This is the first release of a cracking Clare Valley riesling that's a collaborative effort between veteran John Vickery, maker of many of the great old Leo Buring rieslings, and talented young gun Phil Lehmann, youngest son of the late Peter Lehmann. Made from fruit from three Watervale vineyards, two young, one old, this is a wine of rare beauty and purity - and the product of a great Clare vintage. A vivacious, floral nose leads on to a palate driven by fresh lime and grapefruit-tinged acidity, tremendous length and flinty minerality. Vibrant, refreshing, delicious. You won't do better at the price. $24. www.vickerywines.com.au.
Friday, October 3, 2014
I enjoyed the 2012 Leconfield Merlot and really like this 2013 version as well. Which comes as something of a surprise as I am no great admirer of merlot as a stand-alone varietal in Australia. Winemaker Paul Gordon clearly has an affinity with the variety as he's able to produce delightfully drinkable merlot on a regular basis. This is soft and silky with ripe plummy fruit, as you'd expect, but also has plenty of length and palate interest with the French and American oak adding structure. It would be terrific with coq au vin or and old-fashioned roast chicken and the trimmings. $25. www.leconfieldwines.com.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Damian North has access to some very good Yarra Valley fruit and has made a splendidly accessible pinot noir in 2013, with dark berry notes, length and depth and the fruit shining through despite the use of 25% new French barriques. A former sommelier who has worked in Oregon, as well as at TarraWarra Estate and Leeuwin Estate, his wines are blossoming with each vintage and this pinot from a warm, dry vintage is positively hedonistic with a beautiful balance between the bright fruit, spice and earthiness. Like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing on your tongue - a thing of beauty. The empty bottle gave away how much I enjoyed this. $34. www.journeywines.com.au.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Husband and wife team Tom and Sally Belford craft some intriguing wines in the Yarra Valley; marching to a different drum to the bulk of Yarra mainstream. This is labelled syrah, rather than shiraz, presumably to indicate a French style preference, and is both unfiltered and unfined but full of personality. Inky, it has the merest hint of spritz (maybe thanks to carbonic maceration), some silk sheet softness and a very fruity palate with black cherry/sweet raspberry cheerfulness to the fore. There is just a smidgen of spice, too, with some savoury/deli action, along with an appealing immediate drinkability. It may be in the natural wine camp but who cares? It's a very stylish wine with a stylistic nod to serious Beaujolais. $29.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Is this Australia's best semillon year on year? Probably. Is this outstanding new-release 2014 the best Andrew Thomas has produced? Very likely. Put simply, this is an outstanding version of under-valued Hunter semillon that makes you shake your head in bewilderment that the style is not more popular. Made from fruit grown on 45-year-old vines, this is so pure, so fresh and clean that you could almost take a bath in it. The fruit was havested at night by pickers using headlamps and is wonderfully tight and vibrant (think lemon and lime juice with hints of Asian spice). Steely, with just 10.8% alcohol, this would be marvellous paired with fresh oysters, or a plate of sashimi and sushi. From a cracking vintage, you could confidently cellar it for a decade or two - but it is just too delicious right now to make that seem a realistic possibility. $30. www.thomaswines.com.au.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Z Wines is a small Barossa Valley winery run by the Zerk sisters, winemaker Janelle and marketer Kristen, that I must admit had previously flown under my radar. The Zerk family has been growing grapes since 1846 but Janelle is the first member of the family to turn to wine making - and has done vintages around the globe. The fruit is sourced from the family's Lyndoch vineyards and this is a new addition to the range that can be found at Dan Murphy's stores. It is absolutely delicious and ridiculously good value with juicy/spicy blackberry/dark plum notes and some soft earthiness as well. A terrific fruit-driven wine for enjoying in its youth and an ideal "midweek" choice. $15. www.zwine.com.au.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Take two South Africans who settled in the Adelaide Hills and developed a love of Austrian wine styles - particularly the savoury white variety gruner veltliner - and you have the back story to a wine that has established a big reputation over just a handful of vintages. This is a brand-new release (I believe I am the first journalist to get a peek) that is remarkably pretty and delicate - "like a young girl in a summer dress". It is an aromatic and textural wine with 30% of the fruit having seen older oak, some going straight to stainless steel and some being given skin contact. With the pioneering vines now nine years of age this wine is hitting its straps and offers a very chic, food-friendly option to sauvignon blanc and pinot gris. Just delightful. $30.