Sunday, November 19, 2017

St John's Road 2016 Motley Bunch

I am not a huge fan of the retro labels they use on the St John's Road range. I understand the industry reverence for great old skool winemakers of the 1950s pictured here, but I don't see it pulling in the punters on a crowded bottle shop shelf. Good job, perhaps, that I'm a writer not a marketer. That said, this is an absolutely terrific Barossa GMS (Grenache, Mataro and Shiraz), a signature regional style that is ballsy but in balance. Full-flavoured and fruit-driven, this is a most amiable companion just about any barbecue selection. I scored it 93/100 and it is very good value at $22. It's made by Phil Lehmann, son of Peter Lehmann, one of those pictured on the label back in 1951.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Yarran NV Cuvée Blanc

Party season is approaching; Christmas is not far away. That means I am going to be asked, repeatedly, to recommend an affordable sparkling wine that can do duty at work functions or family get-togethers.  You might not have heard of the Yarran label but this bubbly from a family-owned and -operated winery at Yenda offers some affordable luxury here with citrusy, fresh and vibrant notes. It is made from 100% chardonnay grown in the Riverina region of New South Wales but picked early while it still had crunchy acid. Young and quite dry, this a real bargain that can be found online for $12 a bottle and would pair brilliantly with canapes or fresh oysters. Huon Hooke also liked it. $14.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Howard Park 2017 Porongurup Riesling

It used to be that all of Australia's finest rieslings came from either the Clare Valley, or perhaps the Eden Valley. Nowadays, you'll find excellent examples from Canberra, Tasmania and, perhaps most impressively, from the Great Southern region of Western Australia. Family-owned Howard Park was one of the regional pioneers here and produces exceptional dry rieslings from vineyards in both Mount Barker and the Porongurups. This wine has grown in stature since its first release seven years ago and pulls off the trick of being both delicate and full flavoured. Think floral aromas, elegant grapefruit and wild lime flavours, wet river pebble minerality and brisk acid. This is delightfully pure and lithe with the briskness, line and length of a great fast bowler. $34.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Champagne Duperrey NV Rosé Brut

"This is exquisite," said my wife, who has been known to enjoy a glass or two of bubbles in her time. I'd have to agree, having just made a note that this is an excellent choice for enjoying al fresco on these increasingly warm days. Rosé wines are all the rage right now and with the party season approaching it might pay to make a note of this dryish, fresh, crisp and clean Champagne with bright red fruit flavours. It is excellent with or without food. Champagne Duperrey comes from the family-owned Champagne house of G.H. Martel & Co, founded in 1869, and is named after French explorer Louis Isidore Duperrey. It's imported by Dan Murphy's and outshines several more expensive rosé bubblies.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Vasse Felix 2016 Filius Chardonnay

Filius (son of in Latin) may be the entry-level chardonnay in the impressive Vasse Felix line-up but for immediate drinking pleasure, it is hard to beat. The first winery to be planted in Margaret River remains a national treasure with winemaker Virginia Willcock very much at the top of her game. This has vibrant but elegant fruit characters (think citrus and finger limes), and tight acid backbone. There is a certain willfulness here thanks to nine months of maturation in older oak and battonage treatment. The more expensive estate chardonnay and the flagship Heytesbury also shine from this vintage, but this is the one to enjoy right. $28.  

Friday, October 13, 2017

Elderton 2015 Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon

I was all set to review the very impressive Elderton 2015 Shiraz when I came across this cabernet in a different tasting bracket a couple of days later. If you enjoy bold but brilliantly balanced cabernets then you won't want to miss this. Estate-grown and made, it is full-bodied but 47% of higher-altitude Eden Valley fruit married to Nuriootpa and Greenock grapes ensures it also has some impressive elegance. Second- and third-year larger format French oak add palate interest and structure without overwhelming the quality fruit. Think briary blackcurrants, plums, cassis, dark chocolate and brisk tannins. This is delicious right now and will cellar for a decade or two. Pair this with a roast lamb en croute, or perhaps a rabbit casserole. $34.   

Friday, October 6, 2017

Angullong A Range 2017 Sauvignon Blanc

If anyone was in need of a reminder just how refreshing young sauvignon blanc can be, this new-release from outstanding Orange region winery Angullong comes in to land an impressive left-right combination of freshness and natural acidity. It is an excellent example of unoaked cool-climate sauvignon, with a vibrant floral nose and a melange of citrus and stone fruit flavours on the palate. There is plenty of length and a crisp, bone dry finish. Excellent drinking chilled on a warm afternoon and an amiable companion for seafood and shellfish. I'll give this one 92/100. $20.