No eggnog here: this December, we're drinking a seven-apple cider blend, a spicy durif, and a luscious sweet Riesling. These drops are perfect for a Christmas lunch, or for unwinding from the silly season at home.
Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:
1. VERY QVEVRI
2014 Iago's Wine Chinuri, Kartli, Georgia, $60
The standout wine at a recent tasting of traditional Georgian
whites, most fermented on skins in qvevri clay pots: clear, pale
amber in colour, with fresh flavours of apple and meadow flowers. A
gorgeous wine, full of life. Imported by vinous.com.au
2. GLUGGABLE RED
2015 Monte dall'Ora Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy, $32
Sometimes you come across a light-bodied, juicy-but-savoury red
wine that is so delicious, so gluggable that you have to keep
reminding yourself to slow down because it is in fact an alcoholic
beverage. Imported by addleyclarkfinewines.com.au
3. KEEP THE FAITH
2014 Bloodwood Chardonnay, Orange, NSW, $35
At a time when the trend is still towards rather austere,
minerally chardonnays, it's good to see some producers sticking to
their guns, releasing a chardonnay with generosity, richness and a
seductive, moreish quality. bloodwood.biz
4. TRAD CIDER
The Cheeky Grog Co Secret Seven Cider, Goulburn Valley, Vic, $6
Made from a blend of seven European cider-apple varieties grown
in central Victoria this barrel-fermented, unfiltered cider is
strong (eight per cent alcohol), dry and tangy, like chewing the
skins of a particularly ripe golden apple. cheekygrogco.com
5. WESTERN RED
2014 La Violetta "Up!" Shiraz, Great Southern, WA, $32
Many of grape-treader Andrew Hoadley's wines are deliciously
unusual, but this is a straightforward shiraz - albeit an
uncommonly characterful expression of the grape, full of dark spice
and gamy notes. laviolettawines.com.au
6. NAKED CLARET
2011 Maison Blanche, Montagne-Saint-Émilion, France, $92
This adventurous organic Bordeaux estate bottles some of its top
wine without preservatives. It's fascinating to taste the two
expressions side by side: both are superb, elegant clarets, but
this, the no-SO2 version, has more depth and vitality. theotherbordeaux.com.au
7. GRUNT WITH GRACE
2014 Scion Durif Viognier, Rutherglen, Vic, $42
Adding a few bunches of white viognier can do wonders for shiraz
- why not durif? Why not indeed, says winemaker Rowly Milhinch:
this is a terrifically perfumed spicy red wine, with firm, grippy
tannins yearning for rare steak. scionvineyard.com
8. WESTERN WHITE
2016 West Cape Howe Riesling, Mount Barker, WA, $22
The 2016 vintage was a cracker for rieslings from the Great Southern region. I've tasted terrific examples, but this one is particularly good value: a jumble of flowers and citrus, with crystalline precision and refreshment. westcapehowewines.com.au
9. PINOT FOR THE AGES
2015 Yarra Yering Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Vic, $92
New Yarra Yering winemaker Sarah Crowe produced some great wines in 2015, and, while I like all of them, this is the one I enjoyed the most: a pinot of great depth, concentration and complexity that will evolve magnificently in the cellar. yarrayering.com
10. SUPER SWEETIE
2016 Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling, Clare Valley, SA $40
This has long been a super-reliable sweet wine, with lots of bright, luscious candied-lime flavour, vintage after vintage, but the 2016 edition seems to have just a little more brightness and lusciousness than usual. mounthorrocks.com
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