Here are 24 tasty white and pink wines for your immediate drinking pleasure.
Wines that, to my tastes at least, are in the prime of their lives and should be consumed right now. Do not pass go. Just drink up.
Bellvale Chardonnay 2018
Just buy some. The end. John Ellis’ dry-grown Bellvale vineyard in Gippsland can produce some of the most concentrated Chardonnay and Pinot around, and at an incredible price. This nutty, leesy, full- tilt Chardonnay style is concentrated, complex and dense – it’s been to Burgundy and has the t-shirt. Power. Complexity. Sublime value.
Best drinking: now – it’s just going to get fatter in time. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13%, $25. Would I buy it? Absolutely.
Gundog Estate Riesling 2019
Lovely wine. I’m saying drink young, but it will look great in time if you like. I just prefer this style younger. Piercing acidity shapes this Canberra Riesling. Excellent balance between green apple lemongrass fruit and mouthwatering natural acidity though – it feels lively, balanced, right. Fragrant. High-quality dry Riesling in that invigorating form.
Best drinking: Great now. Or come back in 5+ years 18.5/20, 94/100. 12%, $40. Would I buy it? Worth a bottle.
Bird on a Wire Rosé 2018
One of the better Australian rosé I’ve tried this year. Yarra sourced, built on ripe Pinot fruit, it’s a coppery red coloured, expressive, vinous wine – as much a light red as it is rosé. Lifts of strawberry and a palate that is both ripe and yet taut. Background creaminess. A late bitterness. Welcome to real Rosé!
Best drinking: now. 18/20, 93/100. 12.5%, $35. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Castle Rock Estate Skywalk Riesling 2019
The ‘entry-level’ Castle Rock Riesling and what a bargain. Floral and expressive, the flavours in the grapefruit end of the spectrum, the palate long and tight, tangy, and fresssshhh. Pure, delicate, ultra crisp Riesling and pretty damn drinkable.
Best drinking: now. Sure, you can keep it, but for mine that purity is best served drinking now. 18/20, 93/100. 12.5%, $20. Would I buy it? Yes!
Brackenwood Skin Contact Chardonnay 2018
I’ve struggled with the underdone recent Brackenwood releases, but this works. Adelaide Hills Chardonnay that spent 35 days on skins it’s cloudy, orange coloured, unabashedly wild skin contact style. Can’t hide the early picking – which is a feature in all the Brackenwood ’18s – but the mid palate wins you over. Has this distinct orange juice nose and palate, with musky notes too. Texture makes up for the very taut acidity. Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.1%, $32. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Chalmers Fiano 2017
Heathcote. This is the most interesting Australian Fiano I’ve tasted. Fermented wild in 30% chestnut botte, 10 months on lees in tank. White flowers, the waxy palate gums along with more textural waxiness then fruit, save for passing pear. It’s ripe, but not fruity and genuinely long, if a little raw. Complex and interesting if not easy. Quality. Intrigue.
Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.5%, $35. Would I buy it? Worth a few glasses.
Chalmers Rosato 2018
Now this is real rosé (or rosato). The Chalmers family throw the whole winemaking toolkit at all their wines and it shows – this is handmade pink wine. Producted from handpicked, wild fermented Aglianico, Nero d’Avola and Sagrantino Rosé from Heathcote. Aglianico spends time in old barrels too. What a rosé! Has body, a sense of vinosity, and tannins. A subtle hint of raspberry fruit, but it’s not fruity per se. My only recommendation is to not drink it too cold as the tannins can stick out. A proper mouthful of wine though.
Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.5%, $27. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Gundog Estate Hunter’s Semillon 2019
Made in a modern style, using fruit off Usher Tinkler’s vineyard. Has a lovely contrast between green melon and green apple fruit but the fruit is riper than expected. All makes for a very natural, open Hunter Semillon and a prime summer drink.
Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 11%, $30. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Hahndorf Hill Gru Gruner Veltliner 2018
Along with the Lark Hill, an Australian Gruner benchmark. Now with more wild ferment and barrel matured portions, and a whole smorgasbord of different components. Numbers: pH 3.01, TA 6.5g/L. White pepper celery varietal crunchiness hasn’t gone – plenty of acidity – but there’s a bit more this vintage too. Concentrated lemon rind fruit, the acid bites in hard but it’s not hard – all-natural acid baby! It’s a little bracing by itself, but length and purity and penetration are excellent. I want just a little more volume and less pointy edges, but unquestionable quality.
Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.5%, $29. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Hanging Rock The Jim Jim Three 2018
A blend of Macedon Pinot Gris/Riesling and Gewurz. Don’t tell anyone, but aromatic whites can be some of the most exciting white wines out of the Macedon ranges. This has crystalline acidity despite the alcohol too. Delicate fruit, the note of Gewurz musk moving the delicacy just a smidgen. Clean, clear and vital style that toys with just enough ripe fruit.
Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100.
13.2%, $30. Would I buy it? 2 glasses easy.
Nautilus Albarino 2018
Surprise! Quality Albarino from Marlborough! Intensely varietal, save for the Gewurz like late talc. Some late picked fruit perhaps? Gewurz is the right analogue as this is perfumed, with a nice weight to the middle. Intrigue. Maybe falls away a smidge but still impressive.
Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13%, $33. Would I buy it? Share a bottle.
Pikes Traditionale Riesling 2019
Another enjoyable Pikes white. Just enough apple citrus fruit intensity to cancel out the mouthwatering Clare Valley limey acidity. Maybe not as wildly concentrated this year but it’s so well balanced. Refreshing as ever. Buy with confidence.
Best drinking: I like this style now. It will live, but drink now for the real expression of fruit methinks. 17.7/20, 92/100. 11%, $26. Would I buy it? Yes.
Yalumba Block 2 Grenache Rose 2018
Ambitious, high-quality Barossa rosé from old vine Grenache fruit. Spends 5 months in oak. Tangy and acid-driven, yet there’s still a Grenache red fruit note too. Definitely nails the texture/acidity balance, even if I found myself wanting more flavour and less neutrality. Great to see serious pink wine.
Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 11.5%, $40. Would I buy it? Worth a glass.
Eldorado Road Luminoso Rosé 2018
Always look forward to the Eldorado Road wines. Thoughtfully made, every time. This rosé is 40% Nero d’Avola, 30% Sangiovese, 20% Dolcetto and 10% Shiraz sourced from grapes early picked to make rosè. Spends 10 months in old oak. A dry, rosato style with texture. No shortage of flavour Rosé – stonefruit, peach skin, and then cotrussy acidity. Quality dry rosé, if maybe a little too serious.
Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.1%, $25. Would I buy it? Several glasses.
Longview Kuhl Gruner Veltliner 2018
Varietal and approachable Adelaide Hills Gruner. White flower aromatics with a little marzipan and a white peach fruit. Flirts with ripe fruit, but the palate then tends a bit simple and greenish. Crisp and crunchy though and well made.
Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12.5%, $26. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Meerea Park Indie Roussanne 2018
I wouldn’t normally connect Hunter Valley and Roussanne, but this really works. From the Lochleven Estate, barrel fermented and matured in oak for 10 months. Grippy, yellow apple edged white has some welcome width with contrasting phenolics (and a little oak tannin), the palate savoury and well put together. The oak is a little dominant, but the length and flavour here make the wine.
Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13%, $27. Would I buy it? A glass.
Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc 2018
Screams Marlborough Sauv, with an off-charts intensity of gooseberry and passionfruit, the palate fresh, a little grassy and easy. There’s a greenish edge to the acidity but the package feels authentic.
Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12.5%, $25. Would I buy it? A glass.
Oakridge Rosé 2018
Thoughtful Yarra rosé. But what do you expect from Oakridge? Consistency is thy middle name. This is Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Meunier fermented in old oak. Gently textural style that has the coppery tones of bottle age, a pinch of pink fruit and then a dry and fractionally warm ripe palate. Real vinosity here, if a little lacking in fragrance – that’s the challenge with ripe grapes. Quality all the same.
Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? Worth a glass or so.
Soumah Single Vineyard Pinot Grigio 2019
From the Hexham Vineyard in the Yarra. I was surprised by the mid palate richness, which is more Gris than Grigio. Has some Gris-like sweatiness too. Acidity and back end definitely comes back to Grigio land. Enjoyable.
Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13%, $30. Would I buy it? Worth a glass or two.
Barone di Villagrande Etna Bianco 2017
There’s so much delicious Etna vino out that never makes it to Australia. Here’s another drinkable wine that is at least available locally, if at a mad price. 90% Carricante and 10% ‘local varieties’. The waxy texture is the winner here, all almond meal, a sea breeze bringing whispers of guava, then a lightly phenolic palate. It’s autentico and quite refreshing.
Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 13.5%, $50. Would I buy it? Expensive for what it is. I’d have a glass though.
Hahndorf Hill White Mischief Gruner Veltliner 2018
The riper, ‘fruity’ Hahndorf Gru. Numbers: pH 3.21, TA 6.5g/L. Again with the white flowers, just-ripe melon and passionfruit, the palate fresh, crisp and really rather Riesling-like. Maybe a bit too simple for high marks, but good refreshment and surprising length too. That pithy acidity makes this wine.
Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 13%, $24. Would I buy it? A glass.
Hanging Rock The Jim Jim Sauvignon Blanc 2018
The Hanging Rock site is super chilly, which helps make for taut whites and bony reds. This Sauv is picked across 3 stages and uses 10% barrel ferment for complexity and flavour, though it’s still a racy, acid-etched style. A subtle hint of passionfruit, but otherwise it’s green melon citrus and acidity. Arguably too lean for mega satisfaction, but powerful and intense enough to make a real statement.
Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 12.8%, $30. Would I buy it? Just one glass.
Opawa Rosé 2017
The second label of Nautilus, but quality is hardly ‘seconds’. Pinot based, with a strawberry and cream Pinot nose, the palate a little lean but the texture is soft and inviting. Such an affable wine.
Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 12%, $24. Would I buy it? Worth a glass.
Pikes Luccio Sangiovese Rosé 2019
Another successful Sangiovese-based wine from Pikes (after the red). Pink grapefruit and a little fruit sweetness over a palate that is dry but not harsh. Texturally sound and well-judged affordable rosé.
Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 12%, $22. Would I buy it? 2 glasses.
Riversdale Estate Cygnus Riesling 2016
I drove past the Riversdale vineyard the other day without realising that it literally sits next door to one of the big Hobart satellite dishes. I thought that was just marketing spiel? Anyway, this is an easy drink. Orange lemon citrus fruits, the palate concentrated and ripe, but supported by plenty of acidity. I think I would have preferred it 2 years younger or 3 years older. But has some charm now.
Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 13%, $27.99. Would I buy it? A glass.
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