Family-owned Coonawarra wine producers Bowen Estate are unashamedly old-school in their approach. Doug Bowen still tends the vines, wife Joy runs the office and daughter Emma makes the wines, which in 2012 are of outstanding quality. The range is tiny, wines are still bottled under cork, the labels contain minimal information and there is little or no promotional push other than the sheer quality of what is in the bottle. In 2012, I thought the shiraz just edged out the cabernet sauvignon - but only by a whisker. It's a big wine at 15% alcohol but it handles it beautifully with inkiness leading on to ripe blackberry/dark plum flavours, dark chocolate, oak and spice notes. Great flavour; good structure. $30. www.bowenestate.com.au.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Monocle is a new label for fast-charging Orange winery Ross Hill and in this instance winemaker Phil Kerney was able to get his hands on some very smart fruit from from high-altitude Tumbarumba. I said on Twitter that was "a really impressive effort with cool-climate gluggability", That might have undersold what is a class act. There are the usual bells and whistles; wild yeast ferment in French oak, including 10% cent new, but it is the shiny minerality and bright fruit intensity that shines alongside the textural elements. A thoroughly modern wine at a very reasonable price. Outstanding. $30. www.rosshillwines.com.au.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
The Mornington Peninsula is perhaps not the first wine region in Australia you would choose to seek out fine rieslings. The Clare and Eden valleys, Henty in Victoria, the Great Southern in Western Australia, even Tasmania, probably have stronger claims. But George Mihaly at Paradigm Hill consistently produces top-notch estate-grown and -made rieslings, potentially long-lived, too, at Merricks. Bone dry, and made in tiny quantities, this is fermented in open vats for 3 1/2 weeks, and winemaking intervention is minimal. Rich, full-flavoured and textural, with more than a nod to Alsace, this is downright delicious. Also try their 2013 rosé for late summer refreshment. $36. www.paradigmhill.com.au
Friday, March 7, 2014
Chemin is the small-batch label for Yarra Valley winery Punt Road and winemaker Kate Goodman (who has since departed; a big loss). Chemin is the French word for path or direction, and these wines are made using an alternative philosophy to mainstream Punt Road wines - using whole bunch and whole berry fermentation, indigenous yeasts and allowing barrels to age untouched with minimal racking, fining, and filtration. The end aim is minimal intervention wines made in tiny quantities with a savoury, textured palate. This is a wine from an excellent Yarra vintage, using fruit from 25-year-old+ vines. The result is a wine with a distinct French accent; low in alcohol at 12.5% but with savoury North American spice notes alongside dark fruit flavours. Distinctively different. $42. www.puntroadwines.com.au.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
At the same time as Penfolds was unveiling its new 2009 Grange and host of other premium wines, what got a little lost in the shuffle was the release of some affordable bin wines from the cracking 2012 vintage. The Bin 138 Barossa Shiraz Grenache Mataro ($40) and the Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz, a more approachable, drink-now red-fruited style for $45 were among them. This new release, however, offers great value for my money. It is a multi-regional blend sourced from vineyards across South Australia (including McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Wrattonbully, the Barossa, Padthaway and Coonawarra) that offers immediate pleasure but will also cellar well for several years. Cassis, green leaf and spice notes jostle on the nose, leading on to a tight, intense palate with dark fruits, earthiness and spice along with classy French and American oak notes and savoury tannin structure. A most impressive debut. $30.