Wine review — Richmond Grove, Barwang, Shaw+Smith, Petaluma, Helm, Kirrihill and Arete

Richmond Grove Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2008 $18–$24
Barwang 842 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2006 $30–$35
Shaw + Smith M3 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2008 $35–$40
Petaluma Tiers Vineyard Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2005 $100–$130

What a gorgeous line up – beautiful, complex oak-fermented and matured chardonnays with neatly aligned price and quality. Richmond Grove is the value offering, especially on special under $20. But Barwang takes a step up, showing the bracing freshness of high-altitude Tumbarumba. Shaw + Smith is all refinement and finesse with potential to build in richness over time. And Petaluma’s in the zone right now – a mature, weighty, fine and magnificent drop for a special occasion.

Helm Classic Dry Riesling 2009 $23–$28
The 2009 adds to Ken Helm’s glory list. It’s simply bloody delicious, ¬delivering volumes of appealing, floral aromas and a zesty, lime-like freshness on the palate. Indeed, I found it as refreshing as Hugh Johnson’s comment on using fruit similes to describe wine “… I don’t think it really helps anyone to give what sounds like a recipe for fruit salad. Riesling tastes like riesling more than it tastes like lemons and apples. Surely once you have tasted riesling, it becomes a reference. How many apples do you have to eat to recognise an apple?”

Kirrihill Clare Valley Shiraz 2008 $11–$15
Kirrihill Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $11–$15
Arete Barossa Valley Shiraz 2008 $18–$20

The distress pricing on the Kirrihill wines give a hint of the pressure on small makers in our glutted market. They’re powerful, albeit slightly raw, reds that could do with another year or two in bottle. But they’re rich, solid, and squarely regional and varietal. The shiraz comes from the Tullymore and Ballingarry Vineyards and the cabernet sauvignon from KSI and Kalimpa vineyards. While you’re taming the Kirrihill wines, Arete, made by Richard Bate from fruit grown in the Barossa’s Greenock Creek sub-region, offers perfect drinking right now. It’s fragrant, ripe and juicy with lovely soft tannins. See www.aretewines.com.au

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009

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