The Killerman's Run is not the best riesling in the Kilikanoon portfolio. That would be the Mort's Reserve. It's not the second-ranking riesling either, that's the Mort's Block. But while it only ranks third in the Kilikanoon heirachy, this is a very good-value drink that shines from an outstanding vintage - as befits a wine from James Halliday's 2013 Winery of the Year. Made from grapes sourced from several Clare vineyards - including those that provide fruit for the flagships - this is a classic of the style; fragrant, crisp and zingy with fresh lemon and lime flavours and plenty of racy acidity. Pair this with a plate of flathead and chips and you have a feast at a pauper's price with this wine sometimes to be found on special. $20. www.kilikanoon.com.au (although the website is shambolic).
Saturday, December 21, 2013
This is the third commercial release by Mornington Peninsula winery Eldridge Estate of their gamay/pinot noir blend that is an homage to the much-loved and undervalued Burgundian light dry red style known as Passetoutgrain, abbreviated to PTG because, well, this is Australia. This is an unashamedly drink-now style; soft and juicy and extremely slurpable, it is unfined, unfiltered and low sulphur - and tastes like a liquid summer berry pudding. This will stand being chilled and would be a perfect partner for cold roast turkey. $28. www.eldridge-estate.com.au
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Margaret River is enjoying a series of outstanding vintages and the Sandalford wines have never looked in better shape. This wine is made from grapes of dry-grown vineyards that are among the oldest in the region and comprises 92% cabernet sauvignon and 8% other Bordeaux varieties with a smidgen of shiraz. Pretty, fragrant aromas are followed by a palate that is just a tad bigger than medium bodied with soft silkiness alongside dark berries, mint and herbal notes. This is drinking superbly right now and is a bargain compared to some of the more expensive offerings from the same region. Match it with veal, or maybe even the Christmas turkey. $45.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
A new label from De Bortoli Yarra Valley, where Steve Webber is churning out some outrageously good wines, and this is an absolutely beautiful, and affordable, chardonnay in the style of Petit Chablis. Made from fruit blended from several different sub-regions of the Yarra, including Dixons Creek, Woori Yallock and Tarrawarra, this is an immaculately balanced number with pristine, crisp fruit, slatey and citrus characters to the fore, with some nutty textural hints adding interest but letting the fruit do the talking. Just 12.5% alcohol, too. It's well worth picking up a case of this for the holiday season. $22. www.debortoli.com.au.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Sometimes, all it takes is a little tenderness; a delicate touch in the winery. By all measure this is a big wine; a powerful McLaren Vale red that's released in a heavy bottle, is presented under cork and decorated with wine show bling. So far, so old fashioned. But winemaker John Davey has not gone the blockbuster route. While this is by no means shy and retiring and carries 14.5% alcohol, it is also beautifully balanced, out-shining a couple of regional rivals at more than twice the price. Named for the Davey Block of the Davey Estate vineyard, these wines are John Davey's personal expression of the McLaren Vale and showcase the best shiraz and cabernet sauvignon that the region is capable of producing. They are true reserve wines, only made in exceptional vintages and designed for the long haul. Thankfully, this also has just a little delicacy that makes it stand out from the crowd. It's medium- to full-bodied with bright blackcurrant fruit, artisan chocolate and earthy notes; voluptuous, long and soft. I liked it a lot. $60. www.shingleback.com.au.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
The 2012 wines from Geelong producer Austins are quite outstanding with the pinot noir from the same vintage also extremely impressive. This is traditionally a very crisp and fresh style designed for enjoyment while still youthful and this is an elegant example with nectarine and peach flavours alongside some crisp citrus notes. There's some delightful crisp acidity but this is no one-trick pony with some creamy textural elements making it a complete package. Impressive, and a good match for poultry and veal dishes. $30. www.austinswines.com.au.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
This is a vibrant young red wine from Sam and Tom Barry, the 20-something winemaker brothers at Jim Barry Wines in the Clare Valley. A blend of Australia’s two most popular red grape varieties, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, it is designed for immediate enjoyment and certainly has slurpability. It’s inky and juicy and unashamedly fruit driven with plenty of length. A terrific uncomplicated barbecue or quaffing red. $19. www.jimbarry.com.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Jeffrey Grosset is probably best known as Australia's pre-eminent producer of rieslings. For three decades now his Polish Hill and Springvale rieslings from the Clare Valley have been the industry benchmarks. This wine, made from chardonnay fruit grown in the cool Piccadilly region of the Adelaide Hills is less known (although it has been made for 20 years) but no less commendable. Only 600 cases were produced of this and it delicate and pristine with floral notes leading on to a crisp, linear palate with white peach and grapefruit zest. There's length, depth, great structure and bracing acid on the finish. A stunning new wave Australian chardonnay. $55. www.grosset.com.au.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
My personal preference is for young rieslings that are bone dry, but there is certainly a place on the Australian wine landscape for wine like this; sweeter, certainly, than the mainstream but low in alcohol and deliciously zesty in a homage to some of the off-dry rieslings of Germany, although this tastes closer to medium-sweet. It has lashings of residual sugar, just 10.5% alcohol and zingy natural acidity, along with a faint spritz. Lovely floral aromas lead onto key lime pie and zingy lemon citrus notes on the palate with enough zest to make this a lovely wine for pairing with spicy Sichuan dishes or maybe just for sipping chilled on a warm summer day. Very enjoyable. $20. www.ferngrove.com.au
Saturday, October 12, 2013
The late Peter Lehmann would be very proud of the wines his team, under the leadership of veteran Andrew Wigan, continue to produce across all price points. This limited-release shiraz is a triumph, particularly given it is a product of the troublesome 2011 vintage. Lot 2 Stonewell Road is the home address of one of the Lehmann winemaking team, Ian Hongell, and his family, and the fruit used in this powerful, intense and impressively structured wine has been hand-tended by the Hongels. It's a dark, rich wine, atypical of the vintage, with impressive tannin structure. It's lovely now with a steak, but will probably cellar well for a decade. $30. www.peterlehmannwines.com.
Monday, October 7, 2013
It's pretty hard to go wrong with any of the wines under the Kooyong label. The 2010s were outstanding and the 2011 estate chardonnay is just as impressive as this wine - another cracker from winemaker Sandro Mosele. This spent 10 months in French oak (15% new) and then a further 10 months in large wooden foudres to add structure and complexity. The end result is a wine of immaculate balance with bright fruit and savoury characters in delightful two-part harmony. It's an elegant offering from a cool vintage, and while it may be a tad lighter than in its 2010 incarnation it is an absolutely lovely drink in every way with good tannin structure and plenty of life ahead of it. $53. www.kooyongwines.com.au.
Monday, September 30, 2013
It is no secret that many winemakers see Heathcote as the source of some of the best shiraz fruit in the country. This is an absolutely cracking cool-climate shiraz that's made with obvious care and attention. The fruit is hand-picked, the juice gravity fed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in small open-topped tanks and matured in mainly old French barriques for 14 months before release. This won the trophy for best shiraz at the recent Heathcote Wine Show, which wouldn't mean a jot to me if it wasn't for the fact the judging panel has unearthed a real gem. This tastes like a luxury wine, bold but elegant with ballsy dark fruit, pepper and spice and beautifully balanced toasty oak. It's a ripper and is available direct from the winery for $22.95. www.sanguinewines.com.au.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Sometimes the world of wine throws up some delightful surprises. The Tasmanian distributor of Terra Sancta wines from Bannockburn in Central Otago dropped off some samples for me - of which I opened a pair of rieslings and this pinot gris first. I had no idea of the price bracket for the trio but estimated that, given its quality, the pinot gris would have to sell for around $35+. It's an absolutely delicious and complex white wine; floral and with delicious pear intensity on the palate, that finishes dry, has hints of subtle ginger spice and is particularly food friendly. Checking the interweb, I found that it can often be found for under $25 retail. Which makes it a spectacular bargain. Drink young. Enjoy. www.terrasancta.co.nz
Saturday, September 14, 2013
A gourmet pizza went down very well accompanied by this cheerful dark and spicy cherry velvet bomb. It's a blend of montepulciano and zinfandel from the Adelaide Hills and grenache from a vineyard above a nudists' beach in McLaren Vale, so could have ended up anything from a disaster to triumph. Judging by my empty bottle, it ended up very much on the right side of the ledger with ripeness and richness from dark berry and currant flavours (chocolate notes also develop when its been open for a while). This is a wine with flourish and dash - I like it a lot. $30. www.byjingowines.com.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
A second Yarra Valley pinot noir review in three weeks, I know, but they really are irresistibly luscious. Steve Flamsteed and his winemaking team have this one spot on with a new release that hits a beautiful balance between dark, supple fruity notes and savoury, undergrowth tones. Some whole bunch has added texture and and this is an astutely judged, downright delicious drink that is priced for weekend quaffing but is good enough to sip and savour over a fine dining experience. There's some deli meat, there's some spice, but most of all there is approachability - and value. It's well worth snapping some of this up as I can't imagine it will last long. $25. www.innocentbystander.com.au
Friday, August 30, 2013
This was one of the stars of a recent tasting of Champagnes from almost all the major producers - and a real surprise given it comes from a Champagne house that was only founded in 1985. It is part of the Alain Thiénot Group, owner of different brands such as Canard-Duchêne and Joseph Perrier. A blend of 45% chardonnay, 30% pinot noir and 20% pinot meunier, this has a delightful freshness to it; it was zingy without in any sense being lightweight. Imported into Australia by Halle Aux Vins in Melbourne, this is floral, lively and delicate in the Billecart-Salmon mould; a wine that's perfect for enjoying as an aperitif. $85. www.halleauxvins.com.au.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Timo Mayer is a loveable, talented eccentric whose wine making is sometimes touched with genius. Best known for his work at Gembrook Hill, Mayer also releases small quantities of hand-crafted, single-vineyard wines (he has just 2.4 hectares under vine) under his own label. He doesn't do back labels, or barcodes and aims to "bring back the funk" to wine. This was one of a stunning array of 2012 pinots that shone ever so brightly at the Yarra Valley Wine Program earlier this week. It is a lovely bright and perfumed wine, like several of its 2012 Yarra counterparts. It is still a tad coltish but it is so full of youthful presence, charm and delicacy that it is almost impossible to resist. Made from fruit grown in the cooler Upper Yarra, this is precise and delicious. I'd snap some up before it sells out - if it hasn't already. $55. www.timomayer.com.au.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
I'm a huge admirer of the efforts the Saturno brothers have put into their Adelaide Hills vineyards to produce top quality fruit. This a delightful cool-climate shiraz from a very good vintage. Dark and inky, it boasts black fruit and white pepper on the nose, leading on to a melange of berry flavours, black chocolate and coffee notes with rich but well-integrated toasty oak and impressive tannin architecture. The 18 months this wine spent in new and old French barriques has added complexity and interest and this will almost certainly cellar well for a decade or more while drinking very well right now. Supple and astutely restrained - a great match for a veal roast. $28. www.longviewvineyard.com.au.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
First of all, an admission. Not only had I never heard of the Chockstone label, I also knew nothing about A.T. Richardson, the producers, who are based at Great Western in the Grampians of Victoria. It turns out that until 2010 all of Adam Richardson's wines were exported to the US. Now they are available domestically, although in tiny quantities. Only 390 dozen cases of this riesling were made - but it is brilliant, and well worth seeking out. It's dry, but not not bone dry (six grams of residual sugar), taut and tight with citrus and slate notes alongside great acid. It really rocked my boat, and offers ridiculous value at just $22. www.atrichardsonwines.com/
Saturday, July 27, 2013
When you think of Oakridge and winemaker David Bicknell, you probably think first of chardonnay, then pinot noir. He's a maestro with the Burgundian varieties but both Bicknell and the Yarra Valley in general are also building quite a reputation for the quality of their cool-climate shirazes. A blend of fruit from two vineyards, the 2010 version of this wine was named best shiraz and best red wine at the 2012 Yarra Valley Wine Show. I'd wager this is just as good. With intense fruit flavours and subtle oak, it is wine of balance and cohesion. Lovely drinking. $36.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
The first wines from the recent vintage are starting to make their way into the stores; and this a beauty. Made from fruit grown in the cool Adelaide Hills (Pertaringa is now part of the Geoff Hardy stable), this is a deliciously crisp and fresh sauvignon blanc with tropical fruit salad notes. It is not as overt as some of its Kiwi cousins but is extremely approachable and very refreshing. I’d pair this with salt and pepper calamari. $18.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
The wines Bob and Rita Richter produce at Grey Sands in the Tamar Valley are usually designed for the long haul. This is a deviation from that policy – a blend of merlot, malbec and cabernet franc aiming at being approachable (with less tannins) when young. Evidence that Bordeaux varieties can succeed in the warmer vineyards of Tasmania; this is restrained and fragrant, impeccably poised but extremely slurpable. It's a medium-bodied red, impeccably judged with well-integrated savoury oak, blueberry notes and a gentle mouthfeel. $30. www.greysands.com.au/
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Thompson Estate is a small family-owned operation in Margaret River located right next door to regional pioneer Vasse Felix. Former Leeuwin Estate winemaker Bob Cartwright makes the wines and he's hit a home run with this delicious 60-40 semillon sauvignon blanc blend that has undergone partial barrel fermentation in French oak barriques to add mouthfeel and complexity. There is nothing oaky about this at at all, however. It is fresh and crisp and delightfully balanced with nice interplay on the palate between tropical fruit and citrus notes. Delicious drinking. $30. www.thompsonestate.com
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Close your eyes and you could easily believe you were drinking some delightfully rustic red from the south-west of France. It's actually made from fruit grown at Werribee, midway between Melbourne and Geelong, and is a blend of carignan, grenache, cinsault and mataro fruit with bright red fruit notes, some delicatessen savouriness, considerable lightness of being and plenty of zingy acid on the finish. It's food friendly, weighs in at just 13% alcohol and is extremely drinkable. Unusual but very attractive in a light/spicy way. I like this a lot. $28.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Made from small quantities of the best fruit possible from Paringa Estate on the Mornington Peninsula, and only made in years when wine quality reaches a required level of excellence, the Paringa is the flagship of Lindsay McCall's range of much-lauded pinots. It's a wine on the more macho side of the pinot spectrum with 14% alcohol and spice and dark cherry on the nose, leading to ripe dark fruit and savoury undertones on a palate that boasts extremely impressive architecture and tremendous length. This is full on, even at four years of age, and I'd recommend giving it another three or four years in the cellar to enjoy at its best. $90.
Monday, June 10, 2013
There is some remarkable value to be found among Riverina producers nowadays and this chardonnay; a blend of fruit from Yenda, the King Valley and the Yarra Valley is a prime example. A thoroughly modern chardonnay that has spent 10 months in older oak, it is a nicely composed fruit-driven style with both structure and some creamy texture (thanks to battonage in the winery) along with stone-fruit flavour and some impressively brisk acid on the finish. Early picked fruit and some clever winemaking make this a much better bet than its modest price tag would indicate. Check it out. $12
Monday, June 3, 2013
Patritti is a family winemaking operation established in 1926 with what is now a massive range. The Patritti winery is in Dover Gardens and has been swallowed up by Adelaide suburbia but fruit is sourced from several South Australian regions with the family vineyards in McLaren Vale. This vibrant little Adelaide Hills arneis (a northern Italian grape) has to be one of the best wine bargains around right now. It is elegant with plenty of freshness and length - and extremely food friendly. It has amazingly impressive architecture for a wine that retails for just $14. Yes, you read that right. $14. www.patritti.com.au/
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Rob Dolan is a larger-than-life character who has enjoyed several winemaking incarnations in the Yarra Valley. True Colours is his new range of brightly labelled Yarra wines, of which I found this the standout in a line-up of several well-regarded chardonnays. It's one of those wines where everything has come together seamlessly with a nice union of stone fruit and citrus notes, subtle oak (15% new) and some minerality and nuttiness on the palate. A wine for sipping on the porch on a late autumn afternoon. One glass will probably not be enough. $24. www.robdolanwines.com.au
Sunday, April 28, 2013
The new-release of Australia's most famous single-vineyard red wine is cause for great excitement - and the 2008 Hill of Grace certainly lives up to the hype. Stephen and Prue Henschke are renowned for their attention to detail both in the vineyard and the winery and their obsessive natures pay dividends with this beautifully rounded and complex wine that has mouthfilling flavours and will undoubtedly cellar for decades. Utilising dry-grown shiraz from a vineyard that dates back to the 1860s and is farmed using organic and biodynamic principles, this is a wine of remarkable intensity and concentration; exotic, perfumed and spicy with dark berry and plum notes with layer upon layer of structure, brooding flavours and immense length. A powerful wine with everything perfectly in place, including new French and American oak, which has been seamlessly integrated. And it is bottled under a screw cap! $650.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
An immediate candidate for the status of Tasmania’s finest sparkling wine (and therefore Australia’s best bubbly). This may be a “special occasion” wine but it is better than many NV Champagnes at around the same price. It has great power and length but also lots of elegance after four-and-a-half year on lees and 18 months in bottle. It will be made only in the very best vintages and will almost certainly cellar well. $61.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
The three Jones brothers, and their wives, took over the Monument Vineyard at Cudal, 30 kilometres outside Orange, three years ago - and the fruit is vinified by the talented Chris Derrez. I particularly enjoyed this wine, and was pleasantly surprised by its freshness. It’s a vibrant wine with a fresh fruit salad nose, leading on to a crisp palate with pineapple and guava notes. There is a nice, brisk acid finish. A wine for enjoying well chilled, perhaps with a chicken salad, or sweet and sour pork. $16. www.monumentvineyard.com.au.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Langmeil in the Barossa valley is the proud owner of some of the oldest vines in the world, including some that date back 170 years. This is one of four reds that make up the Old Vine Garden range of limited-release wines and contains fruit from vines that average over 125 years of age. The Freedom vines were planted in 1843 by Christian Auricht, who has fled persecution in Prussia and there's no doubt he would be proud of this very fine wine from an excellent Barossa vintage. It's a big, intense wine, unfined and unfiltered, but it carries it 15% alcohol lightly and would be a worthy companion to a hearty winter roast or game casserole. Drink a piece of history. $100. www.langmeilwinery.com.au.
Monday, March 11, 2013
There's a lot of value to be found in the Spanish wines being imported by Echelon and McWilliam's - and while the reds tend to grab all the attention a couple of the whites are absolute bargain buys. A blend of viura and verdejo grapes crafted by Javier Murua from vines off the Atlantic coast of western Spain, this is a drink-now proposition that probably won't improve but it has vibrant floral aromas and stone fruit and sea spray notes on the palate, along with some some interesting textural elements. Food-friendly, too, and terrific for $14.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
There is always much excitement within the wine trade - and among collectors - surrounding the release each year of the Penfolds Bin and Icon wines, and maybe more so this year with many of the reds coming from the highly-rated 2010 vintage. The new Grange is from 2008 and absolutely outstanding (many of my wine writing colleagues are falling all over themselves bidding to give it the highest possible rating). I'd be spending my money on a few bottles of this, however, a superlative blend of cabernet and shiraz fruit from no fewer than seven different regions throughout South Australia. Magnificently constructed and effortlessly elegant, this is a classic 389 from a vintage in which Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago says “absolutely nothing went wrong”. It is a spectacular, dark and inky red with great intensity, lift and balance. $75.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
A delightfully juicy and earthy Burgundy - affordable too - with an interesting point of difference. The wine is made from 80% pinot noir, blended with 20% of the ancient and rare césar grape that is allowed in the Yonne region. The vines grow on a steep south-facing slope, at a place called l'Ermitage, outside the village of St Pere sous Vezelay, hence the name. What I liked most about the wine was its sheer drinkability. It is bright and vibrant with glossy berry fruit but also with some attractive mushroomy savouriness. Simply delicious and with just 11.5% alcohol. It was produced by a winery that makes the house wines for multiple-hatted local chef superstar Marc Meneau. $36. www.livingwines.com.au.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Sometimes you want a white wine that doesn't require too much contemplation. A simple wine for enjoying on a warm day, maybe with a salad or a sandwich. This is just such a wine; alarmingly affordable and deliciously drinkable. Pinot blanc, or bianco in Italian, is a lesser known white cousin of pinot noir that thrives in warmer climes, making it ideal for Riverland producers. This is a soft, easy drinking wine that's refreshing and has plenty of length. Spicy, savoury and terrific value. Chill and enjoy. Easy. $15.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Brian Freeman specialises in making wines from the rare northern Italian grape varieties of rondinella and corvina from his base in the Hilltops region in rural New South Wales. This is a thoroughly modern rosé; spicy, savoury and bone dry, that is extremely food friendly and modelled on the wines of the Veneto. It's made from 100% rondinella and matured in old oak to add texture. Pale salmon-coloured and very refreshing, this is the perfect choice for late afternoon enjoyment on the deck. I'd pair it with Middle Eastern dishes to enjoy it at its most enticing. $20. www.freemanvineyards.com.au.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Rich, but impressively structured, this is the flagship red wine from McLaren Vale producer Serafino; a metrosexual wine made in tiny quantities. It has lots of power with intense dark fruit alongside coffee, spice and oak notes on the nose. The palate is all dark chocolate and ripe plums, beautifully integrated with French and American oak, but there is also a purity and length (and just 14% alcohol) along with the architecture to suggest a long cellar life. Half lethal martial arts expert, half gymnast, this is a wine of impressive class and drinkability. $70. www.serafinowines.com.au.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
This is a wine that just screams "summer fun". I really liked the bitter lemon and ultra-dry lime sherbet notes on the palate, the hyperactive crisp acidity and refreshingly dry finish. Crisp and fresh with just 11% alcohol, it's a perfect choice for lunchtime al fresco dining - and a brilliant partner for a seafood platter, fresh oysters or good old-fashioned fish and chips. There's a real purity to this McLaren Vale white (think a cold Alpine stream) but absolutely no shortage of flavour. A terrific unoaked wine for enjoying chilled - and while it still has all its youthful exuberance. $22. www.mitolowines.com.au.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Many of the Pedro Ximenez vines in South Australia got ripped out years ago as fortified wines struggled to find a market. Thankfully, a few remain and the fruit that goes into this little beauty is grown in the family vineyards of Carl Lindner, one of the Dandelion partners. With vines averaging 30 years of age (and some much older) this is a wine of intensity and power, but at the same time full of charm: a James Bond wine, one might say. Burnt ochre in colour, it has a nose full of nutty goodness that leads on to a plate on which mixed nut, dark Christmas cake fruit, English toffee, marmalade and citrus peel notes are beautiful melded together. This is a deep, dark, mysterious wine; sweet, rich, rancio and complex. A little bottle of deliciousness. I don't score, but if I did, I'd give this 96/100. $27.50 for 375mls. www.dandelionvineyards.com.au.