Monday, October 8, 2018

Oakridge 864 Drive Block Funder & Diamond 2016 Yarra Valley Chardonnay


Why would you pay more for a Yarra Valley chardonnay than some from Burgundy you ask? Well, this is no ordinary Yarra wine; it is a hand-picked, single-vineyard release from one the finest patches of wine dirt in Victoria made by chardonnay maestro David Bicknell and his team at Oakridge. The 864 range aims to show off the best regional terroirs, but in this case has also produced a world-class chardonnay. Think wild yeast fermentation, quality French oak (although only 20% of it new), 15 months on lees and lots of attention to detail. And unlike most Burgundies it comes under a reliable screw cap closure for. Immense drinking pleasure to be found here. $85. www.oakridgewines.com.au    

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Irvine 2018 Spring Hill Eden Valley Primitivo Rosé


An impressively vibrant wine from new Irvine winemaker Rebekkah Richardson, formerly of Jacob's Creek. Made from primitivo, which is more usually referred to as zinfandel in Australia, this is a suave dry and savoury rosé from the Eden Valley that paired impressively with a lightly spiced Sri Lankan daal. Lifted and fragrant and very European in style with its crisp strawberry and citrus notes, this has a fresh finish and impressive length.$22. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Ten Minutes by Tractor 2016 Wallis Chardonnay

Wine writers are not supposed to have favourites but this lip-smackingly good Mornington Peninsula individual vineyard chardonnay comes up trumps vintage after vintage, shining in blind tastings. The fruit here was hand-picked, whole-bunch harvested,  fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in a mix of aged and new French barriques. Nothing too unusual there, but the end result is a wine of real luminescence. A chardonnay of poise and personality with pithy acidity, this is lean and lithe, a vinous ballerina and a regional benchmark. 97/100. $68. www.tenminutesbytractor.com.au.   

Friday, September 14, 2018

Paxton 2015 Cracker Barrel Shiraz-Cabernet

Estate grown. Organic. Biodynamic. Delicious. That's really all you need to know about this outstanding Australian "claret" from Paxton Wines at McLaren Vale. A classic blend of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, it is in the groove right now. Full-bodied and generous but well balanced, it is dark and inky with older French oak barriques playing a key role in the structure, but at the same time approachable in a wild, brambly way. Winemaker Richard Freebairn selected just four barrels he considered to be of the highest quality or "crackers". Unmistakeably Australian. I'll happily give this 94/100. $55. www.paxtonwines.com.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Yangarra Blanc 2018

This brand new wine in the Yangarra range is, to my knowledge, the first serious Australian take on Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc. A blend of co-fermented grenache blanc (35%), clairette (30%), roussanne (20%), picpoul (10%) and bourboulenc (5%) it is a vibrant but savoury white of considerable charm made using cuttings from the Rhone Valley on the Yangarra estate vineyard in McLaren Vale. The fruit has been hand-picked, wild-yeast fermented in ceramic eggs with no acid or sulphur additons, hole-bunch pressed in a basket press for softness and then kept on lees in the eggs and stirred regularly. Minimal preservatives are used. My tip: look for more impresssive Rhone-style blends from winemaker Peter Fraser and his team. Organic, biodynamic and delicious. $25. www.yangarra.com

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Shaw+Smith 2018 Sauvignon Blanc


The wine industry is constantly looking for the next big thing. A new style, a new variety. Back in 1989, when it was first released, Shaw+Smith sauvignon blanc was the next big thing. This wine helped pave the wave for sauvignon blanc's immense popularity over the past 30 years and remains a "go to" wine for many of the nation's leading sommeliers. A sustainably-produced Adelaide Hills benchmark, it is slightly tweaked each year by winemaker Adam Wadewitz, depending on the vintage, but it remains supremely stylish with zippy grapefruit characters on the palate. Outstanding with fresh seafood and best enjoyed in its youth, this remains is as fashionable as ever. $27. www.shawandsmith.com    

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Gemtree 2016 Ernest Allen Shiraz


You don't have to spend a motza to buy a McLaren Vale shiraz of real style and character. Mike Brown at Gemtree has the Midas touch with his premium organic fruit, producing a range of styles at various price points. This is both organic and biodynamic and immediately captured my affection with its intensity and superb balance. Brown says it is made "naturally" then spends 18 months in French oak. Ernest Allan was a market gardener and the grandfather of Melissa Buttery, viticulturist and co-owner at Gemtree. The wine has fruit sweetness, oak, tannins and acidity all perfectly in place. If someone told you it was twice the price you would not bat an eyelid. Bring on a fillet steak and French mustard. 
$50. www.gemtreewines.com.