Sunday, July 29, 2012

Balnaves 2010 The Blend

You get a whole lot of bang for your buck with this outstanding entry level wine from one of Coonawarra's best small wineries. There is no doubt 2010 was an outstanding year in the Limestone Coast; producing dark, supple wines with good structure and plenty of flavour. This is a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc is soft and well-rounded with plenty of delightful fleshy blackberry fruit character. Plump and appealing, this is terrific wine for everyday drinking. $19.    

Friday, July 20, 2012

Heemskerk 2011 Chardonnay

Just a glance at the posh packaging suggests that this is a serious wine of style and substance. Made by the talented Anna Pooley from fruit grown in the Coal River Valley in Tasmania, this is a wine destined to make appearances of upmarket restaurant wine lists and in fine wine stores. Matured on lees in old and new French puncheons and barriques, it is nonetheless a chardonnay where the quality fruit shines. There’s a hint of oak on the nose but the palate is pristine and intense with tremendous length and drive. A complex wine, full of interest, that demands to be served with food. Superb. $50.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tar and Roses 2011 Tempranillo

Veteran former Mitchelton winemaker Don Lewis and his partner in matters vinous, Narelle King, have spent several recent vintages working in Spain, honing their skills with varieties like tempranillo. This blend of fruit from Heathcote and the Apline Valleys certainly hits the bullseye. The fruit is the star here with fresh rich raspberry notes, hints of spice and licorice and just the barest input from vanilla oak characters. Bright and easy to drink, this is a terrific result from a difficult vintage. A good buy for $24.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Arrogant Frog 2011 Ribet White Sauvignon Blanc

It would be all to easy to dismiss the Arrogant Frog wines produced by Jean-Claude Mas in the Languedoc region of France as novelty wines barely worth a second glance. There are the jokey labels, unashamedly populist marketing and bargain basement prices, all of which add up to plenty of ammunition for the prosecution. The simply fact is, though, that Mas pays a lot of attention to his vineyards and makes wines that are terrific value for money and offer vibrant everyday drinkability. This is a fresh and lively style, a simple Vin de Pays d'Oc that is aromatic and herbal on the nose, with citrus and herbaceous notes and some refreshing acid. It would be terrific with grilled sardines, or with a late-night snack while watching the Tour de France. $11.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Freeman 2008 Rondinella Corvina Secco

Rondinella and corvina may be extremely rare grape varieties in Australia, but Dr Brian Freeman has been growing them for several years with great success in the Hilltops region of New South Wales. The classic Amarone varieties from the Veneto in northern Italy are used in the traditional way with a portion of the grapes dried (in a prune dehydrator) and then added to the fresh grapes during fermentation. The wines is matured in old oak barrels for at least two years, ensuring the savoury fruit characters are the star turn, and then given a further two years in bottle. This is arguably the best release yet; intriguingly intense with sweet dark cherry fruit notes, earthiness, a hint of horse saddle and sous bois characters. Length? There is plenty of that, too. And great tannin structure. Give this a few minutes to breathe, then pair it with a rabbit casserole. $30.