Posts Tagged ‘chardonnay’

30 great australian wines under $20

30 great australian wines under $20

January 5, 2013  |  life, wine review  |  No Comments

I am so excited about the quality of wines in this summer edition. There were another 20 wines that could have been included. You can guarantee that these wines are exceptional – trophy winners, highly pointed wines and amazingly, all under $20. As our oenologists increasingly understand the complexity of the various terroir in this country, they continue to surprise us with gems like the seductive Rhone like Willunga 100 Shiraz Viognier.

There are more Rieslings than usual in this line up, reflecting the exceptional quality and value from the 2012 vintage (and Clare) and we are still long on the outstanding Shiraz and Cabernets from 2010. There are a couple of serious roses offered for summer consumption, one from Nebbiolo. Only four wines have carried over from the winter edition indicating how quickly good vintages run out, so be quick with these gems!

As with previous posts, links are provided directly to product descriptions and ordering capability at the cheapest known source.


Seppelt Salinger Select Cuvee NV at Kemenys for $17.99

Brown Bros Pinot Chardonnay Pinot Meuniere NV at Kemenys for $18.90

Seppelt the Original Sparkling Shiraz 2007 at Kemenys for $17.90

Back Vintage Chardonnay Cuvee Pinot Brut NV – Back Vintage at $12.99


Castle Rock Great Southern 2012 Chardonnay from Winesnob for $18.95

Flametree Margaret River Chardonnay 2011 from Dan Murphys for $18.95

Hoddles Creek Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2011 from Cloudwine for $19

Stonier Mornington Peninsular Chardonnay 2011 from Dan Murphys at $19.90


Taylors Estate Clare Valley Riesling 2012 from Crackawines at $16.95

O’Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling 2012 at Dan Murphys for $19.95

Skillogalee Riesling Clare Valley 2011 from Cloudwine for $19.90

Tim Adams Clare Valley Riesling 2012 from Kemenys for $17.75

Other whites

Tim Adams Clare Valley Semillon 2010 from Cloudwine for $19

De Bortoli Deen de Bortoli Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon 375ml from Dan Murphys for $10.45 (sticky)

Alkoomi White Label Frankland River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from Crackawines at $18.50

Cooks Lot Orange Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from Boutiquewines for $16


Rolling Pink 2011 (from Orange!) at Cumulus Wines cellar door for $17

Longview Boat Shed Nebbiolo Rose 2012 from Cellardoor for $18.45


Back Vintage Reserve Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010 from BackVintage for $19.99

Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz 2010 from United Cellars for $19.99

O’Leary Walker Clare Valley Shiraz 2010 from Kemenys for $17.99

Torzi Matthews Schist Rock Barossa Valley Shiraz 2011 from Cloudwine for an amazing $18

Willunga 100 McLaren Vale Shiraz Viognier 2010 from Cloudwine for $19 (trophy winner)


Xanadu Next of Kin Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 from Wine Selectors  for $15.30

Kemeny’s Hidden Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 from Kemenys at $17.99

Yalumba the Cigar Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon from Kemenys at $19.75

Other red

Longview Creek Pippin Macedon Region Pinot Noir 2010 from Cloudwine at $15.95

Tarrawarra Estate Pinot Noir 2010 from Dan Murphys at $19.95

Zeppelin Barossa Valley Grenache 2010 from Cloudwine at $18

Smallfry Joven Barossa Valley Tempranillo, Garnacha, Monastrell, Carinena and Bastardo direct from Smallfry at $20

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”

secret revealed about back vintage fizz

secret revealed about back vintage fizz

June 30, 2011  |  life, wine review  |  1 Comment

I’ve been reluctant to write about the Back Vintage Chardonnay Pinot Cuvee Brut bottle fermented sparkling wine, for fear of affecting the continuous supply. However, I’m assured that there’s plenty for all, so here we go.

We discovered this amazing value wine about 3 years ago and successive batches (suspect they are always a blend of vintages) have been consistently good, despite sourcing fruit from different cool climate areas. The current offer is a blend of chardonnay (56%) and Pinot Noir (49%) – the classical champagne varieties – from the King and Ovens Valleys in north east Victoria.

Back Vintage simply offers great wines at low prices. Julian Todd has developed a business without a middleman that is starting to be a burr under the saddle of Woolworths and Coles, who continue to bolt on liquor businesses (How does this happen ACCC?). One of the smartest moves by Julian was to engage Nick Bullied MW, to select and endorse all wines that are blended, bottled and sold under the Back Vintage brand. Bullied targets the best varietal – regional marriages and works to the target price point of $12.99 a bottle. The results have been stunning. Check the website and browse for yourself.

The current offering is mainly from the 2008 Vintage, Serve this wine masked against Croser, Salinger, Yarra Burn, Brown Brothers and Jansz and you might get a big surprise. Our guests over the years have been astonished by the quality, and many have become regular consumers. Now the secret is out!

My tasting notes include comments like, “clean dry, fresh with some complexity”. The wine rested on yeast lees for 18 months (how can they sell it for $12.99?) with attractive bread on the nose and clean apple and pear fruit towards the finish. My three daughters and wife have become known as the “fizz sisters” because whenever they get together, I need to restock this wine. They love it, as do I. 12.0% alcohol and rated an amazing 92/100. Get some today.

chardonnay and the barwang bargain

August 6, 2010  |  wine review  |  1 Comment

Chardonnay in general

It has amused me how the herd flocked to sauvignon blanc and then pinot gris, following what is trendy. Neither of these varieties can offer the complexities and sheer drinking pleasure that a good chardonnay does. The ABC (anything but chardonnay) movement was probably borne as a result of people’s experiences with some pretty dodgy high yielding product, together with slightly higher than acceptable levels of residual sugar in accessible wines.

At the other end of the spectrum, some of the big buttery styles made with malolactic fermentation, were unattractive to many consumers. While some marketers have recently made a virtue out of unwooded chardonnay, complexity that comes from some time in wood makes for attractive styles, as long as the fruit is not overpowered.

Chardonnay is the white variety of burgundy, used to produce some masterpieces that are gob smackingly good. We have an abundance of chardonnay in Australia and seriously good wines are within reach of consumers on $15 to $20 budgets.Today’s discovery is one of these.

Barwang 2008 Chardonnay

Barwang is part of the McWillam’s stable, better known for the red wines sourced from the Young area. This chardonnay is from Tumbaraumba, an exciting emerging wine region from southern NSW.

It represents exceptional value for money. I bought this bottle for $20 at Vintage Cellars but with the current 30% case discount on offer, it came in at a remarkable $14. This is chardonnay that can stand up against the legends like Eileen Hardy, Coldstream Hills, Pierro and Leeuwin Estate – all more than $50 a bottle.

My tasting notes follow:

Restrained and attractive nose with subtle lime overtones. Fresh flavours open to complexity in the glass, which will develop over time. Shows delightful mineral and flinty characteristics that combine with the gentle fruit salad of pears, apples and white peaches. Lovely creamy texture and just enough wood treatment. Balanced and beautiful with limes and sweet fruit to the very last. 94/100