Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Lloyd family from McLaren Vale winery Coriole pioneered this Italian variety in Australia – first planting the Tuscan grape back in 1985, long before just about anyone else had thought of the idea. They now also make very good nebbiolo and barbera. This is the 23rd vintage of Coriole sangiovese amd it's a dependably good choice to pair with Italian dishes, charcuterie plates or roast meats. It’s savoury and silky with sweet cherry aromas and nicely restrained on the palate with plenty of length, good balance and soft tannins. Great value for the price. $22.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I've been having recent issues with Barossa reds - some of them are just too big and alcoholic. I've long had problems with Australian merlots, many of which are monochromatic and boring. This, however, had me re-thinking both points of view. It out-shone several highly credentialed reds in a recent tasting and went well with a steak dish, too. It's a seamless, soft red with dark berry flavours, hints of black olive and spice and has great structure for a wine in its price bracket. I can't remember the last time I drained a bottle of merlot - but this one is definitely empty. www.rosswines.com. $20.
Winemaker John Harris is on fire with his recent releases; I've also been impressed with both his fumé-style sauvignon blancs and his cabernet sauvignons. This wine was one of the stars of a recent rosé tasting and left many bigger names trailing in its wake. It's a prototype for the new wave of savoury rosés that are making the style so popular this summer; vibrant and refreshing with sour cherry and grapefruit tanginess, but at the same time bone dry and intriguing. Made from early-picked pinot noir from the Macedon Ranges in Victoria and sangiovese from the Pyrenees, it is clean, impressively textured and delightfully easy to drink. www.mitchellharris.com.au. $22.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Just about every wine writer in Australia (and several overseas) has had a crack at proclaiming the greatness of this single-vineyard chardonnay from the Yarra Valley that expresses perfectly what the new wave style of Australian chardonnay represents. So I might as well jump on the bandwagon. Using grapes from the dry-grown van der Meulen Vineyard, winemaker David Bicknell has perfectly captured the purity of the fruit. There are citrus and white peach notes and beautifully balanced oak that aids and abets the fruit rather than intruding. This is a supremely stylish wine, elegant with just 13% alcohol and well worth splashing out some cash on - if you can find any. It has all but sold out. $72.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Here's a classic Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon released with four years of age that doesn't so much shout out its quality as whisper it gently. It's a wine that probably still has a way to go to reach its peak, too. The characters are typically Coonawarra; with dusty, moccha and tobacco leaf characters alongside ripe, assertive, concentrated cassis fruit and quality smoky oak. The tannins are still very tight and the wine takes time to open up in the glass, but if you enjoy the style, this would be a terrific Christmas drink. Better still, buy a case, enjoy a couple now and put the rest away. $50.
Friday, November 26, 2010
There is a good reason for the ballooning popularity of pinot gris - it is a pretty handy style of wine for enjoying chilled on a warm summer afternoon. Adelaide Hills winery Nepenthe has been making pinot gris since 1998 - putting it way ahead of the curve - and has a keen handle on how to make the best of the variety. Around 20% of the fruit for this wine was barrel fermented, adding texture and complexity, but it remains fruit-driven with gorgeous aromatics, nashi pear and crisp green appple flavours and nice zingy acidity on the palate. This was the champion pinot gris at National Cool Climate Wine Show - and offers great value with an RRP of $19.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Here's a wine for lovers of powerful, expressive reds that speak of their terroir. Michael Fragos and the Chapel Hill team from McLaren Vale have come up with an absolute ripper with a lot happening on the palate; which has intense dark berry fruits, powerful (but not intrusive) oak, mocha and chocolate and a hint of toffee. It's a well-balanced, mouthfilling wine with excellent tannin structure. One for the long haul but approachable now. An excellent partner for roast lamb en croute. $50.
Monday, November 15, 2010
You’ve got to love a cabernet that ticks all the quality boxes but retails for under $15. This budget offering from family-owned Taylors offers drikability with a capital D. It’s vibrant and juicy, designed to be enjoyed in its youth, but also has plenty of complexity with dark cassis fruit flavours, hints of mocha and savoury oak in perfect balance. A blend of fruit from Padthaway and the Clare Valley it weighs in at just 13.5% alcohol and would be an ideal wine to have on hand when friends drop around for barbecue. $14.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Talk to many people in the wine industry and they'll tell you the rosé revolution is on the way. It's been coming for a couple of years now with an increasing number of producers opting to make savoury, dry rosés rather than the liquid fairy floss that used to abound. There can hardly be a more appropriate style of wine for an Australian summer day than this delightfully refreshing number from a rising star winery in the Canberra region. Fresh and crisp, this has definite berries and cream character with a hint of fresh herbs. A really lovely wine for enjoying chilled with a picnic, sushi or Middle Eastern cuisine. $18.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Hurley Vineyard is the hobby/passion of Victorian Supreme Court judge Kevin Bell and his lawyer partner Tricia Byrnes - but they make wines with so much personality and light and shade that they put many much bigger producers to shame. Their Mornington Peninsula wines - and they only make three pinots in tiny quantities - are what I often choose to drink when I am supping, not spitting. This is a very pale looking wine, but it doesn't pay to be colourist, because this is absolutely stunning. Beautiful aromas lead on to spice, silkines, structure, ripe fruit and fine tannins. My bottle was empty after what seemed like just a couple of sips - always a compelling argument that you have just enjoyed something special. www.hurleyvineyard.com.au $50.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Attention to detail is a hallmark of Tasmanian vigneron Stefano Lubiana’s wines and this is stunning, almost Burgundian, with a high-wire act balance between silky mouthfeel, earthiness, fine tannins and sweet fruit. Lubiana's wines from his vineyard at Granton in the Derwent Valley, north of Hobart, just get better and better. This would be superb with duck dishes or roast turkey. Lubiana recommends cellaring for 5-8 years but for me it's too bloody delicious right now. $48.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Jason Brown from Moppity Vineyards seemed a little concerned when I revealed I was writing about this wine; pointing out that other wines under the Moppity label are vastly superior. That may well be true but you can't beat this one for value - a trophy- and gold medal-winning shiraz for under $15 is a bargain in anyone's language. The Hilltops region outside Young is producing some stunning cooler-climate fruit, particularly as vineyard age increases. This is a deeply coloured wine, rich, but in balance, with dark berry and pepper/spice characters and surprising depth for a wine that's so affordable. Load up on the lamb chops! www.moppity.com.au $14.99.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Savagnin is the new, and rather confusing, name for what we used to call albarino in Australia. Then it was discovered that what we thought was albarino was actually a rare French grape called savagnin (not to be confused with sauvignon blanc). Hence the name of this wine: "La Francesa". Whatever the issues, the end result from this very good Adelaide Hills producer is delicious. It's intensely aromatic with tropical fruits and hints of spice and honey on the palate. Appealingly textural, it's probably closest in style to pinot gris. There's a nice, crisp dry finish, too. This would be a great accompaniment to tapas or a mezze plate. www.goldingwines.com.au. $25.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Jacques Lurton - a member of one of France's most famous winemaking families - is one of the original flying winemakers and has worked just about anywhere on the globe where you find grapes. He's making a success of his Islander Estate label on Kangaroo Island while also importing some of his affordable French wines. This sauvignon blanc has some lovely fresh fruit, Gallic reserve and beguiling layers of flavour. It is dry and vibrant, long and lean with plenty of summer appeal. Drink now. Order from www.iev.com.au. Terrific value at $22.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Few winemakers can have enjoyed such diverse careers as Philip Shaw, who masterminded Rosemount's global assault and was chief winemaker for Southcorp before turning his back on the corporate dollar to handcraft wines from vineyards outside Orange, where his lounge room serves as his cellar door. This is a terrific offering from his Koomooloo vines, which stand at 900 metres and are now over 20 years old. It's quite stunning with stonefruit flavours, subtle oak, sensible alcohol levels ($12.5%) elegance, balance and - most important of all - drinkability. Great value at $30.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Sandro Mosele makes no fewer than five Kooyong Mornington Peninsula pinots noir that earn a review in James Halliday’s 2011 Wine Companion and this is one of three rated at 95 or better. All the individual vineyard wines, the Ferrous, Haven and Meres, are outstanding; but this one shouts out its quality with delicious red fruit characters, savoury hints and fabulous structure. All class. $66.
Friday, August 20, 2010
The Lee brothers not only have one of the Mornington Peninsula’s best cellar doors - a "must visit" on any weekend trip to the region - they also offer a range of wines that are beautifully crafted and realistically priced. This has gorgeous silkiness and richness on the palate. It’s very sweet but has had complexity added from barrel fermentation and finishes with lovely cleansing acidity. Great with pates, or blue cheeses. www.foxeys-hangout.com.au $25.
This is the 30th release of Jeff Grosset's iconic Clare Valley riesling - and also indisputably one of his best. Australia's riesling master has created an absolute gem; slatey, minerally, citrusy and most of all delicious. While the Polish Hill always ages gracefully this is just downright tempting in its first flush of youth with pristine fruit flavours, wet stone elements, epic dryness and wonderfully enticing acidity. In case you hadn't guessed, this wine rocked my world. $45.
Brian Croser chose one of the coolest, dampest spots on the Fleurieu Peninsula to plant pinot noir vines after identifying Foggy Hill as a "distinquished site." The veteran winemaker's faith has been rewarded with delightful 2009; ethereal aromas are followed up by a medium-bodied, dry and subtle wine on the palate with hints of both stalks and earthiness. A savoury, beautifully structured wine that opened up over the 48 hours after the cork had been pulled. What a pity it is under cork, though. $50.
This a real Alpha Male wine. Chest puffed out, unashamedly macho. Lovers of big, gutsy reds need look no further; this is a powerful beast from the McLaren Vale winery that won the Jimmy Watson Trophy in 2007 and is made from fruit grown on non-irrigated vines. Dark currant and mint aromas are followed up by sweet, dark berry and plum fruit characters, richness and suppleness on the palate aided and abetted by a good lashing of American oak. There's not much subtlety here - it's 15% alcohol - but there is plenty of flavour that will doubtless mellow out over the next 10-15 years. $30.
Monday, August 16, 2010
This is a beautifully balanced wine from former Stonehaven winemaker Sue Bell that underlines the immense potential of Tasmanian chardonnay. Matured in 500-litre French oak puncheons, it calls to mind some of the best of Chablis, with characteristic mineral and flint characters alongside fullness and complexity in a wine with just 12.5 per cent alcohol. The fruit is ripe but there are citrus notes, nuttiness and terrific taut acidity. If this was a piece of music, it would be a glorious, soaring violin concerto. A wine of persistence and precision. www.bellwetherwines.com.au. $50.
Monday, August 9, 2010
You've got to love a 2003 wine that's a current release; particularly one this good. Orange is fast emerging as one of Australia's best cool-climate wine regions and Californian-born Gerald "Jezza" Naef is making some of the most impressive wines from the Central West of NSW; wines that are at once complex and elegant. This is one of the first wines Naef made; a blend of caebernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc that has plenty of structure, soft tannins and length. Very impressive and potentially long lived. www.patinawines.com.au. $35.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Nick Glaetzer may be a member of one of the Barossa Valley's best-known winemaking families but these days he is part of the talented team at Frogmore Creek in Tasmania's Coal River Valley. He is also crafting some exceptional wines under his own family label, including a pair of very fine pinots. This beautiful riesling is very much based on the German model with floral and citrus aromas, delicious lime and mineral flavours on the tightly-structured palate and plenty of refreshing acidity. A wine that’s good enough to convert even the most obtuse unbeliever to the riesling team. $25. www.gdfwinemakers.com.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Lerida Estate has the midas touch not only with pinots noir; but also with pinots gris, producing outstanding wines year in, year out. This is a stunningly good dessert wine made from botrytised grapes grown on the estate vineyard at Lake George, outside Canberra. It is a totally indulgent wine with a range of enticing flavours on a rich, complex palate; apricots, spicy apples, nuts, spice and marmalade characters are all present. It is unashamedly sweet and smooth but has a zingy acid finish. Great with fruit tarts but even better with offal dishes, pates, terrines and blue cheeses. Spectacular. $45.
Friday, July 16, 2010
If I have to listen to one more person tell me they don't like chardonnay, I'll rip their head off. Chardonnay is not what it used to be - and is all the better for it. This is an absolutely cracking wine from the Mornington Peninsula, searingly clean with lovely intense grapefruit and white stone fruit flavours, impressive texture, flinty minerality, focus, restrained oak and refreshing acid. It's a wine in which everything is beautifully balanced. Kudos to winemaker Tom Carson for a job well done. $44.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Charlie Melton is one of the great characters of the Barossa - and one of the region's best winemakers. Vintage after vintage this wine, named for his wife Virginia, is one of Australia's best dry rosés - and has built up something of a cult following. This co-fermented blend of grenache, cabernet, shiraz, pinot meunier and mataro is at once rich and powerful, youthful, crisp, spicy and gloriously gluggable. The natural acidity makes it wonderfully food friendly - and it was a clear winner in a tasting of over 20 current release rosés. An Australian benchmark. $23.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
I've been very impressed with the 2007 shirazes from Heathcote in Victoria; wines that for the most part manage to combine power with elegance. This, made by the very talented Sergio Carlei, and the 2007 Heathcote Estate are among my favourites. The Shelmerdine wine has a brambly nose, is richly coloured and has a wonderful array of dark berry and black chocolate characters on the palate, along with integrated French oak. A savoury, serious wine that will doubtless evolve impressively over the next few years. Pair it with a winter game stew. $65.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Krinklewood is one of the quiet achievers of the Hunter Valley, Rod Windrim's biodynamic vineyard tending to fly under the radar because of its remote location on Wollombi Road. That's a darn shame because the wines from Krinklewood are invariably delightful - and keenly priced. This is a lovely modern chardonnay, light in alcohol at 12.7% and elegant in style. It's grapefruit-tinged citrus characters that dominate on the palate with oak and almond hints very much in the background. If this came from an acclaimed cool-climate region it would be creating a considerable stir with its quality. $24.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Vinteloper is a new name on the wine scene; making young winemaker David Bowley either very brave or extremely foolhardy in a hugely competitive industry. Fortunately, the wines are good enough to ensure a solid future for the former cork salesman (who sensibly uses screwcaps for his own wines). This McLaren Vale shiraz is big and concentrated but also has considerable elegance - a difficult trick to pull off in what was a nightmarishly hot vintage. Dark cassis flavours star on the palate, along with hints of spicy oak. Smooth, with plenty of length, this is a wine with excellent structure, good tannins and immediate drinkability. $40.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Chenin Blanc is often called chenin bland because of the many undistinguished wines it produces, but there's an exception to every rule and this is an absolute cracker from McLaren Vale; dry with crisp green apple flavours, it is light, zingy and lively - and a very good alternative to sauvignon blanc. The wine is almost water-coloured but don't be deceived. It is aromatic on the nose with some nice flinty minerality on the finish. This would be great with oysters, or a seafood platter, and is great value for $18.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Cape Mentelle is one of the benchmark Margaret River cabernets, consistently excellent, and this is an impressive wine from a challenging vintage, a testament to the attention to detail shown. It's medium bodied with intense dark cherry, blackcurrant and tapenade characters, forward tannins, well-balanced oak treatment and hints of coffee and chocolate. Opulent and stylish but with great drinkability, this is highly recommended. Terrific with game meats like venison. $84.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Made in a German off-dry style, this is a cracking Tasmanian riesling with 60 grams of residual sugar and just 8.5% alcohol. Picked at under 11 baume, it has delicate aromatics, searing acidity on the lively palate and really vibrant flavours. Sweeter wines like this are not just for the blue-rinse set. While it would be lovely with desserts, it would also shine if paired with terrines, pates, blue cheeses, or even calves liver dishes. Thoroughly modern, thoroughly delicious. $25.
Monday, May 24, 2010
I'd just written some tasting notes on the fabulous 2009 The Foil when the 2010 landed on my doorstep. Seems the 2009 was so popular that the 2010 has been rushed into the marketplace in all its fresh, zesty glory. The 2009 was a lovely laidback wine by the time I tried it while the vivacious 2010 is upfront with its vibrant gooseberry and tropical fruit salad flavours and steely acid on the finish. Knappstein was one of the first Australian winemakers to get to grips with sauvignon blanc and he certainly hasn't lost his touch. $20.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Another ripping chardonnay from Margaret River; thoroughly modern in style and extremely drinkable. This is the complete package. It's got elegance, linear minerality, zingy citrus and white peach flavours, nutty nuances, plenty of length and complexity but most of all is beautifully balanced. This is a fresh, clean and crisp wine for enjoying over the next couple of years. It rocked my socks and can be found for under $25.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Andrew Caillard, Master of Wine, head of the Langton's auction house and one of Australia's foremost wine experts, has released his first wine - and what a cracker it is. Using 100% mataro from a hot year in the Barossa Valley, Caillard and his wife Bobby have artfully crafted a wine that is very much European in style; medium-bodied, elegant, complex and muscular; with sensible alcohol levels (13.5%), new oak very much in a support role and just the right balance between dark berry and savoury characters. To top it all off, Caillard painted the label artwork. A brilliant debut. Purchase at www.caillardwine.com. $45.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
A gutsy and delicious blend of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, malbec and merlot from the vastly under-rated region of Langhorne Creek. This boasts generous flavours with mouhfilling dark fruit and hints of mint, eucalypt and cedar. It's a big rich wine, earthy and long,that’s heaps of fun to drink – and a great partner for meats, cheeses, pasta and pizza. $20.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Sometimes you come across a bottle of wine that seems to simply evaporate in the glass. This my friends is just such a bottle. A blend of shiraz, grenache and mataro, it is a darn sight more interesting than most GSMs emanating from South Australia. This is a wine that screams "drink me". It has bright, shiny fruit but plenty of action on the palate. Complex but not demanding. Hard to go past this one. $24.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Don't be put off by the complicated name; this is a cracker. Made from the grape variety formerly called albarino in Australia (which actually turned out to be savagnin) the label is Rollo Crittenden's little joke; a tribute to Galcia in Spain, from where albarino originates. This is floral on the nose, with juicy ripe pear characters on the palate and a crisp, dry finish. Disarmingly drinkable. $29.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
One of the rising stars of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Paradigm Hill is the vision of passionate former medical researcher and biotech expert Dr George Mihaly and his wife Ruth, a former chef and now a viticulturist. This is an outstanding Australian pinot with lovely aromatics and and an excellent fruit/oak balance. It's already soft and smooth, with smart dark cherry flavours and hints of earthiness. It will probably cellar well but you may find it hard to stay hands off as it is drinking superbly right now. $50-60.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Who would have thought that a wine from Wrattonbully under a new label would be perhaps the most interesting savvy in Australia? This is a very impressive wine from the husband-and-wife team of Xavier Bizot and Lucy Croser; very textural in a fumé style with some wonderful complexity and sensible alcohol levels (12.7%). Unsurprisingly, and unashamedly, French in style but with some jolly, zingy Australian fruit character too. One out of the box and up there with Kiwi stars Greywacke and Te Koko. Brilliant for $24.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
It's hard to go wrong with the wines from this family-owned Clare Valley producer, which are invariably good value for money. This is a lip-smackingly good, rich and powerful red wine with plenty of oomph on the palate, oak in harmony and soft tannins. It's a juicy and appealing red wine with that indefinable quality: drinkability. You'll probably find it for less than the RRP of $19.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I just can't get enough of this delicious fortified wine made from the Spanish grape Pedro Ximénez in the Barossa Valley. The concentrated fruit flavours have been aided by maturation in French oak hogsheads, resulting in a wine that is dark amber in colour, has chunky marmalade and citrus peel aromas and is luscious and intense on the palate, where you'll find more dark marmalade characters. A fabulous way to round off an evening. $27 for 375mls.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The offerings from this West Australian winery are reliably good and this is a terrific-value quaffer that's perfect for long autumn evenings. It's a classic fruit-driven, cool-climate chardonnay with lifted tropical fruit aromas and plenty of crisp freshness on a palate that shows citrus and white peach characters with plenty of length. Drink young, drink chilled. $18.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Let me say up front that I am no great fan of Australian merlot - but more wines like this could easily make me change my mind. Sevenhill, the Jesuit winery in the Clare Valley, has come up with a ripper here, picked ahead of the hot conditions that made 2008 so difficult for many. This is a dark, inky wine with cassis and pepper notes, soft and smooth on the palate with dark berry and Christmas Cake flavours aided by cedary oak. Nicely balanced with plenty of mouthfeel. $22.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
A very modern Australian style of chardonnay bursting with peach and melon flavours – a wine to remind us why we used to love chardonnay so much. Bells-and-whistles winemaking techniques have produced a fresh, clean white with plenty of length of flavour. A terrific buy for under $20.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Esteemed Victorian winery Mount Langi Ghiran pioneered pinot grigio in Australia and has been making the style for almost 20 years - well before it became insanely fashionable. This has just 11% alcohol and is young and vibrant with pear and tropical fruit salad flavours and great finishing acid. This is a wine that has real drinkability – and it's a delicious alternative to Kiwi sauvignon blanc. $15.
Friday, February 19, 2010
It's been a while since I've had a $15 red as satisfying as this little gem from renowned McLaren Vale producer Shingleback. It's a rich, flavoursome wine with plenty of grunt but the oak is nicely integrated and it is beautifully soft on the palate. Every time I looked down my glass was empty - always a good sign. Great value for $14.95.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Here's a sauvignon blanc that's a rare pleasure to drink. Made by the talented Steve Lubiana at Granton in the Derwent Valley, 20 kilometres north of Hobart, it has no herbaceous harshness, or excess acid. Instead this is beautifully balanced white with fresh, zippy apple and citrus flavours. Try this tangy, crisp and refreshing wine with pan-fried fish fillets, or lightly-spiced Asian dishes. $28.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Everyone loves a bargain and you won't find many better red wines for under $15 than this little beauty from the Nugan Estate stable. There are earthy/plummy aromas and the palate follows through with dark cherry, currant and chocolate characters, lovely soft mouthfeel and well-integrated oak. Every home should have a few bottles of this delightful all-purpose, medium-bodied red. It will even cellar well for a couple of years. $14.95.
Friday, January 29, 2010
This is my favourite of the individual vineyard chardonnays from this outstanding Mornington Peninsula producer. A wine with wonderful pristine fruit character, elegance and restraint with vibrant acidity. French oak barrique maturation has added complexity but the oak is never instrusive; letting the fruit do the talking. Excellent. $55.