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Wine Pilot Ken Gargett rates seven wines 92 to 94 Points

KEN GARGETT: November 2022

 ‘The Chateau’ ‘Bethanian’ Shiraz 2020 – I’ll confess, I’d never heard the word ‘Bethanian’ previously but apparently, some Barossa locals use the term for the venerable old settlement of Bethany (settled back in the 1840s). Whatever the thinking behind this, Bethany (or Bethanian) is also a well-known and highly regarded sub-region of the Barossa. After destemming, the grapes spent a week on skins in small open top fermenters, before fermentation was allowed to begin. This wine then saw a single pressing of the Shiraz grapes, which are from a single vineyard, in a basket press, before 18 months maturation in a mix of French and American oak barrels, both new and seasoned. Needless to say, the wine offers everything you’d expect.

 Dark maroon in colour, this is rich, with dry herbs, earthy notes (imagine a handful of freshly dug Barossa dirt trickling through your fingers) and full of chocolate and black fruits. Vinous mud cake, anyone? Classic Barossa. There is oak evident but it is well integrated, although a touch toasty still, which suits the wine perfectly. Good concentration here, with a seductive texture, through to silky tannins. Black olive notes on the finish, a very long finish. A wine which will drink superbly for at least a decade. 94.

Heritage Release Barossa Old Vines Shiraz 2021 – The team release wines in the ‘Heritage’ series when appropriate. The wines will come from vines at least 35 years of age, and which have proved themselves over time. This wine spent fifteen months in a combination of French and American oak.

 It is a vibrant purple hue. The nose opens with pleasing plummy touches and mulberries, chocolate, cassis and more chocolate. Reminiscent of the most decadent blackforest cake. Rich and concentrated, but it never loses its fine balance. This is a youthful Barossa Shiraz which is starting to exhibit some early complexity, and shows so much promise. Supple texture, there are abundant but very fine, silky tannins. Nice length and the intensity is maintained for the full journey. Now for the next six to eight years. Like this a lot. 94.

 Grand Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 – Grapes for the ‘Grand Barossa’ series hail from various vineyards throughout the region, but they still manage to retain notable Barossa characteristics and inevitably offer seriously good value. Hard to want too much more. This wine benefits from a stunning vintage and sees time in both French and American oak, new and used.

 Dark magenta, the wine gives us aromas of plums, black fruits, tobacco leaves, warm earth and coffee grinds. A richly flavoured palate, supple and seamless, the wine exhibits very good length, finishing with silky tannins. This is a terrific example of a warm climate Cabernet, a style that really does not get the respect it deserves. Cracking value, delicious wine, and a sure thing for the cellar for a good six to ten years. What more? 93.

 ‘The Chateau’ Barossa Cabernet 2021 – The grapes here have come from a single Estate vineyard in the Eden Valley. They are destemmed, not crushed, and then spend a week on skins in open fermenters with regular bâtonnage. After fermentation, basket pressing to a mix of French oak barrels, new and seasoned, for eighteen months maturation.

 Dark crimson in colour, the nose rolls through in waves, with aniseed, blackberries, coffee grinds, dry herbs and cloves. Well focused, indeed seamless, through to abundant, very fine tannins. Balance and length here. This wine is certainly attractive now, but for those with a little patience, it will provide even more rewards over the next eight to twelve years. 93. 

Grand Barossa Dry Riesling 2022 – Vines dating back a full century form the heart of this thrilling Riesling. They are from estate vineyards which are located “on the Biscay soils of Tanunda and the deep sands of the Vine Vale sub-region”. Not only a very attractive wine, but cracking value.

 Pale lemon in colour, this is fresh and fragrant, full of finesse. Lemons, spices, florals and, on the palate, a note like lemon meringue. There is soft acidity running the length and the flavours never waver. Great length. Attractive now and should drink beautifully for the next five to six years. Possibly a little broader than some of the classic Aussie Rieslings but the upside of that is that it will provide pleasure sooner. 93.

 Grand Barossa Chardonnay 2022 – The grapes for this wine were harvested early to ensure that freshness and vibrant acidity is retained. Fermentation was in French oak, followed by maturation, where some of the French oak is new.

 A dilute yellow hue here, there is a gentle nose and even some elegance evident. Quite a refined style, which is not necessarily what springs to mind when one thinks Chardy from the Barossa, but the team have overcome all obstacles. A cracking vintage helps. We have notes of melons, citrus, a hint of apricot kernel and gentle cashews. Even a dollop of the tropicals. Decent length here and good balance throughout. Drink now and at any time over the next three to four years. Impressive stuff. 92.

  Grand Barossa Shiraz 2021 – ‘Grand Barossa’ is a lofty title perhaps, but the wine lives up to it. this Shiraz spends 18 months in a mix of new and older French and American oak. After destemming, the grapes see a period of time on skins in small open fermenters with twice daily hand plunging.

 Opaque magenta in colour. Dusty chocolate dominates, this is ripe and concentrated. We see flavours of plums and cassis emerge with the merest hint of pepper. The texture is supple and seductive. The flavours on the palate move more to coffee beans and cloves. Fine tannins, good balance, decent length, this is cracking value. Drink now and for the next 6 years. 92.