Star drinking

Hardys Stamp of Australia Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – I bought a dozen at around $6.60 the 1 litre bottle – ***

I know it’s only September, but this red gets my value for money wine of the year award already.

 A lovely robust melange of fully ripe berries, plums, sweet vanillin American oak, mildly assertive tannins and a pleasant aftertaste. Good on its own or with tucker and a stunner at the price. Some very ordinary cask wines are dearer.

 Crown Ambassador Reserve Lager 2009 – $70 the 750ml bottle – ****˜

Limited release of 6000 bottles. Bottle-conditioned lager (yeast is still in the bottle from the secondary fermentation). The price is as heady as the fresh hops, malt and alcohol (10.2%) evident in the bouquet. The colour is a rich copper with hues of non-milked tea. The palate, thick, smooth and velvety in texture, has sweet edges of toffee, malt and dark chocolate. This sweetness is counter-balanced by the bite of aromatic hops. The finish is long and luscious, yet there is also a mild bitterness, along with hints of dark roast espresso coffee. Cellar for five years if you can. I could drink a bucket of it.

 Witches Falls Granite Belt Moscato 2009 – up to $18 – **

Queensland. Low alcohol – 6%. Faint raisiny nose – the raisin character is more noticeable on the spritzy palate. A light sweet style that will go well with dessert courses.

 Philip Lobley Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – $32 – ***

Upper Goulburn Valley, Victoria. Perfumey kiwifruit and white blossoms on the nose. Mouth-filling expression of the grape, with concentrated flavours of passionfruit and blackcurrant leafiness. Zesty citrus-like acidity at the finish.

 Shaw & Smith Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – up to $26 – ***˜

Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Pungent, almost NZ-like herbal, asparagus, and tomato leaf notes on the nose. Flavours include grassiness, herbs and not fully ripe pineapple. A dry clean palate with forward acid. Great aperitif style.

 Fox Creek McLaren Vale Chardonnay 2008 – up to $17 – ***˜

South Australia. A medium-bodied white showing pleasing melon, peach and some lemony character. Restrained use of lightly toasted French oak provides structure to mature fruit.

 Angullong Fossil Hill Sangiovese 2008 – up to $20 – ***

Orange, New South Wales. Mid-ruby hues. Nose of tobacco leaf and dark cherries. A dry savoury style, showing definite cherry flavours and assertive tannins well suited to main course accompaniment.

 Zema Estate Cluny 2005 – up to $25 – ***

Coonawarra, South Australia. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and malbec. Release – October 2009. Complex nose with hints of red and black currants and mulberries. Youthful and lively palate has a hit of acid and displays medium tannins behind the blackcurrant and blueberry fruit. Will cellar well until at least 2014.

 Molly Dooker Two Left Feet 2007 – up to $25 – ***

South Australia. Shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, merlot blend. Deep crimson. Aromatic plummy nose. A full-flavoured, rounded red with soft sweet berries and plums on the palate and a lingering mocha-like, just-firm finish.

 Wynns Coonawarra Estate The Gables Cabernet Shiraz 2006 – up to $45 – ****

A classic Australian grape blend in a fine wine. The nose has that inviting perfume you encounter when you walk into an established maturation cellar: a seamless intermingling of expensive barriques and young, skilfully constructed red wine. The palate shows finesse, complexity, concentration of fruit and, if a tad young, potential for graceful ageing.

 Rating system

***** – outstanding

**** – classy

*** – first-rate

** – good stuff

* – commercial

A $ denotes excellent value for money. Prices Australian dollars.

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