Friday, July 30, 2021

Castle Rock Estate 2019 Shiraz

Rob Diletti is a winemaker with a Midas touch - as evidenced by this seriously delicious coolish-climate shiraz that offers superb value for money. Castle Rock Estate is nestled on the eastern slopes of the Porongurup Mountain in the Great Southern of of Western Australia and is named after a prominent nearby granite landmark. This is dark in colour with a beguiling melange of dark fruit, savoury and mocha/chocolate notes. Very elegant with a soft, seductive finish, this is one worth seeking out. Went brilliantly with shepherd's pie. 95 points from me. $34.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Pikes 2019 The Dogwalk Cabernets

The Pike family are probably best known for their exceptional value Clafre Valley rieslings, and a range of Italian varieties under the Luccio label. They also make some outstanding reds at very reasonable prices, with this new release an excellent example, A blend of 75% cabernet sauvignon and 25% cabernet franc, it is a perfect midweek red; well balanced with bright fruit guaranteed to put a smile on your dial. Perfect with pizza, pasta or a snag in a roll. $25.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Port Phillip Estate 2019 Morillon Chardonnay


Glen Hayley, who makes wines for both Port Phillip Estate and sibling label Kooyong, is on fire right now. The Morillon Chardonnay is sourced from a tiny section within the oldest chardonnay block (33+ years) at Port Phillip Estate’s Red Hill vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula. This is a wine of serious poise and structure; unmistakably cool climate with a delicious melange of citrus, Granny Smith apple and stone fruit characters. Pair with roast pork and crackling and try to show more restraint than I did (as was evidenced by an empty bottle in quick-smart time). $55.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Tapanappa 2018 Foggy Hill Vineyard Definitus Pinot Noir


Serious pinot noir from industry veteran Brian Croser and his team at Tapanappa. The Definitus is made in tiny quantities from fruit grown on a one-hectare strip of the Foggy Hill vineyard on the Fleurieu Peninsula, south of Adelaide. It is a solid pinot with oak and herbal notes allied to some dark cherry fruit notes. The wine is matured in 30% new oak with the rest one- and two-year-old barrels, but the oak is well integrated. It is medium-bodied but certainly more concentrated than the regular Foggy Hill Vineyard pinot. There is a silkiness on the finish, but also some firm tannin structure. Medium-term cellaring is in order here. 94 points from me. $90

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Hahndorf Hill 2021 White Mischief

Larry Jacobs and Marc Dobson at Hahndorf Hill in the Adelaide Hills are the Australian trendsetters when it comes to the Austrian white wine variety gruner veltliner, making several different styles from the aromatic variety. This is a brand-new release of their "New World" style of gruner; fresh, vibrant and full of the joys of youth. Exuberant aromatics are followed up by a panoply of different fruit flavours from guava to grapefruit, a dry finish and juicy acidity, along with textural interest and intensity. This is dangerously drinkable, both on its own and paired with dishes ranging from Thai stir fries to fish and chips. $25.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Kirrihill 2020 Regional Series Riesling


This may just be on one of the best wine bargains around at the moment. Quality zingy and zippy dry riesling from the Clare Valley for under $20. I loved the refreshment value here; a  fragrant fresh and crisp young wine with delicious citrus fruit flavours and bright acidity. This would be terrific with pan-fried whiting, or maybe a prawn salad. It has already picked up a show gold medal. Vegan friendly and low in alcohol at 11..5%. Seriously yummy this one. $19. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Hay Shed Hill 2020 Vineyard Series Chardonnay


This is just one of a range of impressive, stylish and well-priced wines from Hay Shed HIll winemaker Michael Kerrigan and his team in Margaret River. The Block Six and Morrison's Gift also shine brightly. It is a beautifully balanced wine with bright citrus and stone fruit notes, impressive layers of flavours and understated oak. The quality fruit does all the talking. This paired impressively with a roast chicken dinner. Fresh, lively, crisp and delicious.$28.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Yangarra 2019 Ovitelli Grenache


The perfect winter warmer wine from Pete Fraser and his team of biodynamic and organic dynamos at Yangarra in McLaren Vale: juicy, fruit and absolutely delicious. Sip it, or quaff it, either way will work. Dark in colour, aromatic and full of plummy, dark berry goodness, this would pair well with a warming game casserole. Certified organic.$60. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Champagne Duval-Leroy NV Brut Reserve


It's been a while since I tasted the Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve and the current iteration is extremely impressive; a seamless blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay that really sparkles. That's actually not a pun, with this wine having a particularly vibrant mousse, along with complexity, finesse, lightness and elegance. Think lemon sherbet and lime zest. If you enjoy Champagnes from Billecart Salmon or Gosset, add the wines from Carol Duval-Leroy and her family to your shopping list. The Duval-Leroy family has been making bubbles since 1859 and is currently run by the sixth generation. Imported by Vintage House/Angove. $

Friday, May 21, 2021

Parker Coonawarra Estate 2018 95 Block


Parker Coonawarra Estate make a range of uniformly excellent wines, but this one really shines for me. It is seriously delicious; muscular but elegant and comprises an unusual blend of cabernet sauvignon (80%) and petit verdot (20%), made from fruit grown on vines that are original cuttings from Bordeaux, brought to Coonawarra before they were lost to France due to Phylloxera in the late 1800s. Dark, rich, brambly and beautifully balanced. Drink now, or cellar. This 2018 vintage shone with a winter steak and kidney casserole with herbed dumplings. $65.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

De Iuliis 2021 Estate Semillon


OK. I didn't taste this wine blind, as I usually do, and I tasted it while staying on the winemaker's property in the Hunter Valley. But disclaimers aside, this is just too delicious not to recommend. Mike de Iuliis and his team produce wines at a range of price points that offer excellent value but this brand-new release from the recently concluded 2021 vintage screams "drink me". Zingy with lifted citrus characters, a lightness of being on the palate, and crisp, lively acids on the finish, this needs to be well chilled and enjoyed at the end of hard day at work. Instant bliss. $25.   

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Mr Barval 2019 Vino Rosso


I have been working my through several Mr Barval releases over the past few weeks - and have been extremely impressed by a range with which I was not previously familiar. Mr Barval is the brand of much-travelled Robert Gherardi (who has worked at Moss Wood and Cullen) with Mr standing for Margaret River and Barval for Barolo (his wine love) and Valtellina (his ancestral home in Italy). This is a blend of merlot, petit verdot and malbec (how very right bank) that was wild fermented and basket pressed to produce a soft, smooth, easy-drinking style of considerable substance made in small quantities. Move quickly if you want to snap some up. 93 points. $30.   

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Leeuwin Estate 2018 Art Series Chardonnay


World-class chardonnay from one of the benchmark producers in Margaret River. This is the best high-end chardonnay of the year so far with intensity and drive. Aromas, flavours and textures are as tightly-knit as early Led Zeppelin and the end result is a white to rival the best of Burgundy; a wine of immense style and balance. The new oak is complemented by powerful citrus and white stone fruit resulting a wine of serious finesse. Happy to give this 97/100. $126.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Elderton 2019 Barossa Merlot


Merlot has never enjoyed the same popularity with Australian wine drinkers as it has with their American counterparts, but this is a very impressive wine - soft and powerful - from the Barossa Valley. It has all the plushness you'd expect on the palate, but also structure that hints at medium-term staying power. Dark in colour, this would pair well with everything from a gourmet burger to roast beef and all the trimmings. $35.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

MacLean Bay 2020 Pinot Rosé


Over the past couple of vintages, MacLean Bay - based at Bicheno on Tasmania's warmer east coast - have established themselves as one of the better producers of dry rosés on the island state. The 2019 was outstanding and this is a worthy successor - and overdue - as the 2019 had long sold out. It is made from 100% estate pinot noir fruit with classic strawberry and cream flavours. It is fresh and dry with a crisp finish. Great with salads or picnics and good value for $28. An ideal choice for late summer quaffing.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Olivers Taranga Small Batch 2019 Mencia

There are only a handful of producers of mencia in Australia, which on the evidence of this outstanding wine from Olivers Taranga in McLaren Vale is a great pity. This is a pretty red, think Beaujolais with bit more meat on its bones, garlic on its breath and a slight snarl. This Spanish variety, known as Jaen in Portugal, is primarily found in north-west Spain and is undergoing a renaissance in popularity. This has floral aromas and bright cherry flavours, a hint of rustic farm and a lively savoury palate. The winemaking team reckon you should pair it with paella; I'd go for an old-fashioned charcuterie plate with some spicy chorizo.. Either way, give it a go. 95 points from me. $35.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Alkoomi 2019 White Label Cabernet Merlot

The white label range from family owned- and operated West Australian winery Alkoomi always offers terrific wine value with this new release a case in point. Made with Frankland River fruit from several blocks, it has rare depth and complexity for a $20 red. Blackberry notes jostle with some dark currant flavours and French oak notes on a palate full of personality. Chewy and interesting and a good partner for just about any beef dish. A very good choice for midweek enjoyment. $20. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Chalmers 2020 Montevecchio Bianco


I think I have discovered the perfect white wine for late summer quaffing enjoyment - a little slice of Italy in a glass. This is fresh, crisp, lively, delicious and different. From the Chalmers vineyards at Heathcote in Victoria, this is a co-fermented field blend of six different Italian grape varieties; vermentino, pecorino, ribolla gialla, falanghina, moscato giallo and fiano. The end result is floral with bright acid citrus notes and some chalky texture. Vibrant and well worth seeking out. $24.  

Monday, February 22, 2021

Fraser Gallop Estate 2018 Parterre Cabernet Sauvignon


Established in 1999, it took Fraser Gallop Estate less than two decades to join the very top echelon of Margaret River producers. Located in the "golden strip" of Wilyabrup, north of Margaret River township, the estate has 50 acres under vine. Just edging out the 2017 Parterre on my scorecard, this is a classic Bordeaux blend of (largely) cabernet sauvignon with petit verdot. malbec, merlot and cabernet franc. Even in its youth it has appeal but like an elite athlete it is just warming up and would be very much at home in a cool cellar for a decade or so. Classic, stylish, concentrated. 95.5 points. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Clonakilla 2019 Shiraz Viognier


A special occasion to celebrate? May I point you in the direction of the opulent new-release Clonakilla 2019 Shiraz Viognier, a benchmark Australian red blend of red and white grapes (94% shiraz and 6% viognier c-fermented). Winemaker Tim Kirk says yields were down 20% but he cannot recall many vintages with more power and intensity. This is powerful, dark, plush and cellarworthy. Clonakilla is a small, family business at Murrumbateman, outside Canberra, that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Buy a bottle and raise a toast to this Rhone-influenced standout. $120.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Longview Vineyard 2020 Macclesfield Gruner Veltliner


Gruner Veltliner, the spicy white wine standout from Austria, is making itself very much at home in the Adelaide Hills - and this is one of the best yet. Grown on the immaculately tended Macclesfield vineyards of the Saturno family on the southern edge of the Hills, this is among the best Australian gruners yet. It is poised and intense with both citrus and white stone fruit flavours and some fresh ground pepper notes with pebbly minerality on the finish. Absolutely delightful. $30.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Bay of Fires 2019 Pinot Noir


Penny Jones and her team at Bay of Fires never put a foot wrong when it comes to producing quality cool-climate wines from Tasmania. This recent-release pinot noir is made from fruit grown at three vineyards on the warmer east coast of the island state, blended with grapes from the Tamar Valley. This a very modern wine; red berry fruits to the fore with a hint of Asian spice notes, plenty of palate length and a soft, savoury finish. This has matured since I reviewed it a few months back for my Tasmanian blog. It can be lightly chilled over summer, or just enjoyed on the back porch with a charcuterie plate. Lovely stuff. $62.  

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Gala Estate 2020 White Label Chardonnay


Gala Estate is one of the rising stars of the Tasmanian wine industry with recent releases very much on song. This is a delightful cool-climate chardonnay made from fruit grown on the sunny east coast. The family behind the label may be relatively new to the wine business, but they have farmed in Tasmania for 200 years. This has classic green apple, stone fruit and citrus flavours and some lively refreshing acidity. Pair with pan-fried flathead. $35.       

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Oakridge 2020 Over The Shoulder Cabernet Merlot


The Yarra Valley is probably not the first place you would look for an affordable high-quality cabernet merlot blend, but this vibrant and fresh young release from David Bicknell and the team at Oakridge defies expectations to deliver a whole lot of bang for your buck. This is 82% cabernet, 18% merlot from three different regions of the Yarra. A long, cool ripening period has helped construct a purple-hued, juicy cool-climate red with plenty of length and verve. Subtle, food friendly and great value for money. $24.   

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Moss Wood 2020 Semillon


Moss Wood have been making wines in Margaret River since the industry began in the region - planting their first vines in Wilyabrup in 1969. This has a real wow! factor about it, with incredible depth of flavour. While many in the region blend semillon with sauvignon blanc, this is made in the Hunter style; 100% semillon, clear juice with multiple yeasts, unoaked and bottled after cold fermentation. It has white stone fruit flavours and Granny Smith apple notes to the fore with some Thai spice nuances and impressive textural elements. Brilliant with seafood or spicy cuisine. $36.