Monday, December 5, 2016

Zonin Ice Prosecco

It is that time of the year when people are looking for cheap and cheerful sparkling wines for Christmas parties or New Year toasts. While wine aficionados adore the complexity of Champagne, or the bright acid of Tasmanian sparkling wines, most casual wine drinkers actually want something chilled and refreshing and with some fruit sweetness (think sweet red apples in this case). This fits the bill - and is designed to be enjoyed on the rocks in a round-stemmed class, perhaps with lime zest or fresh mint, or perhaps with fruit liqueurs, kir style. Launched over the European summer by Italy's leading prosecco producer (Zonin dates back to 1821), this is a fun aperitif with low alcohol levels and broad appeal. And the price, $12.99, is certainly right.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

St Hallett 2013 Old Block Shiraz


To be brutally honest I can take or leave a lot of the new-wave of Barossa shirazes. Some of them, particularly from warm, dry years, taste like reds on steroids and special K. Big, almost brutal. Something to marvel at rather than something to drink. This Barossa icon, however, is a very different kettle of potatoes. The power is there; the intensity from the old vines; the potential to live for 20 years or more in the cellar. The addition of 40% of Eden Valley fruit to the Barossa component adds clarity, class and drinkability. There is that dark, brooding colour, along with fruit intensity, but also classy tannin structure, length and excellent balance. I'd enjoy a couple of bottles over the holidays, and put the rest of the case away for a rainy day, say around 2035. $110. www.sthallett.com.au.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Coriole 2016 Nero


The recent releases from Coriole in McLaren Vale are thoroughly charismatic, offering quite wonderful value for money. They include a beguiling 2016 made from the southern French white grape picpoul and one of the best fianos in the land, also from 2016. The reds include an always impressive 2015 sangiovese and this stunner made from the southern Sicilian grape Nero d'Avola, which thrives in warm climates. Elevated briefly in older oak, this is all about the quality fruit. Think wildflower/hedgerow aromas, followed up with juicy, plummy fruit, soft tannins and lively acid. Downright lovely; dangerously drinkable, great with Italian food and well worth $27. www.coriole.com.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mountadam Vineyards 2016 Eden Valley Riesling

I cannot image a white wine that will give more pleasure over the warmer months than this stonkingly impressive Eden Valley riesling made by rising winemaking star Helen McCarthy. The vines were planted in 1968, have provided fruit for some of Australia's best-known rieslings and produce grapes of mellifluous intensity. This is fresh and floral on the nose, has a palate bursting with lemon and lime rind freshness, faint powdery notes and offers brisk minerality on the finish. It is a wine for enjoying chilled, preferably paired with either grilled seafood, freshly shucked oysters or other crustaceans. Terrific value for $25. 
www.mountadam.com.au.     

Friday, November 4, 2016

Lindeman's Gentleman's Collection Tawny


The initial release table wines from the Lindeman's Gentleman's Collection did not impress me much; the addition of fortified spirit made them flabby, and I also found the concept of wines crafted for "discerning modern gentlemen" to be snobbish. Winemaker Wayne Falkenberg and his team have a winner, however, in this latest addition to the range; a truly luscious and bold tawny that turns back to the clock a little. The wines honour Dr Henry Lindeman, an Australian wine pioneer who started the Lindeman's label in 1843. This tawny is a blend of grapes from six different vintages and four major varieties - and I like it a lot. It's a top late-night tipple (think sultanas, roasted nuts and golden syrup flavours) and pairs very well with traditional fruit cake. Top shelf in the best possible way. $22. www.lindemans.com.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Tapanappa 2013 Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc

Planted to classic Bordeaux grape varieties in Wrattonbully in 1974, the Whalebone Vineyard was named because of the discovery of a 35-million-year-old whale skeleton in a limestone cave underneath the vines. The Whalebone Vineyard was purchased at the formation of Tapanappa in 2002 and produces wines that very much reflect their site. Only 590 cases were made of this wine, crafted in the style of right bank Bordeaux, and I tasted this alongside the 2012, which it narrowly edged out. This is deep and intense with very bright dark fruit, some floral/leafy notes and surprisingly softness and elegance given the use of 90% new oak. A wine of rare class and style. $79. www.tapanappa.com.au.  

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Elderton 2014 Shiraz


A knockout Barossa shiraz from one of the most reliable producers in the region; the Ashmead family at Elderton. Estate-grown and made, this a classic rich and warm style partially made from fruit grown on vines that are well over 100 years of age. This is big and bold, a real prop forward of a wine, but with some clever ball-handling skills. It's a blend of fruit from Nuriootpa, Greenock and Craneford from what proved to be an outstanding vintage. I enjoyed the fruit intensity with dark berry and currant flavours allied to chocolate and vanilla/oak characters. Despite its 14.5% alcohol, it is drinking well now, but experience suggests that Elderton shirazes can cellar for a couple of decades. $34. www.eldertonwines.com.au