Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hurley Vineyard 2008 Garamond Pinot Noir

Victorian Supreme Court judge Kevin Bell and has lawyer partner Tricia Byrnes only make three wines at their Balnarring winery on the Mornington Peninsula – all of them pinot noirs of outstanding quality and reflections of their terroir. This is simply stunning; dark and earthy, complex and plush. Almost Burgundian, it’s one of those wines that seems to evaporate in the glass. But you'd better be quick. Availability is as limited as the distribution. $60.

Madfish 2008 Gold Turtle Cabernet Sauvignon

Madfish may be the second label of Howard Park, but there is absolutely nothing second-rate about wines like this stonkingly good Margaret River cabernet. With blackcurrant, brambly berry and dried herb characters, and a good dash of Fench oak maturation, this come together beautifully. It is fleshy, supple and medium bodied and has that indefinable quality that means one glass is simply not enough. A really lovely wine for around $30.

Los Hermanos 2009 Homenaje a Cataluna

Rollo Crittenden of Crittenden Estate, named Young Gun winemaker for 2010, crafts a number of excellent wines in the Spanish style. This is a lovely blend of tempranillo, mataro and grenache that is bright and spicy with sweet, plush fruit on the palate and hints of earthiness. This has drinkability with a capital D, is versatile with food and great value for money. $30.

Clockwork 2009 Chardonnay

There are some hugely exciting chardonnays coming out of Margaret River right now. Recent releases from Cullen, Brookland Valley, Rosabrook and Bunkers are among those to impress but what this has on its side is the fact it's simply great value for money. Clockwork is a new venture for Yukich family, who also operate Oakover Wines in the Swan Valley. This is soft and delightfully easy to drink with melon, peach and citrus flavours, the merest hint of oak and nice refreshing acidity. It's low in alcohol at 12.5% and a darn good quaffer for $20.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Katnook Estate 2008 Merlot

I'm not a huge fan of Australian merlots generally (we got some dud clones early on) but I really enjoyed this one from winemaker Wayne Stehbens, who has the midas touch with this fickle grape. Unlike many of its siblings this has plenty of character with bold black and red berry flavours in the front row, balanced oak in the second row and soft tannin structure. I really enjoyed the different layers of flavour in the mouth and the assertiveness from a variety that's so often soft and wimpy. Top marks for food friendliness, too. $40.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Derwent Estate 2008 Chardonnay

The 2007 Derwent Estate Chardonnay was awarded the trophy for best Chardonnay at the 2010 Tasmanian Wine Show - but I'm convinced the 2008 is least as good. The grapes are of proven quality - in the past they've been used in Penfolds' flagship Yattarna. This is a searingly good wine which was brilliant with a spicy roast chicken dish. It has a beguiling combination of assertiveness and delicacy on the palate with citrus and pear notes, French oak used as a mere sideshow, just 13% alcohol, bright acid and real purity. Yet another stunning Tassie chardonnay. $33.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Jack Mattinson's 2009 Deluxe Red Blend

Campbell Mattinson is one of Australia's best young wine writers and I count him as a friend - but this early foray into wine production wouldn't get a mention from me if he hadn't produced a stellar drop. Made from fruit grown in the Hilltops region - an affordable source of top-notch red grapes - this is a shiraz cabernet blend with dark berry characters and hints of spice. It's medium-bodied, dreadfully easy to drink (what my wife calls a wine with an evaporation problem) and would partner brilliantly with rich winter stews. Take a look at one of the best back labels you'd hope to find and snap up a case. This is ludicrously good value for $15.