Here's something deliciously different to enjoy during the dying days of summer: an Australian take on a classic sparkling wine style from Piedmont in northern Italy. Low in alcohol at 9.5%, this is a fresh and vibrant alternative to moscato, made by Soumah Wines in the Yarra Valley. My wife described it as a "cheerful wine that was like a dip in the surf on a hot day". Brachetto is a variety that has strawberry and musky characters.This is made in a "frizzante" style with soft bubbles and vibrant red fruit notes, along with astutely judged sweetness. Try a glass after work. $25. www.soumah.com.au.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
Here we go again. I invariably have at least one or two wines under the 1er Yarra Valley, Hoddles Creek or Wickhams Road labels awaiting a review slot. All three labels belong to the d'Anna family in the Yarra Valley are bywords for both quality and value. This is, I believe, the best sub-$20 cool-climate pinot noir in the country; fruit-driven and startlingly sessionable. Think dark fruit, 20% whole bunches in the ferment, 20 days on skins and a wine that has been bottled without filtration or fining. This is juicy and spicy with soft tannins and is ridiculously good for the price. $17-$20 depending on where you buy. www.hoddlescreekestate.com.au.
Monday, January 30, 2017
There are precious few chardonnays of this quality that can be found for under $15 a bottle, but Peter Logan and his team have hit the quality/price bullseye with this very fresh, very clean offering. This is a blend of fruit from cool-climate Orange and warmer Mudgee from a very good vintage and has a melange of citrus and subtle stone fruit flavours along with cashew nut hints and some briskish acid on the finish. Wild years ferment and eight months on lees added complexity but the style is still very much fruit forward. Nicely balanced at 13% alcohol; a good match for fish, pork and chicken dishes. Excellent midweek drinking. $13. www.loganwines.com.au.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Looking for something just a little bit different to sip and savour? You won't find a wine much more exotic than this lighter-style red made by two South Africans from an Austrian grape in the Adelaide Hills. A cross between St Laurent and Blaufranskisch, zweigelt is the most widely planted red grape variety in Austria, but rare in Australia. Here it has produced a zingy, zippy red in the style of Beaujolais Nouveau that is designed for early drinking pleasure and can be enjoyed chilled over summer. Low in alcohol, perfumed, with black cherry notes, this is extremely refreshing and more fun than mud wrestling. $33.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Vasse Felix winemaker Virginia Wilcock is in a fine vein of form with her chardonnays over recent vintages. If she were a tennis player she'd be one of the grand slam favourites. This has been released for several months and has settled into a real groove of excellence, even though it is in the lower tier of Vasse Felix chardonnays. It is just gorgeous right now with all its elements singing in perfect harmony. Citrus and spice on the nose lead to a palate with pristine lemon/lime and stone fruit notes along with zingy acid and crisp minerality. French oak adds interest and depth like a great bass guitarist adds to a rock anthem. Classic Margaret River character and length. I'll give this 94/100. Great value for $37. www.vassefelix.com.au.
Sunday, January 8, 2017
How good is this? Founded in 1840, Sandalford is one of Western Australia's oldest and largest privately owned wineries. It started life in the Swan Valley and is now one of the powerhouses in Margaret River, where it was one of the pioneers. This is a perfect summer wine; a blend of two grape varieties that are like yin and yang (or Eminem and Dido) in Margaret River. We tried this alongside several other WA blends and it was a clear winner with terrific zesty freshness. Lemon and lime notes and tropical fruit flavours co-exist joyously. It is crisp, dry, uncomplicated and perfect with or without food on a warm afternoon. Simply delicious and good value for $20-25. www.sandalford.com.
Saturday, December 31, 2016
The rosé revolution is well and truly in full swing this summer; with more wine lovers opting to enjoy well-chilled pale pink and savoury dry rosé wines. On Christmas Eve we had around 50 people around for a drink or two before our local village parade. Rosés, both French and Australian, proved extremely popular but this Loire Valley wine was the almost unanimous favourite and I quickly had people coming back for refills. That was quite remarkable because this was the cheapest of all the rosés on offer - with a recommended retail price of just $13. It can often be found on special at Dan Murphy's and BWS stores. Made from cabernet franc grapes, this has freshness with bright red fruit notes and a dry finish. Uncomplicated but very gluggable. Two of my neighbours headed off to the local BWS to buy some a couple of days later. Charming, light, crisp and deftly balanced. $13.