Wine review — Mount Majura, Bollinger, Dalwhinnie, Ravensworth, Pazo Barrantes and Brown Brothers

Mount Majura Chardonnay 2010 $26
Mount Majura Vineyard, Canberra District, Australian Capital Territory
While by and large Canberra’s a little too warm for cutting-edge chardonnay, Mount Majura makes a delicious, age-worthy style, like the 2005 that won a gold medal in last year’s regional show. Winemaker Frank van de Loo writes that earlier picking and blocking most components from malo-lactic fermentation increases the tautness and longevity of the wine. And, in recent years, increasing the proportion of wild yeast ferments added to the texture and length of flavour. We bought our bottle at Grazing, Gundaroo, and came back for seconds such were its juicy delights.

Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee $59.90–$125
Champagne region, France
Bollinger’s Australian agent, Fine Wine Partners, must hate it, but parallel importing means we can enjoy this glorious non-vintage Champagne way below the “official” price. I paid $62 for the review bottle, imported direct from god-knows-where by First Choice. And the price fell to $59.90 in six-packs. It’s 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. Meunier subtly fleshes out the mid palate.

Dalwhinnie Moonambel Shiraz 2008 $55–$60
Pyrenees, Victoria
Fine-tuning in vineyard and winery over many years brings a wine to the best it can be. We see this now in the near perfect, long-living regional shirazes made at Dalwhinnie – established in 1976 by Ewan Jones and now run by his son, David. David thanks consultant and friend Gary Baldwin for a Bordelaise winemaking technique that tames the sometimes-formidable Pyrenees’ tannins. The 2008 vintage delivers opulent, ripe, black cherry and spice flavours on a medium bodied, elegantly structured palate where fruit intertwines with the burnished, persistent tannins.

Ravensworth Shiraz Viognier 2009 $24.30–$27
Ravensworth Vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, New South Wales

We loved this wine on its release in 2010 and almost a year on it’s looking even better. Over lunch at Grazing, Gundaroo, we warmed up on the juicy Capital Wines “The Ambassador” Tempranillo 2009, then moved up another notch in power and complexity to Ravensworth. It held our interest through two bottles – Sydneysiders, locals and English drinkers all impressed. It’s an aromatic, medium-bodied shiraz, featuring ripe berry and spice aromas and rich, supple, silky palate, with a long, savoury, dry finish. It’s a beautiful drink and destined for a five-star rating – just waiting to see how the wines age first. Made by Bryan Martin.

Pazo Barrantes Albarino 2009 $21.85–$22.99
Rias Baixas region, Galicia, Spain
Albarino is the signature white variety in Rias Baixas. Pazo Barrantes, imported by Dan Murphy, comes from a 12-hectare albarino vineyard. It’s hand picked, gently pressed, cool fermented and matured for a short time on yeast lees to build texture. I suspect Murphy’s are a year behind on imports as the 2010 is the current release, according the winemaker’s website. I suspect, also, that it’s a style best enjoyed very young, though the 2009 still appeals for its passionfruit-like aroma, savoury dryness – accompanied by a thickening texture and phenolic bite that goes well with savoury foods.

Brown Brothers Limited Release Durif 2009 $19.90
Heathcote, Victoria
Durif, a signature red of hot, dry north eastern Victoria, clearly likes the cooler climes of the Mount Camel Range, near Heathcote. In Rutherglen, durif tends to be deep, dark and tannic – truly a wine for heroes. Nothing much changes when the variety moves to Heathcote. The deep red/black colour and abundant tannins remain. But the ripe, plummy, black-cherry fruit seems more buoyant – though still reined in by those awesome tannins. Persistent as the tannins are, they’re quite soft – though there’s still nothing subtle about the wine. Is an unabashed bruiser for those what loves ‘em big.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 6 July 2011 in The Canberra Times

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