Sunday, June 26, 2016

Penfold's 2015 Max's Chardonnay

There has been a lot of debate in the wine community as to whether Penfold's has paid adequate tribute to legendary winemaker Max Schubert with the release of its new Penfold's Max's range. Whatever your thoughts on the matter, this white wine really stood out for me; and it is a little-known fact that Grange creator Schubert also did a lot of white wine research while working at Penfold's. This is a brilliant example of modern chardonnay crafted using fruit from the Adelaide Hills, which underwent its grape-growing revival well after Max's time. To be released over the next few days, it is tightly structured with pure fruit flavours to the fore; a classic cool-climate chardonnay. It has little to do with Schubert's legacy but would doubtless please him with its quality. For me, it is a steal at $35. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

McLeish Estate 2015 Semillon

The McLeish family has a winning way with semillon; perhaps not a surprise as the husband and wife enterprise has been growing grapes in the Hunter Valley for over 30 years. With quality fruit from Robert and Maryanne McLeish's vines combined with the winemaking talent of Andrew Thomas, the McLeish Estate wines are global award winners; and made in tiny volumes. This is the current release, although soon to be replaced by the 2016, and it is a wine that is very much in the zone, still with youthful, zingy lemon sherbet acidity but without any rough acid edges. And, of course, this is a wine designed for the cellar; the 2007 Reserve sells for $220 a bottle and was named the world’s best semillon at the International Wine Challenge in London. Very stylish and ridiculously good value. 25.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Zonzo Estate 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Zonzo Estate, a little slice of rustic Tuscany in the Yarra Valley, now has its own range of wines, crafted by talented winemakers Caroline Mooney and Kate Goodman. This is one of five debut wines and it impresses with its lively cassis intensity along with some leafy notes and hints of spice. No expense has been spared on the packaging; heavy bottle, quality cork and waxed seal all scream "luxury item" but it takes a couple of goes before you can get to the cork without slicing your hand to pieces removing the wax. When you do get to what is in the bottle you will be impressed by the flavours and the structure. A fine debut. $75.   

Monday, June 6, 2016

Giant Steps 2015 Chardonnay

Giant Steps is best known for its single-vineyard pinot noirs and chardonnays, but even at the entry level quality fruit and the skills of Steve Flamsteed and his winemaking team shine through. This an estate chardonnay, made from hand-picked fruit, produced using indigenous yeasts, in a high-tech gravity flow winery with minimal fining and filtration. All of which means diddly squat if you don't get things right; and Flamsteed has. Fruit from three vineyards, given 20% new oak and a month of batonage, has produced a wine that is spot on stylistically. Think bright stone fruit flavours aided and abetted by grapefruit notes, savoury nuances, smoky hints, appealing leanness and lots of length. $35.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Mitchell Harris Blanc #1

This is an experimental wine from John Harris and his "muse and alchemist" Craig McKenzie; inspired by France but offering a unique taste of Australia. You've probably tried Harris's wines before. He was chief winemaker at Domaine Chandon before downsizing to Ballarat, where he makes an impressive range of wines and has an urban cellar door and wine bar. This is the duo's take on French vin de liqueurs, or mistelle de raisins, like Floc de Gascogne or Pineau de Charentes, and is made from sauvignon blanc grapes from the Victorian Pyrenees, fortified with grape spirit and matured in French oak. The end result is a classic aperitif, slightly sweet but wonderfully textural with rose and almond notes, that is probably best enjoyed on ice. Try it and be blown away. $35.