Old timers like me remember lots of Cabernet Shiraz and Shiraz Cabernet combos on the market as the norm red blends when they were wine pups. The synergies between the grape varieties worked a treat together and you got a good each way bet of good honest early drinking and drinking later pleasure. The rewards of patience (sorry had to slip that one in!) have worked their magic here and this drinks just as well now as it probably did when it was released. There is more fuel in the tank as well may I add. A bigger fuller robust style of red, big bold smooth fruit - blackberry, mulberry, plums, chocolate and mocha. Good oak still there doing its supporting role, smooth well rounded tannins. Bloody good winemaking as you would expect from Penfolds. An excellent red that won't break the bank. Try this with gourmet pizza.
About $15 (current vintage). Alc 14.0%. Drink to 2023. 94/100 - Excellent.
Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay 2020
One of the best Australian Chardonnays around and has been that way for a long time now. Expectations are high and this vintage does not disappoint in any way. Pristine pale greenish yellow. Youthful and bright in the glass. Pure Adelaide Hills fruit on the aromas. Elegant and classy. White peach, pears and lemon, subtle hints of spice and grilled nuts. A complex layered array of characters on the nose. Tight and unwinding slowly, I like what I sense here. Nice peach melon and citrus lemons on the palate, soft lively acidity and lovely integrated French oak, seamlessly imparted. Delicious long and lingering, a sophisticated wine that has potential to grow in the next few years. Please make sure you buy some for later. Overall a top shelf wine drinking experience. Try this with spinach and ricotta cannelloni.
Drink to 2025. Alc 13.5%. About $50. 95/100 - Superb.
Robert Stein Farm Series Mudgee Rose' 2020
A hint of warm weather in Sydneytown today and the Rose' is out already. This youthful zippy fresh Mudgee Rose' made by Jacob Stein hits the mark. Dry in style yet packed with fruit characters. Strawberry, light cherries, violets and citrus lemons, the nose is fresh and uplifted. Very easy to drink, a refined fruit focussed palate with soft acidity and a medium dry finish. Try it with smoked trout and potato salad. Drink Now. 12.0%. About $25. 91/100 - Excellent.
Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay 2019
I have been a fan of the fuller Californian style of Chardonnay for some time. They are unafraid to use ripe fruit and good oak to produce wines of rich texture, robustness and luscious mouthfeel. The trick of course with these types of bigger style white wines is to get the structure right. They should also impart some elegance and what I call "cut" through them so they are not overdone nor cloying. Wente has been one of those dependable high quality producers (available here in Australia) that have been refining their style very nicely over the past few years. They are able to get the balance right between fruit, oak and structure. Situated in the Livermore Valley on the east coast of California (just inland of San Francisco), you get typical varietal and regional Chardonnay characters as you would expect. Think white peach, honey dew melon, passionfruit, mango and ripe lemons here. Good lineal fruit, well defined, forward, a touch bold with a fair whack of oak. Medium to fuller bodied, good lively acidity supporting the fruit making it an elegant wine. The fruit and oak are both well integrated. Beautiful peach melon on the palate, delicious and well rounded with a medium finish. Nice drinking here.
About $21. Drink Now. Alc 13.5%. 91/100 - Excellent.
Colpasso Grillo 2019
This Sicilian wine is a versatile white made from the Grillo variety and sourced I understand from the western side of the island near Trapani.Used for making Marsala it is a grape that suits warm climates and is one picked riper in style. It has a fulsome forward nose which shows off its ripe features but there is balance here with good lively supporting acidity. So you get a delicious mouthfeel long and with a crisp finish. Nice peach, pears and ripe apple. Light spicy fruit as well. A good standalone wine and one that suits Australian drinking conditions and a range of cuisines. Try it with rigatoni alla norma.
Drink Now. About $15. Alc 13.0%. 90/100 - Very Good.
Castle Rock Estate Great Southern Shiraz 2019
Deep purply some reddish hues. A youngster still ink staining my glass. Brooding fruit on the nose both sweet and savoury. Nice and balanced fruit, seamlessly imparted. Youthful fresh lively Great Southern region West Australian cool climate fruit. I like it because it appeals to me now and yet tells me there is more yet to come. Plums and more plums, cherries and more cherries, you get it, these are the primary fruit characters here. Good ones, that draw you in and taste delicious. Imparted with the spiciness you would expect and classic regional coolness, think white pepper and hints of mint it drinks elegantly. The French oak is there, refined and imparting ultrafine tannins. All the winemaking is in check. Highly drinkable, yes I polished a few glasses off with dinner with this excellent quality red. Try with grilled rib eye steak, sweet corn and crushed potatoes.
About $34. Alc 13.5%. Drink to 2029. 93/100 - Excellent.
Coldstream Hills The Hills Chardonnay 2019
Lemony yellow fresh and vibrant Yarra Valley Chardonnay. One good swirl confirms the elegance of the Yarra Valley fruit. Regional varietal characters of peach melon, tangy lemon and mixed grilled nuts. Crisp acidity, good forward lineal fruit on the palate, well structured and delivered and more of that peach melon you got on the nose. A medium dry finish. Nice wine. Try this with panko crusted oven-baked salmon.
About $25. 13.5%. Drink to 2023. 90/100 - Very Good.
Zonte's Footstep Violet Beauregard Malbec 2019
Beautiful evocative youthful purple in the glass. Ink staining. As you swirl and look into the glass a knockout array of glorious aromas come through. All senses are now well and truly at on alert and at attention. Violets, plums, cherries, blueberries, truffles and liquorice all make their presence felt. Pure elegant and just perfect on the nose. I spend far too much time oohing and aahing as I swirl and enjoy this beautiful Langhorne Creek South Australian sweet fruit. Eventually I taste. Refined wine, pure classy fruit. Seamlessly integrated oak. This Malbec is fresh alive and has ultrafine tannins. It is all about the fruit though here intricate all seductively smooth lingering moreish and delicious. Bring me more! (please). One beautiful wine. Should get better with time, not really sure how! Try this with bucatelli con ragu alla bolognese.
14.0%. Drink to 2026. About $30. 95/100 - Superb.
Little Yering Victoria Chardonnay 2019
Made by the good people at Yering Station in Victoria's Yarra Valley who well and truly know how to make good wines. A decent Chardonnay. Quality and value resonate here. A bright lemony to mid yellow colour, it shows off classic peach melon and tropical fruit from the first swirl. A touch of citrus lemon as well. Creamy, luxuriant, nice and smooth and long on the palate with lively acidity and just right oak treatment follows. Easy to savour, a decent enjoyable well made entry level Chardonnay from this excellent producer. Try it with butter chicken.
About $20. Alc 13.5%. Drink Now. 91/100 - Excellent.
The Parker philosophy of making wines that drink beautifully in their youth and reward patience in the medium to long term is well reflected in this respectable Coonawarra red. Deep crimsony purple ink staining in the glass, still in its youth. Lovely well rounded smooth ripe seductive aromas. Think blackcurrants, mulberries, plums, cherries and underlying mint and dry earth. An intense fruit driven nose. On the palate it reflects ripe youthful sweet fruit, good tempered oak supporting it, fresh acidity and fine long silky tannins. The wine's fruit has been made the star here by its winemaker. The long delicious finish makes it enjoyable drinking now but it has the potential to keep going and getting better for quite a few years yet. Try this with slowly braised lamb shanks, mash potato and peas (in a red wine sauce!).
About $20. Alc 14.0%. Drink to 2028. 93/100 - Excellent.
Ingoldby Cabernet Shiraz Merlot GSM 2012
This McLaren Vale red blend is nearing its decade. You would think it has well reached its peak for a GSM blend which would tend sooner rather than later in most circumstances however this has still got quite a few youthful characteristics that augur for good enjoyment now and further development into the future. Lots of crimsony purple streaks in the glass along with ruby red show off the remnants of youth I mentioned above. It is still quite fresh and lifted in the glass. You get fullsome upfront yet well defined and balanced spicy plums, cherries and blackberries on the nose. A nice earthiness comes through as does rhubarb and some black olives. A good fruit and savoury mix. Nice long extended layered nose at that. Well blended - the berry fruits come through in a defined dry well intergrated fresh and lifted manner on the palate. Spicy fruit, some liquorice and this married with fresh acidity still. Good tannins, fine and grainy. Good oak, there lineal, refined and adding to the wine's overall structure and elegance. It is drinking fine but I think it needs more time as well to develop further and even better. Buy now and store a few for later. Oh and this price it is in the value category as well and a good opportunity to see and try and aged red. Try this with slow cooked beef and sweet potato stew.
About $15. 14.5%. Drink Now to 2025. 91/100 - Excellent.
Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Gris 2020
A youthful vibrant fresh and stunningly aromatic New Zealand white wine. Pale straw in colour, you can see the purity of the wine from the first moment. The nose is full of lifted tropical fruits and a variety of enticing spices. Classic pineapple, mango, lychees then very nice ripe pears all make you anticipate the good stuff to follow. Good refreshing acidity supports the fruit, providing a nice balance and a good overall body to it. It has the fruit and the substance to make it appealing on lots of levels. A delicious luscious well rounded moreish white wine for those that enjoy fruit driven flavour in their wine. Try it with grilled lamb koftas.
About $22. Alc 13.5%. Drink Now. 91/100 - Excellent.
Patina Chardonnay 2019
Patina are a quality boutique outfit in the Orange region of NSW. They do cracker Chardonnays and this one is up there. A glorious bright straw to lemon colour. Vibrant lineal fruit emanates from the glass emitting classic and varietal aromas of peach melon, citrus lemons, some hints of butterscotch and an underlying spiciness. Youthful and fresh it evolves in layers of complexity over time in the glass. Quality stuff here and I spend far too much time with my nose in the glass sniffing away but there is a lot of good stuff happening here. Long refined and elegant fruit on the palate. Nice classic peach melon, good supporting acidity and well imparted cashew oak. Moreish, call you in for more. Chardonnay from beginning to end. Damn good Chardonnay at that. Try this with prawn and peas risotto.
Drink to 2026. About $40. 93/100 - Excellent.
Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz 2013
This is still a deep dark crimson purple, albeit with some garnet red hints. What I am trying to say is that this white label Coonawarra Shiraz red is still a youngster in the scheme of things despite its eight years of age. Strong powerful aromas - red earth, black pepper, tobacco leaf, blackcurrants, blackberries and plums come through bigtime in what is a complex set of aromas. The nose is there forward in nature and full of varietal and regional Shiraz fruit staking its claim. Good fresh acidity supports, grainy coconut oak there and pronounced still as well as integrated tannins coming through. There is development here and it is drinking fine but the potential is there in every dimension. The palate delivers well rounded ripe firm fruit - currants, berries and plums and it is delicious to drink. More to come, watch this space closely. Fine drinking now and every year thereafter for quite a long time to come. Try this with slow cooked octopus stew and chat potatoes in a red sauce
Alc 13.5%. About $22. Drink to 2031. 94/100 - Excellent.
d'Arenberg The Olive Grove Chardonnay 2020
Consistency in quality, price and value are hard things to achieve for wineries and for wines. This one has ticked and continues to tick all those boxes and impress year in year out. Lemony straw yellow, it is vibrant, quite elegant looking and yet youthful in demeanour. The nose is evocative though. Full of Mclaren Vale upfront classic peach melon fruit. Robust, lineal with its just right impartment of acidity and wholesome oak treatment. You get luscious creaminess oozing from the aromas and then lovely well rounded apricots, peach, lemon curd and melon on the palate along with a nice spiciness and a long moreish finish. Good solid no-nonsense Chardonnay drinking at a resonable price. Try with paccheri in a genovese (octopus based) sauce.
About $17. Alc 13.5%. Drink to 2024. 92/100 - Excellent.
Penfolds Koonunga Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Deep purple with ruby red hints. Still youthful despite its age. Intense deep powerful nose full of berries and currants. Think blackcurrants, blackberry jam and dark red cherries. Spice filled, hints of dark chocolate, the nose subsumes the glass with lashings of fruit underpinned by good sweetish oak. Layers of fruit and oak come through in waves through the aromas developing nicely in the glass, promising more good things to come. Deep ripe fruit with well integrated oak and tannins on the palate. Well blended and put together. Nice drinking, mid to full bodieness, well rounded but enough there for more development over the next 5 years. Delicious with a long dry finish, this pairs a treat with a variety of cuisine. Try this with slow cooked Greek lamb shoulder.
Alc 14.5% About $20. Drink to 2027. 94/100 - Excellent.
Tahbilk Marsanne 2014
You don't see much Marsanne amongst the sea of white varietals that are part of the Australian wine market. Sad because it is a cracker varietal especially when well made and when sample with a few years of cellaring. Tahbilk are a quality Victorian winery, been around forever and know more than a thing or two about growing grapes and making wine built to last the distance and get better with age. Still a lemon yellow bright colour despite its age. Citrus lemons dominate, an inherent minerality supports them, apricots and peaches follow with a honeyness coming through with time in the glass. It is well balanced on the palate, yet still with dryness and crispness on the finish and delicious glorious fruit - think peach melon and ripe citrine lemon tart flavours. Swirl drink and repeat results in a very pleasurable drinking experience. Try it with pea and pancetta pasta risotto. About $20, 12.9% Alc. Drink to 2024. 95/100 - Superb.