Here are some wines from the Hunter, Cowra, Riverina, Orange, Mudgee and Padthaway for your enjoyment.
First up is the 2014 Catherine Vale Reserve Chardonnay, a white grape variety that the Hunter does best. (While this grape accounts for 45 per cent of the 2015 wine crush it appears that pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc still reign supreme with drinkers.)
Light golden in colour, this chardonnay has a nose offering vanilla and light almond notes combined with ripe peach and banana. The palate on the other hand is richly textured with apricot, ripe citrus flavours and French oak adding backbone and palate weight as well as vanilla and almond flavours. The wine is nicely balanced, allowing the fruit to express itself. A firm, dry acid finish (rrp $18).
Dolcetto, an Italian red grape variety almost exclusively grown in the Provence of Cuneo and Alessandria in Piedmont, north-west Italy, has found a natural home in this Upper Hunter winery. The 2014 Catherine Vale Gabrielle is see-through red with a pink rim; the palate is soft, with minimal oak evident and slightly limited fruit — dark cherries and prunes — along with liquorice and almonds. The wine is light-bodied and shows no oak and minimal acidity on a soft, dry finish (rrp $18).
If one could call sauvignon blanc elegant, let it be the 2015 Angullong Sauvignon Blanc. This wine comes from a top producer in Orange and displays a lovely pale green straw colour. The nose shows blackcurrant bud, unripe banana, gooseberry and freshly-cut grass. The palate shows mouth-watering acidity with crisp lemon and lime flavours and gooseberry notes. A crisp, dry, elegant style that makes you sit up and take note of what you’re actually drinking (rrp $19).
The 2013 Sassy Pinot Noir (Orange region) has a perfume that reminds me of black cherry, plum and raspberry with French vanillin oak sitting nicely in the background. The fruit on the nose cascades onto the palate (rrp $30).
A powerful and dense palate of spicy mulberry, dark plums and redcurrant flavours combined with lovely oak integration and ripe/firm tannins has garnered the 2014 Stockman’s Ridge ‘Rider’ Shiraz from Cowra many awards including a gold medal and three trophies. Deep purple in colour with a bright pink rim, the nose is rich and intense with dark berry fruits combined with French oak and cinnamon and vanilla notes.
The wine is perfectly balanced, allowing the fruit to shine. This shiraz would make a very good impression around anyone’s dinner table ($23 rrp).
Mudgee-based producer Robert Stein knows no bounds when it comes to making riesling wine, and the 2015 Robert Stein Half Dry Riesling is a blinder. What the Kiwis call “off-dry”, winemaker Jacob Stein calls “half dry”. Pale green straw in colour, the fruit on the nose jumps out of the glass, with lime playing a dominant role. It has a fragrant nose of spice and grapefruit. On the palate the fruit is excessively ripe with hints of residual sugar and spice and a softly textured mouth-feel. A great food match for a fruity curry or spicy fish dish. I’m a riesling fan from way back and love anything to do with riesling. Simply superb (rrp $40).
The 2015 Lowe ‘Tinja’ Preservative Free & Organic Shiraz has a super-fresh palate of generous black and red fruit. The French oak is nicely handled and does not overpower the fruit, allowing the wine to express itself to the fullest. It is low in alcohol at around 10 per cent, appealing to those who like low-alcohol wines which are all the rage in Europe but only slowly catching on here. You be the judge (rrp $22).
Staying in Mudgee, along comes another wine, the 2015 Huntington Estate Gewürztraminer. The fruit on the nose is not as aromatic as I had hoped but one that will open up over time, although lime and lavender come to mind now. The palate is lively and fresh and the finish is dry with spicy citrus dominating. The wine has a gold medal and also the Trophy for Best Dry White Wine at the NSW Small Winemakers’ Show 2015. A steal at the price (rrp $22).
A fruit bomb with lots of character and flavour — that’s the 2014 Mount Monster Cabernet from Padthaway, SA. Deep purple with a vibrant pink hue, and a nose of rich, ripe and intense fruit. The palate is soft with lots of red/black fruits. The tannins are firm with balanced acidity (rrp $17). Another wine from the same stable is the 2015 Mount Monster Unoaked Chardonnay. Hints of cucumber, citrus and apricot on the nose accelerate across the palate to deliver a clean, crisp unoaked chardonnay (rrp $17).
Lastly, there’s the 2013 Calabria Family 3 Bridges Botrytis Semillon: bright amber in colour with apricots, marmalade and spicy lime on the nose and a warm and viscous palate with citrus spice dominant. Layer upon layer of ripe sweet fruits take centre-stage. The acidity is dry as is the wine itself. A lovely style of wine that pairs well with cheeses or a pudding. It comes from one of the best names and pedigree in the Riverina (rrp $25 for 375ml).
Jim McMahon teaches hospitality at Sutherland TAFE