Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Amon-Ra by Ben Glazeter 2020 Shiraz

 

A seriously swashbuckling Barossa shiraz from Ben Glaetzer, a member of one of the Barossa's foremost winemaking families. It is a full-flavored red that pulls off the difficult trick of being both macho and sensitive, with an astutely judged balance of power and poise on the palate. Amon-Ra is considered to be the king of all Egyptian gods and is the Glaetzer flagship. The fruit is from 50-130-year-old vines in Ebenezer and this represents a high-quality vintage in which production was low. A serious wine with a cheeky wink, with plum and dark berry flavours to the fore, this deserves to be enjoyed at a dinner party, or with very close friends. Glaetzer says it will cellar for well over 20 years. For those on a tighter budget, little brother Bishop by Glaetzer offers distinguished drinking for a third of the price. $100. https://glaetzer.com/

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Tahbilk 2022 Pinot Gris



There are a lot of Australian wineries making "Alsace-style" pinot gris, but very few hit the target like this new release from Tahbilk in Victoria. This is floral and fruit-driven with spicy pear and musky notes to the fore, and is extremely food friendly, as well as offering terrific value. There is a bright, minerally acidity to the finish that means it will pair well with French to Vietnamese cuisine - and anything in between. The fruit was picked late for maximum flavour impact but still has some judicious restraint. Lovely stuff. Drink now. $20. https://tahbilk.com.au/ 















Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Chateau les Maurins 2020 Bordeaux

 

This is another bargain buy from Aldi supermarkets; a a very quaffable medium-bodied Bordeaux for under a tenner. This is a classic blend of 60% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon and 10% cabernet franc from the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation. There are some dark blackberry and blackcurrant fruit notes here but also some attractive savoury/leafy hints. The finish is soft and smooth and it paired brilliantly with a roast lamb en croute. Remarkable value. $9.99.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Clandestine Vineyards Break Free 2022 Bliss Bomb

 

Pét Nat is not usually my preferred style of wine, but this one - and its still sibling Petit Blancs - took my fancy, and also found favour with my tasting group. Break Free "natural" wines are the brainchild of Trudy Rowles Stacy, part of the Clandestine Vineyards team, and were born from a desire to showcase grapes vinified with zero intervention. This is produced using the méthode ancestral, meaning it was bottled prior to fully completing its first fermentation and is unfined and unfiltered. This nifty little cloudy number is made from 100% Swan Valley chenin blanc. It is a cheeky wine, with just 10.5% alcohol, plenty of zingy, fruity and spicy vibrancy, along with high refreshment value. Serve with a cheese platter. $32. https://clandestinevineyards.com.au/break-free-vin-nat/

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Oliver's Taranga 2022 Chica Mencia Rosé

 


It has only taken a handful of vintages for this to become one of Australia's most reliable high-quality dry rosé styles. Made from the Spanish grape mencia, grown in Galicia and sometimes known as jaen, this is a quintessential summer lunch wine that is full of youthful vibrancy and refreshment and would pair brilliantly with charcuterie and hard cheese. It is made by Corrina Wright, a sixth-generation member of the Oliver family in McLaren Vale, who also produce a dry red made from the same grape. $27. www.oliverstaranga.com

Monday, August 29, 2022

Peter Lehmann 2022 Portrait Sauvignon Blanc

 

With warmer days around the corner, just about every wine drinker needs a couple of bottles of a wine like this for when friends drop around, or for emergency thirsts. Peter Lehmann is long gone, his winery is in new hands and the fruit for this wine is not even sourced from Lehmann's beloved Barossa. But...this is made from cooler Adelaide Hills fruit and offers some excellent refreshment with its vibrant, tangy tropical fruit flavours and fresh acid. Perfect for enjoying well chilled on the deck after work, or with some takeaway fish and chips. No oak, no lees contact, just freshness pure fruit characters. There is also a pinot grigio in the range that is pretty decent. $20. www.peterlehmannwines.com/

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Grosset 2022 Polish Hill Riesling

This is consistently Australia's finest dry riesling; organic, biodynamic and made in a style that is constantly evolving. From a single vineyards site in the Clare Valley - Australia's riesling heartland - this is tremendously vibrant and spectacular drinking even in its infancy. It has an intensity on the nose that leads to a core of citrus, steeliness and enticing minerality. Powerful, yet beautifully balanced, this is a world-class wine from a maker who never sets on his laurels. Tight, taut and terrific like a vinous ballet dancer, it skips across the palate. Jeff Grosset says you can cellar it for 20 years of more - if you have the self control. It also vegan friendly. Released September 1. Be quick or miss out. $75. www.grosset.com.au/


Monday, August 15, 2022

Hay Shed Hill 2022 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

 

Summer in a glass from the team at Hay Shed Hill in Western Australia, whose wines offer reliably good value across the board. This is a classic Margaret River white blend of 58% sauvignon blanc and 42% semillon that offers freshness and vibrancy with floral aromas and brisk, crisp tropical fruit and citrus flavours and a bright acid finish. It would be delightful with fish dishes, spicy Asian plates or simply as an after-work pick me up. Serve well chilled, drink while young and lively - and maybe buy a dozen to see you through the warmer months. $22. https://hayshedhill.com.au/

Monday, August 8, 2022

El Valiente 2020 Organic Tempranillo

 

It is a mystery to me why Australians do not drink more wines from Spain and Portugal, given they offer terrific value and are very compatible with Australian cuisine. This organic tempranillo (the main grape in the red wines of Rioja) is part of the Elefante range imported by Fourth Wave Wines and has some medium-bodied fruit with a dry finish. It combines brightness and savoury notes. The bullfighting theme might not be to everyone's taste, but the $15 price tag is a definite winner and the wine can be found for even less on special. Pair with a chorizo dish for maximum pleasure.     

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Taylors 2021 Estate Chardonnay

 

Many wine lovers have a “midweek” favourite for which they pay around $20 a bottle – and then splurge out on the weekend. This is a perfect midweek drinking choice, an impressive chardonnay from the Taylor family in the Clare Valley, whose wines are something of a byword for value. Winemaker Adam Eggins has blended grapes from Padthaway with fruit from the Clare Valley to produce a very food-friendly, fruit-driven chardonnay with classic peach and citrus notes that would pair with anything from quiche to roast pork. $22. https://www.taylorswines.com.au/

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Bremerton Molly and Merle 2022 Verdelho

 

It is a bit of a mystery why the Portuguese grape variety verdelho is not more popular in Australia. It is a lively, fresh variety that can be enjoyed young and goes well with spicy Thai and Vietnamese dishes. This tastes like a liquid fruit salad with bright, natural fruit sweetness and vibrant acidity. Mollie and Merle are the grandmothers of Bremerton creators Rebecca and Lucy Willson and this Langhorne Creek offering is terrific value at $18. www.bremerton.com

Monday, July 18, 2022

Port Philip Estate 2021 Red Hill Pinot Noir

 

It does not pay to be colourist when it comes to pinot noir. This is a pale but flavoursome wine crafted from fruit grown on five estate blocks at Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula, the oldest of which were plated 35 years ago. The fruit was fermented in a combination of large-format wooden foudres and stainless-steel tanks and the end result weighs in at just 13% ABV. It is an aromatic and pretty wine with red fruits to the fore, but has plenty of depth and would pair brilliantly with roast duck and cherry sauce. A delightful young wine that will also cellar well. $40. www.portphillipestate.com.au/

Monday, July 11, 2022

Longview 2020 Vista Shiraz Barbera

 

Take Australia's most popular red wine grape and blend it with an Italian variety. The end result is a quite delightful midweek drink; a blend of Adelaide Hills shiraz and barbera that is thoroughly modern in its appeal - and terrific value, too. Think a spicy, savoury and crunchy vibrant young red wine that is ready for immediate enjoyment and ideal for quaffing with a barbecue or a burger. $23. www.longviewvineyard.com.au/

Monday, July 4, 2022

Tyrrell's 2021 HVD Chardonnay


I tasted this new release from venerable family-owned Hunter Valley wine producer Tyrrell's alongside several other Hunter chardonnays over lunch - and this blew them all the others out of the water. The Old Vines Chardonnay block on the HVD (Hunter Valley Distillery) vineyard was planted in 1908 and is among the oldest in the world. This possesses a real style and swagger, with purity and intensity alongside true varietal character. Tight, crunchy and pristine. A superb example of Australian chardonnay. $80. https://tyrrells.com.au/



The Old Vines Chardonnay block on HVD was planted in 1908 and is believed to be the oldest producing Chardonnay vineyard in the world. 

Monday, June 27, 2022

Margan 2019 Ceres Hill Barbera

Barbera is a red grape variety that originates from the north-west of Italy and the Margan family were ahead of curve when they were the first to plant Barbera in the Hunter Valley, almost a quarter of a century ago. The small vineyard is located behind the winery on volcanic clay. Andrew Margan says the 2019 vintage had perfect ripening conditions with dry, warm days resulting in beautifully ripe fruit. This is long, soft and slightly spicy; a really lovely wine that is varietally savoury and extremely food friendly. We paired it with calves liver and onions - a delicious combo. $40. www.margan.com.au.


Monday, June 20, 2022

Grosset 2020 Picadilly Chardonnay

 


Jeff Grosset is best known for his superb Clare Valley rieslings, widely recognised as being among the finest in Australia. But Grosset also turns his eye to the Piccadilly Valley in the cooler Adelaide Hills, where he produces this stunningly sensuous chardonnay. Only 6000 bottles of this zesty and vibrant wine were made with classic stone fruit characters allied to nutty nuances and a palate that is longer than an Aussie summer. There is a lot happening here; myriad flavours and textures coming together as one. Drink now, or cellar medium term. $72. https://www.grosset.com.au/

Monday, June 13, 2022

Tapanappa 2021 Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir

The Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia is not best known for pinot noir but this one from a specific site, notably cool and foggy at 350 metres, is a glorious exception. From veteran winemaker Brian Croser (ex Petaluma) and his team, this is a wine of distinction that pays tribute to its terroir. The wine is light purple in colour with restrained alcohol and red berry fruit characters to the fore. Very vibrant with impressive structure and some definite feminity allied to strength. A ballerina of a wine that can either be enjoyed right now with roast duck, or cellared medium term. Delightful. $55. https://tapanappa.com.au/     

Monday, June 6, 2022

Tahbilk 2021 Viognier

This has to be one of Australia's best wine bargains; a terrific fruit-driven viognier for under $20. Venerable Victorian producer Tahbilk is probably better known for its success with other white Rhone varietals marsanne and roussanne, but viognier shone in 2021, showing it can stand on its own merits rather being used for blending. This is both floral and spicy with ripe pear and peach notes on the palate, which has some very lively acidity. A wine for enjoying young and fresh, perhaps with a Mediterranean vegetable tart. $20. www.tahbilk.com.au/


Monday, May 30, 2022

Cullen 2019 Vanya Full Moon Cabernet Sauvignon

Here is something a bit special that you'll need to move swiftly to acquire, as only 768 bottles were made. Crafted from vines planted in 1971, this is winemaker Vanya Cullen's pride and joy: a cabernet of remarkable purity and energy that underlines the benefits of biodynamic and organic agriculture and minimal additions. Made from 100% cabernet sauvignon that was harvested "under the full Moon on a fruit day" that has wonderful balance and poise. Every sip offers a different nuance of flavours including chocolate and Asian spices. Minerally, with dark fruits, impeccable balance and a panoply of subtle flavour notes, it finishes plush and full. 96/100 from me. On tasting at the Cullen cellar door in Margaret River later this week. Priced for a special occasion. $650. https://www.cullenwines.com.au

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Xanadu 2020 Reserve Chardonnay

 

Margaret River's Xanadu winery is renowned for its consistent excellence and this new-release reserve chardonnay is right on target. This is 10th consecutive release of the reserve chardonnay with 100% of the fruit from the Lagan estate vineyard. Medium-bodied, textural, minerally and barrel fermented but with a definite feminine side, this has a classic amalgam of citrus and white stone fruit flavours, with restrained quality oak and some sea spray on the rocks character lurking in the background. Drink now, or cellar for a few years. Pair with maybe roast spatchcock or other poultry dishes. $110 but seriously delicious and 97/100 from me. https://xanaduwines.com/ 


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. www.paynesrise.com.au/

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. https://www.petaluma.com.au/

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. https://www.thornclarkewines.com.au/ 

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. https://trenthamestate.com.au/

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. www.majellawines.com.au/

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. www.ashtonhills.com.au/ 

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. www.chapelhillwine.com.au/  

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. www.slw.com.au

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. www.taylorswines.com.au/  

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. www.fourthwavewine.com.au/   

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. www.pizzini.com.au/

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. https://meritewines.com/


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. https://terreaterre.com.au/

    

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. www.dewine.com.au.

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. https://eldertonwines.com.au/

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. https://lloydbrothers.com.au/ 

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. www.longviewvineyard.com.au/

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. www.stoneyrise.com/

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. www.oakridgewines.com.au/