Drinks News

GT's summer drinking guide for 2019

From funky pet-nat to juicy reds, it's all about a light and breezy drinks list this season, writes Max Allen.

By Max Allen
Summer drinking used to mean packing the Esky with a few stubbies of beer and a bottle of sav blanc. Those days are long gone, thank goodness. Now, in 2019, Australian drinkers are much more adventurous. To satisfy our modern summer thirst we want funky pet-nat and traditional cider, innovative spirits and pale, dry rosé. We crave local whites made from exotic grapes, and imported whites made from familiar grapes. And we're also keen on light, juicy reds best drunk chilled. Time to get a bigger Esky.

Fizz and pop

1. 2018 Chalmers Lambrusco, Heathcote, $43
Forget your – or your parents' – outdated perception of red Lambrusco as nothing but cheap, sweet fizz. This is the modern face of Lambrusco: deep, purplefoaming, beautifully intense, dark-fruited, dry. Drink with charcuterie: spicy salami and silky prosciutto. chalmers.com.au
2. NV Laherte Frères Ultradition, Champagne, $75
At some point during the summer holidays, when the festive clamour is at its height, find a quiet spot, open a bottle of this stunning Champagne and share it with someone you love. Savour its complex, tangy vinosity – and then plunge back into the chaos. Imported by bibendum.com.au
3. 2019 Voyager Estate Project Pet Nat Rouge, Margaret River, $35
The crew at Voyager Estate are really embracing their collective inner hipster these days. As well as converting their vineyards to certified organic farming, they've also dabbled in delicious pet-nat production: this one tastes like still-fermenting merlot juice. voyagerestate.com.au
4. 2014 Jansz Single Vineyard Chardonnay, Tasmania, $65
You already know the reliable, highquality range of Tassie sparkling from Jansz. Here's something a bit special: a limited-release bottling of a single-vineyard, 100 per cent chardonnay fizz – crisp and elegant, citrusy, refreshing. A good wine for a Christmas Day apéritif. jansz.com.au
5. NV Paracombe A Trio of Pinot, Adelaide Hills, $27
Here's something different: three varieties from the same grape family – pinot noir, pinot blanc and pinot gris – blended together to produce a superbly summerysparkling rosé that's floral, fruity and creamy on the tongue. Perfect picnic wine. paracombewines.com

White wine in the sun

1. 2019 Coriole Piquepoul, McLaren Vale, $28
Oysters! Quick! Bring me some freshly-shucked oysters! Bonedry, super-crisp and crunchy, this fresh young white is made from piquepoul, a grape originally from the Languedoc in the south of France near the coast, where it's the locals' seafood wine of choice. coriole.com
2. 2019 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, Clare Valley, $61
You could either drink this incredible riesling now and revel in its extraordinary concentration of lime and lemongrass flavours, or you could give a bottle (or six) as a Christmas present to the wine lover in your life to stash away in their cellar. Or you could do both... grosset.com.au
3. 2019 Galafrey Reserve Riesling, Mount Barker, $25
This riesling is amazing value. Made from low-yielding, drygrown, 40-year-old vines, it's bursting with scintillating citrus aromatics, like popping pearls of finger lime on your tongue. It's a yum-cha wine: sensational with steamed prawn and ginger dumplings. galafreywines.com.au
4. 2018 Sutton Grange Fiano, Bendigo, $50
Fiano, originally from the hills of Campania, has found a happy new home in many regions of Australia, including the hills south of Bendigo. Wild-fermented in old oak and a concrete egg, this is a wonderfully rich, mouthfilling, textural expression of the grape. suttongrange.com.au
5. 2017 André Bonhomme Vielles Vignes, Viré Clessé, $55
This is absolutely ravishing old-vine white burgundy at an extremely attractive price. Enticing perfume of pretty white flowers, golden chardonnay grape juice on the tongue, a line of fine, mineral acidity. Did someone say lobster? Oh, yes please, what a fabulous idea. cellarhand.com.au
White wine in the sun, pictured from top.

Refreshing hits

1. Sparrow & Vine Project B Mead, Sydney, $40
Jump onto the mead wagon: across Australia, more and more people are fermenting honey, producing lovely new expressions of this ancient drink. Project B is made from raw honey collected in Newtown and is wonderfully bright, sparkling and vinous. sparrowandvine.com.au
2. Tinnies Pale Ale, Melbourne, $19.99 for six
This fruity, hazy, pale ale – made exclusively for the liquor store chains owned by Coles – was named best in class at the World Beer Awards in London. Good to see a well-priced, widelyavailable brew do well against the small-batch craft cans. vintagecellars.com.au
3. Macchia Vermouth Mediterraneo Rosso al Mirto, Sardinia, $80
Embrace the art of afternoon aperitivi with this beautifully herbal, mouthwateringly bitter Sardinian vermouth, flavoured with pungent myrtle berries. Pour a generous slug over ice, garnish with a slice of blood orange and serve with salty fried snacks. Imported by quelvino.com.au
4. 2018 Gurneys Orchard Reserve Cider, Foster, $34
Made in a new cidery overlooking Wilsons Promontory, from a blend of heritage English cider apples grown in southern Victoria, this is the kind of rich-tasting, strong, dry, traditional-style golden cider that makes me hunger for ripe, creamy soft cheeses. gurneyscider.com.au
5. Brookie's Mac, Byron Bay, $65
I'll be drinking a lot of this new, thoroughly Australian liqueur over summer. A beautiful blend of local ingredients – the creamy flavours of macadamia and the chocolatey characters of roasted wattleseed – it's fab served over ice with a big squeeze of lime juice. capebyrondistillery.com
Refreshing hits, pictured from left.

Red and pink

1. 2018 Swinney Syrah Mourvedre Grenache, Frankland River, $42
Made from dry-grown bush vines – extremely uncommon in this part of WA – and rippling with dark spices, snappy black fruit and slinky tannins, this is a brilliant barbecue red that's crying out for garlic- and herb infused lamb, preferably charcoal-grilled. swinney.com.au
2. 2019 Gemtree Luna de Fresca, McLaren Vale, $25
Australia's insatiable thirst for pale, dry rosé shows no sign of fading: we just can't get enough of the stuff. And this is a lovely example of the style: made from biodynamically grown tempranillo grapes, it's pretty, perfumed, and deliciously, dangerously drinkable. gemtreewines.com
3. 2018 Chateau Thivin La Chapelle, Côtede Brouilly, $70
Beaujolais is the quintessential summer red, and Beaujolais doesn't come much better than this, a single-vineyard wine from one of the region's top producers. Dripping with glossy black cherry fruit, wrapped in supple persistent tannins, it's utterly irresistible. Imported by heartandsoil.com.au
4. 2018 Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, $34
The Massale, from leading Peninsula producer Kooyong, is one of the most reliable, best-value pinots in Australia, and the 2018 vintage doesn't disappoint with vibrant red berries, and elegant, savoury tannins. Another great yum-cha wine: order with steamed pork buns. portphillipestate.com.au
5. 2019 Penley Estate Whole Bunch Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, $50
Wow. Whole-bunch fermented, fragrant, bright, light-footed, juicy, fine... bring this out when your wine geek friends come over, pour them a glass without telling them what it is and then watch their jaws drop when you tell them it's Coonawarra cabernet. penley.com.au
Red and pink, pictured from left.

Summer lovin'

Our picks for a well-stocked wine fridge:
1. Crisp and Lively. 2018 Patritti Merchant Pinot Grigio, Adelaide Hills, $24, patritti.com.au
2. Christmas sparkle. Mumm Cordon Rouge, Champagne, $46.95, mumm.com
3. Showstopper. 2008 Seppelt Show Sparkling Limited Release Shiraz, Grampians, $100, seppelt.com.au
4. Clean and green. 2018 Minimum Chardonnay, Goulburn Valley, $30, minimumwines.com
5. Ripe and juicy. 2016 Patritti Section 181 Grenache, McLaren Vale, $35, patritti.com.au
  • undefined: Max Allen