Crikey, I worked up quite a sweat putting this one together. But you know me, always the team player. After selflessly draining dozens of bottles on your behalf, I finally cracked it with this bumper Antipodean selection showcasing two countries, seven regions/producers and ten different varieties/blends. Don’t say I don’t try.
We in the UK drink more Aussie wine than we do wine from anywhere else and we spend more on average per bottle on New Zealand wine than on anyone else’s. In short, we Brits love the wines from Down Under and the following bottles give the perfect illustration of why.
The Kiwis have grown Sauvignon Blanc only since 1974 and the SBs of Marlborough in particular are celebrated the world over. The variety thrives elsewhere, though, and the 2019 C.J. Pask Sauvignon Blanc (1) from the Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay is faultless. Crisp, clean and citrusy, it has typical gooseberry and cut grass notes but is a touch more restrained and less tropical than one might expect. As a result it’s deliciously refreshing and makes a cracking 6 p.m. pipe-opener. £10.50 down from £12.49.
The 2018 Mitchell Watervale Riesling (2) from the Clare Valley in South Australia is beautifully judged. Made from the hand-harvested, slow-fermented fruit of low-yielding, 60-year-old vines free from any artificial fertilisers and pesticides, it’s a complete joy. Bone dry and with typical petrol and fresh limes on the nose, it’s both complex and elegant with a keen, refreshing, mineral acidity. £12.95 down from £14.95.
The 2019 Domain Road ‘Defiance’ Pinot Gris (3), from Bannockburn, Central Otago in NZ’s South Island, is a gorgeous, single vineyard expression of one of my favourite grapes. Crammed with ripe, creamy, succulent peaches and pears with just a whisper of toast, it finishes dry to off-dry and is decadently satisfying. £15.50 down from £16.95.
With the 2018 already released, it’s great still to have the chance to snap up the enticingly mature 2016 Wynns ‘The Siding’ Cabernet Sauvignon (4) from Coonawarra in South Australia. From one of the region’s most celebrated producers — in business for 130 years — it’s soft, mellow, slightly spicy and chock-full of ripe blackberry/blackcurrant fruit. It’s a steal at this price. £12.75 down from £13.95.
The 2018 Esk Valley Pinot Noir (5) is drawn from vineyards in the Awatere and Wairau Valleys in Marlborough in NZ’s South Island. Aged for 11 months in French oak, it’s soft, silky and although full of ripe dark cherry fruit has an appetisingly savoury finish. £12.95 down from £15.95.
The 2017 Wirra Wirra ‘Catapult’ Shiraz (6) from McLaren Vale in South Australia is everything you expect from Aussie Shiraz. Big, brash and bold, it’s truly mouth-filling, with rich plummy fruit, spice, liquorice and chocolate, lightened by just a dash of apricotty Viognier. £14.75 down from £15.95.
I simply had to add the 2018 Domain Road ‘Defiance’ Chardonnay (8) because it just made me beam with delight. With citrus, ripe stone fruit and hints of brioche, cream and butter, it’s a banker for lovers of fine Chardonnay. Available by the six-bottle box only. £19.50 down from £20.95.
Finally, a spectacular add-on from mighty McHenry Hohnen in Margaret River, Western Australia, comprising the 2014 McHenry Hohnen Hazel’s Vineyard Zinfandel, 2016 McHenry Hohnen BDX and 2018 McHenry Hohnen Hazel’s Vineyard GSM. There isn’t room to do these fabulous wines justice. Margaret River produces roughly 2 per cent of Australia’s wines but 20 per cent of Australia’s premium wines and these absolute peaches from biodynamically-farmed single vineyards show just how premium they can be. It’s a stunning trio available as a mixed six case (9) for just £138.00.
The mixed case (7) has two bottles each of wine 1-6 and delivery, as ever, is free.