best buys

$30 & under

2015 Hesketh Small Parcels Negroamaro, Barossa Valley, A$25

Of all the central and southern Italian red varieties planted in Australia over the last decade – nero d’avola, aglianico, sagrantino, et al – the one I find most perplexing is negroamaro. Originally from Puglia – the hot heel of Italy – you’d think it’d be at home in our warmer regions, but quite a few of the local wines have been disappointing. Not this one, though. This one’s a cracker: wild, spicy aromas lead onto juicy blackberry fruit and delicious bittersweet cocoa tannins.  MA

2014 Eldorado Road Quasimodo Shiraz Durif Nero d’Avola, Glenrowan, A$28

This is an unusual blend from a lesser known wine region, but the red grape varieties, climate, and hands-off winemaking conspire to make a meaty, savoury red wine of vitality and high drinkability. It smells of fresh-turned earth, Chinese five spice, dark berries on briar. The palate is soft but trimmed with fine, powdery tannins, and the finish is chalky and fresh at once. It’s drinking superbly now, but there’s another decade in it, for those with an inclination to cellar.  MB

2014 Ulithorne Dona GSM, McLaren Vale, A$27/NZ$27

Rose Kentish is really hitting her stride with her Dona range. For lovers of energetic, mid-weight yet deep, flavoursome wines, this is indeed a vinous present. A tad nimbler than the benchmark 2013 vintage, the 2014 is a blend of 60 per cent grenache, 30 per cent shiraz, with the balance mourvèdre. Lifted aromas of red cherries and currants vie with fresh thyme and wild rosemary. The palate sees red fruits, oh so subtle tannins and a refreshing acidity to buoy the finish.  PB

2015 Ata Rangi Petrie Chardonnay, Martinborough, A$28

Ata Rangi’s second tier chardonnay impresses me more than a great deal of first division wines at higher prices. Tight, elegant wine with mineral/matchstick, grapefruit and nutty yeast lees characters. Subtle wine with impressive underlying power. Moderately concentrated with potential for bottle development although deliciously drinkable now.  BC

2016 Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown Prêt-À-Rosé, Beechworth, A$27

This is my idea of a great Australian rosé: subtle but intense, complex yet refreshing with a pale salmon pink hue in the Provençal style. It’s made from 80 per cent sangiovese and 20 per cent pinot noir by an exciting new husband-wife team in Beechworth. The savoury, smoky charcuterie bouquet has some barrel fermented notes. There’s a touch of richness yet it’s light on its feet, refreshing and dry on the aftertaste. Its multiple layers will sustain your interest to the last drop. HH

2015 Frankland Estate Shiraz, Frankland River, A$27

A splash of viognier adds spice and texture to this Rhône-inspired shiraz. Its floral bouquet of cassis, mulberries, blackberries and cedar/chocolate oak overlies a faint meatiness and a whiff of black pepper. Medium-bodied, with a rich core of spicy black, red and blue berries and cherry-like fruit, it moves down a firmish and drying spine of loose-knit tannins towards a meaty, savoury finish of lively acidity.  JO