Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dandelion Vineyards 2008 Lion's Tooth of McLaren Vale

Zar Brooks is one of the wine industry's leading marketers and his wife Elena is a talented winemaker. Their Dandelion Vineyards wines, produced in conjunction with several partners, tend to offer something a little out of the ordinary, as is the case with this unusual blend of shiraz and riesling. The good news is that it works, with the riesling lifting the shiraz fruit much as viognier does, without intruding as much as viognier can. Hand-plunging, basket pressing and maturation in older French barriques has resulted in a very stylish wine that even has some delicacy and elegance; a rare thing in McLaren Vale reds. Imagine a fruit salad of red berries, cherries and currants, spicy oak and a soft, supple finish and you'll have some idea of this wine's attributes.

Bonny Doon 2006 Le Cigare Volant

This is leading Californian winemaker and funster Randall Grahm's homage to the great red blends of the Southern Rhone - the name is a reference to the fact that a local ordinance bans UFOs from landing in Chateauneuf du Pape. It's a stunning wine, too, funky, earthy, complex, intriguing and a lttle bewildering in its many layers of flavours. It's gamey and little tannic - but I loved it. It's a blend of shiraz, grenache, cinsault, mourvedre and carignan and, unlike many Californian reds, it is bottled under a screwcap. Serve this one blind and you'll have a whole lot of fun as your guests try to guess what it is and where it came from. $79. Imported by Brad Wehr.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mount Riley 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

I was recently a guest of Mount Riley at a very special dinner where I was impresssed by the wines in their "reserve" tier Seventeen Valley range. But as good as these wines are, the major focus of the family-owned Marlborough winery is its standard sauvignon blanc - a very tempting wine for the price and very nicely put together with plenty of flavour but without some of the overtly herbaceous characters that can be offputting in Kiwi savvy blancs. There are some delightful citrus and passionfruit notes on the bouquet and a purity on the palate that sets it apart. Racy, zingy and very dry, this is a lovely drink. Good value, too. $16.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stonier 2009 Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay

There are certain labels that are reliably good vintage after vintage. If those labels also offer value for money, so much the better. The entry-level, fruit-driven Stonier chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula ticks both boxes. Often overshadowed by the Reserve and KBS Vineyard releases, this is a darn good drink for the price with impressive stone fruit and citrus flavours, toasty notes and a bright, clean acid finish. There's just enough complexity to make it interesting and there is no doubt it is beautifully balanced. Anyone looking for a good cool-climate chardy to take to a BYO or dinner party should mark this one in their notebook. $25.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hahndorf Hill 2010 Rosé

The team at Hahndorf Hill in the Adelaide Hills can be relied upon to be unconventional and intriguing; whether it be varietals made from blaufrankisch and gruner veltliner, or a cellar door where table wines are matched with chocolate. Their very impressive rosé is a blend of blaufrankisch and trollinger grapes; aromatic and dry with apple orchard and vibrant red berry notes. This would be great with sushi, sashimi, spicy Thai dishes or simply as an after-work pick-me-up. Lovely stuff! $22.