Balnaves of Coonawarra
Consistency is a quality that is highly valued in racehorses but is not usually bragged about on wine labels. Yet it is one of the things that matters most to a wine buyer — even if they don’t know it. Most wine drinkers don’t keep track of the weather events in Australia’s wine regions, and the year on the label is neither here nor there, as long as the wine is good. That’s consistency and when it’s not there it can mean the death of a brand. Balnaves of Coonawarra manages amazing dependability year by year in Coonawarra, a cool climate region famous for changeable weather. Experience helps and this year, Balnaves celebrates 25 vintages. Winemaker Pete Bissell has been there for 20 of them, has seen his fair share of less than perfect vintages and knows how to smooth out the lumps and bumps nature and meteorology provide. The current Balnaves range is full of great wines from a range of vintages: Balnaves Chardonnay 2013 is a very stylish chardonnay, Balnaves The Blend 2013 is a bargain, the Balnaves Cabernet Merlot 2011 is an amazing effort from a troublesome year, and Balnaves The Tally 2010, shows what a Coonawarra cabernet of five years age should taste like.
For the inquisitive
Fox Gordon Princess Fiano 2014
Fiano is a white grape variety from southern Italy finding a home in Australian dirt. There is a burgeoning range of home-grown Fianos and this is one of the best. Intriguing herbal and floral nuances lead to hints of honey and beurre bosc pears. It’s a stylish white and goes very nicely with Asian-styled prawn dishes.
For the budget
Storm Light at Aldi stores
This humbly priced supermarket brew won a Silver Medal at the recent International Beer Awards against some much more famous (and expensive) competition. It ticks all the boxes expected from a ‘light’ — it’s inoffensive, quaffable, but nicely bittered.
Mr Riggs Battle Axe Sparkling Shiraz NV
Try celebrating with a fizzy red instead of a fizzy white. Winemaker Ben Riggs cheekily named this sparkling red after his mother in law — who apparently is not a battle axe at all. It has the bubble and froth expected of a celebratory wine except it’s red, it’s Shiraz, it’s bursting with flavour and goes very nicely with canapés made with Pork.
Did you know?
The sparkling red is an Australian invention albeit via some French influence. Research by fanatics of the style has settled on the first creator of this unique drink as being a French winemaker by the name of Edmund Mazure. Edmund landed in the South Australia with a vineyard full of shiraz and voilà the weird thing known as Sparkling Burgundy was born. The year was 1888.