Wine review — Domaine Lucci, Katnook Estate, Tinpot Hut, Brancott Estate, Domain A and Parker Coonawarra Estate

Domain Lucci Pinot Noir 2010 $30
Basket Range, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Lucy Margaux Vineyards, a small, biodynamic operation in the Adelaide Hills, makes brilliant, sumptuous pinot noir from several individual vineyards in the area. Of four sent to us recently by winemaker Anton van Klopper, our favourite, by a small margin, was this highly perfumed, generously flavoured, slightly sappy but silky wine from his Basket Range vineyard. Van Klopper says he uses spontaneous fermentations and makes no additions, apart from sulphur at bottling. The pinots in particular are slurpily irresistible. Available at cellar door, see www.lucymargauxvineyards.com

Katnook Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $15–$20
Coonawarra, South Australia
Cabernet sauvignon covers almost half of Katnook’s 197-hectare Coonawarra vineyard, despite the variety’s declining popularity in recent years. It’s a case of a regional specialty riding out swings in fashion by being the best. Indeed, Founder’s Block might easily woo drinkers back to cabernet. It presents the variety’s alluring, pure ripe berry aroma and flavour on a gentle, elegantly structured palate that grips without rasping as young cabernet sometimes does. It does this without diminishing the varietal character and drinking satisfaction. It’s simply made to enjoy right now rather than in ten or fifteen years.

Tinpot Hut Gruner Veltliner 2010 $25
Marlborough, New Zealand
What happens to Austria’s gruner veltliner transplanted to Marlborough? Well, it’s a surprisingly robust dry white – somewhat bigger and fatter than we see in the Austrian originals. It’s sort of pudgy but lovable, featuring nice, juicy fruit flavours – reminiscent of peach seasoned with candied orange – but still finely textured, crisp, fresh and dry. Zapping off for another New Zealand vintage this week, Kate Day said Tinpot Hut’s interesting new white should be on retail shelves and in some restaurants in the next few weeks.

Brancott Estate “T” Terraces Pinot Noir 2009 $22–$27
Brancott Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand
In 1973 Montana Wines established Marlborough’s first modern vineyards at Brancott in the Fairhall Valley, part of the larger Wairau River valley. In the nineties the company planted broad acres of pinot noir, gambling on it as the red most likely to succeed in the area. Pernod Ricard later bought Montana and partly because of naming rights in the USA, renamed the company Brancott Estate. After an enormous amount of hard work, the pinot gamble paid off. As we see in this lovely, reasonably priced wine, sourced principally from the Brancott vineyard. It’s pale coloured, delightfully perfumed and delivers rich pinot flavour on a fine, silk-textured dry palate.

Domaine A Stoney Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $35
Coal River Valley, Tasmania
When we close our eyes and think of Tasmania, cabernet’s usually out of scope. We think mainly of chardonnay and pinot noir. But down in Campania, just north of Hobart, Peter Althaus makes two substantial cabernets, his flagship “A”, and “Stoney Vineyard” – a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot – released as a mere pup six years after vintage. It’s a highly distinctive wine built on intense, ripe, dark-berry flavours – like a blended essence of blackcurrant and mulberry. Almost three years’ maturation in oak sets this syrup-rich fruit in a matrix of fine, firm, elegant tannins and, in conjunction with the fruit, produces an exotic cedar-like aroma. Grew classier and classier with each passing day.

Parker Terra Rossa Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 $40
Southern Coonawarra, South Australia

Parker Coonawarra Estate, Xanadu Margaret River, Yering Station Yarra Valley and Mount Langi Ghiran Grampians form the Rathbone Wine Group – an elite collection of great regional wines, each polished close to perfection under Rathbone family ownership. The Coonawarra cabernets in 2006 are sensational. The graceful, elegant $40 wine – mostly cabernet sauvignon, with a splash of petit verdot – has at its heart the most beautiful, sweet berry fruit flavours. These are tightly wound with oak flavours and tannins into a single, delicious flavour. Parker First Growth Cabernet Merlot 2006 ($110) shares the familial poise and elegance, with even sweeter, richer fruit and more powerful but balanced tannins.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011

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