A guide to the season’s top wines, from the experts at Cutler & Co, Supernormal, Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up, the Builders Arms Hotel and Meatsmith.
The best wine of spring 2017
CRFT Longview Vineyard, 2016 grüner veltliner, Adelaide Hills ($29)
Grüner veltliner has really burst onto the Australian scene, being planted in some of the cooler-climate regions in South Australia, Tasmania and around Canberra. I love this grüner for its bright aromatics of Granny Smith apples and key lime pie, and its perky acid structure that is really good with fresh seafood, cheese and olives. – Mark Williamson, wine buyer for Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up and the Builders Arms Hotel
Mount Trio, 2014 cabernet merlot, Great Southern, Western Australia ($17.50)
This medium-weight, classic claret-style blend with bright fruit expression and a hint of snappy tannin on the finish is just the sort of red to ease you out of winter. Mount Trio makes some incredible-value wines out of one of the most exciting regions in Australia. – Liam O’Brien, head sommelier, Cutler & Co
Nimbostratus, 2016 chardonnay, Whitlands, Victoria ($47)
This is a collaboration between super-smart and super-cool wine kids Dom Valentine and Clare Burder, and also with the vineyard, as this high-altitude site in the Whitlands area of the King Valley gives them pristine fruit to work with. There’s plenty of bony acidity but also lovely generous bits, too – green apple, cashew, toasty oak, blossom.
– Liam O’Brien, head sommelier, Cutler & Co
Gran Cerdo, 2015 tempranillo, Rioja, Spain ($23)
Featuring ripe red and dark fruits, this wine is plush but not cloying. It’s also a fascinating expression of what can be achieved using winery vessels other than oak – this is fermented in concrete and aged in stainless steel, which gives it a freshness and maturity all at once. – Liam O’Brien, head sommelier, Cutler & Co
Nick Spencer, 2017 rosé, Gundagai ($25)
The most delicate of blossom-pink, this starts out all pretty-and-candy-floss and morphs into creamily textured, red-apple-skin complexity. Hand-picked and wild fermented from (mostly) pinot noir grown in Gundagai’s volcanic soils, Nick Spencer has nailed the springtime brief. – Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith
Unico Zelo ‘Esoterico’, 2016 muscat blend, Riverland and Clare Valley ($19.50)
Muscat blend… Let me stop you there because this is unlike most muscats you have tasted. Extended skin contact with a pinch of riesling and a dash of fiano makes this wine exotic and textural. There is also loads of ginger spice, mandarin and white flowers, with a savoury finish from the skin contact. Basically sunshine in the glass, to be consumed with vigour and without fuss. – Mark Williamson, wine buyer for Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up and the Builders Arms Hotel
Jilly ‘Lone Ranger’, 2017 gewürztraminer, New England ($32)
This wine from New England in New South Wales is made with a hands-off approach but is considered, as the outcome is a wine with loads of personality and great interest. Florals, guava and green herbs are plentiful in this really decent medium-bodied white. Refreshing, delicious and interesting, it screams out for raw fish and sunshine. A nice example of minimal-intervention winemaking. – Mark Williamson, wine buyer for Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up and the Builders Arms Hotel
Hughes & Hughes, 2016 pinot noir, east coast Tasmania and D’Entrecasteaux Channel ($36)
Tassie is starting to ramp up with some great little labels doing really tasty things. This project from former Moorilla assistant winemaker John Hughes and his brother is one of those newcomers. Vibrant aromatics of earth, spice and dark berries jump out of the glass with great weight, power and finesse. This is not a mass-produced Tassie pinot but rather a concerted effort to make a wine of high drinkability and seriousness. – Mark Williamson, wine buyer for Cumulus Inc, Cumulus Up and the Builders Arms Hotel
Espelt ‘Mareny’, 2015 garnacha blanca/sauvignon blanc, Empordà, Spain ($27)
On spring days when the sun comes out, you should drink this. White grenache drives the story with pulpy, grapey citrus tang, and the sauvignon fills out the aromatics and gives crisp acidity. Espelt is an organic producer in an emerging region north-east of Barcelona. – Liam O’Brien, head sommelier, Cutler & Co
Verdier-Logel ‘Les Gourmets’, 2016 gamay, Côtes du Forez, Loire Valley ($28)
From the southernmost of the Loire Valley appellations, nestled in the Massif Central, this is the kind of slurpy red I want to drink all summer long. Featuring the purest of cherry fruit and wild raspberry, this finely textured wine is perfect for the table or the park. – Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith
By Farr ‘GC Cote Vineyard’, 2015 chardonnay, Geelong ($110)
Here’s a big call: I wonder if this is the best chardonnay I’ve tasted from Australia. The first release of the GC Cote Vineyard epitomises quality for me – it’s one of those wines with such complexity, density and concentration that it’s not about pinning fruit characters, just sitting back and letting the wine uncoil. Brilliant acidity is lithe on the palate; there’s incredible flow and form. Best or not, pour me another glass. – Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith
Delgado Zuleta ‘La Goya’ manzanilla, Jerez, Spain ($20)
Sunny days and a freshly cracked bottle of manzanilla. Those days are before us, folks. The driest and lightest of sherries, it features sublime saltiness and roasted almond kernel. Manzanilla might be perfect for the classic Ortiz and olives, but the undercurrent of yeasty umami that comes from six or seven years of ageing in barrel makes this deliciously versatile for a wide range of traditional Japanese flavours, too. – Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 30, 2017 as "The best of spring".
A free press is one you pay for. Now is the time to subscribe.
Letters & Editorial