Wondrous wines of 2022: Reds, rosé, great value and gift bottles

In part two of his review of the head-turning wines of 2022, our wine writer turns to the exciting world of SA’s red wines, from classics to the varietally diverse. He also selects 10 great value drops under $25, and some special bottles for gifting.

Written by Tony Love

Where do you start? We pinpointed in part one last week the bubbles and white wines that turned heads in 2022, so here come the reds.

Given that our state’s veins virtually pulse with Shiraz and Cabernet, they are in here with pride.

However, first we hit out with Grenache, which has commanded so much attention in the past few years and for all the right reasons. Its regional sources are dominated by McLaren Vale and the Barossa, but don’t even go there in terms of one beating the other. Every one in this collection tells its own story with great distinction.

Likewise, when it comes to Shiraz, traditional provenance is well represented but look out for a couple of beauties from the Adelaide Hills: keep an eye on that region down the track. There lie pots of red gems.

Now we have to decide on what overarching term we need to best use for the likes of Sangiovese, Touriga, Nebbiolo, and many other grapes that come to us in small volumes but giant waves of fascination. “Alternative” or “Emerging” don’t cut it any more, because they are here now in a big way – and killing it. Perhaps we just stick with their varietal names and offer them the same respect as their traditional brethren.

And to add to the mix, there are 10 bargains, but I loathe that term as well. Value is perfectly subjective, though for the purpose of drawing a line, most of the wines in this section sit around the $20 mark. You get the picture – these have all been tried, tasted and pass with flying colours.

On the other hand, given the time of the year, someone is always going to splash some cash. The simple message is don’t simply fall for the tried and true faithfuls when it comes to a wine, be it a gift or an indulgence. Explore and drink the new. Cheers…

Bondar Grenache Cinsault Rosé 2022 / McLaren Vale / $28

Tapping into the glories of Vales Grenache with companion variety Cinsault right by its side, this is bang-on pale pink, subtle cranberry-led red berries with a superfine chalk-dust palate feel. Flows so, so easily.

Cirillo Estate The Vincent Grenache 2021 / Barossa Valley / $25

Crafted from 100-year-old-plus vines, and such a pleasure to experience at this price. Fragrant and flavour soaked with vibrant raspberry and cherry-like fruits, layered with a sense of sandy minerality; lip-smackingly delicious.

La Petite Vanguard Grenache 2021 / McLaren Vale / $30

From the revered Blewitt Springs district, here we see here a more youthful, exuberant take on the Grenache grape – crushed berry flavours, lively with medium-bodied palate drive, all manner of spicy tannins, earthy nuances, and above all an undeniably moreish example of modern Grenache.

Hentley Farm The Old Legend Grenache 2021 / Barossa Valley / $69

A legend in terms of impressing judges across a multitude of major wine shows in the past year, including being awarded the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy, and also because it is one of the most beautifully delicious wines going around, with a clarity and purity of Grenache in terms of its fragrance, fruit and subtle underlying spice tones. Bravo.

Head Ancestor Vine Grenache 2020 / Eden Valley / $109

Very few wines actually stop you in your tracks, but this does with crimson rose petals, orange zest, orchard leaf, flower and earth aromas, then swelling flavours of luxurious cherry Danish flavours and sublime chalk-dust tannins extend to a forever place. Truly stunning.

Yangarra Ovitelli Grenache 2020 / McLaren Vale / $75

From the revered Blewitt Springs district, bush floral fragrances swirl with dried kitchen herbs, Grenache juiciness underpinned by fine tannins; pure varietal capture and expression. A gorgeous wine.

Ministry of Clouds Tempranillo-Grenache 2021 / McLaren Vale / $32

Immediately captivating in its fragrant top notes, with a juiciness that also has lovely depths of spice and fruit characters that carry exotic, almost Middle Eastern nuances. The 2022 vintage is now doing all the same and more.

In Praise of Shadows Mankai 2022 / McLaren Vale / $28

A blend of Grenache (aka here as Garnacha) with Monastrell (aka Mataro), Touriga and Graciano in a bright and energetic style, fruit-driven with mouthwatering acidity and memorable flavour. Moreish beyond comprehension.

Ashton Hills Estate Pinot Noir 2021 / Adelaide Hills / $60

From the pioneering Pinot estate in the Hills, this is one of three releases this year and brings everything about the variety into play: engaging perfume and delicious cherry/raspberry-like fruit flavours, subtle earthy spice with underlying fine dusty tannin. A constant pleasure.

The Lane Provenance Pinot Noir 2021 / Adelaide Hills / $55

Hills Pinot that leans towards a darker berry profile, headily perfumed with earthy root vegetable notes underlying blueberry and black currant flavours, yet still light-footed and bright in its overall expression. Black-tie Pinot.

Honeymoon Vineyard Exceptional Shiraz 2019 / Adelaide Hills / $55

Exceptional might seem a little brave in the naming but it really is quite something. Rich, intense, concentrated with dark fruits and aromatic black pepper, delightfully fine tannins and flavours that echo forever.

Paralian Springs Hill Vineyard Shiraz 2021 / McLaren Vale / $42

From the Blewitt Springs district, a neatly refined and sculpted Shiraz that intertwines fruit and spice with highly resolved, fine ferrous-like tannins. Medium weighted and moreishly textured. Light-fantastic.

Charlotte Dalton Love Me Move You Shiraz 2021 / Adelaide Hills / $37

Immediately captivating and vibrant with wild strawberry and brambles in the aromatics and flavour reverb, concentrated and powered from underneath by forest floor and seaweed-like characters, clever oak adding further complexities. Energy to burn and exciting to drink.

Koomilya GT Block Shiraz 2019 / McLaren Vale / $120

From Stephen Pannell’s revered Upper Tintara vineyard, this one-of-three separate block variations is unique in the way it shape-shifts Shiraz, reflecting bush florals and crumbled earth savouries, embracing peppery spices and a nature-driven expression that trumps expected Shiraz fruit hubris. Kudos.

The Willows Vineyard G7 Shiraz 2020 / Barossa Valley / $40

Classically Barossa in its intense dark fruit profile then conversely vibrant with peppery spices and brightness and energy in the palate. Lots happening here but never heavy-handed. The 2021 vintage of this cleaned up at the Barossa Show this year and will be released to the public in early 2023.

Yalumba Paradox 2018 Shiraz / Barossa Valley / $50

Encapsulates everything about Barossa Shiraz that satisfies and enriches the soul: waves of crimson to black fruits, dark rose florals, anise and chocolate notes inside the flavour swirls, oak adding a comforting earthiness. Traditional, constant and a perennial pleasure.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2020 / Multi-regional / $100

A 51:49 Cabernet-Shiraz blend that leads out with the former, then allows a robust surge of the latter that adds up to a big wine, packed with flavours of dark cherry and black forest cake all kneading solidly. Impressive now and for many years ahead.

Battle of Bosworth Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 / McLaren Vale / $28

Won this year’s Cabernet trophy at the McLaren Vale show. Classic varietal black fruit and aromatic profile, purity and clarity its hallmarks. Everything sits in place, balanced and lively, delightfully weighted with a wonderfully long finish. Superb.

Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 / Coonawarra / $150

The latest in a long line of this magnificent Cabernet, the top of the tree from Wynns. Simply glorious in its poise and purity, even, temperate in line and length, gently textured, the art of wine excellence encapsulated in a bottle. It’s more than just a gift (see below for more) and deserves a place on your own top shelf.

Bellwether Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 / Coonawarra / $70

Extraordinarily youthful even after six years; classy cassis notes and forest leafiness, enticing licorice elements all make for a very adult style; refined and finessed; medium-bodied with classic fine chalk dust tannins. Bliss.

Coriole Sangiovese 2021 / McLaren Vale / $28

Aromatic with dark, almost tart cherry notes, earthy, fresh pipe tobacco notes, roasted red peppers and tomatoes all offer their savoury attractions with mouth-watering palate feels to follow. Food companionship assured.

Berrigan Sangiovese 2021 / Adelaide Hills / $35

Trophy winner at the recent Hills awards. Vibrant, bright and freshly crushed cherry and raspberry characters jump out of the glass, while plenty of herbal, savoury notes provide a solid backbone. Heaps of energy; tightly wound yet exciting to the palate.

Saltfleet Touriga Nacional 2021 / McLaren Vale / $35

What a breakout release for this newcomer: heady with florals, redolent with varietal black cherry flavours, juicy and inviting, gently textured and finished. Take notice – the shape of things to come.

Seppeltsfield Barossa No. EC3 2021 / Barossa / $50

A blend of old Vintage “Port” varieties Tinta Cao, Tinta Amarela and Touriga now in a delightful table wine expressing vibrant violets and spice aromatics on top of deeper umami notes. Unique and most delicious.

La Madrina Mazerine Carignan 2021 / McLaren Vale / $30

Another of the Southern Rhone red varieties garnering some notice here, albeit in tiny quantities at the moment. This is seductively juicy with all manner of cherry, herb and spice elements locking hands and making a delicious statement about vibrant drinkability.

Ricca Terra Bullets Before Cannonballs 2022 / Riverland / $22

A racy blend of Tempranillo, Lambrusco, Lagrein and Shiraz varieties that leaps out of the glass with lively aromas, reddish berries crushed, earthy notes. Rustic, perhaps, but with plenty of drink-me-now appeal.

Tim Smith M.G.S 2021 / Barossa / $30

Mataro goes to the lead here in an otherwise familiar GSM blend, the fruit profile black cherry and plum, the palate aromatics in Chinese Five Spice mode. Medium to fuller-bodied in style and an individually creative expression.

La Prova Uno Nebbiolo “Colpevole” 2018 / Adelaide Hills / $45

Nebbiolo is on the radar well and truly now, especially in the Hills. Here it’s fragrant, tarry and earthy with a great mix of cherry fruit and savoury elements, chewy tannins that ooze genuine varietal personality. One of the region’s standout examples.

Protero Gumeracha Nebbiolo 2021 / Adelaide Hills / $42

Steve Pannell-crafted, moving towards a definite medium-weight style. Enticing bush floral, dusted pollen, almost lavender bath salt-like to start, while the spicy palate is tuned to the variety’s textural tannins, crushed granites and lip-smacking senses from start to finish.

Croser NV Sparkling / Adelaide Hills / $20

Jacob’s Creek Riesling 2022 / SA various / $12

Shingleback Shiraz 2020 / McLaren Vale / $15

Bremerton Tamblyn (Cabernet, Shiraz, Malbec, Merlot) 2020 / Langhorne Creek / $18

Chapel Hill The Parson GSM 2021 / McLaren Vale / $18

Metala Shiraz-Cabernet / Langhorne Creek / $20

Bleasdale The Wild Fig Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre 2020 / Langhorne Creek / $22

Rusden Driftsand Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro 2021 / Barossa Valley / $22

Charlish & Co Shiraz Viognier 2021 / Langhorne Creek / $25

Zema Estate Cluny Cabernet Merlot / Coonawarra / $25

Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2019 / Five regions / $135

You could easily go the whole $1000 Grange, but this has way more wine nous attached to it.

Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz 2017 / Eden Valley / $235

Hill of Grace might be the major star from such a legendary estate, but The Mount E has a magic all of its own.

From the oldest working Mourvedre vineyard in the world, it’s history in a bottle and so, so delicious to boot.

Langmeil The Freedom 1843 Shiraz 2019 / Barossa / $185

Including fruit from the oldest recognised Shiraz vines in the Barossa, the back story, the bottle, and the generosity is simply extraordinary.

Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz 2017 / Barossa / $150

The whole package wraps up a sense of history, opulence, and serious respect for a traditional wine style that will always delight.

This story was originally published by Solstice Media via @indaily and its not-for-profit arts and cultural journalism masthead @inreviewau