Wine review — Dominique Portet, Brown Brothers, Campbells & Shingleback

Dominique Portet Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2007 $24
& Heathcote Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $42

Dominique Portet’s red and white could be from two different planets. The sauv blanc is pure, light, fruity, tangy and varietal but without the razzle dazzle, show-stopping flavour explosion of the Marlborough versions. They’re lovely, of course, but Portet’s wine offers a delicious, toned-down alternative. On the other hand, there’s nothing demure about his Heathcote cab sauv. It’s an extraordinary mouthful of a thing – big, ripe, buoyant and opulent with layers of porty, plush, juicy fruit flavours and surprisingly soft tannins for cabernet. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a cabernet like this. But it was pretty tempting to go back again and again for just one more sip.

Brown Brothers King Valley Shiraz Mondeuse & Cabernet 2004 $39.90
Campbells of Rutherglen Bobbie Burns Shiraz 2006 $22.49

Here we have two contrasting full-bodied reds from northeastern Victoria – a monumental blockbuster built to last until doomsday and a slippery, svelte fruit bomb with seductive, siren song, have-me-now appeal. The Brown Brothers wine is a salute to a style first made by the late John Brown in 1954. We’re all familiar with shiraz and cabernet. But the obscure mondeuse gives the wine an obsidian darkness and adamantine tannin structure, mollified by the other varieties and lengthy oak maturation. It’s a superb, idiosyncratic wine for the long haul. The aromatic, smooth, Bobbie Burns Shiraz is made to put a smile on our faces right now.

Shingleback McLaren Vale Shiraz 2005 $24.95, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $24.95
and D Block Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $59.95

Shingleback owners John and Kate Davey passed through Canberra recently showing off their wares, including the Jimmy Watson Trophy winning Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. These are classy, realistically priced reds with the true warm, savoury richness of McLaren Vale. They’re big, solid, beautifully balanced wines with satisfying mid palate richness and clear varietal definition. The shiraz is ripe, earthy, savoury and soft and now at a red-wine flavour stage beyond just fruitiness. The cabernets, of course, are firmer, but still generous, the Reserve offering more fragrant highnotes and a more elegant structure than the slightly chunkier standard version. See www.shingleback.com.au

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008

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