Summer’s Best

Summer arrives this week and so our drinking habits change to light-bodied dry whites and rosés. We want refreshing wines for warmer weather, lighter foods and relaxed dining. For many wine drinkers that means sauvignon blanc, probably produced across the Tasman – but, for many of these people, any time of year is savvy time: their consumption is not seasonally determined.

To you people, we at Good Food say “Get a life – try something else”. And to everyone else we say “Come on in, the water’s fine”.

Not all sauvignon blanc is Kiwi of course, and there’s good and bad savvy – on both sides of the Ditch – just like any wine. However, in the interests of promoting diversity and variety in your wine diet, I want to share with you some of the most delicious white wines that have come my way lately, other than those containing sauvignon blanc grapes.

2012 Chapel Hill Il Vescovo McLaren Vale White (verdelho, savagnin, roussanne) $20

Light straw hue; a savoury, minerally aroma, crushed rocks and earth, a hint of malt. Attractive drink: it’s light and soft, with the barest trace of sweetness in lip-service to commercial realities, and the wine’s texture is fine and smooth. The flavours are not simple, but floral and herbal and faintly tropical. I’d enjoy a glass of this. It lights the way for other verdelho-makers. Best young. 90/100 – view on

2012 Casa Freschi La Signorina (riesling, gewürztraminer, chardonnay, pinot grigio), Adelaide Hills $30

Medium-light straw yellow colour; a complex bouquet of smoky sulfides, caramel and assorted spices. Very attractive. The palate is also full of interesting flavours, backed firmly by lively acidity, giving a lemony sherbety tang to the palate and finish. Good balance, refined texture and length. A very entertaining dry white wine. Best within two years. 92/100 – view on

2013 Jericho Fiano, Adelaide Hills $25

Very light bright yellow hue; a complex bouquet of smoke, honey and passionfruit, with some spices and toasty barrel hints. This is different. And much more interesting than most Aussie fianos. There’s a lick of sweetness in good harmony and the wine is generously flavoured without any coarseness or sharp edges. It’s quite nuanced. A very attractive drink. Best within two years. 91/100 – view on

2013 Oliver’s Taranga Vineyard Small Batch Vermentino, McLaren Vale $24

Palish straw colour; interesting bouquet of toasted-nutty aromas, the taste is clean and fresh, light and dry, with crisp texture but not high-acid, and the same complex flavours as the nose, hinting it barrel involvement. It has a touch of richness too. It’s almost dry. A very appealing wine, and quite different from other vermentinos. Best within two years. 90/100 – view on

2013 K1 by Geoff Hardy Gruner Veltliner, Adelaide Hills $28

Light-medium yellow hue; fairly straighforward and neutral straw-like aroma. Lightly peppery and hints of creamy lees. The taste is again straightforward but it has fruit and character and there is depth and richness as well as delicacy on the palate, assisted by a little phenolic grip. The finish is clean, soft and dry. A subtle wine of restrained personality but very attractive, with good texture and harmony. Now to 2017. 90/100 – view on

2011 Redbank Garganega, King Valley $25

Bright light-medium yellow; creamy peachy aromas, a suggestion of old barrels, adding an extra dimension. Intense and medium-full flavoured with a touch of richness and a slight textural grip, but the wine is pristine and fresh and very well balanced. It has harmony and line. As for varietal character… who can say? A really lovely drink and fresh for its age. 90/100 – view on

2012 La Vendetta Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT, Veneto, Italy $17 (importer: Fourth Wave/McWilliams)

Palihs straw hue; some spice aromas here: it’s clean and fresh and truly wellmade. There is some intebsity of palate flavour, and while delicate it has refinement and charm. Soft yet lively, clean and refreshing: a very good grigio. Best young. 89/100 – view on

2011 Domaines Schlumberger Les Princes Abbés Pinot Gris, Alsace, France $31 (importer: Mezzanine)

Full brassy yellow colour, very forward for its age. Rich honeyed vanilla and toffee-like aromas, quite wild and intense, rich and expressive, and much more than just simple PG fruit. Rich, medium to fuill-bodied and texturally dense and almosty grainy, with lots of presence in the mouth, generous sweetness and fleshiness, which finishes cleanly with some textural phenolics helping to dry the finish. Very good. (medium-dry according to the back-label sweetness scale). Best young. 90/100 – view on

2012 Bodegas Copaboca Peramor Verdejo, Rueda DO, Spain $21 (importer: red + white)

Bright, light yellow hue; the nose is elusive, somewhat neutral, but fresh and clean, and the palate is soft and again very simple, with a softness assisted by a faint trace of sweetness. Very light, simple wine but well-made, clean fresh and nicely balanced. It has good texture, mouthfeel and harmony, and it finishes cleanly. Best young. 88/100 – view on

2012 Dopff au Moulin Riesling, Alsace, France $13.30 (retailer: Dan Murphy’s)

Palish yellow hue; very restrained, fresh, clean and floral aroma, the taste is intense and quite rich, lifted by fresh acidity, with a touch of sweetness. Well balanced and very drinkable. Very good basic level Alsace riesling, with a touch of chew, some phenolics, but just enough to add a little density and texture. Clean, dry finish. (2/9 on the sweetness scale). Best young. 88/100 – view on

2013 Leo Buring Leonay Riesling, Clare Valley $40

Palish straw colour. Lime-juice fragrance with a hint of crushed lime-leaf, the palate very frisky and briskly acid, with a terrific freshness and intensity. Tremendously fine and intense, concentrated and long. Great riesling. Now to 2025. 95/100 – view on

2013 Pooley Coal River Valley Riesling, Tasmania $33

Shy straw-like and rocky-mineral aromas, quartz-liike. The acidity is zesty and limey, slightly shrill but nicely harmonised with a lick of sweetness. This gives a sprightly, juicy/zesty palate which really jumps. The acid under that sweetness is pretty fierce. It’s very intense and has good concentration. Superb wine. Now to 2023. 95/100 – view on

2013 Cherubino Riesling, Porongurup $35

Very light hue, and a delicately restrained, youthfully fresh, undeveloped aroma which hints at fresh and dried flowers, quartzy struck-rocks, with a lovely talcy note, and a very delicate, restrained, refined palate texture which lacks the impact and forcefulness of the same maker’s Great Southern bottling, but has greater delicacy, without sacrificing length. Properly dry. Superb harmony and aftertaste. Now to 2025. 11.5% 95/100 – view on

2013 Pepper Tree Alluvius Semillon, Hunter Valley $35

Pale straw; dried-herb, lemon and dry grass aromas, fresh and clean, bright and youthful, with tangy acidity a little prominent at this stage. Tight, firm, high-acid, dry finish, with a little firmness. It needs time, and will be even better in a year or so. Excellent. Best 2015 to 2021. 94/100 – view on

2013 Thomas Wines The O.C. Semillon, Hunter Valley $23

Light green-yellow hue; fresh lime/lemon and green-herb aromas, then a big volume of fruit on the palate which is generous and deep but also very lively and refreshing. Tremendous intensity and volume of fruit flavour: a superior kind of semillon. Possibly not totally bone-dry. Beautifully balanced: a delicious summer drinking wine. To 2019. 94/100 – view on

2012 Indigo Chardonnay, Beechworth $27

Light yellow/straw; a very fresh, youthfully restrained aroma displaying mineral notes with poised, refined, intense flavour and tremendous length. A wne of terrific precision and focused intensity, enerating and gloriously persistent. Great chardonnay! To 2018. 95/100 – view on

2012 St Huberts Chardonnay, Yarra Valley $27

Light, bright yellow colour; fresh and clean, pure-fruit aromas of white-peach, nectarine and other stone-fruits, the palate is soft and fine, seamlessly woven and with lovely line and purity. Some appealing nutty and mealy properties in the palate. Long lingering and clean finishing. To 2020. 92/100 – view on

2011 Tyrrell’s Belford Individual Vineyard Chardonnay, Hunter Valley $35

Light-medium, bright yellow colour; the aromas are very fresh and alive, with creamy lees and cashew-nutty fruit. Some grapefruit palate flavours too, and the wine is intense and focused, refined and long. Very stylish chardonnay. A scintillating, fresh, fruit-driven style which is nevertheless full of interest and anything but simplistic. To 2019. 93/100 – view on

2013 Head Grenache Rose, Barossa Valley $27.50

Full reddish hot-pink colour; sweet shrill raspberry aromas, the palate also fresh and clean, fruity and balanced, with low phenolics and gentle soft acidity. The merest trace of sweetness. Plenty of fruit and flavour but also lovely balance and mouthfeel. Delicious wine. 92/100 – view on

2013 Torzi Matthews Vigna Cantina Rosato Sangiovese, Eden Valley $20

Medium-full rose-red with some purple and developed tints. Nutty, toasty, lightly smoky aromas, some barrel involvement adding extra nuances, I suspect. A little acetate as well. It’s light and soft, dry and savoury, with some textural impact from oak and tannins. It’s rich and generosuly flavoured, with a trace of sweetness but also balancing acidity. Lots of flavour and presence, if a trifle shrill and jarring on the palate from the acid. Good wine, though. I would drink it. 89/100 – view on


  • 2013 Pikes Impostores ‘Savignan’, Clare Valley $20 (tastings)
  • 2013 Serafino Bellissimo Fiano, McLaren Vale $18 (tastings)
  • 2012 Domaine du Salut Graves Blanc, Bordeaux $19 (importer: World Wine Estates) (tastings)
  • 2012 Gaia Estates Thalassitis Dry White Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece $37 (Importer: Douglas Lamb Wines) (tastings)
  • 2013 Tim Adams Riesling, Clare Valley $23 (tastings)

First published in Sydney Morning Herald, Good Food – 26 Nov 2013.

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