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Monthly Archives: July 2012
Tyrrell’s Lost Block whites – $13.29–$18.99 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Hunter Valley Semillon 2011 Tyrrell’s Lost Block range presents high quality regional-varietal combinations at fair prices, trimmed dramatically on occasion by retail discounting. The sauvignon blanc comes from the comparatively cool Adelaide Hills. And the particularly cool 2012 vintage produced fresh, herbal and tropical-fruit varietal flavours at quite at a modest 12 per cent alcohol. It provides a subtler, less in-your-face drinking experience than the Marlborough versions. The delicate, bone-dry semillon pleases with its unique lemongrass-like flavours and light, zingy freshness – delicious company for salads, cold cuts and delicate seafood. The alcohol level is just 11.5 per cent.
Tyrrell’s Lost Block reds – $13.29–$18.99 Limestone Coast Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Heathcote Shiraz 2010 In the nineties, the Tyrrell family expanded beyond their Hunter base, establishing a vineyard at Heathcote, Victoria, and acquiring an interest in the St Marys Vineyard on the Cave Range, about 15 kilometres west of Coonawarra. Though excluded from that illustrious appellation, the wines from St Marys, including Lost Block Cabernet Sauvignon, bear a striking resemblance to Coonawarra’s, with clear, ripe-berry varietal character and elegant structure – in this instance approachable and ready to drink now. The Heathcote shiraz is true to regional style, too – medium bodied, with plummy, spicy, savoury varietal flavour and soft, fine tannins. (Bruce Tyrrell tells me, “we own 60 per cent of the St Mary’s vineyard in conjunction with the Mulligan family who own the balance of 40 per cent and the brand”).
Campbells Bobbie Burns Rutherglen Shiraz 2010 $19.95–$22 Campbell’s 41st Bobbie Burns shiraz comes mainly from 50-year-old vines on the Bobbie Burns vineyard, the Rutherglen site first planted by the Campbells in 1870. It’s a generous, comforting red, but fine boned and not at all in the blockbuster style sometimes associated with the warm Rutherglen region. The colour’s medium, bright and youthful. And the aroma and flavour are all warm-climate shiraz – ripe, earthy and savoury. Abundant, soft tannins support the fruit, adding texture and a bit of bite to the finish. It’s a really good, easy-drinking, regional wine at a fair price and has proven medium-term cellaring potential.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 29 July 2012 in The Canberra Times
Macquarie Dictionary’s recent acceptance of the coined words “apera” and “topaque” as replacements for “sherry” and “tokay” doesn’t make them sound any less silly. Nor does it change the fact they ignore the global language of fine wine – the origin, or terroir behind the products.
Rivers of management speak, marketing clichés and a $1 million budget (half from the Australian Government), delivered these two gems – after Australia agreed with Europe in 2008 on how and when to drop the remaining European place names and “traditional expressions” from our wine labels.
In reality, we’d phased out most European names (for example, chablis, claret, white burgundy and champagne) long before the signing in Brussels on 1 December 2008. The name “Sherry” alone posed a unique dilemma as the agreement also banned the associated style names, fino, amontillado, manzanilla and oloroso.
Our “port” producers adapted seamlessly to the new regime, simply retaining the words “tawny” and “vintage”, terms long associated with port. Drinkers would barely notice the change. Muscat was not affected at all, as it’s a varietal name and not banned, much to the relief of winemakers in its heartland, Rutherglen, Victoria
But Rutherglen producers balked at adopting muscadelle, the varietal name behind its other great fortified specialty, tokay. Muscadelle, they argued, sounded too similar to muscat. So it joined “sherry” in a quest for new names.
But it’s a quest muscadelle arguably didn’t need. Drinkers adapt readily to new or unfamiliar varietal names, evidenced by the success of savagnin blanc – a savoury dry white with a name scarily close, for those who scare easily, to the ubiquitous and unrelated sauvignon blanc.
Tokay could easily have been relabelled as muscadelle, in association with the Rutherglen’s trademarked quality and age descriptors – Rutherglen, classic, grand and rare. Not too hard to understand, I reckon – especially given the limited number of producers, long-established labels and distinct flavour differences between muscat and muscadelle.
This approach would have been consistent, too, with the varietal naming of Rutherglen’s other great fortified wine, muscat.
English wine writer, Jancis Robinson, an ardent admirer of these unique wines, commented scathingly, “The word Topaque is a very much more recent invention, as it looks, the creation of massed marketeers and focus groups. Is it a car? Is it an aftershave?”
Later, she elaborated, “The name Tokay was outlawed in 2005 and the Australians were given 10 years to phase in an alternative. A competition yielded nothing they considered usable but Campbell [Colin Campbell, Campbells Wines] cunningly squeezed half a million dollars out of the federal government on the basis that Rutherglen’s eight stickie producers had nobly made a significant concession so that all other Australian producers could benefit from those made by the EU in the bilateral trading agreement. This was spent on hiring an agency to survey the fortified wine market and come up with new names for the wines”.
But by the time of tokay’s and sherry’s banning, some in the industry likened the search for new names to the push, ultimately futile, by some in the eighties and nineties to come up with an Australian term for “Champagne”. Most makers didn’t give a toss. Rightly, they saw the discussion as irrelevant.
Large-scale commercial brands like Minchinbury, Carrington and Great Western simply dispensed with the “Champagne” name. The strength of the brands and packaging said all that needed to be said.
And upmarket producers took individual approaches. Why, they reasoned, would a big country like Australia, with its diverse sparkling-making regions and winemaker approaches, need a single name for upmarket bubbly styles? France’s Champagne was the distinctive product of a single region – hence, the regional name.
Our top makers gave us Croser, Pirie, Arras, Salinger, Chandon, Hanging Rock – and many more individual brands – packaged clearly as high-quality sparklers, often with varietal and regional information on the label. Quite simply, we didn’t need a single name. And our winemakers figured this out without government funding.
Unlike tokay-muscadelle, “sherry” isn’t so easy a name to replace, at the top end of the market anyway as it’s not made from a single variety. But at least the large scale (but declining) brands enjoy strong label recognition and can still be described as dry, medium dry, semi sweet and cream. They don’t need a replacement name any more than Minchinbury, Carrington and Great Western did.
Alas, though, some producers use the Spike Milliaganesque “apera”; and the Rutherglen makers seem solidly behind the equally frivolous “topaque”.
That the names remain largely in the minds of producers, not consumers, is apparent from comments surrounding the decision to include them in the Macquarie Dictionary from 2013. The accompanying press release declares, “Macquarie Dictionary Publisher and Editor Susan Butler said sometimes the English language changed of its own accord, seemingly undirected by anyone, but at other times it was given a clear nudge in a particular direction as is the case with apera and topaque.
“These new names have yet to acquire a patina of associations and customary usage, but no doubt they will as we settle down to having an apera before dinner and a topaque with dessert,” Susan said.
Somehow these names seem more wink than nudge, with a touch of farce and a splash of public money.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 25 July in the The Canberra Times
Arras Methode Traditionelle Blanc de Blancs 2001 $80 Pipers River and Upper Derwent, Tasmania For Champagne buffs the name Salon-sur-Oger conjures images of delicate but powerful and complete sparkling wines made from chardonnay alone – unaided by pinot noir or pinot meunier, the majority varieties in most Champagnes. In good years chardonnay from the Salon sub-region stands alone, creating sublime wines personified in the rare and expensive Krug Clos du Mesnil and Salon le Mesnil. Australian sparkling maker Ed Carr says, “I have always been a fan of this style and to have a 2001 Tasmanian wine for the first release is as close to perfect as one could wish”. Carr has good reason to be excited. His subtle and powerful Arras Blanc de Blanc 2001 is stunning – and so fresh at 11 years.
Brown Brothers Sauvignon Blanc 2012 $17.90 Tamar Valley and East Coast, Tasmania In August 2010 Victorian-based Brown Brothers purchased the Tamar Ridge Winery, vineyards and several brands from Gunns. The brands included Tamar Ridge, Pirie, Devil’s Corner and Coombend. In 2012, winemaker Joel Tilbrook tapped into this tasty fruit source to make the first Tasmanian wine to appear under the Brown Brothers label. The wine shows pure passionfruit-like varietal aromas and flavours, with an herbaceous note. It’s deliciously fresh, though somewhat softer and plumper than I would’ve expected from the cool season.
Chablis (Simonnet-Febvre) 2010 $22.70–$25 Chablis, France At a chilly 47 degrees north, Chablis, the northernmost outlier of France’s Burgundy region, makes distinctive, lean and succulent, bone-dry chardonnays. The wines stand out in any tasting and make their own strong argument for the French concept of terroir – that a given location produces unique wine flavours. Simonnet-Febvre, imported by Woolworths-owned Dan Murphys, gives the succulent, rich-but-not-heavy, dust-dry Chablis experience at a modest price. It’s bright, fresh and clean – and presumably it’s the Australian influence that sees it sealed with a screw cap.
Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Hen and Chicken Chardonnay 2011 $18.05–$21 Pemberton, Western Australia Winemaker Larry Cherubino sources fruit widely across southwestern Western Australia, in this instance using chardonnay from a Pemberton vineyard planted in 1999. At 13.5 per cent alcohol, it’s slightly fuller than the Chablis reviewed today, but not heavy by Australian standards. Fermentation with wild yeasts and maturation in new and two-year-old French oak barrels added textural richness and nutty, spicy oak flavours to the lemon-like and melon-rind varietal character. It’s a rich, soft, gentle style, very easy to like.
Yabtree Shiraz 2008 $28 Yabtree Vineyard, Gundagai, NSW Former Olympian and President of the World Bank, Jim Wolfensohn, lives in New York but owns Yabtree, a grazing property near Gundagai, on the Murrumbidgee. Simon Robertson, formerly of Barwang, near Young, manages Wolfensohn’s small vineyard and Joel Pizzini makes the wine. Robertson believes reflected light from the Murrumbidgee helps ripen the vineyard’s fruit at lower sugar levels, accounting for the wine’s comparatively modest 13.5 per cent alcohol content. It’s a medium bodied, spicy, savoury style, featuring mouth-drying, soft tannins.
Cherubino Shiraz 2010 $65 Frankland River, Western Australia Larry Cherubino doesn’t take the second best fruit for his signature label as this is as good as Frankland River shiraz gets – and that’s pretty good. Deep down inside the wine there’s a core of sweet, ripe berry flavours, a bit like blueberry and mulberry. But there’s a lot wrapped around that fruit – a seasoning of pepper, a handful of spices (all consistent with top-end shiraz) and layers of soft, persistent tannins providing a luxurious, velvety texture. It’s a joy to drink now. But the flavour concentration and beautiful tannin structure should see it evolve deliciously for a decade or more.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 25 July 2012 in The Canberra Times and Fairfax digital media (The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, WA Today and Brisbane Times)
Bulmers Blackcurrant 500ml $6 One sniff and I’m back decades, packing kids lunches, decanting Ribena to drink bottles. The sweet, slightly cloying aroma of blackcurrants is unmistakable, only this time it’s alcoholic (4 per cent) and dominating the apple cider in the blend. A crisp, acidic tartness cuts through the sweetness, but the sweetness lingers a little too much for my palate.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 Firsts published 25 July 2012 in The Canberra Times
We occasionally check out the older Coopers Extra Strong Vintage ales in the Schloss Shanahan cellars – stretching back to the original 1998 vintage. Generally, over time, the hops influence wanes, and the toffee-like malt flavours become more dominant as the beers age.
We note in the just-released 2012 vintage a marked shift in the hops character – away from the pungent, resiny aromas of the 2011, to a more delicate, but still dominant citrus-like character. All of this comes on top of the rich, malty flavour and fruity character we always see in Coopers ales.
Dr Tim Cooper attributes the changes in hops flavour to the varieties and timing of the additions. This year he used five types of hops – Germany’s perle and magnum, New Zealand’s Nelson sauvin and America’s centennial and cascade.
The 2012 provides another delicious variation on this potent, bottle-conditioned ale style.
Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale 2012 355ml 6-pack $22 Coopers 2012 vintage ale retains the full body, high alcohol (7.5 per cent) and cellarability of previous vintages, but introduces a new emphasis on citrus-like hops aromatics – hovering over the familiar fruity, malty notes. The new hop treatment invigorates the full, velvety palate, too. But the satisfying, lingering hops bitterness remains.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 25 July in The Canberra Times
Mount Horrocks Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $30–$38 In this beautiful, elegant cabernet, winemaker Stephanie Toole demonstrates the great finessing of Australian regional wine styles now underway. Clare Valley makes good cabernet. But more often than not in the past they’ve tended to be on the burly side. Nothing wrong with burly on a cold winter’s night. But Mount Horrocks lifts the style to a higher level, delivering even more drinking pleasure. The pure varietal perfume and flavour, the rich, balanced palate and, in particular, the silk-smooth tannins put it way above the pack. O’Toole sources the fruit from a single vineyard on her estate.
Heggies Vineyard Eden Valley Riesling 2011 $16.90–$24 Heggies sits in the Hill-Smith family’s portfolio of wine brands that also includes Yalumba, Running with Bulls and Oxford Landing. In this case the vineyard is the brand as all wines bearing the Heggies label come from the Heggies vineyard, located at 550 metres above sea level. Peter Gambetta made the 2011 from several riesling blocks on the vineyard, harvested between 30 March and 5 April. It’s a delicate but intense riesling, the flavour leaning to the lemony end of the varietal spectrum. The lightness, delicacy, lemony flavour and dry, zesty finish make it a great aperitif. Should age well, too.
Barwang Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $15.20–$20 Can any region enjoy a “humble reputation” and still produce “some of the country’s best regional reds”. Confused by McWilliams press release, we poured our glasses, drank deeply and confirmed our faith in Hilltops as a very good cabernet-growing region and Barwang as one of its leading producers. The 2010 seems less fleshy than the 2009 and more firmly tannic. But it’s still rich and varietal and the stronger tannins simply reinforce the cabernet experience. Because it’s so widely distributed and holds strong appeal, retailers often discount it, so watch for the specials.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 22 July 2012 in The Canberra Times
On June 29 in Moscow, Penfolds told the world the best seal for wine is glass. They didn’t say it in so many words. But that’s the message dramatically delivered in twelve $168,000 glass ampoules of Penfolds Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. Yes, just 12 for the whole world. And the problem for Penfolds will be allocating them, not selling them.
The price tag, quality of product, originality of the idea and launch at Moscow’s Pushkin Restaurant (with a run of legendary old Penfolds reds lavished on the guests) ignited huge global publicity.
Behind the cleverly executed campaign, lies years of thinking by winemaker Peter Gago about the best way to seal wine intended for decades or even centuries of cellaring.
By the 2004 vintage Penfolds had adopted screw caps for all its reds except Grange. And in a 2007 interview, Gago told me why not, “‘With Grange we’re talking about people cellaring it for thirty to fifty years. We’ve had trials for ten years, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that these wines will still be good in four or five decades. It’s the integrity of the seal, not ageing that’s of concern”.
He explained that while we knew screw cap seals kept white wines perfectly for thirty years, the chemistry of red wine is different and we simply don’t know for certain whether the seal will last.
He recalled working with well-known sparkling-wine maker, Ed Carr, at the company’s sparkling cellars. They observed how crown seals on sparkling red wines often deteriorated where those for sparkling whites didn’t.
Gago believed a glass-to-glass seal presented the best solution as there’d be nothing to corrode – no perishable material like cork, the tin or polymer coated material in screw caps or the silicon o-ring of the glass Vino-Lok.
Indeed, Penfolds had already engaged an engineer to develop a prototype – a glass disc held in place with a spring-loaded clamp.
Two years later Gago told me they’d developed a second prototype, “a pseudo screw cap” holding a glass disc in place, and had tested both on the 2006 vintage Grange. He said he’d like to take it to the next level, but that would require money – an unlikely outcome at the time as parent company Foster’s struggled with its wine division.
During both the 2007 and 2009 interviews, Gago discussed the concept of a “time capsule” – a wine sealed in a continuum of glass, capable of cellaring for centuries. That’s the dream that became a reality in the recently released ampoule.
Gago calls the ampoule project and the earlier glass-to-glass trials “parallel pursuits” – separate but interrelated. He hopes that success of the radical new ampoule might spark enthusiasm for glass seals within in the company. All it needs now is money, and imagination.
It presents a golden opportunity for Penfolds new managing director, Gary Burnand, to make his mark on the company and, indeed, on the entire wine world. The ampoule gave us the first ever perfectly-sealed wine. By supporting Gago’s glass-to-glass concept he could usher in the most radical technological change since the invention of the glass bottle.
Kalimna vineyard, Block 42
In the nineteenth century, this northern Barossa site provided firewood for D.J. Fowler and company. In the 1880s, precise date unknown, George Fowler planted and named the Kalimna vineyard. Penfolds bought it in 1945 and its fruit subsequently starred in many of the company’s greatest reds – including blended wines like Grange and several notable cabernets sourced only from Block 42. These include Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon 1948, Grange Cabernet Sauvignon 1953 and the first Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon (1964).
Winemaker Peter Gago rates Grange cabernet 1953 slightly ahead of Grange Hermitage 1953, in his view the best Grange ever made.
Gago says the low-yielding Block 42 produces extraordinary wine in some vintages. In the most recent outstanding vintages, 1996 and 2004, Penfolds released cabernet under the Kalimna Block 42 name. The wines tend to fetch $500–$600. The ampoules contain the 2004 vintage. Penfolds believes the venerable old vines on Block 42 to be the oldest continuously producing cabernet sauvignon in the world.
What you get for $168,000
750ml of Penfolds Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet 2004 in a glass ampoule, designed and hand-blown by glass artist Nick Mount. A grey and ruby coloured glass plumb-bob, designed and hand-blown by Nick Mount. The plumb-bob suspends the ampoule in its Jarrah cabinet. Jarrah cabinet designed and made by furniture craftsman, Hendrik Foster. Precious metal details designed and made by Hendrik Forster. A Penfolds winemaker will travel anywhere in the world to open the wine using one of two purpose made tungsten tipped devices to cut and snap the glass tip of the ampoule.
Penfolds produced 12 sets of ampoules for the world market. One remains in the company’s museum cellar at Magill, Adelaide. One is to appear at an event in Singapore next year, but exactly how isn’t clear. The remaining ten are up for grabs as I write. Penfolds also produced and is retaining in its Magill cellar an additional stand-alone ampoule of Kalimna Block 42 2004, without the plumb-bob, precious metal trappings or timber case.
Penfolds Managing Director, Gary Burnand, says retailers and private collectors around the world want the ampoules. Allocating them could take all the diplomacy in the world.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 18 July 2012 in The Canberra Times
Pepper Tree Coquun Shiraz 2010 $55 Tallawanta vineyard, Hunter Valley, NSW Australia’s unique heritage of old vines continues to gain recognition as vignerons seek out and market venerable old sites. Certainly the most extravagant example is Penfolds Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 – from vines planted in the 1880s – released in a hand crafted glass ampoule and offered globally at $168,000. For a slightly more modest sum we can enjoy Jim Chatto’s beautiful Coquun shiraz from the Tallawanta vineyard – planted in 1920 by the Elliot family at the foot of the Hunter Valley’s Brokenback Range. One of three single-vineyard Hunter shirazes Chatto released in May, Coquun captures the essence of the Hunter’s unique, very long-lived style. It’s medium bodied and amazingly gentle and caressing on the palate. The bright, spicy varietal flavour comes seasoned with a distinct Hunter earthiness.
Mount Horrocks Shiraz 2010 $33–$38 Mount Horrocks vineyard, Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia Winemaker Stephanie Toole presents a lively, bouncy, happy face of Clare shiraz – rich but not heavy, and emphasising the variety’s pure, sweet aromas and flavours. Clare shiraz can be heavy and dense, but Mount Horrocks manages to be fine-boned and elegant, without sacrificing ripeness or complexity. A pleasantly tart, spicy edge to the fruit hints at the use of high quality oak barrels, without tasting of oak. What a joy it is to drink.
Ad Hoc Wallflower Riesling 2012 $15.90–$21 Great Southern, Western Australia As Hardys winemaker Larry Cherubino worked with a wide range of grapes from across southwestern Western Australia. He says, “Over the years I reckon I’ve got a pretty good handle on what works where. Everything I do reflects my strong belief that when you get the right varieties in the right sites you’re well on your way to making good wine”. In Ad Hoc Wallflower, riesling from Great Southern works deliciously – with a special Cherubino twist. A wild yeast ferment to the free-run juice adds texture and grip to a mouth-wateringly fine, delicate dry white.
Tahbilk Marsanne 2011 $12.35–17.75 Tahbilk vineyard, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria Historic Tahbilk, on an anabranch of the Goulburn River, claims to have the largest planting of marsanne in the world, with some vines dating from 1927. At Tahbilk this Rhone Valley variety makes a distinctive, potentially very long-lived dry white. The aroma and flavour have often been described as honeysuckle-like – something I don’t always detect, but do in the 2011. The style’s grown slightly little finer and more delicate over the last decade. But behind the honeysuckle and citrus flavours lie tangy acidity and a firm, savoury bite.
Rymill The Yearling Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $11.39–$15 Rymill Vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia The Yearling is one of a number of inexpensive, elegant Coonawarra reds being made for current drinking. Fruit comes from Peter Rymill’s vineyards and Sandrine Gimon and Amelia Anderson make the wine at the striking winery cellar-door complex – located towards the northern extremity of Coonawarra’s famous terrra rossa soils. It captures Coonawarra’s bright berry aromas and flavours – in distinctive style that says, “I’m not going to suck the water from your eyes”, as some do. The soft, round tannins contribute texture to the fruity suppleness of the mid palate.
Coriole Vita Reserve Sangiovese 2009 $50 Coriole 1985 vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia Coriole’s Mark Lloyd planted sangiovese in 1985 and in good seasons makes a reserve bottling under the Vita Reserve label. He says it’s from the best performing vineyard of the vintage. In 2009 he made the fifth Vita reserve, sourced from the original 0.8-hectare vineyard. It’s fleshy for sangiovese – satisfyingly full, ripe and fruity. But savoury, firm tannins cut through the fruit, giving Vita the bite, thrust and elegant structure the variety produces at its best.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 18 July 2012 in The Canberra Times and Fairfax websites
The winemaking Casella family’s move into brewing brings commercial excitement, if not thrills in the flavour department. Their two new beers – reviewed last week (but destined to be only one after consumer trials) – sit in the mainstream, so-called premium segment. They’re nice, clean, fresh lagers and compare favourably with others costing $45–$50 a slab.
The family’s move into the mainstream premium beer market seems certain to be welcomed by the big retailers. A new high-volume product from a credible producer gives them leverage against the Foster’s-Lion oligopoly, with its estimated 90-plus per cent of the Australian beer market.
But the big boys won’t just cop it sweet. They’re sure to fight back as the Casella family cranks up its 300,000-hectolitre brewery in the shadow of its 12 million case a year winery.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 18 July 2012 in The Canberra Times
Stefano Lubiana Tasmania Estate Chardonnay 2010 $48–$50 The best chardonnays have a unique weight and beauty – full bodied but elegant and demanding ever another sip. They’re wines to savour slowly, like the contrasting Tyrrell’s Vat 47 1996 and Lubiana 2010 we compared at Chairman and Yip recently. The first a glorious old white, delivered freshness and maturity at the same time; and Lubiana, vibrant and youthful, showed the intense citrus-and-melon varietal flavour of cool grown chardonnay, supported by the structure and subtle flavour of barrel fermentation and maturation. Steve Lubiana writes, “the wine is produced entirely from vines grow on our biodynamically managed Granton vineyard [20 km north of Hobart]”.
Grant Burge Fifth Generation Barossa Pinot Gris 2012 $17–$19 Grant Burge Fifth Generation Barossa Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012 When a cold season like 2012 comes along even the warm Barossa (including the Eden Valley) makes decent wines from pinot gris and sauvignon blanc – aromatic varieties better suited to much cooler regions. Which makes me wonder what happens to the wine when the hot seasons return. All the more reason to enjoy these two while we can, I suppose. The pinot gris delivers clean, fresh, citrus and pear-like fruit flavours, medium body and a rich, smooth texture. The sauvignon blanc seems all citrus-like fruit, leaning more to semillon than sauvignon blanc.
Grant Burge Fifth Generation Barossa Shiraz 2010 Grant Burge Fifth Generation Barossa Cabernet Merlot 2010 Compare these delicious reds to the Burge whites reviewed above, and a few sips will reveal why the Barossa’s reputation rests mainly on reds, principally shiraz. The whites are nice and give value. But the reds, especially the shiraz, look exciting at the price, which might dive even lower should Coles and Woolworths run with them. The shiraz presents full, ripe, juicy fruit flavours and fleshiness, complete with the Barossa’s signature, tender, plush tannins. The winemakers haven’t intervened too much – just enough to ensure the full Barossa experience. The lovely cabernet merlot, with its leafy varietal notes suggests sourcing from the cooler Eden Valley sub-region.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012 First published 15 July 2012 in The Canberra Times