Sunday, July 31, 2016

Brash Higgins 2015 MRLO

There are very few standout stand-alone merlots in Australia. Many are soft and easy to drink but only a handful shine, partially as a result of poor clonal selection when the grape variety was planted down under. This is a shining exception to that rule; a merlot that offers classic rock'n'roll rather than the mainstream Australian Idol mediocrity. This has the fleshy softness you'd expect from the variety but it has been matured in an amphora by winemaker Brad Hickey and blended with 10% of the Italian grape Nero d'Avola to add a bit of edginess and funk. This McLaren Vale wine is dark and complex and very interesting texturally - a bit like a vinous James Ellroy novel. $38.   

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Schwarz Wine Co. 2016 Chenin Blanc

What a pleasant surprise this wine was. Chenin Blanc may not be a fashionable grape variety but this is just lovely. Jason Schwarz has a happy knack of making wines that have a real vitality and this is a delicious new release that might help change chenin's image in Australia (just think of many superstar wines made from the variety in the Loire Valley). There are aromas of melons and tropical fruits, followed up by fresh, green apple, tangy elements on the palate (not dissimilar to seriously good Muscadet). It's fresh, it's zingy and it makes you feel alive. Picked early for maximum pleasure, this was a very good partner for pan-fried flathead and would be an excellent choice for any picnic. Great value at $22.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Arrogant Frog 2015 Syrah Rosé

This has to be the best wine bargain in Australia right now. Bar none. Just how Jean-Claude Mas and his team can produce a dry rosé of this quality from the Languedoc in France to export to Australia and retail at $10 a bottle is remarkable. The Arrogant Frog wines usually offer excellent value - but this one is stupendously good for the price. It is dry and refreshing in the southern French style, lighter in colour than in previous vintages but even more alluring. Made from shiraz (syrah) grapes from the Limoux region and sub-titled Ribet Pink, this has delicious bright fruit, savoury notes and bright acid. The quintessential lunchtime or picnic wine. Available at Dan Murphy's and BSW stores. If you love rosés I'd go out and buy a case - and have one friend who has already done so. $10.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Schild Estate 2014 GMS

I did a double take when I saw the price tag after tasting this wine in a blind line-up. It has to be one of Australia's best red wine bargains right now; a wine I scored at 93 that retails for for under $20. A blend of three red varieties that traditionally shine in the Barossa; grenache 52%), shiraz (24%) and mourvedre/mataro (24%), it is bright and juicy, firm and fruity but also has enough structure to be considered for the cellar. There is some appealing softness and hints of pepper but overall it is the sheer drinkability of this that stands out. Well worth buying a few bottles. $18.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Yering Station 2014 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

It used to be that there were two regions to go to in Australia for classy cabernets; Margaret River and Coonawarra. On the evidence of recent releases, you can also throw the cooler Yarra Valley into the mix. This is an outstanding reserve cabernet with not a leafy, green element in sight. Yering Station reserve wines are only released in outstanding vintages - and this is a single vineyard selection has spent 18 months in French oak and then time in bottle prior to release. It reminds me of a prima ballerina; tightly coiled with elegance, strength and grace. A wine of power and balance that is most impressive and justifies the price tag. $120.