Sunday, December 27, 2009

Brown Brothers NV Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Pinot Meunier

Family-owned Brown Brothers have a huge range of wines with something to suit every palate but you won't find many better than this outstanding bubbly - a blend of the three classic Champagne grapes. This is a superb wine for the price - as good as many domestic sparkling wines costing twice the price. It offers delightful citrus aromas, a refreshing, zesty palate and hints of brioche and yeast characters adding complexity. Clean, crisp and very drinkable. $23.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Howard Park 2009 Riesling

This rates among the very best rieslings I've tasted all year. It has freshness, crispness, pristine fruit and the potential to age. Released a few months later than many of its contemporaries, this wine from the Great Southern of Western Australia straddles the territory between delicacy and intensity with brilliant fresh lime juice flavours and zingy acid on the palate. Due out any day now and worth snapping up to enjoy with summer seafood dishes. $25.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wyndham Estate George Wyndham 2007 Shiraz Tempranillo

There’s a new zest to the recent Wyndham Estate releases and this is an absolute standout with some lovely savoury elements and nice mouthfeel. Sourced from Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley fruit, it’s full-blooded with intense berry fruit flavours and hints of pepper. A thoroughly modern style of wine that would be great with Spanish dishes, cheeses and Middle Eastern cuisine. $21.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mr Riggs 2007 Yacca Paddock Tempranillo

I'm seeing an increasing number of impressive tempranillos from a variety of regions, suggesting the Spanish grape has a bright future in Australia. Made by McLaren Vale winemaker Ben Riggs from Adelaide Hills fruit, this is a very appealing wine that demonstrates precisely why tempranillo holds such promise. It has savoury notes, dark cherry flavours and plenty of big tannic oomph. Extremely enjoyable. $25.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Katnook Estate 2005 Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon

Looking for a Christmas present for a wine lover? You won't go far wrong with this serious Coonawarra cabernet that has all the elements in place. There are lashings of sweet berry fruit and minty characters, plenty of oak (although nicely in balance), soft tannins and subtle hints of spice. This is a very smooth wine, complex and long on the palate, that is drinking well in its youth but will probably develop for a decade or more. I wouldn't mind a few bottles of this in the cellar. $95.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nepenthe 2008 Tempranillo

This was one of the stars of the Adelaide Hills Wine Show - where it was a trophy winner. It was one of my favourite wines from a very strong show, showing the immense potential of "alternative" varieties in the Hills. You'll find ripe and juicy berry fruit flavours, savoury notes and a lovely softness on the palate. Medium-bodied, this is terrific wine with a wide range of cuisines. $25.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Flying Fish 2008 Chardonnay

The next big thing in wine is ... chardonnay. The ABC fad is dead and buried and there are so many great chardys out there that the variety will be back in favour sooner rather than later. This new release from Margaret River is a perfect example of the modern chardonnay, bright and vibrant with delightful citrus/stone fruit characters and appealing balance and intensity. With just 13% alcohol, and very food friendly, this is most impressive, $22.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hollick 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot

Sometimes you open a bottle of wine that's lipsmackingly good and without thinking about it too much suddenly discover the bottle is empty. That's what happened with this easy-to-drink red blend from one of Coonawarra's best family-owned wineries. You'll find luscious dark berry fruit flavours to the fore with soft tannins and oak very much in the background. Open a bottle of this, roast a leg of lamb and sparks will fly. $24.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wandin Valley Estate 2009 Verdelho

Summer is on the way and there could be few better choices for quaffing on a sunny afternoon than this fresh and vibrant white from an under-rated Hunter Valley winery. You'll find tropical fruit salad aromas and flavours in this rich and full-bodied - but also extremely refreshing - wine which has lively acid on the finish. Drink it young, drink it chilled and also look out for the equally impressive 2009 semillon. Talented young winemaker Matt Burton is one to watch. $20.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cullen 2007 Kevin John Chardonnay

This has to be one of the most impressive chardonnay releases of the year. Vanya Cullen's biodynamic vineyards in Margaret River have produced a wonderfully balanced wine from a very good year. The grapes were hand harvested, sorted and whole-bunch pressed and the fruit spent 10 months in new and 2nd year French oak. The end result: a wine of elegance and intensity with citrus characters to the fore. Stunningly good and well worth $70.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Prince 2007 Merlot

A new label to me from the promising Vino Bambino stable, which has some excellent small producers on its books. There are so many dud Australian merlots around it's a real pleasuree to discover one like this attractive offering from Victoria's Pyrenees district. OK, it's soft and fleshy as you'd expect, but there's also some nice ripe berry characters and some complexity, too. This is a lovely barbecue wine and well priced at $20.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Story 2008 Grampians Shiraz

Rory Lane is the former marketing manager for Shelmerdine who has struck out on his own and is making some excellent wines using fruit from Victoria’s cool-climate Grampians region ( There are two individual vineyard wines for around $45, but this suits me just fine, thank you, with lovely fruit and some real elegance on the palate. Natural yeast, unfiltered, unfined, sensible alcohol (13.5%) - and absolutely terrific. $24.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wirra Wirra 2008 Church Block

The 06, 07 and 2008 vintages of this excellent McLaren Vale blend are all of stellar quality with the 08 an absolute ripper - vibrant and fruity with plenty of depth of flavour. It's a plush and delicious blend of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and merlot that is superb value for money and the good news is if the 08 hasn't reached your local bottle store yet, the 07 (briary with good tannins) is also drinking very well right now. Perfect with a good steak or Wagyu burger. $23.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shelmerdine 2009 Pinot Noir Rosé

It's starting to get warmer, which means chilled rosés are back on the agenda - and you'll struggle to find better than this delicious number from the Yarra Valley. Made from pinot noir grapes grown in the high-altitide Lusatia Park vineyard, its is crisp and clean with barrel fermentation having added complexity and interest to the strawberries and cream flavours. Fresh, dry and lots of fun, it would be great with Lebanese dishes, or a picnic. A bargain at $20.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shaw and Smith 2007 Adelaide Hills Shiraz

If only all Australian shirazes were this good. Shaw and Smith use cool-climate Adelaide Hills fruit but still manage to produce a beautifully balanced medium-bodied wine that has plenty of juicy impact while at the same time offering elegance and hints of spice. French oak plays an understated support role with the vibrant fruit the star here. Deep red in colour, aromatic and appealing, this is a wine of concentration and quality that is drinking splendidly right now but will also cellar well. $38.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Aja 2008 White

A wine designed specifically for drinking with a range of spicy Asian dishes? Sounded like a lot of tosh to me. But I put Aja, a blend of verdelho, semillon and sauvignon blanc, to the taste test with some spicy chicken and a gado gado salad and it came up trumps. There’s plenty of appealing upfront fruit and some nice crisp, juiciness on the finish that suggests this low-acid number will, indeed, partner well with a variety of Asian spices. Winemaker Liz Jackson has done a good job. $20.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Logan 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon blanc remains as divisive as ever; people either love it, or hate it. This excellent cool-climate offering probably won't convert any of the haters, but it will certainly please the fans. It has fresh, green aromas and the palate is zingy and zesty with lashings of tropical fruit and pomelo. It's young, it's crisp, it's dry, it's perfect for spring. Very enjoyable. $22.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lindemans 2006 Pyrus

Lindemans make so many value-for-money wines that it is easy to overlook their top-notch cellaring prospects. This is a star from the very good 2006 Coonawarra vintage; a classic Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. It offers an appealing melange of dark berry, mint and tobacco leaf characters with superb texture and intensity on the palate, but also an inate softness. $55.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Zema Estate 2005 Cluny

The wines made by family-owned Coonawarra brand Zema Estate are so beautifully balanced that they are generally a pleasure to drink. This blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and malbec has 15% alcohol but handles it well. Rich and complex with some lovely softness, it is disturbingly drinkable. It was also a wine with a real evaporation problem - our bottle was drained with indecent haste. $25.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Alluviale 2008 Anobli

Lovers of serious sweet wines will be orgasmic over this one; which sits somewhere between sauternes and tokaji on the flavour spectrum. Made from sauvignon blanc grapes grown in Hawke’s Bay and matured in French oak, it is a fragrant, rich and complex potpourri of flavours, unctuous and appealing but with lovely crisp natural acidity. The 270g/L of residual sugar means this is not for wimps - but I was blown away. $40 for 375mls.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wynns 2008 Connawarra Shiraz

Vintage after vintage this is one of Australia's great wine bargains. OK, so it is still very youthful - but it is also very drinkable. There's plenty of flavour here with rich berry and dark plum characters on the palate and spicy, peppery nuances. Medium-bodied and stylish and nicely balanced with 14% alcohol, this is one of those reds that you should have a case of - just in case. Often found for much less than the recommended retail of $19.99.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wine by Brad 2007 Cabernet Merlot

Quirky, fun, affordable and extremely easy to drink - that's the best way of summing up the wines from this innovative Margaret River producer. When you get a richly flavoured cab merlot oozing with dark cassis flavours, hints of chocolate and mint with some unobtrusive French oak adding just the right amount of complexity then you have to be impressed, At $18 and just 13.5% alcohol you have to snap some up.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Paul Mas 2008 Chardonnay

I challenge anyone to name a better-value chardonnay than this little ripper from the Languedoc region of southern France. A glorious drink-now style from the same folks who produce Arrogant Frog, it follows an equally impressive 07 release. There's plenty of peachy/tropical fruit flavour here, but also some surprising elegance and nice acid on the finish. I'd happily drink a bottle of this - and I can't say that about many $8.99 wines. Exclusively from Dan Murphy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Jacob’s Creek St Hugo 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

It may be a “big company” wine but it’s clear plenty of care and attention has gone into this rich, full-bodied but extremely elegant Coonawarra cabernet that has benefited from bottle aging and will continue to improve for the next decade. Concentrated and beautifully integrated, this is well worth $44.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

De Bortoli 2007 Yarra Valley Reserve Release Pinot Noir

Steve Webber’s reserve releases are setting the benchmark in the Yarra Valley right now. This is a superb pinot; hugely aromatic with appealing balance between intense fruit flavours, savoury nuances and supple tannins on the palate. It’s complex and textured. Partner this with roast duck and you have a feast fit for king. $45.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Austins 2007 Geelong Pinot Noir

The Austin family have built a formidable reputation for the quality of their pinots noir from the Bellarine Peninsula - and this is one of their best yet, with generous, yet undeniably varietal characters, that are matched by structure and texture on the palate. A splendid drink. $29.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cow Bombie 2008 Cabernet Merlot

It may be a silly name (Cow Bombie is actually a surf break off the West Australian coast) but there is plenty of serious fun to be had with this good-value, drink-young blend that is just bursting with ripe berry flavours alongside hints of black chocolate and pepper. The perfect wine for when friends drop by. $15.

Friday, June 12, 2009

O'Leary Walker 2009 Watervale Riesling

One of the first 09 riesling releases, this has floral aromatics, stunning purity of fruit, delightful citrus characters, lovely line and length and superb structure with zingy finishing acid. I can't think of anything I'd rather drink right now. $21.

Friday, June 5, 2009

De Bortoli 2007 Noble One

The 25th-anniversary release of the iconic botrytis semillon lives up to the hype. Silky smooth, luscious, opulent and complex; this is a truly great wine. Pair it with blue cheese or a game terrine. $32 for 375mls.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hardys 2008 The Gamble Chardonnay Pinot Gris

A fairly unlikely blend of white varieties - but the end result is downright delicious; fresh and lively with attractive stone fruit characters, quite smooth and creamy but with a good zingy finish. A wine for swilling without a moment's thought. $17.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Robert Oatley 2007 Shiraz

Who would have thought an unlikely blend of Frankland River and Mudgee shiraz would be this delicious? Lip-smackingly sweet dark fruit flavours, spice hints, good oak - really soft and approachable. This label is really hitting its straps. $25.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kilikanoon 2008 Second Fiddle Rosé

Every time I head to my local Lebanese restaurant, I tuck a bottle of dry rosé under my arm. This is my new favourite; made from grenache grown in the Clare Valley, it is a stylish, crisp and very drinkable wine of considerable charm. $20.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Foxey’s Hangout 2008 Pinot Gris

This Mornington Peninsula winery is becoming increasingly predictable; nearly every release is a gem. This has lifted aromas, pear and nectarine characters on the palate and a nice fresh finish. Hugely versatile. $25.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tyrrells 2007 Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz

Cold nights are upon us, so the time is right for a bottle of something hearty to accompany stews and casseroles. This is plummy and rich, but not too rich, with nice pepper characters, soft appealing tannins and good length. A lot of wine for $22.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rutherglen Estates 2008 Fiano

"I have seen the future of Australian white wine ...". I'm exaggerating, but this is an impressive first vintage of this Italian variety with plenty of grapey characters, hints of nuts and a chalky, dry finish. All but sold out and no wonder at $18.99.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Domaine Chandon 2008 Pinot Noir

A triumph from a difficult drought year. It may be light in colour with subtle flavours - but in a world of blockbuster reds that's a bonus. Sour cherry flavours, spicy oak and intense tannins. A really lovely drink. $34.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Stella Bella 2007 Tempranillo

The new releases from this Margaret River winery are all of exemplary quality, but this particularly stood out. Made from the famous red grape of Rioja, in Spain, it is spicy and savoury with soft juicy fruit characters. Our bottle simply evaporated. $30.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Penfolds 2008 Bin 311 Chardonnay

Penfolds may be best known for reds but they also produce some cracking whites, as evidenced by this fabulous Tumbarumba chardonnay which has slatey minerality, citrus and nectarine flavours, funkyness, great acid and depth of flavour. $43.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grant Burge 2008 East Argyle Pinot Gris

An impressive contender in the competitive pinot gris stakes; a cool-climate Eden Valley wine with enticing floral aromas, compelling fruit intensity with pear/citrus to the fore, palate softness and acid backbone. Delightful! $18.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Peter Lehmann 2008 Clancy's Rosé

This outperformed several more expensive rosés in a tasting at our place - with the early-picked fruit giving it a delightful vibrancy and freshness. Low in alcohol at 11.5%, this would be perfect chilled, on a warm day, with Lebanese food. $15.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brokenwood 2008 Cricket Pitch White

Brokenwood's Cricket Pitch white is always a joy to drink. A blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon from Cowra and the King Valley that's partially barrel fermented, it has citrus aromas, freshness and lively acid. An absolute ripper! $19.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wirra Wirra 2007 Scrubby Rise

Every home should have a few bottles of this appealing, versatile and affordable red on hand for the arrival of friends or the next barbecue. A blend of shiraz, cabernet and petit verdot, it is medium-bodied and hugely enjoyable. $16.50.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Story 2007 Grampians Shiraz

Former Shelmerdine marketing manager Rory Lane is making tiny quantities of high-quality wine from the Grampians. This is an elegant cool-climate red with real character and drinkability - and excellent value for money at $24.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Elderton 2006 Merlot

Family-owned Barossa winery Elderton has been on the mark with its 2006 estate-range wines; the shiraz and cabernet sauvignon are also outstanding. This is a stellar merlot with attractive brambly characters and plenty happening on the palate. $29.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Montana Brancott 'B' 2008 Sauvignon Blanc

In a world of shrill - often unpleasant - sauvignons blanc, this is a shining beacon of Marlborough quality. There are herbaceous/capsicum notes but also piercing minerality, juicy gooseberry fruityness and delightfully refreshing acid. $29.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pipers Brook Vineyard 2008 Riesling

It's always a good sign when guests clamour for a second glass; as happened with this beautifully aromatic Tasmanian offering. The palate is more tropical than citrus, but the wine finishes delightfully steely and dry with crisp, refreshing acid. $27.50.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Claymore 2008 Deja Vu Rosé

Made from grenache grapes at a small winery in the Clare Valley, this is a lovely summer drink. Off-dry with nice juicy fruit on the palate, but also some lovely savoury characters. Serve well chilled with Lebanese cuisine. $18.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jacob's Creek 2007 Chardonnay

Everyone wants a bargain and this blew several higher-priced chardys out of the water at a recent tasting. A terrific medium-bodied chardonnay with nice stone fruit characters and subtle oak. Great with fish or chicken and costs under $12.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Helm 2008 Classic Dry Riesling

Ken Helm, who makes wines at Murrumbateman, outside Canberra, is a maestro with riesling; producing three diverse styles. This is my favorite; a dry riesling, relatively low in alcohol, full of flavour and with lovely crisp acid. A stunner! $28.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mitolo 2006 G.A.M Shiraz

Rich, ripe fruit is the key here; this is a bold red with plenty of personality, but also with finesse and layers of flavours. Plum and dark berry characters to the fore with savoury hints and soft tannins. A serious wine that will cellar well. $55.