Friday, December 30, 2011

Hahndorf Hill 2011 GRU Gruner Veltliner

I'm a little late out of the blocks reviewing what is arguably Australia's finest example of the Austrian grape variety gruner veltliner, known as Gru Vee to aficionados. This Adelaide Hills offering is a wonderfully aromatic wine with fresh greengage, nectarine and nashi pear notes notes and a silky texture on the palate which finishes with Granny Smith crispness and oyster shell minerality. It's a hugely food-friendly wine and would pair spectacularly well with spicy Asian cuisine. I understand it quickly sold out at cellar door, but you might find a bottle or two in up-market wine stores. $28.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hungerford Hill 2009 Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon

The high-altitude Hilltops region, in regional New South Wales near the town of Young, is rapidly building a reputation for quality cool-climate fruit and Hungerford Hill winemaker Michael Hatcher has certainly created a very classy wine here; inky in colour with tremendous depth of dark berry/blackcurrant fruit flavours and a hint of chocolate, this is also a wine of considerable elegance and finesse, weighing in at just 13% alcohol. A beautifully textured red, it has plenty of length and is silky, suave and beguiling; a vinous James Bond. $35.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Capital Wines 2011 The Whip Riesling

A stunning little wine from a fast-rising producer well worth keeping an eye out for. Mark and Jennie Mooney (well known for being perhaps the most prolific Tweeter in the wine industry) grow the grapes in the Canberra region and Andrew McEwin is the the winemaker. They are a proving quite a team and this is a downright delicious and zesty riesling; cooler than a mountain stream and just as refreshing. This is floral, minerally, citrusy and has great acid - and excellent length. While Jennie Mooney says this a great wine for cellaring, I say phooey. Its zesty lime sherbert characters make it just too drinkable right now to even consider putting any away. $19.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hurley Vineyard 2009 Hommage Pinot Noir

Kevin Bell and Tricia Byrnes make only pinot noir from their boutique vineyards (there are three distinct sites on their property; all producing individual vineyard wines) at Balnarring on the Mornington Peninsula. The wines are made in tiny quantities; there are only 150 cases of this wine, 150 of the equally impressive Garamond ($70) and just 50 of the Lodestone ($60). All three wines are individually impressive but this was my favourite - just. It is a bright colour, with juicy dark plum fruit. It's supple but muscular, like a teenage gymnast, with notes of redcurrants and Asian spices and some earthy, mushroomy hints. A beautifully balanced wine with great length and structure on the palate, silkiness and bright acidity. Really lovely. $60.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chrismont 2011 La Zona Arneis

Arnie Pizzini and his team at Christmont in Victoria's King Valley turn out an excellent range of wines, all at emininently reasonable prices, but this one leapt out at me. It's a delightfully different style, made from the northern Italian grape arneis, that is beautfully fresh in its youth with crisp green apple and pear notes, the merest hint of honey and some some attractive crispness and minerality on the finish. A lovely understated wine for enjoying chilled, it's one for sipping and savouring. From a winery that has a reputation for "alternative" varieties, this is one of the most impressive Australian versions of arneis I have seen; from a grape that can sometimes be a little nondescript it is nice to see a wine offering such interest. $22.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Kooyong 2009 Faultline Chardonnay

There are dozens of great chardonnays out there from the Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley right now, but this one stands out from the crowd with its sheer purity of fruit and delicious minerality. If you are looking for a buttery blockbuster, then go elsewhere, but if you enjoy the Chablis style of chardonnay then I reckon this will ring your bell. An individual vineyard wine from chardonnay maestro Sandro Moselle, it is beautifully integrated with grapefruit and stone fruit flavours in perfect harmony with the restrained oak, which merely adds texture. An elegant wine with just 12.5% alcohol that has immense length and is an absolute pleasure to drink. $60.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kelvedon Estate 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

One of the stars of the recent White Wine Weekend in Hobart, this Tasmanian East Coast wine has to be regarded as one of Tasmania’s (and the mainland for that matter) best sauvignon blancs. Made in a thoroughly modern style, this is a vivacious young wine, clean and fresh with bright fruit flavours but also some intriguing complexity on the palate thanks to six weeks on lees. Soft and delicate with hints of restrained tropical fruit, it finishes with crisp, appealing acidity. $28.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Giant Steps 2010 Arthur's Creek Vineyard Chardonnay

I love the way Giant Steps releases a series of single vineyard chardonnays and pinots noir; demonstrating clearly the differences in terroir across the Yarra Valley. Winemaker Steve Flamsteed has done an excelllent job across the range but this was my favourite chardonnay, but only marginally ahead of Sexton and Tarraford vineyard releases. This is a delicate, modern chardonnay from a cool site planted in 1976. It's been through the gamut of modern winemaking techniques; whole bunch pressing, natural yeast, lees stirring, partial natural malo and 25% new oak. Despite, or perhaps because of, all that effort, the end result is a chalky, elegant wine with restrained stone fruit and delightful texture on the palate, finishing with vibrant acid. $45.

Grosset 2011 Polish Hill Riesling

Vintage after vintage Jeffrey Grosset produces a range of rieslings that are stunning in their purity and clarity – but this has to be one of his best ever; dry, tight and beautifully constructed, it has brilliant, pristine fruit characters with classic lime, lemon and grapefruit notes and some intense minerality. There's a lovely linear acid finish, concentration, persistence and a beguiling tang. I swear I had only had one glass, but my bottle was suddenly empty. Mysterious! A benchmark dy Clare Valley riesling. World class. $48.

Eden Road 2010 The Long Road Shiraz

Nick Spencer is making some very impressive wines at Eden Road and this shiraz underlines his talent. It's made from fruit grown at several vineyards down the road from Murrumbateman at Gundagai, which has soils that produce perfumed, gravelly and minerally wine styles. There's some lovely bright fruit here that has been matured in 3-4 year old French oak puncheons for 14 months prior. The oak is barely perceptible in the finished article, however, merely adding structure and interest to the palate. A delightful wine with delicate tannins and great value for the price. $22.

Dominique Portet 2011 Fontaine Rosé

Another impressively dry new-wave rosé from father and son team Dominique and Ben Portet in the Yarra Valley - the ninth and 10th generations of family winemakers. This is worthy wine for inclusion in the second Rosé Revolution, a blend of merlot, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon from the Yarra and Pyrenees. It's a disturbingly drinkable wine with intense red fruit aromas and flavours but with a dry and savoury finish. Chill this down, serve it with a picnic and watch it disappear at breakneck speed. $20.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lock & Key 2011 Hilltops Riesling

If you love classic dry riesling but are on a tight budget, this is a name well worth remembering. From the Moppity vineyard outside Young in New South Wales, it is an absolute bargain at a recommended retail price of around $16 - more so given it can sometimes be found discounted to considerably less. It has lemon zest fragrance, oodles of lime and grapefruit character on the quite austere palate and delightfully zingy racy acidity on the finish. A pristine and appealing partner for oysters, pan-fried seafood or Thai cuisine. $15.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

De Iuliis 2009 Steven Vineyard Shiraz

There is no doubt that Mike de Iuliis is among the brightest young winemaking talents in the Hunter Valley. His 2011 semillon was one of the standouts of a recent Twitter tasting and this is another excellent offering made from the Hunter's other key grape variety. Inky, with intense black pepper and wild berry aromas, it is full bodied on the palate with dark, rich fruit flavours, hints of earthiness and considerable poise and elegance (and only 13% alcohol). A singe-vineyard wine from one of the Hunter's best blocks, this will almost certainly cellar well for a decade or more. $40.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

DiGiorgio Family 2008 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon

The DiGiorgio family are unsung heroes of the Limestone Coast wine region, producing nicely balanced wines at very fair prices. This is a classic - and affordable - Coonawarra cabernet with ripe, supple and sweet dark fruit characters matched by black olives notes, soft tannins and unobtrusive toasty French oak. Made by veteran Coonawarra winemaker Peter Douglas in the historic former Rouge Homme winery, this ticks all the regional boxes and will probably cellar well for a decade or more. But my bet is most of it will be drunk relatively young - it's a hard wine to resist. $26.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bests Great Western 2011 Riesling

What a stunning wine this is; a real crowd pleaser with fresh, vibrant citrus flavours leaping out of the glass at you. Riesling has been grown in the Great Western region of Victoria since the 1860s with the diurnal variations ideal for the variety. That said, few recent new releases have shone as brightly in their youth as this, which combines both power and finesse. It's the pure, crystaline fruit that shines with floral, zesty lemon and lime aromas and flavours, excellent minerality and delightfully zingy acidity, along with a couple of grams of residual sugar to add interest, and sensible alcohol levels at 11.5%. A brilliant buy for the price. $24.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Glaymond 2009 ASIF Cabernet Sauvignon

Glaymond is a second label for Barossa Valley "alternative" varieties specialist Damien Tscharke. While shiraz is king in the Barossa, this rather bolshy cabernet impressed me as the best of the new Glaymond releases. It's extremely concentrated with a range of dark berry and currant flavours on the palate, violets, hints of mint, soft, almost plush, tannins and an extremely long, mouthfilling finish. Big, but very stylish and not to be trifled with, if this wine were an actress it would be Christina Hendricks from Mad Men. $32.

Ocean Eight 2010 Pinot Gris

There is a wide variation in both style and quality among Australian pinot gris/grigio. This Mornington Peninsula wine is undoubtedly one of the best with plenty of stone-fruit flavours to the fore, pears and white peaches, but also impressive textural complexity as a result of barrel fermentation. There’s a good balance between savoury notes and fresh fruit, and a refreshing acid finish. Winemaker Mike Aylward recently won the 2011 Young Guns of Wine award. $38.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Margan Limited Release 2009 White Label Barbera

Hunter vigneron Andrew Margan has an afinity with the Italian grape variety barbera, even though it comprises only a tiny proportion of his total output. This was made from the first barbera vines planted in the region; from Italian root stock. It's a very aromatic and savoury red, medium-bodied with fine tannins and lots of acid. Very food friendly, I'd pair it with a rich rabbit casserole. $30.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Skimstone 2011 Sangiovese Rosé

Josh Clementsen handcrafts some very good estate-grown wines in tiny quantities using fruit from the Skimstone vineyard at Apple Tree Flat, just outside Mudgee. He has a definite bias towards Italian varieties and this sangiovese rosé is outstanding. Very much made in the new-wave style, it is bright pink and bone dry with with impressive savoury notes along with some assertive cranberry, strawberry and red cherry characters and impressive linear acidity. This outshone several bigger name rosés in a reecent tasting. A terrific food wine and great value for $22.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mount Langi Ghiran 2008 Billi Billi Shiraz

This is the budget shiraz from renowned Grampians winery Mount Langi Ghiran and it gets a capital V for value from me even if the fruit is drawn from three different regions; home soil, Bendigo and Swan Hill. The whole cool-climate shiraz thing is going on here with plenty of pepper and spice on the medium-weight palate with some fine tannin action, but there's also plenty of sweet dark fruit flavours (and 14.5% alcohol). A terrific wine for affordable everyday drinking pleasure.$18.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dopff au Moulin 2008 Riesling Grand Cru Schoenenbourg

The aromatic white wines of Alsace are often sadly overlooked but when they shine, like one, they are absolutely outstanding. Mind you, Dopff au Moulin has been making wines in the fairytale village of Riquewihr since 1574 and is still a family business, so they've had a fair bit of practice. Made from fruit grown on a grand cru hillside site, this is a pleasant enough wine on its own, but it blossoms with food (in our case a Thai green chicken curry). It has a lovely floral bouquet and the palate is dry, flinty and minerally with beautiful balance and structure. And the good news is it is bottled under screw cap for the Australian market. Available at Dan Murphy's stores. $30.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tyrrell's 2011 Fordwich Verdelho

The Portuguese grape verdelho has found a home away from home in the warmth of the Hunter Valley, where it produces wines that are undoubted crowd-pleasers if not much loved by aficionados. Made from fruit grown in the Broke-Fordwich sub-region, this is an early-release, early-drinking style of wine that is unashamedly fruit driven with hints of pineapple, guava and tropical lime on the palate. It's a lifted, uncomplicated quaffer with lashings of sweet fruit but it finishes quite dry with some nice zingy acid. Unoaked, it is a crisp, clean wine designed for serving well chilled. Pair it with Thai stir-fries, or perhaps crab with avocado. $17.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Majella 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

There are certain small producers whose wines have the X-Factor that makes them stand out from the crowd. Cullen, Clonakilla and Grosset are among those that come to mind and to that list I am tempted to add Majella, whose Coonawarra range, right from its budget The Musician release to the high-end Malleea blend, are beautifully constructed wines, always a pleasure to drink. This has plenty of ripe, juicy berry fruit characters but it is also beautifully knitted together with complexity and elegance. Despite being a young wine it has some very attractive softness on the long. lingering palate with French oak very much in the background. It's a bargain for the price and I'd be ashamed to admit just how quickly this bottle was emptied. $36.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Curly Flat 2008 Pinot Noir

Curly Flat winemaker Philip Moraghan is an avid pinotphile - a student of the grape variety in all its many guises and styles. So when he says he considers this to be the best pinot noir he has produced that's a pretty bold statement. This is certainly a wonderful wine; indisputably varietal, with impressive length and textural elements on the palate. It's surprisingly complex, too, for a wine made from fruit grown on vines in the Macedon Ranges that only have an average age of 12 years. The vineyard is treated biodynamically, which might explain the quality. You'll find cherry/plum characters on the nose and palate, spice, forest floor earthiness, hints of stalks but most of all terrific balance given the low alcohol levels (12.6%). Delightful drinking. $54.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hewitson 2009 Old Garden Mourvedre

Dean Hewitson always makes wines that perk interest, whether they be fresh-as-a-daisy sauvignons blanc, or far more serious wines like this extraordinary mourvedre (or mataro) made from grapevines planted in 1853 - the oldest mourvedre vines in the world. Where you might expect some density and concentration, this is a medium-bodied wine, lithe and athletic. There are dark fruit notes, hints of chocolate and earthiness, more than a hint of assertive oak but the finish is silky and long with plenty of potential for ageing. An elegant, graceful wine, even in its youth; if this were an actress it would probably be a classic beauty like Catherine Deneuve. $120.

Domaine Bellegarde 2008 Cuvee Tradition Jurancon

If you love wines with that sweet/savoury combination that Jurancon does so well, you'll enjoy this classy little number that offers sensational value for money. The balance between sugar and acid is spot on here, so that while the initial impression is of ripe pineapple, the finish offers some surprising dryness, roundness and length. A blend of petit manseng and gros manseng, this would be superb paired with calves' liver, pates and terrines or blue cheeses, as an aperitif or as a dessert wine. Imported by $10.99 for 375mls.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dandelion Vineyards 2008 Lion's Tooth of McLaren Vale

Zar Brooks is one of the wine industry's leading marketers and his wife Elena is a talented winemaker. Their Dandelion Vineyards wines, produced in conjunction with several partners, tend to offer something a little out of the ordinary, as is the case with this unusual blend of shiraz and riesling. The good news is that it works, with the riesling lifting the shiraz fruit much as viognier does, without intruding as much as viognier can. Hand-plunging, basket pressing and maturation in older French barriques has resulted in a very stylish wine that even has some delicacy and elegance; a rare thing in McLaren Vale reds. Imagine a fruit salad of red berries, cherries and currants, spicy oak and a soft, supple finish and you'll have some idea of this wine's attributes.

Bonny Doon 2006 Le Cigare Volant

This is leading Californian winemaker and funster Randall Grahm's homage to the great red blends of the Southern Rhone - the name is a reference to the fact that a local ordinance bans UFOs from landing in Chateauneuf du Pape. It's a stunning wine, too, funky, earthy, complex, intriguing and a lttle bewildering in its many layers of flavours. It's gamey and little tannic - but I loved it. It's a blend of shiraz, grenache, cinsault, mourvedre and carignan and, unlike many Californian reds, it is bottled under a screwcap. Serve this one blind and you'll have a whole lot of fun as your guests try to guess what it is and where it came from. $79. Imported by Brad Wehr.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mount Riley 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

I was recently a guest of Mount Riley at a very special dinner where I was impresssed by the wines in their "reserve" tier Seventeen Valley range. But as good as these wines are, the major focus of the family-owned Marlborough winery is its standard sauvignon blanc - a very tempting wine for the price and very nicely put together with plenty of flavour but without some of the overtly herbaceous characters that can be offputting in Kiwi savvy blancs. There are some delightful citrus and passionfruit notes on the bouquet and a purity on the palate that sets it apart. Racy, zingy and very dry, this is a lovely drink. Good value, too. $16.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stonier 2009 Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay

There are certain labels that are reliably good vintage after vintage. If those labels also offer value for money, so much the better. The entry-level, fruit-driven Stonier chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula ticks both boxes. Often overshadowed by the Reserve and KBS Vineyard releases, this is a darn good drink for the price with impressive stone fruit and citrus flavours, toasty notes and a bright, clean acid finish. There's just enough complexity to make it interesting and there is no doubt it is beautifully balanced. Anyone looking for a good cool-climate chardy to take to a BYO or dinner party should mark this one in their notebook. $25.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hahndorf Hill 2010 Rosé

The team at Hahndorf Hill in the Adelaide Hills can be relied upon to be unconventional and intriguing; whether it be varietals made from blaufrankisch and gruner veltliner, or a cellar door where table wines are matched with chocolate. Their very impressive rosé is a blend of blaufrankisch and trollinger grapes; aromatic and dry with apple orchard and vibrant red berry notes. This would be great with sushi, sashimi, spicy Thai dishes or simply as an after-work pick-me-up. Lovely stuff! $22.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Water Wheel 2009 Shiraz

Shiraz does not have to be in-your-face; all macho and snarling. It can also be soft, silky and amenable, as is this case with this old favourite from Bendigo winery Water Wheel. Estate grown, this has a ripeness and softness to it that makes it irresistible; a veritable Lolita. There are also some savoury, earthy notes but it is the vibrant dark berry fruit that leads the way. A real bargain and a great choice for a weekend barbecue. $18.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hollick 2010 Savagnin

Savagnin is the grape variety that everyone who had planted it in Australia thought was albarino, a Spanish grape of considerable merit. Owing to an inexplicable mix-up it turned out that the vines had been planted were actually savagnin, a grape from the Jura region of France that has seldom risen to great heights. This, however, shows that savagnin can work well in Australia. Winemaker Matt Caldersmith has crafted an aromatic, crisp, clean and fresh white wine with zingy green apple and pear notes. A wine for enjoying in its youth, it has good acid and nice length and should be served well chilled. $21.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Zette 2005 Malbec

Zette is the second label of Domaine de Lagrézette, one of the leading producers in Cahors, south-west France, where malbec is king. This is an attractive and mature malbec and a considerable bargain. It's a plush, ripe red made in a New World style and fermented in stainless steel tanks. The forward dark fruit is matched by some supple tannins, hints of spice and softness on the palate. This medium-bodied wine is from a particularly good vintage and is drinking very well, particularly when paired with red meat dishes. Great buying at $14.99. Imported by who have an impressive range of regional French wines.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Brokenwood 2009 Hunter Valley Shiraz

Brokenwood may have extended their reach well beyond the Hunter Valley, sourcing fruit from Beechworth, Orange and McLaren Vale among other regions, but their strength still lies with the Hunter's core grapes; semillon and shiraz. After a couple of difficult vintages, 2009 provided some respite and produced this impressive sibling to the iconic Graveyard Shiraz. This is a typically savoury, earthy Hunter wine from a cooler year with attractive lifted fruit. It's medium-bodied with 13.5% alcohol and very drinkable even if the oak is just a little forward in its youth. I suspect this well-bred wine will cellar impressively but it is already a very attractive proposition. $40.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Under&Over 2010 Tumbarumba Chardonnay

This one screams out "bargain". For a start it is made from fruit grown in Tumbarumba, one of Australia's best cool-climate grape growing regions. Secondly, its made by the talented team of winemaker Corey Ryan and marketer Nicholas Crampton, who are producing some top-notch wines. And thirdly it is a very good wine that could quite easily retail for considerably more. It's quite lean and elegant, composed and crisp with grapefruit and pear characters to the fore, only lightly oaked with some nice mouthfeel, length and finishing acid. A wine for snapping up by the case and using as your house wine - your guests will be very surprised when you tell them the RRP is $13.99.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tapanappa 2010 Fleurieu Peninsula Pinot Noir

What a tempting wine this is. OK, it's very youthful - and comes from young vines, too - planted by veteran winemaker Brian Croser at Parawa; a cool, foggy site on the Fleurieu Peninsula, in 2006. The proof is in the pudding, however, and Croser has been proved correct in identifying this as a special site. It's probably a bigger wine than hoped for - the result of a warm vintage - with plenty of appealing sweet fruit, but there's also impressive tannin structure and some silky elegance on the palate to keep the bold fruit in check. Great news for consumers, too, is that the wine is under screwcap; as is the Tapanappa 2010 Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay. Only 500 cases were made, so it may pay to be quick off the mark. $39.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dog Point 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

Forget what your fashionable friends tell you. The best sauvignon blancs from Marlborough continue to offer delightful drinking - and this tangy little number is certainly in the upper echelons. The first sip confirmed its drinkability and we continued to enjoy it over three days until the bottle was incontrovertably empty. The bouquet is particularly vibrant with citrus and papaya notes while there is plenty of flavour on the palate with plenty of tropical fruit characters, less herbaceousness than you would expect, some complexity added by a portion of natural yeast ferment and refreshing finishing acidity. A very nice package and ideal for enjoying with shellfish. I'd drink it over the next 12 months. $26.

Capel Vale 2009 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon

Here's a delightful young cabernet sauvignon that offers value with a capital V. Quintessentially Margaret River in style, it is a vibrant young thing with hints of cedary oak and mulberries on the nose. It is well-balanced on the palate, where you'll find blackcurrant fruit flavours along with eucalypt, dark chocolate and mint notes and a tannin structure that suggests this will continue develop for at least five years. I found the wine a most agreeable companion to a selection of tapas but it has enough weight and power to accompany a hearty beef stew. A wine offering a commendable combination of power and elegance. $25.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Morrisons 2009 The Siege Shiraz Durif

Winemaking doesn't get any more boutique. Bob and Dianne Morrison handcraft tiny quantities of wine at their remote hilltop winery in the hills above Glenrowan, most of them rustic and intensely flavoured reds. This blend of 80% shiraz and 20% durif stood out from the pack for me with its appealing dark berry fruit flavours, hints of dark chocolate and serious tannin structure. This is a medium- to full-bodied red that will be an excllent winter warmer. Serve it with roasts, casseroles or hearty pasta dishes. I left the best news for last: it is ridiculaously good value at just $15.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Clairault 2009 Estate Chardonnay

There are some pretty exciting chardonnays out there at the moment, but this shines as one of the best of the new-style wines that are all about pure fruit flavours. savoury complexity and linearity. This is a million miles away from the blousy, oaky chardonnays of a few years ago. It's a wine with all the bells and whistles: 100% new French oak barriques, whole bunch pressing, lees stirring and partial malo mean it has plenty of mealy, nutty interest along with good acid structure but it is still the pristine Margaret River fruit, with nectarine and peaches and cream flavours, that is the star of the show. $39.

The Idiot 2009 Shiraz by Philip Shaw

Purity of fruit is the key to the success of this easy-drinking cool-climate shiraz from Philip Shaw's 20-year-old Koomooloo vineyard outside Orange in Central Western New South Wales. It's a wine designed for enjoying with food and friends, without too much thought, but it has already won three trophies at the Royal Sydney Wine Show - a tribute to Shaw's ability to craft wines that are crowd-pleasers. Ideal for pairing with lighter dishes, it is vibrantly fruity with lashings of peppery spice and a nice soft palate. The alcohol is pretty low, too, at 13.7%. A really lovely wine. $20.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Medhurst 2010 RedShed Pinot Noir

Former Domaine Chandon chief winemaker Matt Steel is producing some impressive wines under the Medhurst label - using quality fruit from the Yarra Valley vineyards owned by former Southcorp CEO Ross Wilson and his wife Robyn. There is nothing too serious about this bright, attractive, easy-drinking pinot, but it is a wonderful wine for drinking without thinking. Designed for enjoying in its youth, it has some vibrant fruit, nice texture and plenty of youthful exuberance. An ideal picnic wine. $19.50.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Simonnet-Febvre 2008 Petit Chablis

Wines like this are the essence of pure chardonnay, offering fresh, tangy fruit along with steely minerality. This is a beautiful wine for the price with classic oyster shell, floral and sea spray aromas. It's on the lighter side of the scale when it comes to weight but has plenty of length and zesty lemony intensity, along with oodles of acid on the finish. You'll find it at Dan Murphy stores. It's uncomplicated. lean like a whippet and tightly wound but offers fantastic drinking at the very moderate RRP of $18.95. Brilliant with seafood.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Capital Wines 2009 Kyeema Vineyard Reserve Merlot

This is a wine made in extremely limited quantities - my bottle was numbered 0097 - so you'll need to be quick if you want to snap up some of what is one of Australia's best merlots. This a long way removed from your standard monochromatic merlot with lashings of ripe berry/plummy fruit in harmony with some quality oak. Sure it is smooth and soft, as we expect our merlots to be, but it also has some impressive and sophisticated layers of flavour on the palate, integrated tannins and the potential to age for several years. The alcohol level is just 13.3% despite all those rich flavours - a credit to the team at Capital Wines, a small family company that's been making a pretty big splash recently. $46.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wickhams Road 2010 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

A decent quality pinot noir for around $15? "You've got to be dreaming," as Darryl Kerrigan once said in The Castle. Well here is a terrific little pinot, indisputably varietal and very drinkable, from the entry-level label of the Hoddles Creek winery which features no fewer than three regional Victorian pinots (Yarra, Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland). There's plenty of red berry/dark cherry characters, medium body and lots of length. You won't do better for the price. $15.99.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Yalumba Y Series 2010 Pinot Grigio

Wine snobs may scoff - but this is an absolutely fantastic drink for the price, as are many of the wines in the Yalumba Y Series range. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to an everyday drinking wine; it is fresh and vibrant, crisp and clean, determinedly varietal, has some compexity added from wild ferment and lees ageing and is dreadfully easy to drink. I believe lively, zingy grigio is more likely to find favour with mainstream drinkers than the more textural - and demanding gris - and it is wines like this, with 13% alcohol and tropical fruit and shortbread biscuit characters on the palate, that can lead the way. The good news is that you often find it for several dollars cheaper than the RRP - which makes it a ridiculous bargain. I'm recommending this to anyone who cares to listen. $13.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Holm Oak 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

The Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania would not normally be your first destination for a bottle of sauvignon blanc but the last two releases from Holm Oak have been perky little numbers that show the variety's potential in Tassie. No surprise there as winemaker Rebecca Duffy and viticulturist Tim Duffy rarely put a foot wrong. This time around 20% barrel fermentation has added complexity and interest and the wine nicely straddles the grassy/tropical fruit divide. This is delightfully aromatic and fresh, undeniably varietal, with some attractive crisp acid on the palate. $25.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Clonakilla 2009 Hilltops Shiraz

Clonakilla is a family winery, established in 1971 at Murrumbateman, outside Canberra. Winemaker Tim Kirk is the man who put shiraz viognier blends on the map in Australia and his success with that combination sometimes tends to overshadow the other wines in an impressive portfolio; like a terrific 2010 riesling and this comparative bargain basement red made from fruit grown in the Hilltops region outside Young, which is producing some stunning shiraz grapes. This is a generously proportioned wine with plenty of richness and flavour (dark plums, currants and spice) but also with nicely balanced cedary oak, some elegance and definite aging potential. $30.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ten Minutes by Tractor 2008 Wallis Vineyard Chardonnay

One of the very best chardonnays I’ve tasted over the past 12 months, this is a wonderful cool-climate wine from the Mornington Peninsula; lean and stylish, elegant like a catalogue model but with enough meat on its bones. The bouquet tells the story with grapefruit, minerality and a hint of funk. The palate is elegant and poised, with beautifully focussed citrus fruit flavours, crunchy acidity and impressively layered texture. Oak is a mere bit player. This is a wine for supping and savouring – and it is superb with roast pork dishes. $55.