Monday, December 28, 2009

Taittinger Prestige Rosé

If serious celebrations are called for I can't imagine a more appropriate accompaniment than this lovely pink fizz from one of the best Champagne houses. A blend of pinot noir and pinot meunier fruit, it is a wonderfully fresh, fruity and succulent Champagne with persistent mousse, delightful crispness and plenty of length on the palate. Vibrant but elegant, with fresh raspberry characters to the fore, this was one of those wines that seemed to evaporate in the glass. Great for New Year's Eve. $110.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Peter Lehmann 2009 Layers White

Want a summer wine that's fresh and fruity and won’t break the bank? Look no further. This easy-drinking blend of semillon, muscat, gewürztraminer, pinot gris and chardonnay is the perfect choice for the long hot days ahead. It has sensible alcohol levels at just 11.5% and is unoaked. You’ll find tropical/stone fruit flavours on the palate and it’s quite dry and surprisingly complex. Vibrant and fun. $16.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Zilzie 2009 Selection 23 Chardonnay

The next big thing in wine? I have no doubt it will be the chardonnay revival – and wines like this will be flagbearers. The Forbes family, who have been growing grapes at Karadoc in Victoria since the early 1900s, have struck gold here. This is indisputably varietal with lovely peach, apricot and citrus characters, oak in the background and delicious crisp acidity. Brilliant value for $10-12.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tilbrook Estate 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

Not all sauvignon blanc comes from Marlborough in New Zealand - we make some pretty deecent examples in Australia, too, and several of them are considerably less strident than their Kiwi counterparts. This is a crisp and fresh number from a boutique Adelaide Hills winery, chock-a-block with tropical fruit characters and blessed with plenty of refreshing acidity. A terrific wine for enjoying with seafood or salads over summer. $22.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Grant Burge 2009 Lily Farm Frontignac

Sweet wines are often derided as daggy and unfashionable, but there are exceptions to every “rule” and this little gem makes for superb summer drinking. With floral/musk aromas, the palate is full of bright citrus, refreshing acid and unashamed sweetness. It is lip-smackingly good. This would be great as an aperitif on a warm afternoon, or paired with fresh fruits or blue cheeses. Doubt me? Try it. $16.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Krinklewood 2009 Semillon

Krinklewood is a biodynamic vineyard on the Hunter fringes, outside Broke, that produces a range of outstanding wines at realistic prices. This is a case in point; a really lovely wine for summer with just 9.8% alcohol. You'll find citrus and tropical fruit flavours and crunchy acidity – drinking this dry and refreshing little beauty is just like biting into a fresh green apple. $22.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Angoves Brightlands 2007 Limestone Coast Cabernet Merlot

Sometimes it is nice to open a bottle of affordable red, then sit back and quaff it without bothering with too much analysis. This is a case in point; a fresh red wine that offers juicy berry fruit flavours, hints of chocolate, laidback oak and impressive structure. It's a well-balanced red for drinking rather than pontificating on. Terrific value and great for a summer barbecue. $13.95.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Greywacke 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

Kevin Judd, formerly chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay, is one of the men we can blame for the rise and rise of Marlborough sauvignon blanc. Judd has now struck out on his own and this is the first release from his new label. It's aromatic, beautifully textured with herbal, slate and mineral characters on the palate and has lovely balance - if only all Marlborough savvys were this good. $25.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Man O’War 2008 Ironclad

Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf off Auckland is producing some outstanding Bordeaux-style blends, but none better than this exciting melange of merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, petit vedot and cabernet sauvignon. It's a very elegant wine, despite the 14.5% alcohol, with a delightful dark fruits/floral nose, complexity and integration on a well-rounded palate and plenty of length and depth. This beautifully balanced wine could well be the one that puts Man O'War on the map bigtime. $45.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dandelion Vineyards Wonderland of the Eden Valley 2009 Riesling

Dandelion Vineyards is a new name to me. It's a joint venture between growers Carl Lindner and Brad Rey, winemaker Elena Brooks and marketing guru Zar Brooks and the label is off to an impressive start as exemplified by this bone-dry, high-acid riesling that proved a star turn with a range of Thai dishes. Made from high-altitude vines approaching 100 years old, this is ultra-zingy with fresh, lively apple and herb characters and zesty lemon and steely minerality on the finish. Downright delicious. $25.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Printhie 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

The cool-climate Orange region is proving very successful at producing appealing - and affordable - sauvignon blancs made in an easy-to-drink style. There's no doubt this is savvy blanc; witness the tropical fruit cocktail on the nose and the fresh fruity flavours, with a touch of herbaceousness on the palate - which finishes crisp, clean and dry. A lovely summer drink best enjoyed young and chilled. An excellent buy at $17.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Penfolds Thomas Hyland 2008 Cool-Climate Chardonnay

Two strikes against this wine. 1. It is made by one of the big companies. 2. It is unfashionable chardonnay. But put prejudice aside and you’ll find a thoroughly modern dry white wine that is fresh, zingy and lively with subtle oak in the background. Made from Adelaide Hills fruit, with a little Tumbarumba blended in for good measure, this has both complexity and drinkability – you won’t find too many better for $20. Shop around and you may find it even cheaper.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Brokenwood 2009 Semillon

It's an absolute mystery why Hunter Valley semillons are not more popular; they are zingy and zesty while young and then develop beautifully over time, emerging with honey/toasty characters. This is a spanking new vintage from one of the Hunter's most reliable wineries. It has delightful lemon/spice aromas and lovely citrus on the palate with some racy acid. At just 11% alcohol, this is far too easy to drink and would be fantastic with fish dishes or a seafood platter. $22.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tapanappa 2008 Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay

This has to be a serious contender for the title of Australia's best chardonnay. Made from fruit grown in veteran winemaker Brian Croser's family vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley of the Adelaide Hills, this is very much the product of a warm vintage with stone fruit and melon aromas and some distinct ripeness on the palate - but without any excesses. A wine in which fruit and oak are in perfect harmony; this is beautifully textured with immediate appeal. $80.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mitchelton 2009 Blackwood Park Riesling

Central Victorian winery Mitchelton, which is celebrating its 40th birthday this year, has an excellent reputation for its powerful shirazes and oaked marsannes, but for me it is the rieslings that are the star turn. The 2009 vintage, made by talented young winemaker Ben Haines, has typical floral and citrus aromas and flavours, wonderful pristine fruit and tight crisp acid. This zingy, zesty number is one of Australia's great wine bargains at $17-18.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Clonakilla 2008 Shiraz Viognier

Tim Kirk makes the benchmark wines of this blend in Australia; wines that have glorious ripe fruit aromas, intensity on the palate and the potential to cellar for a decade or more. You’ll find a spectrum of flavours here; from dark and red berries to herbs and Asian spices to cool-climate pepper. This is a big, powerful wine with plenty to say but is also has silky softness on the palate that gives it immediate appeal – although it will doubtless improve with age. Stunning! $85.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mayfield Vineyard 2008 Pinot Noir

The cool-climate Orange region is starting to produce some appealing pinots and this is a very good effort indeed. It is determinedly varietal on the nose and has nice balance between fresh red fruit flavours and savoury characters on the palate. It's a wine with lovely mouthfeel, real pinosity and it's easy to drink. Put me on an intravenous drip! Well worth $35.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rutherglen Estates 2009 Savagnin

Savagnin is the new name for what we previously called albarino - but turned out not to be. The name change is certain to cause confusion (I've already had one magazine helpfully change savagnin to sauvignon) but what is not in doubt is that this is very enjoyable young white at a good price. There are some attractive floral/ctrus notes and a lovely creamy texture on the palate. Terrific drinking at $16.95.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Clonale Chardonnay by Kooyong 2008

Kooyong winemaker Sandro Mosele is in the zone with his superb Mornington Peninsula chardonnays. This has wonderful mineral intensity and freshness – and is probably the closest thing you’ll find to Chablis in Australia. It is whole-bunch pressed and barrel fermented but with only 10% new oak it's the fruit that does all the talking. Flinty, dry and brilliant! $26.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Curly Flat 2006 Pinot Noir

A superb new release from Phillip Moraghan, who produces some exquisite pinots at his Macedon Ranges winery in Victoria. This is estate-grown, vinified and bottled and offers everything you'd want in a fine pinot; bright fruit, velvety mouthfeel with savoury/mushroomy characters then kicking in. There is intensity and tremendous length on the palate, making this an absolute pleasure to drink. $52.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cloudy Bay 2006 Te Koko

I've always been a fan of Cloudy Bay's regular sauvignon blanc, but have never liked its heavily-worked, oakier cousin Te Koko until this vintage. The funk and oak have been turned down, but not off, and the end result is a wine full of interest; layers of flavours, softness and richness on the palate from barrel fermentation and a nice clean finish. Mature and a million miles away from standard savvys - but it won me over. $60.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bay of Fires 2008 Riesling

Fran Austin is producing some outstanding wines at Constellation's southerly outpost and this is a ripping Tasmanian riesling with classic cool-climate structure and flavours. There are some delightful lemon/lime/green apple flavours on the palate, the merest hints of spice and wonderful length and finishing acid. An absolute pleasure to drink. $32.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Penfolds 2004 Grange

I waited until all the hype about the 04 Grange had died down before doing a re-taste and I still think this is one of the most impressive current-release Australian wines I've ever seen. It's pretty close to being the whole package with tremendous flavour and structure, wonderful mouthfeel offering a range of flavours (from dark fruit to spice to integrated oak). Totally satisfying. I don't usually give scores - but I give this one 99/100. Simply superb - if you can afford it. $550.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Radford 2008 Eden Valley Riesling

There are some pretty terrific 08 rieslings in the marketplace but this would have to rank with the top half dozen; steely and intense with lemon and lime aromas and flavours and some really tight minerally acidity. This wine suffered from what I call "an evaporation poblem". The bottle was very soon empty. Brilliant! $24.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

d’Arenberg 2008 The Noble Wrinkled

The Osborn family produce a bewildering array of wines, all with witty names, including several stickies. This is a luscious, almost unctuous, dessert wine made from botrytised riesling grapes. There’s wonderful depth of flavour here and a certain dryness on the finish. Pair with tarte tatin, duck liver mousse or blue cheese. $20.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mantra {muse} 2007 Reserve Chardonnay

A new label for me, but this is a very impressive chardonnay that has lovely ripe melon/peach flavours balanced by some nice minerality and hints of nutty oak. There's creamy fleshiness on the palate but also very good acid on the finish. A throughly modern Australian style. $28.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sauvion Les Eglantines 2007 Sauvignon

Made in a style that is a million miles away from Kiwi sauvignon blanc, this is quintessentially French, with citrus characters on the nose and a lively fresh acid finish. Made from Touraine fruit, it is a zingy little number that would be superb partnered with a plate of oysters. $20.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Briar Ridge 2007 Dairy Hill Shiraz

A bigger-than-usual Hunter shiraz, a reflection of the vintage, with ripeness and richness on the palate, some lovely supple character and even a little elegance. Hugely drinkable now, but will cellar comfortably for a decade. Very appealing. $48.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Allandale 2008 Hunter Valley Chardonnay

There's superb balance in this very attractive Hunter wine. A blend of barrel-fermented, wood-aged and unoaked components results in stone fruit/figgy characters and nutty nuances. Complex and elegant. $19.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Angove 2007 Butterfly Ridge Merlot Cabernet

A serious candidate for bargain of the year. Soft and supple with plenty of juicy red fruit flavours, it's fairly simply but very enjoyable and would be terrific with a barbecue or poured alongside pizzas and pasta dishes. $6.99.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Domaine Marcel Couturier 2006 Macon-Loche

The French have still got it! This is a delicious unoaked chardonnay from southern Burgundy with delightful clean fruit, hints of green herbs and a nice creamy finish. Pity about the cork - but great value for $34.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Devil's Lair 2006 Cabernet Merlot

Hallelujah! Australia can still produce red wines without excess alcohol. Bordeaux-like in both flavour and texture, this has snow pea characters on the nose along with juicy dark fruit and spicy oak on the palate. Clean, elegant and very appealing. $60.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Avancé 2008 Tasmania Pinot Noir

Nick Glaetzer is a member of the Barossa Glaetzer family, famous for their big, rich reds, but Tasmanian-based Nick displays a subtle touch with this beautifully balanced, pinot that is a superb wine for the price. Bright, silky and delicious. $25.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hungerford Hill 2008 Tumbarumba Chardonnay

Cool-climate Tumbarumba is producing some outstanding chardonnays, as exemplified by this superb, steely, crisp and intense wine with hints of citrus and minerality and real elegance. One of our very best - and with sensible alcohol levels (13%). $25.

Hungerford Hill 2008 Tumbarumba Chardonnay

Cool-climate Tumbarumba is producing some outstanding chardonnays, as exemplified by this superb steely, crisp and intense wine with hints of citrus and minerality and real elegance. One of Australia’s best - and with sensible alcohol levels (13%). $25.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Penny's Hill 2007 Shiraz

This is a big wine from a drought vintage but winemaker Ben Riggs has still managed to keep the alcohol to 14.5% and among all the spice, chocolate, fruit and nutty characters there is also some elegance. A McLaren Vale red with immediate appeal. $27.

Monday, April 20, 2009

McWilliam's 2007 Hanwood Chardonnay

Plenty of bang for your buck here (this won a recent gold medal at the Chardonnay du Monde competition in France). Peach and melon flavours dominate on the palate, there's some nice soft oak influence, some creaminess and nice balance. Very easy to drink. $12.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tulloch NV Verscato

It's pink and slightly spritzy so I expected to hate it; but this blend of verdelho and chambourcin is surprisingly enjoyable. Made in a moscato style, it's low in alcohol (7.5%), fresh, fruity and slightly sweet, Pretty in pink? You bet. $16.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Jacob's Creek 2008 Tempranillo

Tempranillo is often tipped as the next big variety in Australia - and this new release from Jacob's Creek underlines why. The Spanish grape has produced a juicy, fruity but also quite savoury red wine that offers immense enjoyment. Great value. $12.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Barwang 2006 842 Tumbarumba Chardonnay

The latest addition to the increasingly impressive Barwang range from McWilliam's; a beautifully restrained, high-altitude, cool-climate chardonnay with perfect balance between lemon/lime flavours, minerality and subtle oak. Very fine and elegant. $35.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dowie Doole 2008 Merlot

Hurray for a sensibly-priced merlot that's not bland and boring. This McLaren Vale offering is soft and approachable, as you'd expect, but also has some lovely fruit richness without too much sweetness. A real pleasure to drink! $22.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Taylors 2006 Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon

The Jaraman range gets better and better. This is a classy melange of fruit from the Clare Valley and Coonawarra, perfectly balanced with fabulous dark berry fruit flavours complemented by mint, chocolate, spice and quality oak. Excellent drinking. $30.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pewsey Vale 2008 Eden Valley Riesling

Australians can still drink formidably well on a budget, as evidenced by this superly-crafted riesling from the Yalumba stable. Steely minerality, intense citrus flavours and lively acid all shine through. I'd be happy to drink this every day. $18.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Printhie 2008 Sauvignon Blanc

This Orange-region winery is a byword for quality at fair prices. This is among our better sauvignons blanc with tropical fruit aromas and a nice balance between fruit salad and herbaceous characters on the palate. Disturbingly drinkable. $17.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Helm 2008 Classic Dry Riesling

Ken Helm has been making superb rieslings for three decades at Murrumbateman outside Canberra - and his offerings rival the Clare and Eden valleys for quality. This is bone dry, relatively low in alcohol, full of flavour and with lovely crisp acid. $28.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Henschke 2006 Keyneton Estate Euphonium

What a pleasure to drink a Barossa red with such marvellous balance and poise. A blend of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot, this really sings with dark berry characters, chalky tannins and soft oak all in harmony. $49.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Domaine Chandon 2008 Pinot Gris

The latest addition to the range of Domaine Chandon still wines, this is a fabulous summer wine; very easy to drink with fresh, zippy flavours but also some nicely layered complexity with stone fruit, fig and spice characters prominent. $27.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Deviation Road 2008 Sauvignon Blanc

A terrific savvy blanc from an Adelaide Hills winery that has impressed me over the past 12 months. A wine with many layers of flavour - in contrast to its Kiwi cousins - and nice balance between herbaceous and tropical fruit characters. $18.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jansz Tasmania Premium 2004

This is the official wine of Australia Day - and a great choice as it is one of the best sparkling wines on the market. Quite big and soft but with lovely mousse and acid, and tremendous drinkability. A couple of glasses of this may not be enough! $39.95.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hurley Vineyard 2006 Harcourt Pinot Noir

Six friends around for a tasting. Two dozen top-end wines sampled and this was the favourite by popular acclaim. It's a superb pinot from the Mornington Peninsula with fabulous varietal character, intensity and personality. Brilliant. $49.