Laithwaites summer box January 2024

Laithwaites box January 2024

I wrote an article about the Christmas break – read that here > I usually go on a week away in the second week or so after New Year, and I don’t usually ‘turn on’ to wine again until after that. A box of mixed wines is something of a blessing around then. A mixed bag that I can dip in and out of without having to think too hard about it – just see what comes. Laithwaites have a knack of always including something quirky, or that I wouldn’t normally reach for myself. 

Here it is a Semillon – which isn’t that unusual, but from Barossa? Happy to try it – it’s quite good – but wouldn’t be on my radar normally. This review finishes with a run of four different European varietals too – they do these so well. Step off your well-beaten track and try something new – works for me.

The Black Pig Sparkling NV

A pale gold, with a foam of tight bubbles. Citrus, white peach, weetbix and baking spice on the nose. Zesty, greener flavours come through in the palate, rounded out with a fruit sweetness that adds balance and plushness. A clean, fresh and fruity style that is great as an aperitif, or for serving at a party. 87pts

Quarisa ‘Treasures’ Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2020

A light straw colour with flashes of green. Rich and full aromas of yellow peach, melon, vanilla, lemon curd and hazelnut. Generously full-bodied on the palate – the oak is prominent and smoky, and I get a lees-influenced phenolic note. A creamy texture adds more richness, heading into that old school, Californian-style of Chardonnay that will have fans – but is not necessarily to my tastes. 87pts

Angove Bin 273 Pinot Grigio

A very pale straw colour, with with pear, lemon peel, ginger, green herbs and red apple notes. Ripe flavours are highlighted by a clean acidity, giving plenty of energy and zip to the mid-palate. Both an oyster-shell minerality and sweeter, tropical flavours swell towards the well-balanced and dry finish. 88pts

Patronus Semiilon

Patronus ‘The Fawn’ Barossa Valley Semillon 2022

Australian Semillon can one of their great white wines. A very pale lemon-green, with zingy aromas of lemon, apple, satsuma, white pepper, nougat and lime blossom. A bone dry expression – zesty and lifted by a pumice-like, mineral freshness. A waxy texture and a fine acidity work in tandem and to keep the interest high as you progress to a well-balanced, electric finish. Super with food or as a zesty lunchtime wine. 92pts

The Black Pig Reserve McLaren Vale Shiraz

A dense, deep black-purple colour in the glass. Perfumed with blackcurrant, leather, boysenberry, mocha, liquorice and baking spices. The backbone of toasty oak, supple tannin and generous acidity is all there. A big, bold wine that is still fairly tight and youthful – it really needs to be decanted to open it up (if drinking it now), and would reward anyone who could put it away in their cellar to develop. The finish is spicy, with cracked pepper and has that distinctive McLaren vale chocolate note. 91pts

Riverscape Estate Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2020

A dark ruby burgundy colour in the glass, with a ripe swathe of blackberry, plum, black peppercorn, allspice and clove greeting the nose. Spicy and peppery with a good depth in the rounded, broad palate. Tannin, oak and acidity all provide backbone and are well-balanced. Savoury notes of black olive and eucalypt feature amongst the plush fruit. A rich wine, with a sweet, persistent finish. 90pts

Six Word Wine Co. Padthaway Shiraz/Touriga 2021

The boldness and body of the peppery Shiraz meets the lifted aroma of violets of the Touriga Nacional. Both varietals are quite suited to warm climates – Touriga has travelled to Padthaway from its home in Portugal. Inkily black, with just a flash of magenta to the edges in the glass. The body shows tannins that do have a touch of grippiness; but the marriage of the two grapes makes a gentle wine that has simple, rounded appeal. All up, it’s an opulent, lush red. 88pts

Peter Lehmann Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

A Cabernet Sauvignon – and a modern-classic Barossa wine. A nose that is packed with super ripe fruit, with blackberry and redcurrant in the lead, then chocolate, smoked chorizo, Christmas cake and pencil shavings. Dry, with lovely, svelte tannins and more of that bright, plush fruit bleeding through the palate. Firmly concentrated and persistent, with a sleek texture and an abundance and intensity to the long finish. 93pts

Camino de Seda 2022

From bush vines of Monastrell in vineyards at altitude above the desert-like plains of the Jumilla region in Spain. The name translates as ‘silk road’ – the region is on the old trading route, and is home to a multitude of mulberry trees (a silk moth’s favourite dwelling). A brooding dark red-black in the glass. Cherry and plum flavours mingle with lots of peppery spice on the nose and into the palate. A velvet-like smooth texture with vanilla and dark chocolate gives an impression of sweetness – and it is rich and plush…but works well when matched with roasted or BBQ meats. 89pts

Tenuta Fenice Nero d’Avola 2022

Sicilian wine has been very on-trend in the last couple of years, with the world discovering the red wines from the island’s native varieties. Damson, liquorice and bramble lead the aromas. Don’t let the dark colour in the glass deceive you – this is quite light on its feet through the palate. The tannin is fine and chalky, and the oak just frames the bright fruit. Has that southern italian spice element to it, without overpowering the delicate fruit flavours. Smooth and intricate on the finish. 92pts

Il Papavero Primitivo 2022

The essential grape of Puglia – if you could choose one varietal to showcase southern Italy, this would probably be it! Black pepper, salami, and tapenade elements jostle the ripe, deep black fruits for your attention. A swell of cassis, blackberry and plum fall into line – juicy and intense. Enriched with a seam of zesty acidity, the palate is plump and glossy, with the interplay between the fruit and the spice taking centre stage. Tannin is discrete and supporting. A definitive expression of the varietal and place. 92pts

Di Cavallo Sangiovese Rubicone 2021

Sangiovese is the classic grape for Chianti in Tuscany. They also grow it in the neighbouring Emilia Romagna region – where this originates. Both regions are gastronomic powerhouses, demanding wines of character and elegance. Perfumed with blackcurrant, cherry, raspberry and a little medicinal nip of eucalypt and green herbs. A really energy and freshness through the palate. There is ample spice, but overall this is just fresh, fruity and dynamic. 90pts

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