This is the time of year when crisp, dry and vibrant Clare Valley riesling comes into its own. As the sun shines, so does one of Australia's greatest white wine styles; and few producers do it better, or better value, than David O'Leary and Nick Walker. This is a delightful hand-crafted wine from one of the best cooler pockets of the Clare, producing intensely flavoured but beautifully balanced fruit. Organically grown and made, this is ridiculously good for the RRP of $25, and can sometimes be found for even cheaper. Perfect for summer seafood and poultry dishes, it is well worth snapping up by the case. Think flower blossoms, lemon rind, minerality and brisk acidity. 95/100? No problem. $25. www.olearywalkerwines.com
Sunday, November 12, 2017
How good is this? Yarra Yering Dry Red No.1 is a blend of cabernet sauvignon with merlot, malbec and a touch of petit verdot that is is one of Australia's icon wines. Planted on a historic Yarra Valley site by the late Dr Bailey Carrodus in 1969, the fruit is being taken to another level by the very talented Sarah Crowe. It is a complex little number with briary notes, dark plum and berry flavours, cedary oak and amazing softness on the palate. It just slides down, even as a new release. History, however, tells us that it will cellar for several decades. If you are looking for a present for a serious wine buff you won't go wrong with a bottle or two of this. One of my favourite wines of the year and 97.5 points. $100. www.yarrayering.com.
Sunday, November 5, 2017
The 2017 vintage was a tricky one in Marlborough, which means volume is down for the release of this iconic favourite, the wine that sparked the sauvignon blanc boom. Quality, fortunately, is maintained. With wine fashion as fickle as ever, it is remarkable that Cloudy Bay has maintained its cult following for three decades; but the appeal is quite stunningly consistent. It's fresh, it's vibrant and concentrated and it delivers exactly what its legion of fans want with citrus aromas, juicy nectarine and tangy white peach on the palate and some vibrant minerality. A bit like The Bachelorette. Hugely popular; not to everyone's taste but hard to ignore. Fabulous with sushi or sashimi.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Sam Scott is producing some excellent wines under his La Prova label, and this is a pinot noir with a vague Italian accent that shines at its very moderate price point. Made from Adelaide Hills fruit, it has been hand-picked, wild fermented with 35% whole bunch material, unfined and unfiltered. Hands-off, you might say. There is some sweet cherry fruit here, hints of forest floor and some appealing charcuterie notes (maybe salami as this is pinot nero). The end result is serious, but delightfully easy to drink. Pair with old-fashioned roast chook and some mushroom risotto.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Mencia is one of the intriguing red wine grapes of Spain; planted mainly in the north-west of the country. It has characteristics in common with cabernet franc, often producing appealing lighter reds. There has been a revival of interest in the grape in recent years and it has also found a happy home in sunny McLaren Vale, where Oliver's Taranga were the first Australian winery to plant mencia. Here it is used in a fresh and dry small batch rosé that's full of spunky savoury notes and would pair brilliantly with a cheese and charcuterie platter. Winemaker Corinna Wright also makes a "joven" style red made from mencia that's designed for early drinking. $25. www.oliverstaranga.com.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
A batch of new releases from Frankland River winery Alkoomi arrived together, so I tasted them in a block. The 2017 riesling was very good, the chardonnay impressive, the sauvignon blanc excellent and this traditional West Australian blend topped the lot. All four wines are ridiculously good value given the RRP of $15 a bottle. You don't get a lot for that nowadays. A 68-32% blend, this is a terrific summer quaffer with bright fruit and plenty of palate length. Sessionable, too with lemon zest and nectarine flavours to the fore and lime sherbet notes on the finish. Well worth 90/100 and investing in a case for the warmer months ahead. $15. www.alkoomiwines.com.au.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Coonawarra, and Katnook Estate in particular, is better known for cabernet sauvignon than shiraz, but this shone brightly in a blind tasting alongside some more expensive, and more fashionable, cooler-climate shirazes. The truth is shiraz can often out-rate cabernet on the Limestone Coast and this is a prime example with fresh dark berry fruits to the fore with liquorice and subtle pepper playing solid support roles along with classy French oak. This is a wine that is affordable enough for everyday drinking but boasts terrific palate structure. Warm and generous, but in perfect balance, this easy to drink, even easier to enjoy. A solid 92/100. $20. www.katnookestate.com.au.