Saturday, December 26, 2015

Andrew Thomas 2015 Braemore Semillon

Andrew Thomas is a fun kind of guy; likes a party and a beer and is a bit of a lad. There's a rumour that he is settling down a bit nowadays; he's just opened his own cellar door for the first time and his partner is pregnant. Thommo is widely regarded as the best maker of semillon in the Hunter Valley; and as a pretty good shiraz craftsman as well. This is his benchmark semillon; a classic Hunter offering that's low in alcohol at 10.3% but full of brisk, lemony citrus goodness on the palate. As is the case with the style, this is a lovely, intense and refreshing wine in its youth with a pedigree for cellaring for a decade or more. Forget whatever prejudices you may have against semillon and try a glass or two of this. It just might change your vinous outlook. $30.   

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Glaetzer-Dixon 2015 Uberblanc Riesling

A stunning cool-climate riesling from Nick Glaetzer of Glaetzer-Dixon Wines in Tasmania that's perfect for pairing with Christmas fare like oysters, prawns and other seafood delights. As the name suggests, it is made in homage to the Pfalz rieslings that entranced Glaetzer when he worked a vintage at Weingut Eugen Muller in Germany in 2001. Think enticing florals, bright flinty minerality, lively citrus flavours, zingy acidity and some textural mouthfeel. A wine that is beautifully balanced and should be served chilled, but not too cold. $26.   

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Oliver's Taranga 2013 Grenache

I was all set to write about the rather lovely 2015 Oliver's Taranga Vermentino, a quintessentially refreshing summer wine, when I opened this juicy red from the same McLaren Vale producer and decided I liked it even more. Grenache is a grape that is often over-looked in favour of shiraz, but it flourishes in warmer climes and produces vibrant, spicy, medium-bodied reds that are perfect for pairing with Mediterranean-style cuisine, and restrained enough to enjoy on their own. This is outstanding. $30.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Grand Bateau 2014 Bordeaux Blanc

Looking for a white wine that offers a little bit more than simple fresh fruit flavours? You've come to the right place. Grand Bateau is a collaboration between Maison Barrière and sister Bordeaux company Chateau Beychevelle, and made by Beychevelle winemaker Philippe Blanc. Sometimes a blend with a semillon component, the 2014 vintage is made from 100% sauvignon blanc with some parcels vinified in oak barrels and others in vats. The end result is a complex palate, full of interest, in which toasty vanillin oak co-exists alongside rich stone fruit characters. A wine of balance and interest. $32. 
Imported by  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Parker Coonawarra Estate 2010 First Growth

This is a Coonawarra take on the great first-growth wines of Bordeaux, produced only in classic years and released when ready to be enjoyed. It is always made predominantly from cabernet sauvignon, usually with small additions of other classic Bordelaise grapes; in this case just over 3% of petit verdot. It is a wine with classic appeal; powerful but elegant and matured in quality French oak that supports rather than intrudes. This comes from a great vintage and is pretty much guaranteed to cellar well for a couple of decades. A very sophisticated Christmas present. $110.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Wickhams Road 2015 Gippsland Pinot Noir

Quality pinot noir for under $20 a bottle is a trick very few wineries can pull off - but Franco d'Anna from Hoddles Creek manages it not once, but twice, with a pair of 2015 wines from the Yarra Valley and Gippsland under the Wickhams Road label. The Yarra Valley version is slightly more elegant, the Gippsland wine a little brighter, as well as a tad more earthy and savoury, but both offer quite astonishing value for money. There's balance here, unmistakable pinosity, and length, too. You might not find the subtleties of Premier Cru Burgundy, but just take a look at the price tag. It's well worth buying a case of this for Christmas as it is one Australia's greatest wine bargains. $18-20.    

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Smokin' Gun 2015 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

It is fast approaching that time of the year when we are looking for cheap and cheerful wines to serve at Christmas parties or family gatherings. We are not looking for anything too complicated, or with cellaring potential, just something that is going to quench our guest's thirsts. And if you are looking for great value, you've come to the right place. This is a fresh and lively West Australian blend of semillon and sauvignon blanc sourced from Margaret River and the Great Southern. It is unoaked and lively and designed for enjoying in its youth; with or without food. This would be a great after-work pick-me-up, or a good companion for fish and chips or Thai dishes like a green chicken curry. Widely available in WA and the ACT, or contact Bennett Street Distributors. $10-12. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Penny's Hill 2013 Skeleton Key Shiraz

Sometimes a wine leaps out of the of glass and demands immediate attention. On other occasions a wine creeps up on you and you suddenly realise you are on your third glass. This delightful McLaren Vale shiraz, designed for the cellar but delicious in its youth, fits firmly into the second category. Made from fruit grown on slightly cooler higher-altitude vines than is the norm in the Fleurieu, this is a red that offers flavour and balance in equal measure. French oak (30% new) adds some complexity and sophistication but does not intrude. If you like your reds rich, with soft supple tannins, then you'll enjoy this plummy/dark berry-fruited number right now. But there is certainly incentive enough to put a few bottles away. $35.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Vinaceous 2015 Impavido Vermentino

This is a quintessential summer wine; full of youthful vigour and vitality. Instant refreshment in a bottle. Winemaker Nick Stacy, whose eye-catching labels have helped build up a cult following, has sourced some excellent fruit from Mount Barker in Western Australia and produced an unwooded white for immediate enjoyment. This offers pristine fruit flavours with a steely minerally core. It is a very Australian take on vermentino; the white grape that is popular in Sardinia and increasingly in the south of France. Not a wine for provoking debate, it is rather a wine for quaffing and laughing and enjoying the sunshine. $22. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mount Horrocks 2015 Watervale Riesling

An absolutely stunning young riesling from consistently excellent Clare Valley winemaker Stephanie Toole, this outshone several more expensive rieslings in a recent tasting. It is made in a classic Watervale style, alive with all the joys of spring; floral on the nose, bursting with energy and driven by fresh citrus zest flavours, brisk minerality and crisp acidity. Pure as mountains stream, it is an estate-grown single-vineyard wine that is certified organic and weighs in at just 12.5% alcohol. I'd recommend snapping up a case for summer-long enjoyment. $33. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tulloch 2014 JYT Selection

Only made in outstanding years (this is just the fifth release since 2007), the JYT Selection represents the best of vintage from the Tullochs, regardless of variety or region. Although this is one of several shirazes from this family-owned and -operated Hunter Valley winery, the fruit on this occasion comes from two cooler-climate regions; the Hilltops outside Young and from Orange. This blend, named in honour family patriarch John Younie Tulloch, is just bursting with bright fruit flavours in its youth but winemaker Jay Tulloch asserts that "it can be cellared for many years". I really enjoyed the fresh red and black berry flavours and the lively natural acidity. For those looking for a Hunter wine, the 2014 Tulloch Pokolbin Dry Red Shiraz ($30) also stars. $40.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Valli Waitaki Vineyard 2013 Pinot Noir

Giuseppe Valli, an Italian with a wine-making background, emigrated to New Zealand in the 1870s. Generations later his great grandsons Grant Taylor and and Tim Valli are making stunning wines from vineyards in north and central Otago. This is an absolutely gorgeous pinot noir from Waitaki, the new wine frontier in North Otago. It has complexity and power, savoury and sweet characters and a line of minerality. It's downright delicious and was my favourite of four Valli regional pinots, just edging out another cracker from Gibbston, ahead of Bannockburn and Bendigo, all which were impressive statements of terroir. With both concentration and balance, this is disarmingly easy to drink. It is imported by Negociants and I scored it 95 points. $70.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Giant Steps 2014 Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay

There are some stunning cool-climate chardonnays being produced in Australia right now - and this is up with the very best of them. The 2014 vintage was a tricky one in the Yarra Valley but Giant Steps winemaker Steve Flamsteed and his team overcame all to produce some brilliant offerings; most notably this luminous chardonnay made from fruit grown on label owner Phil Sexton's own vineyard. Flamsteed says the 2014 wines are "rare and very special and we think they are the most honest and exciting wines we have ever made."  From vineyards that are managed biodynamically, this has all the winemaking bells and whistles; partial whole bunch, indigenous ferment, malo, quality oak and no filtration. The end result is stunning; a complex, racy wine with brisk minerality and immediate appeal. I'll give it 95 points - and say it is cracking value. $45. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Indigo 2014 Beechworth Pinot Noir

I was hugely impressed by the new range of wines from Indigo Vineyard in the Alpine valleys of Victoria (smart new labels, too). Indigo primarily sells fruit to labels including Brokenwood and Seville Estate but also produces small parcels under its own label, which are vinified at Brokenwood. The cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and viognier all sang (and offer excellent value in the $30-$35 bracket), but this was my favourite voice, a beautifully constructed pinot noir that hits all the right notes with concentrated sweet fruit notes allied to earthy tones and a real elegance on the finish. A wine of complexity and interest with sensible alcohol levels (13.3%). Distributed by L'Atelier and well worth seeking out. $35. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Pewsey Vale 2015 Eden Valley Riesling

Wine writers are always looking for something new and exciting about which to report. It may be a new producer, a different grape variety, or wine from a new region. That means we can sometimes overlook wines that are tried and true; and have stood the test of time. There is nothing particularly exciting or newsworthy about the new-release Pewsey Vale riesling other than its amazingly consistent quality. The Pewsey Vale vineyard was established in 1847 and produced some of Australia's first cool-climate wines. Fast forward 170 odd years and it is still a prime high-altitude site producing vibrant, dry, minerally and downright delicious dry riesling vintage after vintage. $25.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

La Prova 2014 Nero d'Avola

Hanhdorf-based Sam Scott sources fruit from around South Australia for his La Prova range, which highlights new-wave wine varieties at very reasonable prices. This is an excellent take on the Italian variety Nero d'Avola, made using grapes from the Barossa Valley. It is made using wild fermentation, 10 weeks on skins and is unfined and unfiltered, adding interest to a palate on which ripe, dark berry and tangy currant flavours are a major drawcard. Lovely stuff. $25.  

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Les Clairon des Anges 2013 Costieres de Nimes

Among a batch of impressive imports from FrancAboutWine, this delicious little southern Rhone red stood out as offering great value for money. A lip-smacking blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre this is more on the savoury end of the spectrum than many of its Australian brethren. Think black and blue fruits, hints of pepper and spice and a smooth mouthfeel. This is a really delightful import - and superb value for the price. Well worth trying. $19.    

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cullen 2013 Kevin John Chardonnay

Vanya Cullen pays attention to detail in whatever she does; whether that is in her biodynamically managed vineyards, or in the winery. Her icon white wine, named in honour of her father, underlines the benefits of that attitude. It is, quite simply, one of Australia's finest white wines, a chardonnay where brilliant fruit and quality oak come together to create a tour de force. Grapes were whole bunch pressed and fermented with wild yeast in French barriques and the fruit underwent natural malolactic fermentation prior to nine months in new and one-year-old oak. The end result; a beguiling combination of tropical fruit and citrus notes with elegance and nutty intensity.$105.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ruckus Estate 2013 Merité Merlot

This one could be a real game changer. While many Australian merlots are bland and monochromatic, this debut wine from Ruckus Estate is a very different beast. There is some great fruit here, along with quite prominent oak (50% new), and the overall package might change your mind about merlot in Australia as this could easily be mistaken for right bank Bordeaux. Impressive. New clones planted in Wrattonbully and great work from consultant winemaker Sue Bell are the key here, with all the bells-and-whistles (joke) wine making including partial whole bunch, open ferments, indigenous yeasts etc. This is dark and inky but at the same time subtle and beguiling. I'll be looking out for the second release. $50.  

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Weingut Schrock 2013 Beerenauslese

From an impressive range of wines from Austrian Heidi Schrock, who is based at Rust in the Burgenland, this is an outstanding beerenauslese dessert wine that is sweet but impeccably poised. The Schrock family has been growing grapes since the late 18th century and the family's south-facing vineyards form an amphitheatre around Lake Neusiedl. This is a 50-50 blend of riesling and pinot blanc, largely botrytised, with a delicate floral nose that leads on to a cumquat marmalade palate with 95 grams of residual sugar and a crisp acid finish. This is more than just a "pudding wine", however, with Schrock keen that wine lovers should try pairing her sweet wines with savoury dishes. This would go well with spicy Thai seafood dishes with a high chilli and ginger quotient. $60 for 375mlImported by World Wine Estates 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A.Retief 2012 Gundagai Shiraz

If you enjoy red wines than sing softly rather than shriek, then you've come to the right place. This is a quite splendid cool-climate shiraz made by Alex Retief from fruit grown on his family's biodynamic vineyard in the Gundagai region, previously better known for a sculpture of a dog on a box rather than vinous excellence. This, however, should make you sit up and pay attention. It is a melodious wine of great subtlety, with dark cherry and white spice notes canoodling contentedly. There is plenty of length and plenty of flavour (and only 11.5% alcohol) but all the elements are seamless. Quite simply a lovely drink. $28.  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Grace Farm 2014 Chardonnay

Grace Farm is a relative newcomer in Margaret River. The first vines were only planted in 2006 and the initial wines were released in 2010. Young vines or not, this is an absolutely outstanding chardonnay with an impressive purity and intensity to it. The fruit is grown in vineyards that are farmed organically, although not certified, and this was hand-picked and fermented using indigenous yeasts. French oak barriques have added structural interest without intruding on the brightness, while stone fruit and citrus notes co-existing amicably along with fresh, brisk acidity. A really lovely wine to drink - and absurdly good value. We paired it with roast loin of pork. $30.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hay Shed Hill 2013 Block 8 Cabernet Franc

This is like a very good football referee. It speaks softly but commands great respect. Michael Kerrigan makes a very wide range of wines at Hay Shed Hill in Margaret River and while cabernet franc may seem an unlikely choice as a stand-alone variety, it really shines in this incarnation. There is real concentration and varietal character here, making this perhaps the "go to" label for anyone interested in what is mostly used a blending component in Australia, and virtually everywhere else except Chinon in the Loire Valley. This is a wine of both restrained power and finesse (none of your airy fairy franc lightness here) and it is extremely food friendly, too. $35.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Pawn 2013 The Austrian Attack Gruner Veltliner

The Pawn is the wine label of Tom Keelan, former vineyard manager and still significant other at Bremerton in Langhorne Creek, along with some of his wine industry colleagues. It is a new name to me, introduced by his Tasmanian distributor Joe Holyman, and all three wines I tried, this, a sangiovese and a tempranillo, shone. As you might have guessed, the focus is mainly on alternative varieties and this Adelaide Hills take on the aromatic Austrian grape gruner veltliner sings with all the silvery tone of a diva soprano. It offers both refreshment and textural interest with orange blossom fragrance, apple and pear notes and hints of white spice. There is brisk minerality and some assertive acid. Fun and interesting. $27.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

St Hallett 2012 Old Block Shiraz

At a time when many Barossa producers are charging several hundred dollars a bottle for their flagship reds it is remarkable that St Hallett's Old Block Shiraz still has an RRP of just $100. It is an outstanding wine in its own right, cellar-worthy for sure, but also a tad more suave and elegant than several of its more brash, robust contemporaries. This is a stylish wine that's made from both Barossa and cooler-climate Eden Valley fruit. Matured in French oak, its has both power and restraint. From a great vintage, this supple and savoury wine weighs in at an eminently sensible 13.7% alcohol and is designed for sipping and savouring, perhaps when matched with a venison casserole. $100.     

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Helm 2015 Classic Dry Riesling

Ken Helm has been making rieslings in the Canberra region for close on 40 years now. He was a pioneer of the variety so when he describes his 2015 Classic Riesling as “an extraordinary wine from a spectacular year” there is more truth than hype in play. From a year Helm describes as “Nulli Secundus” - none better, this is a wonderfully aromatic example made from grapes sourced from the Helm estate and neighbouring vineyards within the Murrumbateman valley. Fresh floral aromas lead on to lime, grapefruit and Granny Smith apple flavours, hints of slatey minerality, river pebbles and a gram or two of residual sugar. The finish is brisk and clean and this was superb with a dish of pan-fried blue-eye trevalla. $35.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

SC Pannell 2014 Tempranillo Touriga

A gloriously gluggable trans-Iberian blend of the Spanish grape tempranillo and Portuguese variety touriga nacional that is full of youthful enthusiasm and offers tremendous drinking pleasure at a wallet-friendly price. McLaren Vale maestro Steve Pannell makes several wines more serious than this - but few that can match it for vinous joie de vivre. It is a juicy, fruit-driven red this, with some attractive savoury/deli notes. The previous vintage of this wine won several trophies and sold out, so it may pay to be quick off the mark this time. I'll give it 94 points and a bonus point for being such fun to drink. $28.   

Friday, June 19, 2015

Rosabrook 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

Margaret River produces some outstanding sauvignon blanc/semillon blends and if your penchant is for enjoying them when they are at their freshest and most vibrant then this is a wine that you should make the effort to track down. It is a crisp as the water from a mountain stream, as pungent as newly-baled hay and fruitier than an old-style English comedian. Imagine vibrant lifted aromas that leap out of the glass; lime citrus notes alongside hints of passionfruit and guava; and then throw in some brisk, refreshing acid. This blend of 55% sauvignon blanc and 45% semillon was been entirely fermented in stainless steel and is hopefully a harbinger of good things to come from the 2015 vintage out west. Drink now. It's spectacular value, too, at $20.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Levantine Hill 2012 Samantha's Paddock

If you haven't heard of Levantine Hill, you've probably been living under a rock for the past couple of years. The brainchild of Elias and Colleen Jreissati, this is an operation set up to make benchmark wines. With former Yarra Yering winemaker Paul Bridgeman at the helm and a plush cellar door soon to open at Coldstream in the Yarra Valley (chef Teage Ezzard is also on board), everything about Levantine Hill screams quality. I caught up for lunch with the Jreissatis during the week, so this wine was not tasted blind, but it could not fail to impress with its quality. A classic blend of Bordeaux grape varieties from a superlative vintage, this is the epitome of wine elegance. Think cassis and dark berries, gentle oak and impressive structure. Medium-bodied and impeccably balanced, this is remarkably good (and extremely French in style) for a wine made from such young vines. It shines with food and I'm happy to score it 95. I can't wait to see subsequent releases. $125. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Greywacke 2012 Pinot Noir

Kevin Judd made his reputation at Cloudy Bay, where he was largely responsible for the global success of that brand. Nowadays, he combines his career as a world-class photographer with making far smaller amounts of wine under his own Greywacke label, named after the rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of his vineyard. Judd makes wines with soul and a sense of place and this is elegant with sweet fruit and spice and lots of length. Concentrated, taut as a violin string and potentially very long lived. $45.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Shottesbrooke 2012 McLaren Flat Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

An absolutely cracking single-vineyard cabernet sauvignon from Shottesbrooke in McLaren Vale. There are several other wineries in the region with higher profiles but Hamish Maguire and his team go about their business with a minimum of fuss and fanfare. This blew me away with its generosity and balance. Great fruit and some deft winemaking - including smart oak treatment - has produced a cabernet that is both varietal, regional and extremely drinkable. It carries its 14.5% alcohol lightly and is more understated and stylish than some of its brash and outspoken McLaren Vale cohorts. Enjoy a bottle (or two) of this with a winter casserole. It is worth every penny of $40. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rusden 2012 Black Guts Shiraz

If you like your red wines with plenty of personality; wines that reflect the soil in which they are grown and the sun that ripens the fruit, then you've come to the right place. The Canute family's wines are made with love and attention to detail, none more so than this flagship old vines shiraz. Estate-grown and made, it is a little bit gnarly, full of flavour and unmistakably Barossan. Winemaker Christian Canute describes it as "a new world wine made in a old world style" - hence, perhaps, the cork closure. There is plenty of muscular grunt here but also balance. Match this with a slab of steak for a primeval feast. From a great vintage, it needs time to open up after the cork has been removed. I'll score it 94/100. $85. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Gaelic Cemetery 2014 Celtic Farm Riesling

Gaelic Cemetery is a new name to me. Some research revealed it is a joint venture between Neil and Andrew Pike, grape grower Grant Arnold, who has some old vines, and Ben and Mario Barletta of Australian Domaine Wines. The reason I bothered to do any research is because this vibrant, juicy, citrusy riesling blew me away with its value for money. Clare Valley riesling is always a good buy but this one is a little beauty with its aromatics, delightfully refreshing with pure lemon, lime and grapefruit notes, 11% alcohol and tight acid on the finish. You couldn't ask for anything more in a wine that is an absolute steal at $20. I'll give it 94/100.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Clonakilla 2014 Pinot Noir

Tim Kirk has shiraz viognier blends nailed. Now he's turned his talents to that most challenging of grapes, pinot noir, as part of the annual Clonakilla small and rare batch release. Beautifully soft, silky and sweet, this gloriously varietal wine is a triumph. With 30% of whole bunch fruit, it spent one-year in fine-grained French oak before being released as a deliciously fragrant and youthful wine. It is a supple young thing with immense potential to blossom. Be quick. This was made in small quantities and won't last long. I'll give it 94/100. $55.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Houghton 2012 Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon

First produced in 1994, this single-vineyard wine from the Frankland River region of West Australia's Great Southern honours Jack Mann, who was senior winemaker at Houghton from 1930-1972. From a great red vintage, this is made from some of the region's oldest vines. It is an Immensely satisfying wine, with impressive dark fruit and impeccable balance, while subtle oak and an assertive tannin structure suggest this will cellar well for decades. One of the best Jack Manns to date. $115.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Singlefile 2014 Porongurup Riesling

Regions of West Australia's remote Great Southern region, particularly Frankland River and the Porongurups, are noted for producing steely, classy rieslings of impeccable line and length. This bone dry number is gloriously gluggable, weighing in at just 11.3 percent alcohol, and is one of a number of very fine wines produced by this under-rated producer, a boutique family-run operation that was named as a James Hailliday "Dark Horse" winery in 2014. $25.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sebastien Dampt 2013 Chablis

A cracking Chablis - available under screw cap in Australia - from Sebastien Dampt, son of renowned Chablisienne producer Daniel Dampt. This is a relatively inexpensive wine from the appellation but none the less delicious for that. This is a very pure wine, with bright acid, and palate interest has been added by six months on lees and malolactic fermentation. Lemon and other citrus notes are to the fore, along with white peach, with the chardonnay fruit looking very fresh and tense. Made from 45-year-old vines and a lovely companion for grilled flathead fillets, crustaceans and old-fashioned roast pork. Imported by France Soir. $36.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mandala 2012 Prophet Pinot Noir

The wines from Mandala, a relatively new producer in the Yarra Valley, have shown immense promise over the past decade. This single-vineyard pinot noir from cool Yarra Junction (Mandala also has a vineyard at Dixon's Creek) not only confirms that potential, it underlines it in thick black marker pen, Made only in outstanding years, this has a compelling freshness and vibrancy to it; perfumed with poached cherry flavours, newly-picked raspberry notes and understated oak all coming together, this is a delightfully light-on-its-feet wine that would once have been labelled feminine - had that term not been outlawed by the police of vinous political correctness. Anyway, this is lovely, speaks of the region and will set you back around $50.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Henschke 2010 Hill of Grace

This is a wine of remarkable intensity that is destined to be rated with the greatest Hill of Graces. Think ripeness, concentration, balance and a tribute to a remarkable vineyard with vines up to 150 years old in the Eden Valley. A wise wine, one that is comfortable in its skin even in its youth, with dark berry notes, a melange of Asian spices, cedary oak and silky tannins. It a wine that will continue to emerge and flourish over the next couple decades. A vinous treasure. I'm happy to score this one 99/100. $699.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Howard Park 2014 Mount Barker Riesling

Many years ago Howard Park had a riesling labelled simply as coming from Western Australia. It was one of the finest in the land. Then the wine was defined as Great Southern, the source of almost the entirety of the fruit. Then came a second wine, labelled as from the Porongurups, and then, in 2014, the Great Southern wine was re-labelled Mount Barker as the fruit all now comes from that sub-region. No matter how confusing those changes may have been, both Howard Park rieslings remain at the pinnacle with my personal preference, in this vintage, just going for the Mount Barker wine. It is flinty, minerally, citrusy and gorgeous, pristine, lively, zesty and delicious. You get the picture. $33.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kooyong 2013 Chardonnay

It is uncanny how often winemaker Sandro Mosele hits the bullseye with the refined chardonnays and pinots he makes under both the Port Phillip Estate and Kooyong labels. I recently raved about the 2013 Port Phillip Chardonnay, which is a few dollars cheaper than this, but if you have the extra cash to splash then this is the wine I would opt for. Everything is in place here, like a catwalk model at fashion week, great cool-climate fruit, barrel-ferment adding structure and interest to the pristine grapefruit and pear notes and a great line of purity and acid. A wine that simply oozes class. $42.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Yabby Lake 2013 Single Block Release Block 2 Pinot Noir

Wine show results can often be a crap shoot but the fact this wine won six trophies at the Royal Sydney Wine Show last month made even this cynic sit up and take notice. And, thankfully, the hype is merited. This wine, made in tiny quantities by Tom Carson from Block 2, rows 1-37 of the Yabbly Lake vineyard at Tuerong on the Mornington Peninsula to be precise, is absolutely stunning. Beautifully structured, wonderfully smooth with ethereal high notes, this has red berry suppleness, Asian spices and terrific texture. It is drinking marvellously in its youth for a wine made from vines that are just 17 years old and will doubtless cellar well for those with the patience. You made need to move quickly, however, as stocks are already deplenished after its trophy sweep in Sydney and four at the National Wine Show in Canberra lat last year. $95. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Trentham Estate 2014 Merlot

I was perfectly prepared to hate this wine. It's made from fruit grown in the unfashionable Riverland; it's merlot, which is so often unfocused and lacking in interest, and it comes with a bargain basement price tag. The one thing in its favour was that it is made by Trentham Estate, where the Murphy bothers have been known to conjour previous vinous miracles. This is not complex or challenging but it does offer a damn good return on a minimal investment. It's soft, smooth and disarmingly easy to drink. On one of those nights where you just want something affordable to accompany pizza or pasta try opening a bottle of this. You won't be disappointed. $16. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tapanappa 2013 Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay

If you are looking for a chardonnay with precision, purity and linearity you won't go wrong with the delicious cool-climate chardonnay grown on a vineyard that veteran winemaker Brian Croser describes as producing fruit that provides "a pure expression of terroir". The vineyard site is 450 metres above sea level at Piccadilly in the Adelaide Hills and this is made entirely from the Tiers old vines planted in 1980. It shows no sign of 2013 having been a warmer than average year. French Vosges oak barriques (33% new) and partial malo play second fiddle to the quality fruit here; ripe stone fruit characters duel deftly with grapefruit and minerally acid notes to produce a wine that is refined and elegant. An Australian classic. $75.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Capital Wines 2014 The Whip Riesling

The Canberra region is producing some outstanding rieslings; think Helm, Clonkilla, Lark Hill and this delightful offering from Capital Wines. This is part of the quirky Ministry series, the labels of which poke fun at governmental figures. It is a deliciously brisk and fresh wine, perfect for enjoying chilled on one of these later summer evenings. There are zingy lemon and lime notes and some crisp acidity that would make this a great companion for salt and pepper squid or John Dory and chips. $19.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hanwood Estate 1913 Riverina Touriga 2013

There is room for confusion here with the label shouting 1913 in large letters and declaring vintage 2013 in tiny print but you'd probably need to be a moron in a hurry to believe you were getting 100-year-old wine for $25. This is a new label celebrating the arrival of the McWilliam family in the Riverina in 1913 to pioneer what is now a massive wine industry. The range consists of a vermentino, a durif and this spectacular offering made from the Portuguese grape variety touriga nacional. Touriga grapes have traditionally been use for fortified wines but here they produce a juicy, intense and savoury table wine of considerable appeal. Look out for more touriga releases as the variety clearly has great potential in warmer regions. $25.    

Friday, January 23, 2015

Wickhams Road 2014 Yarra Valley Chardonnay

There are few wineries that can match Hoddles Creek when it comes to over-delivering on quality. In a world where stellar cool-climate wines fetch extremely high prices, the d'Anna family's Wickhams Road range stands as a beacon of affordable quality. In 2014 I felt the Yarra chardonnay just edged out its Gippsland counterpart, but both offer exceptional value. This whispers rather than shouts; it has 12.7% alcohol, citrus and hints of nectarine on an unashamedly fruit-driven palate; nice acid and length, too. Lively, nicely balanced and ridiculously good for $18.     

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sabre by Mitchell Harris 2011

An absolutely stunning sparkling wine from John Harris, which should come as no surprise as he was once chief winemaker at Domaine Chandon. From a cold, wet vintage, this oozes class with bright seaspray and citrus characters to the fore. A blend of pinot noir from the Macedon Ranges and chardonnay from the Pyrenees, it is a bright, linear bubbly with plenty of length and lashings of mineral acidity. This is a dry, aperitif style made in tiny quantities (think less than 250 cases annually). $40. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hecht & Bannier 2011 Languedoc Rouge

So Frenchy, so chic. If you are looking for a lighter-style red wine for summer quaffing then this well-priced import should be on your radar. There is a real French joie de vivre about this certified organic blend of shiraz, grenache and cinsault from St Chinian and nearby Larzac and Agly in the rapidly-becoming-fashionable Languedoc. A fabulous food wine, extremely refreshing with bright fruit and acid, this is unoaked and perfect for immediate drinking, maybe even chilled for a few minutes in the fridge. $27. Imported by

Monday, January 5, 2015

Moores Hill 2014 Riesling

Julian Allport from Moores Hill described the 2014 vintage in Tasmania's Tamar Valley as a “cruel” one, with yields well down on previous years. There is only half as much riesling as from 2013, when stock sold out by April. Fortunately, quality is high, and this is a deliciously crisp and floral dry wine that will delight fans. The palate is a mix of tangy grapefruit notes and mountain stream freshness with plenty of length and zesty, refreshing acid. It was named the best riesling at the recent Taste of Tasmania and looks lovelier every time I see it. Better be quick. $30.