Tasting Notes - 10 cheerful whites

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Choose the right wine every time - Taste Food and Wine 2008 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer

Choose the right wine every time - Taste Food and Wine 2008 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer

Many states started daylight saving this month, bringing long sleepins and bright evenings. If you're planning a picnic to celebrate the almost-balmy afternoons, or drowning your stock market sorrows, then try something cheap and cheerful from the Taste Food and Wine 2008 white wine selection.

Yalumba Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc    2007    $9
How on earth do they do this? We have no idea, although winemaker Louisa Rose reckons it’s easy. She’s clearly on to something that’s beyond our combined intellects. We are happy to simply sit and contemplate the lively citrus and herb flavours in this wine, and nod in gaping agreement when Louisa says this is the best Oxford Sauvignon ever made. We all know that Marlborough makes great Sauvignon, but why on earth are people drinking entry-level Kiwi Savvy when this is on our doorstep for nine bucks (and often seven)? In our book, it would still qualify at double the price.

Hardy’s Nottage Hill Chardonnay    2006    $9.50
We miss you, Notty! This wine didn’t front up for our tastings this year, and our list was incomplete without it. We got straight on the bell to Hardy’s, the wine landed a week later and it was well worth the wait! If you liked the 2005 last year, it’s time to tuck into the fleshy peach and melon joy of the 2006.

Jacob’s Creek Semillon Sauvignon Blanc    2007    $9.50
With a little more weight than our straight, entry-level Sauvignons, this cunning blend has a lovely freshness and crispness that cleans up the palate the instant you swallow it. Good on you Sir Phil Laffer (winemaking royalty!), you’ve given us a $10 wine that can cope with a classy, fishy main course without breaking the bank. This is a classic “emergency” white wine that you must have on hand at all times – buy it by the ute-load.

Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay 
   2007    $10
It is probably more important to focus on the word ‘Unwooded’ than the word ‘Chardonnay’ on this wine’s label, because it is the freshness and taut, linear citrus and crunchy apple fruit flavours that rule this style, rather than the traditional honeyed, nutty flavours usually associated with this grape. In fact, if they called it ‘Yalumba Unwooded White’ you’d probably get what this wine is really trying to do, which is to amaze you with fresh pear fruit, a long, zesty finish and lashings of biting acidity.

Leasingham Wines Circa 1893 Riesling    2006    $10.50
Let’s just make things clear, this is not a 115 year old wine. It is, however, made in a winery that is 115 years old, and for this reason Leasingham is one of the finest historical monuments in Australia. This cheeky little Riesling, coming in at the magical ten buck price point, delivers all you can expect from this masterful outfit. With Leasingham Magnus 2006 ($12.50, but often $10) and Leasingham Bin 7 2006 ($16), you are able to step up each rung of this grape variety’s ladder with true confidence, knowing that you gain complexity, length and definition at every step.

Banrock Station The Reserve Chardonnay    2006    $11
Banrock may not be the most beautiful wine in the world, but it’s got one hell of a lot of flavour for $11. It’s got nice melons (and we do like nice melons), it isn’t the slightest bit woody, and it has enough oomph to really impress your pals. The fact that they can put all of this into the bottle and polish up its appearance considerably for just $11 (and often $8) is really quite exciting. Only a big company could pull this off.

Peter Lehmann Barossa Semillon
    2006    $11
This is the sort of wine that you should have ready in the fridge when you come back from work because it’s not remotely challenging and it does that ‘no-brainer thing’ brilliantly. All it’s saying is, “Relax, put your briefcase down, switch off and chill out.” This is a creamy, fruity, not overly intellectual wine to drink with friends when the conversation is more important than the booze. With hints of herbs and waxy lemons, PLS is an all-purpose crowd-pleaser with surprising ageability – if you can keep your hands off it.

De Bortoli Windy Peak Chardonnay    2006    $11.50
Windy is a statement of intent. It bellows “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” from its diminutive frame. There’s an awful lot going on here for your $11.50 (and often only $10), but it’s utterly restrained and controlled in every way. You would not expect barrel fermentation complexity or lees stirring texture at this price, but then again, we have come to understand that nothing is as you would expect when Slingers, Billy Ray, Sarah Fagan and Lord Webber put their heads together. This might just be the most intellectual white wine you have ever tasted at this price.

De Bortoli Windy Peak Viognier  
  2007    $11.50
Windy Pants flies again! Steve Webber has pulled yet another trick from his seemingly enormous hat, to gasps of amazement from his adoring audience around the globe. He has somehow magically transformed this fat rabbit of a variety, with its pungent perfume, heady scent and peach and apricot flavours, into a pristine bouquet of jasmine with controlled perfume, demure honeysuckle and Asian spice. When this magician is in control, you know you’re going to get the full bag of tricks even in his entry-level wines. Don’t take your eyes off the man for a moment – you never know what he’ll produce from his Windy Pants next! 

Peter Lehmann Barossa Riesling    2006    $11.50
A little chunkier than one might expect from this elegant grape variety, Peter Lehmann’s baby Riesling is a bloody good white wine as opposed to being an elegant, slender version of this cosmic white grape. Use it for all occasions rather than specific menu planning and drink it ice cold. It will respond kindly to being man-handled by any wine drinker by giving its all in flavour and grip. Top drop.


Reproduced with permission. © Copyright Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer 2008

Taste Food and Wine 2009  is now available from book retailers, department stores and wine outlets.  

VisitVineyards.com Members can also access current wine reviews by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer online in our Members' section.


  • Barossa (including Eden Valley) (SA)
  • Yarra Valley (Wine) (VIC)

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