Best wines to try this Christmas
IS Penfolds Grange 2014 on you Christmas shopping list? It isn't?
Perhaps the $900 price tag is the drawback. The Grange leads the pantheon of illustrious reds that walk off the shelves at this time of the year.
Big ticket bottles become personal gifts from the well-heeled, and Grange is the ultimate corporate gift or "reward" for a business associate who has gone beyond the call of duty in the corporate trenches.
Competing with the Grange are a number of shiraz favourites including Henschke Hill of Grace 2013, ($825) and Torbreck The Laird Shiraz 2013 Barossa Valley ($750).
Don't be disheartened. There are plenty of other blockbuster reds that will result in a softer hit to your wallet.
Wynns John Riddoch 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon ($110) has just been awarded 99 points by Master of Wine Andrew Caillard.
Yalumba 2014 The Octavius, a lion-hearted old-vine Barossa shiraz ($175), is rich and dense with exotic aromatics. Grant Burge 2012 Meshach Shiraz ($175) delivers on flavour and complexity. St Hallett offers 12 different examples of shiraz to suit every budget. I'd be happy if Santa left a 2017 Black Clay Shiraz for $15, or the St Hallett 2104 Old Block Shiraz for $95.
Other tips for sips.
For your mother:
House of Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2004 sparkler ($200) is a limited-edition Australian classic. It's bone-dry, rich and round and vibrant, with a biscuity, honey complexity.
For your lover:
Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut NV, $100.
With oysters. Say no more.
For your grandfather:
Grant Burge Black Apera PX ($93). A fine example of the traditional Spanish Pedro Ximénez sherry typified by toffee and chocolate and fruitcake flavours. A stunner. It has a bouquet of toffee apple, raisins, coffee, candied orange chocolate and maple syrup. Tastes like burnt figs and liquid Christmas cake.
For the wine geek:
The small batch, wonderfully complex, slightly obscure Tobin Wines 2014 Jacob Reserva Tempranillo ($125) from the Granite Belt.
Be bedazzled also by Irvine Wines' The Baroness ($35) from South Australia. Irvine is a family firm with some of the world's oldest shiraz plantations. The Baroness is a sparkling blend of 58 per cent petit meslier and 42 per cent chardonnay, made in the "méthode tradionelle" style, but with extra time on yeast lees. It's cloudy in the glass but refreshing on the palate, with a hint of creaminess. Petit meslier is a rarity. It's one of the little-known varieties allowed in champagne.
For the teenager:
Anything from the Yalumba Y Series ($12-15) represents good drinking at the right price. The Y series viognier may again be the bargain bottle of the year. Try also the peachy Y Series chardonnay with a zingy acidity.
Miraval Cotes de Provence Rosé Magnum ($150). A seriously good summer wine from an estate in France owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Despite their split, they are hanging onto the property where four grape varieties are blended (cinsault, grenache, shiraz and vermentino) for this charming quaffer.
For the homesick Kiwi:
Stoneleigh Latitude 2017 Sauvignon Blanc. ($23) A delightfully heady brew of citrus blossoms with honeydew melon and grapefruit flavours. Or, Isabel Estate Chardonnay ($35) with a nutty, creamy richness and a nougat, melon and ripe fig aromas and flavours.
For the anti-wine bore:
A slab of XXXX.