Saturday, June 16, 2018

Yarra Edge 2017 Edward


Viticulturist Lucas Hoorn has worked for Hoodles Creek and Levantine Hill, while Dylan McMahon is the talented winemaker at Seville Estate and together they are producing some impressive wines under the Yarra Edge label, using fruit from a small vineyard at Chirnside Park, on the edge of the Yarra. The vines are 35 years old and the grapes were formerly used by Yering Station. This is a very impressive single-vineyard blend of cabernet sauvignon (70%), cabernet franc (20%) and merlot (10%) that has several elements reminiscent of quality Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux. Herbs and spices, blackcurrant notes, spicy oak, leafy characters and subtle tannins combine well in a wine that is soft and on the palate. Subtle and delicious. $39.   

Monday, June 11, 2018

Curly Flat 2016 Chardonnay


There has been a recent changing of the guard at Macedon Ranges icon Curly Flat with Matt Harrop now installed as chief winemaker. Not only is this an outstanding example of cool-climate chardonnay, it also offers quite spectacular value when compared alongside village Burgundy, for instance. Power and elegance co-exist happily here with a brisk citrus zing and more restrained peachy notes. This is a wine with delightful architecture and plenty of length, allied to tension and poise. It's main strength, however, is that it is downright delicious. $46. www.curlyflat.com.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Brokenwood 2016 Beechworth Pinot Noir

How good is this? Terrific pinot noir from Beechworth in the foothills of the Victorian Alps that costs a whole lot less than many much-vaunted pinots at extreme price points. This is a wine of lovely balance, it is soft and appealing but hints of spice and florals and quality cool-climate fruit play key roles. Oak is very much in the background. I'd be drinking this is its youth with some barbecued duck or port, and maybe some noodles. 
$36. www.brokenwood.com.au

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Yering Station 2016 Shiraz Viognier


Spicy cool-climate shiraz meets a dash of lifted viognier to produce a red blend of rare style and composure from the Yarra Valley. More art house film than movie blockbuster, this is charmingly lush and plush with softness on the palate a key ingredient to its charm. There's plenty of power and concentration, too, and 20% new oak has added textural elements. This was a very fine partner for a old-style shepherd's pie. $40. www.yering.com

Monday, May 21, 2018

Atze's Corner 2016 The Giant Durif


So you like your red wine with plenty of power and personality? Let me introduce you to a monster from the Barossa, a Giant by both name and nature. This is a heavyweight bruiser going for a knockout finish. Just 375 cases of this were made by sixth-generation winemaker Andy Kalleske and the wine is full-bodied and full-blooded, dark, ripe and almost overwhelming in its power, although it has a silky, smooth finish. Durif, also known as petite syrah, shines in warm climes and the fruit used here has thrived in deep red clay soils. Kalleske says this will cellar up until 20130. Presuming you may wish to open it a little earlier, then a bold beef casserole would be a very good companion. $30. www.atzescornerwines.com.au.      

Friday, May 18, 2018

Cullen 2016 Diana Madeline


If the apocalypse were approaching and I only had time to savour one drink, then this would be a leading contender. This Margaret River benchmark is, to be blunt, downright spectacular with high-quality fruit, purity, elegance and texture and what Vanya Cullen describes as the "classic Cullen Vineyard Wilyabrup flavours: cassis, violets, chocolate and ironstone". This is a lifted, vibrant red that has soaked up mainly new French oak from barriques. A blend of 93% cabernet sauvignon, 5% merlot and 1% each of malbec and petit verdot, this is absolutely superb right now, but will cellar for decades. Impeccable balance, just 12.5% alcohol, from a certified biodynamic and carbon neutral estate. 97 points from me. $130. www.cullenwines.com.au.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mitchell 2017 Watervale Riesling


The Mitchell family has been crafting excellent wines for decades now; and re-visiting this old favourite after a couple of years was a revelation. The Mitchells only release their wines when they believe they are ready. Hence the rieslings are launched later than many of their regional rivals, and current-release reds can be up to seven or eight years old; reserve reds a decade or more. The Mitchells also farm organically, which gives their wines real personality. This is a classic Watervale riesling with sparky citrus aromas and intense, tangy  grapefruit flavours. Beautifully fresh, balanced and with an edge of bright acid minerality, this is a truly lovely dry white wine that offers stupendous value.
$24. www.mitchellwines.com. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Vasse Felix 2015 Premier Cabernet Sauvignon


The quality of the wines being made by Virginia Willcock at Vasse Felix in Margaret River just keeps soaring. This is characterful, fleshy, elegant, concentrated and appealing in the regional style. It was the first red wine produced in Margaret River and has been made every year since 1972. In this vintage, a savoury nose (think a fragrant compost heap or pot pourri) leads on to a body with dark fruit cake flavours, cassis and biscuity/chocolate notes, beautifully integrated with spicy oak. I'm happy to give this 96 points and would advise buying at least half a dozen so that several bottles can be cellared. $45 - and a very good buy at that price. 
www.vassefelix.com.au

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Innocent Bystander 2017 Pinot Noir

Quality pinot noir is becoming increasingly expensive as it grows in popularity with Australian drinkers. Some producers are able to ask - and get - $50 for their entry-level offerings. This Yarra Valley wine is a nice surprise, then, well-made, flavoursome cool-climate pinot at a sensible price. Think black cherry flavours with hints of Asian spice, some savoury deli hints and a very soft and supple finish that makes it accessible in its youth. Seriously good buying here; and with the money you save you can probably afford some roast duck to go with it. $25. www.innocentbystander.com.au.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Brown Brothers 2014 Patricia Noble Riesling

Named after late family matriarch Patricia Brown, the Brown Brothers' Patricia range highlights the finest wines produced by the benchmark Victorian winery. The range varies each year with only wines judged as being outstanding making the cut. I was a big fan of the 2013 Patricia stickie and the 2014, using riesling from the King Valley, is another standout. A multiple god medal winner, this continues a long line of botrytis-affected wines dating back to the early 1960s. It has a beguiling blend of natural sweetness and acid and is delightfully balanced, as well being vegan friendly. Complex and concentrated with classic Scottish marmalade flavours and a silky finish. $37. www.brownbrothers.com.au.  

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Michael Hall 2016 Blanc de Pigeon


British-born Michael Hall is one of the fascinating stories of the Australian wine industry; a former jewelry valuer who changed career streams mid-life and now crafts some intriguing wines from various sites in South Australia, including the Barossa and the Adelaide Hills. This is a beguiling white blend from the Hills, an unusual combination of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. All the fruit has been barrel fermented and spent nine months on lees in quality French oak. The end result is cerebral, textural, delightfully balanced and decidedly gluggable. $28. www.michaelhallwines.com

Monday, March 26, 2018

Sinapius 2016 Home Vineyard Pinot Noir

Vaughn Dell and Linda Morice, the inventive couple behind Tasmanian boutique label Sinapius, describe themselves as wine growers, rather than winemakers. Their wines are close planted, dry grown and hand picked on their exposed site at Pipers Brook. This is 100% estate grown pinot from low-yielding 22-year-old vines made with minimalist winemaking intervention; 80% whole berries, 20% whole bunches, wild yeast fermentation for 21 days and matured in 30% new French oak barriques for 12 months, then a further three months blended in tank prior to bottling to allow for natural clarification and integration. Think black and red fruits, herbal notes, deli counter characters and natural acidity, on a wine that finishes soft and sweet with plenty of textural impact. Well worth tracking down. $55. www.sinapius.com.au

Monday, March 19, 2018

Scott 2016 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay

Sam Scott is probably best-known for his impressive range of Italian varietals under the La Prova label, but the Adelaide Hills winemaker also produces some classic cool-climate wines under his Scott label. This chardonnay, made using fruit from the chilly Piccadilly Valley, is absolutely outstanding. It is thoroughly modern, tight and focused, fruit-driven with citrus and stone fruit notes co-existing happily alongside each other. There is some bright acid backbone and an overall elegance that makes this a pleasure to drink. The fruit is hand-picked, chilled overnight and then whole-bunch pressed directly to old French oak barriques, where it undergoes natural fermentation. It undergoes partial malo but no lees stirring. Clean, crisp, intense and delicious. Pair with roast pork and crackling. $45. www.scottwines.com.au.  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Taylors Promised Land 2017 Pinot Noir

There's a new look to Taylor's value-for-money Promised Lange range - and a newcomer, as well; a youthful pinot noir that is a downright ridiculous bargain. If you can find a better pinot than this at the same price you should snap it up - but I'm pretty sure you won't. A friend found it on special for $10 a bottle the other day; you should be chewing the bottle shop manager's arm off to take your money if you can match that. For a start, you don't find many pinots with this kind of varietal character for under $20. It is a blend of fruit from several regions of South Australia, and granted, it is not one for the cellar. But is lifted, vibrant, light bodied and a whole lot of fun; juicy, fleshy and very drinkable with or without food. La Cicciolina. Highly recommended. $14. www.taylorswines.com.au.       

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Yalumba Y Series 2017 Pinot Grigio


A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the Yalumba Y Series Riesling in my wine column in Sydney's Ciao Magazine, saying it was part of one of the "best value wine ranges in Australia". This is another star member of the same team; impressively fresh and vibrant and made in the style of the cheeky grigios of northern Italy. Australians are so lucky that they can buy such stylish wines for a relative pittance. Think wild flower aromas, apple pie and fresh pears on the crisp palate. This wine is wild fermented and is vegan friendly; serve it with a late summer salad or fresh seafood. $12. www.yalumba.com.  

Friday, February 9, 2018

Cape Jaffa 2017 Anna's White Blend

Cape Jaffa winemaker Anna Hooper is not afraid to experiment and this unusual blend of barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc and semillon with aromatic gewürztraminer has come up trumps on the flavour spectrum, producing a fresh, textural wine with hints of fruit sweetness that finishes dry - and is an extremely versatile food wine. Hooper says you can cellar this but I like its cheeky, youthful personality right now. It is vibrant and muscaty and proved an impressive combo when paired with a particularly spicy Thai chicken curry. $25. www.capejaffawines.com.au

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Pike & Joyce 2016 Vue du Nord Pinot Noir


The Pike & Joyce label offers some of the best of the Adelaide Hills at extremely realistic prices. At a time when it can be hard to find a quality pinot noir for under $50 this one made from 100% Lenswood fruit is an absolute bargain. Smart, fresh and extremely varietal, it is an excellent midweek choice for serious pinotphiles given its delicious slurpability factor. That medium-bodied softness makes this new release perfect for enjoying young. Dark cherry flavours lead the way along with sous bois notes and some hints of Asian spice. Delicious. $36. www.pikeandjoyce.com.au.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Schwarz Wine Co. 2017 Chenin Blanc


My wine writing colleague Gary Walsh from Winefront cavalierly dismisses chenin blanc as a serious grape variety, swatting away any praise like David Warner smites boundaries. The Loire Valley grape can often produce dull, neutral wines and seldom offers complexity, but it can, in the right hands, be used to craft fresh, lively thirst-quenching wines that can be enjoyed well chilled. This is one of those wines, delightfully crisp and undemanding for summer enjoyment. Think minerality, ripe green plums and fruit cocktail notes. Dry and energetic; a busy featherweight, with alcohol weighing in at a low 11%. One for quaffing; not analysing. $25. www.schwarzwineco.com.au.  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Giant Steps 2017 Yarra Valley Chardonnay

Australia produces some of the finest chardonnays in the new world but you'll have trouble finding one that offers a better quality-price ration than this sensational new release from Giant Steps. Aided and abetted by a stellar vintage, winemaker Steve Flamsteed and his team have produced a quintessential bright, medium-bodied, cool-climate chardonnay that just oozes class. Beautifully poised, impeccably balanced, a welterweight with a wicked left. Hand-picked from the Applejack, Gruyere Farm, Sexton, Tarraford and Wombat Creek vineyards and made with minimal intervention, this weighs in at just 13.5% alcohol but has great flavour profile and structure. Indigenous yeasts and large format, mainly older, oak play support roles while 30% malo adds interest without intruding. Simply lovely chardonnay, but the word is out in the industry and it might pay to buy sooner rather than later. 95/100. $36. www.giantstepswine.com.au.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Jacob's Creek 2017 Le Petit Rosé

Sorry wine snobs. This is not from a trendy biodynamic winemaker, it isn't fermented in ceramic eggs and doesn't undergo pigeage by Tuscan virgins. It is, instead, a mass-production rosé from one of Australia's biggest companies - and it offers terrific value for refreshing summer drinking. JC chief winemaker Ben Bryant describes it as an Australian rosé with a little French style. It is bright, crisp and dry and perfect for sipping on the back deck. A blend of pinot noir, grenache and mataro, it is textural, with fresh-cut flower notes, fresh strawberry flavours and bright acid. It "captures the elegant and savoury style of French rosé, with the freshness and purity of Australian fruit," says Bryant. It shone in a blind tasting of several more expensive rosés at our place and proved versatile with food, although it doesn't need it. Available at all major liquor outlet. $17.