Thursday, December 28, 2023

Tin Shed 2021 Melting Pot Shiraz

You could pay twice much for Barossa shirazes that are not half as good as this little gem; a wine that is bursting with flavour but finishes with restraint. Tin Shed was founded by chef Peter Clarke in 1997 and is now owned by local couple Claire Doughty and Daniel Killey, although Clarke still lends a deft winemaking hand. From a single vineyard in Gomersal, this delivers generous, dark fruit flavours without being heavy on the palate. There are hints of Asian spices and dark pepper with oak in the background of a wine that is beautifully balanced despite its 15% alcohol. It went a treat with an old-fashioned steak and kidney pie. It's also promoted as Vegan friendly, should that be of concern. $32. 

Thursday, December 21, 2023

De Bortoli 2023 Chill No Chill

An unusual name and a rarely seen blend of grape varieties but De Bortoli Yarra Valley has come up with an excellent red wine for summer enjoyment. Chill No Chill is a blend of pinot noir and syrah (shiraz) made so that it can be enjoyed at traditional temperatures, or enjoyed chilled on a warm summer day. An each-way bet, if you like. Vegan friendly and made in a "hands off" style, I very much enjoyed the taut vibe of this wine. It is supple, perfumed, vital and very gluggable. A couple of glasses of this on the deck in the evening comes highly recommended, and it would be great with turkey leftovers, or a pizza. Fun, fun, fun. $25.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Collezione Oro 2022 Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut


It is that time of the year. It's Bellini time. It's Mimosa time. And it is party time, for which this Aldi seasonal special would be a very good fit, delivering some exceptional quality and value for money as part of a collection that will only be sold until the end of the month. This is pretty classy Prosecco, DOCG rather than entry level DOC, and bursting with fresh, lively white fruit on the palate, with plenty of length on the finish. This is from the under-rated Asolo sub-region of the Veneto, which is perhaps why it delivers so much for so little. $14.99.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Wickhams Road 2023 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

Another vintage; another superb value pinot noir from Franco d'Anna family at Hoddles Creek. This is the first Wickham's Road pinot to use mainly estate fruit after the d'Annas prepared for the pinot boom by planting another 30 acres of vines. This is, as it always is, one of the best wine bargains in the country, particularly if your tastes extend to paler pinots full of varietal character and charm. This is a lovely summer wine, one you could easily chill for a bit on a warm summer day. There is 20% whole bunches in the ferment to give spice and tannin structure and the blend spends about 20 days on skins. It is bottled without fining or filtration. Pair with picnics, salads, or just about anything summery. $20.    

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Feudo Arancio 2022 Inzolia

Inzolia is a white wine grape that originates from Sicily and is sometimes also known as ansonica in Tuscany. Feudo Arancio "Orange Farm" is a Sicilian label that is part of the Trentino-based Mezzacorona group that is known for offering excellent value. Night harvesting and cool fermentation play key roles in producing a white wine that is perfect for affordable summer enjoyment with lashings of fresh stone fruit flavours, minerality and dryness on the finish, along with just a hint of varietal nuttiness. Very fresh and full of palate drive, you could happily pair this with Christmas seafood dishes. Imported by Single Vineyard Sellers. $20. 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Turkey Flat 2023 Rosé

For as long as I can remember, this has been one of Australia's best-value rosé wines; a perennial favourite and a quintessential summer source of vinous refreshment. This is a Barossa grenache rosé, with a splash of mataro, and it is very light on its feet and a perfect picnic wine with fresh aromatics and lively fruit flavours. It is crisp and dry with lashings of berry notes, hints of spice and bright acid. Drink this one in its youth, and enjoy it well chilled. An ideal aperitif given its youthful verve and great with Lebanese food. Can often be found on special, too. $25.    

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Crittenden 2021 Kangerong Chardonnay


Rollo Crittenden is making some very fine wines on the Mornington Peninsula. I had decided to review his complex and intense 2021 The Zumma Chardonnay ($65) - a very impressive drop - but a few days later I tried the 2021 Kangerong Chardonnay and was even more impressed. First, let me warn you: this is a wine with a serious evaporation problem. I was certain I had only had a couple of sips, but the bottle was two-thirds empty. The fruit comes from the family farm and this is just a little bit more accessible than The Zumma - and a tad more affordable. There are citrus and white stone fruit characters on both the nose and palate with some appealing minerality and bright acid. Lovely stuff - and it would be great with a Christmas turkey. $55.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Elderton 2020 Command Single Vineyard Shiraz


There are times when you need a big, bold, serious Barossa shiraz. This is that beast; a signature Barossa wine that is all about intense concentration and depth of flavour. Old fashioned values, perhaps, but this wine is also nicely poised with all its elements in the right places. Quality fruit has been matured in new French and American oak, going through malo and cellar maturation prior to release. This has power, for sure, but also the structure to cellar for decades should that be your preference. Right now there are "look at me" plum and spicy notes, and it would pair with a steak and kidney casserole. An excellent gift from a reliably excellent producer for a lover of old school wines with a modern twist. $140.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

South Point Estate 2023 Sauvignon Blanc

Party season is right around the corner - and if you are looking for a decent drink at a ludicrously low price then this one is well worth checking out. Few wine styles say "summer fun" like a chilled  sauvignon blanc - and this one delivers fresh, lively varietal flavours (think tropical fruit salad and citrus) with zingy acidity. Be aware there is actually no place called South Point, and no South Point Estate vineyard - the fruit source is described as "South Eastern Australia - but this is a wine produced for the Aldi supermarket chain that is ideal for enjoying with everything from canapes to fish and chips. It is clean, crisp and fun - and absurdly priced at $4.99. How they do it for that price, I have no idea, but you should snap some up quickly.  

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Vasse Felix 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon

This is the milestone 50th vintage of a Margaret River classic. Made every year since 1972; it's a classy, complex and totally composed wine that that possesses all the hallmarks of| top-notch Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, although in this case there is 14% of sturdy malbec in the blend. While the premium Vasse Felix cabernets are designed for the long haul, this can be enjoyed on release, albeit with food to be enjoyed at its best. It underwent 100% whole wild ferment and spent 17 months in new and one-year-old French barriques. There is plenty happening on the palate but it finishes with some smooth and sassy style. This would be great lamb chops, or a Mediterranean vegetable tart.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Soumah 2023 Pinot Grigio


Summer is just around the corner and every white wine lover would welcome a few bottles of this calibre in the fridge. A single vineyard wine from one of the most under-rated wineries in the Yarra Valley, this is the perfect choice for pairing with summer dishes ranging from fish and chips to chicken salads. With a pinkish grey tinge, it has bright natural acidity, pear and tropical flavours and bright zestiness due to tank fermentation. Palate interest has been added by lees stirring, but this is made in the vibrant Italian style, designed for enjoying lightly chilled in its youth. Fresh, lively and affordable, too,. $28.  

Thursday, October 12, 2023

d'Arenberg 2021 The Footbolt Shiraz

At a time when many wine drinkers are watching their pennies, here is a classic bright and juicy McLaren Vale red that offers good drinking at a very fair price. If you are planning a barbecue, or having a few mates around, then this ripe and very slurpable red will certainly deliver. It is medium-bodied + with dark plummy and berry fruits, just a hint of spice and with restrained oak. It finishes soft and smooth and was a very complementary companion to a midweek steak and kidney pie. It would probably cellar well over the next decade but I'd be necking a bottle now, while it is still vibrantly fruity. Should you be wondering, Footbolt was a racehorse owned by Joseph Osborn over 100 years ago. He was sold so the family could purchase the d'Arenberg property, which they own to this day. $22.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Grosset 2023 Alea Off-Dry Riesling

Choices. Choices. It is accepted wisdom that the Grosset Polish Hill and Springvale rieslings are among Australia's finest. Benchmark wines - and the 2023 releases are once again exceptional. But the third riesling in the Grosset line-up, the off-dry Alea, trends to fly a little under the radar, often in the shadows of its acclaimed Clare Valley kin. This year, the Alea is particularly fine and elegant, unashamedly European accented and a perfect foil for lightly spiced dishes from Vietnam or Thailand. It is a single-site wine, organic and biodynamic with pronounced florals leading the way to a fresh pure palate with enough fruit sweetness to differentiate from its stablemates, while having the same citrus/Granny Smith and mineral appeal. Lovely stuff. $52.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

St Hallett 2019 Old Block Shiraz


St Hallett Old Block Shiraz has been an Australian classic for over four decades: a wine of power and poise; palate weight and precision. With fruit from some seriously old vines in play, this is an outstanding red from a contrary dry vintage that resulted in Barossa wines that are seriously rich and concentrated. This has a plenty of dark and spicy flavours but also finishes soft and smooth. It could be paired with rare roast beef and Yorkshire pudding right now, but will certainly cellar for a decade or two for those who prefer their reds more mature. $160.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

El Nino de Campillo 2021 Rioja

ALDI stores offer a good range of imported bargains, many only available for a short term, but  perfect for anyone who wants to push their wine boundaries a little without spending too much. This is one well worth keeping an eye out for next month; a deliciously fresh and lively Spanish red for summer enjoyment. Made from tempranillo grapes grown in the renowned Rioja region, it is light bright and fresh, with some delightfully rustic savoury notes. Perfect for pairing with a barbecue, or perhaps a salami pizza. It could easily be chilled a little and is charming, fun and juicy. Terrific value for $15.    

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Bremerton 2023 Molly and Merle Verdelho

The verdelho grape originally comes from the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean, where it is a key component of a fortified wine called Madeira. In Australia, particularly in the Hunter Valley, it is used to produce fresh, drink-young summer white wines. This excellent example comes from Langhorne Creek in South Australia and is named in honour of family grandmothers Mollie and Merle. Verdelho has apparently been grown in Langhorne Creek for over 150 years and produces vibrant whites with tropical fruit flavours that are perfect for immediate enjoyment, preferably well chilled. This finishes fresh, dry and crisp and is a perfect "midweek" wine at a very fair price. $19.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Woodstock 2023 Fiano

The southern Italian white grape variety fiano is proving very successfully in the warmer grape growing regions of Australia, producing white wines with fresh, natural acidity and plenty of flavour. The Collett family at Woodstock in McLaren Vale has just released its first wine made from the variety - and it is an immediate success. A great choice for pairing with seafood dishes over the spring and summer, the wine finishes crisp and clean with tropical fruit salad flavours to the fore, but also has some textural elements thanks to part of the fruit being fermented in oak hogsheads. Fresh, crisp and dry and ready to be enjoyed with dishes ranging from fresh oysters to fish fingers. Made in very small quantities so be quick. $28.      

 Australian family-owned McLaren Vale winery Woodstock are welcoming their first vintage of

Fiano to the portfolio in 2023, in a move inspired by our adapting climate and Australian

consumer tastes.

Driven by a strong belief in the potential of the ancient Italian white variety, the Collett

winemaking family have planted Fiano on their Estate straddling the Blewitt Springs

subregion of McLaren Vale.

“McLaren Vale has always been a champion of local food with wine, something Woodstock

embraced back in the 1980s when we opened the region’s first winery restaurant, the

Coterie,” explains third generation winemaker, Peter Collett.

“It feels fitting that a variety so suited to pairing with a huge range of foods thrives in our

corner of the region – Fiano is perfectly suited to our warm, Mediterranean conditions, deep

sandy soils and presents a lot of versatility when it comes to vinification.

“Fiano grapes manage to retain great natural acidity despite the fact that they are relatively

late-ripening – that is exciting from a winemaking perspective as it allows us to create a

modern, complex white wine well-suited to Australian lifestyles”, Peter adds.

For the inaugural 2023 vintage, Woodstock’s viticulture and winemaking team partnered with

renowned McLaren Vale grower, Vicky Vasarelli, with future vintages to be made with Estate-

grown Fiano planted in 2022.

Handpicked at optimal flavour ripeness, the Fiano was pressed into a combination of

stainless-steel and oak hogsheads for fermentation.

“While the tank component creates a clean, crisp and aromatic wine where the acid and

minerality shine, retaining the lees in the barrel fermented component for toasty characters

allows us to build textural complexity in the finished blend,” Peter says.

The resulting wine boasts tropical notes of pineapple and guava on the nose, with a lively

palate brimming with mouth-filling fruit characters and a subtle creamy texture. The wine

finishes dry and crisp, exhibiting hints of citrus and minerality.Tropical fruits of pineapple and guava on the nose with hints of passionfruit. The palate is full of life, brimming with mouth filling fruit sweetness and subtle creamy texture. The wine finishes dry and crisp exhibiting hints of citrus and minerality.


Thursday, August 31, 2023

Wickhams Road 2023 Yea Valley Riesling


This is just the second release of what is arguably the best sub-$20 dry riesling in Australia. The d'Anna family of Hoddles Creek fame in the Yarra Valley are sourcing fruit for some of their entry-level Wickhams Road wines from the unheralded Yea Valley, around 100km north of Melbourne. They've struck gold with this little parcel of deliciousness, and a similarly impressive cabernet franc. This is perfumed, bright and juicy with really zingy acid and lip-smacking citrus flavours to the fore. A portion has seen oak foudre treatment for added complexity but it is zippy, youthful appeal that is the selling point. $20.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Gundog Estate 2023 Wild Semillon


Youthful Hunter semillon can often be challenging when first released given its high acidity, which can dominate the palate. Matt Burton from Gundog Estate produces a range of semillons in various styles, and this one pushes the boundaries a little by fermenting a portion of the wine on skins (like a red wine) using indigenous yeasts. This results in a more complex and interesting style with just a hint of residual sugar (10gl). There are more fleshy stone fruit and herbal notes than in most Hunter semillons, and this would pair well with everything from Thai stir fries to our choice, which was a crumbed veal schnitzel. $35.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Clonakilla 2022 Shiraz Viognier


Red wine blended with some white? It sounded absurd when it was first mooted. But the folk in the Rhone Valley know a bit about wine - and the Kirk family were happy to follow in the footsteps of their experience when they launched what was to become an Australian wine benchmark back in 1992. Dr John Kirk planted a small amount of viognier at his Murrumbateman vineyard near Canberra in the mid 1980s and in 1992 his son, Tim, co-fermented a small batch of the viognier fruit with shiraz. An Australian benchmark wine was born. The new-release 2022 is one of the finest over the 30-year period. From a cool vintage in a cool region this is intense, spicy, beautifully balanced at just 13% alcohol. Complex, pretty and completely satisfying. Think a professional dancer: core strength but lightness of foot. $120 - and worth it. Perhaps a Father's Day gift. 97 points.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Terrre a Terre 2021 Crayeres Cabernet Franc

Cabernet franc is often used, usually in small amounts, as a blending component in Bordeaux-influenced red wines. Here it is the star of the show - a headliner well worth sampling. This is the seventh vintage of this wine, which comprises 91% cab franc and 9% shiraz in 2021 from the chalky/limestone Crayeres vineyard in Wrattonbully. Floral, soft and appealing, this is a welcome option to some of the bigger wines emanating from South Australia. It's just a little bit floral, a tad sassy, and a beguiling drink where less is much more. Drink now with a mushroom casserole, or pork and eggplant stir-fry, or cellar for up to decade. A lovely drink. $35.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Grosset 2021 Gaia

Jeffrey Grosset is best known for his stellar range of precise rieslings, made in a diverse range of styles. His Clare Valley rieslings are an Australian benchmark. What is less well known is that Grosset also makes a selection of other wines - all organic and biodynamic - that are equally excellent, but often produced in tiny quantities. This beguiling blend of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc is a case in point, with just 250 cases made. It is quite dark and inky with classic dark currant flavours to the fore but it also has a certain style to it - of particular note is the intense but silky palate. One you can drink now, or cellar with confidence. Indisputably delicious. $110.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Pewsey Vale 2023 Eden Valley Riesling

Meet one of Australia's riesling icons from an obsessively tended vineyard on the slopes of the cool Eden Valley. This is a long-time favourite that remains one of Australia's best white wine bargains. The new-release 2023 vintage wine lives up to the brand's stellar reputation and is joined by four siblings in an expanded range: The Contours Riesling 10-Year Museum Release; 1961 Block Riesling 2022; Prima Riesling 2022 and the Lighter Riesling 9%. All are very reasonably priced and offer a selection of age, sweetness and alcohol options - something for everyone. I'd enjoy this one well chilled, in its youth, perhaps with some whitebait, a prawn pizza, or a Thai stir-fry. There are floral notes, some green herb hints and lashings of zesty citrus flavours, and crisp, dry finish. Super delicious. $27.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Hay Shed Hill 2021 Cabernet Merlot

The new 2021 red releases from Hay Shed Hill offer such good value across the board that it was difficult to choose which one to highlight. I really enjoyed the savouriness of the shiraz tempranillo blend, and the straight cabernet sauvignon also shone at a slightly higher price point. This cabernet merlot - a blend of mainly estate fruit and some growers' grapes - offers a whole lot of Margaret River drinking pleasure for such a low price that it is hard to ignore. Everyone needs a few bottles of a wine like this at home for when friends drop around and you want to pair a red with a barbecue, pizza or pasta. It's rich and flavoursome but medium-bodied and possesses some elegance. How winemaker Michael Kerrigan does it for the price I have no idea, but we should all be very grateful. $20-22.  

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Burton McMahon 2022 George's Vineyard Chardonnay


Matt Burton from Gundog Estate and Dylan McMahon from Seville Estate are outstanding winemakers in their own right - but the two close friends also combine each year to produce an outstanding range of limited-release wines from the Yarra Valley. This is one of the standouts; a thoroughly modern chardonnay that ticks both key boxes with varietal flavours and impressive balance. George's Vineyard is the cool Upper Yarra and produces wines with purity and just a little cocky swagger. Think stone fruit flavours, mineral hints, and very bright acid. Pair this with a grilled pork chop for a perfect wine/food partnership. $50.  

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Taylors 2021 Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon


Single-vineyard wines may be all the range but there is still a place for multi-regional blends such as this one from reliably reliable Taylors. It is a blend of vigorous Clare Valley fruit and more structured Coonawarra grapes that delivers in spades for red wine lovers looking for flavour allied to balance. Think blackcurrant, powerful but well-judged oak adding a cigar box note, and elegant tannin structure. A good match for just about any red meat dish, particularly winter casseroles. We paired it with a classic English toad-in-the-hole. The RRP is $34 but this is a wine that can sometimes be found at a lower price point. Look out for specials or club deals.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Mercer 2023 Picpoul Blanc

You don't find a lot of picpoul in Australia. The white grape, sometimes called piquepoul blanc, or folle blanche, or gros plant, is one of the older varieties in the far south of the Languedoc, adjacent to the Mediterranean. This is very good take on the variety from Hunter Valley-based winemaker Aaron Mercer using fruit from the cooler Central Ranges of NSW. It is a vibrant wine that is alive with the joys of youth and would pair brilliantly - as does the French original - with freshly shucked oysters. This has some vibrant citrus notes, bright, crunchy structure, lively acid and immediate drinkability. Don't both waiting for this one - enjoy it as soon as possible, well chilled, either with shellfish or dishes with some spice. $30.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Yalumba 2019 The Signature

The Signature is one of Yalumba's benchmark wines, a classic South Australian blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz that since 1962 has borne the signature/s and story of individuals who have made a significant contribution to the culture and traditions of the family-owned winery. For 2019, veteran winemaker Kevin Glastonbury and viticulturist Robin Nettelbeck are honoured and they will be very proud of the wine. It is inky and precocious but finishes immensely soft and smooth on the palate. Dark berry flavours, fine tannin structure, hints of minerality, freshness and astutely judged oak combine to produce a wine with both immediate appeal and cellaring potential. This is both serious and stylish.  $65.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Snake + Herring 2022 Bizarre Love Triangle


You've got to love this one for its name alone. The Snake + Herring winery may be only just over a decade old, but the Margaret River-based producer has made a big impact for both quality and value, sourcing fruit from vineyards across Western Australia. This is a very tasty blend of pinot gris, gewurztraminer and riesling made using fruit from the Great Southern. It's a wine with a lively palate, mineral and spice hints, and plenty of palate interest while also delivering a lot of dry, fruity but textural refreshment. A perfect choice for daytime quaffing on the back deck, or pairing with spicy Asian flavours. But maybe not a BLT. $27.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Cullen 2022 Kevin John Chardonnay

 It is a strange anomaly that Australia's finest white wines are far more affordable than our top reds. This is one of our star chardonnays, named in honour of the Cullen family patriarch. Made from fruit farmed organically and biodynamically from the family's Wilyabrup estate in Margaret River, it is absolutely luminescent with intense fruit but impeccable balance. The juice spent six months in 50% new French oak puncheons and was bottled without fining or filtration, retaining as many vineyard elements as possible. Impressively varietal, but with a special something. If this was a song it would have been produced by Phil Spector - and was even better after having been opened for 24 hours. Length, concentration and drive. 97 points from me. $180.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Vintage Logbottom 2021 H Adelaide Hills Syrah


There are so many choices when you enter a bottle shop these days. It is often easier to opt for a familiar brand. But there are so many small, family-owned businesses who offer something a little bit different and deserve support. I've been tasting through some excellent recent releases from Adelaide Hills-based Vintage Longbottom in recent weeks and they are a case in point. A mother/daughter operation, Margo and Kim Longbottom are crafting delicious - and affordable - wines under their H label. This is a very savoury shiraz, released under the French name syrah, with elegant red fruit flavours, astutely judged older French oak and hints of cool-climate pepper. Impressively retrained, this is a versatile food wine, and it offers terrific drinking for around $30.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Parker Estate 2022 SBW King Kong Fumé Blanc


Looking for a lip-smackingly good white wine that doesn't break the bank? Coonawarra-based Parker Estate - best-known for its high-quality red wines - also has this small-batch oaked sauvignon blanc in its portfolio, and it's a ripper. Made from 100% sauvignon blanc from the volcanic soils of Kongorong, 26km south-west of Mt Gambier, it is reminiscent of the wines of Pouilly-Fumé in the Loire Valley. Open fermented, it was given oxidative treatment, underwent natural malolactic fermentation and was maturation in French oak for seven months on lees. Vibrant with intriguing palate complexity, it is well worth trying at $28. Pair with pan-fried fish, or even with fish fingers.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Leeuwin Estate 2019 Prelude Cabernet Sauvignon


This was the standout value red wine at a recent trade tasting - a high-calibre Margaret River cabernet sauvignon from one of the best producers in Australia. I understand the 2020 vintage has been released, but there is still some of this available in retail outlets and it is well worth looking out for. It is a very sophisticated wine for its price point, very varietal with oak in a support role to the cassis-led fruit flavours and Asian spice hits. There is an impressive tannin structure, too, with 2% of merlot in the blend. A very good choice for your next dinner party. $35. 

Saturday, May 13, 2023

O'Leary Walker 2022 Pinotage


You don't find many wines made from the pinotage grape in Australia. A cross of pinot noir and the French grape variety cinsaut, it is hugely popular in South Africa where it is a best seller for many well-known labels. It was created in the 1920s by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellensbosch Univerity, one of the world's great wine schools. Quite a few South African pinotages can be, how shall we say, rough around the edges, but this one - inspired by a visit to the Cape winelands - is a very smooth customer. Clare Valley vignerons O'Leary Walker are best known for their refined and superb value rieslings, and this is a new string to their bow, made from vines planted just six years ago. Think the soft, flesh approachability of gamay or pinot meunier, then throw is some savouriness and texture on the palate. Something different that is well worth exploring. It paired well with a classic meat pie. $30. 

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Crittenden 2022 Peninsula Chardonnay


This is a really lovely young cool-climate chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria that offers excellent value for money. It is blend of fruit from several vineyards in the Teurong and Main Ridge sub-regions. The hand-harvested fruit was whole bunch-pressed to a mixture of new, one and two year old French oak barriques. Wild fermented with 30% of the wine undergoing malolactic fermentation, it is a wine with poise and precision with youthful white stone fruit and citrus flavours leading the way - and it has a very crisp, clean finish. Pair with roast pork and crackling for maximum pleasure. $37.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Bishop by Ben Glaetzer 2021 Shiraz


I generally don't drink more than a glass or two of Barossa reds in one sitting nowadays. This was an exception. I enjoy my reds with flavour - but also some elegance. Here is a Barossa shiraz that boasts both - and it is a serious bargain from Ben Glaetzer, made from vines aged between 35-120 years old in Ebenezer sub-region. From a very good vintage, it is made in a style that is approachable when young, but I also reckon this would cellar well. So think concentrated dark fruit flavours, quality French and American oak and a soft, supple finish. Why this doesn't sell for a much higher price I have no idea. $33.    

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Saint and Scholar 2021 Graduates Pinot Noir


The prices for good pinot noir have gone through the roof. Bottles of fine Burgundy are stratospherically priced, and you can easily pay upwards of $90 for a new-release bottle of one of the stars from Tasmania. Fortunately there are a few options around for pinot lovers on a tight budget - and this lively little number from the Adelaide Hills delivers a lot of bright, fresh pinot enjoyment. From a very good year, this youngster was half matured in French oak barriques, and half kept in tanks. It is a very fruit-forward-style with fresh berry and cherry flavours, some enticing fruit sweetness, hints of Asian spices and a soft palate that encourages a second glass, and then a third. Great with Chinese roast duck, or maybe a mushroom fricassé. $30.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Hesketh 2022 Rules of Engagement Pinot Grigio

 This might just be the wine bargain of the year so far. A zingy, zesty "drink now" pinot grigio from a family-owned winery. The Hesketh label uses fruit sourced from vineyards across South Australia and aims to match quality with value. This wine features grapes from the cooler coastal part of the Limestone Coast, and boy is it impressive drinking for the price. The Heskeths say their wines are sustainably grown with contemporary style. There is some really attractive natural acidity here in a wine that is consciously made in the fresh, zingy grigio style. Very clean, very crisp,  very enjoyable with both citrus and white stone fruit notes. Pair with pan-fried whitebait, or fish and chips. $15.  

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Hahndorf Hill 2022 Brother Nature Field Blend

The team at Hahndorf Hills in the Adelaide Hills has built a formidable reputation for the quality of its varietal wines made from Austrian grapes including gruner veltliner and Saint-laurent. This is the first release of a pretty off-the-wall blend - but it works a treat. Inspired by the Gemischter Satz blended wines of Austria, this is a field blend where the sum is more than the parts. The fruit is co-harvested by hand, and then co-fermented in the winery. Brother Nature's 12 varieties include the standard white varieties commonly found in a Gemischter Satz: pinot blanc, welschriesling, gruner veltliner, riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, gewurztraminer, savagnin and muscat blanc, with the addition of harslevelu , chenin blanc and muscadelle. The end result is a bright and shiny white with deliciously crisp acidity. Think lime juice, Granny Smith apple and river pebble notes that is is extremely versatile and food friendly. Pair with shellfish, a little spice, or sashimi and sushi. Deliciously different. $39.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Vasse Felix 2021 Chardonnay


The Vasse Felix 2021 Heytesbury Chardonnay is one of the finest white wines in the land - and is priced accordingly at $110 a bottle. For everyday drinking, its close kin the estate chardonnay offers premium drinking and very fair value. From a low yielding vintage in Margaret River, this is a wine that offers great concentration of flavour, but is also impeccably balanced. Great work from winemaker Virginia Wilcock. Organically grown grapes underwent 100% barrel-fermentation with wild yeasts and cloudy juice. Malo occurred in just over half the batches. Think classic stone fruit flavours and palate complexity. Nine months of French oak maturation and another six months of secondary development on lees in tank before bottling has produced a stunning wine that comes in at just 12.5% alcohol. Pair with pork spare ribs for max fun. $45.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Mount Horrocks 2021 Nero d'Avola

It is a complete mystery why we do not see more wines made from Nero d'Avola in Australia. The Sicilian grape variety is very compatible with Australian conditions and produces medium-bodied European-accented wines that are perfect for the local lifestyle. Stephanie Toole at Mount Horrocks planted Nero d'Avola in 2007 after trying a Sicilian wine in Italy. She's been leading the charge ever since with food-friendly wines that are made using older oak, adding texture. This has lip-smacking red and dark fruit notes allied to some black cherry flavours and is beautifully balanced. Pair with pasta with a game ragu, or maybe a cheese platter. Ready for immediate enjoyment. $45.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

d'Soumah 2022 Tutto Bianco


An unusual white blend from the Yarra Valley - but also a very refreshing and vibrant drink perfect for enjoying with fritto misto, or fish and chips. It is a crisp and lively blend of savagnin, chardonnay, viognier and pinot grigio, all grown on the estate-owned Hexham Vineyard. All four varieties are picked and fermented separately with the chardonnay and viognier going into barrels and savagnin and pinot grigio in tanks. The parcels are later blended together to craft a quintessential summer wine. Very well priced. $28.   

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Brokenwood 2019 Graveyard Shiraz

Oops. I messed up with this one. When it arrived I put it aside for a month or two to ensure it was in peak form when I tasted it. Graveyard is one of Australia's great red wines, and you don't want to risk it being suffering from bottle shock after travelling all the way from the Hunter Valley. Somehow it got shuffled back on the tasting bench, only be discovered last week. At four years of age it was drinking magnificently - but it is now sold out at the winery and in short supply in retail. Apologies to the Brokenwood team. For anyone able to source a bottle, or pluck one from their cellar, it is a classic, pulling off the difficult trick of combining power and elegance - like a prima ballerina. There is dark brambly fruit, spice and a supple palate with delightful balance and impeccable structure. Pair with a rabbit casserole. $350.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Chateau Tanunda 2022 Grand Barossa Chardonnay


The Barossa is not normally where I would look for a chardonnay: the Yarra Valley, perhaps, the Mornington Peninsula, the Adelaide Hills, or Tasmania. That said, this is a well-priced and rather delicious chardonnay that has been picked early to retain fresh fruit flavours and some brisk acidity. Very stylish given its price point, this is surprisingly vital and elegant as well as being extremely food Very food friendly, this is largely unoaked, but a portion was matured in older French oak to add some palate interest and structure. Drink now, chilled, but not too chilled. Pair with some pork chops slathered in mushrooms. A well balanced wine from a good vintage. A solid 93 points from me. $25.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard 2018 Cabernet Shiraz


Here's a mature wine - ready to enjoy right now - that is also a current release from Brian Croser's excellent Tapanappa stable of wines. Fresh and juicy, but also stylish and sophisticated, it is a blend of Australia's two classic red varieties from two regions: the cabernet from the Whalebone Vineyard on the Limestone Coast and the shiraz grapes from Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills. It has dark mulberry and blackcurrant fruit flavours and savoury notes in impressive harmony. There is a lot happening on the palate but the end result is a wine of balance and structure, with impressive tannins. There is some cedary French oak on the scene, as well, but playing a support role. Pair with a lamb casserole and enjoy with good friends. $55.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Moss Wood 2020 Ribbon Vale Cabernet Sauvignon

The Mugford family at Moss Wood rarely puts a foot wrong, regardless of the grape variety, or the vintage. This is a classic Margaret River cabernet from the Ribbon Vale vineyard; very stylish but with a hint of confident swagger. The dark cabernet fruit is aided and abetted by small amounts of cabernet franc, merlot and malbec in a classic Bordeaux blend. This is concentrated, but has an elegant tannin structure that makes it immediately accessible - while it is also a very solid cellaring bet. Enjoy with a roast lamb and all the trimmings. $76.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Jean-Claude Mas 2021 Pay d'OC Le Rosé


Pale, dry and delightfully French - this would make lovely Valentine's Day gift. This Languedoc rosé is part of the new - and striking - Le Fleur collection from Jean-Claude Mas, a master of both winemaking and marketing. From vineyards planted on an old saltwater marsh, this savoury and saline drop is a blend of grenache gris, grenache noir, pinot gris, cinsaut and the rare caladoc hybrid. A very fresh and vibrant wine, it is perfect for picnics, or for supping on the back porch. The range also includes a n equally impressive 2021 pinot grigio. Both are $19.99 at Dan Murphy's stores.     

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Kirrihill 2020 Partner Series Shiraz


Kirrihilll's Partner Series range not only offers some very good value, it also showcases some of the unsung heroes of the wine industry; the growers who nurture the grape vines. This one pays tribute to Clare Valley grower Matt Lawson and his family. Lawson also happens to be the Kirrihill CEO. It is a generously flavoured red with plenty of personality that would probably be best enjoyed with a juicy steak. Think dark currant fruit flavours, some smoky oak characters, a hint of pepper and lashings of fruit sweetness allied to plenty of length. Impressive value. $30.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Pikes 2022 The Merle Riesling


One of the great joys of classic Clare Valley rieslings is that they can either be enjoyed in their vibrant youth, or as mature wines full of personality. This one is drinking brilliantly right now - and was a star turn when matched with lobster rolls and perinaise sauce. This flagship wine is at a delightful stage of its development and has come together brilliantly while retaining its delicate and delicious zingy citrus flavours, alongside some slatey minerality and a lovely fresh acid core. It is named after the family matriarch and is made using selected parcels of fruit from the Pike family's Polish Hill River Estate. $55.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Brand's Laira 2016 Stentiford's Old Vines Shiraz


This is an absolute pleasure to drink; a very classy, mature Coonawarra shiraz that's in the zone right now. It is made from grapes grown on the Laira vines that are over 120 years old and producing a wine that offers plenty of depth, lovely complexity on the palate and lots of drinking pleasure. Dark, with subtle hints of spice and an impressive tannin structure, it finishes satisfyingly soft and smooth. This one deserves to be enjoyed at a dinner party with friends, or family, preferable paired with a rare steak, or a mushroom fricasée. Very classy. $80.