Wine review — Printhie, Peppertree, Penfolds, Seppeltsfield and Brokenwood

Printhie Orange Chardonnay 2008 $15–$17
Peppertree Venus Block Orange Chardonnay 2008 $24–$26
Penfolds Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2008 $35–$43

These wines present three different faces of local, cool-grown chardonnay. Printhie, from the cool heights of Mount Canobolas, Orange, expresses the zesty, fresh and delicious citrus flavours of the variety unadorned by winemaking tricks. The Penfolds wine, from Tumbarumba, in the lee of the Snowies, presents a complex but very finely textured, tending to austere, face of chardonnay built to last. And Pepper Tree displays the full gamut of winemaker inputs related to oak maturation and secondary fermentation. It’s notably fuller bodied than the other two, but retains the racy freshness of cool-grown chardonnay.

Seppeltsfield Barossa fortified wines 500ml

  • Vera Viola Oloroso DP38 $32
  • Clara Blanc Amontillado DP116 $26
  • Flora Fino DP117 $22

Our December 2008 agreement with Europe spells the end of ‘sherry’, ‘oloroso’, ‘amontillado’ and ‘fino’ on our wine labels. Instead we’ll see, from some makers at least, ‘sherry’ replaced by ‘apera’ (a frivolous play on ‘aperitif’) and from Seppeltsfield the proprietary terms Vera Viola, Clara Blanc and Flora, in company with the familiar old DP numbers, replacing ‘oloroso’, ‘amontillado’ and ‘fino’. Whatever they’re called though, these are three of the most decorated, delicious and overlooked wines in Australia – the fine, dust-dry, tangy Flora; rich, dry, nutty Clara Blanc; and the fine, luscious, mellow Vera Viola.

Brokenwood Brycefield, Belford Vineyards Hunter Valley Semillon 2005 $36
The best Hunter semillons need years of bottle age – sometimes decades – to develop their greatest flavours. They’re low alcohol wines (this one’s just 11 per cent) and when young tend to delicacy, purity and austerity – a pleasing combination with some foods. Age takes the edge off the austerity and complex flavours develop around the core lemony varietal character, arriving at a distinctive ‘toasty’ phase perhaps ten or twenty years from vintage. This beautiful blend, from vineyards in the Hunter’s Lovedale and Belford sub-regions, leans towards the youthful, pure, zesty, delicate phase – but at four years’ age the first, subtle mature notes are beginning to show.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009

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