best buys

$20 & under

2016 Freeman Rondo Rosé, Hilltops, A$20

The rather gorgeously-named rondinella grape variety (it translates as “little swallow”) is originally from the Veneto region of Italy, where it usually finds its way into the red wines of Valpolicella, blended with other regional stalwarts, corvina and molinara. Here it sings a very pretty solo as a very pale, beautifully dry rosé: tangy and creamy thanks to lees-stirring in barrel. I’m not sure about the “little swallow” bit, though: I found myself taking huge gulps when I tried it.  MA

2016 Lino Ramble Ring O Rosie Nero d’Avola Pét Nat, McLaren Vale, A$18

Pétillant naturel, or ‘pét nat’ in more common language, is naturally sparkling wine that gets sent to bottle before it finishes ferment to create its bubbles there. This is a stellar example of the style. It’s vivacious with its frothy bead and vibrant in perfume of sweet spice, ripe strawberry, pickled cherries and fennel. The palate is gently sweet but finishes in a satisfying amaro bitterness that’s mouth-watering and refreshing at once. Kudos.  MB

2016 Yalumba The Y Series Riesling, Barossa, A$15

Riesling offers the best quality/value proposition in Australia with this a stellar example. In 2016, a warm spring and early summer were followed by mild conditions and timely rain with a critically wide diurnal temperature range that preserves riesling’s all-important acidity. It’s that lemon fresh acidity that drives the wine supported by intense apple and white stone-fruit flavours and an intriguing textural richness. Perfect with whiting fillets.  PB

2016 Church Road Pinot Gris, Hawkes Bay, NZ$20

A very typical Hawkes Bay pinot gris with a strong winemaker signature suggesting plenty of skin contact while retaining a reasonably silken texture. Lush, ripe wine with impressive weight and purity. A moderately sweet style that nicely balances sweetness with subtle drying tannins which help give the wine a spicy finish. An individual wine that makes a strong statement.  BC

2015 Ingram Road Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, A$20

This is the second label of Helen’s Hill winery, which is located on Ingram Road, Lilydale. The pinot and chardonnay are often outstanding value for money. The colour is a good depth and hue, and it has a sweetly ripe fragrance of red cherry and flowers, fairly straightforward but full of charm. There is good palate weight and depth, soft tannins in support and it is ready to enjoy immediately. Drink now to six years. Alcohol is moderate at 12.8 per cent.  HH

2015 Rochford Latitude Cabernet Merlot, Yarra Valley, A$20

A gentle, elegant young Bordeaux blend whose violet-like perfume of small black and red berries, restrained creamy oak and dusty herbal notes precedes a supple and faintly sappy palate of medium weight. Its charming length of flavour is supported by a dusty spine with just a little strength, finishing long and pristine with refreshing acidity.  JO