De Bortoli Windy Peak Chardonnay 2013 $11.40–$14
De Bortoli's top-end Yarra Valley chardonnays rate among the best in Australia. And there's a remarkable quality trickle-down to their lower priced Windy Peak. Winemaker Steve Webber, husband of Leanne De Bortoli, sources fruit from a number of Yarra vineyards controlled by the family. He ferments the wines in a combination of French oak casks and stainless steel tanks. The stainless steel components contribute freshness and varietal purity, while the oak material adds depth and texture. The resulting wine presents deliciously fresh nectarine- and grapefruit-like varietal flavour on generous, vibrant, smooth dry palate.
Lock and Key Reserve Hilltops Shiraz 2014 $20–$27
Jason and Alecia Brown's triple gold-medal winner displays the irresistible, juicy flavour of shiraz grown in the Hilltops region around Young, NSW. The couple produce a surprisingly large number of wines from their extensive Moppity vineyard, Hilltops, and Coppabella vineyard in higher, cooler Tumbarumba. After a couple of changes of winemaker, the Browns directed their grapes to one of the region's most accomplished operators a couple of vintages back. That the consistency and quality of the wines lifted another notch or two is deliciously confirmed in this seductive, drink-now shiraz.
Dominique Portet Yarra Valley Brut Rose $28
Thinking Christmas salmon? Prawns? Ham? Pate de foie gras? Dominique Portet's versatile bubbly stands on its own as an aperitif, or accompanies pretty well any style of food. Its lightness and delicacy comes from cool-grown Yarra Valley grapes, harvested just on the cusp of ripeness. The combination of high acidity and delicate fruitiness of the three varieties – pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier – cleans and refreshes the palate. The subtle flavour depth and structure derived from a few years' bottle maturation adds to the drinking satisfaction of a delightful, fair-priced, very high quality sparkler.