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Top drops: August

From an extra hoppy IPA to a nicely bitter Australian vermouth, these are the drops that are getting us through that final winter month.

Numbered from left to right, down the image.


2015 Domaine de Binet Pinot Grigio, Hunter Valley, NSW, $28

This is made in a "ramato" style, which means the pinot grigio grapes spend some time on skins to give the wine a bronze tint. I also really like the bold flavours of the 2014 Domaine de Binet Petit Verdot ($28).


2014 Sailor Seeks Horse Pinot Noir, Huon Valley, Tas, $48

The Huon Valley, south-west of Hobart, is about as marginal as it gets for cool-climate viticulture, but on a good site in a good year pinot noir seems to love it here: this has the most gorgeous succulent dark cherry fruit. Seductive stuff.


2014 Eperosa Stonegarden Grenache, Eden Valley, SA, $80

You can still find lots of big, thick grenaches in the Barossa, but they're being eclipsed by a new wave of prettier, sprightlier, more elegant expressions of the grape. This one, made from very old vines, is a terrific example of the new style.


2013 Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon, Nagambie Lakes, Vic, $21

If you like traditional Aussie reds - by which I mean earthy, well-priced, darkly ferruginous wines that age well for years - buy a case of this superb example. And a case of the also-great 2013 Tahbilk Shiraz (also $21-ish).


2015 LAS Vino Chardonnay, Margaret River, WA, $65

Many of the wines in the LAS Vino range are on the alternative side (eg a creamy "albino" pinot, and a robust mashup of Portuguese red grapes called Pirate Blend) but this is classic chardonnay: complex, textural, satisfying.


2014 Bowen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, SA, $27

At a recent tasting of Bowen Estate reds going back to the first vintage in 1975, I was struck by how well the cabernet ages. I reckon this dark, violetty, firm young wine will mature every bit as well as the great 2006, 1996 and 1980 vintages.


2012 Kir Yianni Kali Riza, Amyndeon, Greece, $35

I love the Greek xinomavro grape, with its deep well of perfumed forest fruit and super-savoury tannic rasp; I love how it goes so well with grilled lamb. This is a particularly fine, well-balanced and charming example from a top producer.
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Wolf of the Willows XPA, Cheltenham, Vic, $6 for 330ml

The "X" in the name means "extra" - more hops than you'd find in a regular IPA - but the beer is also extra-pale in colour and body. So, despite the "X" factor of all that perfumed hoppiness, it's beautifully balanced and eminently drinkable.


Margan Off-Dry Vermouth, Hunter Valley, NSW, $50

An excellent new addition to Australia's small but growing list of locally made vermouths. This nicely bitter, wonderfully fragrant version is based on sémillon, infused with two dozen or so botanicals, most of which are estate-grown.


2012 Golden Ball Gallice,Beechworth, Vic, $55

Regular readers know my penchant for classic "clarets": elegant, mediumbodied, firm and grippy cabernet blends. Well, here's another one, an absolute cracker from Beechworth: fine, intense, blackcurranty, multilayered, long. Lovely.


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