Friday, December 1, 2023

HATCH 2022 Barossa St Johns Shiraz

Chris Hatcher, affectionately known as Hatch across the wine industry, spent several decades as a corporate winemaker, mainly as chief winemaker for Wolf Blass, where he worked for 35 years. Now retired, he has started making small batches of "fun and enjoyable" wines under his own label, which features distinctive Art Deco-style, jazz-era art on the neck capsules. St Johns is one of the highest regions in the Barossa Valley and produces wines of intensity and concentration, along with, on this occasion, some subtle soft shoe shuffle. So think dark, plush and flavoursome, but also food friendly. Pair with red meat, or mushroom, dishes. $52.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Pikes 2023 Traditionale Riesling


Year in, year out, this remains one of Australia's best and most reliable wine bargains - a perfect choice for chilled-out summer enjoyment with or without food. This is the 39th vintage of Pikes Riesling, made by a family-owned and -operated winery in the Clare Valley, home of Australia's finest rieslings. Fruit is sourced from the estate in Polish Hill River, and growers’ vineyards in Watervale, Leasingham, Mintaro and Sevenhill. Think fresh lime notes, impeccable line and length and lashings of crisp minerality. Free-run juice, minimal winemaker input and pristine fruit create a wine that's perfect for enjoying with anything from fresh oysters to fish fingers, or Thai fishcakes. Impressively refreshing and sometimes found on special. Load up. $27.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Wallace 2021 By Ben Glaetzer


There are bigger, bolder wines in Ben Glaetzer's Barossa portfolio but I don't think there are any that offer better value. If you are planning a barbecue, or having a few folks round to share a pizza, you won't go wrong with this very smart blend of shiraz and grenache - varieties that are perennial stars in the region. There is fleshiness and juiciness aplenty with an appealing balance between power and immediate drinkability. Wallace is an old family name, by the way. The fruit comes from vines that are between 50-100 years old, so how they do it for the price I have no idea. 94 points for me. $23.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Wirra Wirra 2022 The 12th Man Chardonnay


Wirra Wirra has built its reputation on well-crafted red wines from its base in McLaren Vale, but it ventures outside the region - to the cooler Adelaide Hills - for its excellent 12th Man Chardonnay, so-named because of its late founder Greg Trott's love of cricket. This is a very cerebral wine with crisp cool-climate fruit given wild yeast fermentation and subtle but noticeable French oak treatment. There are all the elements you'd want in a classy chardonnay; citrus, stone fruits, nuts and cream and some compelling acid on the finish. Just a hint of sea spray and minerality. This paired beautiful with a veal schnitzel and peppered cabbage. $40.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Tokar Estate 2023 Shiraz Rosé


I opened a swag of rosé wines the other night looking for a bottle to recommend for pairing with summer picnics. This one was a surprise winner; the Yarra Valley is not generally regarded as a source of great rosés. The 25-year-old shiraz vines at Tokar Estate in Coldstream and winemaker Martin Siebert have created a wine with delightful natural acidity and moderate alcohol levels (12.5%). There is lovely wild strawberry fruit to the fore with blackcurrant hints and a soft, creamy mouthfeel. Fresh and light on its feet, this should be enjoyed lightly chilled on a warm day. $35.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Harewood 2023 Porongurup Riesling


Harewood Estate produces an impressive range of dry rieslings from different sites across the huge Great Southern district of Western Australia, a region that has built a formidable reputation for excellence. Winemaker James Kellie has a suite of excellent 2023 releases - the Mount Barker was my other favourite - and this one shines brightly with its clarity, precision and vibrancy. Made using free-run juice from grapes grown on granite soils, there are classic citrus/sherbet flavours, flinty mineral notes and some tangy acidity on the palate. Chill well and pair with some briney oysters. $35.  

Friday, October 20, 2023

El Toro Macho 2021 Tempranillo Bobal

If you paid $25 for a bottle of this I reckon you would be pretty happy with your purchase. That you can buy it for under $6 at Aldi stores makes it perhaps the best wine bargain in Australia today. If you are looking for wine to accompany a spring barbecue, or a "midweek" drink to drink alongside pasta and pizza dishes - or some tapas - you won't go wrong with this juicy, medium-bodied red. How they do it for the price I have no idea. Here's the lowdown: it is a medium-bodied blend of two Spanish varieties from Uteil Requena in Valencia that is packed with savoury, food-friendly flavours but finishes soft and smooth on the palate. $5.99.