Top Drops: May 2017

From a bold Australian pale ale to a bitter and herbal chinato from Italy, here's what we'll be drinking this month.

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:


2016 Lino Ramble Blind Man's Bluff Bastardo, McLaren Vale, $30

Bastardo. Rather rude name. But a lovely grape from which to make a vibrant, medium-weight red wine. Especially if it's grown in McLaren Vale and is guided into bottle by the crew at Lino Ramble. Available direct from the cellar.


2016 Lo Stesso Fiano, Heathcote, $35

The fifth vintage of this delicious white - grown at the Chalmers vineyard and made at Jasper Hill - is, for me, a benchmark for the fiano grape variety in Australia: rich, textural, nutty and creamy on the tongue, but fresh and spicy, too.


2015 Mayford Tempranillo, Alpine Valleys, $36

Most Australian tempranillos, it's fair to say, are drink-now propositions: juicy, round, soft-edged. This one has long been an exception: deep, dark fruit and wonderful, grippy tannin crying out for cellaring. And 2015 is the best vintage yet.


Brookie's Byron Dry Gin, Byron Bay, $75

This excellent new gin features 26 botanicals, 18 of which are native to the Northern Rivers and some of which are foraged in forest on the Brook family farm. It's bright, cool, full of character and has a lovely sweet intensity.


2016 Koerner "Rolle", Clare Valley, $35

Koerner is one of the rising stars of the Clare; people are raving about their restrained, medium-bodied reds, but I'm more impressed by the whites, including this richly savoury and deeply satisfying rolle (aka vermentino).


Cappellano Barolo Chinato, Piemonte, $93 for 500ml

Yes, I know we did a big feature on aromatised wines (vermouths, quinquinas, chinatos) a couple of issues ago, but this one is so good - so bitter, so full of dark herbal goodness, so twangy on the tongue - I felt you needed to be told about it.
Imported by


2015 Zonzo Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarra Valley, $55

The début releases from this reinvented Yarra estate includes this wonderful cabernet: a classic expression of the grape as grown in the central valley in a great vintage - deep cassis and dried herbs, and fine, persistent but supple tannin.


Two Birds Pale Ale, Spotswood, $22 for six 330ml bottles

Never ones to follow convention, brewers Danielle Allen and Jayne Lewis have waited five years to release their first pale (usually the first style to roll off most crafty bottling lines) and it's a bloody ripper: bold, fruity and highly quaffable.


2015 Dr Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, $50

This was the standout riesling at a recent tasting with Mosel legend Ernst Loosen, and is everything I want in a kabinett: green apple and mineral water refreshment, entrancing prettiness and scintillating, perfectly balanced acidity.
Imported by


2016 Singlefile Riesling, Great Southern, $25

You know how sometimes, on a warm afternoon, say, or when you feel like a pick-me-up, or just because you're thirsty, you get the urge for a lively, citrusy delicious young riesling? Well, this is exactly the wine that will satisfy that urge.

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