Current Issue #488

Wine Reviews: Wines By KT, Oakridge, Yalumba

As we swoop into the warmer months it is time to genuflect in front of the wine fridge, give a quick word of thanks to Bacchus for an outstanding 2019 Clare Valley Riesling vintage and think about stocking up the cellar to get you through the summer. For all accounts, the 2019 vintage was no walk in the park with drought conditions and low yields but I’m seeing some terrific wines thus far.

Wines By KT

2019 Peglidis Vineyard Riesling
RRP $35

KT refers to Kerri Thompson, who just happens to make some of the finest rieslings to come out of Australia’s most famous riesling region, the Clare Valley. This particular wine hails from the Peglidis Vineyard in the Watervale sub-region, planted by Bunny and Yvonne Peglidis in 1970 and farmed old- school style – dry grown and minimal inputs. With its chocolatey loams over limestone, it’s a fine slice of dirt.

It’s got all those wonderful Clare Valley aromatics: freshly squeezed lime juice, Christmas lilies and assorted blossomy goodness, crushed stone and assorted citrus flourishes. As pretty as it smells, it really takes off on the palate. Again, juicy lime and blossom high-tones come to the fore but the wine’s focus and tension are a thing to behold.

It tiptoes that ridgeline between fruit and acidity beautifully. It has that driving, tubular palate-shape that makes me go all gooey, and, as that tension resolves, there is the faintest hint of grapefruit pith phenolics right on the finish – which is crisp, vivid, limey and buzzing with energy. She’s a beauty!


2017 864 Yarra Valley Chardonnay
Funder & Diamond Vineyard
RRP $85

Chardonnay is a funny old thing. We’ve gone from the oak-rich, buttery jobs in the 80s/90s, which tended to fall flat on their arses after about five years in the cellar, to the fashionable, über-lean, skeletal, enamel-stripping wines of recent times – and all points in between. We’ve seen folks pushing the envelope, Chuck Yeager-style with ‘Spinal Tap’ levels of sulphides. The needle has settled somewhere near the middle now. We know it’s malleable, allowing winemakers to tinker away in the cellar following certain whims… now we are concentrating on farming and site.

I’ve mentioned before that chardonnay would take the trophy for ‘most improved’ over the last couple of decades with great examples coming from all over Australia’s cool-climate growing regions. The Yarra Valley is right up there with the premium areas for the variety in the country.

When I think of the pointy end of Australian chardonnay production, Oakridge Wines’ 864 is consistently in the mix for top honours and their recently released 2017 is up there with the best of them.

It’s pale in the glass with gorgeous aromas of grapefruit, white peach, struck match, almond paste, soft spice and beautifully judged oak nuance. The palate is initially all about drive and focus, the wine propelling forward with impressive momentum and tension before fanning out, gaining complexity before refocusing on the finish with a tight, stony minerality and a wash of oatmeal, judicious nutty French oak and citrus flourishes.

Serve alongside a roast chicken and you’ll be in a happy place.


2014 ‘The Caley’ Cabernet Shiraz
RRP $350

It’s great to see ‘The Great Aussie Blend” back in the limelight. It’s a red wine style that has deep historical ties within the Australian wine industry, has an enviable track record of lasting decades in the cellar and, I must say, goes pretty damn well with lamb shanks (which is how I decided to consume this bottle).

The wine – a Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon, Barossa shiraz blend – is named after Fred Caley Smith, grandson of Yalumba’s founder Samuel Smith. A horticulturist who was instrumental in the development of Yalumba’s orchards and vineyards, Caley was a bit of an Indiana Jones-type character heading off on an epic research journey in 1893 and 1894 to the USA, UK, Europe, the Middle East, Sri Lanka and India.

The action-packed tales of his travels, recorded in the 29-year-old’s letters to his father, would make a documentary, but while we wait for the celluloid version, we get this wine, Yalumba’s flagship offering, to nurture in the cellar for the premiere.

It’s wonderful drinking now but you just know it’s going to go the distance. Deep in hue with beautiful aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant, cassis and spiced plum with hints of baking spice and cedar along with perfectly judged French oak. The balance and persistence on the palate is something else. Elegant in its fruit intensity and weight in the mouth, the oak use is pitch-perfect and the tannins melt away on a finish that carries beautifully into the distance. Treat yourself – and keep your hands off it for a decade or so.

Dave Brookes

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