As the stars of the wine world parade their latest vintages each year—Henschke Hill of Grace, Penfolds Grange, Vasse Felix Tom Cullity, Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon, Cullen Diana Madeline, Wolf Blass Platinum and Black Label reds, etc—it’s easy to get blasé.
There are many great wines in Australia today and, in a sense, we can count on the iconic wines to come up with the goods, year after year. These wines are now so famous and their prices so high, that if the winemakers can’t come up with the requisite quality one year, they simply either skip a vintage or get super-strict with the selection and produce a tiny amount.This is why we wine critics love our job: not to tell you that the latest Roederer Cristal is a wonderful wine, but to point you towards our discoveries.
So in a sense, the Great Wine game is getting a bit ho-hum. A tad predictable.
We could argue, as an article written by Dwight Furrow suggests, that the real fun in loving wine is in the surprise factor. Wines that surprise are where you find real excitement.
Don’t get me wrong: the recent vintages of Hill of Grace have thrilled me to the core, and the same with Yarra Yering and plenty of others. But you know all their names. There is no massive surprise.
What is worth talking about when we get together with our wine-loving friends is the latest discovery we’ve made. Here are a few of mine:
The humble little Alsace pinot blanc from Gustave Lorentz, L’Ami des Crustacés 2019 (AUD $28, 92 points)
Or the equally humble Soave from Italy’s Veneto: Tamellini 2019 (AUD $31 and 93 pts).
Or the delicious Flametree 2019 Chardonnay – the regular bottling (AUD $29 and 95 pts), which tastes like a junior version of Flametree’s SRS Wallcliffe for less than half the money.
The aged Toro Albalá Pedro Ximénez from Cordoba, a region of Spain that languishes in Jerez’s shadow and hence the wines are great value, for example, the 1987 Don PX Gran Reserva Pedro Ximénez at AUD $60 a half bottle.