Begin 2023 with a rich vein of wine styles that will floor the palate and the set the perfect tone for a year of continual vinous discovery.
Susana Balbo, Crios Torrontes 2020
Truly an invigorating story of homegrown innovation, Torrontes is a grape conceived by Argentine genius that became and remains an international rage. Indigenous to Argentina’s most significant wine region of Mendoza in its sub region of Salta, this white grape thrives on misty, high hills and makes aromatic and fruit driven wines. The wine’s refreshing style has made it a top summer pick across Europe and emerging wine drinking markets. This particular style excels with lychee and passion fruit flavours, impressing Robert Parker to give this premium screw capped white wine, 90 points.
The New World has a significant trove of successes to talk up in the five or so decades of its modern industry and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc almost certainly sits at the very top. New Zealand winemakers took a chance on planting Sauvignon Blanc vines in one Marlborough region on South Island in 1974. What gave was a harvest of fruit that would come to define Marlborough and eternal national pride. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Kiwi Savvy B as the local dotingly call the white wine, thrived in Marlborough’s generous sunshine, vitally cool nights and hardy, loam soils. The iconic NZ Sauvignon palate that critics call the ‘fruit bomb’ is a literal rush of intense tropical fruit and touch of pepper and grass. While recent styles have toned down the vigor a bit, the Kiwi Savvy B’s still got it. And it doesn’t get better than the Saint Clair, Sauvignon Blanc, crafted by the prestigious Marlborough wine family of the Abbots that delivers dollops of grapefruit and passionfruit, buoyed by crisp acidity.
Rose wines appellations don’t quite get the limelight but when it comes to Provence in Southern France, it’s the region that’s a real star here. The region is worshipped for the quality of its roses and it itself blessed with a combination of classic Mediterranean climes and copious sunshine tempered by cold winds rushing down the Rhone Alps from the north and vines rooted in limestone that yield fruit of great flavour and acidity. Our very own Provencal rose wine import enjoys rockstar status for its sprightly palate and fruity character. The Aix Provence Rose is an opulent blend, displays a salmon pink hue and is delightfully fragrant, abounding with floral aromas and flavours of strawberry and watermelon with refreshing acidity. This wine was most recently featured in Wine Enthusiast magazine’s best-of-the-best list ‘Enthusiast 100’.
Syrah is a grape with a remarkable story to tell. While the grape is native to France’s Rhone Valley, Syrah has rooted itself in vineyards across the New World and in some instances, defined them. That holds most true for Australia where they now call it Shiraz and use it to make most of its best reds. The style it evolved in South Africa is in fact a fascinating coming together of both classic and modern influence. While South Africa’s Western Cape and the Rhone have little in common with regard to weather and soil, local winemakers have consciously tried to create an expression that bears the hallmark peppery notes of Northern Rhone Syrah and generous overtones of ripe blackberry fruit, plum and vanilla. This description best captures the Thelema Shiraz 2015, a sublime bottle aged red produced by an acclaimed family estate, expressing rich notes of plum and vanilla with a touch of cocoa and spice.
Saint Cosme, Chateau De Rouanne Vinsobres Rouge 2020
Grenache is Rhone Valley’s unsung hero that continues to shine albeit under the shadow of the venerated Syrah grape. But this bold and full bodied Grenache expression from Southern Rhone shows just what this originally Spanish grape is capable of. Saint Cosme’s chief winemaker Louis Barruol has honed and mastered its Grenache style, enhancing it with organic viticulture and the results are stunning. The wine’s bold character is immaculately balanced by floral and peppery notes and flavours of raspberry, black pepper and sumptuous length.
South African Cabernet