Tuscany is a paradise with vines planted throughout its picturesque landscapes. While the wines from Chianti, Montalcino and Bolgheri can be superb, there are many other exceptional regional wines, particularly made with sangiovese.
2016 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy, A$72
A superb wine showing both great food concentration and dense structure to provide long ageing potential. Mid to deep ruby, with baked earth, wild thyme and rustic dark cherry fruits plus significant oak lifted by touches of tar and licorice. It is compact and muscular on the palate, with generous fruits that are beautifully complex and well matched to robust well-integrated tannins. Delicious now and over the next 15 years.
2018 Grattamacco Bolgheri Rosso, Tuscany, Italy, A$60
This blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and sangiovese is big and bold with layers of powerful and ripe cassis, gravel, and mountain herb aromatics, all of which are supported by balanced oak. It is dry, full-bodied and tannic, with rich, sweet fruits plus a savoury tarry twist. It is very youthful and needs time to settle but has the balance and structure to drink well for a decade or more.
2016 Castello di Farnetella Colli Senesi Chianti, Tuscany, Italy, A$35
A modern Chianti style made from a combination of sangiovese and merlot. The wine is ripe and open-knit with many layers including dark cherry, dried herbs and terracotta. It is then generous and fleshy on the palate, with bright acidity and fleshy tannins making for a crowd-pleasing style. It finishes with attractive balance and length.
2015 Col d'Orcia Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy, A$50
The town of Montalcino is home to many of the finest wines in Tuscany with the vineyards of Col d’Orcia cultivated according to biodynamic principles. This is a very impressive Rosso with powerful sweet raspberry, baked earth, spice and tobacco fruits. It is also dry and tannic but has the fruit to match, with significant length that will drink well over the next decade.
2017 Podere 414 Morellino di Scansano, Tuscany, Italy, A$49
Another interpretation of Tuscan sangiovese –known locally as Morellino – this blended with ciliegiolo, syrah, alicante and colorino. It is tangy, with dark cherry, dried herb and blackberry fruit. It is then bone dry, angular, tannic and traditional in a good way with complex tar and spice. Great personality and well suited to tomato-based dishes.
2016 San Felice Bolgheri Bell’Aja Cabernet Merlot, Tuscany, Italy, A$65
This cab merlot is crafted from vineyards overlooking the Tuscan coast and is a fleshy, ripe and full-flavoured red. There is a rich array of aromas, with blackberry, olive tapenade and dried herb fruits plus sweet oak. The palate is luscious and plush with supple tannins making for optimal drinking over the short to medium term.
2018 Tenuta La Chiusa, Bianco Elba, Tuscany, Italy, A$28
A unique and delicious blend of vermentino, procanico and anjonica, which is made on the island of Elba off the Tuscan coast. It is pale gold with exotic tropical and floral fruits lifted by gingernut complexity. It’s dry, mid-weight and textural on the palate, with citrus and pithy flavours plus a bitter almond twist that makes for a very food-friendly style.
2016 Castello di Albola Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy, A$26
A well-priced Chianti Classico that’s very pure and understated in a modern style. It shows bright cherry, dried herbs and salami complexity with oak very much in the background. It is then dry, fleshy and juicy on the palate with generous layers of herbal cherry fruit in an open-knit style with soft tannins and a lingering finish.
2018 Poliziano Colli Senesi Chianti, Tuscany, Italy, A$30
Colli Senesi is one of the better subregions of Chianti and includes the hallowed town of Montalcino. This is a pretty and well-pitched early drinking style – a classic pizza wine with its bright, youthful red cherry and herbal fruits plus an attractive baked earth edge. It’s mid-weight, crisp and supple with genuine Chianti character and a fine lingering finish.
2017 Sassoregale Maremma Toscana Sangiovese, Tuscany, Italy, A$19
This Maremma sangiovese is fantastic value. It’s immediately attractive and leaps out of the glass with black cherry, nutmeg, cedar and oak aromas. The fruit is bright, ripe and juicy on a mid-weight palate. There is also a fleshy mouthfeel and supple tannins that drive an elegant and long finish.
2018 Vagnoni Toscana Rosso, Tuscany, Italy, A$30
A more traditional, organically grown and hearty Tuscan style made from sangivoese blended with canaiolo, prugnolo and colorino. It’s elegant and bright, with sour cherry, earth and dried herb aromas in a youthful fruit-forward style. Dry, juicy, mid-weight and savoury, there are layers of generous fruit backed by food-friendly grainy tannins.
2015 Monte Antico, Tuscany, Italy, A$23 A sangiovese, merlot, cabernet sauvignon
blend that is a good example of the modern Tuscan style. It shows good colour and concentration, with red cherry, baked earth and old oak. It is then dry and mid-weight with dark olive and mulberry fruits on quite a fleshy palate with supple tannins. A great introduction to Tuscan reds.
Often looked to for red wines, Spain is home to many character-filled and food-friendly whites, largely made from indigenous grape varieties. From the godello and albariño of the north to verdejos, viura and palomino in the south, these wines are worth exploring.
2016 Rafael Palacios As Sortes Godello, Valdeorras, Spain, A$150
Hailing from Galicia, the As Sortes Valdeorras showcases the quality found in the best godello of northern Spain. Made from old vineyards, some over 70 years of age, it is pale golden and exotic, with pineapple, pear, and floral fruits plus a touch of spicy oak. It is then dry and full-bodied with fantastic drive of acidity that tightens up the palate toward a long, powerful and youthful finish. Delicious now and it will get better over time.
2018 Castro Martin Family Estate Sobre Lias Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain, A$42
Bottled unfiltered from fruit grown in the cool Val do Salnés subregion, this is a very rich and flavoursome style of Rias Baixas showing exotic pear and peach skin fruits. There are also floral touches and hints of spice with a slight saline edge. The palate is dry and quite full-bodied for this variety, with waves of generous fruit well matched to juicy acidity. There’s also leesy complexity that adds attractive savouriness.
2018 Celler del Roure Cullerot Verdil-PX-Merseguera, Valencia, Spain, A$38
A great example of a modern Spanish style. A blend of traditional and international grapes that, combined with ageing in amphora, adds layers. It’s savoury and reserved, with honey, lemon rind, pineapple and melon fruits. It’s then very dry and full-bodied with the amphora providing an almost saline edge. The palate is muscular, phenolic and robust, with layers of subtle fruit adding complexity over a lingering finish.
NV Delgado Zuleta, La Goya Manzanilla, Andalucia, Spain, A$25
The La Goya Manzanilla is always a standout in quality and value. It spends up to eight years under flor before bottling, far longer than the two-year minimum. The current bottling has classic and concentrated aromas of apple, almonds and chamomile. It is refreshing on the palate, thanks to an acid kick, but there is also some savoury, almost doughy, aromas plus a rounded texture thanks to extended ageing under flor.
2018 Conde de Valdemar Blanco, Rioja, Spain, A$17
An interesting and slightly unexpected style of unoaked white Rioja that is a blend of the traditional viura and verdejo with sauvignon blanc providing a modern edge. It is bright and fresh, simultaneously showing understated aromas of passionfruit, citrus and melon, plus an edge of hay. The palate is crisp and clean, again savoury and subtle making for a delicately flavoured and early drinking white wine.
2018 Pulpito Verdejo, Rueda, Spain, A$12
This verdejo (verdelho) is a delicious introduction to the whites of Central Spain. It is exotic with bright and youthful aromas of peach skin, flowers and spice, along with a slight savoury edge. On the palate it is medium weight, tart and juicy with quite concentrated fruit supported by some textural richness. It is a wine made to drink young and a great alternative to semillon or unoaked chardonnay.
Austria’s cool, continental climate is not only the perfect home for the local grüner veltliner and blaufränkisch grape varieties, but also riesling and other international grape varieties.
2017 FX Pichler Dürnsteiner Grüner Veltliner Smaragd, Wachau, Austria, A$75
The Pichler family have been farmers in the region for five generations, with the estate founded in 1971. This wine has superb purity and vitality of citrus, apple and spicy fruits. The palate is full-bodied and intense driven to a long finish by a crisp line of acidity.
2017 Weingut Moric Blaufränkisch, Burgenland, Austria, A$46
From one of the top Blaufränkisch winemakers in Austria comes this modern example, with brooding dark cherry, spice and cola fruits. The palate is fleshy but with characteristic varietal acidity and well-integrated chalky tannins. The wine is youthful with the balance and structure to drink well over a decade.
2017 Weingut Bernhard Ott Feuersbrunn Riesling, Wagram, Austria, A$40
Biodynamically grown, this is a big exotic riesling style of character and personality, with subtly aromatic peach, pear, lime and spicy fruits. The wine is then dry, crisp and full-flavoured, showcasing savoury earth, mineral and citrus flavours plus a touch of diesel – all of which drives a long, powerful and slightly phenolic finish. Delicious.
2018 Weingut Bründlmayer Terrassen Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria, A$40
From one of the top wineries in Kamptal comes this powerful and age-worthy style. It has a powerful core of highly detailed fruits – smoky pear, citrus lanolin and spice with a savoury, earthy edge. The palate is an explosion of fruit and acidity, all beautifully balanced, that drives a long, youthful, silky and pithy finish. Fantastic now but will improve.
2018 Weingut Ingrid Groiss Gemischter Satz, Niederosterreich, Austria, A$32
This field blend from a single vineyard is a fascinating take on the traditional Austrian style made from more than a dozen different grape varieties that are blended prior to ferment and aged on lees. It is immensely complex with honeydew, citrus, floral, lanolin and musk fruits. There is a lovely texture and richness to this dry wine on the palate, leading to a juicy and lingering finish.
2017 Rudi Rabl Spiegel Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria, A$28
Lightly golden coloured, this is an early drinking style of grüner veltliner already at its peak, with gentle aromatic pear, citrus and white pepper fruits. The palate is bright and clean showing a little exotic bottle age complexity plus some textural creaminess and finishes with moderate acidity.