McWilliams Hanwood Shiraz 2005 $7.99 to $11
This, to me, personifies, the general superiority of brands over cleanskins. While the latter come and go and vary in quality from batch to batch, brands like Hanwood evolve steadily for the better over time. What began as a predominantly Riverina product is now a blend from higher-quality areas – reflecting increasing fruit availability — and contains only about five per cent Riverina material. The result is a budget wine (selling for as little $7.99 on special) that’s big on plummy, sweet varietal flavour with the rich, soft tannin structure to make early drinking thoroughly enjoyable.
Di Georgio Coonawarra Emporio 2002 $23
After acquiring Rosemount a few years back, the late Southcorp (Southcorpse?) sold Rouge Homme winery and 13.5 hectares of lovely old vines to the Di Giorgio family. These vines are in the heart of old Coonawarra, next door to Wynns. Combine these unique vines with the viticultural experience of the Di Giorgio’s and winemaking expertise of Coonawarra veteran Peter Douglas and you get a stunning result at modest prices. The Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 and Shiraz 2002 are excellent examples of their styles. But Emporio – an elegant, refined blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc – really hits the excitement button. www.digiorgio.com.au
Pizzini King Valley Pinot Grigio 2006 $19
& Sangiovese 2005 $26
At Wine Australia, Darling Harbour, last weekend, Fred Pizzini’s wines captured my attention for pure varietal expression and good value. It’s difficult to coax the best from pinot gris and sangiovese, but Fred ranks amongst the best in Australia with these two varieties. There’s a shimmering purity to the just-released 2006 pinot grigio, made in the tight, dry Italian style. Not that many Italian versions come near it in quality. And the same might be said of the pure, bright and fruity but dry and savoury sangiovese – a delightful red that simply wipes the floor with many commercial Chiantis. See www.pizzini.com.au
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2006 & 2007