Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide
99 pts/CELLAR SELECTION Chambers Rosewood NV Rare Muscadelle
This wine is dark brown in hue with a greenish-gold tint to its rim, providing clues to its advanced age. The aromas are nutty, with mossy notes of rancio filled out by sweet flavors of dried dates and figs. It’s full bodied and unctuous in texture, without being overblown or heavy on the palate. The intense finish lingers forever—or at least until you give in and take another sip.
98 pts/CELLAR SELECTION Chambers Rosewood NV Rare Muscat
So concentrated and aged, this wine’s color is nearly black, with a green/gold rim. Pronounced rancio notes reflect the wine’s age, while the flavors include notes of candied dates, preserved lemons and hints of damp moss and earth. It’s full, smooth and rich, with an intense finish that never ends. This wine should be virtually immortal.
96 pts d’Arenberg 2010 The Swinging Malaysian SV Shiraz
d’Arenberg’s lineup of single-vineyard Shirazes is especially impressive in the 2010 vintage, and this was one of my favorites. The aromas are tight, nearly impenetrable at first, then only stubbornly yielding hints of graphite, but the mouthfeel is expansive and richly textured. Aristocratic notes of pencil shavings balance supple tannins and layers of dark fruit, concluding in espresso and chocolate on the finish. Drink now–2030.
95 pts d’Arenberg 2010 Little Venice SV Shiraz
One of the more approachable of the d’Arenberg single-vineyard collection of wines, this opens with notes of brown sugar, tarry fruit and bright cassis. It’s full bodied and creamy in texture, with flavors of mocha, cassis and vanilla that culminate in a long, dusty finish. Drink now–2025.
94 pts/CELLAR SELECTION
d’Arenberg 2010 The Garden of Extraordinary Delights SV Shiraz
Extraordinarily delicious is more like it. This is full bodied, supple and rich, with luscious aromas and flavors of mocha, cassis and vanilla that finish long, with some soft, dusty tannins. With all the plushness and primary fruit, it seems a little young right now; drink 2018–2030.
94 pts Chambers Rosewood Vineyards NV Grand Muscadelle
Full-bodied, rich and thickly textured, this is just a bit earthier and chunkier than Chambers’ Rare bottling, while still remaining an outstanding sweet wine. The flavors are dark, earthy and intense, with lots of candied date notes and a lingering finish of molasses.
94 pts Kilikanoon 2010 Miracle Hill Shiraz
Big and bold, with firm tannins, this powerful Shiraz shows all the ingredients that point to excellent aging potential. Hints of toast and cracked pepper accent dark-berry aromas, while the flavors mix ripe fruit and intriguing spice notes. The finish is marked by espresso, firm tannins and terrific length. Drink 2020–2030.
94 pts/EDITORS’ CHOICE Kilikanoon 2010 Oracle Shiraz
This is a full-bodied, creamy-textured Shiraz that manages to retain a sense of poise at the same time. Cedar, vanilla and baking spices frame a lush mix of red and black berry fruit, yet this is no mere fruit bomb, adding hints of roast meat and mocha. Drink this plush, supple wine now–2025.
92 pts/EDITORS’ CHOICE Penley Estate 2012 Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon
Full bodied and richly textured, this is an approachable wine that should nonetheless drink well through at least 2025. Toasted coconut accents cassis and blackberry fruit, folding in hints of vanilla on the long, mouthwatering finish.
92 pts/CELLAR SELECTION Penley Estate 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine shows a more savory side of Cabernet Sauvignon without being in any way under-ripe or malnourished. It’s a big, ripe wine, but the mulberry and cassis fruit is marked by cinnamon and clove shadings. It finishes lush, velvety and warm, with hints of chocolaty richness. This should drink well through at least 2024, and possibly for longer if it firms up a little.
92 pts/EDITORS’ CHOICE Balgownie 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
This is classic Cabernet, from the reticent aromas of pencil shavings to the restrained flavors of cassis and cigar box. It’s on the full-bodied side of the spectrum, with enough dusty tannins to suggest longevity through at least 2020, despite an already velvety finish.
92 pts Chambers Rosewood Vineyards NV Grand Muscat
Not as darkly concentrated or marked by rancio as the Rare bottling (but considerably less expensive), this is still an excellent sweet wine. Earthy notes of caramel and mocha dominate, rounded out by candied dates and wrapped up by a long, coffee-tinged finish.
92 pts d’Arenberg 2010 Shipster’s Rapture SV Shiraz
d’Arenberg wines are typically quite structured, so this wine’s full body and creamy texture come as a bit of a surprise. Earthy, loamy notes run alongside espresso, black olive and blueberry before finishing long and silky. Drink now–2020.
92 pts d’Arenberg 2010 The Blind Tiger SV Shiraz
This wine starts off a bit tarry at first, with scents of asphalt and roasted meat that then give way to brighter notes of blackberry and vanilla. On the palate, it’s full, supple and rich, with a finish marked by hints of campfire and cherry.
92 pts Giant Steps 2011 Tarraford Vineyard Chardonnay
Despite its modest reported alcohol level, this is a plush, rounded example of Chardonnay, loaded with fruit. A whiff of woodsmoke frames pineapple and mango, adding complexity while still allowing the tropical notes to shine through. Drink now–2017.
91 pts/EDITORS’ CHOICE d’Arenberg 2011 The Custodian Grenache
The 2011 vintage wasn’t an easy one in South Australia to say the least, which makes this wine all the more admirable. Mouthwatering, peppery, red-currant fruit remains firm and focused from start to finish, ending on a crisp note. Drink now–2023.
91 pts/CELLAR SELECTION d’Arenberg 2010 Tyche’s Mustard SV Shiraz
One of the most muscular of these multiple 2010 d’Arenberg Shiraz bottlings, Tyche’s Mustard is full-bodied and burly, packed with dark, earthy notes of loam, black olive, and espresso. Despite its power, the finish is long and elegantly textured. Drink 2016–2030.
91 pts Chilensis 2011 Lazuli
This six-grape blend is led by Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of toasty, rooty berry fruits come with an essence of cola. The palate is layered and mellow, offering mild tannins. An oaky flavor profile includes coconut and vanilla, while the finish is spicy, mildly herbal and a touch chocolaty.
91 pts d’Arenberg 2011 The Other Side SV Shiraz
Considered on their own, d’Arenberg’s 2011 single-vineyard Shirazes are successful, although they lack some of the pizzazz of the 2010s. This was one of my favorites, teeming with pepper-tinged blueberries and accented by hints of roasted meat and espresso. It’s full bodied and richly textured, with a long, velvety finish.
91 pts d’Arenberg 2011 The Swinging Malaysian SV Shiraz
Somewhat restrained yet undeniably potent, this wine boasts a lovely blend of cassis, cinnamon and cedar. It’s medium to full in body, with a long, dusty finish. Drink now–2025.
91 pts d’Arenberg 2010 J.R.O. Afflatus SV Shiraz
Produced from one of the original vineyards purchased by the Osborne family, this is medium to full bodied, with ample blackberry fruit framed by shadings of espresso and ground black pepper. The finish lingers, picking up hints of mocha and black olive. Drink now–2025.
91 pts d’Arenberg 2010 The Fruit Bat SV Shiraz
Full bodied and supple, this is one of the more opulent and open of d’Arenberg’s array of single-vineyard wines. Notes of vanilla, maple syrup and bramble berries mark the nose, while the flavors add cassis and tobacco elements. It’s a pretty, fleshy wine for drinking now–2020, although it may age well even past that.
91 pts d’Arenberg 2010 The Other Side SV Shiraz
Of all the various d’Arenberg Shiraz bottlings, this may be the silkiest in texture this vintage. It’s still a full-bodied wine, filled with savory, earthy notes of black olive and espresso, but the finish stands apart for its length and suaveness. Drink now–2025.
91 pts Kilikanoon 2012 Mort’s Reserve Watervale Riesling
This top-flight effort reveals bold aromas of lime and crushed oyster shells. It’s a medium-bodied wine that’s tight and zesty, filled with flavors reminiscent of iodine and citrus on the long, dry finish. It should age gracefully through at least 2025.
91 pts Kilikanoon 2010 Green’s Vineyard Shiraz
On the nose, this has a high-toned tang that distracts slightly from its other scents of vanilla and raspberry. On the fullbodied palate, a crunchy mix of red and black fruit comes to the fore, but deep, savory notes of espresso and black olive emerge on the finish.
91 pts Leeuwin Estate 2011 Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay
This may be the best vintage of this wine yet. The aromas and flavors are a lovely blend of citrus, stone fruit and roasted cashew, while the mouthfeel is creamy and lush without being soft or flabby. Drink now–2017.
90 pts/EDITORS’ CHOICE Chambers Rosewood Vineyards NV Muscat
Like Chambers’ entry-level Muscadelle, this Muscat offers an affordable introduction to the Rutherglen style of sticky. The Muscat is full and round, with relatively simple notes of spiced orange and crème caramel and a finish that is sweet but balanced.
90 pts/EDITORS’ CHOICE Chambers Rosewood Vineyards NV Muscadelle
This is a terrific introduction to the Rutherglen style, sweet, fortified, but with decent balancing acids. It offers bold aromas of bergamot, honey and fig, flavors of caramelized pineapple and flamed orange zest and a moderately long finish.
90 pts/EDITORS’ CHOICE d’Arenberg 2011 The Lucky Lizard Chardonnay
Despite this wine’s modest alcohol level, it delivers ample richness and flavor. Hints of toast and roasted nuts frame vibrant citrus fruit and a touch of white peach. It’s intense and invigorating, with a burst of fresh citrus echoing on the finish.
90 pts/EDITORS’ CHOICE Plantagenet 2013 Chardonnay
Hints of smoke and white peach mark the nose of this medium-bodied wine. It’s a touch less expressive on the palate, but pleasantly plump, with great focus and length on the finish. Drink now–2016.
90 pts/CELLAR SELECTION Cullen 2011 Diana Madeline
Crisp and compact, the 2011 Diana Madeline undoubtedly needs at least another couple of years in the cellar. The nose is leafy and herbal, but the flavors show cherry fruit framed by subtle shadings of vanilla. The tannins are firm, imparting a drying sensation to the long finish.
90 pts d’Arenberg 2011 The Shipster’s Rapture SV Shiraz
Mocha and cracked pepper notes accent earthy flavors of black olive and dusty plum. This is full bodied and creamy in texture, with a long, velvety finish that suggests early drinkability, from now through 2020.
90 pts d’Arenberg 2011 Tyche’s Mustard SV Shiraz
Despite some plum fruit, this single-vineyard Shiraz tracks more to the savory side, blending notes of espresso, earth, roasted meat and black olive. It’s full bodied and slightly creamy and dusty in texture, with a long finish.
90 pts d’Arenberg 2010 The Bamboo Scrub SV Shiraz
This is a meaty, dark-fruited Shiraz. Seductive notes of caramelized beef and brown sugar dominate, while the wine’s texture is a bit coarse, turning stringent on the finish. Try in 2017.
90 pts Leeuwin Estate 2010 Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon
This is slightly bigger and bolder than the 2009 Art Series Cabernet, but remains a relatively streamlined and silky rendering of the variety. Potent cedar and vanilla notes frame dark fruit aromas and flavors, while the finish lingers, echoing with wood overtones. Drink now–2025.
89 pts d’Arenberg 2011 The Garden of Extraordinary Delights SV Shiraz
Despite healthy alcohol levels, this wine shows considerable herb and spice nuances. Tobacco, black olive and cherry tomato elements add complexity to cassis fruit, finishing on a charred, campfire note.
89 pts d’Arenberg 2011 The Vociferate Dipsomaniac SV Shiraz
This single vineyard wine is full bodied but crisp, with savory notes of roasted meat and campfire more in evidence than bold fruit. It finishes long and a bit tart.
89 pts Mount Mary 2010 Quintet
This is a nice Bordeaux-style blend with pretty cherry and currant fruit and some cedar shadings, but lack the complexity of others in its style. It’s straight forward, polite and restrained.
89 pts Yeringberg 2012 Pinot Noir
This cherry-scented Pinot is straightforward, supple and easy to drink. Complexity comes from hints of cedar and menthol, while the finish is lined with fine, dusty tannins that elegantly linger.
88 pts/BEST BUY Chilcas 2011 Reserva Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon
Dusty raspberry and plum aromas are spicy, dry and attractive, leading to a fresh palate with kick. Flavors of spiced plum, raspberry and red cherry are a touch briny, while the finish has length and a pleasing texture.
88 pts Leeuwin Estate 2009 Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon
This medium-bodied, softly tannic wine is ready to drink. Scents of vanilla, cedar and black cherry surge from the glass, while the flavors follow in a similar vein, just adding a pleasant touch of leather before finishing crisp and mouthwatering.
88 pts d’Arenberg 2011 The Amaranthine SV Shiraz
Full bodied, rugged and intense, this is an earthy Shiraz that could use 2–3 years of cellaring. Coffee grounds, black olives and savory plums are framed by hints of vanilla and firm tannins that turn a bit drying on the finish.
88 pts d’Arenberg 2010 The Amaranthine SV Shiraz
A thread of dusty mushroom underlies some pretty raspberry and cream notes in this full-bodied Shiraz, adding an astringent note to the finish. Drink now–2025.
88 pts Innocent Bystander 2013 Moscato Rosé
One of the first and most reliable of this style of sweet, sparkling rosé, this low-alcohol wine is a fruity finale to any meal. Spice and ripe berry notes dominate, although some dark, woodsy notes add intrigue. Like all wines of this ilk, buy and drink the youngest available vintage.
88 pts Kilikanoon 2012 Mort’s Block Watervale Riesling
A solid example of Clare Valley Riesling at an affordable price, the 2012 Mort’s Block features restrained notes of citrus zest and a smooth, nearly textureless feel. Clean and crisp on the finish, it should evolve for 10–12 years.
88 pts Oveja Negra 2011 Single Vineyard Syrah
Raspberry and cherry aromas come with touch of floral perfume and smoke. This feels tight, juicy and slightly tannic. Flavors of black plum and wild berries are matched by chocolaty oak, while the finish is sweet in flavor, with ripe, mellow tannins.
87 pts d’Arenberg 2011 The Fruit Bat SV Shiraz
Pretty grippy stuff, with astringent tannins accentuated by tart acids. Mint, cassis and cigar box elements pick up mocha notes on the finish.