Wine with Winsor

Wine bottles on brown wooden table

It is well worth looking beyond familiar wine names to check out something a little bit different. Wine writer Winsor Dobbin checks out some impressive recent releases.

Serious bargain
A.C. Byrne & Co Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2020
A good Margaret River red blend for under $10? This certainly delivers. A.C. Byrne is a label that is exclusive to Aldi stores and sources fruit from vineyards around the country. This is an ideal choice to accompany a barbecue or a burger. There’s plenty happening on the palate with plum and dark berry flavours to the fore, along with some impressive deli elements. Given the structure here you could easily pay twice as much for a wine not half as good. $9.99.

Hunter newcomer
John Wallace Wines 2021 Sisters Chardonnay
John Wallace Wines is a recent arrival on the Hunter Valley wine scene, and is the personal artisan project of Richard Done, who is also the senior winemaker at Bimbadgen. This is a classic Australian chardonnay with just the right balance between citrus and stone fruit flavours, along with crunchy acidity on the palate and some interesting complexity. The fruit was sourced from the highly touted Merton Vine in the Upper Hunter. Pair this with roast pork and crackling for a sublime winter feast. $35.

Tassie Treasure
Stefano Lubiana 2020 Sasso Pinot Noir
Steve and Monique Lubiana are among the most reliably excellent wine producers in Tasmania, crafting a range of biodynamic wines from their Derwent Valley base in Granton, just north of Hobart. This is one of their flagship wines, made using grapes from three very different vineyard sites that are blended together.  This is a serious wine, made in tiny quantities, that would make an excellent present for any pinotphile. It is wild fermented and hand stomped and hits just the right balance between bright fruit and savoury/earthy characters. It has a delightful silky soft palate. $130.

McLaren Shiraz
Red Devil Rockbare 2020
Here’s one for wine lovers who enjoy their reds with a fair degree of grunt. Winemaker Shelly Torresan has sourced fruit from several grower vineyards across warm McLaren Vale and conjured up a shiraz that can be enjoyed with both casual midweek fare, or a weekend lamb roast. Impressive and powerful dark fruit flavours headline a bright but serious red that can be enjoyed in its youth or given a couple of years in the cellar. $26.     

Spanish Accent
Mount Broke Wines 2021 Albarino
This was one of the stars of a recent alternative varieties tasting held in the Hunter Valley; a Spanish grape variety that is flourishing at Broke-Fordwich, one of the smaller sub-regions of the Hunter. Albarino is the star white wine grape in the Rias Baixas region of Spain and is still pretty much a rarity in Australia. This is vibrant, minerally, textural and decidedly delicious. A great after-work choice, or pair with a mezze plate. I’m told the 2021 is close to sold out, but the 2022 is on its way. $30.       

New Champagne
Tsarine NV Premium Brut
Champagne Tsarine, from the world’s second-oldest Champagne house, Chanoine Frères, is a very recent arrival in Australia and will be unfamiliar to many wine lovers, but the striking packaging, fresh, vibrant palate and affordable price point make it well worth checking out. There’s a lively mousse here and plenty of refreshment, making this an ideal aperitif style. Maybe check out a bottle for Bastille Bay on July 14. Try Dan Murphy’s or BWS stores. $49.95.

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