Stunningly vivid a red blend for the price, HENTLEY FARM’s “The Stray Mongrel” demonstrates why the wines of the new Australia are something to jump into right here, right now. What is the “new Australia” precisely? There’s no official definition, but it’s young wineries or wine labels representing the next wave of great Australian wines today. These “upstarts” (20 years old or less, give or take a few) are branching outside of well-entrenched wine producing regions of Australia and aiming to find the truest expressions of the land while incorporating environmentally responsible farming practices. This explains the proliferation of so many exciting wines coming out of under-the-radar places like Margaret River, Tasmania, Tumbarumba and Coonawarra, to name just a very few. “New Australia” also means young wineries or wine labels making new wines from tried-and-true areas such as the McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley and redefining our longstanding perceptions of what wines from these places are like. Hentley Farm, in the Barossa Valley, is one such trendsetting winery making new wine from an old region.
The 2014 Stray Mongrel is a blend of 57% Grenache, 38% Shiraz and 5% Zinfandel and obliterates any preconceived notion of Barossa wines being predominantly big and jammy, as this wine goes for aesthetics of oh-so pretty, vivacious and fresh, plus medium-bodied, supple and smooth while still bearing substantial power (14.5% ABV). The wine is very aromatic, fulsome in boysenberry, strawberry and raspberry conserve and lavender notes, and is equally bountiful in flavor. At just under $30, for this kind of technicolor vividness in expression of place, the wine is a major—and groundbreaking—steal. –J.M.