A guide to the season’s primo vino.

The best wines of spring 2016

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North Run, 2015 shiraz, Bendigo ($35)

Given the short life cycle of nu-soul and nu-metal, let’s call this wine from former sommelier Lincoln Riley New Bendigo instead. I think it has a much brighter future – bright, fluid, delicious, yet wears its riper central Victorian heart on its sleeve.

– Liam O’Brien, head sommelier, Cutler & Co

Tudor, 2015 pinot noir, Yarra Valley ($13)

I tasted this wine in a blind line-up and thought it was a really fantastic example of the variety. My note said: “meaty, soft red fruits, silky, taut and has energy”. Incredible value.

– Liam O’Brien, head sommelier, Cutler & Co

Small Change “White”, 2015
verdelho blend, Langhorne Creek ($18)

Verdelho from Langhorne Creek you say? Well, when it’s from 80-year-old vines, with a splash of traminer for ginger-and-spice fragrance and a little less stirring for texture, verdelho can be more than a simple fruit salad variety. Whether for everyday drinking or to accompany vibrant spring vegetables, this is small change well spent.

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith 

Serra & Barcelo “Aucalà”, 2014
garnatxa blanca, Terra Alta, Spain ($30)

Richer whites from Spain, Portugal and southern France can often do the job a chardonnay would do, and can be a fresher drink in warmer weather. This one offers stone fruit and citrus, gentle florals and generous mouthfeel with crisp acidity and a saline edge.

– Liam O’Brien, head sommelier, Cutler & Co

Express Winemakers, 2016
chenin blanc, Great Southern ($26)

Chenin blanc is really starting to get a bit of stage presence at the moment, and so it should. This little gem for Great Southern in Western Australia is a charm to drink. Think grapefruit citrus with some hints of honeycomb and a little richness that makes for great drinking. Lo-fi winemaking, handled with care, which adds up to delicious drinking.

– Mark Williamson, wine buyer for Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up and the Builders Arms Hotel

La Violetta “Yé-Yé Grisé”, 2016  gewürztraminer blend, Great Southern ($32)

A. J. Hoadley does it again. In this first release of Grisé, gewürztraminer’s heady lychee exuberance and slippery texture is countered by the cut and thrust of cool climate riesling. Bright and lively, Yé Yé Grisé is not only fun to say, it’s the ultimate springtime thirst quencher.

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith  

Bertrand Bespoke “L’Ecume du Jour” Ancestrale, 2016 Heathcote ($42)

This new wine from Gilles Lapalus makes drinking so much fun. Pétillant-naturel – or pet nat, which basically means natural sparkling – is a pretty trendy sparkling to be drinking at the moment. This orange/copper-coloured bubbly is made using syrah, nebbiolo and some semillon skins. It has nice herbal and redcurrant elements and a toasty bubble, making for fun and exciting drinking with some new season spring produce.

– Mark Williamson, wine buyer for Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up and the Builders Arms Hotel

Sutton Grange “Fairbank” 2015
rosé, Bendigo ($22)

Pale and savoury rosé is on everyone’s lips right now, and Sutton Grange’s Fairbank is a winner, year in, year out.  Crushed strawberry, pink grapefruit and watermelon fragrance, gently saline with slippery texture. Drink with friends – and with abandon.

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith 

Vinogradi Nuić, 2012 blatina, southern Herzegovina ($25)

An indigenous Balkan variety, this has loads of colour and plenty of slurpable plummy fruit. It is delivered in an unoaked style that is medium weight and vibrant. If you like joven-style tempranillo, this will suit you nicely.

– Liam O’Brien, head sommelier, Cutler & Co

Little Reddie, 2016 nebbiolo blend, Heathcote ($26)

A youthful nebbiolo is not always the most charming thing to drink, but this fleshy nebbiolo has a bit of help from a small amount of refosco and is really good drinking. Young winemaker Pat Underwood has got this wine well and truly on the fairway. Great with spring barbecues and – here’s a crazy idea – chilled a touch to enjoy as a little thirst quencher. 

– Mark Williamson, wine buyer for Cumulus Inc,
Cumulus Up and the Builders Arms Hotel

Eldorado Road “Comrade”, 2015
nero d’Avola, north-east Victoria ($35)

Nero d’Avola is a grape of many personas and many Australian examples are flippant, fleshy wines for early and plentiful drinking. The Eldorado Road team has crafted a more aspirational example of this new wave Australian variety, all dark bramble fruits and slinky tannins.

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith 

Domäne Krems, 2015 grüner veltliner, Niederösterreich, Austria ($25) 

This handy little grüner veltliner makes for great drinking in the sunshine and is a brilliant alternative to pinot gris. Hailing from Austria, it’s light and fragrant with some nice mid-palate weight that finishes dry and clean – perfect with grilled seafood and soft cheeses. Roll out the picnic rug and rip into a bottle.

– Mark Williamson, wine buyer for Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up and the Builders Arms Hotel

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 23, 2016 as "The best of spring 2016".

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