Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Vasse Felix 2014 Filius Cabernet Sauvignon

The Vasse Felix cabernets are Australian classics, benchmark Margaret River wines at the very pinnacle of what Australia can do. Now the Vasse Felix Heytesbury and Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, current release 2013, have a baby brother in the 2014 Filius Cabernet Sauvignon. Designed as a more approachable, less-demanding sibling this offers immediate drinking pleasure at a very reasonable price. It still has the great fruit and savoury notes but without the structure that sometimes demands years in the cellar. I loved this wine, which also has a smidgen of malbec and petit verdot in the mix, for its fruit forwardness (nearly all the oak used is older barrels) inkiness, balance and value. The recommended retail price seems ludicrously low. Great work from winemaker Virginia Willcock. 
$28. www.vassefelix.com.au.   

Friday, May 20, 2016

Margan 2016 Albarino

There was an almighty fuss a few years back when it was discovered that the "albarino" planted in Australia (and being marketed as such), was, in fact, a totally unrelated grape called savagnin from the Jura region of France. Now a few albarino vines (the real thing from Spain) are actually producing fruit and this debut offering is a very good example, released as part of Hunter Valley winery Margan's 20th-birthday Breaking Ground releases. This has lively, bright acid, spice notes and bright tropical fruit flavours. It is looking good as a new release and should probably be enjoyed as a young 'un.
$30. www.margan.com.au

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Torbreck 2014 The Struie

The name Torbreck may immediately conjure up images of dense red wines that need decades in the cellar - but not all wines from this Barossa producer are made in the same vein. The Cuvée Juveniles is always fresh and juicy and this impressive shiraz combines fruit from both the Barossa and Eden valleys - with the higher-altitude fruit adding elegance and grace to marry with the Barossa power. Expect an appealing, lifted bouquet, dark fruit with spice and deli notes, restrained French oak and great persistence on the palate. This is drinking well in its youth but will, like all Torbrecks, mature impressively. Unfined, unfiltered and extremely good drinking. $49. www.torbreck.com

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Sileni 2013 The Circle Semillon

Now here is a surprise. New Zealand is certainly not known for it semillons but this outstanding wine from Hawke's Bay stood out from the pack at a recent tasting of aromatic whites. At three years of age it has lost its youthful verbosity but retained its citrus and tropical fruit flavours. This is artfully constructed, still fresh, with lovely balance and poise. It is textural and interesting and would be terrific paired with grilled white fish dishes, or a simple roast chicken. $25. www.sileni.co.nz.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Blue Pyrenees 2013 Section 1 Shiraz

Formerly known as Blue Pyrenees Reserve Shiraz, this classic cool-climate wine is now named after the single block from which the vast majority of the fruit is sourced from the estate vineyard each year. This was one of my favourites from last weekend's excellent Grampians Grape Escape; powerful but controlled. It contains tiny portions of viognier and cabernet sauvignon to add lift and brightness but its core is rich shiraz from 40-year-old vines. French and American oak is used for seasoning and the end result is a dark, plummy, medium-weight wine with a potpourri of spice elements that will cellar well for a decade or more. I'll give it 95 points - which makes it great value. $36. www.bluepyrenees.com.au.