Tuesday, August 9, 2022

A.C. Byrne & Co. 2022 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon


How do they do it for the price? This is a joyful, youthful sauvignon blanc semillon blend from Margaret River - a classic West Australian white blend that delivers value by the bucket load. If fresh, crisp and lively is your thing with lime. grapefruit and guava/tropical fruit flavours to the fore, then this is an ideal accompaniment to seafood dishes, picnics, quiches or summer days on the beach. So much zingy refreshment here. This is another of those Aldi specials and is absurd value at $8.99 a bottle. Snap up a dozen before they sell out. www.aldi.com.au


Sunday, July 31, 2022

Hurley Vineyard 2020 Garamond Pinot Noir


For two decades now Kevin Bell and Tricia Byrnes have been producing exquisite Mornington Peninsula pinots that fly under the radar of the all bar the most savvy wine buyers. There just three Hurley releases from the 2020 vintage (no estate wine this time around) and the Garamond is the undoubted star of the show; an individual vineyard wine of style and substance. Precise, balanced and varietal; this sensuous and poised release is a perfect celebration of Hurley Vineyard's 20th vintage. Could easily be mistaken for a quality Burgundy in a blind tasting. The bad news is that I hear the 2020 wines all sold out prior to release but keep your eyes peeled in retail outlets. $92. www.hurleyvineyard.com.au    

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Greenskin 2021 Margaret River Chardonnay

I love the idea behind the Greenskin wine range; Australia's first 100% recyclable, resealable, glassless way to enjoy wine when you are on a picnic, at the beach, or just want a glass without opening a bottle. This is the best quality wine in a pouch that I have tasted so far; a 2021 Margaret River chardonnay made by Italian-born winemaker Jacopo Dalli Cani at McHenry Hohnen. Taste it blind and you would never guess it did not come from a bottle. Think fresh stone fruit characters, hints of oak, and plenty of refreshment. Billed as vegan-friendly, as well. Sold by the six-pack of 750ml pouches for $155 - so essentially the equivalent of $26 a bottle. https://greenskinwine.com/

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Vintage Longbottom H 2021 Chardonnay


A cracking everyday chardonnay from mother and daughter team Kim and Margo Longbottom at Vintage Longbottom, probably best known for their Henry's Drive range. The modern and appealing H range uses grapes from from the Adelaide Hills, their new home, and is a very elegant, lean and intriguing beast using grapes sourced from higher-altitude vineyards in the Lenswood region. Grapefruit, peach and minerality come together to produce a lively and refreshing wine that would pair brilliantly with pork belly. $28. www.vintagelongbottom.com/

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Rewild 2021 Merlot


A decent red wine for under a tenner can be hard to find nowadays. A decent merlot at that price point? Even harder. But Duxton Vineyards has come up trumps with a soft, smooth and very easy to drink merlot from the Murray Darling region as part of the first red wines releases in its "sustainable" Rewild range. This is a very good midweek choice, plummy fruit would be perfect with a spaghetti bolognaise or shepherd's pie. Nothing flash but decent drinking. Try Dan Murphy's stores. $9.99. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Elderton 2020 Neil Ashmead Grand Tourer Shiraz


A tribute to the late Elderton co-founder Neil Ashmead, a major rev head, the Grand Tourer Shiraz was first released in 2008. It pays homage to Neil's love of fast cars. He was succeeded by his two sons, Cameron and Allister, who today run the family's Barossa winery. The wine uses Barossa shiraz from the family's Nuriootpa vineyard planted in 1954, co-fermented with fruit from Greenock vineyards planted in 1980. This is medium-bodied, on Barossa terms, with definite dark berry and charcuterie notes, along with hints of pepper and spice. Powerful, with talcum powder tannins, this can be enjoyed now, or cellared medium term. $55. https://eldertonwines.com.au/

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Clonakilla 2021 Shiraz Viognier

This is an Australian classic, a Rhone style developed and perfected by the Kirk family, who last year celebrated 50 years of  winemaking at Murrumbateman, outside Canberra. This is a wonderfully supple  and stylish red with 5% of viognier aiding and abetting the 95% cool-climate shiraz in one of the finest Clonakilla shiraz viogniers I have seen. The vinous equivalent of a Phil Spector song. Aromatic, floral, elegant and layered, this is still seriously under-priced for the quality. This will be released in September, but supplies are always short so it might be worth contacting the winery to secure an allocation. $130. www.clonakilla.com.au.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Brown Brothers Winemaker's Series 2021 Fiano


This is one the brightest, most vibrant, liveliest fianos that I have tasted. Fiano is a white Italian grape variety that is grown primarily in the Campania region of southern Italy and on the island of Sicily but has also adapted very well in several regions of Australia. This is a simply delicious white wine for enjoying lightly chilled; aromatic and zingy with citrus fruit flavours to the fore. Fermented in strainless steel with zero oak maturation, this is designed to be enjoyed young and would be fabulous with fritto misto, sashimi, or old school fish and chips. $25. www.brownbrothers.com.au

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Smart Dog 2020 Alentejo Shiraz Trincadeira

Looking for a good everyday quaffing red? You won’t go wrong with this lively and juicy Portuguese import that is an exclusive to Aldi stores - one of several very good buys currently on offer. This is an inky, floral and fresh blend of a grape with which Australians are very familiar, alongside a native Portuguese variety. This is surprisingly smooth and stylish with plenty of action on the palate. A dark and spicy red that’s perfect for a barbecue, or paired with a pizza, pasta dish or Portuguese spicy chicken. $6.99.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Yalumba 2018 The Signature


This is the 48th release of Yalumba's classic cabernet/shiraz blend and it is dedicated to retiring managing director Nick Waterman. You'd have to imagine Waterman would be pretty proud of the wine bearing his signature: it is a classic that winemaker Kevin Glastonbury describes as "one of the very best vintages we've had in recent times". This is a rich, concentrated wine, but at the same time elegant and approachable. It demands to be enjoyed with roast lamb en croute. Fresh, beautifully integrated with lovely balance, dark cassis, toasty oak and leafy hints on the palate. Superb now, probably even better after a decade in the cellar. $65. www.yalumba.com/

Monday, May 30, 2022

Pazo Celleiro 2021 Albarino

The Spanish grape variety albarino produces wines that are perfect for the Australian lifestyle: bright and fresh with some palate interest. This forward young wine is fun with or without food and hails from the Salnes Valley, one of the coolest and wettest appellations in the Rias Baixas region. Although there are cool breezes at night from the Atlantic Ocean, warm days ensure the wines show generous fruit with plenty of zingy acidity. Imported by Fourth Wave Wines, whose imports always offer excellent value for money. $25.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Little Giant LGF 2021 Grenache

There are few wine styles that offer better value in Australia right now than sensuous, juicy grenache. Made from 100% single vineyard McLaren Vale grenache by winemakers Cory Ryan and Mike Brown, this is seriously delicious as well ticking a whole lot of hip boxes by being certified biodynamic, organic, vegan friendly and sustainable. That's a big box of hip right there. Fortunately, it also tastes great with a vibrant nose leading on to a light-to-medium-bodied palate full of subtle appeal. Designed for immediate enjoyment and the short, squat bottles feature a hairy-nosed wombat on the labels. Pair with duck or mushroom dishes. $30. www.fourthwavewine.com.au/  

Monday, May 16, 2022

Hoddles Creek 2021 Estate Chardonnay

Here we go again. Value with a big V as a new Hoddles Creek 2021 Yarra Valley Chardonnay hits the stores: and it is still under $25 for an exemplary cool-climate chardonnay that ticks a whole lot of quality boxes with citrus and stone fruit notes on the nose, freshness, minerality, good length and bright acid on the palate with just a smidgen of oak adding some palate interest. The wine is left on lees for just under a year before the various components are blended, cold stabilised, fined and filtered. Seriously good wine that deserves to be matched with a rich pork belly dish. $25. www.hoddlescreekestate.com.au/

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Serafino 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon


Value with a capital V here, with a bold and bodacious McLaren Vale cabernet sauvignon that will provide plenty of drinking pleasure for those who enjoy red wines with plenty of grunt but also maintain a sense of style. Serafino is the label of industry icon Steve Maglieri, who has been producing McLaren Vale standouts for over half a century. This is a full blooded and complex blend of fruit from several different vineyards that is dark and inky with black fruit flavours, and oak playing a key support role. It has already picked up a show trophy and is a bargain at $28, although it can sometimes be found on special for a couple of dollars less. https://serafinowines.com.au/ 

Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2021 Elsa


I can hear the back row from here: "$75 for a sauvignon blanc? Are you out of your mind?" The thing is that this is no ordinary sauvignon blanc; in a way it is akin to the great white wines of Bordeaux and is certainly one of the finest examples of the style in Australia. This is the third vintage of Elsa from the Mugford family in Margaret River - and a triumph from a difficult vintage. The sauvignon blanc has been picked riper, barrel fermented, is more assertive and the alcohol is up to 13.5%, adding richness and texture to the refined palate. Think tropical notes, hints of minerality and subtle oak. Pair this with a roast chicken for maximum pleasure. $75. https://www.mosswood.com.au/

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Leconfield 2021 Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot is very rarely seen as a stand-alone varietal, being largely used as a small portion of red blends in its native Bordeaux, but this Coonawarra offering is something of a revelation. I used it as a mystery wine for my tasting group and it garnered close to total acclaim. Winemaker Paul Gordon has managed to harness the late-ripening cherry/plum flavours and allied them to restrained oak characters and hints of coffee beans and spice. Very soft, very smooth, very stylish and excellent drinking for $32. Pair with a rare steak. www.leconfieldwines.com/

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Flametree 2021 Chardonnay


Flametree is a Margaret River winery that does not always get the attention given to some of its high-profile neighbours - but it always delivers well-made wines at a sensible price. This new-release chardonnay is a case in point, offering very appealing drinking without breaking the bank. There is a melange of bright citrus and stone fruit flavours here, youthful vitality and some deftly judged oak influence. Wild fermentation has added structure to a wine that is gently assertive, Enjoy now, or cellar for a couple of years. Pair with anything from pork spare ribs to a goat cheese tart. $30. www.flametreewines.com/

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Longview 2021 Vista Shiraz Barbera


This blend of a classic Australian grape with a favourite Italian varietal is something of a revelation. The pair might be an unlikely cross-cultural combination but this Adelaide Hills combo works brilliantly, producing a "drink now" red that offers spectacular value. This is a stonkingly food-friendly wine (think pasta dishes or a gourmet pizza) with crunchy bright fruit to the fore but also some structure and savoury notes. I'd snap some up at $23 - it probably won't last long. www.longviewvineyard.com.au/

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Leeuwin Estate 2021 Sauvignon Blanc


Fashion be damned. There is still a place in my wine fridge for a quaffable, well-priced sauvignon blanc like this one from one of Margaret River's star producers. Smart sauvignon blanc producers are dialling up the fruit and dialling down the green herbs and this hits the target for late afternoon or early evening refreshment. I tried it at a trade tasting. It is varietal but nicely nuanced, very refreshing and easy to drink. Pair with canapes or some freshly shucked oysters. $26. https://leeuwinestate.com.au/

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Kooyong 2020 Clonale Chardonnay


The prices of good white Burgundies may have have gone through the roof, but there are still some Australian cool-climate chardonnay options that offer good value for money with a nod to the styles of Macon and the Côte Chalonnaise. Clonale is an entry level wine for excellent Mornington Peninsula producer Kooyong, whose winemaker Glen Hayley seldom misses a beat. Crisp but textural; classic cool-climate chardonnay. Pair with a roast pork and crackling dish for maximum impact. $34. https://www.portphillipestate.com.au/

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Alkoomi Grazing Collection 2020 Cabernet Merlot

Alkoomi's much-loved white label range is no more; replaced by the more attractively packaged but equally good value Grazing Collection. You'd be hard pressed to find better wine for midweek enjoyment; particularly the 2021 riesling and this blend of cabernet and merlot that offers some bright dark cassis fruit flavours but also some structure and style. Alkoomi say the range is ideal for "picnics and barbecues, sunny afternoons on the veranda and chilly evenings by the fire." The range is named in honour of Alkoomi Grazing Company, the original name of the 1946 sheep farm the vineyards were planted on in the Frankland River region of Western Australia. This is medium-bodied and very drinkable. One of best $20ish buys around. $21.  www.alkoomiwines.com.au/

| O C C A S I O N |

'Sitting in by the toasty winery fire, with some marshmallows'.

'A cool, fresh afternoon with a charcuterie board'.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Wirra Wirra 2020 Church Block


Year after year Wirra Wirra's Church Block is one of Australia's most reliable "go to" red wines for affordable quality - and the new-release 2020 is no exception. A blend of cabernet sauvignon (48%) shiraz (42%) and merlot (10%), all sourced from McLaren Vale, this is a perfect choice for a barbecue or a steak dinner. Think dark blackcurrant and black plum flavours, subtle oak, dark olive, black chocolate and some spice hints. Lovely balance here, plenty of savoury appeal, good balance and even some cellaring potential. $22.https://wirrawirra.com/ 

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Indigo Vineyard 2021 Beechworth Rosé

A little taste of Provence from a vineyard in the foothills of the Victorian Alps. outside historic Beechworth. Pale, fresh and vibrant, this a delicious "drink now" rosé that is a blend of 57% merlot, 17% cabernet sauvignon and 26% pinot gris; so a blend of red and white grapes. No oak involved here, although this vibrant number did spend three months on yeast lees for added textural interest. The lovely salmon colour and the crisp, dry acid on the palate make this a feast for both the eyes and mouth. Perfect for late summer picnics as it is vibrant, fun and great value. Pair with a vegetable tart, or  lamb burger. $25. www.indigovineyard.com.au/ 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Amon-Ra 2019 by Ben Glaetzer


Serious Barossa shiraz from one of the masters of the art - with a price tag to match and bottled under cork for emphasis. It is big, and it is bold and it speaks its mind, but it carries its 15.5% alcohol with a shimmy and a swagger. Full flavoured and intense but still stylish, although it does demand to be enjoyed with roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and horse radish. In Egyptian mythology, Amon-Ra is considered to be the king of all gods and this is a Glaetzer flagship - a worthy present for a wine-loving friend, or to yourself to cellar, perhaps. 100% shiraz, from the Ebenezer sub-district at the northern tip of the Barossa Valley, where the vines vary from 50-130 years old. Matured for 16 months in 100% new oak hogshead barrels (95% French and 5% American); plummy and earthy. $100. https://glaetzer.com/

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Pooley 2020 Cooinda Vale Chardonnay


Just about every new release from Tasmanian producer Pooley is worthy of a review. The wines are invariably stylish and considered; cool-climate wine royalty. This is a thoroughly modern single-vineyard chardonnay from an estate vineyard in the Coal River Valley, just outside Hobart, that has supplied fruit for Penfolds Yattarna. This was whole-bunch pressed and matured in 40% new French oak, although the quality fruit has soaked up the oak, which merely sits in the background. Still a little tight but with some exciting energy, lovely balance and some flinty minerality on the palate, this deserves to be paired with a free-range roast pork leg with all the trimmings. Superb. $65. www.pooleywines.com.au/

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Lyons Will 2019 Pinot Noir


OK. Consider me seriously impressed. Both by the class of this wine and the value it offers. Pinotphiles in Australia tend to head to Tasmania, the Yarra Valley or Mornington Peninsula for quality, but this Macedon Ranges offering is simply top class. Think wild ferment, a small percentage of whole bunch, time on skins and quality French oak. Delicate but grippy, just 12.8% alcohol and beautifully balanced. Unfined, unfiltered, vegan friendly and sublimely stylish. 95/100 from me but only 380 dozen cases were made, so time may be of the essence. $42. www.lyonswillestate.com.au.

Monday, February 7, 2022

d'Arenberg 2021 The Hermit Crab


We are in serious bargain territory here with a white wine that is a textural and interesting as it is crisp and refreshing. This is a blend of two classic grape varieties from the Rhone Valley in France that thrive in McLaren Vale: viognier and marsanne. Delightfully fresh and floral on those nose, this offers a panoply of tropical fruit favours from pineapple to guava along with a hint of spicy confit ginger and some nicely bitey citrus. Quite dry; quite delicious. Pair with Korean pork, or chilli chicken. $19. www.darenberg.com.au/ 

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Patrick 2020 Méthode Cab Nouveau


Regular readers will probably have gleaned that I am a traditionalist when it comes to my wine choices; "natural". "amber" and "on-the-spectrum" wines have their place - but that place is rarely in my mouth. There are, however, exceptions to every rule and I really enjoyed this experimental cabernet from Luke Tocaciu and family-owned Patrick Wines in Coonawarra.  This is an "early release" style that is soft and juicy and approachable and designed to be enjoyed in its youth. Spontaneous ferment, malo, lees contact. You could even give it a bit of a chill. It has apparently been a big hit and is close to selling out. $32. https://patrickofcoonawarra.com/

Monday, January 24, 2022

Chateau La Gordonne 2020 Verite du Terroir Provence Rosé


There is no better time than summer to quaff a glass or two of dry Provencal rose and pretend we are in a rustic hilltop village in the south of France. Pale pink and organically farmed, this little taste of the hills around Toulon is bright, fresh and authentic. The La Gordonne label dates to the 17th century and is owned by Champagne House Vranken-Pommery Monopole. This AOC Côtes de Provence wine is blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah and has aromas of blueberries and citrus, leading on to a lively, zippy palate. Perfect for a picnic, or a day at the beach. $32. www.lagordonne.com 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Cobaw Ridge 2020 Pinot Noir


Vignerons Alan and Nellie Cooper live in a house and cellar door overlooking one of the prettiest vineyards in Australia. All their Cobaw Ridge wines are estate-grown, -made and bottled in the Macedon Ranges of Victoria and have been certified biodynamic for a decade. Their wines invariable have poise, personality and reflect a sense of place. The 2020 Cobaw Ridge Pinot Noir is one of the best pinots of the past 12 months - beautifully balanced, deliciously drinkable. There is a real energy here in a serious wine with savoury and sweet/sour elements that can be enjoyed now or cellared. Take your pick. 95/1000 for me. $62. cobawridge.com.au/

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Gundog Estate 2021 Hunter's Semillon


Another winner from talented winemaker Matt Burton - a lively and vibrant Hunter Valley semillon that is made for immediate summer enjoyment. There is plenty of fresh fruit citrus and stone fruit flavours here, but also a fine, elegant structure. This should be enjoyed with freshly shucked oysters, or perhaps a sashimi platter, fresh from the fridge. There is only 11.3% alcohol here, so you can enjoy an extra glass. If you haven't tried a Hunter semillon for a while, this might just kindle or rekindle a love affair. $32. https://gundogestate.com.au/