Jim McMahon

A savvy from the central west of NSW is always welcome as you don’t get to taste too many sauvignon blancs from Cowra, which made a name for itself with chardonnay. The 2015 Windowrie ‘The Mill’ Sauvignon Blanc is pale green on the eye, indicating its youth, with ripe fruit salad flavours on both the nose and palate. A dry and refreshingly crisp style backed up by firm acidity and plenty of ripe varietal fruit flavours to boot (rrp $18).

What a lovely change it is to taste verdelho from Hunter Valley-based Catherine Vale. Verdelho is a white Portuguese grape variety which reigns supreme on the island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean, 500m west of Lisbon. While verdelho is one of the under-used white grape varieties in the Hunter Valley, it is also a variety that has put the Hunter on the map.

The 2014 Catherine Vale Vineyard Havana’s Verdelho is a vibrant light yellow with a nose showing tropical fruits with hints of spice. The palate has lashings of crisp acidity and lingering fruit.

Why on earth would you want a Kiwi savvy when verdelho can deliver virtually the same thing and from our own backyard (rrp $17)?

The 2015 Berton Vineyard Foundstone Pinot Grigio has a nose of green apple and citrus. The palate shows firm acidity with ripe pear, pineapple and citrus fruits in abundance. They don’t come much cheaper than this — a bloody good quaffer for the paltry price of $8 (rrp).

Staying with Berton’s, why not try their 2013 Berton Vineyard Reserve Botrytis Semillon? This is what the Riverina region of NSW does best. A ripe marmalade, lemon and lime perfume draws you in. The palate is warm and vinous with loads of spicy marmalade fruits such as lemon and limes, honey and vanilla enveloping the palate. The finish has good palate weight and length ensuring a long and voluptuous, dry acid finish (375ml, rrp $17).

The people at Coonawarra-based Zema Estate are in the minority when it comes to picking grapes in this region; they’re the only ones who still pick by hand. All the family and friends are involved in this labour of love.

The 2012 Zema Estate Cluny Cabernet Merlot is one of those consistent red blends (I’m not usually a fan of blends, but who am I to speak if others like them), that over-delivers. Dark purple in colour with fading pink rim around the edge of the glass, the nose offers mulberry, sour cherry and spice while the palate offers loads of blackcurrant with dashes of black olives and spice. This medium-bodied wine is soft on the palate with soft acid, tannin structure (rrp $25).

Arneis originally hails from Piedmont, Italy but the 2015 Sassy ‘The Ivor’ Arneis comes from Orange-based Sassy Wines. Its nose offers alluring white pear and spice overtones. The palate is nicely textured, rounded, and features light hazelnuts, fig, hints of citrus, spice and some tropical fruit. The acids are nicely balanced and well interwoven. A great alternative to all the “same old, same old” in white wine styles. Try it, you’ll be impressed (rrp $24).

Raspberry-strawberry spice on the nose together with faint hints of licorice are a drawcard in the 2014 Stockman’s Ridge Pinot Noir. The tannins are mild, if any, with not much hint of French oak or any oak for that matter. A ripe and intense fruity style prevails (rrp $23).

The 2013 Morambro Creek Padthaway Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep purple wine with a lovely wide pink rim. The blackcurrant, herbaceous and cedar notes on the nose indicate cold climate. The full-bodied palate is rich and dense with a myriad of dark plummy, blackberry fruit with mocha flavours combining to give the wine complexity. The American oak adds body, flavour and texture. The wine is really rich and intense with all major components – fruit, acid, tannin, oak and alcohol in unison. A delightful wine that lingers on the palate (rrp $35).

Its sister, the 2013 Morambro Creek Padthaway Shiraz, has a delicious array of dark and red berry fruits in its perfume with hints of vanilla and spice. The palate shows great dimension of ripe tannins and fine oak combined with dark/red fruit flavours that expand on the middle palate and follow to the finish. Simply speaking, the fruit accelerates across the palate and gets you over the line into a mouth-filling wine with all the finesse of something special. A little pricey but you have class in a glass (rrp $35).

Jim McMahon teaches hospitality at Sutherland TAFE.