Soumah Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2013 $33-$35
The Butcher family owns vineyards in the Gruyere-Coldstream sub-region of the Yarra Valley and created the acronym Soumah (south of the Maroondah Highway) as its brand name. Wines released under this label include Savarro (savagnin blanc), pinot noir, pinot grigio and shiraz. Even in the warmer 2013 season Soumah sits at the delicate end of the chardonnay spectrum, weighing in at just 12.7 per cent alcohol. Although delicate and zinging with fresh acidity, the wine offers deep, rich, fine flavours, combining grapefruit- and melon-like varietal flavour with the more exotic characters derived from fermentation with wild yeasts in oak barrels.
Grant Burge Barossa Valley Miamba Shiraz 2012 $19-$28
Revamped packaging gives Grant Burge's Miamba shiraz a reassuringly smart appearance. And the good looks go all the way through. Burge sources grapes from his Miamba vineyard at the southern, cooler end of the Barossa, near the town of Lyndoch. And while it's hard to say whether nature or humans shape the wine most, this is clearly an elegant, refined expression of ripe and generous Barossa shiraz. We'd probably rate it 50:50 nature and nurture. Whatever the defining forces, however, this is absolutely delicious drinking and especially good value when on special.
De Bortoli Bella Riva King Valley Sangiovese $16-$19
De Bortoli's sangiovese comes from their Bella Riva vineyard, planted in Victoria's King Valley in 1994. It was an exciting time down there as new money flowed to the valley, funding vineyards alongside those of other long-established Italian families – some making the transition from tobacco to grape growing. Twenty years on De Bortoli's sangiovese vines produce an excellent red, very much in the bright, fresh and fruity modern Australian style. However, the Italian accent comes, not so much from the makers, as from the deep, varietal savouriness washing under the fruit – and, of course, the variety's signature persistent, tannic grip.