A Guide to Our Competition Wines - The Whites

For those who have been following our recent competition to win 26 bottles of hand-picked wines, you’ll know that I recently posted an article on the Sparkling Wines that were included in my selection.

And I’ve now put together an overview of the White Wines I chose, just to get you a bit more excited.

To find out more about the wines being given away in our competition - and which are valued at over $1100 - see the second of our 3-part series.


The Wine Guy


2014 Carmele Recas Feteasca Regala - Banat, Romania

The 2014 Carmele Recas Feteasca Regala from Romania is a great dry white wine that you could happily have on a warm day to refresh your palate. When I first smelled this wine it drew me in with its wonderful aromatics, and when I tasted the wine it all melded together with intense fruit, a soft spicy flavour, and great balance. 

Feteasca (Fete - Asca) Regala (Re - Gala) is an indigenous variety of Romania and is widely planted. The name means ‘royal young girl, and was first observed in the 1920’s in Transylvania. It’s believed that local nurserymen of the region developed it by crossing two other indigenous varieties.

The Recas Winery is situated in Banat region of Romania, where the first records of viticulture date back to the period of the Roman invasion of Dacia, in the first century AD. Earlier legends tell of the god of wine ‘Bacchus’ spending his childhood there. More recent history shows that the vineyards of Recas were already renowned by 1447 when the Lord of Severin, Mihail de Ciorna, purchased the vineyards in Recas for 32 Hungarian gold florins.

Today the winery controls over 600 hectares in the region.  The winery has been completely modernised over the past ten years, with an Aussie and a Spaniard heading the winemaking team.

The Carmele Recas Feteasca Regala is available for the extremely affordable price of $20.00 a bottle, and is worth a try for any lover of dry white wines.

2013 Marq Wines Wild & Worked Sauvignon Blanc Semillon - Margaret River, Western Australia

Due to growing up in the wine industry in Western Australia, I've spent a lot of years in the renowned wine country of Margaret River. And I really like the old-school Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon wines from there that had a bit of texture and complexity, as well as a bit of fullness to them.

However, at the same time you can see the nuances that Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon have in the Region when they’re young wines. This is Wild & Worked, as it's had wild yeast fermentation. Similar to back in the ‘old-school’ early 1990s, when Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon were the biggest-selling West Australian styles in the country. During that time they had a little bit more structure, a little bit more complexity, still had good fruit, and all the barrel fermentation gave it just a bit more mid-weight palate and richness.

This wine is very much in a similar style to the old-school flavour, and is well worth the $25.00 per bottle.

2010 Schloss Johannisberg Erstes Gewachs  Riesling Trocken – Rheingau, Germany

Schloss Johannisberg is the oldest Riesling Estate in the world, dating back more than 900 years. I fell in love with these guys when I visited them a few years back, and it was a special feeling to walk into the original cellar, containing Riesling that dates back to 1740. As you can imagine, being a wine lover and passionate about my industry it was a very emotional moment for me.

Interestingly, the biggest private buyer of these wines in Australia was the former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, who had a long history of enjoying this particular house.

This wine is their top dry or Trocken Riesling, what they call - in their terms - their ‘first growth’ Riesling. It comes from the oldest vineyard site at the Schloss Johannisberg castle, and is located on the top of the hill closest to the main building. All the vineyards are rated higher as they go further and further up the hill.

This wine is a very complex, beautifully-made an intense-flavoured Riesling from Germany. You can taste a little bit of that classic German sort of sweetness in it, but this is dry. And they age beautifully, as the sugar levels and acid levels complement each other perfectly as the wine ages to make them taste even better.

Ultimately it's just a very special wine to put into a pack like this, because most people wouldn't spend the money on these sorts of wines unless they really knew what they were buying. This wine costs an average of $145.00 per bottle.

2013 Domaine Des Vieux Pruniers Sancerre - Loire Valley, France

I’ve got to say, I love Sauvignon Blanc, even though a lot people are anti-Sauvignon Blanc because of what's happened with New Zealand. And to be honest, it’s probably the case that the New Zealand styles have changed a lot, and gotten a little bit simpler and probably more boring.  But Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, particularly Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, is certainly not boring. They're quite high in acid, and are a very lean and fresh savoury sauvignon blanc.

The Domaine Des Vieux Pruniers Sancerre is full of citrusy characters and smokiness from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. It’s also quite powerful, but may seem a little bit more elegant because of the style. And at the moment, this is one of my favourite wines to drink.

This wine is not cheap at $45.00 a bottle, especially compared with the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s, but they are so well made that I recommend you give it a try.

2012 Hutter Smaragd Gruner Veltliner Riparum – Wachau, Austria

Hutter Smaragd is a very well-known producer in Wachau, which is generally regarded as one of the top wine growing regions of Austria. Smaragd is a subregion of Wachau, and produces probably the most powerful Grüner Veltliner from Austria.

This is a single vineyard wine that is very high quality, lovely and fresh, and is slightly richer in taste than you might think. The Grüner in the wine provides spicy, fruit-driven flavours, and is not a wine that most people will have tried before. However, if you are familiar with Grüner Veltliner, then you will most likely have seen it on wine lists, but rarely will you find that they have originated from this region which is what makes this wine so special.

This wine generally retails for $40.00 a bottle.

2013 Con Un Par Albarino - Rias Baxias, Spain

The Con Un Par Albarino is produced by the Vicente Gandía Winery, a large producer that makes well-made, good value-for-money wines. People tend to say that this Albarino is Riesling-like, and I think this particular vintage - 2013 - embodies why people describe it this way.

The flavours of this wine are much more citric than most higher-priced Albarinos tend to be, and the flavours are quite rich and full-bodied. Additionally, the Con Un Par Albarino is crisp and fresh, and is a perfect accompaniment to a dish of seafood.

For an inexpensive wine of $20.00 a bottle, this is a really nice example of what a good value-for-money Albarino can taste like.

2013 Te Whare Ra Toru Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer  – Marlborough, New Zealand

This wine is a great New Zealand spin on an Alsatian white blend, as riesling, pinot gris and gewürztraminer grapes are blended quite commonly in the Alsatian region of France.

This wine combines the zing and acidity of Rieslings with the richness and aromatics of Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer wines. The final result is a lively white wine from Marlborough, and is one of our most popular wines that we sell.

By including this white wine in our competition prize, we’re taking the opportunity to show people that New Zealand can produce delicious wines other than Sauvignon Blanc, and as the climate suits these varieties well it’s likely these types of wines are going to increase in their popularity.

These bottles are generally around $26.00 a bottle, perfect to give as gift or keep all to yourself.

2014 Chartley Estate Pinot Gris – Tamar Valley, Tasmania

Chartley Estate is a great but small producer of wines in the Tamar Valley of Tasmania. I’ve found this wine to be a really nice take on the French style of Pinot Gris, as it’s quite rich and full-flavoured but bit a good amount of acidity and Pinot Gris characters.

Due to it being a small vineyard they only produce 2,000 cases of this wine a year, but for all that it’s still very affordable at $25.00 for a bottle.

2012 Woodlands Chloe Chardonnay – Margaret River, Western Australia

Woodlands is one of my favourite chardonnays, and the Chloe Chardonnay is generally regarded as their top chardonnay. And to be brutally honest with you, Woodlands is most likely regarded among the top producers of Chardonnay in Margaret River now.

This wine has the lean flavours of grapefruit and citrus that characterises a great chardonnay, but it also has a powerful flavour that has lifted it to the top of the Margaret River white wines.

And this house produces both whites and reds that are all well-made and great value wines. The Woodlands Chloe Chardonnay retails for $60.00 a bottle.

2012 Domaine Jean Marc Bernhard Mamborg Gewürztraminer Grand Cru

This wine blew me away last year when I first tried it. Made from a small producer in Mamborg, I stumbled across the Domaine Jean Marc Bernhard Mamborg Gewürztraminer Grand Cru when shared a bottle of this wine with some friends.

While it's an off-dry style, which means that it's got a little bit of sweetness, it has the most amazing, pure Gewürztraminer nuances, flavours and aromatics. This wine oozes spice, but it also has that sweetness and fruitiness flowing through each mouthful alongside an elegant and slightly acidic finishing taste.

Every time I've shown this to people, they've been absolutely blown away with the purity of the Gewürztraminer aromatics and flavours that this wine has, so I had to throw it in here for that reason alone.

It's probably one of my favourite white wines of the last 12 months, alongside the Cramele Recas, and Feteasca Regala.

The 2012 vintage of this wine costs around $60.00 a bottle.

2012 Granite Hills Chardonnay – Macedon, Victoria

The last of my white wine selection is a great little value-for-money Chardonnay from Macedon, Victoria, and is made more in a slightly older school method. It's got lean characters as well as toasty characters, so it's going to appeal to different tastes.

This chardonnay comes from Granite Hills, a small producer in Macedon. It's not cheap to grow fruit and produce wine up there in the Macedon Ranges, which is why this wine is considered a very good value-for-money wine at $26.00 a bottle.

Next week we will be adding a post about our competition red wines, so make sure to visit again!

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