Not all wines can be great. Plenty are just ‘ok drinks’, and some are just bad…
Here is a collectin of 15 wines that almost made it in November 2022.
Notably, many of these wines are just simple drinks. Occasionally too simple, but they’re not bad, not faulty, and usually entirely easygoing. They just didn’t kick over into the ‘I want to be drinking this’ realm.
The Little Wine Company Vermentino 2022
It even smells acidic. It makes no sense I know, but that’s the challenge here – it’s a wine of angles. Broke sourced Vermentino, that’s so firm and brisk that you don’t buy into the wine. My kingdom for a bit more generosity! Fresh and crunchy, though, with some soapy varietal pear in there. Undoubtedly varietal (and promises much for Hunter Vermentino/rolle/whatever they’re going to call it given that Vermentino will be outlawed next). But the overall feel drifts too much towards phenolics and acidity. Best drinking: nowish. 16.8/20, 89/100. 12.6%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
Voyager Estate Rosé 2022
Margaret River Tempranillo, Merlot and Shiraz fruit with a little Sauvignon Gris. Interesting to see the Gris! Plenty of Marlborough wines are thinking about Sauvignon Gris of late, but haven’t heard as much noise locally. Anyway, this is coppery pink, the nose smells quite ripe, and there is a deal of red fruit on the bone-dry palate. It’s definitely serious and interesting rosé but perhaps to the point of hardness of acidity and tannin. Meh. Best drinking: now. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13.5%, $24. Would I buy it? No.
Burge Family Winemakers Zinfandel Rosé 2022
Barossa Zinfandel, and tapping into some of the American rosé Zin styles. This juicy wine isn’t my thing, but it’s well made and very easy, with lolly red fruit that is expansive and plump. Off dry, but more fruit sweet than anything with this big mouthful of gumball red lolly fruit. Well made and will be hugely successful. I get the style, even if I can’t drink it. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Doom Juice Rosé 2022
For some background on the Doom Juice wines, you can head over to Kaddy Community and read my interview with Sebastian. They’re going great guns and I can see why. A blend of (organic) Riverland Shiraz & Cabernet ‘made in hell’. Like the Burge above, this isn’t quite my thing, but it’s going to be popular. Pale, copper-coloured, with a dry palate, fleshed out with peach fruit and just a little sweetness to finish (which gets a bit too sweet after a while). Uncomplicated and drinkable enough, deliberately unserious. I’d like it to be a bit tighter, but I get the vibe. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.9%, $29. Would I buy it? No, but I don’t think I’m the market here.
Meerea Park Terracotta Syrah 2021
A classic example of where a red/white co-ferment goes too far. This is Hunter Valley Shiraz from the Homestead Estate Vineyard plus 15% Marsanne from the Lochleven Vineyear co-fermented and matured for 16 months in 30% new oak. The Marsanne sticks out so much that it obscures the quality Shiraz fruit, giving this a real nectarine and red plum vibe and juiciness. The oak then adds another layer of vanilla sweatiness, making this so plump, soft and fruity it could very well be a white wine. Finishes short and a bit tart too. It’s annoying because the Shiraz underneath is unquestionably quality. Best drinking: I’m not sure. I feel the fruit-forward juiciness might die down in time. Might be worth a revisit in three years. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $60. Would I buy it? No.
Sunsets Natural Rosé 2022
Rosé from the Half Full Wine Company. Organic fruit, though with no region specified. Coppery pink, lightly off dry, it looks very much like the Doom Juice Rosé above – a simply juicy, dryish pink with generosity. Good commercial appeal, but a bit sweet on the finish for me also. Best drinking: now. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.9%, $30. Would I buy it? No.
The Little Wine Company Barbera 2019
From Broke-Fordwich, though it doesn’t say it’s Hunter fruit anywhere on the bottle. It’s ripe, forward and a bit jubey. I can’t see this as Barbera, just a riper style of Hunter red. It’s an easy medium-bodied wine though. Best drinking: over the next five years. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.2%, $35. Would I buy it? No.
Sapling Yard Rosé 2021
This is the only slight miss in the Sapling Yard range. Hilltops Grenache +Gamay from the Sapling Yard Vineyard in Braidwood. Light strawberry fruit and crunchy – the primary strawberry fruit is a little faded, but it’s a pretty wine of good delicacy. 16.5/20, 88/100. 12.5%, $27. Would I buy it? No.
Voyager Estate Chenin Blanc 2022
I’ve never ‘got’ this wine. I think it’s driven by cellar door and mailing list popularity, but it has always underwhelmed. A ripe, blowsy sort of thing with cooked lemon fruit and low acidity. It’s an easy sort of fleshy white, but a blunt object of smudgy fruit salad appeal. Plenty of flavour. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Collezione Oro Prosecco Rosé Millesimato Brut 2021
Aldi exclusive. Fascinating to see the rollout of Prosecco Rosé around the world. I think the style is going to be massive. Anyway, this is Prosecco (or Glera, which I refuse to use) & Pinot Noir fruit. Nice packaging too. The froth is a bit much – it’s a real froth monster. Still, the flavours are spot on – lightly candied pink fruit with just enough acidity to balance out that sweet juiciness. Affable, a little too sweet to be truly refreshing, but well made. Gee the bubbles are full on though – distractingly so. Best drinking: now. 16.3/20, 87/100. 11%, $12.99. Would I buy it? No.
La Résistance Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2020
Organic fruit also. Great to see all these organic pink wines! Faded salmon sort of colour, and a forward palate of dilute, but correct, red grapefruit with a bit of mothballs from bottle age. Lacks much flavour and a fraction tired – I think there would have been more last year. The finish seems interesting, though. It’s ok. Best drinking: now. 16.3/20, 87/100. 12.5%, $40. Would I buy it? No.
Clandestine Vineyards Prosecco Rosé 2022
King Valley Prosecco fermented on some Barbera skins. Off-dry, super light frizzante too. You need the sugar as it is so lean underneath. But that makes a disjointed wine of candied pink sugar upfront and then green acidity. Fresh enough, but not there in balance. Best drinking: now. 16/20, 87/100. 10.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Lapis Luna Cabernet Sauvignon 2020
There is a whole genre of modern Californian reds that taste like this Cab – ie confected and thin. I’ve tasted big lineups of commercial Austarlian reds that are more interesting than this (and cheaper). Anyway, this is Lodi fruit, and it’s all dusty brambles, with cooked edges and sweetness that can’t hide the dilute fruit. No. Best drinking: now. 15/20, 83/100. 14.2%, $40. Would I buy it? No.
Lapis Luna Zinfandel 2020
North Coast California on the label. Light ruby, it smells confected and thin, with little fruit and just sugar to drive the palate. No character here. Best drinking: now. 15/20, 83/100. 14.9%, $40. Would I buy it? No.
So French by La Mule Rosé 2021
French rosé under $10. A no-brainer from Aldi. This is 50/50 Grenache Cinsault. It took a lot of swirling to get any flavour here – delicate would be putting it mildly. It’s more like an alcoholic soda water it’s so light. $10 is the upper limit for something this dilute, but hey it will be massively popular because of how flavourless it is. Great wine it is not. Best drinking: now. 15/20, 83/100. 12% $9.99. Would I buy it? No.