It’s starting to feel cold and shitty here in Sydney town this week, which is a huge contrast from the humid 26C humid glory of Noosa I had last week. Brrr.
Anyway, for your drinking pleasure, here are drink-me-now whites and reds that are much more summery. Maximum smashability is the mantra for this lot (or at least a sense of immediate drinking).
Bloodwood Riesling 2018
Funny story about Bloodwood. Many moons ago I visited this oft-forgotten Orange legend and ended up wandering around with Stephen to taste some wines from tank. There we were, chatting over a cloudy glass of still-fermenting, and I couldn’t find a spitoon. So, instead, I wandered out into the winery to find a floor drain to spit into (which is what everyone does), without realising that the floor had only just been repainted. I can still picture the withering death stare that Stephen gave me as I splashed on his just-painted floor… Anyhow, how about an ageing Riesling as a drink now wine? Damn straight. This white has all of the flourishing toast of a four-year-old Riesling as the main character but on a rather delicate palate. It’s pleasant and elegant with its grapefruit palate making for something elegant and seamless. Maybe not profound, but you just know this will be drinkable on any occasion. Best drinking: good now, though no hurry (see below). 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.5%, $40. Bloodwood website. Would I buy it? Worth a few glasses.
Sutherland Estate Rosé 2021
Great packaging, and lovely, serious wine from a Yarra producer new to me. Tempranillo-based, it’s Coppery red coloured and closer to a Tavel-style rosé edging into light red. I’m not unhappy about that when done well. This manages the delicacy too – the nose doesn’t give much away but the slightly ferrous, strawberry edged palate is really quite moreish. The finish has gravitas and grip too. Enjoyable. Best drinking: now. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.2%, $?. Sutherland Estate website. Would I buy it? Likely yes.
Boat O’Craigo Black Spur Gewurztraminer 2021
I’m a sucker for great Gewurz (like these Alsatians) and this Yarra white is pretty honest going. Signature musk stick terpene nose (hello baby) The palate is a bit light and underdone by comparison, but it has crunch and freshness to go with that spice and bath salt flourish. Undoubtedly drinkable too. Best drinking: nowish. 17.5/20, 91/100. 11.9%, $28. Boat O’Craigo website. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Even Keel Rosé 2021
While it doesn’t scale the heights of the super 2020 vintage release this is certainly quality rosé. Strawberries and cream is the flavour spectrum, with some barrel ferment creaminess. A bit of Gris in there? More pear this vintage gives me that suggestion, but the notes say all Tempranillo. Open, generous and maybe a little bit broad it’s a real open-for-drinking savoury style. Best drinking: now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12%, $35. Even Keel/Polperro website. Would I buy it? Worth a few glasses.
Longview Vista Shiraz Barbera 2021
Great packaging, and maximum smashability. Bright red, with a clever use of Barbera to make something generous and yet fresh. Indeed no shortage of acidity here – it fizzes the palate with tang and a little bitterness, but naturally so. There’s just enough Shiraz fruit to make this enjoyable too. A win of a young wine this. Best drinking: nowish. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $23. Longview website. Would I buy it? Worth a few glasses.
Bloodwood Riesling 2008
This is very much a drink-now wine, although I’d be pushing it to call this smashable. Included here for reference though. Fully mature, with waxy lanolin development over an even palate. The lanolin is a bit much for me, and the toast gets a bit oxidative despite the singing snappy acidity underneath. Still, it’s so long and definitely layered that it scrapes in for silver. Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 12.5%, $?. Bloodwood website. Would I buy it? Probably not.
Dalwood Estate Tempranillo Touriga 2021
Great to see the Dalwood label in good form again. This Hunter red is a seriously juicy number too. The purple fruit leaps out of the glass too, all purple jube fruit with this spice/fern edge. The primal palate is clean, light and fruit-forward save for some late sticky tannins and a darker edge to the finish. It’s missing a bit of mid palate grunt and it’s a little tart, but no questioning the bright exuberance that will win friends. Best drinking: why wait? 17/20, 90/100. 13%, $45. Dalwood estate website. Would I buy it? A glass.
Howard Park Flint Rock Riesling 2021
Uncomplicated good drinking from the Great Southern. Fresh, simple crunchy lime and grapefruit, some of that pepper/celery Riesling stoniness but it’s mostly ripe fruit. Good. Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 12.5%, $28. Howard Park website. Would I buy it? Worth a glass.
Jules Taylor Gruner Veltliner 2021
More and more Gruner planted in Marlborough’s stony soils now. Goes alright too. This is in the Federspiel mode, with a celery and white pepper meets waxy peer and lemon rind. Lots of crunch and freshness, even if I want just a bit more flavour. Still a good drink. Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 13%, NZ$25. Jules Taylor website. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Mandala Pinot Noir 2021
The Mandala Pinot Noir wines get ever lighter. This is a gentle and fragrant ruby coloured thing with red lolly fruit and a wash of caramel. Light and frisky, but also lacks some mid palate generosity before a slightly twiggy finish. Pretty, early-drinking and correct, even it needs some more ripeness. Easygoing, ultimately. Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 12.8%, $35. Mandala website. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Oakridge Meunier 2021
The epitome of smashability. A Yarra Valley Pinot Meunier that is all undergrowth, twiggy herbs, crunch underplayed red fruit and lots of acidity. There’s a whisper of sparkling base about the red apple fruit actually. Chinotto-like tang and that red fruit work nicely – I’d like a little more ripeness, but that might rob it of the thirst-quenching style. Best drinking: now. 17/20, 90/100. 12.5%, $30. Oakridge website. Would I buy it? On a hot day, a lightly chilled glass of this? Yeah.
Tapanappa Clone 114 Pinot Noir 2021
A curious wine this. Largely cellar door/mailing list, and I don’t think the volumes are big. Admittedly it’s not smashable either, but it is ‘drink now’. All 114 Clone. All from the Foggy Hill Vineyard on the Fleurieu Peninsula. A baby Foggy? The price is too high for that. The new ’21 Foggy turned up this week actually so I’ll report back soon. Meanwhile, this is an odd wine too – it’s so lean. Ferrous, red fruit and raspberry. Sure, I get the push for delicacy but it also looks underdone – it lacks a mid palate, and the finish is lean and drying. Brian (Croser) knows how to deliver structured Pinot though, and no questioning the length (hence the silver medal score). But it never quite feels convincing or generous enough for higher points – it just comes across as a drink now lean, firm Pinot. Best drinking: nowish. I wouldn’t want to keep it too long and watch the fruit be overtaken by the tannins. 17/20, 90/100. 12.5%, $55. Tapanappa website. Would I buy it? Maybe a glass.
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Those Bloodwood Rieslings have always been the bomb. I credit them with permanently getting my wife off sauv blanc and onto Riesling and for that I will always be grateful.