Friday, May 17, 2024

Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2023 Elsa


There is something special about wines from Moss Wood in Margaret River. The best descriptor I can come up with is "complete". There are many elements to this delightful and savoury sauvignon blanc-driven wine, but they come together like a well-conducted orchestra. This is inspired by the wines of the Loire Valley and is super food friendly with dry tropical fruit notes, cream and spice hints with just the merest hint of toasty oak - mainly older old French barriques - completing the package. This single-vineyard blend comes from a very good - albeit dry - vintage. $80.


Friday, May 10, 2024

Longview 2023 Twin Palms Pinot Noir

The Adelaide Hills has become the "go to" region for affordable pinot noir in Australia and this recent release from the Saturno family demonstrates why. From a vineyard overlooked by two palms trees - hence the name - this is a thoroughly modern, thoroughly delicious take on one of the most difficult grape varieties to get right. There is a beautiful balance between fresh berry fruit flavours and more savoury notes and its is ready for immediate consumption, having had undergone cool ferment in stainless steel and then spending six months in old French oak puncheons. It's all about the fruit from an excellent vintage with a silky, juicy cheekiness. If you can pair this with some Chinese duck pancakes you will be in for a treat. $30.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Les Dauphins 2023 Cotes du Rhone Reserve Rosé


Delightfully fresh and vibrant young French rosé for $20 a bottle? Yes indeed. That's well worth getting excited about. This is from a well-regarded co-op with 60 years of experience in the Drome region in the southern Cotes du Rhone and it magically transports you to one of those picture postcard French villages, where a glass or two of rosé every day is a necessity. It hits just the right note between a melange of fruits and savoury hints, and finishes with some bright acidity. We paired this with spaghetti, scallops, chilli and tomato, and that was an excellent combo. Distributed by Single Vineyard Sellers. A brilliant buy for $20. 


Friday, April 26, 2024

Howard Park 2023 Miamup Chardonnay

A stylish, composed and immediately enjoyable chardonnay from a family-owned premium wine producer in Margaret River for $30? Sounds too good to be true, but fortunately it isn't. My wife and I both had the same reaction: "This is delicious isn't it?" Miamup Chardonnay is made from a selection of vineyard blocks and clones, the majority in Wilyabrup, and fermentation and malolactic occurs in a combination of older French oak and stainless-steel tanks. None of which matters a jot if you are looking for affordable vinous gratification, which this offers in spaces. It has crunch apple and pear flavours, a hint of grapefruit and lemon sorbet raciness. There is lively acidity and some minerality on the finish in a wine designed for immediate enjoyment. Pair with pork ribs, or a spicy chicken dish. $30.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Grosset 2022 Gaia


Jeffrey Grosset may be best known as Australia's pre-eminent maker of fine rieslings, but he is certainly no one trick pony. The Grosset range of biodynamic wine excellence now comprises 11 wines, nine from the Clare Valley and two from the Piccadilly Valley (Adelaide Hills). If you are looking for a stylish red full of complexity and palate interest then this will fit the bill. A blend of 95% Clare Valley cabernet sauvignon and 5% cabernet franc, it is impeccably balanced - a thing of beauty. Taut still, but with classic briary/wild hedgerow characters, dark currant flavours and well-integrated French oak, this can be enjoyed right now as you admire its length and polish, or be cellared for a decade or two. Dinner party coming up? Buy a couple of bottles. Happy to give this one a cracking 97/100. $108 but worth it. Fillet mignon anyone?

Friday, April 12, 2024

Battle of Bosworth 2023 Puritan Shiraz


So you like shiraz with plenty of flavour but are on a tight budget? The Puritan might just be answer to your prayers. From the Battle of Bosworth winery in McLaren Vale - shiraz heartland - this ticks a whole lot of boxes for everyday drinking pleasure. Organically grown with minimal preservatives, this is bright, fresh and juicy with plenty of immediate drinking please on offer. Given the fact that it has seen zero oak, it is probably best enjoyed over the next couple of years - but would be no hardship. Vibrant and vital, this would be brilliant with a barbecue. Bring on the snags and burger patties. Super value at $25   

Friday, April 5, 2024

AC Byrne 2023 Margaret River Chardonnay

That you can buy wine this good for $11 a bottle is nothing less than miraculous - and an absolute godsend in these difficult economic times. Yes, it's another Aldi special, so supply might be limited, but there is some very deft winemaking here. Taste this blind and I reckon most drinkers would expect to pay $25 upwards for a wine of this quality. Who is A.C. Byrne? They almost certainly don’t exist, but does it matter? The value here is exceptional. Margaret River chardonnay was apparently handpicked, whole-bunch pressed with the cloudy juice sent to large format oak for fermentation and aged for nine months. Classic chardonnay flavours: white stone fruit, crispness, vibrancy and flinty hints. Bring out the pork spare ribs. $11.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Schubert Estate 2017 The Lone Goose

The Schubert family has been growing grapes in the Barossa Valley over almost 110 years. More recently they've been making some excellent estate wines. The limited-release 2017 Lone Goose Shiraz Viognier recently picked up a Diamond Trophy Award at the 2024 Sakura Women’s Wine Awards in Japan, along with being given the ‘Grand Prix Pairing for Japanese Cuisine - Sukiyaki’. Regular readers will be aware of my disdain for show awards but this really is a wine of exceptional quality: a shiraz viognier blend sourced from a 25-year-old vineyard block on the Roennfeldt Road estate that is basket pressed and matured in seasoned French oak barriques for 20 months. Classic Barossa flavours here, but also exceptional balance and elegance with excellent tannin structure. Devastatingly drinkable. $100 but numbers are limited.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Vasse Felix 2022 Chardonnay


You know you've got a good 'un when you underestimate the price of a wine by a considerable margin. I expected this captivating chardonnay to retail for around $70. The fact that it sells for $25 less than that should have you rushing out to sample a bottle. Very rarely do you find wines at this price point that tick so many quality boxes. There's a come hither nose, while the palate is complex and stylish but immediately drinkable with quality fruit spending time in French oak barriques to add complexity. Soft, smooth and chalky on the finish. The grapes come from a selection of Vasse Felix’s premier plots and this is a work of art. Soft, smooth and chalky on the finish. Think a vinous Banksy. A confident 96 points from me. $45.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Dandelion Vineyards 2022 Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz

Serious Barossa shiraz for $30 is good to find, and this one from Dandelion VIneyards delivers great value for money. This is made using fruit from some gnarly old vines, some over 100 years old. Open fermented, hand plunged twice a day and then basket pressed into mainly older French barriques, this is very approachable in its youth and would pair brilliantly with a gourmet Angus beef burger. It can sometimes be found on special and is certainly well worth keeping your eyes out for. $30.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Tapanappa 2023 Tiers Chardonnay

Simply superb. A classic cool-climate chardonnay from an iconic 45-year-old vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, this is a benchmark of excellence from vastly experienced winemaker Brian Croser and his Tapanappa team. From a cool vintage, this is a wine of intensity and panache; a wine that first demands "taste me" and then "think about me". A cerebral blend with apple, stone fruit and nutty flavours in perrfect harmony, it is classically varietal with bright acid on the finish and the structure to suggest cellaring would pay dividends. Pair with roast pork and crackling, or a Mediterranean vegetable tart. Savour its amazing length, This is not cheap at $110, but it would elevate any dinner party. 96+ points. 

Friday, March 1, 2024

Craggy Range 2023 Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc


Remember the days when Kiwi sauvignon blanc was all the rage? Seems like an eternity ago doesn't it? But there are still some outstanding savvy blancs from New Zealand on offer if you choose carefully and I really enjoyed the varietal character and palate power of this one from Martinborough. There is some herbaceousness, sure, but this is all about minerality and intensity with plenty of textural elements on the palate (with a small percentage of whole bunch playing a role). The complexity is added to by a combination of use of stainless steel and various formats of French oak. This could be called a fumé blanc. Think summer sipping on the back deck. $36.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Zema Estate 2018 Family Collection Shiraz


Family-owned Zema Estate is a Coonwarra producer that usually over-delivers on value - and is known for only releasing its Family Selection reds when they are at their peak. Hence this new release - and its Cabernet Sauvignon sibling - are being released at six years of age. With over four decades of experience - the brand was launched in 1982 - the family focuses on hand-pruning, fruit selection, quality oak barrels, and bottle ageing - all of which are reflected here in a shiraz that is rich, smart and sophisticated with a complex but beautifully cohesive palate. Drink now with a beef casserole, or cellar. Your choice. $50 - but cheaper from cellar door or online.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Paul Mas 2022 Pays d'Oc Marsanne


Looking for a white wine that is full of palate interest but extremely affordable? You can't go past this Languedoc white from one of the many labels of Arrogant Frog proprietor Jean-Claude Mas. This is a great picnic choice with its honeydew melon, pear, quince paste and fresh white peach notes. It is very well balanced, finishes dry and smooth and is exceptionally well balanced for wine in its price bracket. Marsanne is a grape that originates in the northern Rhone and is often used in blends, but here it is grown in the Languedoc, further south, and shines on its own. Some bright acid on the finish so pair with a vegetable quiche. $12 at Dan Murphy's stores - a definite bargain buy.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Kilikanoon 2018 Attunga 1865 Shiraz

If your are looking for a complex, age-worthy shiraz for a special occasion but don't have the budget for a Hill of Grace, Grange or Factor, then this might be a very good alternative. The fruit comes from a Clare Valley vineyard just outside Auburn that was planted in 1865. I shared this wine with my tasting group this week and it met with universal acclaim, well merited given it is a concentrated, intense but smooth-finishing red with a lot of deep, brooding flavour elements including smoky, savoury, dark fruit and chocolate. It has a serious structural side but can be enjoyed right now.  A fillet steak would be an appropriate match. $250.  

Friday, February 2, 2024

Flametree 2022 Chardonnay

Here is a very composed - and well priced - Margaret River chardonnay that is in the zone right now, offering a lot of food-friendly drinking pleasure. Flametree winemaker Cliff Royle has all his ducks in a row with a wine that has plenty of power without being overpowering. This is dry and textural with wild ferment adding to the mix in a positive way. There is some bright citrus-accented acidity on the finish while French oak plays an impressive support role. You could pair this with anything from fish and chips to lobster mornay. $35. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Tapanappa 2022 Foggy Hill Pinot Noir

The Tapanappa label is the result of a 40+ year mission of veteran winemaker Brian Croser and his family to make world-class wines from the most “distinguished sites” in South Australia. The Foggy Hill vineyard on the Fleurieu Peninsula might not be an obvious contender as a site for world-class pinot, but it delivers big time with this vibrant and spicy example of classic terroir-driven varietal character. There is plenty of length here and aging potential, too, given its serious complexity, but it is a lovely wine right now that I give 95 points. Impressive stuff . $60.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Levantine Hill 2020 Melange Botrytis

Many wine drinkers make the mistake of thinking that sweet wines must be paired with desserts. Au contraire, the French, who know a little about food and wine matching, tend to pair their classic Sauternes wines with dishes including foie gras, pates, terrines and soft cheeses. This homage to Sauternes is a blend of late-harvested semillon, sauvignon blanc, muscadelle and sauvignon gris with the whole far greater than its parts. Rich and luscious, this has apricot, marmalade, golden honey and Seville orange notes with enough acid on the finish to match the lashings of residual sugar. Well worth checking out. $60 for 375mls 

Concentrated and complexed via infection of the selected berries with the noble Botrytis cinerea, this wine is rich and hedonistic, luscious and viscous yet elegant and structured.

Aromas of golden syrup dumplings, barley sugar, crystallised ginger, beeswax andorange marmalade meld with flavours of orange poppy seed cake, cumquat and cardamom panna cotta.

A smattering of phenolics on the finish helps draw the palate long giving resolution and profundity, keeping the sweetness in check. It will gain further richness and dark allure with careful cellaring over 10+ years.

Discover more about our 2020 Mélange Botrytis and how this unusual wine is made in our Wine Spotlight.

Note: 375ml bottle $60.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Giant Steps 2023 Rosé


I could drink more than a few glasses of this impressively slurpable rosé from Yarra Valley standout Giant Steps. Winemaker Melanie Chester - previously from rosé specialist Sutton Grange - has blended syrah (shiraz) and pinot noir grapes to produce a wine that is both fun and stylish - perfect for a summer picnic, or just for sipping on the veranda after work. It is unashamedly based on the pale, savoury rosés of Provence and is clearly designed to be enjoyed well chilled for maximum refreshment. Intense with raspberry and redcurrant flavours, this finishes with impressive bright acidity. Drink now. Right now. $32.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Longview 2021 Devil's Elbow Cabernet Sauvignon

The cool Adelaide Hills are not the first location you'd think of for sourcing quality cabernet sauvignon, but this one delivers both quality and value to challenge Coonawarra and Margaret River with fruit from a Macclesfield vineyard that gets plenty of midday sun. This has classic blackcurrant and chocolate characters but finishes smooth, supple and stylish. There's plenty of length here with a long ripening period resulting in pleasingly intense but well balanced fruit flavours aided and abetted by malo and 12 months in soft, older oak. Medium-bodied and all the better for it. This won a trophy for the best cabernet at the 2022 Melbourne Royal Wine Awards$30.