Plus & Minus zero alcohol; 2018 shiraz; $14.95.
DryJuly just got a lot more interesting with the discovery of Plus & Minus wines. Many alcohol-free wines I've sampled struggle to have more substance than cordial, but this shiraz might be the go-to red even when the month is over. The fruit is sourced from vineyards in Langhorne Creek, South Australia, and the difference here is that grape skin extract is added during the process, returning those rich anti-oxidants. The result is a wine with substance, notes of black fruits, chocolate and vanilla. It makes for very easy drinking, and very easy morning afters. Plus & Minus also do a pinot noir, a pinot grigio, a rose and a blanc de blanc. I have ordered a mixed case.
East Point; Stone & Wood; Byron Bay; 2.7%; $4.50.
Dry July is a teetotaler psyop. Well-meaning and for a good cause, no doubt, but I don't need to quit drinking alcohol to support people affected by cancer. My grandfather, for instance, appreciated every single beer I bought and shared with him while he was suffering from inoperable bowel cancer. A cold beer can be a welcome salve against the absolutism inherent to life's inexorable trade-off. Drink less, enjoy more, is a heuristic I endorse. Stone & Wood's East Point is a belter of a refresher, coming in at a measly 2.7%, which makes it perfect thirst-crushing material for a mindful mid-week drink in July (or otherwise). Hazy, pale gold, soft citrus lemony hops with mildly briny flavours. Kinda like a gose. Drink less, enjoy more.
d'Arenberg 2017 The Laughing Magpie Shiraz-Viognier; $30
The famed red wines of France's Bordeaux Region are invariably blends but can only be from six grape varieties - cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, malbec and carmenere. There are no such limits on Australian winemakers, who are free to be adventurous in their blending. Here's one from McLaren Vale that has a 4% dose of the white viognier variety with the dominant 96% shiraz. With 14% alcohol, it is bright purple in the glass and fruitcake scented. The front palate shows vibrant cassis flavour, the middle palate Satsuma plum, mulberry, spice and savoury oak and a finish of ferric tannins. At darenberg.com.au, the McLaren Vale cellar door and bottle shops. Team with chorizo sausages and cellar five years.
Taltarni 2020 Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon; $26
HERE'S a rare combination of 64% from the Italian origin sangiovese grape and 36% cabernet sauvignon. With 13.5% alcohol, this good-value blend from Victoria's Pyrenees Region has ruby hues, berry pastille aromas and frisky plum front-palate flavour. Morello cherry, Turkish delight, peppermint and mocha oak meld on the middle and chalky tannins play at the finish. It's at taltarni.com.au and the Taltarni Road, Moonambel, cellar door and wine stores. Good with linguine and cellar five years. With the Tasmanian Clover Hill brand, Clos du Val in California's Napa Valley and the Domaine de Nizas in Languedoc France, Taltarni is part of wine empire established by millionaire American businessman, philanthropist and art collector John Goelet.