Food

A selection of the best drops to enjoy this summer.

Wines of summer

Bodega Lanzaga ‘LZ’, 2016 tempranillo, Rioja, Spain ($32)

Year in, year out, ‘LZ’ is a winner. In the wonderful Riojan vintage of 2016, there are few better red wines for summertime drinking. Wholly sourced from the village of Lanzaga, Telmo Rodríguez’s gateway tempranillo has bright red fruit, fennel and lavender, with the slinky tannins that are perfect for a feast of Boxing Day ham.

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith

Guímaro Joven, 2016 mencía, Ribeira Sacra, Spain ($37)

If you do need a red during the heat of summer, this is the one to drink. Mencía from the Ribeira Sacra is fine, juicy, with fleshy red fruits and a gentle herbal note that makes me think of barbecues with summer veg and herby lamb. Thirty minutes to an hour in the fridge before serving will make it even more refreshing.

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

Andrew Thomas, 2017 Broke-Fordwich semillon, Hunter Valley ($23)

Australia needs to drink more semillon, and this example from the western Hunter Valley is just the one to convert disbelievers. The red volcanic soils of the Broke-Fordwich subregion produce a slightly more voluptuous style, and the 2017 vintage adds an overlay of gently tropical fruit to go with the classic lemon/lemon zest/lemongrass.

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

La Prova ‘Bianco’, 2016 white blend, multi-regional South Australia ($19)

I’m still in the heights of a long love affair with this wine. On the surface it’s just a lovely, lovely drink – fruity, fresh, with a diverse spectrum of flavours and aromas – yet there’s just so much going on you'll want to spend more time with it to discover the complexity within.

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

Via Rotella, 2016 sangiovese, Tuscany, Italy ($18)

A bespoke project of the D’Anna family of Hoddles Creek fame, Via Rotella is a crunchy, cranberry-laden sangiovese, priced for everyday drinking. Recognisably Tuscan in the lick of dried herb and terracotta, it’s a great option for the summer table, served cool in the sunshine.

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith

Sinapius, 2006 Extra Brut blanc de blancs, Pipers Brook, Tasmania ($80)

This one’s a labour of love for owners Vaughn Dell and Linda Morice. With 10 years ageing on lees and just 1050 bottles produced, it is truly a special Australian sparkling. Dry, showing generosity in texture, it’s very much rooted in the citrus spectrum of flavour, with notes of almond and baked goods and a very long finish. Superb now, with a long life to come.

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

Best’s Great Western, 2013 sparkling shiraz, Great Western, Victoria ($30)

This is one of my Christmas Eve favourites. Due to my wife’s Estonian heritage, the night before Christmas we have black pudding, ham or roast pork, mustard, sauerkraut, cranberry sauce and rye bread. Family, that food and sparkling shiraz – it’s the Best’s.

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

Arras, 2007 Grand Vintage sparkling, Tasmania ($60)

The House of Arras is truly at the pinnacle of sparkling wine in Australia. Nothing contributes complexity quite like extended bottle ageing – this version of Grand Vintage sees at least eight years' ageing with the yeast lees. Grand Vintage has a precision and vitality that makes it the perfect choice as your first glass on Christmas morning.

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith

Deviation Road ‘Altair’ NV sparkling brut rosé, Adelaide Hills ($35)

It’s hard to choose a favourite from Kate Laurie’s Deviation Road sparkling wines. Altair’s cherry blossom and ripe strawberry fragrance and savoury nougat complexity is a treat – lively, elegant and immensely versatile with food.

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith

Crittenden Estate ‘Cri de Coeur’, 2013 savagnin sous voile, Mornington Peninsula ($80)

This is Mornington by way of the Jura. Biologically aged under a veil of sherry-style flor yeast, it is the benchmark for the style in Australia. Pure fruit, roasted almond and a lick of salt – it’s a wine just as perfect with the cheese course as it is with the wood-grilled prawns.

– Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith

Domaine Pélaquié ‘Lirac’, 2015 grenache-blend rosé, southern Rhône, France ($29)

A bigger style of rosé, deeper in colour, and definitely one to turn to when you feel like a red but it's way too hot. It's meaty and full on the palate and a fraction of the price of some of the big hitters of Bandol and Provence.

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

Forlong ‘80/20’, 2016 palomino blanco, Cádiz, Spain ($55)

Join the revolution! This is the work of two young, vital winemakers with a new view of a traditional region. Made with organically grown local varieties, raised without the use of any additives, it’s a skinsy, pithy, unfortified wine full of white peach, chamomile and sea spray.

–  Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Dec 23, 2017 as "The best of summer". Subscribe here.

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