Unico Zelo Cherry Fields Dolcetto 2016

If there is a better wine for a casual lunch, I'd like to know. 

This Dolcetto from the Unico Zelo winery is an absolute cracker. 
The third incarnation of this wine from creative winemakers Brendan and Laura Carter is a blend of fruit from family-owned vineyards at Polish Hill River in the Clare Valley and Kersbrook in the Adelaide Hills. Naturally fermented with eight months in French oak barrels.

Dark garnet colours. Smells fresh and sweet but tastes dry, 
Both the nose and palate offer up black plum, cherry jam, dried cranberry, cola and earthy mushroom nuances. A sprinkling of herbs and a hint of vanilla adds more intrigue and enjoyment. 

The palate is round and concentrated, the structure superb.
Delicious, juicy fruit weight with refreshing acid and tannic grip makes for some remarkably easy drinking. Long fruity, herbal aftertaste.  

Great value for such a fantastic Aussie red. Pair with Italian antipasto or a rich tomato pasta dish and order another bottle. Drink until 2021. Delizioso ! 

Source: Retail. ABV: 13.8%. Closure: Cork. Price: $23.00. Rating: 93 Points. 
Website: https://www.unicozelo.com.au

Conte Di Campiano Salento IGT Susumaniello 2015

As far as I can ascertain, the variety Susumaniello is not grown in Australia yet but give the Chalmers family time and it could well be part of its innovative Project Wines portfolio before too long. 

As a background, Susumaniello is an ancient red wine variety indigenous to Puglia and grown exclusively in the Salice Salentino DOC region in a handful of vineyards around the town of Brindisi. Sources indicate that less than 100 hectares are grown only in this area making it one of the world's rarest (red) varieties.   

According to the keepers of local wisdom Its name means 'little donkey' in the local dialect, a reference to either how stubborn the variety is to manage or to its heavy yields that only donkeys could transport. Either way, the wine has the kick on it like an angry donkey.

Until recently used primarily as a blending component, Susumaniello is now achieving impressive results in its own right as interest in southern Italian varieties ramps up worldwide. Also recently, DNA testing has found that the variety is a progeny of Sangiovese on the one hand but as yet its second parent has not been determined. Gargenega has been mentioned in addition to some other local Puglian varieties. 

 Its colour is intense ruby red with purple edges in the glass. The nose is complex offering up red currant, pomegranate, violets, dried herbs with some charred meat and cedar wood aromas.  

The 2015 Conte Di Campiano Susumaniello tastes like a rustic-type Merlot off the bat. But a Merlot on anabolic steroids and peptide growth factors that the WADA would need to get involved to investigate ! 

Dense and full-bodied with powerful yet fine tannins. Despite a voluptuous texture, the wine tastes surprisingly fresh with elegant lines throughout the journey. Plum, blackberry, tart red cherry flavours, bitter chocolate, black pepper.    

A good balanced dry wine with the zesty acidity keeping the fruit flavours bright and the tannins providing a firm structure. There's a slight bitterness on the aftertaste. 

A rare and unusual wine with which to expand your drinking horizons. For the wine geeks and intellectuals alike ! 
As in Puglia, given some of our own hot and arid growing regions plus the increase in global warming, the Susumaniello variety could have real potential here in producing some serious wines in future years. 

Source: Gift. ABV: 15.0%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: N/A. Rating: 88 Points. 
Website: http://www.contedicampiano.it/en/

Pfeiffer Wines Durif 2014

Rutherglen and Durif have had a long association going back well over a hundred years.
The 2014 Pfeiffer vintage was aged in French and American oak barrels for eighteen months.

Displays deep inky black-red colours.
Rich, brooding black fruit aromas. Cherry cola, black plum, blackberry, cedar smoke. Some peppery nuances.
There's a lot going on. Spicy ripe plum, blackberry, smokey black liquorice, chocolate and ferrous-type palate that is full and rich but doesn't have the brute strength like some other examples can have.

Concentrated mid-weight wine that has impact and generosity with the ripeness of the fruit playing centre stage. 
Warm, spiky mid-palate that then flows effortlessly to a spicy, mouth-puckering tannic finish. Whoa, where did my saliva just go ?
The chewy earthy tannins on a firm finish linger long.

There's a lot to like here. Great to drink now but this cracker is age-worthy until 2030.

Source: Sample courtesy of Pfeiffer Wines. ABV: 14.5%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $32.50.
Rating: 92+ Points. Website: http://www.pfeifferwinesrutherglen.com.au/home/

Pfeiffer Wines Gamay 2016

Gamay was once referred to as the poor man's Pinot Noir but gone are those days when this variety from Beaujolais produced uninspiring lolly water wines suitable only for quaffing. Now, it has become serious with many cracking examples from Australia.  

One of the stalwarts in its wine portfolio, Pfeiffer has produced Gamay for 31 consecutive years. The winery mentions that its old Gamay vines were planted in 1976, making Pfeiffer one of the oldest, if not the oldest producer of the variety in Australia. The 2016 vintage is a blend of those older vines and its younger ones (15+ years). 

The wine has an attractive pale garnet colour. 
Ripe red cherry, raspberry, some forest floor complexity and mineral slate aromas coming through on the nose.
The palate is brightly flavoured, packed with red berries, dark cherries and cinnamon spice. Has a good sweet savoury edge to the overall balance and comes in slightly lighter than mid-weight. 

Fresh and juicy to the taste, the acid keeping things tight and long. Texturally soft and supple, 

Dusty savoury tannins at the back end. Can be enjoyed now until 2021, chilled or at room temperature. 
For a variety not ordinarily associated with the Rutherglen region, this is a highly drinkable Gamay at a great price. Go get before the last of it disappears.

Source: Sample courtesy of Pfeiffer Wines. ABV: 13.5%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $18.00.
Rating: 91 Points. Website: http://www.pfeifferwinesrutherglen.com.au/home/

Pfeiffer Wines Carlyle Chardonnay Marsanne 2015

A non-traditional blend of two classic varieties, Chardonnay and Marsanne (70/30) from the Pfeiffer Wines Carlyle vineyard at Rutherglen. Both varieties were fermented separately in stainless steel tanks before extended batonage and blending.   

Light straw yellow colours.
Fresh and vibrant aromatics of white peach, lemon zest, dried flowers and fig. Some mineral flint action gives more brightness and lift to the tantalising nose.

Expressive, fruit-driven flavours of peach, honeysuckle, citrus and ginger, some ocean spray nuances on a full, rich palate. There's harmonious acidity keeping it all balanced and bright.  

An oily lanolin texture gives the mid-palate a soft, round and creamy mouthfeel. Crisp and refreshing spiciness to the long finish.

This is a fresh unwooded version of varieties uncommonly combined together, the Marsanne adding a light fresh 'X' factor to the richer, weightier Chardonnay. Really well made wine. Enjoy now but cellar worthy until 2021. Recommended.

Source: Sample courtesy of Pfeiffer Wines. ABV: 13.7%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $16.50. 
Rating: 90 Points. Website: http://www.pfeifferwinesrutherglen.com.au/home/

Pfeiffer Wines Vermentino 2016

I like the label on this first release Vermentino from Pfeiffer Wines. Eye-catching and informative. For punters not au fait with the variety, the label gives a good word picture of the bottle's contents. 

Grapes are harvested in the cool of the morning, the colours are an attractive light yellowy green in the glass.

The aromas of green apples, pears, nectarines and lemon myrtle are fresh and fragrant. Pretty to sniff on. 

Mid-weight, dry and slatey wine that has a tangy citrus acid line to the mouthfeel. Good mid-palate texture that is built around spicy and juicy grapefruit, ripe apple and nectarine flavours.

The soft creamy palate bursts with citrus and tropical fruit flavours and with those spicy undertones make it a compelling alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. 

Fine chalky tannins and textural white wine. Good length of flavour with a clean, fresh finish.

There is good weight to this very easy to drink first release Vermentino. An impressive debut here by winemaker Jen Pfeiffer and the other good people at Pfeiffer Wines. Drink now until 2022.
Source: Sample courtesy of Pfeiffer Wines. ABV: 13.0%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $ N/A. 
Rating: 91 Points. Website: http://www.pfeifferwinesrutherglen.com.au/home/

St Ignatius Estate Contemplation Reserve Malbec 2014

World Malbec Day is on 17 April each year so I thought I'd get in early with this ripping example from St Ignatius Estate, located at Lamplough in the Victorian Pyrenees Wine Region. 
St Ignatius is a totally in-house business that sets itself high standards of viticultural and winemaking techniques and practices in order to create fine quality wines. Hand-picking all grapes and the careful clonal selection of Malbec are such examples amongst others. Indeed, it is understood that Malbec constitutes the winery's largest varietal plantings. 

The 2014 Contemplation has deep purple colours to the rim.
Vibrant nose of violets, chocolate, dark plums and blackberries.

Rich and ample flavours of blackberry, blueberry, liquorice and leather showcase a medium bodied palate that displays a lovely concentration.  

Fresh and vital feel in contrast to the dense and brooding fruit flavours. Well-balanced acid and gentle tannins frame this approachable wine and give it a soft and plush velvet mouthfeel.

Long silky herbal tang to the finish. Just flows down the throat so easily. What I got out of this Malbec is how quality sweet fruit flavours can be so delicious and this wine delivers these in spades. Hard to resist this one. Highly Recommended.

Source: Sample courtesy of St Ignatius Estate. ABV: 15.0%. Closure: Cork. Price: $35.00. 
Rating: 93 Points. Website: http://www.stignatiusvineyard.com.au

Vinteloper Pinot Pinot Rosé 2016

The first Rosé from Vinteloper is a meeting of Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir and Langhorne Creek Pinot Gris. No mention of the percentages but the Gris is fermented on skins for two weeks to get the pale colour while the Noir is whole bunch pressed. Extended lees contact makes for creaminess, texture and ease of drinking.

An artistically designed abstract label. Only 1988 bottles produced of this dry and aromatic pale pink rosé. 

Fresh, cherry, strawberry, pear, crunchy apple and a hint of citrus. 
The long, dry palate is initially subdued, takes awhile to get going then builds into a refreshing experience of strawberry, cherry, pear and minerals. It's more spicy than sweet with a glycerol feel shaped by fine chalkiness. Good balance and reach, dry and spicy aftertaste. A perky, thirst-quenching tipple.

Source: Retail. ABV: 12.7%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $26.00. 
Rating: 89 PointsWebsite: https://www.vinteloper.com.au