Tuesday, October 19, 2021

O'Leary Walker 2021 Polish Hill River Riesling

This is the perfect dry white wine for summer enjoyment; fresh, crisp and deliciously drinkable with or without food. Made from fruit grown in perhaps the best sub-region of the Clare Valley for quality riesling, this is priced at well below what other regional benchmarks cost. Winemaker David O'Leary says it is "lively, but elegant" so think floral aromas, classic citrus notes, brisk minerality and hints of lemon talc. Brilliant with pan-fried fish and can be found for under the RPP on special. $30. www.olearywalkerwines.com/


Friday, October 8, 2021

Dog Point 2019 Pinot Noir

 

Australians are spoilt for choice with cool-climate pinot noirs of the highest quality from Tasmania and Victoria, but New Zealand also has a lot to offer when it comes to pleasing pinotphiles. From Marlborough, rather than pinot central in Central Otago, this is crafted by a team who cut their teeth at Cloudy Bay but whose wines often eclipse those from that icon. This is bright and floral with crunchy red apple and red berry fruit flavours, herbal hints, subtle oak and impressive texture. Made from organically grown fruit, this finishes soft and smooth and is seriously delicious. Pair with Chinese roast duck for maximum pleasure. $49. https://dogpoint.co.nz/

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Tokar Estate 2021 Pet Nat

 

Tokar Estate in the Yarra Valley has just released its first Pét Nat, which is great news for all hipsters looking for a bright pink fizzy drink for summer enjoyment. Ideal for picnics or a day on St Kilda Beach, the new bubbly has a distinct taste of sour pear drops, and found favour with my natural wine-loving constituents. For non hipsters, Pét Nat is short for Pétillant Naturel, which is French for “naturally sparkling”. Wines made in this style use the natural gases produced during fermentation to create funky, lo-fi wines. Be careful opening this one as it cascades from the bottle, unleashing citrus, berry, pear drop and brioche notes. $25. tokarestate.com.au


Saturday, September 25, 2021

Dandelion Vineyards Wonderland of the Eden Valley 2021 Riesling

 

Other than the Clare Valley, the Eden Valley is Australia's most reliable source of high-quality dry riesling and Elena and Zar Brooks from Dandelion Vineyards have sourced some ripping fruit from octogenerian grape grower Colin Kroehn, whose vines were planted in 1912. Think citrus blossom notes, crisp acid, zesty, crunchy citrus fruit flavours and an alcohol level of just 10.9%. This is wonderfully pure and would pair brilliantly with grilled seafood. It also has cellaring potential, should you be the patient type. $60 - but worth it. https://dandelionvineyards.com.au/

Monday, September 20, 2021

Mount Horrocks 2021 Rosé

Spring has sprung and here is the perfect vinous accompaniment to warmer days and evenings. Made from 100% Clare Valley shiraz from a single vineyard, this is organic and biodynamic certified, refreshing and delicious - as you would expect from the consistently excellent Stephanie Toole. It is a vibrant pink in colour with crisp raspberry and strawberry fruit flavours and a definite savoury edge a la the great rosés of Provence. It finishes crunchy and dry and can be enjoyed now, or any time over the next 18 months. Pair with a Lebanese mezze plate for maximum bang for your buck. $30. www.mounthorrocks.com/

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Vasse Felix 2019 Shiraz

 

Vasse Felix is one of the founding wineries of Margaret River in Western Australia, a region much better known for cabernet sauvignon than shiraz, but this is a really nifty cool-climate style shiraz that offers pleasurable drinking at a sensible price. Winemaker Virginia Willcock and her team have put a lot of effort into the plantings of shiraz in the warmer south of the region, where the grape produces Rhone-like peppery cooler-climate characters. Red berries and spice notes are the essence of this lip-smacker with oak playing a minimal background role. This was wild fermented in small batches and delivers a whole lot of vinous pleasure for $37. https://www.vassefelix.com.au/

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Rieslingfreak 2021 No.2 Reverence of Riesling

 

John Hughes really is a riesling freak. His range comprises several styles of rieslings made using fruit from various cooler regions of South Australia. The No.2 sources fruit from classic riesling territory, the Polish Hill River of the Clare Valley - home to several of the finest and most expensive - takes on the varietal. This is very dry, very lean and absolutely stunning with green apple, lime, lemon and grapefruit flavours, tidy minerality and bright acidity on the finish. Thrilling!  Distributed by Red+White but made in tiny  quantities. $37. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Frankland Estate 2020 Chardonnay

 

Frankland Estate is one of the leading producers in the remote Great Southern region of Western Australia; with fruit grown with much attention to detail on a Frankland River sheep farming property. The brand is probably best known for its stellar dry rieslings, but this chardonnay is very much in the zone with grapefruit zest fruit notes and subtle oak in complete harmony. Still very youthful, this would pair brilliantly with an old-fashioned roast pork and crackling. Certified organic and vegan friendly. $30. www.franklandestate.com.au 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Tim Adams 2021 Clare Valley Riesling


Meet one of Australia's consistently great wine bargains; the new release of an aromatic and intense Clare Valley riesling that always delivers. The 2020 vintage of this wine sold out quick smart. That's no surprise when the RRP is $24 but the wine can often be found on discount, or online, for around $20. Think enticing delicate floral aromas that are followed by a palate that offers zesty grapefruit, lime and lemon flavours, some textural elements and a crisp, dry finish. Great with Asian dishes or pan-fried seafood or simply as a zingy after-work refresher. $24. www.timadamswines.com.au/

Sunday, August 15, 2021

John Duval Wnes 2019 Plexus Red

 

I was all set to write about another John Duval wine - the vibrant 2019 Concillio grenache ($30) - when I tasted this. Both are delicious but this just edged out its stablemate in a photo finish. It is a lip-smackingly good classic Barossa blend of old vine shiraz, grenache and mourvèdre and delivers serious drinking pleasure with a velvety smooth finish and hints of Asian spice. John Duval, for those who do not know, was for many years the winemaker behind Penfolds Grange. Nowadays, he works in his family business making wines in much smaller quantities, and at much more affordable prices. This one will certainly not disappoint. 95 points. $40. www.johnduvalwines.com


Saturday, August 7, 2021

Ashton Hills 2020 Estate Pinot Noir

 

From one of the standout producers in the Adelaide Hills comes a stellar new-release estate pinot that is drinking beautifully in its youth but will also cellar well over the next few years. Founding winemaker Stephen George has now handed over the reins to talented Liam van Pelt but keeps a beady eye on proceedings and the quality of the pinots remains stellar. This has undergone partial whole-bunch fermentation to add texture, and the newish French oak plays a key support role to some vibrant berry fruit and black cherry characters. You should pair this with roast Chinese duck for maximum enjoyment. "Yum" and "Perfect for summer" were the reactions of a couple of my tasters. $60. www.ashtonhills.com.au    

Friday, July 30, 2021

Carillion 2021 ‘Lovable Rogue’ Fiano

Looking for a perfect partner for some spicy Asian dishes? Look no further. Made from the Italian grape fiano and grown at the Tallavera Grove vineyard in the Hunter Valley, this has been crafted as a slightly ‘off-dry’ style, with five grams per litre residual sugar. That hint of sweetness would be a perfect foil for some chilli spice from Thailand or Malaysia. This is appealing and aromatic with thirst-quenching acidity on the finish. $30. www.carillionwines.com.au


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

NX Gen 2020 McLaren Vale Grenache

 

The new generation of juicy, drink-now grenaches are an ideal choice for winter quaffing with their lively bright fruit and soft, juicy palate. A floral nose leads on to a berry-fuelled palate that finishes with a smoothness that encourages a second glass. And a third. This is made by Shingleback Wines as an exclusive for Dan Murphy's stores. Enjoy while young and pair with a burger with the lot. $25.    

Sunday, July 11, 2021

L'Artisan 2019 Le Grenache Noir

 

There's a whole lot of juicy vinous pleasure to be found here for under $20. A new release from Languedoc value master Jean-Claude Mas, this has striking packaging to match what is in the bottle. This Pays d'Oc wine is made from quite young vines but speaks with a loud voice with plenty of youthful energy. It is all about the fruit with French and American oak very much in the background behind black fruit flavours and some dark pepper notes. Pair with a steak and kidney casserole or pie for maximum drinking gratification. You'll find it at Dan Murphy stores. $19.95.  

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Pewsey Vale 2021 Riesling


You simply cannot go past Pewsey Vale for high-quality Eden Valley riesling at a sensible price. The Pewsey Vale vineyard was planted high in the Eden Valley in South Australia in 1847 and is now owned by the Hill-Smith family of Yalumba renown. Winemaker Louisa Rose delivers a classic cool-climate riesling; dry with elegance, drive and finesse. Floral with citrus flavours to the fore, this is fresh, minerally and very drinkable. Pair with seafood dishes or Vietnamese cuisine. $26. www.pewseyvale.com/

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

La Prova 2020 Sangiovese

 

Take a vinous trip to Italy with Sam Scott's impressive  - and affordable - La Prova range from the Adelaide Hills. I also loved the new-release 2021 Pinot Grigio, but this shines as an all-purpose, food-friendly savoury red choice. Sangiovese is a hugely versatile grape and this is medium-bodied, vibrant, fresh and fragrant with some appealing savoury notes. Think dark cherry flavours and fully integrated older oak. Pair with pizza, pasta or a deli platter. Soft  and smooth, wild fermented, unfined and unfiltered. Vegan friendly.  $26. www.laprova.com.au/

Sunday, June 20, 2021

DCB Wine 2019 Worri Yallock Single Vineyard Chardonnay


Chris Bendle is a young winemaker to watch. He cut his teeth working for the d'Anna family at Hoddles Creek but also makes small-batch Yarra Valley wines under his own DCB Wine label. This is an outstanding cool-climate chardonnay - beautifully balanced, sourced from the Lone Star Creek vineyard at Worri Yallock. Think indigenous yeasts, judicious lees stirring and pure fruit flavours. This begs to be enjoyed with roast pork and crackling. $35. www.dcbwine.com.au/

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Peter Lehmann VSV 1885 2017 Shiraz

A classic Barossa old vines shiraz from one of the most reliable producers in the region - a change of ownership has not impacted on quality. This speaks softly but carries a big stick; it's not overly showy but it does offer a lot of favour and harmony. This comes from one of several special pockets of vines and has lashings of dark plummy fruit alongside peppery notes, well-balanced charry oak and soft tannins. The finish is plush and offers immediate drinking pleasure with a promise of a long cellaring life. You'd be very happy to pair this wine with a char-grilled steak or mushroom burger. $55. www.peterlehmannwines.com/

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Amigo de la Tierra 2018 Tempranillo Syrah

 

An extremely tasty slice of Spain for a bargain price. What's not to like? This is a certified organic blend of tempranillo and syrah (shiraz) that is also vegan friendly. It's a terrific midweek choice; savoury and bouncy with vibrant black fruit flavours very much to the fore. You could pair this with anything from a cheese platter to a gourmet burger. Imported by Single Vineyard Cellars, who have several impressive imports in their range. This one is under screwcap, too. $20. www.singlevineyards.com/  

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Wickhams Road 2020 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir


If there is a better-value pinot noir to be found anywhere in Australia I would be gobsmacked. Wickhams Road is the entry level label for the brilliant Hoddles Creek wines produced by the d'Anna family of Boccaccio Cellars fame. With mainly cool Upper Yarra fruit and 20% whole bunch adding complexity, this has oodles of pinot personality with fresh dark berry aromas and mixed red berries on the palate. It is vibrant, varietal and very food-friendly. $21. www.hoddlescreekestate.com.au/

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Domaine Felines Jourdan 2019 AOP Picpoul de Pinet

 

Picpoul (or Piquepoul) de Pinet is a star grape variety in the deep south of France, producing oyster-friendly white wines in the style of Muscadet. This is the upmarket version from Domaine Felines Jourdan, based in the village of Meze on the edge of the Thau Lagoon in the Languedoc. It is perfumed, fresh and vibrant and pairs well with just about any seafood dish. It is unoaked (lees stirring adds palate interest) with tangy lemon zest notes, the merest hint of sea spray and delightful crisp acid on the finish. Well worth sampling. Imported by Red & White, who distribute it nationally. $35 http://www.felines-jourdan.com/

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Taylors 2020 Estate Riesling

 

Wines don't get much more reliable than this one from family owned and operated Clare Valley producer Taylors. Year after year they come up with lively, fresh, vibrant and dry rieslings with lime. lemon and tropical fruit notes - and the estate version can sometimes be found for under $20, which is ridiculous value. This a crisp and refreshing, all-purpose white that finishes with lively balanced acidity. It would pair with anything from fish and chips to Asian dishes. Great work by winemaker Adam Eggins and his team. For those overseas, Taylors is known as Wakefield Estate to avoid confusion with the port producers. $22. 

www.taylorswines.com.au/

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Wolf Blass 2019 Grey Label Adelaide Hills Chardonnay

 

There are so many colours and labels in the Wolf Blass/Eaglehawk wine range that it is all too easy to become confused. Platinum, Black, Grey, Yellow, Red, Brown. You name it, there is a Wolf Blass range in tat colour. This, however, is where the value sweet spot lies. This Adelaide Hills chardonnay offers all all the pizzaz and excitement of a boutique label for around $30. The fruit for Grey Label Chardonnay is sourced from Piccadilly and Lenswood and this has a real buzz about it; cool-climate purity and lovely balance with French oak providing support without stealing the show. Lees stirring has added complexity to a really lovely drink. 93 points for this one. $32. www.wolfblass.com/

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Yangarra 2018 King's Wood Shiraz

 


Sorry Team Yangarra. I cheated a little with this one. I read couple of reviews saying it was a long-term prospect, so put it away for a few months. The wait was well worth it, however, with this organic and biodynamic shiraz from McLaren Vale drinking superbly right now. A portion of whole-bunch fruit adds texture, while aging in a big oak foudres has contributed style to savoury/spicy wine that would grace any dinner party. Plummy fruit is to the fore; there is plenty of length and it would be a brilliant match for a winter casserole. You might find some left in retail outlets. Happy to give 96/100. $55. www.yangarra.com

 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Pertaringa 2019 Undercover Shiraz


The Pertaringa range - now part of Bec Hardy Wines - has tended to fly a little under the radar but that won't be the case for much longer with wines of this value on offer from the McLaren Vale operation. As the temperatures start to drop, a few bottles of medium-bodied, soft dry red are essential in every cellar. This is a versatile drink; soft, smooth and pleasingly complex with plum and berry flavours to the fore, a hint of spice and a dash of sass. French and American oak adds to a very pleasing overall package for $25. https://bechardy.com.au/our-wines/pertaringa/undercover-shiraz-2019/

Friday, March 26, 2021

Brave New Wine 2019 Pi-Oui Pinot Noir

 

This might already have sold out - but keep your eyes peeled just in case. Just three barrels of this intriguing pinot noir were made by Andries and and Yoko Lüscher-Mostert, rising stars in West Australia's Great Southern. This is made from Porongurup fruit that was whole-bunch picked, indigenously fermented, unfined, unfiltered and is full of sass and attitude. If this was a band it would be early The Clash. I had a glass at Havilah wine bar in Launceston and quickly snaffled the remainder of the bottle.Greedy me! $38. 

www.bravenewwine.com.au/

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Glen Garvald 2019 PB White Blend No.1

 

Glen Garvald is a new label from Yarra Valley standout Levantine Hill, with winemaker Paul Bridgeman given the opportunity to explore the boundaries of lesser-known grape varieties. This is a striking blend of six varieties that deliver an impressive ensemble performance. The make-up comprises muscadelle, roussanne and viognier paired with smaller amounts of sauvignon blanc, semillon and chardonnay to deliver a textural blend that soars when paired with a dish like roast chicken. Asian aromas and spice notes add to the end result. A lovely wine this. $50. www.levantinehill.com.au/

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Mitchell 2020 Watervale Riesling

 

Clare Valley producers Mitchell are are one of my RV favourites. R for reliability and V for value. Year in, year out, this is one of the best dry rieslings in Australia, as well as offering formidable value. This is, as always, all about bright, crunchy citrus flavours and tangy acid minerality on the finish. Pair with oysters naturale, or pan-fried King George Whiting. Lovely. An affordable classic. $24. www.mitchellwines.com 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Taylors 2019 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

 

How do they do it? A wine of balance and style for around $20. This is a widely available blend of fruit from the Clare Valley, where the Taylor family planted their first vineyard, and the Limestone Coast region. Classic Australian red flavours of berry, plum and dark currant with a hint of chocolate. This has plenty of presence and personality and is a terrific every drinking red. Versatile, too, with red or white meat dishes. $22. www.taylorswines.com.au.  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Robert Stein 2020 Riesling

 

The Stein family is fast approaching its half century of making outstanding wines across a range of styles at Mudgee in the Central West of New South Wales. Third-generation winemaker Jacob Stein is now at the helm and quality continues to soar. The 2020 vintage was hugely difficult given the dreadful drought and bush fires of 2019 and the Covid-19 pandemic. This was handpicked from a vineyard unaffected by smoke taint and the end result is a fresh and lively young wine with a lovely balance. $35. www.robertstein.com.au/

 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Dog Point 2020 Sauvignon Blanc

 

It is not that long ago that Marlborough sauvignon blanc was all the rage. But wine fashion can be fickle and other grape varieties are enjoying their day in the sun. What that means, however, is the best Marlborough savvys offer excellent value for money - and this organically farmed wine always among the very best of the region, vintage after vintage. The recent-release 2020 has power and intensity with classic varietal tropical fruit characters, refreshing acidity and a long finish. Absolutely lovely and a perfect excuse to buck the trend. $30. www.dogpoint.co.nz


Saturday, February 6, 2021

Heirloom Vineyards 2018 McLaren Vale Shiraz

 

From the formidable team of wife and husband Elena and Zar Brooks, the Heirloom Vineyards range features grapes from five different regions of South Australia, all sourced from quality sites and clones. This is a bold, expressive McLaren Vale red, slightly less muscular than its Barossa counterpart but equally delicious. Think dark berries, white pepper, chocolate hints and plenty of length and depth of flavour. Unfined and unfiltered; and just a little raffish. $40https://heirloomvineyards.com.au/

Friday, January 29, 2021

Marcus Hill 2019 Pinot Gris


I knew so little about Marcus Hill that I wasn't sure if he was a person or a place. Now, having worked my way through a pinot noir, a pinot meunier and a riesling I can recommend the Marcus Hill Vineyard on the cool Bellarine Peninsula as a label to watch out for. The vineyard is a short drive from Geelong towards the coastal townships of Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale and was planted in 1999. Richard and Margot Harrison handcraft wines with minimal intervention - and all that I have tried so far have impressed. This is barrel fermented, dry with sweet pear and Fuji apple flavours, hints of caramel and a long, impressively dry finish. Very drinkable. Pair with salt and pepper calamari. $25. www.marcushillvineyard.com.au/

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Vasse Felix 2018 Filius Cabernet Sauvignon


A powerful, structured cabernet from one of the best producers in Margaret River for under $30? It sounds too good to be true but Filius "son of" delivers in a big way with  intensity allied to a supple, easy-drinking framework. This is a classic Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, malbec, petit verdot and merlot, matured in mainly older French oak barriques. Deliciously drinkable with blackcurrant, delicatessen and spicy oak notes. The vinous equivalent of a Phil Spector hit. $29. www.vasssefelix.com.au.


Friday, January 15, 2021

Hay Shed Hill 2019 Margaret River Chardonnay

 

Hay Shed Hill wines are a byword for value for those in the know but can tend to fly a little under the radar in the eastern states. When it comes to price-quality ratio, this chardonnay is outstanding; modern and restrained but with plenty of palate interest. The RRP for this is probably a tenner below what the wine is really worth. Think citrus and white pear notes to the fore, relatively low alcohol at 12.5%, and a fresh, clean palate where French oak merely adds interest but does not intrude on the star attraction, the delicious fruit. Very dry, very bright, very drinkable. $28. https://hayshedhill.com.au/   

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Kilikanoon 2020 Killerman's Run Riesling

 

This is one of the most impressive Clare Valley rieslings I have seen from 2020 - and it comes at a bargain price, too.  Cool-fermented juice was given a dose of natural grape sugar to provide additional flavour and complexity. A floral nose leads on to traditional lime, lemon and grapefruit flavours here, along with some very refreshing crisp acidity and some archetypal Clare slatey minerality. Enjoy a glass or two on the back veranda or pair with some whiting fillets. $22. https://kilikanoon.com.au