Saturday, December 22, 2012
When we lived in France, back in 1996-2001, the Chablis and Petit Chablis from the Mothe family at Domaine du Colombier were among our regular house wines. The Mothes were delightful people with a friendly little cellar at Fontenay, and their wines offered excellent value for money. Now Marcus Gniel from Ce Soir Wine is importing the Chablis into Australia and I was delighted to discover it is still a really lovely, racy wine. It's pristine and flinty example with terrific acid and length. Match this with oysters, grilled seafood, or some snails in garlic, and you won't go wrong. $32. www.cesoirwine.com.
Monday, December 17, 2012
It had been a while since I had tasted any wines from West Cape Howe - but I've always thought of them as reliably good. Working my way through a recent batch of West Australian samples, the WCH 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was very decent, and the WCH 2012 Chardonnay excellent. And this wine blew my socks off - particularly after I looked at the recommended retail price. This is nothing more, nothing less than an excellent summer drink with semillon and sauvignon blanc playing a virtuoso quitar duel on your tongue. There's freshness, crispness and lots of drinkability. Ridiculous value for $17. www.westcapehousewines.com.au
Sunday, December 9, 2012
This is such a terrific bargain that I feel like keeping it to myself and going off on a big buying spree. So much of what you see in bottle shops for under $10 is complete rubbish, it comes as a real surprise to find a French import that's quite so good for such minimal outlay. This wine from the Languedoc has has blueberry juiciness and gentle cigar box notes; serious structure, impressive tannins and plenty of length. In short, it's a ripper - and it's under screw cap, as well. There's also a very impressive 2011 marsanne in the same range. Exclusive to Dan Murphy's, apparently. $6.99. [That's not a misprint].
Sunday, December 2, 2012
John Harris, formerly the winemaker at Domaine Chandon and Mount Avoca, is now devoting all his attention to his family label. And what a delightful wine from the cooler-climate Victorian Pyrenees this is. Forget all the doom and gloom about the 2011 vintage, there are a lot of excellent wines if you look in the right places - and this is a very good place. This mataro-dominant red blend is juicy, spunky, spicy and very slurpable. There are some bright red currant notes, earthiness, lashings of pepper and some appealing softness on the palate. Good stuff. $27. www.mitchellharris.com.au
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Monday, November 19, 2012
McGuigan is a label that has been collecting a number of international gongs recently - and it is easy to see why when you take a look at the new releases under the Reserve label, which offer a whole lot of bang for your buck. This wine is the classic Australian blend of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon sourced from several regions of South Australia. I liked the bright fruit, well integrated oak, softness and sheer drinkability of this wine. If you are looking for subtlety, or individual vineyard characters, look elsewhere. This is what it is; an impressively well balanced and flavoursome red perfect for a barbecue or for matching with pizza and pasta dishes. $16.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
I am an unashamed fan of both the quality and value offered by the single-vineyard rieslings that Kirrihill produces from the Clare Valley. With 2012 an outstanding riesling vintage, it is no surprise that the new-release Slate Creek riesling is an absolute stunner. It has all the classic varietal virtues with floral aromas, delightfully crisp citrus flavours, flinty minerality and refreshing acid. Checking through my back notes, I find I was also enthused about the 2011 release of this same wine, so I am nothing if not consistent. Immensely enjoyable. Drink now with spicy Thai dishes. $18. www.kirrihillwines.com.au.
Monday, November 5, 2012
There's has been plenty of negativity surrounding the 2011 vintage but I'm seeing many admirable wines; particularly those from producers who pay attention to detail in both the vineyard and winery. This is an absolutely stunning Yarra chardonnay, still a youngster in real terms but starting to drink superbly. It's part of the Oakridge Single Block Release range, made from fruit grown by the Aloisio family at Seville. Straw coloured, this is a wine with excellent acid balance and searing minerality that winemaker David Bicknell says is just starting to hit its stride. You'll find restrained stone fruit and zingy citrus notes on the palate of this long, graceful cool-climate wine. Try it with glazed pork belly. $77. www.oakridgewines.com.au.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Kevin Bell and Tricia Byrnes hand-craft four different pinots from their 3.5 hectares of vines at Balnarring on the Mornington Peninsula, all distinctive and all of outstanding quality. This is my favourite of the 2010 releases, but only marginally. It's a stunning wine if you value balance and elegance. The aromas are perfumed and enticing and lead on to a palate that has both power and finesse with red fruit, delicatessen and sous bois notes. Smoothly textured with a delightful lightness of being, this is a triumph. $75. www.hurleyvineyard.com.au.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Sometimes a wine captures my imagination and, without warning, the bottle is empty. So it was with this delicious chenin blanc from the Loire Valley, where François Pinon is widely considered to be among the pre-eminent organic winemakers. The vines are grown in soil sitting on limestone and black flint (silex noir) that gives the wine its name and this is a wonderfully drinkable white, pure with both sweet honeysuckle and tangy citrus notes along with floral and minerally nuances and impressive concentration and texture. Both interesting and fun. Imported by Marcus Gniel. $36. www.cesoirwine.com.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
|Winemaker Andrew Wigan and his team have been itching to release this for some time and it certainly lives up to expectations with plenty of richness, sweet fruit and high-quality French oak that has been nicely integrated. Some reviewers have found the wine a little hot; but I beg to disagree. I have low tolerance for alcohol warmth in reds and found this one looked great, particularly when matched with food. Look for dark berry flavours, sure, along with plenty of concentration. It's no wimp, erring towards the alpha male side of the spectrum, but I also found balance and approachability given it is a wine built for the long haul. I liked the smart new packaging, too. $100.|
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Margaret River is having a run of dream vintages; of which 2009 was one. Xanadu winemaker Glenn Goodall also is having a run of outstanding releases, of which this is one. All the signs were good, then, when I opened this bottle - and I certainly wasn't disappointed. This is a glorious Margs cab with all the bells and whistles but with no extraneous noise. Think generous fruits de bois notes, quality oak that is beautifully assimilated, varietal character, impressive structure and plenty of length. This is a delightfully balanced wine, full of personality, that is enjoyable right now, or could confidently be cellared. $35. www.xanaduwines.com.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Is this the best colombard in the world? Quite probably. Is this one of Australia's best wine bargains? Most definitely. For 30 years now Joe Grilli has been coaxing extraordinary results from his colombard vines on the Adelaide Plains. What is so often a dull grape used for blending turns from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan in Grilli's capable hands. Fresh and fruity, zingy and zesty, this is a quintessential summer wine, unoaked with lively tropical fruit salad flavours, citrus peel and a delightful briskness on the finish. The name, La Biondina, means "young blonde" - and this is certainly a wine to be enjoyed in its youth. $16. www.primoestate.com.au.
Monday, September 17, 2012
I was just rushing out of a wine tasting, en route to another wine tasting, when fellow scribe Max Allen suggested I hold my horses and check out the Arrivo nebbiolos. Max, as usual, was right on the money. Wine scientist Peter Godden and his partner Sally McGill handcraft tiny quantities of stylish wines in the Adelaide Hills, paying tribute to the great wines of Piedmont. Even though this beautifully savoury and structured wine is four years old, it will ideally be consumed in 15-20 years down the track. It is a wine with impressive architecture, a vinous cathedral with many elements to admire. I loved its brambly intensity and length, tannin structure and its peacock's tail of intense dark fruit and earthy, mushroomy flavours. $48. www.arrivo.com.au.
Monday, September 10, 2012
|Just as Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace are regarded as Australia's iconic red wines, so is Grosset Polish Hill Riesling seen as the benchmark white. It's the wine every restaurateur wants on their list and one collectors have to move swiftly to secure as it always sells out. Year in, year out, Polish Hill delivers purity, minerality and intense freshly squeezed lime juice fruit. It's as fresh as a mountain stream, concentrated and delicious. With 2012 being regarded as one of the greatest riesling vintages for some time, this sleek number may be in short supply. Move fast. If this were a car, it would be a sleek silver Ferrari. $50.|
Sunday, September 2, 2012
This new release from Yarra Valley winery TarraWarra Estate is bang on target as an example of the new-wave savoury rosés that spearheaded last year's Rosé Revolution. Made from 100% pinot noir and aged first in stainless steel, then for three months in older French oak puncheons to add complexity, this is made in deliberately dry, food-friendly style that has some very interesting textural elements. Elegant, with wild strawberry notes and delightfully fresh acid, I would place this among Australia's very best rosés. $22.
Monday, August 27, 2012
I loved the 2010 vintage of this import from near Limoux in the spectacular Aude region of southern France but the 2011 is, if anything, even more impressive with a tightrope balance between bright fruit flavours and elegance. On the second sip I wrote on Twitter that is was a wine that had "empty bottle" written all over it. And so it proved. It's made by British couple James and Katherine Kinglake and has the flinty notes and citrus you'd associate with Chablis, alongside some New World sweet fruit. it's a blend of mainly stainless steel-fermented fruit and some barrel fermented. The vineyard has been organically farmed for the last 30 years and wine has been produced on the estate since the 16th century. The name reflects the local postcode. Once again, the wine is imported into Australia by the canny Marcus Gniel of Ce Soir wines in Healesville. $25. www.cesoirwine.com.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
The latest Tapanappa pinot noir release from winemaking veteran Brian Croser's Foggy Hill Vineyard - a cool site at 350 metres above sea level on the Fleurieu Peninsula - is both exquisitely balanced and scarily Burgundian. It's a medium-bodied wine, concentrated, but with everything exquisitely in place. Matured in French oak barriques (30% new), it has dark cherry, brambly and savoury notes on the palate, some fleshy nuances despite 10% whole bunch input and plenty of length on the finish. It is the vinous equivalent of a supermodel at Cannes: cool, calm and collected. And, joy of joys, it is bottled under screw cap. $50. www.tapanappawines.com.au.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Vermentino is starting shine in warmer Australian wine regions. The late-ripening Italian grape produces whites of vibrancy and freshness in good vintages - and this new release from Corrina Wright at McLaren Vale family winery Oliver's Taranga is among the best Australian vermentinos I've seen. Wright says 2012 was a cracking vintage all round in the Vale, but this has an X-factor that gives it extra appeal. It may be light, crisp and refreshing, but it also has real interest on the palate. Buy a case for summer. $24. www.oliverstaranga.com.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Adelaide Hills winery Hahndorf Hill attracts a lot of attention for its standout use of Austrian varieties gruner veltliner and blaufrankisch but it also produces some more mainstream wines of note. This is a fabulous little wine. The back label describes it as "ultra crisp, ultra cool" - and for once the back label doesn't lie. It's a bright, fresh wine (12.8% alcohol) made unashamedly in the northern Italian grigio style. Fruit forward with pear, green apple and tangerine notes, it is crisp and zesty and a perfect choice for long, hot summer days. I liked this a lot, drank the whole bottle, and it would be great with spicy Thai food as well as being a great quaffer.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Damien Tscharke's Barossa Grounds Collection replaces his former Glaymond label and the quality of the 2010 Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon both blew me away. If you are looking for wines with real depth and a sense of place, then this wine, from the Gnadenfrei vineyard in one of the Barossa's best villages, will certainly appeal. It's a single vineyard, single varietal wine made from a grape that is sadly out of fashion. Make no mistake: this is a big wine, inky and dark with 15% alcohol. There's a lifted plum-driven nose with plenty of richness on the palate with oak beautifully integrated. The palate offers a melange of dark berry and currant flavours, spice and tremendous length. A wine with that great intangible: drinkability. $36.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Decent, quaffable pinot noir for under $20? It's almost impossible to find but this terrific value import from the south of France manages it. Importer Nicholas Crampton describes it as “the best French Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy” and it is certainly a very tidy offering from the Aude Valley. It's on the riper side of the pinot spectrum, certainly no shrinking violet, but no brash bogan either. The (French) girl next door with smoothness, dark cherry fruit flavours, hints of earthiness and plenty of length. It can be found on special for as low as $15 but the RRP is $19.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
A classic Coonawarra cabernet with style and substance that has pleasingly been released after some significant maturation. While there is 14.5% alcohol, the wine is beautifully balanced, with nary a hint of heat on the palate. Rather, this is delightfully nuanced wine crafted by Pete Bissell, who also makes outstanding cabernets for Balnaves. There is a softness and approachability right now with the cabernet aided and abetted by small amounts of merlot and petit verdot, but there is also plenty of structure from aging in new and one-year-old quality French barrels. Think vibrant cassis flavours and nicely judged smoky oak. A lovely wine that is probably undervalued at $44. www.parkercoonawarraestate.com.au.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Self-taught winemaker James Tilbrook handcrafts some exquisite wines in his mini winery in an old woollen mill at Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills. His chardonnays are generally outstanding, and this new release smashes the ball out of the park. There's plenty of flavour here; stone fruit and citrus to the fore, and richness on the palate, too, with barrel fermentation having added textural interest. The wine is nonetheless very modern in style; clean and crisp on the finish with some appealing racy acidity. My bottle was empty in no time. I'd pair this with some Portuguese chicken, or maybe some freshly grilled sardines. Alternatively, it will cellar well for five years or so. Lovely stuff. $25. www.tillbrookestate.com.au.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
It’s hard to beat Adelaide Hills producer Mike Press when it comes to value for money. You always get plenty of flavour and immediate drinkability from Mr Press, as in this new-release from the recently completed vintage. It’s an awesomely fresh and lively wine, indisputably sauvignon blanc, but the exuberant fruit has a real “feelgood” factor. It’s a crisp, crunchy, dry young wine with green citrus, gooseberry and guava flavours; making it a perfect quaffer with its lively acid. It would be superb with pan-fried flathead or some spicy flash-fried prawns. $12-13. www.mikepresswines.com.au
Monday, June 11, 2012
Looking for a red wine that is enjoyable, offers a point of difference and is affordable? Well, you won't go wrong with this fresh and lively young thing from Bunkers at Margaret River. Made from the Spanish grape variety tempranillo, it's a rich and generous red with plenty of flavour and some nutty oak - but its appeal lies in its balance. Yes there are some red berry characters. There's some spice, too, but this is a wine for drinking, not one for pontificating about. My guess is your bottle will pretty soon be empty without you having paid too much attention. Juicy, fruity and delicious, this is great value for $20. www.bunkerswines.com.au.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
A delightful drink this one, from a small producer in Lussac St Emilion on Bordeaux's right bank. There is plenty of concentration on the nose while the palate reveals dark berry and currant flavours with oak (30% new) playing a mere support role. A blend of merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, it is a supple wine, soft and round with excellent balance and complexity, but more importantly drinkability. It's a very clean wine, smooth and characterful and with medium-term cellaring potential. A very good introduction to affordable Bordeaux from a well-regarded vintage. $25. Imported by DiscoverVin. www.discovervin.com.au.
Monday, May 28, 2012
It is all too easy to overlook the tried and trusted - reliably wonderful wines like this Hunter Valley treasure - while frantically searching for the next big thing in the world of wine. This is a classic aged Hunter wine from a family producer that has long been at the forefront when it comes to quality semillon. Released at five years of age, this is still remarkably fresh with citrus aromas alongside hay and honeyed notes - and a similar pattern continues through to the palate. It will cellar beautifully for several more years as evidenced by tastes of the beautifully soft 2005 and the less acidic (from a very hot year) 2003. Concentrated, with attractive mineral/wet pebble characters, this is just starting to show some nutty nuances. Absolutely lovely. $65.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
The economic reality is that many other countries can produce good wines more cheaply than we can in Australia. This is a case in point: a terrific savoury quaffing Spanish red blend that won't break the bank. Bright and lively, but also well put together, this is a soft, ripe red with plenty of flavour and excellent balance. It doesn't merit detailed tasting notes - it is a "midweek" wine best enjoyed with family and friends but none the less enjoyable for that. Imported by Fourth Wave Wines. $13.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
My wine writing colleague Lester Jesberg has commented that this wine is throwback to the days of the great Leasingham Bin wines of four decades ago. I've never had the pleasure of tasting those wines, but this is certainly a red of remarkable quality and intensity. It's a rich, full-blooded wine, for sure, with co-fermented Clare Valley cabernet sauvignon and malbec dancing a tantalising tongue tango with some new French oak. Expect dark cassis and violet aromas and powerful dark fruit on the palate with impeccable tannin structure. A beautifully constructed wine, like a bodybuilder, tight-knit but flexible, and an absolute bargain for $35. www.timadamswines.com.au.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Andrew Thomas, the "maverick" Hunter Valley winemaker (as he was recently described in Decanter magazine), has just released four absolutely outstanding individual site shirazes from the 2010 vintage, and as his his wines traditionally sell out quickly it would pay to move smartly to secure supply. The DJV ($35) is a lighter, more elegant drink-now style, with the superb Motel Block and long-term Kiss Shiraz both excellent at $50. This, however, was the wine I though offered the best value - a bright and intense very modern Hunter shiraz, silky smooth, long and savoury, approachable but cellar worthy with plenty of weight and structure. Formidably good gear, this: a light-heavyweight that packs a considerable punch. $35. www.thomaswines.com.au
Monday, April 30, 2012
Fragrant, elegant, taut and precise, this is a Clare Valley riesling that is perky and racy in its youth but will comfortably cellar for a decade or more. A backbone of searingly crisp acidity is the key to this wine's appeal, with a floral, sweet talcum pwder aromas leading on to searingly freah lime citrus and mineral/flinty notes notes in a wine of formidable structure. If you like your rieslings fragrant, pristine, bone dry and disciplined you won't go wrong here. $33. www.mounthorrocks.com.
Monday, April 23, 2012
For the past four years now, this stunning chardonnay has featured among my wine of the year selections. It's not cheap, but you get what you pay for and this offers quality with a capital Q. Vanya Cullen has the Midas touch with her biodynamically grown fruit, using basket pressing in the winery for a more gentle approach. This comes from a slightly warmer year in Margaret River than the 09 but remains a wine of elegance and complexity. There are the citrus and mineral characters you'd expect to find on the palate, but also oyster shell notes, gentle spices, hints of rich cashew nuts, integrated French oak and structural complexity aided by partial malolactic fermentation. This is a masterpiece of wine architecture - everything is in balance. $105. www.cullenwines.com.au.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
This is the Tasmanian wine, made in tiny quantities unfortunately, that shocked the wine world by winning the Jimmy Watson Trophy at the 2011 Royal Melbourne Wine Show. It’s a beauty, as you’d expect, classic cool-climate shiraz with bright and spicy red berry/cherry fruit; hints of cloves, bay leaves and white pepper. It’s an intense wine in the Rhone style, beautifully composed, with herbal earthiness and supple tannins. A triumph from Nick Glaetzer, whose family knows a thing or two about shiraz, but almost impossible to find as demand hugely exceeded supply. $46.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Dopff au Moulin have been crafting wines in Alsace since 1574, making them one of the world’s oldest family wineries. The new 2010 range, which also includes an impressive riesling and gewurztraminer, is bottled under screw caps, ensuring the wines remain vibrant. They are a revelation compared to previous vintages. This is an absolutely lovely wine and a very good alternative to sauvignon blanc and pinot gris. It is dry and minerally with ripe pear and fresh melon notes. Available at Dan Murphy's, Woolworths Liquor and BWS stores and an absolute bargain for $12.99.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
Vaughn Dell and Linda Morice from Sinapius are two of the rising stars of the Tasmanian scene; making wines with real personality that reflect the terroir of their tiny Pipers River vineyards. Sinapius wines attracted the attention of British wine guru Jancis Robinson on her recent visit, with her describing them as having “intensity that transcends the norm”. This is certainly an outstanding pinot noir, beautifully balanced, with great fruit and some impressive savouriness. It’s a supple, sinewy wine that oozes quality. $42. www.sinapius.com.au.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Here’s a Tasmanian wine for those who like their sauvignon blanc fresh, flinty and minerally with heaps of crunchy acid. This is as sharp as a politician’s tongue and a reflection of the cool-climate terroir. The nose is appealingly floral and grassy and there are no signs of tropical fruit - the palate is driven by herbaceousness, asparagus and that searing acid with gooseberry and greengage notes to the fore. This would be a stunning partner to local seafood – and could also pair well with spicy Asian cuisine.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Rollo and Zoe Crittenden from Crittenden Estate are having a lot of fun with their range of Los Hermanos "The Siblings" wines that focus on the various styles of the Iberian Peninsula. Made from petit manseng grapes grown in the high country of the King Valley in Victoria, this wine doffs its cap to the Txakoli wines of the Spanish Basque region, which are often enjoyed late at night with snacks known as "pintxos". This is a very different style for Australian drinkers, a spritzy but savoury dryish white that is a beautiful food match with anything from gazpacho to anchovies. It's also a great lunchtime wine with just 11.5% alcohol. Try it with tapas. $25. www.crittendenwines.com.au.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
It is easy to see why this pinot noir from the Tamar Valley in Tasmania does so well in wine shows. It's a beautifully put together wine, aromatic, without a hair out of place - the Barbie doll of pinots, certain to be admired on all occasions. It's a wine with both poise and elegance, using top-notch fruit from around the state. Whole bunch pressing has added complexity and oak integration is spot on. You'll find sweet red berry fruit characters and dark cherry on the palate, some intriguing spice notes and some supple tannins. I just wish it had ruffled its hair a little, but that is nitpicking given the quality and drinkability. $40. www.bayoffireswines.com.au.
Friday, January 6, 2012
Here is a wine for lovers of Chablis who cannot always afford their passion. Made by James and Katherine Kinglake in the beautiful Aude Valley between Carcassonne and Limoux, it has all the steely minerality you would associate with Chablis, along with crisp citrus, some honeyed stone fruit and great length. The award-winning vineyard has been organically farmed for the last 30 years and wine has been produced on the estate since the 16th century. The name reflects the local postcode. None of which would mean a jot if the wine wasn't so darn good. I love the intensity, the texture, the structure, the brightness and the fact it is just so refreshing. Just lovely. $27. Imported by Marcus Gniel from Ce Soir Wines. www.cesoirwine.com.