Saturday, August 11, 2018

Gemtree 2016 Ernest Allen Shiraz

You don't have to spend a motza to buy a McLaren Vale shiraz of real style and character. Mike Brown at Gemtree has the Midas touch with his premium organic fruit, producing a range of styles at various price points. This is both organic and biodynamic and immediately captured my affection with its intensity and superb balance. Brown says it is made "naturally" then spends 18 months in French oak. Ernest Allan was a market gardener and the grandfather of Melissa Buttery, viticulturist and co-owner at Gemtree. The wine has fruit sweetness, oak, tannins and acidity all perfectly in place. If someone told you it was twice the price you would not bat an eyelid. Bring on a fillet steak and French mustard. 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Jim Barry 2018 Lodge Hill Riesling

There is a whole lot of pleasure to be found in the zesty, crispness of refreshing new-release Clare Valley rieslings. In most years I prefer the entry-level Jim Barry Watervale Riesling ($20) to its slightly more serious sibling, but in 2018 it is the Lodge Hill that is shining brightly in its youth, perhaps to celebrate its new-look label. In a very dry Clare vintage, drip irrigation paid a key role in keeping the fruit fresh and lively. The higher-altitude Lodge Hill vineyard's cool nights encourage slower ripening and the end result is a very vibrant, citrus-driven dry wine with terrific acid, balance and appeal. Match with a Thai green curry or stir-fried prawns for maximum gratification. $25.

Friday, July 27, 2018

St Hugo 2015 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon

Not many smaller producers would be able to produce a wine of this quality for this price. It is all about economies of scale and this traditional favourite offers excellent value for lovers of refined, potentially long-lived Coonawarra cabernets. This is a red with both power and grace, with dark inky, black fruit characters, quality oak, spice and nutty nuances all combining with impressive cohesion. This would be a perfect partner for a roast lamb, or rump steak, but would look equally at home for a decade in the cellar. $55.     

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Margan 2018 Breaking Ground Albarino

The more albarino I taste from Australia the more I am convinced it is the white wine variety of the future in warmer regions. The Spanish variety got off to a bad start in the local marketplace when it turned out that fruit that was planted as "albarino" was actually savagnin. Now albarino vines are starting to mature we are seeing impressive results, with Andrew Margan and his team in the Hunter Valley among those leading the way with the Galician grape variety. This is medium-bodied and flavoursome with some bright acid and spicy grapefruit tang on the palate. Serve chilled with seafood or Asian dishes. Yum! $30.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Leasingham 2015 Bin 56 Cabernet Malbec

There may be days when you only have $20 in your pocket but still want to drink something decent. This old favourite comes up trumps on one of those days, offering plenty of power and intensity in a red blend that highlights quality Clare Valley fruit. The Leasingham Bin range has been a reliable source of drinking pleasure since it was launched in 1967 and this is a standout with robust regional character, a plummy earthiness and plenty of depth on the palate thanks to the malbec component; it is a grape that thrives in the Clare. Think dark currants, chocolate, herbs and spices and some impressive structure. This would be terrific with a medium-rare steak and chips. $20. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Dalwood Estate 2018 Semillon

Dalwood Estate is the re-birth of the first wine producing facility in the Hunter Valley - and continues production from the longest-running commercial vineyard in Australia. Established on the banks of the Hunter River in 1828, Dalwood is regarded as the birthplace of Hunter Valley wine. The wines are the first under the Dalwood label since the 1970s (the site was more recently known as Wyndham Estate) and the first since developer and hotelier Sam Arnaout’s Iris Capital group bought Dalwood last December. With talented winemaker Bryan Currie at the helm, the current releases are very impressive. This is a classic young Hunter semillon grown in sandy loam soils. Picked in mid-January, the fruit offers aromatic lemon/lemongrass notes with purity and length on the palate. Pair with fresh oysters for a gourmet treat. $27.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Yangarra 2015 Ironheart Shiraz

Winemaker Peter Fraser and his team are really getting the best out their certified organic and biodynamic vines at Kangarilla in McLaren Vale. This is Yangarra flagship and the fruit comes from a 20-year-old single vineyard which produces reds of both power and elegance. This is a delicious wine of superb balance that speaks of its sense of place. It is a wine with intensity and complexity but it never tips over into being over-powering. There is 25% whole bunch here, open fermenters, wild yeast ferment and lees treatment. Almost 50% new oak for 15 months, but the fruit soaks it up. If you like bigger reds with a sense of style and swagger this dark and inky number will be a winner. 96/100. $105.