Wine | Value reds for under $20 | John Lewis

BARRELLING ON: Clare Valley winemakers Tim Adams and Brett Schultz test barrel samples of some of their reds.
BARRELLING ON: Clare Valley winemakers Tim Adams and Brett Schultz test barrel samples of some of their reds.

COOLER weather is on the way and the focus of our wine drinking will swing from refreshing chilled whites and rosés to reds.

Luckily for the budget-conscious, there are plenty of good-drinking reds available for under $20. On that score Tim Adams’s 31-year-old eponymous Clare Valley venture has set an admirable example, particularly with the Mr Mick brand he created after he bought the Stanley Wine Company’s Leasingham winery at Clare in 2011. The brand is Tim’s tribute to Mick Knappstein, who was his boss and early mentor at Leasingham.

Tim has been a Clare trail-blazer in the Spanish-origin tempranillo grape and he and his winemaker Brett Schultz spent long hours finding the appropriate site, soil and vine clone before planting 6.5 hectares of the variety in 2004. Tempranillo means “early” in Spanish – appropriate because it ripens early and the Mr Mick version of the variety heads this list of reds from a range of regions that over-deliver on price.

Clare Valley:  Mr Mick 2015 Tempranillo, $17 at, the 7 Dominic St, Clare, cellar door and bottle shops. Juicy and multi-faceted, this is ruby red, has potpourri aromas and zips onto the front of the palate with cherry flavour. Plum, herb, mint, and cedary oak combine on the middle palate and the finish has smooth earthy tannins.

Riverina: De Bortoli 2013 Deen Vat Series Petit Verdot, $12.90 at and bottle shops. Petit verdot is often hard to get fully ripe in its native France but it’s–no problem the NSW Riverina’s warm, sunny climate. This 2013 is garnet in the glass and has fruitcake scents and ripe blackberry front-palate flavour. Glacé cherry, licorice and mocha oak meld on the middle palate and the finish has ferric tannins.

Hunter Valley: David Hook 2016 Shiraz, $18 at, the Broke and Ekerts roads, Pokolbin, cellar door and bottle shops. Bright purple and with berry pastille aromas, this shiraz has bramble jelly front-palate flavour. The middle palate introduces damson plum, cloves, black pepper and cedary oak characters and minty tannins show at the finish.

Orange: Logan 2016 Weemala Pinot Noir, $19.95 at and the Apple Tree Flat, Mudgee, winery and some bottle shops. Weemala is the second label of Peter and Hannah Logan’s Mudgee and Orange wine operation and this 2016 pinot noir is cherry red and has gamey scents, lifted strawberry front-palate flavour. The middle palate has pomegranate, peppermint and spicy oak and dusty tannins feature at the finish.



WITH deep purple hues and meaty scents, the Shaw Vineyard Estate 2013 Winemakers Selection Cabernet Sauvignon has spicy blackberry front-palate flavour, middle-palate elements of blueberry, mint chocolate, capers and toasty oak and ferric tannins at the finish. It’s at and the Isabel Drive, Murrumbateman, cellar door. PRICE: $18. DRINK WITH: lasagne. AGEING: five years.

RATING: 4 stars


THE La La Land 2016 Malbec comes from Wingara Wine Group’s Riverland winery at Mildura and is vivid crimson and has bouquet garni scents and zingy black cherry front-palate flavour. The middle palate has Satsuma plum, spearmint and savoury oak and the finish dusty tannins. It’s widely available in wine shops and PRICE: $18. DRINK WITH: veal scallopine. AGEING: four years.

RATING: 4 stars


THIS Angove 2016 Organic Merlot is from Angove’s Nanya vineyard and other certified organic McLaren Vale vines and is purple-tinted crimson and has lavender scents and mulberry front-palate flavour. Briar, licorice, spice and mocha oak meld on the middle palate and the finish has chalky tannins. It’s at bottle shops PRICE: $16. DRINK WITH: lamb koftas. AGEING: four years.

RATING: 4 stars