Venture Down Under for some upfront wines. And while considering Australia's reds and whites, turn to New Zealand for some big flavors, too.
The 2010 Layers ($17) from Peter Lehmann is a lively Adelaide blend, with semillon, muscat, gewürztraminer, pinot gris and chardonnay contributing to a citrusy, fruity white. Also from Peter Lehmann is the bargain-priced 2009 Barossa Chardonnay ($12), a refreshing choice with a note of peach. Lehmann's 2009 Eden Valley Dry Riesling ($17) delivers the vibrancy of lime and some minerality in a tasty package that could age a few years.
Spirited, focused sauvignon blanc stands out. Leaders from New Zealand include the 2010 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc ($18) and the 2010 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc ($27), which are textbook fragrant, heady with citrus and tropical fruit.
Craggy Range stars with the 2010 Kidnappers Vineyard Hawke's Bay Chardonnay ($20), a juicy varietal that suggests lemon. The producer excels with the ripe 2009 Te Kahu Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Hawke's Bay ($22), mostly merlot, with some cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and malbec - a satisfying partner for red meat. And the winery ups the ante with the 2009 Te Muna Road Vineyard Martinborough Pinot Noir ($39), aromatic, plummy and lush, with a long finish; a match for salmon.
The sporty and medium-bodied 2007 Limestone Coast Shiraz ($15) and 2007 Limestone Coast Cabernet Merlot ($15) from Greg Norman Estates offer value and versatility. Cue burgers and pizza, skirt steak and barbecue.