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.


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Pewsey Vale 2022 Lighter Riesling 9%


Ladies and gentlemen: we have a winner! Finally a lighter-in-alcohol wine that actually tastes like wine and that you would be very happy to drink. Pewsey Vale Vineyard Lighter Riesling 9% is not as low in alcohol as many of its rivals, but it is fresh, fun and fruity and its zesty residual sugar would pair well with spicy Asian dishes, perhaps Korean fried chicken, or a Thai stir fry. It is deliberately made in a lighter style where the grapes are harvested as the first ripe flavours develop. Tangy, with lemon/lime sherbet and stone fruit flavours, this would also pair well with the saltiness of freshly shucked oysters. Drink now. Well chilled. $26.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Oakridge 864 2021 864 Henk Vineyard Aquaduct Block Pinot Noir

From one of the consistently finest vineyards in the Yarra, this terroir-driven wine is also made by one of the best winemaking teams. Assertive, a little stern even, but not at all shouty, this is the wine I choose to mark New Year's Eve. Very youthful right now, it is a classic cellaring pinot with blue and dark fruits, hints of spice and delicatessen earthiness all playing their roles. There is a 20% whole bunch element adding texture, and mainly older oak barrels with a subtle presence in the show. A lot of length here, too, and plenty of drinking pleasure, whether you go short term or show a little patience. As this is from a terrific vintage, perhaps patience might be in order. $96.