Friday, August 11, 2017

Massena 2017 Fruit Salad Block


How cool is this? Minimalist, edgy, fresh, non-conformist and dangerously drinkable. The hipsters will love this brand-new field blend from Massena Vineyards in the Barossa Valley, one of the Artisans of the Barossa collective. But so do old beardies like myself. Winemaker Jaysen (such a trendy name) Collins has a very different take on winemaking, saying he "makes spontaneous decisions how to make the wine.” Around a dozen different grape varieties from the Eden Valley go into this blend; including muscat, riesling and other whites, along with red varieties including grenache and mataro. Some of the fruit is from old vines and it sees a short amount of skin contact to lift the funk levels up a few degrees. Think sweet and sour notes, muscaty and citrus flavours, brisk acid and impressive refreshment. $30. www.massena.com.au.   

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Rusden 2015 Driftsand


This is one of Australia's best quaffing reds, but keeps a pretty low profile in comparison to some of its shoutier rivals. It's under cork, which to me makes no sense for a bottle priced as a picnic/barbecue wine, but you certainly can't argue about the quality of what is in the bottle. This is a traditional blend of grenache, shiraz and mataro from the Barossa that stars on a regular basis. The fruit comes from proven vineyards (replanted with grenache and mataro in the 1990s after the ill-advised 1970s vine pull). Bright, plummy and spicy, this is chockful of savoury goodness and downright drinkability. $20. www.rusdenwines.com.au.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Passing Clouds 2015 Bendigo Shiraz


Balance is the key to great wine, and this is a Bendigo red of impeccable harmony. There are the dark fruit flavours you'd expect from a shiraz, impressive structure, and oak that plays an astute but not intrusive support role. It carries its 14.6% alcohol lightly. This a wine that is the antithesis of the "bigger is better" style of Australian shiraz, more Mumford and Sons than Eminem. There's warmth and flavour, sure, but there is also a persistent finish with firm acid structure. This would be a most amiable companion for a traditional roast lamb dish or a hearty ratatouille. Top value for $34. www.passingclouds.com.au.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

De Bortoli 2017 Villages Grenache Rosé


De Bortoli Yarra Valley winemaker Steve Webber's love of pale and savoury rosé wines was prompted by a family holiday to the south of France, where he and wife Leanne de Bortoli engaged with the benchmark rosé wines of Bandol. Now de Bortoli are among the Australian leaders when it comes to the style, and this wine made from Heathcote grenache fruit has been given a subtle label makeover for the new vintage. It is salmon pink in colour with wild strawberry and herb garden aromas leading to a cherry briskness on the palate. Barrel fermentation has added texture but this is primarily a fun, fresh wine that will come into its own as the days grow longer and warmer. Suitable for vegans and vegetarians. $20. www.debortoli.com. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Taylor's 2014 St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon

I've been very impressed with the wines from Taylor's recently. From the entry level Promised Land wines to premium offerings like this one, there is a definite line of quality. There are some that immediately strike a chord; and this is one of them, a delightfully put-together cabernet sauvignon crafted from Clare Valley vines that were first planted in 1892 on terra rossa soils over limestone. This is a wine that combines power and complexity; with flavour profiles ranging from cassis to dark olives. A wine of structure and refinement. $70. www.taylorswines.com.au

Monday, July 10, 2017

McW Reserve 660 Tumbarumba 2016 Chardonnay

One of the standouts in an impressive new range from McWilliam's, this is a stylish new wave cool-climate chardonnay made from fruit grown at high-altitude at Tumbarumba in southern New South Wales. It is crisp, clean and very refreshing with an impressive amalgam of stone fruit, citrus, mineral and nutty characteristics that reflect the fact the grapes were grown at an average of 660 metres above sea level. There is plenty of zippy, refreshing acidity on the finish here as well, making for some darn fine drinking. Pair this with an old-style roast pork dish. $25. www.mcwilliams.com.au.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Mitolo 2016 The Nessus Shiraz


This is a quintessentially Australian red wine; bold and full of flavour; ready to enjoy right away with meaty dishes or hard cheeses but capable of being cellared for a few years. I marked it down as being much more expensive than it actually is; making it a very good option for the price. Made from shiraz grapes sourced from the southern end of McLaren Vale, it is forward, fruit-driven, soft and smooth. Older oak plays a laid-back but solid support role but it is the dark, supple fruit that leads the way. Very gluggable. $15. www.mitolowines.com.au.