90

2021 Tesco Finest Western Australia Chardonnay, Western Australia

( £8, 13%, Tesco )

I’m old enough to remember the days when most Australian Chardonnays were ripe, buttery and oaky. But the last decade or so has witnessed a remarkable transformation in the style of the country’s most famous white grape. This very lightly wooded, great value example from Howard Park shows you what I mean. Textured yet refreshing, with struck match and vanilla spice aromas, waxed lemon and grapefruit flavours and a taut, appealingly refreshing finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Australia, White, Chardonnay
91

2018 Robert Oatley Semaphore Cabernet Sauvignon, Western Australia

( £8, 14%, The Co-operative )

It’s a long time since I’ve tasted an £8 Australian red as good as this Cabernet Sauvignon from Western Australia, a wine that outperforms anything Bordeaux can produce at the same price point. Leafy, elegant and well-balanced, with fine-grained tannins, subtle tobacco pouch and cassis flavours, a patina of oak spice and a fresh, herbal finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-27Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Australia, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon
92

2021 Tesco Finest Tingleup Riesling, Great Southern, Western Australia

( £9, 13%, Tesco )

One of those wines that’s so good I still want to stop strangers in the street and tell them about it after all these years, Tingelup Riesling has been one of the very best – and best value – wines in the Tesco lineup for as long as I can remember. Made by ace winemaker Janice McDonald of Howard Park in Western Australia, it’s wonderfully tangy, bone dry Aussie white with lime and waxed lemon peel intensity, stony, mouth-watering acidity and a long tapering finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Australia, White, Riesling
91

2019 Vasse Felix Classic Shiraz, Margaret River, Western Australia

( £12, 14.5%, Tesco )

Margaret River isn’t usually listed among Australia’s best sources of Shiraz – it’s Cabernet Sauvignon  and Chardonnay country – but this is a very tasty, well-priced example of the grape from the talented Virginia Willcock. Showing some cool climate white pepper notes as well as flavours of bramble and blackberry, it has a touch of oak spice, fresh acidity and subtle, savoury tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Australia, Red, Syrah
93

2020 Bugalugs by Tim Smith, Barossa Valley

( £18.95 or £17.95 by the case, 14%, Lea & Sandeman )

If you think Barossa Shiraz is all about power and intensity, this wine from Tim Smith will come as a welcome surprise. Graceful, elegant and refined, it’s deceptively forward and easy to drink with the faintest touch of oak, fine-grained tannins, bramble and red berry fruit and impressive poise and precision. You could tuck some away for a few years and it will reward patience. There’s still some of the very good 2019 on the market, but wait for the 2020 if you can.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Australia, Red, Shiraz
90

2020 Berton Vineyards Metal Label Vermentino, South East Australia

( £7.99, 12.5%, Waitrose )

Vermentino, or Rolle as its known in France, is one of those grapes that retains acidity in warm climates, like Assyrtiko or Chenin Blanc. So expect to see a lot more of it planted as the impact of climate change is felt around the globe. This crunchy, youthful, white pepper, lime and wild herb-scented Aussie example is bracingly fresh and low in alcohol with a touch of Pinot Grigio and Fiano adding extra weight and perfume.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-23Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Australia, White, Vermentino
90

2019 Yalumba Organic Viognier, South Australia

( £8.49-£10, 13.5%, Ocado, Tesco, Waitrose )

Louisa Rose is the queen of Australian Viognier and probably makes larger volumes of the variety – to a commendably high standard – than anyone else in the world. This unoaked example, made from organically grown grapes, is everything you want from the grape: honeysuckle and stem ginger aromas, lots of creamy, pillowy weight, flavours of peach and apricot and a lively, refreshing finish. The Ocado price is the best right now, but the wine is widely available elsewhere.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-24Similar Wines: £8-10, 90-94, Australia, White, Viognier

Decolonising A Wine List

by Donald Edwards
In June last year Rio Tinto destroyed a cave in the Jukaan gorge in Western Australia. With it went 46,000 years of Aboriginal history and one of the most sacred...

Wine In The Time Of Bushfires

by Sam Owens
Covid-19 may have monopolised the world’s attention since March 2020, but the previous six months in Australia were dominated by the most traumatic bushfire season in memory . The so-called...
91

2018 Gorgeous Grenache Old Vine Small Batch No. 1, South Australia

( £12.99, 14.5% )

It may not be a popular opinion with Shiraz lovers, but Master of Wine Giles Cooke, who made this wine, thinks that “Grenache is Australia’s signature grape”. It’s certainly one of its most versatile and, I think, underrated varieties. This very lightly wooded example combines fruit from two sub-regions of McLaren Vale (Clarendon and Blewitt Springs) and the less glamorous Riverland and it’s a belter of a red. Juicy, floral and peppery, with some spices from partial whole bunch-fermentation with stems and a core of raspberry, red cherry and wild strawberry fruit. Try it ever so slightly chilled.

For local stockists contact giles.cooke@alliancewine.com

BuyDrinking window: 2020-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Australia, Red, Grenache

Treasure Island

by Rod Smith MW
As the tragedy of Australia’s 2019/20 bushfires continues to unfold, the most significant impact on the wine industry has been tragedy in the Adelaide Hills. So far, Tasmania has largely...

The Taste of Smoke

by Harry Eyres
I write in a time of ashes. Not only have certain political dreams and projects recently gone up in smoke; the destructive fires have been raging more literally, all across...