Wine review — Eperosa, Jacob’s Creek, d’Arenberg, Juniper Crossing and Shelmerdine

Eperosa LRC 2009 $35
Light Regional Council Greenock Vineyard, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Some time back Barossa viticulturist Brett Grocke turned to winemaking, determined to capture distinctive characters from “favourite sites throughout the Barossa and Eden Valleys”, he writes. In LRC we taste a unique, generous, elegant, spicy and savoury shiraz that could, at first sip, pass as a Canberra wine. Indeed, one of our blind tasters placed it there. The production of 400 bottles comes from a single row of vines (“144 shiraz, a few riesling, one mataro and a lone unidentified stranger”), a remnant of a larger vineyard, saved from a housing sub-division only by being on land owned by the Light Regional Council.

Eperosa Elevation Shiraz 2009 $30
Bruce and Ros Mibus “Stonehut” vineyard, Eden Valley, South Australia
Brett Grocke sources “Elevation” from just eight rows of the Stonehut vineyard, “on the hillside which contained the most balanced vines”, he writes. Like LRC reviewed alongside, he matures it in aged French oak casks, giving the wine the mellowing micro-oxidative effects of oak without inserting strong woody flavours. Presumably the elevated site’s cooler than the LRC site. But the wine appears riper and fuller, driven by delicious ripe-berry varietal characters, supported by soft, fine persistent tannins. Only 1,600 bottles produced. Both wines are available at www.eperosa.com.au

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2008 $13.15–$18.49
Adelaide Hills, South Australia
What do we get in sparkling wine at this price, compared to cheaper or more expensive wines? Cheaper wines tend to be neutral in flavour, but fresh and lively. More expensive wines offer greater flavour intensity, finesse and delicacy. Jacob’s Creek Reserve sits in between, offering the discernible flavour and texture of chardonnay and pinot noir, sourced from the cool Adelaide Hills, with a touch of bottle-aged character. This equals great value in the coming silly season, especially as the discounters give the price a haircut.

d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2009 $18.05–$20
McLaren Vale, South Australia
McLaren Vale’s d’Arenberg now produces several reds from grenache, one of the region’s great and proven varieties. In a couple of weeks we’ll be reviewing the new top-end versions ($99 each), but today let’s taste the excellent, affordable Custodian, from the very good 2009 vintage. The colour’s limpid and bright and the aroma leans more to varietal spice and earth than it does to the sometimes “confection” notes of the variety. The palate’s rich, without heaviness or fleshiness, its flavours reflecting the spicy and savoury aroma. Soft, slightly rustic tannins complete the picture of a savoury wine built for drinking over the next ten or so years.

Juniper Crossing Tempranillo 2010 $20–$22
Fergusson Valley, Western Australia
Mark Messenger’s tempranillo, from the Fergusson Valley, north of Margaret River, presents a big, ripe, jammy version of this Spanish red variety. The pure, ripe blackberry-jam-like aroma leads to equally ripe, blackberry-like flavours, on a solid, rich palate. The sweet impression of fruit dissipates, however, as the variety’s awesome tannins close in, giving a strong, dry, savoury, firm finish. It’s definitely a red to enjoy with protein-rich food – and yet another variation on a promising variety being worked on by many Australian vignerons.

Shelmerdine Lusatia Park Chardonnay 2008 $48
A Block, Lusatia Park Vineyard, Woori Yallock, Yarra Valley, Victoria
The ever-greater dissection of vineyards in our amazingly varied regions contrasts with the pervasive international stereotype of cheap, simple Australian wine. In this wine the Shelmerdine family, aided by De Bortoli’s winemaking, demonstrates the marvellous qualities of fruit from a single block on its highest, coolest Yarra Valley vineyard. At three years’ the wine’s colour remains a pale but brilliant gold-tinted lemon. The aroma and flavour rest on grapefruit and white-peach characters, deeply integrated with flavours and textures derived from fermentation and maturation in older French oak barrels. One bottle isn’t enough.

First published 28 September 2011 in The Canberra Times
Copyright © 2011 Chris Shanahan

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