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A new small-batch release from Ben Glaetzer and his talented Heartland team who hope that long-time underachiever malbec is about to strike a chord with Australian drinkers. Wines from Cahors and Argentina have enjoyed some success here, but very few home-grown malbecs have enjoyed sales success. This is 100% malbec from Langhorne Creek, made in a style midway between Cahors and Mendoza, using only new oak. It is inky and black (think vibrant fresh blackberries plucked from a hedgerow), but softer than a baby's bottom on the palate. It is on the bigger side of the spectrum at 14.5% alcohol and would be seen to best advantage paired with roasted red meats; a hearty steak or some lamb chops, perhaps.
One of Australia's wine icons and the new-release 2015 is strikingly consistent in terms of both style and quality. There is a purity here that is characteristic of Kevin John releases and despite the use of 73% new oak, Vanya Cullen has conjured up a chardonnay of elegance and refinement. Certified biodynamic and carbon neutral, this estate wine was harvested on fruit and flower days from 39-year-old vines - some of the oldest in Margaret River. Grapes were whole-bunch pressed and fermented with wild yeast in barriques prior to five months of oak maturation that have added intensity and complexity. Think grapefruit and ripe pear characters, nutty oak nuances and delightful balance. This is composed and contemplative; a wine that's happy in its skin and merits 96 points. You'd have to buy at least two bottles of this. One for now and one for enjoyment in 10 years time. $110. www.cullenwines.com.au.
There are a couple of things that I love about the Hither & Yon range. There's the cleverly colour-coded labels, which are fun and informative; and the sheer reliability of quality produced by the Leask family from McLaren Vale. I've recently sampled shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and this wine from the same stable, and all offered excellent value and lovely balance. Nero d'Avola is a Sicilian grape that has migrated happily to warmer parts of Australia and, in this incarnation, it is fruit driven, flavoursome and extremely pretty. An engaging all-purpose red with some herbal notes that would pair well with pizza, pasta or a good book. $30. www.hitherandyon.com.au.
There is something pretty special about this wine, which shines vintage after vintage. It is made very much in the style of Chablis; fruit forward, lean and chalky. This is a blend of chardonnay from Kooyong's Tuerong and Balnarring vineyards. Only 10% new oak is used but after fermentation the wine is aged on lees for 10 months, adding concentration. There is no fining and minimal filtration, letting the quality fruit speak for itself. Crisp and clean, this has citrus aromas, grapefruit and lemon zest on the palate with a mineral tang. A wine of quality, charm and balance. I'll give this 93/100. $32. www.kooyongwines.com.au.