Gibbston Valley Gold River Pinot Noir 2008 (Central Otago, NZ)
Judging by this example, Gibbston Valley had a tough time in 08. A cherry red/purple coloured Pinot with plenty of colour and rather light edges, the challenges of the vintage are apparent from the first whiff – it smells stewed & tough, with a caramel oak edged nose that is hard to like, even if it comes up fresher with a good swirl. The palate follows with overripe jammy fruit underpinned by a nasty green streak and hard acidity, the whole package lacking generosity. Sadly hard work. 14.9/84
Blue Poles Viognier 2009 (Margaret River, WA)
I’m sorry to say that after trying this for the third time, I’m still personally unconvinced. Part of my issue here is that it is so un-varietal, showing none of the characters that I really like about Viognier.
It’s a muted nose aromatically, with orange jasmine fruits that are light and underplayed. The palate is similarly lean & short with a nice glycerol backbone that lasts all to fleetingly. After that it’s just a glimmer of acidity and everything is finished. To my palate this is just underdone and not the sort of Viognier I like. 15/85
Charles Melton Rose of Virginia 2009 (Barossa, SA)
Love the colour – its a ruby, bright, almost painted on red colour that looks juicy, bright and quite the part. Nose does too, with red fruits in the raspberry, cherry and strawberry spectrum – it’s all very luscious and rather appealing, if mildly confected. After all that promise, the palate is jolly and friendly, juicy and rounded, but just a little tart towards the finish, showing some overripe fruit characters in the mix. Still, you can’t begrudge the style, which is bang on for drinkability. 16.7/89
Pra Soave 2008 (Veneto, Italy)
Soave – it’s a style that Australia really struggles to compete with, from any variety. Dry & lightly aromatic, the appeal here is the oily, generous texture and an almost salty twang. This is a pretty simple, entry level example, but it’s so classically proportioned that you can’t stop drinking it. I had it with Seafood Risotto and the bottle drained at speed. 16.8/89
Hofstatter Riesling 2007 (Alto Adige, Italy)
This followed the Soave and whilst it is arguably a superior wine, the Soave was the more plainly appealing of the two (though the positions would have switched had the bottles been left open for a day methinks).
A lightly honeyed & floral white, the flavours start with a honeysuckle richness, but the acidity cuts in firm and early, drying everything out just a tad too briskly. Gagging for another year in the cellar, this is reminds me of a cool, coiled Tassie style Riesling with the elegance to match. Nice for a change of pace, but probably too young for real enjoyment. 17.3/91+
Marcarini Moscato di Asti 2008 (Piedmont, Italy)
Seriously good. As seriously good as an un-serious wine style can be. It’s not expensive, it has no pretensions of great complexity, it’s just ripe, sweet muscat grapes, crushed, fermented and bottled, leaving behind plenty of natural grape sugar and a flicker of frizzante. The end result is like the ultimate bellini, sweet and juicy and fruit sweet, but crisp and refreshing, with almost limitless drinkability and underplayed acidity. It’s a wine that just revels in the simple glory of fermented grape juice. Only a matter of time before Australia can produce Moscatos of this calibre too. Delicious, in a very non technical way. 17.5/92
Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Adelaide Hills, SA)
I wasn’t convinced by the 2008 version of this, which just reflected the variability of the vintage (for whites at least) more than anything else. But this is right back on form. What I most like is that it tastes nothing like a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, reinforcing its identity in the best possible fashion.
Grassy, passionfruit and lemon smelling, this is backed by a palate driven by acidity of the citrussy kind. A welcome bit of textural fat gives even more enjoyment and that acid makes this one refreshing white wine. Really, very good Sauvignon Blanc. 18/93