Posts Tagged ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’

30 great australian wines under $20

30 great australian wines under $20

July 29, 2012  |  wine review  |  No Comments

NOTE: This post has been superseded by the  SUMMER EDITION at for 2012/13. Wines in this post are now mostly out of stock.

The 2012 winter edition is a little behind schedule. Sorry. This post includes some wines from the amazing 2010 vintage, with Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale featuring heavily.

There is heavy sourcing from Dan Murphy’s, Nicks – retailers with diverse ranges and keen pricing. All wines are hyperlinked to the specific product on the retailer’s website.


White wine

  • Maritime Estate Pinot Gris 2010. Mornington Peninsula Nicks at $19.99
  • Leeuwin Estate Siblings Sauvignon Blanc/Semilllon Margaret River 2010 Vintage Cellars $19.99
  • Tim Adams Clare Valley Semillon 2010. Cloudwine at $19
  • Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2011. Dan Murphys at $15.90. A bargain.
  • Dandelion Vineyards Wishing Clock Sauvignon Blanc 2011. Vintage Cellars $19.99
  • Jim Barry Lodge Hill Clare Valley Lodge Hill Riesling 2011. Dan Murphys $18.90
  • Heggies Riesling Barossa Valley 2011. Dan Murphys at $16.90
  • Stonier Chardonnay Mornington Peninsula 2010. Nicks at $17.99
  • Hill Smith Estate Chardonnay Eden Valley 2010. Nicks at $17.99
  • Hoddle’s Creek Chardonnay. Yarra Valley 2011. Cloudwine $19
  • Pitchfork Chardonnay. Margaret River 2011. Cloudwine $15
  • Yering Station Chardonnay Yarra Valley 2008 Kemenys at $19.99

Red wines

  • Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir Yarra Valley 2011 Vintage Cellars at $19.19
  • Balnaves of Coonawarra The Blend Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2010. Cloudwine at $20
  • Kemenys Hidden Label Merlot. Coonawarra. KHL 5215. 2010 Kemenys at $14.99. Value!
  • Cumulus Climbing Merlot. Orange 2010. Dan Murphys $16.15
  • Thorn Clarke Shotfire Quartage Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Malbec/Merlot Barossa Valley 2010 Nicks at $16.99
  • Mr Riggs Outpost Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Nicks at $19.99
  • Journeys End Coonawarra Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Nicks at $19.99. Good value from an excellent vintage in Coonawarra
  • Kaesler Stonehorse Shiraz Grenache Mouvedre Barossa Valley 2008 Nicks at $16.99
  • Taylors Reserve Parcel Shiraz. Clare Valley 2010 Dan Murphys at $19.90
  • Robert Oatley Signature Series Shiraz McLaren Vale 2010 Dan Murphys at $16.90
  • Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz. Barossa Valley 2010. Dan Murphys at $17.90. Brilliant.
  • Shottesbrooke Shiraz 2010. McLaren Vale Dan Murphys at $17.90
  • O’Leary Walker Shiraz 2010. Clare Valley Nicks at $17.99
  • Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz 2010 Barossa Valley Nicks at $19.99. Wow!!


best 20 wines under $20 - christmas 2011

best 20 wines under $20 – christmas 2011

November 27, 2011  |  main blog, wine review  |  4 Comments


Here they are – the best value wines in Australia (with a stray NZ pinot). All wines are available at the time of writing, with hyperlinks link to the cheapest source I could find. 


  • Brown Brothers NV Pinot Noir Chardonnay and Pinot Meuniere. From the King Valley, without doubt the best Australian sparkling under $20. Nicks $19.99
  • Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz 2006. A classic – spicy black fruit with length and balance. Perfect for Christmas dinner turkey. Boccacio Cellars at an amazing $18.99


  • Pewsey Vale Riesling 2011 – Clean, citrus zest, lime and mineral texture. Amazing value at $13.99 from Kemenys
  • Heggies Riesling 2011. A tightly structured Barossan gem.  Dan Murphys $17.99.
  • Tar and Roses Pinot Grigio 2011. One of the best of this style from Don Lewis, showing crisp pear and nougat. Well priced from Dan Murphys at $16.15
  • Montgomerys Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Fresh asparagus and tropical fruit salad – a wine from Albany direct from the winery at $18.00
  • Stella Bella Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010. From Margaret River, a classic blend and easy Christmas drinking. Grays on line at $19.99
  • De Iuliis Semillon 2011. A lively, fresh Semillon from the Hunter from Cloudwine at $17
  • Bellarmine Estate Chardonnay 2010. A winner from Pemberton. Stone fruit and length, Fantastic buying at Boccacio cellars at $18.99
  • Ingram Road 2010 Chardonnay. Another impressive chardonnay from the Yarra Valley. Available from Cloudwine at $16
  • Barwang Chardonnay 2011 – outstanding Tumbarumba sourced Chardonnay. $13.75 at Kemenys – not on line but in the latest catalogue


  • Dandelion Fairytale of the Barossa Rose 2011. A serious wine better than the competition. Halliday 95 points. Cloudwine $20


  • Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir 2010. Brilliant value quality pinot from the Yarra Valley from a great vintage. This is a must buy. $16.99 at Kemenys
  • Palliser Estate Pencarrow Pinot Noir 2010. An excellent Martinborough pinot at an unbelievable price from Cloudwine for $18
  • Tar and Roses Alpine Valleys Heathcote Tempranillo 2010. The best yet – rich mulberries and hints of blackcurrant with impressive length, balance and structure. Dan Murphys $18.99
  • Hidden label Langhorne Creek Cabernet Malbec 2006 KHL 1307. Sells for $33 under its own label. Impressive wine at Kemenys at $17
  • Tatachilla Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. From Mclaren Vale, an outstanding wine. Be quick! From Winelistaustralia on line for $19.99
  • Majella ‘the Musician” Cabernet Shiraz 2010. A 55/45 blend from the Coonawarra winery. Beautiful wine from Topwineries on line at $17.99
  • Plantagenet Omrah 2009 Shiraz. From Mount Barker with ripe fragrant red currant fruit and velvety texture. Go direct to cellar door at Plantagenet Wines $18.00
  • Philip Shaw Idiot Shiraz 2010. From the emerging Orange district. A great wine from a globally recognised maker. Topwineries on line at $19.99
30 great australian wines under $20

30 great australian wines under $20

July 4, 2011  |  life, wine review  |  3 Comments


NOTE:  December 2011 – Many people are still visiting this site from search engines. While some of the wines are still available, I have updated the list which is reflected in the latest “best 20 wines under $20 – christmas 2011″ I suggest you use this list first. 

Some friends recently asked me to nominate the best Australian wines under $20. Given that my blog targets this segment, I’ve decided to post the list, and to seek support from you to identify other entries. It’s totally subjective and isn’t the product of exhaustive sampling. More like the start of a conversation. I have provided links to the best price I can find, but can’t guarantee that they’re the lowest. If you’re buying, make sure you get the vintage specified. Some of these have almost sold out, so be quick. Here are 30 of the best value Australian (I should say Australasian as there are four NZ entries) wines available today:


  • Back Vintage Chardonnay Pinot Cuvee Brut at $12.99 – simply stunning. On line.
  • Bundaleer NV Sparkling Shiraz – Southern Flinders Ranges. Decadent! $18 cellar door.


Isn’t it great to see Chardonnay returning to its rightful place at the top of the white varietals? The best value and quality tend to come from Yarra Valley and Margaret River, with Tumbarumba, Tasmania and Adelaide Hills snapping at their heels. Cool climate rules!

  • Oakridge 2009 Over the Shoulder Yarra Valley Chardonnay – cheapest of David Bicknall’s many chardonnays, but wow! $18.99 at Randall’s
  • Xanadu Next of Kin Margaret River Chardonnay 2009. $16 @ Vintage Cellars.
  • Hoddles Creek Estate Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2010. Halliday 95. Sensational. Restrained. Cloudwine at $19
  • Madfish Sideways Margaret River Chardonnay 2009. $15.99 at Winerywines
  • Barwang Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2010. $13.90 Dan Murphy. Value


As a category, these wines represent outstanding quality and value for money in a global context. It’s hard to go past the Clare and Eden Valleys.

  • O’Leary Walker 2010 Polish Hill River Riesling. Fantastic! $16.99 @ Winestar on line
  • Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2010. Brilliant. $17 by the case @ Auswine on line
  • Jim Barry’s Lodge Hill Dry Riesling 2011. $19 mail order. Excellent. (Find some 2010!)
  • Jacob’s Creek Reserve Riesling 2010. A ridiculous $13 @ Grays on line


Hunter and Barossa are the two strong Semillon regions, with an occasional gem from Margaret River. Best Sauvignon Blancs from NZ. The big trend now to blends of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc:

  • Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon 2005. Winner best white wine Sydney Show 2011. $24.75 at Kemeny’s. If this is breaking the rules or too dear, try the straight Peter Lehmann 2009 Semillon @ $13.
  • Brokenwood Hunter Semillon 2009. Sydney Gold, Halliday 95. $16.94 @ Mycellars
  • Leeuwin Estate MR Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009 $19.99 at Vintage Cellars
  • Rabbit Ranch Central Otago NZ 2009 Sauvignon Blanc @ $19 from Cloudwine
  • Astrolabe 2010 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. $19.99 at Nick’s


Good pinot is expensive so there are slim pickings in this segment.

  • Pencarrow 2009 Martinborough Pinot Noir. Great value. $17.99 @ Nick’s
  • Yeland’s Way Pinot Noir Martinborough and Central Otago blend. Available from boutique retailer, Cloudwine, for $16
  • Hoddles Creek Yarra Valley Pinot Noir also from Cloudwine for $19


Typically Barossa and Heathcote are the heroes, however good shiraz is widely grown:

  • Leopardwood Reserve Heathcote Shiraz 2009. $15 at Wineboss or Yarran Wines  James Halliday 94. Exceptional value.
  • Thorn Clarke Shotfire Ridge Barossa Shiraz 2009. Rich. $17.99 at Topwineries
  • Hardy’s HRB D641 Shiraz (from several areas) $19.95 at Dan Murphy. Excellent wine
  • Innocent Bystander Syrah 2009 from Yarra Valley and Pyrenees. A Rhone style elegant, ethereal wine. $16.99 on line from Topwineries


The two outstanding Cabernet areas in Australia are Coonawarra and Margaret River:

  • Kemeny’s Hidden Label Reserve 2008 Coonawarra Cabernet KHL 2518 $17. Value!
  • Brand’s Laira Blockers Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. $19.95 Dan Murphy (Watch vintages on this – for example Vintage Cellars have the 2007)
  • Ringbolt Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. $17.95 Dan Murphy
  • Xanadu Next of Kin Margaret River 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon $16 at Vintage Cellars.
  • Flametree Embers Margaret River 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. Member price $15


  • Running with Bulls Tempranillo 2010. Great food wine. $16.99 Wineboxwarehouse
  • Turkey Flat Barossa Valley Butcher’s Block Shiraz Grenache Mouvedre 2009, a hot price of $16.90 at Dan Murphys.

Maybe you can add to this list. I can only dream about them as I soldier through “Dry July”

an amazing larry cherubino wine under hidden label

October 17, 2010  |  wine review  |  No Comments

The acclaimed winemaker, Larry Cherubino, has been making fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River and Frankland River in recent years. Since he escaped the big corporates (where he was winemaker for Houghton’s and Hardy’s Tintara), Larry has offered the market premium wines under three brands – Ad Hoc, The Yard and Cherubino. The Cherubino Cabernet from Margaret River retails from cellar door for $75 and The Yard Cabernet from Frankland River sells for $35,

Imagine my surprise to crack the code at Kemeny’s on a hidden label wine that turns out to be The Yard Cabernet (although they describe it as “Margaret River”)……and even better that the price point is $16 per bottle in a dozen lot. This wine is the Kemeny’s Hidden Label Margaret River Cabernet 2009. I am increasingly impressed with Margaret and Frankland River Cabernet. Despite being a Cabernet grower at Coonawarra, I would have to say that Coonawarra is in danger of losing it’s status as Australia’s premium Cabernet region.

Here are my tasting notes for this wine:

It is bright clear in condition – dark crimson with purple tinges. On the nose, the wine screams green capsicum and herbaceous fruit with overtones of blackcurrants. It is lean and attractive on the front palate showing some complex berry fruits, cedar and cassis. This wine develops in the glass and has a wonderful acid, tannin balance, with finesse and a lingering back palate. It is an outstanding and accessible wine which will cellar beautifully if you can keep your hands off it. I scored it 93/100. It has 14% alcohol by volume. Get some before it runs out!!

nugan – hands in many places

September 14, 2010  |  wine review  |  2 Comments

I must declare some self-interest in this column, as the owner of 12 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in Coonawarra. Since the early 60’s Coonawarra has developed a reputation as Australia’s Bordeaux – a cool climate area in which Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot are particularly suited.

Some of the great wines – like the Parker Terra Rossa First Growths – can be quite expensive, so it’s always good to find a good value, accessible, quality wine like the Nugan 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Nugan is an interesting third generation “diversified” farming family company of Griffith origins. The family now boasts vineyards in the Riverina, King Valley, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra (where they are recent entrants). It’s an interesting trend to see winemakers sourcing fruit from, and purchasing vineyards in, Australia’s cooler climate areas. Nugan’s neighbours de Bortoli, entered the Yarra Valley in the late 70’s and have made some stunning wines there.

Before reviewing the Cabernet, let me mention one other Nugan wine under their second label, Cookoothama (aboriginal for “fertile land”). The one I love is the Cookoothama 1997 Botrytis Semillon from Darlington Point (where my father in law took his mates from the Poacher’s Paradise on legendary fishing trips). This 375 ml wine costs about $20 and gives the famous de Bortoli Noble One, a run for its money. It has dried apricots and marmalade characters with luscious lingering length and a dry finish. Yum – a fantastic sticky to serve with  your favourite pudding!

Although the current vintage is 2007, The Nugan 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon is still available at Vintage Cellars for between $15 and $20 with volume discounts. 2006 was one of the great vintages for reds in Coonawarra (just as 2007 was brilliant in Margaret River – an area giving Coonawarra a run for its money on Cabernets). My tasting notes follow:

Attractive, lifted berry nose with violets and chocolate overtones. The wine has a good acid fruit balance and should cellar for a few more years. Wild bramble berries, black currant and cassis on the palate, finishing with lovely soft tannins and lingering berry fruit. 14% alcohol. 93/100

Enjoy grazing for some other 2006 Coonawarra cabernets!

hilltops region and another beauty from barwang

August 9, 2010  |  uncategorized, wine review  |  No Comments

The Hilltops Wine Region is one of New South Wales’ most exciting wine regions. Situated around the towns of Young, Boorowa and Harden, the Hilltops is fast gaining recognition as a consistent producer of ultra-premium wine.  Croatian immigrants planted the first vines in this region in the 1860’s. These vines were planted especially for refreshments for the diggers working in the near-by gold fields. The more recent vineyards contributing to today’s viticulture industry were established from the 1970′s. The Southcorp viticulturalists used to say that anywhere you can grow cherries is a good area for quality red wine grapes

Barwang is a part of the McWilliams stable. McWilliams is renowned for presenting wines of great value. This is no exception. I paid $14 in Vintage Cellars at a case rate, but I have noticed it for $13 on line.

Barwang Hlltops Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

My tasting notes follow:

“Bright brick red, vibrant colour. Attractive black currant and blackberry nose with some lifted floral overtones. Powerful berry fruit with licorice and chocolate combined with lovely mocha oak that opens up in the glass. Tongue coating, rich savoury tannins – still a little aggressive – but will rapidly soften with a little more ageing. Lingering mouth full of flavour. 14.0% alcohol. Great wine of outstanding value. 93/100”

Richard Hamilton 2008 Hut Block Cabernet Sauvignon

July 26, 2010  |  wine review  |  No Comments


I’m always searching for a good value red under $20. Based on the hand written recommendations in the window of the Berry bottle shop (Princes Highway, Berry) this one promised to fit the bill. My tasting notes:

“Distinctive linalool on the nose, aggressive alcohol masking berry fruit which opens up a little on the front palate. Attacks with dark cherry and bramble berry – not unlike a pinot. Wine out of balance with a somehwat “contrived” feel – maybe some American oak not quite in synch. May settle in time and allow the subtle blackcurrant and mint overtones to evolve. Although 14.5% alcohol, thin on the back palate. Would like to see again in 18 months. 86/100″