Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Lane 2016 Beginnings Chardonnay


This is one of those wines with what we describe at home as "an evaporation problem". A couple of us started sipping on this and it wasn't long before the bottle was completely empty. Mysterious. If you weren't paying attention you could easily mistake this for a Macon Villages. Close-planted Dijon clones have produced plenty of flavour and the quality fruit has sucked up new and seasoned French oak that adds structure but imparts minimal flavour. Think bright citrus flavours, white peach, nectarine, racy acidity and flinty minerality. Downright delicious. A luxury Adelaide Hills wine without the luxury price tag. $39.
www.thelane.com.au.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Yarra Yering 2016 Malbec


So there I was, tasting a range of different wines from the Yarra Valley over a casual dinner at Giant Steps, when this one detonated in my mouth. Boom! Something special; the first 100% malbec produced by this iconic Yarra vineyard and a triumph from winemaker Sarah Crowe, who is producing an outstanding range of wines using fruit from unirrigated vines that were planted in 1969. It is Yarra Yering's boast that they produce "elegant, complex and powerful wines". That's all true here with a wow factor wine that won't be released to the public until May 2018 - and then in tiny quantities. This brambly benefaction showcases malbec that was previously used for blending with cabernet sauvignon and the end result is a bold, assertive package of dark flavours that is at once powerful and charming. If you want some of this rarity I'd contact the winery to be put on a waiting list. Amazeballs. $92. www.yarrayering.com.      

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sandalford 2017 Reserve Verdelho


Warmer days are on their way and I can't think of many better wines for enjoying al fresco over summer. Made from a Portuguese grape that plays a key role in the fortified wines of Madeira, this is a fresh and vibrant dry white youngster full of the joys of spring. There are floral and fruit salad aromas on the nose, leading to fresh, zingy palate with tropical fruit notes and zingy acid. Serve this well chilled with maybe a paella, some chorizo or char-grilled squid or oysters. Uncomplicated but affordable and downright delicious. $20. www.sandalford.com.

Friday, September 1, 2017

d'Arenberg The High Trellis 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon


Another cracking bargain from the massive d'Arenberg range, this offers quality McLaren Vale cabernet sauvignon for under $20. Made in the old style using some fruit from vineyards first planted in the 19the century; some portions go through pigeage (foot stomping) and a basket press. This is matured in older American oak for 20 months and the palate resonates with dark berry and black chocolate notes, allied to well-integrated oak. It's big, it's bold, but it's also in balance. I've seen this on special for $16 - which is a gift. Well worth snapping up a case, even at the RRP of $18. www.darenberg.com.au    

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Blue Pyrenees Estate 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

There are some very high-quality wines at extremely reasonable prices coming out of Blue Pyrenees Estate - kudos to winemaker Andrew Koerner. I particularly enjoyed this wine because of its balance - it is a red (99% cabernet, 1% merlot) that reflects its Western Victorian heritage: it's medium-bodied, well structured and has plenty of palate interest. Dark berry fruit flavours align with well-integrated cedary oak for a wine of grace and structure that will cellar well for a decade or more. Pair this with to a late winter casserole; maybe an osso bucco or mushroom fricassée. $26. www.bluepyrenees.com.au.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Massena 2017 Fruit Salad Block


How cool is this? Minimalist, edgy, fresh, non-conformist and dangerously drinkable. The hipsters will love this brand-new field blend from Massena Vineyards in the Barossa Valley, one of the Artisans of the Barossa collective. But so do old beardies like myself. Winemaker Jaysen (such a trendy name) Collins has a very different take on winemaking, saying he "makes spontaneous decisions how to make the wine.” Around a dozen different grape varieties from the Eden Valley go into this blend; including muscat, riesling and other whites, along with red varieties including grenache and mataro. Some of the fruit is from old vines and it sees a short amount of skin contact to lift the funk levels up a few degrees. Think sweet and sour notes, muscaty and citrus flavours, brisk acid and impressive refreshment. $30. www.massena.com.au.   

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Rusden 2015 Driftsand


This is one of Australia's best quaffing reds, but keeps a pretty low profile in comparison to some of its shoutier rivals. It's under cork, which to me makes no sense for a bottle priced as a picnic/barbecue wine, but you certainly can't argue about the quality of what is in the bottle. This is a traditional blend of grenache, shiraz and mataro from the Barossa that stars on a regular basis. The fruit comes from proven vineyards (replanted with grenache and mataro in the 1990s after the ill-advised 1970s vine pull). Bright, plummy and spicy, this is chockful of savoury goodness and downright drinkability. $20. www.rusdenwines.com.au.