Reviewed by Jim McMahon

I was particularly impressed with the 2013 Swinging Bridge sauvignon blanc that I tasted over the recent holidays. A vibrant straw colour with green tinges on the eye, the nose offers lifted herbaceous flavours. The palate is fresh and vibrant with a mixture of grassy herbaceous flavours together with tropical fruits. The racy acidity and fruit delivery has certainly helped put the Orange region on the map for this style of wine. Excellent!

Following in its footsteps is its stablemate, the 2013 Swinging Bridge pinot gris. A wine of similar colour, the nose is reminiscent of white pear and cardamom spice. The palate is nicely textured with a soft yet firm mouth-feel. The flavours are of honeysuckle, white pear and spice with no hint of oak but textural feel on the palate from the time spent on lees (yeasty flavours). This is a well-rounded wine with balanced acidity and loads of flavour. These wines can be tasted at the cellar door at Union Bank in Orange. Both wines retail for $20 (rrp).

Rymill Coonawarra 2012 The Yearling cabernet sauvignon. To be perfectly frank, cabernet sauvignon would not necessarily be my red style of choice. The Rymill Yearling cabernet sauvgnon, however, is one of my favourite wines because a) it comes from a wine region noted for its style, the Coonawarra, b) it has pedigree, and c) it’s so consistent since French winemaker Sandrine Gimon has been at the helm. A vibrant purple with an inviting pink hue, the nose exudes a very complex and fragrant bouquet of ripe red berries and spice. The palate is soft and silky with nicely interwoven tannins and ripe fruit and is pure Coonawarra in every respect. It’s a delightful wine and a pleasure to drink at a price that is hard to beat. Cabernet sauvignon is the world’s most widely-planted grape according to research carried out by the University of Adelaide.

Although 2012 was not a particularly good vintage in many wine-growing regions it was considered an excellent year by all winemakers in the Coonawarra. While the region is noted for cabernet sauvignon it does, like its nemesis the Margaret River region of Western Australia, also make excellent shiraz. Rymill Coonawarra’s 2012 shiraz is purple-violet, with a nose that has fruit in abundance. The palate is soft and fruit-driven with minimal tannins combined with rich, ripe blackcurrant laced with hints of peppery spice. This medium-bodied wine finishes dry, with all components in balance. Both wines retail for $16 (rrp).

Windowrie The Mill 2013 chardonnay is showing youthful green hues with ripe apricot and nectarine flavours on the nose. The palate is fresh and fruity, with the flavours found on the nose also evident on the palate. This has minimal oak (if any); crisp acidity gives the wine backbone, and the fruit on the palate lingers long after the wine has gone down the hatch. (rrp $18)

Canberra-based Lerida Estate has recently released its 2012 pinot grigio which displays a pale straw colour combined with green hues indicating its youth. The nose is very expressive with citrus and pineapple flavours while the palate is refreshingly crisp with a combination of white pear and pineapple flavours together with crisp acidity. The wine has also collected a couple of gongs along the way including Top Gold and a trophy at the 2012 Canberra Regional Wine Show and Best in Class at the 2012 NSW Small Winemakers Wine Show. While it’s a good wine, at $25 (rrp) a pop it’s a tad expensive for this style.

O’Leary Walker 2013 Polish Hill River 2013 riesling. This Clare Valley winery knows no bounds when it comes to making top-notch rieslings, and the Polish Hill River is one of those wines. Bright green straw in colour, the nose is delicately perfumed with citrus and lime with mineral-slate overtones. The palate is awash with citrus and lime flavours which really do come to the fore. The acid sits nicely balanced between the fruit and other components of the wine. The finish is crisp, with lime juice flavours taking centre stage. One for the cellar over the next 10–15 years and all for the paltry price of $20 (rrp).

Bilgavia Estate Hunter Valley 2013 semillon. This winery, which was relaunched in 2012 by Leona and Phil Gunter and is situated in the Broke Fordwich region, is planted with what the Hunter does best — chardonnay and shiraz, but expect to see merlot, fiano and tempranillo come on line if experiments with these grape varieties prove fruitful. This wine is green in colour and the nose offers passionfruit, gooseberry and slight herbaceous flavours. The palate is delicately crisp with those same flavours also coming through. This wine is a classic Hunter Valley semillon and will reward further with patience. (rrp $26)

Another Hunter Valley producer that needs no introduction is Tyrrell’s, and in particular its Lost Block 2012 merlot. Vibrant purple with a lovely pink rim, the nose consists of aromatic blackcurrant and black olive flavours. The palate is soft and fruit-driven with minimal tannins evident. A dry, easy-drinking style with a persistent fruit-driven finish. (rrp $18)

Clare Valley producer Tim Adams has recently released his 2013 pinot gris. This wine comes from a winemaker who hits all the right notes with everything he produces and the 2013 pinot gris is no exception. A light grey/pink with some green highlights, the wine’s nose is fragrant with an attractive bouquet of ripe pear and spice. The palate is nicely rounded with a waxy mouth-feel combined with spicy tropical fruits and a firm acid, dry finish. Excellent! (rrp $23)

It is not often I review South African wines, especially sauvignon blancs, but this wine is one of the best SBs I have ever tasted from South Africa. First Sighting 2012 sauvignon blanc shows green straw colours. The nose is a mixture of grassy, herbaceous and tropical fruit flavours. These flavours come through onto the palate and are intense without being overly so. The plate also displays a rounded mouth-feel indicating the wine might have received some lees stirring, adding texture, body and weight. You know what I always say about SB, “If you can drink two glasses of it, you’ve got a good one”, and this wine is brilliant. It comes highly recommended. (rrp $18)

Sydney Morning Herald NSW Food & Wine Festival is on again this year and will take place from Friday to Sunday February 21-23 at Hyde Park Sydney. For further information visit

The winner of the wine competition run in the December 9, 2013 edition of Education was Colleen Watt, on long service leave from Neapean High School. She said she enjoyed the mixed dozen of wines from Berton Vineyards.

Jim McMahon teaches hospitality at Sutherland TAFE.