Consistently one of New Zealand’s best Chardonnays, this is a rich, leesy, barrel-fermented style that treads the line (successfully, I might add) between opulence and pithy freshness. Citrus, oatmeal and honeyed notes are complemented by subtle vanilla sweetness and lovely, understated concentration.
Steve Pannell was making great Grenache in McLaren Vale before the variety began to enjoy its modern renaissance as the so-called “Pinot of the south”. This combines plum and raspberry fruit sweetness with a backbone of tannin and refreshing acidity, supporting the concentration of the old vine fruit. The oaking is almost imperceptible here.
Taylor’s isn’t as well known for its Tawnies as some houses are – its LBVs and Vintage Ports are up there with the very best – but it should be, based on the quality of this 20-year-old release. Figgy, sweet and complex, with beautifully integrated spirit and notes of umami and orange zest. One of those Ports that you don’t want to pass to your neighbour.
The list of impressive Nebbiolo producers outside north-west Italy isn’t a long one, but Steve Pannell, who has worked in Piedmont to familiarise himself with the grape, would definitely be on it. Suitably pale in colour, with the variety’s unique combination of austerity and voluptuousness, firm tannins and sweet, savoury autumnal fruit, this wouldn’t look out of place in a line up of Barolos.
This is a comparatively forward style of vintage Champage, as many of the 2006s are. It’s rich, toasty and stylish with an undertone of wild mushroom, some spice, fine, pin-head bubbles and a lingering dry finish. Delicious to drink now, but should keep for another four or five years thanks to its taut underlying acidity.
The Luigi Baudana wines come entirely from Serralunga d’Alba, widely considered the best village in the Barolo region. This is more closed and concentrated than the sweeter, riper 2009, but has finer tannins, too, and the classic chalky undertone of eastern Barolo. It’s a serious, even sligthly backward wine with excellent structure and ageing potential. Give this wine time.
More structured than the Bricco delle Viole, this comes from a 2.2 hectare, south- and south-east facing vineyard and is a first release. It’s got a bloody, almost iron-like note on the palate, firmish but well integrated tannins and minerally freshness. The tannins need food (preferably a lump of protein) to take away their edge. One to tuck away.
So appealing now that you are almost tempted to pull the cork, but give this superlative Barolo some time. Old vines, marl soils, a top vintage and brilliant winemaking all combine beautifully here. Elegant, minerally and poised, this has a red fruits sweetness that is almost reminiscent of Pinot Noir, but with a firmer backbone of acidity and tannin. Fine, silky and very long.
Even chalkier and fresher than the Baudana bottling under the same label, this has more perfume, elegance and finesse, with a tautness and minerality that are thrilling to taste. Essence of Serralunga, with fine, silky tannins, good structure and a sweet, complex finish that goes on and on and on. Beautiful Barolo.
Bill Downie is best known for his extraordinary Pinot Noirs, which rank among the best in Australia, but he’s no slouch when it comes to making Syrah either, as this Southern Yarra Valley example demonstrates. Spicy, refreshing and subtly oaked this is made using what Downie calls “enhanced biodynamics”. The acidity, structure and perfume of the wine, with a savoury undertone from whole bunch fermentation, are deliciously well integrated.
The best and oldest parcels on the Niederberg-Helden Einzellage are used to make this remarkable wine. It’s on the dry side for an Auslese, with 51.9 grams of sugar, with the concentration and slaty minerality beautifully entwined. Floral and appealingly honeyed, with notes of nectarine and ripe pear sustained by citrus- and pink grapefruit-like acidity
The top Chardonnay from Neudorf and one of the best examples of the grape in New Zealand, this is an aromatic, textured, beautifully balanced white with seamless oak integration. Pear, melon and nectarine fruit are intertwined with flavours of cinnamon and citrus-like acidity. This will age well, too.