Saturday, August 11, 2018

Chapel Hill 2018 Chardonnay

How good is this? Serious chardonnay from a leading regional producer for under $20.This is flavoursome but beautifully balanced, presumably early picked to grab all the freshness and vibrancy. There are several standouts being made by Michael Fragos and his Chapel Hill team and this is one of them, with fruit purity the cornerstone and some barrel fermentation adding textural interest. Just a small percentage of the brisk fruit sees older oak, the rest is matured in stainless steel. Pair this wine and its crisp acid with an old-fashioned roast pork roast. Downright delicious and great value. $18.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Windows Estate Petit Lot 2014 Petit Verdot

You don't see many varietal wines made from the Bordeaux grape petit verdot; the grape is most often used as blending material. Here it shines as part of a small batch from Margaret Rivers' excellent Windows Estate; which has used a hand-operated basket press to tease out the aromatics and distinctive varietal character. Dark berry aromas and herbal leafy characters on the nose; dark fruits again on the palate with well-integrated cedary oak and architecture without the fierce tannins that the variety can sometimes produce. A wine of structure that offers immediate pleasure but will also cellar well given its immense length. Really lovely. $45.

Friday, July 27, 2018

TarraWarra Estate 2015 Nebbiolo

This is only the second release of the Italian variety nebbiolo from Yarra Valley winery TarraWarra Estate but winemaker Clare Halloran and her team seem to have the variety nailed stylistically. Perfumed and delicately structured, this is a very good alternative to pinot noir or gamay for those who err to the lighter side of the red wine spectrum. This has an attractive rose garden bouquet leading on to bright red fruit notes and hints of Italian deli goods. There is some impressive architecture here along with the pretty fruit; it is a wine with lovely balance. Drink now with a charcuterie plate, or cellar confidently. $35.   

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Howard Park 2016 Leston Cabernet Sauvignon

The Howard Park label is a byword for world-class cabernet sauvignon from both Margaret River and the Great Southern at various price points. In 2016, the Leston vineyard in Margaret River just edged out the Scottsdale vineyard in the Great Southern, but it was a desperately close run race. The key to this wine's immense appeal is balance; there are ripe plum and berry flavours but cedary oak, mint and spice notes all play key roles in what is a complete package. There is plenty of length here, potential longevity, too, but most of all you get a whole lot of quality for your cash. $50.  

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Patina 2015 Chardonnay

American-born Gerald Naef makes a range of intriguing wines from his home (literally in his garage) winery in cool-climate Orange in Central Western New South Wales. I had his stellar 2016 Riesling ($25) ready to review before I came across this complex and beguiling 2015 chardonnay, which I preferred just a tad to its bigger reserve brother. Thanks to Orange's high elevation and volcanic soils you'll find all the classic chardonnay characters here; citrus, stone fruit, peaches and cream and hints of nutty oak. Naef says: “I don’t think there is another region in the world that necessarily produces better chardonnay than Orange, there are just stylistic differences." This is a perfect match for roast pork or chicken dishes and is swashbucklingly stylish. $35.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Battle of Bosworth 2017 Heretic

Joch Bosworth and Louise Hemsley-Smith produce a range of wines with real personality under their Battle of Bosworth label, which highlights organic fruit and old-style wine-making techniques. The Heretic utilises Touriga Nacional and graciano, two Iberian grape varieties that would previously have been used in fortified wine production, blended with a little shiraz, McLaren Vale's local hero. This is a medium-bodied wine of immediate appeal; stylish with spice and oak hints but based on quality fruit picked early enough to retain all its vim and vigour. It pulls off the trick of being both a wine of substance, and elegance. I like this a lot - and it is extremely food friendly. $28.       

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Massale by Kooyong 2017 Pinot Noir

Even when tasted blind, Glen Hayley's wines under the Kooyong label have the ability to seriously stand out from the crowd. I have loved the 2015 Meres and Haven individual vineyard pinots recently - both of which retail for $76 - but you don't have to spend anywhere near that amount to get a sense of the quality and attention to detail given to all wines in the range from this quality Mornington Peninsula producer. This is an entry level offering, young and enticing, that offers excellent value. It's bright red and vibrant, medium-bodied and red-fruit-driven with mainly older oak very much in the background adding smoky nuances. Appealing acid on the finish, too. Perfect for drinking now. preferably paired with some smoked duck breast. 93/100. $34.