Easy Drinking with Nick Stock

Discover great wine choices for the entertainment season with FIFTY+SA Wine Writer, Nick Stock - one of Australia's most well-known wine critics.

Nick Stock is one of Australia’s most well-known and highly-regarded wine critics. He co-owns McLaren Vale’s favourite beach front bar and restaurant the Silver Sands Beach Club. Read more of Nick Stock’s work over at nickstock.com.au.

The flurry of new releases at this end of the calendar means there are so many great choices and, as the entertainment season warms up, I’ve grabbed a bunch of bottles that are going to set you up nicely for the fun end of the year.

The versatility and drinkable style of the best new wines we are seeing from South Australia’s cutting edge winemakers is hard to beat and there is seemingly no style they cannot master. These are exciting wines that are very cleverly executed.

I chaired the Clare Valley wine show judging panel in October this year and had a deep dive into a region that is doing brilliantly, making whites and reds that are always ready to drink, as well as worthy of some real estate in your cellar. The 2023 rieslings from Clare are drinkable on release, packed with fruit and quite fleshy. Pikes, Pauletts, Naked Run, Claymore and Jim Barry have all made top wines from this latest vintage.

Clare Valley reds are the big news of recent years though. Not to take anything away from the legendary rieslings, the reds have improved out of sight and are looking more polished and more refined, the best examples are glowing with vibrantly fresh and ripe fruit characters.

Jim Barry’s Cabernet Malbec The Farm 2021 took out the best wine of the whole show and is a great value red that is an each-way bet to drink now or to cellar. It embodies the sort of attractive mid-range power that is the envy of red winemakers the world over. It is effortlessly grand yet not over the top at any moment with depth of flavour and a refined feel. Do yourself and your friends a favour and pick up a half dozen before it sells out.

I’ve included the 2023 Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2023 in the mix here, a wine that really needs little introduction and certainly no help to sell but this is a strikingly fresh, elegant and distinctive vintage. It is hinged more to the sleek lime-edged citrus zone with fine and zingy acidity that makes it so handy as a fresh lunchtime accompaniment.

And whilst we are talking whites, the talented Mr. Hickey of Brash Higgins is really hitting full stride with another set of delicious spring releases. The wine I always run to is the chenin blanc which he abbreviates to CHN on the label and adorns it with a spray of fresh spring flowers. The wine is cleverly textural, super fresh and brings an innovative approach to make a really appealing white wine from a grape that is otherwise quite austere. Clever stuff.

Emerging winemaking talent Louis Schofield has done something similar with his Worlds Apart Syrah Into The Black 2023. This is a really young and vibrant syrah (shiraz) and draws on the fermentation of whole bunches of grapes to lighten the mouthfeel and release an explosive set of aromatic characters on the nose. The result is the kind of red that just feels so good to drink no matter what.

See you at the beach!


Have a glass of…

Worlds Apart Syrah Into The Black 2023

It is great to see a young and determined winemaker like Louis Schofield hit their straps and the confidence with which this wine has been delivered is really impressive. Plenty of attractively fragrant spice and a little pepper too, sappy blackberry and dark plum fruits abound. Whole bunches fermented so well. Smooth texture, very drinkable.

Pikes Riesling Traditionale 2023

Won the trophy for best riesling at this year’s Clare Valley Wine Show, it is one of the ultimate hero wines of the region that we can all enjoy regularly through the warmer months. The bright, fresh and zesty lime-focused fruits are delivered in such enjoyable style here. A perfect accompaniment for beautiful South Australian seafood.

Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2023

A cooler climate in a cooler year means this edition is a racy one on release and will build some flesh and texture as it settles in over summer. Bright lime citrus fruit takes the lead here and the fresh and zesty feel on the palate is very appealing. There’s a refinement and restraint to this one. Drink now.

Brash Higgins Chenin Blanc CHN 2022

Winemaker Brad Hickey has become well-known for this wine which has really captivating textural complexity whilst hitting a fresh, energetic style. He gives these fresh white grape flavour bombs a little skin contact and then ferments and ages the wine in barrel for a year. It is packed with fresh apple, flowers and lemon citrus.

Grant Nash Rosé 2023

A new brand that is playfully framed around the name of the grape that is on the lips of every switched on wine lover, grenache. This pale, textural, smooth and fresh rosé is a stunning drink for just about every occasion. In fact the only fault I can find is that the bottles seem to empty themselves way too quickly. Better buy a few of these.

Jim Barry Cabernet Malbec The Farm 2021

This blended red combination is arguably the greatest red style the Clare Valley region produces and has the backing of a superior vintage here. Rich fruit aromas and flavours in the blue, red and black berry zones sit bright throughout and the freshness makes this attractive now as well as a solid bet for cellaring. Trophy for best wine of the Clare Valley show this year. Top value too.





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