Let's get this straight from the start. Here we have a very good Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon from a family owned winery that is a current release at four years of age. It is concentrated, but with classic regional elegance, and weighs in with just 13.5% alcohol; a lean, fighting machine. It's dark, still a little moody, with classic dark berry and chocolate characters, balanced, not intrusive, oak, dry and with plenty of length and structure. It will almost certainly cellar well. And here's the silly bit (the good bit, actually): this wine is available for $15.95 at cellar door on online and only a couple of bucks more retail. $18. www.koonara.com.light to see how dense it is if you don't believe me.
OK wine snobs. Time to get over yourselves. The reality is a lot of people really enjoy Marlborough sauvignon blanc. A lot of them like to enjoy a bottle or two on a sunny day, or pair some savvy with fresh seafood. Much as you'd prefer them to be drinking arneis, or albarino, the reality is they relish the style of wines the Kiwis make. So if you are looking for a classic and consistently reliable Marlborough sauvignon blanc, nicely put together, with plenty of zing and zest and a good balance between tropical and leaner herbaceous characters you'll almost certainly enjoy this vibrant young wine from one of the region's style leaders. $22.www.witherhills.co.nz.
Several Australian wine producers have had a crack at the white Rhone grape variety viognier - with decidedly mixed results. Far too many end up tasting like an alcoholic version of canned apricot juice. This is a welcome counterpoint to those wines; made with restraint and passion. Lark Hill is a proven success with other aromatic white varieties, including riesling and gruner veltliner, and this wine continues in the same vein. It is floral with appealing fresh stone fruit characters, ginger notes and a hint of citrus. Wild yeast ferment has helped add complexity and texture but the key here is balance - it has only 12.5% alcohol with a refreshing slatey finish. Definitely one of Australia's better viogniers. $25.www.larkhillwine.com.au.