- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
Monthly Archives: July 2010
Propagandists in the French wine industry portray Australia as one big, hot, homogenous country pumping out vast quantities of “industrial” wine. While our export success with bright, fresh, affordable varietals – largely at the expense of French producers – might be partly to blame for this perception, it’s as far from the truth as a perception could be.
A piece from “The Independent”, published in “The Canberra Times” a few weeks back, said Australia’s top five producers made eighty per cent of our wine. The figure’s wrong – it’s more like 60 per cent according to statistics compiled in the “The Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Directory 2010”. But more importantly, a focus on our big makers obscures the largely small-scale production deeply ingrained across southern Australia. The story’s little known within Australia, let alone overseas.
According to the Directory, Australia now has 2,420 wine producers, and a majority of them (fifty-five per cent) crush 49 tonnes or less of grapes each year – that’s 3,700 dozen bottles or less each. Pushing the crush up to 99 tonnes (7,400 dozen bottles) ropes in 1,348 producers, or 70 per cent of the total. And if we include those crushing up to 499 tonnes (37 thousand dozen), still comparatively small stuff, we’re now talking about 2,114 vignerons, or 87 per cent of the Australian total.
And when we look at the geographic spread of our winemakers, the picture that emerges is one of amazing climatic diversity, spread from the Queensland high country to the southern tip of Tasmania and from the east coast to the west coast.
Queensland’s vineyards, at around 27 degrees north, lie 16 degrees north of those in Southern Tasmania. In France, by comparison, the spread is just six degrees – from around 43 degrees near the Mediterranean coast to 49 degrees in the Champagne district.
Even if way say, OK, the main action on our east coast really starts at the Hunter, we’re still taking in 10 degrees of latitude – and other large climate variations based on proximity to the sea (continental versus maritime) and altitude above sea level (from very little to around 1,000 metres).
The big climate variations created by geography largely account for variations in wine styles. They explain why, for example, very cool areas like high-altitude Tumbarumba or southerly Tasmania excel with pinot noir and chardonnay for sparkling wine where warm areas do not; or why cool Canberra makes medium bodied shiraz while hot Rutherglen makes fuller bodied styles.
The bigger the slice of map we look at, the bigger the variations. But even in comparatively small chunks, the differences can be significant. In South Australia, for example, the moderately elevated, mainly continental Clare Valley lies three degrees north of Coonawarra, where the nearby southern ocean exerts its influence. Clare makes comparatively brawny reds and Coonawarra more elegant styles – they’re a world apart. It’s amazing what 500 kilometres, a cool ocean and bit of altitude can do.
Even within single districts, variations in wine styles can be marked. While these can be confounded by different winemaker approaches, climate variations make discernible differences. In the Barossa, for example rieslings from the valley floor don’t approach for finesse and longevity those from the elevated Eden Valley Hills, forming the Barossa’s eastern boundary.
If we multiple these large and subtle variations across Australia’s vast landscape, throw in dozens of old and emerging grape varieties, and hundreds of individual winemaking approaches, we begin to understand the wonderful patchwork of wine styles made by our 2, 420 vignerons.
The Directory also shows the scale of this expansion over the last quarter century. In 1985 we had 506 wine producers, now we have 2,420. In NSW and the ACT, the number grew from 121 to 467; in Victoria from 109 to 724; in Queensland from 18 to 111; in South Australia from 147 to 648; in Western Australia from 102 to 372; in Tasmania from seven to 98. The Northern Territory alone declined from two producers in 1985, to one in 1987 to zero in 2008.
Despite recent tough times in the industry, the numbers continued to grow in all those states over the last three years. It’s hard to tell yet, but this may have been partly through necessity as grape growers, no longer able to sell their product to winemakers, developed their own brands. Anecdotally, many even long-established brands, are struggling in the current glutted market.
Looking at the bigger national picture, in 2008–09 South Australia remained our biggest winemaking state, producing 514.4 million litres, followed by NSW and the ACT 436.3 million litres, Victoria 183.6 million litres, Western Australia 33.8 million litres, Tasmania 2.3 million litres, and Queensland 0.8 million litres.
Despite removal of many vineyards, our biggest producing areas, the engines of our popular domestic and export wines, will remain South Australia’s Lower Murray (projected 390 thousand tonne grape production), followed by the NSW Big Rivers zone on 276 thousand tonnes.
And South Australia still hosts the really big, broad acre premium vineyards. In 2011 the Barossa expects to harvest 93 thousand tonnes; Mount Lofty Ranges 69 thousand; Fleurieu (including McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek) 132 thousand tonnes; Limestone Coast (mainly Coonawarra, Padthaway and Wrattonbully) 126 thousand tonnes.
Illustrating the growing importance of the New South Wales highlands, the Central Ranges, excluding the ACT, is set to produce 58 thousand tonnes in 2011 – more than double the Hunter Valley’s projected output of 25 thousand tonnes.
Clearly, more than two thousand small vignerons now drive Australia’s regional winemaking. They’re energetic vignerons making styles inspired by every other winemaking nation on earth. The challenge now is to take that story to the world.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Mount Majura Canberra District TSG 2008 $21 Mount Majura, Australian Capital Territory Mount Majura’s TSG (tempranillo shiraz graciano) won gold for the second consecutive year in the 2010 Winewise Small Vignerons Awards. This year’s award winner, the velvety 2009 vintage, is due for release next year and it’s probably a shade more intense even than current-release 2008 – a delightful drop featuring ripe, blueberry-like fruit flavour with a distinct peppery note that winemaker Frank van de Loo says might come from the graciano component.
Picardy Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2008 $25 Pemberton, Western Australia Most Australian cabernet blends salute the firm, cabernet-dominant styles of Bordeaux’s Medoc sub-region. But this merlot-led blend looks more to Saint-Emilion, another major Bordeaux sub-region, for inspiration. It’s fragrant – courtesy of the merlot and cabernet franc – and medium bodied with a juicy, plump kernel of fruit, elegant structure and fine tannins holding it all together. It’s made by Dan Pannell from estate-grown fruit and probably best within five years of vintage.
Arete Single Vineyard Greenock Shiraz 2008 $45 Barossa Valley, South Australia We’d normally reserve five-star ratings for wines with long, distinguished track records. But quality can’t be denied here. And there’s a solid provenance behind winemaker Richard Bates: winemaking experience at Saltram, Wolf Blass and Penfolds; a stint with barrel cooper Francois Frere and grape sourcing from Shawn Kalleske’s Greenock vineyard, a hotspot of Barossa shiraz quality. It’s a big, dense Barossa style, saturated with shiraz flavour in a flavour-texture matrix with soft tannins and classy oak. Arete is a big, gentle giant best cellared for a few years.
Sam Miranda Arneis 2010 King Valley, Victoria Arneis (meaning “little rascal”) is a Piedmontese white variety – sometimes blended with the local reds to ameliorate the tannins – makes brisk, pleasantly tart dry whites. Miranda’s version, from the King Valley’s Myrrhee sub-region, combines piquant pear and citrus flavours. The palate’s tight, brisk, dry and light and finishes with a gentle tweak of soft tannin. If you’re over sauvignon blanc’s in-your-face flavours, try this as a tasty but more subtle alternative.
Ross Hill Pinnacle Series Shiraz 2008 $32–$35 Orange, New South Wales This delicious, medium-bodied red is a blend of the best ten barrels of shiraz made from the Ross Hill vineyards in 2008. It’s gentle and soft with ripe, sweet fruit, well supported in flavour and structure by high-quality oak. It’s squarely in the fine-boned shiraz style now emerging, with subtle variations, along a big swathe of the New South Wales highlands, from Orange to Canberra to Young to Tumbarumba to Gundagai.
Angullong Fossil Hill Pinot Gris 2010 $22 Orange, New South Wales Because the Orange region is defined partly by altitude, the 220-hectare Angullung vineyard wanders in and out of the regional boundary – walk up a row of vines until you’re 600 metres or more above sea level and you’re in Orange; stand below 600 metres and you’re in the Central Ranges district. This smooth-textured wine, from the higher, cooler slopes, expresses crystal clear, pear-like varietal aroma and flavour of pinot gris. It’ll probably never be better than it is now in the full bloom of youth.
Copright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Last week at Warnervale on the NSW central coast, Dermot O’Donnell and his crew commenced brewing at Bluetongue’s new $120 million facility. Tomorrow they’ll officially launch the first beer off the production line, Bluetongue Premium Lager, in a ceremony at the brewery.
Originally a Hunter-based boutique operation, Bluetongue now has the capacity to brew 50 million litres a year, expanding to 100 million litres a year over time. By my estimate that’s equivalent to eight and a half 330ml bottles for every person aged 15 years or over, heading towards 17 bottles
While current capacity represents perhaps one fortieth of Australian per capita beer consumption, the new facility gives the owners, Pacific Beverages (a joint venture between Coca Cola Amatil and SAB Miller), the platform to increase their estimated 10 per cent share of the fast-growing premium beer market and boost profits by brewing SAB Miller’s international brands, including Peroni and Grolsch, locally.
The new facility, combined with Coca Cola Amatil’s distribution, puts Pacific Beverages in a unique position to exploit fast-changing beer tastes. James Tait, corporate affairs director at rival Lion Nathan, recently said that the average Australian drinker now enjoys about seven beer brands on a regular basis – compared to three brands ten years ago.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Spaten Munchen Original Munich Beer 500ml $4.50 Spaten has a bright, pale lemon colour and persistent pure white head. It’s highly aromatic and the palate’s full and malty with a distinct sweetness. Hops add a subtle flavour that works well with the malt, mollify the sweetness and keep the finish crisp and refreshing.
Nogne Imperial Brown Ale 500ml $14.90 Nogne, from Norway, delivers vigour, flavour, bitterness and alcohol by the bucket. It’s a deep brown colour and the aroma and palate simply scream with all these elements, leaving an aftertaste of brown sugar and a lingering, almost acrid bitterness. In the end, it’s a struggle to get past the first few sips.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Picardy PembertonPinot Noir 2008 $35 Chardonnay 2008 $35
There’s a great purity and drinkability to Picardy wines, made in Pemberton, Western Australia, by Bill and Dan Pannell. The pinot’s pale coloured and deeply fragrant, revealing a big part of the pinot spectrum, from slightly stalky to ripe red berries; the palate’s fine and silky textured with a flavour reflecting the aroma. It’s easy to drink, but complex and ought to age well for some years. The chardonnay clearly bears the winemaker’s imprint (barrel fermentation and maturation on yeast lees), but the keynote is the soaring, crystal-clear varietal flavour and brisk, exciting palate. The winemaking elements simply add interest to this delicious fruit.
Arete Barossa Valley “The Chatterbox” Shiraz 2009 $20 This is a sensationally fragrant, vibrant shiraz, made by former Foster’s winemaker and barrel salesman, Richard Bate. The background steered him straight to the oak-maturation and Barossa grape growing sweet spots – and the winemaking shows a spit and polish that escapes many very small-scale makers. Bates made just 350 cases of “The Chatterbox” from two western Barossa vineyards – Andy Kalleske’s Cemetery Block at Koonunga and Shawn Kalleske’s Hill Block at Greenock. The 2009 reds seem, in general, more restrained than the blockbuster 2008s – in this instance providing plush, juicy fruit flavours and tender tannins. Available at www.aretewines.com.au
Good Catholic Girl Clare Valley“Teresa” Riesling 2009 $25 “James Brazill” Shiraz 2007 $30
Winemaker Julie Barry (the “head girl”) sourced her riesling from Barry Marsson’s vineyard at Watervale, southern Clare, and the shiraz from in the Armagh Valley, near Clare township. The riesling, though only 11.8 per cent alcohol, sits at the richer end of the regional style spectrum – in its own pure, vigorous, citrus-varietal way. It’s bone and dry best enjoyed with food, rather than as an on-its-own aperitif, as you might with a more delicate riesling. The shiraz weighs in at 15 per cent alcohol but the very rich, ripe fruit, buckets of soft tannins and silky texture completely mask this.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
As the National and Melbourne wine shows bend over backwards to attract small makers to their competitions, Canberra based Winewise herds them in by the flock. This year’s Winewise Small Vignerons awards, judged at the racecourse in early July, attracted over 1,500 entries from 394 wineries.
To qualify for the event wineries must crush, for their own label, 250 tonnes or less of grapes – equivalent to about 18,000 dozen bottles. By that standard 1,959 of Australia’s 2,420 vignerons qualify. However, if you knock out the small-scale hobbyists and others not interested in wine shows, the target market might be 1,000 producers. Attracting 40 per cent of these into one show seems an extraordinary achievement. It certainly gives a good snapshot of small regional producers and highlights some pretty exciting wines.
Like any show, though, there are gaps in the ranks as many of Australia’s best small regional producers – for example, Canberra’s Clonakilla and Clare Valley’s Jeffrey Grosset Wines – simply don’t enter wines in shows. They need neither the medals nor the judges’ feedback. But that still leaves plenty of top-notch producers to fill the ranks.
The results are a good form guide for drinkers, especially if we’re looking for up and coming producers that haven’t been on our radar in the past. Look, for example, at the trophy winning riesling, Lock and Key 2010. Never heard of it? Well, it’s from Jason and Alecia Brown’s Moppity Vineyard at Young, in the Hilltops Region.
It retails for around $12–$15 a bottle and Jason Brown says he has buckets of it. I’ve not tried the wine yet, but judges won’t have made a mistake. And they gave a silver medal to another Hilltops riesling, Chalkers Crossing 2009 – an excellent $18 wine, reviewed below on 18 July.
A highlight of this year’s results were the awards showered on Canberra producers across a range of varieties. Shiraz again showed its class as our signature variety. Len Sorbello, one of the judges and organisers of the event commented “the Canberra district shiraz class was the strongest in the whole of the awards”. Who can argue when you look at the honours list.
Canberra’s winemakers entered 21 shirazes in the event and hauled in 17 medals – three golds, four silvers and 10 bronzes.
Nick O’Leary won two of the three golds for his 2008 and 2009 vintages. The third gold went to Bryan Martin’s Ravensworth Shiraz Viognier 2009. The judges were so impressed by the two 2009 shirazes that both progressed to the trophy taste-off for best shiraz of the show.
Nick O’Leary Shiraz 2009 won the trophy. It’s a beautiful, supple and savoury medium bodied red sourced from the Fischer and Kyeema McKenzie vineyards, Murrumbateman. Like Martin’s equally delicious wine, it contains a small amount of the white viognier, co-fermented with the shiraz.
Canberra’s silver medal winning shirazes were: Lark Hill Shiraz Viognier 2009, Ravensworth Shiraz Viognier 2009, Shaw Vineyard Estate Premium Shiraz 2008 and Gundog Estate Shiraz 2009. Bronze medals went to Gundog Estate 2008, Lambert 2008, Lerida 2008, Brindabella Hills Reserve 2008, McKellar Ridge 2008, Mount Majura 2008, Brindabella Hills 2008, Shaw Vineyard Estate Winemakers Selection, Quarry Hill 2005 and Postcode 2582 2008.
Shiraz, overall, fared well. Moppity Hilltops Reserve 2009 won gold and progressed to the trophy taste off and its cellar mate, the $12–$15 Lock and Key Hilltops Shiraz 2009, also won gold.
The other gold medal shirazes covered most of Australia: Box Stallion Mornington Peninsula 2009, Paringa Estate Mornington Peninsula 2008, Sanguine Estate Heathcote 2007, Balgownie Black Label Bendigo 2008, Balgownie Estate Bendigo 2007, Montara Grampians 2008, Black Poppy Pyrenees 2008, Mantra Margaret River 2008, Were Estate Margaret River 2009, Duke’s Mount Barker 2007, Capercaille Ghillie Hunter Valley 2007, Ridgeview Generations Reserve Hunter Valley 2006, Meerea Park Hell Hole Hunter Valley 2007. The Barossa and McLaren Vale missed out altogether, perhaps reflecting the difficult 2008 vintage, or even the new orthodoxy among judges to favour cool-climate styles.
Canberra’s other gold medallists were Mount Majura Tempranillo Shiraz Graciano 2009 and Shaw Vineyard Estate Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2008.
The other trophy winners offer a diverse snapshot of Australian regional winemaking:
Best chardonnay – Oakridge Lieu-dit Mackay Vineyard Yarra Valley 2009
Best other white – Ross Hill Orange Pinot Gris 2009
Best semillon – Coolangatta Estate Nowra 2006
Best sauvignon blanc – Abbey Creek Porongurup 2009
Best barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc – Oakridge Yarra Valley Fumé Limited Release 2009
Best sweet white – Robert Stein Mudgee Half Dry Riesling RS18
Best sparkling – Brandy Creek Gippsland Menage-a-Trois Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier
Best cabernet sauvignon – Moss Brothers Margaret River 2007
Best Pinot Noir – Paringa Estate “The Paringa” Mornington Peninsula 2008
Best red blend – Sandhurst Ridge Bendigo Fringe Shiraz Cabernet 2008
Best other red variety – Terra Felix Victoria Mourvedre 2009
Best fortified – Stanton and Killeen Rutherglen Grand Muscat
You can see the full results at www.winewise.net.au and the reviews of all the gold and silver medallists will appear in the August edition of the by-subscription “Winewise” magazine. I’ll also review some of the wines as they become available, starting with Nick O’Leary’s trophy winning shiraz reviewed below today.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Nick O’Leary Shiraz 2009 $28 Murrumbateman, New South Wales Vintage 2009 looks to be a great year for Canberra shiraz. This graceful red won the trophy for best shiraz at the recent Winewise Small Vignerons Awards, with Ravensworth 2009, another gold medallist, not far behind. Nick O’Leary sources about 80 per cent of the grapes from Wayne and Jenny Fischer’s vineyard and the balance from Kyeema’s McKenzie Vineyard. The wine’s busting with ripe, berry fruit and spice flavours, gripped by taut, savoury tannins. Should evolve well, although this medium-bodied style drinks well even now.
Bleasdale Frank Potts Cabernet Malbec 2006 $25–$30 Langhorne Creek, South Australia Wolf Blass used to call Langhorne Creek Australia’s mid palate. Situated south of McLaren Vale, near Lake Alexandrina, the area makes juicy, fruity reds, often with a light tease of mint or eucalypt. This blend, commemorating Bleasdale’s founder, combines the region’s unusually fleshy cabernet with dark and fragrant malbec, a variety that fares amazing well there. It’s a powerful, fruity, fleshy combination with abundant but soft tannins.
Dandelion Wonderland of the Eden Valley Riesling 2010 $23–$25 This magnificent, delicate riesling comes from a 2.4-hectare Eden Valley vineyard planted in the late nineteenth century and tended for the last 66 years by 90 year old Colin Kroehn. Fruit was hand harvested from the vineyard, its free-run juice fermented in small batches by Elena Brooks, and the wine bottled without fining or filtration. A trophy at the recent Brisbane show hints at the quality in the bottle – set to reveal itself slowly over the next few decades. This is a winner.
Chalkers Crossing Shiraz 2007 $30 Hilltops, New South Wales Chalkers Crossing, made by Celine Rousseau, currently offers both 2007 and 2008 vintages of their shiraz, sourced from their own Rocklea vineyard at Young. Hilltop’s not far from Canberra, but its shirazes tend to be fuller and fleshier than ours. Rousseau’s wine sits at the big end of the Hilltops style at 15.5 per cent alcohol, but it’s well proportioned, featuring deep, ripe, vibrant, varietal, savoury fruit flavours, wrapped in plush, soft tannins.
Peter Lehmann Shiraz 2008 $15–$18 Barossa Valley, South Australia The 2008 vintage was marked by a two-week burst of intense, grape-shrivelling March heat. Despite conditions hot enough to singe Satan, Barossa winemakers went about their work, producing decent wine regardless of the adverse vintage conditions. Lehmann’s 2008 reveals the resilience of the Barossa’s vines and winemakers, providing in it own powerful, grippy way a big mouthful of flavour at a fair price.
Sam Miranda Prosecco 2009 $30 King Valley, Victoria There’s been quite a rush of Italian sparkling prosecco of varying quality into Australia (the variety’s from northern Italy), mirroring its resurgence over there. Sam Miranda’s version, packaged in the King Valley’s smart-looking proprietary bottle, sits in the mainstream of the style: pale coloured, low in alcohol, with a light flavour and tangy, pleasantly tart dry finish. It’s an easy-drinking , unobtrusive style that’ll never be the centre of conversation, just a pleasant backdrop to a meal, like nice curtains in a comfy room.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Murrays Nirvana Pale Ale 330ml $4.50 The label describes Nirvana as a hybrid of the American and English pale ale styles. But to my taste the penetrating hops aroma, full, malty body and assertive, lingering hops flavour and bitterness put it squarely in the American mould. Beautiful, fresh hops are the keynote – a great beer with hot curry.
Bridge Road Brewers Hans Klopek’s Hefe Weizen 330ml $4.50 Shut your eyes and think of Bavarian wheat beer with its high-toned banana-like aroma and flavour and tangy fresh acidity. Brewer Ben Kraus captures much of the magic in this version brewed in Beechworth, Victoria. Ben also offers traditional giant pretzels if you’re down that way – a perfect match with this beer.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
How much beer do Australians drink? A fair bit it seems, but less, per capita, than we did five years ago.
Figures released in May by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show we drank 104.7 litres a head in the year to June 2009 – well down on the 109.9 litres we enjoyed back in 2004, when we ranked fourth in the world behind the Czech Republic (156.9 litres), Ireland (131.1 litres) and Germany (115.8 litres).
The ABS figures reveal our clear preference for full-strength and mid-strength beer and a declining taste for low strength brews. Per person consumption of low alcohol beer (above 1.15 per cent alcohol, but less than 3.0 per cent) declined from 11.8 litres in 2007, to 10.4 litres in 2008 and 9.0 litres in 2009.
In the same period, per capita consumption of mid-strength beer (greater than 3.0 per cent alcohol but less than 3.5 per cent) increased slightly from 15.8 to 16.0 litres, while full-strength moved from 78.7 litres to 79.7 litres.
Our total intake of pure alcohol declined from 10.4 litres to 10.08 litres per person over 15 years between 2007 and 2009. Beer accounted for 4.54 litres of this in 2007 and 4.49 in 2009 – making it still our biggest source of alcohol nationally.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Tamar Ridge TasmaniaDevil’s Corner Pinot Noir 2009 $18–$21 Kayena Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 $28–$31
Devil’s Corner still seems more like grapes than wine, but give it another six months in bottle and it should’ve turned the corner. The fruit flavour’s terrific – pure, ripe, musky pinot backed by fine, dry tannins. It’s sourced from Tasmania’s Tamar Valley and the East Coast. The more robust 2008 comes from Tamar Ridge’s Kayena Vineyard in the Tamar Valley. It’s not as plump as the 2007, perhaps reflecting the vintage, but it has good pinot fragrance, some savoury notes and sufficient fruit to carry the oak. Tamar Ridge is owned by Gunns Limited and managed by veteran winemaker Andrew Pirie.
Bleasdale McLaren Vale Langhorne Creek Tempranillo Malbec 2008 $20–$24 In the good old Aussie cross-regional blending tradition, Bleasdale came up with this novel pairing – malbec from their own Langhorne Creek vineyards and the Spanish variety, tempranillo, from neighbouring McLaren Vale. The wine has malbec’s dense, purple colour. But just where malbec drops off and tempranillo takes over isn’t so apparent in the aroma and flavour. The combination, though, is intensely fruity, bordering on brash. Both varieties carry a fair tannin load so, not surprisingly, the fruit’s mollified by a firm, but not hard, red wine structure.
Chalkers Crossing HilltopsRiesling 2009 $18 Semillon $18
These are made by Celine Rousseau using grapes from Chalkers Crossing’s Rockleigh Vineyard, near Young. The area makes terrific shiraz and riesling (a natural pairing in Canberra and the Clare Valley, too). The riesling is floral and fragrant and strongly varietal, leaning towards the lemon and lime end of the spectrum. The racy, dry, delicate palate carries these citrus flavours deliciously. It’s a great aperitif. Rousseau’s barrel fermented semillon, too, is bone dry with mouth-watering, tangy lemon and lemongrass varietal flavours, saved from austerity by the barrel-derived creamy texture. This is a popular way to make semillon in Bordeaux, though usually in tandem with sauvignon blanc.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010