Wine review — Jacob’s Creek Steingarten, Yarrh, Tupari, Riposte, Holm Oak and Stoniers

Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling 2007 $22–$34
Barossa Valley, South Australia

Colin Gramp planted the Steingarten vineyard on a high, exposed, stony east-facing slope in 1962. The tiny vineyard struggled but survived and was extended to two hectares early this decade. Even the 48-year-old vines look spindly. But in tandem with fruit from neighbouring vineyards on similar soil, they produce a unique, intensely limey, green-tinted, piquant dry riesling with great ageing potential. It has Chablis-like dryness and minerality but with riesling’s distinctive flavour. This is a great wine.

Yarrh Riesling 2009 $20
Murrumbateman, Canberra District, New South Wales

This was a star of the recent National Wine Show, earning gold in the new class for individual-vineyard wines. Its cellar mate from the 2010 vintage won bronze. They’re a strong pair, but the still available 2009 has the edge. The extra bottle age really brings out the pure, citrus-like varietal flavour and the natural acidity gives it a racy, refreshing finish. Winemaker Fiona Wholohan writes “riesling is one of the wines we are now very much concentrating on.

Tupari Pinot Gris 2010 $30
Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand

Tupari vineyard sits at 150–200 metres above sea level in the Awatere Valley,  to the southwest of Marlborough’s better known Wairau Valley. The site’s cool growing season, abundant sunlight and large diurnal temperature range seem to suit pinot gris as this one’s stunning. It’s a big, generous, but vital wine, high in alcohol, richly textured and dripping with vivid, pear-like varietal flavour. Despite its size, the natural high acidity keeps it fresh and invites another sip.

Riposte Dagger Pinot Noir 2010 $20
Adelaide Hills, South Australia

This is the youngest and simplest of three very good pinots recommended here today as medium-bodied company for your Christmas lunch — each a step up in quality from the other. Despite the modest (for pinot) price, Dagger, made by Tim Knappstein, pushes most of the pinot buttons, relying on good fruit rather than winemaker artifice to do the job. We might expect a fruit festival from such a youngster. But it’s richly textured, savoury and has the backbone of a good pinot. Cellaring? No need; lap it up now.

Holm Oak Pinot Noir 2009 $32
Tamar Valley, Tasmania

Rebecca Wilson’s estate-grown and made pinot brings greater intensity of flavour and complexity into the picture. There’s high-toned, red-berry pinot fragrance and flavour. But there’s more grip and structure here than we see in the Riposte wine, as well as the first gamey, earthy notes that just one year in bottle brings. There’s a kiss of oak, but it’s not intrusive. And soft but ample tannins, layered with the fruit flavour, put Holm Oak well into the real-red spectrum.

Stoniers Reserve Pinot Noir 2008 $40–$50
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Cool Mornington, tempered by Westernport Bay to the east and Port Phillip Bay to the west, is home to perhaps more top-end pinot producers than any other Australian region. Stoniers, founded by Brian Stonier, but now owned by Lion Nathan, sits with the region’s best – a status earned over three vigorous, hard-working decades. The deceptively pale 2008, made from some of the oldest vineyards around the winery, delivers powerful, luxurious flavours within a fine-boned, taut structure. This is full-bore, fine-boned pinot to sip and savour and has the depth and complexity to cellar well for many years.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010

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