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Wine

Discover our Top 12 Whites of 2017

In 2017, our Panel tasted and rated over 4,000 wines. The Best Wines of the Year is always a hotly contested list and this year was no exception.

From tried and true favourites like Howard Park Margaret River Chardonnay, to fabulous alternative varietals such as Fiano from Chalk Hill’s McLaren Vale vineyard, plus Trophy-winning Tahbilk Roussanne Marsanne Viognier, here (in no particular order) are the Top 12 Whites that really stood out from the crowd and wowed all of our Panellists.

View our Top 12 red wines here.

In Dreams Chardonnay 2015, Yarra Valley

In the glass: Pale lemon green. 
On the nose: Apple, grapefruit, oatmeal and almond aromas. 
On the palate: Fine and elegant and yet it has power and drive with a delicious core of white and yellow fruits. A savoury, almost salty layer adds complexity, velvety texture and racy acidity. 
RRP $23 or $19.55 per bottle in any dozen. 

Chalk Hill Fiano 2016, McLaren Vale

In the glass: Bright straw. 
On the nose: Opulent white fruit with honeydew, Tahitian lime and guava. 
On the palate: Remarkably bright and focussed core of juicy white fruits with satiny, delicate texture and length from start to finish and crunchy, almost salty acidity running to a thrilling finish. 
RRP $25 or $21.25 per bottle in any dozen.

Tahbilk Roussanne Marsanne Viognier 2015, Nagambie Lakes

In the glass: Pale lemon green.
On the nose: Stonefruit, florals, ginger. 
On the palate: A light to medium weight and fine wine with loads of stonefruit and citrus zest underpinned by zesty acidity, mouth-coating texture and good length. 
RRP $27.95 or $23.76 per bottle in any dozen. 

Long Rail Gully Riesling 2016, Canberra District 

In the glass: Bright pale yellow straw. 
On the nose: Lime zest and fresh herb.
On the palate: Delicate yet intense and flavoursome with strong citrussy varietals and notes of talc and mineral. Mouth-feel is supple and lightly creamy with vibrant acidity. A really classic Riesling with delicious purity.
RRP $22 or $18.70 per bottle in any dozen. 

Cape Barren Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Adelaide Hills 

In the glass: Vibrant pale lemon.  
On the nose: Lime juice, nettle, grapefruit, vanilla. 
On the palate: Stylish and intense lime, passionfruit and cut grass varietals, tempered by a light nutty layer with minerally acid dryness on the finish. 
RRP $19 or $16.15 per bottle in any dozen. 

De Iuliis Special Release Grenache Rosé 2017, Hilltops

In the glass: Very fine pink with green and copper flashes. 
On the nose: Hints of pink flower and Turkish Delight. 
On the palate: Elegant and savoury with juicy fruit and green olive-like astringency creating a dry finish. 
RRP $28 or $23.80 per bottle in any dozen.

Howard Park Chardonnay 2016, Margaret River/Great Southern

In the glass: Beautifully vibrant lemon with a green hue. 
On the nose: Delicate lime juice, light stonefruit, grapefruit and cedary oak. 
On the palate: Refined yet intense with juicy layers of stonefruit and citrus with creamy yet poised acidity.
RRP $54 or $45.90 per bottle in any dozen.

Tinklers Mount Bright Semillon 2017, Hunter Valley

In the glass: Pale lemon green. 
On the nose: Bright citrus, white melon, mineral and lanolin perfume. 
On the palate: Driven by beautiful tingling acidity, it’s deliciously layered with an amazingly vibrant fruit core and quinine-like texture.
RRP $22 or $18.70 per bottle in any dozen.

Heggies Vineyard Estate Chardonnay 2015, Eden Valley

In the glass: Pale lemon, green hue. 
On the nose: Fresh yellow fruit lift with spice and grilled nut complexity. 
On the palate: Slightly spicy and strongly varietal with nectarine, green melon and marzipan, subtle background vanillin oak, fresh leesy depth and ginger spice.  
RRP $30 or $25.50 per bottle in any dozen

Gatt High Eden Riesling 2011, Eden Valley

In the glass: Pale lemon straw.
On the nose: Still vibrant lemon and lime lift with very faint hints of kero development.
On the palate: Still so youthful, pristine and precise with a multi-layered, savoury and vibrant core of fruit and just the start of secondary development. 
RRP $40 or $25.50 per bottle in any dozen.

Umamu Sparkling Chardonnay 2005, Margaret River

In the glass: Youthful lemon straw. 
On the nose: Buttered toast, preserved lemon and background smokey notes.   
On the palate: Full-bodied, layered and rich yet still vibrant with a strong undercurrent of leesy depth under a butterscotch-like core of fruit.  
RRP $63 or $53.55 per bottle in any dozen.

Bunnamagoo Estate Kids Earth Fund Autumn Semillon 2013 (375ml), Mudgee

In the glass: Medium to full gold.
On the nose: Lifted toffee, butterscotch and crème brulee. 
On the palate: Luscious and viscous, with sweet layers of candied fruit complemented by bright lemony acidity. 
RRP $25 or $21.25 per bottle in any dozen. 

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Vine Change for the Good Life
Words by Jackie Macdonald on 27 Nov 2017
Ever dreamed of making a vine change? Meet some daring individuals who took a leap of faith to embrace the good life – vinous style. We’ve all been there. Visited a winery, wandered through the vines, dreaming of days spent pruning tips and tasting wines straight from the barrel. Of course, this romantic picture glosses over the constant stress of too much or not enough rain, grape-eating pests and the changing tastes of fickle consumers. But for a special selection of wine producers, the challenges were never too great. Their dream of a life on the land was enough motivation to pack in their career and take up the secateurs for a life dictated by vines, veraison and vats. For Todd and Jeff of Belford Block Eight in the Hunter Valley , it was love at first sight of their property’s driveway. As Jeff explains, “Todd and I turned off the car, listened to nature, admired the olives, turned to one another and said, ‘this is it.’” Jeff gave up his job in the finance department for CanTeen and Todd left Ebay, where he’d worked for 12 years in strategy, marketing and analysis. Neither knew anything about winemaking. But on their property were around 12,000 vines, so, as Todd describes, “Jeff and I tracked down a bottle of 2006 Brokenwood Block Eight Semillon, a single vineyard release made only using our grapes and it was truly remarkable. So, we thought, maybe there’s an opportunity to make some nice wine from these grapes, let’s give it a go!” And given it a go they certainly have with their first ever wine, the 2014 Reserve Semillon now an award-winner. It hasn’t been all plain sailing, though, and they’ve learnt some valuable lessons. Apart from the vagaries of harvest, the necessity of tractor headlights and that their deckchairs are just for show, they also know that un-neutered piglets turn into boisterous 150kg boars and goats can be as loyal as dogs. But regrets? “No bloody way, mate!” is Jeff’s answer, “One day we’ll sit on those deck chairs, sipping on a 20-year-old Block Eight, admiring what we’ve built.” Healthy vines
Back in 1997, while Jeff and Todd were still slogging away in the corporate world, over in South Australia’s Clare Valley, medical professional, Anura Nitchingham planted his first vineyard. He’d chosen Clare because, he says, “The region is really an unsung hero in the world of viticulture. It’s unique and has some really great producers in a very small, but beautiful region.” That first planting has grown into Claymore Wines , one of Australia’s most unique wine brands. While Anura hasn’t left his medical career, he says that winemaking provides something medicine can’t: “Vines don’t complain! And there’s wine!” The medical theme is also part of the story of Hobbs of Barossa Ranges . Allison Hobbs was a nurse and her husband was a former policeman turned firefighter when they bought their vineyard in the Barossa. Their decision to make a vine change was borne of a desire to provide a rural lifestyle for their children. Like Jeff and Todd, Allison and Greg knew very little about making wine, but the stars aligned, providing them with some strokes of good fortune in the early years. Foremost was they happened to buy the property next door to local winemaking expert, Chris Ringland, who provided invaluable advice and made their wines. While being a nurse, police officer or fire fighter might be worlds away from making wine, Allison and Greg feel they brought vital skills from those professions to their new endeavour. As Greg says, “attention to detail is very important to both nursing and winemaking”, and Allison adds, “the observation techniques you learn in nursing, the police and fire brigade are important as we wander through the vineyard and take note of what’s right and what’s not.” Livin’ in the 70s
Although Allison, Greg and Anura faced challenges in the mid-1990s, things were even more basic in the 1970s. Having left successful careers in the emerging computer industry, Linda and Ian Tyrer bought a property in WA’s Mount Barker region to establish Galafrey Wines . Again, they had no experience, but, as Linda describes, she arrived at their new home four months pregnant, armed with a few thousand grape cuttings – “naive but starry-eyed, full of enthusiasm.” A lack of money meant a lot of back-breaking work, but by 1985, they had won their first Trophy and Ian’s tireless dedication saw him awarded the George Mulgure Award for outstanding service to the industry in 2003. Unfortunately, the same year, Ian lost his battle with cancer. However, his legacy lives on with Linda still at the helm, along with daughter Kim, who left her own career as an artist to return to the vines. One thing all these people would agree on is that a life among the vines is a hard slog. But is it the good life? Absolutely!
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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