Planted to classic Bordeaux grape varieties in Wrattonbully in 1974, the Whalebone Vineyard was named because of the discovery of a 35-million-year-old whale skeleton in a limestone cave underneath the vines. The Whalebone Vineyard was purchased at the formation of Tapanappa in 2002 and produces wines that very much reflect their site. Only 590 cases were made of this wine, crafted in the style of right bank Bordeaux, and I tasted this alongside the 2012, which it narrowly edged out. This is deep and intense with very bright dark fruit, some floral/leafy notes and surprisingly softness and elegance given the use of 90% new oak. A wine of rare class and style. $79. www.tapanappa.com.au.
Monday, October 31, 2016
Saturday, October 22, 2016
A knockout Barossa shiraz from one of the most reliable producers in the region; the Ashmead family at Elderton. Estate-grown and made, this a classic rich and warm style partially made from fruit grown on vines that are well over 100 years of age. This is big and bold, a real prop forward of a wine, but with some clever ball-handling skills. It's a blend of fruit from Nuriootpa, Greenock and Craneford from what proved to be an outstanding vintage. I enjoyed the fruit intensity with dark berry and currant flavours allied to chocolate and vanilla/oak characters. Despite its 14.5% alcohol, it is drinking well now, but experience suggests that Elderton shirazes can cellar for a couple of decades. $34. www.eldertonwines.com.au.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Jeffrey Grosset is Australia's riesling guru; his wines are always reliably excellent and fetch commensurate prices. They usually sell out within a few months of release. The taut Polish Hill Riesling ($55ish) is Grosset's flagship, and most expensive riesling by some margin, but this year I prefer the Springvale, a single-site wine sourcing fruit from an estate vineyard at Watervale. This is simply stunning - and certainly more approachable than the Polish Hill in its youth. It ticks all the boxes for world-class Clare riesling with citrus blossom aromas, delightful minerality and structure, length and a crisp acid finish. Chalky, slatey, lemony, or plain delicious. You try to choose just one descriptor. Brilliant. $40. www.grosset.com.au.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
From one of two estate labels owned by the Baillieu family on the Mornington Peninsula (the other is Elgee Park), this a delightful cool-climate chardonnay that bears the quality imprint of winemaker Geraldine McFaul. This is made from fruit grown on the family property at Merricks North and hand-picked. Gentle stone fruit notes are allied to some cashew aromas while citrus is to the fore on the palate with French oak adding structure but not intruding. There is a crisp, clean finish to this very elegant wine. Thoroughly modern, thoroughly delicious. $35.
Monday, October 3, 2016
"This wine reminds me of why I used to love Australian shiraz so much," said my wife. She, and the team at Jim Barry Wines, are spot on. This is part of a new range of wines made exclusively for Coles/Liquorland/Vintage Cellars stores and is by far the standout; a lip-smackingly good fruit-driven shiraz at a very fair price. It has plenty of ripe fruit brio without any rough edges. There are berry and currant flavours, hints of gentle spices, and hardly any obvious oak. It is vital but not over-muscular; rather it is easy to drink - curmudgeons would say unchallenging - but will have widespread appeal as a young-drinking barbecue wine. $25. www.vintagecellars.com.au.