Sunday, April 20, 2014

Vela Blanca 2012 Albarino

The quality of the imported wines being brought into Australia by Fourth Wave Wines really is quite remarkable. From France, Italy and Spain, the Fourth Wave team have sourced terrific wines from unheralded growers at excellent prices. I particularly enjoyed this albarino from the Rias Baixas region of Spain. It is a wine of vitality and purity with a bright, intense palate, crisp acidity and a lovely  dry finish. It's a little bit different with citrus, green apple and flinty notes, and all the better for that. You can find it in the shops for around $20.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Crittenden Estate 2012 Peninsula Pinot Noir

There is a lot of pleasure to be had from this new-release pinot noir from Crittenden Estate on the Mornington Peninsula - and there's a new-look label too. This is no simple fruit bomb, or earthy mushroom compost remnant, but rather a beautifully balanced pinot with rather more textural interest than many of his its kin. Made with "minimal intervention" it was wild yeast fermented and bottled without fining or filtration. It has some brambly fruit notes, good acid structure and immediate appeal, although I suspect it will cellar well for several years. The 2012 Chardonnay and 2013 Fumé Blanc under the same label are also impressive. $34.  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ballandean Estate 2012 Messing About Saperavi

This was one of my favourites wines from Queensland Wine Week; the debut release of saperavi - a grape variety that originates in the former Soviet republic of Georgia and is made by one of the Granite Belt's longest established wineries. Despite being made from young vine fruit this has some impressive dark berry flavours, along with some well-balanced oak and tannin structure, too. This was the champion wine of the show at the Queensland Wine Awards (where I once judged) and it handles its 15% alcohol with consummate ease. One of the Queensland alternative varieties to keep an eye out for. $42.    

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bowen Estate 2012 Shiraz

Family-owned Coonawarra wine producers Bowen Estate are unashamedly old-school in their approach. Doug Bowen still tends the vines, wife Joy runs the office and daughter Emma makes the wines, which in 2012 are of outstanding quality. The range is tiny, wines are still bottled under cork, the labels contain minimal information and there is little or no promotional push other than the sheer quality of what is in the bottle. In 2012, I thought the shiraz just edged out the cabernet sauvignon - but only by a whisker. It's a big wine at 15% alcohol but it handles it beautifully with inkiness leading on to ripe blackberry/dark plum flavours, dark chocolate, oak and spice notes. Great flavour; good structure. $30.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Monocle 2013 Tumbarumba Chardonnay

Monocle is a new label for fast-charging Orange winery Ross Hill and in this instance winemaker Phil Kerney was able to get his hands on some very smart fruit from from high-altitude Tumbarumba. I said on Twitter that was "a really impressive effort with cool-climate gluggability", That might have undersold what is a class act. There are the usual bells and whistles; wild yeast ferment in French oak, including 10% cent new, but it is the shiny minerality and bright fruit intensity that shines alongside the textural elements. A thoroughly modern wine at a very reasonable price. Outstanding. $30.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Paradigm Hill 2013 Riesling

The Mornington Peninsula is perhaps not the first wine region in Australia you would choose to seek out fine rieslings. The Clare and Eden valleys, Henty in Victoria, the Great Southern in Western Australia, even Tasmania, probably have stronger claims. But George Mihaly at Paradigm Hill consistently produces top-notch estate-grown and -made rieslings, potentially long-lived, too, at Merricks. Bone dry, and made in tiny quantities, this is fermented in open vats for 3 1/2 weeks, and winemaking intervention is minimal. Rich, full-flavoured and textural, with more than a nod to Alsace, this is downright delicious. Also try their 2013 rosé for late summer refreshment. $36.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Chemin 2012 Pinot Noir

Chemin is the small-batch label for Yarra Valley winery Punt Road and winemaker Kate Goodman (who has since departed; a big loss). Chemin is the French word for path or direction, and these wines are made using an alternative philosophy to mainstream Punt Road wines - using whole bunch and whole berry fermentation, indigenous yeasts and allowing barrels to age untouched with minimal racking, fining, and filtration. The end aim is minimal intervention wines made in tiny quantities with a savoury, textured palate. This is a wine from an excellent Yarra vintage, using fruit from 25-year-old+ vines. The result is a wine with a distinct French accent; low in alcohol at 12.5% but with savoury North American spice notes alongside dark fruit flavours. Distinctively different. $42.