Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Schwarz Wine Co. 2017 Chenin Blanc

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

Giant Steps 2017 Yarra Valley Chardonnay

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

Jacob's Creek 2017 Le Petit Rosé

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. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Grosset 2017 Polish Hill Riesling

When it comes to both quality and consistency, this is arguably Australia's greatest white wine. As a lover of both rieslings and the Clare Valley, this would be my go-to white if I had just 50 bucks and change in my pocket and someone to impress. The 2017 vintage was superb one in the Clare; I'm seeing brilliant rieslings across the board and this estate-grown, certified organic wine from what has been declared one of the world's great vineyards, once again leads the pack. I left my sample a few weeks and it is now very much in the zone, flamboyantly floral, vivaciously vibrant and palpably powerful. Think intense lime citrus notes, tight structure and ultra-dry acid finish. One of the great vintages and worthy of 98 points. $55. www.grosset.com.au.  

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Trentham Estate 2016 Estate-Grown Merlot

If your budget is a little tight in the post-Christmas period then wines like this one will come as a blessing. The Murphy family from Trentham Estate in the Murray-Darling region almost always over-deliver on value, and this is a cracking example of good-quality merlot at a very reasonable price. It is impressively "together" unlike several of its kins who tend to be all sweet fruit and softness. Cherry, plum, spice and silkiness are all part of the package, but the end result is impressively integrated. Impressive new packaging, too, alongside a medium-bodied dry red that would be a very good choice for a summer holiday barbecue. $20. www.trenthamestate.com.au

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Pizzini 2017 King Valley Pinot Grigio

This is a quintessential summer wine; perfect for pairing with picnics, beach cricket or just sunny afternoons on the deck. Wonderfully fresh and crisp, it is like drinking from a cool mountain stream. The nose features a fresh-cut flower bouquet, along with ripe stone fruits, while the palate has classic pear notes, alongside fresh grapefruit and lime flavours. The bright acid continues right through the palate. This is made by an Italian family in the north-east of Victoria and unashamedly mimicks the northern Italian grigio style. It would pair with everything from deep-fried whitebait to a mushroom pizza. Go ahead. Splash out and you won't be disappointed. I don't expect to hear from anyone who is. $21. www.pizzini.com.au.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ten Minutes by Tractor 2015 McCutcheon Pinot Noir

Looking for a Christmas present for a serious pinotphile? A bottle that can be enjoyed with the Christmas turkey, or confidently cellared for a decade or more? The McCutcheon was my pick of the outstanding 2015 pinots from Mornington Peninsula producer 10 Minutes by Tractor, a wine with both flavour and structure. This has great balance and tremendous length with all the classic cool-climate pinot characteristics; expressive fruit, savoury notes, sous bois earthiness and tremendous length. Sinewy and powerful, this underwent wild yeast fermentation and spent 15 months in 22% new French oak barriques. Quality with a capital Q and well worth 95/100 points. This is all but sold out at cellar door, but you might find it some in quality retail outlets.
$78. www.tenminutesbytractor.com.au.