Coldstream Hills Reserve Chardonnay 2014
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Gold medal winner, National Wine Show of Australia. Coldstream Reserve impressed at the National Wine Show. A few days later, in a line up of Coldstream Hills chardonnays dating back to the 1988 vintage, the 2014 Reserve stood out for the volume of aroma and powerful but very fine flavours. It combined all the elements of opulent, barrel-fermented chardonnay. The magnificent screwcap-sealed 2005 and 2006 vintages alongside it, demonstrated the wine's impeccable provenance and cellaring capacity. If you want something truly memorable for Christmas lunch, or as a gift, this is one of Australia's time-proven greats.
Jacob's Creek Classic Pinot Grigio 2015
South Eastern Australia
It probably surprised Jacob's Creek winemakers Bernard Hickin and Rebekah Richardson as much as it did the judges at the Australian National Wine. How does a sub-$10 wine top the pinot grigio class, then take on all comers to win the "best dry white other varieties" trophy? It reveals the levelling effect of masked tasting. Made in the bright and fruity light-bodied style (11.5 per cent alcohol) Jacob's Creek offers pear-like varietal flavour, smooth texture and fresh, dry finish. Richardson says she sources grapes principally from the hot riverland regions, with "bits and bobs" from cooler sites.
Wynns Black Label Shiraz 2012
Coonawarra, South Australia
A few years back, Wynns introduced Black Label Shiraz, priced between the ever-popular grey label ($14-$22) and flagship Michael Shiraz ($114-$120). The 2012 appealed very much on its release in mid 2014 and again on the tasting bench last week at the National Wine Show of Australia, where it won a gold medal. The silky, medium bodied cool-climate style appeals even more with that extra bottle age. And surprisingly it's still around in some retail outlets, alongside the current release (and equally good) 2013.
Eddystone Point Riesling 2014
Derwent and Coal River Valleys, Tasmania
In awarding the National Wine Show's "best riesling" trophy to Eddystone Point, chair of judges Jim Chatto commented, "The judges deliberated over three wonderful expressions of riesling. Two in the classic citrus and floral styles of the Eden and Clare Valleys, the other a complex and spicy, off-dry, cool-climate expression from Tasmania". In a similar comparison after the show, we noted the wine's Germanic, apple-like flavours and the fine, intense acidity which offset the low-level sweetness and accentuated the delightful flavour.
S.C. Pannell Grenache Shiraz Touriga 2014
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Gold medal and two trophies, National Wine Show of Australia. Steve Pannell's juicy blend wowed a group of tasters in a post-wine-show tasting, just as it did the judges a week earlier. The musk-like fragrance of grenache lures the drinker to a joyously fruity, fleshy, slurpy palate. Pannell writes, "Grenache brings lifted aromatics and its trademark sandy tannins, shiraz chimes in with red fruits, spice and weight, whilst the touriga, a lusty, powerful Portuguese variety, adds pungent fruit characteristics of plum pudding, dried spices and floral notes". It's an irresistible medium bodied red to wallow in right now.
West Cape Howe Tempranillo 2014
Perth Hills and Frankland River, Western Australia
Gold medal and trophy, National Wine Show of Australia. West Cape Howe tempranillo combines fruit from the warmer Perth Hills and cooler Frankland region, located almost 400km south-east of Perth. Winemaker Gavin Berry says the Perth Hills component contributes earthy, savoury characters while the cool-grown Frankland component provides spicy and berry flavours. The combination gives a richly flavoured, medium-bodied red with deliciously vibrant red-berry-like flavours. Mouth-puckering tannins soon push through the fruit, reminding us tempranillo is a feisty Spanish variety, best enjoyed with savoury food.