Bondar Wines, ‘Violet Hour’ Shiraz, 2014£20.95
What’s in the name:
“This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder, when the affectations grow again and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen magically along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at ant moment we may see the unicorn.” – Bernard DeVoto, “The Hour”.
How about the wine:
Hand-picked fruit from 65+ year old vines planted on Andre Bondar’s Rayner Vineyard in McLaren Vale. This wine pays homage to the Bondar style with fragrance and a lightness of touch. He used a proportion of whole bunches, which helps to create that lightness, and adds dimensions of flavour and a silky mouth feel. Aged in mostly older French oak, Violet Hour should improve nicely over the next five years or so and will suit lighter meat dishes and pasta beautifully.
Bondar Wines, Adelaide Hills, Chardonnay, 2016£20.95
Sourced from a single-vineyard at 400m above sea level in the cool Echunga area, this wine was hand-picked and pressed straight to barrel, where it underwent a natural fermentation. Matured in four barrels (one new, three older French oak) for about nine months. Very similar to the 2014 with a slightly purer fruit profile. We recommend you open it and let it breathe, sit back and watch it settle into its own skin and sing. It’s a wine that will age beautifully over the next few years.
90 dozen bottles made.
Read Mike Bennie’s review from MBM Magazine (94 points):
“Bondar are out of the blocks and racing. Great release of a lean and fine expression of Chardonnay here. It smells of wet slate, oyster shell, faint nuttiness then the pure, ripe stone fruit expression chimes in. Slinky yet crisp fringed in texture, the wine remains crisp and tight through its needle thrust line. Get involved.”
Dowie Doole, Chenin Blanc, 2014
Dowie Doole’s Chenin Blanc is a great choice for those seeking an alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. This is a vibrant and zesty wine with a crisp, dry finish. The alcohol at 11.5% is refreshingly low, too.
Dowie Doole, Hunt Shiraz, 2016£9.95
Hunt is a label from the established winery Dowie Doole from a premium wine growing area, McLaren Vale.
Deep red in colour. Expect red berry and liquorice aromas with cedar and wood smoke. Spicy plum and mocha flavours are enhanced by French Oak maturation. The wine has excellent balance with a lingering finish.
Down The Rabbit Hole Mixed Case£118.00
Down The Rabbit Hole from McLaren Vale, Australia, is a winery which aims to inspire imagination with an attitude of adventure, inviting drinkers to join in on something special. Their team is built on creativity, energy and youthful spirit. It’s almost impossible not to want to share in their beautiful lifestyle (and cute campervan named Scout). They view wine as the ability to transform a seemingly ordinary day into something pretty special. On the back of every bottle is their poem, and each hand sketched illustration on the wine label represents a different line of that poem.
The case price of £118 includes a 10% discount. The selection is as follows:
Down The Rabbit Hole Shiraz, 2015£16.95
Down the Rabbit Hole Shiraz fills your mouth with rich red berry flavours and peppery undertones which are augmented by the maturation in small French oak. The wine is juicy, soft and velvety with a long smooth finish.
The Shiraz is a real standout variety from this vintage, exhibiting an abundance of vibrant red fruits and spice, with exceptional colour, richness and balance.
The Shiraz was harvested in stages commencing on the 17th February. The blend comprises of 7 batches harvested over a period of 3 weeks. The grapes were crushed gently and then transferred to 10 tonne open top fermenters. Each parcel was pressed and racked into oak hogs heads (300L barrels) – a mixture of new and seasoned, French and American – to complete primary and malolactic fermentation. The wine is matured in oak for 12 months before final blending took place.
Deep red/purple with crimson hues
Dark red berries, nutmeg, white pepper, subtle oak and complex barrel ferment characters showing through.
Mouth-filling, elegant, flavoursome, red berries, integrated oak, but above all; soft and velvety. Palate lingers well after the wine has been swallowed.
Down The Rabbit Hole Tempranillo, 2016£16.95
Juicy black cherries with liquorice and spice followed by earthy cocoa notes are held together with silky tannins which provided a lengthy finish. This wine keeps you coming back for more
The fruit for Down The Rabbit Hole Tempranillo is grown in South Willunga, McLaren Vale. Warm Summer days are cooled by evening sea breezes from St Vincent’s Gulf, which lies a close proximity to the West. The soil is rich loam over clay with patches of underlying limestone, giving the wine a rich and fullness of pallet. The Mediterranean climate of McLaren Vale is well suited to growing this Spanish variety.
WINEMAKING NOTES, WALTER CLAPPIS
The 2016 Vintage was warm and dry throughout Summer producing intense colour and flavour. After spending 8 days on skins, the wine was pressed into seasoned oak to mature for 12 months.
Dark cherry red with plum hues
Vibrant cherries and blueberries, plus liquorice & spice
Dark cherries and licorice follow through onto the palate, while smooth cocoa tannins provide a lengthy finish
Down The Rabbit Hole, Sangiovese Cabernet 2015£16.95
In this bottle awaits a wonderful experience. Sangiovese brings lifted dark cherries, spice and powdery tannins, while the Cabernet adds succulent berry notes and provides a smooth finish. Matured in seasoned French oak, they come together in perfect harmony to create a rich and savoury wine that’s about to blow your mind.
Winemaker’s notes, Walter Clappis:
This Sangiovese Cabernet is a blend of two parcels from two small vineyards in the Willunga foothills area of McLaren Vale. Fermented in open top fermenters, the Cabernet was kept on skins for 10 days, while the Sangiovese remained on skins for 30 days. This allows the tannins to integrate and soften, while still providing length and structure.
The parcels were kept separate until final blending prior to bottling.
Five Geese “Gander’s Blend” Old Vine Grenache Shiraz 2012£16.45
The 2012 Five Geese Grenache Shiraz is their signature wine and only released when the season has been kind. And as the name states, these wines are seriously old at over 80 years now.
A very attractive deep crimson red, with a slight purple hue. This wine exhibits the distinct Grenache perfume. There are concentrated rose petals, plum and black currant and there are hints of chocolate and liquorice. The nose is both complex & interesting & there are signs of barrel maturation without any obvious oak.
There are ripe red berry flavours with the warmth of the dry grown Grenache showing as plum and liquorice with cumin & pepper spices. The palate is long and lingering and the Shiraz integrates seamlessly with the Grenache The tannins are soft and there is a good mouth feel.
Five Geese Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009£58.45
The stunning beauty of Sue Trott’s Five Geese estate can be appreciated from this short video.
A deep, ruby red colour in the glass.
Ripe berry and mocha coffee oak aromas and a delicate whiff of mint.
Sweet red and black fruits enhanced by the gentle use of Vanillian French oak. Soft cocoa and fine velvety tannins deliver a lingering, moreish finish.
Plucked from the vine in a dry, but not excessively hot vintage, carefully tended by Mike Farmilo and his team, the wine was put through a complex barrelling with new French, and used American oak barriques for a period of 20 months. The result is a wine with excellent cellaring potential, rewarding the patient Cabernet enthusiast.
James Halliday extract, ““the impact of the distinctly cooler Blewitt Springs area is immediately obvious, with fine spicy notes running through the black cherry and chocolate fruit”.
Fox Creek ‘Red Baron’ Shiraz, 2016£14.50
Fox Creek’s eye-catching Red Baron’ Shiraz is a very easy drinking and made in a young, fresh and fruity style so it is approachable and ready to crack open.
Plum and black cherry aromas jump out of the glass supported by blueberry muffin characters with a hint of cinnamon spice.
Rich front palate of plums and black cherries lead into the coffee and cream mid palate which is complemented by hints of roasted nuts and dark chocolate (you’ll know this wine is from McLaren Vale). The youthful tannins complete the vibrant experience with an injection of subtle structural oak on the finish.
Fox Creek, ‘Arctic Fox’ NV£16.95
Fox Creek’s Arctic Fox is perfect for those seeking an alternative to Champagne.
A blend of three white varieties reflect all that is desirable from McLaren Vale’s climate and soils. Comprising of 55% Vermentino, 23% Verdelho, 22% Sauvignon Blanc.
The Vermentino’s crisp, structural and vibrant contribution is filled out by the Verdelho’s rich, tropical mid palate and yeasty lees stirred characteristics, while the Sauvignon Blanc twist gives the aromatics a lift and provides a herbaceous edge.
So how does it taste: A crisp and refreshing mix of lemon, lime, grapefruit and white nectarine flavours leading into a soft and fleshy mid palate of honeydew, green apple and lemon sorbet. The focused acidity combined with the voluminous mouth-feel finish the wine with crispness, persistence and length.
Fox Creek, ‘Postmaster’, Grenache, Shiraz, Mouvedre 2015£17.45
Background and Winemaking
First produced in 2013 Postmaster GSM is a luscious, elegant, mid-weight wine that displays great flavour and balance, with a medium bodied nature that complements our food, lifestyle and climate. Grenache thrives in McLaren Vale’s warm maritime climate and diverse soil structure where it develops rich, balanced fruit flavour. Traditionally grown for producing fortified wines, the old vineyards contribute flavours and complexity that cannot be matched by younger vines.
Combined with the rich, ripe Shiraz and earthy, textural Mourvèdre, the combination of flavours and tannins deliver exotic gamey notes along with elegance, structure and longevity to the final blend. The 70-year-old Shiraz batch is matured in 2, 3 and 4-year-old French and American oak, barrels were selected for their spice, character and sweet tannin profiles. The 60 and 80-year-old Grenache is matured in older French and American puncheons and selected for the perfumed lift and tannin elegance and power. The Mourvèdre spends time in new, 1 and 2-year-old French and American oak puncheons and was selected for its earthy texture and ability to tie the blend together.
Bright, cherry red.
Perfumed confectionery lift with aromas of raspberry, mulberry, cherry, hints of musk, gingernut biscuits, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove.
Mulberry, raspberry, red cherry, strawberries, hints of chocolate éclair. The wine has focused and elegant tannins, well integrated oak, with a silky persistent finish.
Grenache delivers perfumed lift, juicy red berry fruits, Shiraz adds fleshy plum and strawberries, Old vine tannins provide elegance and structure. Mourvedre ties the palate together as it adds tannin volume and earthy texture. This is a classic regional blend that shows off the varieties that do well and is also fantastic
Fox Creek, “Three Blocks Cabernet”, 2014£21.95
Deep cherry red.
Fresh leafy lifted cinnamon and cigarbox, overlaying red berry fruits, dark chocolate, roast chestnuts and black cardamon.
Fleshy blackcurrant, black cherry and mulberry flavours lead into a blueberry muffin and milk chocolate mid palate. The crunchy, savoury and linear grape tannins integrate with elegant oak tannins to give the wine fantastic length, finesse and balance.
As the name implies, ‘Three Blocks‘ is sourced from three very different premium McLaren Vale vineyards each featuring different soil types;
One vineyard has well drained sandy loam soils over silica sand and clay formation, the second, grey sand over North Maslin sandstone and the third featuring black Biscay clay over Pirramimma sandstone.
The grapes were harvested in the cool of the night between March 12 – 28 when fruit flavours, grape tannins and acids all reached maturity and balance. Fermentation on skins was for 8 – 10 days with all of the wine completing barrel fermentation. Considered maturation of each vineyard batch in oak specifically matched to these Cabernet vineyards from a range of French coopers. The batches were shifted between different oak types to impart layers of flavour and enhance the structure during the wine’s 18 month maturation in new to four year old oak barrels. The final blend used different percentages of each of the vineyard parcels to achieve the layers of flavour and tannin profile we desired when initially creating the blend.
This will reward the patient drinker who has the willpower to cellar this wine up until 2025.
Blue Gold Medal, Sydney International Wine Comp 2017
Gold Medal, AWC Vienna International Wine Challenge 2016
Silver Medal, International Wine + Spirit Competition 2016
96 points James Halliday (high!)
Fox Creek, Jim’s Script, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, 2013£17.95
Jim Watts, an eminent professor of surgery, purchased the bare land that is now Fox Creek vineyards with his wife Helen in 1984. A lover of wine, Jim and his four children planted a selection of grape varieties and made their first wine under the Fox Creek label ten years later.
Three decades following Jim and Helen’s vision to plant grapes certainly stopped the critics who mooted the land was not suitable. It is deserving that Jim has a wine named after him. The Jim’s Script is a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The wine is full of black fruit flavours and long elegant tannins. This wine has a vibrant and rich palate with seamless integration between the varietal flavours and tannins, finishing with crunchy acidity and an earthy texture.
Fox Creek, JSM, 2012£14.95
A fruit driven mid palate is laden with red cherry, plums and raspberries. The wine has a long, crisp and refreshing finish due to the Cabernets firm and youthful grape tannin framed with elegant and spicy oak. A great drinking wine of complexity and substance.
Gilligan, Shiraz, Grenache, Mouvedre, 2013£15.95
Gilligan is one of the smallest wineries from which Tilley’s Wines import. We have known Leigh Gilligan for many years and now Leigh’s son Sami has joined the family winery as the winemaker.
Leigh and Sami have a passion for sustainable viticultural practices and traditional winemaking techniques. Estate grown fruit, open fermentation, basket pressing and oak maturation produces a superb blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre which has earned high praise since the first release in 2002, from wine critics and consumers throughout the world.
Medium purple in colour with a vibrant bouquet of black fruits, violets, long finish with silky tannins. Excellent structure displaying fine, chalky tannins and good acidity which will complement a wide range of foods.
The blend is dominated by Shiraz (80 %) with the remainder shared equally between Grenache and Mourvedre grapes.
A portion of this vintage was fermented on roussanne lees to give additional silkiness and texture to the palate.
Hugh Hamilton ‘Stunt Double’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc 2016£17.95
Elusive and fiercely independent Black Sheep wines from Hugh Hamilton will not be pinned down. The Dark Arts is a range of wines from varieties that are not meant to go together, but work! They refuse to be part of the status quo; they are wine as art. Made off the grid in an unconventional style that is all about varietals in quirky combos.
There is nothing quite like the thrill of seeing the unexpected triumph over the norm – no less spectacular than watching a man in a jumpsuit leap 19 cars on a Harley and stick the landing. What could easily be seen as no more than a publicity stunt is actually a true and death-defying leap into the unknown. It’s not as crazy as you may think, or maybe it is. Either way, it works.
Download the Tasting Note here.