By Leigh O’Connor.
"Christmas is not as much about opening our presents, as opening our hearts.” – Janis Maeditere.
All we can do is dream of a white Christmas as we brace for the Summer heat wave that usually hits around the festive season - no chance of snowflakes, sleigh bells and reindeer for us come December 25.
What we really need is an icy cold glass of white wine to ease into party mode and prepare for an influx of family and friends, as celebrations rev up. Raise your glass and get ready to say cheers to five top drops of white to share, as we contemplate where the last 12 months disappeared to and what 2019 will bring.
The latest generation of the Chaffey family to ply their vinous trade in Australia, brothers-in-law Daniel Chaffey Hartwig and Theo Engela bring to the table Dufte Punkt (The Aromatic Point) Field Blend. Like the Barossa Valley itself, Chaffey Bros Wine Co is diverse in what it offers, working with primarily small-batch wines prioritising experimentation and quality.
This 2016 vintage is a blend of spicy Gewurztraminer, precise Riesling and textural Kerney, producing striking lychee and Turkish delight aromas, with a complex palate of mandarin, minerality and lingering puff of florals. Drink it immediately with a cheese platter or take it along chilled to your next banh mi picnic.
A family favourite and a great drop for any occasion, Gilbert Wines 2017 Riesling is a well-balanced wine that is crisp and dry with plenty of beautiful citrus fruits on the nose and palate. Nestled in the stunning Mount Barker region, Gilbert Wines is an idyllic spot for a long lunch, quick bite or lazy afternoon of wine and cheese.
The 2017 vintage continues the estate’s proud tradition of producing high quality Riesling – the small, but high quality fruit selection from the cool climate vineyard ensures a length of flavour; making it a great aperitif and ideally paired with seafood dishes, such as grilled calamari with chilli, lime and aioli as served at the winery café.
Enjoying temperate growing conditions from red, brown soil and sandy loam, Oliver’s Taranga vineyard nestled in the northern hills of beautiful McLaren Vale, is owned and operated by fifth and sixth generation descendants of the original landowners. The estate’s 2018 Vermentino is a light, fresh and crisp little number that will make you feel like an invigorating breeze is whipping through your hair.
A native of Italy, Vermentino is generating a lot of interest in the wine community due to its heat tolerance and ability to produce wines perfect for the Australian palate. This drop has a tight lemony acid palate, with fresh honey florals on the back end and a touch of fruit tingle on the finish; best complemented by anything fresh from the sea, or a spicy Vietnamese salad.
Chardonnay is the most widely planted white wine grape in the world and in the Yarra Valley, it’s classed as a premium variety. Our first drop is 2017 Mandala Yarra Valley Chardonnay, served at DiVino Ristorante at Mandala Wines in Dixons Creek, where guests can take in spectacular views over green vines and valley hills from the glasshouse dining area.
The typical cool climate in the valley balances out hot days with crisp nights, allowing the grapes to flourish and produce a fine acidic zest Chardonnay lovers crave. This 2017 vintage has fresh aromas of crisp lime, entwined with hints of cashew and brioche, while a creamy mid-palate sits well with citrus and subtle stone fruit flavours.
Best enjoyed shooting the breeze with loved ones, long lunches, catching up with friends, or as a midweek refresher, pair a glass with flame grilled lobster tails; or halloumi, mint and zucchini fritters with herbed aioli.
A visit to Montalto in Red Hill is never complete without a memorable meal at the award-winning restaurant and a glass of estate ‘The Eleven’ Chardonnay 2016. This single block wine is made from grapes harvested from eleven rows of Chardonnay on the vineyard’s north-facing slope and has a pale straw colour with green hues and hints of lemon, lime, tangerine and grapefruit.
Crème brulee and brioche aromas fuse with wafts of white floral and there is a subtle oak influence by way of roasted hazelnuts. A six-time gold medal winner at various awards around the country, the palate has a tight, fresh citrus focus, balanced with some white-flesh stone fruits, including nectarine.
For an ideal food match suggestion, try roasted spatchcock with rosemary and thyme; or perhaps king fish with burnt onion, fermented wheat and apple, from Mandala’s restaurant menu.