Wine review — Redbank The Long Paddock, Mount Majura, Cloudy Bay & Giant Steps

Redbank The Long Paddock Shiraz 2005 & Chardonnay 2006 $12.95
The Redbank brand originated in Victoria’s Pyrenees region. However, ownership of its ‘Long Paddock’ budget range shifted to Robert Hill-Smith’s Yalumba some years back. Quality is exceptional for the price and fruit sourcing generally from the King Valley, although the current shiraz contains some Pyrenees material as well. The shiraz has lovely, ripe plummy flavours with a cool-climate peppery note and a dry, food-friendly savouriness. The chardonnay is generous, but not fat, with attractive melon-like varietal flavour and an attractive, apple-fresh finish. The smooth texture suggests a touch of malo-lactic fermentation and some maturation on yeast lees. This makes it all the more interesting.

Mount Majura Canberra Chardonnay 2005 $20
Cloudy Bay Marlborough Chardonnay 2005 $42

These are the Yin and Yang of chardonnay, even if both are made in a broadly similar way: fermented and matured in oak barrels. Frank van de Loo’s, from the Mount Majura Vineyard Canberra is minerally, racy and dry. There’s a brightness to it and though some of the winemaker inputs stand out, there’s a lovely cool-climate, grape-fruit-like varietal flavour that maintains the lean, taut style. Cloudy Bay, from even cooler Marlborough, shows extraordinary fruit opulence and accompanying viscous texture. Despite the sheer flavour volume, this is a balanced wine of great freshness and seductive slipperiness. Cloudy Bay you’ll find in stores; for Frank’s wine see www.mountmajura.com.au

Giant Steps Yarra Valley Sexton Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 $29.95
Giant Steps Yarra Valley Tarraford Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 $39.95

By the law of diminishing returns the $40 pinot ought to be maybe ten per cent better – not 33 per cent better — than the $30 one, right? Not with this two from Phil Sexton, though: the $40 Tarraford Vineyard wine delivered, to may taste, almost double the drinking pleasure. But I wouldn’t say no to either. These are elegant but substantial pinots, well removed from the lighter, simpler styles. They share a savouriness and strong structure. In the Sexton that fruit versus tannin arm wrestle seems to lean a little towards tannin. In the Tarraford, however, the beautiful fruit aroma carries through into a glorious, supple palate.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007

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