Wine review — Best’s Great Western, Jeir Creek and Clonakilla

Best’s Great Western Riesling 2009 $22, Bin 1 Shiraz 2008 $25, Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $25
Best’s, founded by Henry Best in 1866, was acquired by Frederick Thomson in 1913 and is today run by Ben Thomson, the family’s fifth generation in the business. It’s a must visit for its wonderful old vineyards, dating to 1868, cellars from the same era and first-class regional wines – like this reasonably priced trio.  The fresh, crisp, riesling separates itself from the Clare classics by its taut acidity – a real plus for an aperitif style. The shiraz in the juicy pepper and spice, savoury cool-climate style and ready to enjoy now; and the cabernet surprising ripe and full with reassuring firm tannins.

Jeir Creek Canberra District Botrytris Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008 375ml $25
Tim Kirk built Canberra’s shiraz reputation. Ken Helm blazed the riesling trail. And at Jeir Creek, Murrumbateman, Rob and Kay Howell developed as their flagship a luscious, oak matured, botrytised semillon sauvignon blanc. Originally it contained grapes from Canberra and Bredbo. But now it’s all from Canberra, principally Jeir Creek, but with some material from nearby vineyards. The new release shows the vibrance and fruitiness of the outstanding 2008 vintage, albeit in a finely structured style with plenty of acid to offset the plush, fruity sweetness. It’s just the thing with stinky, runny cheeses. I’m already thinking of the Silo cheese room and next truffle season.

Clonakilla Canberra District O’Riada Shiraz 2008 $35, Shiraz Viognier 2008 $75
Clonakilla’s Tim Kirk recently hosted a dinner at Senso, pairing Jan Gundlach’s food with five pairs of Canberra shiraz: Lerida Estate Shiraz Viognier and Long Rail Gully Shiraz 2008; Ravensworth Shiraz Viognier 2007 and Kyeema Estate Reserve Shiraz 2007; Nick O’Leary Shiraz 2008 and Clonakilla O’Riada Shiraz 2008; Collector Reserve Shiraz 2008 and Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2008; and the 2006 and 2008 vintages of Clonakilla Syrah. My favourite of the Clonakillas to drink on the night was the elegant, ethereal O’Riada; but the best is yet to come from the opulent, savoury shiraz viognier. The other wines performed well, too. I’ll review them here soon.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009

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