Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Little William 2016 Montepulciano

Mino and Co. is a new wine name to me - but with the striking presentation and brilliant 2016 Montepluciano I will certainly be paying attention from now on. The Little William label is a play on the family name of Guglielmino, who originated in the Sicilian coastal village of Fiumefreddo. The family has a deft touch with Italian varietals sourced both from the Riverina and South Australia - or in this case Heathcote in Victoria. This one paired impressively with a mushroom pizza but would match well with a range of dishes given its balance between fruit and savoury characters. Lovely stuff. $35.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Curly Flat 2019 Chardonnay


After 30+ years of producing stellar chardonnays and pinot noirs in the Macedon Ranges, Curly Flat is something of an "insiders" wine, much loved by members of the trade; mainly because of reliable quality and terrific value. Owner Jenifer Kolkka brought winemaker Matt Harrop on board a couple of vintages ago and the wines continue to shine; this rather Burgundian chardonnay, more Meursault than Chablis, would be fabulous with Christmas roast pork or turkey. Concentrated stone fruit aided and abetted by mineral acid drive. Lovely stuff. 96/100. $46.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

d'Arenberg 2019 The Anthropecene Epoch


Feeling adventurous? Dump cabernet, bypass shiraz and instead enjoy a glass or two of mencia. The grape from north-west Spain is very much at home in the warmth of McLaren Vale, producing medium-bodied reds with lips-smacking potential. This is fresh, vibrant and aromatic with berry and plum notes to the fore. A wine for enjoying in its youth - and it can even be lightly chilled on a summer day. Pair with a Spanish omelette. $30.  

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Yalumba 2016 The Signature


If you are looking for a Christmas present for a lover of serious Australian wine then look no further. This is the new release of a classic Australian blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz with the signature of long-time Yalumba winemaker Louisa Rose. Yalumba's history dates back to 1849 and since 1962 each release of the Signature has been dedicated to people who have "made a significant contribution to the culture and traditions of Yalumba".  This is the 47th Signature and probably one of the finest - well done winemaker Kevin Glastonbury. This vintage is dark and inky, complex and intense and is drinking well in its youth but will cellar well. Pair with beef bourgignon or fricasee of mushrooms. $65.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Angove Naturalis 2020 Pinot Grigio


This single vineyard wine is part of a new range from Angove that ticks all the hipster boxes. It is certified organic, vegan friendly, picked in the cool of the night and made with minimal preservatives. The good news continues in that it is very affordable, and comes in a lightweight bottle. Made from fruit sourced near Paringa, in South Australia, it is, most importantly of all, very smashable. Unoaked, it comes with fresh white stone fruit flavours to the fore and some very refreshing crisp acidity. Drink now. Summer in a bottle. $18.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Tyrrell's 2015 Vat 1 Semillon


This is an Australian classic that is drinking beautifully at five years of age. Hunter semillon is a unique treasure and this part of the new vintage release of the Tyrrell's Winemaker’s Selection range. The 2015 Vat 1 Semillon was the product of a long, cool summer and has an amazing intensity on both nose and palate. There is still plenty of refreshing acidity - but the fruit flavours have mellowed just a tad. Vat 1 is always sourced from old vine, dry grown vineyards, the oldest of which are approaching their 100th birthday. This is all about the fruit with no oak fermentation or maturation. This has has power and precision and prompted a: "What is this, it is bloody delicious?" From my pernickety co-taster. $98.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Ashton Hills 2019 Estate Pinot Noir


Ashton Hills has for a couple of decades now been one of the finest pinot noir producers in Australia and a gradual handing of the winemaking reins from founder Stephen George to Liam van Pelt has happened seamlessly. This was fermented with 30% whole bunches and then basket pressed before spending nine months in one-to-three year-old French oak. It is very stylish indeed; using fruit sourced purely from preferred clones on the Piccadilly estate in the Adelaide Hills. Floral and earthy elements exist in harmony and there is a long, fine tannin structure. Think layers of flavours, soft persistence and immediate smooth drinkability. Mushroom risotto anyone? $55.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Berton Estate 2019 Metal Label The Black Shiraz


Here is a welcome surprise as we enter the season of barbecues and al fresco dining; a big, bold, typically Australian shiraz that is an ideal partner for anything from gourmet burgers to a sausage sandwich. It features fruit from three states, including parcels from the Murray Darling, Riverina, Padthaway, Gundagai, Coonawarra and Mount Lofty. There is a lot going on here; powerful fruit flavours (blackberry and dark plum to the fore) rule but there is also an inherent drinkability thanks to a soft finish. Nice structure - great value. $13.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Kooyong 2019 Clonale Chardonnay


Calling all lovers of Petit Chablis and Chablis; of wines from the Macon, and St Veran. Seriously good chardonnay here in the style of White Burgundy from one of the best producers on the Mornington Peninsula. Winemaker Glen Hayley doesn't attract a lot of headlines, but he's damn good at his job. Both the Kooyong wines and those under the Port Phillip Estate label are ruthlessly reliable. This is lean, sleek, impeccably balanced and very gluggable with citrus and minerality the key drivers. $34.   

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Seville Estate 2018 Yarra Valley Shiraz

The Yarra Valley is best known for chardonnay and pinot noir, but it is increasingly also producing outstanding medium-bodied shirazes. The Seville Estate 2018 is a case in point;diabolically drinkable. The estate range is made using a combination of old vines planted in 1972 and younger vines planted in 1996. All grapes are handpicked and sorted in the vineyard (50% whole bunch). The end result is floral fruity aromas and very classy red fruit flavours with some some Asian spice input. Seriously good drinking, even in its youth. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Fraser Gallop 2019 Parterre Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

Fraser Gallop Estate in Margaret River is renowned for its chardonnays, with the 2018 Parterre Chardonnay awarded "best in show" at the recent Decanter World Wine Awards in London. Both the 2018 and 2019 Parterre chardonnays are standouts, but this less flashy sibling caught my fancy. Bordeaux and Burgundy grape varieties both thrive in the Wilyabrup soils and this hits all the right notes; a wine that is quietly contemplative; wild fermented, matured in new and second-fill oak. It is beautifully composed with freshness and acidity - think tropical notes - but also complexity and texture. Great work from former Vasse Felix winemaker Clive Otto $38.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Meerea Park 2018 Alexander Munro Shiraz

This may well be my favourite Hunter Valley shiraz of the year. If you are in the market for a medium-to-big-bodied red then you've certainly come to the right place. This is the flagship shiraz from the Eather brothers from Meerea Park -  made from the best single parcel of shiraz grapes they harvest each vintage. Situated on Palmers Lane in Pokolbin, the ‘Homestead’ vineyard is the fruit source for this wine. The vines are well established and mature, having been planted in the mid 1960s - the decade of love and music. And if this were a piece of music it would be a Ritchie Blackmore guitar solo - a virtuoso performance. It's deep purple in colour (see what I did there) with oak and tannins combining for a plush, flashy  virtuoso finish. $110. 


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Burton McMahon 2019 George's Vineyard Pinot Noir


Matt Burton and Dylan McMahon are both fine young winemakers in their own right; Burton for Gundog Estate in the Hunter Valley and McMahon for Seville Estate in the Yarra Valley. When they come together in this joint venture, however, there is a special chemistry. It would be extremely easy tasting blind to pick this pinot from the Upper Yarra as being a village Burgundy. There is delicacy and structure; strawberry and raspeberry notes with savoury hints and serious elegance. I could drink an awful lot of this. $40. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Derwent Estate 2020 Pinot Gris


No matter how much pinot gris the team from Derwent Estate makes, it is never enough to satisfy demand in Tasmania, let alone nationally. This is something of an apple isle icon; a perfect wine for summer with fresh aromatics and plenty of classic white pear flavour and soft spice alongside brisk natural acidity. Stylistically it is midway between gris and grigio. The fruit is grown on a north-facing bank of the Derwent River and comes from 25+ year-old vines. Perfect for enjoying with a spring picnic. $38. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Poggio Anima 2018 Samael Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

A slinky and seductive Italian import for around $20 - everyone's a winner. Abruzzo is a wine region east of Rome on the Adriatic coast. This is made of 100% montepulciano grapes that are handpicked a one vineyard in the town of Chieti. Purple in colour, this has waves of sweet fruit flavour from dark, wild berries in a smooth, easy drinking style. Poggio Anima is a joint venture between Montalcino winemaker Riccardo Campinoti of Le Ragnaie and his US importers. This is terrific value for pairing with pasta and pizza, but will also cellar well in the short term. Imported by Mezzanine Wines. $20.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

O'Leary Walker 2020 Polish Hill River Riesling

I was all set to make the 2020 O'Leary Walker Watervale Riesling my wine of the week; having loved its freshness and clarity. I thought I'd better try its big brother first and viola: the best-value premium Clare Valley riesling shines again with its tightness, brightness and grapefruit citrus notes alongside chalky minerality. There is purity here, crisp acid on the finish and the wine is organically grown and made. If I had a case of this it would be gone before summer makes its bow. 95 points. $28.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Geoff Merrill 2016 Cilento Sangiovese

Geoff Merrill was among the first of Australia's rockstar winemakers. With a bushy mustache and cheeky humour he hung around with test cricketers and TV stars at a time when most wine producers were faceless men. Forty years after starting Geoff Merrill Wines - and with assistance from Scott Heidrich - Merrill is still producing some excellent wines. This good-value sangiovese is a case in point; released at four years of age and selling at a very reasonable price. It is named in honour of his great-grandfather Joseph Cilento, who migrated to Australia in the late 1800s and pays tribute to his Italian heritage. Think balance, earthiness, savoury notes and food-friendliness. $28.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Yelland & Papps 2019 Second Take Vermentino

If you enjoy white wines that offer textural elements on the palate then you've come to the right place. This is a white for red drinkers with a whole lot to challenge. It was wild fermented, spent 313 days on skins, is basket pressed, and is unfiltered and unfined. So it ticks a whole lot of hipster boxes. It is also vegan friendly, but most importantly it is a terrific drink. It's all about the structure with a terse nod to sherry, nuttiness and complexity. Different, but delicious. $45.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

d'Arenberg 2017 The Ironstone Pressings

Here's a dark, inky wine that would stand out as being quintessentially Australian in any blind tasting. Reflecting its McLaren Vale terroir, this is a masculine red blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvedre that has plenty of style and swagger; think Errol Flynn as a swashbuckling pirate. You'll find intense dark fruit flavours, earthy notes, well-integrated oak and some Asian spice hints, which all come together as a serious cellaring prospect. $76.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Port Phillip Estate 2019 Balnarring Chardonnay

Port Phillip Estate and sister Mornington Peninsula label Kooyong are family-owned and operated producers whose wines are all estate-grown, -made and -bottled. They also have a reputation for reliable quality that is second to none. Made from a vineyard planted 20+ years ago, this is a delightful young cool-climate chardonnay made using sustainable agriculture and low-intervention winemaking. This has thrilling youthful acid, bright citrus with hints of white stone fruit and pleasing palate tension. Pair with roast pork or salt and pepper squid. It is also vegan friendly, $37.   

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Angullong 2018 Fossil Hill Tempranillo

Angullong is a family-owned winery from the high-altitude, cool-climate wine region of Orange in the Central West of New South Wales. It has a cellar door in the hamlet of Millthorpe. Some of the best wines from Angullong are made from varieties including the Italian grape sangiovese and this one, using the Spanish grape tempranillo, which is famous for being part of the blend for the savoury wines of Rioja. This is dark and smoky with some delicatessen aromas and herbal, smoky flavours on the palate. Sultry and mysterious. Pair with a cheese and charcuterie platter. $28.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Oliver's Taranga 2020 Vermentino

Vermentino is a grape primarily found in Sardinia and Corsica, but is making itself very much at home in warm Australian wine regions, where it produces crisp and fresh dry wines. This was one of three impressive 2020 new releases from sixth-generation winemaker Corinna Wright at Oliver's Taranga in McLaren Vale. The other duo were a delightful fiano and a feisty mencia rosé but this was my favourite by a short half head. It is unoaked, fruity, zippy and zesty and a perfect partner for seafood dishes. Damn good value, too. And very refreshing. $25.

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.