Friday, April 21, 2017

McGuigan 2016 The Plan Riesling

You don't get much for $10 in your local bottle shop nowadays, but this is a very welcome exception to that rule; a crisp, fresh and food-friendly riesling from the McGuigan family that is one of the best wine bargains to be found right now. The viticultural and winemaking teams have done a great job in turning fruit from broadacre vineyards in the Murray Darling and Riverland regions into a very attractive dry white that offers crisp textures, sweet tangerine/mandarine flavours and just the merest hint of attractive bitterness. Lovely with Asian dishes and exclusive to Dan Murphy's stores. 
$10. www.mcguiganwines.com.au.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Casillero del Diablo 2015 Riserva Cabernet Sauvignon


Take a look at supermarket shelves in England or the US and you'll find an increasing number of high quality, but affordable, red wines from both Chile and Argentina. Wines like this one are fast taking over the former role of Australia at the lower price points; producing flavoursome, uncomplicated value for money. This is one of a range of well-priced wines from Casillero del Diablo, the Chilean offshoot of the massive Spanish wine conglomerate Concha Y Toro. It is soft and smooth, a great barbecue wine, and can be found at Dan Murphy's stores for a silly $13.99. A warning shot local producers should heed.   

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Yard 2016 Riversdale Riesling


This week marks the 10th birthday of Larry Cherubino Wines as a stand-alone entity. If you are not familiar with the name you should be. Cherubino produces several ranges of wines at various price points that share two things in common: extreme quality and outstanding value. It was hard to choose which of several Cherubino wines to feature here; the 2015 The Yard Shiraz from the same Frankland River vineyard is also a standout, as is the Cherubino 2015 Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc. Cherubino has access to some of the finest fruit across Western Australia and makes the best possible use of it. This is an absolutely outstanding dry riesling that has great purity and a most appealing nose. Citrus flavours lead the charge here with rapier-like acidity, limestone minerality and gentle hints of Asian herbs. Simply delicious right now. Try pairing it with some fresh salmon. 
$25. www.larrycherubino.com.

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.