Friday, August 11, 2017

John Duval 2014 Plexus

John Duval, the former chief winemaker for Penfolds, goes about his business with a minimum of fuss. That means the John Duval Wines range sometimes flies a little under the radar despite offering some of the best value from the Barossa. This, which can often be found at retail for $35, is a definite case in point; a beguiling blend of three varieties that traditionally shine in warmer climes; shiraz, grenache and mourvedre. Fourth-generation winemaker Duval has taken some quality fruit from old-vine, lower-yielding vineyards and crafted a wine that whispers its magic rather than shouts. The quality French oak plays a key support role in a delightful red of impeccable balance. $40. www.johnduvalwines.com

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Turkey Flat 2017 Rosé


Reliably good year after year, this is, quite simply, one of the best dry savoury rosés to be found in Australia. Made from 100% grenache fruit grown in the Barossa Valley, this has for several years been one of the style leaders as rosé transitioned from curiosity to mainstream. The back label tells the story: "Simply a light, crisp and beautifully aromatic wine that is best served chilled." Match it will anything from seared tuna to a Lebanese mezze platter. $21. www.turkeyflat.com.au

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fetherston 2016 Chardonnay

It is always nice to discover a new wine producer doing impressive things. Even better when those wines are moderately priced. Last year I was very impressed with a Fetherston pinot noir. From the new releases, I was grabbed by this elegant and seriously underpriced chardonnay made from fruit grown at Gruyere in the Yarra. Fetherston is the cool-climate project of Chris Lawrence and Camille Koll, who have widespread wine, food and hospitality experience. They say their aim to produce "wines of great finesse that capture the purity of each vineyard site". This is certainly a very clean and fresh chardonnay (from one of only 154 cases made). It is elegant, brisk and taut with just a hint of spicy new French oak. Food friendly, too. The Fetherston folk say it will cellar well. I say drink it now to enjoy all its subtleties and give it a cheerful 94/100. Put on a Jason Isbell album, grab some pork crackle and all will be well with the world. A warning: this Macon Villages taste-a-like may be hard to find, so head to the website. 
$25. www.fetherstonwine.com.au

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Grant Burge 2015 Filsell Shiraz

There is an unmistakeable Barossa-ness to this bold but unostentatious wine; it's a red that is comfortably self-assured. Made from Australia's favourite red grape, grown on near century-old vines in a stellar vineyard, this is helps sets the standard in the $40 price category. It's full-blooded but reminds one of a veteran boxer; all the power is used economically. Think plum and dark berry, black chocolate, subtle oak. History indicates that Filsell shirazes cellar well for up to two decades, so I'd buy a six pack. Enjoy a couple now with a juicy steak or rabbit casserole, and the rest between 2027 and 2037. $43. www.grantburgewines.com.au.      

Monday, July 17, 2017

Jim Barry 2017 Watervale Riesling


The news is all good from the 2017 vintage for lovers of fine, dry Australian rieslings. I've seen some excellent unfinished examples from the Barossa and Eden valleys as well a pair of high-acid, high-excitement Clare Valley wines from Jim Barry - which are among the first to hit the stores. I thoroughly enjoyed the more complex 2017 Jim Barry Lodge Hill ($25) but this is my pick for drinking young; a dashing, lively wine with lemon, lime and grapefruit notes to the fore with plenty of length and linear acid. Distressingly drinkable, I'd have a second bottle of this on hand just in case and pair it with flathead and chips or some green Thai chicken curry. $20. www.jimbarry.com.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cullen 2015 Diana Madeline


This is the new release of one of Australia's most complete wines; a Margaret River classic that offers quite spectacular value given the prices now being asked for other Australian icon reds. This is seriously worthy of 98/100 in a world of frequently overblown scores. There are a lot of big-name Bordeaux blends not in the same class as this; a single-vineyard blend of 87% cabernet sauvignon, 11% merlot, 1% malbec and 1% cabernet franc from another standout West Australian vintage. Think classic blackcurrant and violet notes, along with stoney minerality, leafy elements and dark chocolate nuances. Impeccably balanced with fine-grained tannins, this is beautiful now but will almost certainly develop over a decade or more. A work of vinous art that's worth taking out an overdraft for. $125. www.cullenwines.com.au

Monday, July 3, 2017

Hurley Vineyard 2015 Hommage Pinot Noir

Well over a decade or so ago, I received an email from Kevin Bell and Tricia Byrnes asking for some advice on finding a Sydney retail outlet for their range of "garagiste" pinot noirs from Balnarring on the Mornington Peninsula. I was fortunately able to help and have watched with interest as the Hurley Vineyard range has evolved into one of the most impressive pinot portfolios in the country. In 2015, there are four wines in all, an estate offering and individual vineyard wines under the Lodestone, Garamond and Hommage labels. My favourite this time around was the Hommage, juicy and pure, unfined, unfiltered, minerally, savoury and lip-smackingly delicious. My wife preferred the perhaps more elegant Garamond - and may well be right as I understand that has sold out within a few weeks. Both wines are well worth seeking out; paragons of Australian winemaking excellence. $75. 
www.hurleyvineyard.com.au.