Wine review — Howard Park, Mitchell & Balgownie Estate

Howard Park: Riesling 2007 $25; Sauvignon Blanc 2007 $25; Scotsdale/Leston Park Shirazes 2005 $40 and Cabernet Sauvignons 2005 $40; Cabernet Merlot 2004 $90
Behind Madfish, Howard Park’s wildly successful (and excellent) $15-$20-a-bottle second label, lies a rich winemaking culture, built on top-quality fruit from a number of Western Australian regions. Proprietor Jeff Burch showed the latest regional specialties – one of the strongest that I’ve seen from a single producer – on a tour through Canberra late last year.  The riesling comes from Mount Barker and Pongerups in the deep south; sauvignon blanc combines Pemberton and Margaret River material; the Scotsdale and Leston Vineyards are in Great Southern and Margaret River respectively; and the brilliant cabernet merlot is a Mount Barker Margaret River blend. These are exciting special occasion wines.

Mitchell Clare Valley Riesling 2007 $22 & Semillon 2006 $18
Andrew and Jane Mitchell’s Watervale 2007 is a fuller style riesling, perhaps influenced by a spontaneous fermentation. There’s real flavour concentration, a rich texture and a little bite to the finish. It was made in tiny quantities in 2007 – the forty-year-old vines yielded just 2.5 tonnes to the hectare – and tonnes of flavour to enjoy now. But the Mitchell’s real bargain is their delicious oak-fermented-and-matured semillon. It’s full and richly textured, with very attractive lemon-like varietal flavour and a dazzling freshness. It’s a style that the Clare does well but for some reason seems to have fallen out of fashion. See www.mitchellwines.com

Balgownie Estate Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2006 $22
Balgownie was a leading light of the late sixties/early seventies boutique winery boom. Proprietor Stuart Anderson established vines at Bendigo in 1969 and made magnificent reds, especially shiraz. After Anderson sold Balgownie it faded from view until becoming independent again in recent years. As well as the Bendigo wines it now makes a pretty exciting pinot using fruit from independent Yarra Valley growers – as it waits for its own vines there to mature. This is the first tasted and it’s a bargain.  It offers the seductive perfume, fine-boned structure, intense flavours and silky but substantial tannins of this wonderful variety. See www.balgownieestate.com.au

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008

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