Ken Gargett’s top wine picks from Down Under

In our Australia special this month, Ken Gargett shares what he’s been drinking recently and couple of recommendations on new releases to try.

As with the rest of the world, the pandemic has meant many changes in the way critics Down Under are evaluating wines. Interstate visits to wineries and regions for tastings and new releases have been almost non-existent. Zoom meetings for local and offshore winemakers have filled the void (a wonderful presentation by David Guimaraens of Taylor’s Ports was a real highlight) and winemakers have been sending forth samples at a great rate.

Things are hopefully returning to normal, with a visit from the team at Shaw & Smith doing the rounds (where permitted) to release their latest single-vineyard wines from the Adelaide Hills and their Tolpuddle offerings (an event to which I was dreadfully late – eight foot of carpet python decided to move into the garage and needed relocating before I left home). Martin Shaw and David Lemire MW showed their latest and compared them to the original releases for each wine. Not a dud to be seen.

The 2018 Lenswood Chardonnay was young but showing so much potential. The 2019 Tolpuddle Chardonnay looked even more exciting. The pick of the reds for me was the 2018 Lenswood Pinot Noir.

Riesling lovers will be thrilled to learn that Neil Pike, the man behind so many great Clare Rieslings from the eponymous producer, has another hit, even though he retired last year. (It’s worth noting that Pikes have not missed a beat since he left.) His personal project, Limefinger, released its first, ‘The Learnings’ Watervale 2020, and it is a finely balanced, focused, leaner style of Riesling with citrus and steel.