Wine review — McKellar Ridge, Jacob’s Creek Steingarten, Stefano Lubiano and Tower

McKellar Ridge Canberra District Shiraz Viognier 2006 $22-$24
Brian and Janet Johnston’s McKellar Ridge is a tiny operation focusing on small parcels of high quality Canberra district fruit. The wines have always been good. But this latest release, to my taste, does away with a few little blemishes that kept earlier vintages out of the top ranks. In the past I thought that the oak intruded slightly on what were otherwise very fine-boned wines. But what we see in the 2006 is the pure, lovely fragrance and flavour and supple, smooth texture of cool-grown shiraz. Brian sourced the grapes from Martin Susans’ Murrumbateman vineyard and made the wine using traditional techniques. See www.mckellarridgewines.com.au

Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling 2005 $28
In 1962 Orlando’s Colin Gramp planted the Steingarten vineyard on a high, exposed ridge a few kilometres to the east of his family’s historic homestead on Jacob’s Creek. The vineyard struggled but produced a number of long-lived rieslings over the years.  By the time Steingarten shifted from Orlando to Jacob’s Creek branding a couple of years back, it had become a blend of material from Steingarten and other nearby vineyards. The just-released 2005 seems to mark a style shift for Steingarten – away from austerity and towards softness and more easy drinkability when young. The makers have done this beautifully. It’s a magnificent, delicate drop now but has very long-term cellaring potential, too.

Stefano Lubiano Tasmania Pinot Noir 2005 $52
Tower Tasmania Pinot Noir $58

Some time back I reviewed Stefano Lubiano’s Primavera Pinot Noir – as the name suggests a fresh and youthful expression of the variety. This is a more sophisticated drop, showing the depth of a superior vintage with ripe varietal definition, layered, soft tannin structure and complexity. It’s a wine that intrigues and holds your interest from first sip til last and ought to develop with five or six years bottle age. Hunter based Tower, founded by the late Len Evans, makes regional specialties from around Australia. I think Len would’ve loved this, the last vintage fermented at Tower before his death last August. Tassie’s cool climate shows in the wine’s intense, delicate flavour and very fine-boned structure.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008

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