Coldstream Hills Reserve Chardonnay 2013
Briarston, Coldstream G and House vineyards, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Following the sensational, taut, slow-evolving 2012 reserve bottling, the warmer 2013 vintage produced a plumper wine with its fruit on full display just a year and a half out from vintage. But that's plumper in the cool-climate context as this remains an elegant, refined style of chardonnay. It offers mouth-watering fruit, backed with fresh, lively acidity and the rich texture derived from fermentation and maturation on spent yeast cells in oak barrels. Coldstream Hills Reserve sits consistently near the top of Australia's chardonnay pile.
McGuigan Bin Series No. 7000 Chardonnay 2013
New South Wales
The confusing label detracts from this popular quaffer. The three gold medals refer to McGuigan's overall performance at the International Wine and Spirit Competition, not to the wine in the bottle. And the back label refers to the Hunter Valley and its ability to produce "rich, full-flavoured wines such as the wonderful fruit and citrus flavours here". The address on the label is also Hunter Valley. But "New South Wales" is given as the region of origin, making it anybody's guess about where it comes from, perhaps even the Hunter. The wine itself is soft, vibrant and richly textured – big on oak-based texture, but more subtle on varietal fruit flavour.
Windowrie Family Reserve Shiraz 2012
Windowrie vineyard, Cowra, NSW
An avenue of prunus trees provided dappled shade for this year's late October Windowrie long lunch. In windless 36-degree heat, chef Anna Wong catered for about 100 guests, showing the same flair that made her now-closed Neila restaurant, Cowra, one of Australia's great regional eating spots. Windowrie's bright, medium-bodied wines (made on the property) sat well with the food. In particular, the Family Reserve Shiraz 2012, served lightly chilled, provided fresh, cherry- and spice –like varietal flavours on a soft and refreshing palate. Watch windowrie.com.au for details of next year's lunch. It's an outstanding day out. Price this year was $110, wine and beer included.
Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Guerin Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
Guerin vineyard, Gladysdale, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Oakridge's David Bicknell makes several pinot noirs from various Yarra Valley vineyards and sub-plots. The wines show a family resemblance as well as flavour and structure differences, sometimes quite marked, other times very subtle. Wines from the Guerin vineyard consistently appeal to me. In this instance the wine is a little darker and fuller than the 2012 reviewed last year. But it remains purely varietal in its vibrant fruit and underlying savouriness. Sumptuous texture and fine, firm tannins complete the pinot picture.
Manners Tempranillo 2013
Well Mannered Wine Company – a collaboration between winemaker James Manners and wine distributor–wine bar owner, Nick Bacon – sources grapes from growers in the NSW high country. In this instance Spain's tempranillo, grown in Mudgee's warm, dry climate, produced a medium-bodied, intensely savoury dry red. Spicy, savoury oak plays an obvious role, enhancing the savouriness. The wine finishes with firm, grippy tannins typical of both the region and the variety.
Ad Hoc Straw Man Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014
Margaret River, Western Australia
Larry Cherubino makes a diverse range of high quality wines from across Western Australia's cool south western corner, and under a number of labels. The drink-now Ad Hoc range includes this zesty blend of sauvignon blanc (75 per cent) and semillon. The grassy, herbaceous and tropical fruit characters of sauvignon blanc hits the nose and palate first. But semillon shows its presence in the fleshy, juicy mid palate. This distinctive Margaret River style provides a delicious alternative to straight sauvignon blanc, but with many similarities.