Friday, December 29, 2023

Oliver's Taranga 2023 Fiano


Corrina Wright, the sixth-generation winemaker from Oliver's Taranga in McLaren Vale is Australia's undisputed queen of fiano, a dry white grape variety that originates in Campania in southern Italy, and on the island of Sicily. If you enjoy white wines with textural elements and real personality then this is well worth a look. Fiano is well suited to warmer regions of Australia as it is heat and drought resistant. This is made with minimal intervention, undergoes indigenous ferment and a small portion sees oak, while the majority is made in stainless steel. Thinks freshness, a beguiling blend of citrus, white stone fruit, nuttiness and herbal notes. Pair with with anything from a spicy sausage pizza to Thai or Korean dishes. Lovely stuff and excellent value. $28.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Xanadu 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon


Looking some affordable luxury over the holiday period? Xanadu winemaker Glenn Goodall is producing excellent wines across several ranges, but this classically stylish Margaret River cabernet is right in the zone where quality meets value. Perfect for pairing with anything from sausage rolls to a beef wellington. It's a blend of cabernet sauvignon (90%), malbec (6%), petit verdot (4%) in a Bordeaux meets Australia style; elegance meets power. This is made largely from grower fruit sourced from the sub regions of Wilyabrup (40%) and Wallcliffe (44%) - with a goodly portion of this from estate fruit. It spent 14 months in French oak, adding palate structure and tension alongside the classic dark currant cabernet flavours. Plenty of length here and lots of pleasure to be had. Drink now or cellar for up to seven years. $45.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Serafino 2022 Reserve Grenache


This wine has won so many awards that it needs its own trophy room. Medium-bodied, bright and energetic, it is, however, just one of the stars from a formidable range from this family-owned winery in McLaren Vale. Understandably, it has attracted a lot of attention. It's made in an unashamedly fruit-forward style, showcasing the juicy fruit characters of high-quality grenache. Plush but complex. You could pair this with a wide range of Mediterranean flavours, from pizzas and pastas, to charcuterie plates and cheese boards. It may be hard to track down given its many show successes, but it will certainly be worth the effort. $40.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Clonakilla 2023 Canberra District Riesling


Family-owned Clonakilla is best known for its shiraz-based red wines, with the shiraz-viognier blend an Australian benchmark. There are also several other outstanding wines in the range, however, like this exceptional dry riesling. a variety that shines in Murrumbateman’s cool, continental climate and decomposed granite soils. This would be an excellent wine to have around over the Christmas period given it would pair well with everything from a seafood platter to cold turkey salad. There are some lovely florals here and some delicious lemon and lime citrus notes on the palate, which finishes crisp and clean. Great stuff. $35. 

Friday, December 1, 2023

HATCH 2022 Barossa St Johns Shiraz

Chris Hatcher, affectionately known as Hatch across the wine industry, spent several decades as a corporate winemaker, mainly as chief winemaker for Wolf Blass, where he worked for 35 years. Now retired, he has started making small batches of "fun and enjoyable" wines under his own label, which features distinctive Art Deco-style, jazz-era art on the neck capsules. St Johns is one of the highest regions in the Barossa Valley and produces wines of intensity and concentration, along with, on this occasion, some subtle soft shoe shuffle. So think dark, plush and flavoursome, but also food friendly. Pair with red meat, or mushroom, dishes. $52.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Pikes 2023 Traditionale Riesling


Year in, year out, this remains one of Australia's best and most reliable wine bargains - a perfect choice for chilled-out summer enjoyment with or without food. This is the 39th vintage of Pikes Riesling, made by a family-owned and -operated winery in the Clare Valley, home of Australia's finest rieslings. Fruit is sourced from the estate in Polish Hill River, and growers’ vineyards in Watervale, Leasingham, Mintaro and Sevenhill. Think fresh lime notes, impeccable line and length and lashings of crisp minerality. Free-run juice, minimal winemaker input and pristine fruit create a wine that's perfect for enjoying with anything from fresh oysters to fish fingers, or Thai fishcakes. Impressively refreshing and sometimes found on special. Load up. $27.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Wallace 2021 By Ben Glaetzer


There are bigger, bolder wines in Ben Glaetzer's Barossa portfolio but I don't think there are any that offer better value. If you are planning a barbecue, or having a few folks round to share a pizza, you won't go wrong with this very smart blend of shiraz and grenache - varieties that are perennial stars in the region. There is fleshiness and juiciness aplenty with an appealing balance between power and immediate drinkability. Wallace is an old family name, by the way. The fruit comes from vines that are between 50-100 years old, so how they do it for the price I have no idea. 94 points for me. $23.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Wirra Wirra 2022 The 12th Man Chardonnay


Wirra Wirra has built its reputation on well-crafted red wines from its base in McLaren Vale, but it ventures outside the region - to the cooler Adelaide Hills - for its excellent 12th Man Chardonnay, so-named because of its late founder Greg Trott's love of cricket. This is a very cerebral wine with crisp cool-climate fruit given wild yeast fermentation and subtle but noticeable French oak treatment. There are all the elements you'd want in a classy chardonnay; citrus, stone fruits, nuts and cream and some compelling acid on the finish. Just a hint of sea spray and minerality. This paired beautiful with a veal schnitzel and peppered cabbage. $40.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Tokar Estate 2023 Shiraz Rosé


I opened a swag of rosé wines the other night looking for a bottle to recommend for pairing with summer picnics. This one was a surprise winner; the Yarra Valley is not generally regarded as a source of great rosés. The 25-year-old shiraz vines at Tokar Estate in Coldstream and winemaker Martin Siebert have created a wine with delightful natural acidity and moderate alcohol levels (12.5%). There is lovely wild strawberry fruit to the fore with blackcurrant hints and a soft, creamy mouthfeel. Fresh and light on its feet, this should be enjoyed lightly chilled on a warm day. $35.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Harewood 2023 Porongurup Riesling


Harewood Estate produces an impressive range of dry rieslings from different sites across the huge Great Southern district of Western Australia, a region that has built a formidable reputation for excellence. Winemaker James Kellie has a suite of excellent 2023 releases - the Mount Barker was my other favourite - and this one shines brightly with its clarity, precision and vibrancy. Made using free-run juice from grapes grown on granite soils, there are classic citrus/sherbet flavours, flinty mineral notes and some tangy acidity on the palate. Chill well and pair with some briney oysters. $35.  

Friday, October 20, 2023

El Toro Macho 2021 Tempranillo Bobal

If you paid $25 for a bottle of this I reckon you would be pretty happy with your purchase. That you can buy it for under $6 at Aldi stores makes it perhaps the best wine bargain in Australia today. If you are looking for wine to accompany a spring barbecue, or a "midweek" drink to drink alongside pasta and pizza dishes - or some tapas - you won't go wrong with this juicy, medium-bodied red. How they do it for the price I have no idea. Here's the lowdown: it is a medium-bodied blend of two Spanish varieties from Uteil Requena in Valencia that is packed with savoury, food-friendly flavours but finishes soft and smooth on the palate. $5.99.


Thursday, October 12, 2023

El Desperado 2023 Rosé


El Desperado is the budget range from winemaker Tom Keelan at The Pawn - and the 2023 releases represent seriously good value for money, being full of joie de vivre and potential summer refreshment. The labels are made using artificial intelligence, but the wines are very real. A blend of Langhorne Creek tempranillo and sangiovese grapes, this has some lively strawberry and cream notes leading on to fresh, crunchy acid and vibrant apple, Turkish Delight and citrus notes on the finish. Chill, then pair with a picnic, or a Lebanese feast, or just enjoy a glass or two after work. $20.

Friday, October 6, 2023

Flametree 2022 Shiraz

When you think Margaret River, shiraz is unlikely to be the first grape variety that comes to mind. Which means there is often excellent value to be found when buying shirazes from the region; as evidenced by this beautifully balanced recent release from Flametree. Veteran winemaker Cliff Royle has got this one spot on; with some sun-dried stems, a portion of whole bunch and some whole berries in the ferments; adding palate interest and structure. This is a delightful medium-bodied red with bright fruit characters that makes it immediately accessible. There are myriad flavours here, but they are impressively cohesive. Terrific value at $30.


Friday, September 29, 2023

Hutton Vale 2019 Shiraz


The Angas family has been farming at Hutton Vale, in the heights of South Australia's Eden Valley, for seven generations, dating back to 1843. Their vineyard is adjacent to those of the Henschke family and has consistently produced excellent fruit. Made by consultant Kym Teusner, this is bold, but balanced and just edging into its drinking zone. A 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, released at the same time, is equally impressive. The shiraz spent two years in new (30%) and seasoned French oak hogsheads prior to racking and blending. While this is rich and sumptuous right now, careful cellaring will undoubtedly pay dividends. Pair with a lamb casserole or tajine for maximum pleasure. $75.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Chandon 2017 Vintage Blanc de Blancs


No matter what style of sparkling wine you prefer, the Chandon range will deliver. This one found particular favour with my wife, a lover of blanc de blanc styles, and while this has spent five years on lees, the driving force is still the fresh, citrusy chardonnay fruit from the cool Whitlands region in north-east Victoria. This is blended with parcels from the Macedon Ranges and Yarra Valley to produce a delightful aperitif style characterised by grapefruit and lime zinginess, allied to plenty of persistence and length. Winemaker Dan Buckle suggests pairing with sushi and sashimi. $48.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Longview 2023 Queenie Pinot Grigio


This is a quintessential summer wine with its lively fruit flavours and brisk acid finish. Fair and square on the grigio side of the Pinot G spectrum, it is designed for immediate enjoyment with either seafood or poultry dishes. We paired it with spicy fishcakes. The fruit comes from the Saturno family vineyard in Macclesfield in the Adelaide Hills, where the cool climate favours the bright, crunchy and high acid grigio style. Disturbingly drinkable and best enjoyed chilled before quaffing. $23.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Clandestine Vineyards Break Free 2023 Petite Blancs

Here is a little gem for adventurous wine drinkers; a most unusual blend that certainly hits the target for enjoying well chilled on warmer days. The Petite Blancs is largely made from Swan Valley chenin blanc that is stabilised in stainless steel with Margaret River chardonnay and Frankland River gewurztraminer skins before being fermented using natural yeasts. The end result is just a little funky, just a tad spicy, with hints of floral aromatics and some delightful vivacity on the palate. It ticks a whole lot of hipster boxes and is vegan friendly with minimal additives and no fining or filtering, but for me the main appeal is its plaintive "drink another glass" message. This would go well with Asian dishes, light lunches or early suppers. $38.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Curly Flat 2022 Chardonnay

For over 30 years now, Macedon Ranges icon Curly Flat has been producing outstanding pinot noirs. The quality of those wines tends to overshadow some equally excellent wines made from other grape varieties, like this terrific new-release chardonnay. This wine is all about purity. Served chilled it has the same palate impact as drinking from an icy stream. Estate grown, made and bottled, this is a model of cool-climate intensity with grapefruit and nectarine notes enlivened by wild yeasts and lees stirring. Malolactic fermentation adds interest, too, and the wine has terrific length and texture after 14 months in quality oak. Pair this with a banh me roll, or a traditional pork roast. Lovely stuff. I took a sneak peek as this will be released on November 1. Get on the mailing list. $50 at cellar door.

Friday, August 25, 2023

St Hugo 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon

In a wine world awash with new labels, new styles, new grape varieties, even wines from new countries, it is sometimes nice to return to the familiar and reliable; like this excellent Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon from a famous label. Winemaker Peter Munro has captured the essence of Coonawarra's terra rossa strip with an impressively structured cabernet that will doubtless cellar well if you have patience, but is already drinking impressively. Dark fruit flavours pair seamlessly with subtle French oak treatment to produce a wine that tastes expensive, but actually offers good value. Pair this very stylish red with roast lamb and all the trimmings. $55.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Tapanappa 2022 Tiers Chardonnay


One of Australia's finest chardonnays from one of its very best winemakers. Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner. In the Piccadilly Valley of the Adelaide Hills, Brian Croser AO planted the Tiers vineyard in 1979 - making it the first in the region. With terroir similar to Montrachet and Meursault, it makes complete sense that this one of the best places in Australia to grow quality chardonnay. Fermented in French oak barriques (one third of them new) this has also been matured on full lees. But it is the brilliant fruit that stars with classic stone fruit flavours allied to some brioche, maize meal, nutty and stony mineral notes. There are wave upon wave of flavours and textures on the palate. A wine of precision with length and lovely acid. You could cellar it for a decade or so, of course, but it is pretty hard to resist right now. Pair with suckling pig for a complete gourmet blow out. Superb drinking and 97 points from me. $110.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Longview 2022 Vista Shiraz Barbera


The wines from the Saturno family's Longview range are invariably great value; offering interesting drinking at very fair prices. I was particularly taken by this unusual co-fermented blend of Aussie favourite shiraz (73%) with the Italian grape variety barbera (27%), which combine to produce a red that is fresh and approachable but also has some attractive savoury elements. This one is all about the hand-picked fruit, which has been matured briefly in older French oak hogsheads, adding some textural elements. The juicy and lively berry fruit makes this the perfect partner for a midweek spaghetti bolognaise, or Friday night pizza. And the Longview cellar door/eatery on the fringes of the Adelaide Hills at Macclesfield is well worth an excursion. $25.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Feudo Arancio 2022 Rosato

It is hard to past the Feudo Arancio range if you are looking for an authentic taste of Italy at a bargain basement price. I reviewed the Nero d'Avola in Ciao Magazine a couple of weeks ago and this rosato - made from the same native Sicilian grape variety - is equally impressive. It is a lovely crisp, fresh and dry rosé style with red berry fruit flavours to the fore, surprising savoury/minmeral elegance and some brisk acid. We paired with some pan-seared tuna, but it would go equally well a charcuterie plate, or a spring picnic. With a restrained alcohol content of just 12%, this is excellent value at $20. Imported by Single Vineyard Sellers. 

Friday, July 28, 2023

Vasse Felix 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon

A Margaret River classic that continues a marvellous level of consistency across many vintages. This is the 49th release of the wine that began the Vasse Felix success story. From another top vintage in Western Australia, winemaker Virginia Willcock is delighted by the intense concentration of fruit flavours, although perhaps less happy with the low yields. This is a seriously luscious cabernet with some malbec and a dash of petit verdot and merlot adding alternative palate interest. Wild ferment and extended maceration help create a wine that combines power and finesse in equal measure. If you are looking for an impressive dinner party wine that offers excellent value then this fits the bill. It deserves to be paired with maybe a roast lamb en croute, or beef wellington. I'd drink a bottle now, and put a couple away. $55.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Kumeu River Estate 2022 Chardonnay


This is an absolutely delicious new release from the Brajkovich family, whose range includes several chardonnays. This is mong the most affordable but it really is a stellar drink from an outstanding vintage in the Auckland region. Sourced from six different vineyards, it is a wine with plenty of concentrated stone fruit flavours but also some devil may care flamboyance with length and complexity; style and substance. Throw in green citrus and apple notes, some almond meal, complexity and suppleness from barrel fermentation and bracing acidity. Very, very good drinking right now, so don't hesitate and get lost in the scramble. Distributed in Australia by Deja Vu Wines. 

Friday, July 14, 2023

Shaw + Smith 2023 Sauvignon Blanc


The wine business is also a fashion business in which styles fall out of favour and then come back into vogue. It is quite remarkable, then, that Australia's pioneering sauvignon blanc - a cracking option to Sancerre - has remained a benchmark, and retained its popularity, for well over three decades. There is one simple reason: it is a bloody good drink, well priced and superbly consistent. This new release is super fresh and vibrant with classic tropical fruit/grapefruit flavours, green tinges and hugely refreshing acidity on the palate. The perfect partner for fresh oysters, or fish and chips. I've been a fan since the first release 34 years ago - and it remains as good as ever. Don't bother cellaring this; just savour its youthful exuberance. $32.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Mike Press 2023 Rosé

When Joseph Burton, who distributes Mike Press Wines in Tasmania, offered me the opportunity to try some new releases I was delighted. The veteran winemaker's wines are a byword for value, and I hadn't seen them for a couple of years. This is one of the stars of the show, a single-vineyard, Provence inspired, pinot noir-driven young rosé from the Adelaide Hills that is impressively full of youthful vitality. It is a serious rosé, dry and textural, with a frivolous price well under $20. It paired superbly with some blue-fin tuna caught off Eaglehawk Neck, but would also go well with Middle Eastern dishes and spicy chicken. Plenty of flavour, plenty of length and a great price. I'm still working through the range but the merlot also shines. $18.

Friday, June 30, 2023

Mount Pleasant 2022 Mountain A Medium-Bodied Dry Red


This is one of a batch of very impressive new-release reds from Hunter Valley icon Mount Pleasant, where winemaker Adrian Sparks is very much in a groove of excellence. Made from 100% shiraz, it is a seriously lovely drink with elegance and length in equal measure. In the olden days we might have called this "feminine", but woe betide that I get accused of vinous sexism. It is all about the quality fruit from the Rosehill vineyard, planted in 1965. Inky in colour, but more Shades of Deep Purple than Fireball, it is accessible in its youth with the dark flavours and white pepper hints lingering on the palate. Fleshy, with a little puppy fat but also intense focus, it is impressively food friendly. $80.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Levantine Hill 2018 Blanc de Blanc

Yarra Valley standout Levantine Hill is probably best known for winemaker Paul Bridgeman's stellar red wines, but this sparkling wine made from 100% chardonnay shines brightly with its spellbinding purity on the palate. It certainly impressed members of my tasting group earlier this week. The key to its vibrancy was a vintage that saw grapes develop intense flavours at low ripeness levels and with shiny natural acidity. There is an impressive floral/grapefruit element to the nose, which is followed up with a lightness of being and tremendous length on the palate. This aperitif-style bubbly is ready to enjoy right now. Made in tiny quantities, but worth tracking down. $80.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Brokenwood 2023 Hunter Valley Semillon

Hunter Valley semillon is an Australian wine classic that can be divisive. Some drinkers love it young and fresh - and it doesn't get any fresher than the new-release 2023 vintage - while others prefer to let it rest for a decade or more and savour it more mature toasty characters. When young wines are as good as this I am firmly in the former camp. This is bursting with all the vibrant joys of youth with lively floral aromas and zingy green citrus/Granny Smith apple on the palate. There is oodles of zingy acid appeal and this would pair well with anything from oysters to a Thai duck curry. Fabulous value for $28. 

Friday, June 9, 2023

Heirloom Vineyards 2021 Anevo Fortress


From one of the star producers in McLaren Vale, this pan-Iberian red blend ticks a whole lot of boxes for palate satisfaction. Only 6060 bottles were made of this grenache, touriga, tempranillo blend - a very savoury and satisfying winter drink that leaves a symphony of dark fruited, spicy/savoury flavours and lively acid in the mouth. The blend is grenache 60%, touriga 25% and tempranillo 15%.. Whole-bunch fermented, basket pressed and aged in French oak barrels for 15 months - it is also vegan friendly, although I would pair it with a beef casserole. The wine is named after an ancient fortress in Bulgaria. birthplace of winemaker Elena Brooks. A solid 95 points. $80.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Greenskin 2022 Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc


Not for the purists, perhaps, but this new release from Australia's first recyclable, resealable and glassless wine producer Greenskin is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy some quality white wine on the road, or on the beach. This a a very, fresh and vibrant "drink now" wine made by Jacopo Dalli Cani from leading Margaret River producer McHenry Hohnen. It is extremely varietal with lively fruit salad flavours and bright acid. The wine has seen time in older French oak to add a fumé accent - and is Vegan friendly. These wines are sold per six-pack (6 x 750ml) - for around $18 per pouch. $106.50.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Curly Flat 2021 Estate Pinot Noir


This is one of three outstanding pinots from Curly Flat that explore the terroirs of the Macedon Ranges of Victoria. A very fine cool-climate pinot, full of varietal verve, this is an expressive wine that comprises fruit from no fewer than 11 blocks. Think indigenous ferments, some whole bunch fruit, post ferment skin contact and individual oak handling. The end result is an outstandingly complex but beguiling wine with a terrific balance between fruit and savoury characters. Unfined, unfiltered and superb. Very reasonably priced, too, given the pedigree and quality. $62.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

De Bortoli 2021 Woodfired Grenache


It is starting to get chilly so everyone needs a couple of reds like this on hand for those nights when the temperatures plummet. This is a new addition to De Bortoli's barbecue/bistro Woodfired range, made from grenache grown on estate vineyards - and from a coupe of growers in rural Victoria. It is bold and dark with blue/black fruit flavours and well judged oak, but finishes with a softness on the palate that makes it ideal for immediate enjoyment, preferably with a red meat dish, or perhaps with mushrooms. Great value for $22.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Tar & Roses 2021 Sangiovese


Narelle King from Nagambie-based Tar & Roses concentrates on making Mediterranean-style, food-friendly wines and this was one of the stars of a recent Red & White trade tasting with its bright fruit flavours, savoury notes and immediate drinkability. Older oak plays a support role and there are some dried herb notes, as well. It would be a perfect partner for pizzas, pasta dishes with a meaty ragu, or simply for sipping in front of the fire over winter. Made from grapes grown in Central Victoria, this is also very well priced. $27.

Friday, May 5, 2023

C'est La Vie 2022 Gamay


When times are tough it is good to know that you can still find a fun bottle of red wine for under a tenner. Made from the Beaujolais grape, gamay, this is a fresh, fruity and vibrant young red that delivers plenty of drinking pleasure and could even be served chilled on a warm day. It is a special offer from Aldi supermarkets - and only available for the next couple of months. Made by the Burgundy-based GCF group, it is classified as a basic Vin de France. But who cares when it is delicious and easy to drink? $10.  

Friday, April 28, 2023

Hoddles Creek 2022 Estate Chardonnay


If you tasted this blind, you'd swear it was a $50 chardonnay. From a year that produced a much reduced volume of grapes, the d'Anna family has once again delivered a cool-climate Yarra Valey chardonnay that offers a whole lot of drinking pleasure. This is lean and clean, unmistakably chardonnay but with plenty of tang on the palate. Think classic stone fruit and citrus fruit aromas and flavours, a touch of oak adding palate interest, some chalky, biscuity notes and impressively brisk acid on the finish. Absolutely excellent. $26.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Wirra Wirra 2019 The Angelus Cabernet Sauvignon


So you enjoy your red wines bold, with a swagger and plenty of confidence? You've come to the right bottle. But this wine is also a gentleman; impeccably balanced and well mannered. From one of the best producers in McLaren Vale, it takes its name from the giant Angelus Bell that sits on top the winery cellars. The Angelus comprises the best parcels of cabernet sauvignon from the vintage and its structure means it is a wine that can usually be cellared for two decades or more should you wish to do so. Think Dark plum and currant fruit flavours and a long, structured palate. We paired this with a lamb en croute with green vegetables, and that worked a treat. $70.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Ravensworth 2021 Estate Sangiovese


Bryan Martin is a long-time collaborator with the Kirk family at Clonakilla, but also makes serious ripples with his own wines under the Ravensworth label, also based in Murrumbateman, outside Canberra. This is one of the finest Australian sangioveses that I have had the pleasure of tasting, ethereal, dangerously drinkable. No fertilisers, chemicals or pesticides, no fining or filtering. This was whole-berry processed to oak cuves, plunged daily during fermentation, sealed up, topped as skins soften then locked up for six months. Pressed and returned to cask, it was then transferred with lees to Hungarian oak casks for another year. Poised, textural, complex, savoury but silky, this matched brilliantly with pizzas, but also has the complexity to be enjoyed with more serious dishes. Outstanding drinking for $45. But be quick. Volumes are tiny.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Shaw Wines 2022 Estate Rosé

The cool Canberra region is a source of a growing number of outstanding wines and this dry rosé from estate vineyards in Murrumbateman has plenty of appeal with its bright, lively palate and very reasonable price tag. Utilising the usual shiraz (60%), blended with 40% malbec, this is a very vibrant, almost tart, wine that demands to be enjoyed with food. Think cranberry and wild strawberrry fruit notes and a very crisp and dry palate. This would be perfect pair with anything with a Middle Eastern flavour; from a lamb kebab to a mezze plate. Or, perhaps, a charcuterie board. Very refreshing this one and it weighs in at just 11.5% alcohol. $26. 

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Clandestine Vineyards 2022 Pinot Grigio


What a great all-purpose white wine for enjoying over whatever sunny days remain this season. Vibrant and refreshing, this made from grapes grown at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills and to my palate is very much on the grigio side of the spectrum, with just a hint of gris texture; which adds interest but does not detract from the basic refreshing nature of the wine. Unwooded with aromatic notes and bright acid on the finish this is made for Nick and Trudy Stacy by consultant winemaker Ben Riggs, who has shown a deft touch with fruit that was picked in two batches, one early and one at full ripeness. Pair this very well priced wine with a Vietnamese glass noodle salad with spicy chicken and herbs. $25.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Centare 2021 Old Block Chardonnay

Centare Vineyard - previously known as Coranderrk Estate - had somehow flown under my radar until recently. This excellent Yarra Valley chardonnay made me sit up and take notice, however, and it was no surprise to discover the wine was the work of excellent winemaker Nicole Esdaile. If Burgundy floats your boat then you will very much enjoy this sassy but elegant chardonnay which has tremendous drive and poise with bright, fresh acid and classic cool-climate chardonnay flavours. Wild fermented and matured in oak puncheons and with 20% having undergone malo, this is the product of a very good vintage. Ripe, but impressively balanced with citrus, stone fruit and brioche notes in harmony, this marks Centare as a label to watch. $70.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Alamos 2021 Torrontes


Torrontes is the signature white grape of Argentina, but rarely grown anywhere else on the globe. It thrives in the high-altitude, cooler region of Salta, which is where the fruit for this wine has been sourced by leading producers the Catena family. If you like your white wines bursting with youthful flavours and bright, zesty acid then this will be a very nice surprise. Fragrant and crisp, it would pair brilliantly with spicy dishes, maybe a Cajun pan-fried fish or some prawn tacos. Terrific drinking now, and probably best enjoyed within a year or two of release. Around $20. Imported by Negociants.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Port Phillip Estate 2022 Essay


Love the crispness and freshness of this gamay from Port Phillip Estate and outgoing winemaker Glen Hayley, who will be sorely missed. Port Phillip Estate normally only uses estate-grown fruit, but this is a one-off exception to that rule. The grapes were sourced from David Lloyd - a pioneer of the grape variety on the Mornington Peninsula - before he sold up and moved to Tasmania. The wine was made in very small quantities using whole bunch, French oak and malo. You could easily chill this for a few minutes on a warm day, or just enjoy its tangy, bright fruit at room temperature. Its red fruit drive paired well with a chicken and mushroom pie, $44 at cellar door.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Gundog Estate 2022 Indomitus Rosa

Matt Burton produces several excellent ranges of small-batch wines from the Hunter Valley, Canberra and Hilltops regions, specialising in different styles, particularly shiraz and semilon. This is an excellent wild fermented rosé made from nebbiolo and sangiovese grapes grown in the Hilltops of New South Wales. Tasted blind you'd swear it was the product of a hip young European producer. Pressed after 12 hours on skins, juice is then fermented cloudy with naturally occurring yeast in old oak puncheons. The wine then spends several months on skins, developing texture and palate appeal. There is a whole lot happening here - all of it good. Pair with some Lebanese dishes for maximum impact. $45.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Houghton CW Ferguson 2020 Cabernet Malbec


For many wine drinkers, the Houghton brand is synonymous with cheap and cheerful drops like Houghton White Classic. Those in the know, however, as are aware that the venerable West Australian producer - with vineyards across the state - is also making some very fine red wines of provenance. This is one of the stars of that show - an excellent blend of cabernet sauvignon and malbec. It is named after the proprietor and winemaker at Houghton in the 1863-1911 and uses fruit from the Frankland River region in the Great Southern. Wonderfully brambly, this is drinking well now but also has the structure to cellar well. An impressive package that will be released in March. RRP $79 - but look out for deals.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Mesh 2022 Eden Valley Riesling

When two of the most professional and passionate operators in the Australian wine industry collaborate, wine drinkers are guaranteed a quality taste treat. This impressive dry riesling is a long-time collab between Clare Valley riesling maestro Jeffrey Grosset and the Robert Hill Smith, whose family operates Yalumba, Pewsey Vale and other quality labels. It is a wine style that has evolved over two decades and focuses on citrus intensity, bright acid and a hint of talcum powder minerality. This is a riesling with generosity and texture - a wine that would be best enjoyed with food, perhaps a tartiflette, or mushroom quiche. It will also cellar well if you have the patience and willpower. I also like the use of the riesling dryness scale on the back label. $30.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Serafino 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon

There may be some better sub-$30 cabernets around - but I haven't come across many of them. This may be a young wine, but it has come together brilliantly to offer immediate drinking pleasure with varietal characters and plenty of length and depth. This is made from fruit grown on the Maglieri family estate in McLaren Vale and is unashamedly full bodied, but also blessed with some impressive tannin structure. Blackberry and blackcurrant flavours are to the fore and the oak is well integrated. It would be excellent with calves liver, or perhaps a beef casserole. Pretty hard to restrict yourself to just one glass of this excellent new release. $28. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Kilikanoon 2022 Killerman's Run Rosé


A little slice of Provence from the hills and dales of the Clare Valley in South Australia; of one the most beautiful wine regions in the country. This is Kilikanoon's take on the dry, pale rosé styles of the south of France, and by jove it is a deliciously refreshing wine for enjoying well chilled over the dying days of summer. It is fresh and briskly assertive, clean, well made and weighing in at just 12.5% alcohol. It is designed for enjoying in its frisky youth. Think a liquid summer pudding. This would be perfect paired with a picnic, or for enjoying al fresco, perhaps with some Scotch eggs, or a salad. $22.


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Dog Point 2022 Sauvignon Blanc


Many Marlborough sauvignon blancs are made to a familiar formula; lean and green and refreshing with bright acid. This new release from Dog Point offers something just a little bit different. Certified organic, it has a little more mouthfeel, a tad more palate interest, than many of its contemporaries, while retaining its aromatic appeal. This has vibrancy, allied to some interesting palate complexity thanks to wild yeast fermentation and some whole bunch elements; a wine that demands to matched with seafood, perhaps some mussels or cockles. It is bright and lively with fresh citrus and nectarine notes. Punchy, taut and intense with well-judged acid, faint smoky hints and immediate appeal. Well worth seeking out. 96 points from me. $30.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Harewood Estate 2022 Great Southern Riesling

Harewood Estate produces a range of several excellent rieslings from the Great Southern region of Western Australia. This is the entry level wine, but it is immediately accessible and great fun to drink. I'd pair this with some-fried flathead, but it would be a brilliant companion to most seafood and poultry dishes. It is delightfully aromatic with some classic lemon/lime citrus flavours allied to hints of pear and peach. There is still a terrific line of acidity, purity and focus with a cheeky crisp finish. One for enjoying now, preferably well chilled. Distributed by Single Vineyard Sellers. $22.