New wave wines

Mac Forbes Austin Black

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What do you call the new-wave wines so beloved of sommeliers and their wine bars and restaurants? They’re not all ‘natural’ wines, made without any additions or deletions, but natural wines are included. Neither are they all ‘orange’ wines – white grapes fermented with their skins – although they too are included.

Call them artisans? Iconoclasts? Revolutionaries? They tend to defy pigeon-holing, and I guess that’s the point. They’re unclassifiable.

I’ve watched this trend with great interest and attended two major tastings of these wines in recent weeks – the first for visiting English wine writer Jancis Robinson, which included 84 wines, the second, 66. There was some overlap. The wines were selected by various people, fellow scribe Mike Bennie having the most influence on account of his deep involvement with these kinds of wines, via Sydney’s annual Rootstock festival. This is billed as an exhibition of ‘artisanal and sustainable’ wines, beers and other comestibles.

So, this is all by way of introducing my reviews. They are searchable on the app, but you’ll need to know some names. So below is a list of the wines I enjoyed the most.

As is my custom, I’ve reviewed all the wines, whether I liked them or not.

Basically, there were a lot of very good wines, and critics of this trend dismiss or simply ignore these wines at their peril. Like all trends in wine, this one should be taken seriously. Like Jancis, I found that about 30% of the wines had nothing I could find to recommend them. 70% others did, which is itself encouraging. You might find a similar ratio, just taking random Aussie wines off the shelves anywhere. The difference, it seems to me, is that with your randomly sampled wines from bottle shops, the 30% would be simply bland and boring, with few faulty wines. With the ‘new wave’ wines, the 30% would include some of the most objectionably faulty wines in creation.

If there’s one thing that links all the wines I did enjoy, it’s that they showed evidence of the skilled involvement of a quality-minded winemaker.

My list, all scoring 91 or more points, in order of preference:

  • 2013 Spinifex Bete Noir Shiraz (tasting)
  • 2015 BK Wines Swaby Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay (tasting)
  • 2015 Ochota Barrels I Am The Owl Syrah (tasting)
  • 2015 Ochota Barrels The Shellac Vineyard Syrah (tasting)
  • NV Sami Odi Little Wine #5 Hoffmann Dallwitz Syrah (tasting)
  • 2014 Serrat Shiraz Viognier (tasting)
  • 2015 Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir (tasting)
  • 2014 Joshua Cooper Doug’s Vineyard Pinot Noir (tasting)
  • 2015 Ochota Barrels The Fugazi Vineyard Grenache (tasting)
  • 2013 Glaetzer Dixon La Judith Shiraz (tasting)
  • 2014 Mac Forbes Woori Yallock Pinot Noir (tasting)
  • 2014 Sami Odi XIV Syrah (tasting)
  • 2014 Simão & Co Fortified (tasting)
  • 2013 Jamsheed Seville Syrah (tasting)
  • 2014 Holyman Chardonnay (tasting)
  • 2015 Schmolzer & Brown Brunnen Chardonnay (tasting)
  • 2014 Murdoch Hill Artisan The Phaeton Pinot Noir (tasting)
  • 2012 Stefano Lubiana Sasso Pinot Noir (tasting)
  • 2015 Mayer Dr Mayer Pinot Noir (tasting)
  • 2015 Ravensworth Garnacha Tinta y Cinq-Sao (tasting)
  • 2013 Punch Lance’s Vineyard Close Planted Pinot Noir (tasting)
  • 2013 Circe Pinot Noir (tasting)
  • 2014 Mac Forbes Wesburn Pinot Noir (tasting)
  • 2015 Ochota Barrels Sense of Compression Grenache (tasting)
  • 2014 Eperosa Stonegarden Grenache (tasting)
  • 2015 Jauma Audrey Clarendon Shiraz Grenache (tasting)
  • 2013 La Violetta Up! Shiraz Viognier (tasting)
  • 2013 Spinifex Indigene Shiraz Mataro (tasting)
  • 2013 Jamsheed Pyren Syrah (tasting)
  • 2015 Mac Forbes EB20 Chenin Blanc (tasting)
  • 2015 Murdoch Hill Artisan The Surrey Pinot Meunier (tasting)
  • 2015 Jauma Gramp Ant Grenache (tasting)
  • 2012 Spinifex Esprit (tasting)
  • 2015 Luke Lambert Syrah (tasting)
  • 2012 Syrahmi Dreams Shiraz (tasting)

And a few more from the second tasting:

  • 2015 L.A.S. Vino Jerusalem Chardonnay (tasting)
  • 2015 Dormilona Cabernet Sauvignon (tasting)
  • 2012 Cobaw Ridge Syrah (tasting)
  • 2015 Luke Lambert Chardonnay (tasting)
  • 2015 L.A.S. Vino ‘Albino Pinot’ Pinot Noir (tasting)
  • 2014 L.A.S. Vino Portuguese Pirate Blend (tasting)
  • 2015 La Violetta Das Sakrileg Riesling (tasting)
  • 2015 Mac Forbes EB20 OV Chenin Blanc (tasting)
  • 2014 Ochota Barrels The Slint Vineyard Chardonnay (tasting)

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