Sunday, March 26, 2017

Heartland 2015 First Release Malbec


A new small-batch release from Ben Glaetzer and his talented Heartland team who hope that long-time underachiever malbec is about to strike a chord with Australian drinkers. Wines from Cahors and Argentina have enjoyed some success here, but very few home-grown malbecs have enjoyed sales success. This is 100% malbec from Langhorne Creek, made in a style midway between Cahors and Mendoza, using only new oak. It is inky and black (think vibrant fresh blackberries plucked from a hedgerow), but softer than a baby's bottom on the palate. It is on the bigger side of the spectrum at 14.5% alcohol and would be seen to best advantage paired with roasted red meats; a hearty steak or some lamb chops, perhaps. 
$50. www.heartlandwines.com.au.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cullen 2015 Kevin John Chardonnay


One of Australia's wine icons and the new-release 2015 is strikingly consistent in terms of both style and quality. There is a purity here that is characteristic of Kevin John releases and despite the use of 73% new oak, Vanya Cullen has conjured up a chardonnay of elegance and refinement. Certified biodynamic and carbon neutral, this estate wine was harvested on fruit and flower days from 39-year-old vines - some of the oldest in Margaret River. Grapes were whole-bunch pressed and fermented with wild yeast in barriques prior to five months of oak maturation that have added intensity and complexity. Think grapefruit and ripe pear characters, nutty oak nuances and delightful balance. This is composed and contemplative; a wine that's happy in its skin and merits 96 points. You'd have to buy at least two bottles of this. One for now and one for enjoyment in 10 years time. $110. www.cullenwines.com.au.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Hither & Yon 2016 Nero d'Avola


There are a couple of things that I love about the Hither & Yon range. There's the cleverly colour-coded labels, which are fun and informative; and the sheer reliability of quality produced by the Leask family from McLaren Vale. I've recently sampled shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and this wine from the same stable, and all offered excellent value and lovely balance. Nero d'Avola is a Sicilian grape that has migrated happily to warmer parts of Australia and, in this incarnation, it is fruit driven, flavoursome and extremely pretty.  An engaging all-purpose red with some herbal notes that would pair well with pizza, pasta or a good book. $30. www.hitherandyon.com.au.     

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Kooyong 2016 Clonale Chardonnay

There is something pretty special about this wine, which shines vintage after vintage. It is made very much in the style of Chablis; fruit forward, lean and chalky. This is a blend of chardonnay from Kooyong's Tuerong and Balnarring vineyards. Only 10% new oak is used but after fermentation the wine is aged on lees for 10 months, adding concentration. There is no fining and minimal filtration, letting the quality fruit speak for itself. Crisp and clean, this has citrus aromas, grapefruit and lemon zest on the palate with a mineral tang. A wine of quality, charm and balance. I'll give this 93/100. $32. www.kooyongwines.com.au.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Yangarra 2016 PF Shiraz


Here’s a very good McLaren Vale shiraz that will appeal to those with green tendencies. The PF Shiraz is made from grapes grown on a certified biodynamic single-estate vineyard, farmed without herbicides, fungicides or synthetic chemicals and made without additions of any kind, including preservatives, acid, tannin or finings. It is a bright and juicy young red, full of intense shiraz flavour and is best enjoyed in its vivacious youth. $25. www.yangarra.com.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Marques de Riscal 1840 Tempranillo 2016

Interest in wines from both Spain and Portugal is growing in Australia, where there is increased appeal in their subtle and savoury flavours and alcohol levels that are often lower than equivalent Australian reds. From the newer vineyards of Castilla and Leon region in northern Spain (not traditional heartland Rioja) and made by one of Spain's most highly-rated wineries, this is a very good introduction to the wines of the Iberian peninsula. It is dark and inky with tempranillo blended with small portions of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. There are black fruits with hints of dark chocolate and smoky oak, but the focus is one quality fruit. This is bottled under screw cap for the Australian market and can be found at Dan Murphy's stores. $16. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Wild Rock 2016 Pinot Gris

Wild Rock is the entry level range of esteemed New Zealand producer Craggy Range and this is one of the new releases under the new-look branding. The pinot gris has dropped "sur lie" from the label and is presented in a more fruit focused style. I liked it a lot for its everyday drinking appeal. It is a pale, but intense Marlborough wine with delightful floral aromas and stone fruit flavours. There is some honeyed fruit sweetness but it finishes dry and should have widespread appeal. This would match well with Asian cuisines. One that would benefit from immediate enjoyment. $18. www.wildrockwine.co.nz.