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Monthly Archives: October 2010
Formby and Adams Leading Horse Langhorne Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $17–$19 Langhorne Creek, near Lake Alexandrina, boasts two enduring wine dynasties – the Potts family at Bleasdale, founded 1850, and the Adams family at the Metala Vineyard, established 1891 by William Formby. Guy Adams, Formby’s great-great-grandson, is the fifth generation on the property. Guy’s 2007 cabernet shows the characteristics of the mild, very dry vintage. The varietal aroma and flavour are crystal clear. But the palate’s tight and firm, without Langhorne Creek’s characteristic fleshiness. However, the kernel of fruit handles the tannin easily, creating a terrific style to enjoy with high protein dishes, especially grilled or roasted steak or lamb.
Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon 2005 $30 Going against the trend to release ever-younger vintages, Peter Lehmann recently released five absolutely beautiful wines from the 2005 vintage – a riesling, two shirazes, a cabernet and this stunning semillon, named for Peter’s wife, Margaret. Semillon’s an old Barossa workhorse white variety. It can be coarse and fat. But treated properly it makes superb wine. It has become a specialty for Lehmann, through their big volume, cheaper version, and this flagship, sourced from mature Barossa vines. It’s picked early (hence the modest 11.5 per cent alcohol), made protectively and bottle early to preserve the pure, citrusy fruit flavour, then five years’ bottle age adds its own magic.
Angullong Orange Sauvignon Blanc 2010 $15–$17 Cumulus Wines Climbing Orange Merlot 2009 $21.99 Angullong presents an appealing, subtle, gentle expression of sauvignon blanc, its flavours leaning towards the tropical-fruit-and-passionfruit end of the varietal spectrum. The vibrant, pure fruit flavours come with a soft, refreshing acidity. It provides a pleasing contrast to the more robust, acidic Marlborough styles, and the price is realistic – $15 at cellar door and around $17 retail. And from neighbouring Cumulus Wines, comes this delicious, fine-boned merlot from the outstanding 2009 vintage. It’s bright, plummy and medium bodied – fruity but not plump – finishing with persistent, fine, drying tannins. It’s an elegant, inexpensive red made for early enjoyment.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Wine review — Brown Brothers, Vionta, Formby & Adams, Solar Vieja, Symphonia Vineyards and McIvor Estate
Brown Brothers Prosecco NV $18 King Valley, Victoria Italy’s prosecco sparkling wines offer a pleasing light, savoury tartness. They’re usually low in alcohol with a simple, freshness and purity. Like a number of Australian winemakers Brown Brothers embraced the style, planting prosecco vines on its elevated, cool Banksdale Vineyard in Victoria’s King Valley. Their tank-fermented non-vintage style offers crisp, light, pear-like flavours with a little kiss of sweetness in the background. It’s an appealing, unobtrusive appetiser and could sit comfortably with just about any food.
Albarino (Vionta) 2009 $27–$30 Rias Baixas, Spain Dare to zig as everyone else zags? Try this full, fascinating savoury white from Vilanova de Arousa in Spain’s Salnes Valley. Made from the albarino grape, it delivers a light, tropical-fruit aroma and a full, slightly peachy palate with fresh acidity and textural richness derived from ageing on spent yeast cells. But there’s more – a little grip and bite in the finish, giving a pleasing (or challenging to some) savouriness before the dry finish. Probably a bit overpriced for the quality, but it offers a new tasting experience.
Formby and Adams Cutting Edge Cabernet Shiraz 2007 $17–$19 Langhorne Creek, South Australia In today’s line up of exotica, Cutting Edge stands out for its true-blue, ripe fruitiness. It’s sourced from the Adams’ family’s historic Metala Vineyard at Langhorne Creek and presents the region’s pure varietal definition and plush mid palate. The cabernet component shows a slight “minty” hint and the shiraz adds a plummy plumpness. A kiss of sweet oak adds to the voluptuous, pure drinking pleasure. One bottle may not be enough.
Rioja Crianza (Solar Viejo) 2007 $27–$30 Rioja, Spain Like the albarino reviewed today this Rioja red is imported from Spain by the Wingara Wine Group, owners of Katnook Estate, Coonawarra. It’s 100 per cent tempranillo in a contrasting style to Symphonia, from Victoria’s King Valley. Fourteen months in oak and about a year in bottle brings it to an appealing stage of maturity. Rather than the plump, bright fruitiness we’re used to in Australian reds it’s lean and savoury with a fine, firm backbone of tannin, releasing teasing bursts of fruit flavour. It drinks beautifully now and should hold its appeal for another few years.
Symphonia Las Triados Tempranillo 2008 King Valley, Victoria Peter Read planted Symphonia vineyards to a range of exotic varieties in the 1990s, later selling to Peter and Suzanne Evans. Consulting winemaker Robert Paul (formerly of Montrose, Mudgee) makes the wines, aiming for a “European style with more finesse and less oak, not concentration and power”. This is well down that style path. The colour’s deeper than the Spanish version and the fruit notably plumper and brighter. But there’s no oak interfering and the variety’s naturally firm, savoury tannins provide a good counterfoil to the fruit.
McIvor Estate Sangiovese 2008 $25 Heathcote, Victoria We love this approach to the Italian red variety, sangiovese, by Gary and Cynthia Harbor, owners of the 5.5 hectare McIvor Estate Vineyard. They’ve allowed the variety to be what it is – not pushing it, or over extracting it and, very importantly, ageing it only in old oak. The result is a red of medium hue with a juicy but savoury mid palate, framed by firm, drying tannins. This is an estate to watch.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
In 1987 Peter Lehmann, with winemaker Andrew Wigan, produced the first Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz (current release 2005 vintage about $90), a magnificent but comparative newcomer to the blue-chip wine ranks. Behind it lies an extraordinary winemaking and viticultural heritage, reaching across generations.
Fortunately the heritage survived traumatic changes of company ownership over the years, culminating in a friendly buyout, endorsed by Peter Lehmann, by Swiss based Hess Group in 2003.
The central character behind Stonewell shiraz is Peter Lehmann, son of a Barossa Lutheran pastor. The viticultural heritage is the shiraz grape — a great survivor of the Barossa Valley’s 160-year winemaking history. And the winemaking heritage stretches each side of Peter: back to his predecessors at Yalumba and Saltram and forward to his winemaking successor, Andrew Wigan.
Peter once told me he saw Stonewell as a “continuation of the Mamre Brook dream — aided and abetted by Andrew Wigan”.
Mamre Brook was Saltram’s flagship Barossa red, created by Peter in 1963, four years after he took over winemaking from Bryan Dolan at Saltram (on the outskirts of Angaston) in 1959.
Bryan made wine at Saltram from 1949 to 1959, for his first four years working alongside Fred Ludlow. Fred had been there since 1893, making wine for the last fifteen years of a remarkable sixty years’ service.
Peter had trained as a winemaker at Yalumba (on the other side of Angaston from Saltram) in an era when fortified wines reigned. However, both Yalumba and Saltram had long-established traditions of making sturdy Barossa reds capable of ageing gracefully for decades (an art that almost died during the eighties).
In early 1999 I was privileged to taste with Peter Lehmann, Bryan Dolan (Bryan died only a few months later) and Bryan’s son Nigel (winemaker at a rejuvenated Saltram at the time and now with Pernod Ricard-owned Jacob’s Creek) a glorious line up of aged reds made by Fred Ludlow, Bryan and Peter from 1946 onwards.
The very first wine of the tasting, a tawny-rimmed 1946 Saltram Dry Red combined ancient, earthy, old-furniture smells with big, mellow, sweet-fruited, autumn-leaf flavours.
The standard held though vintages 1948, 1950, 1952 with a tremendous jump to a marvellous 1954 Saltram Selected Vintage Claret Bin 5 and even greater 1954 Leo Buring Vintage Claret (made by Saltram).
Other highlights were: 1957 Saltram Shiraz Bin 18; 1960 Saltram Selected Vintage Burgundy Bin 28; 1961 Saltram Dry Red Shiraz; 1963 Saltram Claret Bin 36; 1963 Stonyfell Angaston Burgundy (Barossa Shiraz); 1964, 1967, 1972, 1978 Mamre Brook Cabernet Shiraz; 1964 Saltram Shiraz; 1971 Saltram Selected Vintage Claret Bin 71/86; and 1973 Saltram Show Dry Red (first use of new oak at the winery).
Saltram lost this extraordinary red-wine tradition with the 1977 decision by its owner, Dalgety, not to buy grapes from their growers for the 1978 vintage. Peter refused to abandon the growers and in a gutsy effort, with support from his wife Margaret, good mate Robert Hesketh and others, established Masterson Wines to buy grapes and make wines under contract at Saltram in vintages 1978 and 1979.
In 1980, when new owners Seagram banned contract making at Saltram, Peter established a new winery at Tanunda. Masterson Wines became Barossa Vignerons Pty Ltd and, later Peter Lehmann’s Wines Pty Ltd after Cerebos took a controlling interest. In 1987, Adelaide based McLeod’s acquired the majority of Lehmann, at the same time folding Hoffmans and Basedows into it. Peter and Margaret Lehmann, via a family trust, held eight per cent of the new entity.
Thus, in 1993 Margaret and Peter became a vocal minority when McLeod’s wanted out. They were backed into a corner as they could sell to no one but the Lehmann’s. Once again, the family jewels (and Peter’s super money) were on the line as the Lehmann’s sought help to finance the deal. The company was listed on the ASX in 1993, $5.8 million oversubscribed in just three weeks.
During a hostile bid by British giant Allied Domecq in 2003, Lehmann refused to sell his block of shares, instead engineering the friendly buyout by Hess Group. Lehmann believed this option offered greater security for the Barossa grape growers behind the Lehmann brand.
When Peter left Saltram, winemaker Andrew Wigan stayed with him, aiding and abetting the development of Stonewell shiraz.
The first two vintages, 1987 and 1988, says Andrew, were simply the best vat of shiraz of the vintage put into new American oak puncheons for maturation.
From 1989, selection of Stonewell began in the vineyard. Selected fruit parcels are now fermented separately, finish fermentation in barrel, and the final blend is made from only the best barrels.
Andrew says that about fourteen vineyards ranging from 35 years to 110 years of age might make it to the Stonewell blend. The ‘Stonewell’ vineyard at Marananga in the Western Barossa makes the grade every year. The 2005 vintage contains material from the Kabiminye, Koonunga and Stonewell subregions.
The wines have tended to become riper, but more finely structured over the years. In 1996 fine-grained French oak was introduced, making up about 10 per cent of oak used during maturation. By 1998 French oak was up to 70 per cent and in the 2005 vintage is at 90 per cent. But, as finer oak was introduced, Andrew opted for slightly riper shiraz, to make Stonewell more opulent with ripe, soft tannins.
Looking back over all the Stonewells from 1987 to the just-released 2005, we see a wonderfully generous, satisfying Barossa red that ages beautifully while revealing marked individual vintage characters.
This year the wonderful, complex Stonewell Shiraz 2005 ($90) comes to market with four other Lehmann Barossa wines from the outstanding 2005 vintage.
Eight Songs Shiraz 2005 ($40) presents a brighter, fragrant, less burly face of Barossa shiraz. It’s all French oak matured and just lovely to sip on now (but it’ll age well, too).
Peter Lehmann Mentor Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 ($40), reveals just how well this variety fares in good Barossa vintages. It’s a big wine, but there’s an appealing purity to its slightly minty varietal flavour and an elegance to its structure.
Lehmann’s Wigan Eden Valley Riesling 2005 (reviewed here last week) is a near perfect example of maturing Australian riesling, glorious to drink and highly distinctie.
And Margaret Semillon 2005 ($40 – named for Peter Lehmann’s wife), delivers a beautiful, distinctive drinking experience. Like the Wigan riesling, it’s maturing, but has years ahead of it, but offers a different spectrum of flavours – zesty and lemony with the intriguing undertone of honey and toast that comes with bottle age.
These are exceptional offerings from a team with deep roots in the Barossa Valley.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Canberra’s two ever-inventive brewers have a few new beers and a bit of news to share. Christoph Zierholz (Zierholz Premium Beers) recently launched a new 5.6 per cent lager – made in the robust Oktoberfest style. It’s on tap at the Fyshwick brewery now. And in a few weeks, says Zierholz, he’ll be distributing five-litre kegs of his brews to retail outlets around Canberra. They’re similar in style, he says, to the Heineken kegs already available in some outlets.
The Wig and Pen, Civic, offers two new brews, the light (3.1 per cent alcohol), floral-citrusy Marv’s Man Mild and a 5.8 per cent seasonal Flemish Red Ale. The Flemish ale passes through the Wig’s “hopinator” (an infuser), acquiring the exotic tastes of morello cherries and whisky-barrel oak chips.
And there’s a wheat beer, brewed with whole apricots, ready to replace the Flemish ale, says brewer Richard Watkins.
Watkins has plans, too, for a summer cider, brewed from delicious apples, a perry and a Trappist-style ale inspired by the beers of Orval Abbey, Belgium.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Burnbrae Mudgee 548 Pale Ale 330ml $4 Mudgee’s Burnbrae joins a growing number of wineries offering beer at cellar door. In this case it’s a contract brewed three-per cent alcohol pale ale style – light lemon coloured, lively and zesty with a herbal, tangy-bitter hoppy finish. It’s a delicate, light bodied aperitif style. Available at the cellar door.
Young’s Special London Ale 500ml $7.60 This is a strong (6.4% alcohol), bottle-conditioned English-brewed ale, with an attractive deep gold-amber colour, abundant head and a complex malty/hoppy aroma. The palate’s richly malty with assertive hops flavour, lingering bitterness and strong alcoholic lift. It’s an interesting sipping beer for cool evenings – not one for dowsing a thirst.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Symphonia King ValleyPetit Manseng 2008 $24 Saperavi $24
These eye openers come from the Symphonia Vineyard, owned by Peter and Suzanne Evans, parents in law of well-known winemaker Sam Miranda junior. Petit manseng, a southern French variety, impresses for its scrumptious fruit flavour and racy, pleasantly tart dry finish. Everyone loved it at a recent tasting. The same tasters, though intrigued, struggled with the purple, fruity, acidic, tannic saparavi (a Russian variety). That’s not surprising, though, says winemaker Robert Paul, describing saperavi as the Russian equivalent of the equally burly durif variety. Like the tasters, Paul sees a bright future in Australia for petit manseng.
McIvor Estate HeathcoteMarsanne Roussanne 2010 $25 Nebbiolo 2008 $35
Gary and Cynthia Harbor’s McIvor Estate lies at the southern, cooler end of Victoria’s Heathcote region, about 50 kilometres southeast of Bendigo. They specialise in niche varieties, including this white Rhone Valley inspired blend of marsanne and Roussanne and the red nebbiolo, from Italy’s Piemonte region. The white combines the shy, light tanginess of roussanne with the textural richness of marsanne – a pleasant, savoury drink-now white that’ll probably fatten with age. The nebbiolo is typically pale coloured and aromatic with the always-surprising lean, sinewy, savoury palate – a really good expression of this difficult variety and a treat to drink with high protein and gamey food.
Brand’s Laira CoonawarraShiraz 2008 $17–$22 Cabernet Merlot 2009 $17–$22
These are decent, solid wines at a fair price. The shiraz is attractively aromatic and flavour packed with quite a hit of oak building the mid palate and swamping, to some extent, the mid-weight ripe-berry flavours of the fruit. I can’t help thinking, therefore, that the wine might be a whole lot better, and reveal its Coonawarra origins more clearly, if the winemakers wound the oak back – maybe use no new barrels at all. The same might be said for the cabernet merlot, which seems also a touch leafy and green. At this price point these wines are being killed in quality and regionality by their neighbour, Majella, with its pure and lovely The Musician.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
It seems to be raining new beers. The latest – Endeavour Reserve Amber Ale 2010 (reviewed here last week) and Endeavour Reserve Pale Ale 2010 – have been released through Coles’ 1st Choice and Vintage Cellars outlets.
These are both interesting, reasonably complex beers with no rough edges and a seamless drinkability usually associated with larger, professional brewing operations.
The website (endeavour.com.au) describes the venture as “three blokes having a go” – the three blokes being a former viticulturist, a marketing and sales specialist and a chartered accountant.
There’s no talk of the scale of the operation. But the professional packaging, smooth-edged beers and launch through a national chain suggest serious ambitions.
While it may be very good, initially, for the three blokes to be off and running with Coles, I wonder how far down the track they’ve looked and if they’ve really considered the vulnerability of having all their eggs in one basket.
The supermarkets have more of a record for exploiting brands than building them. And there’s the downside of alienating what’s left of the independent trade; and, oh, the little matter of Woolworths, which is even bigger in liquor than Coles. Can’t imagine them climbing on board any time soon.
However, the beers are good and add to the diversity on offer.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Gage Road Pils 330ml 6-pack $14.99 A press release accurately describes the repackaged mid-strength (3.5 per cent alcohol) Gage Road as a “European pilsner” style. It’s certainly light, tangy and refreshing – easy and pleasant enough to drink, but finally lacking complexity. Take the alcohol out of beer, it seems, and much of the flavour goes with it.
Endeavour Reserve Pale Ale 2010 330ml 4-pack $17.99 The just-released Endeavour pale ale appeals for its herbal and citrus character, derived from Super Alpha, Amarillo and Galaxy hops. The lively, fresh palate features subtle, rich malt flavour balanced by a mild, lingering hops bitterness. It’s a balanced, harmonious style, clearly designed as a “session” beer.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
Wine’s not a living thing but it can have personality. Clearly the more idiosyncratic a wine is, the more likely it is to stand out and be recognisable, even in a masked tasting. At times highly distinctive wines challenge our senses, or simply need time, sometimes decades, to reveal their best.
As drinkers it might take decades for the penny to drop. Or we might be lucky enough to taste, over a comparatively short period of time, various vintages of a distinguished wine – in youth, adolescence, early maturity and fragile old age. With that sort of experience, we might look at a gangly young red, or austere young white and feel comfortable about where it’s headed in the future.
This tends to become increasingly true as we move up the wine quality ladder. Look, for example, at the 17 wines classed as “Exceptional” (based on long-term auction volume and value) in Langton’s 2010 classification of Australian wine. These are wines with distinctive personalities.
The distinguishing features can be subtle, as in the finesse and elegance of Mount Mary Yarra Valley Quintets Cabernet Blend or strident, as in the sheer power of Grange or yeast-lees-based funkiness of Giaconda Beechworth Chardonnay.
If we lined up unmarked glasses of the 17 wines, anyone with a reasonably experienced palate and a brief of what to look for could identify most, if not all, of them – and have a bit of fun.
With only three whites in the line up, it’d be easy to separate the pristine, comparatively austere Grosset Polish Hill Riesling from the two opulent chardonnays; and to separate the svelte, seamless Leeuwin Estate Margaret River Chardonnay from the funky, minerally Giaconda Beechworth version.
That would leave standing 14 reds – one pinot noir, four cabernets, and nine shirazes. It’d be reasonably simple from here to sniff out the pinot noir – Bass Phillip Reserve from South Gippsland, Victoria. This is towering pinot, penetratingly aromatic with varietal red fruits, gaminess, savouriness, fleshiness, luxurious depth and authoritative tannin and acid structure. Oh, boy this is a long way from the average, soft Australian pinot noir – and it needs time to flourish.
We could now separate the shirazes from the cabernets by aroma alone; wines of this quality make the task straightforward. Then the individual cabernets might fall out. First, Penfolds Bin 707 on its inky deep colour and distinctive red-black hue – its identity confirmed by a sniff of generous ripeness, meshed with distinctive American oak.
Next, we’d probably spot Moss Wood Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, principally because it reveals more varietal cabernet character than the other two remaining wines, even though the blend includes the related varieties, cabernet franc and petit verdot.
It might be more difficult to separate the two remaining elegant blends – Cullen Diana Madeline Margaret River Cabernet Merlot and Mount Mary Quintet. These are both multi-variety blends – two or three in Cullens, depending on vintage, and five, in varying proportions according to vintage, in Mount Mary.
Typically, Cullens might have more assertive tannins than the ultra-refined Mount Mary. But the Cullen 2008 tends to greater delicacy than earlier wines, so distinguishing the two may prove challenging.
Now, we’re down to nine shirazes, dominated by robust warm-climate styles. Here the sole cool-climate style would stand out like a ballerina in a rugby pack – the aromatic, refined, medium-bodied Clonakilla Canberra District (Murrumbateman) Shiraz Viognier. We’d spot it with one sniff. But who could resist a little dalliance with its seductive, silkiness?
We’d probably sniff out another two relatively easily. Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Hunter Valley Shiraz, ought to stand out with early hints of regional earth and leather. And Penfolds Grange usually struts its combination of powerful fruit, American oak and lift of volatility.
For the remaining six shirazes me may need to back our noses with a sip or two. Henschke Hill of Grace Eden Valley Shiraz might be the next one we identify as it’s usually very fragrant and medium bodied, rather than robust like the last five.
We’d then have Wendouree Clare Valley Shiraz in our sights. Though it comes from the warm Clare Valley, it’s powerful, without being a block buster; and instead of the fleshy fruit we might expect, we’d find solid tannins clamped around a lovely core of sweet fruit, held below the surface to emerge after ten years or more in the cellar.
How do we now distinguish between four big shirazes – Chris Ringland Barossa, Clarendon Hills McLaren Vale Astralis, Rockford Barossa Valley Basket Press and Torbreck Barossa Valley Run Rig? With a bit of luck, the McLaren Vale wine might show more savouriness and be a little firmer than the Barossa line up. These are typically big, but with soft, sometimes tender tannins.
We could also call in a brains trust – for example, someone with recent experience tasting the wines to describe their characteristics. Certainly we’d perceive differences among the last three, even if we couldn’t identify them individually. I used the brains-trust approach years ago when Lindemans put its new-vintage Coonawarra trio – St George Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Limestone Ridge Vineyard Shiraz Cabernet and Pyrus cabernet blend – in a masked tasting with the five Bordeaux First Growths: Chateaus Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Margaux, Latour and Haut Brion.
I knew the Lindeman wines intimately, but having tasted the Bordeaux wines only occasionally, called on winemaker Brian Croser on the way to the Adelaide tasting. Brian has a knack for describing wine styles clearly and succinctly and did so on this occasion.
The Lindeman winemakers, led by Phil Laffer and Philip John, wanted to compare their own three distinctive styles with the Bordeaux classics. To maintain some objectivity the eight wines were served masked, even though we knew their identities.
The exercise was more about describing the personality and style of each wine than ranking them in order of merit – though tasters inevitably do this. By focusing on each wine, describing its aroma, flavour and textural characteristics and then comparing the descriptions with the notes from our brains trust, and our own past experience, it was no great chore to correctly identify every wine correctly.
This simply confirmed that really good wines have distinctive personalities – even in the comparatively narrow confines of a single region. In this instance the Australian wines quickly fell out as a group; and the Bordeaux classics grew further apart from each other stylistically as we sipped our way through them.
This is all part of the great mystique of wine that sets it apart from any other beverage.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010
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. We’ve notched the rating up by one star since first tasting it three months ago as the pinot flavour and structure really let rip.
Peter Lehmann Wigan Riesling 2005 $30 Eden Valley, South Australia Wigan Riesling – a bling-clad darling of Australia’s wine show system – delivers the great beauty of bottle aged riesling at a fair price. It’s named for Andrew Wigan, Lehmann winemaker since 1976, and sourced from low-yielding old vines up in the Eden Valley, in the ranges forming the Barossa’s eastern boundary. It’s released after five years in bottle, allowing the lovely, maturing honey and toast aromas and flavours to join the pristine, lime-like varietal character. Thanks to the screw cap it retains a dazzling freshness.
Four Winds Vineyard Merlot 2009 $19 Murrumbateman, Canberra District, New South Wales The Lunney family’s 13-hectare vineyard lies just east of Murrumbateman and the wines are made by Graeme Lunney and his daughter, Jaime – a forensic biologist-turned-winemaker. The merlot shows high-toned, plummy aromas and the bright, vibrant fruit of the outstanding 2009 vintage. It’s medium bodied and vibrantly fruity with the elegant, taut-but-soft structure of cool-grown merlot. It’s made to enjoy now or in the next couple of years either on its own, thanks to the bright fruit and softness, or with light, savoury food.
Cape Mentelle Marmaduke Shiraz 2008 $19 Margaret River, Western Australia Marmaduke is the budget red of Cape Mentelle winery, owned by French group, Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. A blend of shiraz (88 per cent), grenache (seven per cent) and mataro (five per cent), Marmaduke shows a ripe-cherry, spicy face of shiraz – its fruit fragrance boosted by grenache and the fine, tannic finish bolstered by the mataro (aka mourvedre). The fruit comes predominantly from Cape Mentelle vineyards in Margaret River’s Wallcliffe and Karridale subregions.
Chapel Hill Mourvedre 2009 $30 McLaren Vale, South Australia This is big brother to Chapel Hill’s simpler, fruitier and cheaper Il Vescovo Mourvedre reviewed here a few months back. It’s one of a growing number of straight mouvedres (also known as monastrell and mataro) now be being released by Australian winemakers. The thick-skinned variety tends to make inky black wines with a solid tannin backbone. In this version, made by Michael Fragos and Bryn Richards, we tasty, juicy, sweet, black-cherry fruit flavours with a complex spiciness – all backed by the signature chunky, firm, drying tannins. This is a substantial, beautifully balanced drop.
Tim Adams Reserve Tempranillo 2008 $38 Clare Valley, South Australia Inspired by the savoury tempranillo based wines of Rioja, Spain, Tim Adams added 6.5 hectares of the variety to his Clare Valley vineyards in 2004. This, then, is one of Tim’s early attempts with the variety. It’s a blend of the best barrels made in the vintage and shows the body and weight of the hot season. The flavour’s reminiscent of ripe black cherry, underpinned by a pleasant savouriness and cut by fine, drying tannins. The savouriness and tannins temper the wine’s fruitiness, making a good match for savoury food or pure protein dishes like rare steak or lamb.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010