Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Natural Wine Co. 2017 Organic Rosé

This is a relatively new label from Jason O'Dea of Windowrie Estate and Pig In The Middle. I tasted the 2017 sauvignon blanc and rosé and both offered excellent flavour and value. This is made from sangiovese grapes grown at Canowindra in the Western Ranges of New South Wales. All the wines in the range are organic and made with minimal intervention and are vegan friendly. Wild ferment and free-run juice here have produced a wine with real personality; dry but on the strawberries and cream side of the spectrum. Great as a stand-alone refreshment, or paired with Lebanese dishes. $18. 
Natural Wine has been getting abit of attention these days, but while the term has stuck, it's rather misleading. No wine can be totally 'natural', because there is always some human intervention (I've never heard of grapes picking & squeezing themselves), and we'd rather argue that's it's better to think of these wines as 'low-intervention'
The guiding philosophy is to get from grapes to wine with minimal input - thus making the grapes, and therefore the PLACE, the hero, rather some nip-and-tuck interventions from the winemaker.
This means they need good, chemical-free grapes, organic or biodynamic fruit is ideal. The winemaking is about leaving it alone: Wild yeast only, no additions, no subtractions, no sneaky alteration & limited filtering.
Because they don't use much new oak, the flavours are generally from the grapes and the yeast, which means lots of bright, fresh fruit and earthy, savoury or yeasty flavours. Most natural wines are a little cloudy.
At there best, natural wines express there place better than conventional wines: there is a sense of transparency, elegance, lightness and wildness! The best wines are mind-blowing, they defy theory and experience!
The Natural Wine Co.
Things CAN be done differently.......
Xx Tristian & Jason

Thursday, May 17, 2018

St Hallett 2015 Blackwell Shiraz

This serious red is named in honour Stuart Blackwell, who has been a St Hallett winemaker since 1972. And Blackwell will be doubtless be very happy with this tribute from a year that posed some vintage difficulties - although not with this particular wine, which shines. It is rich and dense in colour, as befits a wine made from low-yielding grunty vines, and has plenty of length of traditional Barossa flavour and intensity on the palate. There is a real opulence here, terrific structure, and the potential for long-term cellaring. $45.   

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Hoddles Creek Estate 2017 Pinot Noir

I was all set to review the superb 2017 Hoddles Creek PSB Pinot Noir ($60) - but it sold out before I got my A into G. Not to worry, this may be a whole lot cheaper but it offers excellent value, typicity and drinking pleasure from the cool-climate Yarra Valley. There are dark cherry and berry notes here, firm but not intrusive tannins. Several batches were made in different ways before blending. On completion of fermentation, the wine was pressed and transferred to one-year-old barrels and older oak. After 11 months of barrel maturation, the wine was blended and bottled without filtration or fining. The restrained but delicious fruit is the star here; not the wood. If you love classic Burgundy but find it well out of your price range then a bottle or two of this quite splendid estate wine might lift your spirits. $24.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Ferngrove 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé

The Ferngrove White Label range from Frankland River in Western Australia may just offer two of the best-value wines around right now. This is a delightfully pale pink rosé, aromatic, soft and fairly dry with some nice biting acid allied to cherry and cream flavours. It paired superbly with a Indian-style beef curry. Also part of the same range is the Ferngrove 2017  Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, a light, crisp and refreshing blend made in a drink-now style that's a perfect foil for Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. 
Both wines retail for $16 - which makes them well worth seeking out.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Oakridge 2016 Over the Shoulder Chardonnay

There are several brilliant chardonnays in the impressive Oakridge range, but this is arguably the best value of them all - a wine that shines with its structure and length but can be found on special for under $20. I'm a little late reviewing this wine, but it has settled into serious gorgeousness since its release, as you would expect from chardonnay-meister David Bicknell and his team. A blend of fruit from four different Yarra Valley vineyards, this offers varietal flavours (think stone fruits and flinty minerality), fresh acidity and really pleasurable drinking. Excellent with roast chicken. $23.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Rising 2017 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

Rising is a new project from funkmeister Tom Belford and the crew at Sticks winery in the Yarra Valley. The four wines in the range come from the Rising vineyard in the Christmas Hills, and other hand-picked sites, and are made in tiny quantities (there are just 500 cases of this exceptional pinot noir). As is Belford's natural inclination, the wines are made with minimal intervention. This is very nicely put together with bright fruit allied to some great architecture. It finishes cloudy, a sign that it is unfined and unfiltered, and it has a wonderful rustic and muscular pinosity. Terrific value at $30.     

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Wirra Wirra 2016 Church Block

Vintage after vintage, Wirra Wirra's Church Block is one of those rare wines that can be guaranteed to deliver both quality and value for money. That's certainly the case with the lip-smackingly good new 2016 release, a blend of McLaren Vale cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and merlot. Church Block was the first wine released by the late Greg Trott under the Wirra Wirra label, back in 1972. Today it maintains its reputation as a big softy; a wine with plenty of flavour and power but equally easy to drink. Matured in French and American oak, it is nonetheless fruit driven; enjoyable in its youth but with the structure to mature over the years. Terrific buying at $22.