Saturday, August 27, 2016

Oxford Landing Estates 2016 Chardonnay

Wine writers are often obsessed by what is new and exciting. We are looking for the next big thing; an unusual grape variety, undiscovered region or a winemaker doing something different. Consumers, however, are usually driven by price and value concerns, and are happy with a brand they have tried before and enjoyed. Oxford Landing's 2016 white wines fit the bill to a tee; they are bright, fresh, reliable and great value. I enjoyed both the sauvignon blanc and this stone-fruit flavoured, lightly-oaked chardy. Think wild yeast ferments, malolactic fermentation to add creaminess and winery practices that mean it is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Great drinking for under a tenner. $9.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sandalford 2015 Estate Reserve Chardonnay

This certainly has a wow! factor. It is a classic modern Australian chardonnay, beautifully balanced, that can sometimes be found around the traps for under $25 - remarkable value. It is unmistakably youthful chardonnay, but without all the arms and legs often found in such young wines. It is made from 100 % estate-grown, old-vine Margaret River fruit. Free-run juice was given full barrel fermentation in a mix of new and one-year-old Burgundian barriques and was left on its lees for eight months. The end result is a wine that is complex and nutty but with classy stone fruity characters and brisk citrusy acid on the finish leading the way. Delicious. $30.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Tar & Roses 2015 Heathcote Sangiovese

The Tuscan grape sangiovese has moved from curiosity to mainstream over the past decade and is much loved by Australian drinkers keen for a savoury note to their red wines. This has earthy and herbal hints, dark fruit flavours and a stern tannin structure, opening up when given some air. The sweet black cherry fruit is aided and abetted by smoky oak that does not intrude. Very food friendly, this would work well in partnership with char-grilled lamb cutlets, or perhaps a veal schnitzel. Good work from veteran former Mitchelton winemaker Don Lewis and winemaking colleague Narelle King. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

O'Leary Walker 2016 Polish Hill River Riesling

David O'Leary and Nick Walker are masters of consistency when it comes to producing outstanding Clare Valley rieslings at exceptionally reasonable prices - and the 2016 vintage is no different. The Polish Hill wine just edged its Watervale sibling this time around; it has wonderful purity and perhaps a tad more cool-climate elegance. You'll find classic floral and citrus notes, intense minerality and crisp, but not intrusive, acid. Pair this with pan-fried flathead. Ready to go. Right this minute. $25.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Oliver's Taranga 2016 Vermentino

The 2016 vintage was remarkable at Oliver's Taranga in McLaren Vale because it was the year Rosemary the sheep had triplets. It was also the year that sixth-generation vigneron Corinna Wright absolutely nailed all three of her wines made from "new" varieties; fiano, vermentino and a rosé made from the Spanish grape mencia. It has generally be thought that fiano is superior to vermentino on this terroir, but 2016 was the vintage vermentino shone. This is fresh, vibrant and crisp with citrus and faint Asian herb notes. Worth putting away until the warmer months when it will star alongside King George whiting or any seafood or poultry dishes with a hint of spice. Dangerously drinkable. $25.   

Friday, July 22, 2016

d'Arenberg 2015 The Noble Prankster

Chester Osborn, the Prankster, and his winemaking team at d'Arenberg in McLaren Vale make no fewer than four dessert wines; all subtly different and great value for $20. And, as is always the case, Osborn is not afraid to ignore the usual winemaking parameters  Chardonnay, for instance, is rarely used to make dessert wines but here it has been blended with both semillon and viognier to produce a classic "sticky" with the ripe citrus nose of botrytis and a palate of florals, marmalade and sweet ginger. A delicious dessert in a glass on its own, this would also pair with anything from a lemon tart to tart blue cheese. $20.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

McGuigan 2014 The Shortlist GSM

A deft hand has created this very attractive blend of Barossa grenache, shiraz and mourvedre. It has, as you'd expect; generous, even bold, fruit, with a good splash of spice and well-integrated new and one-year-old French oak. There's some smart packaging here and a very smart wine, too; rich and mouth-filling but nicely controlled. I get the feeling that McGuigan wines of this calibre are more appreciated overseas than in Australia - which is a pity. This is well worth trying. $28.