Saturday, February 17, 2018

Katnook Estate 2015 Founder's Block Merlot

There were four of us tasting a small batch of reds, not one of us particularly enamoured of soft and simple merlots. That this wine stood out from the crowd is a tribute to former Katnook Estate winemaker Wayne Stehbens, who died a couple of months ago. The range is named after the original land holding of John Riddoch, the founder of Coonawarra wine region. This stands out with its intensity and structure; on the opposite side of the spectrum to some of the sweet and wimpy merlots that are still being made. Medium-bodied with dark berry and plum notes and some perky spice, it has excellent structure with French and American oak adding to the picture. Available at Dan Murphy’s and at selected independent retailers Australia wide. Terrific value for $20.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Brokenwood 2011 ILR Reserve Hunter Valley Semillon

Aged Hunter Valley semillon is a wine style like no other - and the winemaking team at Brokenwood are masters at making semillons that shine when young and zesty that develop after a few years into toasty, complex beasts. This reserve wine is six years old but isn't yet fully mature. It still boasts some youthful citrus fruit flavours and soft plushness on the palate. There's length here, intensity, complexity and still a good decade or more to go until it reaches its peak. $75.  

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Swan Bay 2017 Pinot Grigio

Scotchmans Hill's Swan Bay range has been given a lift by new colour-coded labelling that makes the wines stand out on crowded bottle shop shelves. There are several excellent wines crafted by winemaker Robin Brockett in the $20-ish range but this blend of Geelong region and Adelaide Hills fruit caught my fancy with its youthful joie de vivre. There is a plenty of summer refreshment here with pear, tropical fruit and citrus flavours jostling for attention on the lively palate. Enjoy the crispness and length and serve well-chilled. Deftly balanced and vegan friendly. Match with a chickpea salad. $22.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Houghton 2016 Shiraz

Wines from Houghton in Western Australia (180 years in the business and counting) used to be all the rage when it came to value but you don't see them around as much as you used to, despite the label being owned by the Accolade behemoth. At a time of year when many of us are operating on tight wine budgets, this new release is one to keep an eye out for; a fruit-driven number that would grace any barbecue. It's soft, medium-bodied  and easy to drink with bright, juicy dark fruit flavours. Tannin structure and oak influence are secondary but it doesn't matter because the balance is there and this certainly won't break the bank. Look for it on special - it can be found for under a tenner. $12.99.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Lane Block 10 Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

I'm out and proud this summer - happy to say that I'm drinking more sauvignon blanc than I have for several years. The reason is that excessive green/herbal characters are out, as are over-ripe tropical flavours. More Australian savvy blancs are being made with a deft touch like this one from the cool Adelaide Hills, where the fruit is grown in limestone vineyards, adding tangy minerality. It is unmistakeably varietal but with all the harsh edges removed. Think fresh citrus notes, fresh leafiness, some white stone fruit notes, and that vibrant line of acid minerality. One for enjoying well-chilled as an after-work pick-me-up, or paired with spicy Asian seafood dishes like sambal pink ling. Drinkability plus. $25. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Mesh 2017 Eden Valley Riesling

In these days of instant gratification, it is rewarding to come across a white wine that is constructed with longevity at least partially in mind. Mesh is a joint venture between Jeff Grosset and the Hill-Smith family of Yalumba and uses Eden Valley fruit to produce a wine that is certainly approachable now but will shine with time in the bottle. The 2012 vintage, available as a classic release, is stunning.Think lemon/lime notes, talcum powder and fresh acid on the finish. Classy and excellent value. $30.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Domaine Saint Etienne 2012 Rouge Barrique

The price of even village Burgundy has gone through the roof; while good Bordeaux can cost an arm and a leg but fortunately for lovers of French-accented wines there is still terrific value to be found in the wines of south-west France. This is one such wine, from the Quercy appellation near Cahors, fully mature and full of regional character. It is made by the Gisbert family, who have been growing grapes since 1778, and imported by Thomas Gisbert, born and raised on the family vineyard and who runs La Mosaique wine imports in Melbourne. Aged in mainly older oak and using fruit from 40-year-old vines, this is a blend of "sustainably farmed" cabernet franc, merlot and cot (malbec) that has delightful balance, cassis and savoury notes, and carries just 12.5% alcohol. Seriously characterful for $35