July 2, 2020
Wine & Dine

Wine reviews: Thrifty pleasures

We're all spending a few more nights in than we used to. Cellar manager at The Edinburgh Hotel Cellars Margot Muir offers a few top drops to keep your palate singing and your purse strings tight. 

Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Burgundy, France
RRP $26.99
Who doesn’t need a decent glass of fizz sometimes? This just happens to be my go-to bubbles when I want to impress without breaking the bank. This delightful methode traditionelle is made exclusively from white grapes: chardonnay and aligote. 130 years of history and expertise gives the Bouillot Maison a large territory that stretches from the north of Burgundy to the south. Such diversity means that a wide range of different base wines guarantees the house style. Add a minimum 12 months on lees to enhance and add complex secondary aromas, whilst bringing a harmonic and elegant finish.


Year Wines Fiano 2019
McLaren Vale
RRP $30
Fiano originates from the warmer coastal regions of southern Italy but it has found a natural home in McLaren Vale. Enter Luke Growden and Caleigh Hunt who started Year Wines in 2012 with a view to celebrating often overlooked varieties. Pineapple spice and tropical fruits fill my olfactory senses and there are notes of cut hay, coiled and golden in the afternoon sun. I like the brush of fresh thyme that wafts from the glass, untamed in nature. Definitely a wine to be enjoyed while sitting on the veranda watching the passing parade of neighbours out for an evening stroll. 


Alois Lageder Cantina RIFF Pinot Grigio 2018
Veneto, Italy
RRP $17.99
This great value pinot grigio is the perfect self-isolation escape, transporting you to the foothills of the Dolomites: fresh, crisp, clean and lively, it’s Alpine cool. Take a virtual walk through fields of fine baby’s breath and jasmine florals, fresh-cut pear and just a slight hint of green peppercorns and a leafy note that complements its springtime zest and bounce. The palate is playful, slippery and light while retaining your attention with flavour persistence. It really is delightful. 


Entrada Rosé of Grenache 2019
McLaren Vale
RRP $25
This is one of the first offerings in the ‘Entrada’ range, launched by Alan Varney and a community of like-minded people in 2018. This delicious bush vine grenache rosé is sourced from Brini Estate in Blewitt Springs, McLaren Vale. Gnarly old vines of 60 years of age produce a pale, vibrant, glossy yet sheer pink canvas to showcase a seductive perfume of redcurrants, musk stick and wild strawberries. It’s reminiscent of fairy floss — minus the sugar hit! Then an alluring spice note keeps the palate dancing to a fleshy, fresh finish. Sounds like fun, and so it is.


The Other Wine Co. Pinot Noir 2019
RRP $35
The fruit may hail from the Coal River Valley, but the wine is vinified at Shaw & Smith in the Adelaide Hills. Luckily for you and me, this wine seriously over-delivers for the price. Components spent a short time in older oak, stainless steel and concrete. There are layers of dark cherry fruit, brambles and delicate undergrowth complexity, there are seductive forest floor notes and highlights of pink florals — cranberry and pomegranate brightness. Good structure and fine grain tannin that ripples and accelerates across the palate as waves of flavour ebb and flow finishing with a lingering muskiness. 


Poggio Anima SAMAEL Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2018
RRP $17.99
It’s no wonder that my mind and my wallet decide to enjoy the drinking pleasures of another excellent Italian wine. A collaboration between famed Brunello producer Riccardo Campinoti and his importer, this wine is designed to over-deliver — and it does just that. With a brilliant ruby colour, it’s expressive and concentrated on the nose, with black cherry orchard, generous fruit compote, wood spice complexity, a hint of mint and subtle herbal lift, refreshing and bright acidity. The layers evolve as you ponder your next sip. An absolute bargain.


Longview Fresco 2019 Vino Novello
Adelaide Hills
RRP $19.99
Made from a blend of nebbiolo, pinot noir, sangiovese and barbera, Longview’s Fresco is a vibrant, juicy and slurpable medium-bodied crowd-pleaser. The wine has crimson highlights, displaying aromas of fresh red berries overlaid with notes of roses and herbs. The palate is deliciously supple with a cherry and strawberry core wrapped in savoury spice. The tannins are fine yet well-structured with balance. It’s designed for young drinking and I certainly don’t mind giving them a hand with that. More please…


Wirra Wirra Vineyards Original Blend Grenache Shiraz 2018
McLaren Vale
RRP $24
For me, no other wine encapsulates the warm and fuzzy Wirra Wirra hug better than the 2018 Original Blend Grenache (70 per cent) Shiraz (30 per cent). The 2018 is vivid, rich and eminently playful. There are aromas reminiscent of grandma’s foraging basket: a botanical hotch-potch of berries, orchards and leaves. I’m left with pleasure and a wanting for more, I think that is the best any wine can do.


HEAD Barossa Shiraz Cellar Reserve 2018
RRP $19.99
Winemaker Alex Head strives to achieve the ultimate expression of “terroir” in all of his wines. This wine has all the complexity, balance and delicious drinkability you should expect from Barossa Shiraz. There is warmth and generosity in abundance, with dark blue and blackberry fruits to the fore, lifted and fragrant, plus a smattering of cocoa powder, a dusting of forest floor and earthy spice notes: mace and ginger, with hints of caramel richness. Voluminousness with an easy tannin finish makes this excellent drinking now and in the short term. 


Penley Estate Tolmer Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
RRP $22
Shout it loud and shout it proud: I love cabernet! There’s a time and a place for all wines and I think that’s what we forget about cabernet and its mates: these wines are made for food. They shine brightest when partnered with beautifully presented proteins. Here we have the calling card of all things cabernet for a bargain price. Aromatic concentration of dense blackcurrant fruit, perfumed lift of violet and rose petals, and sunstruck tomato leaf. On the palate there’s a silky chocolate smoothness framed by a seamless tannin structure. Lingering and beautifully balanced.


This article first appeared in the May 2020 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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