Top picks from recent tastings by John Shearlock

There’s been some great tastings at Regional Wines of late. We’ve visited the warmth of South Australia with Samuel's Gorge and Langmeil, performed a mini wine tour de France with our friends at Maison Vauron (without breaking into a sweat!) and got happily lost in the splendours of the 2016 southern Rhônes. If I were to revisit these tastings in the bottle once more, here’s what I’d pick... and funnily enough, they’re all currently available at Regional Wines....

2015/17 Samuel’s Gorge Grenache - $49.99

Justin McNamee takes on southern Rhône winemakers at their own game with this juicy Grenache from McLaren Vale that is dangerously quaffable. Made with a deft touch, the fruit has really been allowed to shine with minimal extraction offering gentle tannins and lacy acidity that ease the red fruits through the palate. A versatile wine that will pair well with not just red and white meats but also flavoursome fish dishes.

2017 Terres Georges Coteaux du Languedoc “Racine” - $36.99

Remember the Languedoc - France’s great hope for a modern winemaking revolution at one stage and now somewhat, and rather unfairly, overlooked. This is 100% Carignan which immediately sets it apart in a region dominated mainly by blends of Grenache, Syrah Carignan and Mourvedre. It’s a stunner at a stunning price - dark fruits, slate and mineral elements with fine acidity and sumptuous balance. A thinking wine, but with enough body and charm to woo the taste buds before the brain is engaged taking it to the next level.

2015 Capbern St Estephe - $65.99

I’ll confess, since moving to NZ I don’t drink half as much Bordeaux as I used to - but this really strikes me as Bordeaux as it should be, how it used to be before too much new oak was being liberally plashed around. The oak is certainly present here, but very much in check, and the fruit is pure and driven, with cassis and dark bramble flavours delivered in a silken mouthful thanks to fine ripe tannins and lacy acidity. Stunning stuff - it’s actually drinking now, but leave it in the cellar for another ten years and it will be ten fold better.

2016 Vieux Télégraphe La Crau - $153.99

Châteauneuf-du-pape meets Burgundy in this racy number that lights up the palate like liquid electricity. The nose is all red fruits, spice and herbs, but gives way to a palate of darker fruits; cherries and cassis. Very fine and elegant with immense length. Again, one that will do well in the cellar.

2016 Domaine de Janasse Châteauneuf-du-pape - $86.99

A more classical Châteauneuf when placed alongside the Vieux Télégraphe, with all the opulence one would expect from the warmth of the southern Rhône. The nose and palate both show red and black fruits but lean more heavily towards the latter. This is fresh and lifted yet somehow powerful - silky yet fulsome - in that contradictory fashion that only the best wines seem to offer.

2015 Langmeil, Orphan Bank Shiraz - $62.99 (just sold out at the time of publishing - but more coming)

A remarkable wine with an amazing story. The ancient 140 year old pre-phylloxera vines that produce this Shiraz were rescued from the hands of a dastardly property developer and replanted at a site on the bank of the local Para River. To help fund the project, after all this kind of endeavour is not a cheap one, people were offered the chance to adopt the orphan vines and were given first dibs on securing wines released. The water table is high at the site and so vegetation is allowed to grow freely throughout the vineyard - sucking up any excessive water and helping to force the vine roots deeper. Despite this, the vineyard can sometimes be found under water when the banks of the river break in times of flood, and when this happens, the amazingly resilient vines are simply propped back up and allowed to go about their business of growing fantastic fruit. This wine shows scintillating black fruits balanced by handsome tannins and silky acidity. Plush in the mouth, with real concentration, this is complex too with hidden mineral and savoury depths.