Category: Stonking Wines

5 Good Bubbly’s for $15

5 Good Bubbly’s for $15

A Bubbly Sunday Experiment

I am not sure whether living on the same block as a bottle shop is a godsend or a problem. Either way, it makes a bad day a bit easier when you simply have to walk next door to make yourself feel better – albeit until tomorrow. Whilst we are lovers of fine wine, there is always those days when you just need a good drop of bubbly to put a little fizz back into your day.

So purely in the name of research, we toddled off next door and brought them out of bubbly, in order to give you the best 5 Bubbly’s for under $15. Paired with a nice Mezze plate, we sat on the balcony in the sun, enjoying a Sunday afternoon. Sometimes, the hard work just simply has to be done!

At $15 or less, all 5 of these lovely wines, will definitely cheer you up after a bad day at the office or make a Sunday afternoon with friends a bit of an occasion. Don’t get me wrong… I love the finer things in life! But sometimes the finer things don’t have to cost the earth. Let me prove it to you!

And while we did rate these bubbles from 1 to 5 (number 1 being our favourite of course!), do understand that there was half a point between each, so not a big difference in the love-factor overall.

Coming in at Number 5 is the Jacobs Creek Reserve Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2015. This beautiful and quite serious drop from a very affordable vineyard is a great “bad day wine”. It’s boldness lets you sink into it and relax after a hard day and would be great paired with some hot and spicy Thai food! This is a great Hump Day drop when you can’t be bothered to cook and get take-out and watch The Bachelor, laughing at all the silly girls!

Number 4 on our list is one of our all-time favourites! Henkell Trocken Sparkling Wine can be found in our fridge on any given day of the week and the lady at our local bottle shop even quietly lets us know when it’s going in special so we can buy up in bulk! Henkell is a zesty, fun, lively bubbly with an everlasting citrus flavour that is just too easy to drink! Really… A bloody nice wine!!!

Our Number 3 is one of the prettiest wines I have ever seen. The Yellowglen Vintage 2015 Bella Pink Moscato is decorated with beautiful packaging and makes it perfect for drinks with the girls on a Friday afternoon. This lovely wine is like a super-sweet nectar that tickles the end of your nose as you sip and is good old plain fun! If I have a night at home alone, you will find me on the couch with a bottle of Yellowglen Pink Moscato and a big bowl of vanilla ice cream with caramel topping. Paired with a great girly movie and Mr. George Clooney, it feels like a naughty night in. But don’t tell KAM!

Number 2 was a bit of a surprise package! Living with an Italian, I have enjoyed my fair-share of Prosecco’s, but the Porta Dante Prosecco in my opinion is one of the best (and one of the most inexpensive). This lovely wine is smooth, sophisticated, and gentle – just like a good Italian should be! I could easily sip a Sunday away with a bottle of this lovely bubbly with KAM. Although I do wonder…. Are two Italians too much to handle at the same time?!

And finally our favourite! As we were conducting this experiment we tried not to taint the results, however with a bottle of Bimbadgen Sparkling Semillon in the mix, it was hard not to be bias. The Bimbadgen Sparkling Semillon is pure sunshine in a glass and makes all your bad days disappear like the fizz that escapes from the bottle as you open it. This beautiful bubbly is summer at its best and showcases the Hunter Valley Semillon’s with class, style and grace. Happy songs start to play in my head as I sip a glass of this spectacular wine and I remember all of the beautiful meals KAM and I have shared with a bottle of Bimbadgen Sparkling Semillon on the side. This wine is simply the best money can buy at around $15 and in my opinion is worth much more – but don’t tell Bimbadgen I said that or they might up the price!

So there you have it! This list proves that for under $15 you can enjoy a little luxury at any time of the week without breaking the budget! But don’t take our word for it… Try them for yourselves. After all, life would be boring without a little experimentation, right?!

Hungerford Hill Wines

Hungerford Hill Wines

Fun flirtation or mortal sin?

If I was a wine, I would be a bubbly, full of fun flavours and a little bit of zest. If KAM were a bubbly, he would be a dark, brooding red, full of reliability and strong flavours – the kind of wine you want to snuggle up with on the couch in front of a fireplace in winter.

I guess that’s why when it comes to Bubbles, we happen to class the sparkling range of Hungerford Hill Winery one of the best. With only 2 bubbly’s, their range might not be large, but why do a lot of something, when you have reached perfection in just 2 bottles?!

The white variety is a Sparkling Chardonnay Pino Noir called the “Dalliance”. When looking up the dictionary, Dalliance is defined as a fun flirtation toying with the idea of procrastination. I can’t find a better reason to procrastinate than sitting with a beautiful bottle of Dalliance and a good meal, not wanting either of them to end. The Dalliance has won countless awards and at around $45 a bottle rivals any of the more expensive French bubbles on the market. This is a light, bright wine, with an exuberance that twinkles in the glass as your pour it. Perfect for a hot Summer afternoon in the sun with good friends – although you may find yourself not wanting to share!

In total complete contrast, is the NV Cardinal Sparkling Shiraz. If ever it was worth committing a mortal sin for all the right reasons – this is it! This is not a wine to be taken lightly, and as the name suggests, “The Cardinal” is in my opinion, paramount in a region with a number of comparative wines. This wine is sacred and should be saved for moments of utmost importance. Perfect for Christmas lunch, the spices in this wine go perfectly with a roast dinner or pudding afterwards. At around $30 you will definitely not be disappointed when you open a bottle of this!

So whether you are a bright white or a dark red drinker, I suggest you try both of these beautiful wines from Hungerford Hill. Even if you thought you knew what you liked – these bubbles will change your thinking. If the definition of Dalliance is to ‘hesitate’ and the definition of committing a Mortal Sin is to ‘deprive your soul’, why do either when Hungerford Hill bubbly range can give you the kick-start you need!

Hungerford Hill Wines

Hungerford Hill Wines
2450 Broke Road,
Pokolbin NSW

McWilliams Winery, Hunter Valley

McWilliams Winery, Hunter Valley

McWilliams is more than pleasant!

There are many good wines coming out of the Hunter Valley region these days. However, none are more quintessentially Hunter than an aged McWilliams Semillon. The vineyard itself, founded in 1921 by the late and great Maurice O’Shea, McWilliams is one of Australia’s largest owned family wine companies.

I know KAM and I will disagree on this, but when it comes to Semillon, McWilliams do it the best. I have been collecting these wines for years, and if stored correctly, they just get better and better with age. The Lovedale is one of their flagship Semillons and with grapes coming from vines planted in 1946; this Semillon definitely packs a good punch. It’s won a thousand awards too, so I know it’s not just me who loves it.

In my opinion though, my favourite of all time is the Elizabeth. Whether you go a bottle of the Cellar Aged or something more recent, this wine bursts full of flavours and includes hints of green apple and lime. Best served super cold, this beautiful wine will compliment any meal. If you look at my collection or in my fridge chilling, you will see many of these beautiful Semillons on any given day of the week. Some of the vintages we have shared such as 2002, 2006 and 2007 have made for an epic experience. When you pour a glass and the deep honey colour sits in the glass like a nectar from the gods you cant help but enjoy!

Some more recent additions to their wine list and my collection are the Singing in the Rain and B-Side ranges. With fun flavours and pretty labels, any dinner party guests will be happy if this on the table when they arrive.

If you are a red drinker, and a fan of big bold reds that are full of winter flavours, you cannot skip this vineyard! My two favourites are the Philip and the Old Paddock and Old Hill Shiraz. They are richly intense and full of distinction and definitely the sign of a red drinker who knows what they are talking about!

If you do visit the vineyard, take your time at the cellar door and chat to the guys who have been serving here forever. They know their vintage McWilliams wines and are happy to share their knowledge or chat to you about previous years you might still have within your collection. You see their eyes light up at the mention of an old vintage, that they know is good and are wondering how it still in the bottle un-drunk, and almost invite themselves to your home to share it.

If you have the time, while away the afternoon here. Don’t bother to rush anywhere else.

Mount Pleasant Wines
401 Marrowbone Road
Pokolbin NSW 2320
Phone: (02) 4998 7505

A Slow Dark Horse

A Slow Dark Horse

A little way out of the way and nestled into a hill with a fantastic view that the Hunter is famous for, is the cutest and most welcoming cellar door you will find in the Hunter Valley. Ballabourneen, is a family run business and although this is a pop-up originating from their recently opened vineyard cellar door, you can’t ask for more. 

Paul greets us at the front door, drilling some holes into a barrel in order to extend their deck furniture. He offers us to come inside, which is a welcome relief from the heat of the day and rather than putting a list in front of us, asks us what kind of wines we enjoy.  

Ballabourneen is a family run business and the Wine Maker Director, Daniel Binet, makes a large range of wines that will suit any taste. The new trend in the Hunter at the moment is to charge people for a wine tasting experience (fair enough if you ask me) – but not at Ballabourneen. Paul simply asks you to make yourself comfortable and enjoy, plonking a selection of bottles on the counter and starts pouring from the top of their driest of whites to the darkest of red wines that leave you wanting more.  

This is not a place to simply come if you are in a hurry or just want to down a few tastings in order to get your buzz on. This is a place you are going to want to take your time. Listen, learn and I guarantee you will enjoy the experience if you afford them the time – no different than they offer you. Nothing is rushed here, so neither should you. 

Ballabourneen and Domain de Binet offers up some serious wines. For such a little vineyard they have a range of 15 wines that will play with your taste buds and surprise you from what you thought knew about wine. For a fun afternoon in the sun, or a beautiful gift for someone you love, you simply cannot go past their Ballabourneen NV Moscato ($26). The packaging of this wine, is as sweet as it tastes and is simply the prettiest wine I have tasted in a long time. 

The Ballabourneen 2013 Traminer is an awesome drop! (At approx. $26) this wine can be enjoyed with or without food and is just simply fun for your mouth. This wine reminds me of Hunter Valley Traminer’s of times gone by. 20 years ago the Hunter used to make beautiful fun wines such as this, and it’s like Ballabourneen are reminding the Hunter not to be so serious all the time. 

We are a little obsessed with the Domaine De Binet 2013 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. Meant for summer days and light lunches, this wine has been carefully barrel-fermented to give you bucket-loads of tropical fruits. 


However, if you are wanting to get serious, you simply cannot leave without a bottle of one of the best reds currently on offer on the Hunter Region. La Mere 2013 Shiraz ($50) is “the mother” of all Reds and if consider yourself a Red drinker, you will not be disappointed. Don’t be fooled though, this is not a light, easy-downing red for a casual dinner. This is serious stuff and is to be given as much respect as it deserves. Whist this might be one of the more expensive reds in the Hunter, it is worth every drop so open it and make it an occasion to be savoured and enjoyed slowly. This is not a ‘rushing through the city dinner wine’. This is a ‘romantic fireside kiss me!’ Wine. Get the picture?! 

The beautiful Hunter Regions is awash now of exciting little vineyards that often get overlooked by the big tour companies. Walking to all the bigger names, you will be struggling for space and fighting for some attention. Not here! For a small fee they offer you a cheese platter with your tasting, so my suggestion is to take some time, sit on the romantic verandah and enjoy a lesson from a lesser-known, but none the less amazing vineyard. You will leave satisfied, content and definitely in love.  

James Halliday Wine Companion recently dubbed Ballabourneen a “Dark Horse” Winery to watch, and I have to say, I agree. Keep your eyes on this one – and don’t forget to leave some space in the boot of your car to take some home with you when you visit. We left with more cases than anywhere else in the Hunter and it was worth having to re-organise luggage in order to fit it in.  After a hard day, relive the moment and create some more memories thanks to the romance of these lovely wines.

1039 McDonalds Road, Pokolbin &
515 McDonald’s Road, Pokolbin
NSW 2320
(02) 4998 6505