Wine review — Mt Langhi, Bowen Estate, Lock and Key, Philip Shaw, Black Chook and Draytons

Mt Langhi Shiraz 2007 $85
Grampians, Victoria

This extraordinary wine, now part of the Rathbone Wine Group (Yering Station Yarra Valley, Mount Langhi Ghiran Grampians, Parker Coonawarra and Xanadu Margaret River) comes from shiraz vines planted in 1963 at about 350 metres above seal level, in the shadow of Mount Langhi Ghiran. The particularly cool climate produces the distinctive graceful, spicy, elegant Langhi style – now being finely polished, under the Rathbones, by winemaker Dan Buckle and viticulturist Damien Sheehan.

Bowen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Coonawarra, South Australia

The 2008 continues a recent resurgence in wine quality from Bowen Estate – operated by Doug and Joy Bowen and daughter, Emma. It’s as pure an expression of cabernet as you’re likely to find – absolutely ripe, but not overripe, with deep, sweet berry flavours a plump (for cabernet) mid palate, persistent, strong-but-gentle tannins and Coonawarra’s signature elegance. It’s already irresistible. But the fruit depth and structure suggest a good cellaring life.

Lock and Key Riesling 2010 $12–$15
Hilltops, New South Wales

In a pattern common to Australian wine shows, modestly-priced Lock and Key outscored wines up to four times its price to carry off the Winewise Riesling Trophy a few weeks back. It’s an attractive, full, crisp, fruity riesling – perfect company for Asian food – and it’ll probably never be better than it is now. But I’ll back Ken Helm’s two silver-medal 2010 rieslings – and a few others overlooked by the judges –to power through in the months ahead as their intense fruit emerges from behind the austere acid of extreme youth.

Philip Shaw No. 11 Chardonnay 2008 $30
Orange, New South Wales

I can’t recall a better Orange chardonnay than Rosemount Estate1994, made by Phillip Shaw when he was chief winemaker for the company. There’s more than an echo of that superb wine in Shaw’s 2008. This is a pristine, cool-climate style – pale, finely structured and unevolved, with intense white peach and grapefruit varietal flavour, taut, spritely acidity and subtle, interwoven barrel-derived characters. It’s a style to enjoy now or in its evolution over the next five or six years, perhaps longer.

Black Chook Shiraz 2009 $13–$17
McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek, South Australia

Black Chook is a free-ranging blend of shiraz, with a dollop of viognier, from McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek. It roams the same coop as the Woop Woop, Penny’s Hill and Mr Riggs wines, all made by Ben Riggs as part of the Galvanised Wine Group. Like all the tastiest chooks, it’s big, plump, juicy and ready for the table now.

Draytons Vineyard Reserve Semillon 2006 $30
Pokolbin, Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Not everyone likes the idiosyncratic lower-Hunter semillon style. But for those who do this is a brilliant and delicious example. At four years it’s just beginning to reveal the textural richness that comes with age. The pale straw colour, twangy, lemony acidity and crystal-clear lemon and lemongrass varietal flavour provide good current drinking. But experience with the style says it’ll grow more interesting over the next decade, taking on a lovely toasty character. It’s from Drayton’s Oakey Creek Vineyard, established in 1899.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010

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