Monday, May 16, 2022

Payne's Rise 2019 Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon


If you enjoy your cabernet on the leaner, cool-climate elegance side of the red wine spectrum then this nifty tribute to Bordeaux will be right up your alley. There is nothing wine reviewers like less than being nudged about why a wine has not been reviewed, but this little gem truly had slipped through the cracks. This was released to mark 20 years of Upper Yarra Valley winery Payne's Rise, and is notable for its style and structure, although ideally it should be cellared for a few more years. Think restrained dark berry, slight herbal and minty characters. A lovely drink now or later. $55.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Petaluma 2019 Yellow Label Coonawarra Merlot

Seriously good merlot is not always easy to find in Australia, but this one shines. Petaluma makes wines across the Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley and Coonawarra, and this underlines how impressively shiny merlot can be when handled well. The talented Teresa Heuzenroeder recently took over as winemaker, but this was crafted by Mike Mudge. This smooth operator can either be enjoyed in its youth, or cellared medium term. It is savoury with impressive structure from maturation in larger format French oak. but has delightful immediate approachability, Pair with a steak and kidney casserole. $68.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Thorne Clark Varietal Collection 2020 Grenache

The Varietal Collection is a new range of well-priced individual varietal wines from reliable Barossa producer Thorne Clarke, which boasts six generations of viticultural history. This is a lovely medium-bodied wine that proved a major hit with my tasting group and was an admirable foil for a cheese platter. There are juicy strawberry and red cherry fruit characters, along with earthy and savoury notes. Nicely balanced, even at 14.5% alcohol, this would pair with a wide range of red and white meat dishes. It is unfined, unfiltered and very Australian with its robust charm. $30. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Trentham Estate 2021 The Family Pinot Grigio

What a joy this wine is: and the price point certainly makes it one to look out for; you won't find much better value for everyday drinking pleasure. This is a dry, fruity white wine, very much in the lively grigio style, that offers citrus, green apple and nashi pear fruit notes, serious vibrancy and plenty of length on the palate. The Murphy family from Trentham Estate in the Murray-Darling say it is "an ideal wine to enjoy chilled on a hot day". You do need to give this a good chill and then pair it with anything from fish and chips or sushi to Portuguese roast chicken. A ripper for $15.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Majella 2020 The Musician

"When it comes to affordable reds for everyday drinking, it's hard to go past this delicious blend." Those are words I wrote almost a decade ago, but they remain equally accurate today. This Coonawarra blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz still retails for under $20 and remains a reliable "go to" for serious value. Dark fruit, minty hints and a smidgen of spice make this the perfect choice to accompany a midweek dinner or a weekend barbecue. Soft, supple, easy to drink. And the price appears to have remained static for a number of years. $19.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Ashton Hills 2021 Piccadilly Valley Pinot Noir


With a pedigree dating back over four decades, Ashton Hills has a well deserved reputation for its cool-climate Adelaide Hills pinots noir -and a change of regime has not diminished quality, The fruit for this appealing young wine was taken from six different blocks in the cool Piccadilly Valley and is just lovely. Think juicy, red-fruited goodness with some softness and style on the finish. I'd pair this with Chinese roast duck - a classic combo for excellent dining. $40. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Chapel Hill 2021 The Parson Shiraz


Everyone needs a few bottles of a cheeky young red like this in their wine cellar (or cupboard) for when friends pop by for a barbecue or a burger. Winemaking team Michael Fragos and Bryn Richards have a habit over over-delivering - particularly with the The Parson range; entry level wines with plenty of heart and soul. Think McLaren Vale mulberry/blueberry/plummy fruit flavours, hints of spice and good length. This is an impressive successor to the trophy-winning 2020 vintage. You'll sometimes find these wines for under the very reasonable recommended price of $18.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Stefano Lubiana 2020 Riesling


Rieslings from Tasmania are criminally under-rated, perhaps because many are a tad high in acidity when they are first released. This has been given time to settle and has lovely crispness and varietal flavours without the stinging acidity. It is a terrific bargain given it ticks so many hipster boxes being biodynamic, organic and vegan-friendly. Made from grapes grown overlooking the Derwent Valley north of Hobart, it is vibrantminerally, citrusy and very refreshing. My bottle simply evaporated. Pair with oysters, pan-fried flathead or even a Thai stir-fry. $33.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Taylors estate label 2021 Sauvignon Blanc


Sauvignon blanc is not as trendy as it once was, but it can still be a very refreshing drink when done well. Clare Valley-based Taylors, whose wines are reliably well made and well priced, have moved outside their home region and sourced fruit from the cooler Adelaide Hills for this very attractive wine, perhaps more classic dry white in style than traditional savvy, but a really nice light style that is fresh and lively with passionfruit and Granny Smith notes and some vibrant acid. For those who care about such things it is vegan friendly. Pair with a quiche and salad, fish and chips or some oysters. Very good lunchtime or afternoon drinking. $22.  

Monday, March 14, 2022

La Noblesse 2020 Cabernet Franc


Cabernet franc is one of the grape varieties that shines in the lovely Loire Valley in France - and this is impressively varietal and terrific value for money. Fresh and lively with six months in oak adding some palate structure, it is very smooth, light-to medium bodied and extremely food friendly. This has bright red berry flavours and refreshment value if given a 30-minute chill prior to serving. Imported Fourth Wave Wines. Try with chilli con carne. $23.   

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Pizzini 2021 Brachetto


The Pizzini family makes a whole lot more expensive wines than this in the King Valley of north-east Victoria, but I doubt there are many in the range that are more fun. Brachetto is a red Italian grape variety grown mainly in the Piedmont region, where it produces light-bodied wines with flavours of wild strawberries. This style is a close cousin of Moscato, frizzante, lively and quite sweet - but very refreshing. You could pair this with everything from scrambled eggs and bacon (it would be a lovely breakfast wine) to a cheese and charcuterie platter. Chill well. Drink young. $22.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Merité 2021 Merlot Rosé

My monthly tasting group are a fairly fussy bunch with strong opinions about what they do and do not like. This stood out from a group of grenache-based roses last month with a consensus about its freshness and vibrancy. There was also general satisfaction with the price. This is a lively, pale and lightly savoury rosé made from new clones of merlot grapes that are shining at Merité at Wrattonbully on the Limestone Coast of South Australia. Fun to drink and a lovely lunchtime wine. Serve this chilled with a Lebanese platter. $24.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Terre a Terre 2019 Les Crayeres Cabernet Franc Shiraz


Not only is this wine singing right now, it also offers quite formidably good value. An unusual blend of cabernet franc and shiraz (Bordeaux meets the Rhone) from the Limestone Coast in South Australia, the new vintage is a particularly strong one, according to Xavier Bizot and Lucy Croser. It is, as far as we know, the only such blend in Australia. As my Instagram followers know, I opened a bottle a few nights ago planning just a couple of sips but found myself with an empty bottle. I'm a little flabbergasted that a wine this good retails for just $32. I'd snap some up before it has sold out.


Friday, February 11, 2022

De Iuliis 2021 Pecorino


This is quite a discovery; a brilliantly flavoursome young white designed for enjoying in its youth. The pecorino grape, not to be confused with the Italian cheese of the same name, originates from the Marche and Abruzzo regions of Italy and the de Iuliis family were among the first to plant the grape in the Hunter Valley. The grapes allegedly got their name because the local sheep (pecora) were known to eat them from the vines. This is pale straw in colour, both fragrant and fruity, with plenty of length on the dry palate. Sensible alcohol levels at 12%, too. A seriously delicious wine for summer enjoyment with or without food. $25.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Elderton 2019 Barossa Shiraz


Here's an impressive Barossa shiraz that somehow manages to combine regional power with some elegance and style. There is no doubting the rich fruit on display from three estate vineyards with forest berries, dark chocolate and hints of spice all on offer. But there is also some restraint from minerally tannin structure and astutely judged vanillin oak. Very impressive; very stylish, very affordable. Pair with roast lamb en croute. $32.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Lloyd Brothers 2021 Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon blanc is no longer as on-trend as it once was, but that has two benefits for wine lovers. 1. It is easier to source good examples and 2. It tends to be very affordable. This is a lovely, lively cool-climate savvy from the Adelaide Hills that offers lip-smacking late summer drinking enjoyment with a real freshness and vibrancy. There is a fruit salad vibe here with aromas and flavours from grapefruit to passionfruit and a youthful zest that would make this a perfect partner for fresh oysters or old school fish and chips. Chill. Drink. Open another bottle. $25. 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Longview 2020 Macclesfield Syrah


Not all Australian shirazes are big, bold and in your face. This one from the Saturno family's Macclesfield vineyards in the Adelaide Hills is labelled as Syrah to indicate that it is a little more European in style; an Australian red with a Rhone accent. The cooler climate results in a subtle palette of blue and red berry flavours and hints of white pepper. It weighs in at a restrained 13.5% alcohol. Very stylish; very composed, very quaffable. $45.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Stoney Rise 2021 Gruner Veltliner


Joe Holyman is probably best known for his high-calibre Tamar Valley pinots noir and chardonnays, but he also makes a splash with less well-known varieties like trousseau and the Austrian white variety gruner veltliner - crafting the only example in Tasmania. The 2021 vintage has green apple and white pear flavours, hints of crushed almonds and a crisp, lively palate that makes it ideal for pairing with fresh local seafood. Textural, unfined, unfiltered and very appealing, Holyman says it is a perfect match for Patagonian toothfish. He loves a joke. Made in tiny quantities. $32.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Oakridge 2020 Over The Shouder Pinot Noir


There are very few "cheap" Australian pinot noirs that deliver. Some can be weak and insipid, others totally lacking in varietal character - soft dry reds with zero personality. Thanks heavens, then, for producers like Oakridge, De Bortoli and Hoddles Creek, who all deliver reliably good drink now pinots for under $25. This entry level Over The Shoulder wine is produced using fruit from several vineyards dotted across the Yarra and has charming intensity and purity. Given its raspberry and cranberry notes, this is particularly enjoyable paired with some Chinese roast duck. To be released any day now, so put yourself on the waiting list. $25.