Thursday 30 December 2021

The Best of 2021

2021 has certainly been a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Everyone has had a very different Covid experience but it has been wonderful to see the human spirit in these unforeseen times. In the wine sector, so many were challenged once again be it in the vineyard, winery, cellar door and on-premise. In times like these, the best thing you can do as a consumer is to reach out and support small business. As I wrote back in March 2020, the small businesses are the ones putting their children through school, paying off mortgages, paying growers for their fruit, etc as opposed to large chain companies whose focus is on profitability for their stakeholders. Here's to a more prosperous 2022!

I am often asked to name the top wines I come across. So for 2021, here is a snapshot. Mind you, trying to narrow the field from all the wines tasted this year is no easy feat, but I'll give it a go... 

Pizzini Per Gli Angeli 2012

Christmas pudding in a glass is a more than apt description of this hypnotic dessert wine from Pizzini. Per Gli Angeli is Italian for 'For the Angels". Made in the Vin Santo style, when you consider the winemaking process, the angels seem to have taken their fair share too. This is simply sublime.

Parker Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

 A fair Cabernet from Parker Coonawarra Estate.

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Arila Gardens Quartz and Gardens Shiraz 2020

All rise. What a superstar we have here! Handled with white gloves it would seem such is the precision. Sure it's young, but oh my, embrace this with two hands and savour every drop. 

Yelland and Papps Limited Cuvée Shiraz 2014


A Barossa Shiraz that slides down with ease. Dripping in class, you'd be inclined to think this was an old-world wine on inspection - it's just so captivating to absorb. A brilliant wine from Yelland & Papps.

Michael and Susan Papps' ability to keep their customers immersed in a journey of texture and elegance deserves respect. Their creativity with the Second Take range does this impressively but this Limited Cuvée range just cranks the dial that bit more adding prestige on a grand scale. And, oh my, this Shiraz is something.

Dr Plonk The Good Doctor's Tonic 2012


Wines you don't expect to bowl you over and they do. Add this one to that surprise packet list. What a cracker we have here! It's a big, voluptuous number. Just on 10 years old, the heft it carries could potentially have Covid curing capabilities. Don't quote me but we'll wait for the lab to confirm that...

Blue Pyrenees Section One Shiraz 2018


Cool climate Shiraz smashing it out of the park. A fabulous wine, it's hard to resist.

Monday 27 December 2021

Jim Brand The Remnants Shiraz 2019


Think of this as a classic muscle car. It won't beat those fancy European sports cars over a mountain, but as time goes on and things straighten out, it'll leave that fancy piece behind. Showing fabulous age-worthy traits, this Coonawarra Shiraz is a keeper in great form.

Howard Park Jeté Brut NV


A wonderfully structured and balanced sparkling from Howard Park. I'll have another glass thanks.

Vickery Reserve Eden Valley Riesling 2018


In bottle for two years prior to release, this Eden Valley Riesling offers good refreshment that will continue to develop with bottle age. 

Penley Estate Georgina Sparkling Shiraz NV


This time of year is cricket season and sparkling Shiraz season. Here is a handy wine from Penley Estate.

Grandis Wines Earthed Montepulciano 2020


There is a lot to like about the shape and flow of this wine. Montepulciano from the Hunter Valley, it is infused with organic Australian Ginseng as an alternative preservative - a unique approach. This is a wine worth checking out.

Gundog Estate Rosé 2021


A Rosé made from Shiraz and Cabernet, I found the Cabernet to really stamp its authority. It's the type of wine more suited for a casual BBQ than sipping on the sun on its own.

Clandestine Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2021


Good gear. Find me that chicken salad.

Lemon Villa Late Harvest Riesling 2019


There's good refreshment offered here with a slight texture and a lick of sweetness on close. 

Clandestine Vineyards Chardonnay 2021


The last time I saw this wine was the 2019 release. I'm not sure what happened with the 2020 but this 2021 is not where it's been before and is a bit ho hum. 

Thursday 23 December 2021

Ballandean Estate Fiano 2021


Fiano is a white variety hitting its straps around Australia. Ballandean Estate has been producing this variety for several years now and each vintage is as appealing and energetic as the previous. This is a great wine and one worth befriending when in search of an alternative to the main white wines seen on the shelf.

Gundog Estate The Lived Experience Shiraz 2019

Gundog Estate's Matt Burton seems to be the Energiser Bunny with so many things going on at once. To add another string to his bow, 100% of the profits from this wine go to Path 2 Change - a charity working to support the homeless and disadvantaged youth. Respect.

Santa and d'Sas Renno Riesling 2016


I was gifted this Riesling a little while ago and held off for the right moment. Warming up for six kilos of Porchetta seemed an appropriate occasion. Good gear this with years left in the bank.

Golden Grove Estate Marnita Muscat NV

Soak your dried fruit in this overnight and then spoon over ice cream. There is a Christmas hack. Or just sip slow. A fab non-vintage Muscat made from Golden Grove Estate's 65-year-old vines - the oldest and the original vines planted on the estate.

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Onannon Chardonnay 2020


Love Chardonnay? You'll love this. A new label to me, it comes courtesy of Joe Caruso who runs the brilliant Somm Wine Store on the Gold Coast. A superb recco and then some - thanks Joe!

Oakridge Vineyard Series Barkala Cabernet Sauvignon 2019


Medium-bodied Cabernet done right. Another example of why you should explore more of this variety from the Yarra Valley.

Tuesday 21 December 2021

Soumah Pinot Grigio 2021

I love a Pinot Grigio (and Pinot Gris) with a blush appearance. That copper tinge - just beautiful! This wine is pretty damn fine too. Another very well-executed release from Soumah.

FU Manchu Montepulciano 2021


A butcher's dreamboat, fistfuls of dark fruits flow with ease. Fine spices and a dash of pepper, there is an incredible moreishness that flows. 

Oakridge Over the Shoulder Pinot Grigio 2020


An easy-going and simple white wine. 

Geoff Merrill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013


Life is made easy when you can buy a bottle off the shelf with some significant aging already under its belt. All that is required is for you to decant then sit back and enjoy. Lovers of 'old school' Cabernet wines will be rapt with this.

Monday 20 December 2021

Yelland and Papps Limited Cuvée Grenache 2014


Pushing Grenache to the limits. This wine is not about being a "Barossa" Grenache per se. It's an expression of the variety and a culmination of acquired learning over years of winemaking. It's pulverising - you'll love it or not.

Blue Pyrenees Dry Sparkling Rosé 2018


A little pink fizz to keep you smiling during these warm summer afternoons. An easy-drinking wine made for casual catch-ups.

Vickery The Reserve Watervale Riesling 2018


As Kenny Rogers once said, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." So with this Riesling, do you hold or drink now? You'll be rewarded either way that's for sure. A ripping Riesling from the Clare Valley sub-region of Watervale.

FU Manchu Rosé 2021

Lots of friends with big smiles and plentiful plates of food would welcome this fab Rosé with two hands. Clever gear from Dr Plonk.

Clandestine Vineyards Shiraz 2019


Barbecues all the way. It's a good time of year for that activity too.

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Thick as Thieves Driftwood 2021


This is something. It's smashable deluxe! Juicy, dancy and pretty, it was recommended to me by Joe Caruso - the owner of the uber cool Somm bottle shop on the Gold Coast. If you're in the hood, drop by. And if you ever see one of these on the shelf, reach out and grab one - quickly!

Penley Estate Francis Cabernet Franc 2021


A kick arse label for a kick arse wine. It's so playful and energetic. Who would have ever used those words to describe Cabernet Franc? Kate Goodman and Lauren Hansen keep dishing up the goods at Penley Estate and it's best you get on board too.

Miles From Nowhere Best Blocks Cabernet Sauvignon 2019


Like its siblings, this is a cracker for the price. Only 25 bucks for a whole load of Cabernet delish.

Twisted Gum Shiraz 2019

Bright and joyous, this is a tasty number from little Granite Belt producer Twisted Gum.

Twisted Gum Verdelho Semillon 2021


Tim and Michelle Coelli run a cute cellar door and rely on their 3 hectare site to supply all their fruit. With testing weather conditions in recent years, they've pushed on resisting to buy in fruit. Here they have combined two white varieties rarely paired with one another. It's a neat summertime drink.

Monday 13 December 2021

Yelland and Papps Limited Cuvée Roussanne 2016


Find me a better producer of Roussanne in Australia - I dare you. The consideration, judicious handling and layers of interest Yelland & Papps generate from this variety are simply incredible. Here is a Roussanne of unrivaled proportions. An excellent wine hands down.

Miss Zilm Riesling 2021


Wow! Clare Valley Riesling in the zone. A personal project of Keeda Zilm, she has packed nearly 20 years of Riesling knowledge and experience into this mightily impressive wine. 

It's zippy and personable, bright and fresh - it's all things you want in a Riesling as you cool your heels on a warm afternoon. 

Soumah Single Vineyard Savarro 2021

I haven't seen this Savarro for a couple of years and little has changed - it's still a delicious and refreshing wine. Nicely done team Soumah.

Oakridge Over the Shoulder Pinot Noir 2020


Even the most pompous wine snob would acknowledge the quality of this Pinot from Oakridge. As an entry-level wine, this is quite something for $24.

Sunday 12 December 2021

Miss Zilm Fiano 2021


I haven't had the pleasure of tasting a Miss Zilm wine previously, but it seems the work of Keeda Zilm has come across the tasting bench previously through her work at O'Leary Walker for 16 years. This Fiano is a beauty. There's a precision here and an abundance of flavour too. Very expressive, it's that friend you could chat to all night. 

Somos Pinot Meunier 2021


The Gold Coast has a lot of things but one thing it lacks is good independent bottle shops. Enter Somm at Nobby Beach. Masterfully curated by former Fesq rep Joe Caruso, the diversity that has been jam-packed into this space is quite something. I was having dinner at a BYO nearby and I was on a mission. Qwife was after Pinot but Joe and I hatched a plan with this Pinot Meunier. In short, it hit the mark and we both loved it. What a juicy and joyous wine it is!

Ox Hardy Fiano 2021


A burst of prettiness leaps from the glass. It has that, "Pick me. Pick me!" vibe about it.

Saturday 11 December 2021

Oakridge Vineyard Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

A super classy and elegant Cabernet that shows everything that's great about this variety. Well played team Oakridge. Highlighted by wonderful fruit and impressive savoury characters, it's long and moreish and whispers you closer. 

James Haselgrove Futures Shiraz 2019


What a pleasure to drink. This Shiraz just glides through. Silky, elegant weight, it prances about on its toes. Lovely stuff.

Blue Pyrenees Midnight Cuvée 2017


For the time of year when fizz flows freely, here is an impressive sparkling wine sure to impress. A pre-dinner drink - yes please!

Soumah Tutto Bianco d'Soumah 2021


Sunday picnics, crowd-pleasing deluxe, there is so much to keep you engaged with this easy-going wine. 

Wednesday 8 December 2021

Dr Plonk FU Manchu Carignan 2021


Smackdown Carignan! This is a variety McLaren Vale does well and is getting more and more airplay in recent times. Often blended away, in the right hands it sings. One could say FU if you don't agree... Grab one of these, it's a fab drop.

Draytons Bellevue Grand Reserve Semillon 2017

A mate brought this round to share. He was gifted it by a friend who received it as a free bonus bottle from one of those online clearance stores. A $90 bottle was thrown in for free... Naturally, we were both curious.

Vickery Watervale Riesling 2021


Dumplings anyone? Let me loose at a large plate with a glass of this Riesling by my side.