Wine review — Nick O’Leary, Lerida Estate and Capital Wines

Nick O’Leary Canberra District Riesling 2009 $24
Nick O’Leary Canberra District Shiraz 2008 $28

In Canberra recently, Wolf Blass sunk the boot into Hardys, suggesting they contributed nothing before departing the local wine scene. What Wolfie didn’t say was that Hardys won the ‘champion wine’ trophy (for shiraz) at the local show in both 2005 and 2006, generated the planting of some of our leading vineyards and left behind two accomplished winemakers, Alex McKay and Nick O’Leary. Hardy’s contribution was pivotal to the Canberra District we know today. And without Hardys we wouldn’t have young Nick O’Leary’s delicious, fine-boned shiraz, nor his beautiful, crisp, delicate, dry riesling. These are absolutely top-notch, fairly priced wines.

Lerida Estate Lake George Shiraz Viognier 2007 $38.50, Pinot Gris 2009 $28, Botrytis Pinot Gris 2008 375ml $24.50
Jim Lumbers and Anne Caine originally set their sights on pinot noir as Lerida’s flagship variety. But shiraz, in tandem with the white viognier, pretty quickly left pinot in its dust, demonstrating just how well suited it is to our district. The latest release, a gold medallist at the recent Canberra Regional Wine Show, sits at the bigger, riper end of the regional style at around fifteen per cent alcohol. But the deep, vibrant varietal fruit gobbles up the alcohol, leaving a juicy, elegant medium bodied red to enjoy over the next decade. The pinot gris is fine, dry and thickly textured; and the gold-medal-winning sticky is a dessert in itself.

Capital Wines Canberra District The Whip Riesling 2009 $18, The Senator Chardonnay 2008 $ 22
These are big-value offerings from Capital Wines, the joint venture between the Mooney and McEwin families – the Mooneys looking after viticulture and marketing while Andrew McEwin makes the wine. The delicate, intensely flavoured dry riesling (a gold medallist at the 2009 Canberra Regional Show) comes mainly from a Gundaroo vineyard planted to the Geisenheim clone by the Mooneys in 2001 and subsequently sold to the Lamberts. The chardonnay comes, smartly rebadged under the new venture, is one of a long line to come from the Kyeema Vineyard, Murrumbatemen.  There are plenty of clever winemaking inputs, but the core flavour is intense, melon-like varietal fruit.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009

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