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Top drops: An expert’s best tannic wines for March

Texture is the word on the street, says NED GOODWIN as tannic wines take the spotlight.
Portrait of Ned Goodwin with glasses of white and red wine on a white tablecloth-covered table

Ned Goodwin, Master of Wine

Kristina Soljo

Soft, soupy wine styles bereft of structure that smell like lilac and cola are yesterday. Texture is in! Today, wine with maximum street credibility is equated with savouriness and tannic chomp derived from the grape skins, rather than obvious oak. Not too much, mind you, but enough chewiness to stimulate the saliva in readiness for the next glass. These trending wines permit a bit of a chill rather than the deep freeze of the “chilled red” category.

Wine made by real people from real places is cool, too. Better that than wine derived from an algorithm punched into a machine, a formula relayed to a phalanx of steel vats. For the cool kids, these mass-produced wines evoke dystopian visions of the world dying, akin to heavy bottles and pairing menus. The street says be open-minded, try new things, drink what you want as long as it is not raw oysters and red wine, especially from a big, heavy bottle.

The street suggests that it is even better when those places are coolish climate, or filled with later ripening, less thirsty and environmentally apt grenache and other Mediterranean varieties. Cool, too, when those real people know what they are doing. Reconciling the trophies of ethical vineyard certification with poor practises in the cellar, is as challenging as vapid talk of sustainability when the earth between the vines is scorched.

Finally, goodbye Provençal rosé, a category best returned to its traditional custodians in sandals and socks.

2022 Graci, Etna Bianco DOC, Sicily, $55

From the sulphurous caldera of Etna, a living volcano in Sicily, bestowing a wine style destined for street cred. Textural precision, breadth, pungent mineral torque and latent power. Repeat after me, “carricante”. An example of why texture over fruit is a far more interesting proposition.


2021 Le P’tit Domain Le Coup d’Douze, Saumur-Champigny, Loire, $40

Once, all roads led to Burgundy. Now they divert elsewhere, as pricing becomes unsustainable for all but the oligarch on a yacht. The rumble on the street has long upheld the shimmering beauty of franc from the Loire. Floral and piquant, with a refreshing verdant lilt amid currant and sap.


2021 Capanna, Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Tuscany, $40

Few do chew and chomp better than Italians. Sangiovese from the decomposed shale of southern Tuscany. Brunello may be the luxe wine from these parts, but I’d rather a frisky rosso any day of the week, particularly from a staunch traditionalist like Capanna.



2017 Kir-Yianni Ramnista Naoussa PDO, $47

Xinomavro from Naoussa, Macedonia’s equivalent of a top growth, capable of superlative reds of structure and fuller weight, such as this. Cinnamon, five-spice, sandalwood and mulled cherry. A mandala of edgy tannin and bright, almost alpine freshness due to vineyards nigh on 400 metres. Not dissimilar to quality nebbiolo. Brilliant with charcuterie.


2019 Kir-Yianni Naoussa Village, $34

Same producer. More xinomavro. This time, lower altitude vineyards and a shorter stint in oak service, a friskier, more mid-weighted expression that is as versatile at the table as it is easy to drink in large drafts while alone on the couch. Sapid cherry, campfire and rosewater, rendered with a deft touch.


2021 Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko, Santorini, $75

A mathematics professor who decided to dabble in wine. A great decision as he has become, irrefutably, the finest producer on Santorini and arguably, of white wine in Greece. Sea spray, cactus flower, spiced quince and preserved lemon. A saline rush across the mouth. Mediterranean white of the highest order.


2022 Château Mira Luna Rosé, Coteaux Varois en Provence, $45

Okay, this is not Greek. But in the context of tourism of the mind, we are on a spin across the Med to swoon with Mick Jagger in Saint Remy while guzzling dry rosé like this.


2020 Keller Tröcken Riesling, Rheinhessen, $60

Klaus-Peter Keller is the greatest practitioner of dry riesling. Single site expressions fetch meteoric prices, yet the stepping stone into the range remains a brilliant curtain raiser. Freshness melded to breadth. Wild fennel, pebble stones and orchard fruit accents blaze brightly.


AA Badenhorst Caperitif Kaapse Dief Lot 9 NV, $50

A Vermouth of sorts, lost in 1910. A confluence of white wine, spirit and herbs, including Fynbos, a collective 8500 species from the Cape. Little surprise Madrid, Buenos Aires and Paris embrace

its sublimation of a Latin fascination with transcendental contemplation. Perfect when slipping towards the abyss.


AR Lenoble Intense 18 NV, $70

Lenoble is a family-owned Champagne house of the highest order, sited in the Grand Cru commune of Chouilly, the source of powerful chardonnay. Eighteen refers to the base vintage, a foundation for truffle, cinnamon, maple and peach, with a whiff of brioche across a rich, toasty finish.


2020 Domaine Berthet-Bondet Savagnin, Côtes du Jura, $82

I visited in 2003, before the Jura became fashionable real estate. A culture of farmers hewn to small plots, volumes and complex wines. Riveting wines birthed by flor, the benevolent yeast. Cardamom, chamomile, curry powder and cheesecloth.


2021 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra

The magnum for lonely nights or the hordes. Few do it better than Wynns in Coonawarra. Those red loamy clays and underbelly of limestone deal a card of currant, dried sage and menthol, drawn from a deck of finely wrought tannins and an air of sophistication.


Vazart-Coquart & Fils Grand Cru Brut, Blanc de Blancs, Champagne NV

Champagne is cold, the fizz frothy and the finish a bit sweet. Fruit is largely blended from all over the joint to come up with a house style, over anything of place. The grower revolution changed that! The new world order: dry salinity, a wisp of chalk and autumnal fruits.

While the magnum format is now sold out, you can still buy 750ml bottles below.


2021 Rimauresq Cru Classé Rosé, Provence

Provençale rosé is often party juice. A conduit for the aspirational to pretend, for just a moment, that they are on the Côte d’Azur. As a result, it doesn’t really need to be much chop. Yet there is good stuff out there. Here, a leading example laden with dried thyme, musk and peony.

While the magnum format is now sold out, you can still buy 750ml bottles below.


2019 Eden Rift Estate Chardonnay, Cienega Valley, $69

It becomes an effete exercise to compare New World wines to their plinth of inspiration in the Old, yet in this instance it is very hard to do otherwise. Burgundy-like scents of nougat, roasted hazelnut, truffle and stone fruits. Broad and flavoursome chardonnay from the San Andreas Fault.

While the magnum format is now sold out, you can still buy 750ml bottles below.


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