Saturday, August 27, 2016

Langmeil 2012 Jackaman's Cabernet Sauvignon

I was a bit late getting to this wonderfully intense old vines cabernet sauvignon from the Barossa, made largely from fruit from vines planted in the 1960s. It's been out there in the stores for a while but would make a wonderful (and affordable) Father's Day present for any red wine lover. It is dark and varietal with impressive structure. The winemaking regime involved open ferments, basket pressing and two years in French oak, and it is bottled unfined and unflitered. Downright delicious. $50.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Evans & Tate 2015 Time and Place Dry Red

The Evans & Tate brand, now under the ownership of McWilliam's, is home to a bewildering number of labels. This is a new one on me - and it certainly punches well above its price category. Plush, medium-bodied and versatile, this is a terrific midweek, or casual dining, option. The primary blending components are cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz (the breakdown is not given) but I do like the softness and immediate approachability that make this a good choice for a barbecue, or to take out to the local Italian to accompany pizza or pasta. It is not complex, or challenging, but it certainly offers great value for money. $13.   

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Erin Eyes 2016 Pride of Erin Reserve Riesling

Wine industry veteran Steve Wiblin has gone through a very rough trot with illness recently but the quality of this new-release reserve riesling must bring a smile to his lips. Made using fruit from a single vineyard at Penwortham, this is a glorious each way bet in that it is succulent and enticing in its youth with brisk citrus flavours and bracing acidity but has the classic Clare Valley structure to suggest it will cellar brilliantly for a decade or more. This is only the second reserve riesling Wiblin has released under his new label - which he started after the sale of Neagles Rock. He's worked for some of the biggest names in the business but it must be artisanal wines like this that give him the greatest pleasure. Top notch. $35.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Foxeys Hangout 2015 Red Fox Pinot Noir

Good Australian pinot noir with a reasonable price tag is becoming increasingly rare. Prices are rising and many wineries are looking to make more complex, sometimes ageworthy, Burgundian, styles and charge accordingly. This is the reverse; a luscious and fruit-driven pinot from the Mornington Peninsula that offers immediate drinking pleasure at a fair price. There's natural ferment at play, and the use of older, unobtrusive, French oak but the end result is a fun, fruit-driven wine that is made in a serious way. It certainly offers value with a capital V, combining dark red fruit elements with savoury hints and bright acid. $28.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Wynns Coonawarra Estate 2013 John Riddoch

There is no doubt that $150 is a lot of money to splash out for one bottle of wine; even when it is one of Australia's benchmark cabernet sauvignons. But if you do have some cash to spare, or are looking for a special Father's Day present, then this new release might fit the bill. All six of the new Wynnsday releases are outstanding but this is the pick of the bunch, a wine of impeccable balance that is long and structured with cassis, chocolate and licorice notes allied to classy French oak. Supple, stylish and downright fabulous. $150.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Brash Higgins 2015 MRLO

There are very few standout stand-alone merlots in Australia. Many are soft and easy to drink but only a handful shine, partially as a result of poor clonal selection when the grape variety was planted down under. This is a shining exception to that rule; a merlot that offers classic rock'n'roll rather than the mainstream Australian Idol mediocrity. This has the fleshy softness you'd expect from the variety but it has been matured in an amphora by winemaker Brad Hickey and blended with 10% of the Italian grape Nero d'Avola to add a bit of edginess and funk. This McLaren Vale wine is dark and complex and very interesting texturally - a bit like a vinous James Ellroy novel. $38.   

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Schwarz Wine Co. 2016 Chenin Blanc

What a pleasant surprise this wine was. Chenin Blanc may not be a fashionable grape variety but this is just lovely. Jason Schwarz has a happy knack of making wines that have a real vitality and this is a delicious new release that might help change chenin's image in Australia (just think of many superstar wines made from the variety in the Loire Valley). There are aromas of melons and tropical fruits, followed up by fresh, green apple, tangy elements on the palate (not dissimilar to seriously good Muscadet). It's fresh, it's zingy and it makes you feel alive. Picked early for maximum pleasure, this was a very good partner for pan-fried flathead and would be an excellent choice for any picnic. Great value at $22.