Every month, I cast my eye over the Twenty Five Doors wine club and nominates my ‘keen eye pick‘. These are unique offers directly from wineries that aren’t available anywhere else.
The (close knit) Henschke family celebrate 150 years of winemaking this year and to celebrate they’ve released a new shiraz off a block of 50 year old vines. It’s a nice stylistic fit with Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone and offers a compelling quality/value equation for those that find its stellar siblings beyond their pocket. The Wheelwright name honours the Henschke patriarch, Johann Christian – a skilled stonemason and wheelwright. The fruit comes from Block 8 on the Eden Valley Vineyard, also the source of Julius Riesling and the Keyneton Euphonium blend. It’s a tight, elegant shiraz with abundant black fruits, spice and umami-laden complexity. The pumice-like tannins are sufficient to warrant cellaring for decade or more. A new (Henschke) star is born.
Although the Keller family have been making wine for over 200 years, Klaus-Peter Keller and his wife Julia turn conventional wisdom upside down by encouraging a long, slow ripening to ensure maximum flavour and minimal a phenolic extract. Although old barrels are used for fermentation (along with stainless steel), the Keller style is fine-boned and graceful with a purity and precision that is the epitome of the great German riesling. The 2017 Trocken is done dry (as the name implies) and tangy with lifted aromatics of citrus blossom and ginger, a tight, linear profile and seemingly endless finish. Perfect with King George whiting.
El Toro Mancha is yet another triumph for the Aldi’s wine man, Jason Bowyer – and at just seven bucks a bottle. Bowyer roams Australia, New Zealand and the vinous globe looking for wines that suit the Aldi brief – well-made and fault free with a high ‘quaff-ability’ quotient at a bargain basement price. Here it’s a lush, easy drinking tempranillo from Ribera del Duero with bobal, merlot and shiraz adding some complexity .The flavours are more savoury than sweet-fruited with positive tannins to shape the finish. It’s the perfect party wine and comes sealed with a screwcap.
There are big changes at Curly Flat with founding partner Jenifer Kolkka now the outright owner and Matt Harrop departing Shadowfax to assume the winemaking role. As such the 2016 Chardonnay sits on the cusp of the old and new – made by Phillip Moraghan and nurtured into bottle by Matt Harrop. It’s a splendid ‘old-school’ chardonnay just bursting with flavour (white peach, honeydew melon and fresh fig) and braced by well-structured tannin from the 18 months it spent in 100% new French oak. Despite the extended oak regime, it’s the fruit that shines through underpinned by some savoury complexity – cashew nut, quince and fresh oatmeal. It cries out for food – crayfish would be good.
Simon Grant was a retail wine buyer who fell in love with nebbiolo and went in search of a site suited to the variety. He and his partner Helen Murray eventually found a perfect patch of decomposed red soils at 600 metres just above Beechworth. Their (aptly named) Red Hill vineyard is planted with 1000 vines – mostly nebbiolo with a handful of tempranillo. The 2016 Rosso is the second vintage of this juicy, bright refreshing red. It’s a judicious amalgam of 68% nebbiolo, 18% cabernet sauvignon with the remainder barbera – each variety adding its distinct personality to the blend. Drink now with lamb cutlets and a chimichurri sauce.
Leading Rhône producer, Michel Chapoutier’s interest in Australian winegrowing began back on 1997 at Mount Benson, near Robe. Since then Michel has moved his focus to Victoria including collaborations with Jasper Hill and Giaconda and now the stand-alone Domaine Tournon brand. Mathilda Chapoutier is Michel’s daughter with this everyday trio named in her honour. There’s a white (a viognier and marsanne blend), a grenache-based rosé and this buoyant shiraz. The bouquet is of fresh red cherries and plums with a whiff of star anise. It is medium-bodied yet packed full of flavour. The echo of the same red fruits and spice si backed by a raft of slinky tannins that gently extend the finale. Enjoy it now.
The move to low intervention winemaking continues with this foot-stomped blend. It’s the brainchild of retailer and importer Randall Pollard (the feet were provided by Tessa Brown and Jeremy Schmolzer.) A blend of 37% pinot gris, 30% riesling, 21% fiano and 12% gewürztraminer, it’s more about texture and palate than pristine aromatics. That said, the aromas are inviting – poached pear, almond skins and lemon pith. The flavours bring Nashi pear, musk, ginger and lychees into the picture with a buoyant palate and spice laden finale. The packaging is as fun and funky as the wine.