Saturday, July 22, 2017

Grant Burge 2015 Filsell Shiraz

There is an unmistakeable Barossa-ness to this bold but unostentatious wine; it's a red that is comfortably self-assured. Made from Australia's favourite red grape, grown on near century-old vines in a stellar vineyard, this is helps sets the standard in the $40 price category. It's full-blooded but reminds one of a veteran boxer; all the power is used economically. Think plum and dark berry, black chocolate, subtle oak. History indicates that Filsell shirazes cellar well for up to two decades, so I'd buy a six pack. Enjoy a couple now with a juicy steak or rabbit casserole, and the rest between 2027 and 2037. $43.      

Monday, July 17, 2017

Jim Barry 2017 Watervale Riesling

The news is all good from the 2017 vintage for lovers of fine, dry Australian rieslings. I've seen some excellent unfinished examples from the Barossa and Eden valleys as well a pair of high-acid, high-excitement Clare Valley wines from Jim Barry - which are among the first to hit the stores. I thoroughly enjoyed the more complex 2017 Jim Barry Lodge Hill ($25) but this is my pick for drinking young; a dashing, lively wine with lemon, lime and grapefruit notes to the fore with plenty of length and linear acid. Distressingly drinkable, I'd have a second bottle of this on hand just in case and pair it with flathead and chips or some green Thai chicken curry. $20.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cullen 2015 Diana Madeline

This is the new release of one of Australia's most complete wines; a Margaret River classic that offers quite spectacular value given the prices now being asked for other Australian icon reds. This is seriously worthy of 98/100 in a world of frequently overblown scores. There are a lot of big-name Bordeaux blends not in the same class as this; a single-vineyard blend of 87% cabernet sauvignon, 11% merlot, 1% malbec and 1% cabernet franc from another standout West Australian vintage. Think classic blackcurrant and violet notes, along with stoney minerality, leafy elements and dark chocolate nuances. Impeccably balanced with fine-grained tannins, this is beautiful now but will almost certainly develop over a decade or more. A work of vinous art that's worth taking out an overdraft for. $125.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Hurley Vineyard 2015 Hommage Pinot Noir

Well over a decade or so ago, I received an email from Kevin Bell and Tricia Byrnes asking for some advice on finding a Sydney retail outlet for their range of "garagiste" pinot noirs from Balnarring on the Mornington Peninsula. I was fortunately able to help and have watched with interest as the Hurley Vineyard range has evolved into one of the most impressive pinot portfolios in the country. In 2015, there are four wines in all, an estate offering and individual vineyard wines under the Lodestone, Garamond and Hommage labels. My favourite this time around was the Hommage, juicy and pure, unfined, unfiltered, minerally, savoury and lip-smackingly delicious. My wife preferred the perhaps more elegant Garamond - and may well be right as I understand that has sold out within a few weeks. Both wines are well worth seeking out; paragons of Australian winemaking excellence. $75.     

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Terre à Terre 2016 Summertown Vineyard

Wow! This one really got my clogs cranking. This is the first release of the Terre à Terre Summertown Vineyard Reserve, which is made from tiny parcels of pinot noir planted in the Piccadilly Valley of the Adelaide Hills. The vineyard was originally intended to produce sparkling base material but three tiny parcels were identified as being ideal for table wines. With terroir similar to Burgundy is no surprise that Xavier and Lucy Bizot have produced a wine that has a very strong French accent. Six different clones are fermented in small one-tonne fermenters, with 10-20% whole bunch fruit. The wine is then aged for 6-9 months in French oak (50% new), and bottled without filtration. It is a tad chewy right now but has immense, whisper it slowly, Burgundian potential. 94 points. $40.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bertaine et Fils 2016 Rosé

I am an unashamed fan of the wines imported from France, Italy and Spain by Fourth Wave Wines, who seem to have one of the best contact books around. This is a deliciously crisp and fresh wine under the Bertaine label; guys who have access to some terrific fruit in the Aude region of the Languedoc, between the Pyrenees and the Canal du Midi. This is made from 100% syrah (shiraz) grapes and is pale and aromatic, in the classic regional style, with some fresh raspberry fruit notes. There is plenty of refreshment here when served chilled - and terrific value at $19.     

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

d'Arenberg 2014 d'Arry's Original

There are very few red wines in Australia that can match this shiraz/grenache blend for reliability and affordability. How d'Arenberg manage to keep it priced at under $20 is a minor miracle. Made old-style (think pigeage and basket-pressing), this is a wine that just oozes with personality and drinkability. This was known as "Burgundy" until 1993 as a nod to its juicy, easy-drinking persona. Shiraz and grenache are both varieties that shine in McLaren Vale and the Osborn family has over 100 years of experience. The end result: sweet fruit, gentle fresh leather and excellent architecture. Ridiculous value. $18.