Young, fresh and juicy – that’s how we like to drink our wines these days. Max Allen picks 20 of the best of the new vintage to crack open and enjoy right now.
Jan 05, 2014 1:00pm
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SOMETHING FIZZY TO START1 2013 Pizzini Prosecco, King Valley, Vic, $19.50 Wonderfully lively sparkling wine on its own - just the right balance of lightness, freshness and a touch of grapy fruit sweetness - but possibly even better mixed with some freshly blitzed white peach purée to make a classic Bellini, served with some crunchy, salty, cheesy arancini and salt-cod fritters.
2 2013 Jauma Pet Nat, McLaren Vale, SA, $25 "Petillant naturel" wines finish fermenting in the bottle and are often not disgorged or filtered, resulting in a cloudy, yeasty, bubbly drink. This gorgeous, rustic example is made from chenin blanc. It reminds me of crunchy Granny Smith apples and unfiltered Japanese sake and makes my mouth water for top-quality sushi.
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CRISP, THIRST-QUENCHING WHITES3 2013 Vigna Bottin Vermentino, McLaren Vale, SA, $24 Oh, bring me platters of fresh seafood - grilled sardines, fried whitebait, charred calamari - and plenty of garlicky mayo and pour me a big glass of this super-crisp white wine. As fresh as your first Sunday morning dive into the surf, it's the kind of chalky-dry, wake-up white you want a constant supply of in your fridge.
4 2013 Lark Hill Grüner Veltliner, Canberra District, ACT, $45 Candied citron - that's the flavour I find at the core of this beautiful white wine from the pioneers of Australian grüner. A bright, lemon mouth aroma and a taste of chewy pith and nervy acidity. Fresh but mouth-coating and assertive - exactly what you want to wash down succulent crumbed, pan-fried veal schnitzel.
5 2013 Mount Horrocks Riesling, Watervale, SA, $32 I've said it before and I'll say it again: classic Clare rieslings such as this one have an urgent, thirst-quenching, moreish quality which makes it very hard to stop at the third or fourth glass. No, not very moderate, I know, but what the heck. It's brilliant, tangy, white wine hanging out to be guzzled with a crisp, fishy Vietnamese salad.
6 2013 KT Pazza, Watervale, SA, $29 This is what happens when the lime-juicy jewel that is Clare riesling is sent out into the world in a gloriously uncut, unpolished (ie wild-fermented unfiltered, slightly cloudy) state. All five of KT's 2013 rieslings are rippers, but this is the bottle I finished first. Bring on the ginger-and-garlic steamed scallops.
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WHITE WINES WITH TEXTURE AND RICHNESS7 2013 Olivers Taranga Fiano, McLaren Vale, SA, $24 Fiano's fascinating. The best of both worlds. On one hand, you have the heady, honeyed perfume you find in wines made from the viognier grape. And on the other you also have the rich, toasty, yeast-leesy texture and mouth-feel of a top chardonnay. A yummy combo, really. Try with orecchiette and an anchovy-based sauce.
8 2013 Stefano Lubiana Sauvignon Blanc, Tasmania, $30 Think sauvignon blanc, think boisterous, punchy aromatics, right? Not necessarily. One of the best - and most undervalued - things about good sav is its mouth-watering, incisive textural qualities on the tongue, qualities found in poised abundance in this wine. Snapper baked with fennel and roast spuds, please.
9 2013 Kalleske Florentine Chenin Blanc, Barossa Valley, SA, $19 This is a seriously grown-up wine for the price: lovely, generous flavours of sweet hay and bruised apple and a richly savoury texture in the mouth. It would be fab with a plump, garlic-roasted, free-range organic chook; and you can afford to splash out on an expensive bird with the money you've saved on the wine.
10 2013 Lethbridge Pinot Gris, Geelong, Vic, $30 This is going to sound weird, but one of the things I love about this wine is how, when you take a mouthful and let the liquid sit on your tongue, its texture reminds you of the sensation of licking the fuzzy skin of a ripe peach. Add spicy scents typical of pinot gris and it's perfect for herby terrine.
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PALE DRY PINK WINES11 2013 Bellwether Rosé, Riverland, SA, $20 Coonawarra winemaker Sue Bell made this award-winning rosé using nero d'Avola grapes grown by award-winning viticulturist Ashley Ratcliff in the Riverland. Forget the gongs; just revel in the floral scents and creamy texture - and rustle up some seafoody pasta: pipis, prawns, penne and parsley.
12 2013 Port Phillip Estate Salasso Rosé, Mornington Peninsula, Vic, $24 Made from the juice of pinot noir grapes, this is the essence of the pale, dry rosé style. It has the barest hint of bronzy pink colour, lovely lifted floral and herbal aromas, gentle flavours of cream and summer berries and a savoury, refreshing tang on the tongue. Great with delicate goat's cheese and cherry tomato tart.
13 2013 Smallfry Cinsault Grenache Rosé, Barossa Valley, SA, $25 This characterful, wild-fruity, savoury rosé is an unfiltered blend of cinsault and grenache juice, made from grapes grown in a biodynamic vineyard in the centre of the Barossa. It's got the guts and texture to cope with some classic regional smoked smallgoods such as mettwurst or biersticks.
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JUICY YOUNG PINOT14 2013 Spring Vale Melrose Pinot Noir, Tasmania, $25 There's obviously a conspiracy of youthful pinot-drinking going down on the Apple Isle - here's another gorgeous, snappy young thing waiting to be drunk: there's crunchy berry fruit here and a lovely tart edge that would make it a good match for pan-fried trout and sorrel mayo.
15 2013 Glaetzer Dixon Family Winemakers Nouveau, Tasmania, $26 Until now, Nick Glaetzer's pinots have tended to be on the dark, sinewy, fuller-bodied end of the flavour spectrum, but this sprightly young thing takes off in a whole new direction, with bright, juicy fruit and silky tannin. Try it with char-grilled quail, marinated in pomegranate molasses and Moroccan spices.
16 2013 William Downie Gippsland Pinot Noir, Vic, $38 Very different beast, this, to the other two pinots: it comes from the moist, rich soils of Gippsland and has been made in a very hands-off way, with no preservatives added. It's got a good, rich colour, heaps of meaty, succulent berry fruit and an alluring wildness that would make it a great match for roast hare.
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SMASHABLE REDS17 2013 Amato Nero d'Avola, Riverland, SA, $30 Made from the same grapes as the Bellwether rosé (see number 11), but by a winemaker in Margaret River, this is a lovely light-bodied red with juicy fruit and some grippy tannin. It appreciates being chilled, splashed into a big jug and drunk out of tumblers with slices of Margherita pizza.
18 2013 Battle of Bosworth Puritan Shiraz, McLaren Vale, SA, $20 Like the Downie pinot reviewed above, the lack of added preservatives means this organically grown shiraz fair jumps out of the glass, in a deliciously unrestrained, spicy, gluggable way, full of the energy of ferment. Make a big pot of pork sausage ragù, liberally dosed with this wine, and boil up some spaghetti.
19 2013 Ochota Barrels "The Green Room", McLaren Vale, SA, $30
Taras Ochota has already released more than ten 2013 wines, including reds made from shiraz and grenache, grapes we normally associate with cellar-worthy wines. No need to wait with this blend of the two varieties: it's fabulously spicy and thrilling to drink right now.
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SOMETHING SWEET TO FINISH20 2013 Primo Estate Joseph La Magia Botrytis Riesling Traminer, SA, $30 Joe Grilli has been making sweet wines affected by noble rot for more than 30 years and you can taste the experience in this: magnificently perfumed and tangy, it's full of orange-blossom honey and citrus oil. Pair it with a shot of very dark espresso and amaretti.