Tim Kirk is one of the nicest men in the wine industry and, following in the footsteps of his father, Dr John Kirk, has pioneered the shiraz viognier blend in Australia. The wines have always been of outstanding quality, and eminently cellar worthy, but this would have to be one of the best over the past two decades. A blend of 95% shiraz co-fermented with 5% viognier it is gloriously fresh and vibrant with a fragrant nose leading to a palate that is like a ballet in your mouth; all subtle changes of direction, silky softness and fine tannins with an understated muscularity. From a very fine Canberra region vintage, this is a triumph and would make a wonderful present for anyone who loves wines of style and subtlety. 98 points if I scored. $110. www.clonakilla.com.au.
Friday, September 19, 2014
I caught up with some of the cool kids from the Hunter Valley during the week; Andrew Thomas, Mike de Iullis and Gwyn Olsen, who is regarded as one of the region's brightest rising stars. Her Briar Ridge Dairy Hill Semillon is a cracker but this number - cheaper and simpler - grabbed my attention because of its simplicity and immediate appeal. Made from grapes harvested early (which means just after New Year in the Hunter), this has just 12% alcohol and is disarmingly zesty and racy with a long, line of lean, linear acidity. It may not be a wine for everyone, but if you are looking for a congenial companion for oysters or grilled seafood then this should definitely be on your radar. $22. www.briarridge.com.au.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Basalt is a tiny biodynamic wine producer at Killarney, on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, 9km outside the historic and very pretty town of Port Fairy. On a windswept site, Shane Clancey grows riesling, pinot gris, pinot noir and tempranillo, sometimes supplementing his grapes with fruit sourced from inland Henty. I popped into Basalt's rustic and charming cellar door last week and was blown away by the range, but particularly this wine; a blend of Killarney and Drumborg fruit that is the essence of cool-climate riesling; vibrant with lime juice and grapefruit notes, searingly refreshing acid and green apple notes on the palate, which is bone dry. Fabulous drinking for $29. www.basaltwines.com.au.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Hunter Valley semillon is one of Australia's greatest - and most under-rated - wine styles. Semillon is the iconic wine of the region, zesty in its youth but a style that matures over decades into a honeyed wine with toasty/brioche notes. This new release is very much at the fresh and lively end of the spectrum with bright citrus characters, a zingy acid backbone and crunchy crispness on the palate. It's great on its own, or with seafood dishes, or maybe oysters. And the good news is this is one of the best buys around - ludicrously good value. With an RRP of just $18, you'd have to be crazy not to snap up a few bottles. www.dewines.com.au.