Friday, May 20, 2016

Margan 2016 Albarino

There was an almighty fuss a few years back when it was discovered that the "albarino" planted in Australia (and being marketed as such), was, in fact, a totally unrelated grape called savagnin from the Jura region of France. Now a few albarino vines (the real thing from Spain) are actually producing fruit and this debut offering is a very good example, released as part of Hunter Valley winery Margan's 20th-birthday Breaking Ground releases. This has lively, bright acid, spice notes and bright tropical fruit flavours. It is looking good as a new release and should probably be enjoyed as a young 'un.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Torbreck 2014 The Struie

The name Torbreck may immediately conjure up images of dense red wines that need decades in the cellar - but not all wines from this Barossa producer are made in the same vein. The Cuvée Juveniles is always fresh and juicy and this impressive shiraz combines fruit from both the Barossa and Eden valleys - with the higher-altitude fruit adding elegance and grace to marry with the Barossa power. Expect an appealing, lifted bouquet, dark fruit with spice and deli notes, restrained French oak and great persistence on the palate. This is drinking well in its youth but will, like all Torbrecks, mature impressively. Unfined, unfiltered and extremely good drinking. $49.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Sileni 2013 The Circle Semillon

Now here is a surprise. New Zealand is certainly not known for it semillons but this outstanding wine from Hawke's Bay stood out from the pack at a recent tasting of aromatic whites. At three years of age it has lost its youthful verbosity but retained its citrus and tropical fruit flavours. This is artfully constructed, still fresh, with lovely balance and poise. It is textural and interesting and would be terrific paired with grilled white fish dishes, or a simple roast chicken. $25.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Blue Pyrenees 2013 Section 1 Shiraz

Formerly known as Blue Pyrenees Reserve Shiraz, this classic cool-climate wine is now named after the single block from which the vast majority of the fruit is sourced from the estate vineyard each year. This was one of my favourites from last weekend's excellent Grampians Grape Escape; powerful but controlled. It contains tiny portions of viognier and cabernet sauvignon to add lift and brightness but its core is rich shiraz from 40-year-old vines. French and American oak is used for seasoning and the end result is a dark, plummy, medium-weight wine with a potpourri of spice elements that will cellar well for a decade or more. I'll give it 95 points - which makes it great value. $36.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mount Horrocks 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Stephanie Toole steps up to the plate and bang, it's gone. A home run with all three of her 2014 Clare Valley reds. I really enjoyed the shiraz, loved to the Nero d'Avola and was blown away by this cabernet sauvignon. Ms Toole is truly in the zone right now with her Australian certified organic reds reflecting an excellent vintage. This is a delightfully stylish wine with dark cassis notes and well-integrated French oak, along with assertive tannins. It is drinking brilliantly right now, vibrant and juicy, but has the architecture to cellar for a decade or more. If you are drinking it now, pair with something rich like a rabbit casserole. I'm happy to score this 96/100. $40.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hoddles Creek 2015 Chardonnay

Who needs Chablis when you have Australian chardonnays of exquisite quality such as this new Yarra Valley release at such ridiculously low prices? Hoddles Creek winemaker Franco d'Anna is Mr Consistency when it comes to cool-climate chardonnay (and pinot noir) and this is quite simply ridiculously good value for the price. It is lean and clean, brisk and refreshing with grapefruit acid notes, Granny Smith, flinty minerality and lots of length. "It made itself this year," says the modest d'Anna, who crafted this with zero additions. Brilliant drinking - and no doubt soon to be sold out. $21. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Zema Estate 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

This is an absolute winner if you are looking for a high-quality cabernet sauvignon for under $30. It comes from one of the most reliable producers in Coonawarra, spent 14 months in oak, has three years of bottle age and all the classic cabernet virtues; dark blackcurrant and berry flavours, hints of tobacco leaf and nicely integrated French oak. A wine of impressive structural definition. There is a sense of satisfaction with every glass here and, as it was released in October last year, I'm a little angry with myself that I didn't get to it sooner. It's a James Bond wine; smooth, suave and sophisticated. But less dangerous than 007. Pair this with just about any red meat dish. $29.