Damian North has access to some very good Yarra Valley fruit and has made a splendidly accessible pinot noir in 2013, with dark berry notes, length and depth and the fruit shining through despite the use of 25% new French barriques. A former sommelier who has worked in Oregon, as well as at TarraWarra Estate and Leeuwin Estate, his wines are blossoming with each vintage and this pinot from a warm, dry vintage is positively hedonistic with a beautiful balance between the bright fruit, spice and earthiness. Like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing on your tongue - a thing of beauty. The empty bottle gave away how much I enjoyed this. $34. www.journeywines.com.au.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Husband and wife team Tom and Sally Belford craft some intriguing wines in the Yarra Valley; marching to a different drum to the bulk of Yarra mainstream. This is labelled syrah, rather than shiraz, presumably to indicate a French style preference, and is both unfiltered and unfined but full of personality. Inky, it has the merest hint of spritz (maybe thanks to carbonic maceration), some silk sheet softness and a very fruity palate with black cherry/sweet raspberry cheerfulness to the fore. There is just a smidgen of spice, too, with some savoury/deli action, along with an appealing immediate drinkability. It may be in the natural wine camp but who cares? It's a very stylish wine with a stylistic nod to serious Beaujolais. $29.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Is this Australia's best semillon year on year? Probably. Is this outstanding new-release 2014 the best Andrew Thomas has produced? Very likely. Put simply, this is an outstanding version of under-valued Hunter semillon that makes you shake your head in bewilderment that the style is not more popular. Made from fruit grown on 45-year-old vines, this is so pure, so fresh and clean that you could almost take a bath in it. The fruit was havested at night by pickers using headlamps and is wonderfully tight and vibrant (think lemon and lime juice with hints of Asian spice). Steely, with just 10.8% alcohol, this would be marvellous paired with fresh oysters, or a plate of sashimi and sushi. From a cracking vintage, you could confidently cellar it for a decade or two - but it is just too delicious right now to make that seem a realistic possibility. $30. www.thomaswines.com.au.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Z Wines is a small Barossa Valley winery run by the Zerk sisters, winemaker Janelle and marketer Kristen, that I must admit had previously flown under my radar. The Zerk family has been growing grapes since 1846 but Janelle is the first member of the family to turn to wine making - and has done vintages around the globe. The fruit is sourced from the family's Lyndoch vineyards and this is a new addition to the range that can be found at Dan Murphy's stores. It is absolutely delicious and ridiculously good value with juicy/spicy blackberry/dark plum notes and some soft earthiness as well. A terrific fruit-driven wine for enjoying in its youth and an ideal "midweek" choice. $15. www.zwine.com.au.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Take two South Africans who settled in the Adelaide Hills and developed a love of Austrian wine styles - particularly the savoury white variety gruner veltliner - and you have the back story to a wine that has established a big reputation over just a handful of vintages. This is a brand-new release (I believe I am the first journalist to get a peek) that is remarkably pretty and delicate - "like a young girl in a summer dress". It is an aromatic and textural wine with 30% of the fruit having seen older oak, some going straight to stainless steel and some being given skin contact. With the pioneering vines now nine years of age this wine is hitting its straps and offers a very chic, food-friendly option to sauvignon blanc and pinot gris. Just delightful. $30.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
I am an unashamed fan of the wines of Sandro Mosele, chief winemaker at Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate on the Mornington Peninsula. He has the midas touch with both chardonnay and pinot noir with his wines always standing out in blind tastings. This is aromatic and bright, silky smooth and savoury at the same time; some European sensibilities shining through despite the fruit's origins. It is brambly and complex, elegant and completely beguiling. I was sipping on this after a tasting, savouring not swigging, but the bottle was soon empty. One of three single vineyard pinots in the collection and the most immediately inviting, this is downright delicious and I wouldn't begrudge the price given the stellar quality. I'd have no hesitation giving it 97/100. $75. www.kooyongwines.com.au.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
I am extremely impressed by the consistency of the wines being produced by Corrina Wright (a sixth-generation family member) and her team at small McLaren Vale producer Oliver's Taranga. This wine, made from a grape that derives from the Campania region of Italy, ticks all the boxes for modern white wines. It is medium-bodied with plenty of textural palate interest, fresh and citrusy with nutty nuances, low in alcohol at 12.5% and punches well above its weight when it comes to price-quality ratio. $24. www.oliverstaranga.com.