Stephanie Toole steps up to the plate and bang, it's gone. A home run with all three of her 2014 Clare Valley reds. I really enjoyed the shiraz, loved to the Nero d'Avola and was blown away by this cabernet sauvignon. Ms Toole is truly in the zone right now with her Australian certified organic reds reflecting an excellent vintage. This is a delightfully stylish wine with dark cassis notes and well-integrated French oak, along with assertive tannins. It is drinking brilliantly right now, vibrant and juicy, but has the architecture to cellar for a decade or more. If you are drinking it now, pair with something rich like a rabbit casserole. I'm happy to score this 96/100. $40. www.mounthorrocks.com.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Who needs Chablis when you have Australian chardonnays of exquisite quality such as this new Yarra Valley release at such ridiculously low prices? Hoddles Creek winemaker Franco d'Anna is Mr Consistency when it comes to cool-climate chardonnay (and pinot noir) and this is quite simply ridiculously good value for the price. It is lean and clean, brisk and refreshing with grapefruit acid notes, Granny Smith, flinty minerality and lots of length. "It made itself this year," says the modest d'Anna, who crafted this with zero additions. Brilliant drinking - and no doubt soon to be sold out. $21. www.hoddlescreekestate.com.au.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
This is an absolute winner if you are looking for a high-quality cabernet sauvignon for under $30. It comes from one of the most reliable producers in Coonawarra, spent 14 months in oak, has three years of bottle age and all the classic cabernet virtues; dark blackcurrant and berry flavours, hints of tobacco leaf and nicely integrated French oak. A wine of impressive structural definition. There is a sense of satisfaction with every glass here and, as it was released in October last year, I'm a little angry with myself that I didn't get to it sooner. It's a James Bond wine; smooth, suave and sophisticated. But less dangerous than 007. Pair this with just about any red meat dish. $29. www.zema.com.au.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Whenever I taste the wines from Gavin Berry and his team at West Cape Howe, one thought comes to mind: How do they do it for the money? There can be few wineries around the country that manage to offer such great value at a range of price points - and they do it from the Great Southern in Western Australia, one of the most remote wine regions in the country. Anyway, this is a lovely wine for everyday drinking pleasure; a blend of two proven performers that is zingy, zesty and dry and designed for immediate enjoyment, with or without food. Chill. Enjoy. Simple. $17. www.westcapehowewines.com.au.
Saturday, April 9, 2016
For a couple of decades, John Innes was the highly respected winemaker at Rymill in Coonawarra. Then he and his wife Melissa opened an excellent little restaurant and pizza bar in an old school house called Fodder in Coonawarra township. Fodder now shares its space with the Ottelia cellar door because John is back in the winemaking game, sourcing fruit from around the Limestone Coast region (Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, Mount Benson and Mount Gambier), for a tidy little range. I particularly enjoyed this; very lively, very crisp and very drinkable with lip-smacking passionfruit and grapefruit flavours, flinty minerality and refreshing cool-climate acidity. $22. www.ottelia.com.au.
Friday, April 1, 2016
I was reviewing the 2015 Foster e Rocco Rosé for a print publication recently and remember being impressed by the way it combined savoury notes with a bright, juicy drinkability. I felt exactly the same way about this wine; three years older, altogether more serious, but made from Heathcote sangiovese and just as joyfully drinkable. I first met Adam Foster when he was a keen young sommelier at The Lake House in Daylesford. Since then he's formed a formidable winemaking partnership with fellow somm Lincoln Riley, as well as making wines under his own Syrahmi label. Whether you go for the rosé, nuovo or straight sangiovese in this impressive range you are getting plenty of bang for your buck. Recommended. $29.