Chemin is the small-batch label for Yarra Valley winery Punt Road and winemaker Kate Goodman (who has since departed; a big loss). Chemin is the French word for path or direction, and these wines are made using an alternative philosophy to mainstream Punt Road wines - using whole bunch and whole berry fermentation, indigenous yeasts and allowing barrels to age untouched with minimal racking, fining, and filtration. The end aim is minimal intervention wines made in tiny quantities with a savoury, textured palate. This is a wine from an excellent Yarra vintage, using fruit from 25-year-old+ vines. The result is a wine with a distinct French accent; low in alcohol at 12.5% but with savoury North American spice notes alongside dark fruit flavours. Distinctively different. $42. www.puntroadwines.com.au.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
At the same time as Penfolds was unveiling its new 2009 Grange and host of other premium wines, what got a little lost in the shuffle was the release of some affordable bin wines from the cracking 2012 vintage. The Bin 138 Barossa Shiraz Grenache Mataro ($40) and the Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz, a more approachable, drink-now red-fruited style for $45 were among them. This new release, however, offers great value for my money. It is a multi-regional blend sourced from vineyards across South Australia (including McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Wrattonbully, the Barossa, Padthaway and Coonawarra) that offers immediate pleasure but will also cellar well for several years. Cassis, green leaf and spice notes jostle on the nose, leading on to a tight, intense palate with dark fruits, earthiness and spice along with classy French and American oak notes and savoury tannin structure. A most impressive debut. $30.
Friday, February 21, 2014
People in the wine industry are often asked: "What's the next big thing?" On the evidence of early efforts from Hahndorf Hill, K1 by Geoff Hardy, Lark Hill and others, my bet is the savoury Austrian white variety gruner veltliner - and this debut effort from Pike & Joyce in the Adelaide Hills is excellent. Made in tiny quantities, it has white pepper/talcum powder notes along with bright fresh pear and green apple characters on a palate that also has faint grapefruit notes. This is nicely vibrant, food-friendly, easy to drink and has impressive crispness. With only around 75 cases made it may pay to lay pedal to the metal if this sounds like your scene. $28. www.pikeandjoyce.com.au.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
If only all New Zealand sauvignon blancs were as compelling as this consistently brilliant offering from Dog Point in Marlborough. I could certainly drink a fair amount of this with its standout tropical fruit salad and Thai herbs on the nose, leading to a palate with textural interest, brisk, refreshing acidity, flinty minerality and citrus notes. Indigenous fermentation to a portion of the fruit has added interest, but this is certainly not one of those over-worked Kiwi savvys where it is all about how clever the winemaker is. Lovely drinking and a congenial companion for seafood and shellfish. $25. www.dogpoint.co.nz.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
What a beautifully precise cool-climate wine this is, but you'll need to move quickly to snap some up as only 150 cases were made. Winemaker Nick Spencer has everything in place with gorgeous bright fruit, hints of pepper and spice, structure and balance. While this is drinking superbly already (it will be released in March), I suspect it will also cellar well, and it is extremely food friendly with a sensible 13% alcohol. This is a wine at the cutting edge of new-wave Australian shiraz. Lovely stuff. $60. www.edenroadwines.com.au.
Sunday, February 2, 2014
Australia's warmer regions produce some of the finest fortified wines in the world and this Riverland take on port is up there with the best. A blend of tinta roriz (tempranillo), touriga nacional and tinta cao (all Iberian grape varieties), along with durif and shiraz, this is dark and mysterious wine, with ripe berry fruit, spice and licorice and a soft, silky and sweet core. The vintage is made only in excellent years - the last was 2006 - and winemaker Eric Semmler reckons this can confidently be cellared for 20 years. This would be brilliant paired with a Pyengana cheddar from Tasmania, or indulgently poured over vanilla ice cream. $50. www.919wines.com.au/
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Attention to detail in the vineyard has been paying huge dividends for Pooley Wines in recent vintages - with their Coal River Valley vineyards producing some of Tasmania's most exciting and reliable pinots. This is a great each way bet, drinking beautifully in its first year of release with vibrant black and red fruit flavours, but also blessed with tannin structure that suggests it will cellar well for several years to come. It is aromatic and spicy with bright fruit allied to intriguing savoury notes. A chance to see why Tasmanian pinots are all the rage - without breaking the bank. $35. www.pooleywines.com.au.