Ugh. After a successful Buck’s day for my good mate Fred yesterday I am now in the un-enviable situation of writing this post with an elephant-killing hangover. A great headspace from which to be writing about alcohol… My kingdom for bacon and egg muffin! Oh well, guess I’ll just have to suck it up.
With the end of the year approaching I thought I’d devote some time to the wines I tried this year that really blew my socks off. Not necessarily the ‘best’, but wines that I feel nail it in terms of quality vs value. I was recently asked to contribute to the ‘best of 2012’ tasting at Melbourne’s excellent Prince Wine Store, which got me thinking retrospectively about the good and the great; and as a music nerd I never need much encouragement to write a ‘favourites’ list. Here goes:
Australian Producer of the Year – Steve ‘SC’ Pannell. Steve’s current bracket of wines are so mind-bogglingly great that I don’t know where to start. Not only are they all shining examples of their varietal and vintage, they absolutely nail their price-point and set a lead that all should follow. Special mention goes to the 2010 Adelaide Hills Syrah, which is lifted, full of spice, velvet textured and is made with a nod to the old world (europe) whilst being undoubtedly new world. All for under $30 a bottle.
Favourite White Blend – 2011 Fighting Gully Road ‘Aquila’. This little number from Beechworth is a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Petit Manseng and is made as a tribute to the legendary French ‘Mas de Daumas Gassac Blanc’ (whose 2010 could also quite comfortably be included in this list). Coming in at a bit south of $30 a bottle it’s an absolute screamer, with Chardonnay providing the drive and spine to the wine, and the other varietals offering some flesh and fruit. Fantastic stuff, and a sensational food wine that can be found on many great wine lists at an affordable price. Runner up status goes to NZ Winery Hunky Dory’s ‘The Tangle’, a blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer and Riesling that is fresh, interesting, and off-the-charts value at about $15 per bottle.
Favourite Varietal White – 2008 Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay. It’s blindingly amazing stuff, but isn’t really commercially available so I won’t say much except that if you can get some and can afford it – buy it. So piercingly intense it defies description and sets a new high water mark for Aussie chard, a grape that is very dear to my heart. Astonishing.
Favourite Rose – 2012 Chalmers Aglianico. Rose holds a special place in my heart. Good ones are light and lithe with a firm spine of acidity and just a little bit of grip. This one knocks it out of the park. It’s serious stuff, and as with all great roses is a perfect match for a whole range of foods (thin-base italian style pizza, yes please!) but has enough fruit sweetness and pizazz that you may find yourself finishing the bottle before anything even makes it to the table. The 2012 ‘Head’ Grenache rose also deserves a commendable mention in this category
Favourite Red Blend – 2010 Rocky Gully Cabernets. Coming in at comfortably under $20, this wine is incredible value. Many cabernet blends are unyielding acid and tannic monsters, barely softened with a splash of merlot. That this wine is able to be luscious and varietal while showing the delicate side of these grapes puts many more expensive wines to shame.
Favourite Varietal Red – 2010 Salo Syrah & 2010 Oakridge LVS Shiraz. Steve Flamsteed of Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander is on an absolute tear at the moment. His Yarra Valley wines have never looked better, the Mule releases are delicious, and this wine from Hawkes Bay (NZ) raises the bar even higher. Produced in partnership with Kiwi Dave Mackintosh this is a stunning example of slick and silky shiraz. Impressive.
The 2010 Oakridge LVS shiraz is a wine so luscious and integrated that I find it hard to separate out all the flavours for tasting notes. It has more in common with a burgundy than a hot, oaky new world shiraz and shows just how much better we’re getting at handling this grape.
Favourite Premium – 2010 Comte Armand Pommard 1er Clos Des Epeneaux. 2010 in Burgundy is my favourite vintage that I’ve ever tasted through. I could (and probably will) write a series of blogs about the wines that were produced in this year, everything shone. So what makes this wine stand out from the rest? At once lifted and dense, with a lip-smacking mineral core, rusty, earthy, herby, fruity. A brilliant expression of its terroir made by a brilliant winemaker in Ben Leroux. You won’t get much change out of $200 for a bottle, but by god I’m going to enjoy watching this wine age over the next 20 years.
Well, there it is. Most of these wines are still available at the moment so if you’re looking for some Christmas cheer then hit me up and I’ll get some to you!