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Wines of the week

Wines of the week

Seven top wines from MiNDFOOD Wine Editor Joelle Thomson's weekly tastings.

Wines of the week

2007 Cloudy Bay Marlborough Chardonnay $35

Cloudy Bay winemaker Nick Blampied-Lane used mendoza clone chardonnay grapes, also known as “hen and chicken” (due to the wide variation in size of these grapes), to make this big, rich, nutty dry white.

It’s a stunner even as a youthful two-year-old babe in the bottle right now. Because it is so good, this wine will improve noticeably, mellowing and softening, if cellared sympathetically.

2008 Sacred Hill Barrel Fermented Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay $21

Two words: exceptional value. When you’re looking for a top shelf chardonnay without an excessive price tag, this wine stands in the front line. Rounded, full-bodied and as crisp as its nectarine and peachy flavours, it’s a clean, fresh dry white.

2007 Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay $33

Bigger in every way than its northern counterpart from Hawke’s Bay, above. In contrast, because the grapes in this wine were ripened in a cooler southern climate, it has higher acids, which stretch out the flavours to a long finish. It’s a full-bodied, big chardonnay with noticeable cedary oak flavours.

2008 Saint Clair Wairau Valley Reserve Sauvignon Blanc $33

Since its launch, this sauvignon blanc has won 30 trophies and 43 gold medals in New Zealand, Australia and further afield, leading its makers to tag it their flagship wine. Highly expressive it is too, with sweet tropical fruit flavours like pronounced passionfruit, jasmine and orange.

2008 Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Pinot Noir $31

This pinot noir improves dramatically when open for a day or two, softening, rounding out to fleshier, fruity, plummy flavours than when first opened. Its flavours are all the hallmark pinot noir primary fruit ones of dark cherries, red berries and more than a little sherbet zing.

So, decant it into a jug or decanter before drinking – and if you don’t have either, pour into glasses a few hours before you drink it. Then save some for the next day. Your liver and your palate will benefit.

2007 Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir $40

There was a time when the words Marlborough and pinot noir could not be uttered respectably in the same breath but if you’re still thinking that way, get with the plan. This wine consistently rates highly in blind tastings I have done, in which it compares favourably with big-name pinot noirs from around the world place. It’s a staggeringly intense, full bodied and silky.

2007 Penfolds Cellar Reserve Tempranillo $50

Not only pricey but extremely hard to procure, this newcomer is currently only available at the Penfolds cellar door in Australia. It more than rates a passing remark because of its adventurous makers, who – like a growing number of open minded Australian winemakers – are experimenting with Spain’s noble tempranillo grape (the backbone of Rioja).

The tempranillo grapes used in this wine were grown in McLaren Vale, Australia, where they obviously ripened well – leading to a 14.5 per cent alcohol red. Hard to get? Yes. Watch this space for when it does become more widely available, some time in the next 12 months…and in the meantime, hunt down tempranillo at your nearest good wine store.

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