Jim McMahon

Berton Vineyards sources parcels of fruit from other wine regions around Australia such as the Coonawarra, Eden and Barossa Valleys and transports them to their Riverina winery crafting them into their own. Here I offer you the 2014 Berton Vineyard Barossa Reserve Shiraz. Purple in colour with a lovely violet-pink hue, the nose is nicely perfumed with blueberry, blackcurrant and black pepper and the palate offers plum and red fruits such as raspberry and redcurrant. Oak is nicely intermingled. A full-bodied wine finishing dry with plenty of fruit as one would expect, coming from the Barossa (rrp $17).

From the same stable comes the 2014 Berton Vineyard Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, deep purple in colour, with a nose that shows slight herbaceous green capsicum together with hints of eucalyptus and blackcurrants. The fruit on the palate is ripe, consisting of the same flavours found on the nose together with plum and wild berries. The oak adds texture and structure and is nicely balanced with firm acid and tannins adding to the palate weight and length (rrp $17).

The Mudgee-based 2016 Robert Stein Half Dry Riesling is a ripper of a wine, especially if you like this style of riesling. The green straw colour gives way to a floral nose of apricot and grapefruit, these flavours also appearing on the palate along with lemon and lime. There’s mouth-watering acidity and the fruit-driven finish is dry, lingering and intense. This style of wine is something special for people who like off-dry wines such as riesling (rrp $40).

The 2016 David O’Dea Organic Shiraz is light purple with bright pink around the rim. The nose oozes dark fruits with some redcurrant seeping through. The palate is light and fruity. The oak appears to be minimal as does the tannin pick-up. A breezy red wine with not too much heavy content in terms of fruit, oak or tannins. Something different for those of you who like food and wine made according to organic principles (rrp $25).

The Padthaway region makes some excellent chardonnays and this is one of them: the 2016 Jip Jip Rocks Chardonnay displays a bright straw colour with a green rim. The nose shows lots of ripe mandarin, lemon and lime and the same fruits are ripe and intense on the palate with a mineral streak adding to the taste (rrp $21).

Also try the 2016 Jip Jip Rocks Sauvignon Blanc. How many sauvignon blancs have you tasted from Padthaway? Not too many, I bet. Gooseberry and grapefruit come through on the nose, and on the palate these flavours are enhanced by melon and passionfruit characters. The acidity is crisp and dry and the wine has presence on the palate (rrp $21).

Now here’s a riesling that will set tongues wagging: Orange-based Patina wines and winemaker Gerald Naef make, in my mind, the best riesling in this region. (His labels are just as fabulous, produced by his wife Angie.) The 2014 Patina Scandalous Riesling is a light yellow with green highlights. The nose and palate show ripe fruit such as green apple, apricot and grapefruit. The wine displays a crisp acid finish with a touch of sweetness that is not quite dry (rrp $25).

Coonawarra-based Zema Estate has been making wine in this region since 1982 and is one of only a handful of wineries in the region that hand-prune their vines, with all family members and friends on deck for this important job. The resulting wines are superb.

The 2013 Zema Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is typical of what the Coonawarra does best. Coloured deep purple with a fading pink rim, the blackcurrant flavours on the nose are intense and drop nicely down onto the palate of earthy wild berries, cassis and cinnamon/vanilla notes. The oak is taut and refined as are the tannins allowing the fruits to shine and deliver. A superb, well-made wine with structure, richness and intensity on a long full-bodied, dry finish (rrp $29).

The 2015 Windowrie Family Reserve Shiraz offers a nose of mulberry and cinnamon spice with some raspberry coming through. The palate is nicely textured with the weight of the fruit, oak and tannin structure adding to the charm and balance of this wine. The wine has depth of flavour, palate weight and length and finishes dry and full-bodied. A voluptuous wine with lingering fruit (rrp $25).

Can you make a very good wine for $8? Obviously Berton Vineyard can. Their 2016 Berton Vineyard Head over Heels Shiraz is a ripper, both on the nose and palate. Ripe or should that be, overripe dark mulberry/cassis fruits on the nose sweep across the palate in abundance, knocking the oak and tannins to one side in one fell swoop. It’s a fruit bomb and a good quaffer for the paltry price of $8 rrp. See, not all wines have to come with hefty price tags attached. Try it and see for yourself.

Jim McMahon teaches hospitality at Sutherland TAFE