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Reviews of recent wines, accredited where appropriate. 

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2014 Wine report

I apologise for the delayed production of the report.


The full report can be downloaded now

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February 2014

The following wines were assessed as being the 10 best in February.

1. 09 Inman Endless Crush Sparkling $68  ☺☺☺☺ Great celebration wine !

2. 10 Frank Family Cabernet Sauvignon $50 ☺☺☺☺ Solid drinking Cabernet

3. 04 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet 2004 $65 ☺☺☺☺☺ Smooth, complex

4. 06 James MacPhail Ferrington 2006 $49 ☺☺☺☺☺ Jammy heaven

5. 10 Fontanella Zinfandel $36 ☺☺☺☺ Cocoa and deep black fruit

6. 08 BR Cohn Napa Cabernet $45 ☺☺☺☺ Great foodie Cab

7. 11 Sequana St Lucia Pinot Noir $20 ☺☺☺☺ Perfect daily drinker

8.  09 Kokomo Later Harvest $32  ☺☺☺☺ Honey and marmalade

9. 09 Fieldstone Viognier $25 ☺☺☺☺ Peaches and minerals

10. 11 Neal Sauvignon Blanc @20 ☺☺☺☺ Floral grapefruit nose

January 2014


The following wines were assessed as being the 10 best in January.

1. 11 Wilson Jaxon Zinfandel $24 ☺☺☺☺ Robust Zinfandel, vanilla and deep red fruit.

2. 09 Inman OGV Pinot Noir $56  ☺☺☺☺ Excellent example of lighter style pinot.

3. 11 MacPhail Unoaked Chardonnay $38 ☺☺☺☺☺ A true gem. Light & refreshing.

4. 10 Frank Family Zinfandel $37☺☺☺☺ Intense fruit laced with smooth tannins.

5. 10 J Rickards Old Vine Zinfandel $25 ☺☺☺☺ Great value, great taste.  

6. 11 Loring Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir $36 ☺☺☺☺ Keeps getting better year on year.

7. 09 WH Smith Bronze Label $48 ☺☺☺☺☺ Beautiful plum style cabernet.

8. 09 WH Smith Naked Pinot $28 ☺☺☺☺ No frills solid pinot .

9. 08 BR Cohn Olive Hill Cabernet ☺☺☺☺ Classic cabernet, black fruit and vanilla.

10.  10 Christopher Creek Viognier $29 ☺☺☺☺Pears and peaches, refreshingly god


Top Wines of 2013

this is the second year of the Top 10 wines. One of the main reasons was the total bias shown by some of the more famous magazines/blogs and we felt it would be beneficial to have an unbiased view and to give some of the lesser wineries some deserved accolades for the great wines they produce. This is for the little guys.

 The Top 10 are in alphabetical order of producers and those 3 wines which received the ‘perfect' 5 smiley face rating are listed in red writing.


11 Fieldstone Sauvignon Blanc

08 Inman Thorn Ridge Pinot Noir

12 Loring Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir

06 MacPhail Ferrington (1.5Ltr)

07 Marimar La Masia Pinot Noir

02 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet

06 Sebastiani Cherryblock Cabernet

05 Silver Oak Cabernet

09 WH Smith Bronze Label Cabernet

10 Wilson Carls Vineyard Zinfandel


Honourable Mention

At $9.99 The Trader Joe’s Reserve Pinot Noir get the best value for 2013



12 Loring "Keefer Ranch" Pinot Noir $49 ☺☺☺☺

The Keefer Ranch fruit is sought after by most wine makers, being of great quality and full succulent flavours. This Loring use of Keefer has long since been one of my favourites and this year is no exception. Deep black cherry and cola on the nose, when you taste the wine the lush tannins balance the fruit and this forms a great balanced wine. A keeper !

06 MacPhail Ferrington Pinot Noir (1.5ltr) $200 ☺☺☺☺☺

Magnums of wine are always interesting to try as the ageing process is different and generally slower. In this case it has made an already excellent wine truly superb. I have always been a fan of the Ferrington Vineyard as it had the greatest balance and complexity of the MacPhail range. This wine really brings this home. We opened the wine and decanted it about an hour before drinking. The nose was of ripe cherries, sweet raspberries with lashing of cola. When you taste this wine you realise how complex it can be, included in the noteworthy tastes were cola, spice, minerality and a hint of rose. All in all a great wine and one which I hope will be good for years to come. A deserved 5 smiley face wine !


11 Quails' Gate Okanagan Pinot Noir ($30 ☺☺☺)

Its not often we get chances to try Okanagan wines which is a shame because of the wines are all to this standard then there are more treats in stock. The nose opens initially with ripe strawberries and then quickly settles into deep cherry and red fruit. The tannins are full yet do not overpower the fruit, the taste is firm, with hints of cola and cocoa. All in all a very drinkable wine and would go well with most foods especially some grilled salmon

11 MacPhail Sundawg Pinot Noir ($45 ☺☺☺☺

The MacPhail collection has basically something for everyone who loves Pinot. In this case the maraschino cherry dominated clones which go to make up this wine. The initial nose is of cranberries, spice and barnyards. On the palette it gives up the wonderful tart tastes of ripe raspberries and candied cherries. Another classic from the maestro !

12 MacPhail Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($35) ☺☺☺☺

Unoaked Chardonnay has always been the poorer relation in the domestic market here in the USA. I would suggest people try this great example of the unoaked variety before dismissing the style out of hand. The nose is of green apples, pineapple and hints of butterscotch, the finish is refreshing with lemon zest and full fruit flavours. Another classic from the hands of James MacPhail.

08 Elizabeth Spencer Wente Chardonnay ($60) ☺☺☺☺

A wonderful smooth example of Chardonnay. the nose is of ripe pineapple with hints of butterscotch and honey. When  you taste this complex chardonnay all sorts of subtle favours come to mind, hints of lemon zest, banana, vanilla and toast. A great example of a complex chardonnay.


© John Holmes 2014