A very modern, thoroughly delicious cool-climate chardonnay at a down-to-earth price. Lock & Key is the entry-level range for vigneron Jason Brown's Moppity operation outside of Young in New South Wales and the fruit for this wine is sourced from from Coppabella vineyard in ultra-cool Tumbarumba. The wine is made in an elegant, fruit-dominated style with peach and pear notes to the fore. Oak merely plays a small support role and there is plenty of racy acidity on the finish. The more delicate, minerally, Moppity Tumbarumba Chardonnay ($25-30) from the same vintage is more citrusy and elegant, but you can't go past this wine for everyday drinkablity and value. $17-20. www.moppity.com.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
The classic Australian combination of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, varieties that are rarely blended elsewhere, in a big, bold but approachable McLaren Vale red that tips the scales at 14.8% alcohol but has the oak subtlety of a fast-punching middleweight. From 2012, a cracking vintage in the Vale (and other regions of South Australia) it is dark and slightly brooding but with fresh dark fruit notes that lift it above the pack. This not only tastes great, it also looks good. I love the colour-coded candy stripe labels that make Hither & Yon (a family-owned boutique producer) stand out from the crowd. $25. www.hitherandyon.com.au.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
The guys at Yelland & Papps, a small family winery in the Barossa, do a lot of things well. Their wines invariably offer terrific value and they have a range that features both the usual suspects and vareties like vermentino, dolcetto and lagrein. And while many Barossa wine families date back generations, Susan Yelland and Michael Papps are relative newcomers - but newcomers with a plan. Visit their delightfully rustic cellar door if you get a chance, and enjoy their quirky labels. I particularly liked this new-release cabernet made from organically grown fruit. It has spent 17 months in new French oak and is purple in colour, bold in demeanor with classic cassis, savoury and spice notes but also beautifully balanced with fine tannins. You'd struggle to do better for the price. $20. www.yellandandpapps.com
Saturday, January 4, 2014
Malbec is a much under-rated grape variety in Australia, where it is often blended away unacknowledged and unappreciated. In Argentina and Chile, in contrast, it is much respected. This wine, made in the Joven, or "drink young" style by Nav Singh, uses fruit sourced from the Clare Valley and is the ultimate juicy drink-now red wine. With a nose of wild flowers leading on to a palate that has both intense spice and ripe berry flavours, it is deep purple in colour, soft and enticing - a vinous Lolita that is extremely food friendly. It was hand-picked, matured in older French oak puncheons and basket pressed and carries just 13.5% alcohol, a welcome respite in these days of blunderbuss reds. Just lovely and great drinking for $30. www.matchboxwine.com