Down The Lane is a new drink-now range of wines from De Bortoli with labels that pay homage to Melbourne's legendary laneway culture of pubs, clubs and eateries. This and the rosé are the standouts and offer excellent terrific value for those looking for well-priced, food friendly quaffing wines with bright acid and plenty if flavours. This blend of two Italian varieties (with a touch of vermentino added to make it a fun trio) is crisp and clean and quite dangerously easy to drink. It's worth buying a dozen to have around the house just because. This is unoaked, vegan-friendly and terrific for just $12. www.debortoli.com.au.
Friday, April 21, 2017
Most Australian wine drinkers equate Beaujolais with fresh and fruity Beajolais Nouveau, which was all the rage a couple of decades ago. Fortunately there is a whole lot more to Beaujolais than frivolous Nouveau - and the gamay grape is an absolutely stellar drink for Australian conditions. This one, imported by DiscoverVin, is a medium-bodied, textural French red made by one of Burgundy's star winemakers that is both fleshy and minerally, and extremely food friendly. If it's been a long while since you tried a Beaujolais, this would be a good choice to break your pleasure drought. It is very good value for $33. www.discovervin.com.au.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
TarraWarra winemaker Clare Halloran has no less than four cool-climate chardonnays in the current range. This is the entry level estate wine, with a few fewer bells and whistles than its more expensive siblings, but it stands alone as a delightfully elegant Yarra Valley chardy; more artist than artisan, estate-grown and hand-picked, it has clean lines with citrus zest notes, hints of roasted cashews, along with a crisp, clean finish. Tight and fresh, this is very food friendly, too. Think roast pork with crackling, chicken dishes or perhaps pan-fried John Dory. Great value from an excellent vintage for $28. www.tarrawarra.com.au.
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Looking for a seriously delicious red blend for under $20? You won't go wrong with this blend of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, malbec and merlot from one of Langhorne's Creek's best wine producers. Sisters Rebecca and Lucy Wilson are very much in the groove over recent vintages producing reds, particularly, with real personality. Generously flavoured but tightly controlled, this is a perfect all-purpose red that is dark and full of flavour but also boasts some impressive structure. You could grab a bottle of this to pair with pizza and pasta, but it has the quality to also partner a classic Sunday family roast.
Monday, March 27, 2017
Late-ripening montepulciano is a red wine grape planted widely throughout central and southern Italy, where Coonawarra's di Giorgio family has its origins. This medium-bodied wine is all about the fruit; it is a perky little number with red fruit flavours to the fore and hints of fresh pepper. Plumpish and low in acid, it's a wine offering immediate enjoyment - and is extremely food friendly. I'd love some of this with a traditional thin-crust pizza; or maybe some penne boscaiola. There is a lot of everyday enjoyment here. $23. www.digiorgio.com.au.
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Woodvale is the personal wine project of Kilikanoon winemaker Kevin Mitchell, one of the stars of the Clare Valley, and his wife Kathleen Bourne. They produce a very impressive range of wines, of which this is one of the standouts. It is a feisty blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvedre with bright sweet dark berry fruit and Asian spice flavours to the fore. As you'd expect, it is a wine that is beautifully poised; ready for immediate enjoyment but also cellar worthy for a decade or so. Well worth 93 points. $35. www.woodvalevintners.com.au.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
My wife is a very reliable guide to wine deliciousness. If she tastes a wine she really likes she'll sigh with appreciation and demand a re-pour within a very short time. This is a superb Tasmanian riesling about which she is right on target. It's a fresh, vibrant and dry cool-climate white that's full of refreshment and palate interest that would pair brilliantly with anything from Thai stir-fries to runny cheese (we tried it with both). A blend of fruit from the East Coast and the Tamar Valley, this is aromatically appealing with fresh citrus sorbet notes, a zingy acid backbone and general joie de vivre. Best of all it has a recommended retail price of just under a lobster. You won't find many better wines for the price. $20. www.devilscorner.com.au.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Brad Wehr gained notoriety for his funkily-labelled and easy-to-drink wines under the Wine by Brad label, but he's now spread his wings and sources fruit from regions outside West Australia, including some alternative varieties from the Riverland. This is a standout under his Amato Vino label made from the southern and central Italian grape montepulciano. This is medium-bodied, juicy, spicy and dangerously drinkable. Hand-harvested, 20% whole bunch, wild fermented, matured in French oak for 10 months, it is certified organic. Only 160 cases were made of this wine, but Amato Vino is certainly a label worth looking out for. $25. www.amatovino.com.au.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Year after year, the Pike family produce a great-value riesling that is one of the benchmarks for the Clare Valley, the region that is riesling heartland in Australia. This is the 32nd release of this wine and over that time it has barely skipped a beat. This is from an excellent vintage and is drinking impressively in its youth with fresh citrus aromas and flavours, crisp acid and length that suggests it could cellar for a decade or more. I’d enjoy it now - and did.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Here's something deliciously different to enjoy during the dying days of summer: an Australian take on a classic sparkling wine style from Piedmont in northern Italy. Low in alcohol at 9.5%, this is a fresh and vibrant alternative to moscato, made by Soumah Wines in the Yarra Valley. My wife described it as a "cheerful wine that was like a dip in the surf on a hot day". Brachetto is a variety that has strawberry and musky characters.This is made in a "frizzante" style with soft bubbles and vibrant red fruit notes, along with astutely judged sweetness. Try a glass after work. $25. www.soumah.com.au.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
Here we go again. I invariably have at least one or two wines under the 1er Yarra Valley, Hoddles Creek or Wickhams Road labels awaiting a review slot. All three labels belong to the d'Anna family in the Yarra Valley are bywords for both quality and value. This is, I believe, the best sub-$20 cool-climate pinot noir in the country; fruit-driven and startlingly sessionable. Think dark fruit, 20% whole bunches in the ferment, 20 days on skins and a wine that has been bottled without filtration or fining. This is juicy and spicy with soft tannins and is ridiculously good for the price. $17-$20 depending on where you buy. www.hoddlescreekestate.com.au.
Monday, January 30, 2017
There are precious few chardonnays of this quality that can be found for under $15 a bottle, but Peter Logan and his team have hit the quality/price bullseye with this very fresh, very clean offering. This is a blend of fruit from cool-climate Orange and warmer Mudgee from a very good vintage and has a melange of citrus and subtle stone fruit flavours along with cashew nut hints and some briskish acid on the finish. Wild years ferment and eight months on lees added complexity but the style is still very much fruit forward. Nicely balanced at 13% alcohol; a good match for fish, pork and chicken dishes. Excellent midweek drinking. $13. www.loganwines.com.au.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Looking for something just a little bit different to sip and savour? You won't find a wine much more exotic than this lighter-style red made by two South Africans from an Austrian grape in the Adelaide Hills. A cross between St Laurent and Blaufranskisch, zweigelt is the most widely planted red grape variety in Austria, but rare in Australia. Here it has produced a zingy, zippy red in the style of Beaujolais Nouveau that is designed for early drinking pleasure and can be enjoyed chilled over summer. Low in alcohol, perfumed, with black cherry notes, this is extremely refreshing and more fun than mud wrestling. $33.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Vasse Felix winemaker Virginia Wilcock is in a fine vein of form with her chardonnays over recent vintages. If she were a tennis player she'd be one of the grand slam favourites. This has been released for several months and has settled into a real groove of excellence, even though it is in the lower tier of Vasse Felix chardonnays. It is just gorgeous right now with all its elements singing in perfect harmony. Citrus and spice on the nose lead to a palate with pristine lemon/lime and stone fruit notes along with zingy acid and crisp minerality. French oak adds interest and depth like a great bass guitarist adds to a rock anthem. Classic Margaret River character and length. I'll give this 94/100. Great value for $37. www.vassefelix.com.au.
Sunday, January 8, 2017
How good is this? Founded in 1840, Sandalford is one of Western Australia's oldest and largest privately owned wineries. It started life in the Swan Valley and is now one of the powerhouses in Margaret River, where it was one of the pioneers. This is a perfect summer wine; a blend of two grape varieties that are like yin and yang (or Eminem and Dido) in Margaret River. We tried this alongside several other WA blends and it was a clear winner with terrific zesty freshness. Lemon and lime notes and tropical fruit flavours co-exist joyously. It is crisp, dry, uncomplicated and perfect with or without food on a warm afternoon. Simply delicious and good value for $20-25. www.sandalford.com.