Sunday, June 28, 2020

Henschke 2018 Henry's Seven

If you fancy trying a Henschke wine but don't have the $850+ to splash out on a bottle of Hill of Grace, then the Henry's Seven red blend is a very good option. Made in the same meticulous fashion as the rest of the organic and biodynamic Henschke range this is affordable luxury. A blend of shiraz, grenache and mataro, with a touch of viognier, it is a very composed red ideal for enjoying over winter. Plummy, soft and smooth. Instant gratification. $37. 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Coriole 2019 Sangiovese

The Lloyd family in McLaren Vale were the first vignerons in Australia to recognise the potential of the Tuscan grape sangiovese, which many Australians had enjoyed in imported Chiantis. Coriole first planted sangiovese in 1985 and the winery is seen as the style guide for the variety. This is, quite simply, a lovely savoury red wine, medium-bodied and extremely food friendly. It pairs not only with Italian-accented dishes but also with modern Australian cuisine. You won't find many better sub-$30 reds. $28.   

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Xanadu 2017 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Super stylish Margaret River cabernet, with just a touch of malbec to add muscularity. The Xanadu reserve cabernet is only made in exceptional years - the last was 2014. Think Frank Sinatra at his finest; this is charismatic, almost effortless, with changes of mood and tempo. The nose offers wild berry aromas, oaky hints and After Eight mint notes, while the palate has power, precision and elegance in equal measure. Inky, silky and intriguing, this is a world-class cabernet with complexity and youthful vibrancy. It will cellar comfortably to 2030 and beyond. 97/100. $

Friday, June 5, 2020

Hurley Vineyard 2018 Garamond Pinot Noir

A superb wine from a brilliant Mornington Peninsula vintage made by one of Australia's few genuine garagiste producers. Kevin Bell and partner Tricia Byrnes are busy legal eagles who devote much of their spare time to producing a range of four pinots that aim to reflect their micro-terroirs. I've been looking at their wines for a couple of decades and they have never been better, from the excellent $50 estate wine to this flagship from a three-acre vineyard planted in 1998 and hitting its peak. Cherry and berry notes and subtle savoury hints are to the fore in a wild yeast-fermented, basket-pressed wine of immense appeal and purity. Think length, laser-like precision and velvet mouthfeel. Better than many village Burgundies. Garamond, by the way, was a Renaissance French typographer whose font appears on Hurley Vineyard labels and stationary. Claude would be very proud. 98/100. $85.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

De Bortoli 2018 Section A5 Chardonnay

There is a certain magic to the chardonnays produced by Steve Webber at De Bortoli Yarra Valley. While the wines are cool-climate Australian, each carries just a little whisper of Burgundy. This single-vineyard wine is made from vines planted 45 years ago that produce chardonnays with exceptional purity of fruit; think a high-quality Pouilly-Fuissé, perhaps. It is a very elegant wine, from a warm season with very appealing elegance and bright natural acid. I like it right now, but it could also cellar for a year or two should you wish. A wine to sip and ponder, maybe with some James Taylor on the stereo. Very composed; very tempting.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Petaluma 2018 White Label Cabernet Sauvignon

The Petaluma white label range has been given a visual tweak but continues to offer very decent value for money. The Adelaide Hills winery sources its cabernet sauvignon from Coonawarra and this is a very tasty little introduction to quality cooler-climate cabernet; it has dark cherry and intense blackcurrant notes to the fore alongside quality French oak. It is medium-bodied with soft tannins and immediately approachable with plenty of length. I'd pair this with an old school shepherds' pie for maximum enjoyment. $29.   

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Frankland Estate 2018 Chardonnay

This is a very high quality chardonnay for its price point; made from certified organic fruit grown on the Isolation Ridge vineyard in the remote Frankland River region of West Australia. The ironstone soils help craft a wine that has zippy grapefruit and tangerine flavours to the fore, with some subdued nutty and smoky characters.There is freshness here, complexity, length and a dry, crisp finish. A wine with serious poise that would pair well with pan-fried fish dishes, or some James Taylor on the turntable. $30.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Longview 2018 Saturnus Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo is an Italian red grape variety from the Piedmont area where it is used in the classic wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. In Australia, it tends to show at its best in cooler regions, as exemplified by this excellent release from the Adelaide Hills, which offers more than a nod to the grape's ancestry. Dark notes, from licorice to prunes, black cherries to violets shine here in a medium-bodied red that encourages glugging rather than sipping. It is complex, savoury and bright with beguiling dusty tannins. Savoury notes ensure it will cellar well, but it is downright delicious right now - a vinous Lolita. A very solid 95/100. $50.  

Friday, April 10, 2020

Thorn-Clarke 2018 Vineyard Selection Mataro

Mataro, also known as mourvedre or monastrell, depending on where it is grown, is used in the reds of the Rhone Valley and Provence in France, in Spain and the California. In the Barossa Valley it is most often used as a blending grape (usuually with shiraz and grenache). Here is stands proudly alone. The fruit is from the Hoffman vineyard on Ebenenzer Road and while it is a ripe, assertive red it also has enough nuance to be enjoyable in its youth. Concentrated, dark, spicy and briary, it finishes with seductive softness. Pair it with offal dishes, or a vegetable quiche. $38.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Kooyong 2018 Farrago Single Block Chardonnay

It is almost impossible to wrong with the single-vineyard chardonnay releases from esteemed Mornington Peninsula producer Kooyong; you can taste the attention to detail adopted by winemaker Glen Hayley and his vineyard team. This razor-sharp single-block wine is sourced from just 1.02 hectares of near 20-year-old chardonnay vines within the 2.76 hectare Farrago block. French oak and lees stirring have played a role but linear intensity and flinty minerality are the key element. If you love citrusy Chablis with zesty drive then you won't want to miss this. Well worth splashing out on. 95 points. $61.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Bremerton 2019 Special Release Grenache

It is a mystery why grenache is not more popular in Australia, particularly given it so often offers good drinking at very reasonable prices. This features juicy, fruity dark cherry flavours and medium-weight. There are spice hints alongside the bright fruit in a wine that can be enjoyed immediately - and is actually all about drink-now pleasure. Oak is very much in the background and you should slurp this a meat or mushroom pizza. $24.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Rusty Mutt 2018 Vin Sol Tempranillo

There's a lot of care and attention that goes into the Rusty Mutt range; an eclectic McLaren Vale selection of viognier, shiraz, grenache and tempranillo that are hand plunged and basket pressed. This is a particularly appealing take on the Spanish grape variety tempranillo. The fruit is the hero with its bright dark cherry flavours allied to hints of spice and earthy deli notes. There is some fresh acidity and this would be terrific with anything from a Spanish omelette to paella. Deliciousness in a bottle. And it got better over two sucessive days once opened. $35.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Curly Flat 2018 Macedon Ranges Chardonnay

That you can buy one of Australia's finest chardonnays for under $50 a bottle is great news for wine lovers. This is a beautifully composed young chardonnay from a very good vintage in Victoria's Macedon Ranges that offers excellent value given the rising prices of white Burgundy. Estate-grown, vinified and bottled, this is the epitome of cool-climate purity with stone fruit and citrus notes in a lovers' tryst on the palate, refreshing acidity on the finish and come hither appeal. Subtle French oak aids and abets the deliciousness. If you are a lover of quality Chablis you'll want to have a crack at this. $46.    

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Maretti 2018 Chianti

Pair this with a simple pizza Margareta, close your eyes, turn on some opera and may find yourself magically transported to a wonderful little trattoria in the back streets of Sienna. Or you may not. Either way this is a really lovely little slice of Italy; sangiovese with just a touch of cabernet, that may help add a little romance to your Friday night. Savoury and interesting, this is a lovely drop for a very reasonable price. $24.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

O'Leary Walker 2019 Watervale Riesling

After 20 years in partnership winemakers David O'Leary and Nick Walker have built a formidable reputation for both quality and value. Based in Leasingham in the Clare Valley, the duo is particularly well known for excellent rieslings. This comes from the Grace's vineyard, a dry-grown, west-facing vineyard that produces wonderfully bright, crisp and zingy dry rieslings with immediate zesty appeal. Pair with seafood, fresh shellfish or any Asian-styles dishes. Think lovely citrus freshness - with a new-look label. $25.