Cherubino Sauvignon Blanc 2011 $35
Porongurup, Great Southern, Western Australia
So many mediocre sauvignon blancs around. But occasionally a wine, usually from France’s Loire Valley, challenges that prejudice. The latest challenge comes from Larry Cherubino’s beautiful 2011 from Porongurup, a rocky knob, just north of Albany, Western Australia. This is a delicate, gentle, soft, subtle expression of the variety. It’s delicious from beginning to end, starting with a delicate herbal and citrus aroma and flavour, then expanding to include the sympathetic, spicy, savoury thrust of French oak. This is a thrilling white from a master winemaker. See www.larrycherubino.com
Hewitson Miss Harry 2010 $21.85–$24
Barossa Valley, South Australia
The 11th vintage of Miss Harry combines five red varieties from 25 sites across the Barossa. “Five of these were over 100-year-old vineyards and half of the remaining were well over 50 years”, writes winemaker Dean Hewitson. Grenache (44 per cent of the blend) lends the wine its ripe, floral and spice aroma; and shiraz (39 per cent) adds body and savoury, spicy flavour. The other varieties (mourvedre, carignan and cinsault) play their role, too, in this vibrant, spicy, soft and richly textured, medium-bodied dry red – a charming red, well suited to Christmas cold cuts, especially ham.
Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee $55.90–$110
Champagne region, France
Tumbling Champagne in Australia, began with parallel importing by the big retailers, but now seems driven more by the strong dollar, intense competition and reportedly declining sales in big export markets. You can still pay over $100 for good old Bolly, but as I write, Dan Murphy offers it at $55.90 as part of a six-bottle buy. Bollinger remains one of the most delightful non-vintage Champagnes, in its own distinctive style – full-bodied, but amazingly delicate and lively. The flavour and structure reveal a high pinot component (pinot noir 60 per cent, pinot meunier 15 per cent) – but chardonnay provides the liveliness and adds to its elegance.
Dal Zotto Pucino Prosecco $19.95–$22
King Valley, Victoria
Prosecco’s Italian home is the Valdobbiadene district, near Conegliano in the Veneto region. The variety makes light, delicate aperitif-style sparkling wines, usually tank fermented (Charmat method) and served as young and fresh as possible. Otto Dal Zotto, born in Valdobbiadene, released his first Australian prosecco in 2004, claiming it be the first Australian-made version on the market. It’s a terrific alternative to the other bubbly styles, with its light body, low alcohol (11.5 per cent) and zesty, lemony but soft palate. The King Valley, with its strong Italian heritage, is now Australia’s heartland for this style.
Eden Road Wines The Long Road Shiraz 2010 $22
Gundagai, New South Wales
In the 2011 Canberra Regional Wine Show, three 2010 shirazes won gold medals – Clonakilla Hilltops ($25), Eden Road Gundagai ($45) and Eden Road The Long Road ($22). Judges ranked Long Road, the cheapest, as the best of three, albeit by a small margin. If the judges found little quality difference between the $22 and $45 Eden Road wines, they surely noted the marked style differences between the siblings (both from Gundagai). The Long Road portrays the bright aromatics of shiraz. This character comes through, too, on the medium bodied palate, that includes a spicy, savoury seam.
Eden Road Wines Gundagai Shiraz 2010 $45
Gundagai, New South Wales
Fractionally lower in alcohol (13.1 per cent versus 13.4 per cent) than its sibling, reviewed above, this single-vineyard wine expresses more of the peppery, spicy, savoury side of shiraz – with an overall tighter, firmer more assertive palate. There’s bright, aromatic fruit, too. But the savouriness, persistent, firm but fine tannins and buoyant, juicy fruit flavours pushing through, make this a particularly satisfying red. See www.edenroadwines.com.au
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 7 December 2011 in The Canberra Times