Thursday, July 11, 2024

Oakridge 2022 Henk Vineyard Chardonnay


There is something about the fruit from the Henk vineyard at Worri Yallock in the Yarra Valley that I find particularly captivating; vintage after vintage. This is a searingly good recent release that I found evaporated in my glass. A couple of sips and the bottle was empty. There is nothing revolutionary here. just a very good, well-balanced cool-climate chardonnay for under a lobster from David Bicknell and his consistent team. The grapes were hand-picked and whole bunch pressed into large oak puncheons for a wild ferment - and the juice then spent 10 months on less. An excellent example from a long, late and cool growing season. Pair with American pork spare ribs for gourmet treat. $48.

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Mayfield Vineyard 2023 Mrs Crawford Pinot Noir

What a great discovery. Good Australian pinot from cooler regions can easily set you back $75 or more, so by my calculations this one is criminally under priced. It is a very elegant pinot but also has impressive structure thanks to the inclusion of 39% whole bunch material and a year in French oak. This offers typical cool-climate pinot notes; wild berries, mushroom and a nit of undergrowth. The high-altitude vineyard has delivered a little gem here, and the wine is named after Margaret Crawford, who lived on the vineyard property for 65 years. Lovely balance. Great price. $37.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Tapanappa 2019 Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc


This is a stunning Australian nod to the wines of St Emilion on Bordeaux's right bank, a compelling blend of two red grape varieties that often take a back seat but shine here with waves of flavours gently cascading onto your tongue in a very stylish way. This is a masterclass in balance with the 55% merlot and 45% cabernet franc from Wrattonbully in South Australia spending almost 18 months in French oak (50% new) adding to the palate interest but never intruding. There is dark layered fruit here from a warm vintage, along with savoury and earthy nuances, herbal interludes, dark olive notes and some spice hints. This is at its best when paired with food. We paired it with roast lamb en croute, which worked a treat. $90. But worth it. Excellent drinking. 95 points from me.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

De Bortoli 2020 Noble One

For over four decades, De Bortoli's Noble One botrytis semillon has been Australia's benchmark dessert wine. Darren de Bortoli's inspired creation remains at the very top of its game, offering luscious sweetness with brisk acid on the finish. A thing of beauty. Sure, you can match this with pastries, tarts and other desserts, but it also pairs brilliantly with pates, terrines and blue cheeses. Trust me. A team led by senior winemaker Julie Mortlock is carrying on Darren's good work with the 2020 vintage right in the zone. Think rich stone fruit/marmalade ripeness with a citrusy zestyness on the finish. 97 points from me. $38 for 375ml. 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Nerissimo Primitivo Salento IGP 2022


They've done it again. Here is yet another excellent import from the supermarket chain ALDI that offers stupendous value for money. From Puglia, in Italy, this is labelled as primitivo, a grape variety that we usually call zinfandel in Australia. This is rich and flavoursome, cellar-worthy, too, with some savoury characters that make Italian reds stand out from the crowd. It is dark and serious but with some juicy fun elements along with impressive length and tannin structure. Bottled under screwcap for the Australian market, this is a formidable wine bargain in any language. Pair with Mod Med dishes. $12.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Henschke 2023 Louis Semillon

The Henschke family is well known for its innovative vineyard practices - and its superb high-end wines including Hill of Grace Shiraz and Cyril Cabernet. What is less recognised is that Henschke also produces several very good wines at much lower price points than its vinous stars. This lovely semillon made using fruit from 50-year-old vines is a case in point. It shares the six generations and 150 years of winemaking history but offers both affordability and drinkability. This Eden Valley semillon is super-food friendly, and less aggressive when young than its Hunter Valley counterparts. Think a cohesive blend of florals, citrus, apple, honey, lemon curd tart and herbal notes with plenty of palate length and some refreshing acidity on the palate. Pair with fish or poultry dishes and chill lightly. Deliciously slurpable. $35.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Brokenwood 2023 Rosato

The team at Brokenwood produces some outstanding wines, including the flagship Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz, but when it comes to value this is definitely one of the standouts from the Hunter winery's very large range. It is a blend of sangiovese and nebbiolo fruit from two different states: NSW and Victoria, that comes together to produce a wine that delivers immediate fun times; your own private party in a glass. Think bright, sweet wild berry flavours, and hints of Turkish Delight with a bone dry refreshing finish. A taste of the Med with hints of savouriness on the palate. Pale, zingy and devilishly drinkable. Great with hors d'oeuvres. $30.