A complex and delicious Yarra Valley Chardonnay, a sparkling new Riesling release from Spinifex Wines in the Barossa, Charles Melton’s benchmark Grenache-dominant rosé and a stunning Champagne from the best vintage of the last decade. Aren’t we a lucky lot?
2014 Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay RRP $45 Steve Flamsteed and the team at Giant Steps are at the top of their game, consistently releasing some of the Yarra Valley’s best wines. 2014 was a great, though low yielding, vintage in the Yarra Valley and the region continues to give us some of the best Chardonnay in the country. There is no doubt that Chardonnay is Australia’s most improved variety of the last 10 years or so; gone are the blousy wines of the 1990s and in their place are finely honed, beautifully composed wines that have the Burgundians looking over their shoulders. We are very lucky wine drinkers indeed. Aromas of white peach, grapefruit and pithy lemon with hints of spice, clotted cream, deftly judged vanillin oak, marzipan, crushed stone and wafts of oatmeal and struck flint. Purity and precision are the leitmotif here with the wine showing great detail throughout, and there is a sense of restraint and grace to its form. The initial fruit impact on the palate is all grapefruit and peach yet there is an almost sherbety intensity as it seemingly swells on the palate, not excessively so mind you as there is a superb line of lip–smacking, sapid acidity drawing everything into line and kicking the saliva glands into overdrive. Long of finish, it trails off with memories of oatmeal, baking spice, marzipan and flinty citrus and stone fruits. innocentbystander.com.au/wines/giant-step
2015 Rose of Virginia RRP $25 It’s certainly rosé season and one of the best examples in our fine state, one of the nation’s benchmarks for the style no less, comes from Barossa legend Charles Melton. A blend of Grenache, Pinot Meunier, Cabernet, Pinot Noir and Shiraz, it is a serious style that is built for enjoying with food or sipping barefoot on the grass in equal measure. Although finishing bone–dry, there is texture and weight here to support more robust pasta dishes and cured meats. There was a bit of a push a couple of years ago to declare that pale rosés were dry rosés. True in many cases, but don’t dismiss the wines of deeper hue because many of them are dry also. If in doubt, have a read of the wine’s label to determine its level of dryness. Light cherry–red in colour with perfumed aromas of raspberry, red cherry, red currant and strawberry along with hints of Turkish delight, soft spice, black pepper, sous bois and red licorice. The fruit on the palate is bright, crisp and decidedly moreish with the fruit flavours from the nose neatly transposing to the palate. Beautifully composed and great drinking as the temperature rises. charlesmeltonwines.com.au
2015 Eden Valley Riesling RRP $35 I am a big fan of Barossa winemaker Pete Schell’s Spinifex wines; across the range they peak the meter in the drinkability stakes and have lovely savoury palate shapes making them very versatile at the dining table. The inaugural release of his Eden Valley Riesling is a ripper. From an old, dry–grown vineyard in Flaxman Valley planted in the 1940s and 50s, this baby sees a bit of work in the winery, transforming it into a crisp yet textural wine that is sure to win many a heart. Wild ferment – 25 percent whole berry, 10 percent of the juice in old, larger format French casks, the remainder in stainless steel tanks with four months on lees and no filtration – it’s slinky, perfumed and vibrant, and is sure to win many a fan over the next couple of months. Pale straw in colour with aromas of grapefruit and lime, with lighter wafts of papaya way back in the distance. Hints of almond meal, citrus blossom, crushed quartz, clotted cream, bath salts, grilled nuts and a light wash of herbs and soft spice complete the aromatic landscape. Pure and long with a classic, focussed ‘tubular’ shape that flows across the palate with laser–like precision. Finely detailed and showing great clarity of flavour, it is expansive and textured on the mid–palate with a delightful phenolic tug on the finish, which trails away, long, linear and lip–smackingly moreish. A cracking debut. spinifexwines.com.au
2008 Champagne Taittinger RRP $160 There is currently a lot of talk about the 2008 vintage in Champagne, with many pundits rating its quality as surpassing the stellar 1996 vintage. Time will certainly tell but there is no doubt that is indeed the finest vintage since 1996, showing incredible focus and finesse, tight, steely acidity and huge potential for a very long life if cellared carefully. It rings true to the tenets of the Taittinger house style, elegance, finesse and purity, known as a complex, feminine style of impressive balance. A 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from 100 percent Grand Cru vineyards, some may baulk at its price, which to be honest is at the upper end for a vintage Champagne, but the trifecta of classic vintage, consistent producer and superbly composed, complex wine with a long life ahead of it is enough to get it a place in the cellar. Pale straw with a fine, energetic bead, the 2008 Taittinger shows fruit aromas of lemon, white stone–fruits, red currant and crisp apple with hints of fl int, toasted brioche, proving dough, apple pastries, cream and lighter wafts of mushroom broth and forest floor. Finely honed on the palate it is both delicate yet profoundly complex, with a sense of latent power to its form. It shows exceptional intensity with crystalline fruit purity, complex, yeasty autolysis notes and a scaffold of crackling, porcelain–like acidity that powers the wine across the palate. Long and focussed of finish. Stunning stuff. taittinger.com
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