Down Under remains pretty much on top when it comes to producing tasty, good-value wines. A fine example is the Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 from the Clare Valley in South Australia.
Rich and juicy and full-bodied, this deeply coloured wine offers a range of dark fruits on the palate, lifted with hints of cedar, spice and vanilla. If you want a big red to stand up to a thick strip loin hot off the barbecue, this one’s ideal at $23.
A more affordable but also impressive cab is Argentina’s Don David Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ($17.25). Hailing from the Calchaqui Valley, this is a high-altitude wine notable for its concentration of flavours and aromas. Aged in new oak for a year, the Don David regales the palate with a well-balanced blend of blackberry, cherry and cassis, alongside notes of pepper and spice. Pairs nicely with beef, barbecued chicken or hard cheeses.
A much-loved niece was kind enough to tuck a Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay 2015 ($25) into my Christmas stocking this year and it went down a treat. This is a classically creamy, medium-bodied California Chardonnay that captures the sunny charm of Sonoma. Smooth and bordering on lush, its vanilla and tropical aromatics complement a palate of apple, pear, pineapple and spice that leads into a long, seductive finish. Great with seafood and chicken dishes.
And let’s head to Tuscany to savour the remarkable Altesino Rosso di Montalcino 2015 ($32). The Sangiovese grape is one of the glories of Italy, and the Rosso style – a.k.a. “baby Brunellos” – can be great value. The lighter-bodied and fruit-forward Altesino is a zesty blend of red and black fruits framed by dry tannins and a soft astringency. Strawberry and cherry flavours dominate, balanced by hints of pepper and chocolate. This is one of the best wines I’ve had in the last year.
(All prices include tax.)