherer Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
Smoky ashen tobacco meets dark berry varietal character. I find this a smidgen acrid at the edges, despite the welcome generous middle. Finish is raw and tarry and spiky too and ashen. A bit of Jekyll & Hyde as the dark berry fruit is pretty attractive. Just sneaks over for a bronze. 15.5/20, 85/100. 14.5%, $20. Would I buy it? No.
Piedra Negra Reserva Malbec 2019
Aldi Exclusive. From Jacques Lurton. Dusty and a bit reductive. There is a core of dusty red fruit and raw oak on the palate. Middling and a bit underwhelming, raw finish. Pretty rough and tumble commercial red. Best drinking: nowish. 15.5/20, 85/100. 14%, $11.99. Would I buy it? No.
Rewild Sauvignon Blanc 2021
From a range ‘sustainably made’ with renewable energy (in what capacity?) and printed on sugarcane labels. Tinned stonefruit, a little lychee on the nose and palate. Simple soft ripe fruits and easygoing. Friendly enough but not exactly serious. Ultimately good value. Best drinking: now. 15.5/20, 85/100. 12%, $10. Would I buy it? No.
Venturer Series Durif 2020
Aldi Exclusive. Chunky and plump Riverina Durif. Cardboard and mint on the nose, coarsepalate has this ripe raspberry ripple flavour, but capped with minty tannins. It’s varietal and juicy, but a bit of an attack too – I found I couldn’t drink more than a glass. 15.5/20, 85/100. 13.9%, $8.99. Would I buy it? No.
Rewild Rosé 2021
Simply fruity, pink grapefruit and pink pastilles. That acidity is a bit raw, a sweet and sour pink finish. Already showing some forwardness too. Just ok. Best drinking: now. 15/20, 83/100. 12%, $10. Would I buy it? No.
Smart Dog Alentejo Shiraz Trincadeira 2020
Aldi Exclusive. Budget Portuguese red. Aldi exclusive. Plenty of fun here. Sweet berry fruit, all coated in a layer of dust, the sweetness sticks out but that’s the point. Uses all the tricks to brighten it up and mask the hard tannins, including a little CO2 and residual sugar. It’s a playful jubey red, but I found the sweet and astringent combo ultimately hard work. Best drinking: now. 15/20, 83/100. 13.5% $6.99. Would I buy it? No.
South Point Pinot Grigio 2022
Aldi exclusive. Generic white wine. There is some pear juice in there but it’s a chubby, shapeless wine of limited character. The Sauv is much better. Best drinking: now. 15/20, 83/100. 12%, $4.99. Would I buy it?
The Pond Merlot 2020
Aldi Exclusive. Very entry-level quality, all plump and sweet fruit. It’s like a Cherry Ripe mixed with a red wine, with a slick of vanillan and then plump berries but you can’t miss the woody rasp to finish. It’s en mode, even if I couldn’t drink it. Best drinking: now. 15/20, 83/100. 14%. $7. Would I buy it? No.
Tudor Pinot Noir 2020
Aldi Exclusive. Yarra Pinot. Stewy raspberry, ripe red fruit with an ashen edge. Hard to go past that stewy smoky edge, but it’s going to win friends with its Pinot flesh. I can’t get past the charcuterie smokiness, even if it’s not strictly faulty. It’s more smoked meat than acrid but gee I couldn’t finish a glass. Best drinking: now. 15/20, 83/100. 13.7%, $12.99. Would I buy it? No.
Luis Felipe Edwards Carmenere 2020
Aldi exclusive. Basic Chilean red. Not much flavour. there is a flash of sweet vanilla bean, mint and hessian fruit a distant background. The milky vanillan palate is going to win friends, but this is both light and raw despite the round middle. The closer you look, the more unbalanced it becomes, to the point where I found it unpleasant. 14.5/20, 81/100. 13.5%, $6.99. Would I buy it? No.