Named after late family matriarch Patricia Brown, the Brown Brothers' Patricia range highlights the finest wines produced by the benchmark Victorian winery. The range varies each year with only wines judged as being outstanding making the cut. I was a big fan of the 2013 Patricia stickie and the 2014, using riesling from the King Valley, is another standout. A multiple god medal winner, this continues a long line of botrytis-affected wines dating back to the early 1960s. It has a beguiling blend of natural sweetness and acid and is delightfully balanced, as well being vegan friendly. Complex and concentrated with classic Scottish marmalade flavours and a silky finish. $37. www.brownbrothers.com.au.
Thursday, April 5, 2018
British-born Michael Hall is one of the fascinating stories of the Australian wine industry; a former jewelry valuer who changed career streams mid-life and now crafts some intriguing wines from various sites in South Australia, including the Barossa and the Adelaide Hills. This is a beguiling white blend from the Hills, an unusual combination of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. All the fruit has been barrel fermented and spent nine months on lees in quality French oak. The end result is cerebral, textural, delightfully balanced and decidedly gluggable. $28. www.michaelhallwines.com.
Monday, March 26, 2018
Vaughn Dell and Linda Morice, the inventive couple behind Tasmanian boutique label Sinapius, describe themselves as wine growers, rather than winemakers. Their wines are close planted, dry grown and hand picked on their exposed site at Pipers Brook. This is 100% estate grown pinot from low-yielding 22-year-old vines made with minimalist winemaking intervention; 80% whole berries, 20% whole bunches, wild yeast fermentation for 21 days and matured in 30% new French oak barriques for 12 months, then a further three months blended in tank prior to bottling to allow for natural clarification and integration. Think black and red fruits, herbal notes, deli counter characters and natural acidity, on a wine that finishes soft and sweet with plenty of textural impact. Well worth tracking down. $55. www.sinapius.com.au.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Sam Scott is probably best-known for his impressive range of Italian varietals under the La Prova label, but the Adelaide Hills winemaker also produces some classic cool-climate wines under his Scott label. This chardonnay, made using fruit from the chilly Piccadilly Valley, is absolutely outstanding. It is thoroughly modern, tight and focused, fruit-driven with citrus and stone fruit notes co-existing happily alongside each other. There is some bright acid backbone and an overall elegance that makes this a pleasure to drink. The fruit is hand-picked, chilled overnight and then whole-bunch pressed directly to old French oak barriques, where it undergoes natural fermentation. It undergoes partial malo but no lees stirring. Clean, crisp, intense and delicious. Pair with roast pork and crackling. $45. www.scottwines.com.au.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
There's a new look to Taylor's value-for-money Promised Lange range - and a newcomer, as well; a youthful pinot noir that is a downright ridiculous bargain. If you can find a better pinot than this at the same price you should snap it up - but I'm pretty sure you won't. A friend found it on special for $10 a bottle the other day; you should be chewing the bottle shop manager's arm off to take your money if you can match that. For a start, you don't find many pinots with this kind of varietal character for under $20. It is a blend of fruit from several regions of South Australia, and granted, it is not one for the cellar. But is lifted, vibrant, light bodied and a whole lot of fun; juicy, fleshy and very drinkable with or without food. La Cicciolina. Highly recommended. $14. www.taylorswines.com.au.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the Yalumba Y Series Riesling in my wine column in Sydney's Ciao Magazine, saying it was part of one of the "best value wine ranges in Australia". This is another star member of the same team; impressively fresh and vibrant and made in the style of the cheeky grigios of northern Italy. Australians are so lucky that they can buy such stylish wines for a relative pittance. Think wild flower aromas, apple pie and fresh pears on the crisp palate. This wine is wild fermented and is vegan friendly; serve it with a late summer salad or fresh seafood. $12. www.yalumba.com.
Friday, February 9, 2018
Cape Jaffa winemaker Anna Hooper is not afraid to experiment and this unusual blend of barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc and semillon with aromatic gewürztraminer has come up trumps on the flavour spectrum, producing a fresh, textural wine with hints of fruit sweetness that finishes dry - and is an extremely versatile food wine. Hooper says you can cellar this but I like its cheeky, youthful personality right now. It is vibrant and muscaty and proved an impressive combo when paired with a particularly spicy Thai chicken curry. $25. www.capejaffawines.com.au.
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
The Pike & Joyce label offers some of the best of the Adelaide Hills at extremely realistic prices. At a time when it can be hard to find a quality pinot noir for under $50 this one made from 100% Lenswood fruit is an absolute bargain. Smart, fresh and extremely varietal, it is an excellent midweek choice for serious pinotphiles given its delicious slurpability factor. That medium-bodied softness makes this new release perfect for enjoying young. Dark cherry flavours lead the way along with sous bois notes and some hints of Asian spice. Delicious. $36. www.pikeandjoyce.com.au.
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
My wine writing colleague Gary Walsh from Winefront cavalierly dismisses chenin blanc as a serious grape variety, swatting away any praise like David Warner smites boundaries. The Loire Valley grape can often produce dull, neutral wines and seldom offers complexity, but it can, in the right hands, be used to craft fresh, lively thirst-quenching wines that can be enjoyed well chilled. This is one of those wines, delightfully crisp and undemanding for summer enjoyment. Think minerality, ripe green plums and fruit cocktail notes. Dry and energetic; a busy featherweight, with alcohol weighing in at a low 11%. One for quaffing; not analysing. $25. www.schwarzwineco.com.au.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
Australia produces some of the finest chardonnays in the new world but you'll have trouble finding one that offers a better quality-price ration than this sensational new release from Giant Steps. Aided and abetted by a stellar vintage, winemaker Steve Flamsteed and his team have produced a quintessential bright, medium-bodied, cool-climate chardonnay that just oozes class. Beautifully poised, impeccably balanced, a welterweight with a wicked left. Hand-picked from the Applejack, Gruyere Farm, Sexton, Tarraford and Wombat Creek vineyards and made with minimal intervention, this weighs in at just 13.5% alcohol but has great flavour profile and structure. Indigenous yeasts and large format, mainly older, oak play support roles while 30% malo adds interest without intruding. Simply lovely chardonnay, but the word is out in the industry and it might pay to buy sooner rather than later. 95/100. $36. www.giantstepswine.com.au.
Monday, January 8, 2018
Sorry wine snobs. This is not from a trendy biodynamic winemaker, it isn't fermented in ceramic eggs and doesn't undergo pigeage by Tuscan virgins. It is, instead, a mass-production rosé from one of Australia's biggest companies - and it offers terrific value for refreshing summer drinking. JC chief winemaker Ben Bryant describes it as an Australian rosé with a little French style. It is bright, crisp and dry and perfect for sipping on the back deck. A blend of pinot noir, grenache and mataro, it is textural, with fresh-cut flower notes, fresh strawberry flavours and bright acid. It "captures the elegant and savoury style of French rosé, with the freshness and purity of Australian fruit," says Bryant. It shone in a blind tasting of several more expensive rosés at our place and proved versatile with food, although it doesn't need it. Available at all major liquor outlet. $17.