$24; 13.5% alcohol; synthetic plug; 89 points
These Piedmontese must have lots of servants. Nobody of substance has the time to stand around getting these damned plugs off their corkscrews. They come out of the bottle, but stick on the worm. Still, this is really good dolcetto: walnut shells and balsamico; currants and aniseed; boot polish and Coke – it’s all here. The palate’s slender, but intense, with the sort of light-absorbing tannin that will turn the whites of your eyes to leather while you marvel at the sweet little lozenge of confectionery that precedes it. Shoot yourself a boar before you go blind. Eat. Drink.
Heartland Langhorne Creek Dolcetto Lagrein 2007
$20; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 84++ points
Once you get away from the red-gummed Bremer River, which makes wine smell of minty eucalyptus, Langhorne Creek fruit takes on a wide range of rather lovely aromas, which often include fennel, which I suspect, as a particularly volatile herb, spreads on the air like eucalyptus, as the plant grows along many shallow creeklines, as well as along the bits of the Bremer that aren't crowded with redgums. This wine smells of fennel, licorice and anise. Dolcetto often smells of licorice, and lagrein always seems to most heartily reflect the dirt in which it grew, so there's little wonder that this wine smells of aniseed and licorice. It smells of coffee and chocolate, too, as the winemaker suggests, but I suspect much of that is oak-derived. The palate is very intense and dense, with plenty of all the above, reflecting the recent drought years and the terrible shortage of irrigation water at Langhorne Creek since we killled the River and its estuary. The wine's even metallic. Now, I don't know whether or not this is a true representation of what these varieties should taste like at Langhorne Creek, but I believe this is an accomplished wine, and a lot more solid and mighty than the one which won the Wine of the Year four years ago. I can't help wondering what the alcohol really is, because I reckon it's higher than 14.5, and ponder on what the wine would be like if it had been picked at, say 13.5 baume. In the meantime, I'd leave it a year or two, trusting that it will soften, and its black aniseed tannins melt away a little. But now? I can't think of what I'd have to eat with it. Maybe grainy pecorino. Maybe. I worry about the amount of dolcetto and lagrein planted around Langhorne Creek since this wine's junior ancestor won that award. Many leapt upon the bandwaggon. I'd like a bit more soul and mellow softness in my drinks. 10 MAR 09
Heartland Langhorne Creek Dolcetto Lagrein 2005
($18; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 79 points)
Skip the land; heart is where the money is. This mob - Grant Tilbrook, Vicki Arnold, John Pargeter, Gino Melino, Geoff Hardy, Scott Collet, and Ben Glaetzer - made heap big wampum when Ben’s ’04 model of this blend won the SA Hyatt wine of the year. Good to see Ben had another one in him for ’05, and, although it lacks the intensity and open-faced grace of that great year, it’s still a hint of what, well, you know, what people can do when they have drive.