Saturday, June 16, 2018

d'Arenberg 2017 The Hermit Crab

If this isn't one of the best-value white wines out there, then I walk like an Egyptian. Often overlooked given the massive range of wines produced by d'Arenberg in McLaren Vale, this blend of viognier and marsanne, two varieties originally from the Rhone Valley in France, shines when matched with food. The fruit is basket-pressed with a small proportion matured in older oak and the end result is a wine that manages to be both refreshing and texturally interesting - all for the bargain basement cost of $15. Think candied fruit and nut characters with a dry finish and crisp acid. Impressive. www.darenberg.com.au.    

Monday, June 11, 2018

Ten Minutes by Tractor 2016 Coolart Road Pinot Noir

Depending on the vintage, my favourite Ten Minutes by Tractor pinot has generally been the McCutcheon, then the Judd and then the Wallis. All are among the Mornington Peninsula's finest expressions of pinot noir. This time around, to my surprise, it is the younger vines of the Coolart Road vineyard that shone brightly (all are superb and we are talking stylistic hair-splitting here). First planted in 2000, and now 100% pinot noir, the site is a relative warm one, with fruit ripening two weeks earlier that the other 10X vineyards. It is much darker and more savoury than we have seen in the past; and that earthy substance makes it more of a cellaring prospect than previously. Pair with rare duck breast, or a platter of salumi. FYI, the Judd was my second favourite this time around. $78. 
www.tenminutesbytractor.com.au.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Artwine 2018 The Real Thing Albarino

One of the first 2018 vintage wines to his the market is this debut albarino from Artwine in the Adelaide Hills, grown on the Woodside vineyard. Like many in Australia, owners Judy and Glen Kelly initially planned to plant albarino in 2009. It was then discovered the "albarino" rootlings in Australia were actually savagnin. This really is albarino - and it is a lovely young wine, deliciously vibrant. It is made in a fresh, drink-young style, like a lot of alvarinho in Portugal, with vibrant grapefruit and apricot flavours to the fore, along with some flinty minerality. Well worth checking out for $30. www.artwine.com.au 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Montara 2017 Hill Block Single Vineyard Pinot Noir

The Grampians of Victoria are perhaps not the first place you would look for top-quality pinot noir but Montara has hit a home run with this new release single-vineyard wine made from vines planted over 40 years ago. Recent signing Simon Fennell, in his first run as chief winemaker, brings a wealth of experience, including from Best's Great Western, and the single vineyard range (which also includes a riesling and shiraz) is his baby, aimed at reflecting vineyard, soil, micro-climate and aspect. I liked this a lot, with its delicate perfume and clever balance between lightness and intensity. Around 50% of the fruit was whole bunch and spent two weeks on skins before being matured in second-use French barriques. It's all about the fruit - and it stars. $40. www.montarawines.com.au

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Natural Wine Co. 2017 Organic Rosé

This is a relatively new label from Jason O'Dea of Windowrie Estate and Pig In The Middle. I tasted the 2017 sauvignon blanc and rosé and both offered excellent flavour and value. This is made from sangiovese grapes grown at Canowindra in the Western Ranges of New South Wales. All the wines in the range are organic and made with minimal intervention and are vegan friendly. Wild ferment and free-run juice here have produced a wine with real personality; dry but on the strawberries and cream side of the spectrum. Great as a stand-alone refreshment, or paired with Lebanese dishes. $18. 
Natural Wine has been getting abit of attention these days, but while the term has stuck, it's rather misleading. No wine can be totally 'natural', because there is always some human intervention (I've never heard of grapes picking & squeezing themselves), and we'd rather argue that's it's better to think of these wines as 'low-intervention'
The guiding philosophy is to get from grapes to wine with minimal input - thus making the grapes, and therefore the PLACE, the hero, rather some nip-and-tuck interventions from the winemaker.
This means they need good, chemical-free grapes, organic or biodynamic fruit is ideal. The winemaking is about leaving it alone: Wild yeast only, no additions, no subtractions, no sneaky alteration & limited filtering.
Because they don't use much new oak, the flavours are generally from the grapes and the yeast, which means lots of bright, fresh fruit and earthy, savoury or yeasty flavours. Most natural wines are a little cloudy.
At there best, natural wines express there place better than conventional wines: there is a sense of transparency, elegance, lightness and wildness! The best wines are mind-blowing, they defy theory and experience!
The Natural Wine Co.
Things CAN be done differently.......
Xx Tristian & Jason

Thursday, May 17, 2018

St Hallett 2015 Blackwell Shiraz

This serious red is named in honour Stuart Blackwell, who has been a St Hallett winemaker since 1972. And Blackwell will be doubtless be very happy with this tribute from a year that posed some vintage difficulties - although not with this particular wine, which shines. It is rich and dense in colour, as befits a wine made from low-yielding grunty vines, and has plenty of length of traditional Barossa flavour and intensity on the palate. There is a real opulence here, terrific structure, and the potential for long-term cellaring. $45. www.sthallett.com.au.   

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Hoddles Creek Estate 2017 Pinot Noir


I was all set to review the superb 2017 Hoddles Creek PSB Pinot Noir ($60) - but it sold out before I got my A into G. Not to worry, this may be a whole lot cheaper but it offers excellent value, typicity and drinking pleasure from the cool-climate Yarra Valley. There are dark cherry and berry notes here, firm but not intrusive tannins. Several batches were made in different ways before blending. On completion of fermentation, the wine was pressed and transferred to one-year-old barrels and older oak. After 11 months of barrel maturation, the wine was blended and bottled without filtration or fining. The restrained but delicious fruit is the star here; not the wood. If you love classic Burgundy but find it well out of your price range then a bottle or two of this quite splendid estate wine might lift your spirits. $24.