With spring upon us and summer around the corner, David Pike guzzles a few new wines and gives us his report card.

THIS is a great time of year. Firstly because summer is knocking on the door and secondly because there is a guzzle of new wine vintages that need reporting on.

As we all know, wine is an agricultural product and it is important for this reason that I explore new vintages. While some consumer-friendly wine companies may make wine to a recipe, most don’t have these resources, and vintages can vary vastly from year to year. So I have studiously undertaken research into some recently released new vintages.

Here is a taste of some of the highlights that have passed over my palate in recent weeks.

Starve Dog Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2001 rrp $ 21.99 rating 17.5/20

Get on the dog and bone and order yourself some of this lively puppy. Adelaide Hills is presenting itself as “the place” to grow sauvignon blanc. This is sexy, savvy value and will have you on the look out for bigger wine glasses to ensure you get enough. Lively, herbaceous, grapefruit and guava aromas with a palate that is full of spunk. It is lively and has plenty of flavour and good length of palate.

Light up the barbecue, get you mates around to cook and settle into a few glasses of this.

‘Sticks’ Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2000 rrp $ 15.50 rating 16.5/20

Rob ‘Sticks’ Dolan has created a new range of very smartly packaged wines from the Yarra Valley. Former winemaker at Yarra Ridge, Sticks has created his own label with fruit coming from his partner’s premium vineyard sites in the Yarra Valley.

You will find a sauvignon blanc semillon, a chardonnay, a cabernet sauvignon and a pinot noir in the range, and if the chardonnay is anything to go by, then all wines will be worth seeking out.

The chardonnay has some hints of ripe melon and nectarine citrus aromas with a slight touch up from vanillin essence.

The palate shows ripe yet tight fruits, with apricots, peaches and citrus flavours with integrated acidity and a rounded creamy palate. This is really good value chardonnay.

Try with a smoked chicken dish or some pan-fried whiting.

Redbank Fighting Flat Shiraz 1999 rrp $ 19.90 rating 18/20

You will be fighting with your mates to ensure you get enough of this. Who said shiraz from the 1999 vintage wasn’t any good? This is a Norm Smith medallist, having the skills to keep any opponent at bay. It has fragrant and enticing aromas that display blackberry, damson and clove spice.

The palate is awash with ripe rich sweet fruits, and there are hints of licorice with almost raspberry-like fruits mid palate.

The savory fruit is seductive and shows a length of palate.

One will not be enough is the only warning I give.

Power up the barbecue and prepare some marinated beef kebabs.

Howard Park Riesling 2001 rrp $21.99 rating 18/20

This wine is built for the long haul, with real mouth-puckering acidity that dominates at this stage of this wine’s life. Don’t get me wrong, there is also plenty of fruit tucked up under a blanket of acidity that will, over time, pull back the covers and awaken the palate. Restrained perfumed bath salt citrus aromas wake you up before you tuck into a palate that, in its youthfulness, shows striking lime citrus and mineral flavours with enormous length of finish.

Half a dozen freshly

shucked oysters should

go down well with this.

Pikes Premio

Sangiovese 1999 rrp $21.99 rating 17.5/20

I have always been quite partial to the wines from Pikes, even trying to serve the wines at home under the guise of them being my home brew. This ’99 Premio Sangiovese has recently been released and I believe it is the best under this label to date. The 1998 was a damn good drink, but this ’99 has trumped it. You’ll find raspberry, cherry and chary oak aroams and, on the palate, great concentration of fruit and pronounced acidity entwined with the oak. The tannins are quite fine and it finishes with some persistence.

Plenty of life left in this but it is pretty smart as is.

Mop this up with a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise.

Evans and Tate Margaret River Classic 2001 rrp $19.75 rating 16/20

I will be the first to admit that this wine has not always done it for me.

However, this new vintage seems to have put a little more zing back into a wine that, in the past, has lacked a little spunk.

The fruit is vibrant and lively on the nose, with tropical fruits backed up with a touch of passionfruit.

The palate is where this wine impressed me, with plenty of the usual fruit weight but also an extra bit of zingy, zippy acidity and freshness. Don’t know if I am keen on the new power blue packaging though.

Don’t get to carried away matching this with your tucker, however it lends itself to a range of Asian dishes with some spice.

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