Hobby horses, Austrian natives and the dangers of ride-on lawnmowers — don’t say you’ll never learn anything from a wine column ...

Two Paddocks Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014

Two Paddocks founder Sam Neill had some advice for prospective vineyard owners at the 2013 pinot noir conference: "Since you are approaching middle age, there are two inevitable things in your future. First, you will acquire a ride-on mower. Second, you will

have an enlarged prostate. The mower is more fun than the prostate, so make sure you buy a good one." His latest pinot is definitely more "boy band" than middle-aged though. Foppish in attitude, smooth and sexily fragrant with sweet, dried herbs and spicy notes and sinewy complexity on the finish; it's an eager-to-please star.

Price:

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Big Sky Martinborough Gruner Veltliner 2015

Big Sky craft some seriously good wines from Martin-borough's Te Muna terraces. This gruner is the newest addition to their portfolio, a white grape native to Austria, that they snaffled from neighbours Craggy Range. With soft, limey, toast, seashell and sake-like aromas followed by juicy white peach and pepper flavours, it's a highly fragrant and focused white.

Price:

$23

Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise Shiraz Cabernet Petit Verdot 2013
When the Melbourne Cup aired, the the Wirra Wirra crew would have pulled their collection of cut-out horses heads stuck on broomsticks and cantered them at full speed around the vineyard. It's tradition. However, when it comes to wine, all is serious. They've crafted an intensely fruity, plum and blackberry-laden beauty edged with seasoned leather and spice. Super-fresh acidity, tannins with great "chew" and a warm, smooth finish make this exceptional value for money.
Price: $18