Easy Drinking with Nick Stock

Discover the wines to seek out in the cooler months 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 opened McLaren Vale’s hottest new beachfront bar and restaurant the Silver Sands Beach Club in 2022. Read more of Nick Stock’s work over at nickstock.com.au.

As much as I love summer and the beach and grilling outdoors, the swing to cooler weather and the quest for warmth and comfort means that red wine season is upon us and this is a moment every year that I enjoy so much. Not that I stop drinking reds through summer, they still have their place, but the richer and more full-bodied wines really do get rested. Their time is now!

Much more than a simple colour change, the wines I seek out in cooler months are actually wines with richer textural qualities. Texture in wine is a kind of x-factor characteristic, the thing that many people don’t often talk about but always enjoy, it is the key to making these bolder wine styles so delicious and something that winemakers really focus on.

With lighter styles, in particularly fresh summer whites, sheer refreshment and vibrant fruit characters take centre stage and are rightly celebrated. And whilst we celebrate fruit aromas and flavours with richer wines it is their textural complexity and shape that really set them apart. We talk of things like smoothness, velvety texture, plush fruit and luxurious mouthfeel, descriptions you don’t hear whilst delving into the esky on the beach.

Fuller-bodied red wines are the bread and butter of many South Australian wine regions and so wines from the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Clare naturally come into their own in these months.

It’s a whole different approach and one that naturally feeds into the way we eat as the seasons shift. We cook differently, we layer dishes and cook things for longer and more slowly, adding textural richness, harmony and depth. And these are the hallmarks of bolder wintry wines, they comfort us and marry seamlessly with the way we feast through the cooler months.

Fuller-bodied red wines are the bread and butter of many South Australian wine regions and so wines from the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Clare naturally come into their own in these months. Look also to the cooler regions like Adelaide Hills and Coonawarra, as these produce wines with intensity but a more elegant shape, exemplified by the Murdoch Hill Landau Syrah I’ve included here.

And the good news is that some of our best producers are adept at making white wines that exude textural appeal that are also perfect for the cooler months. Yalumba has long promoted viognier as a white that can deliver so much interest and complexity and their top-tier bottling The Virgilius is in career best form in vintage 2020. 

McLaren Vale’s Yangarra elevates the white grapes of France’s Southern Rhône to heights seen in only a handful of wines the world over in a wine called Ovitelli Blanc and their 2021 is a must-try white to add to your list. It is fermented in ceramic egg-shaped vessels and these add layers of textural interest that are so luxuriously delicious.

I also tend to reach for some of my best bottles when red wine season opens, so this issue I’ve selected some of South Australia’s most respected names and most sought after wines. Some you will know, some maybe not, but rest assured these are all exceptional bottles.

See you at the beach!

Have a glass of…

Gentle Folk Pinot Noir Village 2022

I just had to include this wine as it is an absolute gem. Gentle Folk is a small family operation in the Adelaide Hills and it has seemingly mastered the art of making great pinot noir in this 2022 vintage. Cherry-flavoured velvet is the best way to describe this wine, so smooth and alluring, this is one of the best young examples of pinot noir South Australia has ever produced. A must-try wine!


The Willows Vineyard Shiraz Bonesetter 2019

This is a big, bold expression of Barossa shiraz that has so much on offer now, it is also a sure bet in the cellar for a decade or more. Think liquid Black Forest cake and you’re somewhere near the mark here, all packed with chocolate, red and dark berry fruits and a little edge of biscuit-like spice and chew. Fleshy yet assertive.


Murdoch Hill Syrah Landau 2021

Cooler climate shiraz like this moves into a very spicy mode with the ability to really captivate on smell alone. Here there’s black olive tapenade and dark woody spices like cardamon and clove as well as plenty of pepper. The palate has a glossy sheen to it, so packed with intense plum, dark berries and dark cherry fruits as well.


Henschke Shiraz Mount Edelstone 2018

This single vineyard in the Eden Valley is one of Henschke’s most prized pieces of dirt and the just-released 2018 edition is just superb. There’s a signature core of blackberry fruit here, tinged with sweetly fragrant spices and roasting herbs. So smoothly honed and richly textured, this is luxurious red wine at its very best.


Yalumba Viognier The Virgilius 2020

This is Yalumba’s top viognier wine and, in fact, their flagship white across their whole range. This 2020 vintage release is their best to date with stunning purity or apricot fruit, sweet florals, some spicy elements too. The palate is so smoothly rendered, it flows effortlessly and fills the mouth with ripe yet fresh stone fruit flavours. 


Yangarra Ovitelli Blanc 2021

This is a blended white that showcases plantings of seldom seen white grapes for Australian soils, but grapes that are staples of France’s Southern Rhône. Smooth yellow orchard fruits, gentle hints of spring flowers and a texture that is really quite unique. Fermentation in ceramic egg adds such textural interest here. 

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