Thursday, June 9, 2016

2015 Hoddles Creek Chardonnay

Winemaker Franco D'Anna has been producing great value Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Yarra Valley for several years now, and the release of these wines has become greatly anticipated by many, including myself, seeking to get top quality wines at a great price.

Fruit for the Chardonnay under the Hoddle's Creek range comes from the home estate, where it  is all hand picked and fermented on site.

Great fresh and clean chardonnay aromatics of apricot, white peach, and grapefruit. A touch of struck match. Delicate with a bit of slatey minerality. Great line of acidity. Delicious stuff.

Price: $22
Varietal: Chardonnay
Would I Buy It?: Absolutely. Great value for money.
Website: www.hoddlescreekestate.com


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

2015 Brash Higgins 'ZBO' Zibbibo

 Zibbibo is the Southern Italian name for the aromatic Muscat of Alexandria grape. Wine maker Brad Hickey sources the fruit for this wine from Ricca Terra farms in South Australia's Riverland region, winners of the 2015 Gourmet Traveler Wine 'Viticulturist of the Year' award.

The fruit is all hand picked and placed in amphorae, where wild yeast fermentation is allowed to do it's thing. Everything is then left as it is, with the juice staying in contact with seeds and skins for another 5 months. The juice is then hand pressed off into old french barrels, prior to bottling.

This is a wine I look forward to seeing each new vintage, and one of the most interesting and best produced skin contact whites in Australia. Powerful and complex aromatics ranging from the spice cupboard to apricot jam, with so many things difficult to describe. Time on skins and seeds impart a great texture on the palate, with a touch of chalky grip. This wine loves food, and is pairs very well with Korean food, particularly kimchi.

Price:      $40
Source:   Wine Emporium
Varietal:  Zibbibo (Muscat of Alexandria) 
Rating:    94
Website: www.brashhiggins.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 SC Pannell Aromatico

I sure do love a good blend of aromatic white wine varietals. They tend to really suit these warmer summer months, as well as my penchant for spicy S.E. Asian dishes. This one comes from one of Australia's most celebrated wine makers S.C. Pannell, who has been producing a lot of great wines over the past few years. This one is a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris.

Aromas of lychee and rosewater alongside lime and a hint of pear. The palate is clean with citrus tang and maybe a touch of saline character, which adds some nice complexity.

Overall, a fun, delicious, and crowd pleasing wine.

Price:      $25
Source:   Wine Emporium
Varietal:  Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris  
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    94
Website: www.pannell.com.au

2015 Chaffey Brothers Dufte Punkt

Another great vintage of the Dufte Punkt, which tranlates from German into "the aromatic point". This  blend is almost equal parts Riesling and Gewurztraminer, with Weiber Herold accounting for the remaining 20 percent. The Gewurztraminer was given 12 hours of skin contact prior to pressing.

Such a beautiful wine with huge amounts of perfumed aromatics. Plenty of lychee and rose from the Gewurztraminer, along with some lemon and lime citrus notes. Nice dry palate with a good kick of acidity.

The perfect pairing for spicy Thai curries and so many other S.E. Asian dishes. A real crowd pleaser.

Price:      $24
Source:   Chalk and Cheese, West End
Varietal:  Riesling, Gewurztraminer
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    94
Website: www.chaffeybroswine.com.au

2013 Kooyong Clonale Chardonnay

This is the entry level Chardonnay from Kooyong range of Port Phillip Estate, in the Mornington Peninsula.

Lemon, lime, and wet stone aromas. A chalky, fine, and tightly wound palate which rounds out with bright cleansing acidity.

Nice clean chardonnay at a fair price.

Price:      $30
Source:   Chalk and Cheese, West End
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    92
Website: www.portphillipestate.com.au

2014 Soumah 'Single Vineyard' Brachetto

Soumah are based in the Yarra Valley where they focus on Northern Italian style wines, alongside some of the Eastern French styles more common in this area. The Brachetto grape originates from Piedmont region of Northwest Italy and is commonly used to make a slightly sweet sparkling wine in the DOCG region of Brachetto D'aqui.

Here these grapes have been used to produce a sweet, still wine with great aromatic intensity. It opens up with distinct notes of strawberry and roses. The palate is less sweet than many other dessert wines (certainly less sweet than most botrytis wines or other stickies) and is nicely balanced with a touch of acidity. 

An all round interesting and enjoyable wine. Ideal for pairing with desserts, particularly fruit and/or not-too-sweet cakes. 

Price:      $29 RRP
Source:   Tasting
Varietal:  Brachetto
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    93
Website: www.soumah.com.au

2015 Thistle Hill Organic Riesling

2015 Organic RieslingThistle Hill is situated in the Cudgegong Valley in Mudgee NSW. Their vineyards are all organic and unique, in that they have never used chemical sprays on their vines.

Alongside floral and lime aromas are some some riper aromas that might imply a sweeter style of Riesling, however the palate in nice and dry with clean, refreshing, and well balanced acidity.

Drinking very well in it's youth, an excellent choice with Thai food.

Price:      $30 RRP
Source:   Tasting
Varietal:  Riesling
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    92
Website: www.thistlehill.com.au

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2014 Giant Steps 'Applejack Vineyard' Pinot Noir

Giant steps produces to excellent single vineyards each year. This one from the Applejack vineyard, located in the upper Yarra Valley, distinctive for it's altitude, cool climate and red volcanic loam.

The 60% of the grapes that were left as whole bunches during ferment definitely make themselves known, but don't overwhelm. I get violet, red cherry, cedar spice, and some savory earthy aromas. Fine silky tannins linger with more red cherry fruit on the palate. An elegant and interesting Pinot Noir.

Price:      $50 RRP
Source:   Tasting
Varietal:  Pinot Noir
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    95
Website: www.innocentbystander.com.au

2014 Manners Gewurztraminer

Good clean crisp Gewurztraminer coming from the Mudgee region in New South Whales.

Classic Gewurztraminer nose of lychee and rose petals with plenty of grapefruit and lime. Good dose of citrus acidity on the palate, keeping things nice and dry, not to mention very refreshing. A good Gewurztraminer at this price.

Price:      $20 RRP
Source:   Tasting
Varietal:  Gewurztraminer
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    91
Website: www.mannerswine.com.au

2013 Castagna 'Growers Selection' Harlequin


An interesting orange wine from Castagna in Beechworth, Victoria. A blend of Roussane, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Viognier fermented on there skins in amphora.

Aromatics similar to what I've been seeing in a lot of these skin contact wines with a nice punch of pineapple, peach, and wet stone. Chalky texture with a good kick of acidity to finish clean. A fun and interesting wine that developed well in the glass.

Price:      $35 RRP
Source:   Tasting
Varietal:  Roussane, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    91
Website: www.castagna.com.au

2014 Jamsheed 'Harem Ma Petite Francine' Cabernet Franc

Image of 2014 Ma Petite FrancineAll of the fruit for this wine was sourced from a single vineyard in the Yarra Valley. It was fermented in whole bunches with wild yeast and no additions, outside of a small amount of sulfur dioxide.

Herbal aromatics with plenty of fresh fruit and savory complexity. Lacking the pencil shaving character I tend to associate with this varietal, but not missed here. Carries juicy soft palate, with moderate length and more fresh dark berry fruit character.

A light and easy style that is very food friendly. A good one to chill down slightly if your craving a cooler glass of red for the warmer summer months.

Price:      $25
Source:   Craft Red Hill
Varietal:  Cabernet Franc
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    92
Website: www.jamsheed.com

2013 Yangarra Estate Shiraz

A McLaren Vale Shiraz with wonderful restraint and balance. This wine was fermented with wild yeasts and included 20% whole bunches in the ferment.

Aromas of blackberry, blueberry, prune/plum,  and a bit of leather and pepper. Nice round palate with fine grainy tannins. Keeps you coming back for more, while definitely providing enough tannin and acidity to see it age for a few more years.

Excellent Shiraz for this price.

Price:      $25
Source:   CRU Bar and Cellar
Varietal:  Shiraz
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    93
Website: www.yangarra.com

2015 De Bortoli 'Villages' Pinot Noir

Another vintage of this excellent value Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley. You can see my recent review of the 2013 vintage of this wine here.

There seems to be a bit more fresh raspberry and red fruit aromas than the 2013, perhaps associated with a bit more carbonic maceration  (a great article on this wine making technique is available here from Jamie Goode.). Just a pleasant and accessible Pinot Noir. I would have a hard time thinking of a better Australian Pinot Noir for under $20.

Price:      $17
Source:   Dan Murphy's
Varietal:  Pinot Noir
Tasted:    December 2015
Rating:    94
Website: www.debortoli.com.au

2011 Mac Forbes 'Hugh' Cabernet Blend

Fruit for this blend was sourced from a small vineyard in the Gruyere sub region of the Yarra Valley. The grapes were all dry grown and fermented separately. One of the most complex and beautiful Bordeaux style blends I've tried from Australia.  

Powerful dark cherry and plum aromas are dominant, with lively herbal scents and perhaps a touch of pencil shavings from the Cabernet Franc. A firm taut palate follows with seriously integrated and complex tannin structure and some savory elements adding complexity to the dark berry fruits.

Paired a treat with braised lamb shanks. Already drinking fantastic, but this is a wine I would love to revisit every few years for the next ten to twenty.

Price:      $70 RRP
Source:   Gift
Varietal:  Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot
Tasted:    November 2015
Rating:    96
Website: www.macforbes.com