Reviewed by Jim McMahon

It’s not too often you get to taste a savvie from Tyrrell’s; after all, sauvignon blanc is not a traditional Hunter Valley varietal, nor is it something that the region does particularly well. Tyrrell’s Lost Block 2013 Sauvignon Blanc comes with grapes sourced from the Adelaide Hills. It has a bright green-tinged straw colour. The nose is very fragrant, with a mixture of tropical and herbaceous fruits. The palate is fresh and tangy with herbaceous flavours and passionfruit together with citrus flavours on a dry, crisp acid finish. The winery’s Lost Block 2012 Shiraz hails from the cool climate region of Heathcote in central Victoria. Deep purple with a pink/crimson hue, with a nose that is not overly expressive but which certainly makes up for this on the palate, which is soft and fruit-driven with savoury spice and blackcurrant with light mulberry and liquorice flavours showing through. Oak is minimal, as are the tannins which are seamlessly integrated. This medium-bodied wine finishes dry with a spicy finish. Both wines retail for $16 (rrp).

Based in the Broke Fordwich area of the Hunter Valley, Catherine Vale has just released its 2012 Verdelho which is a style of wine I particularly like and something for which the Hunter is renowned. A light straw in colour, the wine has subdued tropical fruit on the nose. The palate is dry with firm acidity with quince, passionfruit and citrus flavours taking centre stage. A crisp, dry acid finish (rrp $15). A follow-on from the same stable comes in the 2011 Barbera. This light-bodied wine variety hails from Piedmont in Italy, and Catherine Vale is one of only a handful of Hunter wineries experimenting with this style. A light see-through crimson/red colour with hints of red berry fruits, it has a touch of savoury spice on the nose. The palate is fairly light-on with the same spicy/savoury fruit flavours and minimal tannins on a dry, soft, firm finish (rrp $20).

The Tim Adams 2009 The Fergus is made up of grenache, tempranillo, mataro and shiraz. It is deep purple with a fading pink rim, and the bouquet is reminiscent of red and dark berry fruits. The palate is soft and silky with lots of red and blackberry fruits, spice and savoury notes coming to the fore. Oak is minimal as is the tannin pick-up. An all-round medium-bodied wine with fruit aplenty and minimal tannins. Next comes the Tim Adams 2013 Riesling. Pale straw with a green rim indicating its youth, the nose is very aromatic and offers a lemon and lime punch. The palate is dry with natural crisp acidity with the lemon and lime flavours expressing themselves at length. A very pristine style of riesling (both rrp $23).

I recently tasted the Yarra Valley-based Tarrawarra Estate 2012 Pinot Rosé. Light-pink in colour with a copper tinge, the wine’s nose offers raspberries, strawberries and spice. The palate is a follow-on from the nose with savoury characters coming through. The wine is crisp and dry — in fact, too dry for some of my BBQ guests, and I must say I agree: I was expecting a little residual sugar to make the wine more appealing on the palate (rrp $18).

As those of you who follow this column will know, I’m no lover of sparkling red wines (it’s a physiological thing) but treat them like any other when on a judging panel. Here I offer you the Hungerford Hill NV Cardinal Sparkling Shiraz. Deep purple in colour with a fading pink rim, the nose oozes Hunter Valley fruit with blackcurrant and red berry fruits with hints of cinnamon. The palate is fresh and crisp with mouth-watering red/black fruits in abundance. The acid/tannin/oak flavours are in balance and the wine finishes dry with lingering fruit on the palate (rrp $22). Another more traditional style of sparkling wine from the same producer is the 2008 Hungerford Hill Dalliance sparkling chardonnay pinot noir, straw-yellow in colour with a fine and persistent bead, and a nose offering biscuity/bready flavours together with melon and apricot notes. The flavours on the palate are of melon, honey and slight blond tobacco flavours. The finish is dry, with a generous mouth-feel and a slight creamy texture with fading hints of vanilla and yeasty Vegemite flavours backed by firm acidity. A wine for a special occasion! (rrp $30).

Two terrific Kiwi wines from Marlborough producer Ra Nui — the 2013 Pinot Gris and 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. The pinot gris offers a lovely youthful lemon colour with a green tinge. The nose is very aromatic with cinnamon spice, white pear and wild honey and the palate is nicely textured with layer upon layer of spicy white fruit and citrus flavours. The finish is long and flavoursome with soft acidity. The Ra Nui sauvignon blanc is typical of what the region does best. It offers a youthful green/pale straw colour on the eye. The palate offers mouth-watering passionfruit with grassy herbaceous overtones which cut right through it. The crisp acidity on the finish is dry and intense (both rrp $27).

The central Victorian winery of Mr Avoca was established in 1963, some 40 years after Remy Cointreau established Blue Pyrenees Estate (then known as Chateau Remy). Today the winery is continuing its upsurge with former Rosemount Estate senior winemaker, Andrew Koerner, leading the charge. Here I offer you the Mt Avoca Limited Release 2012 Viognier. It is a pale straw colour with a very expressive nose of apricots, star anise and honey. A crisp and dry palate has musky white peach and apricot flavours taking centre-stage. The wine displays a nice texture, with hints of French oak evident. The finish is dry and balanced by crisp acidity (rrp $18).

Jim McMahon teaches hospitality at Sutherland TAFE.