Friday, July 31, 2015

Billy Button 2014 "The Rustic" Sangiovese

Billy Button is the new label of former Seppelt and Feathertop winemaker Jo Marsh, who has an unusual problem for a young winemaker; many of her wines sell out within a few months. Marsh is based in the Alpine valleys of north-east Victoria, where she is coaxing maximum flavour out of sangiovese grown at Whorouly South and Myrtleford. This ticks all the sangiovese boxes and is juicy, savoury and spicy - simply a pleasure to drink. The name is spot on. The wine is rustic and unpretentious in a good way with dark cherry juice and lovely balance at just 13.5% alcohol. You could comfortably pair this with anything from classic Italian cuisine to a Friday night takeaway pizza. $30. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Smith & Hooper 2013 Reserve Merlot

Wrattonbully may not yet have the high profile of nearby Coonawarra, but it is producing some outstanding fruit for labels like Smith & Hooper, part of the Hill-Smith Family Vineyards/Yalumba empire. This has a lot more going on than many of its Australian merlot rivals, the terra rossa soil producing flavoursome and vibrant red wines. This is a hand-picked, single-vineyard wine full of the youthful vigour of a yearling colt. There is a freshness here with briary, bright berry and dark chocolate flavours to the fore with apparently minimal oak. It is such a pity that a wine that shines in its youth is bottled under notoriously fallible cork, although the sample bottle was fine. The RRP here is in the high twenties but I've seen this wine on special for a few dollars less. At that price you'd snap it up. $27.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

John Duval 2013 Entity Shiraz

A quietly impressive Barossa shiraz from former Penfolds chief winemaker John Duval, a fourth generation vigneron now making wines under his own label. Duval no longer has the promotional firepower he used to have in his three decades at Penfolds, but his wines are always stylish and good value. Made from old, low-yielding vines in Marananga, Eden Valley, Ebenezer and Krondorf, this stands out for its classic full-bodied depth of flavour and balance, with almost 18 months in French oak acting as counterpoint to the high-quality fruit and the Eden Valley component adding elegance. A wine that's drinking well now but has the poise and structure to cellar well for 15 years of more. $50.  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ocean Eight 2013 Verve Chardonnay

I'm hugely impressed by the estate-grown and -bottled Ocean Eight wines that Michael Aylward is producing on the Mornington Peninsula. The Aylward family has a track record, of course, having helped found regional benchmark Kooyong, but the Ocean Eight wines stand out for their purity and fruit intensity. This is very much in the mould of Chablis with lime and grapefuit zest flavours to the fore, slatey minerality and impressive acid backbone. It is drinking very well as a young wine, too, and would be a perfect partner for oysters or a char-grilled lobster. Excellent, but made in small quantities, so it is the quick and the wineless. $50.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Schwarz Wine Co. 2014 Meta Grenache

An impressive range of wines in outstanding colour-coded packaging. Jason Schwarz defines Meta as “an abstraction from a well-known concept” and this fruit-driven, assertive grenache is certainly made in a different style to many of its Barossa siblings. Made from 80-year-old vines, this is the punk, naughty boy version of grape variety that has been somewhat moribund. Hand-picked, 70% whole-bunch fermented, wild yeasts, unfiltered and unfined, this is a raw (Schwarz calls it crunchy), but very appealing, expression of an under-rated variety. Ripe, juicy, spicy and maybe just a little gangly in its youth, this is a barrel load of fun. $35.