I’ve been a fan of Australian wines for many years. They offer everything one could ask of wines in terms of quality and character across a broad range of prices. Plus many Aussie wines have clever, often unusual names that grab your attention, which should be no surprise given the nature of Aussie slang such as barbie (barbecue grill), brekkie (breakfast) and my favorite: bush telly (campfire). More and more wineries from other countries are using unusual, sometimes clever names for their wines, but this column features the county where it began.

Wirra Wirra 2018 Sauvignon Blanc “Scrubby Rise, Adelaide” ($16): Both the double name of the winery and the name of the vineyard, Scrubby Rise, make me smile. The wine does too with character on the palate along with good strength, fruit, balance and especially length. And as Aussies would say, pairs well with chook and vedgies (chicken and vegetables). Available online.

Davey & Browne 2016 red blend “Vortex, McLaren Vale” ($17): “Vortex” may be ideal for Sedona, but is a fine bargain anywhere. The blend is mostly Cabernet, but a bit of Tempranillo gives it character. Very strong on the palate with full body, expressive fruit, honed balance and long length. Too bad you can’t enjoy it in a Maccas (McDonalds).

Hope Estate 2015 Shiraz “The Ripper, Western Australia” ($18): “Ripper” means great or fantastic, and this wine is ripped with forward fruit, pleasing complexity, fullish body and impressive length for the price. Reportedly age-worthy for a decade, which is a bit of a surprise for its price, so bog in (enjoy it).

Vinaceous 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon “Raconteur, Margaret River, Western Australia” ($18): A raconteur is a storyteller skilled in anecdotes and wit, and this wine comes from vines in Wilyabrup which strikes me as expressing both. It is robust on the palate with a personality featuring fruit, attractive balance, complexity, appealing integration and lingering length. Give it a burl (try it).

Two Hands 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon “Sexy Beast, McLaren Vale” ($30): Well, that name is blunt, and the wine is forward as well, with excellent color depth and an engaging nose. Strength on the palate is accompanied by full body, strong fruit, medium-soft tannins, long length and much more. Pair it with dog’s eye (meat pie) or mystery bags (sausages).

Two Hands 2018 Shiraz “Angels’ Share, McLaren Vale” ($30): The small portion of wine that evaporates while maturing in oak barrels is considered the “angels’ share” -- their repayment for watching over the wine. The angels did well here, with attractive purple hue, expressive nose, rounded body, pleasing balance, and more… all for lingering length. Enjoy it with chokkie (chocolate).

Two Hands 2018 Shiraz “Gnarly Dudes, Barossa Valley” ($30): “Gnarly” describes stocky, twisted grape vines as well as the personality of some people. Gnarliness increases with age (in vines and people) and is expressed as complexity (also in both). This Shiraz has that complexity on both on nose and palate, along with excellent fruit, good balance, smooth integration, strong personality and elongated finish. Sure to make you wobbly (enthused).

Mollydooker 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon “Gigglepot, South Australia” ($55): This Mollydooker (“left handed” in Aussie speak) is exceptionally pleasing on nose and palate with power, beautiful fruit, engaging complexity, fine balance, personality and impressive length. CEO/winemaker Sarah Marquis named the wine “Gigglepot” after her daughter as an ankle biter (small child).

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John Vankat’s Pine Wine appears most months and his Wine Pick of the Week is published every Wednesday. Wines can be ordered from local wine stores unless indicated otherwise. Prices may differ. John can be reached at azpinewine@yahoo.com.


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