Stella Bella Suckfizzle + Luminosa

Tasted blind, May 2020

Luke Jolliffe has just be nominated as one of Gourmet Traveller’s Wine List of the Year contenders for 2020.  A big deal.  I was privvy to a tasting of his top wines from the Suckfizzle and Luminosa labels, alongside the Stella Bella estate wines.

A powerhouse tasting with highlight after highlight.  Each wine was tasted blind, so there is a bit of guessing in the tasting notes – I knew I was looking at Stella Bella, but no thoughts on vintage, wine, order or any other detail.

2015 Suck Fizzle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (museum release, 2018 current)

Passionfruit compote, green sugar snap and sprinkling of white spice.  The palate is rich and textural, the impact of oak is evident through the mid-palate and finish.  Almost a bit bulky, but cuddly and round.  Hints of green pineapple.  Love the front palate.


2017 Suck Fizzle Chardonnay (museum)

Restraint and spice determine the nose here – this is structured, flinty, fine and exciting.  Fruit strays into the white peach nectarine camp, before returning quickly to the crushed cashew/mealy space.  This is lively, the acidity has a pop-rock life about it – it’s got a tangy undercurrent of electricity – which I like.


2018 Suck Fizzle Chardonnay (current release)

Now we’re talking satisfaction… this is creamy and textured, redolent with ripe stone fruit, crushed and toasted nuts of the cashew/almond variety, and a back palate that plumes with volumes of flavour.  This is racy and utterly delicious. Depth.  Complexity.  Spice.  Texture.  Length.  It has oomph and go, but it’s creamy and luxurious too.  A cool combo.


2019 Suck Fizzle Chardonnay (not yet released)

Oak sits on the front of the nose profile here, the fruit below speaks of pineapple, yellow peach, red apple, red currant.  The palate has that same seam of acidity – it slices through the ripe fruit and leaves a ripple of refreshment in its wake.  The sheer intensity of flavour and concentration here gives it license to age very well… if anything it needs either a quick decant or another year for the fruit and the oak to come together.  The nose moves into curry leaf, brine and toasted exotic spice – all excellent indicators of quality.  The length again is good – lingering and long.


2017 Stella Bella Chardonnay (current release)

A very fine nose – all the hallmarks of chardonnay (stone fruit, crushed nuts, laces of brine) but it’s not shouting about it. There is restraint here.  Very long, almost sinewy flavour profile… it lingers and labours the point.  This is controlled and restrained at all points.  The oak threatens to make a scene, but doesn’t, in the end.  The has a very powerful but contained palate shape – the length telling an important story.  Yes.  And verging on hard to guess a region… so Chassagne-like is the profile.


2017 Luminosa Chardonnay (museum, 2018 current)

As with the prior wine, this is highly focused and tensile, the fruit extending far into the finish, far beyond the expected point.  Rich, complex and streamlined, the phenolic texture so fine as to almost be glossy.  Polished.  Ripe, without being flamboyant. The oak is more evident here, but it doesn’t drown it, rather it contributes a savoury spice edge – which I quite like.


2019 Luminosa Chardonnay (pre-release)

Very young chardonnay fruit – this suggests things like green banana and pineapple.  Tightly wound.  Very good intensity and concentration, but perhaps needs time, much more time to reveal all that it is.  So tight as to be mono-dimensional, at this point.  Very good length, which does speak of high quality.


2019 Otro Vino Rose (Sangiovese) (current release, sold out)

Creamy red berries on the nose, interwoven with exotic Indian market spice.  Lively, bouncy, savoury, spicy, delicious.  Yes.  Love this.  Balanced and appealing.  Very attractive.  Simple – but delightful.


2017 Stella Bella Shiraz

Creamy, jubey, bright berry fruit on the nose.  This is delicious.  Already and I haven’t tried it yet.  Black berry fruit on the palate, while the fruit is creamy and dense, the tannins whip in real quick and dry the whole scene right up.  This is now structured and savoury.  Not sure there is a whole lot of balance between the luxurious fruit and the almost fierce tannins, but it is a delicious drink – albeit a little confronting initially.


2017 Stella Bella Cabernet Sauvignon (pre-release, 2016 current)

Cassis and black spice, hints of licorice and anise, pepper and black berry.  The palate is structured, the tannins make themselves known both at the introduction, the middle and the finish.  There is an appealing blend of red fruit (raspberry, mariposa plum, pomegranate, strawberry, cherry) and black fruit (fresh fig, blackcurrant and mulberry) with a generous dash of salty spice thrown in. Lovely wine, classic textbook southern Margs cabernet.


2014 Serie Luminosa Cabernet Sauvignon (museum release – old label)

The fruit has taken a dark and resinous turn here… the road forked, and it chose the shadowy route.  This is dense and intense, the fruit and the tannins intermingling in a most agreeable way on the palate.  Yes.


2018 Luminosa Cabernet Sauvignon (pre-release)

This is dark and structured cabernet.  Firm and intense, the abundant berry fruit is held together by structuring tannins.  There is a silky plushness that is hard to overlook – this is another textbook wine.  Power and line.  Length of flavour. Well balanced acidity too – it is refreshing and livening, but it also works seamlessly in the background.  A baby, at this point.  An attractive leafy vibe through the finish – sage or something.  Yes.


2017 Luminosa Cabernet Sauvignon (current release)

Salty, refined, spicy, elegant.  The nose is cabernet, but it is more than that somehow.  I love this – I love where it is at. This is pulled back, paired back, modern cabernet… it does not sacrifice fruit intensity for delicacy, it displays power in a weightless way.  I love this wine.  Very classy.  Seamless.  Tannins are powdery.

This is like music that has been mastered softly rather than loudly – the dynamic range is wide, the nuance is highlighted, and this leaves room for other things in the experience of drinking it (food, flavour, conversation etc).