Wine review — Helm, Gallagher & West Cape Howe

Helm Classic Dry Riesling 2006 $25 & Premium Riesling 2006 $39
Ken Helm’s been out of the blocks quickly with his 2006 rieslings having hit a gold-medal score for the Premium Riesling at the recent Winewise Small Vignerons Awards and winning bronze medals for both in the 2006 Melbourne Show – where the cheaper Classic Dry outscored the Premium. This is not unusual as the softer, slightly sweeter Classic Dry has strong drink-now appeal where the more austere, slow-evolving Premium blossoms with a few years’ bottle age. Unquestionably to me the Premium is the better wine in the long run. Both are to be released on September first at cellar door, phone 6227 0555.

Gallagher Canberra District Riesling 2006 $17
In a tasting of eight local 2006 rieslings Gallagher and Helm Premium drew my top scores with the victory finally going to Gallagher by a tiny margin. This is a lovely, fresh, citrusy and delicate drop sourced from Graeme Lunney’s Four Winds Vineyard, Murrumbateman. The previous vintage, from the same vineyard, won gold at last year’s local show and this one seems to be of a similar quality, if a little more full flavoured. The pale, bright, colour, varietal purity and fine structure all suggest a long and interesting flavour evolution in bottle. Cellar door phone 6227 0555.

West Cape Howe Western Australia Tempranillo 2005 $19
This is a delicious, drink-now red made from Spain’s tempranillo – a thick skinned, dark coloured, early ripening variety. It’s widely used in Spain to give backbone to blends and is especially well known as partner to garnacha (grenache) in the Rioja region. This version, sourced from the warm Perth Hills region, shows little of the variety’s backbone and more of its ripe, slurpy berry flavours with a pleasant spicy edge and sufficient soft, easy-on-the-gums tannin to give structure and satisfaction. The winemaker note suggests a two to four year drinking frame, but I doubt it will ever be better than it is now at its freshest and fruitiest.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2006 & 2007

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