Current Issue #488

Wine Reviews:
Chalmers, Pikes, Robert Oatley

And we’re off! This month we’re embracing the prospect of warm afternoons in the garden with rosé and riesling for company.

Chalmers, Pikes and Robert Oatley wine bottles


2018 Rosato
RRP $27

I hereby decree that the 2019 rosé season is officially off and running. Actually, it never really ended; it just keeps on rolling along and the plethora of food-friendly rosé wines that we have on the market makes me feel quite spoilt at times.

When I am elevated to the esteemed position of Minister of Wine and Cheese, the lovely Chalmers family of Merbein will be right at the top of my honours list for services to the Australian wine industry.

Their role as visionary vine importers and growers has had a huge impact on the wine styles we see on our tables, and many of those delicious and groovy Italian grape varieties that are now commonplace are a result of their hard work sourcing vine cuttings for their nursery and distributing them to eager growers and winemakers. They also just happen to produce a killer range of wines under their own label.

The 2018 Chalmers Rosato, a blend of aglianico (59%), nero d’Avola (31%) and sagrantino (10%) hails from the ironstone-rich, Dolerite green basalt soils of their Heathcote vineyard in Victoria and you would be hard-pressed to find a rosé that tops its chops for fruit purity, stony, savoury goodness and pure “pourmeanotherglassness”.

Think pale, dry and textural with gorgeous red berry, blood orange and ruby-red grapefruit tones with a splash of raspberry for good measure. Light floral hints, a waft of marzipan and a vivid, crisp finish that will win many a fan this summer.


2019 Traditionale Riesling RRP $26

There are many brands that have been a regular part of my wine-drinking quiver stretching from when I was a snotty-nosed vino-fledgling right up to the present day. Pikes Riesling is one of those brands. There are several reasons for this.

I like the label. It’s got a picture of a pike on it. Go figure, eh? When I was a wee lad, my father told me a story of a time in his teens when he and some of his dodgy mates took an old musket down to the stream, packed it full of powder and wedged in a sharpened stick as a projectile and lay in wait for a large pike to do its rounds.

To cut a very long story short, picture three kids covered in gunpowder soot and a pike pinned to the bottom of an English waterway. It was that tale that prompted me to pick up the bottle all those years ago; the wine’s quality and consistency have led me back to it year after year.

For starters, you can expect all those classic Clare Valley riesling characters that we all love so much. Juicy, freshly squeezed lime juice; high-tones of bright, floral Christmas lilies and orange blossom; hints of makrut lime leaf; and that classic, mouth-watering, sapid line of acidity that drives the wine across the palate, slaking one’s thirst and finishing crisp, dry and clean. I defy you to drink this without dreaming of barbecued crustaceans or blasting fish with a questionably maintained ancient firearm.

Robert Oatley

2019 Signature Series Great Southern Riesling
RRP $19

Your faithful and slightly dishevelled wine hack has recently returned from judging at the 2019 Wine Show of Western Australia, where he was put through the ringer and exposed to the top wines that are on offer in WA.

It’s my second time judging at the wine show, which is set in Mount Barker in the Great Southern wine region and while Western Australia’s strengths are well known – namely chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon and its assorted Bordeaux-esque blends – there is one grape variety that, for me, has been a revelation. I speak, in not so hushed tones, of Great Southern riesling.

Great Southern riesling is a little different to the ones we have grown to love from our state’s Clare and Eden Valleys.

In somewhat of a sweeping generalisation, you can expect them to be a little more steely and have more velocity than their South Australian cousins, with hints of freshly cut fennel and less overt floral notes, though this of course varies between the established sub-regions of the Porongurups, Mount Barker, Albany, Denmark and Frankland River.

The wine that picked up a swag of trophies including Best White Wine of Show and the JS Gladstones Trophy for the wine with the Best and Most Distinctive Regional Character was the 2019 Robert Oatley Signature Series Great Southern Riesling and it is a cracker. Packed full of grapefruit and citrus zest, slatey acidity and an enviable inherent drinkability. Amazing value and utterly delicious.

Dave Brookes

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