Not all wines can be great. Plenty are just ‘ok drinks’, and some are just bad…
Here is a selection of 22 wines that almost made it in September 2022.
As ever, price is a big arbiter – the $11.99 Lurton pink is a bargain, but it’s never going to score high (so it deserves elevating). Conversely, there are a bunch of wines on here that aim high (with premium price tags) but don’t deliver…
Angullong Crossing Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Part of the new Angullong premium range, which is full of awkward reds built for the long haul. This is a firm, extractive, minty Orange Cabernet that is going to live but looks jumbled now. Mint, new wood, cedar and eucalyptus on the nose, the firm palate is raw, cut by oak tannins and intersected by acidity alcohol and then more tannins. Chewy, minty, unready. The length is commendable, but the rawness of the tannins – both oak and fruit – is not. The score is a nod to the finish and the promise more than anything. Best drinking: maybe wait five years. 16.8/20, 89/100+. 14.5% $48. Would I buy it? No.
Fowles Stone Dwellers Mourvedre 2020
Strathbogie Ranges Mourvedre from a tricky year. It’s a moody, brooding, meaty red that is a bit less-than-pure (some horsehair in there) but with an intensity of dark, menthol, mint and licorice fruit. It’s not generous enough, but serious intensity and length. Best drinking: maybe later. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Gambit Wines Jaya Riesling 2021
The only miss in this new range. Eden Valley Riesling, with just 150 dozen produced (and 100 magnums). Linear, fresh, limey Riesling in a light touch mode – good freshness, but beyond the chalky acidity it doesn’t do much and looks to be maturing quick. Ok. Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12.5%, $28. Would I buy it? No.
Maso Di Mezzo Pinot Grigio 2021
Trentino Pinot Grigio. Very correct, it is, too, with a bit of pear juice and apple cream. It falls away a smidgen after that initial fruit flourish but an entirely drinkable, singularly fresh white wine. Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12.5%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Mayfield Vineyard Backyard Riesling 2022
Orange Riesling. Floral, yet ripe, with an alpine freshness, with mint and celery in among the riper pink petals, musk with some generous stonefruit underneath. It’s a delicate wine, despite that nose which suggests something more dense and full. Indeed, it passes through the palate with a whimper. Pretty, but lacks intensity. Best drinking: nowish. 16.8/20,89/100. 13.2%, $34. Would I buy it? No.
Tolloy Pinot Grigio 2021
Alto Adige fruit. A lift of musk to this – a delicate spice, as if there was a bit of Gewurz in there. Talc and some phenolic grip on the palate, This is decent Grigio, albeit generic aside from the nose. Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13%, $40. Would I buy it? A glass
Balgownie Faraday Black Label Pinot Gris 2021
Sourced from Mt Alexander in Central Victoria. A pink hue, and there is a pink fruit musk edge to the nose and palate. Hay, peach and lemon juice, but it’s a flat and forward sort of style in the wash. I would have liked it more a year ago. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Balgownie Nouveau Syrah 2021
Pulpy carbonic juicy fruit. Jovial, jubey, simple fruit with a herbal twist, comes and goes. Fun enough, very much in a sloshable style. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Escape Room Cabernet Franc 2021
Fleurieu fruit in this Franc under what is a new, easy-drinking Chapel Hill label. Cinnamon and a little capsicum fruit. Varietal and pure. Underneath its a slightly sour and grippy young peppery Cab Franc. It’s a bit of a rough, early-drinking red, but it’s at least varietal. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $27. Would I buy it? No
Escape Room Grenache Mourvedre 2021
Fleurieu fruit again, and a similar script. Co-fermented with some whole bunches but with an emphasis on minimal additions. Slippery unadulterated feel to it, slightly tart red fruit crisscrossed by whole bunch clovey bitterness. It doesn’t quite have the fruit generosity to counter the tannins or its acidity, but the energy is there. It’s ok. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $27. Would I buy it? No.
Francois Lurton Le Mule Rosé 2020
Aldi exclusive. This is a good, well-priced, simple wine. Provence fruit, and a blend of Grenache and Cinsault. It’s not powerful or particularly intense, but it manages to be generous enough with its soft pink talc and melon fruit and crisp finish. It’s not going to win trophies – a bit short for that – though smashable at this price. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $11.99. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Hewitson Mad Hatter Shiraz 2020
I’m a fan of the super-premium Hewitson reds, but some of the mid-tier wines are variable. This Shiraz is probably affected by the vintage – it feels a bit dense and cooked, all bitumen and stewed plum. Lifted by a surprising plushness to the palate but oak tannins and alcohol clips the palate. Best drinking: nowish. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $50. Would I buy it? No.
Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2021
Entirely quaffable archetypal Grigio. Lean and already a smidgen forward, it tastes of unripe pears and acidity. It’s easy, fresh, no-surprises wine with soft textures, the finish a bit broad for the low alcohol but easy going. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass
Mottura Negroamaro del Salento 2020
Very sweet oak coats this Puglian Negroamaro. A powdery moccha layer, mixed with blackberry fruit that clearly doesn’t need the oak sweetness. Plump, easy, but overdone when it didn’t need to be – there is a solid savoury core in there. Ok commercial red. Best drinking: within five years. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13% $30. Would I buy it? No.
Angullong Crossing Reserve Harriet 2019
A blend of Orange Sangiovese, Sagrantino & Montepulciano. So the Tuscan/Umbrian/Abruzzo smorgasbord? Opens up really reduced, which is an instant black mark. Underneath it’s a very savoury, hard-edged Orange red. Celery, capsicum, menthol, lots and lots of olives (green and black). I can see some of the varietal elements – Sangio forest berries and kitten tongue tannins, some of that Sagrantino blackness and Monte mint. It’s a pretty gruff and tannic sort of beast, though – overly firm, abrupt tannins and acidity rather than fruit. Ambitious, but not much pleasure. And so reduced. Best drinking: now, I guess. 16.3/20, 87/100. 14%, $48. Would I buy it? No.
Feudo Arancia Inzolia 2021
Generic Sicilian white wine, but hey, another variety to add to the monthly buffet. Waxed lemon, a dab of butterscotch width, but otherwise a light, tart, fresh white wine. It’s an easy simple drink, but unexciting. Best drinking: now. 16.3/20, 87/100. 13%, $20. Would I buy it? No. For €5 in a Sicilian mercato on a warm September day? Maybe.
Castel Firmian Pinot Nero 2019
Trentino Pinot. Stewy with malt oak dominating nose and palate. Decent intensity but neither varietal or intense enough to counter the oak. Nope. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 13%, $45. Would I buy it? No.
Castel Firmian Teroldego Rotaliano Superiore Riserva 2018
Minty, old school extractive style that tastes largely of oak and oak tannins. You can see some of the leathery plum fruit, but it’s cloaked in oak tannins. Nup. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 13%, $45. Would I buy it? No.
Castel Firmian Lagrein 2021
Trentino fruit. Horsey nose. Meaty mint and cranberry, lots of oak tannins. Hard finish. Little joy, just tannins, despite the ambition. Best drinking: now, I guess. 15.8/20, 86/100. 13%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Mezza by Mezzacorona NV
‘Italian Glacial Bubbly’ says the label. Extra Dry, but it’s sweet, candied and juicy, the sweetness the dominant feature on the palate and finish, and fights with the glacial freshness underneath. I can’t see the balance here. Best drinking: now. 15.8/20, 86/100. 12%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Rewild Cabernet Sauvignon 2021
Better than the Shiraz below as there’s a little leafy varietal signature here. Still, a light, tart, slightly weedy red. It’s ok for $10. Best drinking: now. 15.5/20, 85/100. 13.5%, $10. Would I buy it? No.
Rewild Shiraz 2021
Sustainable Australian Shiraz. That’s the pitch. This is pretty low-grade juice, though – simple plum jam fruit with an excess of sweetness. You can do better even for $10. Best drinking: now. 15/20 83/100. 13.5%, $10. Would I buy it? No.