Refined style: Seeking citrus-floral beauty? Photo: Jennifer Soo
We demand so much of a value wine, don't we? It can't simply refresh, be nice to drink or be a good little quaffer. No, a value wine has to over-deliver for the price. It has to excite, lead the tastebuds on a bit of a journey around the mouth, give complete drinker satisfaction and still come in under the $25 mark. Here are 25 wines perfect for warm-weather drinking that also happen to tick the value box.
1. Glaetzer-Dixon 2012 Uberblanc Riesling($24)
Nick Glaetzer pursues riesling with fineness, tight line and length, and a gentle reserve. A seminal riesling-making experience in 2001 in Germany influenced the Tasmanian winemaker's style, shown here so effectively with refined citrus-floral beauty.
A Nick Glaetzer riesling is among our best bargains. Photo: Jennifer Soo
2. St John's Road Peace of Eden 2013 Eden Valley Riesling ($18)
With its juicy, mouthwatering lemoniness, smooth glide and depth of flavour, this delicious and inexpensive drop punches way above its weight. You have Phil Lehmann as the winemaker and an excellent vintage working together - perfect match.
3. Stonier 2012 Chardonnay ($24)
Stonier makes five excellent chardonnays from Mornington Peninsula fruit. This is what some might call the ''standard'' wine, made with fewer bells and whistles. It's still far from standard. Deliciously restrained, fruit and acidity are nicely poised.
4. Devil's Lair The Hidden Cave 2012 Margaret River Cabernet Shiraz ($22.99)
Cabernet is the structure and shiraz is the pleasure in this trad Oz red blend, which works on being open and friendly right from the get-go with sweet fruit to the fore. Ripe black and red fruits, crushed cranberries for bite and mild tannins smooth the way.
5. Pizzini 2013 King Valley Prosecco ($19.50)
So clean, so lemony-fresh with striking acidity to cleanse the palate, prosecco is not a complex wine. It's not meant to be. The Italian grape loves life whether it's solo, in a cocktail, served over summer fruits or as granita or jelly.
6. Sam Scott La Prova 2013 Rosato ($23)
Last month, I named Sam Scott's Adelaide Hills cool rosé´ as best rosé´ of 2013. This month I'm going a step further, calling it best rosé´ of summer 2014. With its pretty tea rose colour, scent of raspberries and sweet strawberries, and moreish dry, dusty, lightly savoury, cherry flavour, it ticks all the boxes.
7. Oakdene 2011 Blue Label Pinot Noir ($24)
Bravely, Oakdene declassified its pinot from the 2011 vintage. It's a charming, drink-now wine, a zippy little Bellarine Peninsula pinot that goes down very easily indeed. A big mouthful of spice-dusted cherries.
8. Jacob's Creek 2012 Riesling ($10)
It's been said before but it's worth repeating: this is the best under-$20 Aussie white wine around. Nothing more to say.
9. Red Claw 2012 Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir ($23.50)
This is the wine to disarm those pinotphiles who reckon you have to pay big money to get something half-decent. You don't. Crunchy red-berry fruits abound. Don't be scared to chill a bottle when the sun scorches.
10. Deviation Road 2013 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc ($24)
Deviation Road deviates from the herbaceous screaming sav blanc. Nectarine, passionfruit, ruby grapefruit with a savoury herbal finish and appealing texture make this wine extremely food-friendly.
11. De Bortoli Vinoque 2012 Yarra Valley Gamay Noir ($25, cellar door)
A pretty name (apparently it means "which wine" in Latin) for a pretty wine sourced from the Roundstone Vineyard, which suffered in the '09 bushfires. The owners now sell their grapes to De Bortoli, who keep things deliciously simple, bringing black cherry flavours to the fore.
12. Sutton Grange 2013 Fairbank Rosé´ ($22)
Made by Burgundy-born Gilles Lapalus with - dare I suggest - a French-motivated sense of what a dry rosé´ should be, along with a touch of savouriness. It belongs on the list of Australia's best rosé´s.
13. Tahbilk 2013 Marsanne ($17)
The Aussie marsanne by which others are judged, this unwooded, bare-bones Rhone white grape gives the gentlest honeysuckle-jasmine touch. It's beautifully understated and is extremely drinkable now but built for age.
14. Josef Chromy Pepik 2012 Pinot Noir ($23)
If you're looking for a wine to serve alongside barbecued quail, antipasto, salt-and-pepper calamari, baked snapper - or indeed just about any summer dish - this versatile pinot noir fits the bill.
15. Oliver's Taranga 2013 Fiano ($24)
There's no oak and no added acid. Just plenty of solid fruit from nectarine to citrus, a little pear skin and even some of that preserved citrus-rind character that immediately lifts a wine into savouriness.
16. Coriole 2012 Sangiovese ($25)
Why do Italian red grapes make for such excellent summer drinking? They're medium-bodied, lower in alcohol than many trad Oz shirazes, less oak-reliant and savoury. Coriole defines the style to the letter.
17. Scarborough 2013 Green Label Hunter Valley Semillon ($20)
Scarborough's flagship White Label semillon is in the classic mould - built to last. Its Green Label offers the alternative - drink-now, succulent fruits, pleasing texture and acid for zing.
18. YarraLoch 2011 Estate Arneis ($25)
Another Italian white grape that likes it super-dry and almost neutral in flavour, save for a sheerest veneer of pears, stone fruits and an Italian-like almond character.
19. Tar & Roses 2013 Strathbogie Ranges Pinot Grigio ($18)
It's almost rose in colour, but that's because the winemakers haven't removed the pink blush as many do. A solid grigio with an arresting saline spiciness.
20. Dal Zotto 2012 King Valley Barbera ($25)
I'm thinking pulled lamb on a bun with spicy harissa slaw and a glass of this, a wine that takes spice in its stride and loves lamb so completely. Smooth and just a bit rustic.
21. Voyager Estate Girt By Sea 2011 Cabernet Merlot ($24)
Girt By Sea opens up easy and is so accessible right now. A soft, understated elegance here with fresh, pulpy red berries and just a whisper of oak. Lightly chill if desired.
22. Mawson's Cape Denison 2013 Limestone Coast Sauvignon Blanc ($15.95)
The connection between the Wrattonbully wine region and Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson seems tenuous, but forget that and just enjoy this simple tropical fruit-accentuated savvy that is sufficiently dry enough to raise it above the average. .
23. Wynn's 2013 Coonawarra Riesling ($24.99)
Get this while it's young, punchy and full of tangy citrus fruit. As Coonawarra gives backbone to cabernet, so the region's fruit offers a rod of steel to riesling.
24. Yalumba Eden Valley 2012 Roussanne ($24.95)
Can't say I see the "pink flowers, blood orange and biscotti" referred to on the back label. To me it's more like fresh herbs, lantana, pear and gunflint.
25. Taltarni T Series Chardonnay Pinot Noir Sparkling ($17)
A generous, confected mouthful of stone fruits and honeyed nougat with quiet acidity, but acidity nonetheless. Cool on a hot day.