Reviewed by Jim McMahon

While some in the wine industry persist with an optimistic line the fact is that Australian wine has been in the doldrums for the past eight-plus years and there is no indication yet on what this year could bring. I say this because there is so much excess wine out there; prices keep falling and, from what I’ve heard, one can’t see the domestic market heading north as the year progresses. You, the consumer, continues to be in the box seat in the year ahead. We shall see!

First cab off the rank is the Blue Pyrenees Midnight Cuvee NV Sparkling. There’s nothing like a sparkling wine to start the evening, drunk simply as an aperitif or perhaps matched with food. This wine displays a lovely bright colour with a fine and consistent bead. The nose offers apricots and peach with a touch of brioche. The palate is complex with lashings of peach, apricot and strawberry backed up by crisp acidity on a dry finish (rrp $29).

Coming from an area noted for shiraz, the 2013 Bilgavia Estate Hunter Valley Shiraz is a deep red/purple, with ripe mulberry, spice and white pepper coming to the fore on the nose. The mulberry, plum and raspberry fruits on the palate, married well with oak, gives balance and complexity. The finish is firm, long and full-bodied with fruit aplenty (rrp $26).

The Orange-based winery Angullong has come up trumps with a white vermentino. The style originated in Spain but is popular in Sardinia and, to a lesser extent, Corsica but can increasingly be found in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. The 2014 Angullong Vermentino displays an aromatic nose of white pear and white peach that gives way to a mouth-feel of talc, white pear and spearmint. This, combined with racy acidity, makes the wine an attractive alternative to, say, sauvignon blanc. Highly recommended. Great to taste something different (rrp $22).

The 2012 Lowe Mudgee Blue Shiraz/Cabernet has dominant shiraz flavours of blackcurrant, plum and spicy clove characters on the nose. The palate is balanced by the addition of cabernet that softens the tannins from the heavy shiraz. A “bold and beautiful” intense, fruit-driven style with balanced acid/tannin/oak (rrp $30).

Another wine from the same stable is the 2013 Lowe ‘Nullo Mountain’ Pinot Gris. It is light straw, slightly grey in colour, with mineral aromas. The palate is nicely textured with nutty, wild honey and white pear flavours taking centre stage. The wine finishes dry with lingering fruit (rrp $30).

Berton Vineyards, a Riverina winery, has many excellent entry point wines at affordable prices. The 2014 Berton Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon displays a vibrant purple colour with a light pink rim. The dark mulberry-blackcurrant fruit jumps out of the glass. The palate is soft and fruity with minimal oak and tannins, just plenty of ripe plumy, jammy fruit on a dry, medium-bodied finish (rrp$12).

Also in the same camp is the 2014 Berton Vineyards Viognier, green straw in colour, with musky apricot overtone on the nose giving way to the same flavours on the palate. A pleasurable and satisfying drink with loads of fruit (rrp $12). These are two great little quaffers for a very affordable price.

The Bryson Family, with five generations behind them, has been involved in agriculture since 1851 and have been making wine in the Padthaway region of South Australia for 150 years. The 2013 Jip Jip Rocks Cabernet Sauvignon is named after a majestic rock formations north of Padthaway, a wine region that knows no bounds when it comes to quality winemaking. Coloured deep purple with a vibrant pink rim, the fruit on the nose is overt, with mulberry, plum and spice. The palate is big and full-bodied with oak-soaked dark fruits together with raspberry notes in abundance. This full-bodied wine leaves a lasting impression on the palate.

Along comes its stablemate, the 2014 Jip Jip Rocks Unoaked Chardonnay, with a nose of lemon and lime in abundance with some apricot notes coming through. Firm crisp acidity and dry palate allows the fruit to shine and express itself to the full. Two wines that come highly recommended (rrp $20 each).

Finally comes the 2012 Morambro Creek Shiraz from the same region as the above. Deep purple crimson in colour with a lovely bright pink hue, the fragrant bouquet of blackcurrant, black olive and cinnamon flavours shows a strong personality.

The palate is powerful, dominated by dense black/red fruits. French oak gives the wine great length and firm tannins. This wine stands out from the crowd and if cellared well could go the distance for 10-15 years (rrp $32). Excellent!

Sydney Cellar Door is on again this year in Hyde Park South from February 27 to March 1, with around 100 wineries exhibiting from 14 wine regions across NSW. The times are: Friday February 27 from 4-10pm, Saturday February 28 from 11am-9pm and Sunday March 1 from 11am-6pm. In 2014, the event drew 44,000 people, which tells you something about the quality of wines, artisan foods and live music provided. For more information, visit

Jim McMahon teaches hospitality at Sutherland TAFE.

Wine dozen win

Lorraine McKenzie of Clunes PS, in the Lismore Association, enjoyed her win of a Tyrrell’s mixed wine dozen. She wrote in:

“What a lovely surprise just before Christmas! Thank you to Tyrrell’s Wines and Education for organising a great competition for all of us hard-working teachers. I’ve enjoyed being able to choose different varieties from the mixed dozen. My favourites were the Fordwich 2013 Verdelho and the Rufus Stone Heathcote 2012 Shiraz. The verdelho was fresh and crisp with lots of fruit and spice on the palate. Gorgeous at a holiday BBQ on a hot night! The shiraz was a full-bodied, complex classic Hunter red, equally enjoyed by all.”

The answers to the quiz for winning the wine were: 1858 (When was Tyrrell’s Wines established?); Bruce Tyrrell (Who is the current owner of Tyrrell’s Wines?); Andrew Spinaze (Who is the principal winemaker at Tyrrell’s Wines?). All the entrants were extremely well-informed and Lorraine won the draw.