Wine to take you away
Ever since I was a little kid I have been a fan of Doctor Who. When the Doctor and his companions stepped into the TARDIS and headed off on another adventure through time and space, I'd be full of wonder and excitement. Now that I'm a big kid, stuck in one spot for close to two years by lockdowns, border closures and rings of steel, I use wine as my TARDIS.
Some wines have an uncanny ability to transport you through flavour: the lemony freshness of young semillon takes me straight to the bright blue skies of summer in the Hunter Valley; one sniff of gum-tinged Margaret River cabernet and I'm standing in a karri forest at dusk; a sip of luscious Rutherglen muscat and I'm in a cool brick-lined cellar in Victoria's north-east, surrounded by ancient barrels.
So, think of a time and place where you really fell in love with a particular wine, be it at a cellar door on holiday, or in a beachfront restaurant. Track down a bottle of that wine and, as you pour a glass, let the flavour of the liquid take you away – then start making plans to go back to that favourite spot as soon as you can.
Wine for freaks
Winemaker John Hughes calls himself the Rieslingfreak because he's obsessed with the classic white grape, to the point of exclusion.
Each year he produces half-a-dozen rieslings, all slightly different. My pick of his 2021 vintage line-up is Rieslingfreak No. 2 ($37), a ravishing, mouth-watering, lime-juicy wine from the Polish Hill River region of the Clare Valley. It's just crying out for spanking fresh seafood. rieslingfreak.com
Wine for every day
The 2020 Tutti i Giorni Rosso from Tuscany comes in convivial one-litre bottles at $35 a pop.
Tutti i giorni rosso means "everyday red", a great name for exactly this kind of juicy, snappy, delicious young wine.
It's the type you want on the table on pizza nights – or any night, really. vinoitaliano.com.au
Former New Yorker now Adelaide Hills-based writer Rachel Signer has written a memoir of her journey from working in bars in the Big Apple to life among a community of natural winemakers in Basket Range.
A bottle-clanking romp through the world of natural wine, with visits to Georgia, Paris, Sardinia and elsewhere en route, it's also a candid story of love and self-reflection.
You Had Me at Pét-Nat: A Natural Wine-Soaked Memoir by Rachel Signer is published by Hachette. Buy now.
I tasted the $20-a-bottle 2019 Wynns The Siding Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured right) recently alongside some other, pricier, Wynns Coonawarra cabernets being released this month – the ever-reliable $45 Black Label, the $80 single-vineyard Johnson's Block, the classic $150 John Riddoch – and this humble wine not only held its own, but was one of my standouts.
It's an absolute bargain, especially when you can find it for $15 or less if you shop around. wynns.com.au
Wine and juniper
Imagine the sweetness of ripe golden muscat grapes steeped in the fresh botanical fragrance of fine gin. Actually, no, don't imagine it.
Rather, track down a bottle of Muscat Gin ($85) from Still & Stem, a collaboration between Rutherglen winery Scion and Yackandandah's Backwoods Distilling Co, and indulge your senses. scionwine.com.au
Who Eldorado Road
What 2019 Perseverance Old Vine Shiraz
Why Because it's a taste of Beechworth history: this dense, inky, fabulously intense shiraz is made from low-yielding dry-grown vines planted in the 1890s.
When Now to 2050
How much $85
Max Allen is an award-winning journalist and author, who has written about wine and drinks for close to 30 years.