Monday, March 19, 2018

Matriarch and Rogue 2017 Dot Riesling

Marnie Roberts is a busy, and talented, winemaker in the Clare Valley. Roberts not only makes three stellar rieslings for Claymore Wines, her full-time employer, but also makes two more rieslings under her own label Matriarch and Rogue, which is named in tribute to the strong women in her family. This is a classic Watervale riesling at a sensible price point, named after her great aunt Dot. Brilliantly tart and refreshing, it comes with lemon, lime and grapefruit notes to the fore, alongside racy minerality and acidity. Lots of energy here and with no additions other than sulphur, it is vegan friendly. Pair this with some King George Whiting fillets pan-fried in butter. Divine. $25.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sabre by Mitchell Harris Sparkling

It is no surprise that John Harris from Mitchell Harris Wines produces outstanding sparkling wines that stand with some of the best in the country. Harris was for several years the chief winemaker at Domaine Chandon in the Yarra Valley before upping sticks and moving to Ballarat, from where he sources top-class fruit from growers in the Pyrenees, Macedon, Ballarat and Henty regions. The stellar 2013 vintage of this lifted and elegant bubbly is 60% chardonnay & 40% pinot noir from the Macedon and Pyrenees ranges. A reserve dosage liqueur adds just 5g/L sugar to help create a strikingly clean and complex aperitif style. Seriously lovely drinking. $42.  

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Katnook Estate 2015 Founder's Block Merlot

There were four of us tasting a small batch of reds, not one of us particularly enamoured of soft and simple merlots. That this wine stood out from the crowd is a tribute to former Katnook Estate winemaker Wayne Stehbens, who died a couple of months ago. The range is named after the original land holding of John Riddoch, the founder of Coonawarra wine region. This stands out with its intensity and structure; on the opposite side of the spectrum to some of the sweet and wimpy merlots that are still being made. Medium-bodied with dark berry and plum notes and some perky spice, it has excellent structure with French and American oak adding to the picture. Available at Dan Murphy’s and at selected independent retailers Australia wide. Terrific value for $20.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Brokenwood 2011 ILR Reserve Hunter Valley Semillon

Aged Hunter Valley semillon is a wine style like no other - and the winemaking team at Brokenwood are masters at making semillons that shine when young and zesty that develop after a few years into toasty, complex beasts. This reserve wine is six years old but isn't yet fully mature. It still boasts some youthful citrus fruit flavours and soft plushness on the palate. There's length here, intensity, complexity and still a good decade or more to go until it reaches its peak. $75.  

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Swan Bay 2017 Pinot Grigio

Scotchmans Hill's Swan Bay range has been given a lift by new colour-coded labelling that makes the wines stand out on crowded bottle shop shelves. There are several excellent wines crafted by winemaker Robin Brockett in the $20-ish range but this blend of Geelong region and Adelaide Hills fruit caught my fancy with its youthful joie de vivre. There is a plenty of summer refreshment here with pear, tropical fruit and citrus flavours jostling for attention on the lively palate. Enjoy the crispness and length and serve well-chilled. Deftly balanced and vegan friendly. Match with a chickpea salad. $22.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Houghton 2016 Shiraz

Wines from Houghton in Western Australia (180 years in the business and counting) used to be all the rage when it came to value but you don't see them around as much as you used to, despite the label being owned by the Accolade behemoth. At a time of year when many of us are operating on tight wine budgets, this new release is one to keep an eye out for; a fruit-driven number that would grace any barbecue. It's soft, medium-bodied  and easy to drink with bright, juicy dark fruit flavours. Tannin structure and oak influence are secondary but it doesn't matter because the balance is there and this certainly won't break the bank. Look for it on special - it can be found for under a tenner. $12.99.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Lane Block 10 Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

I'm out and proud this summer - happy to say that I'm drinking more sauvignon blanc than I have for several years. The reason is that excessive green/herbal characters are out, as are over-ripe tropical flavours. More Australian savvy blancs are being made with a deft touch like this one from the cool Adelaide Hills, where the fruit is grown in limestone vineyards, adding tangy minerality. It is unmistakeably varietal but with all the harsh edges removed. Think fresh citrus notes, fresh leafiness, some white stone fruit notes, and that vibrant line of acid minerality. One for enjoying well-chilled as an after-work pick-me-up, or paired with spicy Asian seafood dishes like sambal pink ling. Drinkability plus. $25.