Saturday, December 16, 2017

Levantine Hill 2014 Syrah

With ambitious owners in Elias Jreissati and his family and a world-class winemaker in Paul Bridgeman, few newer wine labels can match the fast upward trajectory of Levantine Hill in the Yarra Valley. This is a classic example of cool-climate shiraz: it is a beautifully poised wine, with the elegance and structure both hitting high notes. This plush but perky number is a blend of nine different parcels of fruit and was recently won the overall syrah/shiraz trophy at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London - a serious heavyweight award. The judges there praised its "beautifully aromatic bouquet of lavender, musk, sweet spices and red berries" and described it as "full-bodied without being heavy: stunning". Well worth seeking out a bottle or two. Bugger anyone else; treat yourself to a bottle or two of this over the holidays. $85.   

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Cullen 2016 Kevin John Chardonnay

I tend to come over all gushy when I'm reviewing the high-end wines from Vanya Cullen and her talented Margaret River team of organic/biodynamic artists. Here I go again with a superbly calibrated chardonnay that ranks as world class. Unfined and unfiltered, this was wild-yeast fermented in barriques, puncheons and amphorae, underwent natural malo and was then matured for 10 months in French oak barrels (around one-third of which were new). The fruit used comes from 40+-year-old vines and was hand-picked and whole-bunch pressed. Think white peach, nectarine and some brioche/cream flavours that match with intense minerality and crispness on the finish. Pair with char-grilled king prawns for a Christmas treat. 96/100.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

All Saints 2017 Rosa Rosé

If you like a story behind your wine then this is named after the Brown family's maternal grandmother, Rosa, who used to enjoy a glass of rosé while playing cards. Light, crisp, delicate and refreshing, it is a blend of sangiovese (55%) and cabernet sauvignon (45%) that is more subtle than many North-East Victorian offerings. It's a food-friendly, drink-now style best enjoyed well chilled. Even better, the custom-made bottle is a cracker, with a schmicko Vin-O-Lok glass stopper. Remember the days when you stuck a candle is an empty bottle of Mateus Rosé or Chianti? Or maybe not. Those days could be back! $32.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

d'Arenberg 2017 The Broken Fishplate Sauvignon Blanc

Longer, warmer days are with us and refreshing sauvignon blanc will once again be a popular choice right across Australia. This is an outstanding example (also terrific value) from McLaren Vale producer d'Arenberg who have wisely sourced fruit from the cooler Adelaide Hills to craft a quintessential quaffer that is full of the joys of spring with its freshness and vibrancy. A small percentage was briefly fermented in aged French oak to add palate interest but this is all about the bright fruit (think fruit salad and green salad flavours) and brisk acid finish. A really enjoyable thirst-quencher that would match brilliantly with tempura-battered whiting and chips. $20.   

Sunday, November 19, 2017

St John's Road 2016 Motley Bunch

I am not a huge fan of the retro labels they use on the St John's Road range. I understand the industry reverence for great old skool winemakers of the 1950s pictured here, but I don't see it pulling in the punters on a crowded bottle shop shelf. Good job, perhaps, that I'm a writer not a marketer. That said, this is an absolutely terrific Barossa GMS (Grenache, Mataro and Shiraz), a signature regional style that is ballsy but in balance. Full-flavoured and fruit-driven, this is a most amiable companion just about any barbecue selection. I scored it 93/100 and it is very good value at $22. It's made by Phil Lehmann, son of Peter Lehmann, one of those pictured on the label back in 1951.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Yarran NV Cuvée Blanc

Party season is approaching; Christmas is not far away. That means I am going to be asked, repeatedly, to recommend an affordable sparkling wine that can do duty at work functions or family get-togethers.  You might not have heard of the Yarran label but this bubbly from a family-owned and -operated winery at Yenda offers some affordable luxury here with citrusy, fresh and vibrant notes. It is made from 100% chardonnay grown in the Riverina region of New South Wales but picked early while it still had crunchy acid. Young and quite dry, this a real bargain that can be found online for $12 a bottle and would pair brilliantly with canapes or fresh oysters. Huon Hooke also liked it. $14.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Howard Park 2017 Porongurup Riesling

It used to be that all of Australia's finest rieslings came from either the Clare Valley, or perhaps the Eden Valley. Nowadays, you'll find excellent examples from Canberra, Tasmania and, perhaps most impressively, from the Great Southern region of Western Australia. Family-owned Howard Park was one of the regional pioneers here and produces exceptional dry rieslings from vineyards in both Mount Barker and the Porongurups. This wine has grown in stature since its first release seven years ago and pulls off the trick of being both delicate and full flavoured. Think floral aromas, elegant grapefruit and wild lime flavours, wet river pebble minerality and brisk acid. This is delightfully pure and lithe with the briskness, line and length of a great fast bowler. $34.