Nick Stacey and Michael Kerrigan, the marketer and winemaker behind the striking Vinaceous brand, source fruit from vineyards across Australia for their range - and the attractive labels make the wines easy to find on a bottle shop shelf. Previous incarnations of this shiraz, grenache, tempranillo blend were sourced from McLaren Valley but this new release hails from ever-reliable Margaret River, where they have enjoyed umpteen great vintages in a row. In keeping with the fun label, this is also fun to drink; a bright ripe, fleshy, juicy Aussie red, spicy and fruit driven but benefitting from judicious oak treatment. I like this a lot and I think you'll find their website pretty cool as well. $25. www.vinaceous.com.au.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
I can already hear the wine snobs muttering into their beards. Cask wine? What is he thinking of? But the simple fact is this recent release from the Hill Smith/Yalumba stable offers darn good value for money - at less than $1 a glass in fact. The 2-litre box, a retro classic that is being rebranded, is both convenient and eco-friendly. I sampled the 2012 chardonnay and 2012 tempranillo from a range that also includes pinot grigio and shiraz and found both more than a match for a lot of the execrable cheaper bottled wines in the marketplace. The Winesmiths encourage drinkers to pour their wines into 500ml decanters, European style. As is always the case with casks look for ones that have been stored in a cool place, choose the most recent vintage available and consume the contents within three weeks. I reckon most drinkers will be surprised by the quality on offer here – this has plenty of juicy, spicy fruit, a little dustiness and great drinkability. $18-20. www.thewinesmiths.com.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
The 2011 vintage was a problematic one in many Australian vineyard regions but in Margaret River they enjoyed yet another stellar year, which resulted in wines like this stunning red, a cabernet sauvignon that's blended with a little cabernet franc and merlot. A long-time benchmark single-vineyard wine, this is a deliciously complex beast that will probably cellar for two decades or more. That said, it is already deliciously drinkable with dark cassis and herb notes and just a hint of toasty oak. There's plenty of drive here, real intensity and just enough softness to make it balanced and fun right now. $90. www.capementelle.com.au.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Verdelho is a Portuguese grape that is often used in the fortified wines of Madeira, but in Australia it has found a home away from home in the Hunter Valley, where is produces fruity dry white wines that are extremely refreshing. This is unoaked and has tropical fruit salad flavours along with a crisp, clean and zippy acid finish. A wine for enjoying in its youth, preferably when well chilled. A great summer choice. $16. www.margan.com.au.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Grüner veltliner is an Austrian white grape variety that has been pioneered by Lark Hill, a biodynamic winery at Bungendore, outside Canberra, and Adelaide Hills producers including Hahndorf Hill and K1 by Geoff Hardy. This is arguably the benchmark at the moment; with the fifth release having trademark herbal, melon and spice notes and and some exciting zingy acidity. From a stellar vintage, it is spectacularly drinkable with great vitality and intense mineral notes on the palate. A beautifully food-friendly wine, too, with the power to cope with just about any seafood or white meat dish. $45. www.larkhillwine.com.au.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Mac Forbes is one of the rising stars of the Yarra Valley and I tweeted that this wine was an "absolute triumph". A second look 24 hours later confirmed that viewpoint. Forbes makes several regional Yarra pinots that are more expensive and more sensual than this wine, but I doubt any would be more sessionable. It's a wine of impeccable balance, weighing in at just 13% alcohol. It has plump, fleshy fruit on a palate that also has great tannin structure and a certain refinement. Dark cherry notes are prominent along with spice and earthiness. There's plenty of length and lots of drinkability. I could certainly drink quite a lot of this. $35. www.macforbes.com
Friday, October 11, 2013
Larry Cherubino makes an impressive number of wines across several ranges; and all of them offer terrific quality at sensible prices. This is in the upper echelons of Cherubino's wines, one of two regional chardonnays from yet another great year in Western Australia. This is a Margaret River wine of balance and style, primarily fruit-driven but with with a percentage spending eight months in oak to add complexity and texture. It is a very pure, clean and dry chardonnay with just 13% alcohol. It's soft and silky on the palate and eminently drinkable with oak playing a support role but never intrusive. A very classy drop. $49. www.larrycherubino.com.