2021 Murdoch Hill Landau SyrahMichael Downer ain’t holding back: “2021 was a freakishly good vintage for our estate Syrah,” Neither does Ned Goodwin, for that matter (review below). In some ways, this is Downer’s signature wine. It comes from a single parcel of vines at Murdoch Hill’s Landau block in Oakbank, a predominately east-facing slope at 400 metres above sea level on shallow, red loam soils with varying levels of schist rock and a vein of ironstone. The vines were planted in 1998. Oakbank’s warmer, sunny days allow the Syrah vines to fully ripen their fruit while the afternoon breezes and cool nights help promote natural acidity. The block is sustainably managed with zero herbicides and organic principles. Exploring the elegant and spicier side of Adelaide Hills Shiraz, Downer’s Landau Syrah is all about buoyancy, lacy shape and cool-fruited freshness. In the cellar, he works with whole bunches and whole berries, and minimal oak maturation. The wine is raised in older oak puncheons and demi-muids (less than 10% new) for 10 months.“Deep and richly purple in the glass. Plum and mulberry fruit, bay leaf, nori, and graphite aromatics all vie for your attention. Medium to full bodied with a harmonious balance of purple fruits to savoury wakame and beef stock undertones. Flows incredibly long on silken tannins and the whole package offers a seamlessness that keeps you returning” 96 points, Stuart Knox, The Real Review2022 Quealy Feri Maris Pinot GrigioFirst released in 2021, Feri Maris takes pride of place at the pinnacle of Quealy’s Pinot Grigio portfolio with all this entails. This single-block Grigio is sourced from the estate’s oldest vines in the Balnarring vineyard (planted in 1996). Here, the mature, dry-grown vines, shallow clay soils and restricted volume are keys to the wine’s expressive character. Then there is the Balnarring climate, which brings flavour early, thus allowing Quealy to pick with freshness in mind. The grapes were hand-picked, then gently whole-bunch pressed (only 580 litres per tonne) so only the finest, delicate juice was expressed. It fermented wild in a mixture of barrels (half new) and stainless steel (70%). The wine rested on gross lees with no bâtonnage for four months to chase down a steely and more mineral profile. A fabulous follow-up to the 2021, this year’s release is teeming with pear and white orchard fruits alongside summer florals and mineral savour. In the mouth, it’s all about the give and take between fleshy texture, acidity and phenolic elements, an ensemble of mouth-watering tension. The finish is pristine and lingering. This is what first-rate Australian Pinot Grigio tastes like. “Pale lemon yellow, bright, and glinting through the glass. Pear and almond meal aromas. Palate is bright and vibrant, apple and pear fruits, hints of lime blossom and an almond pastry note that adds depth. Good length and ample freshening acidity to the long finish.” 93 points, Stuart Knox, The Real Review2022 Blind Corner Orange *In Colour It’s hard to write about this producer without mentioning the outstanding value on offer, even if there is plenty more to say about this excellent Margaret River progressive. There is also a core of energy and bohemian spirit running the length of Ben and Naomi Gould’s eclectic range, making the wines so damn digestible, delicious, unpretentious and easy to drink. You can almost taste the passion of down-to-earth, talented growers living their dreams. Exhibit A: Orange *In Colour. This year’s release is a blend of two-thirds Sauvignon with the remainder Chenin Blanc, the latter sourced from Blind Corner’s Quindalup vineyard and some selected like-minded organic partners in Margaret River. The fruit was hand-harvested and wild-fermented on skins for that attractive sunset colour and, as you might expect from the author of a book called ‘What’s in Your Wine’, there were no additions save for a dash of sulphur. From a year Gould marks down as his most expressive vintage in some time, the 2022 is a hazy, lip-smacking treat. Simply, it’s a playful riot of juicy orange and pulpy grapefruit aligned to on-point skinsy grip, gushing vibrancy and freshness. Good, clean fun, and so delicious.\n2020 Laughing Jack Jack’s Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre A slice of great value Barossan soul from the quiet achiever. The first thing to know about this winegrower is that he lives in the vineyard. Getting a hold of Shawn Kalleske outside vineyard hours is like herding cats, perhaps more so because vineyard hours at this address are roughly equivalent to sunlight hours. Kalleske has just completed his 24th vintage at the estate and not only do his gnarled, crevassed hands tell the tale of each tour of duty, but the quality of his wines is also a testament to his rare work ethic. Laughing Jack’s GSM is drawn from the estate’s manicured Moppa Hill and Greenock vineyards. Planted in 1962, the Moppa Hill site has ancient, sandy soils with the old vines deeply anchored in the reddish-orange clays far beneath. The Greenock property has deep red soils. Both sites have own-rooted, low-yielding vines (around 0.5 tonnes per acre in 2020), managed sustainably with organic principles. The vines on both sites are own-rooted. The 2020 blend chimes in at 57% Grenache, 32% Shiraz and 11% dry-grown Moppa Mourvèdre. All components are handpicked, destemmed and fermented as whole berries, while the free-run juice and the skins from the press are separated and aged in separate vessels. The blending takes place after 16 months in seasoned French puncheons. There’s a newfound purity to Kalleske’s wine these days, and the 2020 is seductively scented with a rumbling of dark fruits, a generous helping of sweet spice and vibrant floral lift. The palate is typically full-throated yet balanced, with gossamer tannins dovetailing with plummy, spicy generosity throughout. Considerable length, too. Kalleske should probably be asking a little more for this wine, but let’s keep that to ourselves for now. It will make many drinkers happy on many levels. 2022 Toolangi Pinot Noir This year marks Kaspar Hermann’s fifth vintage as Toolangi’s chief winemaker, and under Hermann’s site-first approach—allowing the place and vintage to dictate the result rather than forcing a particular style—the true character and quality of Toolangi’s vineyard are starting to reveal itself. At Toolangi, 2022 will be remembered for two things: the tiniest yields in a decade (resulting from poor flowering) and the outstanding style of its wines. You don’t however have to wait for the single-block wines to appreciate the benevolent mark of the vintage. Drawn from 20+-year-old vines, the estate Pinot Noir was handpicked on March 11th, mostly destemmed, and then given a cold soak before fermentation begins. After 21 days on skins, pressed to French barriques and puncheons (less than 10% new) for malolactic, then left on lees in oak for ten months. We don’t need to tell you about Kaspar Hermann’s serious winemaking chops. And we really don’t need to tell you how much bang for your buck you get from this diligently farmed single-vineyard bottling. With charm to burn, it is a supper vibrant and deliciously fleshy Yarra Pinot, pulsating with cracking texture flavoured by red fruits, warm earth and spice, all supported by fine-grained tannins and commanding drive on the finish. A very classy release from a grower pulling out all the stops.