Wine review — Helm, Jeir Creek, Chalkers Crossing, Nick O’Leary & Hungerford Hill

Helm Canberra District Classic Dry Riesling 2008 $28
Helm Canberra District Premium Riesling 2008 $45
Jeir Creek Canberra District Riesling 2008 $22

At this year’s regional show we finally saw Canberra riesling hitting the quality level that’s been talked about but not often achieved. From 22 wines we awarded three gold, two silver and seven bronze medals – all but one from Canberra, with one to a wine from nearby Hilltops region. Ken Helm one two of the golds with his beautifully made, juicy and ready to drink, Classic Dry and the lean, taut Reserve – one to enjoy for many, many years. Rob and Kay Howell’s Jeir Creek grabbed the third gold medal with their deliciously fresh, intense estate-grown riesling. See   www.helmwines.com.au and www.jeircreekwines.com.au

Chalkers Crossing Hilltops Shiraz 2005 $25
Nick O’Leary Canberra District Shiraz 2007 $26.95

We awarded six gold medals in the shiraz classes at the regional show – three each to the Hilltops region (Young) and Canberra district. This is unquestionably the standout variety of the region, offering world-class quality at modest prices. The fragrant, plush, Chalkers Crossing 2005, made by Celine Rousseau, topped our honours list, winning trophies as best shiraz, best red of the show and best wine of the show. But there were rich pickings throughout the shiraz classes, including Nick O’Leary’s seductive 2007 from Murrumbateman and the supple Dionysus 2007

Hungerford Hill Dalliance Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2004 $24–30
High, cool Tumbarumba grows outstanding pinot noir and chardonnay for sparkling wine. Hardy’s have used it in their top blends for years and now have a Tumbarumba label that follows on from their old Kamberra brands – past stars of the local wine show. Last year it was Kosciusko Wines turn to win the sparkling trophy. And this year the baton passed to the Kirby family’s Hungerford Hill’s ‘Dalliance’, another Tumbarumba blend of pinot noir and chardonnay.  Pinot sets the tone with its rich, fine flavour and firm backbone. But the wine’s delicate, too, and has that lovely complexity that comes from ageing on yeast lees.  See www.hungerfordhill.com.au.

Copyright  © Chris Shanahan 2008

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