As we shake off the layers of clothing – after what seems a long winter – and blossoms appear on the trees, thoughts wander to the balmier weather to come and the holidays that, at this stage, seem distant.
Fear not, as we have a fine selection of wines that will herald the coming of spring, raise you spirits and make that end-of-year break seem ever closer. A Prosecco, Riesling, Chardonnay and a Shiraz, which will last for many springs to come, feature this week, so grab a glass and relax. Shaw + Smith 2014 M3 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay RRP $45 The 2012 acquisition of a beautifully situated Lenswood vineyard of some pedigree was a fine move by the team at Shaw + Smith. That vineyard now makes up a large proportion of the fruit sourced for this particular wine. There has been a trend, mostly for the good, of paring back Chardonnay in this country; let’s face it, those blousy, blown-out numbers from the 1990s were going nowhere. Some producers push it too far, the result: skeletal Chardonnays, all acid and sulphide and not much else. Others get it bang on. Shaw + Smith is one of those producers and their M3 Chardonnay continues to go from strength to strength. Detail, grace and precision. There’s my three-word tasting note for this wine, though, of course, we’ll expand on that a little for the sake of completeness. Nectarine, white peach, green apple and some pithy grapefruit are the dominant fruit characters here as well as lighter hints of roasted cashew, along with wafts of almond meal, subtle vanillin oak, nougat, stone and oatmeal. Elegant in the mouth, as only cool climate Chardonnay can be, the 2014 model shows fantastic fruit purity, texture and drive across the palate; beautifully weighted and taut showing great focus. Finishing with a sheen of porcelain-like acidity and a flourish of stone-fruit and meal, she’s a beauty. shawandsmith.com Henschke 2010 Hill of Grace Shiraz RRP $650 Hill of Grace is a name that certainly needs no introduction to those with even a passing interest in Australian fine wine. This single-vineyard offering from Henschke’s impossibly photogenic Hill of Grace vineyard in the Eden Valley is an absolute beauty in 2010, and it’s easy to see why the wine is considered an Australian benchmark Shiraz. The vineyard was planted in the 1860s and lies 400 metres above sea level, and the resulting fruit has been bottled as a single-vineyard wine since 1958. They are wines of great pedigree with a proven track record of cellaring beautifully – everyone deserves one in their cellar. Grace by name and grace by nature, it shows great detail and purity throughout and puts an elegant line across the palate. Fruit aromas of black and red currants and bright plummy notes, Hints of spice, licorice, polished leather and truffle join the chorus along with beautifully judged oak nuance. The palate is all about flow and precision, all the above characters neatly transposed onto the palate as the flavours sweep across with a silky, velvet-like flow. The gentle tug of fine, ripe tannin provides ample structure. This wine will age magnificently and reward the patient. henschke.com.au Dal Zotto 2014 L’Immigrante Prosecco RRP $36 Prosecco is one of the great sparkling success stories in recent years, prompting a few steely glares from the Champenois in the process. The wine hails from the Valdobbiadene area in the Italian wine region of Veneto, but in Australia, Victoria’s King Valley is the wine’s epicentre, where industrious Italian immigrants planted the grape varieties of their homeland as the region’s tobacco industry came to a close. The lovely Dal Zotto family produces some of the King Valley’s finest Prosecco – crisp, creamy and just perfect drinking as we slide into the warmer spring weather. Pale straw in colour, with a fine, energetic bead reaching for the wine’s surface, the fruit aromas of crisp crunchy apple and nashi pear underpinned by hints of creme fraiche, yeast and a touch of oatmeal and crushed quartz for good measure. Providing great drinking, it’s crisp and lively as it dances across the palate, equal parts refreshing and complex. With a creamy, mouth-filling presence showing hints of citrus and pear fruits – along with lighter notes of clotted cream, white flowers and almond paste – it finishes bone dry with fine, racy, sherbet-like acidity and hints of cream on the finish that lingers nicely. dalzotto.com.au Head Wines 2015 Riesling RRP $25 Alex Head is a dynamic young winemaker who produces a range of cracking wines from fruit sourced from the Barossa. His wines – reds and whites alike – are delicious drinking across the board, and in the short time since he started in 2006, his wines have won many fans and gushing praise from many wine critics – for good reason. This particular Eden Valley Riesling is gorgeous, displaying the energetic boisterousness of youth. Pale straw green in hue with aromas of juicy fresh lime and citrus fruits, a touch of white peach and light notes of youthful tropical aromas. Hints of orange blossom and Christmas lillies, crushed quartz, Bickford’s lime cordial and a touch of nectarine richness. It is crisp and racy with freshly squeezed lime and grapefruit characters, citrus blossom and stony, chalky notes. Great drive and energy throughout with a precise, focussed form, slatey, crisp acid and a surprising share of fruit richness on its dry finish. Beautiful drinking and I for one will be loading my own cellar with Eden Valley Rieslings this year. Some grilled seafood or a Thai curry and a glass of this and you’ll be smiling. headwines.com.au