The wonderfully atmospheric Sevenhill Cellars in the Clare Valley are one of the classic Australian wine venues that should be on the "to do" list of any wine lover visiting the region. The Jesuits have been making wine here since 1851 but have moved with the times. Today the wines are made by a woman winemaker, Liz Heidenreich. This is a terrific blend of four grapes; cabernet sauvignon, malbec, cabernet franc and merlot from a vintage regarded as arguably the best of the decade in the Clare. It is an intense and powerful wine, weighing in at 15% alcohol, but there is also poise alongside the power. $40. www.sevenhill.com.au.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
If you enjoy your pinot noir young, fresh, juicy and slurpable then you'll almost certainly enjoy this brambly and untamed new release from talented New Zealand winemaker Paddy Borthwick, who is based at Gladstone in the Wairarapa. This is fruit-driven and designed for immediate enjoyment - and I doubt you'll find a better wine in the same style in this price bracket. It is imported into Australia by Single Vineyard Cellars and has a recommended retail price of $25. With its bright, lively red and black fruit flavours (think sweet cranberries) and silky soft finish that makes it an absolute steal.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
I tried a dozen or so wines of different power and weight as a match for veal cutlets and mushroom-infused pasta but nothing came close to being as good a partner as this humble blend from the Rymill family in Coonawarra. A melange of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc that is designed to be particularly food friendly and versatile, it lived up to its role admirably. There is no great complexity here; but there is great drinkability, which is almost certainly what you are looking for at the price point. Soft but structured, fruity but far from frivolous, I enjoyed this immensely. $20. www.rymill.com.au
Friday, October 24, 2014
The Lloyd family were way ahead of the game when they planted the Tuscan grape variety sangiovese in McLaren Vale almost three decades ago. With Italian varietals now all the rage, Coriole has the oldest sangiovese plantings in the country. Fruit quality shines through here in a most attractive medium-bodied red that combines bright red fruit flavours with savoury characters and a lovely structure. This is the style of versatile food wine that is perfect for when friends drop around for a bite, or you need to grab a bottle for a visit to the BYO. Beautifully balanced and very reasonably priced. $25. www.coriole.com.
Friday, October 17, 2014
This is the first release of a cracking Clare Valley riesling that's a collaborative effort between veteran John Vickery, maker of many of the great old Leo Buring rieslings, and talented young gun Phil Lehmann, youngest son of the late Peter Lehmann. Made from fruit from three Watervale vineyards, two young, one old, this is a wine of rare beauty and purity - and the product of a great Clare vintage. A vivacious, floral nose leads on to a palate driven by fresh lime and grapefruit-tinged acidity, tremendous length and flinty minerality. Vibrant, refreshing, delicious. You won't do better at the price. $24. www.vickerywines.com.au.
Friday, October 3, 2014
I enjoyed the 2012 Leconfield Merlot and really like this 2013 version as well. Which comes as something of a surprise as I am no great admirer of merlot as a stand-alone varietal in Australia. Winemaker Paul Gordon clearly has an affinity with the variety as he's able to produce delightfully drinkable merlot on a regular basis. This is soft and silky with ripe plummy fruit, as you'd expect, but also has plenty of length and palate interest with the French and American oak adding structure. It would be terrific with coq au vin or and old-fashioned roast chicken and the trimmings. $25. www.leconfieldwines.com.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Damian North has access to some very good Yarra Valley fruit and has made a splendidly accessible pinot noir in 2013, with dark berry notes, length and depth and the fruit shining through despite the use of 25% new French barriques. A former sommelier who has worked in Oregon, as well as at TarraWarra Estate and Leeuwin Estate, his wines are blossoming with each vintage and this pinot from a warm, dry vintage is positively hedonistic with a beautiful balance between the bright fruit, spice and earthiness. Like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing on your tongue - a thing of beauty. The empty bottle gave away how much I enjoyed this. $34. www.journeywines.com.au.