2014 Express Winemakers Summer Harvest Viognier

It's a variety that polarises opinion and I count myself in the hard to please category when it comes to Viognier. But it's thanks to this little ripper from fifteen year old vines located in the cool Karridale sub-region of Margaret River that has me all fired up. 

Produced by friends and adventurous winemakers Ryan and Pete from Express Winemakers at Porongurup in Western Australia, the guys have managed to extract the essence of the Viognier grapes by harvesting early in the season to maintain the variety's natural acidity with little intervention subsequently besides some fermentation in French oak. Their m o of allowing the grapes and terroir to tell their own story in the finished product has worked here beautifully.

The 2014 Summer Harvest is light yellow silver in colour, youthful in appearance. The nose reveals lifted aromatics of peach, apricot, nutmeg spices along with some interesting fresh sea salt nuances. 

On a clean, fresh light- to mid-bodied palate, the wine displays apricot, peach, perfumed blossom and subtle phenolics with cleansing acidity. Well-balanced overall, it finishes with perky acid and a dryness that is altogether mouth-watering. Purity of expression and delicately flavoured, the wine doesn't have that overt oiliness that Viognier often possess and makes the Summer Harvest a pleasure to drink. I really enjoyed how this Viognier has been made with quality, freshness and flavour in mind. Recommended.

Source: Sample. ABV: 12.5%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $22.00. Rating: 91 Points. Website: http://www.expresswinemakers.com/

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2010 Oak Works Tinta Molle

Known up until 2000 as Tinta Negra Molle, Tinta Molle is the principal grape variety of Portugal's island of Madiera and the mainstay of its fortified wines. A cross between Grenache and Pinot Noir created over 200 years ago, the name means black soft, its origins thought to have been mainland Spain. Its similarity to the Mollar Cano variety in Andalucia and proximity to the port of Cadiz may suggest how as ships sailed to the New World, the variety arrived in Madiera and further south to the Spanish-owned Canary Islands, where it became known as Negramoll. 

The 2010 Oak Works Tinta Molle has a mid-purple colour with ruby hues. Aromas of blueberry, plum and sweet spices. Matured in French oak for 18 months giving it a smoky vanilla twang. Not a fruit bomb, there are just loads of plum and cherry flavours across the palate. Smooth texturally, mid-bodied plus wine with light, rounded tannins and nice acid line. It's soft and lightly syrupy in mouthfeel but in a good way. Dry, with some fruity sweetness and tobacco smoke that follow through to the aftertaste.

Sits more towards the Grenache spectrum than Pinot Noir, it is an interesting variety that we've all probably experienced in ports before but as a rare varietal wine from the Riverland, it's worth a try.

Source: Sample. ABV: 14.5%. Closure: Cork. Price: $20.00. Rating: 90 Points.

2009 Oak Works Tannat

Tannat has a challenging reputation as the most tannic of wine grape varieties, having two to four times the antioxidant of most other varieties according to scientific analysis. Its thick skins are also high in polyphenols, flavonoids and a more than average resveratrol concentration, all of which give red wines their health benefits. Who needs vitamins and minerals when they are here in this red wine diet

Ask the people of the Gers d├ępartement in south-west France whose health and longevity appears to be related to its consumption despite a diet rich in cassoulet, duck confit, foie gras and local cheeses.

One of Tannat's synonyms is Madiran, which is also the name of its most famous appellation in south-west France's Basque mountain country. The variety arrived in Uruguay with Basque-French immigrants in the late 19th century and is now considered that country's signature grape much in the same vein Argentina has adopted Malbec and Chile with Carmenere.   

Beautiful violet florals, black pepper, smokey tar and blackberries announce the presence of a glass-staining, intensely purple coloured wine tinged with a light red rim.

Palate is black licorice, dry, intense and tightly structured with a polished leather texture. Vanilla and cocoa there after the 18 months in French oak. Well-balanced, complex and fruity, black fruits. Think Merlot on steroids and some extra weight and you get a picture of this expressive beast.

Grainy tannins and distinct acid flow to a generous, savoury finish and aftertaste. To be enjoyed, this big red needs to be drunk with beef or lamb dishes, it's tough going by itself. Tannins are ubiquitous but not outrageous. Assuredly, they'll be around into the next decade.

The 2009 Oak Works Tannat has aged gracefully if that can be said in the same breath as the formidable personality of this full-bodied, robust wine. A metaphysical experience.

Source: Sample. ABV: 14.5%. Closure: Cork. Price: $20.00. Rating: 90 Points.