Tasting Notes - Top 10 McLaren Vale wines under $20

Subscribe to VisitVineyards.com
Taste Food and Wine 2009 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer

Taste Food and Wine 2009 by Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer


Tyson Stelzer and Matthew Jukes from Taste Food and Wine 2009 deliver a mixed top 10, plus one, under $20 to get you started on a tasting tour of McLaren Vale.


Possums The Springs Unwooded Chardonnay    2008    $13.50       
A brand new name to the book and it’s nice to see an original Aussie name on a bottle of wine. However, it is not made from what it says on the label. We can assure you it is made from grapes. Although, having said that, there is an unmistakable tang to this unoaked Chardonnay that certainly snaps you to attention. A perfect food and wine match would be stunning goat’s cheese salad or really push the boat out and make some gougères – then wash these snazzy cheese puffs down with a glass of the possum.

Pertaringa Understudy McLaren Vale Cabernet Petit Verdot    
2006    $18.00   
This is the darkest Cabernet so far in our hall of greats, with a Petit Verdot element playing understudy to the Cabernet. We love the way that they work so well together, and this wine manages to retain the spice and fragrance of PV without attracting any of its unwanted brawn.

Willunga 100 Cabernet Shiraz     2006    $18.00
Most of the epic Cab Shiraz or Shiraz Cab wines in this book are noble, structured, thoughtful wines, built with an ‘architectural’ degree in intellectual winemaking rather than a sports degree in vanity body-building. Sometimes though we relax our strict palates and allow in a fleshier, flashier red to frolic with the serious lads. Willunga 100 is a huggable red with sweet, open, vibrant, punter-friendly flavours and this is a wine to be enjoyed fully when you are having a night off and you want to kick back and not have to be troubled with the complexities of life (and wine). We love it, and for the cost of a takeaway pizza you can have the perfect match for one as well.   

Coriole Nebbiolo Rosé   
  2008    $18.00
We like this wine because it’s off the wall and one of the least commercial styles in our book. They don’t even make rosé like this in Piedmont (the home of Nebbiolo) because the grape has such assertive tannins. But the team at Coriole has cunningly side-stepped the tannins, preserving the trademark sour cherry fruit of this variety and adding a ton of McLaren Vale spice and liquorice. This means that when you sniff this wine, you'll likely do what we did – look quizzically at each other, count to ten, and then, like Caesar, do a thumbs up or thumbs down. You're reading about it because we both did a thumbs up. Which way is yours pointing?

Chalk Hill Moscato
    2008    $18.00   
Jock Harvey’s lighter style (yes, he has one, believe it or not) is on display in this elegantly beautiful, grapey sparkler. One bottle per head is the minimum entry fee, and you’ll need more than that anyway because it disappears in milliseconds.   

Kangarilla Road Cabernet Sauvignon     2006    $19.00   
Kevin O'Brien manages to build a very deep bass drum footnote into his wines, which thumps away in the background. This gives his Cabernet drive and definition, allowing its fat black juicy jube fruit, plush liquorice and fine leaf flavours to dance along in time.

Aramis Vineyards Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon     2006    $19.00
Aramis won a gold medal in TGAR this year and it narrowly missed out on a trophy. This is sodding good wine, with firm tannins, rich black fruits, lots of flavour and texture. Very smartly packaged, too, it's a very serious McLaren Vale red at half the price that it should be! Don't muck around - buy it and let Aramis know that they've done good.

Kangarilla Road Sangiovese    2007    $20.00   
There are only a couple of Sangioveses that really work in Australia and this is one of the best. The Chianti grape often loads the palate with moisture-eliminating acidity, but this version is quite the opposite. The aroma alone makes your mouth water with its sour cherry, violet and blackberry leaf notes and the palate is perky, refreshing and not at all heavy. This makes it perfect for glugging at speed when you are on a mission, but classy enough to sip slowly with a very smart Italian feast.

Paxton Shiraz Rosé  
   2008    $20.00
This is a delicious rosé with pretty rose petal notes and juicy red cherry flavours, and there is some sweetness on the end which rounds it all out. A juicy but fresh style, serve it super-cold to ensure that the sweetness on the finish doesn’t stick out It’s luscious, like a punnet of red berries in summer.   

Kay Brothers Amery Vineyards McLaren Vale Moscato
    2008    $20.00   
You can still drink a large glass of one of the finest wines in this book with the confidence that you shouldn't be troubling the RBTs because this wine is a mere 5% in alcohol, making it ideal for lunch parties or early evening drinks. It's refreshing and playful, just like it says on the label. It tastes like the chunky bits in homemade apricot jam and it's extraordinary that the creators of one of the most revered Shirazes in Australia can also make a wine as serene and delicate as this jaw-dropping Moscato.    

Linda Domas Vis à Vis Viognier     2008    $20.00   
Linda keeps her head well below the parapet when in all honesty she should stand up occasionally and soak up the applause from her legions of adoring fans. There are few people who work as hard as this lass does, and her wines show every bit of her talent to perfection. Vis à Vis uses a slug of Chardonnay to lubricate the Viognier-missile-shaped palate and the result is an orange, lemon and apple salad of a wine that is as fit and nervy as it gets. This is artisan winemaking at a bargain price – sadly a rare breed these days.



Reproduced with permission. © Copyright Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer 2008

VisitVineyards.com Members can purchase Taste Food and Wine 2009 from our online partner Seekbooks at a 12.5% discount, postage and handling extra.



  • Fleurieu Peninsula (SA)
  • Fleurieu (including Kangaroo Island) (SA)
  • McLaren Vale (SA)
  • Mount Lofty Ranges (SA)

Our Recommendations

To see our recommendations, ratings and reviews you must be a logged-in subscriber.

To subscribe please enter your email address in the "Subscribe Now - it's Free" box on the right and click the "Join" button, or fill in this form >

June 30th, 2009
Subscribe today - it's free
Subscribe Button

Subscribe now - for news and reviews, our newsletter (optional), to join our forums, and more.

Enter your email address and click the Subscribe button. We respect your privacy.

Log in

Enter your username...

Enter your password...

Log In Button

Forgotten your password?


Kerry's corner - your free benefits
Premium listing