De Bortoli Sacred Hill Chardonnay 2015

De Bortoli Sacred Hill ChardonnayThe value end of the retail wine spectrum is a busy if not duopolistic space, but if you can look past the “specials” promoted by the Coles and Woolworths operations, there are some Australian made wines punching well above their weight.  Like the De Bortoli Sacred Hill Chardonnay 2015.

It’s a product of the Riverina region near Griffith in New South Wales where the warm dry climate is well suited to growing high volumes of white wines like Semillon and Chardonnay.  Such is its suitability to viticulture that the Riverina is, in fact, now the second biggest wine producing area in Australia!

Unlike many of its competitors at the quaffing price point, the Sacred Hill does not give the impression of being a mass produced product best stored in cardboard!  It shows lively fruit throughout yet possesses great poise and balance.  The nose is somewhat unyielding but reveals its French oak exposure from the outset with perhaps just a slight hint of nectarine.  Once on the palate, voluptuous pear, stone fruit and honeydew melon characters embrace gentle acids and drive their way to a long crisp finale.

It’s a remarkable wine given its $5 price tag and well suited as a quaffer or when catering for the crowds.


Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is a practice group leader of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, part of the Slater and Gordon group, and lover of fine food and wine

Bird in Hand Nest Egg Chardonnay 2012

Bird in Hand Nest Egg Chardonnay 2012I have tried some seriously good Chardonnay in my time and expensive ones at that; but few, if any, have been better than the Bird in Hand Nest Egg 2012.  And it seems that it’s not just my own palate that has been thoroughly impressed by the Nest Egg.  James Halliday gave it an outstanding 95 points in his 2014 Wine Companion and it even won Best Wine of Show at the International Cool Climate Wine Show in 2014.

As the $75 price tag suggests, it’s an indulgent style but one which hints at nectarine and toasted cashews on the nose and a zippy citric creaminess through the middle.  The obvious influence of malolactic fermentation may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that process and some exposure to quality French oak, has added a creamy complexity that oozes sophistication and adds palate weight through to a lingering finale.  I love the way that a gentle acidity and a toasty oakiness caress and cajole your tastebuds yet deliver an overwhelming elegance to a world class wine.  It’s not cheap, but it’s bound to become an Australian icon.


Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is a practice group leader of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers, part of the Slater and Gordon group, and lover of fine food and wine

Cumulus Climbing 2015 Pinot Gris

Cumulus Climbing 2The cool climate, dry autumns and elevated vineyards in Orange, New South Wales, make it an ideal environment for growing Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, but it may be the Alsatian inspired Pinot Gris grape that puts it front and centre of the viticultural map.  In the United States, Pinot Gris is now the second biggest selling style of dry white wine (after Chardonnay) and it’s slowly gaining momentum here Down Under. Its growing popularity is probably a reflection of the compromise it offers between aromatic and austere, and the inoffensive nature of its gentle acid backbone.

The Cumulus Climbing 2015 Pinot Gris is a genuine ambassador for the Orange locals as it delivers all the best of the Pinot Gris’s attributes, but at a sub $20 price tag.  And it’s all about texture, mouth feel and palate weight.

Sure, there are some delightful pear, Fuji apple and Quince flavours that remain lively right across the palate, but it’s the way the wine emboldens and expands as it builds to its defined but well constrained conclusion, that makes it such an attractive drink-now proposition. Some French Oak exposure and a bit of stirring on lees have given it a riper, fuller and more textural presence and leave a sense of opulence as you impulsively reach for the glass to take just another sip. It’s approachable on its own, but also well suited to pairing with spicy Asian dishes.